|EH and Miss W hanging out in the hospital|
A couple of days after we got home from the hospital, I started feeling strange. I knew that my hormones might be out of wack for a few weeks. I read the thick packet on post-partum depression given to me in the hospital with reluctance. Even with my history of depression and anxiety, I didn't think it would happen to me. How could it!? This was going to be the happiest time of our lives. In my mind it wasn't possible to feel anything less than ecstatic after what we'd been though trying to get Miss W here.
But I was wrong. Not only was I wrong...I had no idea about the roller coaster of emotions that would follow. It started innocently enough with just a vague sense of annoyance at EH. I couldn't put my finger on why I was annoyed with him. He was truly the perfect caretaker, attentive to my needs and the baby's needs and taking care of the house on top of all that. But I was annoyed. I hated the sight of him and I hated how happy and carefree he seemed in contrast to how exhausted and sad I was. My milk hadn't fully come in yet and Miss W refused to nurse on one of my boobs because it was slightly inverted. We had an extreme lack of sleep in the hospital and weren't doing that much better once we got home. I always knew that I loved to sleep; and I would never turn my nose up at a good nap so I simply was not mentally prepared for what a lack of sleep combined with falling hormones could do to my state of mind.
Every time I set up to pump my "bad breast" I would feel the most incredible rage. That's right....rage. I wanted to throw things, scream, cry and I wondered if I really loved my husband. I immediately got on the internet because I knew these feelings were not normal for me. I mean, like any wife, I've been annoyed here and there at an errant sock on the floor or EH forgetting to take the garbage out but I had never questioned whether or not I loved my husband or if I wanted to be married or if I wanted to be a mother.
I mean I would have laughed my ass off after reading this if I wasn't feeling so crummy because of course...OF COURSE...something would happen to mar this experience for me. Luckily for me I never felt feelings of anger or regret toward Miss W...I still loved her like crazy. But I couldn't stand my husband at all for at least the seven or eight times in a day that I would pump or breastfeed. Things came to a head after I asked my husband if he had done something I asked him to do. He took offense and asked me to be nicer to him and I. LOST. IT.
I was washing my hands in the bathroom at the time and I exploded in the craziest demonstration of rage known to man. I slammed the door repeatedly and told him he wasn't my priority anymore and that he needed to stop telling me to be "happy" and then I spent the next hour holding Miss W and crying uncontrollably. The episode was so bad it scared EH. He said he just wanted me to be happy and it was upsetting to him that I was acting completely opposite of happy. I was stressed and angry all the time and he didn't understand why because he was feeling great. I didn't understand why I didn't feel happy either until I did some research and found that I wasn't alone in my feelings. Turns out a bunch of women have had the same experience.
Turns out it was a mix of my crashing hormones and this condition called dysphoric milk ejection reflex or D-MER, which is described on KellyMom as a condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release and continuing not more than a few minutes.” This is a physiological response (not a psychological response) that appears to be tied to a sudden decrease in the brain chemical dopamine immediately before milk let-down.
We spent the rest of the night after my major mental breakdown talking about how we could be more sensitive to each others' needs. For instance, when he sensed that I was getting angry he could give me a tight hug instead of telling me to be happy and do some research about how to help me. When I sensed that I was feeling icky, I would visualize something relaxing instead of focusing my rage on him. Thankfully, that was the first and only episode of disturbance that I've had but I know it could have been much worse and IS much worse for a lot of women. We also shared the incident with my OB/GYN so that she could evaluate me for post-partum depression. It turns out my PPD is episodic and not an ongoing thing, which I'm thankful for. Everyday it gets a little better and I don't feel batty and rageful when I pump or breastfeed anymore, thank God.
A large part of me believes these shenanigans are some kind of evolutionary bonding system that serves to bond mother and child more securely against all others, including your mate. Ain't that a kick in the head!!??
I learned that I have to take things easier. My type A personality totally glosses over the fact that I had Miss W early and that of course my milk wouldn't have come in properly yet or that having a c-section can further delay that process. I learned that I cannot be perfect in this process. It is simply out of my hands. I simply had to stop thinking I was a bad mom because of my "bad breast" or my half-clean house. And that's where I'm at today. Miss W tried tummy time today for the first time and promptly decided it wasn't for her and fell asleep...that's my girl!