I was terrified of my brand new baby.
I was working hard to try to breastfeed. I had read all the books, visited with the lactation consultant, and I still couldn’t figure out how to get him latched properly. My nipples were raw and bleeding. I quickly decided I hated breastfeeding, but I was stubborn and refused to admit defeat. I WOULD be the perfect mother and I would NOT fail.
As I latched Jack onto my breast again and gritted my teeth in pain, fear snuck into my brain. I suddenly feared my baby was evil and that he was hurting me on purpose. I resisted the urge to throw him from me, to shrink from his presence. I looked away from his eyes and tears ran down my face. I felt ridiculous – this was my baby, my son, not some gollum! How in the world could I fear my own child, an infant only a few days old?
I admit, I wasn’t sleeping well at night. My son would sleep for three hours at a time, which was pretty amazing for a newborn, but I had trouble nodding off because I worried I wouldn’t wake up if he cried. I needed to get to him the moment he stirred, or the crying would rip me apart – I would be cowing in a corner and crying myself. His crying was pure torture and if I couldn’t stop it, I would have to kill myself. I just COULD NOT handle it.
I had read about post-partum depression. In fact, I had had it after a miscarriage the prior year. My husband and I had talked about how I could avoid falling into that hole again. Knowing is half the battle, right?
Unfortunately, he went back to work a week after Jack was born and all our family members went back home. I was alone. I spent hours in our apartment by myself; we lived in a town far from family and the friends there were my husband’s. I didn’t know what to do with my kid. I was anxious when he was awake and I spent his naps worrying about when he would wake up.
Things improved when I joined a mother’s group, when I was able to get out of the house and hear about other mothers’ struggles. Still, I was too embarrassed, too ashamed to talk about my feelings toward my baby. I worried that if I admitted to feeling afraid of Jack, admitted to feeling like I needed to get away from him, someone would call Child Protective Services and my child would be taken away. Surely they would think I was too crazy and incompetent to be left in charge of a baby.
I wish I had reached out earlier. I wish I had contacted my OB much sooner, rather than waiting and living with these feelings. My early days with my son are a blur of fear, stress, and exhaustion; PPD overshadowed all the good moments. I did not enjoy my baby for nearly two years of his life and I regret that to this day.
If you struggle with these feelings, please reach out to someone. The community at Band Back Together
can help – we have a wide variety of individuals who have survived PPD
(and everything else on the mental illness spectrum). There are people who will understand what you are dealing with, who won’t judge you, and who can give you the support and kick in the pants to take control of your situation. You do not have to be alone.
Crystal, aka Ewokmama, is a re-married mother to one alien/superhero/transformer boy named Jack. She is an obsessive multi-tasker, making her the perfect Executive Assistant at a software firm in San Francisco. When not parenting her fierce and fuzzy ewok-child, Crystal can often be found tending to her Facebook game crops on the laptop while simultaneously dominating Words With Friends on her iPhone and explaining the family’s finances to her devastatingly handsome and uproariously funny husband (who didn’t help write this bio at all). Not to mention that she will be taste-testing cupcakes and sipping wine, as well.
As a trauma survivor learning to live a normalish life with Chronic Depression, PPD and PTSD, Crystal feels very strongly about the need to connect with others when experiencing difficulties in life. For this reason she has dedicated time to mentoring new mothers who are learning to breastfeed, sharing her own parenting struggles and triumphs on her own blog, Ewokmama.com, and becoming a member of Band Back Together.