I have thought for a while about sharing this. But something has always held me back. Maybe I am embarrassed, feel like it makes me a bad mom, afraid of what people will say or think. The reasons are endless. But, one comment from a dear friend has made me think I need to share this...She told me that she firmly believes more mothers than we will ever know suffer from this - but are too afraid to admit to it, or to talk about it - but if we would talk about it, then we could heal - together.
So, I decided I would start by drawing a circle around myself. I had to come to terms with this aspect of my life. As much as I would like for everything to be butterflies, every now and then we have to man up and deal with real life issues. And this has become mine - but I will beat it.
When Fisher was about 5 months old, I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression. Most people who know me would have no idea I was suffering from PPD. Actually, outside of my immediate family, only 2 of my absolute closest friends were aware I was dealing with this. I became quite amazing at putting on a happy face - I do not like to deal with problems, so I am known for pretending like they do not exist until so much piles up on me that I have a complete meltdown. I mean meltdown. I lose it....just ask Tanner : )
Let's back this up...
I have always wanted to be a mom. And I knew I wanted to be a young wife and mother. Of course, me just being me, have had everything in my life planned to a T since I was a little girl. (Including who I was going to marry.) Well, I have gotten everything I have hoped for...just with a little twist. I dated Tanner on and off through highschool and college (oohhh there were many bumps along that road - but every single one was worth it). We were engaged my Senior year of college, and married after graduation. We built our dream house - a cottage, just like I always wanted. And, just like I planned, we were married for 2 years before getting pregnant. Of course, I wanted an October baby, so I planned to get pregnant in February. And I did.
I have always had views on how I would be pregnant and how I would mother. I would not say I am Mrs. All Natural Organic over here, but I definitely have some of those tendencies and views (some would stretch to call me a "Do Gooder"). I would be open with my pregnant belly (which I was), I would focus on connecting with and feeling the baby inside of me (and I did), I would have my own views and hold strong to them while not looking down or giving into other women's views on their pregnancies. I did not drink any caffeine during my first trimester, I never had anything with artificial sweeteners, I watched what I ate and avoided processed foods, I exercised, kept a journal, and took weekly pictures of my growing belly. (I really loved being pregnant and secretly miss it...a lot.) We attended all the necessary parenting classes - including a Lamaze course.
I would have a completely natural delivery - minimal medical interference and no drugs. I would not go as far as having a home delivery - I did want to be in a hospital - but I wanted it to be as natural as possible. No IV, no Pitocin - just me and Tanner, select immediate family, and a laboring ball. I would have immediate skin to skin contact and would nurse exclusively - hopefully for the entire first year.
There was no backup plan. My worst case scenario was an epidural.
Well, to avoid the longest story of your life, I suggest reading Fisher's birth story - and you will find out how absolutely nothing went to plan.
Even today, 15 months later, it is still hard for me to explain how devastated I was. I quickly got over having a C-section and an epidural. But, I still have a hard time coming to grips that I will never experience labor, that nursing did not work out for us, that my baby boy was in NICU hooked up to countless tubes.
I finally understand why I have to deal with PPD. I had an extremely traumatic delivery, and an extremely traumatic first 9 days of Fisher's life. It was not what I had spent 25 years planning.
There are several different types of PPD, and I feel like I was "lucky" with my version. I had absolutely no ill will towards Fisher. In fact, he was the only part of my life that I was truly happy with. I was just unhappy with every other aspect of life. I couldn't stand my house, my job, my husband... I was crying every single day - completely unable to deal with everyday life situations.
My husband and my friend (and co-worker at the time) Erin realized what I was dealing with and finally pushed me (quite literally) into the doctor's office. My doctor had no question as to what was happening, and prescribed a mild anti-depressant.
This brought on a whole new wave of depression. Now I was depressed because I was having to take a medicine for depression! I have an absolutely wonderful life, and was still depressed - something had to be wrong with me. Looking back, I know I was more concerned with what people would think of me rather than resolving my problem and saving my family (and myself) heartache.
Eventually, I got used to taking the medicine (with some serious pressure from my hubs), and was able to piece my life back together. I am not a big fan of medicine, and I know there are plenty of other methods for dealing with PPD, but this worked best for me at the time.
I refuse to believe that I will be taking this anti-depressant for the rest of my life, and am currently taking the necessary steps to ween myself off the medicine. I know I am strong enough to deal with everyday life, and I see all the blessings that fill my days.
The hardest part of PPD is realizing and admitting you have it. Then, it's even harder to realize that it is okay, and that it doesn't make you a bad person or mother. It is okay to ask for help. And most importantly, it is okay that having a child will not go to plan. I think that is one of the most beautiful lessons I have learned... I have learned that I can not control everything. That Fisher is his own person, and that I am mine. Parenting is the process of letting go.
Erin - the friend that helped me so much more than she will ever know - sent me this link when I was first dealing with my situation (yes, she is obsessed with Gwen). It is an amazing piece on recognizing and accepting PPD. I hope it will help you as much as it helped me.