As a licensed psychotherapist I knew about postpartum mood disorders; postpartum blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. I knew that it could happen to anyone, including me. These disorders vary in their impact on a mother’s daily functioning after delivery of her baby. Postpartum literally means after birth (of a child). Postpartum psychosis is the most extreme of the three in the way it is expressed, postpartum depression second in intensity and then postpartum blues. Regardless of which of the three a momma is suffering with, it is a challenging journey to walk on, but can be overcome with social support, therapy and medication if necessary.
I figured that as long as I educated myself as much as possible about pregnancy, birth and motherhood, with the support of my husband and my extended family I would have a positive postpartum experience. My husband and I decided to take our time before we had children and I thought that would definitely help us transition from being a married couple enjoying “a grown folks only lifestyle” to becoming a married couple with “a settled down family lifestyle”. We had it all planned out, or so we thought. Now, don’t get me wrong, we were not naive about the not so good times that would come along with the good times of being parents and we knew the road of parenthood would not be perfect; but postpartum blues/depression was far from our minds.
Of course our primary desire was to have healthy children regardless of the gender of the baby, but I must admit a part of me wanted my firstborn to be a son. I always said if I had children I would want a boy first, which I believe stems from me having an older brother and the close bond we shared and continue to have to this day. I admired, respected and almost idolized my brother when I was growing up and the good times we had were priceless so I knew I would want nothing less than the same if not similar dynamics between my future children; a boy and a girl. So, I prayed and asked God for my boy and when it was confirmed that I was having a boy I was beyond ecstatic and felt so blessed
After having my son, I mean immediately after having him, my world, my body, my mental state changed. I CHANGED! Once I was told that I would have to have a cesarean birth AKA C-section after 16 hours of active labor, I literally went numb. All of a sudden I felt like I was having an outer body experience. This couldn’t be happening to me! What did I do wrong?!?!! And from that point blaming myself and feeling like “I wasn’t good enough” was the central theme of my postpartum disorder. I had postpartum depression that appeared to be postpartum blues in the beginning, but because of the length of time and the magnitude of the emotions I experienced it was definitely postpartum depression. How could I be so excited to have a child, even more excited to have a son, and read articles, books and watch documentaries, but become disconnected postpartum. I had no reference point to return to because I was not the same woman, even more so, no longer was I walking on the same journey because I CHANGED, having my son left me no choice but to change. I couldn’t see clearly through my tears and my feelings of hopelessness to know that it does get better.
The key to getting better was accepting the change and realizing that I could not get better on my own. They say every doctor needs a doctor, so I let go of my knowledge, my title, my credentials and just let myself be me, a new mom who didn’t have it all together and THAT WAS OKAY TO SAY OUTLOUD! It was also more than okay for me to seek counseling even though I am a counselor myself. Although I did not remain in counseling for a long period of time, I went to enough sessions to get clarification on connecting these new emotions to the events that triggered them and obtained the tools that I needed to cope. I never became the woman that I used to be, but how could I, she no longer existed and once I came to terms with that, I began to have an indescribable peace. So, connect the dots and find peace in the change :)..
Here are some articles/websites that go into detail of every facet of postpartum mood disorders. Knowledge is power and it may not be your issue, but because 1 in every 7 women will suffer with a postpartum mood disorder there is a strong chance that you will encounter someone who could benefit from your knowledge and support. Be aware of the signs because sometimes someone is suffering in silence.