After having a baby, nearly every woman is going to experience what they call the “Baby Blues”. Who wouldn’t after such a major life change, body trauma, mixed with next to no sleep? However, the American Psychology Associate stated that 1 in 7 woman will experience greater, more serious symptoms after having a baby, which is labeled Postpartum Depression. It can manifest itself in so many ways after the stress our bodies undergo during and after childbirth. This creates hormones and feelings almost impossible to understand. I can’t stress how important it is to gain an education in this area. Many women with Postpartum Depression won’t be able to care for themselves or for their baby until they get help. It is never something to be ashamed of.
I’ve struggled with different forms of depression and anxiety in my adult life, so I knew what to watch for after having my babies. I knew what panic attacks were like, I knew how it felt to be completely unmotivated to even get out of bed, weighed down by debilitating sadness. I did not, however, know how many different ways postpartum depression could manifest itself. There were so many feelings involved and every baby was different. This is my story.
After I had my first child, I was so afraid to let myself love him completely. I felt like something was inevitably going to happen to him and it would be much less painful if I didn’t get too attached. I feared SIDS so much that I couldn’t sleep at night because I had to be able to hear his breathing and watch his chest rise and fall. After 2 weeks of near insanity, my husband called mom and told her what was going on. With help, support, and a priesthood blessing, I was able to overcome these feelings. I remember finally being able to completely relax and allow myself to actually fall asleep. I remember holding my son and letting everything go, accepting him completely and letting myself love him 100%. It was the greatest relief.
I had 3 miscarriages before our next son was born. At 10, 6, and 4 weeks. I didn’t realize that ANY pregnancy whatsoever will bring the hormones that cause PPD. After the first one, I remember trying to get through my days but feeling utter and complete anger. Not at anything specific, but as if I couldn’t control my rage. Everything made me furious, like fire building in my chest. This time I called my mom and told her everything. She is very good at helping me see things differently and show me a new perspective. I turned to her because I knew she had experienced the same things herself, after having 5 children. My husband was there through it all, but it’s not shameful to get extra help. I also knew that the outside perspective could let me know if medical intervention was necessary as well. It took a little time, but as my hormones began to regulate I was able to feel normal again.
The PPD I had with my next full term birth was, once again, a different experience. I was holding my baby, but it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel like he was actually mine, like he couldn’t have possibly come from me. I was scared something was wrong, that we wouldn’t have a bond or I wouldn’t love him the way I did my first child. At one point in the hospital, my husband asked how I was doing. When I told him, he said, “Isn’t that the exact definition of postpartum depression? Are you okay?” Luckily I was, because I knew this was normal for some people, and it would go away soon. I knew I had support and as it does, those feelings faded and I could see the bond and love we shared all along.
The biggest difference in help that I had with this baby came from my midwives. When I left the hospital, someone called me at home to make sure I was doing okay, mentally and emotionally. When I returned for my 6 week check up, they had me complete a detailed questionnaire about my feelings. The questions it asked surprised me, because they really got to the point. They offered help to the mother and her recovery process. I wish every doctors office provided this kind of in depth care.
My third child felt easier. NOT easy, but easier. I felt the regular worry, stress, exhaustion, and fear for many days. He was actually in the hospital at 2 weeks old because he turned blue and the EKG showed he had a large heart. I felt comfort though, that everything would be alright. And it was. With time and adjustment, my “baby blues” stage faded and I felt normal again.
While having a baby is incredibly worth it and nothing could ever top the experience, it’s almost like I know to prepare for 6 weeks of tense caution. I struggle until that newborn phase fades and we can all take our first deep breath.
I do my best to prepare, work on myself, practice mindfulness and acceptance. I know who to ask for help, I know the warning signs, but things are never what you expect. Knowing you are not alone and how much help is available can make a world of difference.
Please do not use any of my photos without permission.