Postpartum depression doesn’t always look the same. It is not only unique to the person, but it is also unique to each pregnancy. I feel that is the problem with the little checklist that you usually get at the hospital after you give birth.
According to the CDC, research from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) “shows that nationally, about 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression,” but it varies by state, race, and ethnicity.
I personally have suffered through postpartum depression twice in my life. It happened with my last 2 children. I can tell you that for me it was nothing like in the movies. Not when it came to how I felt. And not when it came to how I was treated when I went to get help.
Even though I have gone through PPD twice I can easily say:
- I have never not wanted to be near my children.
- The thought of hurting my children or myself never crossed my mind.
- I never felt like I was not bonding with any of my children.
- I wasn’t panicked or scared.
- The only time I withdrew from family members was if they didn’t want me at the hospital with my child.
That is the thing. Most new moms Google postpartum depression and get a list of symptoms they do not have. Then they just think, “Oh, nothing is wrong with me. I just need to get over it.” They don’t realize something is actually wrong, that they need help, and that that is ok.
Florida Health says that “Postpartum depression falls in the middle of these two mood disorders, affecting 10% to 20% of new mothers”.
I feel this number is probably higher, but some moms don’t even know they have it or are too embarrassed or ashamed to get help. I wish I could tell every single mom that it is ok to have PPD and that it is ok to need professional help. That doesn’t make you any less of a mom.
I know I can’t, but maybe sharing my story can help someone get the help they need to feel their best.
The First Time
I would never have guessed I was going through postpartum depression. Thankfully, the NICU staff at the hospital did notice. They referred me to the mental health division of the hospital. I was just told by the social worker, “Hey, I made this appointment for you. It is across the street. You will benefit a lot from this. Please make sure to go.”
I went to the appointment and to the follow-up. There I was told one day, “Hey, just so you know you have postpartum depression. But it is super common for moms that have gone through such a traumatic situation.” Funny enough, my answer to her was, “What traumatic situation? I haven’t gone through anything.” Mind you at this point my son had already been in the hospital for 1 month and had many more to go. He had almost died on me twice, was baptized, had had 5 blood transfusions, and 2 surgeries including getting a staple in his heart.
The Second Time Around
No one could tell that I had PPD but after 1 month I could feel it. I filled out the PRAMS and the hospital looked it over. Everyone thought I had everything together and was handling everything perfectly. My daughter stayed in NICU for 2 weeks and I looked like one of the most put-together moms, emotionally.
With her, I went through almost 8 months trying to get help for how I felt. I spoke to my primary, to friends, to my insurance multiple times, and Googled. I even called almost every doctor on the insurance list to get an appointment for help. Every single time I was told, “Sorry, but we won’t have an appointment for 6 months.”
The only appointment I finally got within a month of when I called I ended up almost running out of.
Because I was told to wait for 4 hours, even though I was 10 minutes early for my appointment, with my 4-month-old preemie daughter in a waiting room with people talking to themselves, screaming, and threatening other patients and the staff. From my previous experience, I knew this was not ok.
Funny enough, I finally got the help I needed at last year’s Bloom event. There I saw the nurse manager that took care of my daughter. She was so amazing to me that when she hugged me and asked me how I was doing I just burst into tears and told her everything. She immediately took me to a doctor that was also at the event and told her how I was feeling. This doctor was working on a PPD program at Mercy hospital. She and her staff fought with my insurance until I was accepted into the program and received the help I needed.
To this day I can’t thank all of them enough for everything they did for me.