ABC's of Pregnancy, Birth and Early Parenting- Depression (Part 3)
Recovering from your baby is hard. Recovering while also suffering from postpartum depression can seem impossible. Below 4 local Ottawa moms share their stories of recovering from post their stories in part 3 of this series. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 for more stories from these brave and amazing mothers.
If you are suffering from postpartum depression, please talk to someone! You deserve to feel better.
I had an underlying depression diagnosis for years prior to getting pregnant with my first. We tapered off my meds during the last trimester. After giving birth it was almost immediate. I was in the hospital and looking back at it shocked that they let me leave. Once home it got better but I also hid it really well. I knew it was more than baby blues because I was rejecting her. I loved her so much but I would hide when I knew it was time to feed. I would pass her to anybody and everybody. I hated being alone and I remember the day I decided to seek help. She was so happy. She was coo'ing and half smiling. I remember telling my husband that she had such a great day but I had no interest in picking her up. I felt angry and spiteful. My doctor ended up upping my meds and within a week and a half her smile would make me smile, I'd hold her every chance i could and would just stare at her sleeping. My OB had tampered me off my meds during pregnancy but never reminded me to start them again post birth. Never discussed nursing while on meds etc.... my fault too but it was a complete oversight. With my 2nd I was high risk so the nurses watched me like a hawk in hospital. I started meds again after he was born. Things felt 110% different. Until it didn't he was a couple months old when I found the anger and spite creeping up. I would cry and cry and cry. I didn't push him away like I did my daughter though. I just remember yelling a lot. Not at him but in general at everything. I couldn't stop crying. I'd read mommy posts in the birth group and be angry at how normal their lives were. They'd just cart their babes everywhere with them. That would make me cry too. It was again a matter of adjusting my meds and having my family / friends help me out of it. My friend would give me time 1:1 with each individual kiddo allowing me to connect with my oldest again and get to know my baby. I felt the fog lift about 3-4 weeks after the med adjustment. Life fell into place. There was no real aha moment that time. -J. mom of 2
I never knew with my first at all. A friends mom had me go get assessed. With my second I cried too. Often let the dad take over with our son, but when I had thoughts of driving my car into a tree or off the road I realized I wanted to end my life and that something was wrong. When I felt happy and confident to go out with my kid and enjoyed doing things again is when I realized I was better. Took about 2-3 years with my first but only a year with my second. -C. mom of 4.
With my first son we had a lot of obstacles in our first few months. We moved countries, bought a house, had trouble nursing and I was getting no sleep. I think the stress of life and emotions of a surprising birth finally weighed heavily enough on me that I realized 6 months after my baby was born that I wasn't doing well. I had had depression in my past but I knew that my desire to never get out of bed or even the house was more than just depression. I would get very emotional over very little problems and some days I just felt totally numb. It was getting harder to enjoy my baby and a few times I actually scared myself at how easily I got angry that he was crying again or wouldn't sleep. I think that was the time that I knew I had to talk to someone and get some help through this. I found a counselor through my insurance that specialized in birth trauma and postpartum. We talked through the birth experience and the feelings I had relating to it. We discussed coping strategies for asking for help, getting more sleep and generally prioritizing myself and seeing my value apart from being a mother. I had boxed myself in my mind into thinking my whole existence was about this baby and that I was failing. But talking through these ideas and emotions I was able to process them enough to steer myself ahead again. I went to counseling for about 5 months and I realized I was done when I was looking more forward to going out to play groups than counseling. It felt like I had my life back and could see a future where I was going to be ok. Getting more sleep and me time also helped. With my miscarriage in November I was having strong depression symptoms (not wanting to get out of bed, isolating myself, crying over anything and often and a general dissatisfaction with my life) and also some suicidal thoughts. I remember thinking in one of my worst moments that if it weren't for the baby I was carrying I wouldn't be here. I didn't know that during this time I was having a missed miscarriage and was experiencing hormonal surges that were causing PPD while I was still technically pregnant. I spoke with my doctors and my husband expressing my need for help and that's what led them to discovering the miscarriage. As hard as the birth and loss was to deal with the depression actually got better once I had delivered the baby. I still went through months of counseling to process the loss and emotions. For me the difference between "the baby blues" and PPD was that the baby blues would come and go. If I got a break from the baby or got to experience something good with the family I felt better but with the PPD I always felt like I had a weight on my chest. I was so sad and down about my life that I couldn't shake the feeling. I might put on a brave face in front of others but the feeling of worthlessness and despair never eased up. I know some people are able to take antidepressants and it helps them through the depression but I found the counseling to be a slower method but more effective in the long run for me. I can understand though how strongly hormones and an imbalance can affect your moods. So I can see the benefit of medication as well. The hardest part of PPD is reaching out for help and accepting it when it's offered. -K. mom of 4
I didn't feel myself.
I am a nurse so finding out the signs were obvious to me. I really felt like I had no connection with my daughter. I didn't even really want to hold her or anything, did the bare minimum (feed, change diapers). I didn't feel myself. Lack of interest quick to anger and no energy. Went to my doctor and was started on a low dose medication and it helped. I was also able to come off the medication with no problem. -A. mom of 1
Part 4 next week will conclude this series. This does not mean we don't want to hear your stories! Please feel free to share them on the Ottawa Doula Services Facebook page, Instagram page or send them as an email and I will post anonymously. Let's all help moms who are suffering know they are not alone.