- Anonymous Mother
Hope in Healing
The postpartum period begins soon after delivery and usually can last roughly six to eight weeks until the mother's body has returned to its pre-pregnant state. New moms are not only trying to heal physically but they can experience a period of emotions from excitement and happiness to anxiety and fear. Most new moms can experience classic symptoms of "baby blues" which are common mood swings, crying spells and difficulty sleeping. Some moms experience more severe symptoms which can turn into long-lasting depressing known as post-partum depression. PP depression is NOT a flaw, weakness or defect. This week we have an anonymous mother sharing her story and how she managed to navigate a very dark inner period when the world around her was so bright and joyful. Her hope in sharing her experience is so others know they are not alone and seeking help is a sign of strength not defeat. Reading her beautiful story brought us to tears. This is a reminder to check in on the mother, ask for help and most importantly lean on your tribe for support!
In the summer of 2021 I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I couldn’t wait to start planning and getting the nursery and everything ready. I absolutely LOVED everything about being pregnant. I loved feeling the kicks and felt this amazing bond right away. I was on a high and embraced each stage of pregnancy.
In the beginning of March, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. For me, labor was extremely effortless. It was such a beautiful experience. Everything went smooth and as planned without any complications. I felt euphoric. We left the hospital the next day and I still felt great. This was suppose to be the most magical time right!? Everyone said it would pure bliss as we settled in to our new norm.
After a few days of being home, some anxiety started to kick in. I was becoming very emotional. I noticed I missed being pregnant. I missed that connection of feeling her inside of me. It’s so hard to explain but even though she was right in front of me, I missed her and felt empty. As the days went on something felt off. I didn’t like the way I was feeling. The euphoric feeling started to go away.
I made an appointment with my OB immediately. I didn’t know who else to turn to. You always hear about postpartum depression but you never actually think its going to happen to you. I felt safe and vented to my OB about how I had been feeling. I was already on medication for my anxiety and OCD so they decided to double my dosage. The medical staff said what I was feeling was all the classic hallmark symptoms of postpartum. I was scared and terrified. I didn’t want to feel this way. It's not like you can flip a switch and make yourself feel happy. I wanted that euphoric feeling back. That high that I had for 9 months was gone and I just wanted to feel like myself again.
Lack of sleep wasn’t helping my symptoms improve. The newborn stage is no joke. Everyday felt like a hazy fog. Where was that pure bliss feeling? Where was that instant bond everyone told me about? Everyday I felt worse and worse. I reached back out to my OB again and told her that I was not improving at the higher medicated dose. It was then recommended that I needed to go see a perinatal psychiatrist. I had no clue what that even was. I never heard of this before. I just wanted this feeling to be over and wasn't sure how to get better.
A perinatal psychiatrist is a new specialty that focuses on the mental health of pregnant women and women post delivery. After researching psychiatrists, I found one in the area and called immediately. Dr. A picked up the phone. She had a calming tone to her voice and I Instantly felt a wave of relief. She reassured me that what I was feeling is very common and many women experience similar emotions and thoughts. I burst into tears. Thankfully she was able to get me in ASAP.
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, anxiety and OCD. I was never aware that my OCD could get worse. Dr. A explained to me that a woman's brain chemistry changes after you have a baby. There are several interconnected brain regions that help drive mothering behaviors and mood. Combine that with a rollercoaster of hormones and you are bound for a loss of emotional control.
After adjusting my meds, two weeks later I started to feel like myself again. I thought It was finally over but I was wrong. My depression slowly started creeping back. I went back into a full blown depression weeks later. I was admitted to the hospital for a week where some quick medication switches were made. When I was discharged, I was admitted to an outpatient program for perinatal mental health. It was a group therapy.
I thought I was going to hate it and I didn’t want to hear other women complain about their problems. I had my own to deal with. Little did I know this would be exactly what I needed. It was so helpful for me to be with women that were going through the same exact thing as me. These women were my saving grace.
Did you know that there is only ONE program like that in the entire state of Illinois? I wish I knew about this resource before hand. I wish I knew how common this could be. Why don’t doctors tell women about these resources as a precaution? Why don't more people talk about their experiences after being diagnosed? After two months I “graduated” from the program. They truly got me back on my feet. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t join.
I now see a therapist regularly and I am still working with a perinatal psychiatrist and my group. I’m grateful that my family, husband and friends have been with me every step of the way. Surround yourself with a loving tribe that will be there for you. No amount of words will ever be able to describe the love I have for my beautiful daughter. She makes me want to be strong and keep fighting.
I never could have imagined that I would experience this after giving birth. It is so important to take each day as it comes. Each day is another step in the right direction. I wanted to share my story to show women that they are not alone. You are not flawed, weak or defected. It is ok to talk about your experience and feelings. It is ok to say I am not ok and I need help. There is hope in healing.
XO - Katie & Amanda
Hiccups & Heels
Love and hugs to this strong anonymous mama for sharing her story.