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Musings of a First Time NOLA Mom: The reality of post-partum depression

Written by  LaTesha Charbonnet Gonzales
Editor’s note: LaTesha is the wife of IntheNOLA founder, Jeff Gonzales, and editor of the site. She and Jeff have just had their first child, Gabriel Pierre Gonzales. Join LaTesha as she journeys her way through raising a child IntheNOLA.

Master Gabriel is now seven months old…a crawling, spitting, screaming ball of baby. He’s mastered the art of putting things in his mouth that don’t belong there and he’s an expert at making your heart melt with his big ol’ smile of gums. I just love that little boy.
 
But that wasn’t always the case. It’s terrible to say, but no less the truth…love was not an emotion that came very easily to me in the beginning.
I’ve said before that pregnancy was rough…that labor and delivery were tough…and that breastfeeding gave me the damn blues!!!
 
And for the first two months or so of my son’s life, I just didn’t quite “love” him as I thought I would….
 
Musings of a first time NOLA Mom | IntheNOLA.comBefore Gabriel was born, I tended to roll my eyes at the articles I read of women who didn’t experience love at first sight of their babies and fell into a depression after giving birth. How could you not love your own child, I wondered, This beautiful baby that you gave life to?
 
A scary question that I found I kept asking myself...
 
I remember the doctor putting Gabriel in my arms after he was born and what did I feel in that moment? Bewilderment. Absolutely bewildered as to how this fully formed person came out of me and exactly what in the hell I was supposed to do with him now!
 
I was certainly excited, but so scared.  
 
When we got home, all hell broke loose. Sleeping for longer than two hours at a time was nonexistent. Breastfeeding/pumping quickly became a disaster, and my mental state deteriorated even more quickly.
 
Where was once a vibrant, talkative, smiling LaTesha was now a despondent, sullen, and silent LaTesha. The post-partum depression had me tight and everybody could see it, but me.
 
I was not interested in doing anything with Gabriel. I just wanted to sit in my rocking chair and stare into space. I didn’t want to hold him, talk to him, or feed him…Gabriel was no longer my beautiful baby boy…he was now a chore to me and I didn’t want the chore any more.
 
For about eight weeks, I lived like this, just a shell of myself, until my husband and best friend basically forced me to seek help.
 
But boy was I so against seeking help! I mean, what would people think of me, I thought! Here I am, a successful woman with a great family and career, and I can’t even control my life! What would people say when they found out I couldn’t take care of my own child? That I needed help to do what women have been doing for centuries? That I just couldn’t do the damn job and stop crying about it? That I didn’t love my baby?
 
I was terrified of the judgment; I had tried to be the perfect person and now everybody could see that I wasn’t. THAT was so terrifying that I stopped letting people come over. I wouldn’t even let my best friend from high school come see me and the baby because I didn’t want her to see that I just couldn’t do it by myself.
 
So, what was my breaking point to seek help? I’m still not sure. I just remember one day deciding to Google “new orleans psychologist” and clicking on one of the first links I saw for Dr. Denise Newman on Carrollton.
 
Musings of a first time NOLA Mom | IntheNOLA.comI made my appointment IMMEDIATELY and saw her two days later. After my first session with Dr. Newman, I felt so damn relieved. I was not ALONE! I was not a weak and terrible mother!  
 
Dr. Newman and I met once a week for about two months. While post-partum depression was the original reason I originally sought her help, we discussed all kinds of things from my past, present, and future.
 
I wanted to kick myself for not seeing a therapist sooner in life! Unfortunately, in the African-American community, needing or going to therapy is not discussed…saving face is so important and to think that you need help can be embarrassing. As a result, many of us don’t get the help we need and those of us who do tend to stay silent on the matter. Hell, I’ve cringed several times just typing this!
 
But seven months later, I can’t be more grateful for seeking the help that I so desperately needed. I have a beautiful baby boy who I couldn’t imagine living without (except at three morning when he’s standing up screaming in his crib because he wants a damn bottle!).
 
I also think about those women who don’t get the help they need and my heart hurts for them. We can be such great caretakers of others, but yet leave our health to be checked another day when we have “time.”
 
I no longer feel the need to see Dr. Newman as often as I first did, but knowing that she’s just a phone call away should I need her again is incredibly comforting.

In addition to my meetings with the therapist, I also belong to a great mom's group. Most of us are first time moms and we talk about anything and everything that's going on with our babies. Just when you think you're the only one going through whatever, these women are there to tell you that you're not alone! What's best about the group is the lack of judgement cast. We all have different parenting styles, different beliefs and traditions, and yet, we respect each other as mothers and recognize that each one of us is doing what we feel is best for our own families. 
 
So, let’s recap: Basically, Mr. Gabriel Gonzales has put me through a whole lotta trouble from the time he was conceived in 2013 and until now…but…I think I’ll keep him (and his big mouth at three in morning) anyway.

See LaTesha's previous posts:
Babies and boobies
An epidural saved my life.
See LaTesha's previous posts:
There’s no turning back now!
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
I'm doing it ALL natural...
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
Gabriel is here!
An epidural saved my life. - See more at: http://www.inthenola.com/news/nola-living/item/3979-musings-of-a-first-time-nola-mom-babies-and-boobies#sthash.hsjYRrKr.dpuf

Gabriel is here!
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
I'm doing it ALL natural...
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
There’s no turning back now!
See LaTesha's previous posts:
There’s no turning back now!
Why couldn’t we just lay an egg?
I'm doing it ALL natural...
After 8 months, I finally bought maternity clothes.
Gabriel is here!
An epidural saved my life. - See more at: http://www.inthenola.com/news/nola-living/item/3979-musings-of-a-first-time-nola-mom-babies-and-boobies#sthash.hsjYRrKr.dpu
Last modified on Friday, 16 May 2014
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