Candice on postpartum depression ruining her mom plans

candice and son - new baby

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

So here I was, a new mom to a beautiful baby, who had just crushed this labor thing. Never mind that my plans for a water birth were screwed, or that I was hooked up to a monitor. I had planned everything about motherhood. I would be bad*ss mom, lose all the baby weight, and effortlessly get on with continuing my studies. Sounds perfect to me. But you see, there was this thing called postpartum depression. This was the one thing that I had not planned for, at all. Sure, I had vaguely heard about it, but that just wouldn’t be me. I was born for this. I did the labor thing and, guess what, I handled the pain. 

So here I was, new baby in hand (though not on the boob as he refused to latch), ready to face this motherhood thing. I was on cloud nine, in my baby bubble. I was super happy. A little too much so, which I suspect was due to that fake oxytocin-pitocin. It was pumped into my veins post labor, because no one wanted to have postpartum hemorrhaging, right? Nothing could go wrong. Except, it did. The baby bubble popped and the happiness was replaced with overwhelm. Why wouldn’t the baby latch? I couldn’t wash bottles fifty times for the day. I needed to shower. When would I eat? Damn, this baby poops a lot. Sleep disappeared. I started crying a lot. Who the hell told me I was capable of being a mother? Here I was, oceans removed from my support system, and a new baby to care for. I suddenly felt that I couldn’t do it. I could not care for a new baby. 

Where was that inner bad*ss mom when I needed her? I had no idea. Instead here was a mom who was flat out depressed. It was my husband who pointed out that I might have postpartum depression. I told him he was crazy. A late night google search proved him right, and I was in shock. I was depressed. My trusted OBGYN could fix this right? Wrong. All she did was offer drugs and a sad postpartum story of her own. I thought that knowing what I had meant that I could cure it. Boy, was I wrong. I searched long and hard for solutions, but they were hard to come by. There were to be a lot more tears, intrusive thoughts and a strong feeling of doom that surrounded my existence.

Exercise, journaling, an online support group and eventually therapy helped. I struggled for over a year, but it got better. The darkest hours faded, and I started to truly smile again. To the mom suffering from postpartum depression, I see you. I am you. Postpartum depression was the scariest thing I have had to go through. It will get better. There are now times that I wistfully think about making my son a big brother, knowing very well that this can happen again. I guess that that inner bad*ss mom didn’t go anywhere after all.