Today’s challenge comes from a fellow warrior mom: Laura. Her son is gorgeous. Like a mini-Elvis gorgeous. You know before he got old. Laura is an incredible photographer, gorgeous inside and out. Her smile lights up a room. Like many of us, she has a challenge that I am so thankful she is willing to share.
My Challenge : Undiagnosed Postpartum depression.
My challenge is a common one. One that crops up among new moms
everywhere. But many of us who experience it are completely unprepared. Sure,
we all read the books. We spend months agonizing over what colors we should
paint our nurseries. Should we nurse or bottle-feed? What kind of diapers
should be buy? Moby wrap or Ergo Carrier? There’s a thousand decisions to make
concerning BABY when getting ready to have a child. But a little known thing
happens to us once that baby comes out.. Our hormones go haywire. And
sometimes, they stay that way. It’s shocking and unexpected. I say it’s
unexpected because “THEY” don’t warn us. “THEY” meaning the baby experts. There
is a 500+ page book on all of our bookshelves talking about every detail to
expect when you’re expecting - but the chapter on the postpartum baby blues
isn’t given any real fanfare. And, well, maybe it should.
Like most moms in their last trimester, I was anxious for my baby
to come early. I really wanted to deliver somewhere around the 38 week mark.
That didn’t happen. 41 weeks and then some, I was induced. 24 hours later, we
were talking c-section. So, right from the start nothing was going as planned.
I was fine with that knowing soon I’d have my little boy in my arms. I cried
the next 4 days in the hospital. The nurses assured me it was normal to be a
little ‘weepy’. But I was totally confused.. This was such a joyous event and I
was full of anxiety and was on the verge of a meltdown anytime someone new
walked into my room.. I stuffed it down - not wanting to appear weak. I got
this. I can handle motherhood. Whatever this emotional shit is, it’s gonna have
to take a hike.
We went home.. The crying continued. I looked at my husband
sleeping soundly next to me as I had a 6 day old infant attached to me. I
quietly thought to myself, “What if I just returned him to those nurses... They
know so much more about how to handle this.. We are completely unprepared” and
I cried some more.
I went to my follow up OB appointment. She asked me how I was
feeling. It was the first time anyone asked me that.. I choked back the hard
lump of tears that was still so readily available and said, “I’m ok. I cry a
little. But I’m ok”.. It was a lie. I was a mess. But I was terrified. The
crazy hormones in me made me believe if I showed her I was weak, she would take
this baby away from me. And I wasn’t very much in love with motherhood yet, but
I didn’t want to be fired from it just yet.
The days turned into a blur. I started to walk outside. I found my
way to a nursing support group and that helped a ton. But every night the
anxiety would return. Was this really for us? Did we make the right decision?
Yes, of course we did. But I would obsess over whether I could do a good-enough
job. All these other mothers around me all seemed to have it soo together. It
just seemed an insurmountable task to be a good mother..
Somehow - we made it through the first year. And then another. I
casually accepted my emotional status as just ‘a mom in love with her kid’. It
wasn’t that. I had postpartum depression. Big time. I never was formally
diagnosed because I never admitted it to anyone but myself.
Being in a baby group has it’s advantages in that you can watch
your child’s development alongside other children their age. For us, this was
another trigger for my depression.. My son was no where near where these other
children were in every area of development. It was no surprise when he was
diagnosed with autism at age 2.5 . But those waves of anxiety were flooding
back. Except this time, my son was really relying on me to keep it together so
we both could get the help we needed.
In my frenzy of setting up a list of therapy appointments for him,
I found myself a therapist whom I still see today. And a girlfriend introduced
me to the world of essential oils (which I originally passed off as hippie
juice for a while - but I’ve since turned the corner and am now addicted). I
can self-manage the anxiety when it hits hard. My down-swing periods are not
nearly as frequent and I recognize them when they’re coming.
depression is a very real thing. It’s not a fun part of preparing for a baby,
so, nobody really gives it a good discussion. But it’s worth reading that
chapter in the book. And to be honest with your doctors about how you feel
afterward. I may not have been prepared for what came following my son’s birth,
but I know now that I can overcome some serious stuff.
And that’s a beautiful realization.
Isn't she wicked awesome? For those not from New England there is no higher compliment. I am so happy to know Laura and to have her be open and honest about her challenge. Approximately 15% of women suffer from postpartum depression. That is ONE in every SEVEN women. With that statistic you probably know at least one fellow mom who need your help. I am very grateful Laura found her village.
I am proud to call her friend, thank you Laura.
For more information about postpartum depression see your doctor as soon as possible. Help is available, even answers if you feel concerned about yourself or your child. There is also an enormous amount of information available online. It is most important to remember: you are not alone, you have done nothing wrong and you should never feel ashamed. Please visit Postpartum Progress for more resources.
What's your challenge is a series that was inspired by a program I created at Abby's school. I am amazed at how honest and hopeful the challenges have been. Thank you to all who have contributed. To submit your challenge, please e-mail me at email@example.com