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,