By Kelsey on August 13, 2012 52

Why I Got Postpartum Depression

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my postpartum depression, and wondering why it hit me so hard.

No one knows the exact cause.

For a while I called it postpartum anxiety, because the word depression has such a bad connotation, and I don’t want people to think that I ever considered throwing my baby out the window.

I have gotten less embarrassed about talking about it in person (it was fairly easy to share on the blog, but not so much in person), and it’s my newfound effort in life to make sure other women know how common it is to feel down in the weeks after birthing a baby. I know not everyone deals with it, but I’d love to remove the stigma around it.

There are lots of forms of postpartum mental health disease, and I find it difficult to diagnose myself. I saw my midwives during it, but basically they just gave me a questionnaire to fill out and I “passed” to the point where they let me decide whether or not to seek medication and counseling. I probably had a combination of these:

  • baby blues
  • postpartum depression
  • postpartum anxiety
  • postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder

Whatever I had, I can’t help but try to figure out how to NOT get it next time.

Was it because…

  • I tried to breastfeed, and that responsibility made me anxious?
  • Breastfeeding didn’t work for us, and I wanted it to?
  • I didn’t fully expect what it would be like to become a mom–the weight of the responsibility?
  • My delivery was traumatic?
  • I didn’t get an epidural?
  • Hormones are just crazy?
  • I am a deeply emotional person?
  • I am terrible at dealing with change?
  • My identity was based on going to work, leaving the house and wearing a cute outfit?
  • I have more anxiety than other people in my “normal” state, and therefore I am more susceptible?
  • I was overwhelmed with having family around and trying to figure out the baby?
  • I just need my sleep?!

Those are all things I’ve wondered. Maybe they all had an affect. I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know…

  • It came on about one week after she was born (which is common).
  • I did not go on medication. I’m not saying that’s the right decision for everyone, but it’s what I decided to do.
  • My blues/depression was crazy for a couple weeks, and then faded away over time.
  • It faded a lot the exact day I decided to quit breastfeeding.

Even now, I occasionally get flare-ups of the blues. Sometimes Eric gets a little down, too, when we are spread too thin. So I think it’s common for new parents. A couple weekends ago I told him to get out of the house on a bike ride to get rid of the blues he was having, and that seemed to help. We all need to take care of ourselves before we can give our best to others.

Next time…

  • I am considering placenta encapsulation.
  • I want to try breastfeeding again, but I strongly wonder if I have the dedication required.
  • I’ll be more aware of what I’m feeling and what is making me feel that way.
  • I hope Eric can take more than a week off of work.
  • Could be completely different!

Every time I’m around a mom (old or new), I ask if they enjoyed being pregnant, how their labors were, how breastfeeding went and how they transitioned into new motherhood. For some, the transition was joyful, and then there are others who will admit that they felt like I did. I try to find consistencies that line up with my own experience.

It’s my own little form of postpartum research. It fascinates me!

I’m curious of your thoughts!

 

Facebook Discussion

Facebook Discussion

Kelsey

I love my husband, my daughter and the Internet.

  1. I encapsulated my placenta and I am so glad I did- would definitely recommend it!

  2. I plan to encapsulate my placenta. I’ve heard it really helps.

  3. this is the first i have ever heard of placenta encapsulation. i plan on looking into it further.

    i cant think you enough for sharing. i only have just over 2 months left of my pregnancy and i am building up anxiety about this. it helps to read posts like this so i can acknowledge and identify my own feelings when/if the time comes.

  4. Wow, this line was SO me: “My identity was based on going to work, leaving the house and wearing a cute outfit?” I can’t believe you said that, I’m not sure I even realized it myself, but reading it I thought: “Oh my gosh, that’s exactly how I felt”.

    I’m on maternity leave right now and I’m feeling ok now, but the first few weeks I struggled with not knowing what in the world to DO with myself and I felt down about not being productive – such a weird feeling! Every day gets better I think, and I bet you’d agree :)

    • I’m due in just a few short weeks, and am planning on breastfeeding. Just wondering how prepared you felt before Rooney was born? I have taken a breastfeeding class, and read books about it, and am still worried that I will be devastated if it doesn’t work out. Did you feel that you got adequate help with the process while you were in the hospital? My sister just gave birth about 3 weeks ago to a little girl, and has switched to formula. To me, it didn’t seem like she had the support she needed to be successful. Any advice you could give about preparing before the little one arrives, or things you may have done differently?

      • Missy – it sounds like you are doing some great things to get breastfeeding off to a good start! Knowing what issues may come up and some solution ideas is really great info to have in your back pocket. My suggestions are to seek out a local La Leche League group – the support of other breastfeeding moms was really helpful for me when learning how to breastfeed and tackling issues as they came up. One thing that was a great support for me was to have people around me on-board and supportive of my desire to breastfeed. Those first few weeks, my only job was to feed that baby and rest/recover – the people around me were doing everything else (cooking, bringing me food and water, changing baby diapers, making sure I had what I needed, entertaining guests, etc)!

      • I felt quite prepared, actually. Mostly from watching my sister do it with three kids (twins and then a singleton). It seemed simple enough! I would keep those books handy for when your baby comes, and read them while feeding. Call the lactation consultant every time you feed in the hospital, and after you go home if you have any questions. Find a support group (which is great for making you get out of the house!) that you can go to.

        That said, I did all of that. All of it. And no, I don’t think I got adequate help. I was left feeling like I still had a lot to figure out, and on my own. It is very tricky. An art and a science. Nothing simple or natural-feeling about it. I’ve heard that the first couple weeks are the hardest – even when everything is going “well.”

        We had lots issues. I could have continued, yes, but I would have been miserable. I really hope it works for you!!! But don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t.

        The one thing I wish I had done: give myself a goal. Once I figured out I wasn’t going to make it a year, I didn’t have much else to work toward.

        P.S. How fun for you and your sister to have babies around the same time!

        • Thank you all for the support! I actually delivered via c-section the afternoon I posted this! The hospital stay was really hard on us, baby Henry had to stay in NICU for 5 days, but we are home now and figuring things out….that being said, breastfeeding is taking its toll, I’m not going to give up yet, but all of your advice, and knowing that I’m not the only one who has these feelings helps me out SO much!

      • Missy,

        I did all the things you did and you will be glad that you’ve prepared so much. However, if I could give anyone any advice, it would be to accept that you are going to be bad at it for awhile. I didn’t and my self confidence took a dive for a few weeks. I wanted to be perfect…and it didn’t help that everyone was asking, watching amd analyzing my approach in that time period either. After you get the basics, look at nursing sessions as practice. Take a few deep breaths (maybe a sip of wine), get as much privacy as possible and just allow what’s going to happen to happen. The calmer you stay, the calmer your baby will be. My best nursing sessions happened when I was all alone with no one to judge the outcome or hear how long it took to latch.

      • I’m due in December, and I’m currently reading Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding that I picked up from my local library. So far I feel like it has been helpful in preparing me for breastfeeding. She even suggests things pregnant women can do to prepare. Someone also suggested to me reading the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Good luck!

    • I do agree! Once I got more comfortable leaving the house, we were at Target almost every day just so I could feel productive :)

  5. Much of what you said really hits close to my heart and experience as well. I tend to have a lot of anxiety in normal life, and after having my daughter it got worse. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but looking back on my experience now, I know I was dealing with some combination of post-partum depression and anxiety. I’ve gained a lot of insight from a blog called Post-Partum Progress (http://www.postpartumprogress.com/).
    It makes me sad to hear you say you think you might not have the determination to breastfeed a second baby. I read your posts about your attempts to breastfeed and was blown away by your determination! For me, if there was anything that helped with the anxiety or depression (and there wasn’t much), it was breastfeeding my baby. The first few weeks were really tough, but once we got into a groove, it’s been a great relaxing, snuggle time with my baby – even now at 22 months.

    I can really relate to the feeling of an identity crisis after an abrupt change from a go-go-go career woman to being on maternity leave. I remember feeling like someone slammed the breaks on my life, it just stopped. I started my leave a week before the due date and I do feel like that break or pause before the big change helped a bit.

    Talking to a professional marriage and family counselor was probably the most help for me getting though the depression and anxiety.

    If and when we are ready to add to our family again, I might consider medication to help deal with the anxiety. I think I will be better at recognizing it in the future and giving myself more grace.

    Thank you for your brave honesty in this post.

    • Hi Moxy! It’s curious to hear you say that breastfeeding helped with your anxiety. I kind of feel like it CAUSED mine, but maybe if I had been able to continue, my hormones would have leveled out a bit more gradually. I don’t know. Regardless, I think A LOT about what our lives would be like if I was breastfeeding. I would treasure knowing that what she was getting was the perfect food for her (since we have seen the imperfections of formula), but at times I just can’t wrap my head around the sacrifice. I salute all breastfeeding moms! And I pray that it works out with my next child. You’re right – I was SO determined with Rooney. I will be as determined next time. We just ran into so many issues…more than most, I think!

      • I totally agree that breastfeeding helped with my baby blues because it gave me something to focus on and a new role when all my roles and tasks were changing so quickly. It also helped my hormones taper off more slowly than abruptly. BUT I will say that in the beginning (like the first two weeks) breastfeeding was HARD, we had TONS of issues come up and it was the source of lots of tears and frustration. No judgement on quitting at all, but I would totally encourage you to try again if you want to.

        Although for full disclosure, I will say that even though I got over my baby blues and I think breastfeeding really helped I had this very mild, in the way back recesses of my mind feeling of “not feeling like myself” that didn’t fully go away until after I weaned my daughter. I don’t know if it was hormonal or just part of the feeling of sacrifice when you life kinda revolves around breastfeeding down to what kind of clothes you wear!

  6. Hi Kelsey,
    I had a baby just over 3 month ago. I don’t know if the placenta helped but my baby blues only lasted about a week (the worst of it anyway). Obviously as this is my first baby I have no idea if it would have been any different had I not used the placenta…
    Other than the hormones, I think what got me in such a state of anxiety was the birth trauma (I had a natural home birth that last 5h30, which I realise is pretty good, but the pain was INTENSE and I didn’t have the time to get my head around the fact that my baby was about to be born).
    I am sure not having had epidural was a good thing rather than a bad (on how it affected your post-partum anxiety).
    And finally I think I didn’t realise what having a baby would be like for me.. the weight of the responsibility, you know? I think we tend to romanticise the baby and parenthood a lot when we are pregnant and it can be quite a reality check when we finally meet our little ones ;)

    • My labor (starting with my water breaking) lasted 4h30, so very quick as well. The reason I say that maybe I should have gotten an epidural was because it could have helped slow it down, which may have eased the emotional roller coaster I felt through such an intense, painful and overwhelming delivery. (I think you and I had a very similar experience!) And I know what you mean about the weight of the responsibility!

      • I also had an extremely fast labor with my first (like you Kelsey, 4 hours) and felt seriously traumatized by the experience. I felt like a caged, wild animal during labor, and then my son had to be resuscitated and intubated in front of me. It took me a long time to get over the trauma, and I did experience feelings like PTSD.

        When I became pregnant with my second I was extremely depressed and struggled because prenatal depression is perhaps even less discussed than post-partum depression. I really think a great deal of that (besides hormones – which count for a lot), was terrible anxiety about a second labor experience. The good news is that even though my second birth was even faster (two hours), it was SO much less intense. My body just seemed ready for it this time.

        I guess this is a long-winded way of saying, first, I feel like I can identify with your experience, and second – that you might just be able to look forward to a much better experience the second time around.. I feel very lucky that that is how it turned out for me!

        • I am praying that next time is much smoother. I already want to try again because I feel like I can do better! Which I know I don’t have much control over…I just hate how it went the first time.

          I’ve heard very little about prenatal depression. Have you ever written about it on your blog?

        • Meagan – I definitely experienced prenatal depression in my first trimester. I had never heard the term “prenatal depression” before. I can’t even wrap my mind around having another child and going through that again. Even though people tell you that every pregnancy is different, I don’t know how I would manage it again while also having a child to care for.

      • I can’t remember if you prepared for a natural birth, or if the speed took the choice away! Regardless, I recommend Hypnobabies. I used it with both of my pregnancies and feel it helped me tremendously with pregnancy/birth anxiety and with maintaining perspective while actually in labor. My first labor was 5hrs, my second 3hrs and while they were intense, I look back on the experiences with excitement and joy (the kids and I watch their birth videos every year on their birthdays). I know not everyone is going to “love” giving birth, but I hope the next experience isn’t traumatizing.

        • I wanted a natural birth so bad! And I’m so proud that I did it! I’ve heard nothing but great things about Hypnobabies, so I may look into it more next time. I would be absolutely shocked if it took the pain away during the transition phase of labor. :)

          • It does not take the pain away, but makes it manageable. Rather than focusing on how intense the sensations are, you focus on breathing, relaxing your jaw (it’s amazing how much your whole body relaxes when you take the tension out of your face), and imagery of your body doing as it was designed, opening up allowing your baby to be born. And knowing that when it’s most intense and you’re feeling like maybe you can’t do it, that means it’s almost over and in any minute you can push and meet your baby. You essentially “program” your thinking your third trimester to be less about worrying and more about being sure of how awesome your body is, how everything is going to be great. The mind is powerful!

  7. Kelsey,
    My labor started at 5 am (on 3/11/12) and baby girl was born at ten till 8 am. I ordered the epideral and they didn’t get it in time. Tramatic was a good word for what was going on. :)

    I also struggled tremendously with breastfeeding and am currently exclusively pumping. (We’ve nursed in the past month maybe twice…I have to catch her in a REALLY good and patient mood because she knows the bottle is easier)

    I think a lot of my issues stemmed from a lot of anxiety that I was going to fail…and the connection I now see is that EVERYONE is watching those first few weeks. Family is there to help, and Dad is there to help…but at the same time, it’s all on your shoulders to get ‘it’ (breastfeeding, motherhood, your homones, your game face) together. No one will admit it, and while everyone is very well intentioned, I felt like I was on stage for the first several weeks.

    If I could do breastfeeding over I would have accepted help for the basics, but then I would have reached down and tried to find my self confidence somewhere, trusted that my baby and I could figure it out and find somewhere peaceful and private to be together…and then not have ‘reported’ how it went afterwards. I know that everyone was just waiting to say ‘OH GOOD!’ —but when you can’t share a happy report, it just throws you into a deeper pit. (sorry to say ‘you’, obviously I mean me) :)

    ANYWAY..I honestly think it was people like you who spoke honestly that helped me most. Knowing that I wasn’t the only person struggling helped me feel like less of a failure and allowed me to cut myself some slack.

    • You are a great mama! (And that is so awesome for Corinne that you are still pumping. What a lucky girl!)

      Honestly, I’m so glad I could help in some way. Maybe some day we’ll get to meet in person!

  8. Kelsey I just love how honest you are in your blog:) love reading them! I just had my second baby, a girl, 6 weeks ago. I can relate to youre feelings as my blues were worst this time around. I blame it in part on having a girl. I was much more emotional during and after pregnancy this time around. My first kiddo is a boy and I know others who have had the same experience when having girls. Also I’ve breastfed both of my kids and the second time its MUCH easier! You just know what to do and its not nearly as stressful this time around! Moral of my story… Next time will most likely be completely different:)

    • That is so interesting about boys/girls. I hadn’t heard that! My friend Danielle, who shared her PPD story with me and really helped me share mine, had a boy. But maybe there is some truth to it! Hmm. I hope you’re right and that it’s completely different next time!

  9. First of all, I know the EXACT feeling you’re talking about when you decided to quite breastfeeding because I felt the same wave of relief wash over me when I made that tough choice. Like you, I’d like to try breastfeeding my second child but I really don’t feel the dedication to it like I did while I was pregnant with my first.

    Second of all, the whole your identity was based on going to work and taking pictures of yourself in a cute outfit thing … totally get that too. Right after I graduated college we moved from TX to Pennsylvania and I had the opportunity to be a full time stay at home mum. Since we didn’t have any family in the area and didn’t really want to put our daughter in daycare, I took the opportunity. Almost immediately I began feeling depressed. We spent a lot of days just hanging out at home or running errands and, to put it simply, I’m just not one of those ladies that dresses up to hang out at home. It was simple dress, jeans and t-shirts for me. Gone were the pretty heels and the lovely pencil skirts. I felt guilty and depressed for a VERY long time because I felt like I was sloppy and I knew my blog was suffering because of it. It has been a long road to figuring out who I am if I’m not a full time student and part time blogger in addition to being a full time mum. Sometimes I still have a hard time with it.

    All in all, I’d say it is pretty hard to narrow it down to exactly what caused your depression. However, that being said, the fact that you have a list and ideas of what it COULD be will be monumentally helpful when you have your next child. I think the biggest thing to remember is that, no matter what, it is a stressful endeavor … especially for people who don’t handle stress well (myself included). But being prepared for those feelings can sometimes be half the battle.

  10. Truthfully, I didn’t have to deal with postpartum depression (although, for whatever reason, I felt CERTAIN that I would be inflicted with it).

    I’m glad you’re sharing openly about it, and that you’re not assigning self blame (as if depression is anyone’s “fault”).

    I just wanted to chime in and say you look absolutely beautiful in that photo of you holding Rooney.

  11. I spent a lot of time researching pregnancy and delivery, and not enough time researching what to do after baby arrived. DUH. What was I thinking?

    On the other hand, I don’t think there is much you can do to (emotionally) prepare for a new baby. Once you’re in the thick of things… it’s easier to determine what you need help with (and what resources to pursue.)

    For some people, breastfeeding comes SO naturally; for others it’s a struggle. Some people have been around babies before, so they know how to change diapers or interact with newborn babies, while others don’t have a clue. Obviously, it’s different for every person; and sometimes I resent the person who tells me to try this-or-that because it worked for them. (Because it DIDN’T or DOESN’T work for me) –but other times, I think what a lifesaver to hear another’s perspective! And babies are so fickle! What works for two weeks might not work thereafter. So then back to the drawing board. :)

    I wish there were more support groups for new mothers. I attend a weekly breastfeeding support group at Lutheran Hospital in DSM, and I also attend a “birth and beyond” class. It’s nice to be around other first-time moms and to be able to ask questions, but I still don’t feel like it’s enough. It would be nice to go just talk about the EMOTION of being a mom. The pressures, the perks, the downfalls. It is a lot of pressure to be responsible for another human being and to be the one who is supposed to have the instincts and all the answers. Because really, sometimes I have no answer and no clue!

    But the one thing that I’ve enjoyed… the consistencies that I’ve found with motherhood so far… is that if you find someone on a similar path as you, it’s nice to compare and trade stories, advice, etc.

    I am a breastfeeding, stay-at-home mom, so I enjoy talking to breastfeeding, stay-at-home mothers to hear about their experience. Do they leave the house very often? Do they get dressed (with makeup) every day? What is their schedule like? How do they entertain baby all day, and do they get anything done besides care taking? Does dad help very much when he gets home from work and when does mom get a “break”? –It’s all a balancing act, and it’s the coolest job in the whole world, to be the one to figure out your baby and your family. As a mom, you’ll know your baby better than anyone, and how awesome it is to try to see your baby thriving once you’ve *sort of* figured it out. Every day and every stage, there’s a learning experience, so I don’t think I’ll ever feel 100% confident in what I do or how I mother, but I do feel like I get better every day. When I snuggle my baby boy close, breathe in his smell and see his happy smile… I relish the moment; I say a little prayer of gratitude, and I hope. I hope for happiness, good health and I especially hope that what I’m doing is good enough. Hope is good.

    • I went to that same breastfeeding support group :) I really liked the consultant there!

      I’m a formula feeding, working mom – and it feels so weird to type that out. I never thought I would be either of those. And I agree, I love talking about mommy things with anyone who will talk back to me! Or, I just read their blogs :)

    • OK, now you have me fascinated. I think it’s very interesting that your symptoms drastically improved when you stopped breastfeeding. I am just now in the process of weaning and have just begun the depression myself. What’s interesting is that my baby is 1. By this point, I don’t think they call it postpartum.

      I also had a very traumatic (and very quick with no time for an epidural) delivery. I too had an intensely hard time breastfeeding, producing nearly any milk. I literally spent the first month after her birth nursing 20 minutes on each side, then pumping 20 minutes (with no milk produced), then repeating the whole process an hour later. It was awful, but I was bound and determined to nurse. I read everything I could get my hands on about improving milk production and tried just about all of it. No luck…nursed for 5.5 months like this, no real improvement, baby in the 25th percentile for weight, and extremely fussy all 5.5 months. Then, I started supplementing at night and introducing baby food. My fussy baby stopped fussing, started smiling all the time, started sleeping more than 30 min increments, and was just an all around happy baby. The part that I think is interesting is that I am now (at 1yr past delivery) experiencing those blues. The blues started with the weaning. :( When I reflect on my experience nursing, I think how desperately I worked for it and how hard it is to let my milk dry up (yes, all 6oz of it)!! My girl is now in the 75th percentile and I have so much guilt that my stubbornness to exclusively breastfeed led her to be so miserable the first 5.5 months of her life. I also don’t feel ready to wean, but my cycle has not returned and we are very much wanting to start trying for #2. So, maybe you have something with linking the depression to the ceasing of breastfeeding.

  12. Can I just say, I think you are so brave and wonderful for sharing this. I didn’t struggle with PPD, but I know someone who did, badly, and I really appreciate your courage in sharing your story. It’s clear from the comments that a lot of mothers can relate and benefit from your honesty. Bravo ;)

  13. Kelsey, your honesty and bravery is so refreshing! While I didn’t have PPD, I think it’s a really good idea to reflect on the stressors and evaluate what we’d like to be different the next time around. For me, it was a longer maternity leave (I took 9 days off after my first before resuming full time hours via telecommuting WHILE caring for her). I felt work robbed me of truly enjoying her babyhood because I was tired and pressured (by my own internal dialogue and goals, not by my employer) to complete my hours, all the time. We saved and made a longer maternity leave a reality. That and a sound machine made all the difference the second time around :D

  14. This speaks so much to me! I had some serious baby blues for a loooong time. And the more I think about it the more I think it was some kind of postpartum depression/anxiety. Pregnancy and even labor and delivery were pretty easy for me. I had a great experience. But breastfeeding and learning to care for a baby pretty much by myself (no family around, husband always working, no support from our church/friends) nearly sent me over the edge. I cried A LOT. I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t quit BFing because in my mind that wasn’t an option and it took five months before it got better, FIVE MONTHS of pain and crying and wondering if I should just quit. And then I just felt trapped in this life with this baby 24/7. Oh and Liam was a horrible sleeper, it was a nightmare! Now a year later (and moving back home to be closer to family) things are better but I honestly still get down. It might be because we are weaning and I’m pregnant again and honestly my husband and I are still working through a lot of issues (we’ve started counseling to help us out) but I am also seeing hope and the light at the end of the tunnel. I am also considering placenta encapsulation with baby #2 to help with these issues and I found a great midwife that I trust to talk to about all this stuff.

    • Kristel, it sounds like you’ve got a lot going on, but are taking the steps to get through and make life easier and better for everyone in your family. I believe a baby can threaten even a good marriage, so I’ll be thinking about you all!

  15. I did a search on Pinterest for cute family Christmas cards and it lead me to your site. I stumbled across this blog post and it truly made me feel better. I’m definitely suffering from PPA and when I asked my OB for help, she wouldn’t see me as it had been too long since I had my baby (9 weeks).. I’ve been bummed about that but reading your post picked up my spirits. Thanks for being open to sharing your story

    • Alex, my heart goes out to you. Is this your first child? I pray that you find a caregiver who is willing to help you – it breaks my heart to know that you were smart enough to reach out, but didn’t get the help you need. I also pray that your anxiety clears away very soon!

      So glad you found our blog and that my post somehow made you feel better. Take care!

  16. How I wish I had been reading your blog when I was going through postpardom too! It would have been such a relief to see that I wasn’t alone. Unfortunately I was too busy to read anything or go to any support group. I can totally relate to this post. I too had a traumatic labor and delivery. I also had extreme issues with breastfeeding. I don’t know what exactly I had, but I know I had many symptoms of PPD, and felt like I had no support. My husband was supportive, but he was going through his own issues with the new baby. I tried to call my best friend to talk about it, but she was busy and only pretended to hear me. When i reffered to the conversation later, she didn’t even remember it! That just created more problems. It’s so important to talk about this so people know they aren’t crazy. It’s so hard adjusting to being a new mom! It really does get better though! I think mine lasted from about week 3 to about week 8. It was tough, but once the physical pain subsided a little and I consistantly got at least an hour or two of sleep at night it helped a LOT. Really, I think those two culprits were mostly to blame. Pain and sleep deprivation can really drive a person crazy, not to mention the tremendous responsibly for caring for a new person!

  17. Kelsey (and all others who might stumble across this string)…my daughter is now 13 years old and the pain and astonishment of my PPD is still with me. Like you, Kelsey, I spent a good deal of time thinking about why this happened to me. I actually skipped over the chapter on PPD in What To Expect, because I was certain that it would never apply to me. By the way, I agree that Postpartum Anxiety is a more appropriate term for what I experienced. I weathered through it for 6 months before doing anything about it. I kept thinking that I could get a handle on myself. After all, I was a successful business woman who could certainly manage what other women had managed for thousands of years. It wasn’t until my husband brought it to my attention that I knew I had to allow myself to be treated. Until then, I thought only I knew how miserable I was. I certainly didn’t think my pain was leaking out. I did go on an anti depressant and for me it was a life saver. The way I describe it is that all of my pieces seemed to align again. It took about 9 days or so. At that point, it felt like a miracle…such enormous relief. I had seen a therapist, but it was the meds that made me okay again. For me it was the right decision, but you should know that I’ve never been able to get off of them. I’ve tried a few times without success. So why did this happen to me?…well…I’ve decided there were a few factors. 1) I went back to work way too early. I took only a month off. I had my schedule down, my nanny in place, my spreadsheets generated. What I didn’t do was allow myself to metamorphosize into a Mother. This takes time. It was a big mistake. 2) I wanted to breastfeed and knew its importance, but it was also necessary for me to stop after about 6 weeks. It was very difficult for me to have a child so totally dependent on me. I had to take back my boobs as my own. 3) Probably the biggest reason that I believe I suffered…I was not prepared for the way my daughter would inhabit me. I would never (and it is true) again be able to just think about me. My daughter will never not be a part of me. That made me feel incredibly vulnerable. The truth is that loving someone so deeply has an opposite truth as well. By loving, we are also making ourselves vulnerable to enormous pain. It took me a long time to be comfortable with the cost of loving her so entirely. As for the potential pain, I simply can not let my mind go there…this is probably true for every mother. And actually there is a #4) thirteen years ago these types of conversations were just not happening. What I read about having a baby came from magazines and Martha Stewart only published stories about how you fall in love with your baby immediately. When that didn’t happen to me, I was ashamed. Even still, it would be hard to admit to my daughter. I did not have a 2nd child. For me, I knew that it would not be the right decision. Now, thirteen years later, I think I could have done it. But back then…I could not fathom subjecting myself to the PPD again. What women need to know is that they are absolutely not alone…that depression serves a purpose and can signal that something needs to change (for me it was a job/career change)…and that sometimes you need meds and that’s okay too. I could never have imagined how much love my heart could hold. I could never have imagined how amazing my daughter would be. For those two reasons alone, it was all worth it. Funny…I was just following a Pin…and here I end up writing a book on something that happened so long ago…

    • Belinda, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story! I know that writing/talking about PPD, for me, has been very healing. I took the time tonight to reread this post, and I am glad to say that I have really changed a lot since writing it five months ago. Rooney is almost 1 now, and I have certainly forgotten how terrible those first months were. Thankfully I wrote it down so I can remember and prepare for next time!

  18. Wow, I read this entry and it is/was me to a T. I gave birth 7 weeks ago. Breastfeeding is the biggest challenge among other thins. I’m slowly cutting back, and that in itself has made a huge difference.

    • Katie, my heart goes out to you! I think it’s great that you are researching PPD and are aware what is going on and making you feel down. I pray that you are feeling better!

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