Kelly on postpartum depression and feeling like a sh*tty mom

baby being held

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.

My husband I met in May of 2006 and three years later on June 12, 2009, we got married. A couple months after his eight month deployment, we found out we were expecting our first baby, only to be told at our first appointment, our baby had no heartbeat. I opted to have a D&C.

A few months later we were pregnant again, everything looked good up until our anatomy scan, on Feb 15, 2011, where we were told again, our baby had no heartbeat. I was induced and she was born at 21 weeks on February 18, 2011. She had died at 16 weeks. We did an autopsy and the results showed she had Turners Syndrome and a cystic hygroma. In July, we got pregnant again. The pregnancy was uneventful and our baby was born April 13, 2012, healthy, and happy.

Postpartum was hell. The doctors gave me medicine that I had a bad reaction to that landed me in the ER. After this, I didn’t want any more children. I suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum with all three pregnancies and it had taken its toll on my body. Three years later I got diagnosed with an under active thyroid and an auto immune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Two years after my diagnosis, and my oldest now being five, out of the blue my period was late. I was freaking out—no way could I be pregnant. I took four tests and all came back POSITIVE.

At our first OB appointment, we decided, because of our history, to do the genetic testing at 14 weeks. But, before we could get to 14 weeks, I had hyperemesis gravidarum from HELL. The puking was non-stop, but the worst in the evening. How was I supposed to grow a human, take care of myself, my four-year old, the house, the errands? I called the doctor’s office over and over and over when none of the medicines for the nausea were helping. Finally, Phenergan worked. Finally, relief and I was able to eat.

Up until this point, I swore up and down that we were having a girl. We had picked out girl names and Lindsee and Kelsea were our top two. I had no boy names picked out. We got the genetic test results back. The baby had no abnormalities and It’s a BOY! I felt my heart sink. I didn’t want another boy. This is my last pregnancy. I want my little princess.

Weeks passed on and I came to accept this baby growing inside me was a boy and I started to bond with him, reading stories and talking to him, putting music to my belly so he could listen. The pregnancy continued uneventfully up until 36 weeks five days when I went to my OB appointment only to find out my blood pressure was elevated and I had protein in my urine. We were told to go to the hospital immediately to be monitored. There, my blood pressure stayed up but then declined back to the normal range. They wanted me to come in on Monday to be induced because I would be 37 weeks. I had preeclampsia and leaving the baby in any longer than that could kill us both.

Monday came and I was nervous and scared. This is not the way I wanted my last delivery to go. We got to the hospital and the induction process started around 11 a.m. The labor was intense and luckily, I had an amazing nurse who helped me focus and get through the contractions. My husband was there for me like he had never been before. Holding my hand, reminding me to breathe, helping me get to the bathroom and back to bed.

It seemed like forever to get to four centimeters but when I did, they agreed it was time for the epidural. Once the epidural was in, the right way this time, I could finally relax and breathe. They continued to check me and monitor me. At about 8 p.m. I coughed and something felt off like I needed to push. My husband called for the nurse. Sure enough the baby was ready, but we had to wait for the doctor to come back up the elevator to deliver the baby. It felt like forever and I wasn’t allowed to move, no coughing or laughing. One whole minute of pushing and our son was born at 8:17 pm. He was perfect and healthy. My first labor had been 32 hours so this was considered fast since it was about nine hours.

I felt great (or so I thought) the week after having him, but the fact I wasn’t eating, barely sleeping and with my hormones dropping, it really started messing with my mind. I couldn’t sleep unless I was holding him, so we slept in the recliner with a hippy pillow to keep me from dozing off and him falling or slipping down into the chair. My mother-in-law came over so I could sleep but when I woke I felt anything but rested. My mind would race and I’d have a panic attack.

I lost all 30 lbs. and then some the first two weeks. Food of any and all kinds was not appealing and was revolting. My husband got me protein shakes just so I could have something in my body. By the end of week two, we both knew something was way off. I was having thoughts about killing myself but I felt guilty for having the thoughts because my children needed me and my husband needed me.

I couldn’t leave him to raise our kids alone. I called my OB and they told me to come in immediately. I was put on a short-term antidepressant to kick the panic attacks and a long-term that would take up to six weeks to take full effect. I took the short-term once we left the pharmacy and within 20 minutes, baby and I were both asleep in the back seat while my husband drove us home.

At my follow-up appointments, my doctors all seemed to act like I was making this up. It took a female nurse practitioner sitting down with my husband and me and asking what I felt, what I needed, and how much was I eating, how much was the baby sleeping. I begged for my husband to be able to stay home from work (he works third shift) and she got his work release papers signed and he was home with me.

I still was doing most of the night feedings, but it was nice to not be alone like I was when our first son was born. My husband and I decided for my sake, both physically and mentally that for now we are done having children, at least children of our own. At about three months postpartum my husband went, on his own free will, and had a vasectomy.

Through all the craziness, my husband stuck by my side, reassuring me that this is just a phase and it’s my hormones and not me. I still felt like a shitty mom and shitty wife no matter what anyone said. I felt like a burden. My husband had to miss work for six weeks and my oldest son had to watch his mother slip into a deep depression, which in turn made me a super b*tch to him and everyone around me.

Months of therapy and now on my fourth different medicine, I feel like I can see the light at the end of the sh*tty postpartum depression tunnel. But, I still have my bad days where I want nothing more than everyone to just shut up and leave me alone; don’t touch me, don’t make a peep, just leave me be. Let me wallow in my own self-pity. Just let me have some time to myself and for the love of god keep your penis away from me!

I still struggle daily and some days I just want to give up and run away, but I love my children more than life itself, and I know one day they won’t be living at home and I won’t be this young. I have to live in the moment, stop worrying about what will happen tomorrow or the next day or day after that.

I hope someday to have answers to what is really going on with my mind and body, but until then all I can do is wait, be with my kids and my husband and hope that something will help or fix my issues.

It’s hard to struggle when you look around and see all these happy, energetic, carefree parents. I wonder what I did to deserve feeling like a sh*tty parent, to not have the energy to go all day, or to not snap and lose my shit more times than I care to admit. All I can do is try every day to be the best me in that moment and not hate myself for losing my temper and patience at the end of the day.

“When life gets you down, you know that you got to do? Just keep swimming! “ -Dory, Finding Nemo