“Enjoy Your Babymoon.” I heard this time and again from friends each time after giving birth. To them, it was a magical time to be savored. Lots of excitement over a new addition, joyful times spent with family, and quiet special moments with just the baby. I longed for this type of “babymoon” but my newborn experiences have always been quite different.
It seems to start sooner with each subsequent birth. With my first, it took a few weeks to manifest. With my second and third, it was a week and then just a matter of days. It begins with a pit in my stomach and quickly turns into paralyzing anxiety that makes eating impossible and simple tasks seem overwhelming. Then the depression sets in. A sadness that is deep, dark and all-consuming marked by uncontrollable crying that can be triggered by something or nothing at all. It is so isolating because of the shame and because it seems no one will understand anyway. When talking to other moms who have not experienced postpartum depression firsthand there is usually sympathy but no real understanding of just how devastating it is. So, I kept it inside, put on a happy face, and told everyone I was fine while I cried and broke down in private.
I used to be angry. Angry that postpartum depression and anxiety robbed me of precious time with my newborns. Angry that my self-esteem was at an all-time low. Angry that I couldn’t keep it together like all the other moms I knew. Angry that I felt like I was somehow defective or damaged. Angry that I felt so worthless and like life was not worth living. But having been through this three times, I know that being angry solves nothing. These emotions during PPD are not fact and they will change and things will get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and life is worth living. None of this is my fault and I am not broken. Even though I am in the thick of postpartum depression and anxiety yet again, I remind myself of this and take steps to help myself through it. Self care every day, accepting help from others, attending PPD support groups where they ‘get’ what you are feeling, seeking professional help, and finally medication all have gone a long way to making myself a survivor instead a victim. So yes, I am a three time survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety!