When my husband and I decided that we wanted a baby, we were thrilled with our decision. We had been married for almost 4 years and were burnt out on the club scene. We had basically become homebodies. Now we needed someone new to care for and love. Being spiritual people, we felt that God wanted us to have a baby, so I went off the pill in October of 1997. By the time my annual checkup in March rolled around, we still hadn't conceived, so I expressed concern to my doctor. He ran some tests and found that I wasn't ovulating. He gave me a cycle of the fertility drug Clomid and within a month, I was pregnant.
We were scared at first, but then we became ecstatic. We had the nursery painted and decorated, the furniture ordered, and the gift registry done all in my first trimester. Mercifully, my pregnancy progressed normally and I gave birth to a healthy 6 lb., 14 oz. baby girl on March 1, 1999.
I had read all the books on pregnancy and childcare and felt that I was prepared to take care of this helpless creature that had come into my life. What I wasn't prepared for were the feelings of sadness, indifference toward the baby, and panic that I soon started experiencing. In the hospital, I had bouts of crying, sometimes lasting a good hour. The nurses said this was normal and to expect episodes of crying for the next several weeks. My mother came home to stay with us for the first week, and she took care of the baby at night for several nights so I could replenish some of the sleep I had lost in the hospital. But I found it nearly impossible to sleep. I had to take prescription sleeping pills to get any amount of rest that first week, even though I knew I wouldn't have to get up with the baby.
My mother left the next weekend. My husband and I took turns feeding the baby every 3 hours at night, even though he had to go to work. He saw the distressed state I was in since I had been getting very little sleep. During the day, I took care of the baby like I was a robot. Feeding, changing, feeding again. I tried to take naps while the baby slept like all the books say, but it was impossible. As soon as I laid down, I would think of a million things I needed to do and panic would grip me. I started taking Xanax, which was an old prescription I had, to deal with the panic. Then I would cry uncontrollably because I felt like the world's biggest failure. I didn't know why I was so MISERABLE! New mommies are supposed to feel blissful and content, right? My husband would come home at night and find both the baby and me in tears. I even called my OB and he said I had the "baby blues" and it would pass in a few weeks. I tried taking the baby for walks to get out of the house and eventually started taking her to the grocery store, just to go somewhere. But all that did was add to my anxiety. I was envisioning all the bad things that could happen to the baby on our outings.
I endured these feelings for over a month until one Tuesday morning, my husband was getting ready to leave for work and I just lost it. I begged him not to go to work. I broke down into tears and told him that I couldn't cope anymore. The isolation, panic attacks, and depression were just too much. We called my parents, who live an hour away, and my father brought my mother to come stay with me again. I also called a friend and got the name of her therapist and called to see about an appointment. Within 2 days, I was in my new therapist's office explaining my situation. She had worked with PPD patients before, so she identified my problem right away. She referred me to a psychiatrist for medication and I was put on Klonopin, which is an anti-anxiety medication, to stop my panic attacks. Now I go to therapy once a week and am still on medication. I have made progress in leaps and bounds. I feel more confident, and while I still cry on occasion, it is more of a stress reliever than anything out of depression. Let's face it - even the healthiest person gets stressed when raising a child! I haven't had a panic attack in weeks, though I still get little waves of anxiety occasionally. My insomnia has gone away, too.
While I still consider myself in recovery, I am a completely different person than I was 6 short weeks ago. Thanks to the support of my husband, my parents, my therapist, and especially Jesus Christ, I am on the way to becoming the kind of mother - and person - I want to be. The hardest part was accepting that I had a problem and doing something about it. My daughter, Alexa, is 4 1/2 months old now and thriving. When I look at her today, all I feel is love, and that is the greatest accomplishment I have made in my recovery.