Did I suffer from Post Natal Depression or was it Baby Blues?
To be honest I will never really know, but I think I suffered from PND for the first 6 months after the birth of my baby girl. All I can tell you is my story and what I went through and maybe it will help another mom going through the same thing.
The thing about my experience is that there are so many things that come into play with what I was feeling like during that time. I can’t just exclusively tell you my experience after birth as I feel I would need to explain all the factors that come into it. I just had so much to deal with. Some things I can’t share with much detail. Not because I don’t want to, but because this is not only my story. It involves my husband and I don’t have the right to share his personal life.
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My baby was a surprise, a huge one! I was in a very new, long distance relationship. We were together for only 3 months when I found out I was 4 weeks pregnant. Luckily for me I really believed he was “The One” even before I fell pregnant. But being pregnant didn’t fit at all with the “plan”. I had a mental vision of doing things the old fashioned way. I wanted to date, get married, enjoy married life for a while, plan a baby and then welcome a baby into our lives. That was not meant to be.
He was far away and I had to break the news on the phone. What would he say and what would he do? I was terrified! Even though I believed he was “The One” you can’t really know someone after just 3 short months! On top of this I am an alcoholic and a drug addict in recovery. I have also been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, but I am also skeptical about that diagnosis. How many mentally stable drug addicts do you know?
I am nearly 5 years clean and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in rehab, and since 2008 I have been on mood stabilisers. When I got the surprise that I was pregnant the first thing that I did was go to my psychiatrist. I was on Seroquel and Epitec and didn’t know if it would be dangerous for my baby if I continued. I was told both meds would be dangerous for my baby. We discussed the fact that I might be mentally unbalanced without the meds and that would be dangerous for me and my baby. If I relapsed on my addictions that would be a lot more dangerous for my baby than the meds I was on! I trust my psychiatrist and followed his advice. I went off the Seroquel immediately and I weaned myself off the Epitec in one week as instructed. It took nearly 3 months to get me on the full dose of Epitec in 2008 so you can imagine going off those meds in just one week was rocky.
My life changed the moment I saw those two lines. I had an active social life with my friends, family and recovery network when life suddenly did a flip. I became tired and emotional. “The One” proposed and we decided to get married before the baby arrived. We also decided I would move towns to live with him as I was working for myself and it would be easier than him having to find a job in Cape Town.
We got married when I was 6 months pregnant and I moved to Saldanha. It meant that I had to travel to see my counselor and my psychiatrist until I realized I should do online therapy – https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/is-online-psychiatry-effective/
My pregnancy was fine up until this time. It seemed like the moment we got married and arrived in the West Coast to start our new life together the 3rd trimester hit hard. I was alone during the day and didn’t know anyone in the area (except my new mother in law).
Something that also made me feel very isolated is that the language here is Afrikaans (with the West Coast accent) and my Afrikaans is absolutely terrible. I couldn’t find the AA group that was supposed to be in Vredenburg and it was hard not having my recovery support group. I was also under the impression I would be able to work and cope fine until labour started. How wrong I was!
I got so fat and I could barely move and when I moved, it was slow and painful. I gained about 35kgs in my pregnancy! My brain seemed to malfunction and I found work was almost impossible. I just couldn’t think and couldn’t seem to function in any way. I couldn’t sleep or eat. I was just a huge, fat, pregnant, bundle of misery.
Something I found out recently which makes perfect sense is that PND often starts in the last trimester of pregnancy, NOT after the baby is born. Maybe all the changes and being pregnant made life hard and I was miserable or maybe the PND was setting in at this time? One thing is for sure – I was not a happy camper!
All I remember about the last stretch of pregnancy is being constantly uncomfortable and miserable. The smallest thing was impossible to do. The lovely feeling when my baby moved changed to being a horrible feeling of pain when she made the slightest movement. This bothered me the most. I hated feeling her move because it hurt me. And it hurt me to hate feeling her move. I was peeing in my pants all time and throwing up all night every night. I had such pelvic pain that it hurt to walk. I couldn’t eat, sleep or poop! And I just had to wait out the days, alone at home in misery praying for labour to come.
I won’t go too much into the labour and birth because I have written about that previously.
To sum it up my planned home birth didn’t go too well. It was 42 hours labour with a posterior baby which landed up in an emergency c-section. To say I was exhausted after this just doesn’t explain it adequately.
When I was released from the hospital we spent the first night at my parents in Cape Town and then we came home to Saldanha. We wanted to come home and spend a few quiet days together before my husband had to go back to work.
Having a new baby is scary, I was so worried I would drop her or do something wrong. I second guessed myself with everything I did. I had read all the books I could get my hands on, but found that overall nothing prepared me adequately for being a mom. I remember every mom telling me that I would be shocked and unprepared. So I wasn’t shocked that I was shocked and unprepared, but damn I was shocked!
I struggled with breastfeeding and it was not the comfy, bonding experience I expected. I hated it and I felt guilty about that. I felt guilty that I wasn’t a good enough mom and I wanted to do almost everything myself because I was worried my husband would do it wrong. I was also (very unfairly) angry with my husband because he wasn’t doing enough to help, but in fact I wasn’t letting him help or I would redo what he did. When he washed the bottles he didn’t do it right in my eyes, so I did it again. When he rocked her I would think he wasn’t doing it right, when he swaddled her he did it wrong. I have now realised he has done nothing wrong, he just did it his way.
Was It PND Or Baby Blues?
At some stage something drastic in me changed. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened or how, but it was huge. I believed my husband didn’t love me and he only married me to “do the right thing”. I knew he loved our baby girl, but I was convinced he didn’t love me. This brought up so much for me. One part of me said I should just take my baby and leave and find happiness, but how could I take his little girl away from him? Another side of me said I must stay and just carry on.
I feel strongly about marriage and families. I never want to be divorced. I believed we had made a mistake and I was so sad and miserable. I cried every day for months. I love my husband and I thought he would be miserable for his whole life because he is married to someone he doesn’t love. I didn’t know what to do so I cried and I withdrew and tried to stay out of his way. For a long time our only conversation was about the baby and nothing else. I so wanted to talk to him, but I just couldn’t. I was also so sure of what I believed and I needed to hear it said out loud, but I didn’t want to hear it. I cried for hours every day and I cried myself to sleep every night.
I struggled to do anything during this time. I was physically and emotionally exhausted every day. I didn’t have the will to do much at all. I also wanted some time to just “be” and there was no such thing. This baby just wanted me all the time. I loved my baby but I started to feel resentful. I just wanted to be left alone for a bit, but she just wanted to be fed and to be held. The days and nights felt so long! Then when hubby got home I would want him to take over for a bit, but he works hard and he wanted a few minutes of peace and quiet when he got home. I felt resentful about this too. I thought if I could go to work (away from the baby) for a day that would be a day off!
I can’t remember when my hubby sat me down and spoke to me, but it was such an emotional talk. I am so grateful to him for taking that step. It turns out he also felt completely unloved and he was hurting so badly. He told me how much he loved me and wanted things to change. Things did not change fast. For a long time I still doubted what he said and I still cried so much. Over time, very slowly things started getting better. I started talking to my husband and I started laughing again. I have the most amazing husband and I am sorry for what I put him through.
When my daughter was 6 months old things changed again. It was almost like coming out a dream and I could see that I had been in quite a bad way. The more time goes by the more I can see how bad my mental state was. The confusing thing for me is that I have had plenty of therapy and counseling in my life and I know what to look out for, but when I was there all I wanted to do was withdraw from everyone. It is almost like I wanted to be miserable and I was completely delusional!
My daughter is now 17 months and I am happy. I get so much joy out of life.
I urge any mom who is feeling anything like I did to please go and get help – you don’t have to feel this way. Go and speak to someone and very importantly talk to your husband. That was my biggest mistake. If I had spoken to him and trusted him he would have helped me.
Have you had PND or Baby Blues? How did you cope and what did you do to feel better?
wow! what an experience!
my breath catches when I read this emotional and raw account of what you went through.
but I am amazed! you went through all that – lived to tell the tale – and you are unselfish enough to bare yourself in order to help others.
I am a mom but hav not given birth, your story helps me to understand, no matter what happens there is hope and help:-)
I wish you many many happy moments ahead, continue to receive the love you deserve.
you are so strong and phenomenal
This was a touching and an emotional story. I admire the braveness and courage you have to share this article.Iy must have been a bit difficult. i went through something similar with my baby but it only lasted for 2 months., I didn want my husband to go to work because I was scared to be alone with the baby, I felt like I was a bad mother and I always commented on the way my husband done things. I was exhausted,felt unhappy and I constantly worried that something was wrong with my baby. I was afraid to speak about how I felt at first but I finally built up the courage to speak to my family and friends. Thnx for Sharing this article. There are a lot of women that go through this and they often think they are alone but when you speak about it you will find that there are many women that go through the same thing. This article really encourages people who feel this way to speak to someone which is a good thing, because most of the time people are shy and embarrassed to speak out. I hope you enjoy your little girl, may you have many more happy moments and memories together.
Amazing! More ladies should read ur story then they won’t feel so bad!!! Good luck for the rest of ur journey!
I had Post natal depression, still on medication, it was bad. 2 Days before my boy was born my mom had 3 heartattacks and the day i went into labour she had another heart attack. Then my little one did not want to latch. I had it so bad, I could not believe that any mom could feel this way. This is the reason why I will only have one child. I dont want another child to go through this with me. But now im on the right meds and talking about it and I LOVE MY SON TO BITS.
a really inspiring story. I too had pnd and after being diagnosed i made a mistake which alot of people make. I took the tablets and as soon as I felt better i stopped. This made me feel even worse after a while. Being pnd is def NOT a nice feeling for any mum and you need all the support you can get. And no it does NOT mean you going mad or crazy even though you May feel like it. There are many mums that go through this so pls dont be ashamed.
What a touching story, my heart just go’s out to you in that time. I am so happy for you that you have a hubby that cares so much for you that he actually went to the trouble of sitting you down and talking about it. So many men lately would of just left it and it usually ends up in a bitter divorce and they love to say how it is the woman’s fault. You are such an inspiration yourself for everything you went through, and you and hubby are building a beautiful life for your little girl. I can hear the love you have for your little family, its beautiful!
Wow what an amazing story very touching
Glad you enjoyed it Cindy-Ann 🙂
I hope this helps other mommies with getting through PND!
Well, I have been crying eversince my little girl was born 15 months ago.
I just asked my husband for a divorce.
I am so terribly unhappy and it feels like heis not even trying to make me feel special or help me out around the house.
I am just the maid.
We have not slept together in 8 months.
I have never been this lonely in my life.
Sometimes I think life would just be better for everyone if I died.
Oh Rina I felt awful too. I felt completely disconnected from my husband. I was crying non-stop for months. I don’t know why I came out of it on my own, but I did. If you have been feeling like that for 15 months I can’t imagine how much worse you are feeling.
If it is PND something can be done and I can promise you that when I had PND I was just not seeing things like they were. I was literally delusional.
Please don’t do something like get a divorce without first checking whether you have PND. What are are you in? If you are in Cape Town I can recommend someone that you can see.
If you want to chat to me privately you can contact me on 084 990 3518 via whatsapp or phone?
Wow you are a very strong woman! Having a baby is overwhelming…its the most wonderful, life changing thing to happen to you but the first year was rough for me…the lack of sleep…not being able to continue to breastfeed (only breastfed for 8weeks)…I still feel very guilty about “giving up”…I had milk for an army…I just did not enjoy breastfeeding…I know many judged me for stopping…but my mother told me…you have to be a happy mommy to have a happy baby..that is all that matters. I suffer from anxiety…there is no real cure but I try to exercise and my dr prescribed meds to help me cope…I just always felt very overwhelmed…so this is helping me to cope and relax and enjoy life. I absolutely love being a mom and my son is the most pecious little man! I have a very supportive husband, when it comes to our son, we work as a team!!! Your story is so inspiring to me…makes me count my blessings even more. Big hug to you xxx
Anelle your mom is so right and my mom said the same thing to me too. Yes breastfeeding is good for you and your baby, but even more important than that is that mommy is happy. There is no point in struggling so much breastfeeding that you are put under so much strain. That will really have a detrimental effect.
I am glad you enjoyed my story and found it inspiring. I know a lot of people that struggle with anxiety and it is not easy at all, it can be seriously debilitating. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting some help in the form of meds. I am on my Seroquel again now after stopping breastfeeding my youngest 2 years ago and it is lovely. I love it.
Thank you for sharing your story with my readers, every person that shares about their struggles helps to remove the stigma and it will help others!
I am so happy for you that you have such a lovely supportive husband, it makes such a difference doesn’t it?
Yes I am very lucky to have a supportive husband! I have a wonderful support system when it comes to family and friends…I never hide the fact that I have days where I feel anxious or overwhelmed…talking about it helps! I dont deal well with sudden change and tend to act on emotions…even my co workers and boss knows this…so they “understand” me lol. It is wonderful to feel that you have people in your life that understands you…this makes me a better wife, friend, teacher and friend! No one is perfect…you can only try to be the best version of yourself.
Lol meant mom….makes me a better mom too
Thanks for sharing your story Lynne.
I had baby blues and i had it bad.
Not in hospital but when we got home.
I was in alot of pain after the c-section. I was lucky to have my husband there to help me but felt so guilty to ask him to do this and do that for me.
I dropped my toothbrush and started crying… broke a nail and started crying…
My dad didnt like all this crying and couldnt understand why… but its not something that you can explain. Its a massive operation.
But it didnt last long. A week or so and i was feeling better and stopped crying.
You are very fortunate to have a supportive husband that helped you. It is hard after birth and I am so glad to hear yours was just baby blues, can you imagine being like that for 6 months? I was in such a dark space.
Oh my I had tears in my eyes all through this. I am sorry you had to go through that emotional roller-coaster but in a way it made you even stronger and I don’t know you all that well but I AM SUPER PROUD OF YOU.
It was tough Nikita, but we get through these things 🙂