The first time I heard about postpartum depression I laughed.
I thought that it would never happen to me, after all how could one be depressed after having their first child? How could one hate their life and be unable to love a baby they were so excited to bring into this world in the first place. And then it happened….. and I felt just how real it was. The struggle, the pain, the cold bitterness of it all. It was truly hell.
I was just 18 years old when I was pregnant with Leo. I truly thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I was over the moon, you know, that whole “I’m going to be a mother for the first time” high. But it really wasn’t until I gave birth that I truly felt pain.
Take one breath one day at a time; it won’t always be this hard
I had a pretty traumatic birth experience…. it definitely was a lot more than I was expecting. It all started when my water broke in the middle of the food court at the mall. I will never forget that day; I was sitting with my best friend one day overdue, hoping to God something would happen so I could finally meet my baby boy. And it did. There I was laying in the hospital bed having contractions with nurses shoving pain medications down my throat. And I feel like that’s where it all started. I ended up getting an epidural and having a horrible reaction to it, my heart rate and Leo’s kept dropping and before I knew it they were shoving forceps inside of me trying to force him out before I needed to get rushed into an emergency c section. They managed to get him out fast enough. He was born pale and limp and I only got to hold him for about 30 seconds until they rushed him off to the NICU.
The first night of the 6 nights I was stuck in the hospital I cried. I literally balled my eyes out and had no idea why. Maybe it was because I knew that nothing would ever be the same again. And that scared me. Leo was doing great and I even managed to exclusively breastfeed him while in the hospital where most of the mothers of the babies in the NICU supplemented with formula and I felt so proud.
On the 6th day I finally got to take Leo home, but something still didn’t feel right;
I simply didn’t feel a close enough bond with my son and I secretly still wished I was still pregnant so I could go out and resume life.
Granted it was also December and too cold to bring the baby anywhere, so I decided to brush my feelings aside and play it off as just seasonal affective depression. Before I knew it, winter had came to a halt and it was a lot nicer out; but for some reason I felt worse. Thats when the real scary stuff started to come out. I started thinking of death non stop and having all these gruesome images of me dropping my son down the stairs and seeing the gory details of blood pouring out of his lifeless body. It truly haunted me, so much that all I wanted to do was escape him, I didn’t feel like he deserved such a horrible mother like me.
I needed an escape, but yet I still didn’t ask for help. By this point my mom started taking care of him almost full time while I was off escaping from these cruel thoughts. I truly didn’t know what else to do. I loved him but I didn’t love him. I had no bond with my 4 and a half month old son. It was only until I seriously contemplated killing myself until I finally talked to my doctor.
It was only until I seriously contemplated killing myself until I finally talked to my doctor.
Seriously though, why did it take me so long? Well it turns out I wasn’t alone. I found out that so many mothers wait far too long to go seek out help. Why? Well maybe it’s the fear that we feel helpless and that we shouldn’t be having these feelings towards our babies. I felt ashamed. Like I had failed as a mother. I felt as though I didn’t deserve Leo and I didn’t deserve to have any more kids because the same thing would happen again and I would never succeed.
Postpartum depression is real, and it’s scary. I wish so much that we could end the stigma around it, that men would finally understand that we aren’t heartless for feeling these things; we are just going through a very difficult time but it won’t be this way forever.
Leo is now 2 and to this day I still feel like he is the child I sometimes lack having a bond with. I am still recovering. It’s a long journey, but I know in time it’ll be worth it.