Looking back, Erin Glospie realizes she was very emotional during her pregnancy. Still, there were few warning signs of the postpartum depression that struck nearly immediately after her daughter’s birth.
“Everyone, including my doctors, told me that it seemed like I was very emotional, more so than the normal pregnancy emotions, that I was very anxious, constantly worried about the baby and things like that,” she said.
Erin, 32, was put on bed rest in her eighth month, which caused some financial stress as well as sadness because she missed her friends at work. Erin was full term when she started having weak contractions. Her doctors gave her medication to induce labor, but she needed an emergency C-section after the baby started having some problems.
“I was really terrified. I was terrified that something was going to be wrong with her, that something could be wrong with me.” she said.
Stella was born healthy but Erin had some complications from the surgery – a very high heart rate – as well as a lot of pain. She had very little connection with her daughter and had her husband or the nurses handle the baby’s care.
“I remember feeling nothing. I remember thinking to myself, I should be feeling something. And I remember everyone else coming into the room and being so happy and … I didn’t have any of that toward her,” Erin said. “I had, it just was nothing. I really didn’t feel any attachment to her.”
In hindsight, Erin’s husband and family realize that something wasn’t right, but at the time they chalked her reaction up to being tired and in pain from the C-section. She was screened for postpartum depression before leaving the hospital but none of the questions resonated with her.
At home, that quickly changed. Erin woke up her daughter for feedings as she had been instructed to do, but Stella would just scream.
“I felt really overwhelmed, unprepared, unsure. I was starting to feel really anxious. I started to have these anxiety attacks that started increasing in frequency, and toward the end of that first week, I couldn’t even get out of bed, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t do anything,” she said.
“By the second day I was home, I knew that something was wrong. I actually thought I was probably having a heart attack or something because the anxiety attacks made my heart race so bad. So I told everyone that I needed to call the obstetrician, they needed to see me because something was wrong with me.”
Her obstetrician called a psychiatrist, who came to see her and diagnosed her with postpartum depression. He put her on medication and assured Erin and her husband that Erin would start to feel better in a few days. Unfortunately, she got much worse.
Erin, who works as a nurse, called a colleague who came to the house and recommended taking Erin to a crisis center. Erin was hospitalized for a week and her medications were adjusted. When she came home, she and her husband arranged for a therapist to see her several times a week and also found a postpartum support group.
Within six weeks, she started to feel better and by the time her daughter was 4 months old, Erin felt like herself.
“I know that when I got home from the hospital, I was still having some anxiety and I was still really tired and so I would watch the clock, and I would say, OK, it’s one more hour until I can go to bed. And that’s all I would focus on,” she said. “And then gradually I started to not worry about the time.That was the least of my concern. And I started doing more things with the baby. I pushed myself to learn what to do with her and at first it felt kind of like a chore because that’s just the way it felt at first. But when I started to get better, it just felt like something natural that I was doing with her.”
Despite her illness, Erin was motivated to get herself help because she knew she wanted to be there for her baby.
“Postpartum depression is definitely difficult but I think that it has made my life better knowing that I could overcome such a challenge,” she said.
“It’s strengthened my relationship with my husband, my friends, my family, to know that these people I can really count on. It’s strengthened, it actually has strengthened my relationship with my baby. I love her so much and I hate to be away from her. So I think that, even though it was such a terrible thing, it really did help me to become a stronger person.”
Erin's Video | Video Transcript