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Inner Awakening: My Postpartum Journey

An expert from my Chapter in Blue Talks Book Series #2

Having become a mother who has overcome postpartum depression, I cannot imagine my life without my son. However, as a young adult, I never envisioned myself as a parent. Early on, I decided to be a career-oriented woman. After 8 years of post-secondary education, I became a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who was motivated and passionate about my career. Within my first 6 months of practice, I was busy seeing patients in 2 different clinics.

One day, I woke up knowing that having a child would be a part of my life’s journey. Once I had made the decision to have a baby, I was determined to optimize my health to improve my chances of conception. During the year prior to trying to conceive, I completed a variety of medical tests, improved my diet, took supplements, exercised regularly, and worked on my emotional wellbeing. I was realistic that the process of conception could take time. There were several examples of infertility cases I was seeing in my practice at that time.

My pregnancy was quite healthy for the first 2 trimesters. However, I developed severe pain below my right breast at the beginning of my third trimester. The pain was intermittent and kept worsening until I ended up being hospitalized. I was 36 weeks pregnant and needed an emergency appendectomy (removal of the appendix). Due to severe pains and complications with the surgery, I was hospitalized for 5 days. My team of doctors had decided that it would be safe to leave my baby in utero, for which I will forever be grateful. The recovery process was extremely slow and very emotional. My parents moved in to offer support. Five weeks later, I was able to deliver my baby boy naturally in a birthing center. I was blessed to have an amazing birth team, including midwives and a doula. After 27 hours of labour, my precious baby boy was in my arms. To this day, I am grateful my surgical incision stayed closed during the labour and that I was able to avoid another surgery.

A couple of days post-birth, I had challenges with breastfeeding, which worsened with time. I was determined to breastfeed exclusively, but my body was exhausted. I needed to supplement with formula, which involved surrendering to this process. My weight dropped dramatically post-birth. In those first weeks, I remember feeling overwhelmed and sad. Those feelings worsened with time, as well as my mood swings, insomnia, and anxiety. These were all symptoms of postpartum depression. When my son was only 2 months old, I was getting ready to go back to work part-time in one clinic. During my pregnancy, I had two busy practices, and couldn’t find a locum for one of them. By the time he was 6 months, I was working in two clinics part-time located three hours apart. This was a lot of work, which was challenging to accomplish dealing with my postpartum depression. Fortunately, I had clear boundaries between patient care and my own emotional wellbeing. Being present and holding the space for my patients has always been one of my strengths, even if I am struggling emotionally.

When my son was 4 months old, we were in a motor vehicle accident; a distracted driver collided with us in an intersection. I suffered most of the injuries. Even though this experience was terrifying, it taught me how resilient I had become. It felt like my mama bear instinct came in at that moment, and my breast milk supply increased. I could stop using the formula. However, I needed to deal with my injuries, which ended up requiring countless appointments over several months. The high stress worsened my postpartum depression and anxiety. I felt so exhausted, and completely overwhelmed that I would sob uncontrollably at times. I loved my baby boy unconditionally and knew it wasn’t his fault that I was feeling this way.

To this day, I know my mental health suffered from such high emotional and physical stress in my third trimester, a long natural labour while recovering from surgery, a baby who struggled with sleep, a car accident, challenges with breastfeeding, and a major adjustment from my previous career-focused life. In the midst of this experience, I had a challenging time rationalizing my feelings. I kept thinking it is normal to feel this way because I had an infant, and I was sleep-deprived. I would tell myself this is a part of motherhood. This experience does not define who I am but has inspired me to be the light for others who are in the darkness. Becoming a mother is one of my life’s greatest accomplishments. I have learned how to love unconditionally. That alone is such a precious gift.

If you are struggling with postpartum mental health challenges, please reach out for help. It is crucial to have a supportive network, which includes a team of healthcare providers, to help you get through this part of motherhood. You are not alone. Many women suffer from postpartum depression and/or anxiety.

* Part 2 of this blog will include essential laboratory testing to request from your health care provider in the fourth trimester (first three months postpartum). Stay tuned!


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