Postpartum Depression vs. Hormonal Changes

Having Aunika is an immense blessing in our home. She provides a sense of happiness and completion to our little family. I do not know what I would do without her. She has such a sweet personality; I love her so much. I quit my full time job 10 months ago to become a full time mother. I strongly felt that staying home was best for our family given our circumstances. Being a stay at home mother is very rewarding and at the same time very challenging. In fact it is the most difficult thing I have ever done - more difficult than leaving home for the first time to go to college, obtaining and studying a degree, and even the first few years of marriage.  How can the life of a mother be so sweet but yet so bitter?

I especially have been struggling the last several months knowing that something wasn't quite right with me. I have been ashamed to talk about it in detail to anyone with the exception of a few people. In March, I started noticing the following symptoms: sadness, extreme loneliness, fatigue, restlessness, extreme anxiety (always felt this in the past), OCD, worrying, stress (common feeling) acne (for many years), infertility (prior to Aunika), and a lack of libido. Some of these I couldn't pin point from the very beginning but it all came clear to me upon taking a hormonal saliva test at the end of July. Prior to taking the test, I had become so unhappy and lonely that I would pray to my Father in Heaven asking to be happy and to help me find solutions. I have yet to see if the vitamins, dieting, exercising, and homeopathic remedies make a difference. I just started dieting and taking the remedies. I like to say the dieting is less a diet and more a lifestyle change with more veggies and fruits and less carbs, starches, and sugars.

The Lord has blessed me with good neighbors and friends close by, who have included me in book club, craft group, and even a work-out group. I attend many relief society activities during the nights, put together by my church. I visit my family almost monthly. I even have a girls night-out, usually once a month. My husband is always so gracious and supportive in helping me attend these. However, I still feel lonely and unhappy.  Sometimes these feelings last only a few days during the week then they go away. Other times they last a long time. It was only by chance that I found one of my neighbors who has a practice, specializing in women who have hormonal imbalances. The only reason I met her was because I was a stand-in for one of my husband's videos. My neighbor was the one who told me about the hormonal saliva test. The results of that test showed that I produce way too much testosterone ever since I was probably in my early teens. I also have extremely high levels of the stress hormone - cortisol. She advised me to change my diet, exercise 30 minutes a day, take vitamins (Fish Oil, vitamin D 2000 IU, Ashagawanda, and a few others), and apply a progesterone cream to my wrist twice a day during a certain amount of days.

A month ago, I came across a flyer that my health insurance gives as a part of their club called Healthy Beginnings. I participated in the club for the cool free stuff as a new mother - mostly a book on parenting and money. Anyway one of the flyers had information on Postpartum Depression. It concerned me because all of the symptoms I feel fall under PPD. It said that PPD could happen as a result of unbalanced hormones. Just recently I mentioned what I was going through to a friend, who gave me a homeopathic remedy to help on the days I feel blue. I'm still researching exactly what this remedy does but basically I take 2-3 drops an hour after a meal, 2-3 times a day until my symptoms subside.  Since I feel sad several times a week I am desperate to try anything, but not quite that desperate to go to a doctor yet.

Another thing that helped was to stop nursing Aunika. I hated nursing so much in the beginning. However, I knew it was something I wanted to do even before I had Aunika. I am a stubborn girl and I'm not going to let my selfishness get in the way. Nursing was something I believed to be very beneficial for many reasons. But as I sacrificed my time every 1 1/2-2 hours on the couch, I felt like a slave to my own home. I could not comprehend being Aunika's only survival tool and that Matthew could do nothing to help. As time went by, I realized that I could actually do enjoyable things while being on the couch nursing like reading or watching my favorite TV show. Over time I actually grew to love the closeness I felt while nursing Aunika. I also loved that she never got sick even when Matt and I had Pneumonia for a whole month. To quit nursing earlier than I had hoped for made me feel like a failure. Especially when it's common where I live to nurse until the baby is one years old or older.  I felt like it was the best decision to get my energy back and feel less fatigued. I feel more freedom now that Matt can help with half the feedings. At least I made it to 9 months!

Today I feel especially blue. I feel worthless and inadequate. I suffer with being accepted by my own mother. If you noticed in my previous post that I mentioned that my mother cares more for my baby than she does me, well that's where these feelings started. My mother lives 2 1/2 hours away and I consider myself lucky anymore if she gets the time to visit. Somehow I feel like she disapproves of everything I do. I also feel less important to her.  She is very busy with her new calling in the church (might I add she is a wonderful person for it), babysitting her other grandchildren twice a week, working part time, spending time with my grandmother once a week, who has Alzheimers, and on top of all that she tries to be a good wife to my father by providing the meals and cleaning. She tries hard to act like nothing is wrong but I know she has so many things going on right now. I feel like she shows me tough love during my most vulnerable state of life, so right now I act like nothing is wrong because I feel it is expected of me. I feel like nobody understands what I am going through. I have no sister to confide in either. My mother reminds me that when I was little and when we lived out in the city, she also didn't have anybody - meaning that if she could do it, so could I. This is true to some extent. I think they may feel like I am the child who doesn't need anything. Though that is flattering, I am very much in need of their love, sympathy and support.  I love my mother very much, I am grateful for all that she does and I am NOT angry at her. I just feel extremely sad that I don't know how to explain to her how I feel. She has no time to really listen or talk to me very long on the phone. When we are in person I am in a happier sate of mind and we are having too much fun to bother with the topic. If she does talk to me she doesn't fully understand what I am going through and says that there is no way I could have PPD. I guess that's a common reaction because most people think PPD only consists of suicidal or harmful thoughts. My recent research states otherwise.

Sometimes I wonder why we have these trials. In a prior blog  I mentioned how difficult it was to conceive Aunika. Not only did it take a long time to get pregnant but I also had difficulties during pregnancy. I started swelling at 5 months and getting worse as I got closer to my due date. I started seeing a Maternal Fetal Specialist for my swelling and because at the time I had a heart condition - a condition I had all my life until recently. I was diagnosed with only having two functioning valves in my heart instead of three. This made me more tired and exhausted than the average person, especially when I exercised and was pregnant. Miraculously my condition went away at the beginning of this year. My mother thinks it was a blessing sent from up above. Not knowing the condition was gone my MFM wanted me to quit working full time and to move to part time work, so that I could put my feet up. My feet looked like the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. I couldn't fit into any of my shoes even if they were a bigger size. Only Crocs and moccasins worked. I was also monitored weekly at 30 weeks to make sure my baby girl was doing ok. I also had to get her heart checked out to make sure she didn't inherit what I had.  I was so stressed and unhappy at that point. Regardless of how healthy I appeared to be I was letting everything bother me. From my mother-in-law and neighbor stating how big I looked, to everyone around me pointing out the obvious. Yes I knew I was big and I didn't need to hear about it.

I have always felt like the black sheep in that I was the oldest amongst my family and friends to have a baby. I was bitter toward those who weren't in my same boat. I didn't like being around other children who wouldn't behave, which is ironic considering I wanted my own children - LOL. It was hard for me to have a younger brother who could give my parents their first grand-babies. By the time you are my age here in Utah people are already on their second and third child. It was also a trial to get married at such an old age in Utah. It was difficult learning how to communicate and argue healthily with my husband. We were both such stubborn headed people, who wanted to be right and in control.

Regardless of the many trials I continue to endure, I am grateful for the person I am becoming. I am grateful to those neighbors, friends, and family who help me out along the way. I am learning that blogging about these experiences helps me to move on and be happy. I am learning that if everything was on my timing, instead of the Lord's timing, I wouldn't grow and learn the things necessary for me to be a better person. I'm grateful to my husband that who now after learning what I am going through is supportive and tries hard to help me be happy. When I first felt blue we started arguing like we used to when we were first married. But then I realized I was the reason we were arguing and also all the hormonal changes contributed to it. And now that we both understand what is going on, we get along so much better. I'm so blessed to have his support and love. Whether I have Postpartum Depression or a Hormonal Imbalance or both, I pray that I might get through this and I continue to thank the Lord for my many blessings.<3 p="p">

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Kandice said...

Oh man--reading your blog is like a sneak peak of my life...sure-there are differences, but I have gelt so many of those emotions.
I wish there was something I could do or say to change the sadness you are feeling.
Please know you are never alone. You are always in others' prayers. Thank you for posting your feelings! It truly does help both you and those reading to feel they aren't alone. Sending love ... :)

Lechelle said...

I'm so sorry it has been so hard. I wish I could help. I love you Brittnee!

Clint.Nicole.andRyann said...

I'm sorry Brittnee. I think too many of us that have those same depression issues keep it bottled up and never talk to anyone about them. Then we end up feeling like we are the only one in the world that feels that way, when we really aren't. Good for you for putting your feelings out there. You aren't alone. I constantly struggle with depression and anxiety. Since having Ryann, the anxiety is worse. Just know there are medications out there to help you if the natural things don't. You can't always exercise or diet away these feelings, sometimes we just need some extra help and it doesn't make you a bad person for needing it. You are a great mom, don't ever doubt yourself. Sometimes we have to put ourselves first and that just makes us better moms. If we can't take care of ourselves then we can't take care of our kids. I have been in your shoes, I know the feelings you are having. I can say been there, done that...BUT that doesn't mean suffer through it. Having been through it, and still going through it, I say don't do it alone. It sucks to do it alone and no one should. You can call me anytime. I know what you are going through and I don't want you to go it alone. Love you!

Fig said...

Britt, it absolutely sounds like PPD. If you don't feel better soon, see a doctor. I am so sorry it's been so rough! You'll be in my prayers.

Luminosity Photography said...

Britt, you are incredible! I see you every week and had NO IDEA you were struggling with so many things. I'm always so impressed at what a great mom you are, what a talented women you are, and what a great relationship you seem to have with Matt. I was telling Kyle after book group last week what a blessing you've been to me since we moved here. You have been the absolute best friend I have made in this ward. Please let me know how I can help you, you've helped me SO much in the past 9 months. You're in my prayers girl. And you are NOT alone!

Luminosity Photography said...
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Shanna said...

What a wonderfully written post. I have been where you are. After my first baby, I had many of the symptoms you are having. I was having so much stress and depression I finally went to the doctor and asked for medication. It helped tremendously. I like you didn't want to be in medication but I promise you it will help. I was only in them for about 6 months and then took myself off and my symptoms were gone. With my second baby I didn't suffer as much with ppd but still a little but. I want you to know I would love to talk any time you need someone. You are not alone. Millions of women suffer with ppd and it's nothing to be ashamed off. Having a child is very hard in a women's body. Hang in there. :)

Ashley Case said...

Hey Sweetie! Consider me your sister! I always wanted more sisters! ;) Please give me a call anytime I might be able to help. Jason even brought up how sad it is that we haven't gotten together in so long. And you know all my dirty little secret sadnesses, so don't be afraid to confide in me.

Heather Slater said...

Brittnee, you're doing a great job! Being a mom is the hardest job ever and it's okay to be sad. I hope you find strength in the Lord through the hard times that He gives you. You are loved.

BrItTneEanN said...

Kandice, you have helped me out just by reading this and sending your love. You're family and it helps to know I'm not alone. I admire the mother you are and all the challenges you have faced. I enjoy reading your blogs they provide me with inspiration.

Lechelle, you are helping by continuing to be my dear friend after all of these years! I only wish I could read up on your blog, LOL, I seemed to not be invited ;)

Nicole, you are also close family to me and appreciate your love and support. You have always supported me. I am calling you the next time I feel blue!

Christy, thank you so much for your support in reading all of my blogs. It is so nice to have a friend that I have had for many years. I hope you are doing well?! I will see a doctor if my symptoms continue after taking vitamins. Or maybe I just will anyways...hmmm.

Rachel, you have helped me immensely just by being my friend. You were the first to come help me break up the day of sadness for me. You have given me inspiration and opportunities to express myself creatively through photography. The days we got together for crafts I have been in my happy state of mind. Crafts and friendships make me happy! Thus we must carry on!!!

Shana, I miss seeing you in Relief Society! You are so sweet! I appreciate knowing that you know what I am feeling and that it's okay to get medication. Thank you.

Ashley, we just need a girls night so we can talk. Would it be okay to have Jason watch the kiddos soon? Maybe the men can just get together with all the kids. Who knows we just need to get together soon!

BrItTneEanN said...

Heather, I'm so glad to hear it's okay to be sad. Sometimes I just need to hear it's okay :)

Vanessa Smith said...

Ok so I felt the same way after having Jade and the only thing that really helped, outside of the gospel, was fun workouts (zumba for me) and listening to music. Music that reminds you of fun times, that fills you with happiness or good memories. I still struggle with anxiety and sadness just like you and we really need to hang out more and just talk. But we also need more than that. I feel I need more than just talking to someone about how I feel, I need excitement in my life and adventure if that makes sense. The monotony can make you go crazy. You need things to look forward to doing that are fun and make you feel young and alive again. I know that's what I need and I know it would help you too!

Lauren said...

Wow Brittnee! What a great post. I have empathy for what you are going through because many of those same feelings that you have are mine as well. What I am learning slowly and I wished that I have learned sooner is that if you don't feel good about yourself, or confident, or pretty... how are you able to take care others, especially your children? I am now trying to take the time to do the things that make me feel confident, good about myself, or more energetic. The other day I told Chris when he was home that I was going to leave by myself ( no baby) for a little bit. I drove to the mall, went to forever 21 and bought some skinny jeans and some cute flats. Just taking the time to drive by myself and buy cute clothes that I felt "cute" in, made me feel better. I came back home refreshed and ready to handle the next challenges. I figure my alone time is not a want anymore, it's a necessity so that I can be a better wife and mom. Hang in there, you are such a great mom and awesome friend:)I am so glad that we continue to hang out!

Andrea said...
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Debbie Schramer said...

Brittnee, I am so amazed how you were able to share what you've been going through so honestly and openly. That takes a lot of courage and determination. Sharing your feelings IS really important. I am so sorry I haven't come out to help you more and to get together. It makes me very happy that you want to spend time with me; that is so great. We are trying to improve our situation so that I can come out to help you more. Sometimes, I have my own depression and anxiety though that I deal with unfortunately and am trying to rise above all that. But, you are really doing great things to make your life better. I wish I could be so motivated! I am so sorry I made that comment about you when you were pregnant; I only meant that it looked like the baby had grown, but it must have not sounded like that. You are a wonderful mother Brittnee and Matt is such a great father, too. We are so proud of both of you. Being a mother, especially at first IS very difficult. You can feel so cut off from the rest of the world at times and so alone. One of your friends mentioned that she wanted more excitement and adventure in her life and things to look forward to. I think that is so crucial; I feel that way even at 62!! I think sometimes it's so easy to feel like a slave to one's home or where one lives; it can just feel like you're trapped in your own house. But, sometimes, if you just walk out the door and get out, it's like a breath of fresh air, just to feel more a part of the world. I am really proud of you for sharing these very personal and real feelings. I had Postpartum Depression after our first child and it was very severe, but now it is more understood and there's more women can do about it. My great-grandmother had it after her first child and she was institutionalized for a long time; they definitely didn't understand that in the early 1900's so she suffered terribly. They just thought she was crazy and put her in an institution. So, I am very grateful things are better now. You are definitely doing the right things by sharing your feelings, improving your life style, getting out and doing fun things and just having faith in yourself and Heavenly Father. I hope we can get together soon. I'll call you more often, too. I didn't have any daughters, so being able to talk to you more would mean a lot to me. Thank you Brittnee for being who you are. You are a wonderful daughter-in-law!! Everything will be ok. Thank you for being such a great example of hope and faith.