On Postpartum Rage: Author Molly Caro May Unpacks Female Anger

Creative, Writer

“I had this duty call to tell the raw and the hard part of my story to normalize it, which became part of my healing process."

01/19/18

interviewed by Natalie Pattillo

Iconversation

Rage started bubbling for Molly Caro May before her daughter was born. Her anger stemmed from feeling sick and vomiting often throughout her entire pregnancy. She figured the feelings would pass after she gave birth—and it did. But when she got her first postpartum period three months later, the rage returned, and this time, it came full force.

"I think that's when the hormones shifted. Right before I got my period and not knowing that it was coming, I felt like I wanted to destroy everything," she says. "I wanted to destroy the food in front of me. I wanted to destroy the laundry pile. I did not want to destroy my daughter, thank God. I definitely wanted to destroy my marriage and my husband. I felt like a tornado."

Much like bouts of depression after pregnancy, postpartum rage doesn't have a single cause, but likely results from hormonal shifts as well as physical and emotional factors. At the time, Molly didn’t turn to Google searching “postpartum rage” for answers. Instead, she felt like the intense anger was normal for a mom with a newborn.

“I've felt angry before in my life and it wasn't new for me. For me, it was hard at first to understand the hormonal piece. I felt like, of course I'm angry at my husband because he did x, y, or z,” she says. “Or of course I'm mad because I'm incontinent and I'm peeing all over myself and no one I knew was doing that."

Molly did, thankfully, turn to her trusted naturopathic doctor, who ran blood tests and found that a hormonal imbalance fanned the flames of her fury. Three months after Molly’s period, she was diagnosed with postpartum hypothyroidism, a condition that can cause irritability, fatigue, and rapid heart beats. Shortly after, she found out that she was coping with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which heightened desires to destroy everything but her daughter. She felt ashamed for not being more joyful and wished that her rage, a feeling that came in waves, would just disappear completely. With the help of her longtime therapist and paying close attention to her body and menstrual cycle, Molly was able to cope. Part of her journey was learning to identify what was healthy and unhealthy anger as well as knowing how to direct it without letting it boil under the surface.

Throughout her healing process, Molly realized even more how women, and specifically moms, have zero room for error. Culturally, it’s ingrained for women to pretend like every is all fine and dandy. We forget or discount how exhausting that can be, especially after pregnancy and childbirth. When your inner core is boiling with emotions that are fueled by physical health conditions and hormonal imbalances, how are you supposed to tamper that down? And more importantly, why can’t we talk about it candidly (damn it!)?

“We talk about women lying on the couch crying in the postpartum period or they don't want to have sex or they feel alone and crazy within an instant,” Molly explains. “But you don't hear about women wanting to throw a glass towards the window or throw something at their husband. I understand now that it is because, we as culture, until 2017, don't do angry women. An angry woman is not OK and an angry mother is definitely not ok because motherhood is 'soft' and 'pink' and 'cuddly.' We just don't associate those words together...angry and mother."

Being a storyteller and artist, Molly journaled everything she was going through and feeling. Then, when her daughter turned 2, she realized that she had word documents filled with notes that would be powerful material for a book. No one had written a raw and honest book about postpartum, and she wanted to fill that void. Molly, a published author, is also the co-founder of Thunderhead Writers’ Collective. She received a writing fellowship at the Taft Nicholson Environmental Humanities Center, where she wrote the first draft of second book, Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage Into Motherhood. She wrote quickly and furiously. After Molly submitted her first draft, her editor said it was obvious that she wrote it “'with [her] hair on fire.'”

Every morning, while writing the first draft and going through several rounds of edits, Molly would tell herself, “This book healed me and will heals others." The only challenge for Molly was the worries of taking away from her daughter's narrative. "The earliest years of her life would immortalized in the book," she says. 

Molly remedied that by asking friends to send her memories that they have with her daughter. That way, her daughter would have a separate memory bank that wasn't just coming from Molly. 

“I wrote it not to say that my story is special, but to say that I hadn't seen many stories out there about rage or postpartum rage in particular,” she shared. “I had this duty call to tell the raw and the hard part of my story to normalize it, which became part of my healing process."

Wanna meet Molly in person and rage out? Here's a rundown of her book tour:

January 25th: Moods + Moms New, York, NY at Icon Undies HQ 

Molly May will be reading from her new book Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage Into Motherhood. Afterwards, she'll join Dr. Kelly Brogan, Latham Thomas, Dr. Venus Mahmoodi, and Lindsey Vestal for a moderated panel on female rage . RSVP today!

Jan 24th: Brooklyn, NY, Books Are Magic @ 7:30pm

Feb 21st: San Francisco, CA, Books, Inc @ 7pm

Mar 1st: Chicago, IL, Women and Children First @ 7pm

 *~Follow us on Instagram! We'll be posting about Molly's book and how you  can win a copy!~* 

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