One of the first things I remember when I delivered my son was how ambivalent I was at first. I was in the hospital after my c-section and I remember thinking that I should be feeling more fuzzy and lovey and not irritable. Though I felt a huge sense of protection of my son, I was more than happy to have the nurses take him back to the nursery. I chalked it up to having a difficult labor and delivery and decided to wait it out instead of saying anything. I told everyone all I wanted was some peace and quiet and rest.
And so it went for a number of weeks…just thinking I needed some rest. However, as the weeks passed by, my mood wasn’t any better. I remember thinking what was wrong with me that I didn’t feel that overwhelming love for my son that everyone speaks about. It didn’t help that Babyhead didn’t sleep well…so there were often times when I was very sleep deprived, especially when DH went back to work. I remember vividly the times where I considered giving him over to my ILs to raise…all because I felt that a) I was a bad mother for not loving him like I should and b) because I just couldn’t do it anymore.
About 6 months in I realized that I must have Post-Partum depression. I was diagnosed with depression when I was in my early 20s…so I had an idea of what depression was to begin with. So, dutifully I went to my GYN and told her. She said that I would have to see someone else about it, that she didn’t take care of those things…and never referred me to anyone.
So for the next few months I scoured the insurance’s list of therapists, trying to find someone to fit me in. I was unlucky with that…the soonest I could get in was for SIX MONTHS. I probably could have gotten in with someone sooner than that…but I was on my own and I had no guidance on who exactly I needed to call. Did I call a social worker? Or maybe a psychiatrist? Or maybe a psychologist would do. I had no clue, so I called everyone. Not one person could fit me in.
I had to suffer on my own with no help in sight.
For the first year of my son’s life…I was in a haze. Trying to find help but being deterred at every turn. I felt a failure as a wife and mother and often thought about just running away. No, not just thoughts…I had actually started thinking of who I could say with, who I could turn to…all the while leaving my son behind for my husband and his family to raise.
I know that no one really knew the depth of depression I experienced with him. I kept telling myself that yes, one day I would love him like no other. That one day I would want to hold him and not just dread getting up in the morning. I struggled for that entire first year of his life.
Eventually the depression did ease up a little…but I still had bad bouts of it on occasion. I was a miserable person for a long time. I didn’t want to go out or do anything. I didn’t enjoy anything, not really. While I did come to love my son like no other and we quickly became inseparable – the depression lingered and colored my outlook on everything including my marriage and friendships. The only good thing was it wasn’t the all consuming depression it had been, but just a lingering melancholy that I couldn’t get rid of.
Then, when my son was 2 we had decided to have another baby with the idea this would be the last. My first experience as a mother with PPD had colored my perception so that I really didn’t want any more kids to the point of being terrified of being intimate with my husband. However, before I made sure and had my tubes tied I wanted to give my son a sibling. It was more for him than us…we didn’t want him to grow up always wondering what it would be like with a brother or sister. We had siblings and we wanted him to have that chance as well.
I got pregnant again the September/October before my son’s 3rd birthday. The fear of going through another bout of post-partum depression consumed me on top of fear of the complications I had. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to give my son and the new baby the attention they needed being consumed with a deep depression. DH and I spoke at length about it and we had decided to look immediately for some kind of therapist for me to visit after the baby was born. I located one and was relieved to know I wouldn’t have to wait so long for an appointment.
Right after my daughter was born I realized how much I had lost to PPD with my son and was relieved to not experience the PPD this go around. Even though I was still depressed…I did feel that overwhelming love for my daughter that women are supposed to have for their children. I felt it to the point that my heart felt like it would burst. I cherished every minute of her, even when she was crying because I knew I would never know it again since I had my tubes tied while in the hospital.
I also wished I could have had the same experience with my son. I still often wonder what harm my depression may have caused for my son. I am often sad over the fact that I will never remember his babyhood with the joy that I will remember my daughter’s, sometimes I cry about not being able to remember it. All those little things that make me so happy with her, I will never get back with him…I will never remember them.
Every time I hold her, I think of how wonderful it is…and how I was cheated out of it with my son. If someone had just been willing to help. If someone had just been willing to go the extra mile for me. If someone had just been able to recognize the depression in me for what it was so I could have gotten help.
I needed so much more than someone taking care of my son…I needed therapy and maybe even medication. I would have done almost anything if it meant being able to enjoy being a mother.
Now I know what it is like to be on both sides. Now I tell my story in hopes that it helps someone else.
For more information:
Mary Jo Codey’s Interview: http://unexpectedblessing.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/sharing-the-journey-with-mary-jo-codey/
The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act bill: http://www.perinatalpro.com/ppdlegislation/readthebills324.html
Perinatal Pro: http://www.perinatalpro.com/ppdlegislation.html
Statement from Senator Menendez applauding today’s grassroots Blogging action in support of the MBSMA: http://unexpectedblessing.wordpress.com/2009-mothers-act-blog-week/senator-menendeze-applauds-grassroots-show-of-force-on-blog-day/
Email Susan Stone @ Perinatal Pro to add your name to the growing list of supporters for The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act. This important legislation will aid with funding for increased legislation, education, awareness, and treatment services for mothers who struggle with insidious Perinatal Mood Disorders silently every day.