You down with PPD? Yeah you know me!

22 Nov

What’s funny is that I specifically remember telling  Michael that I was sure I was going to have postpartum depression.  Of course I was probably joking or, more true to form, making a joke about something that I was actually worried about, but it had definitely crossed my mind that this could really happen to me.

Sure, I was expecting the first couple of weeks after having the baby to be difficult and emotional and all of that.  I had read about and been warned about the “baby blues” which affect pretty much all women during the first two weeks after giving birth, but I still wasn’t prepared for how I felt.  I loved the baby.  I was taking care of the baby.  I was having normal conversations with people.  I was showering.  I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing.  Only I couldn’t stop crying.  And crying.  And crying.  Of course we were dealing with all of the breastfeeding crap, but it was more than that.  I was an emotional wreck and this was uncharted territory for me.  Yes, I’d consider myself an emotional person and I have been known to enjoy a good cry, but I’m not used to feeling unstable.  I have it together.  I’m dependable.  If there’s a problem I think of some kind of solution and move through it.  I wasn’t used to feeling like I didn’t know what to do.

After some emails and conversations with friends that confirmed that the first few weeks after giving birth are in fact the Worst Weeks Ever, I felt better.  Or at least I felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel–I was heading somewhere and, slowly but surely, things seemed to improve.  By 10 days out I was actually feeling pretty good.  I was ready for visitors and the crying had slowed down.  I was feeling more and more like myself everyday, but then I kind of flatlined.

As much as I was telling myself I was “better” and “doing great” I still didn’t feel like myself.  It’s hard to put it into words.  The crying wasn’t totally going away.  I still got this sick feeling in my stomach each night when I knew that it’d be morning before I knew it and I’d have another day with the baby all by myself.  Then, after Michael left for work each morning, I’d hold the baby and cry, telling myself over and over that it was going to be okay.

I knew that Michael was worried.  I knew that he hated leaving us each day.  I knew that he was emailing my parents telling them to check in on me because I was having a hard time.  I was willing myself to go back to normal, but it just wasn’t happening.  Three weeks after Oliver was born Michael and I went to an appointment with my OB.  A 10 question survey confirmed what we already knew.  What I was feeling had veered out of baby blues territory and into postpartum depression territory.  My OB was wonderful, just like he had been when he delivered Ollie.  He made me feel like it was okay.  He told me it was going to get better.  He let me cry.  He wrote me a prescription for ambien.  He set up an appointment for me with a psychiatrist.

This is where things got harder for me.  Even though I’m a school counselor and I spend most of my job talking with students about their problems and their feelings, I’m really not comfortable being on the other side of that relationship.  I don’t like talking about my feelings.  I don’t like admitting that I can’t handle something myself.  I didn’t like the idea of taking drugs to sleep or feel better.  I was scared and embarrassed to tell my parents, who had been nothing but supportive, what was going on.

But I did it.  I talked about my feelings.  I admitted I needed help.  I told my parents.  I took the ambien.  I am taking the anti-depressant.  I did all of it.  And I am SO GLAD I did.  I started feeling better the day after my appointment with the psychiatrist.  Of course the anti-depressant wasn’t working that quickly.  Of course one night of sleep thanks to ambien hadn’t fixed everything.  But I had a plan.  I had support.  I felt better.

Tomorrow I go back for my two week follow up visit with the psychiatrist.  It also just so happens to be my 30th birthday.  It’s pretty humbling, going for this kind of visit on this big birthday.  But I’ll do it.  Just like I did it last time.  And I’d do it again, all of it, a million times over, to start feeling better.  To go back to being me.

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6 Responses to “You down with PPD? Yeah you know me!”

  1. Operation Pink Herring November 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Those first few weeks are THE WORST. I also knew it was going to be really hard… but I didn’t realizd it was going to be like that. Just awful. I never want to go through that again. Except we want more than one kid so I guess I’m going to. In fifty years or so.

    • Sarah November 23, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      I feel the same way! But if you told me I had to do it again now I might have a major breakdown. 50 years sounds about right for us too.

  2. Blanche November 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Happy Birthday!

    Not to make light of a serious matter, but I’d like to add to the things you joke about that you are actually worried about and then come to pass: back labor.

    I hope your memories of this time fade as quickly as my memories of labor have. (Thank goodness for epidurals!)

  3. Erika November 23, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Yay for being real!! Really awesome!

  4. Kurt November 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    I would like to add an intelligent comment, but I am male, and I’ve never given birth. But I wanted to visit your new blog.

  5. -R- December 6, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    I missed your birthday!

    I hope the medication is working. I’m so glad you got some help.

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