From the very beginning, pregnancy is experienced differently for men and women. Women go through physical changes (hello boobies!), emotional changes (hello mood swings) and that oh my gosh, I’m going to be a mom, there is a thing growing inside me, my life is forever changed moment when she finds out she’s pregnant. It doesn’t matter if the pregnancy was planned, unplanned, unexpected or even lost, every woman has a moment, even if just for a minute, where she feels a hundred different emotions flood her mind, from elation to terrified and back again. Now for men, it can’t possibly be the same for them. For one thing, they’re not the one’s carrying the baby. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known plenty of men who were so emotionally sensitive and connected with their partner’s pregnancy that it seemed they themselves were in fact the one’s carrying the baby, it is impossible for them to really, truly understand what it’s like to have another life growing inside of them.
I understand that men feel all heaps of emotions when finding out they’re going to be a father for the first time or again. I believe they also have a moment when they are flooded with loads of emotions, and how extremely overwhelming that must be for them because they are not the ones carrying the baby. But let’s just get one thing straight; no matter how in tune or understanding or emotionally supportive a partner is, he will never truly understand what it feels like to have postpartum depression. Never.
Postpartum Depression or PPD sucks. It sucks for everyone involved. The new mother, her partner, the baby, any other kids in the house, close relatives, friends, neighbors…and the list goes one. Why? Because every person a women with PPD has contact with is effected. What’s worse is that she might not even be aware she’s in ‘crazy hormonal dump land’-or as I like to call it, the crazy train-until she’s out. And unfortunately men will never understand what it’s like to have PPD because men don’t have babies and they don’t get dumped all over with hormones after the sweet babes are born. Plus, and this is kind of sad but I really don’t think women understand PPD until experiencing it for themselves.
I’ve seen PPD expressed through anger, guilt, stress, anxiety and straight up depression. Most of the time women don’t talk about their experience with PPD until the train is long gone. I know for me, I was embarrassed and ashamed with how I acted, having never talked about it with anyone.
PPD was different with my first two pregnancies. My first trip on the crazy train was about 16 months post partum. It was a dark and lonely place where a sad, emotionless version of me lived. I couldn’t find anything good in my life, nothing made me happy, and I couldn’t stand my husband (sorry babe). The only thing getting me up in the morning was my daughter; barely. I wanted to leave everyone and everything behind and just run away… from what, I still don’t know. And this lasted for about four months. I still shutter when I think back to that time because it was so. not. me. I ended up going to see my OBGYN since I had recently stopped nursing, and he asked me how I was feeling. I told him honestly how the last few months had felt to me (not knowing any differently) and he suggested I change my birth control pills since that could help the way I was feeling. I did as he suggested and within a month, I noticed a huge change in my mood. Like, the clouds cleared, the angels came out to sing, and everything was bright and shiny again change. I started to look back at the previous months and realized I had been in a dark place, unknown by me at the time.
My second time on the crazy train couldn’t have been more different. My PPD expressed itself in the form of extreme anxiety; like, I physically couldn’t leave the house because of fear of the outside world (agoraphobic much!) and how it would affect both kids. This anxiety didn’t kick in until about three months post partum and it was extremely inconvenient. Where as it wasn’t a dark place like the first time around, I was plagued with the most intense panic attacks when leaving the house and in a constant state of fear over the safety of my children. And once I started to feel a little better, I began having panic attacks over the safety and well-being of myself. I had written ‘to-do’ journals for my husband in case something happened to me, and left detailed notes all over the house so life wouldn’t have to change if I was no longer around. Thankfully, this phase didn’t last as long and with help talking to my mom and husband was able to get back to my normal. Looking back, it makes me sad to think I was like that, so scared and feeling so helpless in the world.
I’ll be honest, I’ve yet to go through any extreme form of PPD since the birth of my son earlier this year and I’d be lying if I said the thought of going through it doesn't scare me. But I think it's important for women who have given birth to be able to talk about what they're going through without being judged or mistreated, and without the fear of embarrassment or feeling ashamed. Also, it's very important for a new mom to know that she is most definitely not alone.