One of the most gut-wrenching times of my life is when I was a 20-year old new mother. My son was born after 28 hours of no epidural, pain relief, or drugs of any kind (not because I didn’t want them, but they simply did not work). I had to deal with the pain on my own. Additionally, my son spent multiple days in the NICU.
To fully understand the context of my experience, I need to explain that I didn’t want to get married because of my pregnancy, but was urged by those around me to do what they felt was the right thing. As a result, the support I desperately needed was just not there. I cannot recall my ex-husband ever cooking a meal, changing a diaper, or feeding our son a bottle. He was ‘checked out’ from day one.
The postpartum depression hit me after only a few days at home. I was sleep deprived, alone, and helpless. I felt like a robot, and while people visited us, I had no emotion and was unresponsive. I was terrified of being a new mom, and even experienced a massive panic attack that resulted in admission to a mental health facility. The experience at the mental health facility was extremely unpleasant, and I was put on a medication that made me feel like I was in a terrible fog. Our system failed me; I was shamed and ridiculed for feelings I couldn’t explain.
At times I did feel suicidal, however, I would not allow my son to be motherless. I got therapy, healed, and filed for a divorce. Eventually I relocated with my son to a different state and began a new life. Many years later, I fell in love with my current husband and we had a daughter. I did not suffer postpartum depression with my second baby, and was fortunate to have a whole team of support, including my wonderful husband.
I commend all mothers who suffer with postpartum depression, psychosis, and anxiety. It’s a very life-altering time, but there are a world of resources and support. Get help and heal–your baby needs you.