I was at my first postpartum follow up appointment when the doctor started asking me a bunch of questions about how I was feeling. As she went down the list, I realized I was answering yes to everything and I suddenly knew I was not OK. I burst into tears and had a major meltdown in front of the doctor and my husband. He was blindsided and so was I. He said he had no idea that I felt so bad and I told him I didn't either. It was at that moment that I was first faced with a reality I did not want to accept. The doctor said it was normal to have the "baby blues" and told me to make a follow up appointment just to be sure everything was OK. I agreed and we went on our way. We talked about it at home, my husband was very sweet and supportive so I felt better after our chat.
Life went on and I continued to have good and bad days, more bad than good to be honest. I didn't know what I was doing, everything seemed so difficult, I had no time for myself, I couldn't think, I couldn't eat and I couldn't sleep. I had multiple meltdowns and every time it happened I would eventually pull myself together and tell myself I just had a bad day. I was in denial for a long, long time. My OB had actually released me to go to work because there was nothing physically wrong with me but I knew that I wasn't OK. I went to my primary care doctor and she recognized the signs of postpartum depression. She advised that I should not return to work and I should seek specialized attention. My thoughts were immediately those of shock, denial and disbelief. You mean like with a psych? OMG why would you say that? I don't need that, that's for people who have crazy problems, not me. So I continued to be in denial. It was a dark time in my life. I kept having "bad days" on and off. At that time I had attempted to go back to work and failed miserably. Many of my coworkers told me I didn't look ready to go back but I thought I could handle it. I was wrong, very wrong. My head was not on straight and it seemed I couldn't put one foot in front of the other some days. I should mention I was not at all alone in this. My mom helped me at home with the baby almost daily and my husband helped as much as he could too. My poor mom and husband got the short end of the stick dealing with me many times. My husband even started to feel blue himself. I was just a mess and I didn't know how to fix it. How dare I be so unhappy when I had such a beautiful baby and loving husband? Why couldn't I just get it together and be normal?
Finally, I broke down and went to Nurturing the New You Mother - Baby Support Group, a support group for new moms at Long Beach Memorial. The first day was eye opening, stressful and very relieving. I sat there and listened to these other moms talk about exactly the way I felt and they had very similar experiences. Then my turn came and I immediately burst into tears. I started talking about how I felt and I was able to breathe when I was done. It felt great to let it all out to a group of women who understood me, who WERE me. I continued to go and found that it really helped. I finally accepted that I needed the help and started seeing a psychologist. This was the turning point, I was finally getting the help I needed, the help that I had denied myself. It was liberating and I got better little by little.
The next breakthrough was when I faced another problem, I had a really hard time with breastfeeding. I had it all: cracked/chapped/bloody nipples, mastitis and thrush. I wish I could say that I had that magical experience people talk about but I can think of a handful of times that I actually enjoyed it. To be absolutely blunt about it, I'd rather go through another unmedicated natural birth than breastfeed. That's how bad my experience was. Breastfeeding contributed to my depression more than I ever could have known. At around five months, I decided to stop breastfeeding altogether. I always said I would breastfeed for a full year if I became a mother so I kept that pressure on myself until my psychologist helped me realize it was adding so much depression and anxiety to my life. So if you are putting yourself through the same thing because you are of the "breast is best" mentality like I was, let me stop you there and tell you what I wish I had heard from the beginning, "fed is best." Whether it be from your breast or from your choice of infant formula, just feed the baby and don't put yourself through unnecessary stress. When I stopped breastfeeding, I had another noticeable improvement.
I was finally able to return to work part time and I continued to treat with the psychologist. One day we touched on the subject of what I used to do before the baby and I told her I loved to work out and I had gotten myself certified to be a personal trainer about a year and a half before then. Immediately, she said well why don't you get back to it? As a matter of fact, after that particular session, she basically prescribed a trip out of town and some gym time! I went home and told my husband and we booked a trip to Vegas. It was amazing, I felt like myself again for a whole week. We had a great trip, I went back to the gym and everything was looking up... until the next thing happened. After a couple of weeks back at the gym, I started to feel an urgency to pee. I couldn't control it and I felt like I was sitting on a small balloon. I went to the OB and was told I had a bladder prolapse. I felt like my world crumbled again. How would I ever be able to be a personal trainer like that? I thought I was ruined and I would never be able to work out or do much of anything physical again. Maybe it sounds dramatic but, at that time, it literally felt like my world had crumbled. I felt myself slipping back into depression and it was a big blow. I went through pelvic floor rehab training for months and started to feel better with time. It took months but I got rid of the urgency, I was in control again and I didn't feel that balloon feeling anymore. I felt more and more like myself.
Months of therapy, working out and rehab sessions paid off. I felt stronger and more emotionally stable than I had been since I gave birth to my daughter. Finally, I told myself it was time to do what I had been wanting to do. It was time to start my personal training business and help other women. I went to the City of Long Beach and filed for a business license. Mamacita Fitness is what came out of the ashes of my postpartum depression. It was almost like a rebirth for me. I felt so strong, so proud and so empowered. It has been a little over a year since I filed for the business license and I have been reflecting on the last year. I am so proud of the difference I have made for my clients and I hope to keep doing this for a long time. Mamacita Fitness is my victory over postpartum depression and I needed to tell this story. If you are going through postpartum depression or any form of depression for that matter, I want you to know that you can get through it! No matter how hard it gets, no matter how many bumps in the road, there is always a way.
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