Types of Postpartum Mood Disorders

Following the birth of my first child, I was overjoyed. I was in pain, of course, and severely sleep-deprived, but I was still overjoyed. I would stand beside her bassinette and stare at her tiny, sleeping form, and I was filled with wonder and happiness. I was also filled with jealousy that she could sleep so soundly when my days of sleeping through a night had most certainly come to an end, but I was still happy. Blue birds still encircled my head, singing little Walt Disney-inspired melodies.

Then I had my second child.

The day after her birth, I had the following sequence of thoughts, in rapid-fire succession:

“Why did I have my tubes tied? Now I can never have another child!” And I cried.

Precisely one and one-half seconds later, I mused: “Why the hell did we have another child? Wasn’t the first one enough?” And I cried some more.

Three quarters of a second later: “What the hell is wrong with me? Am I going insane? I wish I was dead.” And I rang the nurse intending to plead for any type of magical, ingestible, unpronounceable medical concoction to balance out my thoughts and emotions.

By the time she finally responded to my call, I was savoring THIS thought: “I am the luckiest woman on earth.” Like an idiot, I forgot to ask for the medication.

At that point, I was quite certain that the doctor had not only severed my fallopian tubes, but something vital in my cerebral cortex as well. Perhaps there was a very long nerve connecting the two. I didn’t know, but I was convinced that it wasn’t just my eggs that were having difficulty traversing my body.

Modern medicine says that postpartum depression eventually passes. This is a bald-faced lie repeated for generations to assure the continuation of the species. The uncontrollable emotional swings, the irrational thoughts, the crying jags- – -they never really go away, you just learn to control them until circumstances, directly related to the birth of the child, trigger them again.

For example, you find your little darling sitting in the middle of the cat’s litter box, enjoying a snack that the cat thoughtfully deposited there. This triggers what I like to call PPD, or Post Postpartum Depression. This particular malady is NEVER cured. Never. Well, death will cure it, but that’s too extreme a measure to even consider as a reasonable course of treatment.

Your accountant is firing questions at you with speed of an auctioneer and frantically typing your answers on his computer keyboard. You struggle to regurgitate numbers and computations from the previous year. It is 11:00 p.m. on April 15th. One hour remains to complete the returns, sign them and obtain the coveted and much ballyhooed postmark. Unnoticed, your toddler staggers behind the accountant’s desk, wraps a chubby fist around the computer power cord and deftly separates it from its connection. Both the computer screen and your thoughts turn black.

You are blissfully dreaming that you are lying on a beach, waves lapping your toes. A mysterious scratching noise four inches from your left ear awakens you from your slumber.

Still groggy, you slowly begin to realize that it wasn’t just a dream; you are actually lying in sand! As your eyes begin to focus, you notice your four-year-old progeny seated beside you in your bed, sporting a wide, chocolate-encrusted grin, and all at once, the world falls into crystal clarity. You are covered in, and lying in, Nestle’s Quick powder. Inexplicably, she commands you to recite the Spanish alphabet. Still struggling to wrap your addled mind around the scene before you, you fuzzily respond that you don’t KNOW the Spanish alphabet. “Well, *I* do,” she taunts, and begins her recitation. “She is toying with you,” the now-familiar PPD Voice advises.

It’s not necessarily a BAD thing, though, this PPD. Sometimes your fits and fugues have beneficial side-effects. The husband takes you for a “much needed” weekend away from it all. The kids are cowed into submission and obedience for a couple of hours following one of your more memorable “moments,” allowing you just enough wiggle room to relax in a hot bath.

The best part is, no one considers you entirely responsible for your outbursts. It’s just an overrun of emotions driven by hormones ebbing and surging in your veins. No reasonable person could possibly hold you accountable for shrieking, “If you think I went through twenty-eight hours of labor just for the privilege of being your SLAVE, you’ve got another thing coming young lady!”

The real marvel is, despite these occasional “episodes,” every morning you sip your coffee from a cup emblazoned with the sentiment, “World’s Bestest Mommy.” In the end, PPD means never having to say you’re sorry.