Monday, March 16, 2020

I had everything I ever wanted: My Postpartum Depression Story

Post Partum depression photo

I had everything I had ever wanted.  The big house with an in-ground pool, a successful and loving husband, a six-figure career, a beautiful healthy 3-year-old-boy and then it got EVEN BETTER.  I prayed and prayed for a little girl and then I was pregnant with a baby girl.

I had everything I ever wanted.

On October 20th, 2018, I was ready to meet my little miracle that I prayed so hard for.  Finally after an exhausting (but thankfully, healthy) pregnancy, I was having contractions and was going to meet my baby girl.  I was so excited and since I had already went through this once before I was way less scared this time around.  I got this.. I am a mom-warrior.   I've been through this pain before and I am going to hold my baby girl TODAY.  It couldn't get any better.

I had everything I ever wanted.

A healthy baby girl.. she was just perfect!  Breastfeeding went easy.. she latched immediately.  I had always read the struggles of moms who could not breastfeed, who had traumatic births.  Not me, everything went perfectly smooth, breastfeeding was a breeze, she was perfect.  I was so blessed.

quote about post partum depression

I'll never forget the moment when Savannah was sleeping the first night in the little hospital bassinet and I was alone because my husband went to stay at home with my 3 yr old son.  I looked at the hospital walls and looked over at my perfectly healthy baby and all I could think about was how much I missed my son.  That emotion scared me because everyone said, "oh your heart will grow bigger and you will just have room for more love."  Pings of guilt tingled my body and I remember staring at the dark hospital room as if it was closing in on me.  I'm not like those other moms, I thought.  My heart didn't grow bigger... I miss my son.

We took Savannah home and in true Jamie-fashion, I did what I do best, buried my own self-disappointment and powered on.  I had a baby to breastfeed + nurture, a 3-yr-old that missed his Mommy, a husband to love and a high-pressure career to get back to in a few weeks.  I remember going to Savannah's first Dr.'s appointment and filling out a sheet asking if I had thoughts of sadness, if I wanted to hurt myself, etc etc... NOPE, not me... I'm a blessed mother with 2 beautiful children.. no room for sadness.  I did this one before, I can do it again," I coached myself.  That's the thing about running from feelings, we deceive ourselves into "powering on," and I soon realized that my soul was running on a empty tank.

I had been back at work for a few months and truly, I had no time for feelings.  I had too much to do to be sad, disappointed or to even feel at all.  I had breast milk to pump, proposals to do, Lego castles to build, dinner to cook, my baby to hold, laundry to fold, phone calls to make, Dr's appointments to attend, lunches to prepare.

My mind was a bunch of scrolling thoughts rather than feelings: Is my baby eating enough- she's only in the 30th percentile.  Does my son miss me- I'm spending too much time with the baby.  Will I ever lose the baby weight?  Does my boss think I am performing less because I am behind at work.  Will I ever get sleep again.  Am I holding my baby too much?  Am I feeding my son too much junk?  What if I can't keep up at work?  Will I ever get my energy back?  Can I even handle 2 kids?  Will I ever feel normal again?

I was 9 months postpartum and was hanging by a thread. I never wanted to hurt myself or my baby (thankfully because many women suffer from these thoughts as well) but in those sleepless nights, I would finally doze off and wake in frozen terror with an image of my baby suffocating in her pack n play next to me.  These images felt so real and although I would wake up, have coffee, and power on to work, the darkness of those heavy thoughts weighed on my soul.  As much as I tried to run away from my own thoughts, I knew that I couldn't live like that any longer.

 I had everything I had ever wanted. That's the craziest thing about postpartum depression that people cannot fathom.  You literally are juxtaposed with the greatest joy in your entire life yet cannot even experience that joy.  It is like being one number off of hitting the jackpot.  It's so close and SO real but you just cannot touch it.

The moment I came to terms that "I was not OK" was the first process to healing. My husband was so supportive and although he couldn't understand what I was going through, encouraged me to get help.  He drove me to my OB's office and the second I saw my doctor, I started balling.  I sat in his chair and he said, "Do you know how many women have sat in that very chair and broke down?"  It comforted me in a weird way to know I was not alone.   I left there with a prescription and a referral to a therapist and the healing began.  The healing is still happening and my daughter is 15 months!

It has been one of the most challenging things in my life because although I always had a mild anxiety disorder, I had never experienced depression.  It gave me a whole knew sense of mercy for people who experience depression.  The misconception that postpartum depression only happens right after you have the baby is very false as well.  My OB told me that many women can go symptom-free until up to a year!

During this time of mental healing, I found that there is growth in darkness.   A seed must be buried in dirt in order to grow.  Although I suffered pain and hopelessness, I also learned a lot about myself and a lot about what I wanted the next 10 years to look like.  I didn't want to run on empty anymore.  I didn't want to just survive anymore... I wanted to thrive.

I readjusted my priorities in life and committed time to the things that I knew would bring me back to who I really wanted to be.  I started to commit more time for daily prayer, being more open about my feelings, and created a more balanced lifestyle where I can be more present with my family.

If you happen to stumble upon my story of postpartum depression, remember that sometimes you are being planted, not buried.  As mothers, we constantly try to keep our own struggles stifled and sometimes we need help.  Do not be ashamed of what you are going through because many before you have suffered and many ahead of you will as well.  True courage is getting the help you need.  PLEASE reach out to me if you need some guidance-- that is the very first step to getting better!

Ever After,