My Fight With Postpartum Depression



When you think of depression, giving birth or being a new mom isn't something that you would associated it with. Unfortunately, 13% of women have post-partum depression after the delivery of their precious baby. Throughout pregnancy we are elated to embark on this new journey of motherhood. We shop for baby, we eat for baby (sometimes more than we should...you know who you are! Oh wait that was me!), plan for baby, and wait for baby. What we don't expect is that a dark cloud of doubt, sadness, and uncertainty will loom over us.

Seven weeks prior to my bundle of joy, Reece, was born I was placed on bed rest. Apparently my body wanted him here sooner than he and I were prepared for. I was plagued with pre-term contractions that were every 2-5 minutes. Good thing I got my trip to Mexico out of the way before hand (by a mere 3 days!). I think this was the start of the accumulation of that dark cloud. I had to stop teaching, change my routine (I am plan oriented and routine driven), and I was sentenced to the couch.

For the first few days it was great, like a mini-vacation after having my big one in Mexico. I watched t.v., caught up on my baby forum on BabyCenter.com, and endlessly scrolled through the "Kids" section on Pinterest. Then it started, I started to feel down. I attributed it to just being stuck at home, not being able to get out except for my pre-natal visits (which I looked forward too, like a child would their birthday).

As I got closer and closer to my due date, I was able to set those dark feelings aside. I was too busy making sure we were prepared and I had all the answers to my thousands of questions. But in the back of my head that dark cloud started to take shape, swirling around, taunting me. When it would slowly show its dark vapor I would tell myself that it was just because I was nervous about being a first time mom. I would never admit that perhaps I could be one of those moms who had depression.

As my son came unexpectedly on his due date (seriously, only 3% of all births, including scheduled c-sections happen on the due date), I snapped out of whatever fog was weaving through my thoughts and  I went into mommy-mode. 17.5 hours of labor later, I had a beautiful boy and an amazing husband/coach/new father surrounding me. It wasn't until we were discharged from the hospital that it all came back.

We spent three days in the hospital (I delivered at 9:55pm so we got to stay another day), but we were quickly sent on our way as a new family. The moment I stepped in my home I froze. What do I do now? I had a baby that was 3 days old, I was sore, tired, and felt totally unprepared to take care of such a little human being. That's when the dark cloud came back full force.

Within the first few days of being home we were already struggling as a family. My son had lost quite a bit of weight and wasn't nursing correctly, in many different ways. I found myself in pain from breastfeeding and already wanting to give up. The thought of switching to formula sent guilt through my body, so I suffered through the pain. Due to my boy's dramatic weight loss I was going to the pediatrician's office twice a week for weight checks. Each time he was placed on the scale I felt myself sink more inside of myself. Holding back the tears, each visit seemed excrutiating. To me it was like a neon sign shouting to the world that I wasn't able to care for my son. I felt everyone's eyes on me each time his weight decreased.

It didn't stop at the doctors office, it was at home as well. That dark cloud was now not only in my mind but swirling around my home. It touched everything that was around me. Shortly after getting home with my new baby, I stopped answering texts, e-mails, phone calls, and even let the door bell ring numerous times without an answer. The more I struggled with feeding my son the more I retreated inside myself and away from others.

I cried. I cried for hours. It was not a cry out of exhaustion, but a cry of loneliness. I was alone in my head. Physically I was surrounded by my loving husband and my precious boy, but no one could understand what I was going through, what I was putting myself through.

I had failed as a mother. Or so I thought. The one thing that I was meant to do, I couldn't. I couldn't provide enough sustenance for my child to survive. I had person after loving person remind me that it was okay and as long as he was eating (by nursing or formula) it doesn't matter. But it did! The more people tried to reassure me, the more I cried. The more I wanted to reverse time and start over.

I couldn't start over. I was already a few weeks into this long journey of motherhood and I needed to put my big girl panties on. I needed to pull myself out of this black hole I was quickly slipping down into. I needed to get outside, take my boy out, visit with others. But could I? Each time I got ready, I sat back down and started to have a panic attack. How could I take him out? I failed at providing for him, how could I take on the huge task of being in public? So I didn't. I stayed inside, with no phone calls, no texts, and no visitors for 2 months. My mother would stop by to see how I was doing, and she could see in my eyes that I was hanging on by a thread, a weathered fragment of what used to be my sanity.

I think the turning point and the initial retreat of that dark cloud came when my son went in for his weight check at 3 months. He had finally gained weight, a substantial amount too. It was as though I could see a sliver of sunlight cutting through the storm that had been brewing. As time went on and my son was flourishing, the cloud that had taken permeant residence, not only in my head but in my home, started to disapate. The sun was starting to commandeer those spaces that were so dark for so long.

It has now been 4.5 months since I brought my son into this world, and my world is a much brighter place. The dark cloud is now just a misty fog. It still taunts my thoughts from time to time, but no longer does it have such a strong hold on me.

Looking back I never once thought that I had depression. I thought I just wasn't cut out to be a mother. I thought what I was feeling was normal. But it wasn't. It wasn't normal to shut people out during such a special time. It wasn't normal to cry for hours on end with no real understanding of what brought on the tears. What I do understand now, is that post-partum depression manifests itself differently for each person. I also understand with great clarity now, that it is not something to be afraid of, but something that watch for. Next time, if those dark clouds start rolling in, I can fight it head on.

It is nothing to be ashamed of. Part of my denial was the fact that I was such a strong woman, and I was ashamed. Ashamed of failing, ashamed of having depression, and ashamed of being weak. I was not weak, I did not fail, I did have depression. But life goes on, just give it time, and take any help that is offered.

32 comments:

  1. You are indeed a strong woman, and a brave one for telling your story. Your son is happy and healthy and you are a wonderful Mom. Love you!

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  2. Thank you Kathleen! It is a story many women do not like to share, but I find it helpful for women to know they aren't alone :)

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  3. You are so brave for telling your story. So many women go through this and feel like failures. I had post-partum depression and I had no feelings. At least you would cry. My mother saved the day and took over caring for my son for the first couple of months bc I wouldn't even look at him, until one day she forced me to. She forced me to see what I was missing out on. She slowly would leave me at home alone with him so I had to care for him. Slowly but surely, it worked and I adore my son but we definitely had a rocky start. He is 6 and I feel horrible when people around me have newborns because I cannot remember a thing form those days. I make sure to pay extra special attention now and remember it all. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

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    1. Ida thank you for your kind words. I had a big problem being away from my boy since i felt as though I had already failed and if I weren't around him every second it made it worse.

      I am so sorry to hear about your struggles with PPD. I hope you can find away to not let it make you feel guilty about the time missed, just think about the present. Thank YOU for sharing your story!!

      ~Victoria

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  4. WoW! What an amazing and heartfelt post! I was there. I was in the pediatrician office raw and bloody not being able to nurse my first the right way. It was heartbreaking. I remember the tears because I felt like I failed but I also remember the relief I felt when I could pump and give him milk and he was full and rested. I didn't have postpartum but you couldn't have said it any better, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's absolutely something we need to watch out for! Really Victoria, thank you for sharing this with us at Wine'd Down Wednesday. I hope you get many readers.

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    1. Kate thank you! It was a hard story to write and I debated whether or not to write it at all. Breastfeeding is so amazing when it goes well but it can really hit your self-esteem when it doesn't. It's painful and not always easy. I'm sorry to hear your troubles!! But I'm glad you kept at it. I'm so happy i could share it on Wine'd Down Wednesday!!

      ~Victoria

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  5. Your honesty is so refreshing. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I, too, actually just posted with my struggles today. I have a three week old (as well as a 3.5 and 2 year old) and am still in the pits of frustration with a lack of routine and structure. I know it will get better soon, but sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel feels sooo far away.

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    1. Jenna - thank you for your kind words! I will go right over and read your post! I am sorry to hear about your frustrations. It is so hard to go from structure structure structure to no structure! I'm sure it will get better for all of us who struggle. I wish you well!!!

      ~Victoria

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  6. It takes a brave an strong woman to share a story like this.

    I'm glad you shared it.

    I hope you'll stop over at my blog, Desert Momma, to accept an award I'd like to share with you. :)

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    1. Holly thank you! It was not easy but it made me feel better that I did share :) I will head on over to your blog :):)

      ~Victoria

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  7. Victoria you are an amazing mother! I'm so happy you shared this. I am just in the midst of writing a post about my PPD after an unexpected cesarean with my son Ben, last year. I'm following along on bloglovin' and am looking forward to connecting and reading more from you. -Andrea @Hand and the Heart

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    1. Thank you Andrea!!! I can't wait to read your post. I went to your blog and immediately fell in love! I can't wait to connect as well :):)

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing! I think so many more of us suffer from PPD that we know. I know it's hard to share but by doing so I know we can help other that think they are the only ones who suffer from it! I've mentioned my PPD on my blog and will be writing about it...soon, I think.

    I came by from the Wine'd Down Wednesday hop and am now following on Twitter. I'm looking forward to getting to know you more:)

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    1. Poe Kitten thank you for your comment! I think the hardest thing for me was thinking I was alone during my journey. That is why I posted this, to let others know they aren't. I can't wait to ready your post about PPD!

      ~Victoria

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  9. I wanted to invite you to the Friday Flash Blog Party, the best linky in town! I hope you'll join us and link up. Who knows. You may just get highlighted!

    The party goes on ALL weekend.

    Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution
    www.thejennyevolution.com

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    1. Thank you Jennifer!!! i will be hopping on over now :):)

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  10. I have been there. It is an amazing feeling to wake up out of that funk. With my third baby, it lasted 7 months, and I didn't even realize I was there until I wasn't. With my fourth, the despair started in after about a week, realizing I couldn't be all things to all people. I did not let it take root, however, and never really got caught up in it. I am doing a series on depression right now, if you want to stop over. http://mylampisfull.blogspot.com/2013/09/fight-depression-naturally.html
    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Janine thank you for sharing! I look forward to hoping over and reading your blog. It makes me worried since i had PPD once that I will get it again with my second, perhaps even worse because it will be more stressful. But perhaps I will know what to look for this time so I can be prepared. :)
      Victoria

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  11. Thank you for telling your story! So many of us find parts of it so familiar. For me, I didn't feel quite "normal" for more than a year. It's a brave thing to share your experience!

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    1. Jessica - Thank you! I still don't feel totally "normal" but hopefully one day I will. It has helped that I finally came out of denial and admitted I did have a problem. :)

      ~Victoria

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  12. Victoria -- I absolutely loved this post. It took great courage to share it.

    You’re featured at the Friday Flash Blog on The Jenny Evolution this week. Thanks for sharing and keep evolving.

    Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution
    www.thejennyevolution.com

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    1. Jennifer Thank you so much - it did take a lot but I felt like it was part of the process, getting it out there. Thank you so much for the feature!! I am truly appreciative!

      ~Victoria

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  13. Hey Victoria,

    Thank you for linking up with us at the Mommy Monday Blog hop! By sharing your story, you will help countless women.

    Have a great week!

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    1. Thank you Lisa I hope I was able to help at least one momma. I really enjoyed linking up and I can't wait to do so again!

      ~Victoria

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  14. This is such a heartfelt story. I felt like I was right there with you in those moments of feeling do terrible. I'm so happy that you made it through and that your story has a happy ending. Thanks so much for linking up to Mommy Monday. We loved your post and we hope you'll be back next week!

    XoXo,
    Brittnei

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    1. Brittnie thank you so much, that means a lot. My goal is to write in a way that will touch people. I can't wait to link up again!!

      ~Victoria

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  15. thank you for sharing your story. so glad to hear your baby boy is flourishing and you are finding your place as a mother

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    1. Thank you! My boy is so incredibly healthy and happy now, and so am I :)

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  16. Thank you for sharing this! I have dealt with depression too and one of the things I have found most comforting is knowing that I'm not the only one. I see so many other moms around me who look like they've got it all together, but when I finally realized what was happening and being honest with others about it, I discovered that a lot of those moms were dealing with a lot of the same struggles I was! But, oh, it is hard to share when you feel like that! Thank you for being willing to share your story!

    I found your post through the Friday Flash Blog @ The Jenny Evolution.

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    1. I think that was one of the hardest parts, thinking I was alone. I agree that so many moms look like thy have it together, when in fact they are falling apart. No one but my mother and husband new that something was wrong. Thank you for your kind words!
      ~Victoria

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  17. Thank you. For sharing. For your honesty. So many women go through this every single day and don't find their way out the way you did. You pushed through, and I'm so glad you're relaying your story here so others can know that there is a light at the end of the dark hole of a tunnel. SO much so.

    I found this post on SITSSharefest and had to come read it. I know it well, differently (more anxiety for me), but well. There are loads of PPD/PPA support peeps out there in the blogosphere and on Twitter, I'm glad to see a new face - if only to me! - among them.

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    1. Andrea - thank you for you kind words! i hope I was able to help at least one momma to not feel alone, as I had. thank you so much for visiting :):):)

      ~Victoria

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