Following the birth of my second child, began slipping into post-partum depression. I had a 2-year-old at the time and my husband was working 16-hour days on an ill-timed project. My son was born during the school year making it difficult for my mother who worked for a school system to be available to be of assistance. I was left to handle my newborn, toddler and to heal from my C-section almost entirely alone. Coupled with my tendency to overcommit myself and desire not to let my husband think I could not handle things at home while he was the single income earner for our family, it was a recipe for mental health disaster.
More than two hours of sleep was rare for me in the first few weeks. It is normal during the newborn stage, but my son especially struggled with sleep at night. On the weekend, my husband attempted to give me some relief to allow me to sleep but considering our tiny house had thin walls, sleeping while my baby fussed was not an option. Needless to say I was running on fumes.
During the day, I had friends stopping by during nap time. My eagerness to please all people and my desire to interact with other adults resulted in me sacrificing nap time for social time. We attended play dates, doctor’s appointments, and I even cooked dinner for a friend who had her own baby in the first few weeks.
About six weeks after my baby was born, I decided to visit my parents. My mother was on summer break, and I realized I needed some help. I was struggling to hold it together and manage our life. The trip took over two hours, and I cried the entire way home. I recall nursing my son, handing him to my mother with few words and going to bed. With just a few interruptions from my mom to feed my son, I pretty much slept for the next 24 hours. Because of my healthcare background, I realized that I was on the verge of postpartum depression.
Things slowly got better, and I slowly worked on taking care of myself so I could adequately take care of my family. Once I came out of the fog, I was angered by the fact that little to no care was given to me in those weeks following the birth of my son. Women who have given birth understand that there is a dramatic shift of little care for the mother once a child is born often with little to no explanation of the havoc of changing hormones coupled with lack of sleep can impact life and mental health. If women are lucky we get one visit with a OB-GYN and are told to return a year later.
In the wake of two recent celebrity suicides, serious conversations need to occur in our healthcare industry and more focus needs to occur for mental health. Insurance needs to approve care for mental health and cover costs of needed added visits to a healthcare provider. From all outward appearances, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade both had successful careers and family support, but something was not right internally with both of them. Did they feel they had to neglect their own emotional well-being in order to please others and to keep up with the demands of their careers? Could more acceptance of seeking mental health care prevent more unnecessary tragic loss in the world?
Writer Bio: Summer Bolte
I spend most of my time and days with my three kids, husband and dog. My kids frequently play near me as I garden, cook, DIY and volunteer. My most unusual paying job has to be feeding fruit flies in a research lab, and my most fulfilling job was being an oncology nurse for seven years.