PostPartum Depression Hurts

It’s taken me a while to work up to writing this post. I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to 100% admit it, or I feel like in some way all of my reactions or feelings will be blamed on PPD, or it could be because I want to ignore it all. I don’t know.

When I first thought that I was perhaps suffering from/struggling through PPD, I figured that I’d write a post about it after I was all fixed. I’d write about how it felt and how I fixed it, post some links about getting help and some symptoms, and it would all be gathered up pretty succinctly in a magenta bow. However, a little part of me felt disingenuous about doing that. See, if I want to really be helpful (at least in my mind) sharing how I’m feeling in the midst of it, would be most helpful to someone in my position. Also, if I didn’t write about how I’m feeling now, it would be a lot easier to ignore it all. Which is the opposite of helping myself.

So, I compose this post a day after seeing my primary care doctor concerning my ever worsening symptoms. If you’ve given birth recently, as a mother, you are asked to fill out a survey about how you feel (at least in my hospital and at the pediatricians office). The first time I filled out the survey in the hospital, I was apparently too honest (I had an emergency c-section and my Warrior Princess was unexpectedly admitted to the NICU having experience fetal distress. It was such a rough time.) and the nurse said, “If you answer like this, it’s going to be alarming.” I though the whole point of the survey was to be honest. But..ya know. So, being scared into not being super honest, I met with a nice woman, who gave me pamphlets and told me that someone from the PPD network/help center/ would call me once a month and ask how I was. I told her I felt fine.

I really did. I’d say that for sure I’d seek assistance immediately if that ever changed. I felt fine.

All the literature I’d ever read about PPD or any short clip I’d seen on my Facebook feed, any Lifetime movie about some sad woman, made me feel like I would have to be thinking about hurting my child OR looking at her and feeling nothing at all. Looking at her like she was a blank piece of paper. I’ve never once felt like that. Not even a little bit.

What I have felt like is that my Warrior Princess is the only thing that truly brings me joy at the exclusion of everything else. I look at her like she is my world and everything else can kick rocks. This almost sounds idyllic, to be so besotted with your baby that you live in a wonderful world of coos, and baby blinks. But it isn’t.

Think about it, nothing else makes me happy. I feel disconnected from everything most days. I don’t want to talk to anyone, everything annoys me. People keep offering to give me a break from the duties of motherhood when all I really want to do is take my daughter and go. Go where? I don’t know. Somewhere where it’s just me and her. This hurts my other relationships. This hurts me.

How did it get to this? What are some signs that I missed? May is PPD awareness month (I saw a posting somewhere which inspired/forced me to write this entry). I will use this month to explain as much of my story and experience as I can.



“Come on Baby, let’s get away…”

Last Saturday night, as I changed my Warrior Princess into her pajamas, a song came to mind. Well really it was only about 4 lines of the chorus that came to mind. It was Janet Jackson’s “Escapade“. I remembered how when I was younger, I wanted to one day look like her in the “Love will never do without you” music video. The hair style, the head band, the tank top and jeans. For me she was #goals.

Come on baby, let’s get away
Let’s save our troubles for another day
Come go with me, we’ve got it made
Let me take you on an escapade

I scooped up my little one and danced around with her. She laughed at the same 4 lines over and over. My husband, a little tired of my broken record, found the song on Xbox Music and put us both out of our broken record misery.

As I dance, we got into a suddenly deep conversation:

“I wonder what it would be like to have another child.”

“What do you mean?” We had discussed family planning before and we would like to have another child.

“What if we have another child and they don’t have Down Syndrome? What if that child can do things that she can’t? What if they feel obligated to take care of her?”

“Like if we have another child and they’re typical [typical is the term used for children born without Down Syndrome, it is not okay to say “normal”], what will happen with Warrior Princess?” I asked for clarification.

“Yes, what if they’re jealous because they think she’s getting more attention? Or what if she feels jealous because it’s a new baby?”

I didn’t have an answer. “I think we’ll be okay and figure it out…” We continued to discuss what it might be like to have another child. I had read about moms being unsure of how they would be able to love another child as much as they loved their first and only (if they had a single birth first). At the time I thought that was silly because moms just love, it what they do. I now thought, how would I be able to love someone else as much as I now loved my Warrior Princess? How does your heart find the space for love? And logistically, how do you find the time in the day?

As I continued to dance around, I remembered being about 5 years old and dancing around in the living room with my mom as “iiiiiii wanna dance with somebody…” played from the radio, my older brother and I bopping around the living room. Then Gloria Estefan and Sade playing as I danced on top of my mother’s feet. My mom was able to love us both (and then all three of us).

Some how, the heart grows as the family grows and there’s love enough for everyone.

We’ll have a good time…
Leave your worries behind…
On an escapade, baby

But will she look like me?

At some point during my pregnancy (maybe around 23 or so weeks) I stood in the living room and asked my husband, “What if she wants to get plastic surgery?” He looked at me like I was crazy.

“Why would she want that?” he asked.

“Because…what if she doesn’t look like us?” I mused.

“I think she’ll look like both of us.”

For him it was that simple. For me, not so much.

When I was in middle school I thought my nose was disproportionate to my face (really it was more that it was the feature that most reminded me that I looked like my father) and I wondered if I should get a nose job. I asked my maternal grandmother what she thought and she agreed that a nose job would be fine. She even pinched the bridge of my nose. That, for me, validated that it was wrong.

Down Syndrome comes with a whole host of “maybe your child could be born with_______ and maybe they won’t” qualities. It also has certain physical markers that may or may not show up. I wondered what if other people pick on her because of these physical markers? Middle school was a torturous time for me and my heart breaks thinking of my Warrior Princess having to experience 1/16 of what I went through. How strong would the physical markers be? Would these physical markers over power her features? Would she look in the mirror and wonder why she didn’t look like me or Matt? More than her not being able to see me in her reflection, maybe my fears were about me not being able to see myself in her.

When Warrior Princess was born, and for many days after, I would look at her and think that she looked like herself. She is mine and I love her. I didn’t see myself, I just saw my little girl, my fighter, her toothless grin, her sassy arms flailing about.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I took a selfie with her in my arms (and one of my dogs, Jackson, had his head on my shoulder). When I looked at it, I saw myself in her face. She has the shape of my eyes and my eyebrows. I liked it, I liked being able to pinpoint my face in hers. But the funny thing is, it didn’t change how I felt about her at all. My heart didn’t swell any larger, my love didn’t grow any deeper.

I already loved her face.

The selfie I took with my Warrior Princess.

Motherhood, Irrational Motherhood

Everyday begins the same way, I wake up my Warrior Princess, I wash her face, change her into her clothing for the day, give her a run down (date, weather, schedule for the day) and feed her. I do my own morning routine (wash my face, pump milk, eat breakfast) before she wakes up. Occasionally our routines collide (she wakes up early, I accidentally sleep in late) and I just wish that someone was there to help me.

Enter my husband, Matt.

Matt is usually off to work in the morning before our little one wakes up but on the weekends when he isn’t working, he’ll help with her morning routine. One Saturday he was doing her morning routine while I was making myself something to eat.

I found myself giving detailed instructions on how to wash her face even though he’d done it before. I pulled out her outfit for the day, I made sure he could find her face cloth which was hanging up on the towel rack. I reminded him about her gum massage. I hovered by the door with a spoon in my hand.

I sent myself back to the kitchen because I didn’t want it to seem like I didn’t trust him.

I stared down at my breakfast and all I could think about is how I’m not doing her morning routine and that I miss doing it. I do it But this one time is tearing me apart.

I thought I wanted to make myself breakfast but now I feel like I’d rather starve than not wash the gunk out of her eyes.

When I’m home alone with her, feeling like I’ll never get the basics accomplished, I mentally long for someone to help me and now that I do have help, I don’t want it. Well, not that help. If someone could just feed me while I watch her sleep, that’s probably more of what I want. My arms are tired but I don’t want to stop holding her but if I could just grow another arm…?

Ahhh motherhood, you irrational gal, you.