"I WILL Get Better"
Postpartum depression is not something I was educated on nor thought about prior to having my daughter. I am sharing my story in hopes of educating other women and to let them know that they are not alone.
My whole life I had this strong desire to have children. When I was about 6 I remember putting on my Christmas wish list that I wanted a baby. (A real baby!) I obviously didn’t get what I asked for and of course was upset. I never forgot about this silly Christmas wish list so when I got pregnant I thought “oh my god I’m finally getting my wish!”
I had set up this picture perfect image in my head of what motherhood looked like so when PPD hit me like a storm, I felt sad, embarrassed, and, most importantly, robbed, of this beautiful thing called motherhood. I remember my mother looking at my daughter in the hospital and saying “don’t you just love her” and me thinking “I don’t know”. I felt like I couldn’t say that out loud because what kind of animal doesn’t love their child right away. So I lied and said yes.
On the second day after having my daughter, I called my mom sobbing because my parents and husband were not at the hospital first thing in the morning. I quickly brushed it off thinking it was just me being exhausted after being up all night with my daughter.
When I finally got home from the hospital I felt like I couldn’t let anyone else take care of my daughter and wanting to be in control of EVERYTHING. Even though I had my parents and my husband there to help, I felt this strong need to do everything. Because of this, I only allowed myself some time to shower in the evening. I found myself sobbing in the shower and not fully understanding why. I hid it from my parents and husband for a couple days but it got to the point where I could no longer hide it and finally told them. My husband being a doctor and my mother having experienced it a little herself, explained to me that it was completely normal and it was called “baby blues”.
The crying spells went on for about 4 weeks, but only at night. It was like someone flipped a switch on me mentally and physically at night. When the crying began to subside I remember thinking “oh thank god it was just baby blues it’s not postpartum depression!”
For the next 2 months the obsession of breastfeeding difficulties had consumed me. I was looking for every reason as to why it was so difficult and painful for me. I even took my daughter to the doctor one evening in a panic thinking she had thrush and the doctor said it was just a milk stain on her tongue! I eventually came to the realization that nursing was not working for us so I decided to pump exclusively. Pumping is a job in itself but I thought I HAVE to give her breast milk no matter what.
Around 4 months postpartum, a week before going back to work, I had my first experience of insomnia. Prior to having my daughter I was a master sleeper. My friends and husband always made fun of me for the amount of sleep I did. So when I had insomnia that first time I felt a sense of panic. I now know this is a common symptom from PPD and postpartum anxiety.
The sleepless nights became worse and triggered even worse crying spells than before. My daughter was finally sleeping but I wasn’t. I couldn’t understand why. The insomnia eventually got so bad that I FINALLY went to my doctor in desperation. I explained to her my symptoms and she confirmed that I have PPD. She also suggested that I stop pumping so that I could get a period back. I remember thinking how could this happen to me. I thought PPD was just women who hurt their babies. Such an uneducated thought on my part because I now know that is so not true and there are many different symptoms and levels of PPD.
I quickly got put on antidepressants and began therapy once a week with a therapist that specializes in postpartum depression. I am extremely fortunate enough to live near a city that has some of the most trained professionals in PPD.
My therapist educated me on how PPD starts and forms. It really put it into perspective for me when all I could think of is “why is this happening to me?!”
PPD stems from 3 different areas.
1. Your hormones-
Directly after pregnancy, your hormone levels are way out of whack
I had not had a period yet because I was still pumping so my hormone levels were definitely out of whack.
2. Personality type-
Are you type A? Do you like things a certain way and/or need to be in control of situations?
Double yes for me!
3. Social Life-
Is there something going on with your friends and/or family?
Yes for me- My mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer the EXACT day I found out I was pregnant.
Throughout this whole journey my husband has emphasized that I WILL get better. When I was in the deepest darkest part of PPD I felt like I was the only one who feels this way and it will never get better.
I can now tell you that I AM better. I am still having some nights of trouble falling asleep but I sleep normal most nights and rarely cry anymore after only about 2 months on the antidepressants and seeing a therapist. I am not 100% just yet, but I know I will continue to get better each day.
My daughter is now 7 months old and she is the love of my life. I finally feel this love for her that I so wished for my whole life and motherhood is beginning to feel a little more like how I envisioned.
I have learned so much about myself and about PPD from my therapist that I feel this need to help other women. Especially women that do not have the resources I am blessed to have. Thank you for letting me share my story! Let's end the stigma!