I don’t normally get too serious here, but I’m thinking that I’m ready to get really serious today. Like, Postpartum Depression serious.
I haven’t really spoken about it to anyone at great length at all, to be honest. Nick has been on the receiving end of the bulk of the discussions and has always calmed my irrational fears and soothed my anxieties as much as they could be soothed. I’m really lucky to have someone who is able to do that for me and I know that many other women are not so lucky. That’s why I wanted to put this out there, into the blogosphere, so that other new mothers don’t feel like they are all alone. Postpartum Depression & Anxiety touches many more women than we tend to hear about so that’s why I think it’s important to talk about it. Something isn’t quite as scary if you already know about it. It loses it’s power the more you understand it. And you can gain control if you know that it’s happening to you.
I had heard bits and pieces about PPD while I was pregnant and knew what it meant, but never in a million years did I think that it would affect me. For me, it wasn’t depression, but anxiety that hit me. I’ve never had serious struggles with mental health issues in the past so I wasn’t expecting any of it now. All of the sudden I was questioning every ability that I possessed and everything thing that I was doing. Surely I was a terrible mother already. I mean, I didn’t know exactly what my son wanted every time he cried! Aren’t mothers supposed to somehow instantly know these things about their children?! These were legitimate thoughts than ran through my head and shot down all of the confidence I had been working up for months. Don’t get me wrong, I was (and still am) amazingly and incredibly joyous about being a mother and the love that I feel for my son is something I never thought was humanly possible to feel for another being. But there was always that nagging at the back of my mind.
Maybe it was because of the circumstances of the birth experience. For months, I thought that I was less of a mother because I had to have an emergency c-section. You kind of have this picture in your head of what the birth of your child will be like and when it goes completely off the rails, your heart takes a real hit. I pictured myself going into labour, getting to the hospital, waiting a few hours, pushing for a while and then with a final push, bringing my son into the world the way that it was originally intended to happen. Well … at 60 hours of labouring, pushing, crying, pain, and maybe some swearing, it was obvious that it just wasn’t going to happen the way that I had planned. There came a point when I was on the floor on my hands and knees making feral animal noises that I just had to face the fact that this wasn’t the way it was going to happen. At that same time, the doctors and nurses also decided it wasn’t happening and I bumped 3 other people out of the operating room who were waiting to have their babies. Oops!
Seeing Benjamin for the first time was every bit as magical as I thought it would be. I could hear him crying as they cleaned and wrapped him up but I couldn’t see him yet so Nick was giving me as much of a play by play as he could from his angle beside my head. When the nurse brought him over and Nick held Ben on my chest, all was right in the world for those moments waiting to go into recovery. The next few hours (even days) are a bit of a blur because of pain medication and pure exhaustion. I do remember staring at Ben and being so happy that he was ours. But then I’d think “Do I deserve a baby this beautiful? I didn’t even give birth to him properly!” Nick was clearly an amazing father so I knew that he deserved to have Ben. My mind just kept telling me that I didn’t deserve it.
My recovery was really hard and at the time, I was pretty sure that was deserved too. Every time I moved, I thought that my incision would open and my insides would fall out. I was sore, nauseous, tired, and scared. I had a moment when I was sitting on the bathroom floor at 3am trying not to throw up that I really thought that I was going to die right there. My body was going to call it quits and that was going to be it. As if it was by divine intervention, Nick chose that exact moment to peek his head into the bathroom and ask me if I was ok and if I needed anything. He was holding Ben who had just woken up and he crouched down with him to give me a little snuggle. I’ll never forget that for as long as I live. I knew then that I needed to get a handle on things because I had 2 very important fellas in my life who were right there by my side so I wasn’t going to be going anywhere.
Recovery was slow and the anxiety was always there. I didn’t want to leave the house or see anyone because it was easier not to. If I could just focus on keeping myself together and taking care of Ben (with the help of Nick and our moms) I could get along much better than if I had people constantly asking how I was doing and how his birth was. Nick, my mom and my mother in law all took turns taking care of us and made sure that I was able to eat and sleep and Ben was getting everything he needed. They were wonderful! They were encouraging and didn’t make me talk if I didn’t want to. The let me cry and they made me laugh … but not too much or my incision would hurt! And slowly, ever so slowly, things got better!
It was a process but today I feel so much better. The negative thoughts don’t overpower the positive ones anymore. I am able to recognize that I really am a great mom and I deserve this great kid, even if he gave me hell getting here and it didn’t go exactly as planned. I am thankful that I live in a country where I didn’t have to pay for a c-section and that it was readily available to me because if it weren’t, either Ben or myself may not be here today. Sometimes my scar itches and it reminds me that things kinda sucked there for a little while but I made it through in one piece and so did my son. He isn’t mad at me because of how he came out of me, he just looks at me and smiles because he loves me just as I am. Sometimes when we’re snuggling in the morning before getting out of bed, he reaches out and touches my face, smiles and babbles away. I have to fight back the tears and I know that he thinks I’m pretty great just because I’m his and he’s mine. It’s those moments that I think about when negativity creeps in and those anxious thoughts are swatted away.
If you’re struggling with Postpartum Depression, there are lots of resources out there to help you. First of all, speak to your doctor. They can recommend a course of action and medication if needed. You can join an online support group like ones that can be found on the BabyCenter forums. Chances are there are support groups in your area. If you google it, there are THOUSANDS of articles out there like this one. Or you can go to my Contact page and send me a message. But don’t ever feel like you’re alone, because I’m willing to bet there are many, many women out there feeling the same way you do at this exact moment.
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