Accepting the Unacceptable
Katie blogs at Sluiter Nation about life with her two boys as a working mom – and is also an amazing human being. It’s an honor to have her tell this story of second time PPD on my blog.
Four years ago I found out I was pregnant with my oldest son.
This was my third pregnancy, but first baby. The pregnancy was rough–wrought with horrible sickness and undiagnosed depression that lingered from previous miscarriages that I never let myself deal with.
When Eddie came into this world, it was after 36 hours of labor and an extremely necessary and very emergency c-section.
I’ve blogged endlessly about the lack of bonding and the spiral of postpartum depression I fell into after his birth.
The short story is that I tried to do it all myself and cracked open after Eddie was 9 months old. I finally asked for help. I was put on meds, referred to a therapist, and started cutting back on obligations.
When I was pregnant with Charlie last year, I fell into some dark antenatal depression. It scared me.
It scared me because I was positive that I was going to be sick again while postpartum with Charlie like I was with Eddie. I was sure he and I wouldn’t bond and I would hate myself and want to quit life.
I started having flashbacks of hurting myself so I wouldn’t hurt the baby.
It made me more depressed.
My therapist and all the PPD Warrior moms out there kept telling me it didn’t have to be the same. I knew what it felt like now. I could head it off before it got out of control.
I wanted to believe them.
Then Charlie was here. And something that had been scared and ugly and broken…healed.
I felt wonderful.
Except when I didn’t.
This time was so much better. Except when it was the same.
Eddie had been a difficult baby right down to the most classically awful case of colic ever.
Charlie was a textbook example of an “easy baby”.
With Eddie, it felt like I had something to “blame” my depression on, even though I knew that was not what caused my depression…only what triggered my episodes.
This time there was nothing to blame except my chemical imbalance.
I had to admit that the bad days? Were totally me and not the baby.
And I was faced with the fact that it was happening again.
I was not a “success story” as I hoped and prayed to be.
I read so many posts about women who experienced NO SHRED of ppd the second time around, and when it started out completely different for me, I was SURE I was one of those women.
Charlie and I bonded.
I was at peace.
Iliked having a baby.
Except when I had an anxiety attack which triggered severe depression and my calling my husband to come home early from work so I could pull away from the situation.
When he walked through the door, I couldn’t look at him in the eye. I just kept crying and repeating, “I am so ashamed. I am SO ASHAMED.”
He held me and urged me to call my therapist.
That led to me being re-evaluated by a psychiatrist and getting a new diagnosis…or a few of them…along with a med increase.
I have had a few people–Diana included–ask me about struggling with PPD again. It seems that while women will admit to it happening once, it’s even harder to admit that it happened again.
I am here to tell you that while admitting it the first time was difficult for me because I wanted to be the mom who could do ALL THE THINGS and do them all super well, admitting it got me a second time was humiliating.
The first time for me felt like ripping off a bandaid. It hurt, but after the hurt, a bunch of us commiserated about how much pulling off our bandaids hurt and we told our war stories and we were survivors and warriors.
We had beat the beast!
The second time felt like a failure.
After all the fighting and all the rallying and all the standing up to the stigma of dealing with a mental illness, to be hit with it again felt like a punch to the gut.
I had mocked the disease for not winning against me and my support group. I had called it’s bluff and gotten pregnant again determined not to let it rule my life.
It still showed up. It called my bluff.
The last thing I wanted to do was admit my failure…to admit that I had somehow allowed this back into my life.
Until I realized that depression and anxiety and all the other things listed in my charts are not because of my weaknesses or failures to do a good job.
None of those labels takes away from my worth as a mother…as a human.
It’s the way my brain works…or doesn’t work.
And I realized that if I covered it up and didn’t talk about it, I was letting it win. That treating it and then ignoring it was the second worst thing I could do (the worst thing would be to ignore it and leave it untreated).
I had to give it words.
I had to throw my words all over it and expose it.
I had to do it to get it out of my head and to remind moms out there that yeah, it can happen again. It DOES happen again. But look…itstill doesn’t get to win.
Not then. Not now. Not ever.
When I am not traipsing around the internets doing guest posts for amazing people like Diana, I am either blogging over at Sluiter Nation or teaching the 159 high school students that walk into my classroom daily or trying to be the best wife and mom I can be to my husband and two little boys. I struggle to do the first two, but I always make time for that last thing. You can follow me on twitter, pinterest, facebook if you are so inclined. I do love to meet new people.