Ah, post-partum depression. You ugly whore. You were starting to appear when I was pregnant – toward the end when I started to feel a bit more miserable and my blood pressure started creeping up, you were creeping up, too. I should have seen you coming but I just assumed that my stress was due to being at home with Avery and getting used to the stay-at-home life again. Being exhaustingly pregnant was my excuse for being snippy, or “ragey,” as I call it. I was unpleasant to be around and why wouldn’t I be? I was fucking huge and tired and I hated everyone and GET THIS GODDAMN MIRACLE OUT OF ME NOOOOOW. Pregnancy doesn’t look good on me, especially at the end. But I didn’t know it was the depression. I just thought it was bitchy ol’ me.
After having a somewhat traumatic labor and delivery (at least the surgery itself wasn’t so bad this time around) and a beating of a hospital stay, not to mention our investigation by CPS (you are DYING for that story if you don’t already know it and trust me, I’ll get to it soon), it was no wonder why I had the baby blues when we finally got home and settled into our life as a family of four.
Every single day, I would yell. From the moment I woke up, I was irritable and impatient with anyone who came in contact with me. Except for Henry, no one was spared. The two who were on the receiving end of my rage all day long were Avery and Jacob. I hope that Avery doesn’t remember me yelling at her. I hope that she is too young and when she grows up, that memory won’t exist. I hope this for her and for me because I remember my parents yelling at each other and at me when I was young and it’s not a pleasant memory. Anyway, Avery is going through her rebellious terrible threes phase and she’s also dealing with having a new sibling. Basically, she’s a raging nightmare all on her own, so throw my impatience into the mix and our home is a powder keg of estrogen-fueled rage.
My heart hurt so much after a long day of telling her no and putting her in time-out or yelling at her for hitting the dog or pooping in her pants. Even when she would accidentally knock her sippy cup onto the floor and milk would get onto the carpet, I would lose it. How could you be so clumsy!? You are NEVER eating or drinking in the living room again! I would yell at her for something so stupid and I felt awful. When we would go out in public, she would run around and hide in the racks of clothes as though we were playing hide and seek. I hate it when she disappears in stores because I try not to play her game of Where’s Avery? but I am scared that if I don’t quickly find her that someone will kidnap her. I go into panic mode almost immediately and when I find her I want to slap her for hiding from me. I don’t slap her, but I feel my arm raising back as if I’m getting ready to smack her and she flinches in fear. I don’t hit my children but in the past month and a half, I have been so full of anger and stress that I have thought about hitting her as a form of punishment. As if inflicting physical pain on her will teach her a lesson about disobedience.
This scenario happened a few too many times and I knew something was wrong. I knew that I was out of control and was not coping with my emotions in a healthy way. I wasn’t coping AT ALL. I was destroying my relationships with my daughter and my husband. I made a doctor’s appointment and knew that I need to get help immediately. My doctor prescribed me Sertraline, which is the generic version of Zoloft. It is safe to take while breastfeeding.
I have been taking 5omg per day for the past two weeks and I have noticed a change and what’s better is that Jacob has noticed too. I take it first thing in the morning and I’m able to remain level-headed and not go into a rage about stupid stuff. When Avery misbehaves, I handle it much more gracefully and thoughtfully than I was able to before. Since my behavior has improved, so has Avery’s. We have had an easier time putting her to bed this past week, and it seems like she’s more mellow than she was when we first brought the baby home. She still has her moments, but I am able to handle them like a reasonable person and not like a raving lunatic who isn’t fit to be a parent.
The most important thing I could have done was to get help for my post-partum depression. To continue to let it take over my life would have torn my family apart. I hope that the medication continues to help, and I will be seeking out counseling as well. The medication is a band-aid, but therapy will be where the real healing takes place. I also plan on doing things for myself to help keep me in balance – my family is going to join a gym that has free child care while you work out, and I’m going to make sure that I get “me time” when possible. The latter is a bit tricky when you are exclusively breastfeeding, but sometimes all I need is an hour to get my nails done, or to go to Starbucks and read a book. Thankfully, I am surrounded by an amazing support system who will reach out to me and help me even when I’m too stubborn to ask for it.
I know that I will get better. It won’t happen next week or even next month, but it will happen. Until then, I’ll just hug my kiddos tight and hope that they don’t remember a time when mommy was crazy.