A few years ago, our family was completed with the birth of my youngest daughter. Two of her other siblings had been born premature and spent weeks in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital. There had been a few bumps in the road of this pregnancy as well, so we were thrilled when she was born at 37 weeks, technically full-term, and we would able to bring her back to our room at the hospital. She was beautiful and perfect. My husband left me to be sewn up after my c-section and followed our baby to the nursery.
We were so relieved to have a healthy baby that it never occurred to us that there might be a problem with me. After a few minutes, my wonderful, and usually calm, doctor informed me that I was losing blood rapidly and they were unable to stop it. They needed to go back in and perform an emergency hysterectomy. Fortunately, my husband and I had already decided that this would be our last child. In fact, to be honest, I was relieved. It felt like a confirmation that we had made the right decision. But it was still kind of scary!
A nurse was sent to bring my husband back in and he conversed quietly with the doctor before coming to stand by my head. I saw his face and instantly knew it was worse than I thought. He tried to smile and calmly reassure me. He held my hand and stayed by my side.
After what seemed like forever, they reported that the bleeding had stopped and the procedure had gone well. I vaguely remember being given a blood transfusion as the dizziness and exhaustion set in. I was taken back to my room to rest and recover and hold my precious little girl. Later on, (the next day, I think?) I was given a second blood transfusion because I was still struggling to heal and regain my strength.
After a much longer stay than originally planned, I was finally released and sent home. But this time was different. Our baby was coming home with us and not staying in the hospital NICU. To say we were excited is a dramatic understatement. A couple weeks later my husband returned to work and we resumed life as usual. Except we didn’t.
I was still struggling and exhausted. I had a baby waking me up all night and needing my constant attention, and I had three other kids to take care of. There were moments where I actually missed the NICU. Obviously, I didn’t actually wish we had left her there, but I couldn’t help but think about how much easier my recovery would be if someone else was taking care of my baby. And that’s when it started.
It wasn’t a sudden snap or defining moment, just a continual and subtle downward slope. It became easier to make excuses, to “rest,” and then to beat myself up for slacking off. It became easier to cancel plans than to actually talk to people and leave my house. It became easier to yell at my kids and lose patience with my husband. There were nights I would cry myself to sleep, as my mind flooded with thoughts of failure.
My poor husband wanted desperately to help and to see me happy, but nothing he tried was enough. I knew he loved me, but I didn’t always know why. I knew he felt responsible, even though he wasn’t, but I didn’t know how to express that to him. I blamed myself for every tiny thing that wasn’t perfect in our lives, and I carried that weight like an elephant on my shoulders.
Something had to change.
But that just meant that I had to be better, stronger, more persistent. I just had to somehow conquer these demons completely on my own, because that’s what I’d always done. If I could just pray harder, exercise more, eat healthier, think happy thoughts… It actually did work for a little while. Those things are important and helpful and I don’t mean to put them down, but I learned that for a truly depressed person, those things are just too much. Just out of reach. Just temporary. How are you supposed to workout when you can barely get out of bed? When a shower sounds exhausting and your house is a mess? Shouldn’t those things come first? What about making dinner and doing laundry? I had to take care of everyone else before I could take care of myself. Which meant there was never time to take care of myself.
Each day kept passing by and each day I promised myself tomorrow would be better. My baby was three and a half before I finally made a change. Before I finally realized it wasn’t “just post-partum” and it wouldn’t just go away eventually. And most importantly, that it wasn’t my fault.
I finally made the phone call and set up a therapy appointment. I finally talked to my doctor about medication. And I finally started to see real improvement and progress.
I started this blog because I know I am not the only mom out there who struggles with these things. I know I’m not the only mom who wants to be better for her family and give them the mom they deserve. And I know I can help.
I am not a psychologist with a PhD, but I do have a bachelors degree in psychology. I’m not a health and fitness guru, but I am passionate about exercise and nutrition. I’m not one of those super moms who always has amazing home cooked meals on the table and a spotless house, but I’m a real mom who loves her family and is doing her best.
I hope you’ll join me for the rest of this journey. I hope you’ll comment and ask questions and gain something from my experiences. And I hope that my vulnerability will give you strength. Because if you take anything from this blog, I want it to be this: You are not alone, you are worth it, and you can be happy!