The lights are low and you hear a repeating beeping sound coming from the machine next to your baby. The NICU nurses are coming in to check vital signs and run tests every hour. Your newborn is barely a day old and you are staring at him laying on a cooling mat to help reduce his risk for brain damage.
After delivering her son, this was Jessica’s reality for the first four days after delivery. Her son was unresponsive for 6 minutes after birth. Unable to touch him, all Jessica could do is wait and pray. After eight days of tests and tearful sleepless nights, Jessica and her husband were finally able to take their son home.
In 2019, postpartum depression affected 12.5% of women in the United States (americashealthrankings.org). NICU moms often experience PPD more intensely due to their postpartum experiences.
*Not being able to take your baby home
*Not being able to hold them
*Having to drive down to the hospital each day to visit them
*Dim lighting and strange noises
*Figuring out if you are going to pump and bottle feed, use formula, or learn how to use a feeding tube when you go home
*Hoping and praying that you actually get to go home
Due to the traumatic events that followed her son’s delivery, Jessica experienced PPD. The stress and anxiety that plagued her during those eight days didn’t end when she left the hospital.
Trying to cope with her anxiety and PPD, Jessica tried her best to embrace motherhood. She had planned to breastfeed, but struggled after the initial separation from her baby. The societal pressure to breastfeed weighed heavily on her and she felt like a failure because she was choosing to give her baby formula. She returned to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave, and left her son in her mother’s care.
A year later, Jessica found out she was pregnant again. She had fears and worried about the past repeating itself. Thankfully, her daughter was born healthy and had no complications. Jessica returned to work, but still had days where she felt her depression resurfacing.
When Jessica feels anxious or overwhelmed, she takes a step back to breathe. Her husband is a big help to her when she needs those moments to regroup.
Jessica and her husband have been together for 11 years. They support each other and have relied on each other these past few years. While the past is difficult to talk about, they are so thankful for their little family. Their children are best friends and the weekends are beautiful busy chaos.
Jessica is brave beyond belief. This is the tightrope that Jessica walks.
What tightrope do you walk?