The topic of postpartum depression and anxiety has gotten quite a bit more attention recently than it ever has before. It is something that should be talked about and acknowledged because it is very real, and women need to know that bringing it up is not taboo or embarrassing! This is my story and experience with it. I share solely to hopefully provide the support or push that another mother might need to find her way through! *This is the third post in this series: first post, second post. *
The day came to deliver my baby girl and step into the newborn and postpartum phase. Obviously, I was unexplainably excited to meet her but there was a pang of nervousness about what might happen in the days and weeks following her long-awaited debut. The first obstacle I was hoping to overcome was breastfeeding. Because it did not go smoothly the first time, I was very convinced that if nursing went well this time, I could likely avoid the PPD and PPA setting in.
Breastfeeding went perfectly!! Aside from a few cracked nipples in the first few days, baby girl was a champion nurser. Phew! The first two weeks at home were wonderful. I mean, they were crazy adjusting to having two kids of course, but my mind was clear and I was completely happy! At this point, I was positive I was in the clear.
Then it happened. I had a day that I knew was off as soon as I woke up in the morning. I felt distant, overly irritated, a serious unshakeable desire to go back to bed, and felt that I truly did not have the capacity to care for my sweet babies. The day went on and I fought hard. Fought to convince myself I would be fine, that it was just a fluke because I was really tired, etc.
My husband came home from work, and I told him the day went great; didn't say a word about how I was feeling. I fought tears all through dinner. We were having such good conversations but I still felt so heavy inside. As I loaded the dishwasher, I lost it entirely--like an ugly- sobbing-and-complete-inability-to-slow-the-tears lost it. My husband, knowing I would want to deny that something was wrong, gently prompted me to tell him how I was really feeling. After we talked for a while, he asked if I would like to take the anti-depressants that my doctor had given me.
Even though we had talked about it extensively for months before, even though my doctor had validated my concerns, even though I knew it wasn't "bad" to have to take a medication, I still tried to make excuses not to take it. I WAS NOT THINKING CLEARLY. I was trying to play superwoman when I didn't need to. My husband gently reminded me of the reasons I had said, prior to actually having our baby, that I wanted help. He suggested that maybe I try taking a pill that night, just that night, and then we could talk about how I felt again the next day before I took another one.
That was all I needed. SUPPORT, LOVE, and a feeling of SAFETY. I still had this weird feeling that I didn't want to surrender, I did not need a pill to be fine. Because of that, I am 100% positive that without his loving support and our pre-determined plan, I would have fallen right back into the dark trap I was in after having baby number one.
Does any of that sound familiar to you? Have you (or the person you are thinking of) acknowledged the gravity of the situation? I truly think that I didn’t acknowledge what was going on partially because I wasn’t educated enough about PPD and PPA, and it wasn’t talked about a whole lot three years ago. It is amazing to me how much more awareness is out there now than just three short years ago, such needed awareness! Mamas need help and mamas need to feel safe and unashamed when they seek help! Keep your eye out for the next post in this series coming next week!
Written by: Alyssa Liston