Sunday, August 3, 2014

Internal Struggle

I'm about to tackle something here on the blog that I'm pretty anxious to share. Not many people know the internal struggle I've had for years, and not many people know what I have been struggling with even more recently, PPD, or postpartum depression as it's commonly known.

Depression in general is a pretty taboo topic. Something people don't want to readily admit they suffer from. Something people are often very ashamed of. It makes you feel weak, it makes you feel crazy, and it makes you feel an incredible sense of guilt.

PPD looks different for everyone to be honest. For weeks now I've been perusing the internet for a beautifully written blog post by a sweet mother who suffered something similar to myself after the birth of their precious little one. I wanted to simply share it on Facebook and let others out there know they aren't alone. However, after reading blog after blog after blog, I realized no one story was just like mine. No one story was the same. And I honestly believe that's why so many women, and men, deal with PPD and don't ever know it and don't ever seek help. I'm going to share with you something very personal, in the hopes that my story will help someone who may be experiencing the same things. In the hope that they too can realize their is hope, the grass really is greener on the other side...once you figure out how to get there.

My Struggle With PPD
My labor with C was short, as easy as they come, and honestly picture perfect. I chose to have an epidural, I pushed for maybe an hour and a half total and there she was...our perfect, precious baby. I remember the nurses placing her on my chest and being in awe of the little being I had made. I had created this little thing over the course of 9 months and she was mine, forever.

Fast forward a few hours. Exhaustion sets in, the pain meds wear off, and here I am with a little human being who needs me to thrive. I am her sole source of survival. That hit me like a ton of bricks. The lactation consultants were coming in telling me she should be nursing 20 minutes in each side. She only ate for 5-8 minutes total. I was starving my child. I wasn't enough. I couldn't do this. Those were the first thoughts less than 4 hours after my baby was born. I think some of those feelings were normal for a first time mom, trying to figure out how to nurse their little one and how to deal with the incredible pain after child birth. But then it got worse.

Skip ahead to a few days later. C had jaundice making her very drowsy and even worse at nursing. Add on top of that the fact that I had a massive oversupply, her latch was terrible, I had an overactive letdown making her choke and gag every time she ate screaming her heart out, and we both had thrush. Nursing sucked. I hated it. Every time I heard her scream to eat I wanted to crawl in a hole and cry. I wanted her to sleep, all the time, and never want to eat. Ever. I lived from feeding to feeding. Hating my life.

The thought of being her sole source of food was so overwhelming to me. I couldn't stand it, I wanted nothing more than to never nurse her again. I can't even explain the anxiety and pain (physically & emotionally) nursing brought me. It made me not want to exist. Dramatic, maybe. Truthful, yes. My brain and my body were betraying me. I was supposed to be on cloud nine, totally enamored. But I wasn't. I wanted to be gone, gone from everything. I also began not eating. I was never hungry, always anxious. The thought of going out in public with her was down right terrifying. To be honest that's how I lost my baby weight so quickly. I didn't want to eat. Knowing I had to eat to feed C was the only reason I ate.

Being alone with her was a whole scenario of it's own. The thought of having to care for her on my own, without help, without someone there beside me made my stomach turn. I was scared of my own child, of not being able to give her what she needed. I was afraid of being a bad mom. Every morning when I knew my husband was about to leave for work, I was anxious ball of nerves. This 6lb being terrified me. Add on top of that the fact that I couldn't sleep...ever, and I was a mess. In every sense of the word.

Fast forward to 5 or 6 weeks postpartum. The day I knew I had a problem and wasn't suffering from the Baby Blues. This was the day I knew my PPD was real, and I needed help. We were at church and had just picked up C from the nursery. As we were walking out to the car one of the sweet sweet older ladies that was in my bible study when I was pregnant turned around and recognized me, with a small baby-less belly and a sweet babe in a car seat. She was overjoyed and gave me a huge hug! Beaming from ear to ear, she turned to me and said, "Isn't she just the best thing that's ever happened to you. Don't you just want to love on her forever?" That's the exact moment I knew I needed help. That my feelings weren't normal. I quickly plastered a smile on my face and said, "Oh my gosh yes. She's such a blessing!" But in my gut I was thinking, "No. I don't feel that way. I feel anxious and overwhelmed and I can't do this. God, I can't do this." That's when I knew I should feel "different". I should be elated. Ecstatic. I should look at the blessing that God gave us and treasure it. Treasure her for the light she brings into our life.

It was in that moment I decided I was going to call and talk to someone the next day. I did, and it saved me. It saved my relationship with my daughter. I got in touch with someone and four months after the birth of my precious little girl, I feel like I should. I can't imagine life without her. She is such an incredible little being that I thank God for every day. Depression is a disease. A disease that settles in your bones as a friend recently pointed out to me. It's not something you cure, it's something you learn how to manage. You 100% have no control over it or your emotions. They consume you. They eat away at you in every way imaginable.

All of this to say, PPD is real. Did I ever even think of harming my precious daughter, no. Not once. Did I feel overwhelmed with the thought of motherhood to the point where I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep when I had the chance, couldn't care for her the way she deserved? Yes. Do I still struggle with PPD? Yes. It's something I carry around daily and something I'm learning how to manage in my own way.

Once I realized I had it and began talking to friends of mine with little ones, I was shocked by how many women had been through something so similar. How the guilt and overwhelming sense of anxiety had settled into our bones and stolen the joy of motherhood. PPD is nothing to be ashamed about. Finding help means you are stronger than you could ever imagine. Please don't feel helpless any longer than you than you have to. Reach out to someone today. I personally waited too long to do so and feel I missed so so much in my precious babes life in those few short weeks before I sought help. I promise it will be the best decision of your life.


  1. Beautifully written, very selfless and brave of you to share. I'm sure new mommies will find comfort in reading about your experience!

  2. This was so beautiful Mary Ellen. I'm so glad you had the strength to help yourself. This is even helpful to women like me who aren't moms yet but would like to become moms in the future! God bless you and your family.

  3. Wow girl I had no idea you struggled with this but I'm happy you went and sought help. It was good to read this because to this day I still don't understand how widespread this is, because as you said, people just don't talk about it. I really appreciate you writing this beautiful post, hopefully I won't need to reference it but I know where to find help if I do :)

  4. And just another reason why you are awesome. Beautiful inside and out...your honesty and vulnerability to share this just makes you even more so. Love you friend <3