I never thought I would experience postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. All I ever dreamed about was being a mom since I was young. Prior to getting pregnant, was on a low dose SSRI for some anxiety. I had stopped it during my pregnancy because I felt really good. So when I found myself at home with my newborn son feeling isolated, guilty, and ashamed I was beside myself.
I felt isolated because I was afraid to voice my feelings to anyone. I felt like I didn’t know what to do with my baby- I was struggling with everything. I felt like I was inadequate to take care of him. I felt quilt because I had this perfectly healthy son that I didn’t deserve. I felt ashamed because I was not supposed to feel this way. I was supposed to be bonding. Breastfeeding was supposed to be natural (it’s so hard). I was supposed to be able to soothe him – I couldn’t.
The first 4-6 weeks postpartum was a daze. I just remember bits and pieces. One very vivid memory I have is during one of my attempts to breastfeed. I was sitting in my rocker sobbing while my son screamed out of hunger, and I just thought “This is not the way motherhood is supposed to be!” I was afraid to leave the house. I was afraid every time my husband left for work he wouldn’t come home. I would try to go on walks with my baby, but found myself rushing home because was so afraid something horrible would happen to us. It was like I couldn’t reason with my irrational fears.
Finally, at about 5 weeks postpartum, my friend’s mom gave me a call to check in. She asked how I was doing, and I went into autopilot, “Oh, we’re doing great! Nolan is adorable, and I’m feeling pretty good.” I honestly believe her response saved my life. She said to me, “Danielle, you sound awful. Are you telling me the truth? Do you feel like you could be experiencing postpartum anxiety?” I immediately started crying out of both relief and sadness. My friend’s mom made me promise as soon as I got off the phone with her that I would call my doctor, followed by “I’m bringing you a meal tonight, and you and Matt are going to leave the house for a little bit.” She came as promised with a meal, and my husband and I went out to the pharmacy to pick up my antidepressant my doctor had prescribed. The 10-minute car ride to CVS felt like hours, and my heart was racing the whole time. We got home, and I started my medication that day.
I feel such relief knowing I was taking steps to do something about this dark road I was going down. I saw my doctor within a few days so we could talk in person. I could write pages about the first year of motherhood- the highs and lows, laughing and crying, both out of happiness and frustration. I am now the mom of my 2.5-year-old boy and 7-month-old girl. I cannot thank my friend’s mom enough for being willing to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation because I really feel it saved me. I cannot urge moms enough to talk about their postpartum journeys and struggles.