Motherhood

Postpartum Depression And What I Learned About Myself

That first cry left me speechless.

Every mother I spoke to assured me that every pregnancy complication was going to be worth that first moment. They were right. I was shaking from the adrenaline and in awe of his entire presence. When my aunt yelled that he was a boy and I felt my heart drop. I was happy because I always wanted to have a boy first.

The nurse laid him on my bare chest and he continued to faintly cry from the air hitting his lungs. His skin was blueish purple and smooth. There wasn’t any vernix coating anywhere in sight. He was so warm and alert. I looked at him in his eyes and felt a tear drop from my right eye. I looked up and saw my aunt in tears and my fiancé looking down at us.

They took him away, weighed and measured him. He latched onto my breast and it was the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life. The excruciating surges of contractions were out of my mind. I rubbed his little head as he ate and slept in my arms. I never put him down because he never wanted to be alone. He was one with me for his entire life, up until that moment, so I understood why he didn’t want to leave from the safety of my warmth and smell.

I don’t know what I am doing, but I am doing it.

We brought him home and the first couple of days were a learning curve for us both. My fiancé had the privilege of being able to take paid leave from work, so we were both with our baby boy day and night. I allowed our son to tell us his nightly eating routine: at night he ate at 12 AM, 3 AM, and roughly 6 AM. When he was hungry, we would go to our second bedroom that doubles as an office. Once there, I would turn on NetFlix and feed him. When he was full, I would pump the remaining milk and write down the duration of the feeding time. I had Overactive Led Down, so I was pumping a lot.

I was doing great. I thought I had shaken the postpartum depression bug, but boy was I wrong.

1 in 7 WOMEN WILL HAVE POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AFTER CHILDBIRTH. HOWEVER, THE PROBABILITY MAY BE HIGHER BECAUSE PPD OFTEN GOES UNREPORTED.

After speaking with my aunt about not having it, I felt great.

So, why was I still feeling anxious? I felt bad for even thinking that I could possibly have it. Why would I be in such a funk after going through one of the most amazing experiences in my life? Why did I feel a rush of sadness as our baby boy slept? I felt guilty for even entertaining the thought of PPD.

My Experience With Postpartum Depression

I started to question my ability to be a good mother. I don’t think people fully understand the complexities of being a parent. As a parent, you are completely in control of how your child will view the world. I have always wanted to make sure that I was mentally prepared for motherhood because I have never taken it lightly. I knew that every child viewed their parents as their God and I did not want to allow my own life’s choices to negatively impact my children. Yes, I did just say that. Children look to their parents for their self-esteem, worth, morals, values and so much more. A parent is given a blank slate and the power to paint their ideals and beliefs. Does that not sound God-like to you? As a society, we place a lot of focus on money. You can give your child all the materials in the world and still leave them spiritually and mentally bankrupt.

Furthermore, I knew that I had struggled with anxiety and depression for years, so I was aware that postpartum depression was a possibility.

So, I tried to shake the feeling and continued caring for our son.

Prior to giving birth, we went to a free breastfeeding class together and in the class they told us to introduce bottles at roughly 4 weeks. So, we both agreed to do that.

One night, I started our usual routine, but I was in a funk. The constant feeding scheduling and being the only one responding to his cries began to weigh on me. I felt a gray cloud over my head as I walked to the next room. After feeding him, I placed him into his swing and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I let the levee break. I began to sob hard and quietly. Overwhelmed with emotions and weak from the wound in my womb from giving birth, I was spent. There were many people that I could have called, but I chose not to do it.

In the midst of healing and caring for a fragile being, I was breaking down. There are things that were outside of my control that transpired during my pregnancy and I started to question everything. The amount of immaturity and slander that I had to endure (from a person outside of my household) took a bite out of me after the postpartum depression bug.

The following night, I lashed out. He was unsure of how to help me because I didn’t communicate that the postpartum depression bug bit me. After realizing I was frustrated at how he was able to sleep and I had to make do with little sleep, he confirmed that I was asking him to introduce a bottle one week early. I communicated that I did not like how heavy he continued to sleep every night, while I barely could get any. He was confused because I required something of him that I assumed he knew I needed. It was a learning lesson for us both.

I looked in the mirror and saw a belly that resembled a deflated balloon. The harsh reality of giving life was upon me. Social media and its pressures echoed.

I already had an appreciation for my mother because she brought me into the world, but that appreciation deepened. It put everything into perspective for me.

I felt like I was being ungrateful for having the ability to bear a child.

Healing

A great deal of my pregnancy was spent doing research. I wanted to prepare myself as much as I could for what was in store for me. I wanted to have all of the answers. However, that is the beauty in this journey of motherhood. I won’t ever have all of the answers. I don’t know what I am doing, but I am doing it. The truth is that the fact that I have the knowledge of my impact on my children, I am already one step closer to raising mentally and spiritually stable beings. I learned that all of those years spent being vulnerable to people on an app wasn’t in vain.

I realized that I do not have to pretend that I have it all together anymore. That very same vulnerability would be adored and appreciated by the very people within my household. I learned that I too was born when our son was brought into the world and to be gentle with myself.

The foot massages and back rubs that are given by my fianceé are greatly appreciated, especially during my pregnancy. I have someone who will help me when I am not feeling my best. I understood that I do not have to carry a heavy load for the sake of being “Super Mom”.

I did not reach out for support or help with my PPD this time, but I know in the future that it would be a wise decision to do so. My PDD lasted for roughly the first month and a half of our son’s life. We travelled to my home state for Thanksgiving, so being around so many of my family members really helped more than they know.

Dear mother, if you need support at this time, please find a local coordinator in your area with the Postpartum Support International. They offer international and US support. You do not have to go through this alone and sometimes speaking with a stranger may be what you need.

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Check out the Motherhood section for breastfeeding information, my cloth diaper journey and more!

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C O N N E C T – W I T H – M E

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