In honour of Bell’s #LETSTALK I’m sharing my postpartum depression story once again.
It’s through story that we heal, and by sharing our struggles we help another seek support and find their own healing.
Originally posted Jan 29th, 2015.
It didn’t happen right away, like it does in the movies. You know the moment when you first lay eyes on your brand new baby and you instantly melt into tears of joy and love.
I felt empty, in shock and completely outside of myself.
I remember thinking I should be crying, I should be so happy but instead my body, my baby, everything felt foreign.
Of course there may be explanations why the the overflowing emotions of Love didn’t happen. Little E wasn’t immediately brought to my chest with the cord still intact, we didn’t get to go cheek to cheek to heal our Ren Meridians.
Instead a team of Pediatric doctors were waiting to take him over to a separate area to check him out and syringe out his lungs.
So maybe that’s why….but maybe not.
I later learnt that nearly 50% of women don’t get that feeling of instant love for their baby immediately after labour. But I didn’t know that until well after I had already been beating myself up about it for weeks.
Once it was finally time for me to hold him it was time to nurse him.
Before, I was really excited about the thought of breast feeding my baby, I had an err of ignorance about it and why it was best and mothers who didn’t just didn’t try hard enough. I was wrong.
A nurse ripped down my gown and shoved my baby to my breast, while exclaiming “OH!, well thats not going to work.”
The whole thing was absolutely traumatizing, I was unable to have him latch and truthfully I was never able to do that on my own without the support of a shield and multiple lactation consultants.
So maybe that’s why……but maybe not.
I had meticulously planned every moment of my labour and what my first month with my baby would look like. I had my placenta encapsulated, I meditated, I hypno-birthed, I had my support system in place with friends and family. I did it all, but I still felt disconnected from everything.
My expectations of perfection and being an amazing women that could do it all impeded my every move and crushed me before I could even get going.
And every day I waited for that moment, and it just didn’t come.
I felt like I was failing. I couldn’t feed my baby like I was supposed to, I actually hated every single minute of it and I just couldn’t get back to who I was.
My midwives were so gentle with me, and they encouraged me to whisper I loves you’s into Little E’s ear, even if I felt like I was faking it. It was really hard to do, but I did, even though I felt like I was lying to myself and to him, which broke my heart and made me cry all day long.
Afterwards I would just sit and pray that some day soon I wouldn’t feel like a fraud.
In desperation and wanting to be good at something, I went back to work when Little E was 3 weeks old, to the day. It was a mistake, but I did it anyway.
I just had to feel good for a moment, I had to escape the feelings of not measuring up for just a little while. My patients were happy I was back and momentarily so was I.
And then it all hit me like a ton of bricks.
At 6 weeks postpartum, I was at my wits end and barrelling fast towards the dark side.
I felt trapped by my commitments to my patients, I was beyond the heartbreak of not being able to connect to little E, and I was starting to have thoughts that I was a burden to those around me. That they all would be better off without me.
Six week postpartum is statistically the highest incidence of postpartum depression affecting new mothers, and I was there.
I had no idea that I would be here or feel this way. I was the expert, I was the one that was supposed to be helping others through this not be the one seeking help.
What people won’t tell you is that when you’re in this place, you become really scared. You want help but your terrified what that will mean. Thoughts like “They’ll take may baby away from me” or “Once someone finds out they will think that I’m a walking time bomb, who know’s what I’m capable of”.
You start to loose trust in the bit of sanity that you do have, you second guess every motive or action that you do. That alone is enough to drive you crazy.
Thankfully, I had my rock of a husband witnessing me slip further away and reassuring me of my significance in his and Little E’s life, nudging me in the direction of support that we had available to us.
Our midwives are truly the reason I’m still here, they stuck with me and allowed me to find the resources that I needed to find my way back.
My counsellor whom I saw for a number of months until I was able to cope, strategize and love myself through it
My mom and mother-in-law were un-judgemental unconditional shoulders to cry on that always illuminated the possible and the positive.
My acupuncturist and teacher that helped me rebalance my hormones and bring my body back into my awareness.
And My girlfriends, they didn’t give a shit that I wasn’t perfect or doing everything right.
It takes a village and every single one of them kept me moving forward to the light until I found myself again.
And then it happened, a real authentic “I LOVE YOU” to Little E came through.
I remember it so clearly, Little E was on the change table looking up at me and he smiled and let out a little coo, and all of a sudden it was finally there, the warmth, the melt, the tears and the love.
I had waited months for it to come and it was so worth it, it was so good. I finally knew what everyone was talking about.
It brought me here.
So through my experience this is what I know.
– Postpartum depression is no joke, you need support, you can’t work through it on your own in silence.
– It’s not your fault, your not weak-minded or a bad mom
– It can happen to anyone, it doesn’t discriminate
– There are a million reasons why it happens, it does’t matter why, it only matters that you seek support
– It takes time to heal, there is no rush or finish line
– It comes in waves, hormones are changing left and right through that first year and for a while you may have a handle on it and then all of a sudden you don’t, keep reaching out.
– There is no right way to be a mom, do the best you can that’s all any one can ask
– Your baby loves you regardless, the end result when you can feel it too is so worth it. Keep Seeking
In the comment’s below, I would love to hear you share if Postpartum depression affected you in any way after the birth of your baby. How did you work through it, what supports do you still need. Together lets find them.
Get These Posts Delivered Straight to Your Inbox….and awesome FREE Gifts! Enter Your Name and Email Below.
Photo credit main photos Little E age 15 months @kristynharderphotography
Signup Little E age 22 months @agapestudios