Hi my name is Michele and I am 31 years old. My husband and I have been married for almost seven years. We have one daughter, named Emma who is 18 months old.
I was diagnosed with PPD when she was approximately 4 months old. I still look back to this day and feel so guilty about those first few months. It's so obvious that I was suffering from PPD when you watch the videos early on and hear my voice off in the distance, and being so hands off to the point that my husband had to take total care of her.
Having mastitis twice within the first month I'm sure added to the stress of becoming a new mother, not to mention she was kept in ICU for a few days because she vomited bile and they put her through a dozen tests so I couldn't take her home with me. I had to pump at the hospital, which really throws the whole idea of bonding and feeling that "everything is so perfect" right out the window.
My midwife was supportive the whole time I was going through the adjustment period and yet I felt so embarrassed talking to her about my feelings of overwhelming depression and anxiety. I remember once I called her at home and we talked for hours, at the end of the conversation she asked that I come to her office the following day and when I did and she hugged me until I couldn't cry anymore.
She reassured me that what I was feeling was real and that I had nothing to be afraid of because this too, shall pass and make me a stronger person in the end. She suggested I speak to a Therapist and prescribed me anti-depressants. The meds helped me handle everything one thing at a time and took away the anger I had towards my family and myself. I am still taking them.
Just to let you know, there were other circumstances that occurred in my life at the time subsequent to my daughter's birth. We bought our first house, with two cents left in our pockets, because she really wasn't "planned" and we were totally in debt over our heads.
My husband just finished college and went to work full time the month we found out. I went back to work for a demanding and less than supportive boss, and my father had a quadruple bypass all in the month of October.
I had mixed feelings initially because I felt we weren't "ready" to take care of her. I feel these contributing factors added to my depression and anxiety. I was angry and flew off the handle all the time and cried constantly. I knew something was wrong but didn't know why.
I don't recall wanting to hurt my daughter but I do remember her colic and reflux stressing me out beyond whatever patience I thought I had and caused me to smoke cigarettes like a chimney and shut down the outside world.
It's so sad that we live in a world where we can talk about pretty much anything, but PPD is so taboo that no one wants to admit they have it -- let alone get help for it -- when all you hear about is hurting babies. Since its so unthinkable to everyone else it doesn't make sense to them -- let alone you.
Sometimes not only the women suffering from the depression are in denial, so are there husbands. My husband didn't understand what or why I was feeling the way I was and to this day, I believe I hold a grudge against him for it.
It wasn't something I could just snap out of and it surely wasn't something I could explain to anyone, even my best friend. He really didn't know how serious things were until I literally broke down and pleaded with him to understand what I was saying and how I was feeling. I
told him he would be taking care of the baby himself because I was such a screw up and that I was going to leave or just drive into a brick wall. I said this to him after leaving a baby shower, crying and screaming all the way home to the point of not even knowing the direction I was driving to get myself home. That 20-minute drive took me two hours; I was lost minutes from my own home because I couldn't even think straight.
To him, everything was perfect, the baby was healthy and beautiful and I was able to stay home and take care of her and not have to go to work at a job I hated, it was a nice "break" for me.
I am afraid many men just don't know how or what to do, its just so scary. I couldn't imagine how I would feel if he changed the way I did after we had the baby. This is why we need to get the awareness out there in order for those who can't help themselves to get others to assist them in that support.
Since that time, I have started my own "baby planning" business, which I am waiting to take off so I can help new families get ready for their baby, I am attending classes for court reporting (so I can work from home editing reporters notes) and we hope to start trying to have another child as soon as we get straightened out a little bit more with my job and such.
Fortunately, I have met the founder of the Postpartum Resource Center of New York, who contacted me by learning about my business and I have become a volunteer for that organization, meeting many wonderful women of all origins to gain a better understanding of what I went through and how I can serve them as a shoulder to lean on for someone who needs me to be there for them during their struggle with PPD.
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