A few weeks ago, a friend and I were discussing the similarities in our pregnancies. We both experienced hg and pretty severe Postpartum depression (PPD). I’ve been thinking about that discussion frequently since then, reflecting on my struggle with PPD. Not once, but four times.
I remember waking up some mornings wanting so badly to sleep some more. Hearing Emily wail, I often wondered why I ever decided to become a mom. I would call my mom, constantly on the verge of tears, and tell her how difficult everything was. She would console me and tell me how great I was doing. I would listen, agree, and promptly forget as soon as I got off the phone.
I lived in a constant haze of pessimism. I blamed it on being a first time mother and still finishing my own degree. On Ben being busy with classes, Emily not sleeping through the night, Emily’s colic, the darkness of winter, the never ending homework, and the list goes on and on. My usually optimistic self would write posts on our family blog that mirrored my old self, but it was a lie. I wasn’t optimistic; I could hardly string two positive thoughts together on a good day. But I was a good liar.
Poor Ben handled my listlessness and random crying bouts very well. He would come home and take Emily from me, ordering me to rest. I believe he carried us through those very dark days.
And then one day it went away. I thought it was because I had successfully changed my attitude. I mean, it was all my fault anyway.
When I was 6 months pregnant with Andrew, the depression came back. We were living with Ben’s mom for the summer while Ben finished an internship, and I was miserable. She was a marvelous host, who did her best to make all of us comfortable; unfortunately, I couldn’t find any positives in our situation. I was alone during the day in an unfamiliar home with an active baby. I was without a car and feeling very deserted. I thought once we moved back to our own apartment those feelings would disappear.
They didn’t. So we moved. The move was a good decision, as we needed a bigger place, but I still could not change my attitude. I prayed and prayed and nothing changed. I went to the temple, studied my scriptures, and blamed my silly weaknesses for the cloud of darkness that had enveloped me.
It was at this time that I started blogging more frequently. Some of you might remember me during those days. I was a miserable person. Finally, Ben suggested that I talk to my doctor about possible depression. I was put on medication and finally felt somewhat normal.
After having Andrew, I thought my old self had returned. At my six week appointment, I asked to be taken off my medication. I thought I was ready.
But, in my haste I had not considered that my PPD would return after that 6-week mark. Which it did. I blamed it on everything: Ben’s work and school schedule, Andrew’s colic, my job, the messy house, a busy toddler. I tried to change but couldn’t. One would think that I would recognize the symptoms; however, I am quite dense when it comes to simple solutions.
I finally emerged shortly after Andrew’s colic relented.
And then I got pregnant and had my first miscarriage. Once again I was on that roller coaster ride that seemed to only point down, with small hills sporadically placed here and there. I expected grief, but I did not expect depression. Severe depression.
If you notice the pattern, then I’m sure you can guess what happened after I had the second miscarriage.
I remember one evening in particular while walking with Ben to a mission reunion. I remember wanting so badly to be at home in bed, having no desire to see people and feeling a sense of hopelessness. The kind of hopelessness I have only felt when suffering through PPD. Ben was unnerved. He asked me what he could do, I couldn’t give him any definitive answers. I blamed this and that. Until it hit me: PPD. Again. Luckily, the depression eased a couple weeks later and I have come to my old self for the longest time this year.
I don’t know if you’ve sensed the change in my writing. I know I have felt it vividly. I no longer feel that dread when I wake up in the morning; I am not terrified when I think about Ben working two jobs; I finally feel hope, optimistic, joyful. When I write, I can poke fun at my self and laugh at my silly kids.
I can also see clearly. I know what I want and don’t feel guilty if I can’t accomplish something.
I feel free.
I would like to say that I’ve learned my lesson, but I have a feeling that it won’t be that simple if it comes back again. I just hope I can read this post again and quickly find the help I need.