Thaydra Perez experienced postpartum depression with the birth of her son Stephen. Four years later, she delivered twins and had a second, more difficult bout with PPD, despite taking preventive measures.
Thaydra had suffered a miscarriage before her pregnancy with Stephen and then had some complications early in the pregnancy.
"I got anxiety from this," she said. "I never had any type of anxiety before this but the minute they told me this I just went to full-blown anxiety."
After several sonograms, the doctors were able to confirm that the baby was healthy, and the pregnancy proceeded normally. Stephen was born via Caesarean section after 12 hours of labor.
"I was ecstatic to hold him, to be with him. I couldn't wait until the nurses brought him in, in his bassinet, from the nursery," she said. "We were extremely happy because we had the miscarriage and we were trying to have him for a little while before we actually did conceive him."
A few weeks later when Thaydra was home, she started crying a lot and didn't feel connected to the baby. She was relieved when she put him in his bassinet to go to sleep because she didn't have to be near him.
"I just felt like I didn't want him and I kept telling myself, I do want him. And I was trying to convince myself that I wanted him," she said. "But I knew something was wrong."
She told her husband not to tell anyone how she was feeling and said she would get herself better. Instead, it got worse.
"It was scary to be around him (Stephen) because I didn't know if I would do something to him or harm him. I felt like I knew deep down that I wouldn't harm him because I did love him," she said.
When Stephen was about 2 months old, Thaydra confided in her mother.
"At that point, I really, literally couldn't take care of myself or him. I think I kind of wanted to just get help and I had enough with it and I knew my mother would get me that help," Thaydra said.
Her mother took her to a therapist, who helped to get her on medication and started regular therapy sessions. The therapist gave her tips on how to bond with her son and advised her to keep a journal. After about a month, she felt better.
She stayed on the medication for about a year and then tapered off. She continued therapy sessions and even goes occasionally now that she has fully recovered from her second experience with PPD.
Thaydra had no complications in her second pregnancy and worked with her obstetrician and her therapist to prevent PPD. The day after Emily and Matthew were born, she started on the same antidepressant she had used after Stephen's birth.
Despite the medication, Thaydra's depression began while she was still in the hospital and worsened when she went home.
With two infants and a 4-year-old to take care of, she was getting about two hours of sleep a night.
"I started crying. ... I cried night and day. It was every minute of every hour and I would sob to the point where I couldn't even cry anymore," she said.
"There would be days where they (the twins) would be crying for a bottle and I would just sit there. And I knew what I needed to do but I didn't know if I didn't (do it) because I just didn't want to be around them or I just felt like I didn't even know how to make a bottle. It was just, it was very bad."
She experienced intrusive thoughts. She feared giving the babies a bath because she worried she would try to drown them. She also had thoughts of smothering them when they were sleeping.
"Deep down I really knew I wasn't going to, but I still had that feeling, like that question ... maybe I will ..."
Her husband and parents realized immediately how bad it was and called her doctor right away. They feared she would harm the babies or herself.
Her medication was increased multiple times and she had more frequent therapy sessions. Her mother pushed her to go to a support group.
Eventually the medication took effect and Thaydra began to feel better. When Emily and Matthew were 5 months old, she was feeding them and they both smiled at her at the same time. "And that's when I smiled back and I said to them, "Mommy's getting better and I'm going to be able to take care of you.'"
Thaydra hopes other women see her story and take comfort in it.
"It would have put me at ease knowing I'm not alone in this. There are women who also are going through this so it must not just be me and I must not be crazy," she said. "I think it definitely would have helped."
Thaydra's Video (Stephen's Birth) | Video Transcript | Thaydra's Video (The Twins) | Diane's Video (Thaydra's mom) | Diane's Video Transcript | Diane's Story