This is my 600th post here on the blog and it’s a serious one. It’s one I have been writing in my head for months unable (or unwilling?) to type out the words. I thought if the words actually surface, then I can no longer casually pretend that this issue hasn’t been weighing on me.
If you have been following the blog since Porter’s birth or shortly thereafter, you know that I struggled with Postpartum Depression (PPD.) I previously had bouts of severe clinical depression between the ages of 19-24 (with the worst of it being between ages 19 and 21.) I hadn’t had a significant depressive episode for years, so when PPD hit me I denied it to myself for quite some time. I knew what depression felt like–but this time there was rage. Once the rage set in I knew this was a serious issue that I couldn’t face alone. So almost exactly three months after the birth of my son, after about three weeks of being back at work, I finally got up enough courage to admit to my husband that something was very wrong and that I needed his support as well as medical help.
And I did this on his birthday, of all days.
Admitting to my husband that I thought I had PPD was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
That was almost four years ago and I have come a long way since then. I’ve been off of depression/anxiety medication since August 2010. I’ve learned the importance of self care. I cut myself a lot of slack. I have the occasional “bad day” but I know that it is only temporary.
I think that 2012 was one of the happiest years of my life. I had finally adjusted to life in PA. I still didn’t have as much work (income) as I would have liked, but I loved what work I did have and felt good about the companies with whom I was working. Porter was growing and thriving and I finally felt that I was doing okay as a mom. I made a devoted effort to lose weight and made it a point to carve out “me time” in my schedule. I started running, which not only gave me alone time but also did wonders for my mood and anxiety issues (weight loss too!) Overall, I felt whole and happy which is why I finally felt ready to try to have another child.
I was thrilled to find out I was pregnant again and I am feel lucky that both of my pregnancies have been happy and healthy. This pregnancy has definitely been a journey. I feel like I have been slowly walking down a long hallway with a door at the end of it. I can tell that beyond the door is a bright, shining light–I can see it spilling out from around the door. It gives me hope and I am anxious to see what life is like on the other side. But I feel this…thing…creeping behind me. I look over my shoulder, but I don’t see it. I just feel it there.
That’s Postpartum Depression.
It’s following me.
It’s keeping its distance, but it is there.
All I can really do about it now–before the baby comes–is come up with a “plan of attack” if it decides to show its face again. Here are some of the things I plan on doing the second time around:
- Be absolutely honest with myself, my husband and my doctor about how I am feeling and dealing. No “it is just the Baby Blues, it’ll pass” or “I’m sure you are just overracting–this is just how life with a baby really is.” I need to tell people how I am feeling and not be ashamed.
- If I should need it, I will welcome medication with open arms.
- I will not be breastfeeding this time around. I had a very difficult time of it after my first pregnancy. Although I am happy I made it through three months of breastfeeding Porter, we had a lot of issues making it work and my supply, which wasn’t great to begin with, dropped significantly once I went back to work. My struggles with BFing made me feel like a huge failure and I feel very strongly that those feelings played a significant part in my PPD the first time. I don’t want to risk setting myself up for those same feelings of failure this time. Formula feeding also means that Aaron and I can share feeding responsibilities which will help take some of the pressure off of me.
- I am having my placenta encapsulated. When I was pregnant with Porter, I had heard of women eating their placenta and frankly I couldn’t figure out how anyone could actually want to do that. I have since learned why some women do this and that you don’t actually have to stew it on the stove in your kitchen to reap the benefits. Through a birthing center here in town, I found someone who specializes in processing placentas into capsules. I have a few friends who have a history of PPD who have consumed their placenta by way of capsules and have experienced numerous benefits including less moodiness, more energy and better milk production. It is costing us about $185 to do this and I think that is rather reasonable considering the benefits.
- With some help from my in-laws, we are putting Porter back in daycare full-time for a few months starting a couple of weeks before the baby arrives. Since we won’t have family visiting to help out once the baby is here and since Aaron will be working, having Porter at school all day will be a tremendous help. I won’t have to juggle the needs of a newborn and a preschooler all day everyday from day one. This really is a tremendous gift to us and it will give Porter some stability his life while things at home are a little chaotic.
I know that I can’t be 100% prepared for how I will feel and adjust to life post baby2, but I with this general plan in place I feel more confident that I can face Postpartum Depression again if he chooses to knock on my door. I know that if I can conquer it once, I can do it again!