You down with PPD? Yeah you know me! Say it loud, say it proud! I have hopped on the Postpartum depression roller coaster three times and you can call me controversial because I am convinced that every single woman that goes through the grueling process that is pregnancy experiences some sort of PPD. The problem is that if we do not talk about it, women will not know that they are going through it and if there is no awareness, depression wins.
When I had my first daughter (Sophia), I thought Postpartum depression meant that you hated your baby. All the signs of PPD pointed to crazy moms driving their minivans into lakes and Brooke Shields. I thought PPD meant that a mom wanted to kill her baby and then eat it with a side of placenta and fries but had I heard a story like mine or had a real warning of what could possibly come I would have been more knowledgable about the ride I was about to go on and would have been able to prepare myself to get off much sooner.
This is my story.
The first time I really held Sophia, my OB walked in and asked me if I was feeling weepy, I said no. Being a weepy meant that I had already failed. I had not even been a mother for 24 hours, I was supposed to be in bliss. I was supposed to be a lot of great things but the truth was, I did feel weepy. I felt more than that. I felt incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin.
Once I was home, I kept searching for that bond that people insisted I had. People would constantly ask me if I was in love with my baby and each time they would ask I felt as if a cannon ball was going through my chest because I wasn’t. I wasn’t in love. I was feeling fat and overwhelmed. I couldn’t even drum up the courage to leave my baby alone in a room because of a fear of my baby dying. I didn’t know something was wrong with me instead I believed that I was doing everything wrong.
I’m Latina and in our community mental health isn’t accepted as a “real problem” yet. I had no one to really talk to or guide me through what was going on until I found a support group in an online community via Babycenter. I know that if I had not stumbled on this community of women I would not have been victorious in my battle and will always be deeply thankful for them because in the moments that I felt most alone they made me feel like I was amongst friends. Virtual friends but the ((hugs)) were felt.
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and my frustration to find that bond with my baby led me to feel even more sad and alone. I fell deeper into Postpartum Depression. I remember one afternoon where I sat in a dark room while holding my daughter and just cried. I am not sure how long I sat there but at that moment, it felt like forever.
I went through PPD for 6 months with my first daughter and once I began feeling like me again, my husband and I decided to become pregnant again. We later introduced a tyrant, our second daughter (Penelope) into our lives. Unlike Sophia, the bond with Penelope was instant. She was everything. However, a little over a week later I began to feel uncomfortable in my own skin again. I felt the way you would feel in a dream where you are the only person in a room without clothes on. Even after going through Post Partum Depression once, I was ashamed to admit that it was happening AGAIN. I thought it only happened to first time moms. A few cry sessions and mood swings later, I learned that it can happen to anyone and became the PPD warning advocate for all my friends. Once I saw they were almost ready to pop, I contacted them (still do) and shared my story. Many of them were so offended that I suggested that they could possibly experience PPD that they blocked me off of their social networks and still do not speak to me but guess who gives zero Fs? Knowing that openly sharing my story has helped 1 of my friends is worth losing them all.
I experienced Postpartum Depression for the third time after the birth of my son (Baron). This time my husband and I knew what signs to look for. He called me out, I called myself out and we fought it together and faster. The key to my third battle with Postpartum depression was awareness. This time I knew what was going on. Whoever said knowledge is power was not lying. Knowledge was my weapon of mass destruction the third time around.
I would like for anyone who is reading this to know that Postpartum Depression does not always mean you hate your baby, it is not the “baby blues”. The baby blues are bull-ish. Postpartum depression takes away your happiness and checks you out of the joys of motherhood. My rule of thumb is, when you feel overwhelmed and want to cry for a few days, those are the baby blues. When you feel overwhelmed and want to throw a salad at your husband because he forgot the croutons (will not confirm nor deny) and then have the desire to run away and never be seen again, that would be PPD. I don’t mean to sound too PSA-ey but do not be afraid to ask for help because it will make you a winner at the motherhood game, even if it has only been 24 hours.
If you feel that you or a friend are struggling with the roller coaster that is Postpartum Depression, visit PostPartumProgressive.org, tell a friend, tell your online community of moms, tell someone, anyone, even ME that you are feeling funky. Diarrhea of the mouth is the first step towards claiming your happiness and remember that saying it out loud will make you victorious.