Monthly Archives: November 2009

Doctoral Student survey examining Postpartum depression, attachment style and the mother-daughter relationship

Doctoral candidate Kristi Marshall at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN, is studying postpartum depression in new mothers. She is currently seeking 18-40 year old women who are within 1 year of giving birth. A postpartum depression diagnosis is not necessary for participation. Kristi hopes this research will contribute to the understanding and treatment of postpartum mood disorders.

The questionnaires for this study will take about 10 minutes to complete. If you submit your email address you will be entered to win one of several $20 gift cards. You will be eligible if you complete the entire survey by December 31, 2009.
If you have any questions before participating, please contact Kristi at kmarshallcounseling(@)gmail(dot)com.
The questionnaires, with a consent form and instructions, can be accessed by clicking on the following link: Postpartum depression, attachment style and the mother-daughter relationship.

Please feel free to forward this information to other women who might be willing to participate!

My Premature Gift

Today, November 17th, is National Premature Birth Awareness Day.

Hello, my name is Lauren. I am the mother of a prematurely born child.

(Hello, Lauren – that’s your line. C’mon – all together now. Hello, Lauren!)

Our second daughter was born three and a half weeks early after 42 grueling hours of labor. I was not on medication during my pregnancy with her. 30 minutes after birth, the lactation consultant discovered she had a cleft palate. Within 24 hours, she was an hour away at a Children’s Hospital in the NICU while I recovered for another 48. Within 9 days, she had her first major surgery. Within 21 days, she had undergone two more surgical procedures. The first five months of her life saw a grand total of six surgeries. Since then she’s had two more. Our daughter will be four in March and has already had eight surgical procedures.

She drank from a special bottle when she was not being tube fed. I pumped exclusively for seven grueling months stopping only because my mental health depended on me making a very difficult decision. While she does not struggle with basic needs as much as she did, it still takes her longer than usual to chew because her bite is lopsided. You see, her teeth only meet when she grits them together at one pivotal side – the right side. Her speech is garbled. I can only understand 50 – 75% of my own daughter’s speech. (Ok, cue the tears) Do you hear what I am saying? Out of everything my daughter excitedly tries to share with me, I miss up to half of it most of the time.

This past spring she had additional surgery to fix her pharyngeal flap. This flap closes off the airway between her nose and throat. Speech ordered the surgery to help with her nasal emissions. It’s helped some but it’s still an uphill battle given her poorly aligned jaw and all the air it allows through when she attempts certain sounds. And she’s trained her vocal chords to compensate for the lack of a pharyngeal flap. But you know what? She can say “s” now. Perfectly. I can tell it apart from an “F.” And she can blow up a balloon, blow bubbles, and clearly say “Please Push me mommy!” Most importantly, she can now clearly tell me I am STILL her best friend.

While in the NICU she underwent genetic testing to locate a potential cause or additional factors for her isolated bilateral complete soft and hard palate (that means there was NO palate up there on either side, hard or soft. Hard is when you put your tongue straight up. Soft is when you slide it back towards your throat.) But there was no additional genetic reason. She was diagnosed with isolated Pierre Robin Sequence. This more often than not occurs in boys, not girls. We hit the jackpot.

Despite all of her hardships, all of her struggles, all of the things she will face as she grows and has to overcome new challenges and issues, Charlotte is one of the happiest people I have ever met. Her goal in life? To make us smile and laugh. All the time. For real (to steal a phrase from her).

I went through hell with her. Emotionally, physically, every kind of -ally you can think of. I was there. Gripped on for dear life. Looking back, I know I was depressed during my pregnancy with her. Weighed down with an unresolved postpartum depression from my first pregnancy. Cleft defects often happen within the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. Before I even knew I was pregnant our angel was already awaiting us with a huge surprise all her own.

Where am I going with all of this?

I’m filling you in on how hard it is to be a NICU parent of a premature baby. What kind of challenges we face. How it doesn’t all end when we step out of the sterile nursery where our children spent their first days, months, or possibly year. We worry when things come up – anything – about it being related to something that happened at birth – is this because of such and such? She’s got a cold. How will this affect her airway? Should I let her sleep on her back if she’s so congested? What if she stops breathing? And so the monster is fed.

But on the flip side I am truly amazed at how often I manage to deny the monster his food. How often I am able to keep a cool head and maneuver my way around the big issues. I remember time B.C. (Before Charlotte). I would watch shows filled with parents of special needs kids. Amazed I would wonder where on earth they found the emotional stamina to wake up in the morning and face another day knowing the challenges that lay in store. But they did and I do. I look forward to her giggles. I look forward to her playful eyes, her hugs, her kisses, her tantrums, her excited babbling when her bus is about to arrive. And sometimes I want to cry. But mostly I want to rejoice. God has gifted me a perfect Angel and one day, in HIS time, I will understand her perfectly.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 11.17.09: When did your fog lift?

base photo credit "water droplet with fall reflection" by mahalie @ flickr

All the cliches you hear about not being happy are profoundly true. The grass is a dull shade of green – khaki almost, for me at least. The trees filled with sorrow, the birds didn’t chirp as cheerily, the leaves waved as if mourning, the air filled with the weight of the entire world as the clouds swooped down and swarmed around my mind, fogging my vision of anything in front of me. My grandfather called those infamous fogs “pea souppers.”

I remember the day my Pea Soupper existance finally lifted. It was a bright spring day. The trees stood ready to burst forth brand new leaves still wrapped tightly in buds, rain had rushed through – not drenched us but rather left just enough behind for everything to sparkle a bit. I can still smell the rain of that day if I close my eyes and think long enough. THIS is the day I want to hold close to my heart forever when I think of my PPD.

Sure, I remember the bad stuff. I remember the cold sleep room where I first checked out. I remember all too well the smell of the soap from the NICU. I remember the cold hard plastic and mechanical whirring of my breast pump, the flat pillow at the psych ward. But when I think of my PPD, I want to remember that spring day. The day that not only Mother Nature birthed yet another child of spring but I found myself reborn as a complete person – myself and motherhood all rolled into one – ready to take on the very world which waited at my feet. Had it still been raining I may have pulled over and danced a little jig.

So tell us – when did your fog lift?

Let’s get to just talkin’.

 

Shaken by stigma: A father’s tragic escape « Postpartum Dads Project

This past week saw Germany mourn the loss of one of their own football (that’s soccer to us American folks) players. Robert Enke tragically took his own life earlier this week as his depression became too much to bear. The Postpartum Dads Project has written a terrific article about this tragedy. You can read it by clicking here: Shaken by stigma: A father’s tragic escape « Postpartum Dads Project. Robert Enke leaves behind a bereaved wife and an 8 month old adopted daughter.

If you or a loved one are contemplating suicide, please seek help. Postpartum Dads links to suicide warning signs as well as a suicide hotline page. There is hope. There is light. There is another way out. It’s only a phone call and a question away.

National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation – Webinar: Identifying and Treating Maternal Depression

National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation – Webinar: Identifying and Treating Maternal Depression to take place on December 9, 2009 at 1:00pm -2:30pm EST. Registration is free. Please click on the previous link for information and to register for this event.

According to NIHCM’s website,This webinar will explore the prevalence of maternal depression and the current state of screening for perinatal and postpartum depression. It will include a discussion of the recent recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for the treatment of women with depression during pregnancy. The role of primary care providers in identifying and managing postpartum depression will also be discussed and a web-based training program to educate providers on screening, diagnosis, treatment and referral for postpartum depression will be shared. Finally, the session will highlight a current health plan program to identify and manage depression during pregnancy and coordinate care following a depression diagnosis to ensure healthy pregnancies and deliveries.”

Please pass this information on to anyone you may know that will benefit from this important webinar. I am planning on attending myself because the information to be discussed sounds absolutely fascinating. I am particularly interested in the discussion of the role of the primary are providers in identifying and managing postpartum depression as so many patients often first seek help from their primary caregivers rather than a specialist.

What a crazy week!

Monday: middle child diagnosed with Bronchitis after an hour wait at pediatrician’s office. Come home, get her on bus, take youngest to get her medicine. Maybe an hour to myself in the middle of the day.

Tuesday: Husband diagnosed with bronchitis at ER after difficulty breathing. (Did not get to sleep until nearly 2am only to wake up at 545 to get daughter on bus in time!)

Wednesday: Recovery

Thursday: Oldest daughter’s cough gets worse.

Friday: Oldest daughter’s cough is much much worse, brought home early from an evening with grandparents.

Saturday: Urgent care with oldest. Diagnosis? Ear Infection and severe allergies.

Sunday: Catching up on the important stuff like email, blogging and trying to bake brownies in the waffle iron.

yeah. It’s been one of THOSE weeks.