After my first son was born, I had very bad postpartum depression. We had waited for him for two years before he came into our lives and I had time to build up a lot of expectations about motherhood. I thought I’d be relaxed and in control… It didn’t happen that way. I had a birth on 'mute.' They cranked the epidural so high that I couldn’t feel a thing. Then we came back home and breastfeeding didn’t really work. I was anxious and worried, and I thought that being a mother was just supposed to be like that. That it was normal to languish in front of your baby, to the point of not being able to be alone with him for more than a few hours at a time, to have dark ideas, and the firm belief that you will harm your baby. And that it was all due to the lack of sleep. What’s terrible is that I only realized something was wrong towards his first birthday, because my body completely shut down for 48 hours. And when I tried to get help, the medical staff told me to take time for myself and to exercise more, like Zumba... Two weeks later, I learned I was pregnant with my second son.
Being pregnant with my second child – and the rush of hormones that comes with it – helped tame the depression. At the time, I was also about to start a new job and it felt really good to have a sense of accomplishment. It is one thing to attend grad-school every day like I did with my first-born, but to work in an environment in which you are recognized and feel competent is pretty amazing. Past the first trimester, my energy came back and I was euphoric. But I was still very afraid that the depression would come back, so this time… I didn’t talk to the same medical staff! Instead, I spoke to the nurse who was caring for me during my pregnancy. She is the one who gave me a bunch of flyers and resources and made me aware of the red flags, to make sure it wouldn’t come back. And it didn’t. I felt supported. She told me, "If you’re not feeling well, you come directly to the clinic. Don’t call. Don’t wait. Come right away."
My second son was born in January. It might sound cheesy but our life together follows the seasons. We both went into hibernation at the beginning of his life. The world was frozen outside and we cuddled inside the house, being very slow and silly together. I often hear moms say that they were about to go nuts the first few months because they were stuck inside four walls. But I was happy being stuck. At the same time, he was eating every hour and a half for fifty minutes, so we watched a lot of Gilmore Girls! I would tuck him in with me on the couch, relaxing, looking outside. Everything was white. It was beautiful. Then March came and I slowly started to become restless, to feel the need to go out more. Spring was here so it was ok. What was difficult the first time around wasn’t as intense this time because it wasn’t 100% new. And now, it’s summer again. We enjoy it. We have fun.
One thing that was really nice about the two postpartum periods, even after my first, was the feeling that you can accomplish anything after you give birth. With my second son, I had this need to move a lot, to do sports, to go out. And with my first, well, I got my nose pierced! I mean, there’s no pain that is too much pain from now on! And despite everything, the depression etc., I felt it with both of my kids. I would think: 'There’s a human who came out of my body so… bring it!' It’s a really cool sensation, very empowering. It has calmed down over time – as did the hormones! – but it’s still present. I can always feel it a little bit. So yeah. Bring it!