How Treatment for Postpartum Depression Saved Me
Mother’s Day 2010, the day I found out I was going to be a Mom. I remember the two pink lines on the pregnancy test and the immediate joy I felt to finally have them. Three years of trying and it was finally happening.
Looking back, I think the first sign something wasn’t right was when they placed my 6 lb. 15oz little girl in my arms that I had been dying to meet for the last 38 weeks, I instantly started sobbing. Not necessarily tears of happiness, not exactly sadness. Just a pure sense of being overwhelmed.
The day we went home from the hospital was the day it really started. What do I do now? How could the nurses really just send me home with her? I didn’t know what to do without them.
I had such bad anxiety over everything, I had read so much about SIDS that I couldn’t fall asleep for more than 15 minutes without waking up convincing myself she wasn’t breathing. No sleep and prior mental health issues don’t bode well.
I remember one morning after my now ex-husband had gotten home from work, it was probably 2:30-3 am, and was tired from being a new dad and having worked all night, I took the screaming baby to him and said “I can’t do this anymore, she cries and I can’t make her stop. I don’t want her anymore, just take her I can’t do it.” She cried all the time, I obviously wasn’t meant to be a Mom I told myself. She hated me. She would be better off without me, happier.
It’s been 11 years since I said those words but I can still see his face in my mind clearly, as if it just happened today. The look of confusion, anger, disgust, hurt. We had planned this child, how could I not want her? I didn’t understand it myself, I couldn’t imagine how he must’ve felt. A mother, the mother of his newborn daughter saying this about a child we desperately wanted. I feel guilty even today for ever having said those things, thinking them. But I know that wasn’t me. Not the me I am today.
I don’t remember much about the early days, I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. I have pictures, but the person in them looks blank. Lost. Scared.
I went for my 12 week appointment to get my stitches checked. Her birth was traumatic and I had to have an emergency episiotomy while my epidural had worn off. I talked to the doctor about how I was feeling and he told me this is common and that I would get better. That I should’ve spoken up sooner, with the complicated pregnancy, traumatic birth, and prior mental health issues that postpartum depression (PPD) was very likely to be occurring. But it would be better. I would get through this.
In that moment I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t see past that minute, in that small office. I felt trapped. I can’t explain it, but I felt as if the walls were caving in on me and all I wanted to do was run so far from that room, away from my daughter, from my then husband, my then mother-in-law. Everything and everyone.
It took until my daughter was 7-8 months old for me to even start bonding with her again. I’d always loved her, more than anything, but the bonding hadn’t been there at first. It pains me to admit that. To someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves, I’m sure it makes me sound terrible. I’m thankful I didn’t lose more time to PPD. Seven to 8 months felt like a lifetime.
Being diagnosed with PPD really made me take charge and be proactive about the mental health issues I had neglected since my teens. I don’t know how it would’ve turned out had I not been forced to get the help in treating my PPD. I believe as terrible as it was, that it saved me.
Today, my daughter is 11. She’s smart, funny, an amazing pitcher in softball; she’s beautiful. We have definitely come so far from those early days. I’m sad that I “missed out,” but I’m thankful I got the help I needed to be there for her now, when she’s old enough to realize if I wasn’t here supporting her. I’m the loudest at her games, her number one fan.
Postpartum depression was and is one of the worst things that I’ve ever had to deal with, but we turned it around and made our ending better. I will forever be an advocate for women in the postpartum period. Postpartum depression is scary, you can feel alone. But you’re not alone. I hope we can end the stigma and help other Moms know they’re not alone.
Getty image by Marco VDM