-This is in no way to get sympathy from anyone. I do hope however that it will give someone else some hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark it looks at the time. I hope to let someone, anyone know that you aren't alone! Thousands of people and women go through the same thing.
Ok... you asked for it so here we go :) Please note the exits if it becomes to uncomfortable or to much information, as I am going to be brutally honest. So buckle up....
A few months after I had the little man, someone approached me and asked how the baby and I were doing. Nice enough right? Well the conversation carried on and this person asked, "Sooo you aren't like depressed or suicidal yet or anything?" I could have died! One because how could someone ask such a question in such an awful way. Number two, yes! YES! I was depressed, no I was not suicidal, I was lucky enough that my depression didn't get that bad. But I was completely embarrassed and taken back by the question and meekly answered, "No, I'm fine." Now, I would have answered confidentially, "Yes, I struggle with postpartum depression, but I'm working on it." Or something like that....
How is it that postpartum depression is such a bad thing? Such a taboo thing?
Most new mothers experience the "baby blues" after delivery. About one out of every 10 of these women will develop a more severe and longer-lasting depression after delivery. One in 1,000 women develops a more serious condition called postpartum psychosis.*
During any one-year period, up to 50 million Americans -- more than 22 percent -- suffer from a clearly diagnosable mental disorder involving a degree of incapacity that interferes with relationships, employment, attendance at school, or activities of daily life.**
Some 8 million to 14 million Americans suffer from depression each year. As many as one in five Americans will suffer at least one episode of major depression during their lifetimes.**
Hello, Im Megan and I have postpartum depression with severe anxiety. I am soooo much better than I was. But it is still a battle someday's to get out of bed. And if so many people suffer with depression then why is it so bad for women to struggle with it after having a baby. Or for anyone to struggle with it period!
Hence my blog title :) I joke now because I've talked to so many women who struggle with similar things that maybe we, the people who struggle...are the "normal" ones and everyone else is "crazy." hahaha. Im so funny...
I found out I was pregnant the day before Mother's Day, it was so unreal, and frightening, and exciting all at the same time. Especially since the pregnancy was no where planned. (which is a whole other soap box) I had the normal beginning pregnancy symptoms. I was cramping pretty bad, which I later found out is called, "implantation cramping," its when the fertilized egg makes its new little home on your uterus to grow for the next 9 months. I was super tired, my boobs killed, and I was waking up in the middle of the night once or twice to pee. Then about a week or two after we found out I was pregnant, I had the typical mornnig sickness with vomitting. The "morning sickness," eventually turned into ALL DAY sickness! Who named it "morning" sickness anyway?! I believe it was totally a man. Many women I talk to say their morning sickness wasn't just in the morning. silly, silly men, what do you know about pregnancy?... *clears throat* carrying on, I was so so sooo sick for the first 4 and a half months of pregnancy. My husband and I had just moved to Texas, so we had no family around and not really any friends. He would work all day so I would be home alone all day with my BFF Mr. Porcelain. I rarely got dressed, never did my hair or make up...I was seriously so sick. I now go to counseling to help mostly with my anixiety because my depression is so much better but my counselor said, when your body or health plummets like that your mental, and emotional health tends to go with it. Moral of the story, if you are that sick, get help! There is medicine so you won't throw up all the time and you can be a functioning human being! I was so paranoid what it would do to my baby, but if I knew then what I do now I would have gotten some helpful medicine sooner than later. By the time the medicine goes through your body, the baby gets trace amounts if any. And if mommy is happy and comfortable, baby is going to develop better. Sooo..moving on. The "all day" sickness finally went away, hallelujah, we were around family and friends again and things were going smoothly. I had another little, "I want to die, Im so sick," moment at about 6 or 7 months because the little man decided to park his cute little bottom on the tube that connects my kidney to my bladder. That caused a kidney infection and kidney stones. So again, my health went down the tube and my emotional/mental health slowly went with it. Then I was at the long stretch, the last trimester..duh duh duuuuuhh... ok any woman who has been pregnant before knows what Im talking about here. The third trimester, particularly the last month...there are no words to express how hard that last month is. You don't sleep, I had crazy bad heartburn(seriously, I went through a bottle of tums like they were tic tacs), you pee every 15 min even if you don't mean too(confession: I once sneezed and peed on my mom's couch, dont judge me!), and I swelled up like an over grown water balloon. And then the day came! Oh that glorious day that pregnancy would be over! It was like 2 am and 3 days after Christmas and I was throwing up(weird, I threw up at the beginning I might as well throw up at the end) and had a killer headache. The doctor suggested I went into the hospital to be checked out. Blood, urine and other tests later, the news of, "you have pregnancy induced-hypertension(PIH)," came. "How would you feel about a ER c-section?" At this point the headache was worse, I had to have a towel over my eyes at all times and I thought I would die. I didn't care what had to happen, as long as being pregnant was not one of the options. Especially since PIH is basically that little baby telling your body, "Hey mommy! Im in here and done cooking! Get me out so we can meet!" Finally at 8:41 am, December 28, 2008. The little man was here, my little man!
4 days later we all went home. Our little family of 3. I was still recovering from the C-section and getting use to being a new mommy. I knew I loved my little man so much, but for some reason I felt very apathetic to him. He woke up ever 2 or 3 hours to nurse, so I still was getting no sleep! I hadn't had a full night's rest for 9 months because of a ticking time bomb, called the bladder, and the other fun stuff pregnancy brings(vomiting, kidney stones, etc)! I had no idea how hard it would be to recover from my c-section and learn how to be a mom. Everyone tries to tell you what it will be like to be a mom. I thought I had a pretty good idea what it would be like, but NOPE! I had not a clue. I was totally in love with him, but somedays I didn't care how much he cried, I didn't want to be anywhere near him. I thought there would be this instant "bond." That the nurse would bring him in and our eyes would meet and I don't know that would be it I guess. I don't really know how to explain it... but that's not how it was. We had to get to know each other. It took time and patience. And with what I now know was PPD it was even more of a struggle. When the little man was 5 weeks, he got sick...and sicker...and sickest. He had a high fever and was in Primary Children's hospital for 2 days with the flu. THE FLU! My mind FREAKED out! This was my thought process: "How did he get the flu?!" "I never let anyone touch him without sanitizing." "No one from outside the family, or anyone with a cold was aloud in the house." "We all had flu shots, how did this happen?" "I must be a terrible mother already." "I can't protect him." "I'm not doing a good enough job." "I won't let this happen again." Obviously, now I see most of these thoughts are completely irrational. But then it sent me into an even bigger tail spin of depression and anxiety. Mostly anxiety about germs at the time. I became obsessive about hand washing. First it was just rewashing my hands twice before leaving the bathroom. Then that led to, not being able to leave the bathroom til I felt my hands were sufficently clean(5-6 times.) That led to fears of chicken juice and raw hamburger residue while cooking. I was a mad woman washing my hands and sanitizing everything! My anxiety moved to craving having control, over everything. I would be in the car with my husband and would be screaming things at him like, "BRAKES!" "SLOW DOWN!" "car, caR, cAR, CAAARRRR!!!" I was so paranoid he didn't see the other cars and what was going on. Most days, if he would drive, I had to tilt my chair back so I couldn't see the road. I was becoming more and more depressed, OCD, and anxious. I felt alone, useless, and the worst mother. No one talks about postpartum depression(PPD), unless its a woman who has struggles with it as well. No one talks about depression or ANY mental/emotional disorder for that matter. Because heaven forbid, anyone who is struggling with something like that is "crazy."
I am so lucky to have a very supportive husband, who was super patient with me and my rituals and rules about everything. How to do this with the little man, and where we could or couldn't go, and my need to sanitize everything. I am also very lucky to have extended family who is also very supportive and knew what I was going through. I finally opened up to my cousin, who I knew had similar struggles. I honestly talked to her about everything. Confessed about my multiple hand washings. I then talked to my mom and husband. I then went to the doctor and was prescribed Zoloft. I also had an appointment with a counselor the next week. The Zoloft was not an instant fix, it took a few weeks for it to kick in. It took the edge off the anxiety so I could function. So I could ride in the car without thinking we were gonna die, so I could cut the hand washing down to 20 times a day instead of 50. I could eventually talk my way through the thoughts that were irrational and calm myself down. The counseling has been a huge blessing as well. It's so nice just to hear myself talk! To a person that would answer me back with an unbiased opinion. I still go to counseling and have no weaned off the Zoloft. I still struggle with germs and sometimes the car. But I am TONS better. It was such a loong hard road. My little man is now 9 months old and I can now say that I can function and feel like a person. Even a good mom at times :) I am by no way "healed," or "cured," I struggle everyday. I use a shopping cart cover, I still wipe down everything once a week, I usually always have hand sanitizer on me, but I can function. I still struggle to get out of bed somedays when I hear the little man waking up for the day. But I get out of bed! By myself! And I get through the day being a mom and enjoying ever moment and milestone with my little man.
If you are struggling or think you might be. Talk to someone. ANYONE! I know it feel like no one understands and you are embarrassed. I was so embarrassed. But you aren't alone. Millions of women know how you feel. I promise it will get better. My life is so much better now, I have learned so much and grown so much. As a person, a wife, a friend and a mom.
I am still learning. I have never been a mommy to a 9 month old boy before. I have no clue what I'm doing, and some days are so, so hard. I am still struggling with trying to remember who I am. I am reinventing myself. My life has changed significantly in the past year. It all has been great, wonderful changes. And I have changed with it. But Im struggling with the world telling me how I should or shouldn't be or parent or look or like, etc. So hopefully we can help each other tell the world to stick it!
*Here are some tips that can help prevent or help you cope with postpartum depression:
- Ask for help -- let others know how they can help you.
- Be realistic about your expectations for yourself and your baby.
- Exercise; take a walk and get out of the house for a break.
- Expect some good days and some bad days.
- Follow a sensible diet; avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Foster your relationship with your partner -- make time for each other.
- Keep in touch with your family and friends -- do not isolate yourself.
- Limit visitors when you first go home.
- Screen your phone calls.
- Sleep or rest when your baby sleeps!
- symptoms persist beyond two weeks
- she is unable to function normally
- she can't cope with everyday situations
- she has thoughts of harming herself or her baby
- she is feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day.
"I also suffer from anxiety. It was BAD when I first had my first son, I was a complete mess. It was SOOOO overwhelming. But life has gone on and I've learned to cope and grow! Why is it that the most important people in the world, and I mean MOMs, can feel the most unimportant?? I mean, we ARE doing the most important work in raising the next generation! Shouldn't we feel powerful? and important? and beautiful? and amazing?... like ALL of the time? :) I found it interesting how "yourself" gets lost in motherhood.. where does "you" go? Are we really gone, or are we just forever changed?
I know I've been forever changed. I think differently about EVERYTHING. I feel differently... I have PURPOSE. A BIG PURPOSE. However, that purpose cannot be fulfilled without the ME in the purpose. And ME needs ME TIME :) It's just figuring out that you NEED and DESERVE that ME TIME and then it's figuring out how to get motivated enough to DO something about it."
Isn't she right? And totally amazing! She always has such a positive outlook on life, and I appreciate her words of wisdom. She said it way better than I ever could.
So go out today and get dressed up! Even if your day consists of doing laundry, a date with Dora or Thomas the Tank Engine, cleaning, making dinner. Know that you are powerful! In your own life, your friends, your children, the world...honestly! Women do amazing things. We are amazingly fabulous and look fabulous doing it! :) You are important and beautiful!
If you would like to share your experience with depression, postpartum or not, ocd, anxiety etc email me. If its ok, I might quote some of you and your experience and what you've learned. Won't it be great to help each other and build each other up!
Have a great day! Remember bust out those earrings, cute shoes, some great lipstick and the jeans that make your bum look fab! :)
*here is the website that I got my facts. Its a great resource if you are curious about postpartum depression.
**another great site if you'd like to know more about mental health: