Postpartum depression (PPD) can occur at anytime in a women’s life after she has a baby. Feelings of anxiety, worthlessness, stress, anger, and sadness may appear slowly, or all at once. It is more intense than the “baby blues” that normally resolves itself within a few days. CDC research shows that nationally, about 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression, but can be as high as 1 in 5 women in some states. Although it is very common, it isn’t talked about as much as it should be and most of the time women can feel helpless and alone. While I did not suffer from postpartum depression, I have so many friends who struggled with it.
I am so grateful to have 3 of my incredibly strong, brave and beautiful friends and fellow Mom’s, on the blog today sharing their stories about their struggles with Postpartum depression (PPD) and how they got to the place they are now. I cannot thank them enough for sharing their stories and opening up to help end the stigma and normalize it.
Remember that you are never alone Mama’s and together we are stronger! Don’t ever be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
First up is Olivia, mom to 2 beautiful girls and here is her story:
“I kept telling myself after my 2nd daughter, Harper, was born that what I was feeling must be normal. After all, what happened after she was born was completely unexpected. She was both with a severe airway defect (which we had no idea anything was wrong while I was pregnant) causing her to undergo a 7 hour surgery at 12 days old and a month long hospital stay. While we were in the hospital with her, it was pure survival mode. I lost track of what day it was, time didn’t really matter and I completely forgot there was world functioning outside the walls of the hospital.
When we were finally able to go home, my daughter was on oxygen 24/7 and fed through a g-tube. Her airway issues made it unsafe for her to breastfeed or take a bottle. Our older daughter was 3 1/2 at the time and our situation was not at all what she pictured it would be like to have a baby sister. Harper was constantly hooked up to cords and tubes making it nearly impossible to strap her into her car seat or even carry her from one room to the next.
I was scared, I was overwhelmed, my thoughts were irrational and I kept telling myself this had to be “normal”, but deep down I knew I didn’t feel myself. Leaving the house became very hard, and when we finally would the looks and comments from strangers just made me want to go home. I began to doubt myself because the pictures I was taking of Harper didn’t look like the ones my friends and family who had babies all around the same time as me looked. The milestones we were celebrating were so different than most and the constant comparing became toxic.
I finally came to the realization that I needed help. I found a therapist in my area that specialized in Postpartum Depression & Postpartum Anxiety and it became my saving grace. It was the first time through this experience that I heard terms like “PTSD” and “trauma”. She helped me realize what feelings were normal and what was my postpartum anxiety. I finally didn’t feel like a failure, I stopped comparing my life to the ones I saw on social media, and I became a better mom and wife when I finally made the decision to get help. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
If you are a new mom trying to decide if this is more than the “baby-blues” or a mom who is thinking to herself “I didn’t feel like this with my last baby” go get help. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, you’re not a bad mom, and it is absolutely the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby. “
Next is Emily, mom to 2 handsome boys and here is her story:
“Having a baby is one of the happiest times in life, but it can also be one of the saddest.
Most of us are aware of the term "Baby Blues" which refers to the hormonal changes that you may experience in the days after having a baby, they can be weeping, anxiety, anger, and sadness. We've all been told this is normal and should go away in a few days...
Except sometimes, these symptoms don't go away, they linger and make us feel depressed and more alone that you can ever express. As a new mom, the last thing you want to do is think about postpartum depression while you're holding your new bundle of joy, a lot of times we ignore the signs and symptoms with the hopes that they will go away on their own. I do not have a history of depression or anxiety but i did suffer from postpartum depression with both of my children and one of the main points i want to get across in all of this is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE, YOUR LIFE MATTERS, and YOU’RE DOING A WONDERFUL JOB MAMMA !!
October 19th, 2015 is the day I became a mother for the first time!! It was one of the craziest most wonderful days of my life and I will never forget the moment I first laid eyes on my son Liam. I also never realized the bond we would share and man is it wonderful.
The days following his birth weren't too bad. I was feeling nervous and jittery about being a new mom, but i also slightly felt accomplished if i had gotten a shower or successfully kept the baby alive all day! LOL.. I did everything by the book and treated him like he was more fragile than a china doll..
My husband was deployed at the time and so being a one man show was not exactly what i would call fun. The nights and days were long and grueling and trying to adjust to a new baby on little sleep without a partner to trade off with is so hard and i commend anyone who ever has to do it. The days seemed to drag and we both got very little sleep, but i still persisted, i would figure out this motherhood thing if it was the last thing i did!
Most days I was weepy and short but occasionally i felt fine. Around 5 weeks PPD, after i exploded emotion all over my mom, she kindly told me that i was not acting like myself and that i should talk to my doctor because postpartum was a real thing and she had also struggled with it. I'm not going to lie, even tho her words were kind i did not receive it well at all and was pretty offended. How dare she accuse me of being depressed ?? I'm literally fine and i am doing a wonderful job!! I had a pitty me kind of "kick me while i'm down" attitude. While all of that was true, i was working my butt off and trying my hardest to hold it all together and raise a child alone while my husband was gone. I had lost who i was, i lost smiling, and laughing and feeling "normal". Instead my days were filled with keeping my baby happy and alive, while i slowly dwindled away and my head filled with loneliness and depression, i broke down in tears a lot more than i would like to admit, and i pulled away from people because it was easier than showing the brokenness that I felt.
My mom’s words had been laying heavy on my heart so at my 6 week visit I told my dr I really hadn’t been feeling 100% like myself, she was very encouraging that it was normal and that medication May help. It definitely did !!! I felt like a new person and felt like I was seeing motherhood through new eyes.
The months that followed were amazing, and I truly was enjoying mom life !! When Liam was 6 months old (per drs instruction) I decided to discontinue use of my depression medication, I was feeling great and on a good routine with my life. At first it was great and I continued to feel normal, but that feeling started to dwindle and was quickly replaced by feelings of loneliness and depression. We had also moved to a new area and friends were hard to come by. I found myself feeling very isolated and alone .
The coming weeks proved to be very trying emotionally and physically, I was exhausted and emotionally drained all the way around. That’s when I was surprised to find out we were expecting our second child Sawyer. One day in particular I was feeling very isolated and alone and extremely suicidal (which had been happening more frequently), I contacted my new dr and explained to the nurse how I felt. Thankfully they worked quickly to help me continue my medication throughout my pregnancy (which helped tremendously).
The weeks following the birth of Sawyer were difficult, 2 boys under 2 is a interesting kind of madness lol. I quickly felt those feelings of depression creep in, but I now knew what to look for. I also didn’t feel ashamed to talk about it or ask for help !! Too many people suffer in silence, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to !! Postpartum depression affects many women, in all different ways but YOU ARE NEVER ALONE, YOUR FAMILY NEEDS YOU, and YOU ARE LOVED ! Too many women don’t speak up, whether it’s shame, embarrassment, or pride holding you back you can be the best mother, and you should never suffer in silence.. It is ok to not feel ok !! I know one of my biggest fears going into Medication was the thought that I might need it for the rest of my life to feel normal .. I’m now 2 years PPD and medication free living the best life I know how to. I genuinely wake up every day and love life. So should you !! “
Last but not least, Liz, mom to a beautiful little girl and here is her story:
“I imagined this would be different. The uncontrollable happy tears, the instant connection, that warm fuzzy feeling when you see tiny socks and onesies. I wanted to feel the commercialized concepts of motherhood. I wanted to feel what I assumed would just “happen” after sharing a physical bond for 9 months—I wanted feel like her mother.
“After having 4 miscarriages and being told by multiple doctors since age 15 that I will always have chronic pain and difficult pregnancies, I believed I would never be a mother. So after discussing it for years, my husband and I started therapy to cope with this and scheduled a hysterectomy (removal of uterus and both ovaries) for stage 4 endometriosis.
So you can imagine my shock when I was scrubbed in for a hystoscopy, but was sent home because I was 6 weeks pregnant. At this time, however, I was filled with doubt and assumed my weakened uterus would not be able to house her safely into the world. So, I choose to ignore it.
I didn’t believe this pregnancy would “last” so that’s how I viewed it. I refused to accept the reality of the situation because each failed pregnancy ended painfully. Instead, I wore baggy clothes, barley shared the news with anyone, and internally denied the idea that I would actually be a mother soon.
So, once she was actually here, there were a series of emotional rollercoasters, to say the least. I haven’t had the most instinctual reactions to her cries or poopy diapers. Haven’t had the ability to breastfeed for a full year, or even 6 months. Haven’t meticulously documented her monthly accomplishments or recorded her first steps. I always wondered when I would start to like the idea of motherhood more and hate my reality less. I felt guilty even thinking that at one point, but I won't hold back because there might be someone reading this that needs to hear it more than I need to write it.
For her first year of life (yes it can last up to a year), I struggled with severe postpartum depression, and at one point, I made specific plans of how I would end my life. And at the risk of sounding melodramatic, I can honestly say that finding my leisure outlet and positive distraction is what saved my life. Title Boxing saved my life; in more ways than one. Not only did I meet some of my best friends in the members and trainers, but there were days it was the only reason I got out of bed.
It provided a euphoric adrenaline rush and endorphin release and soon became my perfect escape; it was the one hour a day where I didn't have to worry about the fear of failure or internal judgment. It was one of the only ways I was able to pull myself out of a very dark and scary place.
Now, three years later, here I am. Absolutely in love with motherhood. Absolutely in love with her. Absolutely in love with me. Finally. I made it, we made it. It does get better, I promise you that.
Her curious eyes and bright smiles have made the intensity of persisting pain softer. She has made my soul stronger. But it didn’t happen overnight. My best piece of advice? Find your vice, find your self-care and positive outlet, and use it. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. As often as you need. I have found that most times, just talking about it helps. Normalize the abnormal. We all have to start somewhere. Baby steps.
Special thank you to Taylor, my dear friend, trainer, and fellow kickass mama, who helped me strengthen my physical abilities when I felt emotionally weak. Thank you for letting me share my story.
Do you feel like you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression or know someone that is?
From WebMD They share 8 Things to watch for to determine if you have Postpartum Depression (PPD):
Your “baby blues” don’t get better. It’s common to have a dip in mood during your baby’s first 2 weeks. After that, you should feel better. But if you’re still sad or even hopeless weeks later, and the feelings are growing intense, that’s more than the blues.
Sadness or guilt consume your thoughts. Feeling upset once in a while is normal. But if you have frequent crying spells, or you often feel unhappy about being a parent, or you’re often "down on yourself" as a mom, these may be among the first signs of postpartum depression.
You lose interest in things you enjoy. Are you laughing at your favorite romantic comedy? Are you interested in being affectionate with your partner? What about your favorite foods? Are you enjoying them? Are you eating at all? If you said no, talk to your doctor about these changes in mood and habits.
You have trouble making decisions. Maybe you’re too tired to think straight. Maybe you just don’t care. If you can’t decide whether or not to get out of bed, take a shower, change your baby’s diaper, or take her for a walk, these may be early signs of postpartum depression.
You worry you won’t be a good mom. Who hasn’t worried about this? It’s common among moms whose babies are sick or premature, or were born with special needs. But if this is not your situation, then having constant doubts about yourself as a mother could mean something else.
Your sleep patterns have changed. Of course they have. You have a baby! But if you can’t even rest when your child is napping, or you’re sleeping all the time, that’s likely something other than a new sleeppattern.
You’ve had big, stressful changes in your life. Maybe you’ve been fighting with your partner, or your family isn’t helping you care for your baby. Perhaps someone you loved died a short time ago. Stressful events like these can worsen your sadness and trigger postpartum depression.
You think about harming yourself. Thoughts of suicide, or hurting yourself or your baby, are advanced signs of postpartum depression and even postpartum psychosis, a rare and serious mental illness that happens with postpartum depression. If you’re having any kind of suicidal thoughts, you’re in crisis and need to call your doctor or
the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 immediately to get help.
A huge shout out to these incredibly strong Mama’s for sharing their unique journey’s with Postpartum depression. I am so thankful to have them in my lives and I hope you all can help spread awareness of PPD and that women know they are never alone in their struggles!