When I found out that I was pregnant with Camryn, Dave and I were surprised beyond belief. For the entire nine months, we were so excited. Everyone was so excited for us. I can’t even tell you how many people told me this was going to be the best experience of my life. I know for some women it is and I am so thankful that they have such a positive experience, but the hell I experienced after I delivered Camryn was so crippling that I still can’t fathom how we survived as a family.
Dave and I decided when I was 20 weeks pregnant that we wanted to be surprised about the sex of the baby. We both really thought though that I was having a boy. We were going to name him Ryan, after Ryan from Season Two of The Bachelor. Dave and I were not on the same page of that minor detail, but he did love the name Ryan. We had the room all ready in a neutral color and we were ready to go. I mean how hard could this whole thing be? STUPID, STUPID 26 year old.
While in the delivery room, I was still feeling great, so ready to meet our baby and then SHE came out with strawberry colored hair. What? I ordered a boy. From the first moment, it was like an out-of-body experience. I was watching everyone around me overjoyed about this beautiful baby and I hated them all. The day after delivery I even asked my Mom when she thought I would start to love her.
Hiding postpartum at first is really easy. The whole new mom, baby blues thing serves as a shield for your craziness, but I wanted NOTHING to do with Camryn. Can you imagine? After nine months, wanting nothing to do with what you waited so anxiously for? I actually told my Mom that I wanted her parents to come and pick her up. My Mom gently reminded me that I was her parent.
I am so blessed by a few things: my ability to eventually admit I need help, my family noticing that my behavior was not normal and beyond the realm of Baby Blues and my amazing support system. I eventually went to the OB and was directed to the Postpartum Stress Center. Right around the time I delivered Camryn, Brooke Shield’s book about her own battle with Postpartum was released so the issue was all over the media and I read her book to try and understand what was happening to me.
My amazing sister-in-law gave birth to her second baby a few weeks after I delivered Camryn and I remember not understanding how she was enjoying it. I felt so much jealously that I was hating what she was loving. Again, that is Postpartum Depression. I realized after recovery that Postpartum was just rearing its ugly head.
Before Postpartum, I hadn’t ever experienced depression or anxiety. My family and Dave’s family received such an education on how REAL mental illness is. You can’t pray your way out of it, snap out of it or just try really hard to love your baby. The only thing you can do is get help. Looking back, this offered all of us such a new perspective including me and made me much more empathetic and understanding.
Karen Kleiman and her team at The Postpartum Stress Center saved me and helped me recover. They told me to put away the baby advice books and magazines, they only make a new Mom feel worse, plus there is no manual in the world that can help you with parenting. Through medication and therapy, I recovered, I delivered Camryn in February and in June, I felt normal again. My bond with Camryn was strong and my bond with Dave was even stronger than it had been before.
Being a new Mom is so hard. I was the first of my friends to have a baby and felt so alone. I never want to scare a pregnant, first time Mom, but they need to be educated on how this can happen. Many people said to me if they lined 30 women up in a room, I’d be the last person they would pick for Postpartum Depression. It can affect anyone and we are so fortunate to have places like The Postpartum Stress Center that has therapists who will work relentlessly on your recovery. If you are pregnant, research the symptoms, educate your husband, friends and family about what COULD happen and know that you are not alone, will survive it and will love that baby more than you can ever imagine.
After my recovery, Dave and I felt so relieved that it was over and I was back to normal. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball that prepares us for the road ahead.