Postpartum Depression Is Very Real

"Nashville" star Hayden Panettiere's battle with postpartum depression brings topic into spotlight

Hayden Panettiere, star on the show "Nashville," recently checked into a treatment center to deal with postpartum depression. My husband told me about it. That was after I told him I felt like crying for no real reason … other than I'm 36 weeks pregnant. You see, it's not that I'm sad about being pregnant, I actually like how healthy I feel when I'm pregnant. But as I get closer to the due date, I've start to feel these physical shifts in my hormones that remind me of that time after having my first son.

It was day four in the hospital. I was on the way to check out with my healthy baby boy and husband, when suddenly the tears just came. I mean floods of tears. It was out of nowhere. I was having some struggles with breast-feeding. I had labored and ended in a c-section. And undoubtedly I was tired, healing and suddenly very aware that I was being trusted to go home with a baby in my care. Some people are just ready to be moms … that it "just comes natural." Well not so much for me. So the tears came, but all those thoughts and scenarios aside, it was a physical shift that brought those tears. And when I heard him cry, it sent a shot of anxiety down my spine. 

I knew in my mind that the basics of baby care I could do, and I had (and still have) a great support network, but those shifts in hormones and moods were out of my control. With sleepless nights and more trouble with breast-feeding, the anxiety grew inside of me. The tears kept coming. I wanted to run away from it all. Yes, true story, I wanted to run away from it all. I loved my baby, but I wasn't loving myself. I felt guilty for how I felt, and that didn't help the physical side effects that were out of my control.

Postpartum depression is estimated to affect 1 in 7 women. With all the hype of how happy you are supposed to feel about becoming a mom, many moms don't discuss the feelings of depression, anxiety and panic. It's funny how society can market some baby happiness and then make a momma feel terrible if she's not all smiles while dealing with a newborn who is also freaking out as he or she adjusts to his or her new world. 

In my case, I was luckily surrounded by people who care. My husband, my mom and dad, my sister, my friends all came to my rescue. They came to watch the baby so I could nap, but here's the thing: I couldn't nap. I got to a point I literally couldn't sleep even when given the chance. That's when I knew something had to give or I was going to lose my mind.

I went to the doctor, and had a serious conversation, and in the end, I started taking an antidepressant to help me get  back in check. I had to stop breast-feeding, but when it came to the choice of sane mom or breast-feeding, I chose sane mom. Gradually over the course of the following few weeks, I felt better. I balanced out and then over the course of a couple more months, I stopped taking the antidepressant and got back to myself. I think I was one of the lucky ones how quickly I was able to deal with it. 

So here I am about to have my second child, and I can feel those physical shifts in hormones. It's real. So very real. But I know now that it's part of the process and it's OK. I am growing a baby and hormones are helping this guy grow. I get it and am fine with these little shifts I feel and am making myself just take a break when I need to, and I'm talking about it and recognizing the feelings.

I hope that with baby No. 2, I don't have the same postpartum as with my first child, but I do know that it's important to take care of me and seek help if I am feeling that way. No shame! I also know that I will not stress over breast-feeding issues (formula babies do turn out fine), and I will not try to be superwoman and do more than I should at first. You need to heal! Having a baby is major whether by "natural" delivery or Ceasaren section. 

Love your babies, mommas, but love yourselves too!