I was overjoyed at the news that I was pregnant with my first child. Like any new mom, I did everything I could to prepare for baby. I was nesting, reading, and making a birth plan. I knew how everything was going to play out and it was going to be perfect. In my third trimester, I rapidly developed an extreme case of preeclampsia and had been suffering from gestational diabetes throughout. My spouse was emotionally unsupportive and started to lash out once I was put on medical bed rest. Little did I know, these things made me a walking risk factor for postpartum depression.
My “perfect” birth plan was thrown out after an emergency c-section and separation from my daughter. She had to be under constant medical care for her residual complications as a preemie with blood sugar issues and water retention. In hindsight, this is when my PPD symptoms hit me like a tsunami. How could I have let this happen? I did everything right; everything the books told me to do. Why couldn’t I protect her from pain and suffering, even in her first day of life? I must be a horrible mother. Why wasn’t my body good enough to have a healthy pregnancy? I must be a failure.
After a few small triumphs, my daughter was well enough to leave the hospital. That’s when the anxiety set-in. I had “failed her” in the hospital but I was going to be a perfect mom when I took my baby home. I was trying to control a situation that wasn’t in my control. I later discovered she was a high-needs baby and had colic for the first six months. Neither of us slept. I kept putting my nose to the grind stone, with no help from my spouse, and kept suffering in silence. The anxiety was so strong, even when I had a chance to sleep I couldn’t shut my eyes without thinking about all of the things that needed to be done. I was also struggling with OCD and intrusive thoughts. This went on for the first year.
I told my OBGYN, friends and family about my sadness and horrible thoughts about harm coming to my baby. I was told that I was “just tired” or that “it was normal” and “it would go away on its own.” Even seasoned medical professionals dismissed my concerns, so I continued to suffer. No one knew how to help me and I didn’t have the energy to help myself.
It wasn’t until another year had passed and I was pregnant with my second baby, I realized I was feeling very different. I felt hopeful and healthy. I had that “glow” everyone kept talking about. Now that I had experienced two very different pregnancies, I had to know why the first year with my daughter was so difficult. When I finally had the energy to do my own research, I found Baby Blues Connection.
I was determined to contribute to an organization that helped moms feel like they weren’t alone in their struggle. Even though I was unable to use their services during the first year, I finally felt relief knowing I wasn’t the only one who has had to make their way through PPD/A. This is why awareness is so important. Compassion and support, for a mom who is unable to help herself, is paramount in her success and happiness in the first year.
The staff and volunteers at Baby Blues Connection are some of the most compassionate and inspiring people I have ever met. Each and every task is met with dedication and devotion to increasing awareness of PPD and helping as many moms and dads as possible. As a former group facilitator, I have seen moms find relief through camaraderie, knowing that they were experiencing similar thoughts and challenges. At a time when these new moms need more support than ever, they are feeling more isolated and misunderstood by the outside world. Group is a place for moms to feel validated and supported, in the hope of having a better week. The services Baby Blues Connection offers are necessary and they work. Every mom who is struggling with PPD deserves to know that it is temporary and treatable, that they are not alone, and they are able to get the support they need.