I’m almost done weaning myself off of Zoloft and in the process of doing so I’m rediscovering old feelings that haven’t been dealt with. Mainly surrounding those first few months after Max was born, among many other things.
I went on Zoloft, and Ativan as needed, just shy of two weeks after Max was born for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. I had made the decision later on to go off of it after Max had weaned from breastfeeding, because I was afraid with all the hormonal changes I would be going through, that the PPD/PPA would come back. The last 5 months or so of taking it I’ve really felt the side effects: memory loss, loss of sexual desire, and the inability to really feel any emotion. All of which made me all the more eager to get this shit out of my system.
When I started it, I needed it to get through each day. I felt alone, scared that something was going to happen to the baby while it was just me and him home alone. I wouldn’t let myself sleep during the day when he slept because I was so afraid something would happen to him. I couldn’t eat because I was literally sick with worry and sadness over how he was born. Nothing felt right. My own house didn’t feel like home. I was so uncomfortable being there. I felt better being in the hospital and I remember thinking over and over how badly I wished we were still in the hospital.
I remember getting up in the mornings and making myself open the curtains to let the sun shine in, and making oatmeal that would sit on the coffee table for most of the day without being touched. What I don’t remember? Snuggling with my new baby, memorizing every little inch of his tiny body, actually enjoying my new life, because it never happened. I was more depressed than I had been since the infamous high school days. I didn’t want to be doing what I was doing. I thought I had just made the biggest mistake of my entire life. I never had thoughts of killing or hurting myself or the baby, but I had thoughts of running away, or “returning the baby” (whatever that meant). I kept thinking about how great life was just two weeks prior when I was still pregnant, and can’t we just go back to that time and have a redo?
Big, bad, dark thoughts. That’s all I had.
A week after Max was born I finally got the courage to call Katrina, who had moved to Texas for grad school just weeks after finding out I was pregnant. I hadn’t spoken to her about his birth yet. I hadn’t even called my best friend. I couldn’t call her, it just hurt too much to admit it all. It was so fucking hard to tell her about it. It hurts still to even remember making that phone call. At that point I knew something was very, very wrong.
It shouldn’t have been like that. I kept thinking It’s not supposed to be like this. This isn’t fair. And it wasn’t fair, and fuck no it shouldn’t have been like that. But it was and I can’t change it. What I can change is how I feel about it now. And I certainly do feel differently.
I have been so moved by my own experience that I’m thinking of getting into the birth education field or becoming a postpartum doula. It’s taken me a long time to realize that this is what I want to do, and I’ve never felt like this before. I want to help women realize the power of their own bodies and know their rights in giving birth in a hospital, birthing center or even at home. I want to be the one telling the new mom that it’s ok for her to feel the way she does and it’s ok to ask for help and be there for her when she needs comforting in those early days of new motherhood. I’ve been there and now I’m on the other side. I’m not saying I know everything, because there’s no such thing as knowing everything in the game of parenting. I’m saying I want to take what I know and put it to good use. Now I just need to get the courage to actually go to the school I’m looking into, and enroll.
I’m absolutely terrified of, and incredibly excited about all the changes happening in my life, but mostly terrified.