There are many factors that lead to postpartum depression. Some include a history of depression, a traumatic birthing experience, a sick or colicky baby, lack of support from a spouse or family members, and a drop in hormones to name a few. My road to PPD started with preeclampsia and the 4 week premature birth of my son. Add a traumatic birth, a NICU baby, and a drop in hormones so fierce I had a severe migraine for 3 weeks straight. I felt lack of support from my significant other. I felt that his life really didn't change at all and my life was upside down. My son refused to breast feed and nurses and lactation consultants kneaded and tugged at my breasts to get him to latch on. I had to pump to get breast milk into him but I wasn't making enough so formula was started. He was anemic and jaundice and remained in the hospital for 5 days. I was sent home without a baby.
The crying started about 24 hours after he was born. I chalked it up to just giving birth and hormones. When I left the hospital without my son, there was more crying. Who wouldn't? I cried every day that we visited and we couldn't take him home. Again, who wouldn't? But then, he was released from the hospital with a clean bill of health and the crying continued. It continued for weeks. I would sit and rock my son and just cry. I would get in the shower and cry. I wasn't eating and I wasn't sleeping. I kept telling myself it was just the hormones and everything would get better.
The resentment started for my significant other about week 3. I resented him for not bringing me flowers when our son was born (I know, stupid), I resented him for going out the second night I was in the hospital for a celebratory drink with my brother while I laid there alone, I resented him for asking for a 2 week paternity leave and only getting 2 days when our son came home, leaving me home alone with a newborn, and I resented him for needing to be asked to help me instead of just doing it. I was angry. I didn't want him around me and I didn't want to talk to him anymore. We couldn't have a conversation without an argument and me crying. I wanted him to leave.
4 weeks post delivery I started to realize I wasn't getting better. At my son's 4 week check up, I took my second PPD survey and lied on it. My son still wasn't breastfeeding and pumping was getting futile. My supply was drying up. I decided at that point that I had to give up breastfeeding which escalated my sadness. I hoped that if I got out of the house more I would feel better. My first real trip out was to the grocery store. My son decided to have a meltdown 15 minutes into our shopping. A woman walked past me and made a rude comment about "mommy shopping too long today". I flipped my shit in the middle of the store on her. My second trip was to the post office to buy a roll of stamps. I purchased the stamps, my son had a meltdown, I loaded him in the car, and arrived home without the stamps. Where the hell $35 worth of stamps went I will never know. My father was at the house when I arrived home and I lost it in front of him....over stamps.
My mom arrived a couple of days later to "help out". My dad told my mom I was in serious need of help. I was completely depressed and a mess. It was nice to have her there. I was able to go out alone, get a haircut, have dinner with my partner alone, and meet friends for drinks. I finally felt somewhat human again. But her stay was short lived and reality returned when she was gone. My relationship with my partner became more strained and on more than one occasion I asked him to move out. He just didn't understand what I was going through. He told me to stop crying out for attention. He was insensitive and hurtful and meanwhile I felt trapped.....inside my own body.
At my 6 week check up I decided to stop lying on the PPD survey and told the truth. My OB was very supportive and actually a little upset with me that it took me 6 weeks to get help. He asked me if I wanted to hurt myself or my child. The answer was no. I love my son. I just felt inadequate as a mother and a partner. However, at times, I wanted to harm my partner. I really didn't like him anymore. At that point, my OB prescribed an antidepressant which I accepted with hesitance but I knew I needed it to get better.
My partner began to understand my illness when I returned from my OB with medication. He started to grasp the situation when I confronted him with all of my feelings of resentment towards him. He started researching PPD on his own. He became supportive instead of defensive. He began helping me around the house and with our son without being asked. He became my lover again.
My son is 16 weeks old now. I am happier then I have been in weeks. I do still have bad days..days where I feel like I am trapped inside my own body. Days I am so on edge my skin crawls. But those days are few and far between and I am thankful every day that I recognized I had a serious problem. I am thankful for the surveys forced upon me to take. I am thankful for my OB and my son's pediatrician for always asking me how I was doing. I am thankful for my family and friends who gave me advice. I am thankful for Cymbalta. And I mostly thankful for my partner and his undying love and support.