I’m just going to start this post with something like, I’ve written a thousand different beginnings and none of them seem to feel right or good enough for what I have to share about Megan. Talking with Megan has been so refreshing – refreshing in the fact that I feel like someone gets what I’ve been going through. Isn’t that the point of this all, though? To connect mothers and women with similar stories so we don’t feel alone? PPD is so hard to explain and talk about; it’s hard to type about it and find the right verbiage for how it made you feel and examples of things that triggered you.
When I spoke with Megan, I just connected with her and her story. Basically, PPD sucks. It just feels like a whole lot of terrible shit all at once. One thing that really connected me with Megan was her openness and honesty about not wanting to or being able to bond with her baby. I think when someone hears you say that, it can go two different ways. The first being “How can a mother not want to bond with her baby? That’s terrible.” Or the second, and the one I felt so much, “Thank you for saying this out loud because I feel the same and it’s the hardest feeling to admit.”
It’s hard to compare the two experiences because I could focus on Loc 100% since he was an only child. With Elodie as our second child she had a lot less one on one time. Partly because I didn’t want to and partly because logistically I couldn’t. One of my favorite things to do when Lochlan was a baby, was to snuggle nap him on my weekday off. Wednesday’s were regularly filled with cleaning while wearing him, staring at his beautiful grumpy old man looking face, and allowing him to nurse for as long as he wanted in the afternoon. One day we both fell asleep and he was latched for 5 hours. Dishes could wait. I was able to snuggle my boy uninterrupted and nap! Glorious. With Elodie I never did that and never really wanted to. I remember wanting to want to, if that makes sense? I tried to justify it for my own sake—
If you have felt that way or are feeling that way – it’s okay. You’re not alone. There is a certain grief that mothers carry when we look back at those times when our PPD was the worst. We mourn not being able to have had the experience we wished we could have – . We feel guilty and that guilt can destroy us. There were times with Forest when I was just so tired and mad that I just didn’t want to be around him and it was really hard to connect – sometimes it was because he never stopped crying and other times it was because of my PPD. I look back on those times and it breaks me. I wish I would have had a baby that didn’t cry so much and I wish I would have been happier sooner.
I think when you read Megan’s story, you’re going to see how amazing she is. She is truly admirable and optimistic and I am so thankful to have met her and learned from her.
Megan’s story • Possible trigger warning //
I had 0 ppd issues with our first. I think that’s why this smacked me like a bus so much. I’m a self-employed cosmetologist/make up artist, so maternity leave is a little different for me. I took 3 weeks off with our son, Lochlan, and took 6 weeks with our daughter, Elodie. I feel like the ‘extended’ isolation could have played into it but from my understanding you’re at a higher risk if you have traumatic experiences leading up to birth or a history of mental illness.
With ppd I felt anxious, angry, detached, isolated, confused, agitated, and like I was a burden to everyone around me. I physically felt that I had this haze around me at all times. Like when your car windshield is fogged over— you can see through it but can’t see well enough to safely get anywhere. However, I have also felt more connected to my faith in the last 14 months. I have leaned on God so much more than I ever have before. I pray and give Him thanks far more now. I have a new appreciation for the beautifully simple things that I couldn’t see while I had ppd and had overlooked prior to that
I didn’t love the newborn stage with Loc but didn’t realize it until he was more interactive. I never felt appalled by him though. Unfortunately, I did with EJ. I am comfortable now with knowing that I am not a newborn person like most women are. Babies are fun but toddlers are a lot more fun.
Unfortunately my memory from the first 9 months of her life is foggy (imagine it to being super drunk? You remember parts but it’s spotty). EJ had acid reflux so that was hard; she couldn’t lay dow glad without screaming for the first 2 months. However, other than that she was great. She nursed well, gained weight well, slept well (for a newborn), is a pretty chill lady overall .
I am a big believer in therapy. It’s one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Our parents had my brother and I go when we were in elementary/middle school as they went through a divorce. They also encouraged it again when Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 19. Thankfully I was established with an awesome Therapist already (off and on as life happens for the past few years), so reaching out to her was very easy. Within the first 10 min, of my first appt back in probably a year, she brought up ppd. I truly had no idea what ppd ACTUALLY was. We hear it thrown around at doc appts but I didn’t realize that ppd was why I didn’t know our daughter and didn’t really care to know her sometimes. Knowing now what I do about ppd it was so textbook. I didn’t have an urge to hurt her but that’s about the only one I didn’t feel.
I have fallen so much more in love with my husband, Chase, over the last 14 months. He has been a rock for our family and for me. He has never once down played or dismissed what we’re going though. (Side note— I say we instead of I when talking about ppd a lot. I am the one who had it but it impacted our entire family.) Chase picked up the slack when i couldn’t; physically and emotionally. One of my favorite things about him through this has been his compassionate honesty. It was Chase that suggest I consider meds (shout out to Sertaleine lol). He also 100% backs me with my choice to not have any more biological children at this time. Our ‘plan’ (can you hear God laughing!? ) was to start trying for baby #3 in August. It was hard to come to the realization that I wasn’t ready for that, and might never be. I chose to change our family plan and he met it with nothing but love and validation of my feelings. We have talked about fostering and/or adopting but are pushing pause on that for now, too. I had him watch When the Bough Breaks on Netflix about 10 months ago and it really helped him understand what I was going though but couldn’t communicate.
I talk to people all day every day as a cosmetologist. I have felt more comfortable with my ppd the last 4ish months and have been open about it one on one (no lengthy social media posts yet…. I’m hoping to find the right words to say someday!). I’m mostly met with ‘I had no idea’, ‘I’m sorry’, or ‘you are fine now’. I’m surprised by how many people have responded with ‘I/my wife also had ppd’. I kind of put it in the category of things that people have a connection to but don’t like to talk about because it’s too real/raw and unknown, not to mention the fact that it’s MENTAL illness. I did have a couple people say things like ‘I’ve been sad before’, ‘I’ve tired too’, ‘I don’t like to do chores either’, ‘I would rather stay in bed too’…… clearly those people don’t realize that it’s so much deeper, lonelier, dark, and heavy than being sad, tired, and such. Maybe it’s because Chase and I are connected to AFSP and have lost friends to Suicide but I am pretty comfortable to meet those comments with something like ‘I’m thankful you don’t know the depth of isolation some people feel in a room full of people’ or ‘it is confusing to understand; I wouldn’t have known the difference either until I experienced it myself’. I feel like that’s a kind way of saying check yourself. I also feel like talking about ppd takes the power away from it and gives it back to me.
I also should add in that my small group, yoga and living life more intentionally (think semi minimalism but without hard boundaries) have helped. -A community of eclectic women to rally and support you through Christ is irreplaceable. -Yoga allows me some me time, to focus on getting physically stronger, as well as emotionally. -Living an intentional life has helped me realize HOW bogged down I felt by stuff….and that I don’t really need 5 spatulas or 20 miss matched cups from our days in Ames.
‘Be kind and compassionate to everyone’ is a verse from the Bible (Ephesians 4:32). We literally have it hanging in our kitchen now thanks to a friend with insane lettering skills.
If I could talk to 14 months ago self or someone going though it….. yikes. That’s a hard one. I would maybe sum it up with “Be kind and compassionate to everyone”…. including yourself. Mental illness is so hard. A broken bone gets you a cast for 8 weeks where as Ppd gets you therapy and meds for an undetermined amount of time. Since it’s so strongly connected to hormones it’s hard to say how long it lasts or if you’d get it again. A friend helped me out a lot recently when she said that the first anniversaries are hard. I had no idea that something as small as the first isu tailgate of the year would stir up so many emotions. The last 1st tailgated the season I went to I felt like I had a dark cloud over my head and 200 pound weights on my shoulders. Ppd impacted every area of my life: family planning to tailgating and everything in between. Another friend who had recently gone through ppd had mentioned ptsd. Initially I thought, ‘I wasn’t a first responder or in the military’. She’s a smarty pants though. It was a traumatic experience. I feel like she may have hit the nail on the head. I am beyond blessed with a great village around me. I call them My Safe People. People that I could confine in early on who somehow know the things I need to hear at that moment.