Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baring my PPD Soul


Like many mothers, I look back on the infant stage with foggy recollection. This is not all due to sleep deprivation though. I feel like my experience as a new mother was also clouded with postpartum depression and anxiety.

I have judged myself before for how I felt during that time, and there has been shame. After being able to read so many other blogs that have been beautifully honest about this issue, I feel comfortable in owning my experience as my own.

Still, there are times when I see new moms, and they look so relaxed, so comfortable, so peaceful.

I marvel at this. I am jealous of it.

I look back on pictures of me holding my precious boy, and I look happy in the picture, but the woman looks like a stranger to me.

I remember feeling scared. Fear and anxiety completely consumed me. Many of my memories of that time felt FRANTIC. I was completely frantic for about a year. I was always sick to my stomach. I felt broken. Like something was seriously wrong with me. I was wound so tight, I would startle if I thought a bug sneezed. I could not relax. I didn’t enjoy eating. I felt very fragile. I was lonely, and confused for feeling lonely. I could not sleep. I cried. A lot. I was scared to go anywhere. When I did go somewhere, I cried in public too. I had a very, very hard time making even the simplest decisions, fearing that every small decision was monumental, and potentially scarring, for the development of my child.

All of this was not the experience I had expected, and this derailed me. I am a person who is usually PREPARED for things.

I tried really hard to act like this wasn’t my reality.

It took a long time to get back on track, but I did get back on track. I eventually began to trust my instincts, relax, and take comfort in simple pleasures. (Well, and I FINALLY admitted to needing some help with medication. When I made that choice, the relief was immense, and I thought, “Why the hell didn’t I try the medicine earlier?”) I started embracing and enjoying motherhood, myself, and LIFE again.

I get to live in the present moment, rather than worrying about the next moment, the next possibility, the next thing that could go wrong, and 50 chess moves in the future in my son’s life.

Why have I gone for the overshare? This is my truth. And I know others are out there who share it. And judge themselves for it. Well, I’ll stand next to ya. I’ll have a cup and stay a while.

Tell me. If you’re a mom, do you relate to some of this? Even if you didn’t have PPD, were there feelings you had as a new mom that surprised you?

27 comments:

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

I was surprised at how sometimes, I thought "this was a huge mistake" or "I really wish this kid wasn't here to ruin things." But honestly? These were more around that first month, when I was so exhausted and I had experienced an unplanned c-section and I was just so NOT ready for all of that.
But honestly, I felt more of the depression when I was pregnant. I felt very resentful of her taking over my body, and I was SHOCKED by that. I thought I would be all close and lovey and talking to the baby, instead of being like "get the heck OUT, already!"

gin said...

Um. yes. the first eight weeks of my baby's life I could not sleep if my hand was not resting on his chest, so I could feel him breathe. I was a frantic, nervous wreck. I would dream that I was a bad mom and he was going to be taken from me. Yes, I suffered major anxiety. It's very real and it's also true that not many moms share it because of the stigma that it places on moms. Screw the stigma, I say. I think some level of this ppd happens to every new mom. Those feelings of guilt and shame keep us from sharing and ultimately, from supporting each other.
Thank you for this post; I truly appreciate it.

Babes Mami said...

I surprised that I became this raw emotional nerve, commercials made me cry, the one I remember most is an insurance commercial where the boy gets his license. I hard cried because one day my baby would get a license. I started to care more about other people too, I didn't necessarily like everyone but my kid made the world brighter and happier.

Josh Hoyt said...

This is such an important thing to look at. It is so important for people to understand that they are not alone and that there is help out there.

Kristi said...

I don't think that I had PPD but I totally relate to this! This is a HARD job. It is hard to think straight when your life seems to be nothing but broken sleep, breaking up fights every 5 minutes and fixing them lunch while you just grab whatever you can before the next one asks for more. I want to be a good mom but often I feel lucky to survive the day. Forget educational activities or reading for 15 minutes per day or the 100 other things that super mom should do. Sometimes they are alive, fed and clean and even that is some sort of miracle.

Lacie @ Creative Attempts said...

I watched both of my sisters struggle with postpartum depression and one got the help they needed the other didn't and still struggles today. My experience was different. My son was preterm and lived in the hospital for about a month so while I can't totally relate to the postpartum I can relate to all of the fear and anxiety for sure.

Megan said...

Oh, I so hear you. I had a ton of anxiety after my twins were born. I didn't even recognize it as PPD for a long time, but once I finally figured it out and got some help, life changed. SO much for the better.

Losing Brownies said...

PPD was the worst. I often asked myself in those first few weeks what the hell I was thinking and who the hell decided I was capable of caring for such a beautiful and amazing little being.

Jessica said...

I didn't have PPD but I did have many moments when I broke down crying when my kids were little. I'm sorry to hear about your struggles but I'm glad you found a way to break out of it and enjoy your life.

Ratz said...

I can't contribute much to this topic Kristy. I am not a mom as yet but I can associate myself with a number of things that you have mentioned. When I suffered depression, the worst part was self-judgment. Because before that I was never like this and now I was all jumpy and broke into sweat often... Things are changing slowly in my case & i am trying my best to accept whatever it is that comes my way.

You have done a great job deciding to go for help. I think the moment we decide that we break the initial ice. Brilliant piece.

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

I vividly remember wrestling with PPD. I was sitting in my living room with a colicky baby on my shoulder, 3 day old clothing, and unbrushed teeth and hair. I looked over at an equally disheveled hubs and said, "What the fuck did we do? We had a good life."

I was in the ob's office the next morning for some drug therapy.

Can't say enough good things about the meds and how they helped me back to my normal, sassy, happy self.

You were not alone.:)

Keda said...

I kind off relate to this, but a little differently. Sometimes I can remember panic form lack of sleep, although I never suffered from ppd or such. And then there are times when we would all discuss my little 2 year old's journey and I would be like 'we never had any problems' and my husband would glare at me and go 'where were you?'. I think I am more geared to forget to problems. Maybe woman are just more geared. We have had issues, but I can hardly even remember them, unless something similar flares (like earache!). Maybe that's heaven's way of protecting the species ;)

Eva Gallant said...

My heart goes out to you. I'm glad you made it through that stage unscathed. I don't remember much about that period myself. My brain may have mercifully erased it! (I'm 66 years old, now)

S. Greiner said...

I too had PPA...it has been a long road and having two babies 13 month apart has not been easy. I'm very thankful to have a husband who has been by my side during this process and amazing, supportive doctors!

Good for you for putting this out here!!!

Kara B. said...

Kristy, I saw this in action and thought nothing more than, "Oh that poor girl!" I never once thought you were unreasonable or anything like that. I understand the struggles, not because I had a super colicky baby, but because everything I had planned for out son's birth and about the following 2 months of recovery ended up being a TOTAL DISASTER. I went from NATURAL BIRTH, to PITOCIN induction that slammed my body into 12 hours of HARD labor. Being so stubborn about sticking to my plan I did not have the epidural.......not smart since the induction was INSANE. I don't think I was even in my body for like 10 of those hours. After 3 and a half hours of PUSHING and a Doc trying to calve me I was thrilled at the option of a C-section. After my SLOW recovery..... oh yeah, and a blood transfusion. REALLY!??!?! I was so disappointed in myself. I knew there was nothing else I could do, but you just get so set in your plans and expectations. That's one thing I took away from my early parenting experience. It's not going to go your way. And if it does, count yourself lucky and enjoy it cuz there's one more SHOCK just around the corner that you didn't plan. Thanks for baring it all and sharing. I love you girl. And, you are an AWESOME MOMMY!!!

Shell said...

Oh definitely. With my third, I was just an overwhelmed mess all the time. People kept telling me how I made it look easy and I just wanted to cry.

Hello! I'm Kate. said...

I wasn't surprised by much because I was expecting it all. But I did find it hard to see how much my life had changed & how I had to give up being selfish with my time. But now that he's older & I have become accustomed to being a mom I forget what it was ever like before he was born!

Suniverse said...

I had THE WORST PPD. It was so awful, we just have the one kid.

I hated that feeling. And I hated, even more, that people would tell me to be happy and enjoy myself. Granted, I kept the PPD hidden from everyone except the husband and the therapist until years later, but I just felt so overwhelmed and alone.

Glen said...

very impressive piece of writing from the heart. From my point of view it is a shock to the system when the baby arrives, one that blows you away beyond belief. Bad enough for us dads, but to do that after going through such a traumatic experience as childbirth and be given no time at all to recover?

Mums are awesome!

A Mountain Momma said...

I can totally relate as well. I was TERRIFIED...

I stayed in the hospital an extra day because I just couldn't believe they were going to send me home with this little person. I was going to be in charge? Yikes.

I did get back on track too, but it took ages. I was feeling symptoms of PPD until my youngest was almost 2 and half. Once I acknowledged it and started blogging about it made a big difference.

Thanks for sharing your story, as you can see, you are not alone.

Jen said...

I can totally relate to parts of this post. Motherhood is nothing like I thought it would be.

jess said...

I was overwhelmed by feelings very similar to the ones you describe. Being in a less-than-ideal situation though, I shied away from medical treatment and told myself that I wasn't postpartum depressed, I was understandably depressed. Looking back, I'm still not sure what the episode was. But I'm glad to be past it.

Still, I have a feeling that I will never cease to be surprised by feelings I experience as a mother!

Marylin said...

I relate to *all* of this as it was my truth too, with Max. He was a hard baby. He screamed constantly (now, looking back, I understand that the sensory problems he has were in full force even then). I was exhausted. It would get to about 4-5pm in the evenings and I'd have to just put him in his bouncer seat and leave him to scream, taking Zack into my bedroom to play tickles and try to ignore it.
I wished that I'd never had my second child.
Now, thank god, (and medication!) I love that lil guy with every bone in my body! I don't remember that much from his first year though.
I remember the first New Year's Eve after he was born. He'd have been about 10 weeks old. He woke up about 10 minutes before the bells, and I fell. Angry. Annoyed that I couldn't get just that one evening to relax.
The next year? He woke up at around the same time, and I was happy. Happy to be snuggling with my little man and bringing in the new year with him. I held him close, I smelled his sweet baby hair smell, and kissed him on the forehead.
That was when I knew I'd beaten it! :)
I'm still on meds now mind (Max is 3.5 now). Any time I try to come off them, I feel anxious, I'm snappy, and overly emotional. I think maybe my brain is just wired that way. I need the meds to be NOT depressed. And if that's the case? So be it!

Amy said...

Pour me a cup too because I completely relate! I felt Ill-prepared to handle this little baby and I was beyond terrified. Tears were always looming as I felt like I couldn't do this. I was filled with anxiety and doubt. Now, pregnant with my second, I'm fearful those feelings will bubble up again. Can I handle 2? What if he has special needs or colic or something worse??

I just remember how long it was until my husband and I found a new normal. A new comfort zone. I'm overwhelmed that my life will be that crazy all over again but I hope Im better prepared this time for what's to come

jazzygal said...

Great post and an important read for anyone who is or has suffered with PPD. Thankfully I haven't experienced it but my mother had severe PPD after she had me... a very long time ago!


xx Jazzy

Selena said...

If there was one big thing that having a baby taught me (and there were a lot of things) it is that my need for planning and being able to predict what my day would hold were things of the past. And I KNOW that this contributed to my feeling of devastation that the PPD gave me. Because even with the medication, I still had to accept the fact that my ENTIRE LIFE was going to be decided by the rhythms and schedules of this little creature.

I really don't know how ANYONE gets through their first child without being completely blindsided by the sheer intensity of the change involved. There is NO preparing for it, no matter how many times you are warned.

Tenille @ Help!Mum said...

I finally sought some counselling when Lil was 6 months old. I was still breastfeeding so resisted medication (I've been on them before, and don't ever want to go back - they just aren't right for me). I didn't start to feel myself until I went back to work and got some of my 'old life' back.

It's hard. It's a massive adjustment. And there isn't any way to prepare for that.