For the first 3 months postpartum, every morning when I opened my eyes I was consumed by fear and sadness. I was scared that I would have to go through another entirely new day full of the unexpected. Would my son cry a lot today? Would he feed okay? Would he want to be held for most of the day? There were too many unknowns and I had no idea what to expect. It was unfamiliar territory and it made me feel very vulnerable. Waking up in the morning was a challenge, and I hated it. I would wake up and have a panic attack. And if I am completely transparent, I wasn’t a single mom, I had a lot of support, but there was something in my head that kept telling me I wasn’t good enough. That I was somehow going to mess this all up. That my son would need something, and I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to help him. I just wanted him to be okay, and because of this, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I felt I had to be perfect, so that he would happy.
I became a very anxious person. I never understood the power anxiety could have over a person until I experienced it myself, and boy was it an awful feeling.
But when he turned 3 months, its like something changed in our relationship. Its like we started to connect. Perhaps it’s because I started to speak to people about my struggle. But for the first time, I felt like I was actually starting to bond with my son. When we locked eyes, I felt like I could take care of him.
Make no mistake, I was still very very far from feeling confident in my parenting skills, but I was starting to build a support system to help me through some of my concerns.
I also stopped Googling for “help”. Whenever I wanted to understand a behavior my son’s exuded, or a solution to help him with a struggle like gas, I would Google. I found that Google left me confused and it stressed me out. There were so many solutions, I became overwhelmed. So, with the guidance of a doctor, I decided to stop.
Best. Decision. Ever.
When I started to slowly trust my own instincts and to reach out to people I knew, instead of a comment wall, I started to feel more confident in my own skills. If a solution didn’t work, I could reach out to the people who initially guided me and say “hey that didn’t work, got another idea?”. The open dialogue helped me work through my anxiety.
I still suffer from anxiety today – but I feel like I have the tools to work through it, and with time, I hope that I can overcome it.
Sitting in the doctor’s office, I felt nervous. I started to think, why did the CAS lady think I had postpartum depression? I did a quick google search, “symptoms of postpartum depression”.
Depressed mood (subjective or observed); be irritable mood in children and adolescents, most of the day; YES – My husband would agree that I wasn’t a pleasure to be around.
Loss of interest or pleasure, most of the day – YES – I was sad for about 75% of the day.
Change in weight or appetite. – YES – I had lost weight, I just had a baby. But other than that I was eating okay.
Insomnia or hypersomnia; – YES – Oh I definitely had hypersomnia. I wanted to sleep every chance I got. Some would argue that this was a side effect of being a new mom. But I didn’t feel physically exhausted. I felt mentally exhausted all of the time.
Psychomotor retardation or agitation (observed); NO?- I wasn’t sure what this point meant, someone else would need to confirm this one for me
Loss of energy or fatigue; – YES – I was very tired.
Worthlessness or guilt; – YES – I had a really bad case of mom guilt. I didn’t get to feed my child, I didn’t want to hold him for too long after he was born.
Impaired concentration or indecisiveness; – YES – I could not make a decision. Normally, I have a very decisive person. I made decisions very quickly. But lately, I would get overwhelmed and confused very quickly.
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation or attempt. – NO – I didn’t have these thoughts, but I did want to run away and hide under a mountain of blankets.
was surprised at how many times I had checked the “yes” box, but I was relieved
to learn that I wasn’t alone.
Perhaps having child protective services called was a blessing in disguise?
When the doctor finally made his way into the examination room, I felt a lot
more comfortable in speaking with him. I was very candid about how I was
feeling, and for the first time, I had a full-on meltdown. Yes I’ll admit it, I
did the ugly Kim Kardashian cry.
I was a mess, and I needed help.
But I have a great doctor. He assured me that having postpartum depression is
more common than people think, and that there are so many people who aren’t
diagnosed. Contrary to popular belief, you can be diagnosed with postpartum
depression up to 3 years after having a baby. Yes, you read that correctly – THREE
I was shocked.
or more out of symptoms listed above nearly everyday in the same 2-week period
is a flag to get help, and boy did I need the help!
My doctor referred me to a psychiatric and social worker – and just like that I
was officially in the system.
After a couple of days in the hospital it was time to come home. I was looking forward to the familiarity of my home. I had just completed a huge renovation project on the house and it finally looked the way I had envisioned when we first bought the house.
But coming home, I still felt empty.
My mum was staying with me for the first five weeks of being home. In our culture, you either go and stay with your parents for five weeks or your mother comes and stays with you. And those first few weeks were amazing.
But then came five weeks plus a day and I was home alone with just the baby. I was scared. I didn’t feel confident taking care of this little human being. I didn’t even feel confident in taking care of myself. I was a mess and I spent the entire day in tears.
In my time of desperation, I remembered that there was a support line I could call for help, and I called. Little did I realize that they wouldn’t care about my well-being, instead their concern was “if I would harm my child”.
Enter Child Protective Services.
Keep in mind that harming my son had never even crossed my mind. I explained to the nurse on the phone that I just wanted to run away. How that translates into harming my child is beyond me. But that evening I had a visitor from child protective services. I was scared. Are they going to take my child? What did I do wrong? My son was fed. I changed his diapers. And when my husband came home from work he would bathe him. My son was taken care of. That wasn’t the problem. The issue was my mental state. I was sad. I wasn’t confident. I felt lost. I felt very vulnerable. I felt that I could crumble at any minute.
Nevertheless, the lady from Child Protective Services was coming in the evening, and I had to prepare for the unknown. Its safe to the say the visit from Child Protective Services was a success. The lady asked to see where my son slept, and I showed her the bassinet and then the crib that was already set up in the nursery for when he got older. I showed her his toys, his clean clothes and his changing table. She didn’t understand why she was called to my house. I explained my mental state and she advised me to go see my family doctor to discuss post-partum depression.
PS – My mum also started coming to my house during the day to help me. She’s my superhero!
I had a plan. I was
going to get pregnant, and it was going to be the flowers and butterflies’
type of experience.
The experience was a nightmare plagued with gestational diabetes and nausea until the very end. Between popping pills to control the vomiting, pricking myself with needles to check my blood sugars and stabbing myself with insulin needles, it was safe to say I hated the world! As the Brits would say – I was a miserable cow!
My labour would go smoothly.
33 hours of vomiting and pain. Everyone said “take the Epidural – it will be great! It will disguise the pain”. They didn’t tell me that it would make me throw up! Maybe I was one of the unlucky few. Even having ice chips made me throw up. Labour was a rough experience. After it was all over, I was mentally and physically exhausted. When the nurse finally placed my son in my arms, I wanted to be as far away from him as possible. Skin to skin wasn’t even an option. My husband took over. My husband was also the first one to feed my son, and although I had only been a mother for about 2 hours – I felt like a failure.
Make no mistake. I loved my son, but I felt as though I had lost who I was. And without even realizing it, I started feeling the pressure of the mom shamers. In my mind, I could hear them saying “You didn’t want to hold your kid? You didn’t feed your kid?”. While the normal me would respond with “No I fucking didn’t – move on with your life”, the current me – that I didn’t even recognize, wanted to crawl into a small black hole and hide.
I was very sad and I felt alone. I felt like no one understood how I felt. I was supposed to be happy and excited about this gift I had receive, and I was. But something was missing. I felt like an empty shell.