I think this is a hard topic for most moms to discuss without feeling shame or guilt, but it needs to be brought up more often. Many new moms experience Postpartum depression, and often keep it to themselves.
After the birth of my first child, I remember being in a haze. It was the middle of July and there was a heatwave. We arrived home and the first few weeks were constant breastfeeding, friends and family coming and going, lounging around the house and hanging out in the shade in our backyard. By early August, my husband went back to work, my family and friends went back to their day-to-day lives. Suddenly, I was home alone all day with a fussy baby who napped only on me and seemed to be constantly hungry.
My midwife warned me about the “baby blues”. I definitely had days in the beginning where I was emotional and quick to cry. But even months after giving birth, I never really got back to feeling like myself. By October I knew something wasn’t right. I spent most of my days on the couch. I was always worried something was wrong with the baby. I couldn’t figure out why it seemed like she was always fussy. I didn’t feel a connection with her. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t sure I even loved her. I felt a lot of regret. I picked fights with my husband. On the really bad days I fantasized about getting into a car accident bad enough I would need to be hospitalized so that I could sleep, someone else could feed me, and I could escape it all.
I decided to talk to my doctor, who gave me a list of councilors and therapists to call. I found a great therapist who listened to me, and helped me map out how I was feeling and what I was thinking (literally, she used a whiteboard and made lists and diagrams – it was great!) and then taught me how to stop and challenge my negative thoughts and feelings by looking for actual proof. This method is called cognitive behavioral therapy. She also helped me realize that even though having a baby can feel all consuming, I needed to make time for me.
Since I had always been creative, I decided to try and get back to it by knitting. It was a creative outlet for me, that I could easily put down whenever I needed to. Best of all I could knit with a baby sleeping on me. I knit so much over the winter. Baby outfits, scarves and mittens. Once I got my daughter nap trained and sleeping in her crib, I was able to start bigger things. I started painting and baking again, and then slowly worked my way up to larger crafts and DIY projects. I started feeling better, more like myself and less sad. I started enjoying my time at home and, best of all, I started to feel that unconditional love for my daughter.
When I found out I was was pregnant with my second, I knew feeling depressed again was a real possibly. I didn’t want to get sucked into feeling that way again, so I decided to do things differently. I started Make it Laura not only as a way to share my craftiness, but also a goal for myself to stay creative and make time for me.
Becoming a parent is one of the hardest things you will ever do and it’s a huge life change but that doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself. Think about what made you happy before having a baby, whether it was cooking, reading, working out, drawing, doing your makeup, and try to get back to that. If you are feeling depressed, please seek help. Talk to your friends, family, and most importantly your doctor. I hope that soon this will automatically become a part of postpartum care, but for now we have to be self-advocates.
Visit http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/ for more info and help finding local services.