I had never been diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD) until my third baby. My first two babies definitely brought adjustments, but it was nothing like what I experienced the third time around.
My third pregnancy was rough. I had hyperemesis gravidarum and lost 17 pounds before my second trimester. I had SPD pains, like woah. I spent the last four weeks of pregnancy with weekly visits to labor and delivery for everything ranging from fetal tachycardia to high blood pressure to prodromal labor. Then after birth, my baby spent a few days in the McAllen Medical Center NICU. A night nurse said something to me regarding my inability to produce milk/feed my baby and I just lost it. I don’t even know how to describe the emotional breakdown I had that evening.
I spent the next few weeks feeling inadequate as a mother and a person. I started having panic attacks while driving. My anxiety would lie to me and create these elaborate scenarios of chain reactions like in the movie Final Destination. “What if a bolt pops off my tire, and the tire flies off, and my car spins out of control, and then it rolls off the bridge into the water, and I can’t get my windows open; how will I get my kids out of their seats?” I was feeling constantly worried, constantly irate, constantly exhausted, and quite frankly, I was scared.
Finally, I spoke up and told my husband that something wasn’t right. I was yelling at him, I was yelling at my kids, and then I’d cry from the guilt. I have never wanted to be the kind of mother who yells. I made myself a promise a long time ago, that I would try so hard not be that kind of mother. I knew that something was awry because I didn’t even recognize the voice that was coming out of my mouth.
I was a mess.
I’m now four months postpartum and I can honestly say that it feels good to be on the other side of this hump. I know I’m a better wife and mother now that I have the PPD/PPA under control.
Seven Ways I’m Surviving Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
1. Speaking Up. I had to speak up. I had to tell my husband. I had to tell my midwife. I couldn’t function. I wasn’t okay. I’m so glad I spoke up that day with my husband and with my provider. It’s okay to ask for help.
2. SSRIs. My midwife put me on a low dose of Zoloft a few months ago, and I feel like me again! The stranger who was staring back at me in the mirror is gone.
3. Seeing a therapist. I have seen a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) regularly since birth. I don’t know what it is about talking openly about my fears and frustrations, but it is incredibly cathartic.
4. Staying busy. This seems contradictory, but I cut down on the number of errands I used to run in a week and I’ve been focusing on little projects around the house. We’ve lived in our house a whole year and still didn’t have much furniture. I’ve been trying to stay busy with rearranging rooms one at a time because it makes me happy.
5. Sunshine and seeing friends. This is probably the simplest fix of all. As a SAHM, it’s easy to stay indoors all day except for school pick-up/drop-off. I’ve been trying to combat that daily. I spend a chunk of time outdoors while watching my toddler run out his wiggles. I had been a recluse in my own new mommy world, silent, and alone, and I finally crawled out of my bubble earlier this month. I got to see two friends. I forgot how much I missed friendly, adult conversation.
6. Seeking help for chores. I recently had a company called Super Clean come and deep clean my house. I was so behind on chores and just looking at my house frustrated me. My therapist suggested either help with the kids or help with the cleaning. I was feeling like a terrible wife and mother for being unable to catch up and clean. Three wonderful ladies came and did my dishes, my floors, my fans, and it was incredibly liberating. I was able to give my husband a clean house for his birthday.
7. Spending time on myself. At Christmas, I got a 40-minute massage and OMG! I didn’t realize how much I just needed a few minutes to recharge my batteries. The first week of January I took my 4-year-old daughter to a Hanson concert in Ft. Worth for a Mommy-and-Me-cation. My sister did my hair and make-up and it felt great to just have a night of fun. I missed my baby, and my toddler but I knew they were in great hands with my husband.
Moving from Surviving to Thriving
Am I perfect? No. — I am, however, in a much MUCH better place than I was four months ago. I hope if you are struggling with the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety you will talk with your provider too.
Have you ever struggled with PPD/PPA? Comment below and share your experience and coping strategies.