REALLY real. Scary real.
When Baby Jimmy turned two months old, I literally fell apart. I should have seen it coming, but I didn't want to face the reality that I might be suffering from postpartum depression/anxiety a SECOND time. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after my first pregnancy (when Linna was about two months old), so I thought I knew what to look for after my second pregnancy. The first couple months of Baby Jimmy's life were an incredible struggle for me, and I could never have anticipated how challenging it is to go from having one to two kids. We also had a LOT going on right after Jimmy was born: Buying and renovating a new house, moving and unpacking all of our belongings from Singapore, an unexpected divorce in the family... All while dealing with everything that comes with a newborn (sleepless nights, leaky and aching boobs, a healing vagina, etc.). I spent hours behind closed doors, sobbing my eyes out, and couldn't handle my life as a mom of two. I literally feared my day-to-day life... AND my children. I couldn't be with my friends in public without bursting into tears for no particular reason. The amount of anxiety I felt about waking up each morning to my life as a mom of two, made me physically ill. I wanted to run away from everything, and having these feelings about wanting to leave my children behind, made me feel an overwhelming amount of guilt. My back and jaw ached from all the stress and anxiety I was feeling, but I made myself believe that I was simply going through the "challenges" every mom goes through after having their second child. I figured that I just needed some Vitamin D and exercise, because winter in Minnesota can be very "grey" and depressing. I started taking Vitamin D supplements, and joined a gym that has childcare. While those things helped, they were simply Band-Aids to a much more serious issue.
One morning, I woke up with "flu-like" symptoms. I had to text my mom at 5 a.m., to come over and watch the kids. I literally felt like I was dying. My husband had JUST started a new job, and I couldn't stomach the thought of him losing his job because of my "failure as a mother". I feared the day so much, that it made me physically sick. I laid in my bed and cried to my husband about how fearful and confused I was, telling him that he couldn't leave me alone. I was seriously paralyzed with fear. I felt like my body was in shock, and I couldn't get out of bed for three days. My husband and my mom would come into the bedroom to check on me, and they would both cry right along with me because they didn't know what to do.
I obviously needed to seek medical help, so I called my OBGYN's office. The second I mentioned "postpartum depression" in my shaky voice, they got me in right away. I've always been very open about the fact that I suffered from postpartum depression after my first pregnancy, but having to seek help this time around, made me feel so much shame and defeat. I felt guilty about not being able to "suck it up" and be a mom to my two kids, and shameful for not seeking help sooner. I wanted so badly to believe that these feelings would pass, and that I could just trek through it.
I don't think I stopped crying for three straight days. I sobbed at the doctor's office because I literally couldn't function. I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, and I couldn't think logically. I couldn't eat, or sleep without popping a Xanax. I didn't want to go on medication, but the thoughts and feelings I was having were something I couldn't control. I needed help, and today I am so thankful that my family and close friends pushed me to seek medical attention. I don't even want to think about where I, or my kids would be if I hadn't gotten help when I did.
|My beautiful babies: Linna and Jameson (Baby Jimmy).|
While I've been able to bounce back after my "crash", there are SO many mothers out there who don't. Postpartum depression/anxiety is the darkest and scariest place, and is something beyond a person's control. I now realize that having babies, flips some kind of switch in my brain, and those horrible thoughts and feelings I was having were NOT my fault. The sad reality of postpartum depression/anxiety is that if left untreated, it can result in death. While I don't condone mothers who harm their children, I can honestly say that I understand how it can happen.
I have had those feelings.
When we read about mothers in the news who drive their cars with their kids inside into a lake, or drown their babies in the bathtub, our immediate thought is "HOW could a mother ever do that to her own child?!". While these tragedies are horrific and unimaginable, it's important for people who have never suffered from postpartum depression, to understand how serious the condition is. My heart breaks when I think about all the mothers who have had to suffer in silence, and have no help and support from their partner and/or family. These women must feel like they're in their personal hell. If you're one of these women... YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
I can't help but think what would have happened if I would have been in Singapore when I was going through all of this. Two of the reasons I was able to find my way out of my postpartum fog, are my husband and my mom. While they may not have been in my shoes, or even understood exactly what was going on in my head, they were by my side through it all. My husband's employer was incredibly accommodating, allowing my husband to take a couple days at home with me. And my mom took over the responsibility of our two kids while I got my head on straight. I am beyond thankful for both of these people. They never made me feel ashamed about the way I was feeling, and constantly told me that it was out of my control. I also appreciate a few, specific words that my husband said to me about a week after my "crash".
"I don't know how you do it."
Having to take on the responsibilities that I have as a stay-at-home mom, made my husband realize how stressful and challenging of a job it is. I'm thankful that he sees what stay-at-home moms actually do all day.
Today, I'm on medication to help with my postpartum anxiety. I feel like I'm finally back to my old self, and LOVE being with my kids again. It breaks my heart to think that at one point, I didn't want to be their mom anymore. But, again, those feelings were beyond my control. While some days are tougher than others, I am thankful that I get to spend the time that I do with my kids. Sure, most of my days end by popping open a bottle of wine around 5 o'clock (or sometimes 3 or 4 o'clock - the struggle of motherhood is real).
We're all in this together, ladies.
When you think you just can't do it anymore, please know that you're not alone. Every day is a new beginning, and one day our babies will be all grown up, and we'll give just about anything to go back to the craziness. Until then... there's wine.