Our Birth Story: Part 3 Depression to Progression
Postpartum Depression Post
Spoiler Alert: Things are going great now. Neither of us would say we are experiencing depression. We both believe that we are figuring it out and that things are going well. Christian is happy and healthy and growing nicely. It is already becoming hard to believe that something like postpartum depression was so real just a couple of weeks ago. We just had a doctor appointment a couple of days ago, and in regard to the depression screening they always give out, Melissa said something along the lines of “this is so much easier to fill out now.”
Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire
As I mentioned in my last post, we left the hospital on Thursday. In my mind, this meant that things were going to return to some semblance of normalcy. This was not the case. We prepared the house and we thought we were ready for a baby (see part 1). Physically we had prepared. Emotionally we were less prepared.
The last couple of days in the hospital did not exactly set us up for success. We were exhausted and already struggling with the difficulties of feeding our new baby. I think this was a big part of the struggles that Melissa went through. It seemed like we needed to be feeding all the time. As soon as he finished eating, it felt like it was time to start again. It was overwhelming and I think there were some initial feelings of regret before we even got settled in at home.
The Greatest Blessing
For some crazy reason, I thought we might like to take some time to figure out having a baby on our own. I thought it would be nice to have a week or so to ourselves without much help to figure out the baby on our own. That way we could establish our own pattern and ideologies for how we wanted to raise a baby. If you ever think this way, stop. It’s foolish and just plain incorrect.
Having Melissa’s mom with us for the first few days back from the hospital was invaluable. Melissa was struggling with some form of depression, postpartum depression, or severe baby blues. Her mom allowed us to get more sleep and have more breaks from the baby so that we could focus on ourselves and our recovery from the hospital visit. She helped in the middle of the night and all through the day. There is a pretty good chance that she got less sleep than any of us. The best part was, she was able to do all this with a smile on because she just loved that little bundle of joy.
Depression Rears its Ugly Head
Melissa has never struggled with depression at any point in her life. She may have been sad at times, but she bounces back quick and generally has a positive, optimistic, and good outlook on life. Therefore, it was surprising to see her really struggling emotionally. We had heard about baby blues, and that a lot of women go through a period of depression after having a baby. Two weeks seemed to be the keyword everyone used. “Just get through two weeks and you will be okay.” They would say. This was especially in reference to breastfeeding and depression.
Even while we were still at the hospital Melissa made some statements leading towards depression. She said a couple of things like “what have we done?” “I just want to trade him in for a toddler.” “I don’t know what I am doing or how I am going to get through this.” These thoughts and comments continued and worsened at home. I could hear it in her voice. There was a lack of joy and hope during these times. It was hard for me because internally my mind was echoing these thoughts and feelings.
By the time we got home, I was feeling a bit better. I had caught up on some sleep and if Melissa was feeling better things might have gone well for both of us. But this was not the case. Melissa’s feelings of being overwhelmed increased daily. In just three days (Thursday through Sunday) there were many tears and bouts of depression. I tried my best to encourage her when I could. To tell her that she created a great baby. That things were going to be okay, and that our baby was happy and healthy. Friends and family tried to encourage her and say that things get better.
It didn’t help that she was often in pain and feeling nauseous after returning home. Her incision bothered her and it seemed that the provided painkillers made her feel sick. She was able to move to just Tylenol and began to feel a bit better. I tried to make her feel better and it just didn’t seem to help most of the time. People wanted to visit, and they did. Sometimes it went well, and sometimes it was pretty quiet. Again, I am not sure how we would have survived without Melissa’s mom there to help us. Melissa’s depression came in waves.
What Depression/Emotions Looked Like For Us
Depression, or perhaps in this case postpartum depression, can vary quite a bit. For me, it was simply a feeling of being overwhelmed. I don’t want to use the word regret because that is too negative. There were definitely feelings of “was this really a good idea?” And “I enjoyed my life as it was.” Sure, my entire life I have imagined having children, but there is a large selfish part of me that realized a lot of my free and personal time was going to be sacrificed forever. I didn’t have any fear or a real lack of confidence when taking care of a baby. However, I think not feeling like I was able to take care of Melissa and her new emotions really wore me down fast.
For Melissa, things looked a lot different. She suffered from bizarre and dark nightmares. She has always had very vivid dreams, but these were different. At times she would have these small panic attacks (like changing a diaper). She had completely lost her appetite (after the first-day post-birth where she ate a foot long sub). This worried me. I knew she needed to be increasing her diet and taking care of herself, but the depression and pain made it difficult. She was eating so little I thought that too was going to take away from her energy and feeling like herself. Her mom made all Melissa’s favorite foods but they just weren’t appealing to her. Add this to her feelings of being overwhelmed and being unsure as to whether or not she could keep a baby alive, and it was a very rough couple of days for her back home.
Be sure to check out page 2.