this is motherhood {too}: a journey through postpartum psychosis and depression.

November 9, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 6 Comments

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When I was 17, I suspected I had endometriosis. After I was married, I had surgery that confirmed this. I told my husband that we had to start trying immediately to get pregnant, as I knew that it may be harder for me to conceive or I might have complications in my pregnancies. Thankfully, it didn’t take long, and six months later we were expecting a baby.

We were overjoyed! My pregnancy was amazing, nothing went wrong at all. I felt absolutely wonderful too. Finally, I experienced level hormones coursing through my body. Of course I was the a tearful mess here and there, but also giddy, full of laughter and just plain excited.

During a late night conversation with my husband, I honestly admitted that I didn’t know if I was ready for this sacrificial chapter in my life. I felt as selfish as they get; I wanted to eat, shower and look after me first, like I had always done. But as mothers, we all know this changes drastically after a baby.

My son was born February 25 2010 after 36 hours of prodromal labor. I had been told by nurses that I probably shouldn’t refuse an epidural as they didn’t think I could handle the pain, and they were probably right. The moment he was born I felt numb. My husband held my son by my bedside. I had to use the washroom, so the nurse helped me to the side of the bed and told me to wait a few moments until I felt ready to stand. She left the room and as I gazed at my tiny baby boy, I sobbed uncontrollably. I couldn’t come to terms with what had just happened and thought “I have made a huge mistake! Me a mother?! What a joke.” The nurses came and went, checking in on me. I cried when one told me “Don’t worry, I will see you across the street at the coffee shop in a few weeks”. I imagined never being able to leave the house again.

I was scared and literally didn’t connect with him until he was around four months old. I was put on Cipralex which seemed to help.

That was my first child. I got through it and loved him and overcame. With my second I expected the same thing would happen.

I had no idea how much worse it could get.

I had decided to go off the medication months prior to getting pregnant. I had another wonderful and blessed pregnancy. My hormones were level, and I had such a happy time being a mom to a little boy and having true unmedicated joy!

My daughter was born in January. It was beautiful! I loved every minute of labor and was ecstatic that I had a little girl. We went home and I didn’t cry all the way home like I did with my son. I was so elated. It continued on and I thought, this is great—no postpartum depression.

A few weeks later I started having pains low down in my bowels. I knew it wasn’t constipation, plus it was incredibly painful. At some points, I had to literally throw my daughter to my husband as the pain ripped through my lower abdomen and back. I could barely walk. I felt like I was in labor again. I called the nurses hotline, went to ER, had tests and an ultrasound. The doctor finally explained that a piece of the placenta had been left inside me and I would need surgery as soon as possible.

I got home after surgery, just after midnight with my four week old baby and continued on as a mother.

That’s when it all started again: nightmares, night sweats, irrational thoughts, depression, apathy, psychotic episodes and outbursts of irritability.

Ashamed, I tried to hide it as much as I could but this only deepened the darkness I was in.

My husband had to travel for work leaving me for two weeks at a time to go on the road. How was I going to cope? At this point, it was so bad and out of control. I wondered and kept thinking: “Lord, you know my thoughts you know this is wrong. Is it a spiritual issue? Am I not following you Lord?” I felt guilty. The thoughts were there…that I could possibly hurt my children or myself. I told a few people, as I was truly worried. I told my husband he shouldn’t have married me, that I’m not the girl for him, that my children would be better off if I were dead and that he could remarry when I was gone and give our children a better mother. I wished I could just disappear. I didn’t know my true thoughts, I was blinded by PPP. I would cry uncontrollably one minute, then lash out the next, screaming obscenities at my husband. Because my family had gone through this with me the first time, they told me that I would just “get through it.” They didn’t know how bad it was this time around.

I wanted to lay in bed everyday and just fade away or stare at the wall. I kept thinking: why was I so happy and level headed when pregnant, but now I feel like I don’t want to live? The only thing that saved me was having Jesus, and knowing that this season had to end at some point—though I had my doubts. My favourite verse that helped me cope is:

Hebrews 4:16

With my son, I still wrote in my journal about some of the ups and downs. With my second, I wouldn’t put pen to paper to record the thoughts I had.

Until now… I believe too many mothers suffer through postpartum psychosis alone, because they are ashamed. We don’t know about their struggle until it’s in the paper and the child(ren) are dead as well as the mother and everyone is enraged.

That’s right, we sit back and think “How could a mother EVER do that to her own blood her own child, helpless and innocent?”

I remember relating to these mothers. We live two blocks from the water, and at one point, I actually thought about taking my baby in my carrier, and walking right into the ocean.

And that thought scared me. I knew this wasn’t who I was, that I needed help. I feel like society deems PPD or PPP as something to be ashamed of, and in turn, mothers don’t want to get help. But it doesn’t last forever, and there is help. (For PPD or PPP resources in BC, click here.)

My doctor was amazing and empathetic. At every checkup for my daughter the conversation almost always focused on me. My girl was healthy, I was not. I had lost all of the baby weight and more in the first few months. I couldn’t eat. The thought of food made me feel nauseous. I couldn’t sleep–I would have intense, throbbing panic whenever my head hit the pillow at night. My doctor prescribed the same medication as last time, but it had the opposite effect causing even worse psychosis. I tried a naturopath and had my hormones tested via 24 hour urine test. It came back revealing a huge imbalance in my hormones and extremely high cortisol levels. The right medication was given and I started to feel better, although it did take months. It’s hard to think back on what it was like at that time but anytime I hear of a newborn being brought into this world, I think of the mother and pray for her and hope that she doesn’t experience anything like I did.

I fear that it could happen again, if we choose to have another child. My doctor has suggested my husband gets fixed, but I feel so uncomfortable with that.

I’m telling my story in the hopes that another mama out there will get help. It does get better. Seek medical help, with natural or prescription drugs. Get healed! And then you’ll be the mama you’re made to be.

I am finally that mama, although I still struggle with PPD. But I’m overcoming day by day.

Even though it was painful and shameful for me, I am blessed that God has walked me through this journey, and will continue to do so.

ppd and ppp storyWritten by Anonymous. Edited by Michaela.

This is from the collective writing project: this is motherhood {too}. Do you have a story you’d like to submit?

6 Comments

  • Reply this is motherhood {too}: a story of postpartum depression. | Michaela Evanow January 22, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    […] Related post: This is motherhood {too} a journey through postpartum depression and psychosis.  […]

  • Reply Sarah November 10, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Thank you for sharing these raw emotions. This is brave and brings hope for mothers who walk in similar trenches.

  • Reply Paula November 9, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    I feel sad this writer still feels the need to be anonymous. I understand why but it just shows the stigma. I was in a similar situation and it was only made worse by the fact that seeking help from a medical professional then disqualified me for mortgage insurance! That kind of thing only sends sufferers deeper into anonymity and away from help.

  • Reply Carolyn November 9, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    Good for you for sharing 😉

    When I was diagnosed with ppd the first thing I did was go home and write about it. I put it out there and refused to hide it. It’s actually made things so much easier and has given me the support I need!

  • Reply michelle November 9, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    How courageous of you to share your story! I’m certain this will provide support and comfort to other women – Thank you!

  • Reply Jolie November 9, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Wow! I am so thankful this story was written and shared. This will help so many women and their families. Thank you for being brave. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! So proud of you for getting help.

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