Pride and Postpartum Depression

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My husband married a woman who had the ability to laugh things off, to be spontaneous, to work hard and get ‘er done.

And then I got pregnant, had a baby, got pregnant, had a baby, and so on five times in a row. My five kids are aged 5, 4, 3, and 1 year old and two months old. For six years the woman my husband married has been gone. Instead I have been exhausted, grouchy, and nauseous. I have also been quick-tempered, irrational, irate, demanding, and annoyed.

I would talk to my husband about how I knew I needed help but then I would do nothing. I wouldn’t tell our family doctor or my midwife. I refused to pick up the phone and make a call where I would have to admit that this problem was beyond my control, that I was beyond my control. Because of my stupid, selfish pride my whole family suffered. For five long years they had to live with a ticking time bomb, never knowing what would set me off.

Something finally happened this past August – a line was finally crossed – and I knew that it was time I had to do something.  There was no more pride, I was ashamed of myself for allowing it to come to that point, and in my shame I contacted my midwife who promptly started me on medication. I also took a look at my days, identified the times and situations that triggered my anger, and sent an email out to friends asking them to spend 9am – 1pm with me so I was never home alone with the children.  It looked like playdates or special visits from grandma to my kids but it allowed me to nap, clean and organize my house after our newborn’s arrival, and to chill. It’s embarrassing to say that I needed a buffer between me and my kids for a few weeks but until I acclimated to the medicine it really was for the best.

Earlier this week my husband called home from work and asked if he could play racquetball with a coworker that evening. Without hesitation I cheerfully said “yes”. Last month I would have said “yes” like a martyr. Yesterday my one year old poured graham cracker filled  water from a cup to her plate to the dining room table and instead of yelling like a maniac I laughed, wiped her hands and the table, and redirected her. Life is so much better in our home now because it seems the saying is true, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.”

I shared with my blog readers I had postpartum depression and since then many have contacted me to say that they too have had or are currently struggling with PPD. To them and anyone else who may be reading that has PPD I want to say this:

Don’t do what I did. Don’t make your family suffer. Enjoy your motherhood, your marriage, your home life. Set your pride aside and get help now before you have nothing to be proud of.

May the Lord bless us all today. Amen.

Bonnie Engstrom

Bonnie Engstrom

Bonnie Engstrom is a cradle Catholic and stay-at-home mom. She married her dashing husband in 2006 and they now have five children: one in Heaven and four more wandering around their house, probably eating pretzels found under the couch. Bonnie lives in central Illinois and gets excited about baking, music, film adaptations of Jane Austen books, and the Chicago Bears. She was a cofounder of The Behold Conference and she blogs at A Knotted Life.

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5 thoughts on “Pride and Postpartum Depression”

  1. Pingback: Pride and Postpartum Depression - CATHOLIC FEAST - Every day is a Celebration

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    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I just wanted to say though that there is a big difference between depression (a medical condition) and pride.

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    OHmygoodness, me, too! Bonnie, it sounds like have so much in common, and I commend you for getting help. It, also, took me nearly six years of married life (i.e. making my husband into a saint) before I started depression meds. And, boy, am I glad I did.

    On a different note, we have got to hang out (digitally speaking)! I am the cofounder of Feminine Genius Inc and will be speaking at the Beauty of the Feminine Conference in Ohio in a few weeks. We “new feminism” gals have to got to stick together.

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    “….aged 5, 4, 3, and 1 year old and two months old…. exhausted, grouchy, and nauseous….quick-tempered, irrational, irate, demanding, and annoyed ….”

    Dear Bonnie, without any connection to the case above, I would like to change the language here, to adapt it to a father and a spiritual father.

    So, I wonder if any husband would say the same about him, after procreating 1,2,3,4,5 children…..( I think that the father procreates, while the mother carries),

    or if any “spiritual father” who take care of his 1,2,3,4,5 parishes, at the same time….would say about him that he is exhausted, grouchy, and nauseous….quick-tempered, irrational, irate, demanding, and annoyed .

    Can we imagine the priest running from one parish to the other to say Mass, the same as a mother run from school to school to collect the children, or from bed to bed to check their sleep, day in and day out…..
    …just a thought…

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