Monthly Archives: July 2010

My Postpartum Voice of the Week: Bryce Dallas Howard

If you have not taken a few moments to read Bryce Dallas Howard’s piece about her experience with Postpartum Depression in the most recent GOOP newsletter, you really really should. (It’s the third section down)

Bryce shares so openly. She even includes a description about emotions felt as she watched an interview she gave while promoting a film during which she was asked about Postpartum Depression, admitting she was unable at the time to truly put into words how bad things really were.

This time around, she found her words. And folks, she doesn’t mince them or shy away from the intensity Postpartum Depression brought into her life.

One of the most powerful paragraphs Bryce penned: “It is strange for me to recall what I was like at that time. I seemed to be suffering emotional amnesia. I couldn’t genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything. For the sake of those around me, including my son, I pretended, but when I began showering again in the second week, I let loose in the privacy of the bathroom, water flowing over me as I heaved uncontrollable sobs.”

The imagery of isolation thrusts through her words, leaving no doubt to how alone Bryce felt at the depths of her struggles.

Bryce, thank you so much for your bravery. For being one of the rare celebrities to open up about this difficult path on which so many new moms find themselves.

I love, absolutely love that she also addresses the danger in not speaking up about Postpartum Depression: “Post-partum depression is hard to describe—the way the body and mind and spirit fracture and crumble in the wake of what most believe should be a celebratory time. I cringed when I watched my interview on television because of my inability to share authentically what I was going through, what so many women go through. I fear more often than not, for this reason alone, we choose silence. And the danger of being silent means only that others will suffer in silence and may never be able to feel whole because of it.”

Last but not least, I have to share my absolute favorite paragraph of her piece with you. It’s a retrospective of her experience with Postpartum Depression and speaks volumes:

“Do I wish I had never endured post-partum depression? Absolutely. But to deny the experience is to deny who I am. I still mourn the loss of what could have been, but I also feel deep gratitude for those who stood by me, for the lesson that we must never be afraid to ask for help, and for the feeling of summer that still remains.” ~Bryce Dallas Howard~

Whatever Wednesday: Sweet Pain Relief

For close to a month, I have struggled with a toothache in my lower right molar.

I went through a full 10 day course of Antibiotics.

The toothache calmed down.

Then the bastard had the cajones to check back in to see how things were going. Ppppth. Thoughtful but oh so not necessary.

Last Wednesday, I visited the ER in a desperate attempt to kick it’s arse.

Antibiotics and prescription pain medicine. Sweet relief, right?

Wrong.

This bastard was here to stay.

I spent all day Wednesday and Thursday in bed. I threw up. I managed to eat. I wanted to cling to the ceiling and never come back down.

Friday I had to force myself to help with our yard sale efforts.

By Saturday morning, I was exhausted. Yet I made it until nearly 11am until I had to call it quits and collapse into bed, once again, defeated by a tooth.

Sunday morning we skipped church. I felt great for most of the day, only taking Extra Strength Tylenol. I stayed out of bed. Finally! I had turned a corner! Hope began to creep into my heart.

By Sunday night, hope skipped town and Hell all too happily took it’s place.

Monday morning found me writhing in bed, eyes rolling into the back of my head, shuddering, clenching my hands into fists which nearly drew blood, crying out to God to make the pain stop. Even after administering the maximum dose of pain medication. I wished for unconsciousness.

My husband got on the phone with our church, the local walk-in dentist,  managed to snag me an appointment with a local dentist recommended by our church later that afternoon.

By my appointment, I found myself again in the throes of wicked pain. Wicked, wicked, wicked pain. I prayed for the pain of my first labor – and that’s saying a lot – my first labor was Pit riddled with a non-working epi. Nasty stuff, people, nasty!

The dentist examined me, made a phone call, and scheduled me for extraction the next morning. He also wrote new prescriptions for me, including an anti-nausea med. God bless him.

Tuesday morning, I practically skipped over to his office to get this bad boy removed.

The dentist who extracted my tooth was amazing. Course, the Nitrous Oxide and damned fine Novocaine (which didn’t wear off for another 6 hours or so) helped.

I sit here with a gaping hole in my mouth. Sure, it hurts. A little.

What was the cost for all of this to me?

Absolutely nada.

And that folks, is the miracle.

God is good.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Revisited

It’s been a heck of a week around here.

Yes, I know it’s only Tuesday!

Is it Friday yet?

I’ll be leaving in a few minutes to finally go have an abscessed tooth removed. The prospect of a visit to the dentist office has never excited me so much before today! I have been in bed due to this tooth since last Wednesday. Like I said, rough week.

So, rather than writing a new Just Talkin’ Tuesday (which I’ve been unable to do because you see, I have been clinging to the ceiling in pain), I thought we could revisit some of the more recent posts instead.

Here are the five most recent Just Talkin’ Tuesdays. Feel free to jump in and share your thoughts on one or all of them!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Let’s talk about sleep

Just Talkin Tuesday: Surviving a Bad Day

Just Talking Tuesday: Did you have Postpartum Depression support from your Mom?

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: How do you Mother yourself?

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: The WE factor in Postpartum Mood Disorder Recovery

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @Daddysdown

Today’s Postpartum Voice of the Week post was written by my husband, Chris. He’s been through hell right along with me. We have both learned so very much from this long bumpy road. My husband has not only survived my own bouts with Postpartum Depression, he’s also survived his own depression and overcome addiction to Marijuana. He has been sober for two years and counting. I have watched him grow as a father, a friend, a person, and as a husband. Amazing does not even begin to describe his transformation. We have a long way to go and our marriage has been dashed against the rocks more times than we care to admit. But through it all, we have managed to cling to each other and God. Smooth sailing may happen once in awhile but we both rest confidently knowing God will carry us through anything else that comes our way. Recently, he has become more active in supporting fathers as they journey through their own Depression after the birth of a child or through their partner’s depression. Believe you me, he’s got some experience under that belt of his. He just started a blog to share his insight. You can visit him at Daddy’s Down. Swing on by and show him some love! And now, I give you my husband’s words of advice.

“Congratulations on your new baby!” “How’s baby?” How’s the new Mommy?”

Someone I know just had a new baby. These are the questions that I heard asked on Facebook. They are good questions. They are appropriate questions. The only thing I didn’t hear among the accolades and congratulations is “Dad, how are you doing?”. I understand everyone is concerned about this precious new life, so delicate and innocent. That baby needs the love and support. Mom, well she just sweated and toiled through 10 hours of labor, not to mention the nine months of swollen feet, cravings, morning sickness and whatever else that baby growing inside her threw her way. That Mom needs the love and support as well. But Dad often gets forgotten. He is an important part of the equation too. After all, who do you think is going to be there to provide the love and support that baby and Mommy need after all the well-wishers are gone?

Daddy is under a lot of stress to perform. He was probably raised to be a man and not share his emotions. If Mommy and baby are well, there is still stress and adjustment. But if Mommy is not well, and is suffering from a postpartum mood disorder, the stress and adjustment can be magnified. Dad may be handling it all fine, or he could just be faking it. Making him feel like he matters is an important part of the support that he needs during this time. And if Daddy isn’t well because he is suffering from depression himself, as one in ten new fathers do, he is not able to be there for his family to give them the support that they need.

So, here are 5 things that you can do for Daddy to help him get through this time and to help him be there for his family.

  1. Give him a gift. It may sound small or inconsequential, but Mommy and baby have received all kinds of goodies; flowers, gift baskets, stuffed animals. It doesn’t have to be big, but something to help him know that he hasn’t been forgotten.
  2. Offer to babysit so that he can have some time alone with Mommy. Chances are since baby has been born that Mommy and Daddy haven’t had a moment to themselves. Daddy needs some time with his partner, if for no other reason but to have a brief moment of the way things were before his whole world changed.
  3. Take Daddy out for dinner or coffee. Daddy needs to know that his friends and family haven’t abandoned him. Usually family and friends don’t want to bother Daddy when he has a new baby at home. Trust me, Daddy needs to know that even though his whole world has changed at home, he hasn’t lost his friends too.
  4. Encourage him. Daddies need to know that they are doing a good job too. Hey, Daddy may be new to this baby thing, and it is really easy for him to feel like he doesn’t know what he is doing.
  5. Just ask him how he is doing. He very well may not be honest, but he will at least know that you care. Even if no one does any of the other four things, this is one thing that you can do that will go the furthest in making Daddy feel like he is important.

I remember when my first two kids were born. I remember the joy I felt knowing they were a part of me and that I was their father. I also remember feeling neglected and unappreciated by everyone else around me. While suffering from depression after the birth of my second child, this feeling only helped to feed the depression. I felt as if my entire world had been turned upside down, my friends had left me, my family had abandoned me and that I had lost my wife forever. I wish that someone had asked me how I was doing or had given me some time away with my wife or with a friend. It would have gone a long way to make me feel important and wanted.

Daddy has to be taken care of too. Part of taking care of his new family is making sure that he is taken care of. If Daddy is depressed or is struggling to maintain his sanity, then it can make it impossible for him to be there for his family. “Being there” doesn’t just mean physically, but mentally as well.

Let’s just make sure that Daddy doesn’t get forgotten in all of the excitement. His role is important too, and it is most often appreciated by everyone, but if that appreciation is not expressed it can leave Daddy feeling like he is not important. Let’s face it, we all need to feel important.

Whatever Wednesday: A Voting Apology

Just yesterday here in Georgia, there was a Primary Election. All sorts of offices are up for grabs.

Governor, a Senate seat, Insurance Commissioner, Lieutenant Governor, and a myriad of other state level and local offices.

I did not vote.

Bad me.

If you think I am proud of this, please, you are judging me way to quickly. I am not bragging here.

I did not vote because I was not educated enough about the field of candidates and their stance on the issues. I believe an uniformed voter is more dangerous than a non-voter.

Voting is sacred. It one of the most important responsibilities of an American citizen. We owe it to each other to be educated, informed, and to exhibit these qualities at the poll when we cast our vote. I did not do my homework. I did not show up at the test. I flunked. I apologize from the depths of my very American soul. Seriously.

I promise to brush up on my candidates to make an informed decision the next time around. I would urge you to do the same as well.

Because if Bubbles the Chimp ends up in office, I’m so looking at you.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Let’s talk about sleep

"Sleeping Like a Baby" by NoVa Hokie @ Flickr

The person who coined the phrase, “Sleep like a baby,” clearly never had one. Granted, when babies DO sleep, they are peaceful. For all of what seems like two seconds. And then bam. Right when you hit the couch, they’re up again. Diaper. Feed. Burp. Walk. Rock. Glare at the pile of laundry skulking off to Vegas and wondering how you can hitch a ride without anyone calling CPS. Yeah, I think we’ve all been there a time or two.

I remember the early days. Blurring together, feeling like I had just closed my eyes only to have hubs waking me to inform me of Babe’s infinitely empty stomach. But I JUST nursed! No, it was about two hours ago. What the… really? So I’d jump roll slowly creep out of bed as I cursed the boob monster responsible for ripping me from my nest.

Sleep. My best friend in college. The reason I had no classes before noon my senior year. The reason my last quarter of college only had me in one class well after noon and only twice a week. I mean, really. Whole days of sleeping in – who is going to begrudge you that in college?

Once the kids are in school, I tell myself, I will take the first day off. I will put all three of the children on a bus at 635 a.m. because that’s what time it gets here, I will smile and wave. And then? Then I will Irish Jig ALL the way up the damned driveway, happily skip into my bedroom, reset my alarm for 2pm, and close my eyes. Think I’m kidding? August 5, 2012. I.WILL.SPEND.THE.ENTIRE.DAY.IN.BED. It’s on my calendar.

They say you can’t catch up on sleep. Once you miss it, it’s gone. No sleeping in on the weekend will recapture the sleep you missed out on because Junior decided 345am was an awesome time to wake up and play with trains. Or because Princess decided that 213am was the new 7am. Nope, you’re so screwed out of that time. I don’t know that I believe that. I always feel better after sleeping in on a Saturday.

So let’s get to just talking – how are you sleeping? Falling asleep easy? Feel rested when you wake up? Or are you struggling to fall asleep? Waking up feeling like you never quite got the rest you should have in the hours you were sleeping? Or are you not sleeping at all? Sleep deprivation does feed into Postpartum Depression. And Postpartum Depression? Yeh, it decreases your quality of sleep. Lovely. Oh, the havoc of sleep deprivation!

I will say this – prior to becoming a parent, coffee was not my best friend. It is now my holy grail. For without it, I would never survive.

How do you survive your sleeping issues? What works for you? Any tips for moms with PPD currently struggling with sleep issues? Toss ’em out there into Comment Land. I’m sure there are some Moms in need of suggestions!

Survival Tips for having a baby after Postpartum Depression

Once a Mom has experienced Postpartum Depression one of the questions at the forefront of her mind when thinking about another baby is: “Will Postpartum Depression return?”

No one can answer this question. No therapist, no doctor, no friend, not even you.

But the best thing you can do is to prepare for yourself instead of baby. Involve your medical professionals, your family, friends, etc.

Grace over at Arms Wide Open asked me to write a post covering just this topic.

You can read it here.

It’s chock full of great tips and ideas.

Read up!