My experience with Postpartum Depression and Rage with a picture of a woman with head in hands and a picture of a woman screaming.

Postpartum Depression Snuck up on Me & Nearly Took My Life

Are you struggling with your emotions even months after your had your baby? Postpartum depression snuck up on me after the birth of my twins in September 2018. I didn’t have postpartum depression after my first son so I wasn’t expecting it. At first, I thought it was just the stress of having a 2-year-old plus premature twins, but I was wrong.



Looking Back

Looking back, I think I was depressed starting in March of 2018. Within one week I found out that I was pregnant with twins and my mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Just a month earlier we had learned that our oldest son had food allergies and we needed to drastically change his diet. It was an overwhelming time, to say the least.

I was so terrified during my pregnancy with the twins that they wouldn’t make it. I seriously felt there was just a 50/50 chance I’d end up delivering them both alive. With all of the appointments and monitoring, we were in the best care, but even with that about 10-15% of MoDi twin pregnancies end up with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome which is often fatal. There are many other possible complications as well, especially as the pregnancy progresses. With me ending up with preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome at 36 weeks along, had I not trusted my mama gut and went in, all three of us would have died.

Realizing my mother wouldn’t get to enjoy her grandsons the way she should be able to and within years likely not even know who we are, was heartbreaking. Everything that has come in the past three years since she was diagnosed has been more heartbreaking than I could have imagined back then.


Mama Guilt Built Up

I felt guilty that I had to be away from my oldest son so much for all of the appointments I had to have while I was pregnant with the twins. I felt guilty that his whole world was going to drastically change and no longer being an only child was going to be rough on him.

I felt guilty that I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, which meant the twins had to be delivered via emergency C-section while I was under general anesthesia. This meant I missed their first precious moments, hours really…and days for Baby A. I felt guilty that one of my babies was in the NICU and I was only able to go see him a few times in the first week of his birth. This was due to me needing to be with Baby B and working on my own recovery from major surgery, plus figuring out how to exclusively pump for two babies who had difficulty latching. (Click the linked words to read more about my twin birth story part 1 and part 2).

I felt bad that we had left our 2-year-old in the middle of the night to deliver these babies, though it was beyond our control. I felt bad that I didn’t call him much from the hospital because we were so busy. I felt bad that I didn’t give him the attention he deserved once the twins got home and I basically only had time for them (thankfully my mother-in-law stayed with us the first 7 weeks to help out and she and our oldest had a wonderful time together).

I felt guilty the twins weren’t able to effectively nurse from me and I ended up having to exclusively pump, so we missed out on the close bond that I had with my oldest during his breastfeeding journey.

I felt so guilty about so much that it gnawed away at me until there really wasn’t anything left.


Overwhelmed or Depression?

I remember being completely overwhelmed with two little babies to care for plus a 2-year-old. Thankfully my mother-in-law graciously stayed with us for the first 7 weeks, it was still overwhelming. I honestly don’t know how I would have done it without her. She is amazing.

In addition to being overwhelmed taking care of these kiddos, I was struggling through exclusively pumping for the twins since they were having difficulty latching. Turns out they had tongue and lip ties. I went through 3 different pumps in the first few months of pumping, which was rough and frustrating. I had pumped for my older son when he was in daycare as a baby so it’s not like this was new to me, but wasn’t pleasant either.

After the twins had their tongue and lip ties revised, we had another thing to deal with. Baby A wasn’t able to turn his head all the way to the side and seemed to prefer one side over the other. He also was developing a flat spot. I didn’t have him on his back a lot and the amount of time he was on his back was the same as his twin yet the twin didn’t have a flat head. I realized it must have been because he had nestled his head so deep into my pelvis during at least the last 6 weeks of pregnancy that he had a partially flat head.

It was winter by now and we live in a cold, snowy climate. Once a week I’d get all the kids all bundled up and take them to the chiropractor to get both babies adjusted, as needed, but especially Baby A due to his neck. I also started taking them to craniosacral therapy once a week the next town over to try and reduce the need for Baby A to end up with a helmet. I did this for months. Just getting all 3 under 3 in and out of the house was a feat. Planning everything around my pumping and feeding them schedule added more complications.


The Moment I Knew I was Suicidal

It was while I was driving them to one of these appointments in the next town that I remember a fleeting thought that scared the crap out of me. I was driving along, overwhelmed, on a relatively windy road with a lake on one side. I kept thinking about how I couldn’t go on like this. How exhausted I was in every sense of the word and how I felt this would never end. Then I saw the lake. I immediately had the thought of jerking the wheel so we’d all go into that freezing lake. I just couldn’t take this anymore.

I obviously didn’t jerk the wheel, telling myself it wasn’t fair to my husband or my kids if I took the kids down with me. It was me who was the problem, not them.

Though my husband and I are very close and I generally tell him everything, the thought scared me so much that I didn’t tell him. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want anyone to take my kids away from me for having that fleeting thought.

I’m not going to lie, I had that thought quite a few more times as I drove us all to those appointments. Each time I told myself NO! that I wouldn’t take them with me if I took my own life.

I never jerked the wheel, with or without them in the car.

Even with those thoughts, I still was in denial. I knew I was having suicidal thoughts I just didn’t admit to myself that it likely was postpartum depression. I wasn’t ashamed of having it, if I did, I just felt like I must just be overwhelmed and that was it.

I started to journal and things became more clear.

woman writing

Realization

In March of 2019, we moved to a beautiful house about 30 minutes from where we lived when the kids were born. This new house was bigger and we moved so that each kid could have their own room on one floor, in addition to ours. The house is amazing. I really felt that once we got into this bigger house that things would look up. We wouldn’t have to be as quiet all the time since there was more space, there was a bigger yard for our oldest to play in, the driveway was flat so they could play on it, unlike the previous house. I thought it’d fix everything.

Within a few weeks of moving, I started self-injurious behaviors. I had major depression and was a cutter as a teen so this wasn’t new to me. Back then, I went to extensive therapy and finally stopped cutting after a few years, and only did every once in a while since then. I hadn’t hurt myself in about 10 years when it started again. I wasn’t cutting but I started biting myself when I got overwhelmed and upset. Biting was a behavior that I remember doing as a young child when I would become upset. It was my precursor to cutting.

I knew that it was only a matter of time until I started cutting again. I told myself that couldn’t happen if I was going to be a good mom. I also had started yelling so fiercely and I was constantly so upset that I didn’t recognize myself. I was full of rage like I had never felt before in my life. I was afraid of myself and so were my kids. Even my husband was afraid of me at times, later saying he felt he was constantly walking on eggshells.

I finally went to my husband and told him I needed help. He hugged me and he told me that he’ll do anything to help with the kids, cooking, whatever so that I can get the help I need. That was late March 2019, the month we had moved, a year after we found out we were having twins, and when the twins were 6 months old.


Much Needed Therapy

I found a local psychotherapy clinic that had visits as late as 7 pm. This way I wouldn’t have to have my husband come home early for work for me to go to therapy, and I wouldn’t have to rush to get there. I went to therapy for an hour every Thursday for 9 months. Then I went to every other week then monthly. In total, I went to a year of therapy.

My therapist didn’t specifically treat postpartum depression. She was a great therapist and helped me a lot with things that even a year later come to mind when I start to find myself having a hard time. We worked through a lot of things, far beyond the trauma of the pregnancy and birth of the twins.

I’ve had a decent amount of trauma in my life and since I hadn’t been to a therapist on a regular basis in over 10 years, there was a lot to work through.

There were a lot of ups and downs throughout as life still goes on and throws plenty of curveballs. After 9 months of going weekly, I went biweekly and then monthly to round out a year of care with the same therapist. Oddly enough, the therapist and I decided right before COVID shut down the state in 2020 that it was time for me to graduate therapy.


The Need for Medication

I had hoped that therapy alone would be enough to get me back on the right track. Through therapy, I did learn a lot of coping techniques that I used on a daily basis. I also learned a lot of ways in which I could approach my young children and get them to listen to me, sometimes. I had the bonus of the fact that my therapist usually worked with children so she was great at helping me figure out things such as saying “and” instead of “but” when talking to my oldest. Such as I know you’re having fun playing AND it’s time for dinner instead of saying I know you’re having fun playing BUT it’s time for dinner. By using AND instead of BUT then I’m not negating what I said initially which may make my son feel I don’t care that he’s having fun playing.

After 8 months of weekly therapy, I still had an unbelievable, uncharacteristic, sometimes uncontrollable rage within me. No matter what I did to cope, that rage was still there. I finally decided I should try getting back on antidepressants again. I had taken them as a teen and had finally gotten off of them before getting pregnant with my first child. Once I was in my 20s I didn’t feel I needed them anymore but was also afraid to get off of them. Weaning off of them in 2014 was difficult, I had a lot of horrible side effects that I didn’t want to go through again when inevitably I would hopefully get off them again someday. However, despite all of that, I knew that this internal rage wasn’t going away without medication.

I got a referral from my therapist to see a psychiatrist. After meeting with her we decided I would start on Zoloft/Sertraline which had worked well for me in the past. We’d start low and ramp it up as needed. Within a month or so I was feeling so much less full of rage. It was amazing, I couldn’t believe it.

I have to mention here, I have my bachelor’s degree in psychology and my master’s and education specialist degrees in school psychology. The world of psychotropic medications, such as antidepressants, isn’t something that is new to me. In addition to all of my training, I also had been on antidepressants for years and they had worked very well for me. There is surely no shame in being on antidepressants.


One Year After Stopping Therapy

It’s now April 2021 and I stopped therapy in March of 2020, after starting it in March of 2019. A lot has happened in the past year with COVID-19 restrictions and such that I probably could use a therapist from time to time, but who couldn’t?! I know that if at any time I want to reach out, I could easily make an appointment and jump back in seeing the therapist I saw for a year. Every 6 months I have an appointment with my psychiatrist to manage my medication. I am so unbelievably grateful that I finally sought help not only for myself but for my family. The internal rage that was burning so hot within me is gone and self-injury rarely happens anymore. I’m still on Sertraline and I still monitor my symptoms and pull out my notes from therapy whenever I feel myself needing to pull out some coping strategies I’m rusty on.


Hobbies

I also found that having time to myself and hobbies helped pull me out of depression and helped me feel more like myself. Below are some blog posts about some of the hobbies I’ve taken up recently that have helped.

How I started painting for fun and how you can too text with graphic of woman painting, flowers, and a butterfly
How to get started with acrylic painting on canvas.
Fun Hobbies for Moms Featured Image text overlay with woman painting behind
A post about my various hobbies including reading, using my Cricut for crafting, blogging, painting, and more.

To All of You

If you have any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek professional help. I have some resources linked below.
Even if you don’t have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, but are feeling overwhelmed, full of rage, and/or that you’re never enough, consider reaching out to a therapist for help. I wish I would have sooner. I seriously feel I missed the first 6 months or more of my twins’ life because I was so darn full of rage all of the time and just wanted a way out of it all.

Love and hugs to all of you. You can come out on the other side of this. You are doing a much better job at being a mom than you think. To your children, you are the world. Just like they tell you when you’re in an airplane that you need to put your own mask on first before helping others, you need to do this in life as well. It’s ok to reach out for help and it’s ok to take time for yourself.


Resources


MoDi Twin Birth Story Part 1 showing me in the hospital and ultrasounds of the babies
My blog post about Part 1 of my MoDi Twin Birth Story
My MoDi Twin Birth Story part 2 with pictures of each twin individually and then together
My blog post about part 2 of my MoDi Twin Birth Story
Having Twins
Having Twins? Start Here!

My experience with Postpartum Depression and Rage with a picture of a woman with head in hands and a picture of a woman screaming.

Founder, Professional Blogger at The Way it Really Is, LLC | [email protected] | Website

As a mom of identical twins and a son two years older, I have gained invaluable experience in the realm, and chaos, of parenting. With a Master's Degree and Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, I spent years as a school psychologist, helping children navigate through their educational and emotional challenges. Now as a stay at home mom and professional blogger, I combine my areas of expertise to help you in your parenting journey.

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