To give you a clear picture here we need to back up all the way to the beginning. I have wanted to be a mom since before I can even remember. I wasn’t one of those girls that one day dreamed of being a doctor or even a president. I wanted to be a mom. In high school I leaned toward going into education or nursing and if those two aren’t the most mom-ish professions out there, I don’t know what is. And heck, do you want to know what my favorite TV show was? “A Baby Story” on TLC. Yup. No doubt in my mind, a mom is what I wanted to be. So every pregnancy, baby, and parenting thing I could get my hands on I would read and/or watch. So I was pretty well versed in the very good, the very bad, and the quite ugly of all three before I even got pregnant.
So now fast forward to the day those two pink lines showed up. I was beyond elated and then at the same exact time terrified out of my mind. Why? Because I knew exactly how this could all go very wrong. Then I got diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes so I then even had both of my doctors reminding me of everything that could go so very wrong. And this is where I think the depression/anxiety started to sneak it’s way into my being. I was constantly worried and convinced something bad was going to happen. I cannot tell you the amount of times I ran to the bathroom to make sure I wasn’t bleeding. Or how many times i chugged a fizzy drink or quickly ate something to get my baby to move, to get reassurance that everything was still ok. And because of this I don’t think I got to quite enjoy my pregnancy like I was really hoping to. Like I had been dreaming about my whole life.
Now to my labor, I was adamant since I was a little girl that I wanted a natural birth. No inductions, no c sections, and no pain medications (so no epidural). My mom had done it this way and so had my grandma and they each had 3 kids. So surely I could do it as well. Well with the GD diagnosis I knew I couldn’t go past 39 weeks. So I hoped and prayed every day that baby would make their appearance before then. (but not too early, of course). Well Mr. Stinker decided he did not want to come on his own. Mind you I had been having contractions (real ones! Not just Braxton hicks!) since 30 weeks. I was dilated to 2cm at my 36 week appointment and 90% effaced. My doctor even said i wouldn’t make it to 39 weeks but ha! Lil man wanted to prove her wrong. So at 39 weeks I was induced via Pitocin, a thing i did not want to happen but accepted it because i knew it was putting my baby’s life in danger if i continued to keep him on the inside. Because of the pitocin, it made the contractions that much more unbearable so I did end up getting an epidural. I was REALLY disappointed in my self. I mean, my body was made to handle this and I couldn’t. (queue in the depression and anxiety again here too).
The following days after my sons birth were overwhelming and not how I pictured going at all. My in laws came in from 1000 miles away to surprise us. We had a million and one people in my hospital room with us at one point. Being an introvert, this was a majorly stressful situation for me. My in laws expected to stay at our house but then we had house issues so they couldn’t and then we had to go stay at my parents. With all 3 of our dogs. One of our dogs ended up killing my parents cat while we were there. So ya, not how I wanted my son’s first week of life to go. And to add to the depression cocktail, my body completely failed my son and I was unable to breastfeed. My milk just never came in and I hadn’t even realized it until he wasn’t getting any food for 3 days straight. I’m still upset with myself for not realizing it sooner.
So we switch over to formula, we finally get to our own home and things are going great, we are in a routine and my son is thriving! I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. We are just moving right a long and it’s time to get to my 6 week PostPartum Check Up. They give me a little questionnaire that I know is about PPD and I answer it truthfully, thinking I have passed with flying colors. I hand it to the nurse and the doctor brings it in and she says “let’s talk about this”. And i’m just like “ok…”. She then informs me that I failed the questionnaire and that i DO have PPD and we need to talk about medication to make sure and get it in check. I just sit there completely shocked. Me? I have PPD? This can’t be! I’m not sad, by any means. I’m eager to take care of my son, I change his diapers when needed, I feed him when needed, I play with him (as much as you can with a newborn) and I certainly don’t want to harm him or myself!
But the doctor starts talking about it and then I start to look back on things over the past 6 weeks. How I’ve stayed in one spot on the couch the majority of the time I have been on my maternity leave. I have not gotten up to do house work, to bathe, nothing. And I had no desire to do it. The only thing I want to do is tend to my baby’s needs. And that’s it. Literally. How I’ve also stayed awake at night playing worst case scenarios over and over in my head. There was one night, the night before i was going to take my son by to see my coworkers, that i stayed up replaying an image of myself walking him across the street, me tripping and falling, letting go of his carrier and then a car running over it. That played over and over and over again in my head. So I then accepted, that wow, I really do have PPD. Something I would have NEVER expected. I mean, I’ve wanted a baby my whole life, we planned this baby. How could this happen to me? So I think with all the combination of all the events listed above (not enjoying pregnancy, labor didn’t go as expected, or my son’s first few days, etc), dump an imbalance of hormones into the mix and bam, you have PPD.
I think what I’m trying to get across in saying all this is that PPD is not always the suicidal thoughts, the harming of your children, or just even being sad all the time (though all of these things could very well be due to PPD as well). It can be a happy , first time mom like myself who struggles every. single. day. just getting into the shower. or changing clothes. or doing the dishes. or getting in my car and going to work in the morning. It is a choice that I have to make every day. For most, it’s an automatic thing, once i get the baby to sleep I will do this, this, and this. With PPD the this, this, and this all of a sudden becomes that much harder. The motivation to do those things are completely lost. It can also be that the anxiety of a being a new mom is that much higher. All moms experience anxiety in one way shape or form but when it starts debilitating your life, that’s when you know there’s an issue. Like PPD. When you’re a new mom every ounce of sleep you can get is cherished, but with this heightened anxiety I can’t even sleep when my son is sleeping because I’m replaying horrible images in my head of everything that could go wrong, though deep down i know will never truly happen.
This is what PPD can look like. To all you ladies out there who don’t experience the “typical” side effects of PPD or even new motherhood, know that you are not alone. I am here. There are so many other women who experience this also. We cannot be afraid to speak up. Awareness is key. We are not bad mothers because we experience these things. WE ARE HUMAN.