Written by Jaime Berk
This post was written to contribute to the topic of Motherhood for the What Lola Likes blog by Jaime Berk. All facts, opinions, and professional tips are Jaime’s.
As I sit here and write about my experience with Postpartum , I feel as though it was a lifetime ago, and that I am writing about someone else, not me. When I found out that we were pregnant, I was over the moon excited, and couldn’t wait to be a mom! I had a very easy pregnancy (even though it was considered a high risk- due to me being over 35). The only part that was rough was the morning sickness, or shall I say, all-day sickness during my first trimester. I actually LOVED being pregnant! I loved watching my belly get bigger, tracking the growth of my son on the pregnancy app I was using, and being able to see him on the ultrasound. I sang to him, and even read him books while he was in the womb. I was head over heels in love with this little human growing inside of me.
Fast forward to delivery day. My water broke at home one day after my due date. We rushed to the hospital, and discovered after arriving that I was already 7.5 cm dialated. I was admitted, and the nurses thought that I would deliver within two hours. This was 3:30 pm. Well, that didn’t happen. By 9:00 PM I was ready to push. I pushed for 3 hours, and was told that the baby was not coming down. At that point I was exhausted and delirious. The doctor told me that she was going to have to use the vacuum to get him out, and if that didn’t work, I would need an emergency C-Section. The vacuum worked, and out he came.
He was absolutely beautiful, but I was so tired, and in so much pain that I couldn’t even enjoy him. I ended up with a 3.5 degree tear, which was not something I was expecting ( nothing about childbirth is to be expected as those of us who have gone through it now know). The doctor sewed me up, and we were brought to our recovery room.
We stayed 2 days in the hospital. During our stay, I was in such pain from my tear, that I could not get in and out of bed without the nurses helping me. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without one of them to help me. Worst of all, I could not even get out of bed to hold my son. I had to call a nurse to have my husband bring him to me. I was also unable to breastfeed him. The nurses kept saying that it was normal, but I knew something was wrong. Things just didn’t feel how I thought they would feel.
When we got home, the first two weeks were very rough. I could barely get out of bed because of my stitches and the pain I was in, so my husband took on both parenting roles. My only job was to pump and breastfeed, which I could not do successfully. My son was below weight, and I couldn’t feed him. He wouldn’t latch for more than 3 sucks, and I wasn’t producing enough milk, or colostrum. We went to a lactation specialist, and she told me to either supplement with formula, or just use formula. It was a huge relief to hear that, as I was stressed out, and exhausted from trying to breastfeed ( and a nervous wreck that he was not getting the nutrition that he needed). I was also very disappointed. I wanted so badly to be able to breastfeed, but I also wanted my baby to be healthy and thrive, so formula was the answer.
I was told that it may be because I went through a traumatic birth, that my milk never came in. I felt defeated, sad, and disappointed in myself that I couldn’t provide for my baby. This was the start, I believe of my Postpartum Anxiety.
As the weeks went on, I started feeling like I was watching myself from above, as though my life was not really my own. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like I was literally crawling out of my skin. I felt disconnected from my husband, child, and myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I constantly cried, and was for lack of a better word, miserable. I was a ball of anxiety. I honestly never thought I would be the person to feel these feelings. I was so in love with my son before I had him, that I could never think that I would be that woman who ended up with Postpartum Depression. I even just glazed over those chapters in all of the baby books I read because I never thought it could happen to me! At my 8 week follow up appointment with my obstetrician she said it was most likely the Baby Blues.
Well, the blues didn’t leave. In fact, they were now becoming greys and blacks. I never had thoughts of hurting my child or myself. I loved my son with every fiber of my being. I did have thoughts of ” What if I get in my car and just drive away”, ” I can’t do this, I want my old life back”, etc. I still did everything a good mother should do, but it felt like I was going through the motions. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t relishing in the joy of having a new baby. Everyone said it would be the happiest time in my life, so why was I so miserable?” I just felt so alone, and as though no one could understand how I was feeling. My poor husband tried to help, but he didn’t understand the depths of what I was going through. Mind you, he was also exhausted, and new at this whole parenting thing as well. I just started pushing him, and everyone else away. I wanted to drown alone.
I had no appetite, so I wasn’t eating, and I of course I wasn’t sleeping. It also seemed the more our parents came over to see the baby, or to help, that it made my anxiety worse. I ended up blowing up at everyone the night they were all over for my birthday. I literally screamed like a bratty teenage girl for them to all leave me alone. The next day I made an appointment at my doctor. Something had to change. I had a long talk with my doctor, and she diagnosed me with Postpartum Anxiety. She prescribed me Lexapro ( an anti-anxiety medication), and said it would take a few weeks to kick in.
I felt relieved knowing that I wasn’t “crazy”, or a “bad mom” ( even though that was exactly how I had felt). I had a diagnosis, and could now do something about it. I also decided that if the medication didn’t help as much as I needed, I would also go to therapy and maybe even join a moms group for women who were going through the same thing. The medication ended up helping. My mood started to gradually lift, and I could see the light through the forest. I started to enjoy each and every minute with my son ( okay, not every one, lol), and being his mom.
Today, I am a very happy stay at home mom with a beautiful 20 month old son. I love that little munchkin more than words can even allow me to describe! I just want to soak in all of him. He is literally the best thing that has ever walked this Earth! Looking back, I can’t even believe I could have felt nothing but elated about being his mom. It breaks my heart that I had such a rough time at the beginning of his life, but I am stronger, and am a better mother now because of it. So many of us go through Postpartum Depression/Anxiety, and it isn’t ever discussed. It was never talked about in any of the gazillion parenting classes I took before I had my son, and wasn’t anything but a paragraph or two in any of the baby books I read. If we as women discuss it more, and get it out there, we can be better equipped to deal with it, and to also feel as though it is “normal” and we can overcome it…together.
Jaime Berk is a mom and an Elementary School teacher ( on hiatus) who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband Josh, son Ford, and two dogs.