Back in October, our second baby, Pip, was born.
As most newborns are, he was squishy, sleepy and cuddly. I was pretty prepared for this. What I wasn't prepared for was the emotions I would feel. To the point where I thought I had postpartum depression.
When Sweet Girl was born, I had absolutely ZERO negative effects. I was SO in love with being a mama and amazed at how we lucked out with such an easy baby (she slept through the night at 3 weeks!). Of course, I didn't expect future babies to be as perfect, but I also didn't expect what I experienced with Baby Pip.
The first few days while my husband was home with us were pretty darn good! Then he had to go back to work. I broke down. And it didn't stop. The feelings I was experiencing were confusing and new, but also all too real.
I'm not an emotional person to begin with, so having such raw and uncontrollable bouts of “water streaming down my face” was horrific and terrifying to me. I would cry in the shower to avoid being seen and heard (my husband is too smart for this trick, by the way). It led me to believe I might be suffering from Baby Blues, or, more seriously, postpartum depression (PPD).
Remembering that our local family resource center offers PPD groups once a month, I looked into what day they were held. As luck would have it, the next one was in a couple days. I mentioned this to my husband. He was shocked. He hadn't even thought of me having Blues or postpartum a possibility! We talked about PPD a bit, then he told me he'd take the afternoon off so I could attend the group.
That's what the first step looked like for me. Others aren't so fortunate.
What I learned from attending a postpartum depression group
Postpartum depression is such an evil form of mental illness, sneaking up on a mama in what is supposed to be the happiest time of her life. I won't get into much of the details, but I encourage you to read up on it if you're not familiar. I learned a lot from attending my one short session.
- PPD can affect women after the birth of any of her children. Maybe the first 4 were uneventful, and then the 5th triggered a dark depression.
- No 2 experiences are the same.
- Support is necessary.
- IT IS OKAY TO CRY
- 1 in 5 women will suffer from postpartum depression to some extent.
- We need to raise awareness and educate the public on the matter.
- I don't have PPD. After going through the activities and talking to the leaders of the group, I realized I don't have postpartum depression – what a relief. I was, however, suffering from overwhelm (2 under 2 with a gassy baby), fatigue (Pip was waking every 2 hours in the night), and a bit of Baby Blues (hormones are a bitch).
Even though I don't have postpartum depression, the skills I learned are invaluable.
Since it was my first time at this group, the facilitators sent me home with a work book. I flew through it, trying to find answers to my feelings. What I realized is this:
- I need to MAKE time to do things that make me happy and reset my mind (having a nice relaxing bath once a week).
- I need to ask for help (and be okay with asking for help).
- I need to be open about what I'm feeling and find a support person to help me talk through it (my husband).
- I need to accept that we need time to adjust from a family of 3 to a family of 4. It's not going to be a smooth as going from 2 to 3.
So, even if you don't think you have postpartum depression, but are feeling overwhelmed, tired, burnt out, out of touch, unbonded, sad, angry, confused or frustrated, please, please, please reach out to a friend, family member, stranger or professional. It's important to work through your feelings and comforting to be able to put words to them.[bctt tweet=”The only way out of a bad situation is through it. #postpartumdepression #ppd ” username=”hampsandhiccs”]
My advice if you are feeling like you might have postpartum depression, or something isn't quite right:
- Find a support system and lean on it as much as you need. You are not a burden.
- Allow yourself to feel.
- Do something that makes you happy everyday.
- Take a break.
- Ask for help.
- Don't be afraid or ashamed – 20% of mamas are going through the same thing.
- Seek out professional help.
- Try out a PPD group (they're free).
- Go for a walk.
- Evaluate your situation subjectively and realize that parenting and raising humans is effing. hard. work.
- Watch “When the Bough Breaks”. It's on Netflix. I encourage literally everyone to watch it. Especially great for educating those who aren't familiar with PPD.
- Take baby steps. Nothing will change overnight, and you can't make yourself happy. You need to start with manageable tasks – washing one plate, folding one pair of pants, cleaning one counter – until you're ready to do more.
And remember, you just grew and birthed a human being. It's the most beautiful miracle in the world. It's also the biggest adjustment your body will ever go through. It's no wonder there's so much upheaval once baby comes home.
You're strong. You're gorgeous. Your amazing. You're a mama.
I'd love to lend an ear for you to talk to. Shoot me an email, or leave a comment and I'll be sure to contact you for support and friendship.