Today was a good day. I tried to cherish every moment with my girls, enjoyed the highs and brushed off the lows, celebrated small victories and heard “I love you so much mama” so many times I thought my heart might burst. I felt more like myself today than I have in quite a while. It was comfortable and familiar, but I worry tomorrow won’t be like today. So many days aren’t lately. Some are dark. Very dark, as if a sudden storm has rolled in, there’s nowhere to take cover, and the wind is howling all around me.
It’s been awhile since I checked in on how my battle with postpartum depression is going and at the urging of a friend who had a reader randomly tell her she was interested in my struggles, I thought I would touch base and share how things are going. I’ve found some things I think are helping, but mostly I’m still dealing with some aggravating, lingering symptoms since having Vivie that I think have played a role in my depression sticking around.
I mentioned before that I had really terrible ppd after giving birth to Anna. It was suffocating and I didn’t share how bad it truly was with Jon until I was mostly out of it. It took a good six months after she was born for me to feel like I had broken free– almost like breaking through a sheet of thick ice over a frozen lake from the icy water upward. Once it lifted it was like I could finally breathe again without it hurting. Yes, it hurt to breathe at times.
With Vivie, I have felt those same feelings and while I would say the bad days are fewer and further between than after Anna’s birth, it’s lingering longer overall. She just turned 9 months old and I’ve had a few days recently that felt as though I was drowning again.
What’s the difference? I’m not sure I know the answer to that, but I do know my physical recovery after Vivie has been more difficult. I’ve had some bizarre issues that range from stomach bloating to dry skin patches so itchy I scratch them until I bleed– sometimes in my sleep. I wake up to my ankle throbbing from scratching so hard. Stomach cramping, insomnia, exhaustion, sudden mood changes for no reason at all, inability to concentrate, and I could go on. I recently had some tests for infections/bacterial issues from my OB and all results came back normal. Some of these symptoms aren’t constant– they come and go– but when you add it all up, I can’t shake the feeling that something just isn’t right.
A dear friend of mine suggested I visit a doctor she worked with after the birth of her third child. This doctor is a Doctor of Osteopathy (a D.O. rather than an M.D.). He is located in a city almost an hour away from my home, but after her treatment (which included a complete diet overhaul, supplements, etc) she feels better than she has in years. I’ve tried mixing up my diet on my own (no refined sugar, few carbs) and while I do feel better overall, I’m not seeing the kind of results I want and so desperately need to. My appointment is soon and I’ve never been so excited for someone to put me on a strict diet. Oh, you want me to drink wheat grass all day long while standing on one leg and swig down 85 supplements? Done. I’m literally willing to try anything.
I know for some women anti-depressants have provided relief. I applaud any effort to bring balance and happiness to your life, but I’ve never felt like that’s the right path for me. I historically have been very sensitive to prescription drugs and I don’t love the way any kind of strong medication makes me feel. I’m praying I can get some answers and come up with a clear, directive plan to get my body feeling back to the way it should.
I’ll keep checking in from time to time and share what I think is working. If there’s anything I learned from sharing I suffered from PPD at all, it’s that I am far from alone in this battle. And it is a battle. I’ve got my boxing gloves on, and I’m ready for a fight. Who’s with me?
*photo of Vivie’s birth by Veronica Reeve
I hope that you get this message Jennifer. I have suffered from PPD with all my pregnancies. What I have concluded over the years is that we have to have a close relationship with our Creator, be in constant prayer, and always have positive thoughts of love and purity towards others. I know it seems like a battle, but it is possible through love that we over come PPD. Loving others will heal our minds, our body, and our spirit. I hope you have a wonderful night.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful and heartfelt message!