WHEN THE FOG CLEARS // Finding a way through postpartum depression

March 15, 2017 in #MomLife,anxiety,children,health,mommyhood,Oh baby!,parenthood,postpartum

I’ve never shied away from talking about my struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety. In fact, while I was pregnant with my first child, Ari (now 4.5), I had a sneaking suspicion that I would be one of the 600,000 women in the United States each year to develop Postpartum Depression (PPD). I felt… prepared. Because, well, I had acknowledged is likelihood.

But, honestly, nothing can prepare a new mother for the darkness of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

With Ari, it developed swiftly. I knew something was off shortly after he was born. I just didn’t feel that connection you’re supposed to have with your newborn baby. Couple that with being attached to the breast pump every 2.5-3 hours and then bottle-feeding? It felt like torture.

I also found myself giving in to the desires of everyone else. Specifically, I opened up our home to many visitors almost every day. Instead of trying to bond with my new baby and figure out our new lives, I was entertaining and handing off my new son for photo-ops.

I ended up crying in my OBGYN’s office just a few weeks postpartum. He offered me alternatives — therapy, supplements, the works. But eventually we settled on going on an antidepressant. I just really needed to function again.

And for me? It worked. I settled into a routine; we adjusted; and my hormones eventually evened out.

Fast forward a few years. (Note: I stayed on the anti-depressants because, for me, I have always suffered with some pretty crippling anxiety; and this particular medicine helped to keep me from having panic attacks.)

When we decided to try for number two, I decided (on my own) that I no longer needed to take my medicine. Newsflash: That was a mistake.

I ended up pregnant and having daily panic attacks. Severe panic attacks. So I went back on my medicine. And things went okay the rest of the pregnancy in that regard.

But my postpartum experience with Remy Bea was much different. I immediately felt that extreme love and bond this time around; she latched and I ditched the pump; and I declined visitors for the first few weeks. I was doing everything right, right?? Well, yes. But that means nothing.

The darkness of PPD and anxiety hit harder the second time around. She was a very difficult baby. She had severe colic, which we determined later was a recurring UTI. She screamed nearly all day. She napped for a total of 20 minutes per day. And slept an average of 2 hours a night. You read that right — two hours a night. The rest of our nights were spent trying to calm a back-arching, completely miserable, screaming baby.

Oh, and she wouldn’t take a bottle. So I wasn’t even able to hand her off to my husband for a small break. It was a nightmare. No medicine could help this situation. I was in a pit of despair and depression unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before.

I found myself frantically calling my mom and friends at all hours of the night, telling them how ashamed I was to be screaming obscenities at my baby because she wouldn’t stop screaming and crying. It was the darkest time of my life.

And it lasted for the better part of her first year of life. About 10 months to be exact. The longest ten months of my life.

One day, when Remy Bea was about 11 months old, I woke up and just… well, felt, human again. The only thing that had changed was that Remy Bea was no longer screaming nonstop and she was sleeping a bit more than 2 hours a night (waking only about 3 times per night at 11 months was a huge improvement from being awake all night).

My daily goal was just to survive and keep my children alive. Most days this felt nearly impossible. And I wouldn’t have made it without an army of people surrounding me, both near and far. An army, for which, I will forever be grateful.

 

If someone you know is suffering from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, here’s what you should absolutely NOT do:

  • Do not say “It gets better.”
  • Do not say “But you have a beautiful baby. How can you be so sad?”
  • Do not tell the person that they should be grateful because things could be worse.
  • Do not come over to visit without bringing a meal and being prepared to clean/fold laundry.
  • Do not give unsolicited advice. It makes things worse. I promise. You are not being helpful.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, here’s a list of things you can do to help:

  • Be there, day or night, to listen. Listen through screams; listen through tears; and just to be on the other end of the phone.
  • Ask for help. Ask for someone to come bring you coffee (or wine).
  • Focus on making it through the hours. Then focus on making it through the day.
  • Allow yourself to say “No.” Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Whether it be with work, with your personal life, or social obligations.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness. Thousands of women are going through this exact same thing. You are not alone.

Have you suffered from PPD and Anxiety? What tips would you give a new mom? 

 

 

*Disclaimer: I am not a physician and this is not medical advice. It is simply a compilation of thoughts based on my personal experience with postpartum depression and anxiety.** 

 

Maternal Mental Illness affects 1 in 7 Mothers. I’ve linked up with 3 amazing women who have shared their experience, and continue to spread awareness. No mom should ever feel alone because we are all in this together!

Bessy from The Simple Mom Life Blog  (on Instagram at @thesimplemomlife)

Brittany from October Acres (on Instagram at @bstampedbritt)

Kimberlee from The Millennial Mom Blog (on Instagram at @_themillennialmomblog_)

 

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda P March 15, 2017 at 8:10 am

I had postpartum when my daughter was born 3 years ago, though it wasn’t horrible and with a low dose of medication I was able to get things under control. With my son, who’s now 10 months, totally different story. I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want anyone around, I never wanted to leave the baby because I thought he would hate me…..I wasn’t sleeping much and I was a mess. After a medication change I got better, but what really helped me was not nursing anymore. I went back to work full time and pumped 2-3 times a day, that was a killer for me and kept me from enjoying my job and my time at home.

My advice to new moms would be, you know yourself best so pay attention to the signs that there may be something wrong. Ask for help and don’t be afraid. I’m lucky to have an amazing midwife who has helped me so much. If your doctor isn’t listening, find a new one or get another opinion. Take care of yourself, that’s the only way you can be the best mom.

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Rachel March 15, 2017 at 8:20 am

Yes yes yes! Isn’t it crazy how different our experiences can be between babies?!

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April March 15, 2017 at 8:20 am

I wasn’t sure if i had PPD, i didn’t get myself checkout but I was the same way like you and on both children i didn’t accept visitors after the first month. It’s too much for me to handle and I can’t myself of not being an OCD on everything.

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Annette Dattilo March 15, 2017 at 10:07 am

I never experienced postpartum. I can only imagine the dark place you felt. My heart goes out to the mom’s that go through this. I’m so glad everything has settled for you. xo

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Cristy March 15, 2017 at 10:14 am

Love that you are so honest about it. Hope it helps other women!

Cristy
http://www.happyfamilyblog.com

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Kiley March 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm

I suffer from depression and anxiety and was off both medications when I was pregnant with my two children. It was really, really difficult. After my first I dealt with post-partum depression and that was difficult as well. I am glad that you are sharing your struggles and helping to end the stigma. You are not alone.

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Sarah March 15, 2017 at 1:59 pm

I had PPD, at least slightly. I remember feeling like I was detached from my body. These are helpful tips!

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Dara March 15, 2017 at 5:02 pm

With my first, I think I did have some PPD. I cried all the time. A lot of people tried to tell me to stop nursing her, but that would just make me cry more. That was NOT what I wanted to hear! Maybe “you’re doing great!” would have been helpful!

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Leah March 15, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Your story is so similar to mine! I have had depression my whole life so I knew before I had a baby that it would be tough for me mentally. I went on anti-d’s before being pregnant with my first. Although I felt bad that I was on them and would be passing some of that medication onto my unborn baby I knew it was the best for the both of us as I would not have functioned without it. I did fairly well after he was born as he was such an easy baby. I had so many friends and relatively jealous of how easy I had it. So I came off the meds just after he was the year old and we wanted to try for another baby. I didn’t want to be on meds for another pregnancy. That was a big mistake. I fell pregnant first time round and it was nothing but problems from the first scan at 5 weeks until he was born at 34 weeks. An absolute horror pregnancy, 3 weeks of special care and then a baby who just would not sleep once he got home! Needless to say I got PPD and did not connect with him until he was 4 months old and he started sleeping better. I also felt so bad cause i would scream obcenities and grip him a little too hard when trying to rock him to sleep… It was the worst 11 months of my life!!! So during that time I went back on medication and am still on it. I hope to come off it some time this year. My only advice is if you need medication, don’t be ashamed to ask for it. I was for many years and certainly never told anyone I was on it. You do what you need to do to be happy and healthy for your baby.

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Angela Kim March 16, 2017 at 1:53 am

I had PPD and I can totally relate. I’m so sorry you went through it and know you weren’t the only one. My battle with PPD was the longest and darkest time of my life and it traumatized me so much that I was scared to have a third child. Today my son is 7 months old and I’m PPD free but I don’t forget how scary and lonely it can be. I feel you mama and you’ve done great. Kudos to your strength and courage and love.

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Amanda M Rodriguez March 16, 2017 at 8:15 am

I have never been diagnosed but I definitely have felt some anxiety since having my babies. It’s so tough and scary and lonely. Hugs, mama

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Nicole Ziegler March 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

This is such great, and important advice. So many women suffer and don’t know what to do.

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Charissa | thenotsobusymom March 16, 2017 at 10:21 am

Thanks for sharing your story. A great way to help others is to share your own struggle.

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Joleen March 16, 2017 at 12:46 pm

My bff had bad PPD, you offer really good tips and signs to watch out for. It can be very scary and its great to be prepared…

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val March 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience so honestly. It’s so terrifying having PPD/A and/or during pregnancy – your advice is spot on <3

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Joanna March 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm

I am in tears reading this. I had PPD and PPA really badly after having my twins. Almost two years later, I have finally started to feel a little bit more normal. Big hugs to you mama.

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Harmony March 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm

A very helpful story! I have no doubt this has opened the eyes of other new moms that are experiencing PPD without knowing it. Now, they know the aren’t alone.

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Ashley March 16, 2017 at 9:06 pm

This is so beautiful and honest, I know there are many women-myself included- that would benefit from this advice. You never think PPD will affect you, but understanding it and having that support group can be a life saver. Thank you for a great post!

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Kate March 16, 2017 at 11:08 pm

I suffer with anxiety normally but had PPA pretty severely after my son was born. He was born after we lost his older brother half way through pregnancy so on top of anxiety I had already that only added to it. I actually had a GP tell me that I needed to exercise more instead of go on medication. It took me another year to realize that was crap and insist on finding someone to prescribe medication. I’ve been on Zoloft a few months now and wish I could get that time back!

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Krysten March 16, 2017 at 11:21 pm

When I had PPD all I wanted was someone to be there with me. (Not my husband.) I wanted someone who understood and didn’t think that I was absolutely nuts for not having a bond with my child. Things are much better now, but the first year was horrible for me.

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Danielle March 17, 2017 at 6:57 am

All the yeses to what you should do! PPD is rough, but nothing to be ashamed of. Thank you for being open, so that others know they aren’t alone.

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