DEEP BREATH…and exhale. Today I am ready to share my experience with postpartum depression. This is a post that I have wanted to write for quite some time but have consistently found an excuse not to. I’m not ashamed about my experience with postpartum depression, as I know it is very common. However, I do still carry the memories, and my experience can sometimes weigh heavily on me when I think back on it (#trauma). I also have thoughts like “what if it suddenly comes back?” Or “what if it happens again with baby #2” looming at the back of my head. But It’s now been over a year of me feeling like myself and I believe that sharing my story will empower me and *maybe* Help one of you going through something similar.
If you’re a reader of my blog and followed along during my pregnancy, labour, and birth journey the first time around, you already know that I had a difficult pregnancy both mentally and physically. I also had a traumatic birth that I didn’t realize was traumatic until weeks after it had happened. When I wrote my birth story, I was in what I thought was a really good place for someone who had just gone through an intense labour and delivery, was a couple of weeks PP, and also super unsure about being a mom. In my birth story, I wrote about how after I had Edwin, all of my fears and anxieties melted away. How I felt an instant love like I never had before, how I had lots of energy, and was generally just so excited about being a mom. What I didn’t realize was that at the time I had so many hormones (mainly adrenaline) surging through my body that were making me feel on top of the world. A day after we got home, I was doing laundry, organizing our pantry, and feeding/taking care of our
newborn. I felt so energized, but I 1000000% should have been in bed and only leaving to give myself sitz baths.
During Edwin’s first three weeks of life, all he did was eat, sleep and poo. He was also a champion breastfeeder from the get-go which made me feel even more proud of everything I had accomplished in such a short amount of time. All of these things made me think OMG this is so easy and amazing…then Edwin “woke up”. Previous to Edwin, I had no idea that babies are SOOO sleepy during their first few weeks that they can’t do much else. So, when Edwin did “wake up” as I call it, my world
pretty much felt like it turned upside down.
I remember when the crying started so clearly (for both of us lol). My sisters were visiting from Toronto and were so excited to
meet their little nephew. About two days into their visit, Edwin started crying more than he ever had and I had no idea why (I now understand why newborn shoots are done within the first 10 days lol!). Edwin cried soooo much in the first give or take 5 months of his life and it was very overwhelming for me. Aside from Edwin crying a lot, I also started to relive my labour and birth experience like a movie in my head. I began having flashbacks and constantly wondered how a labour that started and progressed exactly how I imagined turned into one that ended the complete opposite way (almost a C-section but turned into a vaginal birth with intervention. long story short, Edwin was stuck in my pelvis). I also constantly wondered why my body wasn’t healing like I figured it should be months after birth. Lastly, as if the above weren’t enough, it was the winter and I was feeling extremely isolated because of where we’d moved to (from the city of Toronto to a small town in Nova Scotia where even my family wasn’t that close by). I was also missing many of my friends in Toronto who were also incidentally pregnant and expecting their first babies at any time.
About 4 weeks after giving birth to Edwin and his crying continued on, I started feeling that familiar heavy cloud rolling in. All of a sudden, I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, sad, angry, and to put it bluntly, every negative emotion imaginable. I had a hard time
sleeping and woke often, even when Edwin was fast asleep. I had dark feelings about ending my life and I questioned if I truly loved my son many times. There were moments that I would feed Edwin and then just hand him to Jamie because I couldn’t
hold him any longer than that. There was a moment where I stood staring out my window for what felt like an hour and I cried so so much, you guys. These were the hardest months of my life, and thinking back on it makes me sad that I couldn’t fully be present for Edwin.
But then I think of how much he cried and how many times I did comfort him, hold him, and bounce him up and down on an exercise ball for hours on end and I realize that I was there…even when I didn’t feel like I fully was. Things went on like this for months. Some days were easier than others and there were definitely happy times in between the sadness, but my mind was always in more of a negative space than a positive.
Finally, when Edwin was about 5 months old, we worked with a sleep coach. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Kaleigh (the sleep coach) was a huge player in getting me back to me. She helped get Edwin onto an amazing schedule and gave me so much support that only a woman can offer. My pelvic floor physiotherapist, who I started seeing when Edwin was about 12 weeks old, also helped make me feel like all of my postpartum issues, although not normal, are common and has helped me immensely in my physical recovery. Both of these services and the women who offer them unknowingly helped get me out of my postpartum depression without going to therapy (though in hindsight I probably still should have went) or taking
medication (of course, no judgment to those who need it) and for that I am forever grateful.
After Edwin started sleeping better, his entire personality changed which allowed me to get the best out of my baby. And finally, after a long year, my body finally started to feel like mine again.
Now I am pregnant with our second baby, what the what!? Honestly, after my experience as a first-time mom, I never thought that I would go through this process again. And while this second pregnancy was a surprise, it has shocked me to my core as to how badly I want it and am excited for this little boy. I now know that even if I go through a tough PP period, that I can and will heal from it. I know the love that comes with raising children and I can’t wait to experience it again. I’ve also felt much more connected to my pregnancy the second time around which makes me feel more positive about everything pregnancy, birth, and postpartum related.
Next week, I’m going to share a blog post with all of the things I’ve been doing to keep a super positive mindset this pregnancy as I think that anyone who is having/has had a similar experience to mine will really benefit from it. And please, if you’re experiencing postpartum depression or are having feelings of ending your life, talk to someone you trust or your doctor because you are not alone.
Thank you all for reading and for the consistent love and support. It means the world to me. x