There are a few things Mom’s don’t talk about: Miscarriages, the gross parts of labor, feeling ugly for months after giving birth, and Post Partum Depression (PPD).
90% of women suffer from Baby Blues. This is a normal condition where the hormone changes after pregnancy lead women to feel a bit down. Women don’t talk about that, either. It’s odd to have the happiest moment of your life marred by the blues, but it actually seems very normal. It’s like the letdown after all the presents are opened at Christmas, just on a much bigger scale.
But a much smaller percentage of women suffer from PPD. I’m one of them. I first had PPD after the birth of my third child. My husband noticed it; I didn’t. My anger, frustration and sadness were all justifiable, I told myself. Then one day, about 6 months after Maddie was born, I “woke up” and realized I had been depressed for months!
When I got pregnant with my fourth child, I promised my husband I would listen to him. If he told me I was depressed, I’d believe him. I didn’t at first.
Some of this will be a repeat of previous posts, but in case you haven’t read those, I’m including that information here as it is relevant to my state of mind after birth.
I was induced on May 7, 2009 one week prior to my due date. I had gestational diabetes and the doctor was concerned for the health of the baby. My doula advised waiting as I had gone two weeks past due date with my three previous children. She warned me that my body would probably not be ready to have the baby. I listened to her and considered what she said; however, I ended up going with my doctor because I could not imagine waiting and then having something go wrong. I would feel terribly guilty.
Labor progressed oddly. The contractions didn’t start small, grow bigger, and grow smaller again like a mountain, they were more like a cliff. The pain would slam me hard, and then taper off. There was no build up. As labor progressed, it got worse. I was stressing out despite having two amazing doulas. I was having a hard time relaxing. The contractions were coming close together, but I wasn’t dilating, and again, they were weird. My doulas did a very good job keeping me from getting the epidural for a long time, but finally, I quit. I had given birth naturally with inductions twice before, so I felt a bit like a failure. The epidural allowed me to relax, though there were complications with it that I mentioned in previous posts.
I pushed for 90 minutes when the time came, but if anyone has had both epidural and natural births, you know, pushing is different with both. With natural, you FEEL the pushing. You can feel the baby move, you can feel if your pushes are working. With an epidural, you push more awkwardly. You can’t feel if they are working, you can’t even feel that you are pushing the right way. I felt like a failure that I couldn’t effectively push the baby out. He was pretty firmly stuck. In fact, the skin on the top of his head tore a little bit from me trying to push him and him being stuck.
I then had the C-Section that I didn’t want. I didn’t want to spend days in the hospital, but I also wanted him to be okay.
Anyway, I didn’t get to nurse him right away like I did my previous babies. This saddened me. Then I didn’t get to have him 100% room in with me because I was there for six days. DH couldn’t stay with me 24 hours a day to give me a break and let me sleep because he had the girls to take care of. Our only relatives lived 2 hours away, and my mom was due to arrive on Monday (Lucas was born on Friday). Her flight also ended up delayed, so she didn’t get in until almost midnight on Monday (supposed to have arrived by noon). My SIL came to “help” but ended up leaving after 30 minutes because her husband was bored, so I had to relent and send Lucas to the nursery at times. I had strict orders that if he couldn’t sleep, then he was to be returned to me. My night nurses were really good, and I trusted them. Sometimes he would be there for 30 minutes, some times for 3 hours. I still felt guilty.
Anyway I had all this guilt, so when I got home—6 days after being admitted—I was tired, guilty, and in pain because I still couldn’t get a good latch on with him. I was angry at everyone. The doctor for inducing me, the doula for being right about the induction not working, Joe for having to watch the girls, my mom for having a delayed flight, myself for failing as a mom. The only person I wasn’t angry with was Lucas.
I found myself yelling at everyone. I would sit on the couch and just think about how everything sucked. I was angry and miserable.
My husband told me I was depressed. I argued: I had a reason to be depressed, everything was mucked up! This wasn’t what my final childbirth experience was supposed to be! I got the best doctor I could, I went to the best hospital in my area. I got the best doulas. This was supposed to be the perfect labor experience! Leave me alone!
Then when I locked myself in my room for hours, I realized that something was wrong. It was more than just having a reason to be depressed; I couldn’t get over it no matter how hard I tried, so I called my OBGYN and got a referral for a therapist. I went to her, who then referred me to a Psychiatrist for medication. At first, I didn’t want the medication. I thought how much of a loser am I that I can’t power through this? I’m a strong person, and I get what I want, and I don’t want meds!
However, on my way home from the therapist, I decided to see the psychiatrist. For the sake of my children and my family, I needed to get decent treatment.
I met with her and she agreed medication would be a good choice. I was put on Zoloft as it is safe for nursing mothers. Within days, I was myself again. I wasn’t a happy zombie. I was me. The same me that still gets frustrated, but I was no longer sitting on the couch just being angry.
I am still on the medication, and will likely be on it at least until my periods start back up (8 months and counting), and it was really the best decision ever. Sadly, my psychiatrist is not covered by insurance as she is out of network, but the medication is. I pay extra to have name brand meds, but paying her and paying for the meds is worth it to be normal again. My girls have their mom back, and Lucas has a happy mom, too.