Black Friday

Friday was about the worst day I have ever had in my life. I think I had a minor mental breakdown, and I mean that in a very serious way. I’m actually surprised I am writing about it here for the world to see, but I’m not ashamed to admit at this point that I am not Superwoman, and sometimes I need help.

I’ve been getting very little sleep, of course; that’s life with a new baby. I didn’t realize, though, that it wasn’t normal to not want to eat at all after having a baby. So I have eaten almost nothing since he was born. It really was beginning to catch up with me. The less I ate, the sicker I felt, and thus the less I wanted to eat.

Also, I spent most of Friday crying. I couldn’t control it; the tears just flowed no matter what I did. I had begun to regret getting pregnant in the first place. I wanted to go back to my regular life where it was just Doc and me and we got regular sleep and we didn’t have to worry about what we were doing wrong with the baby and why he wouldn’t stop crying. I didn’t want to have a baby anymore. 

I decided to call my doctor and let him know that I wasn’t able to eat. Later in the day the office called me back with a prescription for an anti-nausea medication and one for Zoloft, an antidepressant that they thought might help my appetite return.

Doc picked the medications up for me and I took one of each in the early evening. And then the downward spiral began.

I had a really bad reaction to the Zoloft. My depression symptoms rapidly went out of control. I was having scary thoughts that I don’t want to write down now. I felt like I was losing my grip on reality. I just went through the motions with the baby. Feed him, then hand him off to someone and not care what happens at that point. I didn’t care about the baby or myself or anyone except Doc, and the thought that I was making Doc sad is really what was holding me together by then. Mom said that my “affect” was flat… meaning that I had no emotion of any kind on my face.

Luckily Doc and my mom were around, and Doc’s mom, sister, and her husband had come in for the weekend. They decided that I needed to sleep as much as possible, so I went to bed. Doc and the two grandmas worked in shifts all night and brought Jamie to me when he needed to eat and sat with me until he was done. 

When I was awake I kept telling myself to get on top of it, to get back in control, to figure out a way to deal with it. Easier said than done. Logically I knew this was what I needed to do, but I didn’t have the tools and energy to actually do it. So I spent all my energy breastfeeding and trying to keep my mind in one piece.

When I woke up Saturday morning (and really, “waking up” and “Saturday” and “morning” are all relative terms when you have a week-old baby) I felt a little better, but could still feel the Zoloft fucking with me. I had enough clarity, however, to force myself to eat. I had some grapes and tried to eat part of one of Mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls. Then we left for the pediatrician’s office (we had an appointment to find out why Jamie hadn’t pooped in over 48 hours).

Later Saturday, Doc went to the grocery and bought me a selection of Luna energy bars and some Ensure and Boost, the high-calorie nutrient drinks. I’ve been drinking the drinks fairly regularly between feedings now, but I am still having a really tough time eating much of anything. I’m not sure that the anti-nausea medication is actually doing anything.

I need to call my doctor and ask them what Plan B is for my lack of appetite. My body will take what it needs to make breastmilk for Jamie, but it’s not leaving me with enough resources to keep myself going very well.

I need some help.


  1. Carrie

    Oh Katy! Babies are so hard on your body, heart and brain. It’s all normal. I’m sure you’re doing it all right. I have many, what was I thinking baby stories. Unfortunately, I read this blog after the other one. Anna is breathing down my neck to get on the internet before school – they do grow up, despite our ignorance and parenting skills. Try a coping mantra. Remember – smart babies don’t sleep well. Maybe Jamie is a GENIUS! His parents seem to be. I can’t post from my office. But I will be sending positive, hungry thoughts your way.

  2. Carrie

    Also, you are entitled to sit around and weep while you breastfeed your baby. There were countless days when that’s what Nathan and I did. He ate. I wept. I cried over the loss of control of my life and future. It all seemed so bleak. What on earth was I going to do with a baby? I was 20. (Ironically, I felt much smarter at 20 than I did at 26 when Anna was born.) Nathan took the LSAT a week ago last Saturday. He thinks he did well. Anna even tells me, often, that I am a great mom. And she’s spent the better part of this summer and fall watching me be really sad. So, it will fall into place. You and Doc will get some intimate time with your baby. There will be moments, bad moments that you think will NEVER end. And then they’re over. (GOD I SOUND SO PREACHY!!!) How goes the baby poop?

  3. Katy

    Carrie… I like the “smart babies don’t sleep well” thing. He certainly looks like a genius to me!! How can someone that cute not be smart to match? And I know all this is transitory… everything passes, things do get better/different. I just hadn’t ever experienced this particular feeling before, and I thought I was seriously going crazy. I think I can recognize the signs better now and maybe take preventative steps. One of the most helpful things I have learned this whole time, is watching my mom one night with Jamie. He was crying uncontrollably, nothing I did could make him calm down. Mom took him and just held him and let him cry for a good 20 minutes, until he cried himself out and went to sleep. I thought… wow. OK. I just need to have patience, tell myself it’s not my fault he’s wailing, and as long as he’s not hungry or wet or dirty or cold, he can just cry as long as he needs to . He’ll eventually stop. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  4. Bonnie

    This sounds SO MUCH like my experience – I really feel for you. I’m glad you’re feeling better now. Your mom and Doc were right that what you needed most was sleep. I had a bad reaction to the Zoloft as well. It made me nauseous and gave me diarrhea, neither of which did thing one to improve my appetite. The medicine I took to increase my milk production also made me feel like crap, and I was also doing all sorts of elaborate feeding methods with formula to keep Josephine interested in the breast until my supply increased. It took so long to feed her that she was hungry again almost immediately after I finished. On top of that I was supposed to find time to pump 10 times a day!! After a week of that alone in the house, I finally declared defeat. My stress level really went down after that, which was when my appetite started to come back.

    The feeling of strangeness will wear off. After a few weeks, you’ll get the hang of it and feel like you’re a pro at taking care of a baby. Which you will be! It’s just a crash course.

  5. Rachel

    Love you! You are doing great hon. Remember, your body just went through a major trauma and it’s surging with hormones. Even if you don’t have an appetite, drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated. It will help a little bit with your energy level. And remember, you don’t have to have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You have plenty of people around to help with the heavy lifting. Let me know when you’d like Auntie Rachel to stop to help with that. Love and fishes, Rz

  6. chris

    jesus, katybird. you know where i’ve been. it ain’t postpartum, perhaps, but depression is depression to some degree. i know you’re feeling better now, but if you need anything, even if it’s just someone who has been there and will shut up and listen to you, knowing what you feel like, just reach out, ok?

  7. Doc

    It was a tough stretch my sweet, I wish you had let me know that you were not eating sooner. I was so distracted by the demands of Jamieson that I didn’t suspect you were skipping so many meals. I thought it was just the few I noticed.

    I think about what your body has done in the last few weeks and it astounds me! It is no wonder that the hormones needed to “reconfigure” your amazing body might have caused some “ups and downs” in your mental state as well. I am so proud of the way you have pulled yourself out of it. Thank you for letting me help. I hope that each day since has been better than the day before… I will continue to do whatever I can to keep you and Jamieson happy and healthy.

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