Last week, I read an article about a young mother who had such bad undiagnosed postpartum depression that she took her own life when her daughter was 4 months old. While this example may seem extreme, postpartum depression has different severities and so many women that are diagnosed with it can have such different symptoms. Some women feel it for a couple of weeks and some can still struggle with it for several months or well past the first year after giving birth. Postpartum depression is so difficult to speak about and acknowledge because having a baby should be the most joyful time of your life. One always hears of all the good stories and how amazing having a child is, especially on social media, but why don’t we talk about the sadness more? Is it because we don’t want to scare others? Maybe we feel like we are the ONLY ONE in the universe that feels like this.
I had the hardest time after giving birth to Elise, who is my first born. I was not diagnosed with postpartum depression, but looking back I know I had it for the first 5 weeks after giving birth. I have read so many stories of what women feel and go through when dealing with postpartum. These are the things I struggled with the most.
Going From A Family Of 2 To 3
Gone are the days where your entire schedule did not revolve around another human being. I remember when we took Elise home from the hospital. I was eating dinner about to get ready to pull my second all nighter with her and I just cried. I was so sad that it wasn’t Dustin and me anymore. I felt so sad that we couldn’t just leave when we wanted or watch a marathon of our favorite show on a rainy day. I felt my life suddenly stop and shift so suddenly that I honestly didn’t know if we would ever go back to the way things were before.
As soon as I had Elise I felt such a high. I felt so much love for her and Dustin. I couldn’t believe that he and I had created such a perfect human being. When we got home reality set in a bit. My hormones were all over the place. I felt sad one minute and happy the next. I could be having a regular conversation and all of a sudden my emotions would kick in and I would get completely overwhelmed.
Feeling Utterly Alone
I felt so alone after giving birth. It didn’t matter if I was in a house full of people. I felt like it was me against the world. People offered to stay up with Elise for a couple of hours or watch her during the day so that I could get some rest. I don’t know if it was just me being stubborn or that I was over protective, but I didn’t want any help. In hindsight, that was the thing that hurt me the most. You can have the most supportive family, but the sadness of your new life seems to consume you and nothing else matters.
Lack Of Sleep
Everyone warns you that “You better get rest now before the baby comes.” But the lack of sleep that you feel at least in the first month is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Since I breastfed Elise she ate every 2-3 hours. Elise took a good 45 minutes to eat. By the time I burped her and changed her I was at about an hour and 10 minutes. When I finally got her to sleep it was literally time to feed her again. I distinctly remember dreading to see the sunset, because when you get an hour or so of sleep the night drags on and it feels like time slows down.
I think the toughest thing about being a new mom and experiencing these feelings is that you feel like this is your new reality. It feels like you are in a tunnel and you don’t see the light at the end. I promise it isn’t the end. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You have to know you will get there and if at any point you begin to feel extreme sadness, hopelessness, scared, or overwhelmed please tell someone and get some help. There is no reason to “wait it out” or have to go through it alone.
Have you ever experienced postpartum depression? If so, please share your story, so that others will know that they are not alone.