Erin's Birth Story
The day after my due date, I went to the hospital for a scheduled induction. My labor failed to progress after 25 hours and the baby’s heart rate continued to dip when Pitocin was increased. My doctor informed us that we needed to do a C-section and 20 minutes later, we were in the operating room and Mason was born! Like most parents, we were not getting sleep and on top of that, Mason dropped too much weight and required finger feeding. We spent a very surreal 5 ½ days in the hospital.
Once we finally arrived home, it was a whirlwind of visitors and adjusting to our new normal. And of course, little-to-no sleep. My husband, David, was only given 2 weeks of paternity leave – which felt like nothing after we’d spent almost half of it in the hospital. As we got closer to him going back to work, I began to feel extremely anxious. I felt as though we were barely functioning as a unit and there was no way I could handle a full day alone with Mason.
Every time I thought about him going back to work, I bawled. I began to cry at random points throughout the day – in the shower, when Mason cried, when every person I talked to told me “it will get better.” As horrible as it sounds, I felt like my life was completely over. And then I felt terrible for having those selfish thoughts and not acting like the happy, grateful Mom I “should” be. So, I cried more. After spending hours on the internet trying to understand what was happening, I self-diagnosed myself with the baby blues.
Days and weeks went by, but I rarely left the house and yet never got anything accomplished at home. Leaving the house was too much work and felt pointless – I’d have to be home in around 2 hours or less anyway. I was scared of taking Mason with me, in case he had a meltdown at a store or restaurant. I looked around our living area one day and broke down in tears because there was just so much stuff everywhere and never enough time to organize or clean.
I remember seeing the concern in David’s eyes every time he found me crying somewhere, but I had convinced myself this was my new normal. I never had any thoughts about harming myself or Mason, so it couldn’t possibly be postpartum depression (according to what I read online). I had never experienced depression before, these new feelings were just something I needed to get used to.
Finally, it was time for my 6-week postpartum checkup. They asked me to take a survey and rate statements like “I find myself crying for no reason” or “I have a hard time making decisions” or “I think about hurting myself or my baby.” I was extremely embarrassed about the way I was feeling and was not as honest as I should have been. Once I saw my doctor, she mentioned that I scored pretty high on the test (even with “omitting” some truth). I immediately started crying, explaining that I didn’t know why I was crying and wasn’t sure why I was so emotional all the time.
She looked at me and said, “It’s not normal to feel like that!” For the first time, I felt like someone was being honest with me instead of simply trying to make me feel better. We discussed some options and she ended up prescribing me a low dose of an antidepressant.
Within a week, I stopped crying daily, and eventually, I started to feel more like myself. 18 months later, I no longer need my antidepressants, but I still struggle through some days that are harder than others.
The more I have opened up about postpartum depression with other mom friends, the more I realize how extremely common it is, yet no one shares that side of pregnancy/post-pregnancy with you. I’ve realized that I didn’t need people telling me that things will get better…I needed people to be real with me and explain that, while what I was feeling may be common and normal, I might need some additional help to get back to being “me.”