June 22, 2017

Motherhood: A Personal Story

Postpartum Depression and Weaning: A Personal Story, Helena Glazer of Brooklyn Blonde

<Nate at 4 weeks. During our early morning (or late night?) feedings. Also, that melasma stain on my nose….>

I’ve never been one that suffered from depression.

And when I say that, I don’t mean feeling down or blue. I’m talking about true, full-blown, heavy-hearted sadness and/or hopelessness. Like any of us, I would have my bad days, but a couple of hours (or days) later, I’d snap out of it.

I’ve also never been one that suffered from anxiety, but I’ve had numerous friends who have and I saw how debilitating they both could be.

To be perfectly honest, before I became a mom, one of the things that scared me most was getting PPD (postpartum depression). I would hear stories of seemingly “normal” women who were diagnosed with it. My thoughts would keep me up at night: “what if I don’t love my baby?” or “what if it happens to me?” When I watched TV shows  (Nashville comes to mind), a woman gives birth and then doesn’t want anything to do with her child. To me, that’s what PPD was. I had zero idea of what it really meant and how many different forms it could take on.

Despite a long 30+ hour labor, I gave birth and felt happier than I ever was. Overwhelmed, scared, anxious, so incredibly tired but happy. I thought “phew! I’m in the clear! No thoughts of sadness and depression and I love my baby.”

Fast forward to a few months later, when I rather abruptly weaned Nate from breast feeding. I came to the rather irrational decision after an especially tough day. At that point, my supply was already dwindling and no amount of pumping was bringing it back. I was working an event earlier that night and I had to sneak into a supply closet so I could obsessively pump, yet again. I remember pumping for 15 minutes and only getting 2 ounces. I mentally broke down and made the decision that I was done.

Over the next few weeks, I started to feel overwhelmingly sad and anxious. I would look at Nate and feel overcome by how much I loved him. It was the exact opposite of what I feared. It was almost too much and I felt like everything was happening way too quickly. I started crying everywhere and to anyone who would listen. I didn’t know why I felt this way, but I just chalked it up to “being overwhelmed by the love a mother has for a child.” I remember coming home from the park because Keiko and her mother (who was visiting from Florida) were coming over to see Nate. Fifteen minutes after they walked into my door, I broke down. Later that weekend, my girlfriends came over for dinner and again, I broke into hysterics. It was truly the worst few weeks of my life. Here I am, what’s supposed to be one of the happiest and most special times of my life and I’m feeling so sad.

Then one day, I was talking to a fellow mom at a coffee shop and after being completely transparent with her, she asks me “when and how did you stop breastfeeding?” I told her my story and she looked at me and said “I can almost guarantee that you’re feeling the way you do because of that!”

WHAT THE HELL?!

It all started to make sense. Apparently, because of the drop of prolactin and oxytocin, some women can experience a hardcore hormonal crash, very similar to withdrawal. At that time, I didn’t know that when a woman weans, she’s supposed to do it a bit gradually. Weaning can be hard on the body as it is, but weaning cold turkey, wow. Who knew?

During the first year of motherhood, I was on a ton of FB groups, made a lot of new mom friends and in general, was intentionally surrounded by moms. I started talking about what I went through and as soon as the conversation would start, other women would chime in with their experience. More than I ever thought! Not necessarily all related to weaning, but so many new mothers experience these feelings of sadness unrelated to their child. It’s kind of hard to explain, but hormones can be a real mind f**k.

For me, I started feeling better 4-6 weeks after I weaned. My period came back, my hormones leveled out and one day, I felt like the old me. I actually said to myself “the worst is over and I know I’m back to normal.” My body and mind just felt it.

I share this story because It could feel like such a taboo subject, but you quickly realize just how common it is. It is SO common. If you’re a new mother and feeling this way, it is normal. It will pass, but if it’s blinding you, speak to someone. Speak to your best friend or a mom group or better yet, to a therapist who specializes in new motherhood. Speaking about it helps so so much.

In the next two weeks, I’m going to share stories that other mothers have so generously shared with me. One woman suffered with depression through her first trimester (apparently that’s also common. I had no idea!) and another shares her story of crippling PPD, unrelated to weaning. If you have your own story and want me to share it on here, please comment in the section below or email me at Helena@brooklynblonde.com.

xo,

Helena

PS: If you missed it, a 4 month and six month motherhood update. Also, nine things I’d tell a new mom.

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34 comments

  • Emilia Dobrydney

    You’re AMAZING!!! Your stories are heartfelt and genuine–not only do I get such incredible style inspiration from you, but tips and life experiences as well!! God bless and have a lovely day 🙂

  • Jen

    Thank u for sharing your story, i too never had depression or anxiety b4 my daughter was born, then sure enough, i got hit hard when she was about a month old and it felt like the darkest time of my life. It went away by the time she was 4 months but now At almost 9 months I’d like to wean and i am so afraid of all those dark feelings coming back. It’s nice to know we r not alone in these feelings. Love your motherhood posts, keep them up! 💕

  • Claire

    Such a moving post! Breastfeeding/pumping for me was the hardest part of being a new mom. Nothing can prepare you for the physical and emotional toll that it takes on your mind and body. Thank you for sharing your story and those of other moms.

  • Key

    I know exactly how you feel. I have 3 children. I was a teenage mom with the first child, then married and had two more, I actually planned the 2nd who is my son, and was in love with him even before he was born, My third child was not planned, I was not ready and was super emotional thinking that I was being selfish to my infant( the last two children are (17 months apart). I cried in the shower one day, pregnant with my third, so overwhelmed of being a mom that my ex heard me crying asking what was the matter. But I was pregnant yet again so soon. I just knew I was depriving my other kids. PPD is very real, I got over it though

  • Kristina

    Thank you very much for sharing this emotional and honest story with us! I love Nashville but these episodes about PPD were really scary. I’m so glad that you are happy as a mother and feel better now!
    ♡Kristina
    TheKontemporary

  • alana T

    you can tell you’re just writing your thoughts…. b/c there’s not real a flow… so authentic, which i truly admire about you. You said you stopped pumping at 6 months here, but in previous post you wrote 4 months?? Were you supplementing till he was 6 months and then completely stopped? I breastfed and pumped for my son for 17 months while maintaining a full time job, and I must say it was the single most hardest thing I have ever done. pregnancy was a breeze, labor was a breeze, feeding was torment. I became obsessed with it, would nurse and pump constantly, cancel events, and worked my schedule around it. When I think back on it, there are so many things i would have changed. I feel as those at times, I valued the breast milk more than my son. When I weaned, I became a better mother, a better wife. I felt so free. I always tell moms to not feel guilty, grass is always greener. We do what is best for our children, but we also have to do what is best for us. Know that, you will always do right by your little one. God bless and thank you for sharing.

    • Helena

      Hey Alana, sorry for the confusion as yes, I was just writing my thoughts. I was supplementing from pretty early on because I was never producing enough milk and then yes, I abruptly stopped after having a little break down.

      I completely agree with you, some of us become so fixated on the act of breastfeeding, that we sometimes lose site of the bigger picture. Perfectly put!

      • Emily

        Thank you for sharing your story! I loved reading it, I also had a very emotional time weaning. Breastfeeding was such a struggle with my son (who is now 11 months.) He had a tongue tie and basically refused to breastfeed starting at around 3 weeks old other than first thing in the morning when my supply was at its peak. I exclusively pumped for a long time but it was such a struggle, my supply was a constant battle not to mention how restricting it was on my life. I obsessed over my supply for months and it made me miserable but somehow I just also couldn’t give it up, it was hard for me to separate motherhood from producing milk for my child. My supply finally ran out at around 9 months. A few weeks after I stopped pumping my hormones settled out and I finally felt like myself again, it was such a relief! I had felt so isolated during that time, it’s wonderful to hear from other women who had similar experiences.

        I have been reading your blog since you were pregnant, I loved your maternity style. Now I love you’re motherhood updates, always inspiring!

  • Jess

    Thank you for sharing, Helena! I’m 22 weeks pregnant with my first child, and have been going back through your old posts for tips and advice :). A few years ago, I suffered from a couple months of crippling anxiety and panic attacks. Thanks to medication and therapy at the time, I was able to regain my footing and am now doing great. But I do worry about anxiety or depression coming back after I give birth. I’m so glad that more women are talking about this now so it doesn’t feel like something to fear and hide!

  • Keiko Lynn

    I’m so glad you shared this. I know so many people will relate to this! Even though I’m not a mom, I’ve seen all of my friends and family go through different issues throughout their pregnancies and motherhood, and a lot of them feel guilty or embarrassed to talk about it. There’s a lot of pressure to be perfect, but it’s just not reality. Every time someone speaks up (especially someone like you who has such a large platform), it’s like this huge sigh of relief that we are all human.

  • Olga V

    From the get go I knew that I wasn’t planning to BF. I felt like it was an all-encompassing, life altering experience that would restrict me in many ways. I also knew that it simply wasn’t for me. I didn’t feel guilt. That being said, with an easy pregnancy and delivery I thought I was in the clear. But a few days after I gave birth, my hormones started to crash, I had no appetite, extreme anxiety and literally asked not to be left alone at home. ME?! In many ways I relate to your narrative so much because much like you I like balancing and prioritizing my own needs to stay sane with those that are required of me as a doting mother and loving wife. Those first two months were pretty horrible….I couldn’t sleep well, constantly worried that my daughter would cry, and just felt lifeless. All I wanted was just to feel like my normal self, but my hormones had other ideas for me. I didn’t feel guilty for feeling this way because I knew it was normal and that the haze would pass. I called friends….cried….and cried some more. Eventually, after circa 6-8 weeks the anxiety lessened, and the good moments far exceeded the bad ones. Looking back, I think I did everything I could to get better, but reading your post really took me back to that dark time when I didn’t even recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. Thank you for sharing – it’s posts like this and many similar experiences that other women go through is what got me through my dark times. This shouldn’t be taboo…this should be discussed….new mother mental health should be advocated for…..and I hope new mothers aren’t hard on themselves for having these feelings. As you stated perfectly, hormones are a BI**H!

  • MIchelle

    Thank you!

    I’ve been wanting to ween my 14 month old and I get sad just of the thought that I’m being selfish. There’s so much guilt that comes from others and I suppose ourselves to be perfect moms. Thank you, for sharing!

    Xoxo
    Michelle

  • Moncy

    Thank you for sharing this. This sheds some light. I had the same problem with my daughter (only about 2-3 months younger than your Nate) I simply thought I had baby blues. It’s so devastating when you cannot longer breastfeed your baby. Def took a huge toll on me emotional. It’s nice to know I wasn’t alone. ❤️

  • Magda

    Thanks for sharing this very personal experience!

    http://www.gloryofthesnow.com

  • SHadowy_laDy

    Thank you for using your platform to share this. As much as I appreciate your style posts (and you have great taste) I love that you are more than just fancy clothes 🙂

    I suffered with PPA after I had my daughter so these stories ring very true for me

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing this, Helena. It take a lot of courage.
    This post actually brought me to tears, but good ones. Because I relate!
    I stopped breastfeeding my son after 2 months. Also, Bc of low supply.
    Not only did I have the same guilty feelings, but my son’s
    father would make me feel terribly on the daily. I wasn’t good enough. Wasn’t doing enough. Bad mom….
    Safe to say we are not together anymore and haven’t been for years.
    Reflecting back, I feel sad I went through that time.
    I wish I had something like this to read.
    Thank you for sharing this and know you are helping other women! And that is the biggest gift (besides your little one) you can receive.

  • Maggie Evtimova

    I love this post.I have always feared PPD as you mentioned it is nice to be surrounded by friends and talk about it.Thank you for sharing your story. My boyfriend and I are planning on having a baby and it’s nice reading personal stories like yours.
    You look beautiful by the way 🙂

  • Kristina

    Thank you for sharing! For me being a mom has been a bit transforming personally. I have to say I am very fed up with the breastfeeding( my son being almost one), but is true I feel lucky we had no problems with that. It is nOt easy being a new mom and we, as women, definitely need to be more supportive of each other. I have to say I started to feel myself recently when I decided to stop breastfeeding during the day. Love your blog!:)))) Regards from Bulgaria.

  • Fatou Diaw

    omg, thank you so much for opening up to us. you are an amazing and courageous woman. don’t ever forget.
    xx
    https://closettostreet.com/

  • Anna hafen

    I never comment but i just want to thank you for being open about this subject. I had a baby boy 4 months ago and suffered from PPD. It’s an awful thing to go through and I wish women were more open about their experiences with this. I was lucky that my dr was so open and amazing and helped me through it. Agree that just talking about it truly helps. When I was finally honest with myself and shared how I was feeling, I started to feel better. Having now gone through it, I try to be as real, honest and open with my friends who are either pregnant or trying to be. There is no shame in getting help and being honest to how you feel. Thanks again for posting!

    On a side note- I know that Nate had the 4 month sleep regression and was curious if there was something you recommended to help get through it. I think my son just hit it as well. Like Nate he was a good sleeper before but the last week has been waking up multiple times through out the night when he was only getting up once before.

    Sorry to bombard you with questions but I was also wondering how you started baby wise since you started it late as well. I have been doing to eat play sleep since he pretty much born and read the book. I’m trying to implement more of a schedule like baby wise and just don’t know where to begin in the book. Just curious how you started it.

    Thanks!

  • Whitney

    Thank you for post on motherhood and struggles. It’s very scary to talk about and I feel as though many moms are afraid to speak up – especially about breastfeeding. When I was at the hospital I truly felt my daughter wasn’t getting enough to eat but each nurse pushed and pushed for me to breastfeed. I knew something wasn’t right and the day we left, we asked for a suggested formula. . The nurse looked at my husband and I and said we don’t have any suggestions – you said you were breastfeeding. At that moment I felt so ashamed and embarassed, certainly not emotions I should feel bringing home my new baby. I continued to struggle breastfeeding for the next 2 days until I realized she was getting barely anything to eat. I cried hysterically for starving my baby and then still felt ashamed for switching to formula. When I would feed our daughter in public and people would see me bring out the formula I always felt the need to explain why I don’t breastfeed. The struggle is real and so is the judgement. Thanks for bringing light to a sensitive subject.

  • CHristine comer

    Hi Helena!! So glad you posted this– there’s so much “shame” and guilt already associated with various points of motherhood that speaking openly about ppd or even the “baby blues” makes you feel like a “bad mom”… I’ve always been a happy, positive person as well, but for the first month after having Nolan , I felt like a different person– and it was def some version of PPD– and then just like you said, one day I woke up and snapped right back to my happy old self– but the previous month was really scary , sad (cried alllllll of the time) and challenging for my husband as well!!! Thanks for sharing, as always! Keep up the amazing work– xo

  • Megan

    Never in my life had I suffered from anxiety or depression prior to October 17, 2014. The day my life changed forever; the day my son was born. I struggled with the postpartum hormone fluctuation and just assumed, hoped, prayed that it would go away.

    It didn’t.

    When my son was 3 months old, my husband deployed. I was living in a different state than all of my family and majority of my friends and I felt so alone. I had done nothing, and I mean nothing, since my son had been born and had little to no local support network. I struggled. I cried. I lost so much weight between the breastfeeding and not having/making time for myself to eat. I rarely slept. I was miserable when my son was asleep and I couldn’t even function when he was awake. We managed to survive the deployment but I was just a shell of a person by the time my husband returned home.

    I was able to somehow successfully breastfeed my son until he was 13 months old – but at what cost? It is an amazing experience and way to bond with your child, but so is bottle-feeding. So who cares? Feed your baby. That’s all that matters.

    Anyway. The point of this, for me, is that once my husband got home things improved for a while. Things were great. And then I started slipping again. No sleep. Crying all of the time and anything could set me off. I was not in control of my emotions and usually it would come out in the form of anger, of rage. Resentment at my husband for being able to leave the house and not be home all day with a baby (I’m a stay at home mom).

    Fast forward to December 2016. Two+ years after the birth of my son. I was STILL struggling with all of these things and after one too many ugly cries and overwhelming emotions of sadness, hopelessness, confusion, anger, frustration, you name it, I finally sought treatment. It took a lot of doctors appointments to finally get the medication right and a lot of therapy to help me figure out how to manage my feelings, I’m in a MUCH better place. Sure, I still have bad days, but I’m able to enjoy my son and the time we have together before he’s all grown up and I let these years pass by in a haze. I just wish there weren’t such a stigma on mental health disorders because I NEVER should’ve waited as long as I did to get help. Life is good and everyone deserves better. Ladies, you are not alone and it is OKAY to talk to someone. Anyone.

  • Michelle aBreu

    Hi Helena,

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience. I had the exact same experience when i weaned off breastfeeding because my supply was depleting. I didnt have any ppd or ppa in the first 7months post partum. When i started to wean off after 7 months I thought i didt it gradually because i weaned over 2 weeks but a few days after the 2 weeks i started waking up with palpitations and i would be so nervous everyday, i would think of a sad thought and just cry hysterically and i didnt even want to talk to anyone, i would cancel plans with friends and on weekends i would just stay at home and didnt want to go anywhere with my baby. My feelings for her didnt change, i still loved her with all my heart but i noticed i was getting so short on her and would get mad easily when she was acting up. I knew right away there was something wrong with me because it didn’t feel like the old me. I talked to a therapist and my OB about what i was feeling and was out on antidepressants and i immediately felt better. I was very anti meds before this but I wanted to get better for my baby so i took it and i am so glad i did. After a month of medication i felt that i was better and i could handle it without medication so i spoke to my dr about weaning off it. I am now 1 month off medication and finally feel like my old self again. Happier than before and back to normal and can handle stress without panicking. If you feel like there is something wrong or different with how you are feeling, then dont be afraid to seek some help and take medication if needed. Your child deserves the best version of you. From one momma to another, Cheers!

    Sincerely,

    Michelle 🙂

  • Sage

    Thanks for sharing this. I started weening last week and he stopped nursing completely during the day but still night feeds and THIS IS ME. I’m not emotional but my anxiety is debilitating and I thought I was losing my marbles. You think my anxiety is this bad because of nursing almost a year? I feel like I’m suffocating. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I will pray it gets better and this isn’t my forever as anxiety meds are not an option for me. xo

  • Kate

    Discussing any sort of depression or anxiety or any other sort of experience is very personal and hard to do. Thank you for sharing your story in such a loving way and helping other women to share theirs, it really encourages us all to accept our flaws as normal instead of viewing ourselves as lesser. Thank you.

    xx

    bombshell-to-be.blogspot.com

  • Jen

    So glad you shared your experience. So many moms suffer in silence and feel alone, or guilty, or scared. I wish doctors better prepared us for the torrent of inexplicable emotions we might go through.

  • Denise Oliveda

    Obrigada por compartir sua historia. A maternidade não é tudo aquilo que nos contam, na verdafr, só nos falam das coisas boas. Ser mãe é bem mais complicado e difícil do que se supõe.

  • Jessica

    Thank you for this post, I can definitely relate. I have an almost one year old and this year has been amazing but also the toughest of my life. My daughter is amazing and lovely and smiley but I’m still feeding her 3 times a night (on a good night!) and the sleep deprivation, along with the hormones has really messed with my head. I have also been really hard on myself because I don’t feel like I’m enjoying every second like I thought I would. I love her so much but I’ve always been super independent and having someone depend on my for every single thing has been daunting. Through talking to people with kids I’ve learned that that’s ok, there are going to be many ups and just as many downs and not loving every second of my time with my daughter doesn’t make me a bad Mom. I might really hit my stride when she can talk or when she’s a teenager and all the hard times will fall to the back of my memory. Anyway, thank you again and wishing you & your family all the best.

  • SaRa

    As I was reading your latest post, I realized I had missed this one. So I am a mother of two and I am still bf my 9mo.; last week he was having a teething bout and was bitting me everytime I attempted feeding him, so for 2 days he was almost exclusively bottle fed and I was in tears and couldn’t understand why… this makes so mugh sense to me now! Thanks (did not have this issue with baby #1, so there ya go…you think after 2 kids you’ve seen it all…nope! )

    Anyway, as usual, lovely useful post!

  • Sara

    Thank you for sharing. I am struggling with breastfeeding and am living abroad without a lot of support. I really appreciate hearing your journey – it has helped me feel a little less alone.

  • Crystal

    Weaning a baby is so hard! I was trying to EBF for a year but that was not in the cards for my family. I got food poisoning when my son was 8.5 months and my supply took a major hit. I eventually had to switch him to formula after weeks of not being able to get my supply back. Thank you for sharing your story especially your motherhood experience. 🙂

  • Brit

    I can completely relate to how you felt. I gave birth to our daughter in October 2015. I underwent an emergency c-section because I’d been in labor for about 20 hours and only dilated to 3.5/4 cm. Since my water had been broken so long, I developed a fever.

    Recovering from a c-section sucks. You don’t want to walk, eat, turn over, etc. I didn’t even want to get up to use the restroom. The morning after my daughter was delivered, the lactation consultant came in and tried to help me with my first feeding. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful.

    We were in the hospital for a total of four days and tried every day but my daughter just wouldn’t latch and didn’t seem to be interested. So I started pumping. Pumping was my life for about two or three months and I gave up. I was so depressed that I couldn’t breastfeed her and felt like it made me a horrible mom, completely unworthy.

    My husband tried to encourage me but as a man, he didn’t understand the sense of sadness that comes from feeling like a failure as a caretaker for your child — you carried them and protected them for nine months! Anyway, this is something I’ve had sitting in my drafts on my blog but haven’t mustered up the courage to publish because I still get down about it from time to time. But seeing my daughter now — she isn’t any less special than anyone else’s child. She’s so smart and funny and caring, and she’s only 21 months. I feel so much love for her and I’m so happy she’s turning out to be an amazing human. Wooo, that was rough. LOL. Anyway, thank you for sharing . It’s nice not feeling alone <3

  • ALex

    I also felt a change in hormones after stopping breasfeeding, and I stopped it gradually. My biggest cause of distress was hair loss. I lost tons of hair after pregnancy and then again after stopping breastfeeding. What is important is to THINK all the time, that whatever we feel is hormones and it’s TEMPORARY!!!

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