When I first got pregnant with our oldest, I was told how pregnancy and L&D would be an emotional roller coaster. How I may have morning sickness, swell like a balloon, gain tons of weight, lose some hair, have crazy cravings, or no symptoms at all. There was so much advice on swaddling or not, co-sleeping or crib, bottle or nursing, when to start baby food, when they should hit each and every milestone… I could go on and on…
What I wasn’t told, how much pain I’d be in after all the adrenaline wore off, how I’d be sore for the next two to three months and get little to no sleep; not because my baby didn’t sleep, but I’d be so worried about all the scary things I’ve read that I physically couldn’t help but watch him breathe in his rock and play. I was constantly given advice from everyone and their mother on how I was supposed to raise my child and what was right and wrong, even if I didn’t ask.
But, you know what I was never told… that I may experience mild or extreme depression, that I may have anxiety to where it feels like the walls are caving in.. that feeling all these emotions is totally normal and I’m not crazy. That the chances of me feeling like this after every pregnancy was highly likely because I have feel it with my first.
After delivering our son, I had no idea what was about to hit me. When it did, I felt like everything was closing in around me and even the smallest thing would make tears want to come rushing out like a waterfall. But, I didn’t know that was normal, that about 1 in 7 women, experience exactly how I felt. I had no idea. It wasn’t talked about. Ever. I tried to hide it from anyone and everyone I knew, because I thought I was just being over dramatic, and those feelings were just me being too tired. So it took me MONTHS to tell my husband. By the time I felt ‘okay’, I was pregnant with our daughter and the excitement of another baby coming overtook PPD.
About seven months in to my pregnancy with our second, all those feelings came rushing back. Did you know that you could get PPD before you deliver? I didn’t. I finally decided that I should mention it to my doctor. He told me that he wished I had spoke up, how normal it was and he would have been there to even just talk about it or prescribe me something to help if it was needed. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, the feelings didn’t subside, but just being open had taken some of the burden away. We had regular talks about how I’d felt and how I was dealing with it, he had great tips and natural ways to cope.
Then, our daughter arrived and all of those feelings had subsided, even if only momentarily, and I thought some how I had battled through that dark storm all on my own. I was so wrong… As the ‘babymoon’ phase wore off, the feelings came back but weren’t anything this ‘tough mom’ couldn’t handle. I mean I was already raising a little boy, what could be more trying than that!? Ha.
After a month or so, there was one day I will remember vividly. To spare the details, I felt like my world was crashing down around me and there was little to nothing I could do to fix it and myself. My husband and I had a deep discussion on maybe it was time to ask for help, for REAL help. I called the doctor and said things had gone too far and I needed something, anything to fight through those hard days. *I’d like you to know that with PPD, not EVERY day is hard, you can have incredible days and think all is better, then another dark day sneaks in and wreaks havoc.
So, after speaking with the doctor and being open with some family and close friends, I was prescribed an antidepressant. That medication CHANGED. MY. LIFE. At first, I still had the thoughts of ‘what is wrong with me?’ ‘why can’t I be normal?’ ‘life would be so much easier if I could just be like everyone else!’… but I AM normal and NOTHING is wrong with me!
Postpartum depression and anxiety go hand in hand. Have a feeling that you may be experiencing it, but not sure? Talk to someone, your family, friends and especially your doctor. Don’t try and deal on your own. You are worth the help and everyone has someone to talk to! If you feel you can’t talk to those close to you, I will always listen. I will never judge or think of ANYONE needing help as a burden. You are worth it. God didn’t put you on this earth for no reason.. He loves you and so do I!