In writing this I am putting myself in a place I have buried deep and tried to forget. This place is dark, maybe the darkest place I have ever been.
As hard as I have tried though, it’s there, it’s a part of me.
I’m putting it out in hope of connecting, helping, and bringing awareness. Postpartum Depression is a horrible beast. It’s often missed because of stigma and taboos. For me, PPD didn’t look the way I thought it looked. Not knowing that it could take several forms almost cost me dearly.
He was two months old, I had just woken up from a nap and as I opened my eyes I saw him, still asleep with the afternoon sun peeking in through the blinds. It was at that moment I knew, bigger and deeper than I had ever known before, that I was head over heels in love with him. It had taken longer than I’d expected to connect with him and know without a doubt he was mine, but there it was.
This memory saved me. This is the memory that saved us.
He cried. He cried so much. He wasn’t gaining weight as he should have been. He spit up all the time, sometimes in a long projectile. I breastfeed and bottle fed and nothing soothed him for long. Soon his knees were at his chest and he would start crying again.
I knew something was wrong. I knew in my gut, as a mother knows. Any time I brought up my concerns people told me that babies cry and babies spit up. I was brushed off and ignored. No one knew that I was drowning. That I would daydream about taking him back to the hospital. How I wished I could put him on my doorstep so a neighbor would take care of him just so I could get a break.
In between these thoughts I loved my baby. I felt horrible and guilty for thinking this way and the thoughts would subside for days. I would look at this beautiful boy and feel like the luckiest mom.
Inevitably the crying would start again and with that the horrible thoughts. One day I was alone, and he wouldn’t stop crying. I don’t know how long it went on for. It felt like hours. I was sleep-deprived and it was nap time. Nap time was usually the one time of day I could count on him snuggling into me and sleeping. But that day he just wouldn’t stop crying.
I did everything. I rocked, I shushed, I swaddled, I offered my breast. Nothing I did was enough. He just got more and more upset.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I picked up the pillow. I just wanted him to stop crying. I just wanted him to stop. I just couldn’t hear him cry any more. I couldn’t feel like a failure any more.
As I was about to put the pillow to his little face I snapped back to reality. What the fuck was I doing? I locked myself in the bathroom. I sobbed until my head hurt. I felt sick. I could hear him through the doors, but by then I didn’t care that he was crying, I just needed him back in my arms, all I could think of was the moment, not too long ago, where I’d fallen in love with him.
I needed him to feel safe. I needed him to know that I would do anything for him. I needed to know I wasn’t a horrible mother. I needed to know I loved him more than anything.
I went back to his room and held him until we both fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.
I wish I could say that after that I got help. That I reached out. Instead I buried it deep. Anytime I hinted to those around me that I was struggling I was met with looks of disbelief and shock. I was so afraid of being judged that instead I put myself and my child at risk.
I felt so judged for the little bit I did share that I couldn’t handle opening up more. I’m lucky though. I’m lucky I recognized what I was doing before it was too late. I’m lucky I had a memory to hang onto when the crying got bad. I’m lucky that I was able to put him in a safe place, go into the bathroom, turn the fan on, and collect myself when I felt myself losing control. I’m lucky that I had good days.
1 in 7 women experiences postpartum depression. Visit Postpartum Support International to learn more.