My Story: My pregnancy was such a whirlwind of worry that thinking about my due date seemed like I was being overzealous. Once I finally hit the 37 week marker, it was like a sigh of relief. I thought that we had finally gotten through the hard part.
My labor was nothing spectacular. I decided that I would "go with the flow" and trust my birthing team with whatever they thought was best. The second that I heard my daughter's first cry, tears streamed down my face. I looked up at my husband and I could see his eyes well up and get glassy behind his glasses. It was a different kind of love. I never truly understood what unconditional love meant until that day.
The next few following days are a blur. Not because of the lack of sleep we were getting with a newborn, but with everything that was happening in my head. I would see my husband carrying my daughter by the stairs and I saw him throw her over the railing. I would jump out of bed, only to realize that it didn't really happen. Anything would trigger these horrible hallucinations. I couldn't tell the difference between what was real and what was in my head. The worst were hallucinations about harming my daughter myself. It was like I was watching a movie, and I knew that it was wrong and I prayed that it wouldn't happen, but it was like I wasn't in control of my own body. it wasn't like a dream either. I didn't just suddenly find myself in a situation doing something horrible and woke up from it. These hallucinations came and went into whatever I was doing at that moment.
I became so terrified of these hallucinations that I was terrified to hold my daughter. I wanted to bond with her. I wanted to experience that "inseparable bond" that so many of my fellow mommy friends would describe, but every time I saw my daughter or heard her cry, my mind would automatically take it to a very dark place. I knew I loved my daughter but I was so afraid of myself that I distanced myself from her.
I felt like a failure as a mother. I felt like I was going crazy. I desperately wanted to talk to someone but I was afraid of being judged by my family, by the doctors. When I wasn't making her a bottle, I couldn't find the energy to do anything. I had no motivation. Every night, I went to sleep praying to God to just take me. I didn't want to live. I cried myself to sleep and cried even harder when I woke up in the morning. I didn't feel like anyone understood what was going on inside.
Do you remember what it felt like when you had your heartbroken when you were a teenager, thinking that your heart hurt so badly you could die? That's exactly how it was. That pain in your chest, the tightness in your lungs where it felt like no matter how deeply you breathed in, you couldn't fill your lungs up with enough air. It was how I felt all the time, and I had no idea why.
Soon, my relationships began to break down. I was beginning to be reclusive. I called my parents purely for the purpose of updating them on our daughter. I smiled and posed for pictures to post on social media just to let everyone else think that all was well. I was snapping at my husband at any given chance and I still couldn't seem to get my life together. It had been months since I had my daughter, but I was still in a "rut". My visual hallucinations had died down by this time but I still felt disconnected physically, emotionally and mentally.
After a day of fighting with my husband over some minuscule, nonexistent problem, i finally admitted that something was wrong. I decided to seek help. My daughter needed a mother and if I had allowed my fears of being judged by everyone else get the best of me, she was getting a poor excuse for a mother. She deserves the best, and she deserves the best of me. Not only that, but I deserve the best of me.
After some therapy and medication, I began to feel normal. I don't think I'll ever feel as "great" as I did before, but that's okay.
Everyone talks about the things that can happen during pregnancy. I just wish that everyone would talk about everything that can happen AFTER pregnancy. If we can normalize accidentally defecating during labor, postpartum depression and psychosis should be just as much of a normal topic. We need to let more people know that it is a battle, but it's not one that you need to fight alone. I only wish I had stripped the stigma behind PPD sooner. Maybe then, I could have saved myself the months of suffering that I had to endure.