How I Overcame Post-Partum Depression

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Seven years ago, I gave birth to my first little bugger. I honestly can say that I don’t know where the time has gone. Seven years flew by with a snap of my fingers, I can remember every detail about his delivery and our first night home yet I can’t tell you what I did two hours ago. I was the stereotypical, SNL episode mocking of a first time mom, maybe even a tad crazier. I named my blog during his first three months of life, little did I know I’d have a blog, I actually thought it’d be a book, a girl could dream, right?

Nevertheless, whoever said that once you became a mom caring for a child would come naturally is a damn liar. That goes for all my friends and family who said “don’t worry it all comes naturally” every time I insisted that I had no idea how to care for a little itty bitty baby. When I said I had no idea, I meant I HAD NO IDEA. My sisters and closest friends all had babies before me; it was a very rare event that I held their children; I was uncomfortable, afraid to break their children and then never ever see them again. It took a good four months before I felt comfortable holding and nursing my own baby, and it was at the end of his first year when I was completely comfortable and could actually call myself a “Mom”. It was a year after that when the mere thought of having another child popped into my head was not terrifying.

The first three months of my baby boy’s life was torture for me. The pediatrician’s were on speed dial, and I called them like they were my personal assistants. I called for everything, and I mean everything. At one point, the pediatrician told me that the overnight line was for emergencies only. Um, so the temperature I should keep my home on wasn’t an emergency? Well, for me it was. 68 was too cold, and 72 well, he’d stop breathing and die of SIDS in the middle of the night. I was that new mom, the one that kept a feeding, pooping, number of diapers log. I logged the actual time, the number of minutes he nursed, which side, and if he fell asleep during nursing. Along with that I logged every time I changed him, including the consistency of his movements. Yes, oh yes, I did. My friends and family were astonished at how nutty I became. When I tell people that I could not boil water the first three months of his life, I am not lying. The actual thought of making dinner paralyzed me. Thankfully (for my husband), my mom made dinner for us for the first 4 months and my mother-in-law washed and folded all the baby’s clothes for that long as well. I was a lucky girl. You have no idea the excitement I had when I had the courage, strength, and communication skills to pick up the phone and dial out for dinner, I think it was month four and that feeling was beautiful.

I have to admit that I did suffer from post-partum depression (PPD); however I had no idea until one of my close friends told me. Picture this – it was month three; I am out to a diner with some friends, spouting out all my woes, my stresses, my thoughts that I was useless, worthless, incapable of anything, and out of the mouth of my close friend Shannon pops “You have Post Partum”. Well, for the rest of that meal, I couldn’t concentrate on a thing. I may have ordered liver, ate it and would have never known the difference. I was paralyzed with fear. I finally had a name attached to my feelings, yet all I knew about PPD was Andrea Yeats. Would my case be that severe? Was this really happening to me? Oh shit, ya think if I went to the bathroom and hopped on a plane to Hawaii anyone would notice? The fact that I was called out shell-shocked me for a good two weeks, not that I had suffered from PPD but that I was in so deep that I had no idea. Couple that with my lack of confidence, general anxiety, and my quest for perfection in everything I do, well I guess you can say I was kind of useless.

Sleep deprivation didn’t help me either, nor does it help anyone for that matter but ask a new mother if she knew what sleep deprivation was before she had a child, I bet she’ll say “HELL NO”. I know I didn’t. What I knew was that in my lifetime I experienced several severe hangovers, coming home at five a.m. to go to work at nine – at that time in my life, I would have welcomed that walk in the park; it would have been a much needed break and an escape from a baby that didn’t sleep. I also had the baby that nursed every two hours for about four months, slept in 20 minute intervals, and couldn’t poop to save his little life. I actually had my mother come over at some insane hour to shove a thermometer up his butt because I couldn’t handle it. And honestly the satisfaction of seeing poop shoot from his tush still brings tears of happiness to my eyes. At one point, I had only had 12 hours of sleep in three days; I was literally losing my mind. I experienced a tremendous amount of “what ifs”. Like: “What if I fell down the stairs while holding the baby, fell on top of him, and suffocated him?” or “What if when I was showering the baby cried himself to death?” Guess who brought the bassinet in the shower after that one? Did I ever want to harm him? NO. My PPD was exasperated by my lack of confidence in my ability to do the right thing. These thoughts were terrifying. One time, I accidently hit his head on the door frame, I called my husband in hysterics in the middle of the night (he’s with the FDNY) and then for the rest of time we were in that apartment, I had to enter the room sideways or backwards. Call me crazy, I can handle it.

My pediatrician couldn’t have said it better, he said that the month before your baby arrives you are a productive member of society and three days after you deliver, you are sitting in a corner with your thumb in your mouth babbling “ba ba ba ba ba ba ba”. Well, Dr. that is exactly how I felt, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, well, no, that’s a lie, and I’d change a few things. Nevertheless, when you’re in the thick of disaster, you never think you going to get out, recover, or survive. Seven years have flown bye, and my big little bugger is a wonderful, respectful, fun little character and still a horrible sleeper, that rat bastard!

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!

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