Positives of Having Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

As I sit in our green La-Z-Boy recliner, rocking my third baby, who refuses to nap anywhere but on me, I think about the First Year Journey I took with each of my children.

With G I experienced postpartum depression.

With L I experienced postpartum anxiety.

And with Baby J, I’ve once again entered the world of postpartum depression.

This time it’s been a bit different. I was really proactive this time: making sure my midwife was open to going on meds as soon as I felt I needed it and going on them when it was clear I would need a c-section. I’ve asked for help. I am making sure I carve a little bit of time for myself each day, even if it’s to wash away the day’s spit-up in a five-minute shower.

I did what I could to prevent it, but what I really did was lessen the pain.

Because despite trying, I’m struggling.

I’m struggling but not as much as I was after G was born. I’ve been able to take my experiences over the last eight years and use them to my advantage. I can call the feelings of disinterest, loneliness, and anger by name: depression.

I’m sitting here, under my almost-4-month-old who will not nap away from me, and realize there have been some positive outcomes to experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety.

Self Care

I won’t apologize for taking time for myself. And I’m not even talking about getting a pedicure. I’m talking about literally taking care of my mind and body. If I want to go on a run or take a fitness class I will. I recently started pelvic floor therapy, which is a pain to find a sitter for, but worth it.

Everyone in the family benefits when I’m in a decent mood. Everyone will benefit even more if I’m healthy and around long enough to see them grow.


I became an advocate. I am open to sharing my story in hopes of helping other families. I organized my city’s first Climb Out of the Darkness walk, which led to support groups this area was severely lacking. I’m no longer leading, but the women who I passed the torch on to have been bringing awareness and meeting with local OBs and it just makes me happy to think of how many families they’re now helping.

Now, I use my platforms to share my story and struggles and help other parents share theirs.

Knowing the Signs

I know that depression doesn’t always present as sadness. I know my anger stems from anxiety more often than not. I understand my triggers better. Now I know how important sleep is for my mental health, I don’t feel bad for taking a nap. I know that exercise helps.

This time, I was able to see myself sitting on the couch crying at four weeks postpartum because I could not drive and could barely take care of my family after my c-section, but also not interested in visitors who wanted to break up the monotony for me. I was depressed and knew I needed an increase in meds. I wasn’t able to identify this after G was born.


I’m not afraid of going on medication. I don’t want to be on meds, but they help keep me balanced. They help me be a better mom, which means my kids are happier. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll go off them this time.


Through my experience as a Climb Out of the Darkness leader, I made friends. Both online through our leader group and in real life, with moms coming out to walk and share their truths.

It’s not how I wanted to make friends. But I am so glad they’re in my life now.

Positive Outcomes from Having Postpartum Depression and Anxiety via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Positives about surviving postpartum depression via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I hate that I’ve experienced a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) with every pregnancy and baby I’ve had. It sucks. It’s lonely. It’s exhausting. But now I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I know how to help my friends and family so that they don’t have to suffer in silence.

What I Didn’t Expect After My C-Section

I read articles, blog posts, and asked friends. I thought I knew what to expect after my c-section was over. But it turns out, I was in for a few surprises.

What surprised me after my c-section:

* You can get gas trapped in your back/shoulder. This feels like a bad cramp. My gas bubble moved around a little bit. Out of all the c-section posts I read to try and prepare myself for recovery, this was only mentioned once. It took a week or two for it to work itself out.

* Gas pains hurt more than your incision site. And you can feel it all moving around your already-sore abdomen. I swear I saw my belly move at one point.

* Nerve pain can feel like burning. A very painful burning.

* The first postpartum poop wasn’t as scary as my vaginal births. My vagina wasn’t sore, nor were there stitches like with my last two deliveries.

* I didn’t expect the rush of adrenaline I felt one I was back in my room for recovery. I thought I would be out of it from surgery and painkillers. It turned out I was alert and excited to announce Baby J’s arrival into the world to everyone I knew. I’m not sure I would have felt this way had I experienced labor beforehand though. The exhausted, crummy feeling I expected came over me the next day.

C-Section Recovery Tips That I Found Helpful

* Get up as soon as your nurse says it’s okay. Even if it’s to move yourself to a chair next to your bed. Your nurses should help you. After that, strive for a walk (the more the better but I’d strive for a number equal to the number day you’ve been at the hospital).

* A belly binder helps with walking around (I received this one at the hospital). I’m still wearing one 11 weeks postpartum (I bought this one about 8 weeks postpartum and even though it’s in three pieces, my core feels really supported — especially when carrying Baby J).

* The nurse we had on our last day in the hospital suggested holding a pillow or stuffed animal against my stomach while walking. I knew to do this for coughing and sneezing, but walking?? As silly as it seemed, it actually made a huge difference! It was the only way I could walk around for several days due to my nerve pain. I’m still a little peeved none of the other nurses suggested it.

* Get up and moving shortly after a dose of pain killers. Waiting too close to dosing time to try and walk was too late. I waited about 30-45 minutes let my meds kick in.

* Laying on your side can help move gas. And don’t be shy about letting it loose. You’ll feel a whole lot better!

* Drink water! This can help with any swelling you experience, move your bowels, aid in milk production, and keep you hydrated.

* Take the stool softeners. Ask for them after your surgery if you don’t receive them.

* Don’t rush your first poop. And don’t wait to go. Once you have the urge, get to the bathroom. Even if it’s to sit and try. It was nearly a week post-op before I had my first bowel movement. It took several tries before it happened, but I think sitting on the toilet and letting gravity play a part helped when the time came.

What I Didn't Expect After My C-Section via muddybootsandiamonds.com

What did you find surprising after your c-section?

No one told me these things would happen after my c-section | What I Didn't Expect After My C-Section via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I Made Excuses for My Postpartum Depression

One of the questions on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale asks if you’re having flashbacks of your birth experience. I have friends who have had c-sections that did and I was worried I would too.

Thankfully, I haven’t thought too much about Baby J’s delivery, but I have been experiencing is flashbacks to the first two months of G’s life. I cried daily, nearly all day. I had a baby who hated sleep. I felt isolated during the day.

I had postpartum depression, but I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) admit it. I thought I was just tired. I thought life would get better with the next milestone.

I thought I was just having a terrible time adjusting to motherhood. After all, they say it’s not an easy job, right?

This latest fourth trimester has brought me back to those nightmarish weeks seven years ago. Once again, I have a baby who hates sleep. Once again, I’m crying (though, it’s usually at the end of a rough day). Once again, I’m on meds for postpartum depression. But this time I haven’t made excuses. I’ve learned that, with time, things will get better. I just need to keep fighting.

Baby J – Who sleeps best on me and no one else.

I originally wrote this post for Postpartum Progress in 2016. But since I have been thinking back to those darker days, I wanted to share it here as well in case it resonates with anyone else who is struggling at the moment.

I found out I was pregnant on Christmas Eve.

I found out we lost our baby on Presidents Day, barely two months later. I had a D&C that same evening.

I did my best to act like I was okay after that when all I wanted was to crawl into bed and live there. Months went by.

I thought I would be better when I got pregnant again.

I was wrong.

I was terrified of losing another baby. I had anxiety attacks leading up to doctor appointments. My husband, who could clearly see I wasn’t myself, asked our OB if my level of anxiety was normal. Twice.

At each of those appointments, our OB simply stated it was perfectly normal to be anxious after a loss. I believed her. Our OB was the expert, right?

I felt anything but normal. Nothing could be the same as that rainy day in February when we were told there was no heartbeat. I refused to wear certain clothes. I considered rescheduling appointments if the forecast called for rain. I didn’t feel joy in being pregnant.

I had pregnancy anxiety and didn’t know it. I didn’t know it was a real illness. I didn’t know I could have—should have—been treated for it.

I thought I would be okay when I gave birth and could hold my baby.

I was wrong.

I became dehydrated during labor and developed a fever. When I gave birth to my eldest son, I only remember patting his head and telling my husband to hold him first.

I thought I was too tired to make the effort.

I was wrong.

I had zero interest in trying to bond with our oldest son at first. When I finally felt an urge to hold him, admire him, bond with him 15 hours later, he was promptly taken away for routine tests due to my fever. We didn’t see him for several hours.

We were told our baby was septic and needed to be moved to the NICU for antibiotics. He was placed under the bilirubin lights because he was jaundiced as well.

Hooked up to monitors and IVs and needing the lights meant we could only hold our son to feed him for the next five days. I cried. A lot.

When we finally came home as a family I cried all the time. I had thoughts of my baby getting hurt. I wanted to run away. I was exhausted. I was obsessed over the baby’s weight and whether he was getting enough milk from me. I felt a lot of anger and resentment towards my husband for being able to sleep through every little noise our baby made at night. I looked at my son and only felt the instinct to protect him—the love I expected to feel for him immediately upon seeing him hadn’t happened.

I thought I was having a hard time adjusting to motherhood.

I was wrong.

People could tell I wasn’t myself, but no one said anything until I broke down at our son’s one-month appointment and was encouraged by the nurse practitioner to ask my OB about postpartum depression.

I was diagnosed with it two weeks later at my six-week visit with the midwife, who also handed me a prescription for an antidepressant.

I began seeing a therapist several months later. She was a saving grace as she helped me work through my anger and anxiety.

I didn’t think I would ever enjoy my son. I thought I would need to take a pill for the rest of my life in order to be a mother that was just “good enough.”

I was wrong.

G was nine months old when I felt my heart swell with love for him. He was 15 months old when I realized I was enjoying being his mom—medication free.

One day you will find yourself smiling at your child as you watch them play. One day you will laugh with them and realize you’re truly enjoying them. One day you will look at them and feel all the love in the world for them.

You will.

Until then, keep fighting.

I Was Wrong - How I Tried to Justify My Postpartum Depression via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I Was Wrong - How I Tried to Justify My Postpartum Depression via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

How I Made My C-Section Recovery Easier

Regardless of the type of birth you’re going to have, planning for the first few weeks postpartum is a smart idea.

As my due date drew closer, it became clearer I was going to need a scheduled c-section. Knowing when I was going to be in the hospital was a silver lining, but I was not looking forward to the c-section recovery. I usually felt close to normal at two weeks postpartum after my vaginal births. I knew a c-section would be at least three times as long. I knew it was best to plan ahead before I was too tired to think straight or unable to drive.

There were a few things that I’m glad I did before heading to the hospital that has made my c-section recovery a little less stressful.

1. Meal Prep

We don’t have many friends or family around who are willing to bring over meals for us, so I made sure I prepped a few freezer meals ahead of time. I did this when I was pregnant with L and it was extremely helpful! The day before my c-section, L and I hit the grocery store for some of the sides and fresh fruit.

Tips for an easier c-section recovery muddybootsanddiamonds.com

The best thing I made were these banana muffins. I added chopped walnuts and chocolate chips to make them more enticing for the boys. Once cooled, I put them in zip lock bags and froze them. It was so easy for Mr Boots to take a couple out and warm them up in the microwave for me. G even surprised us by using the microwave all by himself to warm one up for his breakfast one morning!

2. Reschedule/Schedule Appointments

Once I had my c-section date, I rescheduled or canceled appointments that were scheduled for my time in the hospital and the day after I expected to be home. Since I wouldn’t be able to drive too much for six weeks, I was also able to schedule summertime doctor appointments for after my six-week checkup.

3. Wrote Out our Weekday Routine & Schedule for Mr Boots

I won’t forget the look on my husband’s face when he realized how busy he was going to be our first week home with J. It was something along the lines of exhaustion mixed with dread, and I won’t lie — it sort of made me happy. He might come home to me sitting on the couch in the afternoon, but the truth is I’m doing a lot of running around the first half of the day.

Anyway, I wrote out what typically happens on a school day as well as the upcoming appointments the boys had scheduled while he was on leave. I felt like I was micromanaging but after our first day home I realized he really didn’t know the routine the boys and I have during the week.

4. Got My Nursing Clothes Ready

I sorted through my nursing clothes bin prior to my c-section. I removed things that didn’t quite work out when I nursed G and L and keep what I loved. Then I washed it all and put the clothes out where I could easily access them when I got home. The night before my c-section I put away most of my maternity clothes (shirts mostly) to make room for nursing attire.

5. Washed, Showered, Plucked, Shaved

It was a couple of days before I showered for the first time after my c-section and even that wasn’t a pleasant experience. Putting my arms up above my head pulled on cut muscles so I didn’t bother washing my hair. Bending over aggravated nerves so it was a few more days before I shaved. Doing some of these things the night before and the morning of my c-section meant I felt less gross while I was in the hospital.

6. Asked My C-Section Mama Friends for Their Recovery Advice

I’ve learned that by being open about what I’m going through helps others open up as well. A couple of weeks before surgery I wrote a post on Facebook asking for advice and what surprised them most about recovering. Most of my friends had the same advice, which implied importance and I made sure to keep it in mind. It also meant I had a realistic idea of what to expect since I had never had a c-section before.

7. Not Having a Set Visitation Plan

I am a big believer that everyone’s visitation plan needs to be contingent on how well mom and baby are doing, and that is not something you’ll know ahead of time.

The only visitors I wanted in the hospital were the boys so they could meet their new brother. I got asked a few times when they’d come to visit or if they’d visit each day I was gone. Every time I responded with it really all depended on how I felt. I didn’t know how the surgery would go or how miserable I would feel.

Tips for an easier c-section recovery muddybootsanddiamonds.com

The boys came the day after surgery, but I kept them home the remainder of my hospital stay. I had an issue with my incision leaking blood. The baby was having trouble spitting up amniotic fluid and would choke every time he tried. I couldn’t get in and out of bed well in my own and definitely couldn’t pick Baby J up out of the bassinet yet. We were exhausted from little sleep. I just wasn’t up for anyone to visit and the truth was, the boys got bored after 10 minutes. It was best for us to focus on my rest and recovery and I needed Mr Boots to be around for that as much as possible.

Once we got home, we allowed immediate family to visit the first two weeks. I could only stand about 30 minutes at a time though. My meds made me sleepy and the men that came by didn’t really want to be around when I nursed. Plus, visitors wound the baby up which stressed me out.

Rest is essential for c-section recovery. We kept our Quiet Time in the afternoons visitor-free to allow us all to regroup and asked them to come either in the morning or just before dinner.

7 things I'm glad I did that helped lessen the stress of my c-section recovery. via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

These tips don’t apply to c-section recovery. I would have done them even if I had been able to have a vaginal birth. But now that I’m seven weeks postpartum I am so thankful I made the effort as I am still recovering and unable to do all the things I could do when I was pregnant.

I’d love to know…Did you do anything before you had your baby that made your c-section recovery easier?

My Postpartum Mentality and the Happy Pill

I’ve had people ask me how I’ve felt emotionally since having L. Compared to how I felt with G, I feel really great! But, I also decided to start Zoloft as soon as I could after giving birth (which was 2 days postpartum). Am I constantly crying and feeling resentful like I did in those first eight weeks after G was born? No. But I don’t always feel like I can cope when things get a little hard at home.

I promised myself, and Hubby, that this time would be different. I would be proactive with my mental health. November was a hard month with Hubby working a lot of overtime. I was having several meltdowns a day being pregnant and taking care of one child. How the hell would I be able to handle two alone all day, or night, I wondered.

During that hard time, I spoke to my midwife who saw no problem giving me something as soon as L was born. This left me feeling surprised and relieved. I assumed I would have to “wait and see” how I was emotionally before I could be given something. I was relieved that she didn’t see the point since I had postpartum depression before. Her reasoning, “Happy Mommy, Happy Baby” and by the time I got help and let the medication kick in I could have lost months of precious bonding time. Time I had lost with G. Time I didn’t want to lose with the next baby. It was the only thing about my pregnancy that she was willing not to use the “wait and see” approach for, and I’m grateful for that.

November also gave me the kick in the pants to start finding a therapist in the area who specialized in postpartum mood disorders. I wanted to see someone who knew who they were dealing with. I couldn’t go back to my last therapist; she tried making me feel guilty for being on Zoloft and nursing G, among other things that made me upset.

I spent several months trying to find a therapist that fit the very few requirements I had. Every time I thought I fond someone in the area, I’d find numerous bad reviews. I kept stumbling across Postpartum Support Virginia‘s website which has recommended therapists for the state. However, there are none close by to me. The closest ones were about 40-60 minutes away.

I stopped searching after L was born. It wasn’t until I was hysterically crying one night because I hadn’t slept and L didn’t want to sleep and Hubby wouldn’t help either of us that I realized I needed more than Zoloft. The meltdown gave me flashbacks of the first six weeks of G’s life and it scared me. I didn’t feel depressed but I didn’t feel right either. Also, I had been told by the OB and midwife I saw after G was born and the one I saw this time that I needed to wean off the Zoloft after three months. I was nearing that point and I didn’t want to wean without having “an expert” to talk to.

I tried one last time to find a postpartum therapist in town. I asked my midwife. She didn’t have any recommendations. Then I asked the pediatrician. She told me to ask my midwife. Not knowing who else I could ask without making it publicly known to people I didn’t want knowing what I was going through, I printed the list from Postpartum Virginia’s website and started researching the therapists in Northern Virginia. I figured that if I couldn’t find someone close by, I may as well find someone close to my family who could watch the boys while I tried talking about emotions and feelings with a stranger.

Getting Help for Postpartum Anxiety the Second Time Around via muddybootsanddiamonds.com #postpartum #anxiety #mentalhealth

The thing I like about Postpartum Virginia’s list is that the therapists and counselors on it are ones that are recommended by others. It didn’t take me long to find a counselor I wanted to try out.

My biggest concern was cost. Hubby and I had already agreed that money couldn’t be a deciding factor in who I saw. I haven’t had much luck with the in-network therapists my insurance suggests. After speaking with the counselor on the phone (I’ll call her Ms. H) she offered to give me a discount on her services. I felt a little guilty about that, but reminded myself that I’d also be commuting a total of two hours for these visits — and that was if traffic wasn’t bad — with two little people in tow, one of which hates car rides.

I was nervous about my first visit. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t want to talk about my past, my relationship with my husband, what things were like for me growing up. I wanted to talk about what I was feeling now. I wanted to discuss weaning off the medication that might possibly be keeping me leveled out.

Ms. H decided to start with the here and now, which I really appreciated. She wanted to know about L’s birth, how I was feeling after, what prompted me to go on Zoloft, how long have I been on it, was a nursing, how often, how were the baby and I sleeping. Amazingly, and probably for the first time in three years, I wasn’t choking on the words I was saying out loud when I briefed Ms. H on my story of loss, grief, and postpartum depression.

During that first session, we made a list: pros and cons to staying on Zoloft. I realized that the one thing that finally made weaning off it successful was G sleeping through the night. With Ms. H’s help, I began realizing how important sleep was for me. How important it is for all parents with perinatal mood disorders. I started realizing it was probably best to stay medicated at this point.

I admitted I was hesitant to continue taking it because so many medical professionals told me it wasn’t something to stay on long-term. Ms. H said she hadn’t heard of that before; that most psychiatrists she knew recommended staying on it for about 9 months. The three-month rule didn’t make sense to her because it took almost that long for the full effect of the drug to work. Why would you wean off something that just started making you feel better?

Hello, Sanity. We meet again.

It didn’t make sense to me either and I remembered that it was about 11 weeks before I felt awesome on Zoloft when I started it after G’s birth. I also reminded myself that after I attempted to wean off it the first time, I stayed on it for almost 5 months before making another (and successful) attempt.

The visit gave me something to think about. I thought about the list and decided it was best for myself and my family to continue taking the Zoloft.

I left that visit feeling confident I found someone who knows how to talk to postpartum parents and is going to know how to help me talk about my feelings and emotions and offer tips on how to get a handle on them when I feel like they’ve taken control. I’m really hoping it’s worth the commute to see her. Being stuck in the car with my kids gives me heart palpitations.


If you are struggling with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD), know you aren’t alone! To find a therapist or support group in your area, or to talk with someone over the phone who understands, visit Postpartum Support International

To help raise awareness of PMADs, I have started a new series, Surviving the Darkness. If you’d like to read more stories of survival or are interested in participating, please read this post.

This post originally debuted on 5/12/14, but updated with resource links on 4/13/18.