This is not my first baby, my third baby, but it was my first experience with any type of postpartum mood disorders.
I knew it was a possibility for me because I had struggled with generalized depression anxiety before. And I knew that sometimes that could be a precursor, but I was still really surprised when it did happen, because it’s not like anything I was expecting. The birth experience was pretty traumatic for me and my husband too, right when Covid was starting. The baby’s heart rate started dropping relatively quickly, and so we had to be rushed into an emergency C-section.
It was so fast. Nobody told me what was going on. I was like, this is not normal. I was scared and my husband wasn’t there because he could not come in yet. I could feel the pressure. They were already going in and it was just completely unexpected. Very scary. My husband said that when he came in the room, they had my organs out and he was scared… The baby was fine, but cutting my bladder during the surgery, so I was on the table for two hours while they sewed me back up, and I had to bring my catheter home for a week.
I’m walking around with this catheter. I couldn’t really take her to do a diaper change, I couldn’t make food for myself, I really couldn’t do anything, and I’m so used to being the person who does everything for everybody. It was super challenging. Then we found out that we had to move. It was stressful. But I felt like I was handling everything pretty well given the issues, but this baby would cry for no reason, always crying. We could not really have any support people around because of covid. One day, four weeks postpartum, I had a panic attack, and I hadn’t had a panic attack in years… And it scared me.
At two weeks postpartum, my doctor knew I was not feeling great so she said, “Well, I’ll prescribe you a medication. If you wanna take it, you can take it.” I started it the day I had the panic attack. It took almost five weeks to feel like myself. The doctor hadn’t told me anything about what to expect.
I fortunately found the PSI Facebook community group, and there were other moms who’ve been through it, who are going through it, who told me that this is normal. One person was really helpful to me, helping me get through this stuff. She explained the medication and what to expect. She said, “You may be nauseous and lose your appetite, just keep going, it’ll be okay. But I think I still wasn’t all away mentally prepared for it, so I quit the medication co… I tried other things, like meditation, exercise, acupuncture. I was very diligent, but nothing that I did touched my postpartum anxiety. It was like something took over my body. I had no control, and it scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I’m nursing my baby, and I’m not eating… How am I going to produce milk for her and she was fussy. It was hard, with two other children who were doing the distanced learning for school. They were a underfoot.
I felt like I had lost control of my life. I couldn’t do the things I would normally do. Like take care of all the bills, and cook for everybody. Sometimes just getting the out of bed made my anxiety go through the roof. I finally started the medication back up and followed more of the PSI coordinator’s instructions. She also helped me get a doctor through the directory, and connect with virtual groups. She really explained to me what was going on in my head. She’s explained, It’s a chemical imbalance that happens and it sometimes messes with neurotransmitters, and that is why people get like this. You’re going to get through this. You have to just stay on the path and you have to go through the hard stuff. I would tell her, “But I’m not me. You don’t understand.” And she would say, “I do understand. I went through the same thing.” I browsed through the PSI Facebook group constantly. It helped to know that other women have been through this… and come out the other side.
I made sure when I came out the other side that I posted on that page to say, “I got through it.” When you’re going through it, you need to hear that. The support from PSI Facebook was really the only thing that kept me going. My husband was supportive, but he didn’t understand, and my family didn’t really get it.
I was just struggling, I was just such a mess, I was caged into myself and I ended up in the ER because I thought something was super wrong. When I was there my contact at PSI talked to my husband about what was going on, explaining, “She needs to stay the course with the medication because it’s going to get better.” She helped me with local psychiatrist options. She was just very reassuring throughout everything, as were the other parents and moms that I met through PSI, so I really appreciated all of their support. I don’t think I could have gotten through it without PSI.
I ended up going to a perinatal support outpatient group, a day program. I got to take the baby and we would be there for six hours a day, for two weeks. When I got there and we were doing the intake, I was telling her like, I wanna die. I can’t live like this. That’s how bad it got.
About four or five weeks into taking the medication consistently, I was feeling like myself again…
My whole journey would have not gone the way it did if it weren’t for PSI, everybody that I found to support and help me was through PSI.
I was really happy and fortunate to have found PSI, I can’t imagine any other mom having to go through this… I will always share my experience with others. And I will always recommend PSI to any new parent, because we don’t have to suffer alone.
We have her one-year birthday coming up. And every day, I’m just so grateful that I can be present, to enjoy it, you know?