Especially in pregnancy, there's always an abbreviation to be concerned about. One of them is PPD. Postpartum Depression.
As soon as you pop that baby out, they stick this paper in your hands with a test for PPD. Mine was a "scale of 1-10" jobbie. And it asks you things like, "I am able to view life as positively as before giving birth." "I find as much joy in doing my favorite things as I did before giving birth."
You're literally sitting in your hospital gown, exhausted beyond measure, and your husband is reading you this list. And you're like, "I haven't slept in 24 hours. No. I'm not going to find much joy in hiking and kickboxing as I did before giving birth."
So they give you the same test about 6 weeks later. This time you're sitting naked from the waist down with a purple drape over your knees and they give you a pen, and after the third time of poking a hole in your test sheet, you kind of give up and answer all the questions "5." The doctor is like, "Ah, no real problems here!" And you're on your way.
I want to make sure you know that there is a real stage after pregnancy called "The Baby Blues." They WILL happen, and essentially it's just this huge letdown of hormones. It's like your body turns on this waterfall of emotions and you're scared and happy and depressed and in love and in hate and everything in one moment. It's like a whole Spanish soap opera in about 30 seconds.
PPD is not "Baby Blues." Sometimes PPD will sneak up on you later- months later. Up to a year later. And suddenly you're crying for no reason. You want to divorce your husband- quite literally. You consider yourself such an unfit mother, you consider giving your child to someone who can raise him better. You think you're fat. You think you're ugly. You avoid any pictures being taken. Your stomach is constantly in knots, and your appetite is nowhere to be found. You can't sleep. You're too sleepy to stay awake. You cannot hold two thoughts together. You stare at something for minutes, wondering how you did it before. Everything looks foreign to you. You drive somewhere and you don't remember getting there. You can't remember how to get back.
And then it gets worse. You envision the worst possible things happening to your baby. You'll be walking down the stairs and you're like, "What if I drop him? What if he breaks his neck? What if he cuts his head and bleeds all over the floor? Who am I going to call? Will the police take me in for questioning? Would we move because we couldn't live in the house where our son died? Would we get a divorce? Would my husband then commit suicide because he can't live without our son?" And that all happens within an instant of thought. Or you'll be making supper with the baby in the front pack, and you'll be cutting up carrots and you'll start to think, "What if I accidentally slip with this knife and it cuts his arm? Could it cut it off do you think? Would I call 911? Would he need stitches? Do you think they would take him away from me? Would I be able to ride in the ambulance with him?"
This happens literally all the time. Bath time (what if his head goes under?). Car rides (if we're in an accident, and I black out, what's going to happen to him?). Bed time (What happens if he suffocates while he's sleeping? Would he turn blue?) When others hold him (what if they just drop him? Or shake him? Or throw him?) And it's literally paralyzing. For a moment- a brief moment- you know where the women who kill themselves and their children are coming from. Not that you'd act on it...but you get it. The mental pressure is just...overwhelming, like that.
Symptoms of PPD include:
- Agitation or irritability
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings worthless or guilty
- Feeling withdrawn or unconnected
- Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of energy
- Problems doing tasks at home or work
- Significant anxiety
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble sleeping
- Be unable to care for herself or her baby
- Be afraid to be alone with her baby
- Have negative feelings toward the baby or even think about harming the baby (Although these feelings are scary, they are almost never acted on. Still you should tell your doctor about them right away.)
- Worry intensely about the baby, or have little interest in the baby
So today I go to the doctor about it. I'm speaking to the midwife that delivered Liam and we're going to get it hashed out. I haven't spoken to my husband about it- there's no way he'd handle it well. In fact, I've really spoken to nobody about it. At first I was convinced it was from lack of sleep only, but then I came to realize that the lack of sleep was actually part of it. It's gotten increasingly worse after I've had to stop breast feeding. Before it was here and there. Now it's constant.
So we'll see.