I look back on posts from the newborn days and it is really sad how I focused on scheduling Will and getting him to sleep and eat when I thought he should. I know it all came from a desire to do everything right, to start things off perfectly, to be the mom he deserved me to be. I also think it came from the post partum depression. Within a few short weeks, I had stopped working, had a baby via an unexpected c-section, my mom had a nervous breakdown, and I experienced the shift in hormones that every post-partum woman has. Everything seemed out of control and my old life gone forever. Not that I wanted my old life back, but I needed a touchstone of sorts. I have always been a schedule person, your typical type-A.
I figured that if I could just get some semblance of order to my life, just offer Will stability and structure, just. . . Well, looking back on it, it was a lot more about getting stability and structure for both of us.
I was extremely anxious, unable to sleep or settle down, desperate to organize things (I remember folding laundry obsessively, and that is so not me). I was sad, too, but it was more of a desperate feeling of quiet panic. I remember I would cry at night when M came home and was holding the baby, who had finally stopped crying, and I was frustrated because I couldn't get him to stop. Then, when I learned a certain way that he liked to be held, with a firm pat on the back and shhhhhing in his ear, I wouldn't let anyone else hold him if he was crying, even M, because his cries would pierce my heart and my anxiety would rise. Everything made me anxious.
I remember the night that my anxiety really peaked. I was changing Will's diaper and he looked at me with those newborn eyes, so filled with trust, and instead of feeling an "awwwwwww" moment, I felt nothing but pure panic. I had no idea how to really care for this tiny human. I mean, yes, I could address his basic needs such as food and shelter, but I couldn't help him sleep, couldn't stop him from feeling pain, couldn't soothe him when the gas pains made him cry for hours. I think that every new parent feels this way, but through the shroud of post partum issues, it feels like a death sentence. To have this perfect creation and not be able to do right by it. . . well, you feel like crap.
I was in a gray area where medication probably should at least have been a consideration for me. I did get through it without medications, but I also think that it could have been easier for everyone if I had taken some. Like other moms that have described their post-partum depression, I felt guilty and ashamed, especially after all that we had been through. I felt as if my life should be sunshine and roses and that it was my fault that it wasn't. I didn't really talk to anyone about how I was feeling. I am good at faking being okay, so I don't think anyone really knew how anxious I was, how overwhelmed.
At the time, I was proud of myself for "toughing" it out, but looking back on it, I wish I had gone a different route. Now that I am pregnant again, I am planning on behing a lot more honest. And that starts with talking with my OB about it now. Because I know me. I know I will probably try to play "SuperNewMomofTwoUnderTwoAndWhyWouldIBeAnythingButHappy" again. Right now, when I am not in the middle of the post-partum issues is the best time to address it.
Not that I want a situation where I will be "forced" to take medication and not that I am expecting that this will happen again. But I want to be more prepared for these feelings and have a better plan for addressing them, and that might (not necessarily) include medication. Last time, I had tacked up a list of postpartum depression "signs" to watch for. I had almost every single one (this list was specific to postpartum depression, not postpartum psychosis, which is far more serious and can include thoughts of harming or actually attempting to harm your baby or yourself) and yet I didn't reach out for help.
I also am posting this here so that if you notice any symptoms even through my writing, I ask that, as my friends, you send a gentle e-mail or even call me out with a loving comment. I think the problem for so many women is that they think it is just happening to them, so then they feel "weak" or "strange." Admitting you have a problem might be the first step to healing, but talking about it is just as important.