Those two letters put together are said more often than not. After dealing with Postpartum Depression after Liam's birth two years ago I hear this word all the time. At first it was me saying it after someone would ask how I was, "Oh, I'm doing ok". Then it was Jon telling me that I wasn't ok. Then it was me telling my doctor that I wasn't ok. Then it was everyone around me asking if I was doing ok and I was telling them that I was ok. When I got pregnant with Duncan the question of choice was, "do you think you'll be ok this time around", and now that he's been around for a couple months the question pops up occasionally now: "are you doing ok?"
I cannot tell you how many prayers I said to Heavenly Father that I would be ok after Duncan's birth. How many journal entries were basically just my fears of having to deal with Postpartum Depression again. When Liam was born, he was a very easy going baby; he didn't care if he was being held or put down, he loved to just be. He's been a go-getting from the time that he was little. There was one night I remember when he just would not stop crying. I remember rocking him, and patting his bum, and singing lullabies- I remember trying to feed him, and change him and just everything I could think of to soothe his cries, but nothing worked. He just cried. Then I cried because I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. My best friend Rachel came over, unannounced as we hadn't made plans to get together and found me in tears rocking my baby in his room. She took him from my arms and told me to go take a shower. So I did. She is my best friend. Apart from my mother and husband, she is the one that I trust the most with my children. I remember with Liam, I felt completely overwhelmed, even though he was only one child- I felt completely burdened down. I remember that getting up to make him a bottle was pretty much the only thing that I could handle some days, and we would just lay in my bed because I couldn't bring myself to get up and all I wanted to do was sleep. I remember the days starting to get darker, not literally but it seemed as though everything around me was in a fog and I couldn't really see past my own hopelessness. I remember feeling ashamed, guilty, mad at the fact that I was completely surrounded by people who loved me and I still felt overwhelmed. I would think about my mother and how my father was in the Air Force for 32 years, and so for 32 years and five children she was basically a single mother, I thought about real single mothers, and those who didn't have a support system at all, and I felt ashamed and guilty that I felt like I was barely holding on even though I had a wonderful husband and family and friends who were willing to help me in any way possible. Jon and I getting into that argument was the best thing possible, even though when he told me that he thought I was depressed it was like a cold slap in the face. It was just the push I needed to finally get help. Postpartum Depression didn't rear its ugly head until Liam was about five weeks old and at that point, I probably could have gotten past it, but with the birth control that I chose it emphasized my baby blues to full blown depression.
So, here are the things that I learned from having Postpartum Depression:
- It will get better- I cannot emphasize this one enough! If you are willing to accept the fact that you have a problem, it'll get better each time you own up to it. When Jon said that he thought I was depressed and I finally said it out loud, I felt a huge weight lift off of me.
- It won't go away immediately- That first month of being on anti-depressants was rough. There were many ups and downs and there were still days where I would just lay in bed.
- It's ok to need help- I remember being a new mom and needing to take care of my baby, but also take care of my dishes, laundry, kitchen, bedroom.... and the list goes on and on. I wish so badly that I had put away my pride and called my mom to ask for her help in cleaning.
- It's ok to ask for and accept help- There were many times that my mother would text me and ask if I needed her to come help me clean the kitchen. So many times I turned her down because I didn't want her to see how bad I had let it get. Again with that pride thing!
- Talking about it is good- I remember when I first had been diagnosed I tried to hide it from everyone because I didn't want people to think that something was wrong with me. Most of the time when people hear about postpartum depression it's when horrible things have happened due to postpartum psychosis, rarely do people speak up about a problem that is at your very core. Sometimes I feel weird talking about it still, as I don't want people to think that I made it up, or am trying to get attention. I honestly don't want anyone to go through what I did so I talk about it, and I let people ask me questions.
- Having Postpartum Depression does not mean you are a bad mom- This was my biggest fear when I was in the deep of my depression. I remember having thoughts that I was a horrible mother, and that Liam didn't need me as his mom because there were other women in his life who could assimilate that role and that he would be better off without me. The only reason I never hurt myself was because every time I thought about it, I would think about the consequences and the one that stood out the most was that I would get my baby taken away and that I wouldn't be able to ever see him again. Extreme, but that was what my conscience would tell me when I was battling my own mind.
- There will be flashbacks- I cannot even count how many times someone would say something and it would take me back to my dark days. I would just sit and cry.
- It's therapeutic to cry- There are times even now when I think back on those times and it really does make me sad that I allowed myself to feel so hopeless. What people don't understand unless they've been through it is you can't just turn it off and on. It's something that affects your whole persona and nothing you do can "fix" it. Many a cry session has been made in the comfort of my bedroom alone.
Duncan has been a much more difficult baby than Liam so far. He's very cuddly and he hates to be put down, he has a fussy time of day in the evening and will literally scream the whole car ride home from my mothers house (15-20 minutes). Today, I had to stop by Wal-Mart to get Liam new diapers. Duncan cried to Wal-Mart, he cried in Walmart, I had forgotten stuff at my mums so I had to go back and he cried all the way back there and then cried all the way home. It was a good 45 minutes of him just screaming. By the time we got home, I had a huge headache from listening to him scream and I told Jon that I didn't want any more babies! But even in all of that, I didn't feel like I had with Liam two years ago. I was frustrated, I had a headache, it was more than enough birth control for me, but I didn't feel overwhelmed or hopeless because I couldn't make him stop screaming. I was glad that Jon was home so he could hold him and I could pop a Motrin, but the feelings of no self worth were not there. I hated going through PPD at the time, and at the time I would have given anything to have never felt like that ever. But now that I'm on the end side of it, I am grateful that I had to endure that trial. I feel as though it gave me a better appreciation for my children, and for my own mother who chose to have 6 children and WANTED more! I tell everyone who asks about my pregnancies and children: if I had had Duncan first, there would not have been a second! Liam spoiled me, and even now when he makes me want to pull my hair out from frustration, he is the sweetest, most loving, hilarious little boy. And I wouldn't give him up for anything! Duncan is turning out to be a hard infant but I love him so much and I can't help but smile when he gives his gummy baby smile and lets out his little coos and baby giggles for me. He's going to be my snuggler, and as outgoing and charismatic as Liam is, Duncan is going to be the sweet, soft-spoken one who is just content to be in Liam's big shadow. It's amazing how two little boys who were created by the same two people turned out to be so different. I'm also hoping that since Liam was a freakishly easy infant who turned into kind of a terror of a toddler that Duncan will be my difficult infant who will actually listen and follow directions as a toddler. Who knows?
Everyone I talk to, who knows my story always asks the same question, "how are you?"
and I can honestly say now,