"When the Bough Breaks" is a new Netflix movie documenting the lives of mothers who have battled postpartum depression. Although I have only watched one small part pf it so far, I thought it would be a good idea to give an honest look at what PPD has looked like in my life. Healing takes on many forms and one form for me is expressing myself. My hope is that by sharing some parts of my story will in turn help another mom who might have gone through something similar.
With this being my second time experiencing postpartum depression I thought originally that I would be going through the same journey as I did with Calvin, but this has not been the case. This time around I realized right away there was a problem. As soon as Leo was born the anxiety hit my body like a train.
I remember my mom bringing Calvin and Max to my delivery room to meet Leo and the fear rising inside of me that germs were going to overwhelm my newborn. I was nervous about where Calvin and Max would touch the baby, I was nervous about my home and how my clothes would be folded, nervous about when I would sleep next, and the list goes on.
The thing with PPD is that for someone who has not experienced it, these types of thoughts seem outrageous and maybe even pitiful but for the mom going through it these are sometimes thoughts we cannot just turn off.
No amount of help or encouragement at home could help ease the anxiety and depression going on inside of me. The only benefit this time around is that I knew the signs and so did my husband. I am going to be really honest here now so please read this without judgment and instead see how serious postpartum depression can be, especially if it goes undiagnosed and untreated (with or without medicine):
Each morning following Leo's birth I woke up not really wanting to live or get up. My morning thoughts were often dark and the anxiety I felt was overwhelming. I remember hearing Nick's alarm go off at 7 AM and me crying into my pillow that I did not know how I would be able to handle a day of caring and loving my 3 beautiful boys and my husband.
There was nothing expected from me besides keeping the kids alive and yet at the same time I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I would sit and nurse for hours on end and would become so bitter at all the moms I would see on Instagram who had put on makeup, wore trendy clothes, and had a perfectly calm baby sleeping in their wraps. How could they do it and I was unable to? How did other moms do it without family around and still manage to get out of the house with all of their kids?
Even the days where I thought I had the energy to get out of the house I quickly became consumed with laundry from the non-stop acid reflux, way too many blow outs, shirts getting dirty outside from the older boys and the list of things I needed to complete due to my obsession with order and cleanliness. To top everything off I was neglecting to take care of myself. I showered every day and even had something clean to put on but I kept wondering if I would ever have the time or energy to do my hair or makeup again. When would I not be pregnant or nursing so that I could wear a normal bra? When would I fit back into my jeans that I purchased before finding out I was pregnant?
A doctor in the documentary said something profound that "most moms think in order to be a good mom we have to take care of baby first and we forget to also take care of ourselves."
I am starting to slowly make sure I am putting myself into the equation. The little things like going for a daily walk after dinner (sans kids), doing a home workout, a cup of coffee in my room while the kids watch a show, a pedicure, etc. all these things are helping me slowly but surely take care of myself. I may never be "Gina before kids" ever again but I can work on who I have become.
This Netflix series has also shown me that women who prior to giving birth have already dealt with mental disorders (for me OCD) that these women are way more susceptible to experiencing postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. Postpartum depression NEEDS to be talked about. Let's have the conversations no one is having.
Part 2 of this honest look at postpartum depression will be coming at you whenever I have time to type again ;) My husband will soon be writing on a guys perspective of taking care of and noticing the signs of a wife who is suffering from PPD/PPA.
Please feel free to share your story with us too, anonymously or not. Email me through the contact page if you are interested. Thank you for letting me open up about what I have experienced.