My story is a story of hindsight. My oldest child is 20 and the youngest is 17. These two sons of mine have brought me great joy, even in the midst of pain. There were times that I was sure I would never be good enough for them.
The first time I felt this sense of failure was after my youngest was born. He was immediately taken to NICU after a successful VBAC. He had looked perfect and was screaming as expected. Then the medical team rushed him to NICU and told me he had pneumonia and difficulty breathing. I broke down when a doctor came in to tell me they would have to do a spinal tap to check for spinal meningitis. In all, my baby stayed in the hospital for 10 days. Although I was with him, I wasn’t able to hold him when I wanted. The entire experience was horrible.
After getting home and constantly reassuring my 3 year old that I was home for good, I was devastated when I could not get my newborn to nurse. On top of that, my older son was extremely jealous. One time when he hit his baby brother on the head while I was trying to nurse him, I gave up. I think at that moment I began to feel like a complete failure.
In spite of these feelings, no one told me there was anything called postpartum depression. My sister had postpartum depression for about a year after her baby was born, but she didn’t tell me about it. Looking back, I don’t remember seeing her often, which was the only thing that seemed out of the ordinary. I got pregnant with my first child 3 months after my sister’s baby was born, so she probably did not want to scare me.
I thought everything I was dealing with was overwhelming me because I was deficient somehow. That only made me more depressed, and in my family, depression was an ugly word. My mother was bipolar and was even admitted to a mental facility for a couple of months when I was seven, so mental illness had a negative connotation.
I do not know how many times that I said the words, “I give up.” I am thankful to God and to my very supportive husband, who took my desperate phone calls at work and held me when I cried. Because of this support, I did not take my life. If you are reading this, please do not give up or think you are a failure. Talk to someone.