Motherhood is a scary and overwhelming yet amazing experience filled with more love and tears than you can ever imagine. Unfortunately many women are welcomed into motherhood with some pretty harsh post-partum realities. There is a massive range of post-partum effects from baby blues to depression and anxiety then all the way up to rage, psychosis, and suicide.
It can be difficult to distinguish between some of these effects and many women experience more than one, and some experience all of them. You’ve read my story (Post-Partum Depression…it hurts… really hurts) but this isn’t a textbook illness. It’s different for everyone.
So I decided to ask women from all walks of life to share their post-partum experience. Some of these women I personally know and some I do not. But that is what makes this post AWESOME!
These amazing mommies have reached out to share their story with YOU!
WHY? Because we need to drop the stigma that post-partum depression, rage, anxiety, psychosis, etc are taboo. They are anything but. And they are awful, debilitating, life-threatening problems that we need to speak up about and support each other on.
We are moms, we are strong, we take on the world, we grew a human being, we gave birth to a human in whatever way it worked out and we would give our last breath for this human being. This illness doesn’t make us less strong, it doesn’t make us less of who we are; in fact, I think it actually helps to make us stronger but at a very difficult time to realize it.
The stories featured below cover many different ranges of this illness to show that you are not alone in this. All of these amazing women are here to share that with you and to tell you to
talk about it,
get help, &
spread the word.
**Some of these stories are very painful and reference abuse, self-harm, and loss. They will all be opened with a short introduction so please move on to the next story if you are uncomfortable with the introduction.**
Christine’s post-partum experience involving anxiety, loneliness, guilt, rage, and self-harm finally reaches a turning point upon consulting with an Ayurvedic practitioner.
After the birth of my daughter I experienced extreme baby blues for about a month. I cried for hours each day. When my husband left for work, I felt anxious that something would happen to him and he wouldn’t come home. I felt as though my heart was physically breaking each time my daughter cried, which was a lot. I was in awe of my husband, who was so calm and seemed completely un-phased by her crying, completely confident in his ability to care for her.
I was so unsure of myself. I should be able to distinguish her cries, but I never seemed to know what she needed.
My days consisted of sitting in a rocking chair, nursing my daughter, holding her while she slept and bouncing her around the house when she was awake and crying. I couldn’t figure out how to accomplish anything else in a day. Laundry, no way. Eating, hardly. How could I go to the store to get food? She might poop while we were out or need to nurse. Then what? How could I cook when I needed to hold my baby all day? I look back on those early weeks and almost shudder as I remember how lonely and scared I felt each day.
But I thought it was normal. I told my doctor how I felt at my first postpartum check and he said the baby blues were normal and he would be worried if I didn’t feel like that. So I kept waiting. Waiting to be happy as a mom. Waiting to have some kind of routine in my day and accomplish something other than tending to my daughter’s basic needs. But it took months, literally.
After the severe baby blues, I experienced a period of time when I just wasn’t happy. My husband’s demanding work schedule made me crazy and even though there was nothing he could do about it I still blamed him for every late meeting and every longer than planned workday. I resented him and blamed him for my unhappiness.
In my head, everything was about me; my days are long and tiring. I’m the one holding a fussy baby, nursing for hours at night, changing the diapers, trying to keep the house in order. I had trouble falling back asleep after getting up to feed her through the night.
I became obsessed with totaling up how many hours I was getting of sleep each night. I couldn’t handle anything because of the sleep deprivation. Any change in plans set me off. This is when the rage began; throwing things, breaking things, screaming as loud as I could. And, as much as I cannot even believe this about me, hurting myself. There was one incident in particular where my daughter managed to push a frame off of the wall and it landed on my arm. Even though I was so thankful it landed on me and not her I exploded from the physical pain. I screamed. I was so upset that I began slamming my arm into the corner of a door frame right on the spot where the frame landed.
Through all of this I felt immense guilt. I mean you name it, I could list all the reasons I felt guilty, but this would go on and on. There are the regular reasons that every mom knows but then there’s my background as a yoga teacher. Shouldn’t I be calm, peaceful, relaxed, a total zen mom? That’s what I expected I would be like as a mom so I’m sure that’s what everyone else imagined as well. I have the tools for it; the breathing practices, meditation techniques, and the physical practice. I knew it all but I wasn’t using it, I couldn’t use it. I felt like a complete phony.
No one knew what I was really going through. Every time my mom asked if I thought I had PPD, I thought, “yes,” but of course said, “no.” I didn’t want to worry my mom. I didn’t want my husband to think I wasn’t a strong enough person to be okay after having a baby. I researched PPD on my own and googled therapists. I even checked if they were in network with my insurance. But I never acted.
When my daughter was 9 months old I had a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner (works to bring balance to your life through diet, exercise, meditation/breathing and routine). She told me which foods I needed to eat in order to sustain nursing and to rebuild my blood after pregnancy and a c-section. She helped me create a rough outline of a daily routine. She also helped me realize some of my commitments weren’t serving me well and suggested I eliminate them. She gave me a few simple practices to include in my days to show myself some love. It took me a couple of months to feel the changes. But, it’s working.
Every day isn’t perfect, but it is significantly better.
This, combined with the fairy tale portrayal of motherhood in the media, the downplay of the psychological effects of pregnancy and birth by the medical community and the lack of support due to little or no maternal and/or paternal leave in the U.S. And let’s not forget the stigma still associated with PPD. Let’s get it off our chests, get our stories out there that we might be ashamed of or scared to share and maybe we will help someone else. Maybe we will all feel less alone.
Brooke’s abusive relationship, stressful pregnancy, and attempted suicide caused her to make some important life-changing decisions with the help of counseling and medication.
I met my boyfriend when I was 17. Although I was forbidden to see him I didn’t listen and eventually my parents gave in. A few months later I found out I was pregnant. Our relationship was toxic; he was abusive, physically and emotionally. At one point I had a restraining order against him, but I was so young and “in love” I just had to be with him.
We married on my 18th birthday and quickly moved from a 1 bedroom, roach infested apartment into a nicer 2 bedroom. My husband started disappearing for days and would eventually come home high on anything from pot to crack; I even called hospitals to ask if any John Doe’s had been brought in. One night while we were out to eat I went to the bathroom while he paid and met him at the car. Next thing I know we were running from the cops and he ended up in jail.
It was a rough and stressful pregnancy. At about 33 weeks things didn’t feel quite so right and I ended up having my son a week later. He was tiny at just over 4lbs and spent 9 days in NICU. I struggled so badly that I was prescribed valium to help my nerves.
My husband and I fought; he lost it and that was the final straw. I ran a bath, swallowed the entire bottle of valium and waited. Thinking about my son saved me that night. I had to fight for him so I went and told my husband what I had done. I remember him sticking his fingers down my throat to make me throw up; I remember having my stomach pumped and not being able to breathe; I remember thinking:
I finally had something worth fighting for.
Counseling somewhat helped. Leaving my husband helped. I had good days where I would sit staring at my son and remember why I fought for him. I had bad days where I would cry and be angry for no reason.
During the third trimester of my second pregnancy I was prescribed Zoloft to help prevent PPD. It kind of helped; I didn’t try to commit suicide but the everyday struggle was there. Thankfully these feelings didn’t last as long.
Years later I was diagnosed as Bipolar Type II when I started having panic attacks and manic days. During my third pregnancy I chose to stay on my Bipolar medication because of my history and came off the Zoloft until my third trimester. It’s now 18 months later and I am really struggling; I don’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary. Some days I am like the energizer bunny and go non-stop, other days I don’t want to move. I am quick to anger and I take it out on the people I love the most. I have basically cut contact with anyone but family. I need to drag myself to the Dr and figure out what is going on, but that requires leaving the house.
What’s important is today. My children are my life and as mad as they can make me, they can make me just as happy. I am lucky in having my family as my support system.
I’m 35 years old and have been dealing with mental illness for a long time. I overcame one nightmare to end up in another. I didn’t even realize how bad things are until I shared this.
But I will make it.
I will seek help when I need it.
I will be okay.
It may be a hard road, but I will do it. Not only for my kids but for me.
I deserve to be happy.
Allyson’s long-time struggle with anxiety and depression unknowingly worsens after a traumatic birth experience leaves her feeling helpless and missing that magical bond with her baby.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for a long time. Like OCD tendencies where I knew my thoughts were really stupid but I just couldn’t help it. Therapy and medication helped greatly not only with my thoughts but also getting healthier in general. I felt so much better that I was able to come off my medication. I married my long-time boyfriend, had an awesome first year together and were extremely excited to start a family together.
My husband and I planned this baby and every single day I prayed for a happy, healthy baby and for everything to go perfectly. I was 40+3 when I went into labor and it was a pretty traumatic experience with third degree tearing. My husband did pretty much everything for the baby in the hospital as I could barely sit up. It was extremely painful and made me deathly afraid to go home but when we got home I immediately knew something was off.
I didn’t feel that connection or bond with my son and it honestly scared me.
I could see how in love my parents, siblings & husband were with our baby and I couldn’t help but cry and wonder what we had done. I felt so hopeless, so helpless and I missed when it was just me and my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted my son and would do anything to protect him; I just found myself thinking that we made a mistake. I remember praying and wishing that I knew someone who had gone through this. It seemed like such a taboo topic because all my friends and family members only talked about how much they loved and adored their kids from the second they saw their faces.
Luckily, my mom and husband were there, through everything and really helped me get back on my feet. My husband was my complete rock during this time and I am so grateful for him. My mom moved in with me for a couple of months so that I could sleep and rest. She also took me to my doctor so that I could get some help. And I finally had a family member reach out to me and share her experiences following the birth of her first child. I am so blessed to have these amazing people in my life at a time when I needed them the most.
Within 2-3 weeks of medication, support, and sleep I felt so much better. Of course I still got overwhelmed and had times where I would just start crying but those were fewer and further between. Once I started feeling better I shared my story with some of my friends and many of them said they dealt with the same thoughts and feelings. I never even had a clue; they seemed so happy.
It was very eye opening and I hope that more women start talking about their experiences.
It is 100% okay to ask for help.
This amazing mommy’s post-partum experience with anger, anxiety, rage, suicidal thoughts and the consideration of abortion all put a massive strain on her marriage until she finally discovered that she wasn’t alone in the way she felt.
My husband and I got married 4 years ago: I still remember the hope and excitement for our future. We were happy, in love, and wanted a big family. We got pregnant on our wedding night, sooner than we intended but we were overjoyed! As the pregnancy progressed I became withdrawn and depressed, something I hadn’t experienced before. My doctor offered a safe medication but I declined and told him I’d be ok.
After my son was born I became more and more depressed. I became anxious, angry even. I loved my son with every piece of me but I couldn’t shake this feeling. I decided I was done, I didn’t want to be pregnant again. I had my son and that was enough.
This decision along with my anger and anxiety greatly impacted our marriage. My husband wasn’t happy with me. I was mean to him, I cried constantly and I would flip over the smallest things. He also wasn’t happy with my decision. He wanted more children, a lot more. At this point I wasn’t sure our marriage would survive. The love was there, but the strain was greater.
Before my son turned 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. I went into complete denial. We were still living with his parents; we weren’t financially ready; I wasn’t mentally ever going to be ready. I honestly contemplated abortion but ultimately decided to have our baby.
My denial went away when I found out our baby was a girl. I hoped that my husband would accept having only two children. I was hoping that if our marriage survived he wouldn’t resent me for the rest of his life .
Throughout the pregnancy things got worse. I became more angry, more sad, hopeless, and even contemplated suicide on a few occasions. My son and constant anxiety kept me from going through with it. I couldn’t bear the thought of someone else taking care of my son. I called my dr. He listened through my cries and prescribed medication. It helped, kind of. I was better enough to function. The blow ups were less frequent but continued getting bigger.
Following the birth of my daughter I became more depressed, more anxious; this was hard. My husband didn’t understand. To him this was a state of mind I could and should control. Didn’t he know that every night before I went to bed and every morning when I woke up I told myself I would be a better mom and a better wife?
I stopped taking the medication; it made me sick. I didn’t reach out for help. My relationships with my husband and my in-laws deteriorated even more over the next year . My outbursts became more and more frequent. I yelled at my son constantly. This is not the mother I wanted to be. I felt like I was failing myself, my husband, and most importantly, my children .
I finally went to my doctor when my daughter turned one and was prescribed cymbalta but I was too afraid to take it. Another year went by. Things were getting worse. I was feeling more hopeless than ever. The rage was becoming a daily thing. It was almost like the anger and rage I felt was flipped on with a switch. I could literally feel my blood boiling and I couldn’t stop it.
Then I met a friend on my online mommy group who had opened up about her weirdly similar experiences. It helped me realize I wasn’t alone. And I believe she may have saved my life and my marriage. I saw my doctor and started Lexapro. I’ve only been on it for a month but I can see hope again, I wish I did this three years ago. I’ve cried twice in the last month which is nothing. I haven’t had an outburst; I haven’t had thought of ending my life; I have become intimate with my husband and our marriage has significantly improved. I still have rough days like everyone, but they’re not nearly as intense.
Remember, all of us mommies are in this together. We need to support, share, and help each other. You never know how you could help someone.
Shaylee’s denial of PPD comes at a time of great loss, grief and denial which she realizes after seeking help.
I never wanted to admit I had PPD and I still find myself denying it. I mean, there’s only so many ways I can describe it, so many ways I can try and explain it to those who have no idea.
It’s like I’m standing in the middle of a tunnel, each exit illuminated with light. Whenever I try to reach either end.. the tunnel elongates. My steady jog turns into a run; the run turns into a full on sprint ending up in a crying and coughing fit.
I sought out help, and found the problem to be routed deeper than I imagined. Within a 4 month span I lost my sister, aunt and two grandfathers; my mom was diagnosed with cancer while wrapping up a nasty divorce and I found out I was pregnant. So much tragedy and loss occurred within such a short period of time that I didn’t have time to grieve, cry, or accept what happened.
Some days are easier than others. I’m nowhere near the light at the end of my tunnel but I feel I’m getting closer to reaching it. Even if it’s one genuine smile at a time. No matter how alone you feel, you’re truly not. You’re beautiful, and your mind, body, and soul has accomplished so many amazing and wonderful things.
You can get through this too.
This wonderful mommy’s traumatic birth experience, depression, and anxiety coupled with an unsupportive partner and feeding struggles pushes her into making some life-changing decisions and multiple hospital
I had an amazing pregnancy with no problems. While I was out shopping at 40+6 I went to the toilet and had bright green discharge. I called the hospital and was told me to come straight in. From there I was induced as I had a hind water leak and they needed to get bub out ASAP.
During my 16 hour labour I had gas, morphine, and an epidural. When I finally dilated to 9.5cm my baby’s heart rate started dropping drastically low. Next thing I know they were running me through the hallways screaming at people to get out of the way for an emergency C-section. I was immediately given a general anesthetic and went under within minutes. Within minutes my daughter was born.
But she wasn’t breathing. A knot in the cord had cut off her blood supply. Thankfully they saved her and she went to the special care nursery. I haemorrhaged, losing 2.1L of blood and developed pneumonia. I woke up 11 hours later in Intensive Care covered in tubes.
From there things became a chaotic blur. My daughter struggled to feed while I struggled with depression and was unable to cope. My partner was very unsupportive of the care I required after my C-section, believing I should be at home looking after him and the house. I stopped eating; breastfeeding wasn’t working; I was full of anxiety from the birth; my daughter never slept and would scream all day.
Finally when my daughter was 5 months old she was diagnosed with a cows milk protein allergy which explaining the screaming and sleeping problems. Once she received special formula she was a completely different baby but by then her sleep patterns were ruined. Thankfully, we got into sleep school because at that stage I was contemplating taking both our lives. While there I spoke to a social worker who referred me back to my GP to be treated for postnatal depression.
I had been too scared to speak up about how I was feeling because I knew my daughter’s father would use it against me when I left him. A few weeks into treatment I reacted to my antidepressant and ended up with serotonin syndrome. My partner called the police to say I had kidnapped my daughter (I had gone to my mum for help) and I ultimately left him. After a rocky couple of months I checked myself into a psychiatric Mother/Baby Unit and stayed as an inpatient for 2 months. Although I did not leave “cured” and still struggle to this day. I’ve now been admitted to hospital 3 times, with the most recent time being incredibly successful.
Eventually I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and most recently an Eating Disorder. I will have these conditions forever – they are not curable, I just need to learn to recognize warning signs and cope with it when it happens.
Lauren from motheringhonestly.com dealt with loneliness, mild depression, and intense anxiety that caused motherhood and life to get very overwhelming.
I have always wanted to be a mother. I dreamed of it, prayed for it and waited patiently for it with my husband. When we found out we were going to have a little girl, I could not feel happier.
After having Lily I remember feeling beyond blessed and so incredibly in love with this little girl. She was and still is the most beautiful soul I have ever seen. But there were other unexpected feelings; I was always tired, unable to fall asleep, uncomfortable in my body, and overwhelmed every single day.
Some days were so hard I didn’t want to get out of bed and face the music. Breastfeeding was hard. I was afraid to leave the house and take her anywhere; I was afraid of her getting hurt or sick; I felt constant anxiety and fear. I recall my husband literally demanding that I take care of myself. Take a break; get in the shower; get dressed; brush my hair; take a nap. And I remember feeling anger towards him because I wanted to be there for her every second of the day.
I finally saw a doctor at 4 months post-partum and was diagnosed with Post Partum Anxiety and some mild depression. I am on the route to healing and finding myself while also being a mommy. I have realized I’m not just a mom; I am still Lauren, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a hair stylist and someone who loves to cook.
I have to figure out how to fit Lily into our lives, and not necessarily how we fit into her life.
I have to relinquish control sometimes and realize “life happens.”
Read more about Lauren’s story here.
First off, I want to thank ALL of these amazing women for being brave enough to share their post-partum stories with the world. This is such a difficult subject to talk about but honestly, I think it’s harder for us women to admit these problems, insecurities, doubts, fears, and thoughts to ourselves. I am soooo beyond grateful for these stories.
Second of all, I really hope these stories help other struggling mommies to feel less alone, less abandoned, less overwhelmed, and less scared. Motherhood is freaking hard and I’m not sure if much can prepare you for it. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves all the time and ask for help, ask for a break, and accept those offers!!!
Stop saying “I’m okay” and say how you really feel. Open up and talk about it.
We deserve to be happy. Our children need to see and feel that.
Let’s reduce this awful and horrifying statistic.
As always, comment, email, reach out. I’ve been through this, I’m still going through this.