My PPD Story

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I’ve debated for months to share this post. And, to be honest, after I write this down, it’ll be even tougher to hit the “publish” button.

But I feel like I owe it to any other women out there who have gone through or are currently going through the same thing.

Photo credit: Alisha Rudd Photography

Exactly 11 months ago, our precious little Regan came into the world. I prayed for this girl before even the faintest line on the pregnancy test appeared. The 9 months of pregnancy were an absolute breeze, and after having Olivia 6 years before, I felt like, “I’ve got this. No problem.”

Ahhh yes… second child delusions.

So when we came home from the hospital after delivery with Regan, I had no idea life would hit me like a freight train. Life with a newborn is challenging, yes. But this was different.

To be fair, delivery was tough, and I was nearly rushed to the operating room minutes after Regan emerged because of some complications. But the doctors thought they resolved it without having to take more extensive medical interventions and sent me on my merry way 24 hours after giving birth.

The next months that followed came with a colicky baby with undiagnosed acid reflux and dairy intolerance resulting in a stress-filled breastfeeding journey, chronic ear infections that led to a tube procedure, and endless nights of our little girl awake screaming in pain every 45 minutes.

I ended up back at the hospital in the operating room 8 weeks after delivery to correct my postpartum complications, prolonging my recovery. And with 11 months of exclusive pumping under my belt, I had 5 horrible cases of mastitis induced by stress.

Every formula we tried, Regan had a sensitivity to, so I told myself, “Either she has to be in pain or I do; I’ll suffer through it.” So I lived attached to a machine for 2-3 hours per day, which is never anyone’s idea of fun.

And probably the most crushing of them all, I realized at the 8 month mark that I’d been dealing with Postpartum Depression on top of everything.

I tell you all of this not to get a reaction of “poor pitiful you”. Because I legitimately had NO IDEA that was the name of what I was experiencing.

Because depression means you’re sad, right? But the thing is I was absolutely emotion-less. In those 8 months, I had gone completely emotionally numb. I loved my two little girls and Robert, but I had to really dig deep to feel sadness or happiness or anything other than downright anxiety about every single thing.

It’s not like I was suicidal… I was just in survival mode.

Photo credit: Lindsey Morgan Photography

I’d forget to eat and unintentionally starve myself until I realized when I’d get the shakes that I hadn’t eaten in 18 hours.

I was always exhausted, but I could never rest because my mind would be racing with a million and one thoughts in my head in full-blown panic.

I had zero interest in doing anything socially, answering emails, responding to comments or text messages, and when I did, it absolutely drained me.

I would get waves of outright irrepressible rage for things like my 6 year-old taking longer than 10 seconds to get out of the car. I cursed the thought of having to shower or put on makeup because I didn’t have an ounce of energy to do it. I hated being touched. I felt resentment with guilt immediately following, and worst of all…

I was so embarrassed that I buried all of it as deep as I possibly could. So I smiled, put on a happy performance, and tried to fool everyone, including myself.

I had everyone believing, including my own husband, that I was totally 100% fine.

But in my head, I prayed that God would finally let me rest, finally let me be the mother my girls needed, finally let me be the wife my husband needed. Make me stronger and help me be one of those moms who make it seem so effortless, Lord, please!

But I told absolutely no one, not even Robert.

I tried everything within my power to resolve it on my own, and while some days were better than others, it came in waves and never completely went away.

Then when my last bout of mastitis hit, and I had to see my doctor for the 7th time since delivery, she asked me one question before my appointment was over, “How are you doing?”

And a little voice in my head said, “Tell the truth.” I admitted it. “I think I need some help.”

It was the biggest relief to spill everything to my doctor and finally put the feelings into words.

Not even a week later, after starting a low-dose antidepressant, I felt like I could finally take my first deep breaths, like I had been underwater all this time. Robert and my parents have been my support system through all of it.

I started taking time to read my devotionals, pray, meditate and get my mind “right” for just a few minutes every day alongside the medication.

And now 3 months after my diagnosis, even though life with a baby is still stressful, it’s the normal kind of stressful, not the I-want-to-run-away kind of stressful.

For the first time in a long time, I’m excited about this phase of life. A part of me wants to scoop my baby girls right out of their beds right this second and kiss those squishy, butter soft cheeks. I have every intention of sneaking into their rooms for a quickie cuddle sesh as soon as I’m finished writing this. 😉

So there. Phew! It’s out there now. And while it’s not a story I EVER thought I’d tell, one I never thought would be a chapter in my book, maybe by my sharing it, it helps someone recognize too that it’s not normal.

Hormones are weird, and they can do all sorts of things to trick our brains until we become someone we don’t even recognize. If you’re struggling, know that it is not your fault and talk to someone – your spouse, your doctor, your mom, your best friend.

There is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s taken quite awhile for me to come to terms with that part. Don’t ever be too proud to ask for help, no matter what sort of help that may be.

Our babies need their mommies at their very best. You deserve to look back on these days in the future to remember the snuggles, the giggles, the heart-bursting cup-overflowing love of every sweet, fleeting moment. Soak it up, mamas.

I am so thankful for y’all and your encouragement over these last 11 months (and prior). Whether you knew it or not, your kind words were what kept me going some days. So please accept this big bear hug. I still don’t know how on earth anyone reads this little blog of mine, but I sure am glad y’all stick around. 😉

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  1. I am so sorry to hear what a tough year it has been but very glad that you are feeling better. When I was pregnant I read up on every thing I could possibly suffer from after the birth so thought I was well prepared. Like you I thought depression meant you felt sad but I was just numb and felt like an actor just going through the motions. I realise now how bad it got but I was scared if I told anyone I did not feel anything for my baby they would take him away from me. Thankfully things improved but I was terrified the same thing would happen with my second baby two years later. The strange thing was that once I had my son (much easier birth, no medical intervention like the first time) it felt like all the hormones which had been shaken up and caused me so many issues the first time just fell back into place where they should have been all along. I am convinced difficult births are a factor in PPD. Take care all the way from Manchester in North West England.

  2. I’m glad that you asked for help and that you are now feeling like your old self. Depression is horrible and if you haven’t experienced it, you can’t imagine how it makes you feel. I haven’t experienced PPD, but my daily magic pill helps me deal with the stress of my cancer.

    My great-grandmother was institutionalized by my great-grandfather after she gave birth to her third child and never was released from the insane asylum. My aunt and I are positive that she had PPD and simply needed some anti-depressant medication which probably hadn’t been discovered at that time. Those were the days when your husband could institutionalize his wife without her consent. My grandmother and her brother and sister were raised by aunts and they never had a relationship with their mother. Isn’t that a sad PPD story?

    1. There were many women that had the same thing happen to them in the 1940s. PPD was considered a mental illness and the cure was EST. My mother spent most of her life after I was born in custodial care. When she was dying at 93, a nurse told me she had worked in these hospitals and told me about how many there were who never recovered from EST. There should have been some sort of restitution for these families. I pray we are better than that today.

  3. Draga mea Lauren,
    Rezulta ca esti o femeie puternica si inteleapta care are in jur o familie minunata. Ne-ai povestit despre caderile umane, intalnite tot mai des in zilele noastre, din varii motive.
    Sfaturile tale sunt magice! Sunt sigura ca multora le-ai clarificat si chiar vindecat, jumatate din starea neplacuta.
    Calde imbratisari, Mia

  4. Hi Lauren, this sounds like my exact story, except mine happened 38 years ago. No one had heard or spoke about Post Partum Depression. I thought I was a horrible mother, and didn’t understand why my second was completely opposite of my first. I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening to me. Eventually I got better, but 9 years later was diagnosed with a nonfunctioning thyroid and even meds didn’t help because I was undiagnosed Autoimmune Disease. I’m so glad you were able to get the help you needed, and thankyou for sharing your experience so other new moms can realize this is hormonal, and that there is an answer.

  5. Very brave of you to share your story, and so happy that you finally asked for, and got, help. I don’t know you, but am so proud of you for that! I went through a similar situation during menopause, and went on a low dose of anti-depressants. Those meds were literally life savers. Although the solution may be different for everyone, there’s no reason for anyone to suffer the effects of crazy hormones in silence. Wishing you much peace and extra snuggles with your beautiful family.