Postpartum Depression: My Story

At the hospital with my son George and newborn Bobby


I just had my second child two months ago and have felt the ups and downs of postpartum. Elation over having a new baby quickly turns into irritability over not sleeping, which turns into anxiety over how I’m gonna get through the day with a newborn and three-year old, then anger and sadness ensue over god knows what. I know this is normal since luckily postpartum moodiness (also know as the “baby blues”) and depression are something that are often spoken about nowadays.

Ever since the tragic story of Andrea Yates drowning her 5 children to “save them from hell,” postpartum depression has been a subject that has gotten a lot more attention. Brooke Shields wrote a book about her experience with this disorder in “Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression,” which provided it with more media attention as well. Since her’s is a story of successfully overcoming postpartum depression, it  helped women realize that it’s something that you can get help for, conquer and continue to live a happy life.  It doesn’t have to end tragically.

During and after my first pregnancy I had a lot going on. It was an unexpected pregnancy, so the only preparation we had for his arrival was the 9 months he was in utero. We weren’t married and didn’t live together. When I found out I was pregnant my lease was almost up, which was convenient. I moved in with my then boyfriend, who soon became my fiance. He had a small one bedroom condo so we put it on the market and started looking for a house.  We got married in a small ceremony before the baby was born but wanted to involve more of our family and friends in our partnership, we decided to have a bigger ceremony the summer after the babies arrival. On top of preparing for baby, selling a condo in the city and buying a house in the burbs, we were trying to plan a wedding. Oh, and did I tell you I didn’t have my driver’s license!? I had always lived in the city near public transportation so never required one, consequently, I needed to learn to drive asap and got my license at the mature age of 30.

Needless to say, things were pretty crazy when my son George was born which made it more difficult to deal with the hormonal changes that come after having a child. It was about a month and a half postpartum that it really started to hit me, I was completely anxious, stressed out and just trying to get through the day-to-day. I started drinking to cope. A little at first and then it escalated into a real problem.

Many bottles of wine and a year later I finally came to my senses, with a lot of support from my family. I was having anxiety attacks and my mother came out from Illinois to Boston to help me, god bless her. It was clear that I was having trouble dealing with life. She noticed I was drinking a lot and spoke to me about it. My husband had spoken to me about it too, but it was always something I blew off as just a way of getting through this stressful time and once things settle down I won’t be drinking as much. When I was ready to get the help I needed I luckily had the love and support from family and friends to confront my problems. I had battled with depression and anxiety throughout my life and since postpartum depression was something that I had heard so much about I knew that was probably what I was going through.

I was able to quit drinking with help from others who had battled with addiction. I started seeing a therapist and to do things that really helped me feel better emotionally, not just the quick fix of having a glass of wine. Working out, meditation, yoga, self-help books and just talking to people going through similar situations helped me abundantly.

It is very difficult for women to understand why they are feeling sad after giving birth. They are after all expected to be the happiest they have ever been in their lives after having a child. We all want to be strong, capable and selfless mothers. The reality of it is that adjusting to motherhood is extremely difficult. It is the biggest responsibility you will ever have and therefore incredibly important to be self-aware and honest. You need to feel comfortable enough with yourself and your loved ones to acknowledge that you are having problems, however large or small.

“Up to 80 percent of new mothers experience the baby blues, an emotional reaction that begins a few days to a week after delivery and generally lasts no longer than two weeks. If you have the blues, you may be weepy, anxious, and unable to sleep. You may also be irritable or moody.” – Babycenter.com

These symptoms generally go away within a few weeks. If they continue for longer then two weeks and get worse please see your doctor as this may not just be a case of the blues, but full on depression.

Postpartum depression can begin any time during the first two months after you give birth. Symptoms may include:

Irritability or hypersensitivity
Difficulty concentrating
Anxiety and worry
Crying or tearfulness
Anger
Negative feelings such as sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, or guilt
Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
Difficulty sleeping (especially returning to sleep)
Fatigue or exhaustion
Changes in appetite or eating habits
Headaches, stomach-ache, muscle or backaches

Ways of combating the baby blues and postpartum depression:

1) Tell someone! Please communicate with someone close to you that you are having problems. Believe it or not no one expects you to be wonder woman. They will be happy to help you in whatever way you need and you will feel so much better when you get it off your chest. If you are having trouble talking to someone you know here is a hot line that you can call: (800)PPD-MOMS ; (800)773-6667

2) Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating and sleeping properly. If you need help ask for it. If you need a nap, ask someone to watch the baby for a little while to catch up on sleep; or sleep while the baby sleeps and don’t worry if housework goes undone. Keep in mind that your top two priorities are that you and the baby are taken care of and if you are not taken care of the baby won’t be.

3) Get outside. I know it’s hard but it’s always a mood booster to get out and get some fresh air. During the winter months this may prove to be difficult, I have found that many malls have “walking hours” before the stores open. Check out your local mall and try to plan on taking the baby for a stroll at the mall in the mornings.

4) Join a mothers group. Meeting new people and talking about motherhood with those that can understand and offer advice is a great way to help your mood. Check out meetup.com or babycenter.com for mothers groups near you.

5) My personal favorite: get some exercise! You need to wait until you get the go ahead from your doctor, but please try to get into an exercise regime as soon as you can postpartum. Even if it’s just taking a short walk once a day. Exercise is the best defense against anxiety and depression. It promotes overall emotional and mental wellness.

And lastly, don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself! Remember that the health and happiness of your child depends on it.

Have you had the baby blues or postpartum depression? If so I would love to hear your story and how you were able to overcome it. Please email me at hilary@ugobabyfitness.com.

Until next time stay strong!

xo,

Hil

18 thoughts on “Postpartum Depression: My Story

  1. It’s amazing what exercise can do…I’m at the other end of life (post menopausal) and it’s still one of the best things for me at my age. Thanks for following me and the nice comments on my art. I just added you to my Bloglovin list ♥

    • Yes! I’ve had several clients tell me how great they feel since they began working out. A lot of people don’t realize how helpful exercise is mentally. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. When I had my daughter 13 years ago, post partum depression wasn’t really talked about. I went through a horrible time dealing with coping after a new baby. I had horrible thoughts and was very embarassed to speak to anyone about them. I am glad more women are coming forward now and sharing their stories with the world and letting other women know it is perfectly normal to experience post partum and there is help available.

    Thanks for stopping by Theresa’s Mixed Nuts. I am already and Twitter Follower, but have added you to my Google RSS feed as well 🙂

    • I’m glad you appreciate my story, I hope that my honesty helps other women feel comfortable with talking about this subject.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I just started blogging a little while back and it’s been really inspiring to see how women in the blogging community support each other.

  3. Thank you for this. I’m still in the thick of it. PPD is why I started blogging. But I have yet to blog about it. I’m just not ready yet… I didn’t know exercise would help? I’ve had such a hard time getting time for it. I’m here from the hop and will keep following. I need your juju!

    • It’s so good to hear from you. I share my story hoping that others will read it and and maybe it will help them in some way. I know it’s hard, stay strong and yes, if you can find time for it, try to squeeze in some exercise. My doctor tells me it’s one of the best things you can do for your emotional health. However, much of the problem is not being able to find time to do things that will make you feel better. And then when you do find time, motherly guilt sets in about doing something for yourself. At least that’s how I was, and still am a bit!
      Good luck!! I’ll check out your blog and follow you back.

      • Oh.. another thing, I like that you started your blog to help you with your PPD. I started mine to help keep some form of sanity too. I am trying to avoid going down the same road I did with my last child. It helps to have something that’s my own in the midst of the craziness of raising 2 kids.

  4. Hil, you might not know it, but you were helping others (me) before you even started this blog. Your strength through your experiences is remarkable.

    This is a beautiful post. So honest and direct. Makes us all feel a bit of hope.

    Loveya

  5. Thank you for sharing this story, I think it’s so important for mothers to be honest about PPD because so many suffer from it and are afraid to talk about it. I suffered pretty sever post postpartum depression and waited 13 months to get help. I wish I would have gotten help sooner because I feel like I missed a lot of my daughters first year being miserable. Stopping by from the blog hop and am now your newest follower:) Hope you can come check out Crazy Mama Drama !
    http://crazy-mama-drama.blogspot.com/
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crazy-Mama-Drama/259491484156846

    • Thanks so much for your comments! I agree that it’s so important to talk about this subject and love when mothers hear my story and it helps them in some way. They don’t feel so alone. I felt the same way about my first child, the first year was kind of a blur because I was just trying to get through it. I’ve been able to enjoy my second much more. I feel a little guilt about this that my first didn’t have the mother he deserved that first year, but I’m glad to be mentally well now and I’ve been doing my best to make it up to him. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by I’ll reciprocate!

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