Today’s post touches on a topic that’s seemingly taboo and tends to go unacknowledged in our community–Postpartum Depression.
“The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression. Many new moms experience the “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings and crying spells that fade quickly. But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression.” (Information courtesy of The Mayo Clinic)
In 2012, studies showed that 1 in 5 moms suffered from postpartum depression.
We interviewed our friend and fellow Posh Mumsy Janelle; she is twenty-six years old and the mother of two-year-old Dapper Dude Dallas. Janelle is one of the 1 in 5 moms who suffered from Postpartum Depression. She opened up to us to share her story.
September 28, 2010: The day Janelle’s life was forever changed–she became a mother.
During her pregnancy, Janelle enjoyed every moment. The special treatment that she received as “The Pregnant Girl,” her growing belly, and the beauty that comes along with carrying a life inside of you. To top it off, her relationship with her boyfriend De’Angelo was stronger than ever–they were beyond excited for the arrival of their first son.
After an enjoyable and uneventful pregnancy, Janelle went into labor with Dallas as scheduled. She lost her mucous plug one night after some ahem, “adult activity,” and in true, first-time mommy fashion, she asked her mommy friends, “What the heck is this?!” The general response: “You’re getting ready to have your baby!” The very next morning, her water broke and she and De’Angelo headed to the hospital. After a grueling 19 hours, Janelle had no progression whatsoever in her labor–Dallas’ head simply would not come down. It was decided that a C-Section would be the best route. “I felt everything. The pressure, the pulling, the tugging, I felt it all,” she recalls, “But De’Angelo was there. He never left my side the entire time. He was a HUGE support.”
When Janelle heard Dallas’ first cry, she cried…well, like a baby. She exclaimed, “THAT’S MY BABY! THAT’S MY BABY!” It was one her proudest life moments.
Janelle attempted to breastfeed Dallas but he wouldn’t latch on. She had to use a nipple cover in order for him to successfully nurse and this was big blow to her mommy mental. “Is something wrong me?,” she asked herself. While in the hospital, they decided to let Dallas stay in the nursery all night to get some sleep. Janelle didn’t feel the connection with her newborn son.
On October 1st, Dallas and Janelle were discharged from hospital but she didn’t feel right. She knew he was her child, the son she carried for 9 months, the newborn baby she just gave birth to, but she felt didn’t know how to be a mother. “The Maternal Instinct didn’t kick in.”
At home, things only got worse. Dallas had colic, he still wasn’t nursing, and to top it off the pain medication Janelle was prescribed had bad side effects on her mentally, without the pain medication it hurt to hold Dallas. “What do you do?”
She never wanted to be left alone with Dallas; her mom or De’Angelo were always around. If they did leave and she found herself alone with Dallas all she could do was cry, then Dallas would cry and she really had no clue as to what to do. Without a doubt she loved her her son, but that connection, that bond that a mother should feel with her child, just wasn’t there. “I cried all of the time.” This is the side of motherhood that those on the outside don’t get to see. “Once all of the visitors are gone, then what do I do? I’m left alone with this baby and don’t know what to do.”
A few weeks later Janelle lost her job. From the C-section, the stress of being a new mom, and being newly unemployed, she wasn’t producing enough milk which ultimately led to her decision to stop. “I really think being able to breastfeed would have helped. I think actually feeling him nurse and knowing I was providing for him would have helped me mentally.”
“I Didn’t give Dallas his first bath, My mom did. I was there, I was in the room, but my mom was the one holding him, bathing him, soothing him. It was a painful experience. My mom was really the only one that could calm him down when he cried and that, that made me feel like I wasn’t really his mother.” De’Angelo understood that Janelle was going through something, he just didn’t know what. But like any Dapper Dad, he remained supportive throughout the entire ordeal.
Going through paperwork, Janelle found a packet that she received when she was discharged from the hospital. Inside of the packet there was a pamphlet on Postpartum Depression. She read through the information and instantly she knew it described her. In the weeks to come Janelle never spoke to anyone — friends, family, or professional — about what she was going through. “I didn’t talk to anyone about it because of the stigma that came along with it. I didn’t want people to think I would ever hurt my baby, myself, or anything like that. I didn’t want the judgment or for people to think I was crazy.” As the months went on, Janelle felt better about motherhood but still felt like she was just going through the motions. Of course she loved him to no end and would do anything for him but her bout with Postpartum Depression really took a toll on her.
“This past Mother’s Day, I had my moment of clarity.” Dallas and Janelle spent Mother’s Day together, just the two of them. “I realized this IS my son.” There was no true remedy for her Postpartum Depression; her healing came with time. “I am always praying over him. I pray for him in everything that he does. That’s my baby.”
Reflecting on her first weeks of life with Dallas, Janelle says, “I don’t go out much at all because I feel like I need to make up for the time I didn’t and couldn’t spend with him when he was first born. I feel like I’ve done a total 180 in how I was before. My mom definitely sees the change in me.”
“I felt open to share my story because people need to know–This is really real. It is possible for anyone to go through it but no one talks about it in our community.” Postpartum Depression doesn’t discriminate against your age or ethnicity. “I tell my friends who are new moms all of the time to ‘call me, talk to me if you need to.’ I was there before. If you feel like you can’t be left alone, don’t be left alone. I can’t put a time stamp on it, but it will definitely pass. Talk to someone, read a pamphlet, anything. Having a strong support system really helps.” Even after healing, Janelle still wonders, “Will this happen if I have another child? It’s definitely a place that I don’t want to go back to.”
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing Postpartum Depression (PPD), just know, that you do not have to go through it alone. If you don’t feel comfortable seeing a professional, there are plenty of reputable resources available online. This one is particularly good http://www.postpartumprogress.com
A HUGE THANK YOU to Janelle for sharing her story with us and allowing us to share it with you!
Love and Hugs,
The Posh Mumsies