The scariest part of PPD is the effect it has on your bonding with your baby. Having twins makes it an even stranger dynamic because I struggled with just one of my boys. This seems very unfair but now looking back I can see it as a symptom of the depression and not a permanent problem.
Once I realised there was a problem I put out a call for help. This is the hardest part, asking for help. My Dear Wife was a superstar, she got me extra help, phoned family for regular babysitting and just generally picked up the slack. I am ever so grateful to be married to such a caring woman.
My mommy friends also rallied to my call. I have 3 mommies who were just amazing. Each had a different suggestion and all were helpful. Little Mo also has twins, she also had PPD from 3 months. She suggested going to talk to someone. Regular visits to a psychologist was what she needed to get out of her slump. She also dropped everything and came over for a visit and let me cry on her shoulder. She helped me understand that raising twins really is THAT hard and it is normal to be overwhelmed at some point.
Tatmom also came to visit. We commiserated over some cheesecake and it was lovely to get out of the house and away from the boys for a bit, and have some adult conversation. Her recommendation was to medicate the sh!t out of it. Tatmom is a firm believer in the power of chemical intervention. She helped me understand that PPD is completely out of your control and that it can be treated as any other disease. There is no shame in going onto antidepressants in order to cope.
Then my dear friend BIA who chatted for hours with me both over the phone and via BBM. She followed up with me everyday for weeks. The constant support and care let me feel very loved and not alone. BIA has two beautiful, angelic daughters. After her eldest was born she had a bout of PPD that left her unable to bond with her little one. I learnt from her that the effect of PPD on your relationship with your baby is NOT permanent and can be repaired. It is a symptom, not irreparable damage. I can only hope that I will be as good a mom to my boys as she is to her girls.
Then there were all the wonderful women on the Fertilicare support forum who gave me words of encouragement when I needed it.
When you ask for help you very quickly realise that you aren’t alone. PPD is horrible because it turns your focus inward and makes you struggle to see anything other than bleakness and darkness. Your family and friends are like rays of warm sunlight that burn the dark away. If you are struggling with depression, postpartum or otherwise, ask for help. You’ll be amazed at how much love there is around you waiting to lift you up.
Continued in part 3, treatment and climbing out of the hole.
I’ve been putting this post off for a while now. For the sake of honesty and a complete view of who Fabulous is, I suppose I should include my battle with postnatal depression. Who knows maybe it helps someone out there in blog land.
I guess I would have to begin with how I knew things weren’t okay. After my Angel Nanny got back from holiday a week late I was shattered. Two weeks of 24hr on call had taken it out of me. Instead of bouncing back once AN was back and I caught up on sleep, I found myself slipping further and further down into a dark hole. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I resented the boys and the demands they placed on me. I was tired and emotional all the time, but the thing that scared me the most was the uncontrollable anger I was feeling directed at the boys.
Monkey has this funny little foible. He likes to be jiggled, bounced and swayed rather vigorously. The more vigorous, the better. Now it has to be said that dear Monkey is a lot more labour intensive than his brother. He has a quicksilver temperament and is quick to smile and quick to cry. I found myself being very rough with him, bouncing him too hard, shaking him (not the do-damage kind of shaking but enough to scare me) and swearing at him. It was worse at night when I had gotten up for the fifth time and he was crying uncontrollably. Eventually my anger was spilling over onto my happy little docile Lion Cub and he was bearing the brunt of my frustration. Not fair. Not fair to either of them or me. One night Monkey started crying and instead of getting up I just rolled over and ignored him.
I did a quick consult with Dr Google and very quickly realised that I was in the middle of a postnatal depressive meltdown.
These are things to look out for:
A feeling of being overwhelmed
Sleep and eating disturbances
Inability to be comforted
Anhedonia (that is not being able to enjoy things you used to)
Low or no energy
Becoming easily frustrated
Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby
Impaired speech and writing
Spells of anger towards others
Increased anxiety or panic attacks
Decreased sex drive
Thoughts of doing harm to yourself or your baby
I found myself ticking everything on the list.
Yup, definitely PPD then, damn! Now what? How to go about fixing things? I was lucky that I was able to recognise the problem within a short time, I’ve heard stories of women who struggled for months or years because they thought they were being weak or it was normal to be that tired and overwhelmed.
Continued in part 2.
I’m still trying to figure my way around WordPress and how to add pictures to a post. My last attempt was less than successful so please bear with me.
Here are some photos of my dear boys! I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy showing them off.
The boys! Monkey on the left and Lion Cub on the right.
Enjoying some tummy time
A little Lion Cub shaped teddy bear
Monkey reading about making friends.
Lion Cub laughing, it is almost impossible to get a photo of him smiling that isn’t blurry because he laughs with his whole body.
A smiling Monkey
These photos are all from about 4 months old. I can’t believe how quickly they are growing.
One of the funniest things in the world is watching a baby taste solid food for the first time.
We started with rice cereal on Sunday. I bought a box of Hipp Organic Baby Rice but put it away in the cupboard while dithering about whether it is too early to start them on it or not.
Monkey took to it like a fish to water. He has better hand-mouth coordination and has been chewing on a teether for a while already. More food was smeared across his face than anything else but a fair bit got swallowed too.
Lion Cub recycled the same spoonful of porridge over and over. He has the better appetite for the bottle but he is less than impressed by the cereal.
Angel Nanny suggested making the cereal more runny and now both boys are finishing 5tsp of porridge twice a day.
Is it odd that I’m so inordinately proud of my babies for being able to eat real food? They are so very clever!
They boys are 4 months old today! I can’t believe how time is flying. As I sit typing this Monkey is lying on the playmat cooing and gurgling while batting at the hanging toys and smiling the biggest smile you ever saw. Lion Cub is helping Angel Nanny bring the washing in off the line. Well, actually he is lying in the pram and staring at the leaves on the trees while AN does the hard work but he is there for moral support.
The boys are going to start solids soon. I can’t believe it is time already. Our Well Baby Sister recommended starting solids at 17 weeks (now) but I’m not sure I’m ready yet. Maybe I’m being silly but it seems like such a big step and I’m not sure the boys are ready. That said I did buy a box of Hipp Organic Rice Cereal and it is staring at me everytime I open the pantry.
Monkey has been sleeping badly since his vaccinations. I’m hoping he goes back to normal soon because I’m starting to feel like a zombie. He wakes every hour on the hour. It is exhausting. Last night I was awake with the boys from 3am onwards. When AN came in I handed the boys over to her and jumped back into bed for a couple hours. It is all that is keeping me sane at the moment.
I’ll update you all on how the solids go.