At this point, my daughter is three months old. Most people would have had an announcement post up by now with cute pictures and a birth story. But after the last three months, I simply can’t bring myself to do that. Recently I sent a text message to my two closest friends admitting the truth: I have postpartum depression and I’m really struggling. I’m tired of tiptoeing around it. I’m also tired of telling some people and having their reactions make me want to never tell anyone again. But I’ve always been pretty transparent about my mental health on this blog and I wanted to share here too that things are pretty awful right now. I have postpartum depression.
I had no idea how hard this was going to be. Absolutely no concept. That I would feel regret for even having a baby. That I would wonder if we had destroyed our lives beyond repair.
Life with a newborn sucks. Bad. A whole lot worse then being pregnant. It’s more then no sleep, which everyone tells you about. It’s birth not going like you had planned. I wanted a natural birth center birth. I ended up with a c-section. Nothing has really gone according to plan. I planned to breastfeed. Now we are exclusively formula feeding. Sometimes she just cries and cries and we never seem to know what is wrong, or if we do, sometimes how to fix it. She has bad gas and reflux most of the time. I have been spit up on more times than I can count. I am tired, exhausted. Sometimes I just don’t want to take care of her anymore. This was what I wanted?
It feels wrong to express all these feelings. Do they make me a bad person? A bad mother? I hope how I feel will change at some point, but right now I often wonder whether this has been a huge mistake.
I never have been able to find a full time job that I was passionate about and actually worked for me, so I made the assumption that being a mom was the missing piece. Perhaps that was what I was supposed to do with my life. Right now I feel so terribly wrong. I never wanted to be just a stay at home mom, and now it feels like that will be be all I have time for.
I hardly have time for a rushed shower. I can’t even poop with the door closed anymore. My husband feels down all the time too. I wonder if we would have been fine with just the two of us for the rest of our lives. Is our relationship doomed because of this too?
The First 4 Weeks of Postpartum Depression
Almost a week after my due date I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. So off to the hospital we were for an induction. 48 hours later she had hardly budged. The midwife recommended a c-section. We decided that it was for the best. It felt like my body had betrayed me. I hardly got to see her after she was born and then I had a panic attack on the operating table. And so the crazy anxiety began.
She lost a lot of weight between birth and her first appointment. Once again the problem seemed to be me. I was having breast milk supply issues. Basically she was starving so we had to start supplementing with formula. It was supposed to be temporary, but things never really improved. We cut back on the formula and she started to get dehydrated again. I was breastfeeding, feeding her formula and pumping. I wasn’t sleeping because this meant she was feeding around the clock.
I had bad anxiety about her health. We went to the doctor with her five times in two weeks. I was severely depressed. It was all too much, worrying whether she was getting enough to eat, no sleep, being full of regrets in general. We made the decision to stop breastfeeding. It was for her physical health and my mental health.
I still occasionally feel guilty about it. There are some people that have just not understood why I “gave up” after only two weeks. It was mostly because yes, it wasn’t working, but also because it was one thing I could let go of. One thing to restore some fragment of my sanity so I was more functional.
If you have been around for awhile you know that I have depression and anxiety. This was one thing I was really concerned about when I got pregnant. Would I experience postpartum depression? Would I be able to take care of both her and my mental health?
A few days after she was born it really set in. One night she screamed and screamed and fed and fed the entire night. I was so tired, so so tired. I didn’t want to hear her cry anymore. Honestly, sometimes I still feel that way. She cries a lot. Some mornings I wake up and don’t feel like getting out of bed, much less taking care of her for yet another day.
Postpartum Depression Now
I had a few weeks when I thought I was doing better, and I guess I was, but then she started crying more and sleeping less. I was exhausted, which triggered more anxiety, which triggered being so nauseous that I couldn’t eat or sleep. My anxiety medication wasn’t working any longer, but I was scared of what the doctor would put me on if I called her. I didn’t want another go around with benzos that ended so negatively ten years ago. But finally it got so bad that I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. I hadn’t slept in a week. I was hardly eating anything.
We had to call my mom to come help take care of the baby because I felt incapable of taking care of myself, much less her. I had to start on a benzo again, and while it helped, I am currently trying to take as little as possible because honestly they scare me. Every time I start feeling anxious or depressed again, I feel scared. I’m scared that I’ll have to take more and more for them to work and that it will be nearly impossible to get off them again. Frankly, a lot of things scare me right now. I know it is the anxiety talking, but I can’t make the thoughts stop most of the time.
This is hurting my husband too. He feels like he is losing me, and maybe in a way he is. Some days I just don’t feel like myself anymore. At times it does feel like we are just two people living in the same house, just trying to survive through another day. And I don’t want it to be like that. I don’t want to feel depressed and anxious every day. I don’t want miss actually enjoying things or actually having time to enjoy things.
This post isn’t about the end of my story with postpartum depression, but the beginning. I am currently working with my therapist and psychiatrist to find new medications and treatment options to help me. I hope that things will continue to improve and that soon our lives return to some kind of new normalcy.