One day I will write about all the things I should have known because I am a doula. Or rather, all the things I learned about being a doula because I had another baby. But for now, I am going to write about one thing in particular- postpartum depression. There’s a lot I could go on and on about, but I will try to stay focused.
Being this is my third pregnancy, and I am a doula who educates other women about ppd and other mood disorders that can crop up, you would think that I would be an expert on it. Well, I am not. I don’t really think I ever experienced true postpartum mood issues. After the twins, I felt like everyone was pushing me to have a depressive episode. They were certainly treating (and prescribing) me like I had one. In retrospective, of course I was depressed. But the depression stemmed mostly from the grief and the huge loss and life shift I had experienced.
After Joshua, my support system prepared me for having “ppd.” I had consults with some of the best doctors, a good plan in place, and I even went to meetings. Did I get depressed? Not really. Again, in retrospect, all the emotions were from normal new mom adjustments. (On a side note, I definitely have anxiety and depressive tendencies, but those were from far before I ever had children).
But this. Now. After Baby Dan. Wow. Is this what “normal” postpartum depression is? I have always given myself the Edinburgh test, and laughed through the questions. Doesn’t everyone feel that way sometimes? But last night, I read through some of the symptoms on the postpartum progress website. Bingo. Almost every single one of them.
When I was going to the ppd support group after Joshua was born, I remember meeting a mom there. She came into the room the first time, and just sat and cried the entire meeting. In fact, for the first month of meetings she went to, she just cried and cried. I remember thinking, “At least I am not that bad…”
I firmly believe that everyone has their own tolerances for “that bad.” I always downplayed my feelings and emotions, because I figured I could control them, and as “bad” as they were, I was still (mostly) functioning. Other moms could be experiencing what I was experiencing, and not be able to handle it or function.
But now, I am “that bad.” I can’t sleep. Or I sleep too much. I yell at my older son. I want to yell at the baby, but I know that won’t accomplish anything. I see the piles of dishes on the counter, and I don’t care. I see the piles of smelly laundry on the floor and I don’t care. I hear my older son talking to me; I barely lift my head to acknowledge him. I am slow responding to the baby. I am checked out.
My husband, the pediatrician, my therapist, my parents, my friends, everyone tells me I need to take a break. I claim to have tried- I go lay down in my room and shut the door. But that doesn’t stop the baby from crying or Joshua from crawling into bed with me. I try leaving the house, but that doesn’t stop the guilty from overwhelming me- they are my children, I should be able to take care of them. It doesn’t stop the anger I have at my self, and it doesn’t stop the tears from falling out.
I keep my emotions closely guarded and don’t like letting them out, I have a hard time asking for help or showing that I am struggling. After the girls died, I cried. All I did for days and days was lay in bed and cry. Sobbing, heaving, wet heavy tears over and over again. I would calm for a moment, and then remember. I would fall asleep crying, and the one day I woke up not crying, thinking everything was ok, then I would remember. And cry some more.
Death is different than postpartum depression. I couldn’t do anything about the twins dying. It was permanent, and final. No amount of anything would do anything to change it, so I cried.
Now crying seems so pointless, but it still happens. The tears fall quietly, as I reprimand myself for crying. But my mind isn’t working; I can’t tell myself to just get up and get over it. I have tried the “fake it until you make it” approach, and it isn’t working. I am just faking it until I exhaust myself.