Did you know that 10-15% of all women suffer from postpartum depression that we know of? According to postpartum progress, this number is actually likely to be upwards of 20% in America meaning approximately 950,000 women experience PPD each year. Postpartum depression is an epidemic that isn’t talked about in great detail amongst moms because many mothers feel embarrassed and are scared of being judged.
Real Mother is a judgment free zone and so today I have 3 real and raw stories of women in our RM Group who have suffered from PPD and are now on the other side. Before I share them I want to commend them for coming forward. If there is anything I noticed between most all of these stories is the guilt that comes after diagnosis and treatment. I want to say something about that to anyone who might be reading this and suffering and even to the mothers who shared their stories with me anonymously.
You don’t need to carry your guilt anymore. It’s not your fault and there is nothing you could have done. You are a great mother who got the help she needed. Whatever happened and whatever thoughts you had during that season was hormonal. It’s all very real. But my friend, it doesn’t define you or who you are as a mom.
I just felt like I needed and wanted to say that before we dived into these real post postpartum depression stories.
PPD Story One
During my first pregnancy I didn’t feel super connected to baby or the pregnancy itself. It was almost as if it was happening independent of me. When he was born, I still felt zero connection to him. I cried and cried even while still in the hospital which apparently is very abnormal. Most times mamas are still in this happy high after delivery.
My husband spent the most time with him. I wanted nothing to do with that baby.
We came home. I slept. I cried. I pumped. (Tried to nurse but he SCREAMED every time he got near my boob). I didn’t take care of my hygiene. My husband had to tell me I should get in the shower. I didn’t like my baby boy. I sat as far from him as possible. My husband spent the most time with him. I wanted nothing to do with that baby.
When he was three weeks old my husband had to leave for the day. He asked if I would be ok taking care of our baby. My reply was,”Yeah. Not because I want to though. Just because I have to.” I called my doctor that day for a PPD appt and got on meds a few days later.
Then I was FINALLY able to bond with my boy. Now 6 (almost 7) years later I am so thankful for the relationship we have today.
PPD Story Two
I think what I didn’t realize is that postpartum depression comes in so many different forms. With my first daughter, I was on cloud 9 and thought I had come away free from PPD. Until I realized looking back that my PPD came in the form of severe anxiety. I was a helicopter mom but to an extreme.
She is now 12 and suffers from anxiety. She can’t handle being away from me too long or the thought of getting sick; I can’t help but blame myself for some of this. Had I not let pride and shame settle in then, maybe I would have realized that my mindset wasn’t “normal” and less damage would have been done.
When my son was born 5 years ago I had a completely different experience. He nursed where my daughter didn’t. He also wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME. He was also born with a birth defect of his urinary tract and I blamed myself. I was sleep deprived, had this sweet baby attached to me all the time and yet I still had to mom my then 7-year-old. A 7-year-old girl that was not adjusting to having a baby brother. Much less a brother that needed me all the time and wouldn’t allow anyone else to calm him.
I didn’t want anything to do with my daughter. I would look at her across the room, know that I was to love her, but couldn’t bring myself to it.
She was growing resentment towards him and acting out. This created my own resentment towards her as I felt she was stealing my joy from finally having this baby that I had been waiting for 4 years to have. I didn’t want anything to do with my daughter. I would look at her across the room, know that I was to love her, but couldn’t bring myself to it.
I didn’t want to meet any of her needs. I didn’t want to cuddle her, read books, help with homework, provide meals, etc. My husband was also being neglected.
I wanted to run away with this precious new baby and leave everyone else behind. I had no feeling that I would miss them.
After a few months, my husband approached me while crying and strongly encouraged me to get help. It took about a week for me to process his conversation. That pride and shame were still very much alive. I felt like I was less of a mom for needing help. Thank goodness I woke up and took that help. I wish more moms would recognize that we are all super moms, with or without PPD.
PPD Story 3
Mine manifested as a huge wrench in the love I had for my husband. I hated everything about him for the first few months as a new mother. I would make him take over all the night feedings because I felt he deserved it and I didn’t want him to touch me and I yelled at him all of the time.
About 3 months in I began helping at night and that’s when the thoughts started. Seeing myself throw my baby against a wall in my head and then literally sobbing in the fetal position for hours feeling guilty for thinking it after.
I never hurt my child or yelled at my child but the thoughts were there.
I never hurt my child or yelled at my child but the thoughts were there. I would stay up at night threatening to leave my husband because he didn’t help me with laundry… or dishes that day. it was bad. I was deeply depressed.
When my son was a year and a half I finally got help and my male physician went straight to meds. I was hesitant but my family pushed me in and my dad was in the room so I felt I couldn’t refuse.
2 weeks on anti-depressants and I started losing chunks of time. I would black out and not remember anything I had done for the past hour or so. I went off the meds immediately.
A few weeks later I got pregnant with my 2nd son and my hormones shifted and it all went away and 3 kids later I haven’t ever had it since. It was the darkest time in my life and I like to be brutally honest about what I went through because at the time I justified my thoughts and behavior as normal. It’s not NORMAL. It’s PPD and you don’t have to live that way! I thought it was baby blues.. and I was destroying my life and relationships! I had to go back a year after all of that and apologize to people because they didn’t know what I was going through.
It’s such a silent struggle. Women feel embarrassed and they feel like failures for admitting they had it. We have no control over having it or not having it and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Thanks for being kind on your comments!