When I found out that I was pregnant, I went into research overdrive. I wanted to know anything and everything about pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding, newborns, all of it. During all of my research, I saw over and over again the mention of postpartum depression. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it.
I thought that postpartum depression was something that happened to “other” people. That it only happened to women that weren’t prepared to be moms. Boy was I wrong.
I Couldn’t Have Postpartum Depression
I had baby J in December of 2017. I fell in love with him instantly. I didn’t think that would happen, but I cried like a baby when I held him for the first time. I was totally and completely obsessed with that baby.
We went home from the hospital a few days later, and I wasn’t afraid. I had read that many new moms are afraid when they first go home because they no longer have the help and support of the hospital staff. I wasn’t like that. I wanted to be home. I felt no fear in leaving.
At 2 weeks postpartum, I had a checkup with my doctor. He likes to see new moms early on to make sure they’re adjusting okay. I felt fine. I even told him that I felt better than I ever expected to. I loved my baby and though we were dealing with the normal newborn sleeping issues and some breastfeeding issues, I felt great.
Fast forward 5 months.
J and I had many, many ups and downs in his first few months of life. We went from directly nursing, to exclusive pumping. We had a horrible craniosinostosis scare that had me stressed for months, and we moved 3000 miles away. My husband is in the Army and we got new orders, so we packed up our things and moved.
Related: An Exclusive Pumping Story
Moving is nothing new for my husband and I. This was our third move in 4 years. This was however our first move with a baby.
Though the trip required some finagling, we made it work and we arrived safely at our new home.
It was then that I started having issues.
Maybe Postpartum Depression can Affect Me
The house we moved into was on Post and is older. It had a mountain of issues from the moment we arrived. Malfunctioning A/C unit, faulty electrical, even a massive plumbing leak. It was a mess. Needless to say, this caused us some stress.
Also during this move, I did something that I had never done before. I took my job with me. I was able to move my position with me though not as an employee, but rather an independent contractor. Doing this gave me a lot of flexibility with my schedule and allowed me to spend more time at home. The downside is that I don’t get paid if I don’t work. There is no consistent salary, and not having to go into an office every day and see your coworkers can be harder than it sounds. This meant that I had to put myself on a schedule and make myself go out and get things done.
This might not have been such a problem if my house wasn’t such a disaster, but it was so I wasn’t making much money.
I also had J in daycare for the first time.
When I was pregnant, I had no thoughts what-so-ever of wanting to stay home with my son. I truly thought that I would be dying to go back to work. (I never was one to really WANT to be a mom) But that’s not what happened.
Related: Coming to Terms with Being a Mom
Every day that I took him to daycare I hated it. I hated leaving him there. I hated the thought that someone else was spending so much time with him. And I especially hated the idea that one day I would pick him up only to find out that someone else was there to see his “first”. His first step, his first word, what ever it happened to be, I wanted to be the one to see it, not someone else.
I immediately wanted to be a stay at home mom, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that work financially.
Though I didn’t start my blog for the money, I quickly began entertaining the thoughts of being able to make a living off of it. The problem is, that requires time, and I didn’t have time.
My Postpartum Depression Symptoms
So here I was stressing about my son in daycare, stressing about my crappy housing situation, stressing about getting my blog up and running, stressing about staying on top of my job, and stressing about maintaining my home since I was the one that was home every day. It really began to be too much.
I got to the point that I was angry. Every day, typically for no reason. I would get angry about something small and completely blow up about it, and my husband is the one that took all of that punishment. When I think about everything that I put him through, it is a wonder that he has stuck with me. He truly is a great man.
I was angry and frustrated. I spent all day, every day feeling like things were spinning out of control. Like there was a caged beast inside of me that was yelling, screaming, and clawing to get out. It was horrible.
I would also go from the extreme anger to extreme melancholy. I didn’t cry (often), but I just felt down. I would spend days sitting on my couch eating cookie dough out of the package binge watching Netflix. I didn’t want to do anything, didn’t want to see anyone. The only thing, or person, that got me out of the bed every morning was my son. I think if it weren’t for him I would have just stayed there. I probably would have also had too much to drink too often. He and he alone kept me grounded.
After a couple of months of this, my husband convinced me to go talk to someone about how I was feeling. I didn’t like the idea, but I went because I knew that I couldn’t keep living that way.
Two therapists and a doctor later and I was prescribed Zoloft to deal with my depression and anxiety.
How I’m Handling Postpartum Depression
I’ve been on it for a while now, and though I don’t feel completely like my old self, I do feel better. I’m now able to see the big picture rather than getting mad at just one tiny piece of it. I still have bad days where all I want to do is stay in my pjs and watch tv, but those aren’t as frequent.
I’ve also made some changes in my life. I have managed to quit my job and take my son out of daycare so that I can be home with him. Doing this will allow me to be there for all of his firsts and to be able to devote the time to my blog. This has become a happy outlet for me during my rough patch.
My issue wasn’t the fact that I got postpartum depression (though that’s part of it), my issue is the fact that it didn’t appear until so much later. I thought that once I was out of the newborn phase that I was safe. No baby blues, no postpartum depression, no postpartum anxiety, no problem.
My postpartum depression also didn’t look like I thought it would. I expected tears and trouble bonding with my baby. That isn’t what I got. I had anger and complete obsession with my son. That just goes to show you that postpartum depression doesn’t look the same for everyone. The brain works in mysterious ways sometimes. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how a person is going to react to every situation.
Going through this like I did also made me realize how poor the care is for new moms in this country.
When I was pregnant, everyone wanted to know every little thing about me. As soon as I gave birth though, no one seemed to care. Perhaps things would have been different had someone just asked me how I was doing. I mean really asked.
Maybe then I wouldn’t have gone so deep into my hole. Perhaps my postpartum depression would have been caught sooner. Maybe then I would have been able to avoid the medication all together. I suppose we’ll never know.
The important thing that I’ve learned, that I hope you’ll take away from this, is that no matter how long it has been since your birth, no matter what you think you’re supposed to feel, if you ever feel like there is something wrong, then it is okay to talk to someone. Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are real things and there is no shame in either one of them.
Being diagnosed with postpartum depression doesn’t make me feel like less of a mom. Being the rage monster that I was did.
It took some time, but I realized that there was no reason to feel embarrassed about my depression or the fact that I was being medicated for it. Having the medication helps me remain calm in otherwise stressful situations. It also helps me to not turn normal situations into stressful ones. I think that makes me a better mom.
I am FINALLY taking care of myself and that can only be for the best. It will make me a better mother to my son and a better wife to my husband. Anything is worth that.
Are you struggling with postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety? Leave me a comment below.
Until next time.