Postpartum Depression is classified as a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. It affects 15% of births or roughly 3 million cases in the U.S. yearly. Postpartum Depression is not to be confused with ‘Baby Blues’ – which is a term used to describe the feeling of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue that many women experience after having a baby. This usually lasts only a week or two and goes away on its own. Postpartum Depression however, can start anytime before or after birth and last for months or even years. Postpartum Depression isn’t caused my something a mother does or doesn’t do, but rather a combination of physical and emotional factors.
I myself suffered with Postpartum Depression for years. To backtrack a little bit, my daughter was born in a face presentation. What that means is, the baby is born crowning with their face instead of the top of their head. The babies chin is untucked and the neck is fully extended causing their head to lay between their shoulders. Typically face presentation is assessed by a doctor and a c-section is scheduled. For me though, I had a nurse in training who thought she was feeling the top of her head and a doctor that never checked. Face presentation comes with lots of risks – facial edema, skull molding, breathing problems, prolonged labor, fetal distress, spinal cord injuries, permanent brain damage, and neonatal death. I’m sure you can’t imagine the trauma of finding out too far into labor and being unable to get a c-section that your baby is face presentation. Watching everyone’s face turn white and feeling the panic in the room.
So why is that relevant? It brings me to my Postpartum Depression. I believe the trauma of her birth is where it all started. Finding out the details after my daughter was born and being told there could be birth defects or brain damage later was terrifying. It makes you constantly worried. Is she okay? Will she live a normal life? Will there be brain damage? Will she suffer learning disabilities? The fear of the unknown consumed me. I let it get the better of me and eat me alive. I quickly fell deeper and deeper in despair. I hated myself for bringing her into this world and the fact that she could have many different birth defects. I blamed myself and it made me hate myself. As I fell deeper in my hole of despair I wanted to die. I don’t know why, but I did. I felt like I was unworthy of the beautiful family I had. I gained a lot of weight with her pregnancy and struggled to lose it after. That only made it worse. I felt like a complete failure and like the world would be better off without me. Death would’ve been the end to all my unbearable pain.
I know what you must be thinking, why wouldn’t you reach out to someone? Why not get help? I felt like a burden. I felt like no one would understand what I was going through. I felt like no one cared. Most importantly, I was in denial. I wasn’t suffering with Postpartum Depression. It wasn’t until years later when I realized my daughter was a normal healthy child that I realized what I went through. That I suffered with my Postpartum Depression because I was afraid to admit it and because I felt like a burden. To this day I have no idea how I got out, how I survived, and why I never seeked help. There was many times I could’ve ended my life. If it was timed perfectly I’d be gone and Tom would get home just in time for the kids to wake from their naps. I’d be free. Truth is I didn’t want to die, I wanted the unbearable pain to end. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be me again.
If you think you might be suffering from Postpartum Depression, the first step is admitting it to yourself. It’s okay. It’s not your fault. It’s not something you did or didn’t do. Then reach out to someone, anyone – a friend, family, your doctor, anyone that can help you or get you the help you need. You are NOT a failure for admitting you are suffering. Admittance and getting help makes you so incredibly strong. There are many options to treat Postpartum Depression such as, counseling, talk therapy, and medication. You will overcome this and you will be better for it. You are loved. You are worthy. You are a good mom. There is a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel. It may be hard to see that now, but it’s there and it shines brighter than you’ll ever know.
Where to go for help
Available 24/7 https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/help-for-moms/
Call 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) OR Text 503-894-9453