My depression started while I was pregnant, but it went undiagnosed. I told myself that it was just pregnancy hormones that made me feel weepy, disappointed, and unsure. During the pregnancy, I planned for a natural birth. Instead, I was induced at 41 weeks and ended up with a C-Section. I felt like a failure; I wanted to have that special moment of giving birth like I had imagined it. When my son was finally placed in my arms, I wanted to cry, but the tears didn’t come. When I got back to my room, it was just the three of us. I didn’t know what to do. How would I know if he was hungry? I was terrified of being alone with him. I thought I could handle this, but now I wasn’t so sure.
I struggled with motherhood from day one; I didn’t know how to be a mom. My parents came to help shortly after I came home from the hospital, and I tried desperately to get back into a routine. However, on the day they left, I cried. We were a new family of three without a clue of what to do.
I think my postpartum depression started when I had to breastfeed. I wasn’t prepared for the physical toll, and I dreaded every feeding session. It wasn’t a bonding experience, and instead I felt chained to the couch.
I also struggled with a baby that didn’t sleep. We tried everything, but nothing worked. He cried constantly. My husband and I would take shifts at night, but I couldn’t sleep with all of the worry and crying. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t eat. I hated myself. My husband and I fought constantly, and I felt like my husband hated me because I couldn’t breastfeed or take care of our family and home. I felt like a failure because I hated breastfeeding and dreaded spending the day alone with our son while my husband was at work.
At my six week checkup, my doctor suggested I stop breastfeeding and prescribed me an antidepressant . However, I didn’t take the medication. I thought this was something that would eventually go away. I didn’t want to be dependent on medication.
Once I went back to work, I got a little bit of my routine back. Slowly my appetite got back to normal, and I slept more than an hour at a time. Even though I was still depressed, it took me 7 months to finally try medication. Fortunately, it helped right away. The consuming, depressive thoughts started going away. For the first time in months, I told my husband that I was happy with life.
Then, my medication stopped working. I started having those thoughts of being worthless and incompetent again. I was angry at everyone for no reason at all. I didn’t want to be angry. I just couldn’t help it. I also had migraines every week. I eventually stopped the medication and sought alternatives. While I still have days that are hard, I no longer question my worth as a wife, mother, and person.
What I’ve learned from experiencing postpartum depression is that these feelings need to be talked about. For the longest time, I felt guilt for having depression. What has helped me get through the challenges of depression is expressing how I am feeling. Getting the words out instead of dwelling on them inside of my head has helped me realize the steps I need to take to get rid of those thoughts. I have to turn my negative thoughts into positive thoughts or actions. I am a good mother. I am a good wife. Every parent gets frustrated, and those feelings are normal.
If you are experiencing the same challenges, talk to someone. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up. Don’t hate yourself. Find a support group. Sometimes we need someone outside of friends and family to help us work through our challenges. I’ve had those scary thoughts. I’ve been there. I don’t ever want to go to that place again. It’s been a long road to recovery, and it’s one I’m still traveling. But now I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I see happiness, love, pride, and confidence. One thing I’ve learned is that life gets better. I may have to take it one day at a time, but my day is filled with a toddler who loves to laugh, learn, play, and be with his family. Postpartum depression has made me see that I love my life, and I am so glad that I’m still here to experience it.