Written by Guest Poster, Megan C. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like to struggle with infertility.
For years, my life revolved around pregnancy tests, failed IUI’s, and two unsuccessful IVF cycles which got me no closer to motherhood. It seemed to be an uphill battle with no end in sight. My desperation to have a baby was growing every day.
Thankfully, our dream of becoming parents finally came true after undergoing a successful donor egg IVF. The three years of trial and error to conceive were at last behind us. We were immensely grateful - it felt like we’d finally reached the end of our challenging journey.
I never imagined the worst was yet to come.
When the Baby Blues Don’t Go Away
“You’re going to be an emotional wreck the first couple of weeks, but don’t worry – it’ll go away,” a close friend told me before the birth of my daughter.
I was prepared for the baby blues. My mother warned me, my friends warned me, and - most importantly - my doctor warned me.
The first time I laid eyes on my daughter, I felt such a rush of love and excitement that it took my breath away. I remember thinking, “How on Earth can a woman feel anything but joy right now?”
The child we’d fought so long to have was safely in my arms. It was incredible. There was a buzz inside our hospital room – nurses bustling about, family and friends oohing and awing, and my husband playing “Mr. Security Guard” to our tiny bundle of joy.
But then… it got quiet.
In the early hours of the next morning, the visitors were gone and my husband was home grabbing a quick shower. When our daughter started crying and wouldn’t stop no matter what I did to soothe her, I felt my inner turmoil starting to build.
After we got home, moments like this seemed to come nonstop, but I continuously chalked them up to baby blues. When weeks turned into months and the urgency to cry all day by myself didn’t fade, I knew something wasn’t right.
I was so happy to finally have my baby… but it terrified me to admit that when I looked at our daughter, she felt like a stranger.
Depression After Egg Donation
When we found out my eggs weren’t viable for pregnancy, donor egg IVF was the next logical choice for us.
While I took time to grieve the loss of a genetic connection to my child, I was certain nine months of pregnancy would help us forge a bond stronger than DNA.
However, I think my problems started before the embryo transfer had even taken place.
It’d been three heartbreaking years of constant failures, mental exhaustion, and physical tolls. I don’t care what fertility treatment you decide to undertake, they all have the power to break you down and leave you feeling depressed and anxious.
Our donor egg cycle was just one more period of injectable drugs, never-ending doctor’s appointments, and early morning visits for monitoring.
When our pregnancy test finally came back positive, though, I was ecstatic and forever indebted to the wonderful woman who selflessly gave her eggs to provide this extraordinary opportunity to us.
I loved being pregnant and feeling a little life growing within my belly. Unfortunately, after my daughter was born, the overwhelming emotions that accompany fertility treatments finally seemed to catch up with me.
My days became a blur of general sadness and questions about my ability to connect with my daughter. I would even find myself picking apart her features that didn’t resemble ours.
Her nose was unfamiliar.
Her tiny gestures seemed foreign.
Her hair color didn’t quite match the blonde of my own.
In moments of clarity, I knew this precious creature was every bit mine and that I was the only mother she needed. After all, my body sustained her life throughout pregnancy, and my efforts brought her into the world. Sadly, postpartum depression was a dense fog of confusion that had settled thickly in my mind.
No matter how appreciative I was to finally be a mom and have the opportunity to raise my sweet girl, I couldn’t quiet the negative thoughts spinning in my head.
One evening when she was around six months old, my husband came home from work and found me quietly rocking her with tears streaming down my face. He gently took her from my arms and sweetly told me it was time to go and see someone.
Getting Help for My Postpartum Depression and Finding My Happily Ever After
At that moment, six months into my depression, it felt like there were no answers.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I called my OB and she put me in touch with a local psychologist specializing in postpartum depression. This godsend of a doctor put me on medication to help balance me back out and, week after week, we worked through my struggles until I finally began to feel like myself again.
It wasn’t an easy obstacle to overcome, but with time and medical assistance, I was given the chance to experience daily the love and connection to my daughter I’d initially felt the moment I saw her.
I never imagined I could feel such sadness after finally receiving the child we’d been trying to have for so long. In my darkest moments, I felt ashamed of my grief and wondered if we’d struggled all that time because I simply wasn’t supposed to be a mother.
I now realize these thoughts were merely my sickness clouding my better judgement.
Thanks to my counseling sessions, I’ve learned so much about how postpartum depression affects the way you think. The thoughts and feelings I experienced during my daughter’s first six months weren’t reality. They were simply a side effect of my illness and needed treatment like any other health issue.
I know it’s not always easy to talk to someone about dealing with postpartum depression, but I’m forever grateful my husband gave me the push I needed to seek support. It opened my eyes and finally allowed me to have a relationship with my daughter.
There’ll always be a part of me that regrets my state of mind throughout those initial months. However, I’ve come to accept that undergoing such difficult circumstances has not only allowed me to love my child more deeply, but has brought such profound realization as to how blessed we truly are.