I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety on and off for most of my life. I’ve only recently realized how much mental illness impacted some of the best times of my life, and I hope that by putting this in writing I will be able to help someone get the help they need sooner than I did.
As you know from previous posts, I had some trouble conceiving. The moment we found out we were going to have a baby I was genuinely happy… But it quickly faded. I rarely felt like my miracle baby was growing inside of me… I was just pregnant, like pregnancy was just a 40 week stage of my life. I remember thinking it wasn’t real on a daily basis. There was no way I had gotten pregnant, there was no way a child that was created by my wonderful husband and I was growing inside of me… There was no way this was real.
I loved my baby dearly from the very moment I found out I was pregnant. Don’t get that wrong. I was, and will forever be grateful for the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. But I was disconnected. I wasn’t able to enjoy my pregnancy, even after my infertility struggle. I felt like it was all a dream and I was going to wake up any moment… I didn’t want to get too excited and jinx it or something I guess?
I spent 39 weeks and 3 days waiting to wake of from this pregnancy dream. I’m convinced that it would have been a completely different experience if I hadn’t been suffering from depression. I wish so badly that I had been able to feel connected with my little man while he grew within my womb. I didn’t talk to my Dr about the way I was feeling until P was 9 months old. I am taking an antidepressant now, and I honestly feel like a completely different person. I can feel now. Mental illness of any sort isn’t anything to be ashamed of. More people are suffering than you can imagine, please get help if you’re one of them. Don’t waste the greatest experiences in your life by being unable to enjoy them.
This post is a bit of a bummer, because frankly, I just need to talk about these things. You’re my captive audience, so congrats/sorry! I have been told time and time again that I’m too hard on myself, and every new mom learns a lot of hard lessons with her first baby. I can’t help feeling like I’ve let myself, my family and my baby down with a few things though.
I was very up front during my pregnancy that I didn’t want to be bombarded by visitors at the hospital or at home after baby came. Hubby had saved a week of vacation to take off and spend with us and I wanted that time to be perfect. I was such a bitch about visitors that nobody except immediate family and very close friends came to the hospital, and only our parents came to the house. I had envisioned the 3 of us lounging around cuddling and enjoying our short time to do nothing more than be a family. While I did enjoy that time very much, I wanted to show my baby boy off and I found myself wishing someone would come visit us. When I tried to get family to come over they thought I had been guilted into inviting them and they weren’t actually welcome, so they didn’t come. I plan to be more inviting and open next time around…. Adjusting to being a family is something that takes time and is a precious thing, but sharing your new baby with family and friends is precious as well. I wish I could go back and change that now, but I can’t.
I also gave up too easily on breastfeeding. I had a vision of how it would go and got discouraged when it didn’t work out. P didn’t latch on at all… I tried around the clock in the hospital with and without a nipple shield. He latched a few times for a couple of seconds but once he did he would stop sucking. I started supplementing formula in the hospital, and I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself for it. I think I would have been more determined to breastfeed if the formula hadn’t been so easy and convenient. The nurses kept encouraging me to keep trying and told me it would get easier once my milk came in and he realized he was getting food. That wasn’t the case… He still didn’t latch despite the fact that I had an abundance of milk. I pumped a little bit, but between feeding him his bottles and trying to keep the house in order I just wasn’t pumping often enough. I was only giving him a bottle or so a day of breast milk, and had stopped trying to get him to latch. I was giving up and I hated myself for it already. It took several months for my milk to completely dry up, and it breaks my heart that I wasted it. I’ve looked into relactation, but at this point it would be practically impossible without prescription medication. Just another thing I will be more determined to do next time around.
I then went on to tell a little fib at my 6 week checkup. “Do you have any signs of postpartum depression?” “Nope.” I wanted so badly to break down and sob about how sad, lonely and down I was feeling, but I once again took the easy way out. I have always struggled with depression, so I knew from the time I decided to have a baby that PPD was probably going to be an issue for me. In my crazy little head I thought that if I told my Dr I was indeed suffering from PPD, she would think I was going to hurt my baby and take him from me. Though I found myself getting very upset sometimes, hurting my baby or myself was the farthest thing from my mind. I should have been honest about the way I was feeling and gotten help much sooner. I wasn’t able to enjoy the first 8 months of my son’s life the way I should have because I had too much pride to admit that I was depressed. Please don’t make that same mistake.
There are a lot more trivial little things I wish I had done differently, but these are the big ones. I’m sure this list will continue to grow as I learn and evolve in my mommy journey. Though I wish I had gotten it all right for my sweet little P, I will be better for his brother or sister in the future because of the lessons I’ve learned raising him.