[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest post from Lhessa Lyons. Despite being told she couldn’t have children, she experienced three quick miracle pregnancies and subsequent postpartum depression. We hope her story will help other moms with miracle babies and PPD feel less alone. -Jenna]
My husband and I had been told we couldn’t have children. A few months after we were married, we found out I was pregnant and we were elated. This was our miracle!
I felt unprepared for the depression I began to experience during the pregnancy. My husband and I married late in life, and I began to panic about the changes a baby would bring. I was used to having my freedom, and I liked stability.
After my son was born, I felt exhausted all the time, and struggling with depression that intensified every day. I lost interest in everything, and became fearful of many things, including leaving the house. I felt angry all the time. Everything irritated me, and the sound of a baby crying made me want to cry myself. I felt explosive, anything could set me off. I would yell and throw things to make myself feel better. [Read: The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.]
There were days I was paralyzed with depression and anxiety, and I could only do the bare minimum. Sometimes I wouldn’t eat because the anxiety would tie my stomach in knots, and other days I craved sweets and ate too many of them. I didn’t feel like myself, but didn’t know I was suffering from postpartum depression.
I began having intrusive thoughts of something bad happening to my son and to my husband. I thought he would get sick and die before his first birthday, or that my husband would have a heart attack and I would be left alone. These thoughts flooded my mind many times a day, and made me very cautious and anxious.
I was fearful of taking him anywhere in the car for fear we would have a car accident. I never let him ride in the car with anyone besides my husband. The few times I let my mother take him home for an afternoon, resulted in my going to bed, curling up in a fetal position, and crying while I held his blanket to my face. I always thought something would go wrong if he was away from me.
My constant fear of something happening made me check on my baby all the time. I checked on him while he was sleeping to see if he was breathing. I worried over the consistency of his stools, whether he had signs of a cold, if he had digestive problems that were serious. As a new mother I didn’t know what to expect, or what was normal and what wasn’t. I worried about germs and cleanliness, and kept him away from anyone who sneezed. It was a constant state of fear that would not go away.
Sometimes I would hold him for hours because he would only fall asleep in my arms, and would wake up when I put him in his crib. I didn’t know I was suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety; I thought it was normal to feel this stressed, sad, and isolated all the time.
I thought this was motherhood.
When my son was two months old, I found out I was pregnant again. I felt overwhelmed with the thought of taking care of a baby while being pregnant with another. I was tired of life; I didn’t think I could survive this.
My postpartum depression was worse after my second pregnancy. My son was ten months old when his brother was born. I existed in a state of depression, fear, and anxiety. I barely slept, and felt that this sadness would last for the rest of my life.
Taking care of two babies felt like too much for me. I began to feel like I wanted to run away from my life. I was plagued with thoughts like, “You’re not a good mother, run away your family is better off without you.” I packed my suitcases and left them in my closet ready to go. The feeling to run away was so strong, some nights I would get up and be tempted to get in the car and just leave. I had to stop myself from leaving.
I knew it was time to get help for my postpartum depression. I began taking medication for depression that helped, but I still had more bad days than good days. Then I became pregnant with my third child, a little girl. My first son was two years old, and my second son was one.
I found a good therapist and psychiatrist that worked as a team, and I began to heal. I began to have hope each day that things can be different.
I am enjoying my children, and I am having more good days than bad days. Sometimes I still wonder if I will wake up one morning and be in that dark place again. Healing the emotional scars has been a slow process, and there are still moments when I can feel overwhelmed.
For me, it was important to get the right kind of help, to know I was not alone. Knowing that postpartum depression was not my fault, understanding that it can happen to any woman, and having a good therapy team gave me a fresh start and hope for my motherhood future.