Postpartum Depression ... I've lived it, breathed it, been held tightly in its grasp wondering when I'll be allowed to come up for air.
Eight years ago was a very dark period of my life. I did suffer from depression after my first son, Baby *E*. I spoke to my OB/GYN at my 6 week check-up and was put on an antidepressant. I am thankful for the medication but in many ways I wish there was more to it then that. I wish there was some sort of six-week required psychological counseling, not just a "be sure to see a counselor if it gets worse" from my doctor. The medication wasn't a cure-all. I remember his first six-months of life were tough, very tough. But as I sit here now with another beautiful 2-month old son I wonder what is so different between my first and, now, my last?
Where is your support network?
My support network has changed a lot in the past eight-years. When my baby *E* was born he was the first. He was my first; my friends didn't have children; my sisters-in-law didn't have children, and quite honestly I'm not sure my husband knew how to support me. Now, 8 years later, I have nieces and nephews. I have friends in the area that have children; friends that have been-there-done-that. I also have a deeper caliber of friendship. Not just acquaintances but true friends that I know hold me & Baby *L* up in prayer. And almost most importantly, I have realized all the good and perfect qualities of my husband. I rely on those, not on qualities that he doesn't have or cannot grasp.
What do you have to celebrate?
There are so many things as a mom that you have accomplished (aside from growing a tiny person and then giving birth!). My accomplishment? I have proudly breastfed Baby *L* without supplementing for two-months, so far. And it has not been easy. Can I tell you how self-conscious I am? And yet I have nursed him at soccer games, in church, at huge family gatherings, in front of my father-in-law!, the list is seemingly endless. I am discreet, so I'm told, but *L* always seems to need to nurse at the most public of times and I refuse to go hole-up in a bedroom, or go back to the car by myself because he needs to eat. It is just not healthy for *me* to withdrawal from friends and family like that. That is what I have done and what I am proud of myself for. What have you done? Celebrate it. Be proud of yourself. You need that little ego-boost at this point in your life!
Are you taking care of you?
We are humans we need to eat. I am amazed at how down I get when I haven't eaten a good meal. Part of my morning routine is to pour a cup of coffee and grab a yogurt or make some instant oatmeal before I settle down for the day. When lunch time comes I take the 5 minutes to make a PB&J and cut up an apple. I have dinner time planned out so that meals don't hit us by surprise. We can sit down as a family before grouchiness takes over because I do any prep-work for the meal while baby *L* is sleeping during the day. Eat healthy and you will be amazed at how much better your body functions.
It is with a huge breath of fresh air that I can say postpartum depression has not *touched* me since the birth of *L*, 2 months ago. I have friends that sit down with me and ask how I am doing. They recognize I am sleep-deprived. They recognize that as cute as *L* is, he is a ton of work. They let me vent without feeling like I'm asking for a pity-party.
Instead of taking bouts of fussiness 'personally' I change the environment. I don't compartmentalize his crabbiness and assume that I am in complete charge of his happiness. (Although I do try to make him more comfortable!) Today, I bundled up fussy baby *L*, suffering from his first cold. I put him in his stroller and we ventured out for some fresh air, just a simple walk around the block. He fell asleep immediately. I didn't put him to sleep. The cool fresh fall air did and the bumps in the sidewalk rocked him gently to a wonderful world of slumber.
Just like I am not the cause of all his smiles; I also am not the reason for all of his tears. That has been an important less for me. If you are suffering find a network! MOPS was my lifeline for my 2nd son, *C*. Find a chapter before your baby is born because you will need it the first six-months of motherhood. Recognize where you will find support. Your husband can't do it all. Then, find something to be proud of. Celebrate your accomplishments as a mother. It may feel small to you but know that it is big! And, lastly, take care of your body. We are marvelous works of wonder but if we aren't getting the right nourishment or exercise we can psychologically suffer! It is amazing to me how our bodies work, all the pieces and parts connected. TRY to enjoy this stage of motherhood. Maybe because I know that *L* is our last it is easier for me to relax. I wish I had this attitude with each child, though. It sure would have made being a 'mom' that much easier and from where I stand now this is a glorious time of life!
- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com