Intro by Amy
This topic is a heavy one; I'm so glad Maddie was willing to share her experience with P.P.D. This topic hits close to home for me, cause I struggled when Hayden was born, though I wanted to seem like I had everything under control. But, really--I was a mess. That's why when I read Maddie's story, I bawled. I ached for her. It was hard to hear about my happy, easy-going friend going through such a dark time. Even my few weeks of "baby blues" was enough to reduce me to a sobbing-my-eyes-raw, over-reacting, can't-feel-happy wreck...the thought of her going through that for months breaks my heart. But...I was also SO happy to hear she was able to overcome it and find joy in her life and family again! Seriously, she is so cool. Let me tell you about her.
When Maddie and her two sisters moved into my high school, they created quite a stir. First of all, new kids were a big deal in our small school and second, they were cute. Maddie was in my grade. It was pretty funny watching her walk down our hall: Boys craned their necks and asked, "Whoah...who's THAT?" while girls eyed her suspiciously--not happy about a pretty new girl on their turf. I didn't care, cause I didn't date anyway. I can't remember exactly how we became friends, but she was funny, cool, nice, and good at art...my kinda friend! All through computer class we got in trouble constantly for talking and laughing with the goofy boys we sat by. Maddie was so easy to talk to; we quoted Sponge Bob together and drew really stupid cartoons.
It's been fun to see pics of her little fam on facebook; I know she is such a fun and loving mom. Knowing that she overcame such a dark struggle, deepens my respect and admiration for this awesome momma! Whether you (or someone you love) has dealt with P.D.D. or any other kind of depression... or if you just appreciate a walk in another's moccasins...read Maddie's story.
First off, I want to stress how much I love both my kids. They are seriously the sweetest, easiest kids in the world. And my hubby! Oh, don’t even get me started! He’s kind of a big deal; the bees-knees, the peanut to my butter, my best friend, the one who can make me laugh harder than anyone else, I am so lucky I get to be married to him; and I am so thankful my kids get to call him their daddy. He is just the best. If you asked me a few months ago, I probably wouldn’t have said that, though.
When I had Tytan everything was so EASY. We had a scare with him only weighing 4 ½ pounds at birth, but other than that, it was great. I remember thinking - “what are all those other mom’s complaining about?! This is a piece of cake! I am awesome!” He has slept through the night since he was 2 weeks old and has always been so sweet and lovey; I wanted to have a million kids after that! Then little Miss Zoey was born. I was so proud of myself - I sewed her entire bedding set, painted her room and had lots of meals and cookies in the freezer. I had a super easy pregnancy and delivery, and she was beautiful and healthy. Everything was great and we were so thrilled to have our chunky little lady home! I settled into fabulous two-kidded bliss. Once again, I thought I was super-mom… until all I wanted to do was sleep. I figured it was just from having a new baby so I didn’t worry about it at first.
I started noticing that the only time I would get up to do anything was when the kids needed to eat or get their diapers changed. I stayed in my pajamas all day, never did my hair, and most days I didn’t even bother brushing my teeth. (Poor Jake, it’s a good thing he was at work and missed most of this!) The only time I got ready was if I knew someone was coming over - then it was a mad dash to pick up the house. It may sound stupid, but I really can’t remember most of what happened from when Zoey was 3 to 9 months. I missed it all. It’s like I was a zombie, just distant and detached from everything. Even though I know it wasn’t my fault, it was my pesky hormones; I sometimes still feel like I was the world’s worst parent.
I do remember feeling super anxious, frustrated and crying or yelling ALL. THE. TIME. Trying to get anything done was exhausting. Just getting the kids dressed was a huge feat. I would usually end up chasing Tytan around, stressing that we were going to be late, scream at him for not listening to me, then crumple on the floor and bawl because I had made him cry. I was losing weight like crazy (Which at the time I thought was great, but definitely not healthy!) I felt like something was off, but I kept pushing the feeling away. Anytime someone would ask if I was doing okay I would get defensive.
I normally love my in-laws, but for a while I hated them. I thought my mother-in-law was out to get me and that my sister in-laws were trying to one-up me. I was convinced they were talking behind my back, telling Jake how awful of a wife/mother I was and that he should leave me. I quit talking to my sisters and my parents, who I normally call almost every day. My oldest sister has struggled with depression her whole life, and when I finally asked her about it, she said “It feels like you just want to run away; just give up, drop everything and leave.” I don’t know why I didn’t just talk to her in the first place, but I was too proud, I didn’t want to admit to those closest to me that I wasn’t the perfect wife and mom that I always strived to be. I think it was especially hard for me since things had been so great up until then.
Jake kept asking if I was alright and I kept telling him “I’m fine, really!” Just so he would leave me alone. Finally my father in law pulled him aside one day and asked what was up. He told Jake he had to make me go to the doctor because something wasn’t right. When Jake came home and told me what his Dad said, I was embarrassed enough to finally call and make the appointment.
I bawled on the phone to the poor receptionist. I should’ve been embarrassed but I didn’t care. They were able to fit me in the next day and I went in, wild-haired, teary eyed, and feeling so anxious I wanted to jump out the window. I bet I looked nuts. I can’t remember if I was wearing sweats or jeans. Probably sweats.
I bawled the whole time I talked with my doctor. I was worried he couldn’t understand me, that he thought I was drug-seeking, or that he’d run away, screaming at the sight of me ugly-crying in his office. Instead, he said “You, my dear have post-partum depression. I don’t want you to feel like you’re a horrible person, or that you’re the only one this has happened too. You are still a great mom and a great wife. I know that. We just need to get you fixed up so you know that too.” So he put me on Celexa. He told me it would take two weeks for my family to notice a difference, and about a month before I noticed anything.
When it kicked in, it was like a fog had been lifted! I was finally happy, but not over the top way-too-happy. I was on it for about two months, and then it quit working. I was back to screaming at everybody, just now I wasn’t bawling while I did it. I went back to the Doctor and he said there are a few types of post-partum depression, and I had two of them - the crying one and the angry one. The Celexa had fixed the crying part, and taking Prozac would fix the angry part. I told him I didn’t want to be on any more pills, I didn’t feel like they were helping, and I didn’t like the side effects. They made me nauseous and gave me headaches, I bruised like a peach, and I didn’t want any lovin’ from my hubby. (Once again, poor Jake!) He asked me to just try it for a few weeks… And darned if he wasn’t right! (Weird, it’s like he went to medical school or something!) I only had to take it for a few weeks, until I felt back to normal. I finally quit taking them just last month, and I feel like I’m able to handle my stress and anxiety. I’m not saying that everybody needs to go out and get some happy pills once they have a baby; that’s not it at all. I hate taking pills, and I try my hardest not to go to the doctor, but it helped me to notice when I was acting crazy, and now I can handle things so much better.
So how do I handle it? Prepare for the worst! I still get worked up when we’re trying to leave the house. There’s no way around it. I swear, when I say “Okay, let’s go out to the pick-up” my kids hear “Everybody, lose your shoes, poop your pants, and start crying!” I have to start getting things ready waaaay sooner than normal. I try to set their clothes out at night for the next day; my pick-up is full of snacks for those temper-tantrums on the freeway that would normally make me want to drive into the nearest guardrail; and I never leave the house without extra diapers, wipes, blankets and sippy-cups. I officially have a “mom-purse” - the size of a small country; full of toys, books, food, band aids, stickers, a grocery sack for dirty clothes when someone wets their pants, etc. Some days I feel like Mary-Poppins, just without the magic umbrella.
Instead of yelling at my kids for every mess they make, now I try to look at it from their point of view. If I was two years old, heck yes, cereal would be fun to dump all over the kitchen floor! I get it! But I’m not going to let them run wild and do whatever they want just so they’ll think I’m nice. I’m their mom and I love them-I want them to grow up to be good people and make good choices. They’re not going to learn that what they’re doing is wrong if I just scream at them instead of explaining it to them. My mom said it’s like yelling at them for breaking the rules, without telling them what the rules are. I am thankful I was able to get my hormones back in check. No one told me how hard it was to go from one kid to two - I can’t sit and play patty-cake with one child all day, because the other one will burn themselves on the fireplace, dislocate their arm, climb on top of the fridge, or spill hot pink paint all over the kitchen. (Trust me, these have all happened…)
What helped me the most is learning to be patient and rearranging my priorities a little bit. A friend at work told me “Even if the house looks like a bomb went off, the sink is full of dirty dishes; and you haven’t showered in days, oh well. Remember that your kids need you more. As long as you’re taking care of your kids, Momma’s doing a good job.”
Because I know you are.
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And, all you mommas...did you experience Postpartum Depression? How did you get through it? We'd love to hear your experiences!