I do not keep it a secret that I suffered from Postpartum Depression after the birth of my first son Henry, who is now three years old. I fell into a deep black hole of anger and worthlessness a week or so after I gave birth. And it took me far too long to accept help. People wanted to help, but I didn’t think I needed it. I spent too many hours laying in a dark room crying before I convinced myself this wasn’t just the “baby blues” I was told to expect.
This went against every ounce of what I thought traditional motherhood looked like. I had always imagined having my sweet babies the “regular” way, not via c-section like I did. I would then hold them to my chest and let them nurse. My hair would look nice and I would be glowing. I would have on makeup and there would not be a drop of sweat on my body. I would be ecstatic. And I would spend the next eight weeks of my maternity leave doting over my new baby and bragging on how wonderful being a mother was.
Scratch that. I came to realize that labor, delivery and those postpartum months are nothing like in the movies or my dreams.
Postpartum depression was debilitating for me.
I honestly think one of the hardest parts was trying to convince everyone else around me that I was okay. Visitors would come to see our new addition and I would sit in the living room and smile, holding my baby and talking about how wonderful life was.
It was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting.
I finally got help from my doctor and was put on depression and anxiety medicine.
And It worked. It took a couple weeks, but it worked. I felt like a normal human again. I smiled. My baby smiled. Because he realized that I was no longer in distress. And I felt that love in my heart that I wanted to feel so badly before.
So when I got pregnant with baby boy number two, Simon, who is now almost six months old, I made a big decision. I decided I would I bottle feed him so I could continue my anxiety and depression medicine immediately after giving birth. I wanted to be the mama that my newborn and toddler both needed at that time. A smiling, happy mommy that may have been exhausted but didn’t want to spend her life locked in a dark room crying. I wanted to do everything I thought might keep me from experiencing PPD again.
I know that there is nothing you can do to keep Postpartum Depression away. It hits you when you least expect it. But I felt optimistic that I had a plan in place to make it less likely to happen again.
And I am here to tell you six months later that it worked. It freaking worked.
Yes, I had my moments. I cried. I was exhausted. I needed breaks. I didn’t shower. I felt lonely at times.
But I can honestly say I enjoyed my maternity leave with my baby boy. I spent it snuggling with him on the couch and watching Netflix, not sobbing and wondering why I wasn’t the mama I dreamed about being.
The difference between my first three months with Henry and my first three months with Simon were night and day.
No, I did not follow the plan that most women follow after giving birth. Five years ago, I would have been absolutely flabbergasted if someone told me I would bottle feed my second child because I was on depression and anxiety medicine.
But life happens. And it hardly ever happens the way we plan it.
So we have to roll with what works for us and give the heave ho to anyone in our lives that judges us for our decisions. I 100% had to stop caring what anyone thought of me at this time. And when I stopped caring about that, I felt so much better about myself.
So here is the moral of my story. Do what works for you.
Don’t give a flying fuck if Carol down the road gives you the side-eye when you pull out formula to feed your baby at the PTO meeting.
Don’t let it keep you up at night if your brother’s vet’s secretary’s daughter thinks you shouldn’t breastfeed in public.
Don’t let Mary in accounting tell you that your baby won’t get into the best preschool because you had a c-section.
You do what is best for you and your baby. And only you know what that is.
I think that discussing mental health is extremely important. So if you think you might be experiencing something that doesn’t feel right, talk to your doctor. They are there to help. And no one should have to suffer because they are worried about being judged.
Until Next Time,
PPD is no joke. I had it after my younger son was born. I’m glad you have gotten help. Thanks for the update!
Thanks for reading!! Definitely no joke. And so many people are scared to talk about it. It shouldn’t be taboo!
Thank you for sharing your story. I think the feelings you experienced are experienced by a lot more women that anyone thinks! Here is a link to an article from TIME magazine that discusses the pressure new moms are under. http://time.com/magazine/us/4989032/october-30th-2017-vol-190-no-18-u-s/
Thank you! And thank you for sharing that link. It’s a terrific read!
Congratulations! I’m on a 2 month countdown to d-day for baby #2 and wondering what my postpartum anxiety might be like this time around. I’m going in with a plan of “sure I’ll try nursing again, but only during maternity leave… and I’m not going to stress about it. If it alloverwhelms me again, nursing will be the first thing to go to level this raging bag of hormones to chill out once again. I’m glad your plan worked for you… not matter what Carol thinks!!
Haha this raging bag of hormones is the best description ever. Good luck! You got this!
Amen! AAAAAAMEN! Good for Carol if she can manage all that comes with mommyhood while wearing pearls and making a 3 course dinner. I’m with you – do what’s best for you and your family! Thank you for sharing your story. My baby blues were pretty gruesome, too. The c-section definitely throws you a curve ball.
Damn you Carol and your side eye.
I love reading your post and your blog because we have almost the exact same story my daughter is 4 years old and I decided to not even try breastfeeding at all with my second one too and I definitely noticed that I was not depressed like I was with her. I was wondering though do you ever feel guilty that you didn’t even try to breastfeed with your second one. I’ve been struggling with feeling guilty about not even trying with the second one. Like maybe it would have been okay maybe it would have worked out who knows I don’t even know why I care so much about it because he’s fine on the formula and so was my first one. Probably still the hormones… but I’m also a lot chunkier than I was with the first one and I was thinking oh my God I should have nursed I could lost the weight like my other two friends who nurse and they’re super skinny like 2 months after having a baby 😣😠
Haha I know the feeling. Yes I felt guilty for two seconds then I realized I didn’t want to risk being a hot mess again. Don’t be so hard on yourself! We are all different.
Thank you for writing honestly about PPD! I also suffered from it and my son is now three also! I still struggle many days, but I’ve learned a lot and I’m working towards helping others feel less alone.
Thank you! Not many people really talk about it so I try to be very open. I’m sorry you had to deal with it as well!!
I bottle fed both my babes by choice. I had my second via csection by choice. (Well, my first was nearly 11lbs and his head was still “floating” 24+ hours after my water broke. The very VBAC friendly OB who consulted on my scheduled c-sec said, yeeeah, I’m thinking c-sec is the way to go with you. Lol!) My son wasn’t bladder trained until he was 4.5 and not fully done training until he was 6.5 (he’s my little aspie genius, so when he was diagnosed as such at 6, I learned it was not unusual to take longer. What a relief!) I learned with him that putting a timeline on things – ANYTHING – is a laugh riot. Best laid plans and all that. Currently, my second is 3.5 and in diapers. (I refuse to say “still”!) Sure, I feel internal judgement, but she has been adamant that she is not read to say bye-bye to diapers. Ok, whatever. We talk about it all the time, with no pressure. She’ll get there.
I have anxiety and depression too, mostly PMDD related, along with ADHD. It’s a lot – A LOT – to handle, even for typically wired moms. Posts like yours should be shared far and wide, and perhaps turned into sonnets or something, tales we can pass along for centuries, that it matters more that we get through it than how it’s done. Cheers!
Reading this warmed my heart. I hate that someone else had to struggle but it makes me feel better knowing I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll start writing sonnets now too! 😂😂😂