Monthly Archives: August 2010

Postpartum Progress call for Nominations for Top 10 Perinatal Writers of 2010

Katherine Stone over at Postpartum Progress is taking nominations for the Top 10 Perinatal Writers of 2010.

I’ll definitely be nominating some of the Postpartum Voices of the week for this award!

If you write about Perinatal Mood Disorders or really like something I have posted here, please nominate yourself (or me!) for the award.

Here’s the down low straight from Katherine:

Entries must have been written/published in 2010.  My criteria?  I look for beautiful writing, compelling stories, creative metaphors, honesty, authenticity, original voice and/or destigmatization.  They can be about any mental illness related to pregnancy and childbirth.  Nominations will close on November 15th.

I love publishing this list as a way of thanking people for their courage, sharing inspiration with those who suffer, and honoring those who are speaking out against stigma.  So get nominating!

I know I can’t wait to see the finalists. The list Katherine put together last year was phenomenal!

Submit ideas for tomorrow’s #PPDChat Topic before 8pm EST

I’m currently taking suggestions for tomorrow’s #PPDChat at Twitter.

So far, I’ve had three fellow Twitizens chime in:

@kfgrum: @unxpctdblessing What about: What we can do to bounce back when triggered? or How we deal with those that don’t understand.

d20Blonde: @unxpctdblessing I’m interested in talking about life *after* #ppd and #ppa

Freelancer4Hire: @unxpctdblessing Not “PPD” but I would love 2 chat about prenatal depression.PPD is becoming more understood,prenatal dep is still a mystery

All GREAT suggestions indeed. Keep them coming! We may not pick your topic for tomorrow but rest assured we’ll get to it eventually! This chat is all about you and what you want or need to get off your chest or have questions about. Use your voice and speak up!

(I need them before 8pm so I can create the snazzy graphic for tomorrow’s announcement post!)

My Postpartum Voice of the Week: @whodemis – Unplanned

It’s Monday night as I type this. I’ve just arrived home from a small gathering at which Henci Goer spoke. I’m tired. I can’t see straight. But this is important.

I am not sure how Amanda (@whodemis) found me on Twitter. Perhaps through the new friend suggestion feature, perhaps via #PPDChat or another common acquaintance. Regardless, we’re on Twitter together.

Tonight, she posted a very moving blog about her recent miscarriage.

As @KristineBrite wrote about some time ago, there does not have to be a baby in order for mom to suffer psychological distress. A mom who has lost her baby regardless of when, still hurts. And we may not know what to say to her as she struggles to make sense of her world which has just for all intense and purposes, been dumped upside much like a snow globe. All the pieces are still up in the air and she is uncertain as to where they will land.

Without further ado, I want to share her post, Unplanned, with you. Please know though that it is intense emotionally so if you’re feeling fragile and vulnerable, you may want to skip this read.

Amanda  – my heart goes out to you as you move through this. You and your family are in my prayers.

Whatever Wednesday: The State of Me

I would be a hypocrite if I did not take time for myself. After all, that’s what I firmly advocate for moms who contact me. We absolutely need time for ourselves so we can thrive and our families can then thrive.

Lately, it’s been hard for me to do just that. Not so much because I don’t want to but because I have been awful at making time for myself. But I’m having to shuffle my priorities and force myself to do so.

Sometimes, the blog may go quiet for a bit. It’s not because I don’t care. (I’ll never stop caring) It’s not because I don’t want to blog. It’s because I need a break.

I know life gets crazy for everyone. Here lately, it’s been very crazy as of late.

The trip to Austin for the PSI fundraiser was a lovely break. However, the craziness started before my journey to Texas.

In late April, my husband was laid off.

Sick kids.

School got out for the summer.

Back on government assistance. Which, by the way, is NOT easy to qualify for as they want every single last document under the sun and it’s all due 10 days before they send you a letter (and yes, I got a letter like that). They really work against you to keep you off the system. And what really sucks is that with hubs’ job, we were finally phasing out of needing the assistance.

He gets unemployment but it’s not nearly enough to support a family of five. So I’m looking for a job. And that means I may have to cut what I do here unless I can find some sort of financial support for the blog soon. Sadly, it may even affect my ability to participate in #PPDChat. That makes me very sad. It makes me especially sad because I know I won’t be happy doing anything else but supporting moms. I truly feel it is what I was called to do and I know in my heart I am good at what I do here at Postpartum Voice, Twitter, and other websites.

Hubs is working at getting his own computer biz started. He’s great at repairing and working on computers so he’s getting that on the road right now. He has one regular business client at the moment and some random individual clients as well. It’s growing but again, it’s tough going out there these days.

This summer also saw a very stressful situation between myself and a family member. I am not going to go into details but suffice it to say it led to some of my worst days since the depths of hell with my Postpartum mood disorder. The end of that week found me in tears and watching four and a half hours of stand up comedy. That was followed by a severe adrenaline withdrawal.

The next week was Austin. Austin was great. Until I came home. My original flight was canceled and I did not leave the airport until nearly 6 hours after that flight. I have never been so happy to be back in Atlanta!

The following day, my 4yo started Pre-k.

The next day, my 6yo had her tonsils out so she was home for a week.

Then my 4yo got sick this past weekend.

Now hubs is sick, 2yo is showing signs of getting sick, I’ve got PMS, the dog is scratching and licking places she really shouldn’t be on a constant basis because of her allergies (and no, Benadryl doesn’t work – bathing her a minimum of once a day does), our washer is on the fritz and will flood the back porch in the blink of an eye if you leave it alone at the wrong time, and… ugh. See the damned snowball in Georgia? That’s my life. And I am not coping well with it right now.

Today though, the girls are back in school. Hubs just left for a computer job for his business client and Cameron is (somewhat) playing independently as I type this.

I had a huge vision for this blog when I revamped it and am hoping to get to these changes soon – I really want to start posting a vlog for my Just Talking Tuesday posts. And WordPress has recently introduced this new service which allows us to PHONE in our blog posts. How cool is that???

I also want to start a forum for readers to share with one another.

But right now, I need to take care of me before I can take care of others. So if I don’t post for a few days, it’s not because I don’t love you. It’s not because I’ve stopped caring. It’s because I’m simply practicing what I preach and taking care of me so I CAN take care of others. I don’t deserve any less. And neither do you.

Most nights lately have found me passed out on the couch after the kids are in bed. Last night my husband tried to wake me up and get me to go to bed. I fell asleep in the middle of tweeting, y’all. In the middle of TWEETING! That’s tired.

Please pray for us as we move through this tough time in our lives. Pray that my husband is able to expand his business quickly. Pray that somehow I manage to get financial support for the blog worked out. I’ll be putting up a page soon specifying a wish-list of needs. First things first, I’d have to go to self-hosted in order to do any sort of ads. If I do run ads, rest assured that I will vet any and all support for moms and will NOT under any circumstances allow the placement of ads for any medication or supplements on my blog. I will remain committed to supporting moms in whatever choices they have made without judgment. We all have to walk our own path and deserve to do so without guilt brought on by the judgment of others.

Thanks for reading.

I’m going to close my laptop after I hit publish and go talk my son out of wearing his sister’s tennis shoes.

A Veritable Fountain of Joy

“But MooooOOOOOOmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!”

“STop. Don’t! But.. EWWWWWW. Don’t touch me! Gimme that.. I was playing with it first! Give it BAAaaaack!”

“I’m huuunnngry!”

“What’s for snack? What’s for snack? What’s for snack? What’s for snack?”

“I have to go POTTY! NOW!”

“I just wanted to say I love you.”

“Laa alalaaa laaaa laaa LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”

“Me like car!”

“Cheebuhger? Want eat Cheebuhger”

“Watch Nevo.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”

Stomping feet.

Screaming children.

Temper Tantrums.

Exhaustion.

Silence.

Melting hearts.

Hugs. (Squeezies)

Kisses. (Nose Smooshies & Mwah!)

Compassion.

Willingness to help with a kind spirit.

Smart as whips.

My Children. Bring me Joy. In the weirdest ways possible. And sometimes? With a surprising bang right when I need it the most.

This post is part of SOYJOY‘s What brings you joy contest. Learn more here.


Media Sensationalism, AOL, and Postpartum Mood Disorders

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Oh, hey.

You’re here. Excellent.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.

Why am I counting? You’ll find out in a bit. For now, just go with it.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.

In the United States, from October 2008 through October 2009, 4,148,000 live babies were born.

The statistical rate of Postpartum Mood Disorder is up to 20% of all new mothers. And by new, I mean just gave birth, not first time mom. Postpartum Mood Disorder is one of those fabulous non-discriminating kinda things which will walk up to anyone and cold cock them for no reason at all. Regardless of how well prepared said person may be. It’s kinda like getting mugged. Repeatedly.

This means that from October 2008 – October 2009, approximately 829,600 new mothers more than likely struggled with a Postpartum Mood Disorder at some level. This means 2 out of every 10 moms struggled with a Postpartum Mood Disorder (hence, the counting).

There is no data which tells us how many of those 829,600 mothers sought help.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.

I have been in the trenches with Postpartum Mood Disorders since 2004. You see, I had a very horrible episode of Postpartum OCD after the birth of my first daughter. After her birth, vicious thoughts swirled about in my head. Visions too. Instead of enjoying my brand new baby’s time here, I was swallowed whole with anxiety, shoved into fight mode to protect her from myself, and left thinking the whole world was out to get me because they knew how much I sucked at this whole motherhood thing.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.

For the record? I did the right thing. I called my doctor and made an appointment. I had to take my daughter with me because my husband was unable to get off work. So off we went, into the wild blue yonder where this thing called Help lived. We arrived, waltzed through the front door and signed my name with a flourish because dammit, we were there to do the right thing.

Only my doctor was not there to do the right thing.

He was there to judge me. To inform me that all my hormones had slid magically back into their little slots at 4 weeks postpartum and there was nothing wrong with me.

Whaaaa????

Wait a second.

I JUST handed you a scale. On which I answered YES to having thoughts of harming myself AND my child. And YOU, a trained medical professional, are dismissing this? Did I miss something here? I am no professional but.. uh… um…. really?

THEN… oh then… the icing:

“How important is breastfeeding to you?” he asked, quite seriously as he peered at me from behind his large and imposing wooden desk as my daughter screamed her head off to be nursed beside me.

I should have gotten her out of her car seat and started to nurse right then and there. But I didn’t. Shock slacked my jaw and curled my mouth into a grin. This “professional” clearly did not have the capacity to help me. I smiled my way right out of the appointment and drove home with tears sliding down my face. You see, the Internet had told me just what to do – to go seek help. To make an appointment with my doctor. The Internet had said nothing about what to do when you are shot down by your doctor.

So there I was……driving baby, me, and my shattered heart all the way home. Alone. Isolated. Abandoned. Scared as hell.

Never before in my life had I experienced a hell quite like the one in which I now found myself mired. Never before had I, a perfectly normal person prior to giving birth to my daughter, given any thought to harming another person. NEVER. And the day on which I discovered my pregnancy? There was no way I would have ever thought that less than three months after giving birth I would want to go back in time so I would never get pregnant. I wanted to run, hide, make this new me go away.

In what state did all of this take place?

South.Frigging.Carolina.

Just a couple of hours away from Orangeburg and less than 45 minutes away from where Susan Smith, well, you know.

Let me tell you a bit about rural South Carolina.

There is nothing in rural South Carolina. Small towns there are devoid of much of anything. Residents in these towns are intent on keeping outsiders out and insiders in. We barely made any friends while there. The town in which we lived seemed to have some sort of an addiction problem as most wandered around mindlessly. The poverty level? Wow. We were on the high end of the scale for living because we: Rented a HOUSE instead of a trailer and owned TWO cars instead of one or none at all. The house we rented was tiny. But that didn’t matter. We were considered to be upper class in the town despite the fact that we were just squeaking by on my husband’s salary as a restaurant manager.

In this town, there lived a family everyone knew to avoid. They didn’t have running water so they never bathed which made them reek to high heaven. If you were fortunate enough to be at the local Wal-mart or Bi-Lo when they were, you learned to walk to the other side of the store if you saw them coming.

High School graduates were also hard to come by as well. Many young people had to go to work early to help support the family. They worked at whatever they could find – sometimes driving long distances for good jobs. Even then it was hard to get good work because the jobs in the city were very picky if you lived too far away. Understandable concern but it really does put a crimp on improving your life when you are living in the middle of nowhere and cannot afford a move into the city until you get a better job which of course, you can’t get because you live too far away. It is a very vicious cycle.

Oh, and the Klan had a central PUBLIC meeting location.

And yes, you read that right.

Bottom line here – South Carolina has problems. A lot of problems. Many states do but never before in my life had I witnessed a perfect storm – poverty, ignorance, and a lack of support for its residents.

Since I have left, there has been the development of a Postpartum Coalition there. I’ve been asked to speak at their annual conference in October 2011. I am really looking forward to coming full circle with my experience and helping to educate providers and citizens alike in a state which so desperately needs raised awareness of Postpartum Mood Disorders.

Why did I just walk you through all of that history?

Earlier this week, a mother in South Carolina was arrested for the deaths of her two toddler sons. According to news articles, she was unemployed, frustrated, and had some heated words with her mother the night before the incident. This mother has since confessed to her actions and is now in jail facing court and charges.

For some reason, various members of the media have dragged the idea of this mother having Postpartum Depression into the Speculation surrounding her case. Now, Dr. Arlene Huysman, author of The Postpartum Effect, an excellent book which examines why mothers kill, postulates that Susan Smith and others may struggle with something called Progressive Postpartum Depression.

Here’s how she describes it on page 43 (empasis mine):

“The mother with progressive postpartum depression (PPPD), however, does NOT recover without treatment. She merely experiences a hiatus until her next episode. Subsequent episodes are very often triggered by rejections, separations, and losses, and recur throughout the woman’s life. Usually the next episode is worse than the last. If this pattern goes unchecked, the mother will spiral into a cycle of illness that can destroy her life and her family.

When a mother is in the grip of this disease in its most serious form, she passes beyond reason. In the place of the capable woman is one full of dread, rage, and confusion. She feels unloved and unlovable and loses her ability to distinguish right from wrong. She may hear voices in her head and be listening to them rather than the voices of her family. This is not a symptom of schizophrenia, but rather a reflection of her own obsessive thinking. Death may become a preoccupation. She is in the throes of what feels like an unending despair.”

Yesterday, (Please do not click on the following link if you are still struggling as it may be triggering.) AOL News contributor, David Lohr, published an article about this South Carolina mother at AOL News. In the original version, he included a quote from criminal profiler Pat Brown. Ms. Brown, based out of Washington DC, has been featured in many outlets including CNN, Court TV, and various other sources. Makes perfect sense to get a quote from a criminal profiler for a case involving well, crime.

But David Lohr and AOL news made an egregious error in their publication of the quote by Ms. Brown. AOL news has since removed the quote from the story and appended the story with an editor’s note to this effect. Ms. Brown has gone on the defensive in regards to a very public and viral outburst by many of the women I am proud to blog and tweet with on a daily basis.

The offensive quote:

“Most women who suffer depression after their children are born are suffering from post-how-did-I-get-stuck-with-this-kid, this body, this life? They may be depressed, but it is their situation and their psychopathic personality that brings them to kill their children, and not some chemical malfunction.”

If most women were truly suffering from “post-how-did-I-get-stuck-with-this-kid, this body, this life” then all we would need is a personal trainer or plastic surgeon, a nanny, and a million dollars to effectively change our stars. Oh wait – speaking of stars, don’t celebs have this too? Bryce Dallas Howard had it. Miranda Kerr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brooke Shields, Marie Osmond, and many others. Granted, they did not kill their children but they still struggled (even severely) with Postpartum Mood Disorders. And they had access to all the help in the world.

Postpartum Mood Disorders do not just strike poor down on their luck moms.

Postpartum Mood Disorders are NOT the only possible explanation for filicide.

Postpartum Mood Disorders may not be definitively caused by a hormonal or “chemical malfunction” but study after study shows there are differing rates of various hormones of women struggling with PMD’s. Researchers have not yet defined what this means yet but I suspect that with sustained research we will get closer to answers each and every day.

The ignorance of Ms. Pat Brown in making such a sweeping statement in regards to an entire population of struggling moms is highly irresponsible. With her reach and popularity as a commentator for several national shows including the Today Show, the CBS Early Show, Larry King, Inside Edition, Nancy Grace, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, Joy Behar, and America’s Most Wanted as well as featured on the Court TV show I, Detective, it frightens me to hear her make such a grandiose and untrue statement. The possibility that a hurting mother somewhere may have read her statement and then dismissed her own issues scares the hell out of me.

We, mothers who have struggled with Postpartum Mood Disorders, have issue enough with gathering strength to make that first call for help. We become convinced we are bad mothers. That we have failed and will never get better. We talk ourselves down even further the rabbit hole into which we tripped after we gave birth to children we love more than life itself.

Moms with Postpartum Depression are NOT:

Bad Mothers

Mourning the loss of our previous supermodel body

Tragically sad because now we have a little person stuck with us

Moms with Postpartum Depression ARE:

Madly in love with their children

Good moms who want to heal

Desperate to find reliable help

I can’t even begin to fathom the damage this statement has made. I have had more mothers tell me they are a bad mom because they are sad. It’s not supposed to be like this. I’m supposed to be happy. I don’t love my son, daughter, husband, etc. What is wrong with me? The confusion, angst, sorrow, frustration, guilt, all adds to their journey with a Postpartum Mood Disorder. Then if they are unable to find the help they need (like me), they are left to their own devices for recovery. Unfortunately, some of us never find the right help and are not surrounded by empowering people who can lift them up and guide them toward recovery.

If you are struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder or hurting, sad, upset, and thinking of harming yourself or others, PLEASE reach out for help. If it’s after the birth of a child, you can call Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4PPD. Volunteers check the messages on a daily basis (I’m one of them and these ladies are DEDICATED. We will get you in touch with someone in your area who can help you). If you need urgent help, please go to the nearest ER. If you’re feeling suicidal, you can call 1-800-273-TALK anytime of the day, even at 2am on a Sunday.

I remember that sense of isolation. The need to reach out and talk with someone who has been there and done that was overpowering. The desperation I felt in my incapacity to locate professional help. I tried for four days before I broke down to call my doctor. I hung up as soon as the automation came on the line. Have you ever tried to admit to someone that things are NOT okay when you are supposed to be at your happiest, especially according to Johnson & Johnson? It is one of the hardest things in the world to do. Hands down.

Fittingly, Jennifer Lopez’s Let’s Get Loud just came on Pandora as I’m wrapping this up.

I thank everyone out there who got LOUD yesterday to let AOL, Pat Brown, and David Lohr know how wrong they were.

AOL, you need to apologize. The quote should never have been published to begin with.

Pat? I challenge you to read Dr. Huysman’s book, The Postpartum Effect if you have not already. It’s available at Amazon. Hell, I might just mail you a copy. Anyone else want to flood her office with copies? It’s about $15 or so. If that wouldn’t get her attention…..

And David Lohr, the next time you need a quote about something related to Postpartum Depression? Try Postpartum Support International. I believe they know a thing or two about Postpartum Mood Disorders.