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A Minnesota-based motherhood, lifestyle, and home décor blog created by Kelly Zugay — Founder of Made by Motherhood.

How I Navigated 9 Months of Postpartum Depression

For me, Ollie’s 1st birthday was more than a celebration of her first year — but it was also a celebration of all we’ve accomplished together as a family of 3. On my Instagram, I had briefly shared about how proud I am of reaching 12 months of exclusive breastfeeding — despite having no maternity leave, running a business full-time, and experiencing 9 months of postpartum depression.

I hadn’t expected to receive so many kind, supportive private messages — and those messages let me know how helpful sharing our personal experiences can be… how knowing what someone else has experienced can provide clarity, a sense of relief, or a feeling of community.

Today, I want to share what postpartum depression looked like for me — and what I would have done differently during my postpartum journey. I hope my experience shows what can be helpful during postpartum, or help fellow mothers experience more peace of mind and joy in postpartum. (I hope it also shows how essential supporting mothers is — how gentleness and kindness toward mothers, particularly new mothers, can make all the difference.)

Postpartum Depression

A Joyful Pregnancy

I want to begin by saying, I absolutely loved pregnancy. Though my pregnancy was an advanced maternal age pregnancy 👵🏻 I was blessed with a very peaceful experience. I used every app to excitedly track our pregnancy week by week, I focused on how having a calm demeanor would help our baby, and I truly cherished every second. Every morning, I would rub oil on my growing belly and tell Ollie our plans for the day ahead.

When I look back, I feel as though loving and enjoying my pregnancy so much — feeling healthy, enjoying a fun and relaxing babymoon — made my postpartum experience much more challenging; I had gone from an extremely joyful season to my most difficult season.

At my final doctor’s appointment before welcoming Ollie, my OBGYN said she expected my labor and delivery would be “uneventful” so I was prepared for a smooth experience. Ben and I had read books and taken classes, and I believed I was well prepared.

Getting Induced

With an advanced maternal age pregnancy, risks grow at 41 weeks — so at 40 weeks and 4 days, per the recommendation of my OBGYN, my labor was induced. My birth plan was very simple: “Please help me create a peaceful environment, and let me know what’s going on along the way.”

Not only was my labor extremely painful, but I also felt unsupported by my nurses. I found myself asking again and again: “Are these pains labor pains? Am I progressing in any way?” Their response was always “We’re not sure; everyone is different!” So I labored for 1.5 days, unmedicated, until I was 6 centimeters dilated. When I was finally given an epidural, Ben and I clenched one another’s hands and sobbed.

As evening approached, changing shifts meant a new nurse had come to help us — and her demeanor could only be described as “frantic.” She spoke quickly, under her breath, and used medical jargon I didn’t understand — all of which was challenging to process, especially because I was so tired. Ben gently asked her to please stay calm, but her demeanor remained. Eventually, a group of doctors entered and let me know Ollie’s heart rate had dropped dramatically, and an emergency c-section was needed.

An Emergency C-Section

My delivery experience was pure terror. I looked at Ben, absolutely certain I wasn’t going to survive the delivery experience — certain I would never see him again, and certain I wouldn’t meet our baby. During my emergency c-section, I hemorrhaged. Ben asked our OBGYN, “Are we going to be OK here?”

Someone in a research paper described hemorrhaging as “Like a bus, going downhill, without a driver” and I agree. It was the most terrifying experience of my life, feeling as though I was experiencing my last moments on earth — wholeheartedly believing I would unceremoniously pass away under the bright lights of the operating room. My body shook for nearly a full day following my delivery — a combination of adrenaline and fear.

Our Hospital Stay

Many friends we’ve spoken to agree: The hospital stay following delivery can be overwhelming. Because of my delivery complications, I was checked on every hour — which I am grateful for. However, I was unable to truly rest or even simply gather myself.

As soon as I understood what had happened, I asked a nurse for help with breastfeeding — which I was denied. I then asked for a pump — which I was also denied. I was floundering. I was eager to return home, so we could gather ourselves as a family and begin to recover from what we had all experienced together.

Returning Home

I had believed returning home would mark the beginning of recovery — but I was wrong. I suffered from PTSD following my delivery, and I was deeply concerned I was going to pass away suddenly from complications following my delivery.

Worse, I returned to work the day we returned home from the hospital, so between breastfeeding every 1-2 hours around the clock and running a business — I was a total zombie. Every day for nearly 10 months, I had only a few minutes to myself per day, which wore on my mental health.

Postpartum Depression

I hadn’t had experience with depression before having postpartum depression — but having been diagnosed with CPTSD, I knew I was more susceptible to experiencing postpartum depression. I would describe my experience as an underlying sadness I couldn’t seem to shake. Ben and I live far away from family, so we both felt very alone as we navigated an entirely new — occasionally scary — chapter in our lives. I was doing everything I needed to do and putting my best foot forward: Forming a beautiful bond with Ollie, learning the ropes of new motherhood, going to physical therapy, running a business… but at the end of the day, I was just so deeply sad.

I was sad about how joyful my pregnancy had been and then how devastating my delivery had been — which I tried to express to a midwife during my 1-week postpartum check-up. I tearfully shared, “I hadn’t known I wouldn’t have an opportunity to truly recover” to which she sarcastically responded, “You were in a hospital — not a hotel.”

Everywhere I turned, and with everyone I turned to, I felt as though the entire world had continued operating as usual — but my world had changed in every possible way.

Week after week, I struggled to balance new motherhood, breastfeeding, and running a business; on many days, just a couple of weeks after Ollie was born, I found myself literally running from my desk to the nursery to nurse Ollie — and then back to my desk to begin a meeting. There was no wiggle room for anything else, like simply going for a walk or calling a friend. It was overwhelming!

Further, I had become extremely forgetful, and I had serious brain fog — which made me feel worried and self-conscious about my role as a business owner, too. Everything seemed more challenging.

Without a maternity leave, I was doing everything I had done for years before — plus new motherhood and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is considered a full-time job (Source, Source, and Source) so I now know these demands would be challenging for anyone.

I didn’t do anything formal to ‘overcome’ postpartum depression — but month by month, I slowly began to feel more like myself. At around 9-10 months postpartum, I remember joking to Ben in a silly voice I hadn’t used in so many months, and I realized I had slowly ‘come back’ to myself. As Ollie has begun sleeping better, and as she’s begun nursing less, I’ve begun feeling more present. Lately, Ben and I have begun discussing travel plans and new plans for our future.

We’re coming through the clouds of ‘new parent survival mode’ and can finally see the blue sky again.

How I’m Doing Today

While I began feeling better around 9-10 months postpartum, I can truly say I feel better now at 12 months postpartum. As mentioned, Ollie has begun sleeping through the night and nurses just a few times per day — and progress in both of these areas has made everything feel lighter and easier. Sleep is so essential!

Like all new mothers, I’m slowly learning how to blend everything together — motherhood, business ownership, family, friends, and self-care. It’s like learning how to build a life all over again — which is beautiful, yet challenging!

I also now feel extremely passionate about maternity leave for every mother, support and accommodations for breastfeeding mothers, and extreme kindness toward mothers overall. I believe mothers are warriors who deserve to be supported and helped in every possible way.

Importantly, I am so grateful my postpartum experience didn’t detract from my special bond with Ollie in any way; though I was feeling low, creating a joyful, fun, and loving space for her remained my focus — and I feel as though I’ve succeeded. I’m so grateful for the memories we’ve made, the beautiful moments and laughs we’ve shared — and I’m so proud of who she is as a person, and who I am as a mother.

I am also extremely grateful to have Ben as a partner. In our 16 years together, we’ve leaned on one another through so many challenges — a car accident, our home flooding, surgery, and sickness. However, we had never experienced something quite so scary together. I’m grateful we were able to hold and help one another. His love, kindness, and support — coupled with what an awesome, loving, caring dad he is — has been a wonderful blessing.

What I Would Have Done Differently

I’ve truly learned so much through my postpartum experience, and though I can’t change my experience, I do know what I would have done differently:

  1. I would have scheduled a c-section. Knowing Ollie could not have been delivered otherwise, I would have scheduled a c-section so I didn’t have to endure labor, an emergency c-section, and hemorrhage. I truly believe my recovery would have been less physically and emotionally taxing.
  2. I would have hired a doula. As first-time parents, Ben and I didn’t know how to advocate for ourselves during the labor and delivery process — and it would have been so helpful for someone to guide us through the process and advocate for us.
  3. I would have prepared meals. I would have had frozen healthy meals ready for us once we returned home. Grocery shopping and cooking were challenging to squeeze in, and I know I would’ve appreciated this convenience.
  4. I would have rested. I would have stayed in bed rather than pushing myself to live and work as though I had been healed. My body needed time to recover, and I believe rushing myself prolonged my recovery process.
  5. I would have asked for and accepted help. I was worried I would be a bother by asking for help, but I now know people were eager and waiting to help us.

What I Wish Others Would Have Done Differently

Ben and I often discuss how wishes about other people’s behavior aren’t helpful. (He is a doctor who focuses on behavioral science, after all! 😂) However, if you are a loved one of someone in their postpartum journey, here are my personal recommendations and hopes:

  • Be gentler and kinder than you’ve ever been. Postpartum hormone changes can make any mother feel very sensitive and vulnerable. So, kindness and gentleness can be really helpful — not just days and weeks following delivery, but months.
  • Give empathy. Motherhood changes everything, and empathy toward mothers, particularly new mothers, can go a long way. Avoid saying, “At least you and the baby are OK.” or “It could’ve been worse.” or “My friend had a c-section, and they were fine!” Say “I’m sorry your experience was so hard; I’m here for you. How can I help?” or “You are so strong, and you will come through postpartum better than ever.”
  • Don’t express how worried you are. Personally, I was quite worried — and I needed family and friends to not be worried. I lacked confidence in my recovery, so I needed family and friends to have confidence I’d eventually feel better. Somehow, others expressing their worry made me feel more worried — or as though I needed to quickly recover so they would feel more comfortable. Confidence-boosting messages like “You’re doing a great job.” would have meant everything.
  • Understand mothers are sleep-deprived. For about 10 months, Ollie had woken every 2 hours to nurse. I had been nursing every 2 hours around the clock for 10 months, on top of running a business. Personally, my sleep deprivation led to extreme brain fog. People speaking quickly made me feel anxious; I couldn’t process or recall anything. Have patience for sleep-deprived mothers and parents, knowing they can’t be completely aware.
  • Help in any way. If you ask an overwhelmed new parent what they need, they may say “I don’t know.” (There is so much to learn as a new parent!) So, help in any way you can: by dropping off food, by doing laundry or washing dishes, by holding mom’s hand… Any help you give will be appreciated!
  • Sign petitions for mothers to have maternity leave. Time off after having a baby is essential. Sign petitions for mothers to have maternity leave.

Resources I Love

I’ve listed all of my personal favorite c-section recovery essentials here, I’ve listed all of my personal favorite breastfeeding essentials here, I’ve loved following along with Hello Postpartum and The Birth Trauma Mama for relatable content, and I’ve also created resources of my own here. I also attended a virtual Birth Trauma Support Group — which was an amazing, amazing resource and source of community.


I worried about sharing my full postpartum experience here — but if my experience helps even one mother navigate postpartum with more ease and joy, it will have all been worth it. I now know I can overcome and conquer anything.

Thank you for reading!

Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links shared are Affiliate Links — which means I may earn a commission when you click or purchase at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support of my small business!

A Minnesota-based motherhood, lifestyle, and home décor blog by Kelly Zugay — Founder of Made by Motherhood, Co-Founder of With Grace and Gold and Host of Brand It, Build It Podcast.

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A cozy, functional nursery glider.

Gentle wipes for messy baby meals.

I start every day with a Vitamix smoothie.

The nursing pillow I use daily!

Nursing-friendly skincare.

Our humidifier, plus essential oils. 

Our go-to sound machine.

My everyday hyaluronic acid.




The cozy cropped crewneck sweatshirt I've been confidently and proudly wearing since Ollie's birth!

Made by Motherhood Signature Cropped Crewneck Sweatshirt


Perfect for the farmer's market, grocery store, or for carrying everyday odds and ends. 

Made by Motherhood Signature Tote Bag


Founded by Kelly Zugay, Made by Motherhood offers a curated collection of products and resources — creating balance, ease, and comfort for multifaceted mothers. Visit the Shop