My pregnancy was amazing. Really amazing. Aside from the usual “morning sickness” during my first trimester, I actually couldn’t remember when I had felt better. I had lots of energy, my mood was exceptional, and I couldn’t wait to deliver my little bundle of joy. I actually walked into the hospital excited for labour.
I delivered… and then I crashed. Right there in the hospital.
Prior to delivery, my little bundle of joy had been posterior all along, but the doctors assured me that they could manually turn him around. After 26 hours of heavy-duty back labour, he finally turned. And after a failed vacuum attempt, the forceps finally brought my baby boy into this world. I, however, felt like I had just completely checked out.
They took him away immediately due to the complications. I had lost a lot of blood, to the point that I became instantly anaemic. I was crying the moment he came out, and I couldn’t stop crying throughout my stay at the hospital. In fact, I cried endlessly for the next several months. My son was very colicky, breast feeding was a huge challenge, I wasn’t eating properly as I had no appetite, and I was hardly sleeping. Was this what motherhood was supposed to be like?
I wasn’t bonding with my son. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him; I couldn’t love anyone more. But it was the strangest feeling of loving someone and simultaneously being afraid of them. I was afraid to care for him, because I didn’t think I could do it right. I didn’t think I could do anything right. For six months, I didn’t want to hold him or care for him, because I thought someone else – anyone else – could do it better, and care for him the way he deserved to be cared for.
I became extremely depressed, and additionally, my anxiety level silently rose to an unimaginably high level. My family did their best to support me, but no one – not even I realized that what I was going through was a combination of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety symptoms. I was ashamed to tell anyone how I truly felt, and although I had many people around me who loved me, I couldn’t have felt more alone.
I suffered for one full year. Near the end of my maternity leave, I started to feel a little bit better. I had finally developed a strong bond with my son, and I was looking forward to going back to work. Once I was back at my job, and after talking with my co-workers and doing some research, it was only then that I came to realize that what I had been battling had a name. It was Postpartum Depression.
As strange as it may sound, I had never considered that I may have actually suffered from this. I had always thought that postpartum depression meant you couldn’t get out of bed all day to care for your child. But I had been functioning – just barely, mind you – but out in public I was able to fake it really well. How relieved I was to know that the way I had been feeling was not a result of weak character or ineptitude. I had discovered that I had suffered from an illness, and that it hadn’t been my fault.
My son is now 11 years old, and my daughter is 9. I love my amazing children more than anything in this world. They are confident and well-adjusted, and I am so proud of who they are. I look back at my experience and remember how hard it was. I look at myself now, and know that I was meant to go through that experience. Today, I am able to help other women who battle the same illness, and I’m able to show them that they are not alone.
– Sandra Hwang, previous parent volunteer with an Adjusting to Parenthood Support Group
It is only by talking about this illness, and making sure that all postpartum women and their partners are aware of the signs and symptoms, that we can help reduce the stigma. The sooner you get help, the more effectively you will be treated, and the faster you will heal.
Many women will experience the baby blues in the first couple weeks after the birth of their baby, but for 1 in 5 women the feelings of sadness, anger, and anxiety persist, often worsening.
Postpartum Mood Disorder, or PMD for short, can include;
- Feelings of sadness
- Even negative feelings about yourself or your baby
Although there are certain risk factors such as a history of depression or anxiety, it is usually not possible to determine who PMD will affect.
If you are feeling this way, you should know that it’s not your fault, there is help for you, and you will get better.
- Talk with your Healthcare provider, or talk with a public health nurse.
- Become informed about what treatment and support options are available for you and your family.
Remember that although you may feel like it right now, you are not alone in this. Parenting is a journey with many lessons to be learnt. One of the most important, yet probably often the most difficult, is that we should never be afraid to ask for help.
Share your experience:
For more tips, hints, and help in Halton about Postpartum Depression, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:
- Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
- Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
About these guest bloggers:
Sandra Hwang is a mom to two amazing children, and is a survivor of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.
Rebecca Hynes is a Public Health Nurse with the Early Years Health Team. She loves to connect and provide support for new parents, and has a strong interest in Attachment, and Postpartum Mood Disorders. Rebecca loves spending time with her family, and is a busy mom to three young boys.