In response to my last post, many people have suggested that I go see a doctor and be screened for PPD (post partum depression).
And reading each one of those comments made me angry.
I couldn’t quite pinpoint the reason. They are just trying to be supportive — why the hate? Did my anger stem from their recognizing the ugly truth? Do I really have PPD?
I took a cold hard look at myself. And I realized: no. I do not have PPD.
If I had PPD, I would find no joy in my daughter’s gummy smiles, explosive farts, and sudden bursts of laughter.
If I had PPD, I would have little or no desire in taking care of my daughter.
If I had PPD, I would have thoughts of hurting myself or the baby.
If I had PPD, I would not be blogging. I would wrap myself in a cocoon of doubt, guilt, self-pity and tears and remain so for hours on end. I would refuse to leave the house. I would lash out in anger at my loved ones. I would definitely not be able to take care of the baby.
Trust me; I know. I have suffered depression in the past and while these baby blues may seem intense to my readers, it is nothing compared to what I am capable of.
The truth of the matter is that I am not, and have never been, a happy-go-lucky girl. I am not an energetic, carefree person who exudes joy. I have always been more dark, pessimistic, and melancholy than my peers. But this does not always come through in my blogging, so when it does, people jump to the conclusion that I have taken a turn for the worse.
So while I am grateful to have so many readers who are concerned on my behalf, my first instinct was to become angry that these internet strangers — who do not know anything about my life aside from what I choose to reveal on the web — were so quick to diagnose a very serious condition.
Let me emphasize that I am grateful for the support. Anger was only my first — and unwarranted — reaction.
(But to the one commenter who asked me why my life isn’t what I expected when I had tried so hard to have this baby, please be more sensitive in the future. Your comment reminded me of the one I had received a few weeks back that implied I should be more thankful and loving toward Claire because I had suffered a miscarriage prior to having her.)
On the other hand, I was sincerely thankful for those who sympathized with the many changes and milestones that I have been going through as of late (some of which I do not share online). They reaffirmed to me that yes, it is perfectly normal to go a little crazy with so much going on.
I don’t share everything online. And while this blog may not clearly show it,
I am growing to (happily) love my daughter more and more each day.
In addition, those who are still reading this rant should note that my baby blue were definitely getting better…then got worse a couple of weeks ago. When I quit breastfeeding. And wouldn’t you know it — quitting breastfeeding apparently throws your hormones (and emotions) waayyyy out of whack, and the side effects are much worse when you quit cold-turkey, as I have.
And let’s face it: turning 30 isn’t easy for everyone. I am entitled to some tears, no?
P.S. — My birthday, while commencing on a sour note, turned out quite well at the end. J decided to take a day off from work and kept me company while I wallowed in the realization of turning 30. Later that night, he dragged me to a steakhouse (which has now become my new favorite restaurant this side of the Hudson River) and we had a lovely dinner while his parents watched the baby. I love this man.
Good for you for standing up for yourself! Just because you blog your frustrations doesn't mean that there aren't those happy things. I remember when people suggested that I go into therapy for PPD and I got so frustrated, too. Yes, I have to go back to work after 6 weeks because of my boss. Yes, I am stressed because my husband got laid off. But that doesn't mean that I have PPD!
You and Claire look lovely – happy belated 30th birthday! And good for you to getting down to pre-pregnancy weight. I didn't hit that mark until Neddy's 1st birthday!
I think you're awesome for posting the realities of being a new mother. I think a lot of people would just hide and say everything is wonderful, whether it really is or not.
Oh and I'm in denial that I"m getting older. lol. I just turned 28 and I'm refusing to acknowledge it. I'm going to be 25 forever. ha ha. I think when I hit the 3-0 milestone I'll probably have a breakdown. Or go crazy.
Keep up the awesome posting. I love it.
she keeps getting cuter and cuter! what a doll claire is 🙂
what steakhouse? i'm also on the jersey side of the hudson – have been looking for some good steakhouses. i'm so happy you and J got to celebrate your birthday without the little one!
Thumbs up for being able to get out and enjoy the day with your husband! That's what it's all about, ain't it? PS: adorable picture!
@Donna — I haven't hit it yet! I just hit my goal weight for my birthday…I still have 10 lbs to lose! (But I must admit I'm proud of myself for losing 40 lbs in 2 months.)
@baeshinja — The restaurant is River Palm Terrace in Edgewater. Make sure to get reservations…it was PACKED even on a Tuesday night!
I think you are very brave for your honesty! There will always be negative comments. This is your place to talk about your thoughts and your feelings, not to be judged! I applaud your sincerity.
My reaction to your previous post: "I would have killed my husband if he planned a surprise party IN MY OWN HOUSE when I was 2 months post-partum!"
I was at a surprise 30th birthday party this past weekend. The birthday girl is 6 months pregnant. They just bought and moved into a new house 2 months ago. Said house is being renovated- new windows, ripping out paneling, etc. Not a single room in the house is untouched by renovations. Ripped out walls, exposed beams, moving boxes everywhere, construction dust/debris galore, etc- you get the picture. Her husband and her family thought it was a good idea to throw her party AT HER HOUSE! They shoved aside some boxes, swept the floor, put out some folding chairs and had a party.
When we arrived at the party, I turned to my husband and said, "I'd kill you if you ever did something like this to me. To have all these people in my house when the house in in such disarray. I would lose my mind."
Why husbands think it's a good idea to throw you a party that you would then have to host and clean up after because it's in YOUR OWN HOUSE is beyond me. Throw it at a friend/family member's house, a restaurant, rent a hall- just don't make work for me!!
So I would have blown my top if I were in your position too. It may not be polite, constructive, rational or pretty, but I would have had the same visceral reaction you did.
And hey- at 2 months post-partum, I was only just starting to get back to myself- and I didn't have the BFing struggles you did. Hang in there. It continues to get better.
You go girl. Not every bad mood is PPD. Just like not every bad mood is "the time of the month."
I think that by default, ppl's blog entries tend to appear more "negative" to the audience b/c one of the main purposes of blogging is to be able to vent and that ends up being alot of the content. Hence the assumptions made about PPD. Yeah we still write about the wonderful things that happen to us, but ppl tend to be more responsive and emotional to things where they can make critical comments. You know yourself best, glad to hear you're doing well!
Although I think its likely you were just venting some frustrations, I have to say, the examples you listed are not necessarily the defining signs of PPD. PPD is actually a very common thing, and there is no need to shame those suffering from PPD or speaking on behalf of them with such blanket statements as "If I had PPD, I would not be blogging. I would wrap myself in a cocoon of doubt, guilt, self-pity and tears and remain so for hours on end. I would refuse to leave the house." PPD has many different faces, on many different levels.
I've really appreciated reading all of your posts about the struggles of being a new mom. I'm pregnant for the first time and due in April and it's not easy to find accounts of other first time moms who keep it real (and don't seem to dramatically exaggerate everything). And I think it's valuable to hear that just because it's hard doesn't mean anything is wrong. It just is what it is sometimes! I enjoy reading a well-written, humorous, somewhat dramatic story of the not-so-great parts of being a new mom, but I think your honesty and realism is much harder to find and has been (for me at least!) very valuable to read about. Thanks so much for keeping it real and being brave enough to share all of that with us- it's so appreciated!
I think you and I sound a lot alike. While I'm not a mother (or even expecting), your posts have resonated with me as things I might have to 'look forward' to in the future. Additionally, your most recent post about the 30th birthday party you cancelled — you sounded JUST LIKE ME. If I found out about a surprise party–especially one in my home, and one that'd upset my routines–I'd hit the roof under the conditions you're under. So I guess what I'm saying is that I never for a second thought you had PPD…You're just keeping it real, and as a rather pessimistic person myself, I think I can empathize with where you're coming from.
Thank you so much for responding on this topic, I feel like PPD is thrown around so much these days and yes, you are the best judge of this. As someone who also has gone through depression I am sure I will use my past experience as a measuring stick to help gauge if I have PPD in the future. You know your normal moods and I appreciate that what might sound like PPD for one person would not be such for another. I so appreciate your blog and your honesty. PS- Happy belated Birthday!
First, just wanted to wish you a belated Happy Birthday and say I'm so happy to hear it turned out well in the end. And you and Claire look lovely in that photo!
I know you were talking about YOU and your own depression experience above, but I just wanted to add a clarification on PPD. Some degree of PPD is incredibly common — one CDC study found the *majority* of women experience some amount of depression in the months after childbirth, and 7% rated that depression as "severe." I was one of the women in the severe category, and only one of your above statements came anywhere close to my experience. So just wanted to clarify for your readers that someone can suffer from PPD, even really severe PPD, and still function as a human, wife, and mother. She'll just be a lot more miserable than she would be without hormones messing with her life. And also had to add that I literally felt better within ONE DAY after getting on antidepressants. And then couldn't believe I had wasted so much of my baby's precious first months feeling miserable.
Never did PPD pop into my mind when reading that post. What I read was an honest expression of how hard being a mother can be. Good for you for learning a healthy balance of life. And I'm really happy that you got to have a good birthday.
Being mommy is thrilling exhausting frustrating and great all wrapped up in one. It's probably the horomones but I'm 11 months in with my daughter and I still have the roller coasters from the minute I wake until I go down at night (really, in the wee hours of morning), not to mention the insomnia battles since she's been born. Life in mommy world is great and it's not and I think that's okay. Who the hell wants to be happy all the damn time anyway? =) I love your little. She's super cute. That almost makes me want #2. Almost. Not quite. Okay… no. No I don't. Your Claire does look super delish though.
You do realize that when you put yourself out there so openly and honestly that you will get all kinds of reactions. You have to expect some will support you and others will attempt to fix you (kinda like I am doing right now). We don't know you we just ease drop on your life from time to time – so don't get angry when we or some don't always get you.
@Sunny — Exactly! I couldn't have said it better myself.
@LadyJain — I guess I need to clarify that those symptoms would be the signs of PPD in MYSELF, which may not necessarily be the same in others.
@Amy/Pretzel — Yes! This is what I am doing: using my own past experiences as a measuring stick. I know myself best.
@TwoWishes Tara — Thanks for the clarification. Like I mentioned above, these are what my symptoms would be like (based on my past experiences with depression) and by no means should anyone assume that all PPD sufferers go through the same thing.
@mother of 4 — Thanks for the concern, but I have the right to get angry at whomever I want, no? 😛
Yes, it is your blog – just don't be surprised if honest dialogue ends or all your comments are from well wishers and such.
@mother of 4 — As much as I love getting comments, my primary reason for blogging is not for comments. It is for myself. I write what I feel, and in this case what I felt was a short bout of anger (which I already stated in this post was unwarranted). Most of my readers seem to appreciate my honesty. That being said, I do not censor comments, nor have I ever turned off commenting. I realize that people will continue to disagree with me or even misconstrue my intentions just based on one visit/post/sentence. But I welcome that because (and I have written a post about this in the past) I believe that is what comes with the territory. If anyone doesn't want to read anymore, or does not want to comment anymore, they're free to do so. I will continue to blog even if I have just one reader.
I think what people need to understand is that with life and new motherhood there will be frustrations and trials. Add to the mix a bunch of crazy hormones, and a woman is bound to feel a little off. But doesn't mean she's clinically depressed. Baby blues are very real…I felt them myself, but it's not the PPD that everyone wants to call it. I'm no psychiatrist and I don't know you but virtually. Your honesty has always been refreshing, and if you did have PPD, I think you're open enough to admit it. I think people want to help, but diagnosing you is a slippery slope. You know yourself, and I trust that you know how to take care of you!
Like everyone has said already above, your realness is much appreciated. Do what you do, Jenny!
My son is 19 months old and I still feel the way you are feeling sometimes. Being a mom is hard work. It's when you can't admit that you're having a hard time that bad things usually happen. Being honest about it all only shows that you're facing it and dealing with it, and I think that's awesome.
While I completely respect this post and admire you for writing it, I really want to correct a couple of things.
Not ALL women who have Postpartum Depression have little to no desire to care for their baby. In fact, some of us are downright obsessive about taking care of our babies – to the point that we make flow-charts, lists, etc.
Not ALL women who have Postpartum Depression have thoughts of hurting themselves or their babies. Yes, some of us do, but not all of us do.
I am glad you are improving from the blues and that you know yourself well enough to know what symptoms would manifest for you. That alone is leaps and bounds above many women who unfortunately get caught up in the path of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.
I truly wish you all the best during this new time in your life.
Happy belated birthday!
Thank for the comment. Like I stated in a response above, I did not mean to generalize the symptoms of PPD — it just came across that way in this post, and for that I apologize.
I realize it wasn’t intentional – that you were speaking about yourself. As I have blogged about this for some time, I suppose I am a little over-sensitive to the possibility of a new mom reading information and mis-interpreting it. I have heard from countless women who do not think there is an issue because they don’t have what are considered “classic” symptoms of depression.
I sincerely hope you are doing well these days and wish you all the best!