Postpartum Depression: Why aren’t people more open and honest about these two words? When you’re pregnant, everyone tells you how exciting it will be to have a baby in your arms. How happy you will be. A little “tired” maybe, but always happy. At least that’s what I heard.
Here’s a little backstory on me: I had my oldest daughter when I was 20 years old with an ex-husband that was horrible and abusive. Before she was two months old, he was gone. I met my second husband when she was six-months old, and we’ve been together ever since (she’s five now and he’s adopted her.) I never had any kind of postpartum depression or anxiety with her. And all I ever heard about it was, “It’s all in her head,” “It’s just baby blues” and “They get over it after a while.”
Then I got pregnant with my next baby. The pregnancy itself was pretty rough. Emotionally and physically draining all nine months, but so well worth it. Two days after she was born, of course we were all exhausted—having family in and out and calling every few hours and still healing and trying to breastfeed and spend time with my oldest while I can.
Related: How motherhood myths impacted my struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety
Before we knew it, on her third day of life, the baby hadn’t woken up in almost six hours. She wasn’t responding to anyone moving her. And her skin was a light, tinted yellow color. To make a very long story short, we ended up in the ER with IV’s in her arm and I started pumping and bottle feeding.
THIS is when my postpartum depression started. I just didn’t know it. I became very protective of her. I wouldn’t let my friends hold her and I rarely let my family close enough to feed her, including my husband who I became very nit picky of. I was exhausted from pumping, and I would cry every night because in my head, I had failed. I failed at doing what I was supposed to do. What my body was made to do. And after a while, I wasn’t producing enough milk for her anymore. My body became so stressed, that I couldn’t do it anymore. I pumped as much as I possibly could, but she needed more and eventually we started formula.
Ever since that first month, I had been on a major downward spiral. My husband didn’t notice, which isn’t at all his fault. He works 12+ hour days and then comes home to us, so I didn’t expect him to cater to me.
Related: Spotting postpartum depression can be difficult. Here’s why should enlist your partner’s help
At this point in this story, she was eight months old and thriving. My oldest was getting ready to start school. My husband was working like crazy, and we rarely had time for each other. And I was getting worse. I began over eating and not sleeping, even when I could. I didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone because I was scared we would die or my daughter would get hurt or kidnapped. And every day and night, I was miserable. Migraines were killing me and my whole body ached.
I packed a bag at one point so I could run away in the middle of the night. I told myself that they would be OK. He could find a wife that wasn’t such a burden and didn’t cry all the time. My daughter could have a mom that didn’t get angry at every little thing.
Two months ago is when it all hit the fan. One day, I’d made a post on social media quoting a song I’d been listening to a lot at the time. “Should I take a pill to numb the pain? Change the chemicals inside my brain. I worry I won’t be the same, but I guess that that’s the point.” I think in my head, that was my subconscious way of asking for help.
Related: 5 Ways to ask for help postpartum
It took a few hours for him to even see it. I knew when he did because he took me into our bedroom while the baby slept and our oldest played in her room. He sat me down and said, “Hey. Are you OK?”
I broke down. I told him no. I’m sad. I felt hopeless. Like I failed and didn’t belong here anymore. I felt completely disconnected from my reality. Like it was a movie in front of my eyes. And I just wasn’t happy anymore.
He asked me, “Do you want to hurt yourself?” The only thing I could say was, “I don’t know.” That’s when I saw tears well up in his eyes. I’d only seen him cry twice before that.
That night we spent hours on the phone together with the suicide prevention hotline. I was too scared to make the call myself, so he did it with me and I’m so grateful for it. We just needed to figure out what to do.
Related: 4 Maternal suicide prevention resources for moms
The next morning I made an appointment with the midwife office in my town, and I was seen the next day. I took the postpartum depression questionnaire they give all new moms and got a very high score. The midwife came in and sat with me. She held my hand and said it’s going to be OK and it’s good that I’m reaching out for help.
Since then I’ve been on medication, and I believe it’s getting better slowly. I feel more energetic now and more connected and grounded in life. I have bad days still, but we are handling them better. I haven’t been able to see a therapist yet, because we can’t afford it, even with insurance, but we’re making progress either way.
Postpartum depression is real. Postpartum anxiety is real. I am so thankful for my husband for standing firm with me through this. His support got me through. We need support. That’s the bottom line. Moms, new or not, ALL need support.