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Beating the Blues

The good news doctors will tell you about postpartum depression (PPD) is that it isn't terminal. The bad news, I can tell you, is that it most definitely feels that way. And like some kind of slow-growing cancer, postpartum depression has a way of creeping up on its victims, who usually discount or ignore the symptoms until the day when they realize they can't.

For me, that day came one week after the birth of my second daughter, Kate.

I hadn't felt like myself for a couple of weeks; but then again, what nine months' pregnant woman  -- or newly delivered mom  -- does? I cried as I loaded laundry, as I helped myself to the salad bar at a restaurant, as I did a puzzle with my preschooler, Anna. I cried when I said goodbye to my husband in the morning, and I cried when he came home at night.

But in the weeks before and after the birth, I was also finding sleep increasingly difficult. And so I blamed my tears on exhaustion and hormones, and everyone around me seemed to agree. What I didn't tell anyone—and what I didn't want to acknowledge—was that along with the tears, I had to constantly reassure myself that I loved being a mom. I could remember that I liked it, that I'd wanted two kids, and that I'd been eager to have a second go at long days snuggling with a newborn. Trouble was, I couldn't feel those feelings again.

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