You never imagine it won’t go exactly how you plan — no matter how many times people tell you or how many books try to inform you that all pregnancies and deliveries are different. You never really believe that yours won’t be the way you see it in your dreams. I mean really, if you think about it you spend 9 (really 10) months planning and imagining all the possibilities of how it will be when you birth this new bundle of joy into the world.
For me, my last pregnancy and delivery was everything I never thought possible. I had heard of postpartum depression, but had never had any personal experience with it. I was too strong, too busy, and too naive to ever imagine any thing like that could happen to me. Until IT DID! I delivered my baby happy and healthy. Four days after giving birth and going home however, my dream suddenly turned into a real life nightmare.
I became very ill and went into congestive heart failure. I had no symptoms during pregnancy or birth. No warnings that the very thing that was giving me such joy was also wreaking havoc on my little body. As I recovered from the medical issues I began to have an intense fear of dying …dying in my sleep specifically. So I didn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep at all for 56 days (my husband counted)! I became non-functional. I was diagnosed with severe postpartum anxiety and almost had to be institutionalized. I cannot stress enough how unexpected this was. I had never even heard of postpartum anxiety. My two older children had to go live with relatives, and my life became a vicious cycle of seeing specialist after specialist in search of the thing I felt was killing me.
This went on for months and finally my OBGYN introduced me to the person who would help save my life. A psychiatrist! I had never seen one before. I’d never had a reason to. I can honestly say I never expected something as joyous and exciting as giving birth to cause any of this. It is my hope that moms and moms to be everywhere will start getting informed. Not so we can live in fear, but so we will live empowered. Bringing a life into the world really is a monumental task! Growing fingers, toes, eyes, ears, legs, and vital organs is hard work. And while we are expecting the best I hope we will get informed of all the possibilities, so we can prepare ourselves and our families for the unexpected. The good news is with proper care and support women who suffer with this can and will get better.