Postpartum Progress, that fantastically wonderful Nobel Prize-worthy site about post-partum depression, asked on Facebook yesterday for stories from ladies who had post-partum depression after infertility. No arm-twisting required here. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass and I’ll tell you about what I consider to be one of the more nasty secrets about infertility: the shame of having post-partum depression after you’ve worked for five years to have the baby.
I’ve written before that while I was trying to have a baby, I was very focused on actually having the baby. I was not concerned with what happened once the baby arrived. Either I didn’t believe that there would be a baby or I didn’t want to jinx the run of good luck that got me pregnant and cooking said baby. So, no thought whatsoever was given to the post-partum period of life.
And then, I had the baby, the wailing, lung-strong, hungry, tired baby. The (very normal) baby who woke us in the middle of the night with his fire alarm screams, who spit up on every non-washable surface, who was like the crazy roommate that you question your sanity for inviting into the house. I felt like I had the world’s worst case of buyer’s remorse but I couldn’t tell anyone about it because I had done just about everything possible to (literally) buy this bundle of joy.
There were many times in those first few months when I wanted to give him back – back to whom I couldn’t articulate. I just wanted to return him, say “Sorry, made a mistake, lost the receipt, please take him back, he’ll be so much more happy elsewhere,” and we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled programming. I would feel terrible for having these thoughts, and then feel doubly terrible because I had wanted this experience so badly. Talk about a vicious cycle. Bad thought, bad thought for having the bad thought, rinse and repeat.
It never occurred to me at that time that having been through infertility I would be more prone to having post-partum depression. If I even began to think about having PPD, I quickly concluded that I wasn’t allowed to have post-partum depression after infertility. Yes, I wasn’t allowed because I had begged to be a mother. Rex wasn’t an oops or even a timely planned baby. He was way overdue by the time he did arrive so much that I was afraid he wasn’t going to show at all. So how on earth could I then have the feelings that I was having? This could not be a rational world where I was allowed to have these thoughts and not be utterly ungrateful.
It took me a long time to recognize that I wasn’t ungrateful for having Rex. I was normal. I was a normal new first time mom who had been through the wringer for longer than recommended and was still trying to find that new comfort zone. And, I had PPD. And the PPD was treatable.
I’m so much better now. There were so many moms who told me that it would get better and I thought, “maybe for you!” but they were right. It got so much better. I really enjoy being a mom now and I think I’m pretty darned good at it, too.