You’ve carried your baby for 9 months – maybe you’ve been trying to conceive for a year or more, and finally you’re little bundle of joy has arrived. Suddenly though you’re asking yourself, “bundle of joy? Where? That little critter won’t stop crying, I won’t stop crying… this definitely doesn’t feel like joy.” This is supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life, and you’re feeling down, lost and confused.
It is not uncommon for women to find themselves walking through the woods of despair in the weeks following childbirth. These feelings of fear and anxiety are typically considered the baby blues. However, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), if these symptoms have not resolved themselves independently within 1-2 weeks postpartum, mama may be suffering from postpartum depression.
There are many different causes and risk factors for postpartum depression including hormonal shifts and personal experiences. There are also many suggested courses of treatment. We can delve into all of that another time, but right now I’d like to share my story with you as a sort of personal therapy, and to let other mamas know they are NOT alone in this dark journey.
Days of Darkness: One mom’s journey with Postpartum Depression
After my son was born via an unwanted cesarean, he was taken to the NICU for a few hours to stabilize his oxygen levels. The experience of his birth was overall quite traumatic for me, but my journey had only begun. In the days following my son’s birth, it was physically difficult for me to care for him due to a difficult recovery from my surgery. Before long I found myself crying in the middle of the day, in the middle of the night, and for no apparent reason at all. I was constantly blaming myself for silly little things, acting like they were the end of the world.
One of the most difficult moments was when I started screaming at my family, which upset the baby, and then my husband had to wrestle me away from our gun safe as I had decided they were all better off without me. That’s when we knew I needed help. Thoughts of harming yourself and others are the biggest sign that you need immediate help. Unfortunately, I am stubborn and refused to talk to anyone other than my husband about my feelings. I was afraid that if I was honest with a therapist about my feelings that they would take my baby away from me, which would only make things much worse.
The days went by and I faced challenges breastfeeding and adjusting to my parents leaving and my husband going back to work. Why are they trusting ME with this little baby’s life? I can barely take care of myself! But every day I mustered up the strength to care for him.
I decided I would try the old fake it til you make it method… and it worked. Until it didn’t. I was tearfully filling out the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at the pediatrician’s office when it became apparent I was not getting better. My mom came back to help out for a bit, and when my OB called to check on me regarding the score on my survey, I told her I was fine and my mom could handle it. She was happy to hear that, but her response was like a dagger: “Well if you feel like you need anything, give us a call and we will prescribe you something.”
Yes. Some women need medication. But that should NEVER EVER be the immediate course of action! She never even offered therapy or anything! How dare she just throw pills at the problem?!
Now I really started to fake it. I was great, I faked so good I had myself convinced I beat it.
Then it happened.
I hit rock bottom. Hard.
I sat crying for an hour in the shower after deciding that Critter was better off without me. I actually thought that giving my baby away would be better for him. My thoughts went a mile a minute, shifting gears, getting very dark and quite frankly very screwed up. My mother offered to take the baby for a while when I shared my feelings with her. I suddenly realized maybe he wasn’t better off without me… after all, where would he get his boobie milk?! And there it was, I realized that one of the very challenges I thought may be contributing to the darkness was the actually the answer to finding peace.
Breastfeeding Critter, through the darkness and despite the challenges, was my only solace. When I felt like I hadn’t bonded with my baby, breastfeeding is what saved us. No matter how “bad” I was for my baby, I was the only one who could give him what he needed.
I’m still struggling every day. Some days are better than others. It has officially been 3 weeks since my last serious episode, though I battle at least a few dark thoughts and heartache daily. Last night, I finally admitted that I do need to find a therapist, and that I do need help still. However, I think maybe the best therapy for me is getting the message out there that PostPartum Depression is REAL. It is SCARY. We need to stop pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to talk about it. We need to share our stories and give each other love and support. The following link provides some information on PostPartum depression, causes, treatments and support groups.
It is my deepest hope that if you are suffering from PPD you find the strength and courage to persevere, and to accept the help that you need.
Are you suffering from postpartum depression? Do you know someone who is? Leave us a comment below and share your thoughts.
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Latest posts by Jaimie Zaki (see all)
- New Babies and Marriage - September 29, 2015
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