This past week on Thursday I felt like I conquered a mountain. A big huge mountain that I’ve been trying to get over for 9 months. A mountain that I only conquered thanks to time, trying again and again, family, friends, my husband, and so much more. I was able to stay home, just me and my daughter and not have a huge panic attack or any sort of anxiety about not having my husband there to help. This week again I have been able to stay home, just me and my daughter, no problem. I even went to church on my own with her. I still have some slight moments of concern, but I know I can do it! I am not as fearful as I once was.
When my dauhter was born I was like many other moms, overcome with emotions. Everything from love to absolute fear. Soon it became so much more. I know what was staring me right in the face and I started to reach out for help.
The weeks following her birth I definitely was not myself. I was a wreck from the emotions of becoming a new mom and the realization that I did not have what everyone else referred to as “the perfect baby”. My daughter had ptosis of the eyelid (meaning her eyelid muscle was weak and hung much lower than normal). My daughter also had severe reflux. With the reflux she also had a horrible time nursing. I ended up pumping and giving her a bottle. I did not get the bonding relationship that comes from nursing. Since she had such horrible reflux, a lot of the time we were changing her outfit 6 times in an hour, and her bibs every 10 minutes it seemed. Needless to say I was constantly changing my own outfit, or having to clean a huge mess in a room. The reflux, her eye, and my inability to nurse were constantly getting shoved in my face by others, and while they may have meant well or just did not get how it made me feel, it hurt. It broke my heart over, and over again. Any little bit of repair I had made, any step forward I had taken was smashed to pieces each time someone said something. People would joke around me that my baby was broken, I’d try to go with it, but it hurt so much to hear people say these things. All of this sent me into a darker, and darker place.
I loved my daughter so much, but I felt like I was drowning in sorrow. Its really hard to explain how I felt about her. I loved my daughter the instant I laid eyes on her, I loved her before she was even born, but there were moments where I felt almost not present. It was like I could hear her cry, but I would just disconnect. It would be as if I had a lack of interest in her. I’d snap out of it, and go to her, but it was like I was forcing myself to. My mood was all over the place, happy one moment, crying tears of joy, angry for no reason towards my husband, sobbing uncontrollably. Add in not sleeping well with a new born, and it all just got much worse.
I was overcome with nervousness about being on my own with her. My husband took time off to be at home initially, and then her went back to work for a week. I dreaded him going back to work, despite the fact that he had already been home for two weeks with us. I was an absolute emotional wreck that week. I phoned and texted him constantly, begging him to come home, that I couldn’t do this on my own. I felt so overwhelmed, and lost. He ended up taking another week off of work to be with our daughter and I. He also switched his work around so that he could work from home. I am so thankful he has a job that was able to allow this.
I got the call from the health nurse to check up on me since I was a new mom. Its normal to get this call as they screen for postpartum. I was able to answer their questions and they said “Great, you sound like you are doing splendidly”. I knew what sort of questions they were going to ask, I knew what answers they wanted to hear. It is almost silly really, those phone calls, really they should be doing house visits to check on moms and how things are going.
It was hard to be around other moms, and see how happy they always seemed with their little ones. I felt like I had no one I could turn to and be honest with about how I was feeling. I felt so out of place. I was depressed, and so anxious. The anxiety especially came out if we had to go some where. I often just stayed home to just avoid having to deal with that side of everything. I wanted the joy back, I wanted to be a happy mom, I wanted to be the best mom my daughter deserved.
After several chats with my doctor, it was determined I was most likely dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety. It didn’t surprise me, I almost suspected it would be something I would face. I’ve battled depression before. I have always dealt with emotions and hormones and my ability to cope with that. I felt like I was walking a fine line between the baby blues and postpartum depression, but I knew it had crossed over to depression. I knew the symptoms. My doctor knows of my previous battles with depression and presented several options to help me. My doctor was very supportive in my choice. I did not want to go down the path of medication, as it is not a path I have taken previously either. I was also still trying to nurse and I was pumping regularly to supply some breast milk for my daughter, so I was concerned about medication impacting that.
For me I have always found that talking to someone is the most helpful for me. Thankful I have people in my life I was able to reach out to and open up to about what was going on. Once I started talking to others about it, it was like little lights were getting turned on to guide me out of my dark place.
It has taken many months, facing each day, each hour, and each minute as it came to pass. I was constantly reminding myself that “it will get better”. My husband, family, and friends all played key rolls in helping me get over this hurdle, to get over this mountain I was facing. I did not have to go about it alone, I couldn’t have faced this without them.
Making the effort to spend quality time with my daughter played a key roll in helping me too. This helped us bond in our relationship, and for me to heal as her mother. I made sure to respond to her in a positive way, if she smiled I smiled, if she laughed I’d laughed with her. Oh how a belly giggle fills the soul of a mom with such joy. Its been a process but we are finally there. It has taken 9 months, but I’ve conquered this mountain.
It can all be so crippling. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, once I did it all started to improve. It takes a whole lot of courage for me to be honest and open about this and I hope those who read this will be respectful. Show some grace and support as I know there are many other mothers out there who have found themselves in a similar boat as what I was trying to stay afloat in. For me, talking to others who had been there, and got it, got what I was going through were a huge help.