8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting PPD

 

Maybe Postpartum Depression can’t be avoided, if you’re gonna get it, you’re gonna get it.  I really don’t know.  But here are 8 things I swear contributed to my PPD that I wish I had been better prepared for.

 

1.  Your baby and your body don’t give a good shit about your “birth plan” and that’s OK.  You start thinking about the immanent birth of your baby from the day you find out you’re pregnant.  Maybe even long before that.  People are so opinionated these days about certain methods and practices and it will get in your head despite your better judgement.  You start feeling like however your child is born is paramount because it will somehow set the tone for the rest of his or her life, and other bull honkey like that.

My baby was late.  42 weeks is a looooong time to be adding details to my fantasy of gracefully plucking him out of me, ala Kortney Kardashian, and placing him on my own chest while the nurse blots the drop of sweat from my brow so we can take our first mother/son selfie.

Apparently the universe did not get the memo.  My contractions were so severe they were stopping River’s heart.  Not once, but twice, with machines going off all around me I got swarmed by entire staffs of nurses and doctors, frantically making me get on all fours to try to get his heart beating again.  It was so terrifying that when my doctor said she was calling it, it was time for an emergency c section, I was actually relieved.

The c section itself wasn’t too bad, recovering from it sucked.  Mostly because I was very out of it for next 2 days and, even though I was there nursing him and holding him, I felt so numb it was like missing it altogether.

I was seriously in mourning over our imperfect start.  I felt like my body let both of us down.  But honestly, one of the best things about babies it that they’re stupid little dummies!  He didn’t know his ass from his elbow, quite literally.  As long as he was getting everything he needed, he was happy as a clam.  He didn’t know what orifice he emerged from, he didn’t know mom was stoned AF or that she was a-cah-ray-zay.  He just knew he was fed and dry and loving being rocked and bounced as I sobbed my face off.

HOW they come into this world is not a huge deal.  Once they’re here, they’re here!  It’s one day (hopefully, maybe a little longer) out of both of your lives and there will be many, many more.

2.  Angels don’t sing the first time you look at this band new, wet alien.  Fireworks don’t go off, the clouds don’t part, and birds do not come to the window to sing a love song when you first lay eyes on your baby.  I had such anticipation for this moment!  I thought the instant I saw my him I would feel a shift in the universe and I would be a new person.  False.

Maybe it was the many, MANY drugs, or the 3 epidurals, or the fact that I was completely out of it and exhausted, but I’ve felt more for random puppies on the street than I did for this sweet babe at first sight.  Again, it was another thing that initially I felt I had to mourn because in my mind it was this crucial experience I had missed out on.  I blame it 100% on the expectations I had about what that moment would feel like.  Maybe that shit DOES happen for some moms, my guess is that these are the same women who love to announce “Oh my God, I forgot to eat today!  HAHA!” and they have my permission to go kick all the rocks.  They’re the reason the rest of us feel like there’s something wrong with US that a disco ball doesn’t drop from the ceiling and “Celebrate Good Times” doesn’t play as Ryan Seacrest introduces us to our new little one.

Love takes time, dammit, Mariah was right.  And “love at first sight” is subjective.  Yes I LOVED my baby and had an instant desire to care for him and put his needs before mine.  But I didn’t feel suddenly and instantly complete and happy and all the wonderful things he now makes me feel every day.  It took some time for me to get to know him, and him to know me, to really experience that intense feeling of love that only a parent can know.

Now since knowing this I always listen very closely to my new mom friends that go overboard on how “in love” they are, and I stay mindful that they may still need a supportive ear, even if their mouths are saying things are great.

If you feel less excited when you meet your offspring than you would if you met the worlds worst band The Offspring, don’t beat yourself up over it.  It will come.

3. Sleep.  Eat.  Easier said than done, I know.  But both these things are vital to your mental health and ability to cope under stress.  And being a new mom is STRESSFUL.  Your body needs rest and nourishment.  I was so depressed I couldn’t eat.  My mom had to force Ensure down my sobby gullet.  (IMO the Butter Pecan flavor tasted the best mixed with snot and tears.)  If you have a partner, take shifts as much as possible so you can both get some rest.  If the baby is napping, nap.  Put off the stuff that isn’t important until later, it can wait.  If you have any money at all, a night nurse is worth her weight in gold.  Trust me, this is something that is WORTH dipping into your savings for, you won’t regret it.  It doesn’t have to be a regular thing, maybe just 1 or 2 nights of good solid sleep might be enough to get your strength back.

4.  Sometimes PPD comes disguised as guilt.  You feel guilty for everything.  You think you’re doing a terrible job taking care of your baby, but you feel guilty asking anyone for help.  Then you feel guilty about feeling guilty.  Just cut that shit out.  You’re doing a great job and people are happy to help.

5.  Give it a week.  If this week is hard, next week will be better.  Every week they are new life forms, I swear.  They change so much day to day that you might even see the transformation faster than that.  But honestly, if they won’t sleep, eat, are just fussy for no reason, and you feel like you’re at your wit’s end, just remember you just have to give it a week.  You can make it a week.  I promise.

6.  Believe it or not, formula is not made out of toxic waste!  Who knew??  Some women have trouble with their breast milk supply.  Some women can’t breast feed at all due to all kids of medical issues.  It can be a great source for stress and depression (and sometimes even self hatred) during this time.  Some people will tell those women with supply issues to get up every 2 hours to pump even while the baby is sleeping.  It’s really such a shame because that kind of pressure can be detrimental to the mother’s health, and although breast milk does have some benefits, they are certainly not so crucial that it’s worth sacrificing your own mental health. I was formula fed and I’m healthy as shit!  I’m a fuckin tank.  Whether you are a formula mom or a bm mom or a mixure of both, feel good about yourself that you’re feeding your baby.  Let it be something that brings you joy instead of stress.  Pay attention to the opinions of NO ONE during this time.  If you are scared about formula, just do a little research and find the best one out there for your LO!  Sometimes it takes a little trial and error, but you’ll get it right.  I researched a ton when I started to supplement and learned so much it was actually kind of fun!  I’ll probably make a post dedicated to formula on here soon.

7.  Don’t wait to get help.  If you start feeling completely overwhelmed, talk to people and get some support set up for yourself.  PPD is a vicious beast that needs to be attacked from every angle with every weapon you’ve got.  This is why we have friends and family.  Because Lord knows that most of the time they’re pains in our ass, this is their time to shine!  If someone offers to come over and help, LET THEM.  Ask them to make dinner or help with some of the house stuff, or just hold the baby while you SLEEP.

Some hospitals offer free postpartum support groups, I went to these several times at the hospital I gave birth at and I’m thankful I did.  It was good to hear other women explaining things that I felt myself to know I wasn’t alone.

There are hotlines you can call that will link you with a mom who has been through PPD and who can offer great support and advice.  Google “postpartum depression help” and you’ll find a bunch of these.  Here’s one that I used.  1.800.944.4773

Talk to your doctor, this is also what they’re there for.  They should be giving you a quiz and asking you about how you are coping postpartum, but if they don’t, bring it up.  They see this stuff all the time and it’s their job to help you through it.  They make the big bucks, help them earn it.  ūüėČ

8.  Say yes to drugs.  Seriously.  If your doctor recommends that you go on antidepressants, that’s ok!  Even if you’re nursing, Zoloft has a great deal of research backing it as safe for both pregnant and nursing mothers.  Your baby will be fine and honestly so much better off having a mom that is able to cope.  Postpartum Depression is not something you can just walk off or rub some dirt in or whatever.  It’s chemical and it’s an illness that is effecting your brain.  Part of why it’s so malicious is that it LIES to you and tells you that there is no solution to anything, even medication.  I know for me, I could not have gotten better without the medication.

 

This list will probably grow as more things come to me!  If you’ve gone through PPD and have something to add, please by all means leave it as a comment and I’ll add it!  It’s important that we are all in this together.

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13 thoughts on “8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting PPD

  1. oc15 says:

    I’m sorry you went through this but I’m glad you got the help you needed and have a great sense of humour looking back on it all. I did not have ppd in the beginning but can still appreciate a little something from all of your points. Most relatable is not having clouds part and beams of light fall on my new child. Our bond did,however, grow quickly there after. I do believe I had ppd in months 7-9 (just starting to feel better in the last week or two). Lack of sleep was a big factor for me. I felt like I made so many mistakes in her earlier months because she could not self sooth or sleep longer than two hour stretches. Our magical first six months started to have a dark cloud fall over it. I started to think I was terrible mother. Sleep training made me feel like a monster. I couldn’t handle her sadness, my heart hurt and I cried everyday but her crying also made me mad at her. I started to become obsessed with the death as well. I was sure I was going to die and not be in my daughters life. I would look at my baby and no longer had a feeling of aching love in my heart. I never wanted to hurt her but I just felt empty inside when I looked at her. I am happy to say I spoke to our dr. and we worked out a plan for a better nursing schedule and worked out sleeping strategies. Ppd is very real and can hit you anytime. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate Buckley says:

      Thank you for sharing this! Sounds like we went through a lot of the same thoughts and feelings. I feel like I’m just learning that ppd can come and go pretty freely. Sometimes when things are great got awhile and I think I’m finally above it, the rug gets pulled out from under me again. But nothing like those months of being obsessed with death and feeling full of dread.

      Like

  2. This is so true and I related to absolutely everything you have mentioned. As someone who wanted to avoid PPD at all costs and got it anyway, it really took me off guard! I wish that I had read something like this before my birth. I was very similar to you. I had a plan set out and I knew exactly how I wanted it to go. Well, pretty much nothing went the way I wanted it to, then the tip of the iceberg was when my daughter was placed on my chest, and all I felt was numbness accompanied with a whole lot of anxiety! Which is a strange mix, and I’m not sure how I felt them together, but I did. I didn’t get that ‘rush of love’ and I assumed straight away something was wrong with me. That led to guilt, and the guilt only got worse over the next two weeks.

    You are so right about waiting a week though. I had a ton of support and I still felt doomed when she was 2 weeks old. By 3 weeks, things were still bad, but no where near as bad as what it was. Then every week it got a little better!

    Another thing I would have loved to know too, that I have sort of just experienced, that if you do get PPD and you get a hold of it and feel better, there may be times where you relapse again. It’s exactly the same as depression, sometimes you feel good, and that could last for weeks, or even months. Then one day you will wake up and nothing will go right and you are back in that hole again. I just recently had a minor relapse. My daughter was going through a phase where nothing I did made her happy and she cried and fussed. She refused to nap and would be so overtired by the time it came to bed time, that she would scream for 45 minutes to an hour. Then she would wake up every 15 minutes to 45 minutes all night. By day 3 I was back to that place of ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘why did I want to have a baby in the first place?’, then guilt. Lots of guilt. It passed and all is fine now, but relapses do happen, and I wish o knew that. I wish my doctor or psychologist told me that so when I did feel that way again, I accepted that it happened and got help rather than thinking I was just going crazy and internalising everything again.

    Thanks for this post. I hope it helps other people. If this was written about 8 months ago, maybe I would have been more self aware and able to handle myself better. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kate Buckley says:

      Thank you so much for this! And yes, that is a great point! Relapses DO happen. I’ve had a couple myself and it can really be scary because of course it crosses your mind “will I be like this forever? Is this my new normal?” I don’t know the answer to that yet, but I do think that it has everything to do with hormones and that they will eventually regulate themselves. Are you breastfeeding?

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re so right. I don’t know how many times I’ve googled ‘does parenting get better after [insert baby’s age here]’ during my ‘bad’ times because I just wasn’t sure I would get through it! Which is a silly thing to think, because we have no other choice. I love my daughter to the moon and back now, but sometimes I also love quiet, alone time too! That can’t happen when she is fussy and crying.
        No I’m not breastfeeding. I never produced any milk so I had no choice but to use formula- another thing I felt completely guilty over. I’m okay with that now, and in retrospect, it was probably for the best because my mum was able to take her and feed her during the day while I went to nap. Are you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kate Buckley says:

        Yes, I supplement as well though. I just always wondered if there was also a correlation with breastfeeding and ppd because I know it also messes with your hormones when you do, but I guess no matter what we’re all at risk for it!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. floydenglish says:

    This is a wonderfully funny and honest post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a really good post, I wish some of my friends would read it! I’ve been on Zoloft for years but increased my dose after my daughter was born. I was worried at first, but I feel so much better on it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kandice says:

    Thank you so much for this. I have birth to my first little guy 5 days ago and I cannot cope. This is relentless and the most hopeless feeling ever. Knowing that other people have went through it is helpful.

    Like

  6. Kayla says:

    What a great post Kate. My son, who is about to turn 5, is still a huge pain in my ass and still to this day I question myself “am I doing the right thing?”. Honestly we never know and never really will know, there’s no book on parenting or really what’s right or wrong. But as long as we try then we are doing it right.

    After I had my son, which I was young, alone but mostly scared, I tried to take Prozac. I didn’t like the way it made me feel so I stopped taking it after a few weeks which alone wasn’t enough time for it to really makes a difference. But honestly I just managed everything on my own. Parenting on my own which me crazy was also the same thing that’s kept me sane. My son was the only thing I had to look forward to.

    I’m so glad I read your post because you captured everything I felt and put it into words, which I never would’ve had the balls to admit I was feeling that way. I hated myself for feeling that way because like you said you have the idea that it’s supposed to be “love at first sight” but for me it wasn’t. I, like you, loved my son as soon as I found out I was pregnant but the love and joy was soon followed by fear.

    Me as a mother and actually growing to be in love with my son means a lot to me, and I’m sure to a lot of other mothers. I look at my son as more than just my son, but his own person, he has his own personality and own ways of doing things which I love about him.

    On a different note you and your family are such an inspiration and you are a great mother and river is lucky to have an idol such as yourself. Keep the post coming they are great and truly inspirational.

    Like

  7. Samantha Steez says:

    I just typed a meaningful and thoughtfully crafted response to your initial post and it disappeared. If that isn’t an indication of my life right now, not sure what is. Ha.

    Something along the lines of-I’m obsessed with my son Lyric (7 months in-with a 6 year old boy, too). So in love. So grateful. I’ve got a great life. BUT I noticed I was always irritable. Having a hard time dealing w stress. This kid is a bit of an asshole sometimes. I exclusively breastfeed on demand, and he’s very demanding. I’m going to school online & im a STAHM. I’m always thinking about the worst possible things that could happen to all of us. Car accidents, sickness, not normal. So I stepped out of my comfort zone and told my doctor. And I took my first Zoloft last night. I think I was mean to read this post today, thank you for writing it.

    Fingers crossed that this doesn’t disappear in internet land again.
    We’re in this together
    Much love

    Like

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