Moms Anonymous is a collection of stories written by new mothers across Canada who bravely share their most candid experiences without revealing their names. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #momsanon and #momsanonymous. Image by artist, author and new mama Heather Dube. To submit your story, follow instructions in the original post.
The Truth About Two + Not Just Feeling Blue
I always knew that I would be a mother some day.
When I was in elementary school, I constantly pretended that I was a grown-up Mommy. I loved taking care of my dolls as if they were my own babies. As I grew, I babysat all of the little ones in my neighbourhood, had many nanny jobs and coordinated kid’s birthday parties. I became a Kindergarten Teacher. Everyone said, “You are going to be the best mother one day!” and I knew it, too.
My plan: get married by 26 and have my first child before 30. As a planner (and a bit of a control freak, haha) I made all of my dreams come true.
My first pregnancy went as I’d expected, and my birth was surprisingly easy. With a month’s worth of meals in the freezer, the nursery all set up, and the house all cleaned, my husband and I felt more than prepared for this little one to enter our lives.
However, I was not prepared for what came next.
My baby did not want to be put down. He wanted comfort and wanted to be held all of the time. I was able to nurse quite easily and he wanted to nurse a lot. Yes, the first couple of days were tiring — but it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth day that a huge flood of emotions came.
I felt so desperate and overwhelmed. My baby’s crying seemed never ending and I felt like I was the only one who could soothe him. I felt trapped and alone even though I had the support of my husband and my mom. I worried about what I ate, because I didn’t want my baby to become gassy and even more fussy. I over analyzed everything and I felt like I had no control. I didn’t know how long these feelings would last and I feared that they would never end.
I seriously contemplated leaving my family. Looking back, it seems really silly, but at the time, it felt like my only way out and the only solution to a terrible situation. I live in Vancouver, BC, so I knew that I would be caught if I went over the border to the USA. I knew that I would never make it on an airplane, so Alberta was my plan. I thought seriously about it.
Back then, I knew that my husband was be a great dad to my baby, and I knew that I wasn’t coping well, so I thought that literally leaving the province would be best for everyone. However, I also felt like breastfeeding my baby was the only option, so I felt stuck in my new life as a mom.
After a few weeks of feeling like this, my mom and husband forced me to see my doctor.
I asked for help. My doctor sent me to BC Women’s Hospital to see a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. My psychiatrist explained that, in my case, my anxiety and depression was most likely chemical. She suggested that I would need to go on medication to balance out the hormones in my body so that I could function again. I felt like I needed to breastfeed and I was worried about what the pills would do to my baby.
I held off taking the pills for a few days, but finally gave in to family pressure. I definitely don’t regret it, it changed me. It was a slow process — I didn’t feel better right away. I was so fortunate to have help around me in those first few weeks after starting the medication, as I was exhausted and often needed to sleep. Slowly my body became more accustomed to the medication and my mind began to clear.
When my baby was about three or four months old, I finally felt more like myself. I still had bad days, but I was able to face them and I began to enjoy my baby. I no longer called him “the baby” anymore, and I started calling him by his name. By his first birthday I was dreading going back to work, even part-time. We had built such a bond and the thought of leaving him saddened me.
Then I Became a Mama of Two
Fast-forward two years. After being off my medication for over one full year, I got pregnant again.
It was a planned pregnancy and we were both excited. Again, it was a typical pregnancy, but I went back to BC Women’s Hospital for a special consultation when I was pregnant as a precautionary measure. She said that there was a 50% chance that I would get postpartum depression again. I felt like those odds weren’t too bad. I had the option of starting the medication before the birth as a preventative measure but the risk to the baby was too great for me.
The birth was incredibly fast. First contraction was at 1am and the baby was born at 4:30am. His APGAR score was 10. My doctor said that it was the most beautiful birth she’d ever seen.
It was a perfect beginning.
The first night in the hospital was great. He laid down in his bassinet without crying and he didn’t need to be held all of the time. I was optimistic that it would be ok this time around. The first three days were wonderful. I was tired and adjusting to life with two little ones — but I was happy and I felt in control.
I will never forget the moment that all of my happiness quickly disappeared.
I was walking down the hall in my home holding my newborn, he started to cry, and then I fell to my knees. All of a sudden, I felt completely overwhelmed with emotions. I worried that he wouldn’t stop crying, I felt guilty that I wasn’t spending as much time with my oldest son, and I worried that I would never feel like myself again. This time everyone around me, including myself, knew that this was postpartum depression taking over again.
I sought help a second time around.
This time, my treatment started much earlier but the feelings and emotions were so much stronger. I wanted to be with my oldest son all of the time and I didn’t want anything to do with the new baby. I wanted to take my oldest son away and leave the baby with my husband. I tried to be strong for my kids and never show them my struggle, but I felt guilty that my emotions were affecting them.
Again, I contemplated leaving everyone, thinking that they would be better off without me. I even thought about harming myself. I knew that these options had severe consequences, so once again, I just felt stuck.
I went back to see my psychiatrist again. I will never forget what she said to me: “If you take your oldest son away do you think that would be fair to leave him without a father?” Ahhh — I was trapped again. I knew that I couldn’t do that to my oldest and I knew that I needed to be there for my family but it would take all of my courage to stay. It was a rough few months as the medication started to work, but eventually, I returned to my old self.
Four years later, I am still taking the medication, as my anxiety still lingers. It isn’t nearly as bad and is quite manageable with some self-care.
Overcoming Postpartum Depression + Anxiety
Being a perfectionist and a planner with two small boys is a challenge sometimes, but I do my best. I feel proud that I overcame postpartum depression. I feel proud that I stayed with my family and I didn’t leave. I feel grateful for all of the support from my family and the medical community. I feel happy that I have two healthy boys who are thriving and whom I have a loving relationship with.
Mostly, I feel lucky. I know that some women aren’t as fortunate as me. Some women don’t have the resources or support.
I am here to tell you that you can overcome postpartum depression. It isn’t easy — there isn’t a quick fix — but it is worth all of the effort. You can have a happy family and you can feel like yourself again. It will take time, and there will be bad days, but if you reach out to someone and tell them your struggle you will be on the right path to recovery.
We need to share our stories. As women, we need to be supportive to each other. We need to listen, to be understanding, to withhold judgement, and to raise each other up.
We are all in this together.
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