Monday, June 20, 2011

Best of the Breast: The truth about my PPD and the role of breastfeeding on it

I've had this post as a draft for quite a long time now.  I started writing this because I needed an outlet.  I didn't plan on really publishing it because I was afraid.  I was afraid to admit something was not going right. That I was failing.  As a mom.  And it wasn't acceptable for me.  I can accept failing on so many things, career, love, money, baking, cooking, but not as a mom.   But now, I am already way passed this nasty phase in my life and I have moved forward.  Reading back the draft, it made me relive those difficult moments but this time I am not sad but grateful.  Grateful that I survived.  Grateful that with God's faith in me, my hubby's unwavering support, and my Little Spanish Pinay's unconditional love, everything is now just a thing of the past.

Now that I understand and accepted why things happened in a different way I hoped for and imagined, I believe I am now ready to share the truth about my postpartum depression.  Hoping that somehow, I may be able to help a mom understand why this happens and that it can be conquered or even to just let them feel they are not alone... others are going through and have gone through the same situation.

PPD can be won over.  First step is to recognize it and do not feel ashame about it because it is something normal and many, many women suffer from it - in different intensity.  Second step is to find someone to talk about it.  Having someone to hear your worries and pains helps a lot.  Most often than not your partner is the best person that can give you all the support you'd need.

Below is a draft I found from my blogs.  I wrote it when Little Spanish Pinay was around 2 weeks old.  I believe that's when PPD has started creeping in me.  Days prior to that I was in pure bliss.  I never wanted to be separated from her but stupid hormones and some body chemicals went berzerk and made me suffer.

Undergoing a c-section worsen thigns out.  I was healing slowly and it made my moves very limited.  It also didn't help that my mom was oceans away from me.  I have never felt I needed her more than those times.  And I felt angry at her for not being here beside me. I felt angry about the situation.

Finally motherhood is here.  Didn't I long for this for seems to be like forever?  Didn't I believe ever since that I am made to be a mother? That I will be wonderful and be all that my little one needs me to be?  Didn't I feel so connected to her ever since those two lines appear in our pregnancy test?  We were one.  Our hearts beat in the same rythym.  I knew exactly what she was feeling everytime I feel her movements insde my tummy.  Didn't I wait for her with so much anticipation and impatience to finally hold her in my arms, smell her breath and sweet skin, curl my finger in her hand, touch her nose and hear her cry?  Why this fear then?  I am afraid.  Afraid of this failure.  I am failing her as a mom.  Why does it feel that I am not enough for her?  Why does it feel that she's completely different from the one that was inside my tummy?  Or was it me that has changed?  It WAS me that has changed.  And she can see right through me.
I fear the times that there's just the two of us.  Afraid that there's something she'd need and I am not capable of knowing what it is and won't be able to provide it to her and then she'll get upset and would stop loving me.  Has she realized I am not the mother that is right for her?  What is wrong with me?  I am afraid of her.  What is this guilt feeling inside me?  It's killing me.  I can't believe I can't do this...no, everything is slipping away from my hands, going down the drain.  She'll hate me for all her life.  I can see it from her eyes.  She hates me.  Because she can see right through me and she knows I am a failure.
I have already admitted in this post that I had a case of postpartum depression.  Perhaps it was just something mild as I was able to go through it without medication.  I wasn't clinically diagnosed of postpartum depression but I knew something was terribly wrong with me back then.  But I was afraid to reveal everything to anyone even to my husband becasue if I do so, it'll be a confirmation that something was wrong with me.  As a woman.  As a mother.  And it's something I wasn't proud to admit. I would tell friends and family that I was having baby blues or maybe I came to tell people that I was having PPD but I never told anyone the real degree of it.  My husband saw how many times I cry in a day but he didn't knew what was going on when the crying stops.  When the room is dark.  When I was just alone with our little one.  PPD is not just all about the tears.  It's like a monster that eats you inside, makes you feel less of a person and makes you imagine a baby with monstrous eyes staring at you in the dark... accusing you of not doing well what you ought to do.

Yes, it started happening to me.  During bed time, when the two of us are alone in the room and I have just put her to her bassinet, her eyes closed, I'd stare at her and then it would seem to me that she'd suddenly open her eyes - they were glaring at me.  Dark eyes.  Angry eyes.  It would make my heart beat so fast with fear but I would try shake it off.  I would keep on telling myself that, that is just crazy and I am just imagining things.  I'd blink my eyes and look at her again and I'd see her sleeping soundly.  With her innocent eyes closed.  When this has happened to me several times, I knew I needed help.  But I wasn't just ready to admit everything to anyone.  I just told my husband I want to see our doctor to ask for something that might help me with the blues. 

First time in my life that I have felt I needed some medications to take away the sadness or the confusion or the fear or whatever this despicable feeling inside me that's making me suffer and not thinking straight thus, not functioning well.

Of course I didnt' tell the doctor everything that was happening to me especially when I am alone.  I just told him that lately I am feeling terribly sad and I cry multiple times every freaking days.  He said that it is normal for someone who has just given birth, especially that I am away from my own mom.  I couldn't stop it, I cried in front of him but he wasn't worried.  He kept on telling me that it's ok and it's normal especially that I am still healing, and that everything will be fine and that I'll keep up with the new phase in my life pretty soon.  His words were calming but I cried even more because I couldn't tell him what's really going on with me.  Words just couldn't come out from me and courage was way behind the back seat, unreachable from this driver losing control.

Then I finally braved to ask for a medication that might help me with the blues.  But when the doctor found out that I am breastfeeding, he announced that he can't give me anything. Otherwise, I'd have to give up breastfeeding.  I was dismayed.  After a month-battle of establishing our breastfeeding and that I am still healing cracked nipples from all the effort, I didn't think I am ready to give up breastfeeding.  At that time,  breastfeeding is the only thing I know I am doing right for my baby and if that too will be taken away from me, I was sure I'd really end up in a mental institution.  So we left the doctor empty handed.

I trembled.  I was confused.  I was lost.  I didn't know where to start.  When we came home,  I held Little Spanish Pinay and offered to nurse.  She enthusiastically obliged.  I stared at her and while milk was flowing continuously from my breast, I felt some peace, though not that strong.  Then I thought, I am not a complete failure. Yet.  I am still able to provide something for her.  Something she likes.  Something best for her.   I can start from here. Then the courage was slowly, slowly coming out again.  I tried to convince myself that what I am feeling and what is happening to me is not my fault.  Something is wrong with me but I can take over.  I can take control once again.  That was a start of a head-on battle with my PPD.   I understand what I have, but I also know that I can overcome it.

It wasn't an easy road.  I've had a lot of episodes where I would suddenly jump from my seat because I am imagining those glaring, angry, accusing eyes again from my baby.  Immeasurable amount of tears shed.  Unexplainable tremor and confusion about something I can't figure out.  And most of all, the bitter feeling of being not enough.  But having my husband's undying support and confidence in me, I took control of my PPD and overcome it.  He had made me feel all these time that whatever happens, no matter how I sink rock bottom, he'll be there and will be proud of me no matter what.

As I've said, mine was just probably a mild case of PPD.  Who knows.  After all, I wasn't clinically diagnosed with it.  But it was tough and I felt so defeated and scared that I will completely lose the battle.

I must say breastfeeding has helped a lot.  It has re-established my trust in me as a mom.  It made me feel closer and more connected to Little Spanish Pinay.  Every nursing session made me forget about those nasty fears and once again, I always feel like we are one.  Just like when she was in my tummy.  Little Spanish Pinay would always have this peaceful and satisfied look in her everytime we breastfeed and that helps me re-affirm that she does love me.  And she's happy.  I am able to make her happy even just for that moment.  Later on, I read from a book that breastfeeding does help combat PPD. Not only because of the emotional bond it provideds, but also through the production of oxytocin while breastfeeding.  This helps the woman balance out the hormones. Breastfeeding helps a woman fight PPD both physically and emotionally. 

Those eyes that reflect love and adoration were stronger than pills to help me combat PPD

The moment PPD started to just appear in my rear view mirror, I knew the battle was over.  It didn't make a come back and then soon, I waved goodbye from it. For good. 

7 comments:

  1. I remember when I first came home from the hospital with my baby. I gave birth via C-section as well and recovery was hard and painful. What made things harder for me is that I wasn't producing milk for the first few days. I even had to ask the doctor to prescribe milk for my baby.

    I also remember crying almost every day because of this. Like you, I felt like a failure. As if I can't provide for my baby.

    My baby is a month old now. I am able to breastfeed her already (thanks to my doctor's advice to have a day or two to de-stress). I do have "those" days sometimes, but I'm surviving.

    Thanks for this post! It definitely made me feel better. I know it will pass as long as I keep a positive attitude. :)

    Chic Manila Mom

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  2. @Kim - you're not alone in this... so keep the faith. With your family's support and the love your baby gives you, you'll get over this. I am really glad you are able to breastfeed your baby. If there's anything I can help you with even if it's just listening to your pains or worries, you can send me an email.

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  3. Congrats to you! I’ve read about PPD before but I have no idea that it is really difficult. This post enlightened me, thank you for sharing!

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  4. Great post. Thank you for sharing.
    It happened to me too. 1 or 2 weeks after I gave birth (via CS section) I had this very sad feeling. And I cried every night. Sometimes I couldn't sleep and wouldn't let my husband sleep either because I was mad at him. Then I would see my CS scar and I'd get depressed because it was too ugly, and I was disappointed. Thank God my husband was there for me and he didn't give up on me.

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  5. @michi - It was tough but nothing is too tough with the love and support of our loved ones :)

    @Nuna - Thanks! It is really a big blessing to have a very supportive and understanding husband :)

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  6. I don't think you went through something minor... It's a good thing, you survived that phase. And it's amazing how breastfeeding can make it all better.

    It was also my fear that I wouldn't be able to give her everything... well, until now... But I don't think it's PPD anymore. :)

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  7. A beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I am sure that it will help many women.

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