New parents describe the first moments after the birth of their child as pure euphoria and love, but for many mothers, that happiness is replaced by fear, anxiety, and depression. Omahan Jill Vincent, 35, was one of those women.
When Morgan Rose Vincent was born on September 20, 2007, friends and family, including Jill’s husband, Jason, were ecstatic.
“Everyone kept congratulating us, but I knew something was not right. I felt distanced from her, like I was a spectator,” said Vincent, an education specialist who works with students with behavioral and emotional disorders.
At first, she attributed her apprehension to lack of sleep and common new mom anxiety, but a few days after arriving home from the hospital, Vincent realized her problem was much bigger.
“I was standing in the backyard-alone-watching a bird,” she said. “The bird just flitted about, hopping from the fence to the yard, to a tree, to a bush. The bird had no constraints, and I was jealous . . . of a bird!”
At that moment, Vincent decided she wanted out. Driving away from her husband, child, home and responsibilities seemed to be the only option. Instead, she went where many women go when they are faced with fear, her mother’s house.
Vincent spent the next few days with her mom, who took her to a doctor. After being diagnosed with postpartum depression, Vincent began the recovery process through counseling, medication, and a strong familial support system. With the help of her mother, husband, and mother-in-law, Vincent was able to survive postpartum depression and become the mother she is today.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, postpartum depression affects 10 to 15 percent of new mothers. Postpartum depression is more serious than the common “baby blues” that many new moms experience in the first two weeks after giving birth due to hormonal and physical changes as well as the responsibility of caring for a newborn. Symptoms, like the ones Vincent experienced, can include prolonged sadness, sleep problems, inability or lack of desire to take care of an infant, and hopelessness.
Postpartum depression takes time to get over. For some, like Vincent, medication can help alleviate the symptoms. Counseling can also play a pivotal role in recovery.
“It was six months before I thought, ‘Hey, I’m doing OK,’” Vincent admitted.
Today, Vincent finds joy in watching Morgan, who is now 5, grow up. “It’s truly amazing to watch your child become a person with a personality, and boy, does my daughter have one!”
Vincent hopes her story will help women who are diagnosed with or have symptoms of postpartum depression to talk about it.
“You’re not bad or worthless admitting when something isn’t right,” she said. “I kept it a secret, and women shouldn’t have to do that. It’s dangerous, but it can be treated. You just have to be willing to say, ‘I need help.’”
Jen Schneider, who is married with a daughter and stepson, wrote this guest blog for momaha. She’s a full-time middle school teacher who maintains her personal blog, Liv, Laugh, Love.
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