“I was short-tempered and highly irritable. I was sleep-deprived and still recovering. I did not prepare myself for the hardest next few weeks. Jaxon was the epitome of a planned yet unplanned baby. I was merely 9 months postpartum with my daughter when I found out I was pregnant. We had always discussed a second, especially since Jeff wanted a boy pretty badly. We knew we wanted them close together but did not anticipate only 18 months between our kids. I’ve always heard the terms Colic and Postpartum Depression but not once did I think it would ever affect me firsthand.
When Jaxon was born in April of 2020, about a month into the global pandemic, I truly had yet to feel connected to him. I don’t know if it was my eventful pregnancy of low iron, gall bladder issues, and lack of energy or just the fact I was so scared for two under two. Actually, I was petrified, and many of my family members can attest to this, considering my favorite phrase my whole pregnancy was ‘I’m so scared’ and never ‘I’m excited.’
Jaxon was born via a planned c-section. His birth was rather uneventful and honestly, the first few days and nights were almost storybook perfect. He slept well, ate well, and overall, the adjustment seemed to be going quite smoothly. Isla was enjoying her new role as a big sister and showed little jealousy. About a week postpartum is when Jaxon increasingly became fussier and truthfully, it was frustrating and hard. I had no idea it was about to get worse. Every day, he would cry just a bit louder for a bit longer, and eventually, it was at a near-constant unless he was eating, catnapping, in the car, or out for a walk. He would stay awake all day long and barely sleep at night. It was the most exhausting time of my life.
It started with me having to put the baby down and walk away but eventually, that didn’t work. I’d cry and clench my fists. I’d yell and take all my frustration out on Isla when she would express any dissatisfaction or need for me. I was burnt out, drained, and was suffering with Postpartum Depression and didn’t even know it. I didn’t even consider it. Being the parent to a colicky baby is by far one of the most testing things I’ve faced in my 27 years of life. It really can settle you into a dark place and make you think things you’ve never imagined.
One night around 2 a.m., Jaxon had yet to actually fall asleep and he was just crying. Nothing I did helped him and I was so annoyed. I was TIRED. ‘Jaxon, go the f*ck to sleep!’ I shouted, as if he could understand, at two weeks old, what I was saying. ‘You’re so annoying, I wish I never had you. You’ve done nothing but ruin my life since you’ve been born.’ I sat there, sad those words came out of my mouth but still so beyond frustrated. ‘If you don’t shut up, I’m going to smother you, I swear.’ When I realized what I had just said to my sweet baby is when I really knew something was wrong.
I never pictured myself wishing death upon my kids. I loved them both immensely but in that moment and many moments before that, I was just done. I think the thing that scared me the most was not I said those things to my newborn but rather how incredibly strong the urge was to do it. I had no idea what to do about it. It’s hard to explain. I knew something was wrong. I knew I would never do something like this but I can totally understand how some parents have and honestly, I have a new respect for any person with a mental health illness. The feeling of wanting to run away, to end my life, to be anywhere but where I was in that moment was overwhelming.
I phoned my doctor that night and left a voicemail. The next morning, I received a callback and was able to go see her that day. I explained my symptoms and my intrusive thoughts from the night before. Without a doubt in her mind, she said, ‘Oh honey, that’s postpartum depression.’
I cried. In fact, I sobbed. Why was this happening to me? Why was my baby so fussy? Why couldn’t he just be a normal baby? This was not his fault. His screams were out of pain or the want and need for me. I didn’t care. I just wanted it to end. My doctor prescribed me a low dose of medication to help with Serotonin levels. It took a few weeks but slowly I began to notice a change in my spirits, in my sleep, and in my patience but this was no miracle drug. Having a baby with colic is enough to drive any sane person mad. This medication mostly helped with my intrusive thoughts and sleep patterns.
I spent thousands of dollars on every baby gadget you can imagine, hoping just one of them would give us some relief from Jaxon’s screams for longer than 15 minutes at a time. I remember reading article upon article and posting in numerous mom groups, receiving tons of suggestions, and day after day nothing helping. It is heartbreaking to continuously be trying anything and everything to find some relief for your child and nothing work. Weeks felt like years, days felt like weeks, and honestly, I found myself wishing my last baby to just be grown up and out of this stage of life.
It wasn’t until we began using the Similac Alimentum formula we began to track upwards instead of downwards. Slowly but surely, Jaxon started to eat normally every 2 to 3 hours. He would sleep longer and he began to exhibit signs of a happy personality. I believe it was a mixture of the switch in formula and having him adjusted at the chiropractors. For me, having postpartum depression has been the biggest blessing and curse. I’ve grown so much as a person, as a mother, and as a spouse in my journey since having Jaxon. I’ve met some of my best friends now and heard other women’s stories who have also suffered from Postpartum Depression. It is so refreshing to know I’m not alone but so sad to see how many women do experience it and still feel alone. My biggest learning curve was teaching my family members my state of mind and my conscience were very different, and I still had much control over myself and my actions. It was important for me to reassure them as they did me.
Over time, I began to feel better. I went from feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders to being able to tolerate my day to day life and not dread the following morning. My fear of being alone with my kids dissipated and eventually, we settled into a routine. I slowly stopped calling Jeff at work crying and the days became easier. We often fail to give ourselves the grace to realize what we do as parents is hard work. It’s tiring enough without the added stress of postpartum or a colicky baby. It’s important to remember you’re not alone. This battle is just that, a battle, and you can come out of it a warrior, a stronger person, and an even better parent and spouse. You are not a burden. You are not less than because you are suffering from something you have no control over. You never have to apologize for being human and it’s even more important to remember it’s okay NOT to be okay. Taking care of your child starts with you taking care of yourself.
If you ever feel you are alone, be open and talk to your family members and your spouse. You’d be surprised how helpful and understanding family and friends can be. Your fear is bigger than you but you need to be bigger than it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Winger from Orillia, Ontario. You can follow their journey on Instagram and their blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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