I had read about postpartum depression when I was pregnant and I was afraid it could happen to me. None of my family members have a history of mental illness (none that I know of!) but it’s still scary to read the stories of women who got through this and the, sometimes, disastrous results. I wanted placenta encapsulation because I had read that can help with the postpartum hormonal roller coaster ride, especially when the menstrual monster, I mean, your menstrual cycle, returns. But that was out of our budget so I thought, maybe next time.
Dominic was born on September 11, 2015 at 8:13pm and he was more than perfect! I wanted skin-to-skin contact immediately and desperately tried to move all of the cords out of the way and get my bra off so I could have nothing between us. I didn’t even care that I was butt naked! They had all seen my hoo-ha in action anyways! Dominic nursed within 20 minutes and he nursed like he had done it all his life. I know postpartum depression is due to the drastic hormonal changes we experience after the birth of our child but I couldn’t imagine not loving this little guy.
Yes, I had my rough days during the newborn period. I mean, who doesn’t? I questioned whether I was a good mom for our little boy and hated myself when I couldn’t figure out why he was crying. People talked about the different cries their baby had but I couldn’t differentiate them (yet!). But those rough newborn days are for another story.
So, let’s get to my menstrual cycle. Fun. (Sarcasm evident). I got my period 9 months postpartum. I was so ready for the worse period ever. People had warned me of the terrible cramping, the heavy bleeding, and just the general crappiness of it all (is that a word? For this, yes!). I got my period for 3 days, my usual pre-pregnancy length, cramping was little to none (but a natural birth with tons of back labor may contribute to my pain tolerance now!), and the bleeding was the same as pre-pregnancy. It wasn’t too bad at all. I felt like one of the lucky ones. But days before my period, during my period, and even after my period, I was depressed, very moody, and exhausted. I had never experienced those issues when I had my period. Yes, I was moody and tired but never to this extent. I would feel like crying all the time. Over the littlest things. And my poor, poor husband. He took the brunt of it all.
I didn’t feel a lack of affection to Dominic. Not in the least. But I didn’t want to interact with him as much. It may have been the headaches and exhaustion but I just didn’t feel like me. A feeling I knew all too well when I was pregnant. Another story to save for later. So, I thought, could this be postpartum depression? I mean, I had only read stories of women wanting to hurt their children or the major depressive episodes but never anything similar to what I was experiencing. I am also still nursing Dominic so I knew that played a factor in my hormones gone awry whilst on my period.
I began researching postpartum depression while breastfeeding. I immediately found articles and bloggers writing about postpartum depression but it was right after delivery or a few months postpartum. Nothing going as far as a year postpartum. So, I just attributed my feelings to period problems and stopped researching it. But every month I would feel the same way again. Finally, this month, was the worse I ever felt. I felt completely depressed for an entire day and I even had to put Dominic in his crib because he was crying after me (active crawler here!) and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I put him in his crib, went to our room, and put a pillow over my head. He wasn’t screaming but definitely crying. I felt awful. I hadn’t done something similar to that since the newborn phase. I wanted to cry but I was also angry at myself, at Dominic for being so cranky, and my husband for not being home from work yet. I was just feeling all kinds of emotions! The next day, I was determined to find answers. I hated feeling that way and wanted to fix it ASAP!
So, here is what I found.
- There are different types of postpartum mood disorders. I’ve read about postpartum blues, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum psychosis. About 50-80% of women experience postpartum blues which occurs in the first 2 weeks after the baby is born. In postpartum depression, those symptoms last longer and are more intense. Postpartum anxiety involves more anxious thoughts. And postpartum psychosis involves the stories of women hearing things others do not hear, hearing voices, etc.
- I definitely had postpartum blues. I had intense mood swings, going from being really happy to angry to really sad. And, I cried…ALOT. Usually out of sadness but I had no idea why I would feel sad all of a sudden. Postpartum blues occurs in the first 2 weeks or so of having a baby and then they go away. They are caused by the sudden drop in hormones after we have the baby.
- Postpartum depression can happen weeks later or even a year postpartum. Many times, women have postpartum depression but don’t realize it until much later so they think they can’t have it because it has been so long. Some symptoms of PPD are sadness, fatigue, irritability, low energy, feelings of being overwhelmed, low libido, and changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns. Women may have some or all of these symptoms and they don’t go away. These symptoms also vary in severity.
And as I wrote this post, I burst into tears and had to stop writing. I’ve been having some of these symptoms on and off for months. There are good days and bad days. But I always chalk it up to something else. Work, stress, or a cranky baby. But that’s just not the case. I told my husband that I never feel distant from Dominic so I guess I felt part of PPD would be to feel some type of distance or even resentment for you child. But that’s not true. Postpartum depression comes in many forms.
I am currently looking into natural ways of handling this since I am already on medication for my allergies and stomach issues. I hate being on medication as it is. But, I feel better now that my husband knows what is going on and understands why some days I’m great and other days I’m irritable and crying for no reason at all. I’m also going to see my ob/gyn about this although I would prefer more natural types intervention. I’ll be posting updates on the blog.
If you are going through this, just know you are not alone. Please reach out to someone, anyone, even me, if you feel like you may have PPD or even just the baby blues. This is something women just don’t talk about in our society and I get it. I too felt I couldn’t talk about it because I felt I would be judged.
Leave me a comment below if you’ve had the baby blues or any type of postpartum mood disorder, no matter how severe it is. Also, let me know what course of action you have taken to remedy your postpartum mood disorder.
Postpartum mood disorder support: http://www.postpartum.net