PPD (the bitch)
I have an awful lot to say on this topic, so get your butt ready for the long haul.
I didn’t know much about PPD. I’m not into researching things – and my OB never really talked to me about it. The only information I had was a piece of paper they gave me in the hospital, that told me if I was feeling sad it was normal, if I was feeling homicidal, to call the Dr. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point.
I was very emotional when we got home. But, it wasn’t the type of emotion you’d expect a new Mom to have. There was no happiness, no sense of accomplishment. I wanted to sleep for about 24 hours, and when I woke up, I wanted that kid gone.
That may sound harsh, but I promised honesty.
Every woman experiences PPD differently. There is no handbook on it, no certain way that you’ll be guaranteed to feel. I didn’t know I had PPD. I thought that something was lacking in me as a Mother. How could I not look at this baby and just go to goo inside? Why do I not want to hold her all day, every day? The very thought of being alone with her gave me anxiety attacks. It wasn’t that I was afraid she would cry and I wouldn’t know what to do, or I was going to hurt her or anything. I just wanted someone there with me all the time. They didn’t have to help take care of her, I just needed them to be there. Looking back, I can say with complete honesty that I took very good care of her. Her needs were met, she was fed, changed, bathed, cared for. But, I did it because that is what needed to be done. I got no enjoyment out of it, out of her.
A part of me was jealous that she was getting all this attention. People would come over to see her. I felt like no one gave a shit that I hurt, inside and out. That I was tired, or hungry or anything. Everything was about her. Being a selfish person, this was hard to deal with.
When Abel went back to work, it was just her and I. I would cry every morning after he left. I would count the hours until he came home for lunch, then cry when he left again. I remember once, she was hungry and screaming. I was heating her bottle and I was thinking, “she can make 30 seconds feel like 20 years!”. I hated that I couldn’t just leave. I packed my bags and hit the road so many times in my mind. You know what made me stay? Not this precious little girl I had brought into the world – it was my love for Abel. I didn’t want to leave him. If not for him, I honestly don’t know that I would have survived this. But, if you look at it another way……….If not for him, I wouldn’t BE IN THIS!
One day, Abel offered to give me a break. He took the baby to work for a few hours so I could have lunch with friends. I remember driving down the road, wanting so badly to cross that double yellow line and stop the pain I was feeling. It would have been so easy. I saw it in my mind. It would all just stop. It was real, physical pain. I cried after that. I cried for the person I had lost somewhere on that road.
A week or so after the road incident, we took Poopy to the Dr. For a check up. They gave her a shot and she was PISSED. She was screaming in the car, wouldn’t stop. I completely broke down. I was crying, telling Abel that I didn’t want to do this anymore. When we got home, he sat me down. He started to cry, telling me he didn’t know me anymore. He wanted to know where the woman he fell in love with was, where was the person that listened to our daughters heart-beat with our home Doppler every night, to make sure she was okay?
That’s when I put my big girl panties on and decided to get some help. My depression was one thing if it made me crazy, but it was entirely another if it was effecting someone I loved.
I called my GP under the guise of getting my knee checked out. As he was examining my knee, I casually mentioned that I thought I might have PPD. He suggested that I talk to my OB about it. This disappointed me to no end. Medical professionals are supposed to be there to help. Do you know what it took for me to broach the subject in the first place? It was one of the hardest things to get out of my mouth.
At my 6 week check up, I cried in my OB’s office and told her that I was depressed. She asked if I was taking care of Poopy, if her needs were being met. I answered yes. She told me that Motherhood was hard, and that things would be okay. As long as I took care of my daughter, and I had no desire to harm her, I didn’t need to be on medication.
What a crock of shit. Strike two.
I feel now that I was failed by my OB. I continued to live with my PPD for several months. Just because I didn’t want to hurt my kid, I didn’t need to be on meds? What kind of bullshit is that? I was reaching out, spilling my guts and look where it got me. I have always prided myself on my strength. I put that aside and admitted that I needed help. I was let down by someone I trusted.
By now, I felt it was wisest to keep my feelings to myself. I started back at work, and the time away helped. But, I still wasn’t better. I knew in my bones that something was wrong with me. I didn’t laugh, didn’t get pleasure out of things that I normally loved. I wasn’t much fun to be around either, I’m sure. Then, my whole world fell apart when we found out my un-born niece had Trisomy 13 and she wasn’t going to make it. She deserves an entry all of her own, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
I had my feeling under control, but I wasn’t “better”. I still cried a lot, and had anxiety about being alone with my daughter. I was slowly adjusting to Motherhood, but it was a bumpy road.
Enter Maryann. One of my best friends. Someone I have a great amount of respect and admiration for. I love her. She was able to see through my front of everything being fine to what was really happening to me. She is my internet stalker and the one who finally made me go to the Dr. Again. I went to my GP – not mentioning the words PPD. I told him that my life was simply too much for me to handle and I needed help to get back on even footing. He prescribed Effexor. This was November. My stubborn ass didn’t start taking it until February. I have a complex about depression medications. I didn’t feel like I needed them. I was strong enough, wasn’t I? I didn’t think other people who were on them to be weak – but I was stronger than most. I could get “over” this.
There is no getting over PPD. You need help. This isn’t something that is lacking in you, something you did wrong. It’s something that WILL go away – if you get on the damn meds. So many women experience it – just open your mouth, start talking about it. You’d be amazed at just how many women feel similar.
As if feeling all of this weren’t enough, there is such a stigma on PPD. Verbalizing how you feel can be so hard. Then, if you’re talking to someone who has never been through it, they honestly look at you like you’re insane. That’s just what you need! I know they don’t mean to, and they probably don’t realize they are even doing it. It hurts though. I think every time someone looked at me like that, a little part of me died. I wanted someone to look at me and understand. To hold me and tell me things were going to be okay. That’s what Maryann did for me, over the WWW, but it meant more than she’ll ever know. She saved me.
Another part of PPD is the guilt. You have all of these awful feelings inside of you, with no where to put them and no way to cope with or rationalize them. Then the guilt comes. You wonder if part of you is missing – the Mommy part. You wonder why you feel the way you do. You feel guilt when you look at your child and feel virtually nothing. There are all these expectations put on you as a new Mom. Some are from society, some from yourself, some from well meaning family and friends. If you fall even an inch short on those expectations, there must be something wrong with you. People would look at my daughter with awe on their face, thinking she hung the moon. I didn’t – not even close, so there is something wrong with me. You see commercials for formula and these new Mom’s are looking at their child with wonder. Or you hear, “isn’t being a Mom great??”. NO – I wanted to scream. It sucks. I want to sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch. I want to watch TV, or eat, or whatever!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t want this responsibility. I don’t want this guilt.
I was lucky in the fact that I am close with my family. I was able to talk to my Mom and sister about it whenever I needed to. They listened. And though they didn’t know how to help me (no one did), they never once made me feel bad about anything I felt. They told me time and time again that whatever I was feeling was okay. My parents would take Poopy for the weekend anytime I needed a break.
After I started the meds, I talked about my PPD experience with everyone and anyone. I was very vocal about it. I wanted people to know that I was normal – that PPD is normal. If ONE person heard me, decided to get help, it’s worth the strange looks I got. I’m a very open person. This isn’t some dirty secret that I should carry around. I think that talking about it helped in my healing process. This is a very real, very serious, very scary thing – but it’s not anything any woman should ever be ashamed of.
I am on the road to recovery. Some days are better than others. I’m still taking my meds. I’m still healing, letting go of some of my guilt from my guilt-vault.