I asked the members of the Postpartum Progress Facebook Fan Page if any of them had stories of having postpartum depression after delivering twins or multiples. Melissa D., a mother of four from Wisconsin, was kind enough to share her compelling story. She had so many risk factors, including everything from a history of anxiety, to previous infertility treatments, to a previous miscarriage, to an upland pregnancy, to the loss of her mother during one of her pregnancy, to a major house move and more:
My twins’ pregnancy was a complete surprise, as we already had two children and had decided not to have any more. I had difficulty pregnancies previously — modified bed rest and preeclampsia — plus a recent miscarriage, all of which were part of the decision. I had already donated most of our baby items, and my husband was about to get a vasectomy. I was pretty shocked to find out I was pregnant. A few weeks later I learned we’d be moving, and then I found out we’d be having twins! I cried pretty much every day from that moment on.
I was already upset, but people’s reactions to my having twins only made things worse. They would say, “Thank God it’s you and not me,” or “I know someone who had a nervous breakdown with twins” or “I would hate to be you.”
I resented my husband for making us move when I was seven months pregnant. It was nearly impossible to move around, never mind unpack and try to make friends. I was highly agitated and irritable. I started pre-term labor after the move, and my uterus was so irritated that I was continually in a state of one giant, painful contraction. I remember wondering whether it would be better to roll out of bed and wobble to the bathroom or just stay there and pee on myself because it hurt so much to get up.
I hated being pregnant and could feel the hormones raging through my body. My small-frame suffered during the pregnancy, and I even secretly wished for a vanishing twin during the pregnancy. (I still feel guilty about that.) I had no idea how I would take care of one baby, much less two.
When I met my new doctor, I told him I was depressed. I also indicated I had a family history of depression and a personal history of anxiety, yet never once did he talk to me about antenatal depression. (I only found out that antenatal depression existed from Postpartum Progress.) Because of this, I didn’t receive any treatment and my depression continued.
The delivery of the twins was horrible. I delivered one vaginally and one via emergency c-section under general anesthesia. My nurse actually cried telling me how hard it was for the doctor to get my son out. She thought one of us was going to be injured or that my son’s neck would be broken. I was not able to meet or see my son for the first 13 hours. I was convinced all night that he was dead. The nurses just kept telling me we would talk about seeing him in the morning and that I needed rest.
Once I did finally see him, I asked to switch rooms. For some reason I had to leave the room I was in. To this day the thought of going back to that room brings on panic attacks. The pain. The fear over my son. Once moved to the new room, I found out that the woman next door was having twins. I heard her pushed being down to the c-section area and then I heard code blue. I never saw any other twins in the nursery. A nurse told me they were no longer in the hospital when I inquired about them, yet the mother was. I was convinced they had died and felt tremendous guilt over all the pain and heartache I had gone through with depression.
I was readmitted to the hospital three days after being discharged. I was seeing spots and felt funny. Initially I was told I was having mild seizures and could have a stroke if my blood pressure wasn’t controlled. When I was pregnant with my second child, my mother had died from a stroke, so this upset me and stressed me out even further. I was now convinced I was going to die.
After my blood pressure leveled out and I was released from the hospital for the second time I was emotionally and physically drained and had two babies to take care of on top of my older children who were two and four at the time. We still had no friends. At this point, my life became completely taken over by postpartum depression. I have never been filled with so much rage, anger, resentment, grain fuzz, frustration, fear, guilt and every other intense negative emotion. I couldn’t feel anything positive. I was with the kids all day, and in the evening when my husband came home I would just run away. To the gym, to the store, to the road just to drive and back to the gym. I signed up for a soccer team even though I hadn’t played soccer in 20 years. I hated being home with the kids. Everything felt like a giant chore.
I started having nightmares about my delivery, reliving it over and over again. I thought about it all the time. I kept research what twin delivery should be like. I was also convinced I would drop down the stairs or that some “super cootie” was going to make them sick. I kept vigil over the babies at night thinking they’d stop breathing. When they woke up, I’d envision throwing them out the window. I threw bottles at the wall. I broke things. When my older kids got on my nerves, I’d also envision pushing them and I often screamed at them. I feel tremendous guilt still. My husband and I fought nonstop. I hated him. He could do nothing right, so he decided to find his “man cave” which made things worse. Each minute seemed like a day and each day seemed like a year.
After three months of pretending nothing was wrong, I learned I’d need surgery to repair my body from the stresses of the twins’ delivery. The thought of going into the hospital again exhausted me. That is when things reached their worst. Thankfully, I finally stumbled across Postpartum Progress and realized that I needed help. I broke down to my husband and he started to get it. He helped me work up the courage to talk to my doctor at my OB/GYN appointment. I cried in front of my doctor about all of the anxiety I was having. I remember he had this look of surprise on his face. He basically brushed me off, and then right before leaving the room he got close to my face, looked me straight in the eyes and said with a forceful voice,” Don’t let your body define who you are!” He said it twice, and that’s all he said about my suffering. I was completely confused by that (and still am).
Several days later I had an appointment with my primary care physician to talk about my blood pressure and I broke down again. I cried about my anxiety. She immediately prescribed medication and told me how to make an appointment with a counselor. I’m so grateful she understood that I needed help. I was later counseled for postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum PTSD. Therapy and medication started me in the right direction, but running and finally making some friends were my saviors.
I started running at least three times a week and it really helped me clear my head and de-stress. I recently ran my first timed 5k and placed third in my age group. Now I’m getting ready to run a 10k and am hoping to organize a PPD awareness run.
I’m not sure I’ll ever understand everything that I have gone through. I have tried to make peace with most parts of my postpartum depression journey, and I have forgiven myself and others for the many negative experiences and parts of my story. Does the anger creep back in every once in a while? Yes, but I’m able to cope with it and move on.
The twins recently had their first birthday, and I decided to take back their birthday. I threw the “perfect imperfect” birthday party for them and celebrated with all of our wonderful new friends.
Photo credit: © Robert Hammer – Fotolia.com