Before motherhood, I just assumed that Postpartum Depression was simply feeling down after giving birth. I had no idea just what it caused you to think, feel, and believe about yourself and your child. Today, I want to share with you what no one tells you about postpartum depression.
I’ve suffered depression my entire life. As a bi-polar patient, I was at special risk for postpartum depression. When I was pregnant, doctors talked to me about weepiness and sadness after giving birth. But I never realized just what postpartum depression caused me to think and feel. Early in my motherhood journey, I was surprised to learn what no one tells you about postpartum depression… that it rears it’s head in feelings of irritation, frustration, inadequacy, futility, and loneliness.
You May Not Feel Love or Bond With Your Child
When I was pregnant with my first son, I spent hours daydreaming of his little face. I couldn’t wait to hold him, kiss him and love on him. I’m sure there are women who instantly bond with their child. But I didn’t and post partum depression had a lot to do with that. About 3 weeks after giving birth, I felt like I was holding a stranger. I didn’t know what his cries meant.
I just assumed everything was instinctual – that you just magically know and understand your newborn as soon as they come out. Maybe I was naive. However, I never expected to feel completely overwhelmed, flustered, and frustrated. Who knew depression would increase those feelings exponentially?
Depression maybe a mental condition, but it distresses the heart. It directly interfered with my ability to fall in love with my little boy. It took a while for me to truly feel that loving warmth. Don’t get me wrong, I cared for him. Logically, I loved him, but I didn’t feel the crazy, obsessive kind of love I feel now. If you’re struggling to dote and love your newborn, you may have postpartum depression. The cure? The more you hug and hold your baby the closer you’ll feel…sooner.
You’ll Cry Over Nothing and Everything
With my first son, I was determined to breastfeed. My son was born prematurely and it took 6-7 days for my colostrum to come in. I was so sad that my little guy was having to take a bottle until my boobies got their act together. My weak little boy was burning too many calories trying to nurse and was quickly losing weight. Therefore, doctors suggested I pump for the first month and supplement with formula. I was heartbroken.
There is a saying, “there is no use crying over spilt milk.” I don’t know what the etymology is, but I’m willing to wager it had to do with breastmilk. This stuff is liquid gold! At about two weeks postpartum, I had spent the entire day pumping frequently. I squeezed out 2 oz making a total of 5 oz for the day. While I was taking the flanges off the pump, I accidentally hit and spilt all the milk. Every. Last. Drop.
I shrieked so loudly, my husband came racing down the stairs. My mother came running in. “No! No!” I wailed in a blood curdling cry, like when someone gets word someone has died. That’s what my husband thought had happened. That someone had died. My whole body shook as I sobbed and clutched that pathetic empty bottle to my chest. When I finally calmed down, I explained to them what had happened. They didn’t understand. They stared in confusion, surprised by my dramatics.
No one told me postpartum depression would cause every set back or failure to seem futile. Small problems yielded big reactions. You might think depression makes you quiet and despondent, but depression actually unbalances all your emotions. My reactions were excessive, dramatic, and desperate. In those long eight months of depression, I cried over anything, everything, and nothing.
You May Wish You’d Never Become A Mom
This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to admit. It makes me cringe just knowing I had these kind of thoughts. It’s surprising to learn other moms have this thought too. As a new mom, you can feel so inadequate. The first night I brought my son home from the hospital, I had this thought. He cried for three strait hours and when I couldn’t comfort him, I felt as if I’d made a huge mistake. Maybe, I’m not cut out for this. He deserved someone better. Someone who knew what she was doing.
Learning your newborn can be incredibly frustrating. Don’t listen to the hype. Food, sleep, burping, or a clean diaper are just a few things your child wants. They can cry for thousands of reasons and when you can’t soothe them, you can feel like you have no business being a mom. I was very grateful to have my mom after delivery. But when she’d swoop in and take over, it left me feeling even more useless and incompetent.
Depression can make you have all kinds of hopeless thoughts. I had a few miscarriages before I gave birth to my oldest son. So when this thought crept in, it made me feel even more guilty. After all, I wanted this. Now I know, depression causes these thoughts.
You May Feel Isolated and Lonely
Having a child changes your life. A child ties you down. If you’re a new mom, you may even feel anxious about leaving the house with your baby. Routine can be helpful, but monotony can add to depression. Be aware of how much you shut yourself inside.
I remember posting pictures of my first son on social media. You would’ve never guessed how sad and isolated I felt. I was so lonely. The days seemed long waiting for my husband to return home. If you are not returning to work, you may even feel more alone. Work friends move on and suddenly your spouse becomes the sole provider for your social life. That’s not healthy!
Challenge yourself to get out of the house. The more cooped up you are at home, the more isolated you’ll feel. I share the things that helped me in the post How To Stay Sane As A Stay At Home Mom.
You May Feel Anxious or Angry
Postpartum depression includes anxiety. Who knew? Well, technically it would be postpartum anxiety, but doctors don’t really discuss it and most moms I know, experienced it alongside depression. Anxiety often includes unrealistic fears. One mom I know said she was terrified to be left alone with her baby – like her baby was safe with anyone except her. There is a “what if something happens I can’t handle” sort of sensation.
But here is the real shocker: irritability, anger, frustration are components of anxiety. I couldn’t believe I had feelings of anger when my baby cried. I was short with my husband and my other child. Furthermore, I snapped at friends and made snarky comments over the stupidest things. I was irritated all the time and it actually took me losing a friend to grasp how badly out of control I was.
You May Need Therapy or Medication
Postpartum depression is both chemical and situational. It’s a fact, chemical and hormonal changes occur in the body after childbirth. Your body undergoes amazing, but drastic changes to give life to another person. If you choose to nurse, your body suddenly belongs to another person to sustain their life. You may need medication to help supplement or balance those changes. THERE IS NO SHAME IN TAKING ANTI-DEPRESSANT MEDICATION. You’ll be shocked to learn just how many women take them and it’s a shame they feel they must do it in secret.
Your situation changes after childbirth. You don’t have time for yourself. You don’t sleep. The weight of the responsibility may burden you. Your sex life becomes non-existent. You may be staying home by yourself with baby. Lastly, expectation versus reality may be shocking to you once baby arrives. There are lot of life changes and you have little time to process what that means. Therapy can help you work through those changes. If you are struggling, seek medical attention. Seriously – babies get shaken when you don’t seek help.
You May Struggle To Do Basic Tasks
I was unprepared for this. To clarify, I didn’t realize this was happening for while. I remember when my son was three months and he had a blow out in the middle of Target. It suddenly became a monumental task to change his diaper in a public place. I struggled to work a coffee pot and to get chores done. I felt confusion and perpetually overwhelmed, even clumsy.
Some women refer to it as “mom brain” but honestly, I think it has to do with postpartum depression. Difficulty functioning or being overwhelmed by small tasks might be a sign you are struggling with postpartum depression. No one told me that. Don’t feel ashamed asking for help – ever.
The post, What No One Tells You About Postpartum Depression, first appeared on The Unsanity Blog
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