When you think about having a baby, you probably conjure up images of your sweet little bundle nestling in your bed of soft down, napping peaceful while you stare at their beautiful form. At least, that it was I thought about when I was pregnant with my son. I thought about how I was going to put him in the cutest little outfits, and we were going to go for walks around the neighborhood, and how he was going to sleep through the night at two weeks old (What did I know, I was a first time mom). The one thing that I didn’t think about while pregnant with my little man was the possibility of postpartum depression. Now, I probably read close to a million parenting and pregnancy books while I was waiting for him to come out, but I always skipped the chapters about postpartum depression. I never thought that it was something that I would have to deal with, and I also think I skipped reading about it because I was afraid. Afraid that if I thought it was possible that it could happen.
The thing is though, it did happen, regardless of me reading about it or not. That was my first mistake; I didn’t know what was happening to me. We got to take our beautiful, perfectly healthy, little boy home from the hospital, so I should have been happy, right? Wrong. I should have been looking into my son’s eyes while nursing him, and thinking about how amazing it was that he came from me. Instead, I was crying non-stop while rocking him, I was ashamed of my body, I couldn’t get a grip on reality because I was so consumed in this spiral of despair and isolation that I couldn’t look into his eyes and see happiness. The only thing I saw was blackness.
I let this go on for a while before I realized that maybe this wasn’t how I should be feeling after having a baby. I had lost friendships, relationships with family members, and I was isolating myself so much that I didn’t even know who to talk to anymore. After quite a few months, my husband looked at me and asked “Do you think you might have postpartum depression?” It took me a minute to grasp the weight of that. Not only was I shocked that he noticed how low I was, but also I felt like he had thrown me a life jacket by putting a name to something that I couldn’t figure out. I don’t even think a minute went by before I said, “Yes, I do think that is what is going on.” Even though I was hesitant to go to the doctor (I am famous among my family/friends for not wanting to use medication), but I eventually took the step and went to my obstetrician. He asked me a series of questions, and lo-and-behold, he thought I had PPD too. Finally, an answer. A real, written in black and white reason why I have been in a dark hole for the last seven months. It felt good, but at the same time, it was still scary. He prescribed me some medication for depression, and told me to come back in a couple of weeks to see how it worked.
The medication didn’t work. It kept me up all night, and with a baby who still hasn’t figured out how to sleep all night, it was hell. Granted, I did feel okay during the day, but it was a cloudy, not really myself kind of “okay”. Needless to say, I stopped taking the meds. Now, I don’t advise this for anyone else, but for me, I felt it was the right thing to do. The reason behind that is I didn’t want to have to go back to be put on more medication to help me sleep…I felt like it was a real spiral into something that I couldn’t control. I DO NOT CONDONE THIS.
So after I stopped taking my meds, I still didn’t feel like my old self. I had a new body, a new person that was pretty much attached to me all day, and a not so great outlook on life. I needed an escape, and not a drug-induced one. One day, while breastfeeding my little dude, I took a gander at the books on my bookshelf. I realized that I hadn’t even so much as touched one of them since I got home from the hospital with my baby. Books have always been an escape for me, ever since I was a little girl. I could spend an entire day wrapped up in a comfy blanket with a book in my lap and be content to drown out anything else around me. Bombs could be going off and I would still be flipping pages.
The next thing I did changed me, and I know it may sound corny, or ridiculous and unbelievable, but when I set my son down in his bouncy seat and grabbed one of the books off of that bookshelf, I was transformed. I was able to let my mind wander into another world again, this time it wasn’t scary. This time it took me on an adventure into a new place that I hadn’t been for a long time. I was taken away from the constant feeling of not being good enough at what I was supposed to be doing (mothering), and it took me away from all the negative feelings I had toward my life at that moment. I got some reprieve. Ever since that day, I swear there hasn’t been a moment that I haven’t had a book next to me, open near me, or under my nose. It’s been over two years now since I have had my son, and if it wasn’t for books, I don’t know if I’d be here.
I’ve been sitting here today debating on if I should post this blog, and then I came across this picture on Facebook. It sums up how I feel.
I am not writing this to scare anyone, but I hope that by doing this I can help anyone who is suffering with PPD, and let them know there are ways to get past it.
Written by featured author Kerrie-” comfyreading “