The Truth Behind The Smile
I had no idea how to write this. In fact this is my third attempt to put it down in words. It’s something that isn’t easy for me to talk about. I’d say it’s even harder than when I write about than Victoria’s procedures and surgeries.
Because it has to do with me.
I have postpartum depression. For some this may not seem like a big deal. Some may try and offer compassion but never truly understand.
I feel like I’ve let my family down.
I was able to get through my first pregnancy and delivery fine. We’ve dealt with multiple surgeries, doctors visits and trips to the hospital. I keep asking myself why couldn’t I handle one more little person? Edward isn’t hard to deal with. He isn’t colicky and sleeps pretty well (when he’s not cluster feeding). He’s so easy and most of Victoria’s major stuff is done so why did I break?
Sometimes I had trouble breastfeeding Edward. It seemed too overwhelming, too hard. I was too tired, I was the only one who could feed him and it was frustrating. I’d feed him and pass him off to Andrew as soon as I could. Other times I would love the quiet moments I got to feed him. We’d cuddle, I’d burp him and hate myself for the times I resented it.
Some days I felt so overwhelmed with the idea of having to feed Edward and make sure Victoria ate well balanced meals. I’d just huddle on a chair and watch Andrew do dishes, start laundry, pick up all the toys in the living room and keep both kids happy. I’d feel useless because I couldn’t handle simple everyday tasks.
I couldn’t make decisions, even simple ones like what to eat for breakfast. I didn’t want to hold either kid or I’d feel like I was favouring one over the other.
The days I felt like myself I’d think I was going crazy and convince myself the bad days were just a fluke. I’d say to myself, “I’m fine, look at what I did today.”
On my good days something could happen and I’d be thrown off. One night as we climbed into bed the sheets weren’t right. I didn’t know how to fix them so I cried at Andrew and curled up in bed without them. He very kindly made the bed around me.
I would have panic attacks, envisioning impossible scenarios that felt so very real. Always involving my children, and always leaving me breathless.
It took me 23 days to realize I wasn’t feeling better. I was having more bad days than good. My public health nurse had said that each day and each week should be better than last, so when I noticed they weren’t I talked to my doctor.
I answered some questions, filled out a questionnaire and broke down in tears in my doctor’s office. I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression. My doctor asked if I thought I need medication. Asking me, who can’t even figure out what to eat, to make a choice about my health felt so overwhelming. Finally we decided it was a good idea, and that the benefits outweighed the risks for me and for my son.
I noticed almost right away that the medication was making a difference. I was calmer, having milder panic attacks and felt more like myself. After a few weeks I found I was getting some of the symptoms back and needed an increase in medication. It hasn’t been easy but we are working through it together, as a family.
Resentment, constant frustration and sheer panic are not normal parts of postpartum life. If each day, each week, don’t seem to get better talk to someone, reach out and get help. I know it’s not always easy asking for help but it’s not just your health anymore. It affects your entire family.