Lately postpartum depression has been a hot topic discussed with my fellow mommy friends and it has made me reflect on my own experiences. When I had Ume five years ago, I had a few days of the “baby blues” where I would have mood swings, feelings of being overwhelmed, and anxiety. Everyone was centered on the new baby, myself included, and we were going through the motions of learning how to take care of her while being sleep deprived. It was such a blessing to have my mother around because she was the only one to really focus on my recovery. She came over every day and made me traditional Korean seaweed soup (Miyeokguk) which helps cleanse the blood and start lactation.
There is one specific day that sticks out when I lost it. Ume was only a few days old and I needed a few moments to myself. I went to the upstairs bathroom to cut my fingernails in peace. Happy new daddy, Brian came bouncing up the stairs with newborn Ume and came into the bathroom to show me how cute she was. I immediately burst into tears and expressed how I needed to be by myself for a few minutes. Brian was startled and left me alone. I finished my task, collected myself, and returned to join my family. Brian was so understanding and probably scared from my hormonal outburst. He let me be, did not judge me for having these feelings, and took on the co-parent role easily. We learned how to effectively take care of Ume together and the “baby blues” did not last more than a couple of weeks.
After the birth of Violet the experience was very different. The “baby blues” seemed to drag on. I was terribly moody and did not get a good rhythm on taking care of her. She was a more challenging baby; breastfeeding every 1 – 1.5hrs and not sleeping well. Also it was more difficult because we had another child to take care of which Brian took the lead on, so I was left to take care of Violet more on my own. I didn’t fully realize that I was experiencing postpartum depression. I just knew that I was not happy and did not enjoy being a mother. It lasted about three months.
After about three months I began noticing an overwhelming feeling of love and enchantment towards Violet that I did not have before. I obviously knew I loved her because she is my child but I don’t believe I liked her very much during the first three months. It sounds harsh to say these words at loud but it is the truth. I would be angry and frustrated toward her when she wouldn’t stop crying or wouldn’t latch on to my breast easily. I never experienced suicidal thoughts or harmful feelings toward the baby so the postpartum depression did not progress to postpartum psychosis, which can happen. Fortunately my body began to normalize and my hormones became aligned on its own without medical intervention.
It is comforting to know that postpartum depression is very common and there are treatment options available, both medical and holistic. It helped me to talk with Brian when I was going through it, to keep our communication open so he could assess how to assist me. Also talking to more mothers now and hearing about their perspectives helps me to understand that I was not crazy to have these feelings and that I am not alone in my experiences. Just like with any condition it is not a one size fits all. It has been interesting in learning about what others have encountered in the past or are going through now. Here are some helpful resources that I have found here and here.