Monday, November 1, 2010

Who's Got P.P.D.? (Guess what? Not me!!)

Waiting to see the shrink with mommy.

I've never been shy about the fact that I suffered from postpartum depression after Benjamin was born. In fact, I remember my openness about what I was going through scared some people off. Here's what a typical exchange between another new mom and myself sounded like:
Other New Mom: Hi! How old's your baby?
Me: Six weeks old.
O.N.M.: Awwww, mine's also about six weeks old.
Me: So it's pretty tough, huh?
O.N.M.: What do you mean?
Me: The whole new motherhood thing. I mean, doesn't it suck right now?
O.N.M.: Uh... No. I mean the lack of sleep is tough, but I'm really enjoying it! I just love being a mom, and I adore my baby. Isn't it just great?
Me: Not really. I'm having a hard time. I mean, my baby's ok. But several times a day, I feel gripped with the near-uncontrollable urge to put him in an oven and then cut my wrists under warm running water. Unless I'm not at home. Then I feel the urge to throw him off my balcony and then swallow the vicodin left over from my c-section. Unless I'm not in a tall building, in which I case I feel the urge to drive us off the freeway overpass. Yeah, I'm not sure I'm cut out for this whole motherhood thing. I mean, I've like totally trapped myself for the next 18 years, ya know? And I'm kinda panicking about it. But I'm glad you stopped to talk to me, because I was just contemplating whether or not to bolt into oncoming traffic-- Wait, where did you go?
Ok, so maybe I wouldn't say that last bit out loud, but it would be what was going through my head. In those first months, I hated being a mother, and I thought I'd made a mistake. It wasn't that I didn't love Benjamin. I was just torn apart by the incredible, intense, and violent sadness that was postpartum depression. At first I thought I was just going through the same baby blues that every new mom goes through, but after having to repeatedly call friends or my husband to rush home so that I wouldn't be left alone to do something horrible to myself or to Benjamin, I realized that I needed help. And help I got! Meds and a good shrink went a long way towards straightening things out. For the most part. I mean, I'm still crazy, but in that goofy, lovable (I think) kind of way and not in that scary, someone-distract-her-while-I-get-her-children-to-safety kind of way.
When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I was terrified that PPD would strike again. More than varicose veins, morning sickness, or recovering from another c-section, the spectre of being depressed like I was the first time filled me with dread. Well, I am thrilled to say that it's been eight months since Calliope was born, and so far, so good! I can say with complete sincerity that I have really enjoyed these last eight months. Sure, being a mom of two is exhausting and has its trying moments, but for the most part, I am loving it. I love watching Calliope grow each day. I love watching Benjamin grow into his role as an older brother. I sometimes feel guilty that I wasn't the same contented, cheerful mom for Benjamin that I have been for Calliope. But then I see what a happy and vibrant little boy he's turned out to be, and I wonder if it really mattered that much.
I'm not sure exactly why I wasn't depressed this time. I think one reason why is because I already knew what to expect. Although having a second baby added more work to the load, it didn't completely throw me for a loop like it did the first time. Also, I was already in the care of an awesome shrink. For privacy reasons, I'll call her Dr. Shrink. And finally, I stayed on my meds throughout my pregnancy and delivery. Well, I did have to stop taking the meds my first trimester, and that went alright, except for the fact that I was a total bitch to my husband. Sorry about that, Vince.
Aw, crap, I'm venturing into the overly emotional, weepy blog territory I promised I'd never visit. It seems like this is what happens every time I talk about PPD. Time to lighten it up!
Can anyone tell me why it is that every shrink's office (and yes, I have been in quite a few) has the New Yorker in its waiting room? Every. Single. One. Isn't it enough that the patients in there are people who already have issues? Do we have to also feel stupid for not understanding those damn political cartoons?
I'd ask Dr. Shrink, but she'd probably say something shrink-y like, "Hmmm. Let's talk about how the New Yorker, when rolled up, reminds you of a cigar which is actually a penis, which is actually the root of all your fears." Just kidding! Shrink sessions are only like that in the movies. Our sessions are completely different, but I can't give you details. Patient-shrink confidentiality, you know. ;)


melis said...

wow thank you for sharing your ppd! it means a lot to me to read about someone else who went through the same dark place. said...

I'm glad to hear that what I wrote touched you. When I was in the thick of PPD, I felt like the lone crazy mama on the playground that no one could relate to. It was very, very isolating. I think the more we put it out there, the better chance there is that other women who are going through it will know they're not alone.