Postpartum Depression Hurts: A First Time Mom's Battle

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When L.E. was born, I immediately fell in love with her. Less than two hours later, she was diagnosed with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip. (Read more about L.E.’s DDH here.) I don’t want to say that this abnormality affected my infatuation with her but it definitely affected my mentality. My whole life, I had self-esteem issues. And now I’d given birth to a baby who was less than perfect. Couldn’t I do anything right?

Checking Baby
Credit: nellyy.

The next few days were crazy, as those first days of parenthood can be. L.E. had problems latching on so I ended up pumping with a hospital-grade rented pump. She was outfitted with a horrific brace to keep her hips in place. She wouldn’t sleep more than an hour or two at a time. She cried constantly and I had no idea what to do.

After T went back to work, I was trapped in a tiny, cold house with only a rented breast pump and a screaming newborn.

I never felt more alone and scared. The thoughts going through my head were a laundry list of self-loathing: I wasn’t cut out for this. L.E. and T. both deserved better than me. I was such a burden to them. I was worthless. I was helpless. I can’t even provide breastmilk. I felt as though the walls were closing in on me and I had no escape. I visualized jumping out the bathroom window in the middle of the night and running away. I contemplated taking an entire bottle of post-surgery Vicodin.

I needed real help.

Luckily, my doctor knew exactly what I was going through. He offered me several suggestions. Step one was to go back on birth control, which meant quitting breastfeeding. Step two was go back to my therapist. And step three was getting back on an anti-depressant. Despite the post-nursing guilt, all three of these were exactly what I needed to begin to feel better.

Around week ten, the sun started to shine after a long, grey stretch of winter. L.E. smiled at me while I was changing her diaper. She reached up her hand and touched my cheek. It was the first time she ever really looked at me like she knew I was her mom and not just some random lady.

It was the first positive step on the long road to recovery.

Postpartum depression affects more women than you realize. New moms are often left feeling overwhelmed and sad. Couple that with sleep-deprivation, and you have a recipe for a depression disaster.

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