How was 2017 for you? Was it a year filled with happy memories, or are you glad to see the back of it? Was postpartum depression a real problem for you, and is it still something that you are struggling with?
Every day, we all have the chance to start over. You can build stronger relationships, learn how to manage your emotions and create an amazing bond with your baby. Although, at times, it can feel like you are battling upstream in the dark, we believe that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it looks like a teeny, tiny spot waaaay off into the distance.
It may seem that a baby has no awareness of your emotions, but in our opinion, we think that a baby has a subconscious, energetic awareness of you as his mother. Whilst it is never good to bottle down your emotions, it can be a struggle to find a way to process them successfully.
Below is an interview with our friend Sarah who suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her son, Daniel. We hope you find it interesting, because we did.
Joanne from Baby Nursery Gliders was the person interviewing Sarah.
Jo: Hi Sarah, good to have you here to tackle this difficult subject
Sarah: Thanks Jo. Yes, it is a tough subject for many new moms and you can often feel very alone.
Jo: Indeed. It wasn’t something that I experienced after the birth of my two boys, but I have friends who had a horrible time with postpartum depression. So can you tell us your story?
Sarah: Daniel was my first baby. We had been trying for three years before I fell pregnant, David and I were ecstatic. I remember feeling so happy and joyful at the time. I had a fairly easy pregnancy I think. I didn’t suffer from morning sickness, although I did have some rather strange food cravings.
Daniel arrived pretty much bang on time for my due date and the birth itself was not as bad as I was expecting. When he was first shown to me, I thought my heart would explode out of my chest. He was so perfect. His little toes and fingers were so tiny and I couldn’t stop looking at him.
We were sent home within a couple of days and my mom came to stay to help me. At first, it was like a dream. Daniel was a good baby and my mom was brilliant at showing me what to do. I really am very lucky to have a strong support team with my family and friends, because I know that this isn’t the way for everyone.
Jo: Yes, you are right. I have a couple of friends who are single moms and don’t have the support that they hoped for from their families. It is sad for it to be that way.
Sarah: Yes it is sad and, in a way, I felt guilty with what I went through because I kept telling myself that I was very lucky and I should be grateful!
Jo: Ah yes, the ‘should’ word. I think we should all ban that word. Oh, ooops, it isn’t so easy is it?
Sarah: Haha, yes indeed. Anyway, as I said, at first everything was great. I had six months off work and was looking forward to my time with Daniel. Then I began to notice that I felt a little low in myself, a bit moody and despondent. At first, I tried to hide it but it became harder and harder to do that. I kept telling myself to snap out of it and to be grateful for all that I had.
I have never been a person that cries much. I always prided myself on having a positive mindset and I had never suffered from depression before. But this thing just took me over, it literally felt as if I was going nuts and had no control over my emotions. I cried and cried and cried and I couldn’t even work out why I was crying.
I struggled to manage my irritations and frustrations. Everything seemed to evoke a negative reaction in me. I began to implode and cut myself off from people so they couldn’t see what was going on with me.
Jo: That sounds horrible.
Sarah: Yes, it was. I became very selfish, only thinking about how I felt. I was caring for Daniel of course but (and I hate to even say this out loud) it was like I was on auto-pilot, just going through the motions. I felt cold emotionally and couldn’t feel the deep love for Daniel that I had at first felt. I was genuinely worried that I didn’t love my own child.
Jo: So, what did you do?
Sarah: Again, I must say that I am very lucky with my family and friends because I know that it can be challenging for other new moms. In the end, it was nothing I did but more about what my loved ones did. My mom is pretty savvy and she took me out for a spa day where she gave me a thorough grilling on what was happening with me.
I am glad the spa was quiet that day because my blubbing would have put other customers off their pamper day. My mom wouldn’t let it go and forced me to tell her EXACTLY what I was experiencing. At the end of it, she sat back and told me that she thought I had postpartum depression.
Jo: What was your reaction to that?
Sarah: Well, when mom explained it all, I felt a massive sense of relief. Postpartum depression is an ACTUAL illness which meant that there was something I could do about it. I felt like the weight of the world fell from my shoulders.
Jo: What did you do next?
Sarah: First off, I made an appointment with my doctor and he gave me some medication to get started. Then, I spent days on the Internet, researching postpartum depression. I bought some books and natural supplements and I booked a weekly appointment with a counselor who specializes in postpartum depression Gradually, I started to recover and get back to my normal positive self.
Jo: Excellent. Now, the question I want to ask you is if you think that your depression had much effect on Daniel. This is something that other moms suffering from postpartum depression have discussed, so I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.
Sarah: I am certain that it did. When we first came home from hospital, Daniel was an amazing baby. He didn’t cry much and was incredibly regular with his sleep and feeding patterns. It seemed like he was the perfect baby.
But, looking back, as my moods started to fluctuate, my perfect baby became crabby and cried a lot. He spat out his food and woke me multiple times through the night, not at his regular times. He seemed agitated and unhappy. I felt guilty about that, and still do.
However, as I got myself back into balance, Daniel gradually settled down again and reverted back to the happy, well-balanced baby that he started off as. Of course, he is now four and he has been a wonderful toddler. Thankfully, it seems that there have been no long-term effects from my postpartum depression.
Jo: How long did the postpartum depression last?
Sarah: It was only about six months, though at the time it felt like six years as each day dragged by.
Jo: What do you think helped the most?
Sarah: For me, the most important step was telling my mom what was going on. Though I need to say how important it is that you only disclose to a person that will 100% support you and not judge you. One of my friends confided in her sister who told her to pull herself together and stop being pathetic!
You feel so vulnerable at the time and you feel like a failure. You want to pull yourself together but you can’t do it without help. So, only confide in someone who you know will NOT put you down. I am so lucky I have a great mom who is also kind and understanding.
Jo: That is excellent advice Sarah. What else?
Sarah: See your doctor, or talk to your midwife who can guide you to a support group maybe. If you like reading, there are some fantastic books on postpartum depression. I also researched a range of natural supplements and took those for a long time.
Exercise also helped. I started running again. I joined a running group so I was forced to go out and do it. You don’t feel like doing anything, and weight gain was just another irritation. Though, at the time, I didn’t care and ate just about anything I wanted. It took me a year to lose all of that weight
Jo: How did you lose the weight Sarah? I have never managed to get it all off and am still carrying about 20 pounds more than I like?
Sarah: It isn’t easy but, in the end I tried the Beyond Fit Mom program. I tried other dieting and exercise systems but they weren’t specific to baby weight and this one is. The postpartum depression left me feeling exhausted, so my motivation for exercise was really low. It took me a year, but I am now the same weight I was before Daniel was born.
Jo: That sounds great. I will take a look at that. Sarah, do you mind me asking if Daniel will be having a little brother or sister at any time in the future?
Sarah: Well, funny you should say that but I am four months pregnant!
Jo: Hahah, I must be physic! Do you think you are more prepared for postpartum this time?
Sarah: Definitely. If it happens again, I am ready for it. I am reading all my books again, mom will be on stand by as my support and this time, I won’t make a secret of it. I will get help instantly. I am worried that it may happen again and I am not looking forward to it, if it does happen, but I know I can get through it now because I have done it once and come out the other side.
Jo: Fantastic Sarah. Thank you so much for doing this interview with us today. We really appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us.
Sarah: My pleasure Jo, I just hope that it helps another mom to cope with postpartum depression. If it helps just one mom then I will be happy with that.
Jo: Wonderful! You are very kind and please do let us know when you have your new baby.
Sarah: I will, thank you. And good luck with your baby nursery gliders website