The pure glow continued as I was moved from Labor & Delivery into Recovery. I saw elation on my husband's face as he got to push the lullaby button marking the birth of our baby girl. That lullaby plays throughout the hospital, a little joy. Little did I know how much that lullaby would mean to me.
I held her... My Sophia Faye, my Wise Fairy. She was so small but so beautiful. I treasured her coos and even embraced her cries. I was on a high and hoped I would never come down. She stayed with me until bedtime so I could attempt to get as much sleep as possible before returning home where my sleepless nights would begin. One night I awoke and started to freak because it was 5 hours since she was brought to me for feeding. The worry was beginning. Where was my baby girl?! I made Jimmy go get her. The nurses didn't bring her because she was asleep and one thing you learn is never wake a sleeping baby.
The day came to bring her home. This child I brought forth into the world. Seriously, people were entrusting her life to me?! I felt like a child myself and I was 26. Things seemed to be going well until Jimmy was called in to work. Some 2 weeks off. His boss claimed it was because our child arrived 2.5 weeks early. Out of the 10 days he should've been home with me, he was home 4 of them. My mother did come to help.
Feeding was another issue. My baby girl had no issues latching but she just felt like it was sleepy time once she did. Okay, no problem, I would supplement with formula. Even then I began to worry she wasn't gaining weight. I began to worry that she didn't cry enough. I worried she was too hot or too cold. With all this worry, I started to have issues sleeping. This should've been clue #1.
Two weeks after her birth the Baby Blues I was experiencing quickly turned into Postpartum Depression. Aside from lack of sleep, I was barely eating and whatever went in me was quickly thrown up. Crying was an event that occurred at least 6 times a day. Then the thoughts moved in.
"What have I done?!"
"Her crying makes me want to rip my hair out."
"They'd be better off without me."
"I hate her. I hate myself for hating her. "
"I can't stand to be around her, I can't stand to be around me."
"I wish I could turn back time."
"I'm going to run away!"
That last thought plagued my mind for the 2 weeks before entering myself in short term psych for the first time. I planned everything from when, to going to the bank to withdraw money, but always froze on where to go. I was torn. I didn't want to be alone but I didn't want Jimmy or my parents to find out.
Exactly 1 month after my baby girl was born I was brought to the emergency room by my mother. Jimmy left work to meet us there and my sister was watching Sophia. In the ER I began to tremble like I never have before. The anxiety kicked in. Silly me wanted to come because I was worried I was malnourished since I was constantly vomiting. Once in the room the only doctor brought to me was the psychiatrist. The same psychiatrist I just recently saw for a consult. She questioned me and felt I needed to be admitted. Her next question was, "Are you willing to admit yourself?"
I thought about this. I thought about what I was doing to Jimmy, my mother, my father, my sister, and Sophia. Reluctantly, I answered yes.
This was the beginning to me getting better. This was day 1 of twelve days I would be there. 12 days of therapy. 12 days of playing with my medication. 12 days of discovering things about me. 12 days to understand the Postpartum Depression that overtook me like an alien.
Stephanie's story was originally shared here.
If you'd like to join us in our 3rd Annual Climb Out of the Darkness to raise awareness for perinatal mood disorders, like postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, or if you'd like to make a donation, you can find more details here.