I was never diagnosed with PPD, and therefore can’t claim direct expertise. But the infancy of my first child featured, at the very least, an ass-whuppin’ case of the baby blues.
I had almost every reason to be depressed. In that year I had lost most of my friends, moved to a physically isolated place and finally gotten pregnant, after years of trying. That was when my partner lost the job we’d moved for. Which was kind of lucky, because I was flat on my back barfing for 14 weeks, and unable to work, or do much of anything for myself.
And anyone who tells you “morning sickness’ is psychosomatic may be sent here to be smacked.
While my partner looked for work I loaded myself in the car for trips to food stamps and the pre-natal clinic. These things are better than starving or going without care, imo, but not an ideal fit with my cantankerous attitude. So it was tough.
When my partner was employed again, he was employed. I was fortunate to give birth on the weekend, so he could be there, but he was posted off on a business trip the next week, leaving me with a charming, healthy baby who cried all the time and a stack of flannel to be made into diapers~ in February, in upstate New York, in a farmhouse with no central heating.
I was lost. If I’d been formula feeding we would both have died, I have no doubt. The very idea I’d get out of bed to wash bottles would have been utterly beyond my capabilities. We had what had been romantically described to me as a “babymoon”, where we stayed warm in bed, nursing. I didn’t know that our latch problem caused the giant blisters on my nipples, and I didn’t much care because I was determined to nurse, come hell or high-water, and the subzero temperatures prevented the high water.
I burst into tears the minute my partner stepped through the door, if I wasn’t already crying. I tried every trick known to womankind to cure his colic, and kept trying new ones, and secretly thought, “Sh-t. Everyone told me not to be a parent, but I had to do it. Now he’s stuck with me. Poor baby.”
Eventually I could leave the house for the occasional La Leche League meeting, which was a new kind of hell because it involved strangers, germs, and suburbia, three things that depressed me, anyway. I had already lived through about half the things people need advice for, though, so I felt useful, and I actually made a couple of friends.
Then one day, the sun rose. I said hello to my baby boy and he smiled at me. And he had finished with the colic, and he smiled at me, his mother, and it was like a giant sheet of glass around me shattered, and I could finally feel the air. That was the beginning of the way forward.
Recent research suggests PPD (and possibly other forms of depression) may be caused, or exacerbated, by intestinal inflammation. I sure hope that’s true, and that moms of the future can take fish oil supplements and get prescriptions for sunny vacations. Because no one should go through this, even for a bit. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17397549?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_SingleItemSupl.Pubmed_Discovery_PMC&linkpos=3&log$=citedinpmcarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed