Towards the end of my second pregnancy, I was working full time, I was still in school completing my internship for my master’s degree, and we were preparing to move into our first home. At 28 weeks pregnant, I began to have problems. I started having dizzy spells, losing my vision for a few minutes at a time, and would regularly have a headache. After a couple of stress tests, significant amounts of blood work, and multiple 24-hour urine collections, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and was placed on bed rest. Although I still had a lot to focus on, being on bed rest helped to relieve some stress and allowed my blood pressure to go back to its normal range. On April 9, 2018, we had Our son Elijah.
This time my experience would be different than it was with our first child. With our first child, we did not plan on getting pregnant. With our first child, Mike wasn’t even there for his birth. I did not have help with the responsibility of having a child. I had to do everything by myself – feedings, doctors’ appointments, and bath time. With our first son, I was still in school, working full time, and I was only able to spend the first six weeks with my newborn. I didn’t have time to breastfeed or attend mommy and me classes. However, this time was different because we had a plan. I was going to breastfeed instead of formula feeding, I was going to attend mommy and me baby classes, and I had all the newest baby gear (You Know! The stuff that I couldn’t afford the first time around). I was excited that I would be off the first three months, and then Mike would be off the next four months. I would focus on the kids, and he would focus on the bills.
After we had Elijah, my recovery process was more challenging then I expected. I had my second c-section, and this time I could barely move. I mean, it was to the point where I couldn’t lay down because I didn’t have the muscle strength to sit up. In the first three weeks, I had to wake Mike up to help me get out of bed. I could remember thinking, “What happened during surgery? Why can’t I move?.” It wasn’t like this after my first c-section. I was able to get up and walk, and I didn’t have any of these issues.
But This time, I struggled and was always in pain. I was sluggish and was bleeding more than usual. And to top it all off, I wasn’t sure I had the breastfeeding down. All I knew was PUMP! PUMP! PUMP! So we went home, and I immediately did just that, PUMP… to get my milk supply up.
Slowly, but surely, I became overwhelmed, exhausted, and had difficulties breastfeeding. My son would only latch on to one boob. I was continually pumping, my boobs hurt to the point that one of them became discolored. I continued to pump because that’s what the nurses told me would help to get my milk supply up. It wasn’t until my boob turned bright red, and I started having a fever that I went to the doctors. I explained what was going on, and the doctor prescribed me medication for Mastitis. Unfortunately, it was the wrong medication, and I wasn’t until my next appointment with the OBGYN that I was prescribed the correct medication. At this point, I was still exhausted; my milk supply had dropped significantly due to not being able to pump because of the pain. I was determined to breastfeed, but I began to realize I wasn’t able to keep up with my baby’s needs.
Furthermore, I still couldn’t figure out how to sleep when the baby would sleep, I had to pump, and whenever I attempted to lay down during the day, my baby would wake up. The worst part about it was I was too prideful to admit I needed help. I didn’t need to do it alone I wasn’t a single mother anymore but, my husband was working full time, and I felt that I couldn’t expect him to help me after he worked all day.
So, I kept it to myself instead of telling my husband I was overwhelmed and needed help. Often times, I found myself crying alone. It felt like I was failing as a mother and a wife. I didn’t want to cook, do my hair, clean, or do things with my other kids. I honestly wanted to run away. During the day, instead of picking up my child when he cried, I began to ignore him. I started thinking that I didn’t want to be his mother anymore. At one point, I began questioning God like, “Why would he give me this baby that doesn’t love me? I can’t make him happy, produce enough milk, or stop him from crying. I’m not good at this; Elijah would be better off without me. I was so used to being in control and having a plan and a schedule that this was something I did not know how to handle.
It continued to get worse, to the point I resented my husband. I hated that he didn’t have nipples to breastfeed and that he didn’t have to wake up all night to breastfeed. When he would come home from work, I would nag about things that didn’t even make sense. I still didn’t tell him what was wrong or that during that day, I would put the baby in his room to cry to prevent myself from shaking the shit out of him. Yes, I had wanted to shake my baby, and at one point, I felt that I hated my child.
I went on like this for about a month and a half before I decided to seek help. I knew of postpartum depression, but I figured it couldn’t happen to me because I was a therapist. It’s my job to help people with depression. I am supposed to see the signs and not end up needing help. So I called my mom crying, and I told her that I thought I was depressed. Her response was, “You ain’t depressed. Just get some sleep, and you’ll get over it.” Needless to say, her response was not very supportive. I was at a place where I was not sure how to get over this. So I began to reflect on what was happening to me. It wasn’t that I hated my child; I loved my child, but I was not too fond of the situation and what I was experiencing. Something had to change, so I decided that I would start by ending the breastfeeding journey. I also began to look up things like Colic and temperament. I realized my son just wanted to be close to me. So I started Co-sleeping. I would fall asleep with him on my chest so that he could feel close, and I could get sleep for more extended periods of time.
Also, I told my sister and my husband what had been going on. I explained that I was frustrated and exhausted, that I couldn’t control my emotions. I discussed with them how I felt like a failure and guilty at the same time for not wanting to be around my child at times.
I continued to struggle; I did not go to the doctor to get help, but I was able to get out of my depression by using my family’s support. My mom would watch my baby on the weekends, and my husband would switch off more nights throughout the week.
Through this experience, I know that having a child affects you both physically and mentally, and that not every pregnancy is the same. My now 2-year-old is still my child that worries me the most and probably causes me to cry the most, but he’s so loving and has the funniest little personality. I’m so grateful that what I went through was not worse and that I was able to admit that I needed help.