I remember how excited I was when I got pregnant with our first child almost 20 years ago. I was thrilled to be expecting a child that we would welcome into our hearts and home. We had wanted to get pregnant so we were happy to have had no problem conceiving. I had no morning sickness to really speak of; just an occasional wave of nausea here and there. Then something happened around the 25th week of my pregnancy and I became sick. I became what is called pre-eclamptic and had to go on complete bed rest at 28 weeks due to extreme high blood pressure. It was around this time I began to experience what I call a “dark cloud” all around me. I just couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of sadness I was experiencing. I didn’t once speak of this to family, friends or my physician because quite honestly, I didn’t have the faintest idea what to call it or why it was there. I had briefly heard of the term “baby blues” , however since I was still pregnant I couldn’t understand how this could be related. I really just thought I was sick. We delivered a healthy daughter at 37 weeks. I fell in love with this little bundle of love and bonded instantaneously. However, the cloud of sadness still loomed. I blamed it on the medications I was on while at the hospital and thought possibly the hormones from pregnancy and breastfeeding may be to blame for how I felt as well.
When I got home, this darkness didn’t let up. I cried and cried. All I wanted to do was sleep and be with my new baby. I couldn’t seem to make myself even get dressed. I would wake-up when my husband got up for work only to return back to bed and sleep. When I heard him pull into the drive for lunch I would jump up and throw on some clothes and pretend to be doing something around the house. I could never seem to get even the most basic things done. Everything seemed so difficult. It was like my feet were in wet sand. I struggled to even care for myself. I would care for our new daughter, but felt really overwhelmed with my new role as wife AND mother. I grew somewhat resentful of my husband and his ability to seemingly transition so well from husband to dad.
I even grew angry. It seemed every little thing was an irritant and I found myself crying and being even more angry as the months seemed to lag on. I could never seem to shut off the thoughts running through my mind. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I had no idea why I was struggling so desperately with this darkness and fog that had grown to huge proportions in my mind. I didn’t understand why because I loved our daughter and my husband but still this darkness threatened to overpower me completely. I finally sought help after contemplating driving off the road and ending my despair with the wish of death.
Perhaps you are feeling like I felt or some of these other symptoms resonate with you:
Possible Postpartum Depression Symptoms
- Feel very sad and hopeless
- Have trouble sleeping or want to sleep all the time.
- Don’t feel like eating or wanting to eat all the time.
- Feel confused and distracted.
- Don’t think I can be a good mother.
- Feel anxious and get angry easily.
- Not interested in your baby.
- Don’t want to get dressed or do daily tasks.
- Constantly worried about your baby.
- Don’t want to see friends and family.
If any of these statements are true for you and last more than 2 weeks or become more severe, please immediately call your health-care provider for help.
My first step for help was to see my OB/GYN and he was wonderful. He spoke to me about my feelings and helped me understand I was dealing with postpartum depression (PPD). Postpartum depression is a type of clinical depression that can affect the mother or father after the birth of a child. My doctor reassured me I wasn’t crazy or alone. He did prescribe some medicine to help me get my feet back under me so to speak. I also sought counseling and little by little the darkness began to lift. The darkness that once felt so heavy and overpowering slowly eased up. What seemed like such a struggle became easier and less burdensome. Eventually, I made it through and the darkness and the fog lifted.
I had five more pregnancies after this one, however I never struggled with postpartum depression like I experienced during and after my first pregnancy. I am thankful to have had such great support in my life. I have a caring husband, a wonderful doctor and great counselor who all helped me cope with this very difficult time in my life.
Please do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Postpartum depression is real and difficult, but the sooner you get help the sooner you can start feeling better. Remember, the feelings you may be experiencing are not your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong; postpartum depression is an illness. Talk to someone you trust and your health-care provider today. You can also talk to us as Clarity. We’re always here to lend a listening ear and help connect you to the resources in our community that can provide you the help you need.
Written by Missi Maschino, Center Manager of Clarity Pregnancy Services in North Vernon and Clarity Pregnancy Services in Greensburg
*Resources used for this blog include the MayoClinic, Channing Bete Company and PostPartum Progress