Not craft related, but something I wanted to share..
My experience with PPD
Six years ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It took me 2 years to conceive her and I was thrilled when she was finally born. I couldn’t have been happier. I had some baby blues (especially the day my mom left to go home) but other than that I was so happy.
A little under three years ago, Chris and I decided to add to our family. After almost 2 ½ years of trying, I finally became pregnant. This pregnancy was different than the first, but no major problems.
I delivered a healthy beautiful baby boy exactly 2 weeks early. I was completely unprepared to go into labor so early, so I had a hard time processing that I was actually in labor! But 12 hours later, Riley came into the world. By the time he was born, Chris and I had been awake almost 24 hours. I made sure to let the nurses take Riley to the nursery each night so I could get some sleep. Before I was discharged, the nurse came in and talked to Chris and I about all my follow up care, including signs of depression to watch out for. Chris was able to be home the first 5 days I was home, then my mom came and stayed for another 5 days. Both were incredibly helpful to me, but I had a secret that I didn’t tell anyone. Every night when I was up feeding Riley, all I would do was cry. Sometimes I cried so hard I wouldn’t even realize that Riley was done eating and back to sleep. When I looked at Riley, I didn’t feel the rush of happiness and love I had felt with Kayley. Every time someone talked about how perfect he was, I’d agree, but I didn’t feel it. I worked hard during the day so Chris and my mom wouldn’t know anything was wrong. I honestly felt I was just too tired and I didn’t want either of them worried about me or feeling they had to hover over me which would have drove me crazy. The next week started Chris and Kayley’s winter break and I had figured that when Chris was home and I got more sleep I would feel better. After a few days with Chris home to help and getting more sleep, I noticed I wasn’t feeling any better. I still cried all night, and still didn’t feel anything when I looked at my perfect baby boy. That made me even sadder. I tried for 2 ½ years to get pregnant and finally had my baby and I felt nothing. I felt like a horrible mother. I was horrible to Kayley because I was so depressed and even when I told myself I wouldn’t be, I was and it was like I couldn’t control myself. That increased my pain.
My two favorite things to do to unwind are read a book or scrapbook. I couldn’t bring myself to do either one. (Which is very odd for me as those of you that know me well realize!) I took Riley into work one day to see the girls and I was telling them I thought I might be depressed. They were supportive and told me to mention it to the doctor. A couple of people told me they were more depressed with their second babies than with their first. That helped me feel a bit better. I talked to Chris about it that night and said I was going to talk to the doctor at my appointment the following Monday. On Christmas Eve, I talked to my aunt and step mom. My aunt reminded me that Brooke Shields had written a book on her experience with PPD. That night I downloaded it on my phone and even though reading was the last thing I felt like doing, I was curious to see if what I was feeling was PPD. I read a good amount of the book that night but the first part is all the back story so I didn’t get to far into what she was experienced.
On Christmas morning at one point, I was sitting on the floor and Chris was holding Riley and Kayley was standing with them. I felt like I was in a fishbowl looking out. I had this incredible urge to leave my house and family and just go anywhere but home. Looking at Chris and the kids I thought “They would all be totally fine if I wasn’t even here”. After a while I realized that probably wasn’t the best thought to be having and realized I should talk to my doctor. I finished Brooke Shield’s book before my appt and couldn’t believe there was someone else who was felt the same way I did. I was also thankful as I did not feel as badly as she did. I did a lot of research after that. On one checklist of symptoms I had every one.
I spoke to my doctor and he told me PPD is more common for women in their second and third pregnancies. Your hormones get more out of wack with each pregnancy and take longer to streamline. My age also played a factor. My doctor stressed this was not my fault and did not make me a bad mother. He prescribed some medication for me and told me I would start to feel better in about a week or so.
I can’t say I felt better after the week, but I did stop crying all the time and it helped me deal with the lack of sleep. Which I was ok with for a while. But I still wasn’t myself. I wasn’t feeling happy. People kept telling me how lucky I was and what a perfect family I had. That made me sad because while I knew that in my mind, I didn’t feel that way. I felt like a zombie just going through each day. That got old, very quickly.
I went unfeeling through each day until about the end of January. One day I looked at Riley and he smiled at me. One of those big toothless grins that was just for me. My heart just melted and I finally felt the way I was supposed to feel! I was so happy, FINALLY. It’s a month later and I am finally starting to feel like myself.
Now everytime I look at my little boy, I am filled with such joy and love, just like I should be feeling. I go back to work in just two days and I am dreading it, only because I am not ready to leave him yet. I feel like I need more time with him; like the first eight weeks were wasted because I didn’t enjoy it.
I am lucky to have such warm and caring family and friends that would have done anything for me, had I had the courage to ask. Thanks to my mom, Denise, Carrie, and Marianna who all texted me multiple times to see how I was feeling and to check in on me. Thanks to the girls at work who kept me in the loop so I had a feeling of self worth! To Patsy, Peggy, Beth M, Beth E, Veronica, Sandy, Heather, Jen, Ashley, Joann, my dad and stepmom, my mother in law and my brother who all listened when I was ready to tell them. To my friends I haven’t personally told, I hope you forgive me. This was a very painful experience for me and hard to talk about. I had to force myself to talk about it. Even though everyone told me not to feel bad about it and it wasn’t my fault, I still blamed myself. My head knew it wasn’t my fault but my heart didn’t.
To my little girl, who was more forgiving than should be asked of a 6 year old. I only hope I can be a better mother in the future, one that she deserves.
And last but not least, to my husband for putting up with me during all this. Having a new baby in the house is stressful enough, putting up with a crazy wife doesn’t make it easier.
I am sharing this in the hopes that any woman who goes through this will be able to recognize it and not be afraid to ask for help. For any man who has a partner going through this, please be supportive and encourage your partner to talk to her doctor. This unfortunately is still a subject that many don’t talk about and I hope that changes in the future. I would have not gotten through this without the supportive of the people in my life. This is a real illness and needs to be treated that way!
Thanks again to everyone in my life, and I thank God every night for my family, friends and that I’m feeling better every day.