Postpartum depression (PPD) was the one thing I knew I would 100% be forced to endure because of my lifelong struggle with clinical depression. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of swelling, pain, or lack of sleep, but I thought for sure I was prepared to battle the inevitable depression head on. There was no amount of preparation I could have accomplished to silence my internal demons after my cesarean. I was sinking at an alarming rate because of my PPD, or what I thought was PPD.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my child. She has provided me with such a strong sense of purpose and motivation unlike I have ever experienced, except for during the first 2 months of her life. I’ve always loved Storm, ever since I heard her fierce, high pitched cry with half of my insides sitting around me, I knew that she was the love of my life. Regardless, I had a difficult internal battle that quickly escalated to a war.
I did call my doctor because I got to that low point of not knowing what to do. He put me on a low dose of anti-depressants and sent me on my way, which didn’t help at all. He told me PPD is common, and it will go away in a week or 2. Except it didn’t.
For many women, they are unable to bond with their babies as a result of PPD, but that didn’t happen with me and Storm. The bond that my daughter and I share is the single strongest relationship that will ever occur in my lifetime, and I know I’m one of the lucky ones to experience that attachment. Although I did bond with Storm, I wanted to shut her and I into our house, turn off all of the lights, and curl up into ball while she slept in my arms and cry. I would cry every single day, sometimes all day for those first 2 months. The only time I held it together was when other people were around, which made me feel like a shaken soda can about to burst in a never ending sob. It took me nearly 3 weeks from my csection to wean myself from the pain medication. After I had a clear head, I began to attempt to identify and recognize the triggers of what was pulling me under. Once I figured out why my PPD was so intense, I figured out it wasn’t PPD at all.
I exclusively breastfed my daughter the first 2 months of her life. I was completely dedicated to breastfeeding after a monstrous amount of research I did while pregnant. Nearly every time I pumped or fed my baby I would have to fight back tears. As soon as Storm would begin to eat, I had that feeling where your throat feels like it has dropped to your stomach and a 500 pound boulder is sitting on your chest. Every. Single. Time. My eyes would burn and tingle in a useless attempt to hold back tears as an overwhelming sadness gripped my core.
I didn’t understand. Everything I had read told me breastfeeding decreased PPD symptoms, but for me it was the complete opposite. As soon as I read about Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) I knew that was what I had been struggling with.
D-MER is “...an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release and continuing not more than a few minutes.” I felt as though I was completely and devistatingly depressed because of my D-MER. Storm was eating every 2 hours on the dot, and I had mistaken D-MER with severe PPD, so every 2 hours I felt the most depressed and emotionally helpless like I never had before.
I thought that since I had finally identified what was happening, I could mentally prepare myself for the letdown, but it didn’t work. I would still cry and be engulfed in a wave of emotional darkness.
I transitioned Storm to formula. I was sad to see our breastfeeding journey end, but I cannot emphasize how emotionally relieved I felt. I was able to finally enjoy my baby. I have been called “selfish” for not breastfeeding my daughter any longer, but I disagree. Storm deserves a happy and healthy mother just as much as she deserves to be happy and healthy herself.
I no longer feel as though the world is going to end while Storm eats. Sometimes I’ll still breastfeed her when we are in a situation where making a bottle is a hassle, and my D-MER still sucks, but it’s no longer a constant torture.
Always remember: even when you think you’re alone, no matter how bizarre you may feel the situation is, you’re never alone and there is always help.
Click here for help with postpartum depression.
Click here for help with Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.