Last week someone asked me if I had struggled with Post Partum Depression with Gage. It gave me pause, because at the time, I don't think I knew which way was up. At the time, I just knew I was merely surviving some days, and crying all days. At the time, I knew that I loved Gage and wanted to be the best mommy possible, but when I had a moment to myself, I felt like I might not get through to the next moment when he needed me.
I had read Heather Armstrong's very open blog about her deep struggle with PPD after her first daughter, and I knew I wasn't as bad off as she had been. I knew she had decided to check herself in for a weekend to the psychiatric ward at the hospital because she knew that's what was best for her family at the time. So, to keep it in perspective, I wasn't ready to seek professional help. But, maybe I could have benefitted from that.
I think my dark moments were more often than I wanted to admit. I believe so strongly that God delivers us from all our demons. I also believe that there are people who may need prescriptions to balance chemical deficiencies. For me, I have had about 4 seasons of emotional depression over the last 10 to 15 years. These were times as a teenager, and young adult/college student that I was dealing with things that mentally overwhelmed me for specific periods of time. It may have been a couple of months, it may have lasted longer. Some times it was just a few bad days, and I was fortunate enough to pull out of it.
I attribute these times to being extremely emotionally sensitive. Not that I easily get my feeings hurt, but that I've always been in very close touch with my emotions and have always been able to share them easily and fairly eloquently. I'm an open book most of the time, and I can rarely hold my tongue when it comes to sharing how I feel. (Curtis refers to this as me being opinionated sometimes. :oP)
Anyway, I was just a mess of emotion and hormones, as all women are after giving birth. I think to myself, we go through 9 months of carrying a child, give birth to them in a matter of hours, and then have to take care of that newborn immediately after. There are not a long of things that are as physically demanding as childbirth. Not to mention the hormone levels that slowly built for 9 months all come crashing down in about 3 days. So, you've done something physically exhausting, you're overwhelmed with love for this new child in your arms, and then you get home and all hell breaks lose.
We had a rough first night home because Gage had his circumcision that morning. I technically only stayed one night in Recovery because I had him so late Tuesday night that I was moved to a recovery room around 3am Wednesday morning. I stayed Wednesday night again, and by Thursday, I just wanted to go home! I had been at the hospital since Monday around lunch time. That night, Gage didn't sleep. His little package hurt, and I had no idea what to do. Curtis could only suggest keeping his diaper dry at all times because it probably stings to have a wet diaper on his surgery. I just wanted to get back in the car and go to the hospital and ask for help! Looking back, I should've stayed another night. But, how was I suppose to know? The nights did get better, and thankfully, newborns sleep whenever and where ever. So, I did my best to sleep when he did.
But, it was the times when I left the apartment alone to run to Walmart, or where ever for a few brief moments that the darkness hit me. I would think, "if I drove my car off a bridge right now, everyone would be ok. I have life insurance to pay for Gage's college, and Curtis would have a lot of help from our families to raise Gage." I could make it make sense to give myself a break. Being so exhausted drove me to think crazier things than I would ever dream of in my normal wakefulness. I resented everything for a while.
And, then, one day, it was like the fog left. About 14 weeks after I had Gage, life made sense again. It was almost immediate. I don't know if it was Curtis's prayers for me. I know he didn't know what was wrong, but that I wasn't happy. I know he did what he knew to do: pray for me. I don't know if it was just that my body and mind finally came together back to my normal self. There were a few factors that I've mentioned before that made things worse for me during an already difficult time. People who I've never even met trashing my peace of mind. A lack of preparedness for the emotional roller coaster. A husband who didn't understand what I was going through, because I didn't know what I was going through. That falls under not being prepared. Again, how could I have known?
But, that's how it was before. And, I know that looking back, I could've asked for more help. Shared my struggles with my doctor. I don't know how close to the edge I came, but I am so thankful to be back from it. Hind sight is 20/20, and I don't think that I knew how hard of a time I was having, or that maybe I could've used support in a different way. All I know, is that by the grace of God, and with Curtis doing everything he could during a time that was incredibly hard for him as well, we made it.
A few weeks ago I was having lunch with my sister in law and a friend who is expecting her first child. We were joking about our kids, and my sister who has three teenagers at her house said "kids are great until they're about fifteen". And, I added "and they're great after about the first 15 weeks!"
Bottom line, in retrospect, yes, I think I did struggle with some Post Partum Depression. And, going forward, I will make some different choices and plans for the next time I have a baby.