Thursday, October 20, 2011

Postpartum silence

I'm blessed with relatively easy pregnancies. For my second pregnancy, I practiced hypnosis throughout and found complete comfort, even up until I delivered eight days overdue. I thought, "I can do this. It's not so bad. I CAN have more babies."

And then he was born.

I tore quite badly and required many stitches. A few days later, my son began vomiting large amounts of blood, which apparently came from me during breastfeeding. I exclusively pumped for the next week and bottle fed as I was bed-bound, unable to move from the pain of the stitches and keloid scarring which was growing unknowingly.

That week, I suffered through mastitis, painfully throbbing plugged ducts and rarely holding my baby as he was fed and cared for by family. I missed him terribly. I felt so alone - no one could take away these burdens. I had to bear them by myself.

As my breasts healed, I resumed nursing and got thrush from the mastitis antibiotics. Weeks followed with excruciating pain that prevented me from sitting. At my four week check-up, my doctor told me I'd need surgery to remove the painful keloid scars and the parts that were still not healing.

After surgery, I was unable to move for another week as the stitches did not absorb, causing persistent pain. Once they were removed, four months after his birth, I sat for nearly the first time without any discomfort.


I anticipated light at the end of this darkness. But, it did not come. There was nothing else holding me back. My baby weight was coming off quickly. The children were healthy and happy. My husband was kind and supportive. And there I lay on the couch, unable to move, day after day.

The dark fog clouding my soul sat as thick as ever. Stop nursing, people told me. I couldn't. It was the only thing that gave me a surge of joy, even if it was only for a moment. Spend time in the sun, others said. I did. And after fifteen minutes, I'd drag my corpse back inside and lie down. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well-balanced meals? Are you praying? Have you received a blessing? Yes to all. No change. Well then, fake it 'till you make it, another suggested. Uh-huh.

One night, my husband sat down with me. "Sweetie, it's time for you to get help. We can't live like this anymore." That felt like a punch in the gut. But, he was right.

It took a few weeks for me to gain the courage to make the calls. I set an appointment and began counseling. I set another with my OB and began a low-dose prescription for Zoloft. And then guilt set in because I was still breastfeeding and now slightly medicating my son. But, my hands were tied and I decided it was in everyone's best interest.

After a few weeks, I noticed the fog begin to thin. Talking with my counselor, though such a seemingly small thing, helped even more than the meds. I finally felt like I could leave the house and do things with people again.

However, as my son nears his first birthday, I still have groups of days where I lack interest in life and feel like it's all I can do to just make cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. I'm still dragging. I'm not sure when the fog will fully clear, but, at least there is a ray of light in the distance.

So, why am I writing this? Because these stories need to be shared. I felt so alone in all of this, like I was the only one responsible for overcoming this heavy fog. I want other women in my situation to know they are not alone. We need to stop being secretive about what we see as a personality flaw because when we open up, healing and improvement can begin.

*Disclaimer: I am not a physician or psychiatrist, nor do I claim to be one. If you worry that you may harm yourself or another person, please seek medical help immediately. 

1-800-442-HOPE (4673)
24-hour crisis intervention phone line will connect you with help in your state.

Postpartum Support International


  1. I love that you shared this. It's true. This is something that NEEDS to be openly discussed, because so many of us are feeling guilty about getting help. This is so odd. I took Prozak for almost a year after Simon. It took me nearly a year to seek out the help. Each day I was mixed with guilt, shame and at the same time gratitude. We should never feel shame for trying to get help. Pregnancy and birth takes so much out of us, not to mention dedicating our lives to our kids every need and most wants.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. I remember feeling really guilty about my post-partum depression too. Moms need to hear that they are not alone and it is not their fault.

  3. Thank you SO much for writing this. I really needed have no idea.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! I went through some post-partum depression myself, and ended up having to be on medication too. I'm ok with it, I'm not ashamed. It's just a disease that some people get. Some people get diabetes, some have depression, know what I mean? Some days I wish I didn't have to be on medication, but I know it isn't going to be forever. But I also know that sometime in the future I'll probably have to be on medication again.

  5. Wow. Like a mirror, huh? Thanks so much for sharing this with me. I'm hopeful things are only going to get better from here. I hate that I waited this long to learn all of this about myself.

  6. I'm so glad you shared this. I have been diagnosed with PPD/PPA and started meds and therapy which have helped tremendously, although like you mentioned there are still groups of days when I just feel overcome. I've been feeling like a failure for not being all better yet because even though there is a lot of info on PPD out there, no one tells you what it's like during recovery and I guess I was expecting it to be like a switch was flipped and I'd go back to being the old me. Your post helps me a lot - thank you for taking the time to share.