The Birth of Emerald Nanette: Part Two

Rachel continues her birth story as she recounts the details of her daughter’s arrival and how she found healing in the weeks after. (Read Part One here

The Birth of Emerald Nanette: Part Two
By Rachel Stockard

So here we are…the birth of my baby is imminent and all I want to do is escape. I am waiting for someone to tell me what to do. We go back and forth for a while. My indecisive nature is showing up at the worst possible time.

I have this image and memory on repeat in my brain, just like one of those old film reels: my second baby, Moses, was plopped onto my chest, fresh and slippery with a little scrunched up face. This was everything I wanted in a birth, and yet I feel completely empty and emotionless. I feel the aftermath of an unmedicated vaginal delivery- the stinging reminder that I just pushed a tiny human being out of my body. But I look at my son, my child- and I feel nothing. No connection. It’s like the oxytocin just refused to flow. Is this even my baby? I think. He seems so unfamiliar. This child and I have been physically connected for nine months now, but he feels like a total stranger. And now, I am about to give birth to my third baby, and I am so scared that the past will repeat itself and I’ll be stuck in that same situation. What if I don’t love my baby? What if my kids lose their mom? What if my husband isn’t up to dealing with a psychotic wife and my marriage really does end this time around?

I am surrounded by some of the most understanding women that walk the earth, but the nature of birth work is that it isn’t your story. You can’t tell a mom how or where to give birth, and that’s exactly what I’m asking them to do. Sandee, who has had six babies with a variety of births and outcomes, has been there. She has no judgment and wants the best for me- such fitting traits for a doula. But I- I am struggling between the disappointment of a “failed” homebirth and the inability to cope with the pain of labor. I obsess over the financial aspect of transferring to the hospital. It wasn’t easy for us to pay for a homebirth, but I worked childcare for next to nothing to make it happen. If we went to the hospital now, we would have to pay out of pocket for our birth up to our deductible, which wasn’t something we could afford. Still, my husband said not to worry about that. He was so torn between wanting to push me to have the birth I wanted and just wanting my suffering to end. And suffering is the only word to describe the place I was in at that point.

The rest of the story goes like this: I stayed home.

I pushed my baby out quickly and effectively for about fifteen minutes until I felt her head crowning. I continued to push, but nothing was happening. Up to this point, I had been guiding myself through the pushing process, manually feeling her progress as her head moved in and out, and it was such a lovely process. I was in a squatting position on my knees. After three minutes of crowning and pushing and pushing and pushing, my midwife asked if I could feel my baby moving. I misunderstood this as fetal movement in utero and said yes (I could still feel her kicks during pushing), but she was really asking if she was moving through the birth canal- basically, if my pushing was working. And it wasn’t.

It’s kind of a blur from here because panic mode ensued. They lifted me up to a runner’s position- standing with one foot on the edge of the birth tub- pushing, pushing, still nothing. Baby’s shoulders had to be dislodged one at a time (this is called shoulder dystocia and occurs when the baby is partially birthed but one or both of shoulders get lodged in the birth canal, which occasionally can be dangerous or even fatal for the infant). To give you a mental image you probably don’t want, she was basically elbow deep uprooting my wedged baby, which literally felt like someone was ripping apart my uterus. And then I just laid back and her 9.5 pound body slid right out. I pulled her up out of the water and held her blue, virtually lifeless body, but I was so thankful it was over that I was totally oblivious to her condition. Everyone else was running around and I was in my own world with my baby, admiring her. Carissa grabbed the oxygen mask but so quickly she inflated those little lungs and her blood started flowing to her brain once again, so assistance wasn’t even needed. We stared at each other, feeling the connection of thankfulness from our mutually traumatic experience.

I’m so glad I had people on my team who helped me formulate a plan to combat my inability to process my emotions and helped me sort through resources to find the right fit for me. There were certainly bumps in the road- not everyone was on my team through it all; but my husband insisted on the right care for me and gave me time and space to work through it. My primary care provider at Cole Family Practice (who I just cannot say enough good things about- thanks, Annie!) came right on board with my plan to start medication immediately following birth, so they worked me in and I began taking Zoloft just 6 days postpartum. A few weeks later, I began seeing a counselor at the Hope Clinic and later started seeing a psychiatrist there who now manages both my medication and therapy. I have learned so much about myself, but the healing has only just begun. The on-boarding time for SSRI medication is 4-6 weeks, so those first couple of months were really difficult. My father-in-law also passed away when Emerald was six days old, so that added to the difficulty of this season for our family, and especially for my husband. We have grown exponentially in our marriage, but it’s still difficult to juggle our support for one another and the everyday craziness of raising three small children.

Postpartum depression is the ugly beast I have kept hidden in the closet for the past three+ years, using my well-formulated excuses to shut myself in that dark space just stroking the identity of that monster time and time again. And I returned to those tendencies during the initial weeks of Emerald’s life. I sat in my dark room, unable to move and having little or no desire to live. I drove away from my family late at night, just to drive right back because I didn’t know where to go. I obsessed over the most ridiculous things with no realization of how minute they were. I couldn’t give my baby a bath because I had recurring thoughts of drowning her. I couldn’t cook because I had images of cutting myself with knives or burning myself on the stove. I had so much anxiety about driving and would picture the most horrific wrecks imaginable or driving my minivan off a bridge. I have since learned that these are intrusive thoughts and are irrational, but rarely dangerous. Still, they are absolutely terrifying, and will make you feel like you are unfit as a mother. But just in case nobody else will say this to you: you aren’t.

Look, birth doesn’t have to look this way. The postpartum period does not have to look this way! There are so many resources for new moms and for seasoned moms too! This is a biochemical response, not a choice. The idea that mental health is anything other than a physical condition is just absurd. People of faith, hear this: no matter how much you believe in the power of Christ, not everyone can just believe themselves out of depression. And although some things can help, there are situations in which no amount of worship music, yoga, meditation, service to others, etc. can undo the complicated chemistry of your brain and teach the neurons to fire the right way or the hormones to produce at the right rate. I am the last person on earth to want to take medication, trust me. I try to out-will a headache like the best of them. But every week that I put my compilation of pills and supplements in their little bright green daily organizer, I am making a choice to put my mental health- and my family- first. I have been in a place where I was so close to choosing not to live, and that’s no longer my reality. For my kids, for my husband, and for all the other moms who are fighting, I am choosing to live.

My message to fresh mamas is this: you may have heard of the baby blues…you know, a little weepiness and some irritability after birth. No big deal, right? But if your baby is six weeks old, it’s time to stop masquerading it and call it what it is; there is no shame in that. I’m so sorry for the stigma you have to face, but I can absolutely assure you that there are good people who actually want to help you, and you will not regret seeking that out. If you feel like this may be you, let somebody know! I am in no way a mental health expert, but if you feel like you have no where to turn, I am more than happy to meet you for coffee and just talk through it. You are not alone in this.

And hey, hiring a postpartum doula can help too! 🙂

The Birth of Emerald Nanette: Part One

One of our doulas, Rachel, shares the story of the birth of her third child and the postpartum season that followed. It is an honest look at postpartum depression and how she found the strength to get the support and healing she needed. 

The Birth of Emerald Nanette: Part One
By Rachel Stockard

My first daughter was born about a week “late,” so when my due date came and went, I wasn’t exactly shocked or surprised (even though my second was a day early). Each day that passed afterwards felt like a year, though, and my frustration just kept growing. I had looked forward to being pregnant during fall, but Tennessee had other plans and the 80 degree temps in December were making me a crazy person. I was not interested in seeing anyone or talking to anyone and felt like some sort of hybrid between a dump truck and a blubbery whale. After months of remodeling and adding on to our house, just hoping the baby didn’t come in the middle of laying grout or hanging doors, the time had come…but baby wasn’t budging.

And seriously, I was completely over chasing after two toddlers like the Michelin Man.

On Monday, I cleaned my house for the thousandth time that week. I had been having plenty of cramps and irregular contractions for days, but I knew baby wasn’t low enough yet. A couple of weeks earlier my midwife confirmed that baby was low and engaged, but then I felt like baby had moved. Sure enough, at my 40 wk. appointment, baby was no longer engaged (did you know babies could disengage? I did not). So that afternoon I put the kids down for a nap and started the Miles Circuit to try to move baby into position for labor. I started watching the show “This is Us” to keep me entertained. When I finished the circuit on the birth ball, I definitely noticed baby was much lower. When my husband Blake got home from work I mentioned I had been having increasing cramps and even threw out a nonchalant “I think we may have a baby soon.”

We did dinner and bedtime routines with the kids as per usual. I settled on the couch, but was pretty uncomfortable and ended up going to bed early. I told Blake the cramps were just really intense so I wanted to rest.

(at this point, using the term “cramps” was my way of not actually admitting that I was having contractions…)

We had set up the Christmas tree in our bedroom this year (because, toddlers) so I kept the tree lights on and laid in bed all night, getting little spurts of sleep….8 minutes….5 minutes….3 minutes. I had to pee at least seven thousand times that night and every time I got up the pressure would intensify. I knew I had a choice to either rest for few hours or go ahead and get up and walk around to really get things going. I chose to rest, as I was no stranger to the exhausting process that was to come.

Sometime around 4am I just couldn’t lay down anymore and decided to get up. I let Blake know things were pretty real and I got in the shower for about half an hour, which felt nice. At around 5:30am, I let my midwife know I was ready for some extra support. At this point I was pacing and walking circles around our house because I was still in denial that I was in labor. Blake started to get the house prepped and asked his mom to come get the kids to take them to their mother’s day out program. We had several friends on-call for help with childcare because Blake’s dad was in the ICU and we didn’t expect his mom to be available to help, but it just happened to work out that she could, which was really helpful. Lucy, our 3 year old, woke up pretty early because I guess she realized something was going on. She was so interested in everything and helped Blake get the birth pool set up.

My birth team arrived at about 6:30am and my mother-in-law came to get the kids at about 7am. I love my babies dearly, but they were such a distraction and getting them out the door was crazy, so I was glad to be able to focus again. I was gathering backpacks and finding little shoes in between contractions. When I did regain my focus, things had intensified quite a bit. I had a protein drink that I was sipping on to stay hydrated and to keep my blood sugar up. I do not like eating during labor but get really weak and trembly, so I knew I needed to stay on top of hydration.

The pressure was getting really, really strong and the contractions harder to work through. It seemed like it was taking for-e-ver to fill up that dang tub and I desperately wanted the relief of the water. I was having some urges to squat when the contractions came, which in the past has been a sign I was pretty far along. My midwife asked several times if I’d like her to check my dilation, but I was so very anxious about not being where I wanted to be (which of course was like….at a ten, please??). I finally decided to relent and had her check my progress. I was dilated to 7cm at that point, but she stressed that she thought once baby slid down just a little bit more it wouldn’t be long at all. I was a little discouraged, but the tub was ready and the water was such a relief.

I continued working through the waves and relaxed into the warm water in between pains. Sandee, my doula, encouraged me to get up and move around a little and to empty my bladder (Sandee’s signature move, for which I have a love/hate relationship). I labored on the toilet for a little bit, which is my very least favorite, but one of the most effective places as far as gravity and pelvic positioning are concerned.

I got back in the tub. From this point, things get a little fuzzy to remember. And honestly, the rest of this story isn’t pretty. It really just isn’t. This is the part that has kept me from putting this experience into words, but it is so very necessary for me. It is here where I place my trigger warning for anyone who has experienced emotional birth trauma.

First, a little back story: after my first daughter was born, I wanted so badly to be a good mom and thought it would come naturally, as I had always been told I had a maternal sense about me. It turns out it was anything but that. I felt so awkward and out of place and struggled with intense guilt, confusion, and paranoia. I was finishing college at the time & had to leave my baby at 4 weeks to go teach 9th graders every day. I wept every single day. I pumped constantly, obsessed over her schedule, berated my husband for giving her a pacifier, tried “sleep training” which was truly a terrible experience, and never slept. I would lay her down in her crib in our tiny little apartment and go downstairs to the furthest corner from her room and just scream on the floor as she screamed in her crib. I was a total mess and had no idea that this was not normal. Fast forward to the birth of our second child, my son. I call this postpartum depression: take two + toddler. This time it presented itself as intense rage. Tiny daughter doesn’t clean up her blocks? All hell breaks lose. Husband home two minutes late? Time for a divorce. Baby needs to feed at 1.5 hours instead of every 2 hours? I wanted to die. Seriously…I was absolutely out of my mind. I tried to get help, but for the sake of time and space and protecting the character of others, it was a failed attempt, several times over.

So now, here I am in my living room. Everything is set up exactly the same as it was for Moses’ birth…down to the same set of ratty purple towels for cleaning up all the messes a homebirth brings, the same people talking amongst themselves, and the same dreary winter weather. At some point, I just lost it. The physical pain triggered all the emotional pain and helplessness and guilt I had felt as a wife, mom, and human being over the past three years. I needed out…now. I started to beg to go to the hospital, saying over and over again “Take me to the hospital. PLEASE, somebody take me to the hospital.” Looking at Blake with desperation and physically shaking and tensing and pounding on my belly telling my baby to stop. I got out of the water and continued to insist I couldn’t do this…we needed to go to the hospital and I needed them to put me under and cut this baby out of me. My midwife asked if that was what I really wanted and I felt paralyzed; I didn’t know how to answer. I could see the worry and fear in their eyes and I knew something was going wrong. What I really wanted was to have the baby at home. It’s what I planned for and paid for and prepared for, and yet here I was begging to be dismissed from it all. But each wave of pain that hit me pulled me further from reality and the pain-tension-pain-tension cycle persisted. I was so, so very afraid. I didn’t worry about postpartum depression, I was already dealing with it. The anxiety ran through my veins in the same capacity as the blue tinted A-positive. I was in full panic mode. I threw on clothes and flip flops and began to talk through the hospital transfer process with the birth team. My midwife started explaining it, and it hit me that I wouldn’t make it through all of that. Because it wasn’t a truly emergent situation, we would have to go through L+D, wait in triage, be moved to a room, wait on an anesthesiologist, etc. etc. etc.

“I cannot do that.” I said, trembling from the cold and my fear.
My midwife said “You’re right. I think you’ll have the baby in the car.”

(Stay tuned for part 2)

A Post Birth Story: Megan

Megan bravely shares her experiences from the past 6 years as she walked through and overcame postpartum depression. 

*Trigger Warning**

My name is Megan Helton. The year is 2017 and I hope this story helps someone some day. 

2011: I don’t have much of a birth story. For some reason, during my first pregnancy, I didn’t think to educate myself beyond what my OBGYN was telling me. I assumed the hospital knew best. So I followed the system the whole way through. My water broke as a trickle, we went to the hospital several hours later, I got my epidural and subsequent Pitocin, and I ended up with a C-Section because the baby was under stress. I didn’t really care because the baby was healthy and I felt fine and I didn’t really know how it would affect my next pregnancy. I received a ton of brightly colored papers from the hospital including the Postpartum Depression/ Baby Blues sheet with a number to call. I figured I had enough Jesus, husband, family, friends, and a healthy psychology to survive the new stress of having a baby at the house. I tucked them away in my giant take-home plastic hospital baggie filled with newborn shirts, cotton swabs and boogie-suckies. As soon as we got home three days later, I was surrounded by physical support. My parents stayed with us, friends brought meals, and my husband was at my side helping me with healing and the new baby. 

And then it hit the first night home. I was so sad. I had ruined my life. No more life. My entire future looked like that moment of latching struggles, incredibly lop-sided boobs, walls caving in, my bloated body, night sweats, eye-shaking exhaustion, constant alertness and worry, desperation and endlessly scrambling through my disorganized boxes of bottle-cleaning supplies, vaseline and breast-pump parts. I was hopeless and grasping for a firm hold on something normal. My husband assured me that we would go on vacations again and that he didn’t regret marrying me. My friends assured me it would get easier. My parents said they would stay as long as we needed them to. But I couldn’t shake the deep deep heartache that had a tight grip on my core.

I cried in the bed. I cried in the shower. I cried in the mirror. I cried when I would come out of the bedroom and see my parents loving faces. My usual fun-loving and social personality was gone and I couldn’t handle any visitors or even consider the thought of getting dressed and going in public with one large right boob and huge bloated thighs. As I sobbed, I knew that it was bad. It was worse than just the baby blues. I couldn’t function beyond just keeping the baby alive and dressed. I was overwhelmed to even think about the next hour and completely panicked when anyone wanted to come see me or the baby. How could they even ask me to tell them a good time to come or ask me to answer the door? Didn’t they know how impossible that was? My parents and husband suggested I call the hospital to see if I could get some help. How could I find a good time or mind space to have a conversation on the phone about all this? Nobody on the other line would understand and they would try to talk me out of my feelings. I never made the call, not because I didn’t believe I needed it, but because I couldn’t do it. 

I saw glimpses of myself from the outside. I saw all the guilt I was having about not being able to feed the baby well, not being able to keep up with the bottle washing, the laundry, or even get into the kitchen to make myself a plate of food that someone else had cooked. I saw the irrational perfection that I was demanding in my medication and pumping schedule and the baby’s feeding and sleeping. I saw the exhaustion and hormonal releases that were making me feel sick. I knew I didn’t love the baby or feel a bond. I told my parents after two weeks that I was ready to try to handle the baby myself out of stubborn hope that I could get a schedule going and push through. My mom showed me how good it was for me to sit outside in the sun and clear my head. That worked well. I liked to watch my husband take the baby on a walk so I could go inside and file my nails or do something small. It was fun to dress up the baby in his clean little baseball pajamas and rock him to sleep. Things were starting to feel slightly more manageable during the day and some of the sadness started to go away.

But when night fell, and the mechanical waves of the breast pump drowned out all other sounds, and exhaustion visited again, the baby started to turn into a [monster]. I looked away as I fed him so that I wouldn’t have to check if it was real. My nightmares would keep me awake even when the baby slept. I would lose the baby in the sheets and feverishly dig for him even though he was really in the crib across the room. I don’t know what week it was when my worry for the baby’s safety turned into compulsive thoughts of me hurting him during the day. I imagined doing the worse things to harm my child. It was horrific. Could I do it? Would I do it? The thoughts consumed me and I couldn’t shake them.

I joked about selling him to friends. I joked about it because I didn’t know how to cope with my strange feelings while the other moms doted on their little toddlers, covering them in sunscreen and feeding them home-made avocado and banana soufflé. When it came time in the parenting book to put the baby upstairs in his own room, we did it and I used a baby monitor to check on him. I heard and saw [monsters] in the monitor and was convinced that they were upstairs every night waiting on me and my child. I was paralyzed in fear for days. I finally went to my pastor with my husband. He helped a lot with my fears and comforted me as I laid out all of the horrible thoughts I was having. He told me that I needed help from a medical professional and I wasn’t alone because of how many women come through his doors with the same problems. 

So at the next OBGYN appointment, I told her about my problems.  Her face became alert and serious and she said “I’m not allowed to let you leave without seeing our psychiatrist. Is there anyone that can come help you with the baby right now?” and that was the start of the best thing that could have ever happened to me and my family. They started treating me with medication for postpartum depression and anxiety that day. I eventually learned that it was not my fault, not a weakness, and not true feelings, but a chemical and hormonal illness. I started functioning well and learning to how to spot, name, and manage my compulsive thoughts and triggers. The medications worked. 

2013: I went on to have a second baby, this time fully ready to try an Ina-May-documentary-fueled VBAC, but eventually having a 2nd C-section after 26 hours of labor. It felt a little defeating but the baby was fine and I was fine and postpartum depression never returned. But the Postpartum Anxiety came back in full force. Because I was already under the care of a psychiatrist, I was able and willing to tell her immediately when I had an almost robotic episode of holding my new 5 month old baby on the balcony of a beach condo and unable to hold myself back from the enormous urge to toss him off.  I handed him to my husband and let him know we were in trouble. They upped my meds to the maximum amount and there it stayed. It knocked out everything completely and I was able to care for both of my boys well. Albeit unfortunate that I was an unemotional zombie for most of their diaper years (side effect of medication), I developed a healthy care for them both, had energy to play with them and keep them safe and active, and returned to nurturing my own friendships. 

2015: When we became pregnant with the third baby, I was on 250mg of Zoloft (thats a lot) and very confident in my ability as a mom. The doctor told us at about 6 weeks that it was not a viable pregnancy and offered us an evacuation pill to help the miscarriage have a more predictable timeline and be more smooth. We declined (I cried a little but not enough because my meds were strong) and I decided to go to the beach to let it happen naturally. Well, long story short, the baby fooled everyone and kept growing and living. Weeks later I started suffering partial placental abruptions (this is where you bleed a lot and its possible your placenta is coming off the uterine wall I think) and spent 124 days on bedrest. She was born a few weeks early by C-Section, my third C-Section, and we decided that I should no longer have anymore pregnancies and took out my tubes in the same operation. The baby had two holes in her heart and she fought hard and we made it home without any extra days spent in the hospital. I loved her hard and that love spilled over to my other children. Bonding started happening all around. The medication did its job completely and I had no postpartum anxiety ever again. Under the care of the psychiatrist, we slowly started weaning off the Zoloft after she was a year old, when breastfeeding finished and my period returned. 

2017: Now, over two years later, I’m completely free of all medication and free of postpartum illness. I function well (in an ADHD sort of “well”) and I’m happy. I cry under too much stress like most other moms and I hover frantically over the kids in busy parking lots and around the pool deck (where they bump around like pinballs into each others puddle jumpers making it even more awesome). Life is chaotic and my van is disgusting, but the [monsters] are gone and I’m super glad to be out on the other side with all the feels and a happy ending. My boys are now 5 years old and 4 years old, and my baby girl is 2.5 years old. They are all pretty dadgum adorable. I only want the very best for them all. When I see old news stories about a mom driving her vehicle full of kids into the waves in Florida, or a mom drowning all her kids in the bathtub in Texas, I shake my head and say, “I know.” Mental Illness is not your fault and I hope this story can help you.  

A Post Birth Story: Felicia

By Felicia Dougherty

I remember a friend in high school shared that her mom suffered from depression. She confided in me that she feared she would one day too. At the time I couldn’t really grasp what depression really meant or looked like. Later one of my closest friends even today suffered from panic attacks, anxiety, and bouts of depression and still I had no framework beyond someone being just really sad. That is until this past year happened.

I’d say looking back that I was already dealing with a bit of prenatal depression. (Which is a thing! I had no idea… hindsight!) A mother figure had recently passed too soon along with two friends following the two years after. Grief is one of those awkward emotions that makes so many of us uncomfortable because we’ve mostly been taught it’s weak or that there’s a limited amount of time. Grief is also a beautiful thing because it opens the door to greater healing for areas of trauma we might have never noticed.

“We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend.” – Brené Brown

“I had no idea that the gate I would step through / to finally enter this world / would be the space my brother’s body made.” -Marie Howe

Grief, hormones, a cross-country move and then the last straw: gender disappointment. You can read my full “Post-birth” story on my online journal, but essentially this happened: I had no doula to tell me “you can do this” (which was absolutely needed even on my second birth and even with the supportive partner I have), I was at a hands-off birth center (which I loved but later realized I needed a little coaching) and my mantra I was holding onto internally was “just a little longer until you meet your little girl.” …Then I birthed a beautiful baby boy.

Symptoms.

“The Baby” was his name. – a distancing tactic I had no idea I was doing.
(Postpartum Depression in Plain Mama English)

Anxiety Attacks.

One in particular where Ezra wasn’t latching well, my then two-year-old, Harper, was being a sweet big brother and giving too many kisses while I was trying to nurse and internally I felt this constricting tension. I wanted to scream. After pleas, I pushed Harper back, not hard, but enough to where he stumbled on his own feet and fell on his bum. He was crying, I was crying, “the baby” was crying and I was alone. I called my husband, Ty, at work and thankfully he was able to come home for a few hours to help get us resettles and me reset.

Numbness.

I would never wish depression on anyone but there is something to be said about the often used adjective: sadness. It really shouldn’t be used at all because it’s not a deep inconsolable sadness, it’s a deep void of no emotion. And something I had never experienced up to this point. It was like a heavy slime all over me making the task of getting out of bed daunting. Thank god breastfeeding was going well because I’m not sure I could have managed making and washing bottles every two hours.

Help.

The trouble with getting help with PPD is the stigma. Well meaning family members asked if the kids were okay and safe at the mention of “baby blues.” I get it, a lot of the stories we’ve heard are mothers who have gone too long without support which caused heart-wrenching actions like harm to herself, her children, even suicide or infanticide. Like I said, most of these are undiagnosed. No mother wants to even remotely be accused of being a “bad mother” or “unfit”? Not one.

Thankfully, I have an extremely understanding and caring husband. He listened to me as I sugarcoated what I was feeling, “some light baby blues” and was unwaveringly there for me when I was brave enough to say “postpartum depression” out loud.

I barely mentioned it to my midwife at my 6-week postpartum visit and without hesitation handed me a number of a therapist who specialized in PPD. I plopped down on a couch in her waiting room the very next week. I was nervous, for sure, but wanted this icky slime off of me.

She led me into her office which was very un-alarming. No squeaky leather couch, she didn’t have me lay down, close my eyes and spill my guts. Instead it felt more like a living room at the perfect temperature. She offered me tea and the room smelt wonderful but not as though she tried, just as though it was. I sat in silence for a moment and then we started with just my birth. I had what she identified as “birth trauma” which is essentially PTSD.

The Healing.

What I learned is that there’s incredibly hard trauma that immediately causes PTSD and then there can me trauma that triggers tension in the body that has been there for who knows how long because undealt with trauma never goes away. Thus all the past trauma and undealt with trauma creates a break. And this, I have now come to be desperately thankful for– my birth trauma created a pathway to further healing and I am more whole and happy then I’ve ever been.

What made facing and naming PPD so hard for me is that I wasn’t depressed always. I wasn’t anxious always. I’d just have moments that would last minutes or hours. And instead of reaching a point of “healed”, I still have moments. Yet there’s bigger and longer gaps of time in between. My therapist calls this “post traumatic growth”. I also started writing more which is so healing. Finding space for me, self-care; important in every part of motherhood.

I continue seeing my amazing therapist weekly, we’ve now are working on a past undealt with trauma using a type of therapy called “timeline therapy” but there is always space to debrief if there were “moments” throughout the previous week.

This was my journey. Every mother’s looks different and I would encourage every mama to get curious and look within because you matter, you are enough and you are worth being taken care of.

Some resources I found incredibly helpful on my journey:
Playing Monopoly with God
Postpartum Progress
IG account: motherhoodrising

*all images meghan klien photography (http://www.meghanklein.com/ &/or https://www.instagram.com/meghanklein/)
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