"Don't take up a man's time talking about the smartness of you children; he wants to talk to you about the smartness of his children."

Postpartum depression left me feeling empty with holes I didn't know how to fill

Nine weeks after giving birth to my daughter, I scheduled a horseback riding lesson. I'd been stuck under a wave of postpartum depression that was stubbornly lingering, like the cold damp that refused to let up even though the calendar said spring. The advice from everyone—friends, family, even my doctor—was to do something for myself, something I had enjoyed pre-baby.

Horses, I thought. Horses would be that. My weekly lessons had never failed to bring me joy. I loved everything about the barn: the sweet smell of sweat and hay, the way curious heads poked out over the half doors of their stall, the feel of the leather tack, the power and harmony and effort it took to make the riding look seamless, effortless.

Horses were supposed to make me feel better. They always had before. But when the day of my lesson arrived, everything that could go wrong was going wrong. My daughter had received her first round of shots the day before and was more fussy and clingy than she'd ever been, sleeping poorly and waking up hourly to chomp at my breast.

After a night spent holding and rocking her, I watched dawn break to that annoying in-between rain/not rain— the kind of mist that somehow...

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