Sweet Evelyn Rose and Life with Postpartum Depression
It’s been SO long since I’ve given a little life update here. So long, in fact, that our sweet little girl is over 5 months old and I STILL haven’t shared her birth story. Oops!
I’m going to warn you now – this post is LONG. Like, really long. I tend to ramble. I blame my dad for that 😉
Here’s my girl right after birth and here she is now!
I truly can’t get over how beautiful she is. She has the prettiest eyes that stare in wonder at everything around her and her smile, that smile, I just can’t get enough of it.
She, like her brothers, did not want to get out of my belly. I have the easiest pregnancies and then horrible, horrible labors. Without going into too much about what happened with the boys, she was by far the easiest birth!
She was due on April 14th. That day came and went like every other due date I’ve had. I had weekly appointments by then and they were checking to see if I was dilated or effaced and of course I wasn’t. It’s impossibly defeating to be hoping for even a half centimeter, just ANYTHING, and being told “nope, nothing. Not happening any time soon”.
My last appointment was April 25th. I was checked one last time, still only 1/2 cm dilated and barely effaced. Thankfully at this point, I had mentally prepared myself for this and didn’t cry to my husband and wonder what was wrong with my body. They set up my induction for April 28th at 1am. Yes, 1 o’clock IN THE MORNING. Madness.
With Charlie, I had to be induced but had a successful VBAC. I could write an entire (horror) novel on that experience. Liam was a c-section because he was breech. This was my third child, fourth pregnancy, and I had never gone into labor naturally. I did everything google told me to to try and get all these kids out and it made zero difference.
So, needless to say, I was feeling very defeated and just mentally preparing myself for yet another days long induction marathon. It’s hard now to say those feelings because right now I’m just so happy to have 3 healthy kiddos. But, at the time, I distinctly remember those feelings and just being so….down. Frustrated. Tired. Fat. 😉
I probably asked my husband what was wrong with my body 100 times. And every time he so patiently told me “nothing”. He is truly the saint in these pregnancies.
Well, to my surprise, on April 27th, just one day before my scheduled induction, I woke up in the middle of the night having very intense contractions. They took my breath away and I was SOOOO excited haha. I hoped and prayed to just be in pain so that I could do this on my own and it was happening!!
I got up and took a shower and had some coffee and just tried to remember every time she moved, tried to cement that memory into my brain. After the kids are born, I miss feeling them move inside me, miss feeling them a part of me. The other two births were nothing short of traumatic. Instead of remember them in my belly, I remember the births, the pain, the exhaustion. So, if I could do this one on my own, I wanted to remember what carrying her felt like. I wanted to remember the joy this time.
I didn’t wake my husband up because he is like waking a toddler up at 3am. Mean, grouchy, and throws tantrums. If this was the real thing, I’d wake him up when I needed him. The contractions kept getting stronger, longer, and closer together so I woke him up around 4am and told him to take a shower because I think this is it! He told his parents just in case we had to go to the hospital and I was SOOO excited.
Well, the day went on and the contractions were lasting over a minute each time but were only coming 6 to 10 minutes apart. They didn’t get any closer together. Just every 6-10 minutes throughout the day and very painful. By night, I was frustrated again and over it. We put the boys to bed and tried to sleep a few hours before going in for the induction.
My husband, of course, passed out in 5 minutes but there was no way I could sleep. So, I laid in bed being angry at my body and wondering why I couldn’t just go into labor. Why my body refused to do what it was “supposed” to do.
We left for the hospital at midnight or 12:30am, I can’t remember, and I was mad the entire way to the hospital. Why is this happening AGAIN!? I swore I was never having any more children.
Once we were all checked in, a resident came to check me and talk about how they were going to induce me. To my surprise, when he checked me, I was 4cm!!! All on my own!!! It turns out I was actually in labor, my body had actually taken some steps to get that girl out. I was in shock. I thought for sure I was going to just be 1/2cm again and have to do the marathon induction I had with Charlie a second time.
They started me on pitocin and the contractions quickly got closer together and more painful. With Charlie, I really wanted a natural, unmedicated birth. But, I could’t do it with pitocin. This time around, I was already feeling so defeated that I didn’t have it in me to fight the pain and go unmedicated. Before I got the epidural around 5am they told me to “try and get some sleep”. Yeah, ok. Well, my husband took that message to heart and passed out on the couch in the delivery room but not before asking the nurse to bring him a blanket. OH. MY. GOSH.
After a few hours on pitocin I asked for the epidural. In hindsight, I wish I would have tried for an unmedicated birth. I just couldn’t fight the pain this time. This epidural was completely different from the one I had with Charlie. I was still able to feel the contractions, just not the pain. Whereas with Charlie, I felt nothing. Like nothing. They came to check me and his head was coming out. I felt nothing haha.
My husband went back to sleep and I tried to rest. There was no way I could actually go to sleep. The anticipation, worry, excitement, basically all the feelings scrolled continuously through my head.
At 7am the nurses changed shifts. I sat there while they chatted about me and what had happened. She said “it shouldn’t be much longer”. Well, about 20 minutes later I was in SO MUCH PAIN. I woke my husband up and I kept pressing the button for more medication but I wasn’t due. I was sobbing and told him to call the nurse because something was wrong. No! I had to push RIGHT NOW.
The nurse said to wait and she called the doctor in and oh I was 10cm! This was the first time I had actually felt crowning and the urge to push. 10 minutes later, little Evelyn Rose was born! I never have to push much apparently. Once the kids decide they’re coming, they shoot out like a rocket.
She was 8lb 7oz and 21 inches long with a full head of the darkest brown hair. I tear up now just thinking about her being placed on my chest all gross and new and beautiful. I will never have the words to describe having a child inside of you being placed on your chest. Words can never adequately explain that feeling.
I immediately loved her immensely. I held her close with her warmed blanket while they finished up with delivering the placenta and stitching me up. In an ideal world, I would have delivered at home with just a midwife and no medication. I expressed these desires to the staff there and they were so great with doing skin to skin for an hour after birth and delaying the cord clamping.
Gosh, I wish I had better words to describe that experience. I’m always so surprised at how awake they are right after birth. Her eyes staring so intently at me. Who knows if she could actually see me haha but I feel like that initial moment is one of the most beautiful things a mother can experience.
We went to our room and since this was our third child, they pretty much left us alone. Which was really nice. My husband stayed over the first night (I hate being alone!) but I liked being just alone with her the last night. I knew the utter chaos that awaited me at home. And boy, chaos doesn’t begin to touch that experience. But, we’ll get to that soon.
Liam was just the sweetest with her, as I expected him to be. He wanted to love her, hold her, kiss her, and talk incessantly about how pretty she is. Charlie was slightly interested but really just wanted to eat cake and snuggle with me.
Those first few weeks are always hard. I’m tired and emotional. She didn’t sleep at night, just like all newborns. It didn’t make it easier that I was expecting her not to sleep.
Charlie is … difficult. He had a really hard time with her being home. He wanted all of me and I couldn’t give him that.
It was going pretty much as expected until one night we were putting the kids to bed and I was holding Charlie. I was only a few weeks postpartum so I shouldn’t have been holding him yet. I began to start gushing blood in a way I’ve never experienced in my life. It was terrifying. I started to feel weak and dizzy. The doctor said for us to go to the ER. I said goodnight to the boys and in my head I kept thinking “is this the last time they’ll see me?” “will they grow up without a mother”?
I can honestly say I’ve never been so scared in my life. Everything flashed before me and I was .so. .scared.
It ended up being just a spot that hadn’t fully healed in my uterus. They gave me something for the bleeding and we went home.
I believe this is the point that everything sort of changed for me. The thought of my kids not having a mother, of not being there for them, enveloped me. I was terrified of bleeding again. I was terrified of leaving them.
Slowly, it started to get worse. I couldn’t emotionally handle Charlie’s tantrums. Liam’s incessant whining and need for constant attention drove me insane.
Then, I worried about not being a good enough mother. Not being there for them in the way they needed. I couldn’t sleep.
It all came to a head on Liam’s 5th birthday. I’m not sure what it was about that day. Him turning 5. Where had the past 5 years gone?! I admire my husband for being able to forget the past, move past mistakes, and live without regrets. For me, all I could think about were my regrets. I regretted working full time after I had him, I regretted not doing any mommy and me classes with him, I regretted renovating this house and losing those 2 years as a family. I missed the time I had when it was just me and him and feel like I didn’t take full advantage of it. All i could see, feel, hear were my regrets and mistakes.
It was a crippling feeling. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t sleep.
It was at that point that we realized I had to see someone. I had to get help. My husband had to work from home entirely too much because I couldn’t be the mother they all needed me to be. It wasn’t because I didn’t love them with everything in me and it certainly wasn’t because I wasn’t trying. I just could only see regret.
I felt like I was living in constant regret and I wasn’t going to be enough for them. They would be my age and talking to their spouses about how their mom wasn’t a good mom. How she went to work instead of being with them. How she cried every day. How sad she was.
Going to a psychiatrist is SOOOO not my thing. I hate hate hate talking about feelings. Even my husband has to drag feelings out me. And I can count on zero fingers how many times I’ve cried in front of people that aren’t my husband. But, I cried in that appointment. I said I couldn’t get off the couch to play with them, I couldn’t take them to the park or get ice cream. I just couldn’t do anything. It’s not that I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do or be anything except this person living in regret and deep, dark sadness.
These 3 strangers made me feel so much better. That I wasn’t broken, I wasn’t a bad mom. I was given something to help with sleep and things began to improve. I wished I could just wave a magic wand and be better. But, it was more of a slow, hard, and long uphill battle.
I’m not going to lie, it’s still hard for me today. Feeling alone and having no one help me weighed heavily on my heart. Only my husband was there for me. And my SIL was great, too! She came to play, she brought me stuff to sleep, she would send me recommendations and ideas for me to try. Most of all, she let me be me and feel how I needed to feel. Other than that, I was alone.
It was extremely uncomfortable for me to admit something was wrong and be seen like that. I would prefer to remain guarded. To be rejected at your most vulnerable state by the people around me was crippling.
I’m not a perfect mother. I joke with my husband that I’m the world’s okayest mom (as seen on a shirt on Etsy). What I do know and what I’ve learned from this experience is how I want to be for my kids.
I want to be there for them always. Every. Single. Time. Not when it’s convenient for me, not when I feel like it. Every time they need me.
I will always value them and how they feel. Their feelings are valid, even if I don’t think they are or I think they’re being silly. I was never able to talk with my parents about my feelings and I still can’t without being judged and I never want this for them.
If I make a mistake, if I unknowingly hurt them or upset them, I will always apologize and acknowledge their feelings. I love them entirely too much to let my own pride stand in the way. I was raised to forgive and forget but what I realized recently is that doesn’t heal pain. Only acknowledgement and dialogue truly heals pain and in turn promotes a stronger relationship.
For me to be a better mother, I need to break from the cycle of internalizing pain and feelings for fear of being seen and rejected. I need to fix these things in myself for me to be there 100% for them.
I’ll inevitably do something wrong that they’ll talk to me about when they’re older. I just know I want to give them all my love, allow them to have feelings and feel comfortable talking to me, never feel embarrased or ashamed or judged for having a particular feeling or emotion, and know to always treat others that same way.
This is kind of a tangent from PPD but I realized that all of these feelings I had about rejection and lack of love and support were trickling over into me as a mother. I had to stop that cycle and be better for them.
I give so much love and credit to my husband for being the absolute best person ever. He always has been a better person than me in every way (except humor haha) and will continue to be. Without him, I would not have made it through this.
My sweet Evelyn is now over 5 months old. She sleeps through the night, nurses like a champion, and lights up any room with her smile.
I dream of winning the lottery. Not because I want money and things and possessions. Because I want the freedom to not work as much and be a family. I still can’t sleep any time I have to go to work because I feel like I’m doing something wrong. My husband and I used to talk about how we envisioned our family back when we were in college and not even dating. Our views aligned so perfectly and it nearly kills me that we aren’t there yet.
These years are flying by so quickly. This girl is 5months old already. Liam is 5 years old and going to kindergarten next year. We are working so hard to get to where we want to be and it feels like running in cement. Me being me, I regret so many things and want to go back and change what we did. I would go through all the crazy labors again if I could just change this one thing, I tell myself.
In the worst parts of PPD, I would think the kids all got one day older today and I spent that entire day at work. I didn’t see them at all that day. I can’t get that day back. How many days have gone on like this that I wasn’t there?
I realize so many people have it worse than me. Keeping perspective is difficult when I’m feeling crushed in regret and having no one there for me.
I’m so thankful for having this blog where I can write these feelings. This has been such a therapeutic post for me. I wrote this all this morning with Charlie at my side and tears in my eyes. It’s so hard you guys. Life and love and relationships are hard. If we could all just be a little better, think about others a little more, and just be there, be present, be supportive, this world would be a lot different.
I set up my camera the other day and took some pictures of these 3 little children of mine. Each unique in their personalities. Each experiencing love and pain and sadness and hurt and happiness differently.
Liam. My sweet boy. He has so much love to give and demands almost as much attention as Evie. He will be loved by many and have so many friends. He’s social and caring and never stops talking. He has all the best qualities of his dad.
Charles. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This kid tests me in every way. But, man, when he looks at you with those big blue eyes and talks in just the sweetest soft voice, my heart melts. He says “I must” instead of “I have to”. So, “I must go to sleep”. Cutest. Thing. Ever. Charles will one day rule the world. You’ve been warned 😉
Evelyn. The girl with the smile and screeching scream for me. She keeps her eyes locked on me at all times. If it’s not me, then she’s staring at her brothers. She wants to be mobile and part of the group. I’m terrified of parenting her. Of not loving her the way she needs me to. I can’t wait to watch her grow .
I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Thank you for sharing this very personal story. The more we talk about it, the more power we give other women who are going through it. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through, but gives me so much perspective still to this day. My daughter is 9 now. But I remember laying in the bathtub planning my own death while she cried in hunger. I got help and was medicated for a few years before finally feeling strong enough to be without pills.
Sending you much love. You’re not alone. <3
Oh wow. This is such an amazing story and I’m sure it was difficult to put all those feelings into words. I’m glad you recognized that you needed help. Maybe if more women discuss it, then others won’t live in pain for so long.
Your family is absolutely gorgeous and I’m so, so sorry to hear you went through all that. So glad you got yourself help. I can totally relate to feeling reluctant to go to therapy, but it is so important because sometimes we are just…. Stuck. And at some point the people who love us can only do so much to help us!
My own mom has struggled with anxiety and depression and I know a lot of these issues pertained to her role as a mom and to the feeling of never being good enough. I do not have kids yet so I can only speak as the daughter of said mom – please, please believe that you ARE good enough. Every parent who does their best is. Nobody, absolutely nobody is perfect. I remember rather little about my parents’ early childhood parenting (and by ‘early’, I mean below 10…). Most of my memories are fuzzy like this: “Mom loves me very much. She cooks delicious spaghetti and says one shouldn’t eat too many sweets. She’s often a little sad and gets upset easily.” – “Dad loves me very much. He takes us to the zoo and teaches me how to swim and ride a bicycle. I don’t dare talk when he’s angry.” (Conversely, I remember my parents’ way of dealing with my teenage behavior far, far more vividly than that….)
You say you have been worried your children would grow up to be adults and tell their partners you were at work too often and weren’t a very good mom. I’m no psychic…. but I can pretty much guarantee you that that will NOT happen 🙂 My dad always worked full-time, in an era without remote access and home office, leaving at 7am and coming back at 6:30pm every day. The thought that he wasn’t around often would never, ever have crossed my mind. What was important was that he’d show up at the violin recital (and pretended to like it). He attended open day at school. He was there for dinner and cleaned the dishes afterwards. He’d tuck us under, say goodnight and read us stories. I hope you don’t think now “but he wasn’t the mother”. I really, really don’t believe it matters at all. I actually wish my mother – who was a stay-at-home-parent primarily because she thought she had to, as it was the norm in the early 90s – had done more of the things that she wanted for herself, and not been so afraid of being/appearing ‘selfish.’ Perhaps she’d been happier for it. I can safely say I never once minded spending time with a nanny, or away at my grandma’s, or a friend’s, when my parents were traveling or occupied otherwise (provided I liked the person I was with…. I remember one particular tantrum aged 5ish where I’d hide in the closet because for no good reason at all, I hated that babysitter haha). That probably won’t help you shake the feeling of missing out on time with them, but I am positive that in the grand scheme of things, they don’t mind that you are not always there. Perhaps in the long run, they will take pride in what you do for a living? My answer to “what do your parents do?” would always be “my dad is a lawyer, and my mom is obviously my mom.” (Self-centered much? I didn’t know for the longest time that she was actually an accountant – hell, there were so few working moms where I grew up that I was barely aware of the concept of a working mother, something the feminist in me now resents to no end).
I know there are a million ways to do it and to get ‘it’ right, and as a non-parent I can only recall my own very personal experience being raised by two fantastic parents who most definitely had their own share of doubts. But I’d say chances are you are ROCKING IT this very moment and have been doing so ever since Liam came into the world… So please take good care of yourself, and feel proud of this incredible thing that you are doing every day (Raising kids! Blogging! Working yet another job! I’m already proud of myself for washing the dishes right after eating…). And last but not least, THANK YOU for sharing your story, and for all the beautiful content you create!
All the best,
Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so glad that you are doing better. I’ve been praying and will continue to pray that God will send you some close girlfriends. It makes a big difference to have friends in your life that are going through the same experiences as a young mom that you are. They will truly understand how you feel. When my 4 children were little, my best friend and I occasionally kept each other’s children. It was good for the kids and it was good for both of us to have a break. I believe nothing is as rewarding as being a mother but being a mother to very young children is tough because it’s tiring both physically and emotionally.
I admire you, Sarah, for opening your hear and sharing your story! You are a wonderful mommy and your precious children are blessed! (P.s. I dream of winning the lottery for the aane reasons!) Hugs!
Sarah, you are such a courageous woman to share such a vulnerable part of your life. I think every Mama can relate to parts of this, to feeling much of this at some point or another. Reading these words and hearing you beat yourself up with regret breaks my heart, but I think we’re all guilty of judging ourselves more harshly than anyone else ever could. Of expecting more from ourselves than anyone else ever would. If only we could see ourselves as others see us, as our kids see us. Being a Mom is the hardest, most thankless, yet most rewarding job in the world. There’s nothing that consumes me so much as thoughts about my son and how I parent him each and every day. We Mamas have to stick together, support one another and give ourselves permission to not have to do it ALL so darn perfectly. Sending you love my friend. xoxo
Thanks so much for sharing your story! It sounds like you’re doing an awesome job mothering your 3 sweet babies. I’ve dealt with similar feelings but more anxiety than anything being a first time mom. I know that sharing your victories and also struggles with other women is so therapeutic. I pray your story will encourage many more mothers as it did me. I’ve certainly been inspired to share my post partum story because of you. Enjoy those babies this weekend! 😉
WOW that is a beautifully honest post. I work with toddlers in a daycare and I see a lot when it comes to kids and families. I honestly wish a fraction of my parents had your feelings. As it stands I look at those poor kids and think I love them more than their own parents. We have some kids who are in our care 50 hours a week! Insane! We are raising them, not the parents. To witness a drop off where the child is upset because they want their parent and the parent is annoyed with the child and cant wait to get away from them is a daily event in my world. Just as when they are picked up and the parent is annoyed that they have to “deal” with their own child is very frustrating. Yet you are a breath of fresh air. A parent who wants to be with their children and has regret when they leave them. THANK YOU for giving me hope in this world. Your children are going to not only be ok but be better because of you and your love. Don’t ever doubt your amazing parenting skills, your doing a wonderful job. If you ever need reassurance about that just ask—I have a ton of horror stories to tell you about what I witness at my job.
Sarah, thank you for sharing your story. You are far from alone. I have 4 grown kids and also went through PPD but at the time I did not know what it was. I felt useless and inadequate. But you know what, kids are incredible. They love you because YOU are their mom. They don’t care about your imperfections. All they care about is that their mom loves them and this is something they can feel. They love and accept you because you are theirs. It took me a long time to get that. Looking back I did the best I could under the circumstances and they turned out fine. Bless you and your sweet family! Your children are adorable.
Thank you for this very honest post. PPD is so real, and is so often hidden. It’s okay to have these feelings, I think most mothers have them, and it’s also okay to get help. Your children are beautiful, and you’re doing a great job!