You’re at an increased risk of developing postpartum mood disorder since your husband is away they tell you while your baby is safely in your belly. Not me you think. I’ve got family that supports me.
Despite hemorrhaging and losing over a liter of blood, tearing, and developing an immediate infection after birth, your son has two appointments before you even have one.
The day finally comes and they have you fill out a 10 questions survey with a raggedy marketing pen with a scratched off white logo. You answer yes to two of those questions, but they don’t ask you about it. No, why have you been anxious for no good reason? No, how often have you felt scared and panicky without cause?
Had they, they would know that you couldn’t sleep because no one had noticed your son not breathing when he was born except you – and only you could save him if he stopped breathing again in the middle of the night.
They’d know you couldn’t leave the house for fear of being in a tragic car accident and being unable to help your son in the backseat.
They’d know you took the fastest showers possible so you could fight off the faceless man that surely was going to break into your home and kidnap your baby while you showered.
They’d know you wake up from a light sleep terrified the bleeding has started again and that you’ll be taken from you son.
But…they didn’t ask, so they didn’t know.
The days would go by in a haze of drowning while smiling. Screaming while silent. Dying while falling more in love with your precious son. He made you brave.
Be sure to ask for help they say, but how? When? You have diapers to change. Milk to provide every 2 hours. Make sure he’s getting plenty of tummy time. Read to him. Don’t forget to sing to him. Make sure he’s not getting screen time. Don’t forget your sitz bath. You need to make sure you’re not bleeding too much. Drink plenty of water to make milk. Take your vitamins. Exercise! Get fresh air for you and the baby.
And so the months pass by and help doesn’t come. You begin to convince yourself you don’t need it. They would have been concerned if you needed help, but they didn’t ask. Everyone worries about their baby you think. It’s not like you’re thinking of harming yourself. This is your new reality.
Slowly you begin to resurface as the months pass by. A combination of more sleep and getting out for exercise and friendly conversations at Fit4Mom Rocket City has helped you begin to rise above the water again. You suck in a giant breath of air, but you’re not okay. You’re still drowning.
Therapy unravels a twisted web of PTSD – a tangled thread of trauma that had festered. In a nutshell you nearly died and lost your baby. Your brain is trying to prevent that from ever happening again by preparing for the worst. You knew this on a subconscious level, but it feels good to have a lifeline in the water with you – to know you’re not crazy.
You should have asked for help they say, but you didn’t know how. In the middle of taking care of yourself and a whole other precious human you desperately wanted someone to take care of you too. And someone should. You deserve help. You deserve to be well. This is not your fault.
Even with support, you can still be drowning. There is nothing to be ashamed of. If you find yourself under the water, I want to personally invite you to my lifeboat. There is room for you here. You are welcome and wanted. You don’t have to feel like harming yourself or your baby to need help. Feel free to send me a message if you just want to chat with someone that’s been there, or if you don’t feel like talking, check out these resources below. Of course, your doctor is also a resource to reach out to when you feel able.
Postpartum Support International
With a helpline, support groups, and a network of volunteers – this group will get you connected to local resources to you including therapists. There’s also a private Facebook group where you can share your struggles without judgement.
Call the PSI HelpLine: 1-800-944-4773 or Text “Help” to 800-944-4773
National Maternal Mental Health Hotline
If you need to talk to someone outside your immediate circle call 1-833-943-5746.
Huntsville Postpartum Support Network
Connect with local mothers struggling with the same thing in this Facebook group – know you’re not alone.
Local Support Groups & Mom Clubs
Although not postpartum mood disorder specific, a big step in healing can be feeling a sense of community. These local mom groups and clubs are a great place to start.
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Lauren Lee is a longtime dog mom transitioning to life as a rookie human mom. She is married to her college sweetheart, Josh, and they welcomed their son, Oliver, to the world in June. Lauren is a Jacksonville State University alumni and has been a published writer since she was sixteen. In her free time, Lauren enjoys reading, writing, knitting and hiking with her two dogs.