The Mayo Clinic has a quick list of the risk factors for postpartum depression. I didn’t know that’s the freeway I was headed down after I had my daughter, but, looking back, the GPS could not have possibly re-rerouted me anywhere else. Perfectly planned birth or not, postpartum depression can touch any mom or dad.
Of the eleven risk factors listed, I had eight under my belt:
Stressful event(s), check
– Car accident during pregnancy (as passenger), ER visit
– Back injury during pregnancy, multiple ER visits
– Grandmother died; I helped plan her funeral but couldn’t attend as she was buried on the day my daughter was born.
Job loss, check
– Ex was no longer working
Health Problems, check
– None (back issue resolved), though what I needed to go through to exempt her from scheduled immunizations and have a homebirth (with two midwives) was nothing short of stress-inducing.
Relationship Problems, check
– I was having a baby and wanted a divorce. I couldn’t do both.
– My best friend at the time, who I am godmother to and who planned to be there to support me during the birth, started ignoring me. I reached out in different ways to try and find out why but was met with silence and to this day don’t know. The unexpected and silent door slam of a five-year friendship still hurts.
Difficulty Breastfeeding, check
If there were an Olympics for breastfeeding, I would have won the Gold for three runs straight. With my daughter, I wouldn’t have even made the team. It was a heavy and unexpected blow. I had such a time with her that I actually hired a lactation consultant. She and I finally danced in unison but until we tangoed on the breastfeeding dance floor I felt like a failure.
Weak support system, check
Actually, no support system.
Financial Problems, check
I needed to work twice as long since my ex wasn’t working.
Unplanned Pregnancy, check
Of course I know how to make a baby but without elaboration I can now admit without feeling ashamed, that my daughter’s conception was a betrayal to me and out of my hands.
I’m sharing this for any mom (or dad) that may stumble upon this post and who may be experiencing postpartum depression, maybe not knowing that it has a name or finding it difficult to share with anyone what you are feeling.
As a mom or dad you are expected to be tired yet full of ‘the new baby glow’, elated with the blessing of life and to feel otherwise may feel ‘wrong’ or ’embarrassing’ to admit.
My unsolicited advice is to tell someone. Your significant other, a friend, a family member, etc. If you’re like I was and lacking a support system, tell your healthcare provider so they can assist you in locating the appropriate resources to help you understand your emotions and if needed, help get your mental health back on track. My midwives were lovely and had I told them I am sure I would have received the help I desperately needed.
My depression, my wanting to literally die, lasted a year. An entire year. One day, the sun shone again and I may never know why. I learned later that I did not need to suffer alone and in silence.
Know that you do not need to suffer either. Silence does not equal strength. It is okay to not be okay.
If you don’t know where to turn for help, I recommend starting with your healthcare provider or here.
Peace, Love & Light
Do not deny your pain.