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My Experience with PPD

Because I was diagnosed with depression in 2007 and on antidepressants since then, I was acutely aware of my increased risk for postpartum depression (PPD). I wanted to be proactive and on the lookout for symptoms following L’s birth so that I could treat it quickly and save L (and myself) from the adverse effects. However, when L was born, I found I reacted differently. I was very easily moved to tears, both happy and sad, following the delivery. I chalked this up to baby blues and all the nurses were telling me it was normal. I found myself worried that J would think I was emotionally unstable and that he would feel differently about me, so I tried to reassure him (and myself) that it was normal. And maybe it was at that point. Maybe it would have remained “just” the baby blues if I hadn’t had problems with nursing, postpartum preeclampsia, and the doctors and nurses hadn’t expressed concern about L’s weight gain. However, those were my experiences postpartum and I found myself consumed by worry and the need to scour the internet for answers. As we all know, Google can give you every answer (i.e., conflicting ones) and no answers. By the time I was ready to admit to myself and a doctor that I needed help, I was having difficulty sleeping and eating and I couldn’t enjoy my time with L the way I desperately wanted to because anxiety wasn’t leaving room for much joy.

Even though I had been through the process of getting help for depression before and I was already on antidepressants, I found myself resistant to increasing my dosage or admitting that there was reason for concern. I think I felt guilt (a symptom of depression) at the idea of admitting a key symptom of PPD, that I sometimes felt disconnected from my daughter. I felt like that made me a bad mom and I was scared of others thinking that of me although I was already feeling that way myself (yet another symptom of PPD). There were definitely days and moments within days where I was enamored by my daughter, and I always knew I loved her, but sometimes I felt distant and like maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a mom, that I wasn’t the mother she deserved or that I had always envisioned myself being. Even now that I am feeling much better, it’s hard to write this and I worry that others will judge me for ever having moments of doubt.

Luckily, I did admit that I had concerns and the doctors were in agreement that I needed a higher dosage of my medication. Reassurance that L is doing well and I am doing right by her was also something I needed. I’ve been able to be more in tune with her cues the last few days and I have come to realize that she needs more naps (by any means necessary, i.e., the swing most of the time) even though she fights them. Making sure she gets them has made things better for both of us. I have also been able to let go of the worry about her eating/weight, possible reflux, and possible allergy. I now highly doubt she has a cow’s milk protein allergy, at least not a severe one. Her reflux may be responding well to medication or it is possible that she is more of a “happy spitter” than she is experiencing pain from the reflux. She rarely fusses during or after bottles now, eats more than she used to, is gaining weight at a slow but steady pace, sleeps pretty well during the night (down between 10:30 and 11, up once sometime between 2 and 4, and up at 7), and she is thriving developmentally (good head control, rolled from tummy to back 4 times now, bears weight on her legs already, coos up a storm, lots of smiles, very alert and seems more and more aware of and interested in her environment by the day). Now, I am able to really focus on just how amazing my daughter is and how head over heels in love with her I am.

1

Daddy’s Ready. Am I?

This morning when I was in the shower, J came upstairs to brush his teeth. He said hello to “his girls” and, completely out of the blue, asked if I was in labor. He is definitely excited for the baby to get here and I think he’s hoping I’ll go into labor ASAP. I am more patient than he is at the moment because tomorrow is my last day of work and I am hoping to enjoy a couple days to a week of mat leave before she makes her big debut. Of course, if she comes before then, I will welcome her with open arms and just be happy if she has a safe arrival. However, a bit of relaxation (luckily I prepped the meals I had planned for freezing already) and getting a couple errands done sounds great! I’m also a wee bit scared of labor. I thought I might have been going into labor on Monday because of some persistent back pain, intense cramping, and nausea, but I was wrong. During that time though, I became a bit nervous because I was really uncomfortable but expected it was pre-labor or really early labor and I wondered just how much worse it was going to feel. I could definitely handle the discomfort I was experiencing, but the unknown of just how much the increase in intensity from early labor to active labor will be is what is anxiety-provoking for me.

I’m also starting to worry a bit more about adjusting to the demands of motherhood. Not a minute goes by that I’m not 100% certain that this is a dream come true, but it doesn’t mean it will be easy or that I’ll be blissful all the time. Fatigue and hormones are bound to cause some meltdowns and feelings of being overwhelmed. Because I’m at higher risk for postpartum depression (PPD), I’m worried about how I’ll react to all the change and new demands. I know that mommy blues are very common, so I also wonder if I’ll attribute normal feelings and reactions to PPD and rush to the doctor to increase my meds. I consider myself proactive in treating my depression (which is extremely well-managed now), which is good, but I don’t want to over-medicate or pathologize what is normal. I’m hoping that self-reflection and open communication with my doctor (and my doctor parents) will help me determine what is and is not normal.