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A Postpartum Depression Survivor’s Thank You Letter

Dear Doctor,

This is a post about how I overcame one of my biggest parenting battles, postpartum depression, with your help.

It’s been a year since my battle started. I’m so thankful today, and everyday that I can say I slayed postpartum depression. PPD is a nasty, powerful, life-crushing bitch that is worse than any period, C-section, and the watermelon-sized ovarian cyst I’ve encountered. This story is so near and dear to my soul because it’s about how I survived my first year of parenting. 

Recently, at Charlie’s 15-month wellness check-up, I experienced a lot of emotions. If you’re a parent then you know the million stresses and worries that come along with even a basic check-up. Thankfully, this was one of the best visits we’ve ever had. It was fun and positive. I’m sorry you weren’t there.

Charlie, happy and healthy at 15 months.

Charlie is doing great in all areas. But this time a year ago when Charlie and I were in to examine the cause of his cough, our experience was completely different. I’ll never forget when your PA told me that I needed to bring my four-month-old to the ER. Charlie’s breathing was compromised and his oxygen levels were very low. I could barely breathe when I processed what she said. We had thought Charlie was fighting something–it was just a cough. It wasn’t just a cough, it was him struggling to breathe. This shook me to the core. My infant’s life flashed before my eyes. I could have lost him because I didn’t know any better. I felt suffocated myself. Smothered by regret, failure, worry and sadness. I pushed those feelings down and didn’t come back to them until our follow up visit. 

Thankfully, this recent wellness visit was so much better. I told your PA how much has changed in a year, for the best. I told her I wanted to write you a thank you letter.

When we took Charlie for his follow-up visit after the ER trip, we saw you. (Charlie was diagnosed with RSV.) He recovered quickly, but our first Christmas was definitely touched with a painful gift that no jolly saint would deliver: fear. I was barely hanging on when this sickness struck. For the past four months I was working to adapt to a new life as a mom, wife, and homeowner. Nothing was easy but I pretended it was. After you asked how Charlie was, you asked me how I was doing. What happened next changed my whole life. I broke down. A monsoon of tears, sadness, guilt, and failure burst out of me. It was like you pinned the sharp, self-inflicted “Bad Mom” badge on me and all my pretend support beams came crashing down.

I was a failure and I was so scared. I let myself get depressed, I let my baby get sick, and I did not know what to do next. But, it wasn’t a dramatic pinning ceremony. 

Instead, you listened and then gave me the best prescription ever. A note for ME. You hand wrote ME a note to help ME recover from the clear postpartum symptoms I was hiding. Making this personal confession was essential to my recovery. Your advice gave me back my body, mind, identity, and life that were completely reconstructed when I became a mother. 

Our sick little boy asleep in Daddy's arms, at the hospital.

Our sick little boy asleep in daddy’s arms, at the hospital.

He looked healthy but his symptoms were hiding behind cuteness.

Days before our ER trip, Charlie looked healthy but his symptoms were hiding behind his cuteness.

Your prescription was this: get out with your baby. Spend time away from your baby. Leave the baby with his father for so many hours a week, so you can be an “unencumbered adult.”

Shortly after this event, I found my wings. At this moment, I can honestly say that I truly feel like I am soaring. Even on the bad days, I push through the storms. I have the most amazing husband, family, friends, and child. I get to enjoy all of these people because of what you told me to do.

I’m not going to say every day is easy but I can say that I truly love my life as a mom.

I started small and got my groove back by attending a local parenting support group. This room filled with babies, worn out moms, and an incredible maternity nurse has helped me in a million different ways. You got me in that room. My favorite gift from this group is the friendships I have made. I laugh and cry on a daily basis with these women who are going through the exact same thing as me. They are my soul sisters. We support each other and we remind each other that this too shall pass. 

Christmas Day 2015. Two days after our hospital visit. Having Charlie healthy was the best gift we received.

Two days after our hospital visit. Having Charlie healthy for Christmas was the best gift ever.

Check out this powerful PPD post that you could keep on hand in your medicine bag.  

What I know now is depression is cancerous. It wreaks havoc on the innocent and it affects us all. I’m committed to being a survivor, listener and, resource for this touchy, broad, difficult subject. My wings are always ready to take me on an adventure, so I can help someone in need.

I write, I talk, I listen, and I love the best that I can–because of your help.

Writing a book on gratitude may be in my future. You know, maybe I will when I’ve had more experience and when I can fulfill an 800 word count blog post on time. But for now, I will just repeat again how thankful I am for you and the priceless advice you gave me a year ago. 

Happy New Year,

11/26/15 Grateful.

11/26/16–Grateful.

Anelia

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