The End of the 4th Trimester

me with happy Penelope

At a point in time that once seemed SO.FAR.AWAY.

Everyone tells me that they miss the newborn times and the early days. I smile and say, “Yes, aren’t they the best?” and then laugh in my mind because I personally think the newborn days are kind of terrible. Sure, it’s amazing to have a sweet baby snoring on your chest, see the beautiful first smiles and listen to soft coos. But, I can’t say I’ll miss the four thousand diaper changes, constant wake-ups, breathless screams, and from this situation, the never-ending vomit. 😉 I certainly don’t miss seeing P in pain from the reflux, choking, or lying awake all night next to her, worried sick with anxiety. (Thank goodness for the Owlet.) I’ve said it here on the blog before, but to say it again: babies are awesome, but I think kids are SO much more fun. If I could birth 3-year-olds (you know, without my body breaking), I’d be the next Octomom. Of course, you have to go through the newborn phase to raise these amazing humans, and I don’t regret any second of it because I’m so in love with our girls, but instead of lamenting the past, I’m loving the present and looking forward to what the future brings. It just gets better and better. 

I also won’t miss postpartum depression and anxiety.

Like the prolapse stuff, PPD is something I don’t think is often discussed, so I’m going to talk about it. Because it’s not a common topic of conversation, it can make you feel isolated and even more alone when you’re going through it. And I get it. It’s obviously not the happiest subject, and it can put the ones you love in a tough situation. They’re worried about you and want to help you, but aren’t sure how. They want to be there for you, and don’t know what you need. It’s tough all around. 

I had postpartum anxiety and initially undiagnosed postpartum depression after Liv was born. It was undiagnosed because I figured I should fight through it, and had a hard time accepting help from anyone. I  couldn’t talk about it while I was in the trenches, and it wasn’t until Liv was a year old (a year old!) that the fog lifted and I finally started to feel myself emerge from the shadows. It was horrible, and I promised myself with baby #2 that I wouldn’t let myself get to that point.

Steps I took to Combat PPD

I did everything in my power to be proactive about it.

-I started therapy sessions and got an action plan of steps we could take. Tom went with me so he knew what to look for, and how to help me

-I pre-wrote almost 20 posts for the blog so I could take a “maternity leave” without the site going totally dark. I’m still really proud of myself for doing this, and I was able to take almost 4 weeks off from the blog (except for a couple of sponsored posts that popped up and adding in a couple of current posts). It was amazing, and there’s no way I would have been able to maintain my posting schedule with all of the doctor’s appointments, etc. that became necessary. I was able to nap whenever possible, shower, and take care of our girls, while easing back into work. 

-I rounded up my “village.” My mom came to visit, my nana came to visit, and Tom took two weeks off. We also extended Liv’s preschool hours. She had a few weeks of difficult transition when P was born, mostly from being bored at the house while I was holding P (who was crying and spitting up constantly, for hours), she wanted to be with other kids, play outside, and enjoy learning with her wonderful teachers. It was a smart choice, and she has been thrilled ever since. At first I felt guilty that she was at school longer, but my therapist put it perfectly when she said, “Do you really feel bad that she gets to be at an amazing place she loves, learning and playing with her friends? Or do you feel bad because you think you’re supposed to feel bad, and think you’re magically supposed to do everything on your own?”

The Return of the Black Cloud of Depression

Even with all of the things I did, I felt so discouraged to feel the black cloud creeping back on. The reflux, diet changes (from cutting out multiple food groups as the pediatrician recommended to see if it would help P), and constant doctor’s appointments compounded with the worry, stress, and my own medical issues began to take a toll.

It went from “Ok, I can handle this” to “Ok, I’m dealing with this now too, but it’s ok” to “this is just too much.” A significant endorphin contributor (sweaty exercise!) had been put on hold shortly after I was cleared. I knew we were surpassing the normal baby blues, and heading into PPD territory. There was a span of a few weeks where I cried every.single.day, sometimes multiple times a day.

And then there’s the guilt. Here are I was with such a beautiful, wonderful family, and feeling so sad at the same time. It’s very confusing to be simultaneously overwhelmed with love, happiness, and despair. I felt guilty from feeling sad, and also felt guilty every time I needed help from anyone else. I felt like I was failing at everything, and the negative voices in my head started to crush me. 

I lost my energy. I didn’t want to get dressed, or eat, or blog, or do anything, but I forced myself to keep on keeping on, because my girls needed me. They didn’t need a mom who was in bed crying all day, so I put on my happy face and did what I needed to do. I felt like I wasn’t good enough at anything, and often felt helpless with everything going on. I recognized that I needed help, and sought it immediately.

Seeking Help for PPD

I upped my therapy appointments, started going back to acupuncture, talked to Dr. Flynn about getting my hormones balanced and started herbs for that, and also addressed things I was doing that made the situation worse. I knew I felt worse when we stayed home all day, so I forced myself to get out of the house. I met up with friends for coffee or went on walks with P for some sunshine.

I finally asked for a prescription for depression (my doc prescribed Lexipro) and the weekend I picked it up was when I ended up in the ER for the second time, postpartum. It’s funny, because sometimes you have to hit the bottom to start creeping back up to the top. When I found out that the Urogyn wasn’t worried at all about the prolapse -she said it’s exactly what she’d expect at this stage postpartum and expects it to fully heal- but rather another issue (which is going to be fixed, even though it sucks), and when P turned a corner with the reflux, I started to feel better. It was like a light switch was turned on, and the difference has been astounding. My energy is coming back, I feel productive, and I don’t feel like I’m wearing a mask all day.

When I was at the ER, I was talking to my nurse about the PPD (it’s in my medical chart) and she said something that I really needed to hear,

“Whatever you’re going through, just remember that it’s ok. You’re going to be ok. I know you will.”

To all of my friends who are going through something similar: you are going to be ok. 

Please, please don’t hesitate to take to someone, call your doc, and get the help you need. I waited way too long last time, and I regret it. Even if you’re away from family (like me), you can find a village. Talk to a therapist. Hire a postpartum doula to take care of YOU. Get some reliable childcare, even once a week, so you can sit in a coffee shop alone, meet up with friends, take a long shower, or nap. Hire help with the house or anything else you think that could reduce stress for you. Don’t be afraid to take medication if you and/or your doc think you need it. Tell your partner and friends how to support you, because they want to. They just might not know how, or know what you need. Get fresh air. Take deep breaths. Know that you are doing an amazing thing and an amazing job, even if you don’t feel that way. Remember that you don’t get a medal for doing everything on your own. You don’t have to suffer anymore.

Sending so much love to you all <3 Thanks for being there for me during the ups and downs of life. Thankfully, we’re hitting an up after some downs.

xo

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Comments

  1. Reading this brought me to tears. I loved the part about knowing we will all be okay. You are so strong and a wonderful mother.

  2. Thanks for writing about this! I had PPD when my son was born six months ago and I felt so ashamed. Anti-depressants and therapy have helped a lot, but it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in the struggle.

  3. You are simply amazing! Love how your therapist is keeping it real. Sometimes our own thoughts are our worst enemy. Thank you from all of us for sharing!

  4. In tears. Thank you for sharing your experience so candidly. I think it is so so important for others to hear these kinds of stories. After my son was born, I struggled so much but I didn’t know if it was my relationship, PPD or both. I ended the relationship when my son was about 9 or 10 months old and felt the dark cloud lift but wonder if I had talked to someone about the possibility of PPD, if that relationship could have been saved.

  5. This almost made me cry! I’m so glad you wrote it. I’m pregnant now the my first and have been wondering about PPD. Thanks for being so open:D

  6. Thank you for writing this post. I had a hard time admitting to myself that i was suffering from depression a few years back. It is never easy, since people often link it to negative stuff like psychology illness, mental instability and being weak. I got better after i moved to a new city, leaving behind things that were making me unhappy. I thought i had fully recovered and moved on, until recently i was transferred back to this city for work. I wasn’t feeling right again, it never crossed my mind that it is slowly creeping in. Now that i know what’s playing in my mind, messing with my emotion, i will work on it again. Thanks Gina for sharing!

  7. Thanks for sharing! So needed right now. I know this is more baby blues type feelings than PPD at this point, but I have a 10 day old and the mish mash of emotions is overwhelming! I felt ashamed at how crappy and overwhelmed I felt, especially because everyone says my baby is an “easy baby” right now (whatever that means) … I didn’t want to reach out to anyone and admit how I’m feeling. But I’m so glad I did, turns out, lots of my friends with newborns were feeling the exact same way. Please keep sharing your postpartum mental health journey with us!!

  8. This made me tear up. It is so raw and real. Having a newborn is hard. I’m so glad to hear you are coming out of this. Stay strong momma! And thanks as always for sharing your authentic self. You are pretty amazing 🙂

  9. You have no idea how much I needed this post today.

    My son was born a month after P and has been struggling with similar reflux issues and his constant screaming in pain makes me feel like I’m such a failure of a mom sometimes. Especially when he cries and cries in my arms but stops the second someone else holds him. I mean I’m his mom, shouldn’t I be the one who’s able to calm him down??! Ugh, so stressful. I try to give myself a reality check every now and then of “hey girl, you’re doing the best you can which is still pretty darn great” but it’s nice to hear from someone who otherwise seems to “have it together” that I am not alone in this and don’t need to feel guilty for needing help. So for that – thank you!

    • Fitnessista says:

      my heart goes out to you so much. holding p and her screaming in pain, and not knowing how to comfort her, was absolutely horrible.
      you’re doing amazing, and you’re definitely not alone <3
      xoxo

  10. Ugh! crying at work!! I don’t have children but I can relate to your challenges. You are incredibly strong and I give you so much credit for sharing this. Sending a giant virtual hug to my favorite blog BFF!!! OXOX – gina (from Mass)

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I also suffered from PPD after my twins were born. Looking back, I’m not sure how I could have avoided it. I had a 3yr old, 19 month old and newborn twins and felt like I should be able to handle them without any outside help. Really?! Of course I did get help and learned it’s ok to accept help and even ask for help, as well as say “no” to other commitments. PPD is real and no woman should suffer through it without the help she needs and deserves!

    I hope you continue to feel better! xoxo

  12. Thank you for sharing this! So many of us go through more than the baby blues, but nobody talks candidly about it. I also appreciate your openness about starting an anti-depressant even though you tend toward a more holistic way of life. For me, medication was what I needed to kick the anxiety. No shame!

  13. Thanks for sharing! I’m 6 months pregnant, so it’s great to hear stories that normalize and destigmatize PPD.

  14. Such a beautifully written post. I’m so happy things are feeling better for you, but more importantly I’m happy that the tough times don’t seem as intense!

    XOXO
    N

  15. Your post is so very important. Thank you for having the courage to write it. It will help so many people. I think the er nurse is wise beyond words. I too encountered a doctor who told me during my own very difficult time, that everything was going to be okay. It made me feel so much more “normal” and gave me such reassurance. It made all the difference in the world.

  16. Justine Mckenzie says:

    Great post – vulnerability for the win.

  17. I am so glad that you are writing about these things because they definitely need to be talked about. I suffered from PPD and anxiety after both of my boys were born, and I was too stubborn to seek any help. Luckily, in time (a long time) I bounced back, but I really do wish I would have sought some help. I feel like I missed out on years and wish that I wouldn’t have been so stubborn and that somebody would have reached out and told me that it was okay to seek help. This is the main reason why we stopped at two kids because I know that I emotionally couldn’t go through that again.

  18. this is so so sooo hard to write. but thank you for doing it. i think your PPD struggles can be related to depression in general. it’s hard, it’s not just you, and seek help. i hope you are doing much much better, and you continue to do so <3 <3 you are an amazing WOMAN, and mom, blogger, etc. remember that!

  19. You’re amazing! Your honesty and bravery in writing this post is inspiring. I’m in grad school and don’t have a family of my own yet but reading this post helped to put my own daily stresses and anxiety into perspective. Even though we are all going through our own unique journeys, we may be struggling privately in very similar ways. I think you’re 100% right… ask for help if you need it. No matter what it is you’re going through you don’t have to go it alone. Thank you for being so great!

  20. Gina, thank you for this! I could have written this myself. When I had my daughter in October 2014 it rocked my world in the best and worst ways. Overwhelming anxiety led to deep depression. I finally got help when she was six months old. I waited far too long. Now, I have the most amazing 16 month old. You have done a wonderful thing for new and expectant mothers. Ask family and friends for help. They WANT to help! Go see a doctor; you are not being a bad mom and won’t be judged. And remember, it gets SO much better!!!!!!! I am sending you and your beautiful girls lots of love.

  21. Gina I think you are very brave for writing about this. I had PDD with both of my girls and it was much much worse with my second daughter who is now 15 mo. When I think back to her earliest months horrible memories come flooding back and over shadow that precious time. I hate that.
    I read your blog everyday and would have never guessed you were feeling the way you describe. I’m so glad things are looking up for you. Something that I try to remember on my “down” days is that “these bad feelings will not last forever”.
    Keep smiling! You make many people very happy!

  22. PPD is so real and very scary, and I wish people talked about it more. Ditto for prolapse. Im a mom of 2 girls (3 and 1), and #2 came in <2 hrs of labor and 2 pushes. Awesome (yeah Bradley birth!)…except for a couple of organs that never really settled back into place. When I experienced the "falling out feeling," I was horrified. I was about 13 weeks post partum and back at work. I was devastated and thought I'd never work out again and never be able to be the active mom and person that I was before. My ob sent me straight to an amazing PT, and after several sessions and lots of "homework," it started to improve. I weaned #2 at 6 months, and once my cycle kicked back in, it got even better. I was fitted for a pessary, and I wear it for higher impact exercises, but today, I did an insanity workout without it and was fine. This is all just to say thank you for talking about such a personal issue in a public forum. And, while I have no idea what your specifics are, mine have gotten better. Yours will too. It just takes time.

  23. Milania dela cruz says:

    Glad you shared. As you know I’m in psychiatry residency (almost done!) so this was close to what I do… Glad you are better. Don’t close up. Seek help. 🙂

  24. Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story, I am sure that wasn’t easy to write. Although I do not have kids (yet), I hope that if PPD is something that I begin to experience, I will remember this story and know to reach out. Thanks for being inspirational and being yourself and honest in this post!

  25. Thank you so much for writing about PPD. I suffered from it, too, and on top of that I was guilt ridden with “having everything to be happy about” and yet being depressed. It is time moms were allowed to feel sad too!

  26. You are doing an awesome job speaking to postpartum depression and anxiety. I also feel great comfort in reading about someone else who doesn’t LOVE LOVE LOVE newborn life. It’s just awful for me. And I have always felt shame in admitting it. I also suffered from postpartum anxiety the second time around and even had panic attacks during that pregnancy. It was all so scary and I felt so judged. But posts like yours give a voice to these experiences and I’m grateful to you!

  27. Hang in there, you are doing great! And P’s smile is outrageous <3

  28. Thank you for this post! I commented on your reflux post a few weeks ago because my (now 10 month old) had it and I went through PPD. I didn’t truly feel back to “myself” until last month. I’m scared to go through it again if we have another but I don’t want our guy to be an only child. It’s just so bad when you’re in the trenches 🙁 I’m happy to hear you are feeling better and glad it didn’t take as long the second time around 🙂

  29. I’m on my first newborn and love him like nothing else, feel guilty for those that have a hard time having children, but agree it’s rough.

    Girl – you rock. Even when you can’t see it clearly, know that all of us can. You are really doing.it.all. And crushing every moment of it.

  30. I know many women who go through this. Even physically it takes your body about a year to recover. Or at least mine did. I went through these same feelings while going through menopause- so many do not get the help they need for whatever reasons. They just need to know help is out there- usually combining several remedies!! Glad you are bringing this topic out in the open.

  31. This was a wonderful post… Very honest and well written and speaks to so many. Also, your dress in the top pic is so cute! Where did you get it?

  32. Thank you for sharing your heart in this beautiful post! This is something I am thinking more and more about. I am 32 weeks pregnant and we live far away (and many time zones away) from family and friends. Like an ocean away. Finding friends and support groups that ‘get it’ and ‘get me’ is hard. PPD is scary and has so many layers.

  33. Thank you for posting this! We HAVE to talk about all types of mental illness to make it less taboo. You’re an inspiration and very brave to share! ❤️

  34. Wow. I love your vulnerability! Everything is not always puppies and rainbows! My little will be a year old in 2 weeks! The newborn phase was so sweet and exciting but the sleep deprivation and restricted exercise was rough! I have loved the last 6 months so much, seeing her develop and advance into new stages…and mama has more energy with the extra sleep and gym time! 😉 Thank you for keeping it real and putting out such great, honest material! <3

  35. I feel like our situations are almost totally identical it’s scary! I have a 3 year old and 10 month. I feel like we are on the “others side” now. Things are fun again and less stressful. As have been following you post P and I just wanted to give you the biggest hug! I have been exactly. Exactly! Where you were/ are and it is the toughest experience ever! Bestest wishes on a speedy recovering for you!

  36. I have been through post partum OCD twice and have OCD normally. Medication and therapy are what saved me! I talk about it very openly as you would be shocked to hear how many moms (or anyone) are going through similar battles. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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