The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

The Gift of Postpartum Depression

When I look back to 6 years ago, I see the story a lot differently; with kinder eyes, and a grateful heart. When I was pulling images to go along with this story, I do not even remember most of the days in the pictures. All I remember was trying to survive. I was so sad, so ashamed, and deep in the throws of postpartum depression.

6 years ago, we had just moved to Canada. I had a rough pregnancy, early bleeding, and constantly sick. My doctor preferred to let the morning sickness run its course. After being sick roughly 8 times a day, it finally relented when I was about 7 months along. My husband dropped us in Nova Scotia, unpacked our bags, and left me an a 14 month old baby for a 4 month school halfway across the country. We managed just fine, made some friends, and spent the first half of the summer exploring as much as we could. Wes came home, we reunited as a family, and waited to welcome our daughter into the world.

Ava was born in the middle of a hurricane the week after Hurricane Katrina. The hospital was small and unprepared for the amount of babies born that weekend. She was a little thing, and had a hot temper. Before I was discharged, I knew that she was not eating well and that something was not right; we went home anyway. Our family and friends were all thousands of miles away, so it was just my husband and I with an ever-crying newborn and a 20 month old. Turns out that she would cry for 15 to 18 hours a day for the next 4 months.

If I hear a baby cry with that same painful, piercing cry now, the hairs on my neck stand up. We could not make her happy, and our days were filled with just trying to calm her down. The only saving grace was that she slept. If she was not crying, she was asleep. After 4 months of doctors visits and lactation consultants, it took a stranger to discover what was making my little girl so unhappy. She had a milk protein allergy that required special formula. Within just a couple of feedings with this new formula she was a new baby.

I know what you are thinking, why didn’t you just alter your diet? The answer is because I had nothing left to give. I was a wreck. I had no patience. I had no joy. I was miserable. I knew that this was not how it was supposed to be, but I wrote it off as just trying to navigate having two babies. I should also mention that I did not experience anything like this with my first child. One day, I had to take Ava to our family doctor. My grandmother was in town and William was being terrible in the doctors office. They both were bitching at me, and Ava was crying per usual. I left them in the waiting room, walked into the office when our name was called, and absolutely lost it. The doctor, who I will always be grateful to, hugged me. She told me that everything was going to be okay, and that I needed to let go. I sat in that office while a nurse held my baby and cried like I had never cried before. I left with a prescription for anti-depressants and a new outlook. It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle motherhood – I had postpartum depression.

The diagnosis was something that I hid. I had a hard time even telling my husband. With a history of depression in my family, I thought that this was going to be my new reality. I felt like I was failing. Being someone that is pretty good at most things that I do, I felt like I was failing at motherhood, marriage, and everything else in my life. It took me years to even tell my own mother. I didn’t understand that it was something out of my control. It had nothing to do with my mothering, but everything to do with hormones and the chemicals in my brain.

As the weeks went on, the meds started to kick in, and I was feeling better. Ava was better too, and life was looking up.

When we were driving to Canada, my husband bought me a DSLR. I never took it out of auto, and even though I took film classes in college, I never bothered to really get to know my camera. One day, during all of this, I picked it up and switched it to manual. I had no idea that clicking a dial would have such an impact on my life. I used the negative energy that I had, and put it into photography. I shot every day, hundreds of terrible frames, shots that I am embarrassed to show you now. But that simple act gave me something else to focus on and it saved me. Without the deep depression that I had, I never would have picked my camera up. Postpartum depression actually became a gift, the product of that gift was a new talent that I did not even know that I had.

 

About Bree


Bree is the founder and writer of BakedBree.com, a recipe site that shares her love of cooking, baking, and entertaining with others. BakedBree.com launched in February of 2010 as a way to merge Bree’s love of photography with her love of food, and share both with friends and family. Currently, Bree lives in the suburbs of Washington DC with her husband and 3 children.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly
  • Pingback: Baked Bree | Something for the Weekend

  • Cora White

    wow what a great story. I am so sorry you had to struggle with this.

  • Brandy

    Sending virtual hugs Bree…What courage to share and make others know they are not alone.

  • Karla

    Takes me back to a time in my own life 6 years ago. Oh, I had no idea how bad what was coming would feel. I knew it could be bad, and I know things could have been worse, but post-partum depression was one of the darkest times in my life. I’ve been in dark places before, but it’s harder when you have a family counting on you. A newborn whose life is a joyous moment, and it’s hard to find the light in all the darkness. Thanks God for my husband, he saved us all from something that could have been much worse if not for him. Thanks God for putting him in my life as well as my 3 beautiful little girls. For those of you who have been there, we are sisters, for those of you yet to go, know that you are not alone.

  • Karla

    I understand <3

  • Brie C

    Oh Bree! That’s such a familiar story. I went through a very similar type situation after giving birth to my twin sons in 2010. You said it best when you said that you truly had nothing left to give. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Liz

    :) Thanks for sharing. Maybe if more mamas can see that it’s ok to admit you have PPD it won’t be so “shameful”. I had it awful after the birth of my 2nd, and thankfully got help while pregnant with my third. It made all the difference :)

  • Kim Horn

    Thank you for sharing this story. I experienced something so similar to your situation, and I remember at the time feeling so alone. It was nothing I had envisioned motherhood to be. Things eventually got better, but it took me a year to recover. Stories like your’s make it easier for women to talk about what they’re going through, and that is one (huge) piece to the healing process.

  • Lisa Cooper

    I found out at 17 weeks that my son has a milk protein allergy. Those first 17 weeks were pretty darn close to hell, screaming baby all day, every day. Thankfully I was able to do a dairy-free diet, and have been doing so for the last 4 weeks. Such a different baby now!!! I was soooo close to a complete breakdown!!

  • Michelle Sauer

    Thank you for sharing your story. I suffered with PPD through 2 of my pregnancies. I still suffer from anxiety and my youngest is 4. It’s never shameful to ask for help. It takes a strong and confident person to know when they can’t do it on their own. I’ve never been embarrassed by my PPD, or even my crazy anxiety now, I like to tell my story because mostly everyone I have talked to has gone through some of the feelings we have as sufferers of PPD. I’ve shared my story on my blog, but it makes me so happy to see this on a blog that reaches so many. You are brave and a big fat thank you comes from me!

  • http://www.aggieskitchen.com/ Aggie

    I hit the breaking point when my son (my 1st born) was 7 months old. I remember calling a random therapist while I was feeding my son dinner and almost crying on the phone with her when she asked what was bringing me in to see her. I will never forget that!! I know a lot of us go through this…and it’s sad that I really never had anyone (other than my doctor and therapist) to talk to about it in real life. Never understood that really. Thank you for sharing your story Bree, I’ve loved your blog for a long time!

  • Sharon Leon Nolan

    Bree… Thank you for sharing your story. I suffered for years with postpartum depression. When my daughter was about two years old, my son 3 1/2, I hit the “breaking point” and knew I had to go talk to a doctor. I thought I was going crazy and heaven knows what my husband and children thought. I too was embarrassed and ashamed. i felt like I had no one to talk to for fear of being judged. Going to the doctor with two pages of feelings and thoughts written down, I read them aloud, cried alot too. When I was through he looked at me with a sincere sympathy and said, my dear, you have undiagnosed postpartum depression. Then he smiled, and a tremendous weight was lifted. I took antidepressants for a year and a half and during that time learned how to deal with my emotions, put things into perspective and pull myself out of the funk, which is impossible when your in the middle of feeling like you’re losing it. I think it is so very important for us as women to share our stories. It is important to know we are not alone and postpartum depression is real, and not something to be ashamed of and suffer in silence.

  • http://nooneofanyimport.wordpress.com/ Linda

    Anxiety’s bout the only thing that motivates me, but depression stinks and I’m glad you climbed out of yours. I recently ran into this story you folks might enjoy:

    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html

  • Shannon

    Thanks for sharing Bree. There are so many new mothers out there who struggle with PPD and may not even know it. I was diagnosed 6 months after giving birth. When my son was born, he suffered a stroke, so we were constantly in and out of doctor’s and neurologist offices for his first year. Like you, he was also a colicky baby for 3 months. The colic stopped when he started to teethe at 4 months! ha ha. It was crazy and very lonely, and I felt like a failure. I finally told my doctor and she told me I was not a failure, she shared her own story of PPD, and gave me a prescription for medication, and I seemed to get much better. It’s been 2 1/2 years now, and we’re trying for another baby. I do know that I will definitely suffer PPD with another pregnancy, but having that knowledge makes me more powerful, as I will know to ask for help when the gloom sets in. To all those mothers out there feeling overwhelmed, TELL SOMEONE and get help! There is happiness at the end of that dark tunnel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700803735 Shannon Harrison

    please accept a bow from me for sharing this story. you are a rock, sister.

  • http://www.dineanddish.net/ Kristen

    I’m so proud of you for sharing this. I shared what I had hid of my PPD with the world awhile back and that has been my most well received post to date. So many woman hide behind PPD and suffer alone like we did for so long.
    This post is a gift – thanks for sharing!

  • Allison Torgesen

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. I agree that PPD seems so silent and isolating. I’m so glad that TCM is doing this series.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      me too Allison, I think that we as women need to talk about this more.

  • Carrie Doyle

    With tears in my eyes and a trembling chin – thank you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      thank you for reading. I hope that this helps in some way. You are not alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lgturner Lisa Garibay Turner

    WOW Bree your story sounds so similar to mine. I too had a tough second child and the older one was only 2. Had a complete breakdown at my six week checkup and someone from the office held the baby while I cried. I too left with a prescription for anti-depressants, and decided to pull myself out of the misery and take charge of my life. I put my baby on soy formula and completely turned the boat around. I also realized that I had been struggling with depression & anxiety for most of my life. I have been on the anti-depressants for 9 years now…got out of an unhappy marriage and am planning on remarrying this year and embracing life. We are planning on trying to get pregnant and I worry about this darkness coming again…but I am talking to my ob about my options regarding the anti depressants & pregnancy and I am hopeful. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      Our stories so sound similar! Good for you for making the decision to change your life. Come back tomorrow because I share a completely different story about the birth of my third.

  • Sara T

    Awesome and brave. I admire you. I should have seen the signs sooner and gotten help. It is funny how much pride and shame I felt all at once. I cannot image how isolated you must have felt. Congrats for sharing such a moving story of your life that isn’t talked about enough.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      It was horrible. I felt so guilty about everything and ashamed. Thank you Sara for understanding.

  • Mindy A

    A very touching story. You have definitely saved a mother by sharing this!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      I hope so. I hope that they feel that they are not alone at least.

  • Courtney Schaneville

    You are a brave and wonderful woman, Bree. Thank you for sharing so openly.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      Thank you Courtney. It was hard to write, but I am glad that I did.

  • Jen

    Thanks for sharing the pain and healing of PPD. Although my severe depression wasn’t linked to pregnancy,it was a dark,dark time.My sister ended her life-neither of us saw the family connection. I’m so glad you picked up that camera,it is definitely a gift that you share beautifully!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      I am so sorry for your loss Jen. I think that depression is something that people hide so well.

  • Bandkgriff

    I can totally understand this! Our third had the same issues with milk proteins and I changed my diet. It helped but she was still a really tough baby to please. I have no doubt now that I also had some Postpartum Depression going on and I wish I hadn’t hid it so well. I don’t think I wanted to admit it for all the reasons you didn’t want to admit it. I had a number of meltdowns but nobody saw them. I wish now that someone had seen it and called me out on the depression.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      I cannot even imagine how hard it was to live with us. A screaming baby and a hormonal, depressed one. Looking back now, I can laugh about it, but then, I was not laughing about much of anything.

  • http://www.donnaharrisblog.com/ Donna Harris

    Thank you for sharing. It makes me want to write my story of postpartum depression now. Just as you said, I can NOW look back with a new perspective. But it’s important to share with others just how dark of a time it can be so that they can ask for help, recognize what they are going through, and not be ashamed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      If only I wasn’t so embarrassed, I am sure that a lot of people would have helped me. Sometimes pride is not a good thing.

  • Christineb

    thank you so much for sharing!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      thank you for reading Christine.

  • http://www.jenniferkrafchik.com/ Jen

    Thanks for sharing, Bree. As a young mother, I enjoy hearing/reading real motherhood stories. As a photographer, I always get inspiration knowing how a photographer started down their photo journey.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      It was a strange way to start my photography journey for sure, but it all worked out in the end.

  • Mryn1980

    Thank you! More people need to be supportive when this happens!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597118979 Bree Grossman Hester

      yes they do, and I hope that more mothers will ask for help.

  • Pingback: Oatmeal Cream Pies