As I mentioned in My Birth Journey Part 3: NICU, I never really processed my birth story.
I mean, how could I? I was a new mom focused on caring for a newborn. All of the hormones were keeping me on cloud nine and, anyways, it was “normal” for me to cry one minute and be happy the next. To fear my child’s death one moment, and kissing his perfect face the next. Again, hormones, right?
What I didn’t know was no, this wasn’t normal. Yes, baby blues are normal and last a few weeks but this was far beyond that.
I was having literal visual images of my car flipping off the side of the road. Of someone dressed in black bursting in our apartment door and shooting my baby in the head.
I cried for an hour and wouldn’t put him down because I thought the bath I had just taken with lavender and epsom salt would kill him.
I woke up every 30 minutes (that he wasn’t nursing) to make sure he was breathing.
Again, I thought this was totally normal. Hormones. Afterall, my postpartum depression screening came back fine.
Now, I do need to preface that I have always sort of had depression and anxiety. Never was I medicated but I might should have been. So all of this was “normal” to me and I just thought it was heightened because again, hormones.
It wasn’t until January 2017 when a major confrontation happened (I’m purposefully not going into detail about that just yet) that I realized that I needed help.
These feelings weren’t normal and I was TERRIFIED that I was going to mentally ruin my son all the while kill my marriage.
Even still, it took me until April 12, 2017 to finally get the balls to go see my OBGYN about what I thought was postpartum depression.
Now, if you’ve read My Birth Journey posts, you’ll know that I wasn’t too fond of my OBGYN, whom I refer to as “Doc”. She’s an amazing doctor but she wasn’t the greatest doctor for me. I blame my crunchy ways, but, I digress.
So on April 12, 2017 at 7 months postpartum, I went to see Doc for my uncontrollable crying and crazy thoughts.
I’d read that postpartum depression can hit up to a year after birth. I’d also read that hormonal birth control could cause emotional problems. That’s what I was there for.
What I encountered was kind of the opposite. I was told that no, postpartum depression cannot hit after 6 weeks. No, hormonal birth control can’t cause what I’m going through and I’m just flat out depressed. She put me on generic Zoloft and told me to see a counselor and follow up with her in two weeks.
At my follow up, I let her know that, yes the Zoloft was working but I didn't want to be on it for too long. I was met with a “well, you need to talk to your PCP about that”.
So, here I am, almost a year later and still on Zoloft. Is it helping? Yes. Do I want to get off of it? Absolutely, yes. Does it go against everything I believe when it comes to food and medicine? Yes. But I’m told that weaning is a process and a long process at that.
I can’t help but think that something more should have been done at my 6 week postpartum visit. Maybe a more thorough check on my mental health? Especially since I had a NICU baby and an unplanned, very unwanted c-section.
Here are my questions:
I’m a ton more informed now and I wish I would have been sooner. It is beyond important to plan for your postpartum during your pregnancy. It’s not the most fun topic to plan for, no, but important nonetheless.
For my Texan followers, here’s an interesting article. The need for better maternal health care is recognized but stagnant it seems.
What can we do that make the U.S. maternal health care system better?
Will you plan for your postpartum while you’re pregnant? Check back in a few weeks when I’ll have a step-by-step guide on how to do just this!
Allesanda received her Bachelors in Behavioral Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in December 2013. She now lives in North Texas with her husband and children. As a doula and educator of infant sleep and eco-friendly living, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.