Please welcome Lyndsey to the blog. She has written a raw, real, and beautiful narrative of what it is like battling post-partum depression and anxiety. If you or anyone you know is battling depression or contemplating suicide, there is help: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline .
I cry every.single.night as I lay her down to sleep. I think of how much I missed her; or how I didn’t spend enough time with her; or the times of the day where I counted the minutes until my husband got home or when it was time to put her to bed. Wishing, waiting… for a moment where she doesn’t need my every second. I cry because I think of all of the ways I’ve failed her in her short, little life and of all of the ways I’m sure to fail her in the future. I cry because every day when I put her down to sleep I think of how another day is gone-I’ll never have that time back and I should have cherished it more because time goes too fast.
I can’t do this. I’m a horrible mom. Why did I think I could do this?
Oh my God, I left her in the car!….I left her in the car over night and didn’t even notice it; didn’t think to check in on her; didn’t give her any thought. I just wanted to sleep! She must have screamed all night long and been terrified! What if she’s dead and I didn’t even notice that I didn’t bring her in from the car? If she’s not dead, they’ll take her away. My husband will leave me, take her with him, and I’ll never see her again!
Walking to my garage, seeing my car, heart racing, I think these thoughts.
Did I mention that my daughter is right there in the stroller I’m pushing after walking around the neighborhood with her?
This is not normal.
These exhausting, hysterical thoughts were in my head for the first six months of my daughter’s life.
After five years of infertility (including 2 TIs, 3 IUIs, 2 egg retrievals, 4 rounds of IVF and 1 miscarriage) I finally got pregnant and brought my little miracle home. I was TERRIFIED. In the nine months I carried her, I never allowed myself to think of what it would be like to hold her in my arms and bring her home. I just couldn’t do it…too many times my heart had been broken and I couldn’t believe that things might actually work out; I’d have my baby I’d waited so long for.
Then, I went into the hospital 10 days past my due date, “failed to progress” in my delivery and ended up needing a c-section.
Angry because I felt my body had failed me yet again. Down right pissed off that my husband would get to be the first to hold her after I’d put my body through hell for years trying to get to this point.
When my husband placed her in my arms, it was not the feeling I was expecting. Not the “fall in love at first sight”, but and overwhelming sense of,
“What the hell am I doing? I have no idea who this person is. She’s not really mine”.
I felt so distant from her thinking she’d be better off with someone else almost immediately. It took time for me to feel like I was her mother and finally get that “aha” moment of connecting with her in a way a mother is suppose to connect to her child.
Every sleepless night and difficult feeding left me feeling exhausted, disconnected, yet obsessed with my baby to the point where little else mattered. I thought,
“This is just first-time Mom feelings. I wanted this for so long, it’s suppose to be like this. This is normal and I just have to push through it. I have to prove I can do this. It gets better”.
It wasn’t until I felt so on edge and almost constantly playing horrible scenarios that something bad was going to happen on loop in my head. (Like a car accident where she doesn’t survive or that someone was going to take away my child because I couldn’t do it any more and everyone would know what a horrible failure of a person I was). I finally realized that this was NOT normal.
I called my OB, crying like a baby to the nurse who answered my call. I saw my doctor a week later, diagnosed with post-partum depression, and prescribed Zoloft. I started it and within two weeks the anxiety was gone, but I was emotionally numb. I felt like I needed to cry…scream… but too “over it” to do so…I didn’t like this feeling either.
Fast forward a month and guess what? I’m PREGNANT again! I could not believe it! Life is crazy right?! I weaned off of the medication and not until 9 weeks before my second daughter was born did my symptoms return with a vengeance. Heart racing, bursting in to tears over the littlest of things, paranoid thoughts crowding my head. Choosing to not re-start my medication at that time because of possible complications for the baby, but wait until after I delivered. I was so afraid I’d feel emotionally-numb again. Not able to fully connect or enjoy time with my baby and be able to handle two little girls so young. Not even a year ago I was falling apart, feeling like a failure and now I have to do it all over again.
This time I was better prepared (or least I thought so). I had kept my oldest daughter alive, happy and healthy. I had fantastic friends who were there for me and most importantly I had a plan and knew that everything was going to be okay because I’d been there before and made it through.
It is beyond challenging being a mother, but this time starting the medication right after delivery has seemed to help. I still get anxious, sad, frustrated with trying to do it all, but at least I have a somewhat clear head about it. Before, not knowing what to do or what came next brought on the anxiety, but also this horrible sense of disappointment in myself and utter failure at something a woman should instinctively know how to do.
PPD (and infertility) are real struggles that happen far more often than one would think. In my opinion, we have to be willing to talk about it for us to get through it. Being a mother is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. Every day has its own struggles. Even when I feel like I haven’t given enough, yelled too much or just feel like I’m doing it all wrong.
At the end of the day when I put my girls to bed, I get a hug and a kiss and I know it’s going to be okay for at least another day.
**Love Will Voices is a new blog series featuring those who are or who have struggled with mental health. It is meant to bring awareness, understanding and support. If you would like to share your story with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. or email@example.com**