By Amanda Brown
For years, my husband and I struggled to conceive. I work as a labor and delivery nurse so I was constantly in the presence of new family beginnings and I desperately wanted to feel those emotions. We were told that we had a 7% chance of conceiving naturally. With the help of hormone therapy and fertility medications we were able to get pregnant, however we endured two devastating miscarriages. In 2013 we found out we were expecting again for a third time. We were hesitant to tell our family and friends, so we waited until the second trimester to announce it to the world. The pregnancy was perfect and I loved every moment of carrying our child. When it came time to go to the hospital to have our child, we were excited but very nervous. Our time had finally come to experience those special moments we so often fanaticized about. I could not wait to find out if we were having a prince or princess.
I was so excited to watch my husband deliver our baby, announce the gender and bond as a new family of three. My labor and delivery did not go as planned. We had a lot of bumps throughout the process and changes to our birth plan. Ultimately after days in labor, I delivered a healthy 8lbs 4oz baby girl, Molly Mae. Unfortunately, I was pretty sick after she was born and I do not remember the events that took place right after her birth. Our bonding time was not anything like I had imagined and I do not even remember our first-time breastfeeding. We had family and friends stop by to see our new family and I remember feeling so overwhelmed that I could not enjoy this precious time. We spent 48 hours in the hospital after delivery and going home was nothing like I ever expected.
The first days home were all a blur. I remember crying all day all night. I remember needing my husband’s help in everything I did because I was still recovering from a traumatic vaginal birth. Our daughter could sense my emotions and all she did was cry. At 5 days old I remember telling everyone that I could not do it and I was never meant to be a mother. I remember trying so hard to love Molly and to bond with her but the resentment grew more and more with each passing day. I remembered telling my husband “If she were to die of SIDS, I would be okay.” I would ask him daily if we could give her up for adoption. I would cry all the time because I did not understand why I was feeling this terrible after what should be the most exciting time of my life. My husband and family were all very supportive but I was still struggling every day. I ended up going to see my OBGYN after about two weeks and she put me on Zoloft. I had never experienced depression or anxiety before so I did not know what to expect from the medication. I also started seeing a therapist. Things started to get better and I was finally starting to enjoy my daughter.
August 7, about a month after the birth I started to feel very bad, very fast. I started hearing voices in my head telling me that I was not good enough for my daughter, my husband or family. The voices were persistent and would not let up. They would happen during the daytime, nighttime, in my sleep and they were consuming me. I would drift off into another reality where I would see myself die. I would see my family after my death and they would be happy that “the burden” was gone. I would see them living a happier life now that I was not in the picture. I would see myself commit suicide multiple times a day. Finally, August 14, 2013, I woke up in the morning in a complete panic attack and was going to walk out my door and finally listen to those voices that I had been hearing for a week. Thankfully, my mother was there and she got me the help that I needed. I was brought to the hospital and admitted to a psych ward for over a week. There I found the right course of treatment and medications I needed to help kick this illness in the butt. I will forever wonder what my first month postpartum would have been like if I did not experience this mind altering illness. Even to this
Even to this day I wish I could look at pictures from my first months postpartum and enjoy the pictures I was seeing. Instead, when I look at the photos I remember the hell I went through and how I will never get those times back. I never cuddled with Molly, never went skin to skin, never enjoyed breastfeeding and dreaded being her mom. I am just truly thankful that I have overcome this illness and Molly has become my best friend. She is my pride and joy, and the love I have for her is unconditional. I hope to bring more recognition to this illness. So often it goes undiagnosed and untreated. I feel like we need to be there for the moms in our communities to help them with whatever ailment they are battling. We need to come together and support each other.