When I was asked to be a guest blogger and share my experience having postpartum depression (PPD), I was so excited. They wanted me? Really? Wow, am I interesting enough to be a guest blogger?
After my excitement wore off, fear set in. Now that I’m feeling better (PPD free) I find it’s really hard to write about my experience living with depression. Just reading other people’s PPD blogs sucks me into a vortex so deep, it’s hard not to get sucked back into the old feelings of pain, sadness and alienation I felt just a few short months ago. Most times, even just the mention of having PPD makes me sad, and sets off a cry-fest.
But, I know that talking about it is therapeutic – not only for me, but for other mom’s out there who may be experiencing the same emotions, and for husbands trying to figure out how to be supportive in such difficult times.
So, here’s a little bit about me and my story as a postpartum depression surviving momma of one, with another on the way.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. My son was due May 28, 2010 but he decided to cook for an extra 7 days. On June 4, 2010 my husband and I obeyed the doctor’s orders to check in at the hospital, we were going to see if this baby boy was ready to be born. Well, he wasn’t but letting him cook longer wasn’t an option and the induction procedure moved ahead full force. I was a bit nervous to be induced but really wanted to get the show on the road so to speak so I was all for the induction. Not long after the medication had been administered did the baby’s heart rate drop extremely low. Twice the nurses and doctor had to rush in to help get the baby’s heart rate back up. It was so scary and fast. Next thing I knew, the doctor was saying an emergency c-section was needed, we weren’t taking any chances to let the baby’s heart rate drop again, they were worried that he was reacting to the medication, or worst, the umbilical cord may be wrapped around his neck.
Fast forward a few hours, our little boy was born super healthy and robust, and we were left to rest and recover in the hospital. Next came the feeding – he hungrily latched on to my breast, it hurt a bit but I wasn’t complaining. I was just amazed that he knew what to do.
But then things took a turn for the worst. He couldn’t get any colostrum from each feeding, my nipples wouldn’t cooperate (one decided to invert out of the blue) and he ended up with jaundice. The nurses were trying to help show me how to get him to latch, reminding me how important breast milk was and how inferior a choice formula would be. They were just doing their job, but man, did I ever feel like an utter failure as a mother. Most of the nurses were trying to support my decision to breast feed, and my family, seeing me struggle and struggle, tried to reassure me that if I wanted to give the baby formula it was perfectly fine.
I felt caught in the middle and felt so useless. First a c-section with no labour, then no breastfeeding? What was wrong with me? One of the most miraculous things about pregnancy and being a mother is getting to experience giving birth, I didn’t even know what a contraction felt like, then my baby had to be surgically removed from me because my body practically attacked him. Now, I can’t even feed him?
I felt totally ripped off and was so angry at my body, and everyone else who just couldn’t understand how I felt.
I really think that’s when my postpartum depression started, but to tell you the truth, I only recently realized this.
After our hospital stay, for weeks and weeks, I thought I had a really bad case of the baby blues. But thinking back to when we were finally home and rested, if someone even mentioned “Hey Jen, I think the baby is hungry,” I would have a hysterical cry-fest, and would scream at everyone for making me feel like a failure at being a new mom. Everyone was convinced it was baby blues, even my dad tried to comfort me and reassure me that these hormonal baby blues wouldn’t last very long and I’d feel “normal” again in no time.
Fast forward six months later, I was still feeling really sad, overwhelmed and extremely short on patience with everyone in my life. I was mad that my husband got to go to work while I stayed home alone with the baby. I was mad that my friends’ babies were older and sleeping through the night. I was mad that I had to spend so much money on formula, to watch this little baby spit half of it up on our leather couches. I got angry if the baby was fussy.
Then I’d get sad that I got mad. Then uncontrollable guilt would set in. It sounds so silly but it’s true. My emotions were literally all over the place. I fantasized about running away. I was the worst mother to ever walk the earth; surely everyone would live a better quality of life if I just packed my bags and ran away.
It was such a terrible emotion to be feeling when I wanted this baby so badly. I had everything I could ever want, a husband who was just amazing, a beautiful home, a dog, a baby boy, lot’s of friends, a crazy close family and a wonderful career. So why was I so sad, angry and ungrateful?
I thought it was just the adjustment of having a new baby and really didn’t think much of it until my mom and husband encouraged me to go see my doctor.
It came to no surprise to our family doctor that I was suffering from PPD, after all, she’d been keeping an eye on me each month as I brought the baby for his monthly check ups. I think she was just waiting for me to open up to her about how I’d been feeling. Looking back, she was probably going to just stage an intervention if the crying visits went on any longer…and I can’t say that I’d blame her!
As much as I was really upset and kind of ashamed to have PPD, I was happy to have such a sympathetic doctor who helped me to understand the different degrees and kinds of PPD. With the help of some medication, and my family’s encouragement to join a local postpartum depression support group, I finally had the tools I’d need to get myself some help.
I think the best part was how it felt to be able to just talk about it and be able to put a label on how I had been feeling. Knowing and understanding what I had (and it’s so common) made me feel so much better and optimistic about my road to recovery.
My little guy is two years old now and I’m expecting again. I’m due in September and while I am free from depression now, I know that the risks of getting PPD are a bit higher since I’m predisposed to it now. I’m scared about what my experience will be with a newborn and a toddler in tow, but, I’m hopeful that with the support of my family, friends and amazing doctor, I’ll be able to kick PPD in the butt once again if needed.
If there is someone out there reading this blog that thinks they might have PPD or maybe has a friend who is going through a tough time post-partum, here are a few links I found that have really helped me understand this condition.
Postpartum Depression – Canadian Mental Health Association
Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? – Women’s Health Matters
Jennifer is communications professional by day/blogger and postpartum depression surviving full-time mommy always. She’s a social media junkie, obsessed with coffee, blogging, celebrity gossip and online shopping. Visit her blog at http://morningcoffeeconfessions.blogspot.com.