It wasn't until Abraham was 5 months old that I started to realize there might really be a problem with me, not Abe. He was eating well and feeling fine, sleeping most of the night, and even smiling all day long. And I was miserable. I put on a HUGE smile and big brave face. I made fun small talk with people at the grocery store and made jokes about my new role as a mom to all my friends. I wrote blog after blog about how funny all this was. And only those people closest to me knew how bad it got. Anxiety attacks, sweeping bouts of depression, and fly-off-the-handle anger. When Abraham would hit a new milestone, like sitting up or holding his own bottle, I would experience a temporary high thinking, maybe that was it. The cure. So I began waiting on the next milestone like an oxygen tank underwater. And when each one came and went, I felt amazing and then worse than before when I realized I was still miserable.
I tried exercising. I began walking, jogging, lifting weights, dance classes. I started taking time to myself while my husband took the baby. I talked to a therapist regularly. I even tried changing my diet to include more Omega-3s. No dice.
On a particularly bad day, I began googling postpartum depression and found a "postpartum hotline" of sorts. You could call or email and this doctor would help you. So I emailed and waited. I received a response fairly quickly and after listing my symptoms, the doctor told me she was surprised I was so honest and definitely felt as though I needed help. She told me about a postpartum group in the area and asked me to join. She also told me I could make an appointment with her anytime and that she knew some psychologists in the area as well. I thanked her and then didn't write back again. I never mentioned to her that I lived in a completely different state. I guess I wanted an unbiased opinion. And I got one.
Finally, at my 6 month postpartum check up (which I had scheduled for 5.5 months postpartum), my gynecologist asked me how I was doing. I began to ramble about Abe not sleeping and being so busy and blah blah blah. She looked at me and asked how my anxiety levels were. I shrugged. "Normal for a new mom, I guess." My doctor doesn't know me well, but well enough to know that I probably wasn't being forthcoming about everything in my head. By that point it had gotten so bad I think I subconsciously made it pretty clear that I was in desperate need of help. "What do you think about taking something for it?"
"No," I replied. "I'm not taking medicine."
"Ok, no problem. It's just a suggestion to get you through this time. I've got a dear friend who has 6 babies, birthed them all at home in a tub. She has been on antidepressants since #2. Her hormones just can't swing back after she has a kid. It happens to a lot of women."
"Yeah. That's tough."
"Do you want to give it a try?"
"No," I said. "I don't think so." I paused. "Maybe just write the prescription so I can think about it."
"Sure," she replied.
I sat at home with the prescription wishing this wasn't what it was going to take. Can I really not do this by myself? It's embarrassing. I tried for months to have a kid. I saw specialists. I prayed and cried. And when I got pregnant, I worked my ASS off to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby. Now I battling the feeling of not even wanting a baby. I loved him so much, but didn't want him. I felt so conflicted. Was it all a huge mistake? And the only way to feel better is in this pill bottle? I don't want to rely on pills. Will I tell my friends? Will I tell my mom? Will I blog it?! There was so much to think about.