Vancouver Washington photographer for families who want a fun & laid back experience that results in a beautiful collection of family photos.
May 25, 2020
I thought about writing this for 3 years. I told myself if I was going to share it, I had to share it all and be completely open and honest. I hope this helps someone like it helped me to know that I wasn’t alone. I needed to know so badly that I wasn’t alone. That there were other moms that were experiencing postpartum depression.
I am a mom, wife, and I am a newborn photographer. After the birth of my son, I started to experience postpartum depression with anxiety. The experience shaped me into an awesome mother, kind wife, and compassionate newborn photographer. You’re not alone if you are feeling like you aren’t bonding with newborn or loving your new role as a mother, it’s not like the movies or the sappy diaper commercials. This shit is hard. My experience with postpartum depression started quickly and with a colicky newborn it was a recipe for an emotional disaster. I wanted out, I wanted to give him up, and I wanted to run away from my new role as a mother. I had hope through those who supported me and being honest about how I was feeling. It got better with time, talking, and being patient with myself. Here is my honest story.
The summer of 2016 I was pregnant at 36 years old, healthy, and life was blissful! My husband and I got married in June of that year and it was a second marriage for us both, with only a few close family members attending, a beautiful PNW waterfall, our dog, and each other. It was perfect. You could say we were an adventurous couple, we loved driving into the middle of nowhere and finding a beautiful new place to hike, camp, and photograph! We were spontaneous and it was one of the things I loved most about us. I was really living life to the fullest and loving it all. It was just us and our yellow lab Jack, onto another outdoor adventure! I lived for the weekends I got to spend with my guys in our little pop up trailer somewhere by Mount Adams listening to Elk in the morning and just being away from the hustle of life. It was awesome.
We always knew we wanted to get married and have kids but we weren’t planning on it for a few years. Actually, we were just too scared to plan it. After the shock of finding out we were pregnant, we were so happy to meet our son that August. I dreamed about what he would look like and how my husband would be with him. Not often, did I think about how hard it would be or at least I don’t remember really saying to myself that I was about to embark on the most challenging chapter of my life thus far. Sure, I knew it wouldn’t be easy but what does that even mean when you have no idea what to expect yet? You enjoy it and you know you’ll do your best. That is what I told myself.
My pregnancy was fairly easy and the time went fast, before we knew it, the end of the summer was upon us and unexpectedly my son was not moving at my last obstetric appointment. They didn’t know why he wasn’t moving but I wasn’t allowed to go home, I was admitted immediately, monitored, and the next night he was born. August 27th, he was here. Thank you God! He was beautiful and healthy! I just stared at him and snuggled all of his newness those first 24 hours. I was the most tired I had ever been in my life but I felt pretty blissful and good! However, things quickly changed over the next few days.
We were so ready to go home and get out of the hospital, the walls were starting to feel like they were closing in on us both and I knew I would feel great once we got home. The nurse came into to help with putting our son into his car seat for the ride home and that is when I remember feeling like something wasn’t right. Not like, I am scared to go home because I am new parent feeling. It was like it literally got dark but it was 80 degrees and sunny outside. I started crying and she asked if I was ok, I assured her I was. I thought it was a strange feeling but then I let the moment pass and continued to the car. I figured it’s just the baby blues or something but I was ok.
Within the first week we were home I was feeling really off, I wanted to go running and I walked around the block sweating because I was pushing myself too hard. I had stitches from tearing and I had just had a baby. I should not have been walking or running, it was strange but it felt good. I just wanted to move my body, maybe it was the anxiety kicking in and it was the only way I knew to deal with it at the time. It was really strange, I felt like I could’ve lifted my car with one hand.
Four weeks after he was born, one of my best friends came to visit from out of town to help and meet my son, I was so relieved to have her presence and the extra hands but I wanted to feel normal so badly when she was there. It was then I had really noticed how terrible I was feeling but I was embarrassed. My closest friends knew I was going through big hormonal changes and they assured me it was all to pass soon. I didn’t want to be honest and tell them I didn’t want to be a mom anymore. How would you tell someone that?
I had everything I had ever prayed for and I was miserable.
Why am I not thankful? Do I love him? Is this the feeling of love or anxiety for your child? I was confused, I had so many things running through my head.
The first night my girlfriend stayed with us my son was up so much I forgot how many times I got up. There were diapers piled up on the changing table, my eyes were completely blood shot, and I was beyond exhausted. He wasn’t sleeping more than 10-30 minutes at a time and when he woke up he was screaming. I thought he was dying or something was terribly wrong with him. Most nights were like this and it would go on most of the day, he would have some quiet times in the middle of the day but in general he was such a miserable baby. It broke my heart and pissed me off at the same time. He was awake a lot. He screamed a lot. He was a really hard baby. I felt crazy but I was thankful I wasn’t alone with him while my girlfriend was visiting. I asked her for her advice and if her kids were like this too with they were newborns. “They were not.” she said. I was glad she was honest and I was also sad because I thought I was doing something wrong to make him so fussy. I wasn’t, I know that now. Things kept getting harder. The uninvited comments and opinions were really hurting me and making the situation worse. I loathed getting advice I never asked for, it was infuriating but I did my best to be patient with people as I knew they were trying to help.
I was really struggling one afternoon, I had just brought my son back into our house after I went on a short outing but he was super fussy so I left. When I got home I sat him in his car seat on the living room floor and told my husband, “I am leaving now, I cannot do this anymore, goodbye.” I went to my car and sobbed, what the hell is wrong with me?! I called my mom, she tried to reassure me and asked, “well, you do love him right?” like if I said yes I would know it would all be ok but I didn’t know what I felt, it didn’t feel like love at all. I answered, “I don’t know.” and it crushed me. I am failing at this. I am a terrible person and mother, I cannot do this! I have to find a solution quickly. I walked back into the house and knew I had to find someone to take care of him because I couldn’t do it anymore.
I nonchalantly let my husband know that I had found a family to take him, I just needed to call the adoption agency and discuss what the next steps were. I had researched families one night while he was crying. I was ready to give him up to someone who could do it better than me and at that point anyone could’ve done it better than me. I sobbed while rocking him telling him how sorry I was for being his mom. I wanted out but didn’t know how.
Is he too old for me to take him to the fire station and drop him off?
Will they arrest me?
Can I just run away?
I literally prayed to God to let a car hit me because if it did, I could either die (which sounded like such a relief) or go to the hospital. If I went to the hospital I could talk to someone about having a new family take over and raise my son. His crying started to just all sound the same and I got used to it in a way. I became numb and could care less, I didn’t want him to be upset or hurting but I had literally done everything I could. Numerous pediatrician visits asking how I could help him, I wanted to know if it was something more serious going on with him that might be causing him to be miserable. I just couldn’t find the right way to soothe him, it’s a terrible feeling and you get so defeated when you can’t help your baby feel better. They thought he may have acid reflux and I didn’t know much about colic at that time. What I would have done to know more moms that had colic babies, I could’ve reached out and known it would get better. I had no idea it would get better.
At my six week postpartum appointment they asked me how I was feeling and I filled out a form that was evaluating me for postpartum depression. I answered them somewhat honestly but assured her I was starting to feel much better. She just said ok and didn’t ask me anymore. I wasn’t ok and wonder why I wasn’t asked more at that appointment. Looking back, I was a wreck. At about six weeks I felt the anxiety starting. It was like a whole new can of worms opened up. Something like the news could spin me into panic mode, I would start to have morbid fears about him or panic about someone kidnapping or hurting him flooded my thoughts all day. It was exhausting and I was terrified of everything. As a mother, we have rational and irrational fears. These were consuming me all day and I felt enraged, I was tired of being defeated with my son and exhausted from my fears of what someone might do to him if I accidentally left him at the grocery store. I was just becoming so incredibly bitchy and angry. I hated myself.
When I started opening up about my experience, asking questions from online support groups, and being open about how I was really feeling I very slowly felt a small glimmer of hope. It’s embarrassing to admit that you are struggling. Sharing your darkest thoughts about your experience with postpartum depression and anxiety is terrifying because it’s not talked about enough. WHY ARE WE NOT TALKING ABOUT THIS? ! It was a huge relief and the beginning of healing for me when I learned that other moms struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety.
I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t crazy.
It was a relief and still is to this day to know this is very common. Someone said to me one day, when my son was older, that I described motherhood bluntly. I agreed with her and asked why weren’t we all?
I wanted to do everything I could to prepare for my postpartum journey after my second child was born in October. I found out about placenta encapsulation through a friend of mine and she highly recommended it. I found Baby nest birth services in Vancouver Washington and they were amazing. I wanted to do everything I could not to feel the way I did after my son was born. It was simple, I just called her after my daughter was born, she picked up my placenta, and the next day she delivered my placenta in capsules to my home. I had more energy with out feeling anxiety, my milk production increased, and overall just felt more like me. I felt in control even when I was at my most fatigued, my second baby was even colicky too and I did overall really well. It was hard but I was getting through it.
I was honest with my OBGYN from the beginning of my second pregnancy and we talked about my past experience with postpartum depression the entire pregnancy. She had resources for me and I felt like she was always on top of how I was feeling, especially after my daughter was born. The outreach of friends and family was really amazing too. I appreciated that people were kind and I never felt judged for being honest about my experience. It made me wish I would’ve reached out sooner with my son, I might have found relief by talking about it right away. I just didn’t know that I was experiencing and that is why we need to talk about it more.
It took about a year or so to feel like myself again and over time I wasn’t so ashamed about it. The anxiety and insomnia lasted longer but it slowly tapered off also. I found out that a lot of women and even friends of mine had experienced postpartum depression also. Knowing I wasn’t alone was key to my healing.
I pray daily for strength to be the best mother to my kids. They are the most wonderful little humans on this planet and I wouldn’t want my life any other way. My son taught me to be a compassionate support person to all the moms I get to work with for my newborn photography. I strive to make their experience calm and simple. It is always an honor to be able to capture newborns for families.
If you know anyone or think you may be experiencing postpartum depression talk to your doctor or reach out to someone like a friend or family member. Talking can be a lifeline or a start to getting better.
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