Giving birth and struggling with postpartum depression during deployment is something that many mothers that marry into the military experience, including me. Nine months later I am still fighting postpartum depression every day.
Giving birth to my son was the most wonderful day of my life; a day full of tears, laughter, and smiles. The feeling of missing my loving husband who deployed a week before my son was born was also filling the day. We knew this was a possibility when we found out I was pregnant. It didn’t seem real until the doctor was admitting me into the hospital without him there. As difficult as it was, I survived delivery and postpartum depression during deployment using just a few tactics.
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Giving Birth and Deployment
Write, Write, Write
I wrote down anything and everything. Even lying in the hospital bed, I was writing. I would write what I was feeling, thoughts that came and went, dreams, anything I could think of. I would send him all these thoughts and notes in a letter. He was already calling a lot, but after he began receiving the letters, he was calling more frequently to check in on us.
This might be a little out there, considering being stuck in a hospital for five days, but it is not as difficult as it might sound. When I went to the hospital, I constantly had friends and family with me. My friends were helping me keep my mind off my husband being gone. I was also busy going back and forth from my room to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where my baby was at.
Do not miss a phone call
When I first went to the hospital, I was able to get in contact with my husband’s command and he was finally able to call me. I made sure my phone was charging basically the entire time and I would keep it next to me no matter where I would go, even if it was just to the bathroom. I was receiving calls from him every day I was in the hospital. My husband was always supporting me and motivating me during every phone call.
Postpartum Depression During Deployment
Postpartum depression during deployment was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. Below are some things I did to help me through it:
I found a journal that I would use daily while my husband was away. The name of the journal is “Deployment Journal for Spouses“. It gives prompts to write about, such as “Our History”, “Other Challenges We Have Faced”, and “My Thoughts.” It is extremely important to remember happy moments and the struggles you face together; remembering these types of subjects would allow me remember the reality of our relationship, the ups and downs, and everything in between.
Do not isolate yourself
I was trying to be social and get out of the house as much as possible, but most of my day would be spent lying in bed. I met up with my aunt who lives two hours away, I met other wives, I went on walks, anything to get out of the house. Maintaining a social life is important to keep yourself busy and distract you from all those dark thoughts.
Do not sleep alone
We have a queen size bed that seems twice as big when you are the only one in it. About a week after getting home, I couldn’t do it anymore. I began letting my dog sleep in bed with me. He is a giant great dane/pit bull and took up most of the bed, but it was worth it. After that night, he spent the rest of the deployment in bed with me. Having him in bed with me during the deployment was helping me feel less lonely and cold.
Deployments are hard enough. Add a lonely birthing experience, a newborn baby, and a mom with postpartum depression and it can be a recipe for disaster. But if you prepare yourself and continue to take care of yourself throughout the entire process, you are more likely to be able to come out on top, welcoming your spouse back with open arms and a full heart.
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Check out When I Knew it was Postpartum Depression and When I Knew I Needed Help
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