My Battle with Postpartum Depression
The New Little Man in My Life
Becoming a mother is supposed to be a magical time for a woman. My first pregnancy was full of promise and excitement. I named my son, Brendan, the moment I found out I was having a boy and whispered his name to my growing midsection while still in the doctor’s office.
When Brendan was finally born, an unbridled amount of adrenaline coursed through my body for days. He was a joy to be around. I gazed into his bright blue eyes, trying to channel the love I felt straight through to him. I had really never been around a baby before, but I was determined to be the best mother ever and do everything perfectly.
When Things Go Wrong
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I crashed. I was already feeling my emotions at the surface and shifted from laughter to tears in a split second, but the “high” that I had been on since Brendan’s birth quickly turned into something sinister. The tears became constant and unrelenting. I would hear Brendan’s cry from the next room, but couldn’t respond. I was lucky enough to have family to help in those early days. Brendan would be presented to me freshly bathed and wearing a new outfit, but I could only cry and think about how I should have been the one to bathe and dress him.
“That’s not Glenna,” I overheard my mother-in-law tell my husband. She was right. I was like a zombie. I felt I’d failed at the most important job I would ever have, and I was terrified at the idea that I had potentially lost my mind. I heard the family downstairs enjoying Brendan, giggling over every cute thing he would do. It only made me hurt more. I beat myself up with a vengeance. Millions of mothers were able to take care of their new babies. What was wrong with me?
When I had my 6-week checkup, my doctor asked me how everything was going. I burst into tears and told my story. He nodded his head, pulled out a prescription pad and wrote “Zoloft” on it. He said I would feel better after a few weeks. He also referred me to a therapist to learn coping skills. As days went by, I began to eat and sleep again. I also began to take over Brendan’s care. I felt a sense of accomplishment for each little thing I was able to do for him. I finally felt like I was really his mother, and the shame I had felt began to slowly vanish.
The How and Why?
I later researched postpartum depression and learned that a woman’s HCG level, which builds to an astronomical amount as pregnancy progresses, virtually plummets as soon as the baby is born, which can trigger postpartum depression from a mild to severe degree. Also, if there is a predisposition for depression in your family, you have a higher chance of it happening to you.
The antidepressant helped battle my brain chemistry that had gone haywire. The pressure of becoming a first-time mother with very little experience with children also contributed to my shameful feelings. My expectations were way too high. I had read every baby book before Brendan was born and thought I knew everything; however, every child is unique, and only you can learn how to take care of YOUR baby. Medication and therapy helped put my synapses back in order, and I not only became able to do all the “technical” things Brendan needed, but I began to experience the joy of being his mother that I craved all along. The more confident I felt, the stronger our bond grew. I was never a perfect mom, but I learned I was good enough as long as he felt loved and cared for.