Friday, April 12, 2013

Postpartum Depression in Retrospect

I mentioned that I am totally digging the freedom that comes with no diapers which then does not necessitate a need for a diaper bag. And because I don’t carry a diaper bag, I don’t need to lug around baby food, pacifiers, extra clothes, or bottles.  I don’t have to worry about pumping, formula, or nap schedules.

I love that I am able to put the kids in their non-infant car seats and just go.

I realize that all of that stuff is just temporary, but the real reason I think I am afraid to have another baby is having Postpartum Depression again.  That is something I don’t bounce back so fast from and the scars are pretty deep.

I think what made it worse, is that it was undiagnosed both times.  Seriously, how can that happen?

The first time I think I carried on alright on the outside.  I showered every day, I religiously worked out, and interacted with my baby girl.  But on the inside, I was a mess.  Looking back in retrospect, it’s pretty ridiculous that I didn’t see it.

I thought it was totally normal to look endlessly at a closet full of baby clothes and feeling overwhelmed with the task of picking  out an outfit . . .  when we weren’t even leaving the house. 

Wasn’t it normal to wonder why my baby needed me when clearly someone else could do a much better job than me?

I thought that being a mom was synonymous with feeling weighed down with guilt of leaving the house by myself coupled with the crippling fear that something bad would happen to me while I was gone.

The anxiety was the worse.  I felt anxious about everything ranging from what she ate to immunizations to the guilt that I was the cause of her physical delays.  I remember wishing her first year away because we would have a diagnosis closer to her first birthday.  

I knew something was wrong when I totally identified with the people in the Cymbalta commercial -  their vacant stares and fake smiles while the narrator gently said, “Depression hurts.”   If I could see that, how come no one else did?  Or why didn’t I speak up?  Shame, maybe?  

It’s hard to come clean when everyone is telling you how damn happy you should be to have a baby.

When Thomas was born, I totally thought I could identify Postpartum Depression a mile a away.

But I didn’t.

Again, with the anxiety that gave me the urge to drink all the time, which given my family history, scared me to death.  My anxiety manifested itself in crazy ways, like I would never allow raw chicken into my home because I was terrified to accidentally spread salmonella to my little babies.  I lived in fear of H1N1 flu and took Marie out of story time.  I also cried a lot when I felt that I was falling short of being there equally for each child, especially when Thomas would cry for hours and hours and never stop.

I felt unsupported by people because instead of seeing my out-of-control anxiety as a sign of PPD, I was viewed as overreactive and difficult and paranoid.  What added to this confusion was that I was misdiagnosed with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) by my doctor which I write about here.

Enjoying babyhood is supposed to be this magical time, and for me, it has been tainted by PPD and the guilt associated with not feeling that magic.  I know there is medication available for this, but I just don’t know how I feel about going down this path again, especially with two active kids.  

Maybe I’m being selfish by leaning towards having no more babies because of how it makes me feel.  I’m never saying no, not ever.  (Like ever).  But I do think it is important to look at having another baby honestly instead of through some gauzy, rosy altered view.

Did you suffer from Postpartum Depression?  Was it diagnosed?  How did you get through it?  Did PPD effect your choices in having more children?

1 comment:

New York Mama said...

So sorry that you had to go through all of this twice. :(
To your great credit, you did not ignore it till you figured it all out.