Thursday, June 6, 2013

PPD, Part I: The Very Ugly Beginning

I didn't notice until I was in the middle of it, but now that I'm looking back on everything, I can trace it to a moment.  It was probably that first bottle that did me in.

When Peanut (oh yes, baby #3 has a name now) was about seven weeks old, he started getting fussy with breastfeeding.  He was insatiable...and then he stopped pooping, so we went to the pediatrician and found that he wasn't gaining weight anymore.

Supplement him, they told me.  So I came home that evening and gave him an ounce of formula.  One ounce.  One tiny, little ounce.

And that was when Peanut decided he was done with breastfeeding.

I tried, oh, how I tried to get him to do it again.  I would sit there for an hour, refusing to give him anything unless he nursed, while he screamed at me, and then would finally acquiesce.  But then I had to give him a bottle after each nursing session, and then the whole vicious cycle began again.

And then he really wouldn't nurse anymore, and I gave up.  I have two other kids; I couldn't spend my entire day begging and pleading with my infant to nurse.

And that was when things started to go downhill.

Ceasing nursing early makes your body think that your baby died, and to me, it wasn't worth it to pump and get an ounce after half an hour, so I went cold turkey and my milk supply dried up rather quickly.  But I didn't feel right.  Peanut would cry and I wouldn't care.  I was losing my temper at Bug every other hour.  Sweet little Cat wouldn't do anything and I'd be frustrated at him.  I'd sit in the shower and stare at the wall and lose track of time, feeling nothing but numbness even when I turned the temperature to scalding.  Sometimes Jon would come home and find me curled up on the couch with tears streaming down my face because that afternoon had been too much for me.

On top of it all, we then started to have a cacophony of disasters--friends divorcing, ailing family members, you name it, it's been going on.  In addition to getting ready for the move and having to keep the house really super clean because we're showing it, and...

...I started to really derail.

It's not something that I thought would ever happen to me.  I love being a mom, I love my children, I love the fact that I get to stay home with them.  Right now, I'd say about seventy percent of the time, that's my reality and I love my life.

But suddenly there was that other thirty percent.  The time that I spent crying.  The time that I spent trying to hide the crying from Jon.  The time that I spent desperately trying to keep a hold on my temper because I was afraid I was going to lose it with my kids, and I honestly wasn't quite sure what I would do.

And then there was the time that I spent thinking about hurting myself.  Because that happened, too.  

Postpartum depression was not supposed to happen to me.  I had it all together, right?  Everybody told me so, how I always seemed so calm and in control.  So I clung to that image, and pushed the dysfunction I was feeling beneath the surface.  And I did a pretty good job hiding it for awhile.  Outside of a few friends, nobody has had any idea what was really going on with me, because I disguised my inner turmoil so very, very well.  I evaded.  I deflected.  I struggled to be witty and charming and poised and to talk about everything else except for the clawing feeling in the pit of my stomach which kept reminding me that I wasn't alright.  I complained, sure; but I complained about things that didn't matter, like the massive pile of diapers, or my oldest child's refusal to eat anything that doesn't come with french fries.  Because if I focused on those things I didn't have to focus on the ugliness that was growing inside of me.

And then one night I found myself sitting at my computer with tears streaming down my face, and I wasn't really quite sure why.  All I knew was that I felt desperate, and I didn't know what to do.  Should I wake up Jon?  Should I go in the bathroom and play with razors?  Did it even matter?  Honestly, I didn't know, and I felt so raw and volatile, that I was scaring myself.

So I sent an e-mail.


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  2. I am proud of you, friend. Hugs and prayers continue. Wish you were closer so we could hang out and figure out life again together.

  3. Jennifer told me about your blog because I too am suffering from PPD. You are very brave to be speaking out about it. I hope that by you writing this post, it means you are seeking help for it. Please know that you are not alone and I know that dark hole that you feel you're living in very well. You can check out a post that I did on PPD as well . I pray that you are seeking help and will start to feel some relief soon so that you can enjoy your baby.

    I was unable to breastfeed my baby at all. I spent a lot of days in tears, several times a day. I felt like a failure. I pumped and supplemented with formula for 5 months before deciding to switch solely to formula. I really struggled for the first 6 weeks or so though. I'd try to breastfeed and he would just cry because he was unable to latch and get anything. It was a breastfeeding consultant (I had been to two) who looked me in the eye and told me that what was important was that my baby was getting fed and it didn't matter how. He was happy, healthy and growing. That was the only thing that mattered. This is the same for your baby too. Don't beat yourself up for not being able to breastfeed. He's getting all the nourishment he needs from formula and love from you. That's all that matters!