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“I couldn’t do something as basic as give my baby milk.” A young mom opens up about PPD

You’ve probably heard of the “baby blues.” That’s because it’s quite common for new mothers to feel a little sad, worried, or fatigued. This mom thought she was going through “baby blues” when in fact, she was suffering from postpartum depression. She shares her story below.

How and when did you find out you were pregnant?
I was 22 years old when I found out I was pregnant. My period was late by a few days, I didn’t think much of it until I told the father of my child who suggested I see a Doctor. I had implantation the following day which I regarded as a period. The following month, I didn’t get my period and I bought the test.  It was positive within 2 minutes.

What was the first thing that came to mind when you found out?
I was with my roommate and she asked what I wanted to do. I said I was going to keep it. I think I was still in shock and I made the decision that no matter the circumstances I was going to love my baby.

Emotionally it was a rollercoaster because the father and I had gone our separate ways, so, for the most part, I had to condition myself to the fact that I was going to do this alone.  Physically my body didn’t change much, I had a few minor aches and pains but nothing hectic. And then around 36 weeks, I had an infection that landed me in hospital for a few days, which was very scary.

Did you have a great support system while pregnant?
I had a very great support system during my pregnancy, after my baby daddy and I went our separate ways my friends stepped up. So, for the first 4 months, it was my friends who helped me through everything they would accompany me to Dr’s visits etc and then from there my mother took over and my baby daddy came back when I was 5 months along.

You suffered from postpartum depression, when and how did you realise that you might have had it? What were some of the signs?
My son was about a month old.  It started with his birth; I was hoping for a natural birth but then we had to have an emergency c-section because he was in distress during labour.  I was emotionally detached from my baby; I didn’t have that connection with him, and I was just angry and upset about the C-section because that’s not how I wanted him to come into this world. I also blamed myself that I could have “killed him” on 2 occasions (the infection and then his birth.)

At first, did you know you were suffering from postpartum? If not, what did you think was happening to you?
I didn’t think of it that way. I just felt like it was a phase of depression not necessarily postpartum.

Did you ever feel guilty about it?
I felt very guilty because I didn’t or couldn’t produce milk. It just felt like I wasn’t a good “nurturer” I couldn’t do something as basic as give my baby milk.  It also was a matter of I couldn’t do this alone anymore and sometimes I’d feel like I needed a break and to just get away.  At some point, it felt like I have an obligation to this child and that wasn’t love and didn’t feel maternal. I took out most of my frustrations on his dad because I also felt he wasn’t playing his role. I tried very hard to convince myself that I was doing a great job at this motherhood thing and I ignored all negative comments that were thrown at me because my family also felt like I didn’t care about him.  I meditated and prayed a lot about it as well.

What did you do about it? Did you see a professional?
I saw a professional and he helped me work through it. He helped me understand that whatever happened was out of my control and I shouldn’t let the guilt consume me. As soon as I realised what was happening it was a lot easier for me to heal and start loving my son appropriately and guilt-free.

How has the process been to date?
After the first year, I had accepted and worked through a lot of things and now everything is flowing naturally.  When it gets too much, I leave him with my mom and do things for myself. I try spending as much time with him so he can know that I’m here for him physically and emotionally.

What advice would you give someone who might be going through what you went through?
We all experience pregnancy in a different manner and it’s easier to deal with everything when you have a great support system. The first 6 weeks after birth are the most delicate because that’s when you form a bond with your baby. If it gets too much don’t be afraid to take some time off, and don’t feel guilty about it because your baby needs you emotionally strong and in a great mental space.

It’s important for new mothers – and those who love them – to understand the symptoms of postpartum depression. If you feel that you might be going through postpartum depression, or know of someone who’s going through it. Please visit http://www.sadag.org/

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

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