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With every pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through drastic changes. At the end of each pregnancy, women experience different forms of postpartum healing. Some women experience postpartum depression and each level of depression varies from woman to woman.
Postpartum depression also can strike at different times after baby is born. For me, I truly realized I was battling postpartum depression around the time my son turned four months old. To be honest, I was probably experiencing it sooner, but I didn’t want to admit it. Therefore, I wrote off all those feelings as something else.
As a first-time mom, I really did not understand what was happening to my body, my hormones, and my life. I wish there had been more help or references available at my six week postpartum check-up instead of just a quick questionnaire (which was not very accurate).
Resources for more options of treatment would have been beneficial rather than just offering medications. While medications work for some, I feel like some kind of life coach would have been beneficial to help comprehend and navigate motherhood.
Whether it’s your first child, your fifth, or more, you may need help adjusting to life and new body experiences. The following experiences are my own personal experiences that led me to understand that I was living with postpartum depression.
1. Constant Self-doubt
Everything I did with my son I constantly questioned. Even for the little things like diapering: does he need diaper cream or powder? Which brand? What if I choose the wrong brand? What if the cream hurts him? Then it will be all my fault.
With the daily evidence of him being happy and healthy, I still doubted that I was doing anything right for him. My son brought me so much joy, yet there was this cloud that hovered above me even in the most joyful of moments.
2. Tears and Tears (and more tears)
The tears were basically part of my day. It was almost like if the baby was crying then I was crying.
Motherhood is hard and when you’re going through something like postpartum depression, it’s hard to understand or explain to others because you don’t quite understand it yourself. And the day does not always end when it’s bedtime. Some babies don’t sleep through the night at an early age. Therefore, on top of your daily frustrations and struggles, you can add exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
3. Feeling of Not Having Support
This one seems silly to me. Truthfully, I have often felt like I had no help even though I was surrounded by such an amazing support system. I had so many helping hands to take over if I needed a break and lots of ears to listen when I needed to vent. However, I still felt distant, disconnected, and isolated.
I felt like I was the one who had to do everything for my baby because I was his mother. And mothers are supposed to be the strong ones who carry the world on their shoulders. I wasn’t supposed to rely on anyone else to help me. I convinced myself of this for months which only added to my depression.
4. Feeling of Being Alone in Motherhood
Similar to feeling of not having support, I just felt so alone. Even though I had this bundle of joy attached to me, I felt alone. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about how I was feeling because then it would make me seem like I was being selfish and ungrateful. Here I am with such a miracle in my hands that many so long to have.
I was truly grateful for such a healthy, precious little boy. However, it is not all rainbows and butterflies in motherhood. There are challenges upon challenges and the only way to get through them is to learn and talk to others for help. I had to learn to open up to others even if that meant just ugly crying on someone’s shoulder.
5. Thoughts of My Child Being Better off Without Me
Because this is such a vulnerable topic, I will be completely vulnerable and share that I had thoughts that my baby would be better off without me. With all the self-doubt, sadness, no energy, and exhaustion, I did not feel like I was providing the best for my son. I felt like nothing I did mattered for him. I felt like a failure and that he would be better off if I was not there.
6. Unknown Changes Happening to My Body
Changes to the body are inevitable when growing a human. You spend all this time nurturing a little being inside of you and protecting this little life. Then, you give birth and everything needs time to go back to the way it was before. Only there is no going back completely. There are parts of your body that will never be the same.
In addition, if you choose to breastfeed, you will go through more hormone changes while nursing your child. The part of you that you may have found to be sexy pre-baby is all of a sudden not so sexy anymore when you’re engorged, leaking, and have a little human attached to it.
All of this is a new experience as a first-time mom. You don’t know how you’re going to feel or even what to expect. Everyone tells you that you’ll feel “different” but that’s not exactly a good description of what you should be prepared to feel.
7. Having to Acknowledge my Postpartum Depression
I remember there was a specific night when my son was four months old and waking constantly (again) and I was at my end. To say I was exhausted would have been the understatement of the century. My eyes were bloodshot red, I had dark circles under my eyes, and it took every ounce of energy to move my legs to walk to his crib (which was in the same room as our bed). I remember thinking that there was no way I could go on and that this could not be the motherhood that everyone else explained as “the best job in the world.”
At that moment, through the hazy fog, I realized I was living with postpartum depression. This was a sad yet uplifting moment of realization for me. Sad because I was being so affected by it. Uplifting because now I realized that this wouldn’t last forever. Everything I was feeling up to this point wasn’t because I was doing something wrong (like my mind told me I was doing). I remember telling my husband that night that I was suffering and I scheduled an appointment with my doctor to seek help.
Life Before Baby
Before having a baby, I would have described myself as a generally happy and positive person. I didn’t think that I could suffer from depression. Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose which illnesses affect you.
Each day of motherhood brings about its own challenges, but each day also brings so much joy and happiness. I felt the need to write about my experiences with postpartum depression because I want others to know that they are not alone. I want others to understand that what they are experiencing could be symptoms of postpartum depression. If I can help just one mom out there to not feel alone, then my vulnerability here is worth it.
How Did You Know?
If you experienced postpartum depression, how did you know it was affecting you? What were your signs? Your comment(s) could help another mother recognize what she is going through! Motherhood is a journey best taken with friends; help a friend out and share your experience in a comment below!
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