“My postpartum depression journey began four years ago, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed until earlier this year. In July of 2015, my first born son Kane was born still at 36 weeks. Talking about him still stings – it’s very painful.
I was never checked for postpartum depression after he died. They thought I was just grieving, and it was ‘normal’ to feel how I was feeling. I was recommended zero therapy or any tools to help me process what happened. The only thing I remember is not wanting to harm myself so I thought I must be ‘ok.’ I completed the checklist the hospital gives and none of it seemed to apply to me, so they sent me home. Those first six months after he died were probably the worst I’ve ever felt. Yet no one could see I was struggling. I didn’t want to appear as the ‘depressed, baby-less mother’ who couldn’t move on. I didn’t want anyone’s pity. I also didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable, and I felt like I had to make THEM feel better about MY situation.
Five months after his death, I was pregnant again. I was due a month after his first birthday.
I had my daughter, Macy, in the summer of 2016 and everything appeared okay. It looked like my story finally had a happy beginning. It’s amazing what appearances can show. I was grieving, but I was hiding it well. My anxiety was so high after she was born. I was struggling so bad with PTSD after her birth, having been in the same hospital with Kane, using the same nurses, etc. Her first week home, my husband and I would take shifts to stay awake throughout the night. I was scared she would die when we were asleep. It would be my fault because I wasn’t watching her. I truly wish I was exaggerating, but it was my biggest fear. I brought some of these fears up at my doctor appointment. They told me it was ‘new mom jitters’ and Kane’s death. I thought ALL of this was normal and how I was supposed to feel.
In my mind I couldn’t have postpartum depression because I had my beautiful ‘rainbow baby.’ I’d say to myself, ‘I worked damn hard to get her earth side, so I have nothing to be depressed about.’ I told myself over and over again. I felt like I was supposed to be overjoyed and grateful all the time. I was making myself suffer and motherhood was becoming a nightmare. I remember looking in the mirror and I didn’t even recognize myself.
I wanted to feel happy, overjoyed, and experience the new mom bliss. I would have done anything to feel that way! Instead I cried all the time, even over simple things like commercials. I couldn’t sleep; I was angry, sad, irritable, confused, I was still grieving, and my anxiety was through the roof. After she was about a year old I felt better, like finally some of the symptoms subsided.
None of my providers really talked about postpartum depression. When I had my second son in 2018, my provider didn’t even ask me how I was doing. He saw my two little kids and said, ‘you’re a very busy mom!’ He gave me the clear to do whatever I wanted with no restrictions. He told me to come back when I got my first period so I could get my IUD. That was that, and I was sent on my way.
In February of 2019, I was a little over six months postpartum with my son Jagger. I was losing clumps of hair. I tried everything under the sun to fix it. I assumed I was just more stressed because we just moved across the country for my husband’s job. But I didn’t think it could ALL be stress related. Thyroid problems run in my family so I scheduled an appointment to get mine checked. I had to bring my two kids with me to see this doctor. She sat with me for about 10 minutes, talked to me about everyday things, and asked about my children. She was the first doctor who actually sat down and had a conversation with me. She had them draw blood for my thyroid as requested, but then she dropped a bomb on me. She told me very casually, ‘I am prescribing you an anti depressant called Lexapro. Come back in a month and see if you notice a difference.’ I left the appointment bawling to my mom over the phone. ‘Who does she think she is!? She doesn’t know me or my situation. She didn’t know my history and everything I’ve been through.’ After my mom talked some sense into me, I did what the doctor said.
I still don’t know how she knew. My anxiety decreased, I was sleeping better, I wasn’t as tearful, I could control my emotions, I wasn’t as irritable, my hair stopped falling out as much, and I all around felt completely different. My husband noticed a change and so did my family and kids. Everything seemed a little easier, and I truly couldn’t believe it.
Being a mother is freaking hard and adding postpartum depression and PTSD makes it feel 20 times harder. I wished I would have been diagnosed after Kane died. I wish I could go back and tell myself it’s okay to struggle, but it’s also okay to accept help. Taking medication doesn’t make me a bad mother, it makes me a better one. I was undiagnosed for four years, and they were exhausting. I’m now enjoying motherhood and the days are still exhausting, but wonderful at the same time.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Taylor Bjorgum of Georgia. You can follow her on Instagram. 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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