Monday, January 7, 2008

Postpartum Depression

I first wrote this post on my old blog, http://www.infertilityisfunny.blog-city.com/ . That site is no longer, and my archives are gone with it - but in light of my conversation with my OB that he is not to let me out of the hospital without medication, in light of my thoughts about baby and all that comes after, I wanted to share it again.

PPD and New Motherhood
It's like being plunged into icy cold water, the kind that shocks you, makes you gasp for breath and your entire body tingles. The sounds of the outside world are muffled, voices take on an "adults in Charlie Brown's world" characteristic and while your attemps to control your flailing limbs seem to be going at super speed your limbs themselves are not. You feel heavy, lethargic and as if you are dragging dead weight.

At first you don't know which way is up, can't see well and though you KNOW what you're supposed to be doing, now that the time has arrived you find yourself doubting your abilities. What if I can't get my head above water? What if I do it wrong? Am I drowning?

Your head bobs to the surface, you search for the shore and realize for the first time not only are you disoriented, you are tired. You know the difference between day and night, it's just the difference no longer matters - the work is the same. Sometimes the waves are somewhat calm, you find yourself able to float but can't help but anticipate the next wave that will knock you under. Instead of resting and relaxing you are tensed, anxious and worrying about the next wave before it ever arrives. When it comes, it dunks you under and you wonder why you didn't take a moment to catch your breath first.

The thing is, you love the water and have lived your life waiting for a glimpse of the sea. There are times it washes over you and you think "is this real? Am I really here?" The tears aren't always those of sadness but of joy - this is what you've always wanted. And yet.

You'd give your left leg for some time on the shore. Your husband swims for a while but then gets out, does his own thing and you're still there, treading water, feeling the burn of exhaustion in your muscles. You'd even be ok with staying in the water, if he could at least stay in there with you, keep you company while you cry. You find yourself starting sentences with "I love this more than anything, " and ending them with "but..." You find yourself angry that your whole world is different and his seems less changed. You are happier than you've ever been and crying your eyes out. You've never been so completely in love or wondered so much about where the "you" you know went.

It's hard. You have all you've ever wanted, and admitting that sometimes it is too much is simply too much. Sometimes you don't even see it yourself, or you do but nobody else does.

It isn't always hard or bad or tiring. As crazy as it sounds sometimes you get a break only to find yourself wishing for the water. Therein lies the secret - getting the break, so that it is easier to tread the water.

This is what new motherhood and post-partum depression can be like sometimes. It isn't always right away, isn't every day or even all day sometimes. It can ebb & flow like the tide.

To my friends in the computer, new mommies, mommies to be...know where your life preservers are. Know the signs, but educate those close to you too. Line up help ahead of time so you can have an hour, a few, or an evening off. Find other new mommies too and spend time with them. Get out even with the baby...emotions aren't as intense when you aren't sitting in the house alone with the baby. Let your husband take over sometimes, even if he doesn't put the diapers on right or calm the little one as quickly as you can.

If you are in over your head, or even just think you might be, reach out. There's nothing wrong with wearing a life vest, even if going into the water was your idea.

Women who have dealt with infertility have a much higher incidence of post-partum depression than those who have not. Maybe because we've already had such a hormonal & emotional roller coaster, maybe because we doubt ourselves, maybe because it is so hard to admit that getting what we've always wanted comes withits own challenges. Whether it is the baby blues or ppd, there is no shame in getting help to make it easier. Being prepared is a great first step.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your old blogs which you lost:

http://download.xdrive.com/s/796253504PezhbAGTBD3DiswpT04?partner=plus