I wanted to take some time out of your day to talk about Postpartum Depression. It’s a real thing, and it affects 1 in 7 women. As women and moms, this may be a hard subject or something we may not want to admit to having.
I was one of those 1 in 7 women. I was 18 when I had my son. Young, graduated and thought I was ready to grow up. I came from a large family. My sister and I did a lot of the parenting. I know what kind of mom I didn’t want to be at a very young age, and had an idea of the type of mom I wanted to be. Needless to say, I wasn’t scared at all when I found out I was pregnant. I was excited and ready… or so I thought.
My pregnancy was a breeze. I had no sickness and didn’t gain a ton of weight like I thought I would. I really indulged in the “eating for two” philosophy. Labour, on the other hand, wasn’t comfortable. Oh man, nobody can get you fully prepared for labour. My (now) husband was a tremendous support through the whole thing. I ended up having an emergency c-section due to my sons’ heartbeat decreasing during the TWO hours of pushing. Sounds extreme right? My son was here, I was happy. I fell in love with this little boy the second I lay eyes on him. He was perfect in every single way.
The days at the hospital where awesome. My family and friends came, and I felt like I wasn’t alone. I was surrounded by everyone I care about.
The days to follow when I got home was what hit me. I remember when we first got home. My mother-in-law came home with us to help get the house prepped for baby. My husband had a little celebration party the night before and hadn’t cleaned up. She was a fantastic help. I specifically remember a moment that still haunts me to this day. She wanted to take a family picture of us together, and our new-born son was crying, and I was trying to console him, yet tears running down my own face, and I had no idea why. She kept insisting we get a “first” family picture the day out of the hospital. I LOVE pictures, and I am ALL about those moments and memories, but I snapped and got mad. I told her NO, I did not want to. I could not get this baby to stop crying, and I am fighting back the tears, why on earth would I want a freaken picture. That is what was going through my mind. I just wanted to be left alone and to get my son to calm down. The first week at home was so hard. I got out of the hospital on a Thursday, and my husband started working out-of-town on Monday. Being alone is NOT what I wanted, and I was terrified. Nobody really talks about the days following. Birth is portrayed as such a beautiful thing (which it is), but there is also a side to having a baby that isn’t brought to light too often. Had I known, I probably would have gone to see my doctor sooner.
My husband was out-of-town working, and I was anything but happy. I could not get this little one to stop crying, and I could not stop crying. I did not eat a single thing for a week after being home because I just was not hungry and my emotions were so crazy. My mom and sister helped me out by taking him for a couple of days so I could get some sleep and so I could reload and get out of this funk. That help was terrific, but at the same time, I felt like I was failing as a mother. Did this baby not like me? Why does he only cry when I have him? Does he not love me? Am I cut out to be a mother? These were things I asked myself daily. It made me so heartbroken. I hated myself for even having these thoughts, and I felt like I was failing as a mother and as a person in general. I loved this little man with all my heart and soul, but I literally felt like he did not even like me!! Kind of silly to think a baby couldn’t want you, but it wandered through my thoughts. I never had harmful thoughts which I am very thankful for.
I remember one day specifically. I was holding my son, and he wouldn’t calm down, so I put him in his crib and walked away in tears. I called my Dad bawling, and he said to me “Dear, you’re an amazing mother. I am so proud of the person you are, and I am so proud of this boy already. Everything will be okay” When my dad said those words, I KNEW everything was going to be okay. My face lite up. I went and grabbed my baby boy and sang his songs and snuggled him until he stopped crying.
I had some pretty amazing support. One of my girlfriends was pregnant and available to talk to at any hour. My baby boy would wake up at midnight for feeding, and I would call her while I fed him and she would always make me laugh with her stories and cheer me up. My in-laws were great. They took our son every third weekend so we could have date nights and keep our relationship fresh. I could never thank them enough for that. One of my work friends used to come over and imitate Dane cook, and he would make me laugh and laugh until I was crying. He will never know how much that meant to me. Thinking back brings tears to my eyes. Knowing I had all these people who helped me get through this, when I didn’t even know what I was going through it, means the world to me. Memories I will always cherish. I have one picture that I look back on, and I can FEEL the emotions that I was feeling in this picture. My son looks like he is smiling. He is crying, and when you look at my face, I look pale and drained. I look as if I am trying so hard to be happy and trying so hard to put on a front like I’m okay. I wasn’t in the slightest.
My postpartum lasted a year. It was tough for the first few months, but I learned to cope and deal with it. It got easier as time went on. I honestly had THE BEST baby. He slept throughout the night at a month old. He was always smiling and such a happy baby. Our bond will forever be so close because we have been through so much together as mother and son. Although it was hard because he cried every time I held him for the first few weeks, he is the one who comforted me the most. Knowing I created this perfect little boy made me so happy. Watching him grow and just being in his presence got me through the day. He was my everything and I hated that I was so down and couldn’t be 100% myself.
4 years later we were expecting our daughter. I did not have postpartum with her, and THIS is when I found out what POSTPARTUM was. My doctor, who I had gone to lots throughout my post-birth had no idea I went through postpartum because well… either did I. She would ask me questions during check-ups but I didn’t know about postpartum so I didn’t talk about my feelings because I did not want to be labeled as a “bad mom”. This time around she was asking me questions about post birth and I answered honestly. She was shocked and told me “you don’t need to try to be so strong this time if you happen to go through this again”. I am going to tell you that even though I did not have postpartum after my daughter, I did go through a lot of emotions and guilt kicked in.
I felt so guilty that my son had to deal with this mom who “didn’t have it all together” for his first year and my daughter had this “put together” mom.
I was so hard on myself and actually kept my son home from school one day just so I could snuggle him and give him some quality one on one time. I was so thankful to be free of postpartum this time around but at the same time felt so guilty for my son. I still carry this guilt today, but I now know why I was having these feelings and what they were.
My son and I have a fantastic relationship. At the end of the day, I have become a stronger person. I am able to talk about it with new moms and offer some advice and tell them my story and how I got through it. If you are going through this and need someone to talk to, I am always here. You are NOT alone, and you do not have to be scared and never be ashamed. It happens. Talk to your doctor or midwife.
I pulled this information from a helpful website that I found on Postpartum.
The warning signs are different for everyone but may include:
- A loss of pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy, including sex
- Eating much more, or much less, than you usually do
- Anxiety—all or most of the time—or panic attacks
- Racing, scary thoughts
- Feeling guilty or worthless—blaming yourself
- Excessive irritability, anger or agitation—mood swings
- Sadness, crying uncontrollably for very long periods of time
- Fear of not being a good mother
- Fear of being left alone with the baby
- Inability to sleep, sleeping too much, difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Disinterest in the baby, family, and friends
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby (see below for numbers to call to get immediate help).
If these warning signs or symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, you may need to get help. Whether your symptoms are mild or severe, recovery is possible with proper treatment.
- Don’t face PPD alone—Seek help from a psychologist or other licensed mental health
provider; contact your doctor or other primary health care provider.
- Talk openly about your feelings with your partner, other mothers, friends, and relatives.
- Join a support group for mothers—ask your health care provider for suggestions if you
can’t find one.
- Find a relative or close friend who can help you take care of the baby.
- Get as much sleep or rest as you can even if you have to ask for more help with the baby
—if you can’t rest even when you want to, tell your primary health care provider.
- As soon as your doctor or other primary health care provider says it’s okay, take walks, get exercise.
- Try not to worry about unimportant tasks—be realistic about what you can really do while
taking care of a new baby.
- Cut down on less important responsibilities
Postpartum depression is not your fault–it is a real, but treatable, psychological disorder.
If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, take action now:
Put the baby in a safe place, like a crib. Call a friend or family member for help if you need to.