My Struggle With Postpartum Depression

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(This post has been hard for me to write, but I am glad to be sharing my story.)

It’s two a.m. and I’m not sleeping. Again.

My newborn son has finally fallen asleep. I have been waiting for this moment all day. I’m exhausted. I should be sleeping.

Instead, I’m sitting in bed scrolling through baby message boards on my phone, falling into a deep rabbit hole of anxiety. I type question after question: “Is he eating enough?” “Why isn’t he sleeping?” “Is his poop normal“, “Am I interacting enough?” The questions go on and on. I know I need to sleep, I know the baby will be up in a short hour. But I can’t calm my mind.

Every night I search for an answer that I know I won’t find. I search for a way to justify the way I feel or a way to convince myself what I’m feeling is normal. But I know it is true: I am suffering from postpartum depression.

I waited my entire life to have a baby. I spent my pregnancy on cloud nine researching products and organizing a perfect nursery where I sat daydreaming about life with my baby.

After the birth of my son, I was overjoyed. I had an easy delivery (as easy as a C-section can go) and after five days, I was excited to go home.

I knew I would face challenges as a new mother, but I thought the love for my son would overpower them. Those first few weeks are a blur.

I felt anxious about everything. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t bonding with my baby. I felt overwhelmed by simple tasks. I would dread the end of the day, not wanting to face another never-ending night of doom and despair.

I had an enormous support system and visitors flooded in. I’d put on a smile and say all the right things, becoming an expert at masking my inner turmoil; too afraid of the judgment I would receive if people knew the truth.

I loved my son, so I chalked my anxieties up to the “baby blues” which the internet says dissipate around six weeks. So, I waited.

Six weeks came and went. As I emerged out of the fog of the newborn days my anxiety only became sharper.

Every day would end in tears. When my husband came home and ask me how I was, I’d sob uncontrollably. My husband would ask, “What is causing this?” And I would say I felt alone, lost, and like a failure and I had no idea why.

I was unraveling.

I had scary visions. I pictured my son falling out of my arms and tumbling down the stairs and cracking his skull open. I stood at the top of the stairs, paralyzed. I pictured him cold and blue, dead in his bassinet. I’d wake up and pat the bed frantically, searching for his unresponsive body, only to turn to my left to see him sleeping peacefully.

I felt unmotivated and couldn’t get out of bed until noon. Leaving the house on my own triggered panic attacks.

I would hold my beautiful baby and try to force myself to feel the love that I knew I felt. Because I did love my son, more than I thought was possible. But there were days I would stare down at his perfect little face and feel nothing. And it tore my heart apart.

I felt like such a failure. Any mother who truly loved her child would never think these thoughts, right?

I felt selfish. If I really loved my child I would stop these negative thoughts and perceiver, right?

I was terrified to admit how I felt, afraid to sound whiny or like I was looking for pity. I wanted to be like the strong and confident mothers that I felt were all around me.

There was nothing that I wanted more than to be a mother yet I felt so alone and sad. Postpartum depression felt like I was grieving a loss of something that I never knew.

I finally hit my breaking point. One night my husband and I were chatting before bed. I started crying and couldn’t contain myself. I ran outside and crawled into the backseat of my car and wailed for ten minutes. I didn’t want my husband or my baby to see me. I didn’t want to see myself.

I gained the courage to walk back inside. I asked my husband, “Do you think something is wrong with me?” I could see the fear in his eyes; he didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I sat down and bawled, too afraid to say, “I have postpartum depression” out loud. Finally I whispered, “I need help.”

All the thoughts that had been haunting me for the past seven weeks poured out. I told him that I worry he doesn’t love me anymore because I turned into a monster since the birth of our son and that I worry my baby doesn’t love me – that I wasn’t bonding with him and never would.

The following morning I went to the doctor. Sweaty and shaking, I told her everything. She looked me in the eye and said, “I’m so glad you came.”

Relief washed over me.

She explained that more women than I think feel like this. That there is nothing to be shameful of, that motherhood is hard.

She recommended I start taking Lexapro, explaining that the side effects of having a depressed mother were certainly worse than any side effects of the drug in my milk.

I walked out of that doctor’s appointment with a confidence I hadn’t felt since before my son was born. I had a plan and I was ready to take care of myself.

It’s been four months since I started my recovery and I’m still taking one day at a time. There are still hard days that end in tears, but, the good days outnumber the bad days.

Knowing that I am taking the best care for myself, and in turn my son, gets me through.

The American Psychological Association states that 1 in 7 women will experience postpartum depression. It is much more common than you think. I share my story to encourage others to speak up and get help.

The more we share our stories, the more we will diminish the stigma surrounding postpartum depression.

My debut into motherhood was nothing like I expected, and it left me broken. But, my true, loving, strong self was hidden beneath those crippling thoughts. Support is out there. I only wish I would have sought it sooner.

 

 

New Parents Love Letter

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Dear Ryan,

It’s 2 degrees outside (but feels like -7) and we are snuggled up at home with our sweet baby boy. Donned in our rattiest mismatched pajamas (they are the comfiest ones), we are sitting side by side on the couch where I am pumping breast milk and you are watching The Universe (even though you did say I could catch up on all my shows this weekend ahem). Wyatt is napping contentedly and we smile as he farts loudly in his sleep. 

There is no other way I’d want to spend my Saturday night. 

Earlier today we finally hung the gallery wall that we have been talking about for over two years, did laundry, and threw out some old junk. For once we actually used a Saturday to get something other than sleep and staring at the baby accomplished. I’m proud of us.

After I’m done pumping we are going to bake some cookies for Valentine’s Day. I’m sure I”ll dance around and sing Mickey’s “Hot Dog” song in my goofiest voice. You’ll laugh and say you love me. We’ll then settle down for a very grown up dinner of burgers and fries before getting Wyatt settled in for the night. Once he’s asleep there is a glorious bottle of wine waiting for us. Earlier in our relationship we would have drunk the whole bottle while we chatted about everything and watched some serious TV. Now we’ll be falling asleep at 9:30 after one glass. 

To most, that may seem like a boring way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend. But I repeat, there is no other way I’d want to spend my Saturday night. 

These days life is messy but oh so sweet. These small moments together are what I know I will treasure years from now. I take hundreds of photographs but none of them can capture what this life means to me. It’s hard to measure this type of happiness.

One thing is for sure, my definition of romance has changed.

Romance is the way you always take the baby and let me sleep in on the weekends. I never knew an empty and quiet bed could be so wonderfully lovely. 

Romance is the way you always clean up the dishes after every meal.

Romance is watching Wyatt’s face light up when you come home from work.

Romance is the way you are trying to change habits that drive me nuts, like moving your shoes out of the front hallway so I don’t trip and break my neck every morning.

Romance is how your last words at night are no longer “I love you” but “Wake me up if you need anything” even though I never wake you up when I’m up with Wyatt.

Romance is how there is no one else I can sit for hours and talk about every little thing Wyatt does.

Romance is hearing you read Brown Bear Brown Bear over and over again and never getting tired of it.

Romance is not rolling your eyes when I show you 15 photos of Wyatt that would look identical to most people and ask you which one is best. Daily.

Romance is how I find myself even more in love with you each and every day that we spend together as a family. 

My heart has been divided between two men yet it has never felt more whole.

Now let’s sneak up stairs and get some sleep!

Love, 

Katie

Wyatt: 5 Months

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Wyatt turned five months on Sunday. 

I’ll continue to say this each month, but this has been my favorite stage so far! He’s full of smiles and giggles and thinks everything is funny. He can now hold his head up which makes carrying him around a lot easier (even though he’s getting so heavy!)

He has such a fun little personality and I love watching him learn new skills everyday. He’s very curious and is always alert of everything that is going on around him. 

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Weight: I’d guess around 15 pounds (you don’t go in for a 5th month doctor appointment so we won’t get his official stats until next month)

Length: I’d guess around 28 inches. He’s getting SO long.

Hair: brown (seems to be getting a little lighter maybe)

Eyes: Blue

Nicknames: Wy, Wy Guy, Wy-Wy, Mr. Man. Mr. Stinky 

Likes: Singing and music. We sing to him all day long, making up crazy silly lyrics and going nuts singing the same songs over and over. He currently loves “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” He also is so proud to be holding his head up. He likes staring at picture books and checking out new toys. 

Dislikes: Going down for a nap, going to bed at night, and waking up from a nap. 

Clothing and Diapers: He’s in a mix and match of 0-3 month and 3-6 month clothing. Still in size 1 diapers. We are still using cloth diapers when we are at home. 

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Sleep: We are struggling! Most nights he’s still sleeping in his bassinet that is attached to our bed, but any day now he’s going to be too long for it. We’ve been trying to transition him to his crib, but are failing. He slept a full night in his crib once. The four-month sleep regression is no joke. He still wakes up about 1-2 times a night to eat. He’s an okay napper -taking 3 consistent naps a day. We follow the Eat, Play, Sleep, Repeat routine. 

Feeding: He eats every 3 hours (or less during the day.) Still exclusively breast-fed. Looking forward to adding some veggies next month! 

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Milestones: Holding up his head and chest during tummy time. Sitting up in his bumbo seat. Reaching out and grabbing toys and everything else in his sight. Rolling over. Laughing all the time. Almost saying “hi!”. Holding up his head when we hold him. 

IMG_2873 .He still constantly has his fingers, or whole fist in his mouth. Whenever he has something new in his hand it goes directly into his mouth and he’s also drooling a lot, but no signs of teeth.

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He loves cell phones and tries to grab and play with it during our nightly facetime dates with Grammy. 

Wyatt still can’t live without his wubanubs. He also has a few favorite stuffed animals. 

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What I want to remember:

The way he lights up when we sing to him.

How happy he is to see Daddy whenever he comes home.

His reaction to the snow. 

How excited he his when he discovers a new toy or book.

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Oh Wyatt, we are having so much fun being your mommy and daddy! I love watching you explore your world and look at everything new. Your happiness is contagious and so pure. What a joy you are. 

 

 

   
  

   
        

My Little Valentine

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” Elizabeth Stone

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Wyatt and I are gearing up for Valentine’s Day! I’m thrilled to have more love to celebrate with this year. We happened to realize we were watching in our red and white the other day, so we decided to take a few photos.

The valentine in the photo is a valentine that my 90-year-old Pop-Pop received as a child. My mom has a whole collection of them.

I then I decided to do a slight blog logo re-design. I haven’t updated this space since I started this blog 3 years ago – – – what do you think?  overallsvday4 overallvday6 overallvday7

Happy Weekend everyone!

I Finally Feel Like a Mom

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Nearly five months on the job and I finally feel like a mom.

At the end of my pregnancy I was bombarded with a lot of advice and opinions from experienced moms. Mostly they were warning me how hard the first few weeks of motherhood were going to be. “Nightmare”, “despair”, “survival”, and “crazy” were words that were all loosely thrown around.

I felt like I was being hit with negativity from all angles when all I wanted to do was float on my cloud of pre birth euphoria. I had waited my whole life to be a mom and was so excited to share my life with a cuddly little newborn. I knew it was going to be hard work and that there were going to be sleepless nights and challenging learning curves but I was so angry about all the negative words I was receiving from other moms. “How dare they ruin such a special time for me?” I thought as I rubbed my pregnant belly, daydreaming in my soon to be born son’s nursery. 

Oh how naive I was. I wish I could go back and hug that version of myself. 

It’s true, the first few weeks, even months, are all about survival. On the days that I wasn’t asking doctor google a ridiculous amount of questions (you don’t want to know how much time I spent looking at articles and images about newborn poop) I was trying to figure out how to let myself rest and recover or to find a way to not cry as much. The internet and the books place a huge importance on a routine for you and the baby. I could only laugh. The only “routine” Wyatt and I had was to feed him when he was hungry. 

On the good days I felt like I was playing pretend. Ryan and I would sit together on the couch at night, taking turns holding Wyatt, and saying “I can’t believe he’s actually here!”. Motherhood still didn’t feel like reality. It felt like I was being tested and that the baby could be taken away at any moment and we’d return to our “normal” lives. The days were long and the nights were even longer. I had zero clue what I was doing and felt like such a failure when Wyatt would scream and cry and nothing I did could help him and all I wanted to do was sleep. 

But it got easier. We’ve slowly been finding ways to make a routine and trying to stick to it. We’ve formed a bond – a beautiful bond between Wyatt and I and a fresh new bond between Ryan and I. I’ve learned to pick up on Wyatt’s cues and he’s learning more ways to express himself. Some days are still long, but most go by too quickly. We are slowly learning to live our new “normal”. 

There were many times in the first few months where I didn’t think I can, but now I know, I can do this. I can be a mother. The type of mother I’ve always esteemed to be. 

At least for today. I’m sure tomorrow Wyatt will do something entirely new and throw me off my game. But today. Today I’m good. 

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