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.

 

 

First Days Of Life

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Wyatt turns one month next week, I can’t believe it! I’ve been so busy soaking in his newborn days and also learning how to adjust to motherhood that I haven’t been able to document via this blog as much as I like. He has been changing so much so quickly that I wanted to capture it all. So here is a glimpse at Wyatt’s first few days in our world and our stay at the hospital. 

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He was born on Monday September 7 (you can read is birth story here) and we left the hospital on Friday September 11.

Those first few days are a blur of emotions! We felt an overwhelming sense of love, to the point where it was almost hard to comprehend that this sweet baby boy was inside of me just the day before and now was part of our world for the rest of our lives.

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We had plenty of visitors every day. This is the first grandchild for both my family and Ryan’s family, so the excitement is a little over the top! 

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Recovery for me was a little rough, but honestly much better than I was anticipating. Holding Wyatt made it all worth it. 

What I want to remember: (and yes these are melodramatic, but I believe this will be the most emotional moment of my life, so here we go)

  • Ryan being an awesome husband and father. I fell in love with him in a brand new way. I couldn’t get out of bed to attend to Wyatt’s cries or to change him and Ryan was on top of it and loved doing it. I could stare at him holding Wyatt all day.   wyattweek1.15
  • Every night Ryan and I would play music and sing to Wyatt. It was the sweetest thing. And then I’d cry. Remembering Ryan sing “Sweet Baby James” to Wyatt will always tug on my heart strings.
  • The faces of our parents when they entered our room and met Wyatt for the first time right after his birth.
  • How complete the world felt with Wyatt sleeping on my chest. image1 (2)
  • The feeling of extreme exhaustion and extreme love but how looking at his face changed everything. 
  • How soft his skin is.
  • How he calms down instantly when we do skin to skin. wyattweek1.17

I cannot say enough amazing things about our experience at Women’s and Babies Hospital in Lancaster. The nurses were all fantastic and provided us with such good care and attention. Being new parents we were anxious and clueless regarding newborn care but each day the nurses took time to teach us something new. 

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While I was slowly recovering from surgery (and could barely get out of bed on my own) they assisted with skin to skin contact, breastfeeding, diaper changes, and middle of the night feedings and fears. A lactation consultant visited every day and nurses assisted with almost every feeding. It was immensely helpful and encouraged me to keep trying when breastfeeding got tough. Now, Wyatt is a pro!

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We felt right at home in our large private suite and dined on excellent food (did not taste anything like typical hospital food) The crab cakes and peanut butter pie were my favorite dining options. 

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It was so great to have 5 whole days to just recover and be with the baby with no outside distractions. We took that time to really take in the whole experience and study all the bits and pieces of our new son. 

Our stay was so wonderful that it made me anxious to leave and go home where we’d be left to survive with Wyatt on our own. It almost felt like we were returning home after a vacation, which is NOT a feeling I was expecting postpartum. 

Nothing can replace those very first days with Wyatt. Each day brought new feelings of love. Yet, we were very excited to bring Wyatt home on that Friday and really begin our life together as a family.

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