I'm working on Part 2 of the Preventing PPD series ("Getting your feeding support in place before you give birth"), but won't have it done in time to post this week. So instead I'm posting an email I received from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. She sent me her story to post hoping that the things she suffered through would help someone else.
"Here is the story:
I fell pg with triplets on my first IVF. The one baby died at about 8 weeks, but the rest of my pg was very uneventful and I carried the twins to 37.5 weeks. I had a C-section because my placenta was very low, the babies were in the "wrong" position and because the one baby's placenta was starting to cause problems. I was fine about it all and the C-section went well - I thought. The boys were beautiful and scored 10/10 on their apgars. We were very pleased. But then the nightmare started.
I felt so tired and could hardly keep my eyes open over the next few days. The staff at the hospital were terrible and gave me and my husband little or no help with the twins, even when I begged them to help me. I would call them to help me latch both boys, they would, but would then leave. If one of the boys came "unstuck," I didn't have a hand to re-latch him because I was holding the other twin. I also couldn't press the bell to call the nurse back because I was holding TWO babies! So I would have to un-latch the second twin and then try to re-latch both or call the nurses. By the third day I fell apart. It was probably partly the baby blues, but I also just felt like the world's worst mother. And I was so scared. What if I never felt less tired and foggy and what if I never managed to take care of the twins? My most prominent thought was that I wished that someone would just come in and take over for me until I could work out what I was doing. And I cried and cried and cried.
Only then did the dr tell me that I had actually bled very badly during the Caesar and had lost more that a litre of blood. [Ed. note--That's about a quart for us Americans. More than one sixth of her blood supply. Yikes.] My uterus didn't want to contract and they had to massage it quite fiercely to get it to contract--this is apparently not uncommon, especially with twins. He told me that because of the blood loss, I would feel very tired. At least that was one mystery solved. But by then I had already been set up to lose. I was already feeling that there had been a huge mistake and that I should never have had twins. I was not fit to be a mother because I was incompetent. I cried so much while I was in hospital, in fact all the time, and yet all they kept saying is that it would pass. No one could understand the terror and failure I was feeling. My poor, dear, supportive husband was as freaked out as I was. He also didn't know how to handle the twins and me falling apart caused him to become almost manic. We were a right mess the two of us.
PPD kicked in big time after we came home and the first year of the twins' lives was the worst I've ever felt about myself. The twins are now 2.5 and the PPD lifted about 6 months ago. I feel like a different person and yet I struggle to forgive myself for getting PPD and for the things I felt and did while I was in that deep, horrible place. So I have some way to go before I can say this is over.
But when I read your post it gave me a bit more insight into it all. I always thought that the terrible treatment I got and the lack of help from the staff at the hospital, set me up for failure, but I think that maybe not being in control of the Caesar and not being told what was going on definitely contributed to the PPD. It all worked together to break down the confidence I had in my ability to mother.
I will read the rest of your series on PPD with interest. It is really terrible to go through. I recently read Brook Shields's book Down Came the Rain and that also helped me. Although our experiences were very different there are parts of that book that I could have written word for word.
Anyway, thanks for both your blogs. I have felt reassured by many things you say about being a parent. I always learn from you, or else I can just laugh along. Thanks for the insight into the whole birthing experience - I feel as if I have just found one of the missing puzzle pieces!"
I wasn't going to make any comments on this story, but I just can't help it: Please don't think it's your fault that you got PPD. You wouldn't blame yourself if you'd been in a car accident that ended up seriously injuring you. PPD is a disease. You didn't cause it, and you weren't in control of the things you felt and did while it was raging in you. Your boys are lucky to have you as a mother, and you are lucky to have them. And we're lucky that you shared your story with us, and that you're strong enough to have made it through.