All I really wanted was to take a shower. My first born son was just days old, my husband was back at work, and it was just me and the kid. Everything was new for us all, even our 6-month-old kitten that had never seen a baby that wasn’t covered in fur. The day started off well and I felt as if we could get through it together. Breastfeeding was giving me complete angst, but I knew how important it was for my child, and for myself. But still, something was off. I felt the bliss of being a new mother, and holding the newborn I’d grown in my belly. At the same time, I felt rage. Anger. Deep sadness. I’d heard about the baby blues but this was something all on its own. In a fit of confusion, every feeling I couldn’t explain was now invested in me taking this one shower.
Maybe it was the idea of washing away the mental pain I was feeling, or maybe I was over feeling filthy for no damn reason. But I needed this shower, and I needed this baby to stop wanting me, just for 5 minutes. My mind raced as to how I could keep him quiet and content while I took care of myself. I looked at the cat and immediately thought if I left the baby in the bassinet, that the cat would somehow suffocate him. I proposed that I would wrap him in an obscene amount of blankets as protection from the cat. Then, I thought of how this would be so much easier if he just wasn’t here. I cursed his very presence just minutes after I’d experienced the bliss of having him in my arms. In the end, I placed him in his bouncy seat, dragged it into the bathroom, turned on the water, and sobbed on the bathroom floor. My body and mind didn’t feel like mine anymore. I didn’t trust myself, so I called my husband to come home immediately.
During my next doctor’s appointment, I explained my actions and thoughts. My obstetrician wrote me off, stating that I was overreacting and once the hormones calmed down, I’d be fine. I trusted him completely. He’d been my doctor through my first pregnancy and, well, I gave him too much credit for my well-being. I suffered, deeply. It was a year later, days after my son’s first birthday, and I was feeling all of the same symptoms. After switching doctors, constant urging by other mothers and some intense therapy, my final diagnosis was dysthymia, which had been brought on by postpartum depression.
I wanted to share my story with you to show the only person that really knows what’s needed for your self-care is you. If you feel alone, frightened, uneasy and just not yourself, don’t write it off. Don’t let anyone else downplay your pain. For the safety of you and your child, speak up. Be an advocate for your mental health. Know that if you need a back to stand on to shout out what you need to be healthy, you have mine. You have ours. We love you and support you.
Amiyrah is a mother of (soon to be) 3 children, wife, and Sergeant in the Air National Guard. After her diagnosis of dysthymia brought on by postpartum depression, she had a positive birthing experience with her second child, a daughter. Although she now also suffers from PTSD after her last deployment, she has taken her mental health into her own hands and is an advocate for other mothers who need encouragement to do the same. Amiyrah blogs at 4 Hats and Frugal and tweets excessively under @4hatsandfrugal.
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