I hate being pregnant. I get hospitalization, four types of medication, nausea-level sick. I’m exhausted, hormonal, and sore. Pregnancy just isn’t my cup of tea. But this time, when it was over, I was crushed. The idea of the ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression were nothing new to this third-time mom. I’d experienced them before, especially with my first. But this time was different. The beautiful child I had carried for nine months was no longer a part of me, and I ached to feel that connection again. It was as if someone had cut off my arm and handed me a baby to replace it. Of course, I was happy to see the baby, but I missed the arm.
I tried to be happy and excited. This little boy, more than either of his brothers, was a miracle. For weeks we’d been monitoring a tumor on his spine, planning a surgery to remove it. But when he was born, it was gone.
Over and over I told myself how blessed we were. And though it was true, it didn’t help. I still had to run upstairs during every supper so my older children wouldn’t see me sob. I still had to fight back those same tears anytime I saw someone who was pregnant. Fake smiles, nodded agreements, all while longing for something I couldn’t quite grasp.
After the first couple weeks, it got better. I learned if I opened the shades during the day and held my baby more once the sun went down it helped with my postpartum depression. So I thought I felt pretty normal again. Then I took a postpartum questionnaire at my OB’s and it made me realize how long it’d been since I’d found something funny. Since I’d felt happy without forcing myself to.
My doctor prescribed some medication. After a couple weeks true normal came back, and it was only then that I saw how far from it I had been before. I laughed at the silly sitcoms I watched while nursing. Smiled without thinking about it.
I fell in love with my son.
When I was in the hole that was pregnancy and postpartum depression I couldn’t get myself out. I didn’t even really know I was in one. I pictured it as more of a divot. But it wasn’t. I needed help. Help to recognize it. To treat it. To overcome it.
So if you’re a struggling new mom or mom-to-be, ask. Ask your husband, your friend, your doctor. Ask for postpartum depression questionnaires and be honest when you answer them. Don’t go through it alone. Asking for help, talking about your struggles, that’s how you fight. That’s how you win back the peace of baby snuggles. And that’s how you win back the joy of baby smiles.
Originally published March 2017.