There's those things that they don't tell you about when you look at that precious baby on the ultrasound machine. You are over the moon to carry a baby and stock your cabinets with oreos. Then, you go through hours of labor and push and push until you hold a tiny miracle in your arms. Then you go home and you're all on your own.
Most people can't understand why anyone would be less than thrilled to have this new person in their home. How could welcoming a new precious little baby cause such devastation to a mom?
Maybe your doctor tells you about postpartum depression and the signs to watch for, but most likely not. Most likely you read about it a little bit in a baby book or searched google for "why am I crying so much?". Most new moms suffer from the "baby blues", but it ends there. If that was the case for you, you are lucky.
You might not really understand the postpartum illnesses that a new mom can suffer from. I didn't until after having my THIRD baby! I have had three babies of my own, and watched so many of my friends have their babies. I'm just now fully understanding what hormones can really do to your body.
Let's take a minute to really understand the different postpartum illnesses.
BABY BLUES Happens to over 80% of new moms. It's a stressful and exhausting time in your life, you may experience excessive crying and irritability. This will disappear on it's own in a few weeks.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION Happens to about 1 in 5 new moms. Symptoms can occur within days or delivery or any time in the first year.
Frequent sadness or crying Changes in appetite Insomnia Intense fatigue or low mood Emotional numbness Feelings of helplessness and despair Irritability, surges of anger Feelings of inadequacy, guilt or shame Difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness Anxiety/Panic Over concern for your baby Lack of interest in sex Exaggerated high or low moods Dramatic changes in your feelings from sadness to thoughts of suicide
POSTPARTUM ANXIETY / PANIC DISORDER You may not feel depressed, but may feel very anxious. Happens to about 10% of new moms.
Panic attacks Intense anxiety and/or fear Rapid heart rate Hot or cold flashes Chest pain Shaking Dizziness Insomnia
POSTPARTUM ANXIETY / OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER It is estimated that as many as 3-5% of new mothers will experience these symptoms. The most misunderstood and misdiagnosed of the disorders.
Anxiety Depression Repetitive Behavior Excessive Cleaning Intrusive, repetitive thoughts
POSTPARTUM POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER About 1-6% of women stuffer from this disorder (PTSD) following birth. This is caused by a real or perceived trauma during delivery or postpartum.
Prolapsed cord Unplanned c-section Use of vacuum extractor or forceps to deliver Baby in NICU Lack of support during delivery
POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS The most severe and the rarest postpartum reaction. It occurs in about 1 in 1000 women, usually within the first three weeks after the birth. The woman will experience a break with reality and symptoms are severe. Requires immediate medical care.
Delusions Hallucinations Irritations Hyperactivity Decreased need for sleep Paranoia Rapid mood swings Difficulty communicating
I used to be one of those people that thought only the "crazy" moms had this stuff. The moms who weren't strong enough or didn't enjoy being a parent. Until I realized it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you and me. Perfectly normal, happy moms who love their lives can fall victim to hormones.
The most important thing to know? It's not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong.
Did you hear me? I'll say it again. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.
The first step: admitting something is wrong and asking for help. That's been the hardest part for me. People always tell me, "if anyone can handle three under three, its you!" And "you're supermom!". Although this encouragement is great, they are also what hurt me.
I believed in my head I was supermom and I could handle it all. So when I started feeling out of control, I had a hard time admitting I needed help. If I'm really as great of a mom as everyone says, then I can handle this and won't have any problems.
Thankfully someone was there to pick up the pieces of me and push me to seek guidance, advice and medicine. It's ok to take the crazy pills. I really struggled with this. Only nutty people take that stuff, and I'm normal! (That was my first mistake in actually thinking I'm "normal".)
It really is ok to take medicine to help. Jesus is our ultimate healer, and I truly believe I can be healed from this but I feel at peace with what modern medicine can offer me also. I first put my trust in Him as my healer, but still know that it's ok if he doesn't take it away. He's still on the throne whether I'm crazy or not.
And the best part? God can still use you. He can use your story. The reason I'm so open and honest about my journey, is to hopefully help someone else who is struggling. Just because you have a "mental illness" does not mean that God can't use you. There were tons of crazy people in the bible that He used in big ways!!!
I hope that you will take the time to understand how serious postpartum illness is. Be there for your friends, your sisters. We as moms should not be doing this alone. I pray that if you are a mom suffering in silence you will take that step to get help. Email me, reach out to a friend or just call your doctor.
But DO something. Please don't suffer alone.