Survivor Stories – PPD, This was NOT my Plan.
I’m a planner. I had plans for how my life would be for years – I was going to be a mom, a science teacher and we were all going to live happily ever after. But I soon came to learn with the loss of my teaching job due to budget cuts that life wasn’t going to go according to plan (at least not all the time).
We decided that with me being unemployed, this was a great time for us to start our family. In 2011 I had my first daughter. My pregnancy was relatively easy and very uneventful, but I ended up being induced very unexpectedly (this was NOT my plan!).
The induction was quite difficult and lasted over 30 hours. Instead of feeling elated about her birth, I was just exhausted and scared. Because I had a fever during delivery she was sent to the NICU. During her stay, we had a lot of difficulty with breastfeeding. I always thought breastfeeding was “supposed” to be “easy and natural.” I felt awful and cried often in the NICU.
When we got home, I continued to cry frequently and remained determined to breastfeed, even with the difficulty we had. I felt like a failure. I was her mom, I felt like I was “supposed” to be able to breastfeed her. I also felt tremendous guilt about her stay in the NICU and for my lack of warm, motherly feelings after she was born. After four months of the guilt, crying and sadness, I finally realized that I needed help.
I talked to my husband about how I was feeling. He assured me that we would find help and it would be ok. I found a local support group and a therapist. I cannot say enough about the support group! I felt at home. I felt accepted. I felt cared for and most importantly, I didn’t feel alone. I continued to attend this group weekly and then attended their “Keep Getting Better” group.
A couple of years later, I had my second daughter. Before she was born, we did all we could to prepare for her arrival and prepare to make the transition to a family of four as easy as we could. We hired a postpartum doula to help me when my husband went back to work and I stocked my freezer with as many meals as I could fit. At this time, we also had a close family member go through a very rough health issue.
My second daughter’s birth was a breeze in comparison to my first and she breastfed very well. I felt good for awhile. But as the months progressed and my doula left, I was left juggling two young children and helping my husband manage the family health issue as best as I could. It was a very stressful time in our lives and it all caught up with me. I became very anxious, especially about anything dealing with sleep and my baby. I had panic attacks. I had a lot of trouble straying from a very set schedule. I became very angry. I reached out for help again and attended my support group and started seeing a therapist again. We eventually sleep trained our daughter and once I started to sleep again, I started to feel better.
To the moms struggling right now, you are not alone. This is not your fault. This is not your “new normal.” You will feel better with help.
Bridget lives on Long Island with her husband and 2 daughters. She is currently Mrs. Suffolk County America 2017/2018, an author, volunteer and stay-at-home mom. Bridget is a volunteer for the Postpartum Resource Center of New York, serving as a part of the advocacy committee, speaking at support groups and community events and assisting with fundraisers. Bridget is passionate about raising awareness for and helping to erase the stigma of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, like Postpartum Depression. Bridget contributed a story about her experience with Postpartum Depression to the book, A Dark Secret and is currently writing her own book about her experience with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.