Monthly Archives: September 2007

Sharing some wisdom

My previous post, Kids make everything better, received a comment yesterday afternoon. After deliberating on whether or not to approve it, I made the decision to delete the comment. However, the words from this woman’s comment are still haunting me and given the nature of my work, I view the chance to respond to her comment as a sincere opportunity to show compassion, warmth, and a bit of wisdom with her as well as with the rest of you.

The comment follows:

 post-partum depression sux.

but come on excited about peeing outside. three years olds get excited by everything.

do you really believe that kids make everything better? if so then why the PPD?  

Yes, Postpartum Depression does suck.  It sucks a lot. Not fun to go through it, not fun to watch someone go through it – I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But is an illness – something that we have no control over, something that we need treatment, support, and sometimes medication in order to recover. The stigma attached to admitting to postpartum depression is a huge barrier to treatment, especially when mothers are having intrusive thoughts about harming their child. These mothers (and I was one of them) become scared that if they are honest about these thoughts, their children will be taken away from them. They become consumed with guilt and riddled with more anxiety that they are a bad mother because they have these thoughts. BUT these thoughts are not their fault – they are not to blame – and seeking help/treatment makes them a GOOD mother because they are taking an important first step  in admitting something is wrong. For a lot of mothers, taking that first step is a very daunting one. And that’s why I do what I do now. I didn’t know where to turn for help. I did go to my doctor with my first case but was denied treatment because I wouldn’t stop nursing for “trial medicinal therapy” and I was more than the DSM-IV standard of 4wks postpartum before I sought treatment – even though most postpartum cases ARE diagnosed between two and four months Postpartum.  I know now that I should have sought additional help from another physician. At the time, I was so depressed I didn’t have the energy to do so. So I struggled from day to day. Eventually I improved (or thought I did) and then we got pregnant with our second child. Looking back, I was depressed the entire pregnancy which is what led to my second bout with Postpartum OCD, my most recent episode. My last episode taught me quite a bit and I have certainly become a better person for it – because I chose to turn and fight and not give in or up. And now I am paying it forward – helping other women just as there were women there to help me this time around. I feel that it is the least that i can do.

And yes, I believe that kids DO, on occasion, make everything better. Kids have a way of blurting out the funniest things or the most inane thing RIGHT when you need them to. If it weren’t for my three year old’s charming and innocent wit during my postpartum days, I don’t think I would have continued to have at least a few bright spots. She was constantly trying to cheer me up and make me laugh – even when I didn’t want to. But even she’s not a miracle worker and the PPD, just like cancer or diabetes, had to run it’s course before I started to improve. Having PP OCD was not my fault, I was not to blame, and I did get better – with help, including my daughter’s constant optimism and insane sense of humour.

Women with PPD deserve to be treated honestly, compassionately, and respectfully. They do not deserve to be belittled or told to snap out of it – trust me, if we could, we would. Unfortunately, we can’t. And I’d be willing to bet that most women who have suffered from PPD would agree that it’s very similar to being hit by a MAC truck while strolling in the park on a blissfully sunny day. It sneaks up on you and before you know it, you’re struggling to climb out of  a deep dark muddy hole. Recovery from the emotional scars PPD causes is messy, difficult, and yet quite rewarding when your head finally pops out and sweet sunshine and fresh air hit you – making you realize just how hard you’ve had to fight to get to where you are.

I am very proud to say that I am a TWO TIME survivor of PP OCD who is now paying it forward and shining the light on the path towards recovery for other women and families. I pray every day that I won’t relapse after this birth. Sure, I know more now, but there’s still the statistics, and yes, I am hoping to beat them but also preparing not to by educating my family (near and far), getting a plan in place in the near future for the “what if”, and filling my support up to overflowing, which is what I would advise any new mother to do if she were in my shoes. And I am blogging this pregnancy because I feel I owe it to other mothers out there in my shoes (planned or unplanned pregnancy after PPD), to give them a source of hope and light – to give them somewhere to come and not only find another woman who is traveling the same path they are,  to help them feel less isolated during their journey, but also to find access to resources and information that will give them courage and strength to help them as they walk their own paths. I pray that they will not suffer as I did – but if they do, I want them to know that help is out there – only a click or two away. They do not have to be alone during such a difficult and misunderstood time in their lives.

Kids make everything better…

Right before I could type a single word here, my three year old yelled to me from her room (it’s quiet time) that she had to go potty. And so off I went – to help her get to the potty and to supervise – you know, ensure that the toilet paper didn’t ALL come off the roll, that she went IN the potty, etc. We talked about her ladybug. I brought her one as a surprise this morning. Yes, it was live. Now – well, not so much. She’s got it on her dresser top and is keeping a close eye on it. Hasn’t moved yet, she tells me. Maybe it’s taking a nap or like something she says. I tried to explain to her that it may just be not with us anymore. But she didn’t quite want accept that explanation, hence, the watching.

What I WAS going to type here wasn’t going to be nice – I needed to vent. Badly. But now I’m all better. Amazing how a discussion about a possibly dead ladybug and a three year old’s optimism that it’s not dead suddenly makes everything else melt away.

The girls and I went outside this morning to play. No stroller ride, just play. Charlotte hadn’t been walking outside yet and she was fascinated. She and I ended up just sitting down in the grass while Alli ran around the yard. Charlotte would pick up leaves and grass – and I gave her a pine cone which she promptly tried to eat. BLECH! The girls did swing for a bit and then it was time for us to come inside and have lunch. I am so glad that the weather has finally cooled off enough for us to do things like that outside. Looking so forward to more days like today.

OH! I almost forgot to add this – Alli had to pee while we were outside. As we have a rather large front yard and judging from how she was running about, I KNEW we wouldn’t make it inside. So I stripped her down, took her sandals off, and instructed her to go squat behind a tree. She didn’t quite get “squat” but she did understand behind a tree, thank goodness. As she started to go, she exclaimed “It’s just like watering plants!” Um, yeah hon. I think that was the first time I’ve ever witnessed someone actually EXCITED about peeing in the wild outdoors.

As for my mood, I’m in a great one! In fact, chris even asked me this morning why I was so bubbly. And I told him – “I just am in a really good mood today!” He was very happy for me. I’m happy for me too.

I had my one hour Glucose test today. Got the orange drink. Finished it in less than two minutes, I think. Felt fine after the test, just like I did after charlotte’s test so I’m hoping that means no Gestational Diabetes. I’ll do the diet if I have to and I’m already pretty conscious about what I eat but I’d really rather not have to mess with all that tracking, measuring, etc.

Here’s a question for those of you who are informed (specialists) in PPD – Has anyone done a study regarding the women diagnosed with GD and the percentage of those who go on to develop PPD? I’d really like to know what the results are if it’s been done. I’ll go search pub med and ask the Coordinators too.

Speaking of studies, I DID read an abstract of a study done with women who suffered from pelvic pain & PPD – and those WITH pelvic pain were more likely to end up also diagnosed with PPD once baby was delivered. I thought that was very interesting, primarily b/c I’ve had pelvic pain with both of my previous pregnancies and also had PPD.

 Time to wrap things up, I have a TON of email to reply to and now some research to do as well!

I Love Email Surprises

Today, I had just finished checking my email and answering all of my messages. Sometimes that’s a daunting task because i have several email addresses, luckily I’ve streamlined them into just two addresses but still, that’s a LOT of email. And my PPD addresses have been very busy today. After I was done checking and responding, I logged out, and surfed the web for a few minutes – reading up on how to properly cook tapioca pudding from scratch. (Yes, another craving!) Locating a recipe I actually had all the ingredients for, I read forth. Upon completion, something told me to go and check my ppd address again. And when I did, I had a surprise.

A woman I helped at the beginning of the year had written me not only to thank me but to let me know how she was doing now. For privacy reasons, I can’t give you details, but she is doing well. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that email meant to me. I couldn’t even begin to tell her! I had been really thinking about her lately and wondering how she was doing so her email was well-timed.

So, I have now officially achieved the goal I set out with. Successfully helping at least one woman. Doesn’t mean I’m quitting (I don’t EVER see that happening!), just means I’ve got to come up with another goal. Any ideas?

Remembering Today

I feel that I would be remiss if i didn’t talk about what today means to me.

If you feel that this post may be a trigger for you, please skip it.

I am originally from NJ and went on several trips growing up to NY or Philly. My roots are still up North even though they’ve been stretched down south for much longer. I’m still a true blue Mets, Giants, and Knicks Fan. Yes, I said Knicks.

When the first Tower was hit, I was in the middle of a job interview. (No, didn’t get the job.) I remember being shown into a co-worker’s office to see the online video. My first thought was of family friends we had in NY – a few of whom worked in the financial district of  NY. My cousin also went into NY just about everyday for school. As I drove home, I wasn’t really at the wheel. Somehow I got home. And when I did, I turned on CNN and just sat there, dazed. I SAW the second plane hit in real time. It was then I realized along with the rest of the world we were indeed being attacked and let me tell you – I had never been more scared of anything. Later that same day, my now husband and I were outside trying to get my car started. We realized there was an eeriness to the world – and then we pinpointed that eeriness. No planes. Just as when you are injured, you don’t realize how attached to everything else the spot of injury is until it isn’t working properly. Growing up, we had never lived a day without planes flying overhead.

After 9/11, I wanted to go to NY. I wanted to help, to do something. I was angry, and felt helpless – much like the rest of America. I didn’t go – I’m sorry to say, but God clearly had other plans for me.

We discovered at our wedding that my cousin had been on the train headed into NY that day and had watched everything happen from right across the river. And yet another family friend had been in the towers the DAY BEFORE! God works in mysterious ways.

If you have read this post, please pause for a moment – Remember the heroes who sacrificed their lives, Remember the victims who were so carelessly murdered that day. And Remember the Families who were so tragically affected by the events of that day. Keep them in your hearts and your prayers. And never forget.

Pelvic Pain Level: BIG FAT ZERO!

At some point last night, I had a pretty deep pop in my pelvis. And woke up this morning feeling like I could dance an irish jig. Not that I’m claiming knowledge in that department, but i could have at least done the steps if someone had shown them to me!

Still going strong and amazed. I need to go ahead and get a support belt this weekend – to help keep the success going strong. SO thrilled to be completely in alignment again, especially because it’s been a couple of months.

On my way to PT

This morning has been great, I got up at 7a, my PT isn’t until 830, I’ve showered, dressed, had a chocolate mousse style yogurt (YUM!) and gotten my bag for PT packed. AND – Alli wasn’t awake this morning when I walked by her room so I’ve been sitting peacefully in the living room enjoying my yogurt and already posting to the PSI Online Support Page. I LOVE quiet mornings like these – Maggie (our rescue mutt from SC) is curled up next to me and other than the loud hum of morning bugs outside and various fans throughout the house, it’s void of human noise – wait – i just heard charlotte playing in her crib. LOL. still, nice and peaceful.

Gotta run, don’t know what traffic will be like and I need to try and get there a few minutes early!

Facing Your Giant

This was the title of our church’s sermon this morning. We hadn’t been to church in awhile due to Chris being sick, both of us being exhausted, yada yada yada… I know, excuses, I  excuses!

 This sermon focused on the battle between…yup, you guessed it…. David and Goliath. (Which if you’re curious, can be found in 1 Sam Chapt. 17, and yes, I remembered that all on my own! I’m impressed!)

As the preacher was talking, I thought of this past year and how many Giants I’ve overcome –

  • PP OCD
  • Discovering our daughter’s cleft palate & PRS diagnoses
  • Surviving her surgeries & NICU Stay
  • Starting a PPD Support Group
  • Unexpected Pregnancy
  • Husband’s Car Wreck & Ankle injury

And I am still here. Kicking, and HAPPY. Thriving in my new normal, in fact. You know who I have to thank for that? GOD. Early on, I handed everything to Him and He has shown me just how well He can care for me. He truly carried us through this past year because there is just no other explanation. Yes, I had to do a lot of climbing too, but he was there with me – my Coach, my Support, my Strength.

This past year and a half has been one of the hardest years of my life. But it’s also been a year and a half of strength and growth – I have grown and matured more this past year than ever before in my life. And it’s all because, just like David, I put my trust in God and let him handle everything. I truly learned how to hand things to God – something my mom has been trying to get me to do for ages now… but I had to learn on my own. Not only have I learned a truly worthy lesson, but I am passing the strength I found onto others because I feel that God is calling me to do just that. And I know it is because God is in my heart and at the heart of my PPD work that everything has happened the way it has – PACE continues to thrive, I continue to help women, and I have a peace within my heart that only God could create.

Things with PACE and my PPD work have just fallen into place and I attribute that as a sign from God that what I am doing is right and just. Speaking of that, PACE’s website was just reviewed and accepted by www.psychcentral.com, one of the oldest and most reliable mental health resource sites on the web, run by mental health professionals. Again, just a sign that I am finally walking the right path.

Praise God for His Strength, His Blessings, and His Love. Without it, I would not have survived this past year… and be thriving – in life, marriage, motherhood – and my PPD work. HE is to be honoured in all that I do!

Out of Season Craving…

Earlier today, I had a craving for some She-Crab Soup, a Charleston, SC classic soup. It’s absolutely delicious. That craving went away as soon as I discovered the canned brand I buy when I can’t get it fresh in Charleston (which is, well, rare), is owned by Castleburry’s which if you remember, had a HUGE issue with botulism in their canned foods this past year. In fact, some of their cans started to explode due to the high levels. Yeah. Not only am I not up for a severe case of the tummy yuckies, I don’t think it would be too good for Cameron. So buh bye She-Crab Soup craving.

I’ve replaced that craving though – now I want some Egg Nog. Problem is, it’s September. Nowhere NEAR Christmas. And I highly doubt I will find Egg Nog at any self-respecting grocery store at this time of year.

*lightbulb*HEY… wait a sec… I have a mix in the kitchen – and milk.

Ok, bye. 😉

P.S. 30 minutes later and craving has been satisfied. The real thing would have been better but hey, I’ll take what I can get – especially when living in an SEC town and a craving hits on a Game Day! (and the game just ended)

Reflections so far…

I will unabashedly admit my freaking out at the first positive pregnancy test. And even more freaking out at the second one, in between which I freaked out because I almost knocked my pee into the sink. Now I would like to say THANK YOU to Karen Kleiman – her book, What Am I Thinking: Having a Baby after Postpartum Depression, definitively put things into perspective for me. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is BECAUSE of that book you are reading this blog right now.

I will also admit that early on, I hoped for a miscarriage, which is extremely difficult for me to type. I had no clue how we were going to handle another babe – the finances, the potential of PPD, my physical reaction to pregnancy. So far, we’re doing ok. Chris just got a raise at work and is intensely focusing on starting his own business, a personal technology consulting business. He LOVES to press buttons so this is perfect for him. I’m still a bit on edge about the potential of PPD but keep reminding myself I am in a much better place now than I was with either of the prior pregnancies, I have a huge support network in place – heck, this time last year, it was just God, me, my husband, meds, and a barely 6 month old with a new palate and I was still pumping breastmilk. (Course, God being there was HUGE!) And now, I have email in my inbox from Karen Kleiman (who stumbled across my site and is now referring HER clients to my blog…I appreciate it!), Jane Honikman (founder of PSI), and Pec Indman (co-author of Beyond the Blues w/Shoshanna Bennett), Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress, Tara Mock of Outofthevalley.org, and access to ALL of the PSI Coordinators across the globe!  And I am eternally grateful to some local folks too – to the President of Nuci’s Space, Linda Phillips – for granting me not only meeting space for the women I help, but for helping me connect with my current therapist. I truly owe Linda quite a bit. I have been just dumbfounded at how far I’ve come in just 12 months. I know the possibility of falling is there – but I  am resting easy knowing what I know, educating my family and local support about what to watch for, how to help, etc. Hopefully I won’t fall as far this time – heck, hopefully I won’t fall at all! What a wonderful gift that would be indeed!

 And last but not least, my thoughts have truly shifted these past couple of weeks – and I am now seeing this baby as a gift – a reward, even, for having survived what I have in the past 19 months. I am truly relearning to trust in God and walk with Him. Still can’t quote bible verses off the top of my head – don’t think I ever will be able to do that (I bite at memorization), but my heart has finally found peace with all of this and I am hoping to continue within this peace and truly enjoy the rest of my pregnancy. This morning after Chris woke up, I laid on my back for a few moments and Cameron (baby) was right at my belly button. I poked him and he kicked/hit back. We played for a few minutes until he decided he didn’t want to be poked anymore and relocated. I knew even in early pregnancy that once i connected with the baby like I did this morning, I would be ok and everything would make sense. Thing is – I was wrong – it happened BEFORE…and that experience served to make our bond stronger.

I can’t wait to meet little Cameron!