I knew something was wrong when I would be asked the question of “how I was liking being a mom”. I found myself looking at my husband as if he should answer for me. Truth was I didn’t feel like a mom, I just felt like I all of a sudden had this responsibility to keep this little human alive. My days consisted of diaper changes and feedings and aside from that I was afraid to hurt this fragile little guy.
I later came to realize that these feelings of disconnect are normal emotions many moms have after giving birth. Don’t get me wrong, I would do whatever I need to, to keep my baby boy safe but at the same time I had all these contradicting feelings. Mostly of me not being a good mom. I carried the shame of my son ending up in the NICU around with me all day.
I didn’t have the courage to call my doctor’s office until one of my friends told me my feelings were normal but I still needed to seek help if I wanted to get better. My 6 week appointment had been pushed back so I called and told them I couldn’t wait any longer to see someone because I did not feel like myself. They gave me a postpartum depression questionnaire over the phone and as soon as we finished she called over to the behavioral health offices and got me an appointment.
A week later I went to that appointment with my new therapist. I told her everything I had gone through and how I was feeling. She taught me a breathing technique and recommended I start group therapy with other moms going through postpartum depression. I chose to see her again one on one before starting group therapy. I could barely speak without crying one on one, how could I possibly function in a group setting? When I left I got my after visit summary, right there under “Diagnosis” it read: Postpartum Depression.
Appointments are very hard to get because therapists and psychiatrists are short staffed. The fact that I got in to see my therapist so quickly was a miracle. My next appointment was not for another month but I figured it was ok. When I left I felt relieved. Relieved that I was going to do something about my mental health. At the same time I wasn’t too sure how well it would work. Although the therapist was great, she didn’t know what NICU stood for, she didn’t know what bilirubin was or how to spell it. How could she possibly relate and help me through this?
Soon after, I had my 6 week postpartum check up where my midwife screened me for postpartum depression. When they told me my questionnaire came back scoring high I let them know I was already seeing a therapist. My midwife said I also needed to get in to see a psychiatrist since I may have a chemical imbalance. They gave me the number to behavioral health and once again I had an appointment.
*My post “Knowing the difference” discusses how my midwife helped me figure out if I had depression or the baby blues.
When I saw the psychiatrist the appointment consisted of routine questions and was followed by a brief therapy session where I let her know what was going on. She was a mom of 3 with her youngest being 6 months. She told me she couldn’t imagine going through what I had gone through. That statement helped me in validating my own feelings. Up until this point I still wondered if this was a phase I needed to get through and maybe I was just being dramatic. She prescribed me 50mg of Zoloft per day and signed me up for group therapy. Although I was hesitant I didn’t say no.
I was very fortunate to have an insurance that screens for postpartum depression and sets you up with the proper care. If it wasn’t for this I would have gone on with this weight on my mind and on my heart that would have only gotten worse. I advise every new mom to be screened and if your insurance doesn’t automatically do it, ask for it. Now you have someone else to be healthy for so don’t ignore how you’re feeling.