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Kristen on her delivery triggering PPD, PPA and psychosis

moms selfie with her toddler - traumatic birth story

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.

I found out I was pregnant at 18. I was scared and unsure. Not only about being pregnant and having to care for a tiny human, but also about having to grow up and about my relationship.

I had a very long pregnancy, and a long and scary 15-hour labor. I stopped dilating at a seven and my son’s heart beat was getting very weak. I was told that I needed to have an emergency C-section, and that wasn’t part of my plan. Not even five minutes after being told I’d be having a C-section, I was being rushed to the OR. My son was delivered and there was no cry. The doctors brought him around the curtain, still purple, not breathing and with his chord wrapped around his neck twice. I was terrified.

Related: 7 lies I believed about C-sections before I had one

After what felt like an eternity, I heard his cry and I sobbed. I remember them taking him out of the room with his dad and I felt stressed. I didn’t even get to hold him. I truly believe my delivery triggered my severe postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis.

I remember the second night we were home. I stood at his bassinet all night just staring at him, making sure he was still breathing. I was sobbing and just feeling so numb. That’s how I knew something was wrong. I didn’t want to bond with him. I felt so much pressure to breastfeed him, but I couldn’t, which made me feel like I had failed him yet again.

I would stay in bed all day and night. I’d stay up all hours of the night, sobbing, not understanding my feelings. There was one very scary time I remember my son wouldn’t stop crying. It was wearing on me very hard, and for a split second I thought, maybe if I shake him then he’ll stop crying. When I heard that in my head, I immediately put him in his bassinet and left the room and cried. Why would I think of something so terrible? What was wrong with me?

Related: 5 steps to stop an anxiety spiral, according to a therapist

I would hear phantom cries all the time, even when I didn’t have my son with me, I’d hear him cry. Wanting to take my pain away, I figured grabbing my bottle of oxy’s I was prescribed for my C-section and taking the whole bottle would fix everything. I sat in my bathroom ready—ready for it all to go away. I had the pills in my hand, and all of a sudden my son woke up and started screaming.

I had realized what I was about to do, and how I couldn’t leave him. I feel like in that moment, he saved me. After that happened, I had reached out to a counselor, and I started going to appointments weekly, to keep myself alive.

I can say it doesn’t automatically go away. I’ve been going to the counselor for a good three and a half years, and although I don’t have my postpartum depression anymore, I do still suffer with depression and severe anxiety.

I really hope that my story will help another mom or even dad. These feelings happen. You’re not crazy. Being a parent is so hard, and having that shame that comes with postpartum depression is hard to deal with. Don’t be ashamed. A lot of us have been there and just don’t want to share because of that shame. We’re all human.

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