After having a baby, mamas feel the pressure that they should have it all together and be happy and grateful because they have a cute new bundle of joy to bring them much happiness. Having a baby is absolutely wonderful; Thomas and Alexandria are the biggest blessings I have ever received, but being a new mother is a huge adjustment and it can be challenging. You are dealing with the stress of raging, uncontrollable hormones, NO SLEEP, your husband has to go back to work and you miss him and his help with the baby, the house is a mess, you’re trying to keep your milk supply up because if you don’t you feel like a failure if you can’t meet your baby’s demands, your baby won’t stop crying and you don’t know what to do, you feel fat… seriously, the list goes on and on. It’s not as glamorous on the inside as it appears on the outside. The first few weeks and even months are difficult but they can be overcome, believe me, I know personally.
Only a handful of people know, but after Alexandria was born I suffered from PPD. Let me begin with an important side note that will explain a lot of what contributed to it… Due to several health conditions Thomas had, I didn’t receive the opportunity to breastfeed him and create that special bond with him. Although Thomas and I connected in a different way, it still hurt that I didn’t get to experience that particular bond between me and my son. After we found out we were pregnant with Alexandria, I prayed very hard that she would be healthy and that I would be able to breastfeed her. It wasn’t only a bond I desired to have, but one I felt we needed. End side note.
After Alexandria was born, many memories of Thomas were brought back and I longed to hold him in my arms, I missed him more than I could describe. We did not get any sleep, not even kidding. In regards to breastfeeding, it was perfect! We had to work through those initial problems but once we got past those, it was great. My supply couldn’t have been better and Alexandria was gaining weight perfectly. And then everything went south and I reached the peak of my PPD. When Alexandria was four weeks old, I got a breast infection that ultimately resulted in what my doctor said was the worst breast abscess he had ever seen. I was originally sent home on antibiotics. I became very ill and I can’t even begin to describe the pain in my breast; I had to stop nursing Alexandria on that side. I have a very high tolerance to pain and this hurt worse than child birth. I cried it hurt so badly. My mom cried with me. Praise God for my mother and Buddy for taking care of Alexandria and me; they were both so wonderful during a time when I couldn’t even take care of myself. After a couple of days at home, the infection got worse and landed me in the hospital for a week. I had to receive IV antibiotics and I also had to have surgery to remove the abscess. I had doctors telling me I would have to stop nursing. Believe me when I tell you I could NOT. STOP. CRYING. My hormones and emotions were out of control. I cried going in to surgery and I woke up crying coming out of surgery. I was devastated. I longed to continue that bond with Alexandria. I didn’t understand why that was happening to me. I desired so much to be able to nurse her and that was about to be stripped away from me. (Another side note… I didn’t give up on breastfeeding. I actually nursed Alexandria until she was 15 months old. My breast healed nicely and two months after surgery I was able to relactate and continue nursing Alexandria from that side. End side note.)
I did very well with the medication and it truly made me feel 100 times better. The first couple of weeks coming off the medication was rough, but with Buddy’s support and encouragement, we propelled forward and I have been fine since.
I knew I needed help and I sought it out. PPD is nothing to be ashamed about. I believe more people suffer from PPD than we realize. If you’re a new mom and you find yourself in a time of desperation and helplessness, it’s so important to seek help. Talk to your husband or your mama friends, see a counselor, join a support group, meet with your doctor; get help! Your son or daughter needs you. Friends of new mamas, ask those tough questions. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper. It could help your friend tremendously and even save their life in some cases. PPD is real and help must be sought out.
Resources and info about PPD:
For those in Birmingham, St. Vincent's now offers a PPD support group that is free and open to the public:
- St. Vincent's East Campus meets every Tuesday evening at 6 p.m.
- St. Vincent's Downtown meets every Thursday evening at 6 p.m.
Contact Molly Thompson or Julia Sanford for more info: 205.838.3349.
Baby Center - PPD
Birmingham OBGYN - PPD
Birmingham OBGYN - Managing PPD
St. Vincent's Monogram Maternity - Baby Blues & PPD