What an odd topic to bring up almost out of thin air. Yah, I know – but it’s not out of thin air for me. For me, it has been lurking around in my mind surprising me at random times (as I’m trying to fall asleep) and hovering over while trying to “do life”.
Baby number two is on her way and I couldn’t be more excited. My son is 18 months old and I just know he is going to make a good big brother. He is sweet, gentle, and very “in tune” to others’ feelings.
I love to daydream about “my children” and what it will be like when they are together. Her – watching him play with his trucks and puzzles. Him – fascinated by the tiny creature now living with us. Me – reading to them, going for walks together, and double the cuddles.
Don’t think me naïve. Having grown up in a family of seven children I am WELL aware of what siblings actually do to each other and what they think of each other. But as all Mothers do, we take the good with bad. We cherish the sweet, tender, happy moments and basically just endure the bad ones.
So, how does postpartum fit into this?
Well, as I dream about the future, I also reminisce about the past.
The first few weeks of trying to get baby to sleep through the night, the teething, the crying and not knowing how to sooth the baby, the baby food process, the pains of nursing, the physical and mental healing from bringing a human life into this world.
And I have to ask myself… “Do I really want to go through this again?”
The baby stuff, eh, it’s not too bad (I do worry about liking one child more than the other). But the postpartum stuff? It’s honestly been keeping me awake at night.
You see, I had a pretty rough recovery the first go around.
While delivering my son I tore pretty badly after my doctor performed an episiotomy. From there I developed granulated tissue on the outside of my wound that went undiagnosed for 6 months. I was in pain all of the time. Sitting, walking, coughing, going to the bathroom, trying to feel sexy again for my husband.
Mentally, it tore me apart.
During those 6 months my doctor gave me estrogen to take one month, then progesterone the next month, then estrogen again the next month after that. He kept telling me, “You just had a baby this is normal” and then shoved me out the door before I had a chance to ask a question. But I kept going back until he finally figured it out… after 6 months.
In the meantime, the different hormones I was prescribed messed with my milk supply which upset my son. It would take me a week or so to finally figure out that it was the hormones causing his gas/irritability/lack of a desire to nurse, and I would beat myself up that I was putting myself before the needs of the baby.
Right before the baby came TBS (The basic school for Marine officers) ended and all of our friends left, family wasn’t around, my husband jumped into more training and was gone a lot from home – I was alone.
My brain was SO foggy. When I look back over my journal entries almost every single one either doesn’t make sense or says something to the effect of, “I’m so depressed, why do I feel this way”. Again, it took me awhile to figure out that this was postpartum. I spent just over a thousand dollars trying to shop my way into happiness. (Thankfully my husband wasn’t mad – just happy I didn’t jump off the balcony like I wanted too).
I was convinced my husband didn’t want me anymore and was cheating on me. Any time he didn’t text me back right away and I knew he was available, I’d go ballistic. I quietly started to hate myself for not being good enough for him, “Why would he want me any way.”
We lived in a two-bedroom apartment, on the third floor. I wouldn’t let myself go onto the balcony because when I did, I would think, “What if I just dropped the baby”, “What if I just shoved him off the ledge” … “What if I jumped off the ledge” … These thoughts scared me – ashamed, I never told anyone.
Once the granulated tissue was addressed, my hormones started to calm down and my body was finally allowed to heal on its own. My husband was reassigned an MOS (military occupational specialty) that would place us in an area with our friends. Also, at this time we made the decision to move into an RV and for me to finish college. Lastly, I finally opened up to my husband about everything I was feeling and thinking. I was embarrassed and ashamed to tell him, but I needed to be open and honest with him.
After I opened up to him, he was understanding and kind. He wasn’t mad about the money lost (literally, who needs half the crap I bought on Amazon), he didn’t shame me for my suicidal thoughts, he didn’t laugh at my fears of losing him – he just loved me. He made more time in the evenings for me to go to the gym or shower. He made sure to check in on my feelings and to the best of his ability, take care of our son.
I think a lot of the reason for my severe postpartum depression was all circumstantial. My OBGYN wasn’t very compassionate towards me and I swear that half of the time he just thought I was annoying. My husband is no longer in training, we have a real home that we are currently renovating (the RV), I am near friends, and Iv’e got some experience under my belt.
This time around I found a really good OGBYN and I am not afraid to speak up for myself, because if I don’t who will? I know that my husband can’t read my thoughts and needs me to verbalize to him what I am feeling/thinking even if it embarrasses me. I know that shopping will NOT help the situation and that it is something much deeper. Lastly, I know that I survived and things got better… much – much better.
So, am I really willing to possibly go through this again?
Yah, I think I just might be.