Before you start reading, I need you to understand that it was really hard for me to publish this. It’s difficult to be so honest with myself and everyone else; but I think it’s important to try and break the stigma by opening up a dialogue about it.
I need to make a big confession:
Shortly after delivering Ari I felt what can only be described as a sense of loss.
At first I didn’t say anything. I kept it to myself. I had expected some of this, right?
I was doing great in the hospital — running completely on adrenaline through our rush of visitors.
But once we got home, I was a complete mess.
One of the cats knocked over my latte? Cry for hours. Have to nurse a screaming baby? Cry for hours.
I expected to be emotional post-delivery. I anticipated the postpartum depression. But, to be honest? I had never really experienced depression before. Not like this.
For nearly a year, I took care of this little life inside of my belly. I developed a special relationship that a mother gets when she is the only person who can feel this little life growing and growing inside of her. So when I had to suddenly learn to share this new life with everyone that was anxiously awaiting his arrival, I felt a huge loss; like my job was ‘done.’
And I was angry. Angry that I had to wake up and feed the baby; angry that I was expected to selflessly take care of this new human; that I was supposed to instantly feel an overwhelming sense of dedication to this person.
I recently explained to a friend that right after Ari was born, I didn’t want Chad to leave my side. But he made me so inexplicably angry that I also didn’t want him to say a single word to me. I was angry at him for no reason.
And he was really worried about me.
Hell, I was worried about me.
I had never acted like this before. I was exhausted, but unable to sleep; I was emotional, but for no reason; I was over it.
I even had my placenta encapsulated in hopes of re-introducing the missing hormones back to my body. [Yeah, yeah, I know, totally hippie-granola and semi creepy to some of you.]
Nothing was working.
To be clear, I never wanted to hurt myself or the baby, nor do I think I would have ever gotten to that point; but I just knew I didn’t want to continue feeling this way.
I was starving, but I couldn’t eat; I was exhausted, but I couldn’t get to sleep at night. I would lay awake in bed and cry.
I decided to take the first step and talk to people about it. I talked to every woman I knew who had a baby. We talked about how many of them had experienced similar feelings. A surprising number of people I spoke with felt some level of sadness and loss. I was shocked that I hadn’t heard about it sooner.
In my research on PPD, I found that postpartum, most women experience some level of these symptoms. But your emotions should level out by week three.
By week three, my emotions were more out of whack than ever.
So I called my doctor and made an appointment.
I went to the appointment with my OB by myself. I tried to keep it together as the man who helped me through my darkest moments of delivery Ari — this man that we had grown to love — asked me about how I was feeling.
I lost it. I cried. I practically screamed, ‘Help me!’
He knew of my aversion to medical intervention. He told me about my options of therapy and about how some people take anti-depressants. I looked him in the eye and I told him “I will try anything to feel better.”
I meant it. I was at the point where I was in this cycle of depression, worry and anxiety. I couldn’t break free.
So I went on Zoloft. And after three weeks, I felt like a whole new person.
Ari was still fussy. He was still screaming constantly and he was still colicky.
But I was able to manage the depression and anxiety so much better — I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Do I know if the zoloft was the be-all and end-all cure to my depression and anxiety issues? Absolutely not. But I know that with the combination of that and a pretty incredible and understanding support system, I’m feeling a whole hell of a lot better.
I still have moments where I feel like I need to step away; like my world is unraveling. But I think it’s just more like a normal sort of new-mom crazy. And I’m learning to handle it. And I still have that great support system.