pic above: me and Gramm, 7.12.05
My man said that from the first (induced) contraction I became a different person. I remember snapping at him as he told me to breathe. I was breathing, or so I thought. I was actually concentrating on not vomiting during contractions that were 60 seconds apart. Did I mention that we'd been married about 18 months at this point? I ended up having a C-section and delivering a screaming, healthy boy several hours later.
We got home and our new life began. I didn't understand why my tummy still looked so pregnant. I mean, I'd had the baby, right? I was also really tired. I was cranky. I had nightmares about someone physically harming my newborn son. There was drama with my extended family that caused me immense amounts of stress. I vividly remember waking up to feed Gramm around 4 a.m. when he was just weeks old and sobbing uncontrollably. I mean, sobbing so hard that I couldn't breathe. Justin did his best to comfort me and I think he prayed with me. I didn't have too many more crying spells, but I was anxious and angry often.
I remember thinking that I needed an assistant. My baby was a lot of work. I had to nurse him, which hurt, change him, which required standing up and even that was painful for about 2 weeks, and I still needed to be nice to my husband. Seriously? I couldn't fathom the thought of having another baby and for awhile, I really thought Gramm would be an only child.
When Gramm was around 5 weeks old, he began crying a lot. I mean a lot. This crazy crying went on for about 2 months. I was embarrassed by the fact that I didn't birth a laid back baby. He had horrible reflux and just wanted to be held. He never really complied with a 3-4 hour "schedule". He screamed at toys, loud noises, bright lights, etc. My younger sister and sister-in-law had little ones in the year before G was born. Both of their babies were very chilled. My son wasn't. I thought I was doing something wrong. I thought he wasn't relaxed enough because I was so stressed.
The anxiety continued. I was constantly fearful of Justin or Gramm dying or being harmed by some evil person. Snapping at my poor husband had become the norm. Gramm was around 6 months old when I realized I had post partum depression. I think it was at a visit to my general family doctor that it dawned on me that something was wrong. I'd known I hadn't been normal for several weeks. Talking with my doc, who was also a new parent, opened my eyes. After much prayer and discussion with my man, I began taking an anti-anxiety medication and got my hormones tested. As it turns out, I was headed straight for menopause at 25 years old and had to start taking hormones to get myself back on track.
The hormones and the medication helped a lot. Another motivating factor was that my sweet man sat me down and basically told me that I had to stop being mean and selfish. He did all this with the utmost care and gentleness. I listened and cried and said I was so sorry. With the Lord's help, I was able to start being nice consistently again.
pic above: me and Gramm when he was about 3 months old
If you know me, you know I can talk the paint off a wall. Surprisingly enough, I talked to very few people about my PPD. I was so ashamed of the fact that I was depressed and that I couldn't hold it together. And, since there was some family drama, I couldn't really talk to the people I normally talked to about how I was feeling.
I learned a lot during this stage of life. It was really hard, but also really good. I finally got my sea legs and enjoyed mothering our little guy. I got more sleep. I was able to get out and take my boy everywhere I went. The storm subsided and I felt free to enjoy our life without so much stinking fear.
If I could go back and talk to the naive, excited, 9 month pregnant HB pre-delivery, I would say the following:
- be nice to your man. Put him before the baby always.
- if you get depressed, don't freak out. Find someone to talk to about it and get help.
- Taking anti-anxiety medicine to deal with your PPD does not mean you will be on some type of anxiety/depression medicine forever.
- PPD does not make you a weak or inferior person.
- A fussy baby is not a reflection on your parenting skills.
- find friends that have little ones. Don't expect your life to look like the life of someone without children in their home.
- run like the wind from the comparison trap. Comparing yourself to another mom will very likely never be helpful.
- keep trusting Jesus, or at least try.
- enjoy the cute boy, he will soon be big. (see below)
Now that I've been a mom for more than a few weeks, I know that what I experienced was very normal. If you are a new mom, an old mom, or about to be one, I encourage you to talk and/or write about your experiences. Most of us have struggled in the dark at one time or another. Being real about our lives can shed light on another person's pain and help them to grow, feel normal, and heal. Here's to keeping it real.
Love to all.