I want to preface this by saying I love my son. This is a difficult topic to discuss in general, and even I am anxious about being completely honest about the thoughts I’ve dealt with since he’s been born.
The day my son was born was one of the best days of my life, minus the excruciating pain of my epidural wearing off. My doctor plopped my son on my stomach and right away I knew I loved this little creature that just came out of my vagina. The first 24 hours after his birth I was running on adrenaline, not having slept and too afraid to fall asleep in case he stopped breathing. The day I was released from the hospital, I woke up bawling. The days went by and the anxiety and crying intensified. “Why are you crying?” “What if he stops breathing while I’m asleep?” I had textbook baby blues. But instead of going away and getting better, the helpless awful feelings just kept getting worse. I was having panic attacks over the idea of him getting sick and dying. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I started to get these intrusive thoughts.
“Just drop him and he’ll stop crying.”
“You’re a piss poor excuse for a mother, just fucking kill yourself already.”
“Don’t let anyone else watch him or hold him, he’ll die and it’ll be all your fault.”
“You’re such a lazy mom, how are you not breastfeeding? Pathetic.”
“He’s been quiet for too long. Don’t bother getting up, he’s probably already dead. What are you going to do anyway?”
The list goes on and on. I would get angry if my fiance breathed near me, or if my dog wanted to play. I often considered driving my car into oncoming traffic on the way back from doctors appointments, or just not coming home at all. I cried constantly. If my son started crying, I flinched. Sometimes I completely dissociated when he would scream. Anytime anyone else could get him to calm down or took care of him, I felt inadequate and like he would be better off with someone else. I should’ve never had a child. I hated my fiance, I hated my son, I hated my body, and I hated my life. Mostly, though, I hated myself. What kind of monster thinks about hurting their own child? I felt awful immediately after these thoughts, but they still happened. I got so low and stressed that I self-harmed for the first time in several months.
Thankfully, my OB knew I was at high risk of developing PPD and started monitoring me within 3 weeks of giving birth. I was put back onto my Zoloft, and referred to a mom-specific mental health facility, on top of the other facility I go to every two weeks. I was put on birth control to help my hormones (and also prevent another pregnancy, I am very not ready for baby #2!). I don’t cringe every single time he cries now, although it does happen occasionally. I still struggle with intrusive thoughts and depression, but it seems to be more at my normal than the extreme feelings I was having. I wouldn’t be feeling any better, however, if I had just kept quiet and not been honest with my OB and the pediatrician, like so many other women. It’s scary, but you are not alone. Chances are, there’s at least one other person in the world who has had the same feelings as you.
If you suspect you or someone you love is suffering from PPD, please check out Postpartum Support International for additional resources. You are not alone.