While preparing for the external version of our breach son, a delivery nurse went through all the check-in procedures. While going through my medical history, I answered yes to a history of depression. She looked up from the computer into my eyes, her forehead creased with worry. I assured her I knew what depression looked like in me, that I hadn’t needed treatment for 3 years, and that I would be fine. After all, I was thrilled to be pregnant and excited to meet my baby. Why would anything change?
Within 2 hours, I was lying in the operation recovery room, scared and in shock. My husband and son were… somewhere… I had delivered a baby… I think… I struggled to regain my sense and self after the emergency c-section. Within a week I had slumped into postpartum depression, but I didn’t know it.
The symptoms of postpartum depression can be the same as any depression. They include excessive crying, general hopelessness, disinterest in favorite activities, sleep disruption (either too much or too little sleep), or change in diet (eating more or not enough). But it seems that postpartum depression creates some unique symptoms:
- Inability to bond with your baby. A lack of sense of love and connection.
- Feel overwhelmed and bad at mothering. A general sense that you’re not doing it right and can’t ever do it right.
- Confusion and fear about what is going on around you
- Feeling constantly angry and irritated. Perhaps resentment towards baby or husband for putting you in these circumstances.
- Feel disconnected from the people around you. Isolated from friends, family. Deep sense of loneliness.
- Knowing something is wrong, or off, but not knowing what or why and being unable to solve it.
- Feeling afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old” you forever.
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
- Feeling afraid that if you reach out for help, people will judge you or your baby will be taken away from you
80% of new moms experience the “baby blues” which can include some or many of the symptoms listed above. 80%. Think of it. A clear majority of moms will have negative emotions, thoughts, and feelings during the first month of motherhood. For most, the feelings will calm and go away within about 2 weeks. When they continue beyond 2 weeks and increase in intensity, a woman is probably experiencing postpartum depression.
I wish I had known this. I wish I had known I was not the anomaly, but experiencing something very common. Perhaps my feelings would have abated. Maybe. Instead shame, the sense that I am wrong, I am a horrible mother, held me back from saying anything.
It’s my hope that this series on postpartum depression (started last week) will bring to light myths and truths about postpartum depression. Sign up to receive the entire series as its published in your inbox on the right side of your webpage or at the bottom of your mobile browser.
Negative feelings and emotions do not make you a bad mom. Almost all moms experience them at the beginning and every mom experiences them at some point as a mother! Mothers with Postpartum Depression just experience them longer and with greater intensity and need a little help to get out of it.
There is hope. There is healing. Let’s seek it together.