Dear New Mom,
Please allow me to say this to you: I KNOW.
I know how you're feeling. I do. I will never forget what it felt like.
On June 29, 2005, I delivered my third son. Exactly 12-and-a-half months after delivering my second son. Thankfully my mother came to help me that summer and I managed to hold myself together pretty well while she was around.
But in September my mom left and I returned to work part-time, 2 days a week.
Work was my salvation. At work there was no crying. No diapers. I was able to be Sarah, not Mommy. Yet I would feel guilty for liking being away from home.
The days I was home all day were rough. I found myself constantly on the edge. Constantly guilty that there was just never enough of me to go around for my three children all under the age of 4. I felt like I was failing motherhood.
If I had to use one word to describe my state of mind at that time it would be this: OVERWHELMED.
I cried. A lot. And when I wasn't crying, I was MAD.
Later that fall I was able to get away for a Girls Weekend in Myrtle Beach, but when I returned, I knew I couldn't go on pretending nothing was wrong. What kind of mother, after three nights away, dreads going back home? Me, that's who.
So I made an appointment to see my OB/GYN.
My OB/GYN was a godsend. I sat in her office, tears streaming from my eyes as I vented to her about all the ways in which I thought I was a bad mother. And how I just felt so damned OVERWHELMED.
And she listened. Without judgment.
At first, I was very hesitant when she suggested I begin taking an antidepressant for my postpartum. I mean, how could I have postpartum depression when my baby was already six months old? (Actually, symptoms can appear anytime during pregnancy and the entire first year after birth.)
Certainly more so then in 2005 than now there was a stigma attached to being on an antidepressant. Besides my husband and my mother, I didn't tell anyone. I felt like I had a dirty little secret.
It took about a month until I started to feel differently. And then my lows? Were bearable. Tolerable.
I slowly started to feel more in control. More able to handle the stresses of everyday life with three young children.
A new me; a better me.
SarahViz blogs on her personal website In the Trenches of Mommyhood, and lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three sons, ages 8, 5 and 4. She is a full-time paralegal and is thankful for TJMaxx, red wine and Celexa (not necessarily in that order).
Oh boy – your story brings those feelings of overwhelm rushing back. I so know what you mean about work being your escape. It was that way for me, too. In fact, I’m sure the people I worked with when I had my first son thought I was perfectly fine. The CIA should hire mommies with perinatal mood disorders – I became an expert at hiding everything! 🙂 I was so good at hiding it that it took so long – too long – to have anyone recognize I needed help. Thank god they finally did. Thanks for sharing and HAPPY Mother’s Day to you!
Woo hoo for Celexa! 🙂 I can really relate to the work part of your story. When I went back to work (also part-time) after my daughter was 3 months old, people would make comments about how hard it must be and how sad it probably was to not be home with my baby. Some looked at my like I had an arm growing out of my face or something when I told them how NICE it was to be at work. To be away. To not have the mommy hat on for a while. But oh, my goodness, the GUILT I had for feeling happy to go to work. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm so glad you had a helpful OB and that you found something to make you feel better.
I have been going back and forth for years trying to decide if I was really going crazy. Reading your story finally turned on the light bulb for me. I have 3 kids, each born a year apart (my last 2 exactly a year apart to the day!). While pregnant with my 3rd child, I remember thinking at one point if it was possible for me to have depression prior to giving birth. It never dawned on me that I had just finished giving birth to my 2nd kid and that it could be postpartum depression from that (and probably also heaped on top of depression from the 1st birth). I can’t possibly thank you enough for sharing your story and helping me finally find an answer.
It always presented "late" for me. Around the 9 month mark. Hormones? Brain chemistry? Who knows? But it was very sneaky that way. And twisted. Just when everyone (myself included) thought I "should" be back to normal is when I was most vulnerable. Something to remember when we're lending support. So often we reach out to "new" (0-3month) mothers. We need to extend our care and vigilance.
How I love it when I read a story of a suffering mom whose healthcare professional's behavior is right on the money. It's so uplifting to me to read how supportive your OB/GYN was and what a difference it made in your life. When I give speeches to nurses and doctors I always tell them they have no idea how much their response to a woman with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder can affect the rest of her life. Thanks for being a part of this day.