“Postpartum depression makes a woman feel like she is in the grip of something dreaded and dark, and it’s scary. . . but she’s likely ashamed to admit it because she can’t explain it!” – Judy Dippel
As I sit here, having so much on my mind, I find it hard to find the words. This post isn’t per say about Barth Syndrome. But it is a topic that has been weighing on my heart a lot lately. A topic that I think is extremely important and needs to be addressed. I hope if you get anything out of this post, especially you new mothers, it’s that you are not alone.
My whole life, all I’ve ever wanted was to get married and have babies. As a little girl I would fantasize about who I would marry. What my kids would look like. What a joy it would be to raise little people who look and act like me. What I didn’t realize (nor should I have) was how it would actually feel. I was talking to a friend tonight, and we were talking about our kids and how we couldn’t believe Wally is going to be one in just a few short weeks. And it got me thinking back to a year ago. I started feeling all those same feelings that plagued me for the first six months of Wally’s life. And I realized… as hard as it is to admit, how I wish it weren’t true, or that it didn’t happen, I wanted to share my story, in the hopes of helping someone else.
When Wally was born, he spent almost a week in the special care nursery for blood sugar and jaundice issues. That whole week all I wanted was to bring my baby home. I barely slept in the hospital because I wanted to be in the nursery with him all the time. I never wanted to leave his side. I was on a high and I was just so very thankful he was ok. And than we came home. And my world as I knew it would never be the same.
It’s crazy that I am a post-partum nurse. I know what depression and anxiety is. I’ve researched and learned about post-partum depression (PPD). I’ve counseled new moms before they take their babies home on the signs and symptoms of PPD and when to get help. And yet… I didn’t realize until recently that I too suffered from PPD. But why? Is it because there is such a stigma around PPD and mental health in general, that I was afraid to admit it? That I refused to see it? This is an extremely important topic and yet no one is or wants to talk about it.
Well I can tell you why I haven’t wanted to talk about it… Because talking about it, and admitting it, makes it real. And the guilt, the fear, the sadness, that comes along with that, well it’s suffocating. But I’ve realized, no matter how hard as it is, I need to talk about it. WE need to talk about it. Because there are so many mothers out there that need our help. No one should suffer alone. NO ONE! So if you’re a new mother or even an experienced mother, please keep reading.
Wally was born two weeks before Christmas. One of those weeks we spent in the hospital. When we came home, I was coming home on little sleep with a little creature that I knew nothing about. AJ hadn’t gone back to work yet, but he would and than it would be me and Wally, all by ourselves. At the time AJ worked second shift. So he would work 2-10pm (he now works third shift). The first week home I can barely remember. It was all a blur. Did I even eat? Sleep? Shower? Who knows. But what I do remember is how much milk I pumped that Wally would never eat and how much I cried. Little did I know the tears would keep falling, and wouldn’t stop for many months.
When Christmas Eve finally came around my mom came down with Influenza. And AJ and I decided that with a newborn baby it was best that we stay home and shelter Wally from all the sicknesses that could be going around. AJ worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So both days were spent taking care of a baby that was becoming increasingly difficult. He never slept. He fussed non stop. He had troubles with pooping. My day consisted of feeding, changing diapers, and begging and wishing my baby would sleep. I was a zombie going through the motions. And I was alone… on Christmas. My dad, brother, and grandparents came over for Christmas lunch and I still felt alone. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I cried, how alone I felt, how in all honesty, how much I just didn’t even want to be on this earth anymore. How scary is that? How messed up is that? Here I am so blessed with this beautiful baby and all I could do was cry and wish I would die as I rocked my newborn son in his nursery. As I sit here and write this, I cry some more because it makes me so terribly sad.
As I was talking to my friend tonight, I admitted to her that with Wally’s birthday coming up and the holidays I find myself feeling sad. I look back on the photos and the videos and I cry because I remember exactly how I was feeling when I took those photos and videos. That I wanted to die. I didn’t want to feel sad anymore. The sadness that would steal my breath away and consume me into a puddle in the shower. That my husband knew nothing about. Some days felt so long, that the pain would never end. But as an outsider looking in… you would never know. Because I would put on a brave smile. Act like everything was ok. When in fact… on the inside I was screaming. Screaming for someone to notice. Screaming for someone to save me. It was the most depressing, confusing time in my life. I would enterally fight with myself daily because I couldn’t understand why I was feeling the way I was feeling. I loved Wally. I adored him. My whole world revolved around him and yet here I was wishing I would die. None of it made sense. And I wanted to pull my hair out, out of frustration. Because after Henry died I would beg God to bring him back. That I just wanted my baby. And now here I was blessed with Wally, and it felt like I was grieving all over again. I felt worthless. I felt like a terrible mom. I felt like I wasn’t doing something right, because he wouldn’t sleep, he wouldn’t eat. What good was I? There were many times that I felt Wally.. and AJ would be better off without me. Because not only was I suffering… but my marriage was as well. This would go on for many months… I wouldn’t get help because well.. Wally would eventually be hospitalized for almost a month. I would tell myself I just didn’t have the time when all I could do was worry about Wally and making sure he was ok. Until finally, sometime after the dust had settled, and we got through his g-tube surgery, I finally admitted to myself that I needed help and I went to talk to my amazing doctor.
I have to admit…I still struggle… but I am luckily doing better on medicine. And I am starting counseling on the 3rd of December. But now, having experienced all of that…when I see that someone on Facebook has had their baby, I cringe. I pray and hope they do not suffer like I did. I also find myself grieving. Grieving for the time that I should have been enjoying with my newborn baby, yet I feel cheated instead. That time, those moments were stripped from me. I find myself angry, wishing I could get a do over. I stare at my beautiful baby boy sleeping on the monitor and tears roll down my face because I would give anything to go back and relive those moments. Do it all differently. Because even with the dark moments, there were the first smiles, the first laugh, the first words, and my heart feels like it could explode from the love and joy that I feel having Wally. PPD is real and it sucks. It takes away a part of yourself. It takes away your ability to enjoy life, to enjoy this beautiful baby that God created.
For you moms out there reading this….. you are not alone. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Do not do what I did and suffer in silence. Reach out. Get help. Even if it is a complete stranger. I wish I would have gotten help a lot sooner than I did. I think the best advice someone could have given me back than was to keep going. Do not give up. Take minute by minute. Hour by hour. Keep breathing. Get out. Take a break. Have someone watch the baby while you sleep. I know it is hard momma but trust me, it will be worth it. Because as hard as it is to think back to a year ago, I am so glad I kept going. I am so glad I decided to live. Seeing Wally and who he has become, his outgoing personality, his smile when I walk in to a room, the kisses he gives, the laughs, the cuddles, watching my husband with him, well lets just say all the pain and sadness you felt than, will soon be replaced with all of this. All you have to do is keep breathing and keep going.
Love and prayers always.
Wally’s Momma 💕💕💕
“Being a new mother is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, but postpartum depression and anxiety strip that away for a time, but trust that it will not last forever.” – Judy Dippel