Today’s post was submitted to us by mom in Rochester, MN willing to share her experience with postpartum depression. This mother was more than willing to get her story out into the community to help us bring support around postpartum mental health for mothers and families in the Rochester and Southeast Minnesota area.
Thank you, for your contribution!
“I don’t like my baby,” I choked out in a sob over the phone to my mother. Instantly, the shame of the words I spoke washed over me, but at the same time I felt a sense of relief that the thought that had been circling in my head for a few days was finally out in the open. She responded “It will be okay,” and we never spoke of the confession again. This was my first real cry for help, and it would be seven long months before I got the courage to ask for help again.
I knew I had more than just ‘baby blues’ early on. Physically, my pregnancy was uneventful, delivery was quick, and recovery was slightly easier than with my first child. I birthed a beautiful, healthy baby that I loved with all my heart. But emotionally, my life was turned upside-down with multiple life events pre-and postpartum. My support system was basically nonexistent. My husband wasn’t able to take much time off from work, and my family was unable to help me. I was immediately overwhelmed with caring for a brand new, colicky baby in addition to a busy toddler.
Guilt quickly took over my life. I felt guilty that I couldn’t give my firstborn the attention I had previously provided. I felt guilty that breastfeeding was such a painful obligation rather than the beautiful, natural process I knew it could be. I felt guilty that my baby cried for hours and hours on end every day for months, and yet there was nothing I could do to make it better.
Next came feelings of resentment, isolation, anger, and crippling sadness. I felt as though I was drowning in plain sight, yet no one noticed. I felt completely alone even when surrounded by a room full of other people. I felt that no one could possibly understand how shameful I felt for resenting my beautiful, healthy children who I purposefully bought into this world.
I got out of bed every day and took care of my children, but I was mostly going through the motions,trying to make it through until my husband returned from work. I cried a lot. I yelled a lot. My husband and I argued all the time. I cried more.
I knew I had postpartum depression (PPD) and needed help, but I could not bring myself to go in. I was ashamed of the way I felt and acted. I was worried about the stigma of the diagnosis. I was afraid of what my husband and his family would think of me, since depression was something they saw as a weakness rather than a medical condition.
Then one day I saw a benefit being held on Facebook for the family of a mother who took her own life due to her struggles with PPD. From what I could gather, she was well-known in the world of natural parenting, and the online community was shocked. I looked at the pictures of this lovely young woman with her beautiful children. I couldn’t fathom that this seemingly happy appearing mother who was very similar to me in so many ways on surface glance chose to end her life. I have never had thoughts of hurting myself or others before, but I thought to myself that maybe she never did either. Until she did.
This realization finally gave me the courage to make an appointment with my primary care provider. After discussing my treatment options, I decided to start with cognitive behavioral therapy. I found a counselor that I now see regularly, and she has helped me begin to work through my life events that have affected my mood, and to examine my unrealistic expectations for myself as a mother. I also had my hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) removed, which improved my mood substantially in only a matter of weeks . I continue to struggle with my moods on a daily basis, and some days are much better than others. But I have to remember it took almost a year to get to the point I am at right now, so it will take some time to get back to baseline.
PPD stole almost an entire year from my family. The joy and happiness of bringing a new life into the world was crushed by the disorder I was unable to acknowledge. I hope my story brings awareness together mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, etc. Postpartum depression happens more than we as a society are aware of, and the mothers who experience it need all of the support they can get.
15 to 20% of women experience significant symptoms of depression or anxiety postpartum? If you think you might be experiencing PPD or PPA talk to your family doctor or a counselor who specializes in postpartum mental health.