Six months ago when people told me to be careful of Postpartum Depression, my first reaction was always ”Well, I’ve dealt with depression all my life. I know how to manage it so I should be fine.” It wasn’t meant to be a blow off, it was true. Since I was 16 I became acutely aware of when depression started to creep in: usually shortly before the holidays when the weather would turn to dreary and cold, then it would be masked by the stress and excitement of said holidays…but by January 15 I always knew if my preventative measures had not been enough that year. By the end of January I knew if I needed to go onto Zoloft again, or just go tanning.
This, though…this is a whole new beast. It’s like saying you’ve hunted wolves so you know how to kill a Grizzly Bear. FYI: I’m from Montana, hence the hunter’s analogy. If you didn’t know, the wolf population is actually dangerous to the livelihood of ranchers there. Trust me, they aren’t endangered. That whole thing started because some out of state dude got sentimental…kind of like those super intelligent people that say we shouldn’t slaughter cows, but just buy the burger at the grocery store. I digress…
Wolves are very dangerous, it’s true. But Grizzlies? Think the Hungarian Hornback mama dragon in Harry Potter. They are the only bear that will attack without prompting – especially if you come across a mom with her cubs. They can kill, and eat, a full grown moose; and they can run upto 30 mph.
Ok. Wildlife lesson over…like I was saying. Postpartum Depression is like the Grizzly…attacks without warning.
A few weeks ago, my husband was home trying to help me with the baby. He works swing shift right now, so I feel a lot like a single mom most of the time. I was quickly becoming VERY unraveled. i don’t quite remember if Damian had been crying all day, or just most of the evening…but this was before I learned his tired cues to put him down prior to total meltdown. He had just had a poop explosion and I needed to change everything. (Side note here: he HATES getting dressed and undressed. Naked or clothed he’s fine. It’s the act of getting him to one or the other that sucks.)
So I start to strip my son, and he starts to scream. I gave him his bath, put a new diaper on him, and he is still screaming. My husband comes in to ask “What can I do?” and, honest to god, I couldn’t tell him. I didn’t know. I knew the routine, I knew what came next, I knew the steps…but I couldn’t tell him any of it. As I’m putting on the diaper feeling quite overwhelmed, tired, worthless, like a horrible mom, resentful of my inconsolable child, irritated at my husband for not just knowing…tears are streaming down my face. You know, the tears that don’t come with the cry face, or the breathing, or even the acknowledgement you are crying until you can stop them. My husband scoops up my son and calms him down as I plop into the chair and just watch feeling totally useless. He then puts him down to get his pjs on. I sign deeply and say “He’s going to go ballistic any second again.”
Sure enough, the moment the onesie goes over his head, the screaming continues. I stand up and take over. Without looking up, uncontrollable tears streaming, in a defeated voice I say “This happens every night. This is my normal. So how can I tell you how to help, when I can’t even help him.” I pick up my child, and go into the master bedroom to feed him and try laying him down in the bassinet.
That night, I took one of my placenta capsules. Don’t scoff. I’ll tell you more about that little miracle later. Because the next morning, it was like I had a personally transplant. I was patient with my son, I was loving towards my husband…and I actually took a shower.
Because this is what I do, I researched like crazy the difference between Postpartum Depression and depression. I also wrote down my experience with both.
- You have feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
- You want to stay in bed
- You don’t have an appetite
- You don’t want to be around anyone
- You would rather just stay home
- You don’t actually care about much of anything
- You have feelings of hopelessness because you can’t calm your child
- You don’t have time for things you once enjoyed, and long for them exponentially
- You want to stay in bed, with your baby, so you can finally sleep
- You don’t have an appetite, because even when you ARE hungry you don’t have time to eat
- You want someone, ANYONE, to come visit you…since leaving the house now takes a planner and a moving truck
- You want to go out, but the effort is overwhelming
- You want so badly to spend time with your partner, take a daily shower, put on makeup, fix your hair…but that would be stupid because you’ll get puked on in twenty minutes anyway
- Sex? What’s that? Besides…you look revolting (at least you feel like you do)
- You want someone to coo over you again…not just the baby
- You suddenly realize you will never be alone again…and it actually angers you a bit
See? How could I see I was getting Postpartum Depression when it seemed the exact opposite of every single depression episode I have had in 17 years! Postpartum Depression happens when your hormone levels are trying to balance back out. Consciously you know you need to, and want to, take care of your child. So you get put very far on the back burner. Your partner, who didn’t have their hormones go ape shit, can’t understand why the simplest things suddenly seem like doing quantum physics to save the earth from a volcanic apocalypse to you.
Here’s where the placenta capsules come in. Yes. I had my placenta turned into capsules because as disgusting as it sounds (because we’re American…) that little organ has magic powers. We’re the only species that doesn’t eat it after birth, and we’re the only country that doesn’t even contemplate it in the norm. Think about it. That is what nurtured your child for 40 weeks, balanced your insane rush of hormones (can you just imagine if you DIDN’T have that filter?!), and is the only organ that literally looks like the tree of life. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.
One capsule and my body and mind simultaneously went “Oh yea. We CAN do this!”
When I took them right after Damian was born, the normal symptoms women felt were substantially less than that night when I melted down. I only stopped taking them because my body was still recovering from the PUPPPs (“Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy” is literally an allergic reaction to your pregnancy at the end of your pregnancy. 1 in 200 of all pregnant women get them. It’s like hives, on bee stings, mixed with a rash all over your body, 24 hours a day, when your 38 weeks pregnant. It was by far the worst experience of my life).
I’m very thankful I still have some, and I’m glad I was rather stingy with them at first. I know I’m still on the edge of full fledged postpartum depression, so hopefully (like my seasonal depression) I can squash it like a bug right quick.
But if I had known then, I would have made plans…actually scheduling meet ups, dance classes, hair appointments – anything – to get my butt outside. I would have realized that the moment I felt useless as a mom, I should have called other moms and cried, if only to hear that that thought was ridiculous. If I had known my sexuality and libido would be extinguished like a grease fire, I would have ordered some sexy lingerie and taken postpartum boudoir session.
I now know for next time.