It’s common to be in denial about postpartum depression at first.
Meg from My Mom’s a Nerd blamed her postpartum depression symptoms on sleep deprivation, which is an extremely common thing moms do. Sleep deprivation can have some nasty side effects, but it’s nothing compared to postpartum depression. Thankfully, she had a supportive husband who saw the truth and encouraged her to seek help.
This is Meg’s postpartum depression story.
My baby’s birth story is exciting. I was driving home from work on a Wednesday. My due date was the coming Tuesday. And I got into a fender bender. The airbags didn’t even go off. Although I felt fine, my doctor asked me to come in for monitoring for a few hours. They didn’t detect any issues, but said I should stay the night since it was already 11 pm. I started going into labor overnight, and was induced to speed things up Thursday afternoon. My daughter was born very early Friday morning.
I’ve always been a slightly anxious person, and that anxiety makes me a perfectionist. If I plan for every possible outcome, then nothing can go wrong! Pregnancy was interesting because I started caring less about what other people think. I hoped that the hormonal changes would stick around after I gave birth, and I’d stay calm and collected. But I was wrong.
Things got much worse after we got home from the hospital. Like any newborn, my daughter woke up every two to three hours to nurse. Like any new mom, I was exhausted. I lashed out at my husband, getting upset and crying when things weren’t absolutely perfect for our perfect little girl. How dare he leave the dishes sitting in the sink? How could he not throw away the empty package of wipes? Why wasn’t he doing more around the house? (Answer: because he was sleep deprived too! )
And caring for my daughter became a chore I had to do between naps. All I wanted to do was sleep. But when I tried to sleep, I was so mad or upset that I couldn’t.
My husband recommended I talk to my doctor about postpartum depression. That’s ridiculous, I explained. I just need more sleep. All new moms probably cry for an hour every day because they’re sleep deprived. But my dear husband persisted and I brought it up at my doctor’s appointment.
She had me fill out a questionnaire. My doctor said I scored fairly highly on the test, meaning my symptoms were pretty severe. She asked if I wanted to try therapy or medication. I couldn’t imagine doing therapy at that point, while having a brand new baby. So she prescribed me Zoloft. She cautioned me that it might take a few days to a few weeks to start working, and she might need to increase the dose.
My doctor also explained that not all medications work for everyone’s postpartum depression, different drugs work better for different women. Some may work just fine for treating postpartum depression but may cause undesirable side effects. Hormones and the chemistry of the brain are complex topics that today’s doctors and chemists do not fully understand, so often the best approach is “try it and see.”
But the minimum dosage has been great for me. I felt like myself again after a few days and didn’t have any side effects. Now my baby is eight months old. I still take the medication. Overall, I’m less anxious than I was before pregnancy. I do get unexpectedly angry every once in awhile, but now I can stay calm, think things through, and realize I’m over-reacting.
And my whole family is enjoying our life together and we are all getting plenty of sleep!