I remember returning home from the hospital preparing for Brayli’s first doctors appointment. My husband was on his way home from a work engagement and in my head; we were going to be late to her very first doctor’s appointment. We only put together the car seat base for the car that we drove home from the hospital and not both cars. I frantically grabbed the car seat base and tried to put it together in our second car. Freaking out, something so simple became so difficult. I fumbled with the clicks and belts with thoughts that if I miss this appointment and something is wrong with my baby, how could I live with myself. He was about 3 minutes away and we were currently 1 minute behind from when I wanted to leave. I continued to fumble, until I just stopped and cried. Balled. Snotty nose, short breath sobs. The garage door began to open as I cried and I stopped crying. In that moment, I came to my senses and it scared me. WHY THE HELL WAS I CRYING? WHY THE HELL WAS I CRYING, LIKE THAT? I wiped my face, walked away from the car, jumped into the car with him, and we made the appointment no problem.
IT’S REALLY REAL Y’ALL!
Postpartum Depression is defined as, ‘a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others,’ according to the National Institute of Mental Health. This SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED WITH BABY BLUES. Baby blues occurs in over 80% of moms, which have the same symptoms of PPD, but go away within a week or two. I, in fact had a serious case of the baby blues. That situation scared me enough pay careful attention to myself. I had never experienced emotions the way I did when I reacted to not being able to put the car sear base together and it startled me.
The real is I experienced the baby blues, but I did not experience postpartum depression. However, that small taste of irrationality jolted me to become even more understanding to the realities of what could happen.
Postpartum depression is common.
Postpartum depression is common.
Postpartum depression is common.
According to postpartumdepression.org, anywhere between 10-20% will experience postpartum depression to some degree. When I started preparing for this story I knew my story alone could not do it justice so, I began to ask various friends if they experienced postpartum depression and that led to me opening the question to all of social media. There were more answers of yes than I could ever imagine.
Below are the powerful stories the ladies were open to share. The responses were heartbreaking, but they all ended with joy. Each of these people experienced depression after or during (because that’s a thing) pregnancy and each of them were able to come out of it and currently enjoy life as a mom.
“I was 22 and recently separated from my husband when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. It was not exactly how I imagined my life would be going at that time. “I can’t have another baby,” was my initial thought. Our first son had just been diagnosed with autism at the age of two and not to mention I was active duty in the military so my job was very demanding and stressful. I felt alone and the separation was getting nasty so I didn’t tell my estranged husband, I didn’t really tell my family or many of my friends. It wasn’t an ideal situation for me, I didn’t know how to handle everything and I felt like I was losing control. I found myself spending a lot of time crying in the bathroom to myself or always crying myself to sleep, I couldn’t pay my bills, I was barely eating…I was depressed. I had heard of postpartum depression, but never pre-partum [Prenatal depression] so I didn’t think it was anything I could get help for so I suffered alone for majority of my pregnancy.” – Mom of two
“I use to think postpartum depression was a joke. I wasn’t into the mental health thing. It was all a joke. Go to church. Until, I experienced it. It happened to me. I didn’t want to harm my child, but I didn’t want my child. It just didn’t feel like mine. I don’t remember any triggers. My circumstances at the time weren’t really bad, I don’t think. I just didn’t want this baby. I went to church. In hindsight and with maturity, I probably should have asked for help. Church helped. But, things probably would have been better if I could have talked things through along with praying. ”– Mom of one
“I suffered from prenatal depression. It’s ironic because this week particularly I was just mentioning on how God can surely change a situation completely!! Two years ago to the date, I was at a very low place. Suffering from first and second trimester issues associated with pregnancy like nausea and extreme fatigue was coupled by feelings of depression surrounding my pregnancy and my financial and emotional state. I was working 2 jobs totaling in 80 hours weekly, still struggling to dig myself out of a financial deficit, and wrangling with emotional abuse and turmoil from my child’s father. Our pregnancy was definitely not planned and I was at odds with the dad. I was crying myself to sleep every night!! But there came a turning point when I surrendered my depression and my negative thoughts to God and decided that my pregnancy was not a punishment sentence but more so a new beginning to a different and completely fulfilling journey. Around December is when things began to shift for the better.’ — Mom of one
“…That’s when it began. I was an emotional wreck. Say one wrong thing to me and I would either be emotionless or mean as all get out. All while feeling that, I felt so unworthy as a 18/19 year old mother of about to be 2. Everyone said well God knows best. I was like why me though. I worked ALOT to cover up my emotions. So my family wouldn’t see it. I regretted the child inside of me. I felt horrible. People would say, ‘God wont put more on you than u can bear’. In my head I would be like what in the world is God doing to me. I felt like my future was destroyed.” — Mom of 4
“ …I had never been around a baby, held a baby, changed a diaper, etc. At the time I became pregnant my boyfriend and I had big plans. We were going to be a big happy family and live by ourselves and do this together. To say that quickly changed is an understatement. I was in college working at the bookstore he was the delivery guy for the vending machines and my parents paid our rent for our off campus apartment. Oh and my mom was not a fan of my boyfriend either. When she found out I was pregnant I was forced to move back home and transfer schools. Fast forward throughout my pregnancy there was minimal contact with my “boyfriend”. He barely answered my calls, let alone check on me or come home to visit because he stayed at school. I cried almost every day of pregnancy to the point my sisters stopped consoling me and became irritated when I would start. “ –- Mom of one
Above is only a snippet of the stories being told. I wanted everyone to see what it was like to be in the thick of it. ALL of these ladies got through the depression by help through therapy and/or the power of prayer. Postpartum depression is extremely taboo, as is any mental health disparities. No one wants to admit they have it and it’s a struggle to ask for help. I was fortunate enough to have friends come to me about some of these issues before I gave birth and inform me that it’s really real. I paid special attention to myself after birth to make sure I didn’t slip away and if I had I wanted to be the first one to admit that I needed help. My baby blues were heightened emotional responses combined with the exhaustion of being a new mom, but within a few weeks it went away. It doesn’t happen like that for everyone. If you think that you need help, even just a little, ASK FOR IT! If your support system doesn’t believe you, there are people that do. There are several resources online that you can contact for yourself or someone you love to get help. Don’t wait until it’s too late.