Postpartum depression affects millions of mothers every year. But not every mom reports it or asks for help. This brave local mama is telling her story and hopes it will encourage other moms to offer and seek support.
Molly takes a deep breath and reluctantly says “no thank you,” to a night out with friends. She wants to go, but it has been a busy, stressful week and she’s getting that feeling again. She’s aware of it now. She knows the signs when life starts to feel overwhelming and it’s time to take a timeout. She’s practicing self-care, something she learned the hard way.
This is new territory for Molly. For years, it was go, go, go and there was never a problem. But, after baby number three, things were very, very different. “I knew immediately something was wrong with me,” she said.
Molly suffered post-partum depression and anxiety. And the road through it was dark, scary and at times, hopeless. But like many moms who suffer from it, she tried to push through without help. “I put a band-aid on it. ‘I’m fine, it’s fine.’ I was farthest from fine.”
Molly and her husband Jim had wanted children from the beginning. But, they got off to a rough start, needing hormone treatments for the first pregnancy. But soon, Grace came into the world and made them parents.
“After Grace, we were always wondering, could we have another, and luckily without any hormone treatments, we had Caitlin.”
But her second pregnancy was difficult. They had always wanted three, but after Caitlin, they weren’t sure it would happen. So, after six years without birth control and no baby, they started thinking they were done. And about two weeks later, they found out she was pregnant with Everly.
“We were so excited, prepared, ready, and yet the entire time I was scared,” she said.
To make things harder during this third pregnancy, Molly’s father died unexpectedly. This was a devastating blow and added a lot of stress and grief that she didn’t feel she could deal with at the time. So, she buried it and pressed on.
As it turned out, her delivery was rough and ended in an emergency c-section that did not go well. Afterward, things went from bad to worse. She was having digestive issues, lots of pain.
“I couldn’t breastfeed, I couldn’t hold the baby,” she said. When they got home, she wasn’t bonding with the baby because the pain and anxiety were so bad. In addition, she was still losing lots of blood and she was constantly lightheaded and even passing out. Molly has a history of anemia and this was making it profoundly worse.
“I was so anxious. I can’t breathe, I can’t function. It was completely different than with Grace and Caitlin.”
After six weeks of continuously pushing the doctors about the bleeding, she was finally hospitalized and put on medication to slow it down. But then shortly after, Jim got sick. He was in bed for 10 days for what they thought was the flu. After Molly urged him to go get checked out, they discovered he had a blood clot in his lung.
Thankfully, things turned out okay but Molly said by this time she was “in crisis mode.”
“I’m not eating, I’m not sleeping, and I finally realize, I’m about to lose it. I couldn’t keep it together. I was completely drained.”
Molly said she was emotionally and physically broken. Not wanting to disappoint anyone or to feel like she couldn’t handle motherhood with three, she did everything she could to appear normal and just get through the day.
But, her family knew something was wrong and finally, encouraged her to seek help. She got treatment and found therapy.
She also found Facebook groups of women supporting each other through post-partum depression and anxiety. She learned to accept help from family members, even though admitting she couldn’t do it all on her own was hard.
That was a hard pill to swallow, but it allowed me to rest, to go to therapy, to do what I needed to do,” she said. “I reached out, and I got through this because of my phenomenal network of support.”
Post-partum anxiety and depression undoubtedly took a toll on her marriage too, but she said their friendship is what got them through.
“I married my best friend,” she said, “and that got us through it.”
Today, there is much more balance in her life. Life with three kids is never easy. But as a family, they’ve learned how to take care of each other better and focus on what matters. And every day she aims to practice self-care and lean on her network of support. And out of this struggle, she has found a new passion, to help other moms who are struggling with PPD.
“I can’t be the only mother going through this. PPD is real. It is hard. It takes over your life. And you have to have people around you. You cannot do it alone. Reach out to me, and I will help you.”
Most importantly, she and Jim have three beautiful, smart, funny, and creative girls who brighten their lives every day and they wouldn’t change a thing. “I love my girls. I can’t imagine my life without them. I’m so grateful.”