Postpartum Anxiety/Depression after the Loss of a Baby
I didn’t know this could happen.
I had no idea that you could experience postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression after the loss of a baby or a miscarriage.
I mean, it makes sense. I think I just figured it happened from lack of sleep, nursing, hormones, etc.
If you lost a child, you grieved. You were sad. I was. I was all of that and more. But it was all normal – right?
And then the nightmares started. Vivid ones, where I could see Bella falling and being killed, being run over, finding her dead – and there wasn’t anything I could do. I had them constantly at night. I’d wake up around 4am and toss and turn, unable to get back to sleep. When I did, I’d have another one. Sometimes they were about Sam. Always someone was being killed or already dead.
I felt a normal grief process during the day – for the most part. But when it hit me, it hit me so hard that I couldn’t function without forcing myself to move on, to ignore, to push it down. Or just explode into tears and grief and sob.
I felt like my life was this huge bomb waiting to explode on me again. I knew intensely now there are no guarantees in life – nothing says that tomorrow I or anyone I care for will wake up. Will make it. And it began to eat away at me, the terror of “What if this happens again?”
A thought would hit me about something from the hospital I could have changed, and then the rush of, “What if that was what caused me to go into labor?” Althought there isn’t anything I could have done differently, the guilt would pour over me. I would dream of Preston and Julian in pain and my mind would race about how I could fix it. Even though there was nothing to fix.
I’d snap at Bella and instantly think, “Wonderful Diana. If she dies you’re really going to regret saying that to her.”
I couldn’t think of my sons without crying. I pushed myself to get up, get things done, get back to normal every day – and while I did it, I felt like I was keeping busy to avoid thinking about the trauma that would come next.
I thought it was all normal. I thought it was grief.
And part of it is. But as my doctor told me a month ago in her office, some of it wasn’t normal grief. I just kept waiting for life to fall apart again and that every moment needed to be LIVED. Living like that is exhausting my friends, those songs and quotes about living like tomorrow might not come – that’s emotionally impossible. It causes you to become a crazy person with the reminders of, “But what if this is the last time I see/hear/kiss them?”
I spilled all this to my Dr while bawling. I had no idea I had postpartum anxiety, not that it was a total surprise since my anxiety levels were off the chart even before all of this, but something in me just snapped when the boys died. Instead of knowing I’d faced my worst fears and been ok, it started to reverse and make me even more terrified of what had happened and could happen again.
God has a plan for me – for my life. God knows where I struggle and need help. I believe he gave my doctor the wisdom to tell me that she thought I needed something short term in order to start to get past the PPA and heal in a different way.
So I am on Zoloft. And it’s taken me a month to tell you all this because I wasn’t sure how to say it. I know a lot of people are very anti-meds, and I do understand that. I am not, but I am very conservative with how I take them. So it took me 3 days to even get the prescription filled, and then I kept wondering if it was really going to do anything but make me a zombie.
Instead, it has helped tremendously in my healing and in my faith. While the nightmares aren’t totally gone, I am given a break from them most nights. My thoughts and fears that would almost paralyze me during the day have slowed – I can get out and play with Bella and stand in the Target baby aisle to pick out something for my friends little boy without crying. I am able to start to feel God’s presence in my life even more because I’m able to reach out to Him in a clearer manner. To seek Him in a different way.
I am able to think of my little boys in a wistfully sad way. But to really, really think about them. Not to have them pop into my mind and for it to be so incredibly painful I push it away. I think on them, I ponder them. I can see their pictures and cry but it isn’t so upsetting that I spend the day trying to pull myself back out of it again.
I’m a month in with Zoloft. And I know many of you reading this might be thinking, “This is me – do I need help? Do I have postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression?” I can’t say that, everyone grieves differently and your grief may indeed be normal for you. For me – it was beginning to entrap. I felt like my healing was stilted because of the PPA. I feel like a different person and yet still the same. Just able to see the situation differently and feel that hope and happiness I’d struggled to find again.
I feel God’s love for me wrapped so tight – I yearn to share it with you all and hope you can read it in my words on here. How much we are loved, how He wants to see us take life and make it a beautiful thing.
I’m trying, but I wasn’t able to do it on my own. I turned to the Lord, and He turned me to the wisdom and trust in my Dr. And I’m starting to see that there is a light and a hope after this. That my sons changed everything for us in ways I can’t even imagine. I wouldn’t have traded them, but I didn’t get a choice. So I take what I have and choose happiness.
I wanted to tell you all this because I’m not ashamed. I’m not afraid of the backlash that might come from it. I’m ok with where I’m at in my healing and walk with God.
I want you to know that you can experience more than grief if you lose a child, and there is no shame in reaching out and saying, “Something else is going on.” It doesn’t mean you don’t have faith, or haven’t prayed hard enough, or are using medicine as a crutch.
I firmly believe that God has a plan for me in all of this. I may be dealing with the loss of my sons and PPA, but I chose to find the joy in my life now. And if took medication to make it easier to do so, that’s ok with me.