Spoiler alert: it wasn’t impossible. I’m still here. And I don’t feel like that any more – I feel great, most days! But when the brochures tell you ‘it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, scared, and alone,’ they really mean it. They just can’t get across how common it is, and how huge and powerful those feelings are.

I knew, rationally, that I wasn’t alone. I read brochures. I hung out on parenting boards. I was well supported by friends and family. But new motherhood gets under your skin; it gets into your brain. Pain and exhaustion make you feel things that aren’t true. The Pampers commercials, the breastfeeding books, the Facebook photo albums of angelic sleeping babes swaddled in organic knit blankets in modest neutrals – it feels like you’re the only one who can’t get it together. You’re the only one who cries when her milk lets down. You’re the only one who thinks dark, terrifying thoughts. You’re alone.

One of the most incredible things about doing How Baby is how many mothers have emailed to thank me for talking frankly about postpartum depression – not as something some mothers might experience, but as something this mother did. And you know what? That’s been incredibly healing for me, too. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a parenting guru. When I started How Baby, I didn’t have my shit together – I was just shooting a flare from the deck of my sinking ship, and in the dark of night I saw a hundred other flares light up the sky. By that light, I saw land was closer than I thought, if I could only swim.

I wasn’t alone. You’re not alone.

In your dark of night, I hope you see my flare and follow me to shore.