What if you told me "I don't like being a mom"?

If you told me you didn't like being a mom, I wouldn't judge you.

 If you told me you weren't sure you liked your baby, I would believe you.

Being a mom is the hardest job in the world...add on feelings of anxiety, sadness, irritability, panic, loss of control and it becomes virtually impossible.

While many women experience some mild mood changes during or after the birth of a child,

15 to 20%

 of women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety.(1)

If it is so common, then why don't we hear more about it? 

"There is a lingering stigma associated with discussing any kind of depression, but the stigma associated with PPD [post-partum depression] is especially fierce.  These days, it's probably easier for a man to talk about problems with his penis than it is for a new mother to admit that (in her own eyes, anyway) she is a failure at the one task for which women are supposed to have instinctive gifts."  (2)

  • Did you know that symptoms of post-partum depression can develop any time in the first year after birth?

  • Did you know that many moms think being depressed is normal in the midst of adjusting to life with a newborn?

  • Did you know that "approximately 1 out of every 8 women experiences significant depression, anxiety, intrusive repetitive thoughts, panic, or post traumatic stress?"(1)

  • Did you know that many medications used to treat post-partum mood disorders are safe to take while breastfeeding?

  • Did you know that help is just a phone call away?

  • Did you know that

YOU ARE NOT ALONE?

One Mom's Story:

"I dealt with depression in my early 20's to the point of suicidal ideations.  I took medication long enough to get me through my last semester of college then took myself off of it due to outside pressures.

When I got pregnant, I don't recall being told that I would be at greater risk for post-partum depression.  After the birth of my first baby, it took weeks for me to feel "normal," whatever that is.  Pregnant with my second when my first was only 9 months, there was no down time.  Then, baby number three...three under three I felt I was drowning.  I didn't know how to feel any different.  I thought, 'My fault...what was I thinking?  Of course any mom in my situation would feel like I do.  This is my new normal, right?'

When my fourth was a newborn, I would take my other three to daycare, and on the way home I would go through a drive through, go home and try to eat my feelings away and then go to bed with the baby and stay there until it was time to pick them up.

My faith is the only thing that saved me during the six year roller coaster ride.  All along my husband, knowing something was not right, kept urging me to get help, but this was my new normal....I didn't think there was anything 'wrong' with me.  I was simply the product of 4 babies and one miscarriage in 6 years.  I needed to just 'get over it,' pray more, go to church more, spend more time with God...

At the end of that six years,  all the 'babies' were weaned and potty trained.  I felt good.  Better than I had in a long time.  We had just moved into a new house and were getting settled.  Finally felt like a 'good' mother.  My energy level was up, the house stayed clean, life was good.

Then, surprise....baby number five.  I enjoyed my pregnancy, had a fabulous labor and birth.  Things stayed good for a long time.  This was the first baby I had while being a full time stay at home mom.  I loved it. 

Then she began to wean...slowly but surely, the sadness, anxiety, irritability, and depression started to invade.  I felt out of control....I was going crazy.  I sank to an all-time historical low.  Spent my days on the couch....such a blur I don't even remember most of it. 

At that point, my husband insisted I get help.  I was so ashamed.  Why?!  I don't know.  I reluctantly made an appointment and nervously and tearfully shared the past 11 years of my life.  And guess what?  There was no judgment.  Lightening did not strike, mountains did not crumble into the sea.  I left with counseling and a prescription.  The nurse told me that it could take 2-4 weeks to start feeling better.  I was a new person in two days.  I wish I could go back and tell myself that getting more help sooner would be worth it.  I feel I finally listened to what perhaps God was trying to tell me all along..."Pray, spend time with me AND let me work through the doctors to help you. It's OK."

Am I less of a mom?  Am I less of a wife?  Am I less of a friend? Am I less of a professional?  No, I'm not.  I know I risk judgment...but this is my story...and if it helps just one mom, it's worth the risk.  I didn't need post-partum depression to make me a stronger person.  I am not implying that to be a good mom you have to endure its' clutches.  But my journey through the valley has made me the me I am today - wife, mom, friend, professional.  I can spot post-partum depression a mile away....

I am not saying that medication is the only way to feel better.   But GET HELP.  If you are a husband, partner, mother, friend, HELP HER...she doesn't recognize it.  If you are a mom, DON'T WAIT.  Those are years of my life, my husband's life and my children's lives I can NEVER get back..." 

As lactation consultants with Bay Area Breastfeeding, Leah and I are in a unique position to recognize waving red flags as we see mom in the safe environment of her own home.  Our approach sets mom at ease in a very vulnerable, intimate time of her life, allowing her to lower her guard and be honest with us and herself about how she is really feeling.  If we encounter a mom who is struggling, we feel comfortable voicing our concerns and encouraging her to seek help and perhaps sharing a personal experience.  You see, the story above is my story.  I urge you, if you can answer yes to any of the following questions, seek help so you don't lose those precious moments that you can never get back... 

Are you feeling sad or depressed?

Do you feel more irritable or angry with those around you?

Are you having difficulty bonding with your baby?

Do you feel anxious or panicky?

Are you having problems with eating or sleeping?

Are you having upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out of your mind?

Do you feel as if you are “out of control” or “going crazy”?

Do you feel like you never should have become a mother?

Are you worried that you might hurt your baby or yourself?

Please click here for a post-partum depression self-evaluation.

And Get Help Now.

References:

1Postpartum Support International

2The Ghost in the House: Motherhood, Raising Children and Struggling with Depression