I remember my postpartum doctor’s appointment like it was just yesterday. The sterile room was filled with the screech of a baby crying, my husband pacing with said baby, and I just sat on the table answering questions from the nurse. The nurse asked me if I had experienced any Baby Blues or signs of Postpartum Depression (PPD). “No way,” I answered, but my husband said, “Yes.” I swung my head towards him and laughed it off saying “I do not stop talking,” in a joking, yet angry manner.
Today, 4 years later, I can honestly say that I certainly had PPD and I should have listened to my husband. There, I said it. And for once, I’ve accepted the fact that my husband was right. And although I never did, I should have had a serious conversation with him about what he meant in that doctor appointment. We should have talked about Postpartum Depression.
When Vinny was about 9 months old I joined a local moms group. I was chatting with a fellow member and she was telling me her PPD story. That’s when I had my ah-ha moment. Wow, those are very familiar feelings to me. I remember those moments:
I would have severe jitters when Vinny was in another person’s care, even with my husband. I was a stay-at-home mom so I was always around him, and when the opportunity came for me to get out of the house without him, I would, although the majority of the time I didn’t enjoy myself.
If I was in a conversation, I would zone out and play random scenarios in my head of something happening, and I wasn’t there to save him. I would find excuses not to go out with friends, text my husband a thousand times if I was out, and find reasons why I had to get back home.
If Vinny cried I would panic if I wasn’t holding him. It was as if I was the only person who could comfort him.
If my mother would hold him, I would talk to myself, “hold his head this way, put his diaper on this way, no he doesn’t like that”. I was giving myself anxiety over the most minimal things regarding his care.
What I have learned about PPD, it’s NOT the stigma of locking yourself in a room, committing suicide, or wanting to kill your baby. Those CAN happen, but there is a much wider range of PPD. Every woman who has PPD has a different experience, although there are similarities.
Fast-forward to the fall of 2015. Mikey and I had moved back to Michigan to be with our family and had been back for about a year at his point (Vincent was about 2.5 at the time). Mikey and I had been at odds with one another for quite some time, so I gave him the ultimatum. Pack your bags or find a therapist for us. He found a therapist, and it was the best thing for both of us.
After seeing our therapist, all of the above had come out, she said I most likely had PPD, not only that but she diagnosed me with anxiety and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Well good grief, looks like I am doomed, right?! But this explained a LOT of my moodiness, issues being away from Vinny, and our marriage issues.
I am not saying in order to be diagnosed you need a therapist, but be open about your feelings, and be aware of how you are feeling on a day-to-day basis. Some feelings are completely reasonable and normal; we are sleep deprived, uncertain of things, and every single child is different. Some women have their first baby without experiencing signs of PPD but then they have another, or a third, or fourth, comes along and it is all very different.
Do you recognize any of these symptoms in you, or anyone close to you?
- I don’t feel any sense of bonding or connection with my baby.
- I am anxious or worried a majority of the time.
- Things that I used to find joy in doing are no longer an interest to me.
- Are you hungry but can’t eat? You need to eat but don’t have an appetite.
- I have racing thoughts and can’t sit still. Pacing. Finding yourself keeping busy.
- I have a lot of guilt and shame that I am not a good mother.
- I want to be alone.
- I am worried I’m seeing or hearing things that other people don’t see or hear.
- Having problems sleeping when the baby is sleeping?
- Worried you might hurt yourself? The baby?
Please reach out to your friends, ask questions, talk to your doctor, or call the nurse line. It is ok to admit you are struggling, or just aren’t feeling like yourself. You are NOT ALONE. For free and anonymous support you can contact the Postpartum Support International Hotline at 1-800-944-4PPD (4773).