I'm not sure if it's even possible, but I think a lot of my depression was triggered by not getting enough rest right after he was born, and in large part by my failure to breastfeed. Also, depression runs in my mother's family and a lot of my relatives have had to go on anti-depressants at least once.
My PPD did get really, really bad at one point and I had a sort of mild psychotic episode. Luckily I just got super protective of Patrick, instead of having thoughts of hurting him like some women do. I was kind of afraid I was going crazy and afraid that I might hurt him without meaning to. But I didn't have fantasies about harming him like I've heard some women have. Overall the PPD lasted about 3-4 months after he was born.
I think it started when I tried to play supermom at first, and didn't really nap or rest at all in the hospital except for at night. When we got home from the hospital my husband and my mother told me to go to bed, but I kept getting up to try to help with stuff around the house, and it seemed like the first full day home I tried for 24 hours to just get Pat to open his mouth so I could nurse him. He would never open his mouth, and I have inverted nipples so I never got him to latch on correctly.
He was born on a Tuesday, and we came home on Thursday, and sometime Friday night Dan, my husband, came into the bedroom and found me laying on the floor just sobbing because I could NOT get him to nurse, and Pat was laying on the bed screaming because he was hungry.
Dan didn't know what to do so he went and got the formula samples we'd gotten in the mail and he gave Patrick a bottle. I think it's the best thing he could have done. My nipples were both bloody from Patrick gumming them to death, so I couldn't really try to breastfeed anymore until they healed, and Dan pretty much refused to let me try again when they did.
The doctor said that Pat was just one of those kids who would never latch on right, and that I'd done the best I could, but I never really accepted that. It still bothers me to this day that I couldn't do it. I totally obsessed over it.
I was sort of okay for a few weeks after that, except I had trouble sleeping, but when he was around 3 weeks old I stopped sleeping almost completely. We moved Pat into his own room because Dan thought I couldn't sleep because he was making so much noise and I was always too tempted to keep checking on him so I kept waking him up.
Once he was in his own room is when I kind of really lost it. I couldn't sleep at all for a few weeks. I'd sit around all day crying and the only time I'd have anything to do with Pat was during the day when he needed to be fed or changed and I was the only one there to do it.
Dan had to give him his baths and took care of him from the moment he got home until he left for work the next day. I just didn't even really want to look at him. I was still obsessing over not being able to breastfeed him, I think. My best friend had a baby when Pat was 6 weeks old and watching her nurse always made me want to cry.
I don't know exactly when, but at some point I started to be convinced that something was after him. It seems ridiculous now, but I kept thinking I heard voices whispering through the baby monitor, and I honestly thought at one point that someone was hiding in his closet waiting to get him in the middle of the night!
I constantly thought I saw someone sneaking around our house out of the corner of my eye. I kept thinking about this awful Stephen King story about the boogeyman coming out of the closet and killing these babies.
One day I found the book with that story in it and shredded it and threw it away and locked the trash out in our shed. THAT night I had an awful nightmare that the story came true. I woke up screaming and woke Dan up and told him someone was in Pat's room, and that I'd heard someone talking to him through the monitor. I told him I thought someone had come and taken him.
He didn't know I'd just had a bad dream and I scared the crap out of him. I went in Patrick's room (he was fine, of course) and got him and brought him in our room and made him spend the rest of the night in his bouncy chair next to the bed, and kept the light on all night so I could see him.
After that little incident Dan finally started to take me seriously when I told him I felt like I was losing it. I had my postpartum follow-up appointment with my doctor pretty soon after that, and she put me on Zoloft and sleeping pills and told Dan to take over all the night feedings (which he was pretty much doing anyway).
After about 2 weeks on Zoloft I finally started feeling normal again. I took it for about 4 months and then stopped (this was before the doctor wanted me to stop). I had a little trouble when I stopped taking it, but nowhere near as bad as at first... I just started feeling tired all the time, and a little weepier than normal at sad commercials and things like that. A few weeks later I felt fine again without any medication.
I got really depressed again when Pat was 8 months old, but I think that was more because Dan lost his job and we had to move. We had to live with his father for a month and a half and I cried myself to sleep every night. But because that stopped as soon as we finally moved into our new house, I don't think that was a recurrence of the PPD.
The one thing that still bothers me is sometimes I still feel like I haven't bonded with Pat as much as I should have, and I think it's mostly because of the PPD. I don't know if that's like a lingering symptom or something, but sometimes I just don't feel very connected to him, at least not as much as his father obviously is.
Sometimes I feel like I'm just going through the motions with him. I mean, I think he's the cutest, smartest little boy I've ever seen in my life, and I love him a lot, but sometimes I don't feel like he's *mine* (if that makes sense).
And now that I'm pregnant again, I'm really scared about trying to breastfeed again, because I'm afraid that's what triggered the PPD with Pat, and I'm afraid if I can't nurse again I'll get depressed again. I really don't want to go through that again!
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