Struggling Mommy

By: Cheri Shuffain


Living with Post-Partum Depression



I had a baby in March of 2016 and have struggled these past 6 ½ months with post-partum depression.

To back track, I have two beautiful children and would not change anything for the world…now. When I first found out I was pregnant with our 2nd child after 7 years of NOT trying, I was devastated. I took 5 pregnancy tests each one resulting in the same positive sign. I wasn’t the only one that was not excited at first. My husband was equally disappointed. I left the positive stick sitting on the toilet seat for him to see when he came home from work. He looked at me and said, “is this a joke?” I told him no and to look in the trash can beside him. He proceeded to bang his head against the bathroom door while I laid on the couch in the fetal position. Needless to say, neither one of us were excited at all.

When we told all of our friends and family we were pregnant, everyone was beyond ecstatic for us. My husband was finally on the excited bandwagon, but here I was 5 months into the pregnancy and just as upset as the day I originally found out. The only difference was; the pregnancy was becoming more real with each tiny little kick I felt in my belly. While I was still not thrilled, I was beginning to get a little more excited as the months ticked on. I just kept thinking, why did I have to get pregnant now? I’m 31, loving my career and my husband and I get to sleep in on the weekends when our 7 year doesn’t have some sporting event to go to. We get to go out regularly and drink and nurse hangovers the next day with little to no worry that our oldest child can take care of himself while we lay on the couch. Boy did this little fetus put a huge kink in my social life. None of our friends wanted to hang out with us anymore unless they wanted me to be the DD. I was seriously starting to resent the growing baby girl. Through all of this, I knew I would be doomed to end up with PPD.

Fast forward to the day our baby girl was born and I was a blubbering idiot. I was so over the moon in love with the little girl my doctor placed in my arms. I never imagined that I could love another little human being as much as I loved my son, but I quickly found out that it was possible. I thought I would be ok and that depression would not slip in since my feelings had drastically changed upon seeing her, but I was terribly wrong. For the first 4 weeks, I held my own. I was beyond exhausted, but that was supposed to happen because I had an infant to take care of as well as my oldest son along with keeping up with housework and dinners. But, the dreaded signs of PPD began to slip in. I woke up for one of the feedings around 1:00 am after my baby had only been asleep for about 2 hours. I stumbled out of bed to grab her out of her Rock N Play and looked at her with nothing but dread. The lone thought that creeped into my brain was, “kill.” I immediately came to life and shook my head so hard I thought my head would fall off. Why was this thought creeping in my brain? Why is this happening? I love my baby and would never hurt her. I fed her and changed her and gave her extra cuddles so that she could feel how much I loved her and hopefully push the intrusive thought away. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The intrusive thoughts continued to happen. The harder I tried pushing them away, the more they came back and sometimes it would be full phrases in my brain not only about the baby, but about my son or my husband (that is a completely different story all in a different time). I felt like the absolute scum of the earth for having these thoughts. Consequently, this took a toll on my interaction with my family. I became someone I never thought I would be; miserable. Miserable to be around, miserable to live with and miserable in my own skin. In never smiled, laughed or played. I sat in my recliner and just existed.

Finally, it was time for my 6-week PP checkup. I took the questionnaire the front desk clerk gave me and hid in a corner because I just knew that everyone in the waiting room was judging me because I was suffering from depression. The nurse called me back and did the vitals and took my form to give to the doctor. When my doctor came in and sat in front of me, she was so sweet and sincere and said, “so, how is everything going.” That simple question broke me into a thousand pieces. I sobbed for the first time in so long that I thought the room would fill up and we would both drown. She said, “well, I can see that you are definitely a bit weepy.” Her words were so genuine and real that I just lost it again. We didn’t even do the exam because I couldn’t contain my tears. The last time I cried that much was when my grandfather passed away when I was 16. She prescribed me Zoloft and told me to come back in 2 weeks to check how things were going. So I took the Zoloft every day and things began to get better, more clear. I started to leave my chair, play catch with my son and actually laugh at my husband’s stupid jokes.

Today, I am not healed. I struggle every day with my depression. The doctor originally prescribed the Zoloft for 3 months because we were both hopeful that my depression would go away and I would be back to “normal.” Well, this is my new normal and I am starting to come to terms with it. The intrusive thoughts have not 100% subsided, but they are a lot better. I do not have them unless I am completely exhausted. I have begun to take magnesium along with my daily dosage of the Zoloft and it has seemed to help with the symptoms. I reached out for help when so many women do not. We are not invincible and its ok to ask for help and lean on people that are strong to help us become strong. Every day is a struggle, but I am trying my best. I will get back to whatever normal is and love life again, but it will be a journey.