The Postpartum Depression Battle

It’s been six years since that very dark, cold morning that I found myself rocking my baby in her beautiful color-coordinated, very Pinteresty nursery. I can remember every single placement of furniture, wall-art, and stuffed animal in that little room. I had spent countless hours memorizing every detail as I nursed her every hour or two to quench what seemed to be her never-ending desire to stay wide awake.

She and I were trying so hard to figure out this new relationship of ours. We had just met about two months before and although it was love at first sight, we were still getting to know one another.

Instagram Worthy Mom

Like most first time mothers nowadays, I had spent the months before her arrival dreaming of the Instagram worthy days that we would have. She – wrapped in your soft, white muslim blankets and me- with thick cascading waves of hair draped along cozy sherpa fleece pajamas – knowing expertly what to give her with each and every whimper.

Except, most times I had no idea of what the whimpers and cries meant. And forget the cozy sherpa fleece pj’s or the cascading hair. My mass of hair was on the top of my head in a bun covered in a permanent shroud of dry shampoo residue. I lived in stained nursing tanks from Target and leggings. Everything else was too hot and would eventually get puked on so why bother.

And I didn’t see anyone on Instagram that was looking like me as a new mom and I certainly didn’t see anyone saying “hey, here’s my beautiful baby and I have postpartum depression.”

Why was it so Hard

I was so tired I could barely function. The last few months of pregnancy all of our well-meaning loved ones kept saying phrases like “You better save up that sleep now!” or “Get all the rest you can now before that baby comes.” I remember how infuriated I would get at those comments because I didn’t care how tired I was going to be – I just wanted to have my baby!

Now, as I looked at her nestled closely to my chest and gumming her perfect squishy lips together in memory of nursing just moments ago, I realized that as much as I loved her and our time together – it was nothing like I thought it was going to be.

I Thought I was Prepared

I was prepared. I had done all the research and all the reading. I took all of my supplements. I abstained completely from alcohol and sushi and even cold deli meat – for months. I had the wipe warmer, the boxes of diapers of all sizes, the hundreds of laundered in hypoallergenic detergent onsies and sock booties. I knew I was going to breast feed for at least 6 months. I had the swing, the bassinet, the swaddles, the bath, the organic body wash and lotion, the diaper rash cream…..

And then she arrived and the one thing I hadn’t prepared for was how hard it was all going to be.

For some, it may not have been this difficult, but for us it was. And I say “us” because it wasn’t just me that was in this parenting gig – it was Bryan, too. He was my boyfriend at the time and wanted nothing more than to raise our daughter together as a family. Even though I was the one who got up to nurse our colicky newborn, Bryan heard her cries and was up along with us. Sometimes I would nurse her and hand her off to him to burb and rock to get a few minutes of rest, but there wasn’t much sleeping going on for any of us.

Overwhelming Exhaustion

I posted a selfie picture of me and my daughter together on Instagram and my sister texted me “Why do you look so exhuasted?” Haha….I was a mombie.

I really had no idea what the term “exhausted” actually meant until I was spending 24 hour days with an hour or two of “sleep”. My baby had her days and nights mixed up for a bit, too, so between that and the colic and figuring out how to take care of this tiny human I was up around the clock.

The old adage “sleep when the baby sleeps” is comical to me even now. I would lay down when Mackenzie took a nap and then would be awoken just moments later by the UPS man leaving a package or the dogs barking at a passerby out the window or a text message from my mom or Bryan checking on me. It wasn’t full restful sleep. It was bits and pieces of rest.

Something Wasn’t Right

But it wasn’t just the gnawing exhaustion. It was the fact that all I could think about while I bounced her and rocked her and nursed her was… why this wasn’t easier? Why did it look so natural for everyone else and it wasn’t for me? Was I a terrible mom? I literally wanted to get in the car all by myself and drive as far as I possibly could go.

I felt like I was dying inside and I thought my baby girl would probably be better without me around – even though I was her food source for the most part.

Letting Go

It was that cold, dark morning that I rocked her and looked out the window of the third story bedroom and thought “What if I just jumped?” It was a few minutes later when Bryan walked into the nursery, dressed for work. It was still dark outside.

“Are you o.k.?” he asked me, quietly.

I nodded slowly – fighting back burning tears.

“Do you want me to stay home today?” he asked.

I shook my head.

He paused, with hesitation.

“I feel like if I go to work today, we will be on the news.” he said. Sadly, I knew exactly what he meant. I had been battling postpartum depression for months and had not wanted to admit it. The thought of hurling myself out the third floor window was the first thought I had about actually hurting myself, but I realized I had been struggling for a long time. I didn’t want to be a failure at being a mom. I didn’t want to go on medicine for postpartum depression in fear it would ruin my nursing experience with my daughter. WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING WHEN I DID IT ALL RIGHT????

Seeking Help

Bryan stayed home that day and took me to my doctor where I shared how I was feeling. My doctor recommended I start an antidepressant that I could take while nursing. I pumped enough milk to fill a few bottles so that Bryan could take our baby for me so I could sleep for about three hours and take a real shower. And while that night things didn’t snap magically into place, I was still there for my family and we weren’t on the news.

You are Stronger than you Know

I share this story with you, not to frighten you about your experience as a new mom; but to strengthen you. To share with you what feelings you may have and that you are not alone in them. Please don’t wait four months like I did to seek help. I thank God every day that Bryan was intuitive enough to recognize that between the sleep deprivation and being a new mom, I was battling something else. He never judged me. He never told me I should “figure it out.” We did it together.

Even if you don’t have a partner, please trust a friend or family member enough to seek help. Don’t think that this is something you have to “suffer” through. It is NOT normal. You are NOT alone.

Other researches to help with postpartum depression are:, Postpartum Health Alliance, Highway to Hell and Back Again: The 6 Things You Need to Know About Postpartum Depression. Please be sure to reach out to your doctor immediately if you feel like something just isn’t right.

Brandi' Starbuck

Brandi' Starbuck is a wife and a mom to her two greatest achievements, Mackenzie and Marshall. She moved to Mississippi a year ago not knowing a soul and within a year, she launched her own fashion-influencer marketing company combining her passion for shopping and inspiring women to connect with each other! Her happy place is Target with a Starbucks coffee or on the couch with her family with a glass of wine.

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