Every birth story is different, and every journey of motherhood is different. However, when it comes to postpartum, there are a lot of similarities that moms can identify with, and that’s why I’ve decided to share my story and the journey to why I do what I do.
I had a great pregnancy until the end. At 33 weeks I was on bed rest, stuck in the house alone for 10+ hours, not allowed to move around like I normally do. I am such a busy and fast-paced person by nature, that this grounding seemed like more of a punishment than a treatment. Unfortunately, three weeks into my bed rest, my high blood pressure skyrocketed to dangerous levels, and I spent the week before delivery in the antepartum unit, mostly alone, with white walls and a small TV. This made life so gray. I had a couple of visitors here and there, and many phone calls from friends. When my husband wasn’t taking care of the dogs or working a 12-hour shift, he was at the hospital bringing me things to craft or read or eat. But in all honesty, I was depressed before I even delivered. This depression sprinkled throughout my pregnancy, but on bedrest, there was no distraction from what I was feeling. I felt guilty for my high blood pressure and putting my baby at risk. I felt the mom guilt before I was officially a mom.
By time delivery came, I was willing to do whatever, however to get this baby out of me and safely into my arms. But delivery was almost as difficult as antepartum. I had every intervention in the book short of a C-section. Because I delivered at 37 weeks, the doctors needed to do whatever it took to get the baby out and make sure she was healthy. Labor was long and hard, and there were parts of my birth story that still upset and bother me. I am convinced that delivery along with the month of bedrest contributed to my chemical imbalance and postpartum depression.
Then she arrived….OH how beautiful she was and still is. Bright blue eyes, soft skin, and looked nothing like either of us for the first month. I was so enamored by this tiny ball of life that I could fit in one hand. She was everything I never knew I needed in my life. She changed my world the day she arrived and I am a greater person for it.
But momming is hard. Breastfeeding did not come naturally to me and hurt like hell. She wanted to suck but I wasn’t putting her on my nipple correctly and felt like a failure. My husband only had 3 days off work, and I was on my own. Ten hour days alone with a new life who hates my breast. Not to mention her silence was deafening. I know they say babies scream and cry and require all your attention all the time, but the first few weeks she didn’t make many sounds unless she was hungry. It was maddening because I talked to no one all day, she was silent and sleeping all day, and my dogs were lazy and sleeping far away from the new creature who took over their life. Family and friends were in and out of the hospital and our home, but they want to hold the baby not help me. Why would they? I didn’t say anything and I just wanted a little break from holding her. What I really needed was someone to hold a full, non-baby conversation with. Someone to acknowledge that I looked like shit and I needed to go do my hair. I needed someone to tell me they come during the day when my husband was gone so I could make it through the day without going insane.
Slowly I started to lose it. Near the end of each day, I became a zombie and would hold my child and cry. I didn’t want to do this anymore, or be anyone’s everything. I remember one day I called my husband and told him that he needed to leave work and come home immediately because I wasn’t safe and I feared the baby wasn’t safe anymore either. Who would want their child with someone who is losing their sanity?? I wanted to this to end, and I had no idea how to reach out for help.
I’d like to tell you it got better after six weeks, or the newborn phase, or when I went back to work. It didn’t. I was embarrassed to tell my friends what I was struggling with, except one, who gave me sage advice and an immediate safety plan. She told me that if I felt unsafe I needed to step out on my porch or patio for 5 minutes and leave the blinds open so I can see the baby, but I’m not near the baby. She also told me to go on as many trips to target with the baby as I needed to be around adult humans. So I did. It helped a little, but I was still cheating myself of the opportunity to truly get better.
The sad part to this story is that I didn’t get help for months. Seven to be exact. And it was at my lowest point, when I almost didn’t survive the pain and despair, that I threw out my worries and shame and sought therapy. It was LIFE SAVING. Literally.
Through therapy and time, I actually started to believe that there were other mothers like me. Mothers who loved their kids and would do anything for them, but they are depressed, sad, lonely, and feeling like there is no hope. Even worse, some feel like I did, and don’t think the world or their family would care if they weren’t around anymore. Because I was already a counselor, I decided to use my experiences to help other mothers, expecting and postpartum, as they navigate through this big change and unpredictable journey. I call my business Push, because it’s not about just pushing out the baby, but it’s about pushing through the difficult moments, the sadness, anger, loneliness. Push is a place where you can feel safe to not be okay but hold on to the hope that you soon will be. I am fortunate that I found The Nest to call my company home and be surrounded by strong women who believe in the power of mothers.
If you feel you might be struggling with prenatal or postpartum depression, please call Push Counseling for an appointment today.
Tiffany Wicks, MS, LPC