"I had two hours of sleep last night and I feel like I look like hell, but somehow it's all okay," Gretchen Rossi says of the reality of new motherhood

By Mark Gray
October 30, 2019 01:45 PM
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Gretchen Rossi welcomed her baby girl Skylar Gray this past summer, and quickly learned that motherhood isn’t exactly like how she was led to believe on social media.

“It’s nothing like what Instagram makes it look like. Not even close. It’s nowhere close to that,” the new mom told PEOPLE Friday while attending the Victoria’s Voice fundraiser to combat the epidemic of opioid abuse in Las Vegas.

“I suffered with major postpartum depression and anxiety because of that. I just think that everyone makes everything so shiny and pretty and perfect,” Rossi adds. “It is the most amazing thing, but people really don’t get raw and real about how freaking hard it is and how you really could go through these emotions and these hormones and all these things that are changing in your body. People don’t really talk about it.”

For The Real Housewives of Orange County alum, 42, she has been open about the postpartum depression she had after Skylar’s birth on July 10, but says she used CBD to help her come out on the other side.

“Nobody wants to talk about [postpartum depression],” she says. “So I really found it important that I was open and honest about it. I went on The Doctors and I talked about it, and I went on my Instagram and I was real.”

“I said, ‘Look, this is what I imagined breastfeeding to look like.’ And I put a beautiful picture of me breastfeeding Sky, and I was like, ‘It’s nothing like this. It’s been the hardest thing ever, and I cry and she cries,’ ” Rossi continues. “All this stuff that I was struggling with. I just really wanted to be open and honest.”

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Gretchen Rossi and daughter Skylar
| Credit: Gretchen Rossi/Instagram

She continues, “It’s taboo. I think why it’s taboo is because I think women are embarrassed to feel those emotions towards a child. How can you be depressed and anxiety-driven when you have the most beautiful, precious, perfect gift that was ever given to you? I think that you carry a lot of guilt as a mom with that.”

“The more that moms realize and we talk about the scientific facts behind the fact that you can’t control this — this is truly the hormones in your body that are causing sometimes this to happen for women — [the more] I think that people would feel not so guilty and not so shameful to talk about it,” she adds.

The former reality star’s struggle left her fiancé, Slade Smiley, feeling helpless, but she was still able to make him laugh. As he tells PEOPLE of Rossi, “She cracked me up.”

“She’s like, ‘Look, I had to carry her, I had to birth her. I went through all of this. I’m now breastfeeding, and there you stand with your worthless nipples.’ You get reminded that there’s really nothing we can do,” he recalls. “I was in the corner having a deep conversation with my nipples and told them to be less lazy.”

Gretchen Rossi and daughter Skylar
| Credit: Gretchen Rossi / Instagram

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Now, though, Rossi has found her groove and realizes it was okay to be feeling the way she was. And on Friday, the couple celebrated a milestone with their daughter: her first flight.

“She did really good. We are really proud of her. She didn’t cry. She wasn’t upset. She was so good,” Rossi says.

Although Skylar was being taken care of in the hotel room, Rossi “hates” being away from her baby girl, even if only for a few hours.

“We have so much fun with her. We laugh and giggle and sure, she can cry and get upset and fussy, but you miss it. It’s weird,” she shares. “I had two hours of sleep last night and I feel like I look like hell, but somehow it’s all okay.”