Janice asked if I would share my story of Postpartum Depression on her post, and after writing it down – something that I had never done before – I knew that I needed to share my story here, too.
Pregnancy was never easy on my body. With a heart condition and a bad back, pregnancy hurt. But I endured it 5 times because I wanted my children so badly.
After my first two babies were born, I went through the typical aches, struggles, and questions of being a new mom. But I got through the newborn stages and headed in to parenting toddlers. When I got pregnant with my 3rd, I figured that I was an old pro. This time it would be easier.
Instead, after my son was born I struggled to feel like myself again. He was a strong, healthy baby. He nursed well and slept decent hours. I adored him, as I adored my two older daughters. But something was different.
My body refused to recover. I had mastitis 3 times, I developed sinus infections and even a few ear infections. Where I had been tired with my first two babies, this time I was exhausted. I struggled every morning to find the desire to get out of bed.
A year went by with little change. My baby boy grew, and yet I felt stuck. I didn’t enjoy being a mother anymore. In fact, I didn’t find enjoyment in much of anything during that time. I rarely smiled or laughed. I was on survival mode, going through the motions of being a mom. My heart wasn’t in it.
My biggest problem, though, was that I didn’t recognize that anything was wrong. I didn’t know what to look for, and I didn’t know that what I was experiencing was something that could be helped.
I didn’t seek help during that first year because I was so consumed in my depression to recognize that I was depressed. Luckily, a wise friend noticed how I was coping and asked the right questions. I was able to get help, but even in the midst of getting help and getting better, I mourned the loss of a full year of my son’s life that I could have enjoyed.
I went in to my next two pregnancies much more aware of the signs of postpartum depression, and for the first time in my life I sought medical advice and help for my ongoing problems with anxiety, which only heightened after my year with PPD.
I always thought that PPD was something that first time moms experienced. Since my year with postpartum depression after the birth of my 3rd child, I have cautioned friends that it can happen to anyone, new moms or seasoned. Don’t hesitate to seek help. It DOES get better. And it’s better to start on the road to recovery sooner rather than later.
Did you know that more children are born on October 5 than any other day during the year? How appropriate, then, that we talk about PPD today.
Only 15% of all women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders ever receive professional treatment. This means that each year hundreds of thousands more women and their children may suffer from the negative effects of untreated PPD for the rest of their lives.
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