Category Archives: relaxation

Senator Coburn: A walking oxymoron

Tom Coburn makes my head hurt!!!!!!!

Seriously. I was doing my homework on Senator Coburn last night and landed a headache miles longer than Route 66.

Senator Tom Coburn, R, OK, has been by far one of the staunchest opposers of the MOTHER’S Act.

BUT –

He’s an OB

He’s delivered 4,000 babies.

Statistics would lead you to believe he’s seen at LEAST a few cases of PPD, right?

According to Dr. Coburn, breastfeeding is automatic protection against postpartum mood disorders. (Ok Sen Coburn – so where was my protection when I was exclusively nursing my first daughter or exclusively pumping for my second? seriously – where was it? Was it hiding under some mysterious rock? Behind my back? Did I leave it at the hospital? Perhaps my first OB stole it from me – but wherever it was, I sure as heck didn’t have it!)

His primary argument for being against The Melanie Blocker Stokes Act? He doesn’t support disease specific legislation. Yeah, um, ok.

Let’s delve into some legislation Senator Coburn has authored, shall we? (By the way, everything below was pulled directly off his Senate website)

Guaranteeing Patient’s Rights (author)

A law to guarantee patients’ rights for those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, including timely access to primary and specialty health care providers, a timely grievance process with appeals, an explanation of the enrollee’s rights and plan information, and prohibitions on restrictions on communications between patients and doctors and financial incentives to encourage health care providers to deny medically necessary care. Provision contained within Public Law 105-33, signed 8/5/1997.

YET Dr. Coburn does NOT accept Medicaid/Medicare patients at HIS OWN PRACTICE! (OK Medical Board website)

Streamlining the Approval of Disease Diagnostics (author)

A law to improve the review and approval process of radiopharmaceuticals (articles used in the diagnosis or monitoring of a disease). Provision contained within Public Law 105-115, signed 11/21/1997.

(Is it just me or is the word DISEASE not only in the title but the description too?)

Protecting Babies from AIDS (author)

A law to require all pregnant women to be counseled about and offered testing for HIV to prevent the transmission of the virus to unborn and newborn babies.  Provision contained with Public Law 104-146, signed 5/20/1996.

(Hmmm. AIDS is a disease. Pretty specific one too. AND this one requires counseling and an offer of a test)

Treating and Preventing HIV/AIDS (author)

A law to provide access to AIDS treatment for underinsured Americans living with HIV, including counseling for those with HIV emphasizing it is the continuing duty of those infected not to infect others with the disease.  Public Law 106-345, signed on 10/20/2000.

(Wow. Treating AND Preventing HIV, huh? Feeling a little warm over here…)

Providing Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs (author)

A law to allow Americans to import prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Provision contained with Public Law 106-387, signed 10/28/2000.

(So he’s ok with importing drugs that yes, may be approved by the FDA but only God knows from where some of them are sourced. Yet he wants to deny new moms access to care and aid for Postpartum Depression?????)

Preventing Cervical Cancer(author)

A law to educate the public about human papillomavirus (HPV), a leading cause of cervical cancer, including how to prevent HPV infection. The law also requires condoms to be relabeled with a warning that condom use does not protect against HPV infection. Provision contained within Public Law 106-554, signed 12/21/2000.

(Wow. A law to educate the public about a DISEASE. Again – common ground?)

Source: http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=AboutSenatorCoburn.Accomplishments on April 21, 2009 @ 1132pm.

Seriously though.

Postpartum Mood Disorders should not be a ping pong ball across the aisles of the Senate. Just as it is not black and white out here in the real world as to who will get it, it’s not JUST a Democratic Issue. It’s not JUST a Republican Issue. It’s an every party issue. It’s a 20% of ALL new moms issue. It’s a 50% higher risk of repeat for survivors the second time around. It’s a 95% risk of repeat for survivors the third time around! It’s a 2.3x higher risk for Moms who have husbands/partners deployed issue. It’s a 3x higher risk for first time Moms over the age of 35 developing Postpartum Psychosis issue. It’s a HUGE issue, ok?

I want to know at what point in the feminist movement Moms got screwed over. When did we become ok with chilling on the back burner? Where is Susan B Anthony when we need her? Anyone out there in need of a kick in your activism spirit? Watch Iron Jawed Angels. It’s about suffrage. And man did those chicks go through it. I HOPE it doesn’t come to that but I am passionately determined to get this bill passed. Thing is, I can’t do it by myself.

Senator Menendez can’t do it by himself. Neither can Congressman Bobby Rush. Or Carole Blocker. Or Susan Stone. We need YOUR help, YOUR voices. Your stories of survival, strength, and experiences with a system that is failing new families each and every day. We HAVE to raise awareness.

Don’t wait any longer to pick up that phone and call the H.E.L.P. Committee. Go to your email and send a message RIGHT now to Susan Dowd Stone (susanstonelcsw@aol.com). Include your name, state, and any professional credentials or organizational affilitations. Let others know you support the MOTHER’S Act.

SPEAK UP!

Pennsylvania Hospital Encourages Quiet Bonding Time for new parents

"Mom and baby" by justhiggy @ flickr

"Mom and baby" by justhiggy @ flickr

Mount Nittany Medical Center has instituted a new policy – Quiet Bonding Time for new parents between 1:00p.m. and 3:00p.m. Visitors are allowed but encouraged to respect the wishes of new parents wishing to take advantage of this bonding time. They are also required to place their cell phones on vibrate and use low talking voices. Non-urgent care is also placed on a hold during these hours.You can read the article for more information here.

I think this is a wonderful idea and hope more and more hospitals implement this practice in their Maternity wings. Not only is there a ton of research extolling the importance of Mom and Baby having time to themselves to bond but if new parents are given the chance to see the difference it makes prior to heading home, maybe more parents will realize that it’s ok to say no to visitors during those all important first weeks home. And let’s also remember that new moms who aren’t as fatigued are less likely to experience postpartum depression as well.

Gettin’ my Party On!

This week is Ultimate Blog Party Week over at 5 Minutes for Mom.

FYI, there ARE Prizes!!

My favorites are:

Afternoon Tea in a Box (111)

$25 gift certificate for DOVE Chocolate Discoveries (130)

A surprise box filled with goodies ($50 value) (103)

Any of the prizes related to relaxation or taking a deep breath for Mom are great, actually!

Welcome to those of you who are new here and hopping over via Mr. Linky.

A quick bit of history about the blog for those of you gaining your bearings:

I’m a mom of three who’s survived two episodes of Postpartum OCD and am now dedicated to advocating for and providing support to families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. This blog is a huge part of my work. You see, it was started after discovering my third (and quite unexpected) pregnancy, hence the title. I aim to share my journey and empower others through theirs so they do not have to suffer alone and in silence as I did.

Through this blog I not only share research and information but insight about my own life, which includes not only overcoming PPD, but parenting a child born with a cleft palate, accepting and overcoming my husband’s marijuana addiction, and the challenges that come of course, with the normal motherhood territory.

I also post weekly interviews with moms who have been on the front lines of the PPD battle or those who work with those who have. (Are you a mom who’s survived PPD and willing to answer 10 questions about your experience? Email me at ppdacceptance@gmail.com with Interview Request in the subject line!)

And on Fridays, I post a really cool pic with an inspirational or thought-provoking quote to encourage my readers to slow down and smell the roses. You can search over to the side for “Friday soother” to find some of the recent posts.

Other features include Grace Awards for Journalists who treat reporting about Psychosis with compassion and responsibility. I also scour the internet to point out the misuse of Postpartum Depression. Know of any? Email me at ppdacceptance@gmail.com with Misnomer of Postpartum Depression and include the link of the sighting. (You’ll receive credit and be added to my blog roll if you’re a blogger!)

Most importantly I emphasize self-care. I practice it too and have been known to leave the blog untouched for a week (or two) while I tend to myself and my family. I do return, usually with some really good stuff, too!

I hope you enjoy nosing around and I hope some of you stay or at least help to spread the word and raise awareness that Moms with Mood Disorders do exist, they are not alone, they are not to blame, and they WILL Be well!

Warmest Wishes,

Lauren

p.s. And for the man in your life, I also have a little project called The Postpartum Dads Project. Check it out.

Sharing the Journey with Christy Cuellar Wentz

I first found Christy at Twitter. She sent out a tweet requesting Guest Bloggers. I responded and ended up doing an hour on her Radio Show, The Mommy-Muse is In, just yesterday in addition to my guest blog post at her website. And here I thought I would just be writing a blog post! I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Christy and had a blast yesterday during our radio chat. A fellow survivor of a PMD herself, she now offers online counseling for new mothers and has a very empowering approach she provides for all new moms. I hope you enjoy getting to know Christy as much as I have!

christys-publicity-photos-smallest1Tell us a little bit about yourself – who is Christy Cuellar Wentz when she’s NOT the Mommy-Muse?

First of all, being a Mommy-Muse is part of my essential self. It is not just a “job,” it is a passion.

That said, I can finally say that I accept myself as being perfectly imperfect! I am a mom like every other mom, working to walk (and dance!) my talk in the world. I make mistakes every day and am actually glad for my children to see my process of self-correction.

I grew up feeling as though everything I did needed to be perfect. I graduated from college at 18, and had the idea that if I just “studied hard” and got the “A,” everything would be all right. Turns out, life outside of school doesn’t necessarily work that way! Especially parenting. I can laugh at myself now, and definitely feel like a “broken in mommy,” rather like the Velveteen Rabbit, at times.

I love being outside in beautiful, wild areas, and love animals. I love belly dancing, and wrote The Belly Dance Prescription: Shake Your Hips AND Depression once I realized how transformative it can be. I’ve even been known to belly dance in nursing homes.

I also home-school my children while working from home, so I may be a little crazy, but I love the life I’m creating just the same!

Have you experienced a Perinatal Mood Disorder? If so, how did this experience affect you? How did you handle it?

Yes, I went through Postpartum Depression following the birth of my first child. It was a dark fog that didn’t lift for nearly two years. I got through with support of my husband and mother, by taking one small step at a time through days and nights that seemed endless. I cannot say I handled it well, just that I survived the experience without hurting myself or anyone else. I did not seek treatment because I was scared I wouldn’t be able to nurse my child if I was on any medication. Looking back, I wish I had.

This had a profound effect on my life, and was the main reason I co-founded Mommy-Muse.com.

How did your husband handle your bout with a PMD? Was he supportive? Did the experience strengthen or weaken your marriage?

My husband was supportive, but confused. He was a first-time father, in the middle of his life, and none of this was what he expected. He saw the woman he loved in pain, and didn’t know how to fix it. My first daughter cried a LOT, and rarely responded well to anyone but me. He wanted to ease my load and soothe her, giving me breaks, but had very little success. It was an enormously stressful experience for both of us. We are stronger in our marriage from surviving the experience, but I can sure understand why so many marriages suffer after the birth of a new child.

Here at Unexpected Blessing, I put a tremendous emphasis on the importance of self-care. What is it you do to take care of yourself and what are some typical signs that a Mom can look for to tip her off that self-care needs to be initiated?

I have a list of simple things that nourish me from the inside out, through all my senses. I got the idea from a beloved book, Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet.

Here are some of my favorites:

Belly dancing, eating a really great piece of chocolate, taking a bath with some favorite essential oils, listening to a favorite piece of music, meditating, savoring a warm patch of sunlight through my window, or enjoying a pot of perfectly prepared tea from my favorite tea set.

I choose some things from this list to do for myself every day. If I don’t, I really know it. Some sure signs that I look for in myself and other moms that tell me self-care is absolutely essential are an overwhelming sense of stress, unusually short temper, hyper-sensitivity, negative self-talk, tearfulness, and depression.

Share three things with us that made you laugh today.

You bet! Spontaneous dancing with my children, watching our canary jumping around excitedly, and watching my children do a joyfully extended version of the “pee-pee dance” just for my benefit.

What do you find the most challenging about motherhood? The least challenging?

Ahh, the most challenging. There is a chapter called “On Balance” in Leslie Morgan Steiner’s book Mommy Wars in which Jane Juska writes these powerful words: “Children are not born to provide balance. Children are made to stir us up, to teach us how angry we can get, how scared we can be, how utterly happy, happier than we’d ever imagined was possible, how deeply we can love. Children turn us upside down and inside out…but they do not balance us.” My biggest challenge is creating a balanced, ecological life for myself and my family. My fantasy version of balance is a static point that I will magically reach and forever maintain. The reality, of course, is that balance is very fluid, changing hourly, daily, according to the needs of the moment. I am learning to flow with more grace in my life, but it is a continually evolving process.

The least challenging part of motherhood is delighting in small, daily moments of joy with my children. This is in sharp contrast to my two years of postpartum depression. Everything at that time seemed difficult, including the ability to enjoy my child. Knowing the difference helps me appreciate today’s joyful moments even more fully.

How did your training as a counselor affect your PMD experience? Did it enable you to better recognize your symptoms and seek help or did it inhibit you from seeking help?

I would like to be able to say that I had a better experience with postpartum depression because of my training. The truth is that I couldn’t see my symptoms clearly through the fog. In fact, having a Master’s Degree in the field may have allowed me to hide my symptoms more thoroughly, partly because I thought I should be handling my life better, and partly because I mistakenly believed I would have to give up nursing if I sought help and required medications.

Tell us about the Mommy-Muse site. How did this come to be?

Mommy-Muse.com was born out of my experiences with postpartum depression and feelings of isolation. Once I emerged from PPD, I realized there was a vital group of women to reach out to – new mothers, who often do an amazing job of hiding their true feelings from even from their closest friends. When a woman goes through any kind of postpartum mood disorder, even the simple act of getting your baby ready for an outing to a counselor’s office can seem overwhelming.

My mother, Linda Semrau, had also lived through postpartum mood disorders. Together, we decided to be the change we wish to see in the world, providing the very thing we wished for as new moms – effective, convenient, affordable coaching and therapy, available any time of the day or night.

At the Mommy-Muse site you state that it takes up to 24 months to adjust to Motherhood EACH TIME. Explain a little of this for my readers. Why 24 months?

We originally stated this based on our personal experiences and interviews with other moms. Even mothers with 7 children confessed that a complete adjustment to life with a new child takes 2 years, each time. I was delighted to discover during an interview on The Mommy-Muse Is In: Empowering Your Journey into Motherhood that many doctors actually do recognize it takes two full years to adjust physically and emotionally to the arrival OR exit of a family member.

If a mother knows that an extended adjustment period is normal, she is more likely to take care of herself during the process. I think we put unrealistic pressure on ourselves to have everything “all together” by the time we have our 6 week checkup. Knowing the truth can empower us to mobilize needed resources long after this artificial benchmark.

Last but not least, if you had a chance to give an expectant mother (new or experienced) just one piece of advice regarding Perinatal Mood Disorders, what would you say to her?

Communicate with your family and friends about any concerns you may have, and prepare a postpartum action plan, or “wish list,” to implement in case you need it. It is so much easier to mobilize supportive resources before you’re in the middle of sleep-deprived “Baby Time.”

If you have a blissfully easy transition into new parenthood and never need to activate your support plan, great! If you do need it, you (and everyone who cares about you) will be glad it is in place.

One powerful resource to help is our new “Get Ready, Get Set, Expecting-A-Baby” 12-week coaching package at Mommy-Muse.com. We custom designed this package to help expectant moms make the smoothest possible transition as they welcome a new baby into their lives.

Sharing the Journey with Tara Mock

Tara has been a true source of inspiration for me through my advocacy journey. Her strength, faith, and dedication to supporting other women has made me examine my own work and my increasing awareness of the role my faith and God held in my experience with Postpartum OCD and my subsequent passion for advocacy. I often refer women to her website when they are in need of faith-based support. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and have connected with another wonderful Christian PPD supporter – Sue McRoberts – through Tara. Thank you, Tara for all you do for Moms who are still on that dark path. Thank you for showing them the way Out of the Valley.

valley2

Share a little bit of yourself with us. Who IS Tara Mock as a woman?

I am a formerly-shy-now-outspoken woman who loves Jesus dearly, my husband 0428whole-heartedly, and my children with everything I have.  I am a pianist and an avid reader.  I can have a sarcastic sense of humor, but I love to laugh and believe the best memories are those with lots of laughter and smiles.  I hate pickles with a deep and abiding passion, but will eat chocolate with anything.  I love to have dinner and/or coffee (I prefer hot chocolate) with my girlfriends.  They are so precious to me, so encouraging and wise, and as a mom of young children, I love that.  I’m not sure what I would do without them!

You’ve walked the dark path of Postpartum Depression. Share with us what that was like.

In one word –  horrid.  I would not wish what I went through on my worst enemies. PPD hit me hard and fast in the week after my son’s birth.  I was in a lot of physical pain to begin with and then my emotions began to snowball, running the gamut:  sadness, anger, apathy, despair, hopelessness, frustration, to eventually suicidal.  That terrified me and it was then, and through the encouragement of my pastor’s wife, that I told my doctor.  Even after that, those crisis days were not over and I still had another couple of weeks to trudge through – including a hospitalization, suicide watch, meds, 24-hour care by a nurse-friend, and lots of sleep.  In the subsequent days and weeks and months, I gradually learned how to care for my son and gain new confidence as a mother, with my eyes towards hope for the future. There were good days and there were bad days, but when the good started outnumbering the bad, I knew I was getting better.  It was about nine or ten months from the time of his birth before I really felt like I had my feet on solid ground and out of that valley.
How did your faith affect your experience and recovery?

Greatly.  My Christian faith is who I am, but with this experience I initially felt like I had been “kicked while down.”  We had gone through infertility treatments to even conceive this baby, my husband had been laid off on the very day we found out I was pregnant, and I was very angry that PPD was happening to me after all that.  I repeatedly asked God “Why?  Isn’t it enough what I’ve been through already?”  But I learned that I also could not get through it without Him.  I clung to encouraging Scriptures with everything I had, even taping them on note cards around my house.   Unfortunately, there were Christian friends who said well-meaning but hurtful things (pray more, just be grateful, etc.), but working past that and learning what the Bible really says helped me grow so much.  I hated going through PPD, but I can also say that I am grateful for the experience and for who it made me today.  (Please know that it is ok if you do not feel the same way!)
At what point did you decide to become an advocate and source of support for other women who are struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder?

There were a series of events that solidified my resolve to become an advocate for women going through what I went through.  First, on my first Mother’s Day, the one I had longed for for quite a few years, I went to a local bookstore to purchase Brooke Shields’ new book, Down Came the Rain – it had just been released.  The lady behind the counter started commenting on my son, mentioned she had a baby the same age then started to tell me how she could not understand how anyone who had had a baby could be sad.  I was stunned.  Here I was purchasing a book about PPD and she could not put two and two together that I might be hurting?  I mumbled something about that it had happened to me and thankyouverymuchgoodbye.  I cried all the way home.   (Not to worry, I went back the next day and spoke with the manager about that employee.)  Second, the argument between Brooke Shields and Tom Cruise was a highlight in the news sometime around then and I was angry at the sheer ignorance that some people had about this illness as well as the fact that this Hollywood figure was spreading so much misinformation.  Third, I was part of an online Christian group and some lady (or two, I do not recall) had a discussion about the Brooke Shields book and began degrading her and what she went through.  I took it very personally because I was going through it as well – and these were fellow Christians.  Ouch!  The misinformation out there was stunning – I had just encountered it three times in a short time span.  I decided then and there to not be ashamed of my story, to share it and not hide it, and to encourage other women also sick with PPD.  That was the beginning….  I then began to search for Christian resources for this illness and at the time, there were none.  (Now, there are a few and the number is growing quite quickly, yea!!!)  After my son’s first birthday, I felt led to fill the gap – to provide a non-denominational Christian ministry for women, their families, and churches to know how to deal with Postpartum Mood Disorders.  Thus was born the (currently) online ministry, Out of the Valley Ministries, Inc.

You have two beautiful children. Did you experience PPD with both? If not, what do you think made the difference?

Thank you!  With my daughter, I experienced a small amount of anxiety, but overall the experience was remarkably better with no real recurrence of PPD.  We planned very, very carefully for her birth.  The planning itself was therapy, helping me feel like I had some control, whereas I felt I had none when I had PPD with my son. Medications were discussed with my doctor.  I had a therapist I could call if needed.  I had a schedule of family and friends to be here with me for at least six weeks.  My husband was insistent that sleep be my first priority (sleep deprivation being a huge trigger for me) and he was so wonderful in making sure that I got that.  I had a self-care plan in place for my return home to minimize anxiety.  I had the same doctor as I did for my son’s birth and amazingly, the same nurse who was there for our childbirth education classes, my son’s delivery, and who cared for me when I had PPD  – she was standing there when I walked into the birth center in labor with my daughter.  What a blessing!! She knew me and exactly how to take care of me.  As much as I had it under control, that told me that God had it in His hands as well.  I believe prayer and the pro-active approach we took to minimize/prevent a recurrence of PPD was really key.
Self-care is of the utmost importance on this road called Motherhood. What do you do to make sure you are taken care of on a daily basis?

Not enough! I make sure to always put the kids in their rooms for quiet time/nap time in the middle of the day – whether they sleep or play.  This gives me the mental break and quiet moment I need to get through the rest of the day. I treat myself to a cup of tea and either a book, my favorite blogs, or catch up on a favorite TV show. The days that I am able to have a quiet moment to read my Bible and pray are definitely my better days, but doing that consistently, especially when kids like to get up at 6am is difficult!   Staying in touch with the rest of the world is important for me as well – the internet is a wonderful thing to a mom with young children!  Being a pianist, music is ingrained in my soul.  If things are getting stressful around here, I know I can put on some music and my mood can change that quickly.  I love that!
List three things that made you laugh today.

Ah, great question!  I laughed when my son came up to me and said, “I love you wotsa-wotsa-wotsa-wotsa!”  (Translation:  I love you lots and lots and lots and lots!)   And my little girl makes me laugh all the time – especially when she grins and says “I did it!” for something she shouldn’t have done.  I have to hide my laugh then!
What have you found to be the most challenging about parenting? The least challenging?

The least challenging?  When the kids are actually asleep.  The most challenging?  When they are awake.  Some days we just have no idea how to handle this or that behavior, and other days we are just amazed at what great kids they are.
Tell us a little about Out of The Valley and how it has continued to grow. When you started out, did you envision it growing as much as it has?

Out of the Valley Ministries is primarily an online ministry – I share articles and Scriptures to encourage ladies who are hurting, help churches and loved ones help those who are sick, as well as list a wealth of resources.  On my blog, I try to list practical self-care tips, include music that encouraged me, and write devotional-type pieces to encourage the hurting mom, and have recently begun to feature stories and testimonies of survivors.  Periodically, I may share my story on the blog or other information that is of the utmost importance in the PPD world.  Yours (Sharing the Journey) and Katherine Stone’s (Postpartum Progress) among others do such a great job at keeping us updated on the news that I feel no need to duplicate the information, but to rather write from a self-care perspective.  That growth has come as I have learned about and gotten to know the many wonderful people advocating for postpartum mood disorders, as well as gotten better at managing my website and finding a niche that fits me as a person.  I love seeing how God has used this ministry to touch women’s lives – and women that I had no idea that it helped until recently.  That blesses my socks off!  It made what I went through worth every second.
And last but not least, if you had the opportunity to share one piece of advice about PMD’s with an expectant mother, (new or experienced), what would you tell them?

Just one?  Gosh, Lauren, you know how to ask the hard questions!  Some days you will need to take it one breath at a time, and others five minutes at a time, but eventually the whole day will be beautiful and full of hope.  You WILL walk out of this valley, and know that God is with you the entire time!

So sleep deprivation makes it worse, huh?

sleeping-mother-and-baby

A study by Bobbie Posmontier of Drexel University published this past week concluded that sleep deprivation exacerbates symptoms of Postpartum Depression.

Really? Sure about that?

And money was spent on this research?

You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

So those endless sleepless nights, stolen moments of sleep here or there because I just couldn’t keep my eyes open or my mind awake anymore just made things worse? And wait a second – you’re also saying that women with PPD have a hard time falling asleep? So it WAS the PPD that caused all those racing thoughts and sleep problems! Wow. There’s an eye-opener.

What really gets me about this is that the end of the article published by Blackwell, there are recommendations for sleep habits of new moms.(You can read the article by clicking here)

Posmontier recommends clinicians treating women for PPD to address the importance of adequate sleep. “Mothers can develop a plan to have other family members help care for the baby at night,” she said. “They also should practice good sleep hygiene. That includes going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding naps and steering clear of caffeine, exercise, nicotine and alcohol within four hours of bedtime.”

Hey wait! Caffeine (and power naps) helped me get through those first few bleary weeks! Well, toothpicks too but that’s a whole ‘nother post in rebuttal to a whole new study – about how toothpicks are ineffective tools for keeping your eyes open due to the OW factor. (That study hasn’t already been done, has it?)

My sarcasm aside, Ms. Postmontier does make a valid point of getting practitioners and clinicians to increase their awareness and their patient’s awareness of adequate sleep.

And here’s where I get serious.

With our second daughter, we begged our pediatrician for a night nurse. Tube-fed, someone had to be up with her 24/7 as we couldn’t just let a feeding slip by. It mattered too much to get her as much food as possible. I was also pumping exclusively for her and my life revolved around caring for her but with a lot of above and beyond thrown in for extra measure. Typically my husband stayed up with her at night and let me sleep at least the five hours I could sleep without sacrificing supply.

Just one month after she came home from the hospital was when I was admitted to psych ward for suicidal ideation/thoughts and thoughts of harming my children. I slept most of the time I was there. The nurses would wake me so I could pump, which I did every three hours during the day until midnight or so and then I would go to sleep until 6a and start the whole routine over.

That weekend was a tremendous turning point for me. Not only was my medication changed but I got sleep. The nurses hounded me to change my routine at home and make sure I took time for myself, something I made sure to do when I returned home. I started walking every morning and learned the true value of self-care. I felt guilty at first but now not only have I come to expect it, my husband is an active enforcer of my self-care time. (He knows what a grump I can be if I don’t get my sleep!)

So while the whole study struck me at first as a “DUH” moment, it really is a valuable enforcement of the importance of sleep in a new mom’s life. The better care you take of yourself, the better shape your family will be in come the long-run. Thank you, Ms. Postmontier for your invaluable contribution to this important aspect of Postpartum Care.

Sharing the Journey with Dr. Shoshana Bennett

Having started out much like myself as a survivor of PPD, Shoshana Bennett has done more than just dig herself out of a deep dark place – she’s risen far above it and has been reaching back to help others find their way back out and into the bright Clear Sky. In fact, Dr. Shoshana appeared just this past Tuesday on The Doctors to speak about Postpartum Mood Disorders and offered to help currently struggling moms. She serves as a true inspiration and source of caring support for those of us who advocate and are struggling through our own dark path. Thank you, Dr. Shosh, thank you.

Would you share a little bit about yourself with us?

A survivor of two life-threatening, undiagnosed postpartum depressions, now considered a pioneer in the field, I founded Postpartum Assistance for Mothers in 1987, and am a former president of Postpartum Support International. I’ve  helped over 17,000 women worldwide through individual consultations, support groups and tele-classes. As a noted guest lecturer and keynote speaker, I travel throughout the US and abroad, training medical and mental health professionals to assess and treat postpartum depression and related mood disorders. I have earned three teaching credentials, two masters degrees, a Ph.D. and am a licensed as a clinical psychologist. Currently, I am working to pass legislation that helps reduce the incidence and impact of postpartum mood disorders. You can contact me through http://ClearSky-Inc.com.

I’ve written Postpartum Depression For Dummies and co-authored Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression. My latest book Pregnant on Prozac will be available in January of ’09. I’ve also created guided imagery audios that are specifically focused on helping moms take care of themselves.

How did you become focused on Postpartum Mood Disorders? What drew you in to the subject?

Out of personal experience with severe postpartum depressions (along with OCD, panic, and PTSD), it became my mission to educate. There was no help for me back in the ‘80s. When I realized there was a name for what I had gone through, I understood that my family and I didn’t have to suffer like we had. Since then, it’s been my passion to help prevent that pain and isolation in others.

As I look back at my two episodes of Postpartum Depression with OCD tendencies, I see very clearly now how they helped to mold me into the woman I am today and allowed me to develop my tenacity and increase my self-esteem. What are some of the biggest things your experience with PPD allowed you to realize? Through sharing my experience and expertise with clients and colleagues, I experience the deepest, most satisfying feelings. I know my suffering was not in vain – my purpose is to get the word out that there’s hope and that moms will recover with proper help. I get to witness my clients’ lives transforming before my eyes. They often tell me they’re happier than they were even before their postpartum depressions! I am so thankful that out of personal devastation came this glorious path.

As a mom, what have you found to be the most energizing about motherhood? The most challenging?

As many of your readers will agree, our children are our best teachers. My kids always hold up that proverbial mirror so I will be the best person I can be. This is both what’s most energizing and most challenging. It’s not always easy to take an honest look (right?), but I truly love the personal growth involved. I find this challenge stimulating and exciting.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in juggling motherhood and work?

I earned a doctorate degree when my children were quite young. Most of my studying and papers were completed between 3 and 6 in the morning, before my kids woke up, which took some discipline. Also, working from home can be easier in some obvious respects, but more challenging in others. For instance, I needed to learn to keep my work contained in my office , instead of letting it spill into my kitchen and living room. Psychologically and physically it took some practice setting and keeping those boundaries.

We often encourage mothers to remember to take time for themselves. What is it that YOU do to recharge your batteries?

In between writing chapters for my next book Pregnant on Prozac, I take walks, do yoga, and visit with friends. I travel and speak quite a bit, but these are things I can do anywhere. Almost every day I put on some great, upbeat music and I focus on my next steps personally and professionally. I’m also a huge believer in nutrition – I eat really well to support healthy brain chemistry and body functioning. Every month I also receive a wonderful massage. I encourage my clients to take good care of themselves physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, and I do the same for myself.

Postpartum Mood Disorder recognition and acceptance has come a LONG way but we still have miles to go. What do you see as some of the hurdles we still have to cross?

For one, the DSM should recognize the postpartum mood disorders as their very own diagnoses. Right now, there is no actual diagnosis of postpartum depression, so it’s viewed by many well-meaning professionals as no different from any other depression. For any woman who has been depressed before having a baby, and then has ppd, she absolutely knows that ppd feels different. Also, the right questions for moms and dads need to be asked in OB and pediatricians’ offices as a standard practice. It is definitely going in the right direction, and doctors are increasingly “tuning in” to these questions and listening better to the answers given. In addition, medical doctors are also understanding that prescription medicine doesn’t always need to be the first line of treatment. Many of my clients have not needed medication once they receive a solid plan of action with natural healing.

What is your philosophy regarding your approach to Postpartum Depression? How did you develop this philosophy?

I am solution-focused, not problem-focused. I focus on wellness and healing and helping depressed women get “un-stuck” as fast as possible. I learned many years ago that women can recover remarkably quickly when they have very simple and practical steps to help them move forward.

What advice would you give to medical professionals who may come in contact with a mother who is depressed? What are some of the best things they could do for this mom? What should they not do?

Funny – I was just asked to present at a women’s conference on just this topic. It’s important to speak to this mom with care, sensitivity and respect – reassure her that she’s not inadequate, there’s nothing to be ashamed about and handle the topic very matter-of-factly, as gestational diabetes (or any other common perinatal illness) would be approached. A practitioner should not dismiss depression as “normal” or give pat advice such as, “go out on more dates and get your nails done and it should pass.” Depression needs to be taken seriously and a referral to a therapist who specializes in the field should be provided.

And last but not least, if you had a chance to give just one piece of advice to an expectant mother (new or experienced), what would you say?

Pregnant women call me all the time, since they want to prevent depression and anxiety later on in the pregnancy and also postpartum. I help them with a simple plan of setting realistic expectations, sleeping at night, eating/nutrition, and getting emotional and physical support. So much joy and happiness can be experienced (and mood disorders greatly minimized, if not completely avoided), when there’s a solid plan of action in place!