I had postpartum depression with my first and fourth pregnancies and I wanted to share my story and my perspective to help other moms who may be dealing with the same issues. I want to make clear I am not a medical professional. I am a mom who has experienced postpartum depression and I can only share what symptoms I had and what helped heal me.
At 19 years old I gave birth to two healthy baby girls. I was not married, I had recently dropped out of college and I was living at home with my parents. It was not the ideal situation. I had gone from being independent and ready to launch my life to becoming a single mom with two little girls who were very dependent on me. I could not hold them without crying. I felt very detached from them and breastfeeding was the last thing I wanted to do. I did not want to hurt them, but I did not want them either. I had this feeling of just wanting to go away. I had no idea this was a sign of postpartum depression.
I had other signs of postpartum depression such as loss of appetite, guilt, exhaustion and anger. I would feel guilty for not giving my children the type of family I was raised in. I would go days without eating because I was exhausted. If I had extra time I was sleeping not eating. I was so angry with everyone for not having the responsibility I had.
Around the six-month mark my mom told me that she did not think I had the “baby blues”. I had excessive weight loss. I lost more than the weight I gained during pregnancy. I regressed to what I weighed in middle school. My mom thought the cumulation of symptoms including guilt, loss of appetite and inability to connect with my babies was something more and she offered to watch the girls for me so I could go to a medical professional. With therapy and prescription drugs I was able to feel myself again.
With my previous history of postpartum depression I was more aware of the symptoms with my second, third and fourth pregnancies. My family situation was different with my last 3 pregnancies. I was married as well as financially and emotionally stable, however, my fourth pregnancy was not what I expected. I knew what to expect with a twin pregnancy. I was not prepared to be on bed rest at 33 weeks. I had no idea I would be injected with a steroid to help with my baby’s lung development. I did not expect my babies to be in the NICU and weigh less than 5 pounds. I had no idea I would leave the hospital without my babies.
Postpartum depression can also happen when you have a birth plan that does not go as expected. I felt helpless that I could not prevent or change what was happening. I constantly felt like I had done something wrong and that was why my youngest set of twins were born prematurely. I would mentally beat myself up and blame myself for their early birth. After my fourth pregnancy, the guilt I felt was palpable. I started experiencing crippling panic attacks on walks. My sex drive was non-existent for months after giving birth. The symptoms were different than the first time I had postpartum depression but I knew something was going on. I immediately reached out to my doctor and scheduled an appointment to be seen. With therapy and medication I was able to heal my postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression affects women differently. Reach out for help if you feel any of the symptoms I experienced or if you feel like you need to talk to someone. Please seek the help of a medical professional. You have to heal yourself before you can take care of others.
About the Author
Meredith Maitland lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Brady, and seven kids including 3 sets of twins. Follow Meredith and her family at @maitlandmultiplemultiples on Instagram