Post-Partum depression is REAL.

21 Mar

Before Baby Key was born, “depression” was a word that was completely foreign in my vocabulary. I have a very bubbly personality and I considered myself a very positive, upbeat person. If you have ever met me, you know that I high five strangers and shamelessly use “jazz hands” when I talk. When I spot a friend across a room, I instantly throw my arms open for a big ol’ bear hug.

But in the few months since Baby Key’s birth, I have felt a lot less…”jazz hands-y.” It took me a long time to decide whether or not to write this, but since this is something I have been struggling with, I decided to tell my story. It is deeply personal but I am sure there is someone out there that can relate.

I will be the first to admit that I was completely overwhelmed with all things related to Baby Key. Sure, we went to the parenting classes, breastfeeding classes, and “what to expect” classes, but nothing on the planet truly prepares you for that day when you bring your little bundle of joy home from the hospital. No more nurses at the push of a button. No more hourly visits from doctors to make sure mama and baby are happy and healthy. You are on your own…and reality b*tch slaps you in the face.

Not me, but I've felt this pain.

The first two weeks of being home with Baby Key are a complete blur. On a nightmare scale of 1 to 10, I would absolutely give them an 11. He cried…and cried…and cried. It was terrible. We are not talking the normal “I’m hungry” cry or the “I need a diaper change” cry. This cry involved quivering lips, an arched back, fists clenched, and hives. Yes, he even broke out in hives. It was enough to send any sane person crawling up the walls. And it was incessant. 24 hours a day. He never stopped.

For weeks, I felt like I could do nothing. All I could do was hold him. Putting him down or resting him in a swing was not an option. Trust me, we have probably spent over $1,000 on swings, mats, swaddlers, and any other product to soothe a crying infant. None of it worked. We tried EVERYTHING. I could not go anywhere. I felt so trapped. The nurses on the hospital “warm line” even got to know the sound of my voice because I called so often begging for help. There were days that my husband left for work in the morning only to return home that evening to see me sitting in the same rocking chair, wearing the same clothes I had slept in the night before. I remember sending him frantic text messages pleading for him to come home and give me just a little bit of reprieve because I was just sure that if he didn’t my ears would literally start bleeding. On these days, getting a daily shower before 7:00PM was my crowning accomplishment.

As the weeks went by, everyone kept telling me things like, “Hang in there. It gets better.” or “It’s just a phase, you’ll make it.” While I appreciated all the kind words and sweet sentiments, I just could not see how things would EVER get better. Because they weren’t. As time went by, his crying and tantrums only seemed to be getting worse and more violent.

Things really started turning south around the 4-week mark. This was at the point where the typical “baby blues” should have started going away. Not only were they not going away, but the feelings seemed to intensify. There were moments when I was holding him, and he was in one of his fits, and I played out this scenario in my head…

What if I just put him down, walked away, closed the door behind me, and never dealt with this again?

I really thought I could not take one minute more of it. There were times that I would just look down at him and think, “Why did I do this? This was the worst decision of my life. I should have never had a child.” There were even times that I looked at him and thought, “I don’t even want him anymore.” And yes, there were moments that I even wanted to shake him.

Several friends of mine had babies right around the same time that I did. By this time, they were posting cute pictures of their kiddos smiling, doing fun things, or updating me that their babies were happily sleeping in their swings. While I was happy for them, it made me so angry. I tried really hard not to let it get to me, but it did. I sat there, fully convinced that my butt was permanently melding to the seat of the rocking chair, seething. Why couldn’t my baby be the “easy one”?

All of these thoughts brought on extreme guilt. After all, this is the child we prayed for, the child that we wanted so badly, the child that we were told we were never going to be able to have. And here I am, wishing him away. This was one of the lowest points in my whole life.

I will never forget taking Baby Key to his 6-week check-up. I walked in looking like death warmed over, holding my crying child. As soon as his pediatrician walked into the room and asked how things were going, I broke down completely. I totally lost it. I begged her to “fix” him. I must have looked so absurd, but I was desperate. I needed help…fast.

This was the point at which she expressed that what I was experiencing was beyond the normal baby blues. The first thing I thought was, “Oh great! Just add that to our list of issues to deal with” but it was true. Each passing day made me feel more and more detached from my child, exactly the opposite of what I “should” be feeling. It was also on this visit that Baby Key was diagnosed with a severe case of GERD. Though I was not thrilled at his diagnosis, being given assurance he really was crying more than other babies, helped me feel less crazy. Up until this point, I am pretty sure there were people in my life that when I told them, “He cries all the time.” thought I was exaggerating. This day was our turning point.

Not wanting to immediately start taking medicine, I started to see a therapist. Talking about my anxieties, fears about the future, and caring for a child with special medical concerns helped me take some control over my issues. After several weeks of counseling sessions for me, and a twice daily dose of Nexium for Baby Key, things started looking up. The sun seemed to shine a little brighter, the air didn’t feel as thick, and for the first time since he was born, I actually wanted to hold my son.

Before Baby Key, I did not really know much about depression at all…especially post-partum depression (PPD). Not that I did not think it was real (no Tom Cruise-like rants from me, I promise), but I just assumed that depression was for other people. I know that sounds awful, but it is just the truth. I never thought it would be me.

I have come to realize that having a bout of PPD does not make me crazy, does not make me a bad mother, and with time and honesty, can be dealt with in a healthy way. All it means is that it took me a little longer to get to that joyous I-want-to-smell-my-baby-every-second-of-the-day point than it did some other moms.

Now that we have turned a proverbial corner, I am starting to feel more and more like the “old me.” The changing season and warmer weather have helped us get out and do more so that I no longer feel so trapped and isolated. My husband and family have also stepped in to give me a little more time to go running, which does so much more for me mentally and emotionally than it ever did physically. And the best part is, I simply cannot wait to end my work day so that I can go home to my husband and beautiful baby boy…you know, to smell him and tell him I love him.

I say all this to let you know that if you are going through a similar experience, you are not alone. If you or a new mom you know has had or is having these kinds of thoughts or having a hard time bonding with your new baby, I sincerely urge you to ask for help. Speak up. People are there to help, I promise.

Please don’t suffer in silence.

There is no shame in admitting you need help and seeking out the necessary treatments to make you a happier, healthier woman and mother. The sooner mama gets better, the sooner everything gets better.

21 Responses to “Post-Partum depression is REAL.”

  1. Johanna March 21, 2012 at 12:39 PM #

    I am proud of you for writing this. It must have been so hard. Having never had a baby, I can’t imagine all of the stresses related to it. Having had depression though, all my life I can sympathize. I’m sorry you had to go through this, but I am happy for you that it was at least temporary.

  2. Salty March 21, 2012 at 12:43 PM #

    Hi Katie.

    I just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know I was totally there a year and a half ago. I just had my second in 6 months and lost two grandparents within 3 months of each other: one a couple of months before her birth and one 3 weeks later. It was too much and I felt anxious and sad and just awful for a full 6 months and then it magically disappeared. It’s extra horrible when you feel like you aren’t bonding with your newborn and that your an awful mother for not loving every second with the baby. The weirdest thing for me was that I didn’t quite get how bad I was until about 5 months in when my husband sat me down to talk about it. I LOVE my kids and being a mother, but that experience makes me really think twice about wanting another.

    I’m sure so many other women out there will appreciate your candor and your experience will help them. Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Donna March 21, 2012 at 12:54 PM #

    Great post! That experience would have been so frustrating. I am glad both of you are feeling better!

  4. Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming March 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM #

    I want you to know that you are amazing. You have been an incredible, invaluable resource to me during my pregnancy. I had a rough time. Plantar fasciitis and horrid morning, noon, and night sickness impaired my workouts, I gained 50 pounds from my training/race weight. My knees were so sore I had to forego running for the elliptical machine, which I hated. Through it all,your blog was a source of strength and support to me. I receive your updates by email, and read them immediately, no matter where I am. I cheered for you in your relay and am sympathetic to your frustrations. I only wish I could offer a fraction of the help you’ve given me in the past year. Please know how inspirational you are and how many people you have touched with your shared passions and experiences, we will be cheering for you daily whether you are training for a relay or just praying for the strength to get through one more sleepless night. Baby Key is lucky to have you for a mama.

  5. Melissa Wattigny Douet March 21, 2012 at 1:02 PM #

    I’m so sorry to hear that you had such obstacles to overcome but know that you are not alone. Lots of women deal with PPD & if you don’t get help, it can be scary. I’m so glad to hear things are getting better for both of you. Remember you are a great mother because you recognized their was a problem & you did something about it! Acknowledging there is a problem is a huge step & you did that!!!! Thanks for being an inspiration to so many!

  6. Shavonne March 21, 2012 at 1:25 PM #

    Having experienced PPD almost 23 years ago, I am so glad you wrote about it. When I had it people really couldn’t understand since it was never talked about. I suffered in silence and also had a toddler to deal with as well. It became so bad I had a mental breakdown which is when I finally admitted something was wrong and asked for help. With a supportive family, I recovered and am happy to say both my children are now wonderful young adults of 25 and 23. Enjoy Baby Key – the time goes by oh so quickly!

  7. Katrina March 21, 2012 at 1:31 PM #

    I had it terribly with my first. I felt ashamed then. You will find so many people who had it but deny it. I had it slightly with my soon to be 1 year old but I was on the lookout for the signs of it. Luckily this 2nd section healed faster and I believe that made it easier. I also had a great doctor at woman’s who helped me prepare. I went the no anti depr. Route this time but went on them the first Time for about 8 weeks. Then really struggled to get off of them fighting ppd. But I worked so I had an outlet with the first one. Things have been much better this 2nd time around. Be honest with your family and doc about how you are feeling. Good luck.

  8. Ali @SeeAliEatSeeAliRun March 21, 2012 at 2:01 PM #

    This is really important for women to hear. I have not yet had a child but my Mom suffered from post-partum depression and post partum psychosis and hearing my Dad talk about it is really unbelievable! I can’t imagine going through that.
    You’re a great Mom and getting help is such an important message to send to your child-that you are STRONG and you are doing this for them!

  9. Carrie March 21, 2012 at 4:16 PM #

    Thanks for writing this post. I am reaching the stage in my marriage when we are starting to talk about having a baby and I appreciate the sincerity and realness here. All too often you only hear about the good things…cute pictures of happy babies and the like. It’s good to read about the other side of things as well. Thank you for being brave enough to be honest.

  10. mrsraushel March 21, 2012 at 4:19 PM #

    thank you for being brave and sharing this! I haven’t had any babies, but I know PPD is very real.

  11. Jamie March 21, 2012 at 7:42 PM #

    This is a really personal post and so courageous for you to put it out there. Thank you for sharing and I’m happy that you found your new normal and that things are better for you and family. My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but we hope to one day! I appreciate your story and words of encouragement for other women who might be experiencing PPD.

  12. Jamie March 21, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

    I’m so sorry to hear all that you’ve been through. I’m glad you shared this post. While I haven’t suffered from PPD, lots of mommies do and need to read something like this. You’re very brave to put it all out there. I’m glad you are both doing better now.

  13. Karlee Rose Martinez March 21, 2012 at 9:33 PM #

    I’m so proud of this post. My heart was pained that you didn’t feel able to ask for help sooner. I know this pain all too well. As do more women that care to admit. I’m so glad you shared so that the next new mom can seek help without shame when she might notice signs–along with new dads who might see this in their wives. Please know that no one expects perfection from you and Baby K already has the best mom he could ask for. May you continue to find joy in your journey.

  14. Katie @momslrb March 21, 2012 at 9:43 PM #

    Great post. I know exactly what you’re taking about except I went through all of it while I was pregnant. I was also diagnosed with depression and saw a therapist most of my pregnancy. I felt terrible of having such fear and anxiety. I felt like it E’s going to rub off on E. luckily we’ve all come out the other side and are doing well. Just identifying that there was something wrong showed strength.

    Thanks for sharing.

  15. lindsAy March 21, 2012 at 9:54 PM #

    good for you for sharing this. i think it’s really easy to think something like this won’t happen to us, but it can and does and people need to know. i’m so glad things are looking up for you. xo

  16. Ara M (@aratris) March 21, 2012 at 11:41 PM #

    Thank you for posting this. To be honest with you, this is one of the things that scares me about having kids. I don’t have any kids right now, but I’m in a serious relationship and I can see kids in our future. I already deal with depression and anxiety on a daily basis. So, I know a little bit, but this post gives me hope.

  17. katie March 22, 2012 at 3:57 PM #

    what a tough thing to go through, my friend. I’m thinking of you.

  18. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks March 23, 2012 at 3:58 PM #

    This was an amazingly brave post to write, Katie. I think all new moms deal with some form of fears and anxiety (social media updates be damned!), but you definitely had it worse than most. I’m glad to see you sought help, didn’t give up and are living to tell others that they’re not alone.

  19. Jessica A (@cajunrunnerjess) March 25, 2012 at 4:22 AM #

    Thank you for posting this. I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing this but I admire your honesty and bravery for keeping this post very real to your emotions. I am afraid that I may go through this due to my past medical and family history. I have been home confined by the doctor for almost two weeks now and I didn’t realize how much of a challenge it would be for me mentally. I am hoping that I can mentally prepare for this obstacle and by doing so it might help lessen its impact. Thanks for letting me know that I am not the only one.

  20. savingmo March 31, 2012 at 1:32 PM #

    Im so glad that things have started to turn around. You are very brave for posting such a personal story, and I’m sure that many people will benefit from reading this. It’s so helpful for people to know they’re not alone.

  21. organicsandra May 1, 2012 at 10:37 PM #

    Thank you for writing this Katie. I dealt with PPD after both my daughter and then my son were born and it was worse the second time. Perhaps I felt like even more of a failure because I knew earlier on that’s what was wrong with me and I did not want to accept that it was happening to me again. Going to see someone to talk to was so helpful but I definitely found running to be the most helpful thing-cathartic, balancing, and giving me the upward rush of endorphins as well as time outside soaking up vitamin D. Do you run with friends? That was also important for me. I needed to have some adult time to clear my head. How are you doing now? Things do get better with time although I must admit I still do have down days. The beginning was the hardest part, feeling like nobody around was going through anything similar. I am happy that your family is so supportive of you and you are a strong mommy I am sure! Keep living, loving, running and thank you for being brave enough to write this as your words can be powerful help to others who have gone through the same thing!

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