Looking back, the signs of postpartum depression started early—probably at when Benny was around two months old. We visited my parents in mid-October. When we returned, my sleep patterns had devolved. I wasn’t sleeping at night and I could not make my body relax to take naps (not that it was that easy to take a nap in a 45-minute window, anyway). To make matters worse, Benny went through a growth spurt and his feedings became more frequent.
Concern set in when I started crying and couldn’t stop. I tried not to cry when Benny was awake, but often I would break down when he wouldn’t fall asleep for his first nap. I certainly wasn’t taking any naps at this point and nighttime sleep was spotty. My stomach was so worked up that I couldn’t eat either. I would often forget to eat breakfast and lunch and force something down when Nate came home for dinner.
These were all ingredients for the perfect storm. For two days I cried when Nate was at work and I really broke down when he came home from work. He would hang out with Benny in the living room while I sobbed in the bedroom. He was helpless. He asked, “What can I do for you?” over and over, but there was nothing he could do, aside from letting me run away.
I began to think about checking myself into a hospital for exhaustion. I just wanted a break from everything. From the crying and the insomnia and the anxiety. Soon, I began having thoughts about “accidentally” hitting Benny’s head on the edge of a doorway, thinking that if he had a concussion he would sleep more.
PAUSE FOR A SECOND. I was rational enough to know that these were NOT normal thoughts. Never for a moment did I actually think I would hit Benny’s head. However, the thoughts were enough to scare the shit out of me. It’s difficult to write this down now because I realize how horrible it sounds.
After a couple of days of having these thoughts, Nate and I decided that we would try to put Benny in his own room so I could sleep better. I had already started sleeping in the extra bedroom because I couldn’t sleep with Benny in the same room. The Wacky Shack was not a good house for children (for reasons too numerous to detail here). The bedrooms were spread too far apart and the extra bedrooms had windows of walls. Because the house was so old, it was incredibly drafty—even in
At around 3 a.m., I had a panic attack. I couldn’t keep Benny in another room, but I couldn’t sleep with him in my room. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think logically. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. Nate tried to calm me down. He asked me to think about things other than the house, Benny’s sleep, and moving to
I went to the extra bedroom to sleep for the remainder of the night. I calmed myself down enough to get a few hours of sleep. Nate, I found out later, could not go back to sleep (could you if your partner had a panic attack right next to you?). He ended up reading about postpartum depression online all night. Luckily, he knew that he could not leave me alone with Benny the next day. He even took Benny into work to get some materials to work on while I took a nap. Sleeping, however, was out of the picture. I tried to lie down and relax. But, after having intrusive thoughts about harming Benny and then experiencing a panic attack, I knew something was seriously wrong.