You’re having a baby. Congratulations! What a wonderful, exciting and terrifying time. Let’s add a PCS in there to help those already fluctuating hormones. If this is you, take a deep breath and find comfort that you are not the first milspouse to be expecting, moving and seeing your spouse off all at the same time. You are not alone.
There is a great network of support out there for you; you just need to know how to find it and we’re here to help.
I am a planner. Things don’t always work out the way you want it to though, especially when you’re married to the military.
We planned and conceived our child while on shore duty and when I was 6 months into the pregnancy we PCSed from Florida to Virginia. I went from a small town I knew well where I had a job, friends and family to a big city where I had to find new doctors on my own while my husband went through chief’s initiation (read never home). He came home one day and told me he would be deploying shortly after our son would be born. That is a lot for a pregnant woman to handle.
Pregnancy hormones are often talked about and every woman’s experience is different. This was my first pregnancy. I was pretty optimistic, a happy person that took things in stride. I was very excited about our new life adventure. Basically, I was on a happy stride during my pregnancy. Then the baby came. What goes up must come down, or so the saying goes. I was so happy to be a new mother, to hold our precious 5.7 pound peanut and to have my husband here for the delivery. When I went home though, my hormones changed as my body adjusted to motherhood.
People don’t really talk about postpartum depression as a personal experience. It wasn’t until I had my baby that so many friends told me how depressed they were after giving birth.
How could anyone be depressed at having a wonderful child of their own? It isn’t something you can control, that’s how.
I consider myself a very strong person and didn’t want to admit to myself, let alone anyone else, that this could be something that I would face personally. But how do you deal with it?
Knowing the signs of postpartum depression and recognizing it in yourself is the first step; being brave enough to get help is the next. Postpartum Progress puts it in simple terms with a list of questions you should ask yourself. Does this sound like you?
- You feel completely overwhelmed and helpless.
- You feel guilty for feeling this way and that you are a terrible person for not being happy as you think you should be.
- You want to hurt your baby or yourself or to run away from your family.
- You feel angry, annoyed, irritated, sad or nothing at all.
- You just know you are not yourself.
If this sounds like you, then reach out and get help. It might be terrifying, you might feel ashamed to admit it to friends or family, but you will feel so much better when you do. There are many resources for milspouses:
- Utilize Tricare and talk to your doctor. She can give you a referral to a specialist.
- Military OneSource is a free resource specifically for military families. They offer online support, live calls and links to find in-person help. I also like their guide to having a baby while your spouse is deployed.
- Postpartum Support International offers live phone sessions where you can speak with a certified specialist. There are local support groups you can join and online resources as well.
- MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers, is a wonderful group. It’s actually for moms of children from birth through kindergarten. It isn’t a postpartum depression group; it’s a group of mothers that laugh, cry, eat and talk about motherhood. If you are struggling in any way, go meet some other moms. You’ll learn you aren’t alone. I did.
- Milspouses are great resources too. Talk to your best friend, your neighbor, your FRG leader or ombudsman. Just talking to another grownup can make a difference. Getting out of your pajamas and out of the house often can as well. Go to a spouse brunch or say yes to an invitation to coffee.
- Talk to your spouse. This should be the first step, but for some it’s the hardest.
No matter which route you take, there is help out there for you. Reading this article was your first step, which one will you take next? Remember you are not alone.