There was no doubt in my mind that having a baby wasn’t going to be easy.
The funny part is Ellie is an easy baby. She is so good, so happy, so sweet and perfect. I truly feel so lucky. The hardest part, honestly, was me.
Now don’t get me wrong, even being a good baby there are plenty of difficult moments, hard days. The newborn stage is hard no matter how easy of a baby you’re dealt. That is just a fact of life. The lack of sleep, the major change in your life, your marriage, your personal time and space, the hormone crash, having a baby stuck on you around the clock. It is utterly exhausting.
And all of this is something everyone tells you and you read all about it, but nothing really prepares you until you’re in the thick of it. It’s such a surreal and raw experience.
The hardest thing for me though, was myself. There were so many compounding factors, but at only four weeks postpartum I found myself sitting in my doctor’s office sobbing while her nurse hugged me.
Postpartum depression is more common then people think, but it’s not always shared information. Women aren’t always quick to say when they’re dealing with it. It’s hard to admit when you feel like you’re drowning during what is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. When every person you see asks “isn’t if wonderful” and “aren’t you loving it?” It’s so hard to say yes because the honest answer for me was no.
It’s not that I wasn’t happy to be a mother, because I was. I am. It’s not that I don’t love my baby, because I did. I do.
It’s a completely surreal experience to love your child and be so smitten, but to be so sad and distant and hurting all at once. It was hard for me to explain, to justify, to understand.
My doctor listened to me so calmly and sweetly that day I cried uncontrollably in her office. I had been having uncontrollable crying fits every day, multiple times a day, often times set off by absolutely nothing. I felt like a complete wreck. I was no longer myself.
And not being the same person after having kids is a given. You know it’s coming, the change to your life, to you, to who you are. But it’s hard, you guys. To suddenly no longer feel like the person I had been for the last 27 years. It was hard and I crumbled.
My doctor listened to me, spoke so sweetly to me, offered me many suggestions, and scheduled me to keep coming in regularly to check up on me. I left with a prescription for zoloft and a slew of follow up appointments because my doctor is a wonderful and caring woman who wants all the best for me. I feel grateful to have her as my doctor.
The meds were kind of rough. They made me nauseous and restless at night, and I’ve struggled to lose just ounces of my clinging baby weight since starting it, but it has helped. I felt better within a week and more or less normal after a few more weeks. And I thought it was all okay now.
But the inability to lose weight started to gnaw at me. So at one of my appointments I asked to wean off my meds. And that went okay for a while, but then the sads crept back in, the tears started to well up again, and when I went back for my next appointment, I admitted defeat. I did get my dosage reduced, but the fact remains that I’m on PPD meds at this point and plan to be on them until I’m done with work in June. Once I’m on summer break I’ll try weaning again, and hopefully with more success.
It’s been difficult and frustrating. I love my daughter so much and I love being her mother. It was a hard pill to swallow, being diagnosed with postpartum depression. I had a high risk pregnancy, and long and difficult labor and delivery, and now this. I just can’t catch a break.
I try to remind myself that this is not my fault. I had no control over this. It happens. It happens to more women then you may even realize. There’s a sitgma attached to PPD though, it’s not easy for women to admit when their sad or depressed during a time in their life that should be so happy and joyous. It’s hard to admit when everyone around you is so happy and fawning over you and the baby and cooing about how amazing and wonderful and glorious it all is. But you don’t feel those feelings. And it makes you question yourself. Why aren’t I happy about this? Why don’t I see the excitement, the love, the joy? Everyone else feels all those things for you, but you can’t feel them for yourself.
And that is okay.
Treating postpartum depression as quickly as possibly makes it more manageable. And it’s that much quicker that you start to feel better, normal, human. And then the joy surfaces and you can cherish those moments of happiness now too.
I’m almost five months postpartum now and finally coming to terms with this. It’s taken me some time to wrap my head around it, but it is what it is. And I wish more women were open about it so that stigma would start to diminish. I know I’m not any less of a good or loving mother because of my PPD. And while I did feel guilty and terrible at first about realizing I was so unhappy during such an amazing time in my life, I’m at peace with it now. I’m a better mother and wife when I’m not struggling. It’s not my fault, or Ellie’s fault, or anyone’s fault. It just is, and that’s okay, because I am bigger than postpartum depression.
Tonight I will kiss my daughter goodnight before I get into bed, as I do every night, and I will thank her for changing my life for the better.