Guest post by Breyen Wee
I don’t want to come in here sounding all complain-y because having a baby is a beautiful thing. Holding that squishy little body, hearing those little baby sounds, smelling their heads, it’s so adorable and memorable and makes my heart feel happy, but there’s another side of new motherhood that so many of us experience. It’s the big and ugly postpartum depression.
When we had our first baby, I experienced a bit of the baby blues, but it never turned into depression. I thought I had this mothering thing down pat! We went to baby sing-along, story time at the library, plus I got to binge-watch Netflix while she napped. Life was good.
Fast forward 18 months, and we had our second baby girl. My husband and I felt warm and fuzzy to know that our girls would grow up together from such a young age. We were ready to be a family of four.
Life almost immediately became rocky. Maddie was breastfeeding around the clock and was awake much of the night. Sleep was rare. After about 5 days, during the postpartum hormone shift, I became extremely tearful. This didn’t feel like the baby blues though. My anxiety was so high that I could hardly function. It felt like I didn’t know what to do with myself. Like I could have jumped out of my own skin. I also felt empty inside and felt no connection to my new baby. I remember stepping outside on our balcony and wishing it was higher so I could jump off of it and end it all. Depression is a strange beast that drastically changes how you feel and think. I believed that my family, friends and even my daughters would be better off without me.
My parents and my sister helped us immensely during this time. We packed up all of our things and went to stay with them. They fed us, did our laundry, gave me time to rest when my husband was at work and helped take care of our eldest. I needed a village, and my village was there for me.
As I had been experiencing depression during my pregnancy, I had been seeing a psychiatrist and a counsellor at the Reproductive Mental Health Clinic at Royal Columbian Hospital. I was fortunate to have postpartum appointments in place because this clinic is extremely difficult to get into. The wait is months long. When a woman is in the depths of PPD she needs help immediately. Her life may be on the line.
The doctor and counsellor I saw at the clinic were amazing. They helped me through such a difficult time in my life. My husband came into the rooms with me so my healing process was a family deal. The problem was that after about a year, patients are discharged from the program. PPD does not end after the newborn stage and doesn’t always end after a year either. It didn’t end there for me.
I am aware that the problem here is funding and that the clinic staff do not have the opportunity to work more and take on more patients because there is no money allocated to pay them. My hope is to bring more attention to this issue so we mamas can feel supported and held while we care for our sweet baby bundles. So many of us deal with postpartum depression and we need to be heard.
Think you may be suffering from PPD? Here are some community resources.
Have an opinion? A story to tell?
Something you’d like to get off your chest?