It’s not often that I share my personal life details, even with my closest of friends. When my friends and I gather to discuss our lives – parenthood, work, husbands, significant others, etc., I am usually the one who sits back, listens and takes it all in. Many years ago in my 20s I had no problem confiding in others, but as I have become older, and wiser too, the lips stay sealed a little more often.
However one area of my life I feel is important to open up about and share information on that I think could help others is that of post partum depression. I suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter in 2008, and unfortunately I didn’t realize, understand or seek help right away for it.
Having a baby is at the top of the list of amazing experiences. It’s probably number one in my book. As many of us moms or soon-to-be moms might know, remember or are experiencing now, the elation that comes with the anticipation of having a baby is ever present. Never were there discussions on the negative things that can happen after the baby is born, because really what fun is that while one is pregnant?
I remember when I was 6 months pregnant, my father, who I adore but with who I don’t share intimate details of my life, gave me “Down Came the Rain,” a book on postpartum depression (PPD) by Brooke Shields. His words to me were: “I hope you never need to use this book, but just in case, here it is.” I remember thanking him and then immediately putting the book in my nightstand. It wasn’t unusual for my father to give me a book. The man probably has one of the largest book collections ever, and signed book collections at that. But I somewhat chuckled inside when he gave it to me, thinking “I will not need this book.”
Well, fast forward five months, 2 months after I had my daughter. At the beginning of 2 months and well into a year, I kept searching and hoping for the feelings of joy for my newborn, but instead felt dread and sadness. Being an educated woman, I knew intellectually that it was abnormal for me to not want to get up with my child, not feel an undying need to see her smile or coo and to want to hand her off to someone else when she began crying. Those 2 months of not knowing what I was feeling were long. Finally, I hastily went into that night stand to get Down Came the Rain, the book on PPD. I began reading, and then I cried. There it was, written so clearly for me. Exactly what I was feeling was clearly described in the book. I finally had something to attribute the despair I was feeling.
I look back and only wish I had known someone then who experienced PPD and could have shared their experiences. I know many women now who had PPD. If only I could have those precious first months back to revel in that joyous time…to tell and show my newborn the true joy of being a mother, a first time mother. I feel sad sometimes that I missed that part of that experience because of the fog that I was in.
But I have well made up for those early months during the last 3 years.
My daughter and I have some of the most fun times together playing at the park, running around the wine racks at The Savory Grape and speaking the little bit of Italian that we know together. My recommendation for other soon-to-be moms is to become aware of the signs of PPD. Recognizing it early is helpful to you and your newborn. If PPD unfortunately appears in your life, talk to your health care professional about it immediately to determine how best to handle it, so you can enjoy one of the most amazing experiences fully.
Did postpartum affect you? Or are you a new mom and think you may be experiencing some its symptoms?