I never thought that I would be in the category of women who experienced postpartum depression. But I am.
When I had my first child, I was in the blissful land of Motherhood for the first time and I just did not understand how anyone could have any negative feelings during that new sacred time. Cloud Nine was a wonderful place. And then around my daughters first birthday, I finally came down from that euphoric feeling. I experienced a mild sadness in the realization of where I had been emotionally and where I was sinking to. It was like the end of your favorite roller coaster ride. The ride is wild, up and down and fast, but you can’t wipe that silly smile off of your face. And then the ride ends and you are left with a wonderful memory, but you have to get off. And its like, BAM!-over and blah. Such a contrast. Not depressing, just a little bit of a downer.
I thought that would be my bout with postpartum symptoms.
Fast forward two years and enter stage left child number two. The pregnancy was good, the child huge (we’re talking 11lbs huge) the birth plan perfect. The space was perfect down to the color of paint on my walls and the playlist of music. My home birth unfolded without too much of a hitch. (If you don’t count the size of my baby or the hemorrhaging afterwards…) I had all the wonderful support a mother could want.
But something was just off.
The only way I can describe it is that suddenly I was feeling EVERYTHING. It took me by surprise because I realized that I had gotten pretty good at not feeling things, as a coping mechanism. I was in a state of constant trance-like melancholy. And to be honest, I think I liked it. And all in the same thought I said to myself often: “What is happening to me?”
There is a lot more to my experience going through that time, but my intent here is not to go through that again, but to share with you that if you think you are going through similar things (either BEFORE of AFTER the birth of your baby), there is help. There are resources, forums, -an ENTIRE community of people wholly devoted to getting the word out about Postpartum Depression and helping women in need. I have found peace in just reading the blogs and websites of other women who experienced this, some worse than others.
For me, the key has been to “lean into the discomfort” and work my way through the emotions. Actually letting myself feel when something was welling up helped me explore emotions that I had not experienced in years. In a way, it was refreshing and I found myself feeling like I didn’t ever want to come out of the place I was in. Strange? Maybe.
I learned to respect and protect that sacred postpartum time where I truly was “cycling so close to heaven” (as my loving midwife explained to me). Those first six weeks were difficult for me in so many ways that I just don’t have words for. From my experience, I feel I have gained a greater compassion for new mothers around me. And believe me, I am surrounded by them!
Below are a few wonderful resources that I have skimmed from during the past year as I’ve been swimming to the other side of this river called Postpartum Depression. I hope that if you are experiencing PPD, or know of anyone that is, you will find the support you need. There are so many women who understand. So speak up.
Postpartum Progress This site laid out in dimple terms the symptoms of PPD so that I could understand and more easily see that I was indeed experiencing PPD.
Beyond Postpartum is a blog that I have recently stumbled upon. One of my favorite posts is called: “Baby Products that Lead to Unrealistic Expectations in New Moms”. Its so perfect!
Living Self Care. If you are not already a follower of this blog/website, I highly recommend you add your name to the list of readers. While this site is not specifically about PPD, they publish daily essays that help us remember to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. I love particularly that the authors are pulled from a wide pool of people, so its not the same person writing all the time. I have a close friend who has an essay published, that is great.
The Healing Group A group of therapists who specialize in Women’s Health. If you live in my area, I highly recommend The Healing Group.
The list of resources is endless. You could spend hours just following link after link after link reading of others’ experiences and seeing that you are not alone. For me, doing just that was enough for me to come through it relatively unscathed. But the truth is, I am a changed woman. And I don’t really want to go back to the Me before all of this. I guess this is where Wisdom is grown, through tough experiences like this. Some day. I hope that you, too, will gain wisdom through the madness.