When I found out that I was pregnant for a second time, I was ecstatic. My husband and I had been trying to complete our family for over a year and this news of a little one was amazing. However, soon after getting pregnant, my anxiety started to get the best of me.
What if something happens to me in childbirth? What happens to my oldest daughter if I get hurt? What if my first child doesn’t think I love her anymore? What if I can’t love the second child as much? All these thoughts were going through my mind at all hours of the day and night. I brushed it off as normal and went on with my life just living with my fears.
Soon after giving birth the anxiety got worse. I worried about everything that could possibly go wrong. What if my husband got in a car accident while the kids were in the car? What if my baby cried at night and I didn’t hear him? What if he suffocates at night and I don’t know? What if my oldest leaves something behind on the floor that the baby can get and choke on? If the anxiety wasn’t bad enough, soon the depression crept in as well. Relationships with loved ones got harder. My husband didn’t understand why I didn’t trust him with the kids, my patience with my oldest got shorter, and I felt like I was completely alone in my feelings.
At my six-week postpartum appointment, my doctor asked me a list of questions about how I was feeling. Did I cry often for no reason? Did I feel depressed? Was I anxious often? At the end of the appointment, my doctor handed me a pamphlet on postpartum depression and a referral to a psychiatrist.
A psychiatrist? I can’t call and make an appointment with a psychiatrist. What will my family think of me? What if they think I’m not fit for my kids? What if they take away my kids? My thoughts were consuming me every day again and my depression was spinning out of control. It was after a morning of me trying to suppress my anxiety and force myself to get out of the house with my two kids that I finally picked up the phone and called the psychiatrist.
The next week I dropped the kids off at my mother’s and told her that I was going to run a few errands. I hid the fact that I was actually going to my first appointment with the psychiatrist. No one talked about postpartum depression and anxiety, so I thought surely something was wrong with me.
At the psychiatrist, Dr. K explained that postpartum depression was in fact very normal and that most mothers suffer from it. It is something that many are ashamed of because they feel like they are the only ones that feel this way. It is because of this that I am sharing my story today. Women need to be each other’s support, and for that to happen we need to normalize postpartum and the feelings that may appear after giving birth. Mothers need to know that is okay to share their feelings and that it is okay to get help and be on medication. New mothers must be their best selves in order to take care of the new bundle of joy.
Moms, it’s okay to share your feelings, it’s okay to get help and be on medication.
Dr. K prescribed me antidepressants to take daily. She explained that it will not be something I take forever, but something I may need for a few months after giving birth. While they say it takes a few weeks for antidepressants to work, I felt relief in a week. I was finally starting to enjoy being a new mother and enjoying the moments I had with my kids.
I soon stopped hiding the fact that I was going to a psychiatrist since I was no longer ashamed of my postpartum depression. I then realized that many of my mother-friends have been in the same boat as myself and many have also been on antidepressants for their anxiety or depression after giving birth.
For a full year, I continued to take my medication religiously. I felt great and my relationships with my kids and husband got better as well. I was finally able to find joy in raising my kids and didn’t feel anxious about the smallest things.
After a few months, my doctor decided to see if I could wean off the medication. My dosages got lower until eventually, I was medication free, yet still felt great.
There are still times when I may feel anxious or upset, but I try to remember the things that brought me joy and calmness while I was on medication. Sometimes that means stopping and reflecting on the good things that happened with my kids that day, other times it is conducting a few breathing exercises, or taking time for myself with a relaxing bath.
If you feel like you are suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety, please know that you are not alone. The feelings that come with postpartum depression are nothing to be ashamed of and are actually very common in new mothers. There are many different medications and remedies that can help with PPD and PPA. Call your doctor immediately if you think you are suffering from either of these after giving birth.
Babies are only going to be little once and will grow up faster than you can even imagine, so it is best to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your little ones and enjoy the time you have with them.