Post Partum Depression, Part 1

Monday, January 17, 2011 5 Comments A+ a-

The calls, texts, and emails have increased; well-intentioned family and friends are concerned and checking in.  Jon, Mom, and the sisters are all watching like a hawk, looking for any sign or symptom.  Although the close scrutiny can be daunting and annoying at times, I can appreciate their concern.  Though I hate feeling like I'm under a microscope or having to defend a nap or bad day, I'm glad they're watching.  Its better safe than sorry.  And they've proven, specifically Jon, that they know me better than myself.

I never thought I'd be susceptible to post-partum depression.  After Devyn's birth, and once the requisite baby blues had passed, I was euphoric.  I had a beautiful baby girl whom I loved more than life itself.  Life felt like it couldn't be any rosier.  Then around the 5th-6th month of her life, I was suddenly more tired.  Exhausted to the point that I slept more than I was awake.  I didn't think anything of it, but Jon did.  And much like Chris Martin did with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon came to me and said, "Something's wrong, something isn't right.  I think you might have post-partum depression." 

It was as if a lightbulb had gone off in my head.  Of course!  I talked to Dr. Susie and we agreed on that anti-depressants was the way to go, along with getting more exercise.  I started the medication, Devyn and I played at the park and went on walks, and I was a different me.  Once Devyn turned one, I weaned myself off the medication and was back to the old Jenn.

It was a reality check when a mental health professional came to visit me in my hospital room after the birth of Hudson.  After all, I'd never considered hurting myself or Devyn during my bout with PPD, but it was protocol, and I reassured her that yes, I had a good support network, and yes, I could recognize the signs again.  This time, however, Dr. Susie wasn't taking any chances and I started a low dose of antidepressants immediately after Hudson's birth.

Six months later I was feeling good and I was confident that since I only had to be on the medicine for six months with Devyn, that the same would be true again.  So without consulting my doctor, I weaned myself off the meds and within weeks, I knew it had been a bad decision.  I told Mom and Jon through tears what I had done, I was strongly reprimanded, and I started the meds again.  But the damage was done.

Within a month, I wrote a post about the lowest point in my post-partum depression.  I still shudder to think how bad it got, and how I had hit rock bottom.  It was beyond bad.  And yet, I still had enough wits about me to reach out to Jon and Mom.  Thank the Lord!

You can imagine our apprehension when I got pregnant with both Reagan and Ashlynn while still on anti-depressants.  Surprise babies will do that to you.  But both times I was able to successfully wean myself off the meds within weeks of finding out we were pregnant.  And yet, both times it was decided that the best plan of action was to start the antidepressants about a month before they were born.  We did everything we could to ensure that it never got as bad as it did with Hudson.  And so far, its worked.

My post-partum depression was, by far, the best with Reagan.  (So far, we're still in this time frame with Ashlynn.)  There was a time or two of feeling disconnected, overwhelmed, and extremely anxious.  When those times extended into weeks, a call was placed to Dr. Susie and my meds were increased.  But overall it was the best recovery thus far.

While promoting her new movie, Gwyneth Paltrow was very open about her post-partum depression after her son, Moses, was born.  I found myself nodding along with so many of her comments.  Two quotes, in particular, stand out to me. 

"I felt like a zombie. I couldn't access my heart. I couldn't access my emotions. I couldn't connect." 

This was/is so true of my depression.  I would stare off into space while my children were in the same room.  Devyn and Hudson would bring me toys, books, and drawings, and I could barely muster enough energy to smile at them, let alone actually interact with them.  Oh, their physical needs were met, they were fed and dressed, Reagan was nursed and dry, but I could not access the emotional side of mothering, of life in general.  My family and friends are well aware that if I start to withdraw from them, chances are my post-partum is bad.

"I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child," she [Gwyneth] says. "But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it's so important for women to talk about it. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure." 

Post-partum is not a one-size fits all, it doesn't look the same for everyone, and it even took on varying degrees for me and each of my babies. 

I'm thankful for the calls, the texts, and the emails.  Right now, I'm good.  Life is really, really sweet with a newborn and I'm trying to soak her in as much as possible.  And I promise if it changes, I'll let y'all know.  Because that's when I need the encouragement, support, and prayers the most.  But for now, I'm in a really good place and I'm relishing it.

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.


Write comments
8:12 AM delete

Thank you so much for sharing your story - I know that took courage!

I pray that your time with your newborn continues to be a good experience!

You are an amazing mother!

9:32 AM delete

Jenn you are such an amazing mother and person. You are so brave for sharing this. I know a lot of moms dont talk about it and its something that people should talk about because its so common. Praying for you always!

5:13 PM delete

I love your heart and your transparency is refreshing for anyone who may face the same thing.

Hope all is going well with you and your family this new year! Think of you often . . .

xxx M.

7:18 PM delete

You are so wise in keeping close to family and friends and analyzing your feelings, moods and thoughts. I know exactly what you went through with Hudson, though my first and only PPD experience was after Zachary, our fourth and final blessing. It is something that is so powerful and needs to be spoken of in Christian circles. I'm so glad you are feeling in control at this point after little Ashlynn's birth! Enjoy your blessings and rest, treasure each moment. :)

4:42 AM delete

I can relate to that numb feeling at times--glad you wrote this...I had written it off on being tired or dealing with grief from losing my dad. It's much better now, but your post makes me think I should do some reading. Thinking of you.