Baby Fever: My Struggle With Postpartum Depression

According to Postpartum Support International, 1 in 8 women suffer from postpartum depression. That’s actually a pretty staggering number, if you think about it!

I was one of those women dealing with PPD after my son was born. It didn’t start right away; for the first several weeks, I was expectedly tired, but absolutely elated to be a mother! It wasn’t until I had returned to work and was attempting (and failing) to balance my new life that everything came crashing down on me.

The First Year of Marriage

When JB and I were married almost 14 years ago, we quickly made the decision to try to have a baby. After all, we’d been together since we were teenagers, and at the time I was under the impression from a quack doctor that I might have trouble getting and staying pregnant. The month after we made the decision to “not try but not prevent”, BOOM, I was preggo. I was so shocked that I took 5 pregnancy tests…before I ever even made it to the doctor’s office.

Pregnancy test

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If I had it to do over again, I’d have suggested we wait a little longer, enjoy being married first.

The first year of our marriage was already difficult enough, and there we were, adding even more to it! We were still getting used to living together, as well as being the first of our friends to be married. And I can’t forget how hard it was to deal with the crazy shifts I had to work. The day after our first wedding anniversary, we had our big ultrasound and we found out our bundle of joy was a little boy.

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The First Year of Motherhood

If I thought our first year of marriage was hard, I was in for a huge shock for the first year of our son’s life! He was born after 8 weeks of agonizing bed rest, and an extremely long and exhausting labor. Although he was normally a good baby, his first few months were difficult. He spent many evenings screaming at the top of his lungs, yet our pediatrician “didn’t believe in colic”. The only person who could calm him down was my husband, which made me feel like an enormous failure as a mother.

Because of my extended bed rest, I was only allowed to take a 6 week maternity leave. It broke my heart to have to send my baby to a daycare for someone else to take care of him while I had to work. I cried all the time. Yet on the days I was able to stay home with him, I often let JB take him to daycare anyway. I was always so tired, and I felt like I didn’t know how to take care of my own son properly. I’d stay in my pajamas and sleep most of the day. I’d get dressed just in time for JB to get home from work. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I remember a couple of times driving home from work, the thought of suddenly jerking the steering wheel and wrecking my car popped into my head. I can’t exactly say that I was suicidal, and I definitely never thought of harming my little boy, but I knew something wasn’t right.

Postpartum Depression, Quote by Brooke Shields

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Apparently, I hid the almost crippling sadness inside of me just enough for most people not to pick up on it. My husband saw it, but I was a basket case who was prone to flying into hysterics if he so much as looked at me the wrong way, so he didn’t say anything. Twice, I packed suitcases for myself and the baby and took off for my parents’ house, fully intending to never go back home. My parents thought I was just stressed.

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If I had it to do over again, I’d ignore my mother’s past remarks about “crazy running in the family” when I felt like something wasn’t right. I’d have been brave enough to ask someone to help me. I can look back now and see how much I suffered from postpartum depression then…the constant crying, the excessive sleeping, the sudden panic attacks that I tried to ignore.

Postpartum Depression: Getting Help

It wasn’t until I went to the doctor for another issue that he started asking me questions. Since I had worked with him a long time at the hospital, he saw me regularly outside of my appointments. He told me that he knew I wasn’t feeling like myself, because he hadn’t seen me really smile in months.

Oh, that was the worst, and yet the best, doctor’s visit I have ever had in my entire life. Worst, because I ended up in tears by the end of the appointment; Best, because it opened my eyes and let me know that I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t a failure, and I wasn’t necessarily crazy. I started medication, learned how to work my way through the stressful situations or thoughts that were causing my anxiety, and my family stepped up to be a better support system for me. After months of not really dealing with it on my own, and I was finally able to enjoy my little boy and life in general!

Living My Life after PPD

A couple of years later, I was working in that same doctor’s office every single day. I was also expecting my second child. I had been doing well without taking medication for a good year or so…but even then, I suspected my doctor was watching for any signs of me slipping into depression again. I can’t even begin to count how many times he would tell me throughout the day, “Smile! You really should smile more often.”

I wish I could say that I didn’t go through postpartum depression the second time around, but I can’t. I can say, however, that this time, I wasn’t afraid to ask for a little bit of help.

StaceyHave you or someone you are close to battled with postpartum depression or anxiety?

{This post was originally written in April 2009. Updated and Recycled for #GoingGreen.}

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8 thoughts on “Baby Fever: My Struggle With Postpartum Depression

  1. Far too many experience what you went through…and far too many do not understand. I’m so glad you finally moved beyond your inner voices telling you to fear “help” and got what you needed.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. So nice to connect with new blog friends. I “roamed” around your site and thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Consider me a new follower!

    -Lisa

    • Having never been through it, it was so hard for me to admit I had a huge problem! 8 months was far too long for me to “live” the way I was during that time.

      • I never experienced postpartum depression but I did experience what was called situational (yeah, that’s a word…according to my therapist) due to a horrible marriage. Who knows, postpartum depression could have been in there somewhere too. I just know it took me forever to figure out what was wrong. I felt shamed and “crazy”. Fortunately, like you, I finally got the help I needed. And…my divorce, which was a long time coming, eased the “situations” that were causing so much of my stress.

      • There shouldn’t be such a stigma attached to the word depression! My own mother had made comments to me before about “crazy pills” and how I didn’t need them…I guess that was part of the reason I went so long dealing with it on my own. Through the years I have had a few panic attacks, but now I know how to realize one’s building up and how to calm myself down before it gets too bad. Those are usually very situational, too!

        I hope you are doing better now without so much stress!

  2. It appears my previous comment didn’t post??? Trying not to be redundant, just in case it did and I’m unable to see it due to comment approval…but I want you to know how inspiring your story is. Far too many do not seek the help they need for postpartum depression. So glad you finally did!

    I also wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. It is always so nice to make new blog friends. I have checked out your site and will definitely be returning. Consider me a new follower!

    • Definitely watch for any signs of it! The hormonal changes are so drastic after giving birth, lots of women get “baby blues” that will usually pass…but it’s the lingering blues that hang around causing all the trouble. Best of luck to your daughter on her new adventure as a mommy!

  3. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m so glad that you were able to get help. the demands on us as mothers, especially new mothers, is so hard. All of sudden we have to balance everything and it’s not easy. It’s brave of you to speak out about your struggles. Good for you!

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