This October, I experienced the amazing blessing of having my second child, which started the grand adventure of being an outnumbered stay-at-home mom. Everything proceeding and surrounding our sweet #2’s arrival was pure chaos and stress. To name just a couple things, my husband’s grandmother started to go downhill and her death was pretty imminent, and on top of dealing with all the stress of the delivery and death coming in good timing, we ended up in the hospital in the middle of the night with false labor. Everything together was just more than I could handle, so my mom drove three hours and picked up my almost two year old son, so I could get some rest and have our baby.
PSYCH that didn’t happen, I was still pregnant! I then got to deal with what I imagine empty nesters get to deal with, and it was really hard. I felt tired but I couldn’t sleep. I had no toddler to chase after and I felt useless. It was awful. I also felt incompetent because I needed my mom to take my son. Needless to say, I didn’t know what to do with myself, and my stress levels were quickly rising!
Eventually my amazing OBGYN offered the idea of inducing me. Honestly, I was really hesitant at first because, as weird as it sounds, I felt like I was cheating. I wanted to go into labor on my own, but when all was said and done, I felt like I should be induced. With everything surrounding my husband’s grandma and the unpredictability of her death and funeral, it was the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, my anxiety of these two big events colliding, actually played out. My husband’s grandmother passed away, and I was induced on the day of her viewing. To add to the fun, our induction got pushed back a couple hours because so many babies decided to come that morning. We eventually got the process going and at 12:20ish that afternoon our little girl was born! Two hours later my husband got dressed in his suit and drove to his grandmother’s viewing, and was able to attend all the family get togethers.
Two days later, I was released from the hospital and I immediately went to stay with my parents for a week. To say the least, I was a little overwhelmed at this point. Learning to juggle two was a whole new world to me.
At the end of the week I started feeling guilty that I left my husband at school and deprived him of bonding time with the newest addition to our family, so I headed home. This is when I felt like it all came crashing down.
I felt so depressed, but nobody knew. When people asked me how I was doing, I was just fine. I would tell them it was an adjustment, but I was fine. What I didn’t tell people was that I really didn’t want to leave my apartment. I only changed my children’s diapers twice a day. I would wait until they blew out before I changed them, which gave me more laundry to do. The laundry just sat on the floor untreated around my house. My son was in a light eating phase so he lived off of cheese sticks and bananas. I sat in my rocking chair, holding my daughter, playing on my phone while my son watched endless hours of television, (I have Penguins of Madagascar memorized). I didn’t want to think about food and I didn’t eat much because I did not want to have to think about it. But to anyone who asked how I was doing, of course I was “fine”. They’d ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” My response was always, “Nope we are doing good”.
The first person I let in on the truth was a dear friend. After realizing how I was really doing, she kept an eye on me. I was still getting up every morning and giving my son yogurt for breakfast but I didn’t do much beyond the absolute essentials. My friend was my lifesaver! She made sure to stop by and let me vent all my anxieties and hormones I was feeling.
I even tried to keep it from my daughter’s pediatrician. I would always shade in the “I’m fine” box because I was in denial. I kept telling myself that I was not depressed because I could get out of bed every morning. I got dressed, and I generally had some sort of food on the table when my husband got home from school. So obviously I was coping. I did’t feel like I needed to fess up to anything.
My husband was so busy with school and work and wasn’t home much. There were so many times I wanted to pack my children up and go back to my parents where I had so much help, but I felt if I did that I was a failure and wasn’t fit to be a mom, so I stayed. I told myself I was going to have to learn to do it myself sooner or later.
I did have support, my dear friend would take my son outside for me so that I could put dinner together without having to worry about what he was doing or how he was “helping” me. Eventually about 2 months later I started to feel like I was able to keep my head above water. I changed my children’s diapers before they blew out, I could put dinner together without having to have someone watch my son.
That’s when it hit me, it was depression. It took me getting to the other side of it before I realized what I was really dealing with.
Another friend of mine who had her first child 6 months before I had my second, wrote a blog post about her postpartum experience. In her post she mentioned that she got to the point where she was suicidal. She was just getting to the point where, with help from friend and family that lived close, she was starting to get her feet underneath her again.
So I started wondering again, am I actually depressed? Was it bad that I was not as depressed as my friend had been? Was there something wrong because my depressive state was different than hers?
I’ve since come to a strong conclusion: Of course not, I did have my own depression and she had hers. It is okay that I was able to deal with mine by just picking up a piece of my life every morning and she ended up needing to take antidepressants in order to overcome the challenges she was facing. AND IT IS OKAY!!!! For a while I was ashamed of how I felt about my postpartum experience. I was so worried about confiding in others and being judged incompetent because of it — only one person really knew about it. I now know my group of people who I can confide in when I feel like I am drowning in the responsibilities of being a mom. I know how it feels to be depressed but I also have felt and am working to feel at peace with the job that I do as a mom. I am not perfect and there are plenty of days where I want to throw my kids on the gypsy wagon and say, “I am done, I don’t know what I was thinking, I don’t want to and I can’t do this anymore.” But then my son climbs into my daughter’s bassinet to read her a story and then my soul smiles and says, “Fine you can stay one more day, I will most likely sell you to the gypsies in the morning”. We are all different and we all have different ways of dealing with the hard times that come our way. But I truly hope this helps someone pick up another piece of their life, and take a step toward reclaiming the confidence to put their life back together. You can do this. If you decide you need some help to do it either by a support system, medication, or both, that is okay too.
Written by Maegan Hanson.