It took me several weeks to connect the withdrawn, irritable, ‘leave-me-alone’ feelings I was having to the return of my old friend postpartum depression. I wanted to be left alone, and talking to people just took too much energy, and I really didn’t even care enough to try.
My husband kept asking me what was wrong, which just made me more annoyed, “everything is FINE” I would snap back. Which I immediately justified as a perfectly acceptable response to a rhetorical question. He would come home from work, pick up the baby and say “you need a break”, which just irritated me further. I didn’t need a break, I loved being home with the baby … it was everyone else in the world I needed a break from.
I should have recognized the signs, but postpartum depression is an insidious beast. At least this time around people are aware of PPD, and there was a name to put with the feelings that had plagued me with my first two children.
In the early ’90’s PPD was not known, at least not in the common way it is now. I struggled with lack of attachment, with feelings of inadequacy, and I finally ended up deciding that I wasn’t good enough to be a mother, and shouldn’t have more children. My PPD had long lasting effects for my children and myself.
One of the first things I told my OB during my prenatal visits for little E was about my PPD. Many years after my last child I learned about the disorder through an interview with Brooke Shields. I wanted to jump up and down and wave my arms… That’s ME!! The knowledge came many years too late for my daughters, but now as a do-over parent I knew more, and would be ready.
My pregnancy and delivery were picture perfect, I had the warm fuzzy feelings for little E right away, and I could not have been more blissfully happy. I thought I had conquered PPD. But it had just picked a different time to show up.
My mood began to shift when little E started weaning. He was eating more solids and nursing less. I began to feel isolated, yet didn’t want to talk to, or see anyone. I started feeling ‘put-out’ by simple requests from the family, and just prickly in general. All I really wanted was to be left alone.
It took several weeks to make the connection. When I finally realized what I was experiencing was PPD I felt a huge relief. This was something I’ve managed before. The surprise was the timing. I didn’t know PPD could show up months after delivery. After the first few doctor visits with a new baby you’re on your own. They always ask about mood changes and signs of depression in those first weeks, but never mention that PPD can show up at any time in the first year, not just the few weeks after delivery.
There are many blog posts about late onset PPD. The mommy community is aware of it, and a lot of women link their depression symptoms with weaning. It certainly seemed to coincide for me.
This time though, I am ready. Armed with relaxation techniques, positive thoughts, and permission to self care I will not let PPD rob my happiness this time.
As the saying goes ‘older and wiser’.