I gave birth to my son on November 19, 2004. It was the most incredible and the most memorable experience of my life. I’ll never forget being in the hospital with my newborn son thinking, “Oh gosh, now what?” All my friends kept saying, “Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. Just give yourself some time.”
I got home from the hospital and I felt numb. My husband was on top of the world, so happy to be a Dad and so excited to show off his son. I kept wondering why I didn’t feel the same “joy” and “happiness” of welcoming this precious gift into my life as my husband did? I thought maybe I was just sleep deprived and exhausted, I was sure I would feel differently when I was a little more rested.
The weeks passed I still wasn’t feeling the “happiness” I thought I was suppose to. I was very emotional, I wasn’t sleeping well (I don’t know if any new Mom does) and, to make matters worse, I kept having very disturbing thoughts about me and my son. At first, I thought maybe all this was “normal”? Sleep deprivation can do strange things to a person…
I remember going to my 4 week check up with my Ob/Gyn. I was feeling miserable that day and I didn’t know how I was going to get the energy to get dressed and get to the Dr’s office on time. I asked my husband to come with me. The extra set of hands with the baby would be a little relief given the “daunting” thought of having to leave the house.
The Dr did my physical check up and told me that everything “looked good” and that I was “healing nicely”. Then she said, “Isn’t having a baby such a miracle and a blessing?” I remember not even being able to utter any words, all I could do was break down and cry uncontrollably. After I composed myself, my appointment was finished. She never asked how I was doing emotionally or otherwise. Maybe she thought my tears were tears of joy?? I left her office with my head clouded with thoughts of, “I guess this is all normal and I’m suppose to feel this way”? All I could think about was I guess this is what they call the “baby blues”???
As the weeks went on, my feeling of “darkness” persisted. I had terrible insomnia, despite being exhausted, my skin crawled when I tried to lie down and sleep, I had obsessive compulsive thoughts about death and about putting my son in the oven. I also saw him floating dead at the top of the spa we had in our backyard. I felt completely overwhelmed with the thought of doing the smallest task (like going to the store to buy milk), my stomach churned all the time and I couldn’t eat (and I was breast feeding so I needed to be eating something to keep my milk coming in). I remember not wanting to be home alone with my son all day long. I resented my husband for being able to take a shower and leave the house every morning to go to work. I avoided all my friends phone calls to want to get together for coffee or lunch. I didn’t want anyone to see how miserable I was feeling – I felt so transparent. I thought that if I was dead, everything would be so much better for my husband and my son. All my family lives in Canada. I certainly didn’t feel close enough to any friend here to share these awful feelings with so I continued to suffer.
After 8 weeks of this, I finally called my Dr. back and spoke to the nurse practitioner about what I was experiencing. I could hardly get the words out over the phone. Thankfully she referred me to Dr. Pec Indman. Dr. Indman is a nationally recognized expert in the field of mental health related to Pregnancy and Postpartum mood disorders.
I began working with Dr. Indman and, over time, I began to feel better. I was resistant to medication early on in our work together, however, after about 3 months, I chose to start taking antidepressants. I never wanted to accept that I was “depressed”. I had a baby, I wasn’t “crazy”!! Then I began to learn how powerful hormones are and that, when they aren’t in balance, your body can have difficulty functioning properly.
When my son was 9 months old, I remember writing on my desk top calendar, “I had a good day today”. The “dark glasses” I had been wearing for the last while had started to become brighter. I began to be able to sleep better and the obsessive thoughts weren’t always on my mind. I still had some “dark” days however, I knew I was on the road to recovery. I worked with Dr. Indman for close to 18 months. She, and my family and friends, were a tremendous support system. I’m forever grateful for all the love and help they have given me.
Today, my son is almost 4 years old. I love him with all my heart and I can’t imagine my world without him. Postpartum depression is a journey I will always remember. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about not being afraid to be open and honest with what I’m feeling.
Karen | email