My Struggle with Postpartum Depression

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This is certainly not a post that I was expecting to write when I starting thinking about this blog two years ago, and it's a post that I have even struggled with writing over the past few weeks. I had a hard time deciding whether or not it was something I wanted to make 'public', or keep to myself and my immediate family. I decided though to talk about my struggle with Postpartum Depression (PPD) because over the past few weeks, I have felt very alone in a lot of ways, and just in case someone else who reads my blog is going through, or has gone through the same thing, they now know there is someone else out there to talk to. For a long time, I didn't know who to talk to about it, and I didn't, and I know now that was a mistake.

Although I decided to share my struggle with PPD, there are a few details and parts to the story that I am choosing to keep to myself. Maybe I will share those things one day, but I'm not quite ready to share everything yet.

The first two weeks after Jackson was born almost felt "easier" then with Emma. Mostly because my recovery seemed to be faster but there just seemed to be something lingering over my head that I couldn't quite figure out. At this point though, it's a blur, and I don't even feel like I remember much about those first two weeks. I was just trying to keep my head above water with two kids under the age of two. Looking back, there were certainly signs of the PPD setting in already, but in the moment, it was far from my mind and I assumed that a lot of what I was feeling was natural for having two young kids. I remember talking to Wes and my mom about how I felt like I was 'nesting' more after Jackson was born then before. I couldn't get the house clean enough. I felt like I cleaned every day, all day, in addition to trying to keep Jackson happy, and struggling to keep up with him breast feeding. Despite cleaning almost constantly, the house was a wreck, or at least in my mind it was.

I started to have a lot of anxiety about the house. It was the only thing that I could control at the time, and it felt like I didn't even have control over that. Opening up my linen closet or hallway closet or dresser drawers would give me serious anxiety. My heart would race, my skin would crawl and I would panic. It was like I didn't know where to go, I didn't know where to start. Every task seemed too big to handle. That's when things started going downhill. I became an emotional wreck. This was just about two weeks after Jackson was born.

Everyone kept telling me to sleep. Sleep whenever Jackson slept. I couldn't. The thought of taking that much time out of the day that I could be up doing something, cleaning, organizing, something....made me panic. The minute Jackson would sleep, I would go into a frenzy. I was exhausted, completely exhausted, but it was physically impossible for me to sleep. Yet at the same time, I felt hopeless that I would never catch up to my own expectations. Which turned into guilt, feelings of being overwhelmed, an inability to make simple decisions, irritability, frustration, anger, feelings of inadequacy as a mother, and even more anxiety.

At the same time, Jackson was (thankfully) thriving and eating what seemed to be non-stop. I couldn't produce enough milk through breastfeeding and despite the pediatricians reassurance that I was doing great, I certainly didn't feel like it. Breastfeeding was incredibly painful and I just didn't feel like my body was made for it. I had a lot of the same issues that I had with Emma, but she wasn't nearly as much of an eater so it was easier. I started to pump exclusively because of how much pain I was in. When I started to absolutely dread, and cringe every time I knew it was time for Jackson to eat, I knew I had to start pumping. But because of how much he was eating, and how long it was taking to pump, I was miserable. I could barely get through the day, let alone build up any kind of stash to give myself a break once and a while. So, I broke down and started to give him formula already, which made me feel like a big failure.

My third week at home with Jackson continued to get worse but I continued to keep my mouth shut about a lot of things. I just thought that it would get better. If I could just hold on through the first couple of weeks, it would get better. I thought that it was just because I was so tired. I thought, if I could only get my linen closet organized I would be all better. The late night feedings were tough, but I was getting through them. At least until that Tuesday night. It was 4:00AM and I was up feeding Jackson, just as I had done two hours before that and after 4 ounces of his bottle, he just wouldn't burp. That was the trigger. After 30 minutes of trying every possible position with my sleeping infant that just wouldn't burp, a horrifying thought came into my head, and that's where I will leave part of the story to myself, the part that I'm not quite ready to fully share. I couldn't believe what just came into my head, and what I felt like I could easily do. I began to sob. I put Jackson back in his crib, went back to bed, and quietly cried myself to sleep. I didn't tell anyone what happened, at least not yet.

The next two days were a blur. An attempt at me trying to keep up with life, but failing. I started to feel like I was starring at this infant like he was a stranger. Like I didn't know where he came from because if he had come from me, I would feel different. I think that is when my mom starting coming up more often to help with things like organizing the linen closet, tackling the loads of laundry etc. But it wasn't helping me as much emotionally as I was expecting it to, or maybe, hoping that it would. That Friday it all came out. It was three weeks to the day that we went into the hospital to start the induction.

I broke down that morning and probably scared my mom half to death. I told her about the thoughts that went through my head. I told her about the load of clean laundry of Jackson's clothes that had been sitting in a laundry basket for two days because although it was causing me complete anxiety to look at it, it was too big of a task to handle. There were too many, little tiny clothes. I had no problems folding our laundry, or Emma's laundry, but I couldn't face all of those newborn clothes. This was also about the time that Emma started acting out more. It really wasn't all that bad, she was just being a toddler, but to me, it was too much to handle. I felt like I was constantly yelling at her. I needed a break. My mom convinced me to call my doctor and that afternoon I found myself an emotional mess in the middle of his office. I was scared to admit everything, but with my mom there, I knew I could and I knew I wouldn't get any help if I didn't. Jackson was with us too, and it was like he knew that Mommy needed some time to talk to the doctor because he slept through the entire appointment. By the end of the discussion with my doctor, I had a prescription for an antidepressant and an appointment for therapy the next week.

That weekend was probably the toughest weekend of my life. It was like I couldn't face being at home. I needed to get out. I needed to get out of my head. I needed to get out of my house. I spent the entire weekend with Jackson at my parent's house. We picked up Emma and spent the day with both her and Jackson that Saturday, and then Wes came down to have dinner with us and then take Emma home to sleep in bed. During the days I felt okay, but like I was just passing through life, but not really involved. I was going through the motions of changing diapers, feeding bottles, but mentally I was somewhere else, doing whatever I could to not think about things. That night I had a major breakdown. Emma started acting up. She was hitting. She was screaming. I couldn't wait for her to go to bed. I couldn't wait for her to leave. I couldn't get Wes and Emma out of the house fast enough. I freaked. With both Wes and I in tears, he took Emma home and before they even could walk to the car, the guilt set in. Why in the world wouldn't I want to be around my Emma? What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I handle things like before? Why did I just want to be alone, when I felt so alone at the same time? Why didn't I want to be at home? When was I going to be able to go home? When would I feel normal again? Why couldn't I be the mom that I wanted to be? What kind of mom wants to be away from her kids so bad? Why was I failing at life?

Not 5 minutes after Wes and Emma left, Jackson started screaming. I couldn't get him to stop. He ate. He burped. We rocked. We walked. We changed diapers. You name it. He just wouldn't stop screaming. This was the first night that he really started with colic. On top of how I was already feeling, it was too much. I finally, after what seemed like an eternity, got him to sleep and I just broke in half. I handed Jackson off to my dad, and just cried in my mom's arms. I stayed at my parent's house with Jackson until Sunday afternoon and headed back home. Since then it's been a struggle. There have been good days, there have been bad days, there have been good days with bad parts, or even good days with horrible parts, but we are still here. Emma is as crazy as ever, Jackson is getting chunkier by the day, Wes is starting to understand more and more about what is going on and I am making it through each day, one day at a time. This is something that we will get through, even though there are nights where I curl up in a ball in my bed, with my pillow over my head trying not to hear the sound of Jackson screaming. We will get through this and I will become the mom that I want to be again.

Therapy has been helping a lot though. I am able now to identify a lot of my triggers and I am finding ways to deal with my anxiety. Its also been a process of giving my permission that it's okay to not be perfect. It's okay that I don't have that instant connection with Jackson because I now know why. We spent weeks worrying about him and thinking the worst when I was pregnant because of him measuring so small, and the cysts in his brain. I spent 9 months almost preparing for the worst and building a wall so that if something did happen, I wasn't attached. Day by day though, we are building that bond, and I know feel okay knowing that it will take some time. I had 9 months to bond with Emma before she was born, and I felt like I didn't have that with Jackson. But there is no rush...he isn't going anywhere.


  1. Oh sweetie - I'm so sorry. I just want to give you a huge hug and tell you everything is going to be okay. And it will.
    Yes it will take time, but know that you are doing everything you can right now to be better, and who you want to be. So glad that therapy is working - it's honestly one of the best things anyone can do for themselves, and sadly, gets the worst rap.
    Call me please if I can help - I'm 5 minutes away and can provide an instant playmate for Emma :)
    Love, Kim

  2. I admire your bravery and courage to post all of this. Such a huge step!! I can relate to some of what you are going through. And I feel like FINALLY within the past few weeks here, we've all started making headway. I still struggle with accepting imperfections -- like letting Dylan be 2! Sometimes (or well, A LOT of times) I expect him to be perfectly behaved 24/7. Slowly I'm learning that its not possible -- and even I'M not perfectly behaved 24/7. ;) In the past week or two, I've been able to correlate his bad days to MY bad days. (I dont know why its taken me so long to figure out the obvious). When I'm stressed out, he acts out -- and then it snowballs from there. Since recognizing this, I'm doing my hardest to try to have more "good" days, and in doing so, so does he. But it sure is difficult!!!!!!! I never knew it would be so hard with 2 kids..... Hang in there!

    Kudos to you for recognizing that you needed help and also for actually taking the steps to get the help you need. I'll be keeping you all in our prayers. Let me know if you need anything.

  3. Dear Laura - I guess I have been an occasional "troller" (is that what they call it?) of several friends blogs, including yours, although I don't usually post, i just like to keep up with people's happenings. Anyway I happened upon this post today and felt compelled to write because, well, frankly it brought me to tears!!!! LIke your friend that posted above, I, too, am sending you the biggest FRIEND/MOM/LMCUBIE hug possible. I think you are so brave and strong for posting about what you have been going through. Also, what I think of you from our gunther-cubie friendship days, is that you are an amazing woman (you do it all and you do it awesome!), and from what I see of you on your facebook page, you are an amazing mommy (you do it all and you do it awesome!). I know that these feelings you are having are more than you can control on your own sometimes, but every now and then take a deep breath and give yourself some YOU space. I can't say i know what it feels like to be going through full blown PPD, but I just know my short-lived experience that being a mom is tough,the love is powerful and often overwhelming, and being a working mom presents its own unique challenges. I just about lost my mind in the first two weeks after Jack was born just on account of the breastfeeding. There is so much pressure out there to do everything "perfectly". Anyway, i digress....I believe in you, and I know your going to get through this! HUGS!!! Love, Heidi S.

  4. I do not have any advise to give you but I would like to say that you are very brave for even admiting that something is wrong. I do not know you and yet I had tears in my eyes when I read this. I really do hope that things work out for you very soon and that you are able to enjoy both of your kids. I only have a daughter who will turn 2 in August and of course she does not behave all the time. I have noticed that if I yell at her then it just gets worse so now that the weather is warmer I just take her outside as much as I can. You can get throught this!


site design by designer blogs