Short answer: For this little guy
- PPD/PPA: Yep, I can finally admit I suffer from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. I didn’t think I had it, or at least didn’t WANT to have it. I had read and heard horror stories of women killing their children and/or committing suicide and I never had thoughts of hurting my son. This next statement is hard. I haven’t said it to anyone (not even my husband or mom) but it’s time it’s out there for other moms to hear: I did have thoughts of suicide. Wow, I just said (well, typed that). Only thoughts but I DID HAVE thoughts. Even now, as I’m typing this, I am telling myself, “Dusti, it wasn’t that serious. It was only fleeting thoughts when you were having terrible insomnia. Nothing compared to what other moms go through.” But, it was serious. It IS serious. I was having terrible insomnia. To the point I was pleading with God or whoever/whatever to fall asleep. I cried and cried. I felt alone. I felt resentful towards my husband and baby, even the dogs! that they were all sleeping. Then, I’d have the “fleeting” thought out of nowhere. What’s funny is I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and work with Veterans so we are trained to be open about talking to others about suicide and it’s an everyday question we ask to almost everyone we talk to day to day, so I should have reached out, but I didn’t. Why? Because, the next morning I’d wake up and barely remember or think about how the previous night had been before I finally fell asleep. And, because otherwise, I was functioning what I thought to be normally. I was able to be mom, go back to work full time, take care of myself, be my happy-go-lucky self, adore my son. But, looking back on the first 6 months of being a mom (I’m only 8 months into this mom gig), I had a tough time. At first I thought it was normal mom stuff and that every mom goes through something and I was “just being a baby.” But it wasn’t normal and it’s OKAY and important to share so other moms know that too. I spent those first few weeks at home on leave from work with my son and instead of enjoying every minute of it, I spent HOURS on social media groups geared towards bringing moms together and sharing ideas. Instead, I got obsessed to the point I’d worry about things that hadn’t even happened like the dreaded “4-month sleep regression” or I’d read how other women were loving every minute of breast feeding and I was having a terrible experience and thought I was a failure. It got so bad, my husband threatened to take my phone to work with him so I’d be less likely to get on those sites. So, I left those sites, groups, and pages.
- Speaking of breastfeeding: it didn’t work for me. I did it for 6, I’ll say it, torturous weeks. I let it consume me. My son and I had a tough time but like the PPA/PPD, I would stay on mom groups/pages and see what other moms were going through and think, “Dusti, they are having a much worse time and they are dealing with it and staying the course. Quit whining and keep trying.” And I did, with tears. I told myself before Barrett was born, I wouldn’t go crazy about breastfeeding if it didn’t work. But, I did. I joined the Le Leche group page for the area and other groups and got advice and hired a certified lactation consultant to come to my home. She was amazing and never once made me feel pressured to continue. Then, I started thinking about formula, which I never feared before, but suddenly, I did, because of everything I’d read from other moms. So, I left those sites, groups, and pages.
- “My son is 4 months old isn’t doing….?!”: Oh, the milestones. I got caught up in timeframes of what Barrett was supposed to be doing and when. Remember the 4-month sleep regression I wrote about early. Yeah, those, and teething, and sitting up, and blah blah. So, I left those sites, groups, and pages.
- He can’t sleep where? Can’t have what? He’ll die if I do…?: Everyone is an expert. I was so afraid of SIDS or suffocating Barrett for one thing. The first couple nights home he either slept on my chest (gasp!) or in the Rock n Play (gasp gasp!). Then, I read that made me a bad parent and I’d kill my kid (maybe I’m being dramatic, maybe not, you should read what internet experts say!). So, I became OCD about all of the stuff I should or shouldn’t do. Not just with sleeping, but with everything and anything the lovely search engines would direct me to. So I left those sites, groups, and pages.
The internet is a blessing and a curse. It’s a love/hate relationship for me. I still have to monitor myself and why I’m looking something up. Is it going to be helpful or hurtful? I tell other new moms in my life how it affected me so they can be aware. Hope this blog post can help even more women as well.
As a side note to the PPD/PPA: I am currently in therapy and recently (in the last 2 months) started a SSRI (anti-depressant/anti-anxiety) medication. It’s the best thing I could have done for myself and my family. If you feel you have PPD/PPA, please do not hesitate to seek help. Do not think it will make you a lesser person or mother. In order to take care of your family, you’ve got to take care of yourself first. Here’s a great resource to check your symptoms (turns out I had plenty from the lists!): http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english