Category Archives: sharing the journey

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’.

 

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 10.27.09: What’s YOUR Postpartum Mood Disorder Story?

women talking in sunset

Original Photo taken by tranchis @ flickr

This site was started to help me re-frame an unexpected pregnancy after two rather nasty experiences with Postpartum OCD. Turns out that by doing so I not only helped myself but managed to help a lot of other women along the way.

There was a point during my suffering when I dreaded having to retell my story. Looking back I should have just typed the whole thing up and kept copies on hand – kind of like a resume. (Hey – not a bad idea if you end up having to hunt for a decent doctor!) But there came a turning point where my story began to foster a sense of strength and self. Finally I began to bloom.

We’re all at different points on our journey. Some of us are right in the thick of it, some of us a bit further out, others are fully recovered, some have relapsed and are struggling right back out thanks to the path we carved out the last time we fell down. But we are all in it together.

Rather than retype my entire story here (cuz that would take some time!), you can click here to read about “The Day” I was admitted to psych ward. And if you’re brave enough (ie, preferably not in the thick of it or relapsed) you can read another piece I’ve written here about some of the thoughts I had when things were so dark I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face.

For me and for many others, telling our story or even venting has become a powerful source of personal therapy. It’s a way to just get some of the stress out of our body, our mind, and even possibly work through issues.

So let’s get to just talkin’ here. I want to hear your stories. I want to know what you’ve gone through/are going through. Speak up. We’re here to be supportive, compassionate, and lend our hearts.

I can’t wait to read what you have to share!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 09.15.09: What lessons did you learn?

just talkin tuesday chalkboardWhen I was struggling in the trenches I learned some very hard lessons. I’d like to share five of them with you.

Lesson #1: Taking care of myself was not selfish; it was necessary

If I missed out on sleep, skimped on my diet, forgot my supplements or didn’t allow for “me” time, I wasn’t the only one to pay the price. The WHOLE family paid the price. And that’s just not fair. The better care you take of YOURSELF, the better care you are able to take of those around you and the better care they take of themselves thereby enabling those around them to improve as well – you see how this goes and goes on?

Lesson #2: You can’t take people’s reactions to your life personally. They’ve got their own baggage too. Don’t claim theirs – worry about yours to the best of your ability.

THIS one was hard. I still struggle with it on a daily basis. Oh, I’ve drastically improved but I still have to sit on my hands from time to time. It’s that or sew my mouth shut. Sitting on my hands keeps me from typing something I’ll regret AND from getting my sewing kit.

Lesson #3: God has a plan for me and I am grateful for all the hardwork He is pouring into me.

James 1:2-4 sums it up best: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work that you may be perfect and lacking in nothing.

Lesson #4: Helping others is a powerful source of healing yourself.

I cannot even begin to express how much of my own healing has come from giving to others as they face the same beast I have beaten. It is a harrowing path indeed and I have leaned on those I have helped as they have leaned on me. What is humanity if we cannot help each other through our struggles?

Lesson #5: Riches cannot be counted in monetary value. Riches come in baby food stains, innocent laughter of an infant, the purposeful cuddle of a toddler and the smile of triumph as you kick back your feet richer at the end of the day than at the beginning with even more riches on the way.

(In other words, don’t lose sight of the truly important thing in life – FAMILY)

There are five lessons I’ve learned on the journey so far.

What lessons have you learned?

Let’s get to Just Talkin’, ladies (and gents)!

Sharing the Journey with Diane Ashton

Diane Ashton is the PSI Co-Coordinator for the state of Hawaii. Sasha Williams serves as the other Coordinator for the state of Hawaii. Diane is awesome. I’ve really gotten to know her via email and facebook (we’re both on Facebook WAY more than we should be). Diane is funny, honest, and a wonderful woman. I am thrilled she agreed to a very last minute interview (sorry diane! but thanks!) To learn more about the support Diane offers in Hawaii, visit her website, PPD Support Hawaii. Now here’s Diane’s story in her own words.

Tell us about Diane. Who is she when she’s not providing support to women with PPD?

Hi Lauren!  It’s kind of funny how self-identified with postpartum issues a person can become!  I know I’m singing to the choir here to say that PPD advocates are a passionate bunch!  Along with my obsession, avocation, I am the mom to two older children–they’re 15 & 20 now, although I have no idea how they grew up so fast.  You know how that is.  And all my cherished skills I learned from and with the two of them. We grew up together, in many ways. We’re all a bunch of computer nuts, and are sitting in a 10 x 10 room on our own computers right this minute.  It’s more fun than housework.


You’ve experienced PPD and describe it at the PSI website as a mystery/horror movie. Share with us your journey through this strange place.

It’s been over 14 years, so I tend to be a bit removed from the experience now.  Maybe that’s encouraging to moms going through it now–knowing that eventually PPD won’t feel like something you live and breathe every. single. day.  Why I described it as a mystery/horror movie was that, even though I’d probably been depressed in the past, I’d never been to the depths like I was with PPD.  I’d also never been so sleep deprived.  It was a sleep deprivation due to depression, not because my kids weren’t sleeping through the night.  They were.  I was too anxious to sleep; it was that kind of anxious/depression.  And that was part of why it made it so hard to figure out what was going on with me.  I didn’t feel “depressed”.  I felt, like so many other moms have described, like I was “going crazy”.  It was a mystery to me what was wrong.  With all that came intrusive thoughts that were very gory.  And they weren’t thoughts so much as very vivid images.  They scared me and made me think someone would take my kids away from me, and me away from society forever–pretty much a horror.

What made you realize your moods after giving birth were not quite right? How were you treated when you sought help?

I…actually, …I waited until my daughter was around eight months old before I started sliding into that PPD pit.  It was partly due to her big brother going off to kindergarten with all his little friends we’d seen every week for …4+ years.  But kindergarten is somehow a big shift anyway, and can put moms off-balance for a bit.  Or maybe it’s just us moms who’ve been on the PPD ride are more sensitive to changes.  Anyway, by mid-October (6, 7 weeks into kindergarten) I was losing it.  But no way was I admitting to it.  Although I tried to look stuff up (1994–not much of an internet to surf then) I couldn’t find anything that described what I was experiencing.

Finally my husband took me for “a Sunday drive” to the ER, where they kept and observed me for a while.  I stayed at the hospital for a bit and, well, my peers there were very interesting.  The main thing was though that I finally got on a medication (Zoloft) and it started working.  I began to feel a lot like myself again within a couple of weeks.


How did your family help you during this difficult time?

They were great.  My in-laws had dd while I was in the hospital.  Dh had ds at home, and took him to school each day.  Afterwards, I stayed with my in-laws for more support and to get up to some kind of speed again.  There were other times they stepped in in BIG ways over the next year too–I don’t know what we would have done without them.


Name three things that made you laugh today.

  • A video the kids pointed me to, on youtube had us all cracking up.  A bit on the potty humor side, but we laughed.
  • Talking with a couple of my girlfriends about calling, texting, to American Idol–like we’re a bunch of tweenagers–how many phones each person uses to vote.
  • Swapping stories with my fellow former classmates tonight at dinner.
What do you find the most challenging about parenting? The least?

Still occasionally wondering if we bonded well, if I messed the kids up for life, etc.  But I imagine other moms who didn’t go through PPD wonder this as well.  Also challenging… the age of 13.  EEYuh…challenging.  The least challenging–the easiest–is loving my beautiful, vibrant kids every day!


As fellow PSI Coordinators, we’ve had the concept of self-care proven to us time and again. What do YOU do for yourself that is not a need and soothes your soul?

The beach soothes me.  Body boarding especially, but just getting in the ocean water balances me in emotional and visceral ways.

You work with women struggling with PPD all the time. Tell us a bit about what made you decide to turn your experience into advocacy and support. How empowering is it to do what you do?

It is partly because I didn’t get the name for the exciting journey I had until five or so years later–Oprah had Marie Osmond on, talking about her book about some illness called “postpartum depression”.  I sat there pointing at the TV again and again. “That was ME! That was ME!!”  I finally had a name for it.  I Googled and found online information and bulletin boards where I then made myself at home.  It was because I could find nothing here to help with PPD, and with my experience on the boards that I decided to become an Area Coordinator with Postpartum Support International.  Might as well make some lemonade from the PPD lemons.

How empowering is doing what I do?  What I’ve done for 5 years now is telephone support, email support, a weekly support group, and some speaking.  –the support calls, email and the group empower the parents and are validating for both of us.  Speaking to groups still feels empowering; our recovered moms/volunteers get a chance to speak at various events. I remember my first time too–it was empowering.  People, providers, wanted to know what it is like, what could be done, how would you know.  And they listened.  There’s a threshold you cross when you speak publicly about your experience.  What a great question Lauren.  I have to tell my therapist how much it meant to me that she asked me to speak a number of times. It allowed me to step out of my shame and into myself.


Now that your children are older, have you spoken with them about your experience? If so, how did they handle the information? How do they feel about your current work with women?

They are around when I’ve been on phone calls with moms or providers, so they do hear my end of conversations occasionally.  It’s just a part of our lives.  I weave information in to our conversations when opportunities arrive, much like I have with sex education.  Dd just had one of those “pretend baby” exercises where she had to care for a hard-boiled egg for 2 weeks as if it were her baby.  Of course I wove in some PPD talk!


Last but not least, let’s say you have an opportunity to speak with an expectant mother (new or experienced) about Postpartum Mood Disorders. What would your advice be?

It would really depend on the situation.  I used to be tempted to pass out information to every new parent I saw, just so they could avoid the journey I endured.  Barring accosting new parents in the grocery aisles, what I would say though is that you’re not alone if you have a PMD, they are very treatable, they are not your fault and that honestly, I found a gift in my experience, eventually.  Maybe it was my biggest experience of “whatever doesn’t kill you outright makes you stronger.”  And in the case of PPD, as many mothers say, it loosens your judgments, revealing compassion.

Aloha!

Sharing the Journey with Cynthia Olkie

A fellow Coordinator with PSI first emailed me about Cynthia Okie’s Project, It’s Not So Black and White. The project is a photo essay book focusing on stories and photos of survivors of Postpartum Mood Disorders. I immediately posted about the project, following up with an email to Cynthia with a request for an interview. I am so excited to be sharing her journey with you today! She’s still accepting submissions for the book from survivors so if you have a story to share and can squeeze it out in 650 words or so, shoot Cynthia an email at fleurphoto@aol.com. If you’re in the L.A. area you’ll even get a free photo shoot! Certainly can’t beat that!

Thanks, Cynthia, for working on what I am sure will be an invaluable contribution to the every growing body of work from survivors.

blog-pic-copy

Tell us about Cynthia. Who is she when she’s relaxing and hanging out?

I can’t say I stay put for very long.  If I am being creative I am happy.  That could include taking a walk on the beach with my husband, step-son and daughter, having visits with my family where we just hang out and talk (most of them with Long Island accents), taking photographs, doing an art project, etc.  If I get quiet time I do enjoy reading a good book.  Once in a while I will watch TV.  Reality shows are my vice.

Share with us your daughter’s birth story. Was pregnancy and delivery anything like what you expected?

I had a wonderful pregnancy and thank goodness no complications.  The birth was a different story.

My daughter was pushing 2 weeks overdue and they scheduled me to be induced at midnight on a Sunday night.  For the next 43 hours I went through 2 rounds of Cervidil and 2 rounds of Pitocin.  Not dilating at all I ended up having a  c-section.  Had I known how easy the surgery was I would have just opted for that and not go through the pain and uncomfortable process of inducing.

My daughter was born and I went to recovery.  I was in the recovery room for nearly 5 hours and the last 20 minutes completely by myself.  The nurse left to find out what was happening in the postpartum rooms.  It was a bit scary because my legs were still a bit numb from the epidural.  I had visions of being in a horror film where someone comes in with a knife and i can’t run because my legs were numb.  I rang the buzzer and asked for a nurse and finally was taken to a room.

The next 3 1/2 days were anything but enjoyable.  All of the nurses gave me different information about nursing-“hold the breast up”, “squeeze the nipple”, “don’t do this, do that”.  Even though I took a class once my daughter was in my hands it was totally different.  The nurses were a bit inconsiderate and contradicted each other.

Since my daughter had lost more weight then they say they like they told us we might have had to supplement with formula.  As soon as my husband left to go pick up my mother the nurse came in and said “bottle or syringe?”.  Syringe?? What is that?  Needless to say she stuck a bottle in my daughters mouth.  That got my hormones a bit in an uproar.

On Saturday before we were checking out the pediatrician and lactation consultant came in.  They were both amazing and said the nurse did not follow instructions and was supposed to wait until the end of the day and if anything do syringe feeding.  We were glad to go home and get our new family going.  We had a lactation consultant come over and she got us back up and nursing full time.

Postpartum Depression can be a dark and scary place. Share with us what your stay there was like.

After my daughter was 4 months old we had her Baptism.  Family that never come to Los Angeles came and we had a full house for almost a week.  It was a Wednesday morning and my brother who was going to stay with us for a few more weeks and I drove my mother and aunt to the airport.  It was the final send off which is always hard for me.  As soon as we walked into the door and sat down there was an earthquake.  Now,  earthquakes and I do not get along.  It was my catalyst that set me off like a light switch.  It got my adrenaline running and I got hot flashes. From that moment on I had a very difficult time trying to care for my baby.  Apparently I was holding her so tight in the door frame my brother took her from me.

Although the earthquake was the switch, the fact that I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed with being a new mom contributed greatly.  I found it too scary to wake up in the morning because I knew as soon as my daughter woke up that I had to be on duty and I couldn’t bear the thought.  The only thing I wanted to do was nurse her and then hand her off to someone else.  I had support through my local MOMS Club which was incredible because all of the doctors and medical personal I tried to contact gave me the quick brush off.  I finally got a prescription for medicine which I knew would take a few weeks to kick in.  I spent about a month crying every day and calling my family on the east coast at 4 am Pacific Time which I knew was right when they would get up.  I barely ate if at all, had no desire to do anything and wanted to escape.


How did your husband and family support you through your recovery? What were some of the things they did that helped the most?

My husband and brother blew me away with their support.  Being men I thought they would get scared, crawl up in their hole and try to ignore anything was going on.  Instead my husband took over with feedings which we had switched to bottles during the day only, made me food which I would try to eat and offered to do anything he could.  My brother who was staying with us also took over where he could.  He sat with me for hours patiently listening to me repeat the same things over and over and told me how great of a mother I was and that I would overcome this.  They both were there for me, my daughter and each other and owe them everything.  I also had a wonderful friend who came over when she could and was their for me every step of the way as well as my Aunt and Cousin on the East Coast who listened to me every single day for days on end and were struggling themselves to help me from afar.

In my journey I needed to constantly be talking to someone even though I would say the same things over and over.  I can’t say I found much professionals very helpful or supportive which was very disappointing.

Tell us about 3 things that made you laugh today.

My daughter’s silly face she makes.
My husbands goofy dances
How scared I was when I was sitting so quietly alone at my computer when I though the cat wanted to eat my piece of cheese and was all over the desk only to find out he was trying to get the HUGE moth crawling next to me. I don’t like bugs.

You’re working on a photography and essay compilation book. What started the inspiration for this project?

During the darkest of my days in postpartum I went to the park to cry and call my Aunt.  While I was sitting there I had a glimpse of my photography and how much I love taking photographs.  Some where out of the blue I came up with the idea to do a photo-essay book on my experience. It was almost as if I went through my experience so that my idea could come to fruition.  I still don’t know how it occurred to me but I do know exactly where I was sitting and how I felt.

What do you find to be the most challenging about parenting? The least?

The most challenging thing about parenting is how I don’t have nearly the same amount of time for myself as I used to. I am grateful to be a stay at home mom for the time being but find it hard to be home and not want to do something for myself.

The least challenging is how easy it is to love my child.  It is the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me.  It is completely unexplainable.  The joy, emotion, warmth and unconditional love surpasses anything I have ever felt.

How did your husband handle your journey through PPD? Do you feel it impacted your marriage?

My husband was there for me through my whole journey.  I think for a few moments he was so nervous he didn’t know what to do but he sure didn’t show that to me.  He was stronger then I have ever seen him.  He would just ask what he could do and all I wanted was a hug.  And a hug from him makes me feel safe.  I am not sure my journey impacted our marriage as much as just the addition of a new person. A marriage needs work and adding a child adds even more.  We manage to work through our issues and we can only hope we are raising a wonderfully kind, gentle, smart  and decent human being.

Here at Sharing the Journey, I encourage mothers to focus on themselves. What are some things you do to take time for yourself every day?

Every day?  Ha! That’s a challenge.  I do cherish a good hot shower without any interruptions.  That’s something I can count on every day.  The hot water cleanses all of my worries even if it’s for a few moments.  I read a little every day even if its a few pages in a magazine.  I talk a walk with my daughter in the stroller which gives me time to breath in the air while she is not running around.

Last but not least, let’s say you have a chance to give an expectant mother (new or experienced) a piece of advice about PMD’s. What would you share with her?

Try to get help as soon as you can and don’t be ashamed.  Lots and lots of people told me “you are not alone”.  Although I know that now….when I was in my dark place it didn’t matter.  I wanted to be a child again myself and have someone take care of me.  Find support.  It’s out there.  Right now we have to do a lot of work to find it but so many people are speaking out about PPD that I pray it will soon get easier.

Real Life isn’t All Roses….

Back during the Ultimate Blog Party for Moms, I had the pleasure of “meeting” Jess.

Jess is a hip mama who writes what she calls her anti-blog all about her gluten free lifestyle. She’s a self-admitted non-expert who just goes with the flow. Sometimes things turn out well, other times not so well. But hey, that’s life, right?

Jess is also a two-time PPD survivor. Turns out when she stopped by here she had been contemplating writing about her experience. She emailed me with the post back during Blog Week for the Mother’s Act and it got lost in all the craziness.

Today though, I really want to share her post with you. It’s poignant, wise, and informative. Most of all, it reflect’s Jess’ bravery in finally stepping out to share her story with the world.

My favorite part of the post?

When Jess describes some of her feelings during PPD.

“There are moments too when I feel my brow furrow and an aching in my stomach like I’m holding my breath almost.  I am suddenly angry for no reason, anxious with no cause.  It’s a strange and unwanted intrusion and it is certainly not me, not an attitude problem, not a choice to respond to a situation wrongly.  Often it comes before I’m even faced with a situation, when I’m thinking of nothing or doing nothing in particular.  It sneaks in and I’m taken prisoner for the moment until someone like my husband steps in or one of the older kids helps out, sometimes even a phone call has helped.”

You can read her complete post by clicking here.

Happy 2nd Birthday!

happy-bloggy-birthdayThis year it almost snuck by me. (which explains why I’m posting this at 345pm instead of having it up earlier today)

I knew it was around the corner.

Last year’s Happy Birthday post mentions something about almost 10,000 visitors. I hit 10,000 that day. And today? Well today I am just shy of 44,000 visitors. Quite an increase from last year – nearly 3.5x more people!

I love writing. I love supporting families as they journey through PPD. This past year has seen a lot of growth around here – radio interviews, featured at other sites, and acceptance to Blogburst! I have no doubt that there is more to come.

One of the most meaningful blog-related things happened when I received an unexpected email from a reader asking me to pray for her. (If you’re reading this, I’d love to know how you’re doing! I’ve been praying!) It’s not so much the big things that matter – it’s all the little things that happen along the way to the big things that are truly important.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. It’s because of you I write. I write to uplift, empower, and inform. If you’ve experienced any of those, I’ve done something right.

So keep reading, keep sharing, and I promise to keep uplifting, empowering, and informing!

(And just in case you’re curious, you can read my very first post by clicking here)

Rachel Roberts crowned Mrs. Oklahoma International

Last month I featured an interview with Rachel Roberts, then Mrs. Tulsa International.

Rachel Roberts, Mrs. Oklahoma International and daughter

Rachel Roberts, Mrs. Oklahoma International and daughter

Rachel has gone on to be crowned Mrs. Oklahoma International and will be competing this July at the Mrs. International competition in Chicago, IL. Rachel was crowned by her husband last Saturday night.

As you know from her interview here, Rachel has made her platform Postpartum Depression Awareness during her Mrs. Tulsa days. She plans to continue with this platform as Mrs. Oklahoma and if she wins, Mrs. International. Her website is dedicated to sharing her story and providing resources for others.

“I was fortunate enough to recognize that I wasn’t feeling myself after having my daughter,” Roberts says.

“I want to help other women recognize and overcome this illness.” She adds that she wants to spread the word that it’s okay and there is help out there. “No one is alone and there are supportive people who want to help.”

As Mrs. Tulsa, Roberts has spoken to mothers of all ages, most recently at the Margaret Hudson Program for teenage mothers. She also appears in the May 5 edition of Woman’s Day Magazine in an article about postpartum depression and has worked diligently on helping to get the MOTHERS act passed into law. Roberts will speak at the Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Components of Care Conference on May 20 and 21 that will be simulcast throughout the state of Oklahoma.

Congratulations on your win, Rachel! Best of luck to you in July!

Sharing the Journey with Mary Jo Codey

As those of you who are familiar with Postpartum Advocacy know, Mary Jo has worked tirelessly to increase awareness and education of those around her. In fact, along with her husband, former NJ Governor Ritchie Codey, Mary Jo aided in passing New Jersey’s state-wide legislation for Postpartum Mood Disorder Screening education and screening. She also strongly advocates for the passage of The MOTHER’S Act, a bill that will increase funding for research, education, and awareness of Postpartum Mood Disorders here in the United States. Mary Jo has graciously agreed to Share her Journey today with the hopes of increasing signatures to the Perinatal Pro list as well as calls to the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee.

I sincerely hope her words will help spur you into action. Let me put it this way. If you know ten mothers, at least eight of them have experienced the Baby Blues. Two of them have experienced full-blown Postpartum Depression. And these are only the ones we know about. How many other mothers have suffered in silence? Help them break the silence. Let them know you are on their side. As New Jersey’s campaign says – “Speak Up when you’re Down!”


88_mary_joTell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Mary Jo Codey when she’s not passionately speaking out about Postpartum Mood Disorders?

I’m a teacher at the Gregory Elementary School in West Orange NJ. I love spending time with the children, watching them grow and flourish, and to instill a good self concept about themselves so they can take with them and utilize throughout their lives. When I’m not teaching I love to spend time with my husband Ritchie and my two boy’s, Kevin and Christopher. I also enjoy gardening, playing golf and eating chocolate with my dear friend Sylvia!

In 1984, after the birth of your first son, you began to experience some very frightening thoughts and moods. Would you share with us what you went through?

After the birth of my first child, Kevin, I had terrifying thoughts about hurting him. I had intrusive thoughts about smothering and drowning him. Those scary thoughts raced in my mind over and over throughout the day and night. It caused me such a great deal of pain and shame.

After the birth of your second son, with the aid of medication, you were able to have a “normal” experience. Describe the differences. At any point during this second postpartum period, did you find yourself upset about having missed out on your first son’s infancy?

With the birth of my first son Kevin, I had no idea what postpartum depression was. I never even heard those words before. I couldn’t even get out of my bed to visit the nursery to see or feed him.

With the birth of my second son Christopher, I was immediately put on medication which were extremely effective. I was elated that I could care for him and take care of him. I did however feel cheated by postpartum depression with my first child. At times I mourned and felt guilt for missing the first years with Kevin. I remember reporters coming to my home to do a story on me and I was asked if I had any pictures of Kevin. I was ashamed that I could not provide them with one picture of him.

When you first talked with your sons about Postpartum Mood Disorders, what did you tell them? How have they handled knowing about your experience?

I started to talk to my boys about my experience with postpartum depression at a very young age. I made sure that they understood that, it wasn’t their fault and that I loved them more than they could ever imagine. I explained to them that I was sick at the time. I also told them that they were the two greatest gifts that God had given me. They’ve handled it remarkably well.
New Jersey is the first state to enact legislation for Postpartum Mood Disorder screening and education. How did this law come about and what was your involvement in it’s development?

The minute Ritchie became Acting Governor for New Jersey the first item on our agenda was postpartum depression. Which led to “Speak Up When You’re Down.” It encourages women and their families to talk openly with each other and with their health-care provider if they are feeling depressed after the birth of their child. It also provides a 24/7 PPD Help line and postpartum depression information and resources; 1-888-404-7763.

Name three things that made you laugh today.

Watching my friend Phyllis come out of her home with 5 dog’s on leashes and luggage as we were leaving for the airport!

Trying to get on a large tube for “The Rapid River Ride.” After numerous failed attempts trying to get myself positioned on the tube, a stranger approached me and shoved me on the tube finally! He said that he couldn’t stand watching me struggle anymore…well it finally worked!

Calling my friend Sylvia and listening her imitate her Sicilian mother on the phone. Every time she imitates her mom it literally slays me!! It leaves me in stitches!

Senator Robert Menendez, NJ, introduced The MOTHER’S Act earlier this year to Congress. Share with us what this bill would do for women and families.

This bill is so very crucial for all women and families suffering with postpartum depression. It will help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis and will also help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, it will support research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis.

Stigma plays a large role in women not reporting symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders. What can we do to overcome this stigma and replace it with acceptance and compassion?

Having women share their experience with postpartum depression, rather than keeping it to themselves is very important. To not be ashamed or afraid to speak up to their family members, health providers and women’s groups when they are grappling with postpartum depression. This will help replace the stigma of postpartum depression with acceptance and compassion.

How did your husband handle the changes your struggle with Postpartum Mood Disorder brought into the home? What can new dads do to support their wives as they fight to move back to “normal”?

At first my husband Ritchie blamed himself for what I was going through. He thought it was because he didn’t pay much attention to me because he was too involved with sports. He couldn’t understand what and why I was going through this. He was angry that I asked him to find another wife when I went to the hospital because I believed that I wasn’t going to get better. He never gave up on me! He stayed with me and understood that postpartum was an illness that we were going to overcome as a family. He never stopped praying. New dads need to be supportive and understanding towards their wife who is suffering with postpartum depression. Most importantly, they need to be patient and compassionate.

Last but not least, if you had the opportunity to give an expectant mother (new or experienced) just one piece of advice about Postpartum Mood Disorders, what would you tell her?

Women suffering with postpartum depression need to know that they are GREAT MOTHER’S! Do not worry about not being able to bond with your baby, it will happen. First you need to get well. Most importantly please, please, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Sharing the Journey with Jamie

Meet Jamie. She’s due in June with her second child. Her first brush with Postpartum Depression started during her pregnancy. Jamie felt depressed, upset and confused. Not feeling ready to be a parent, she even felt resentful when the baby moved. She even cried at her first ultrasound – proof that she was indeed pregnant.

Things went from difficult to worse after her first daughter was born. Jamie “cried constantly, was moody, and felt worthless and suicidal at times.” She finally sought help at six months postpartum. It took some time but Jamie was able to deal with the ups and downs of motherhood without wanting to pack her bags and run.

And now, I’m excited to let Jamie speak about her experience in her words. By the way, Jamie blogs too. She found me via 5 Minutes for Mom’s Ultimate Blog Party. You can keep up with her at Melody of a Mom.

Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do when you’re not being a mother or a wife? What fascinates you?

I was a scrapbooker long before I started having kids. My bookshelves hold probably 15 12×12 completed scrapbooks, four of which are full of pictures from my daughter’s first two years of life. Aside from scrapbooking, I enjoy almost anything that has to do with crafting.

After my daughter goes to bed you can find me reading or writing. I am working on a novel (which I hopefully will complete by the time I’m 30!) and I write songs which I hope to have published someday.

What was your first pregnancy like? Was it what you expected? If not, what happened?

My small amount of knowledge about what pregnancy would be like came from TLC’s A Baby Story and the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” So I guess you could say I had no expectations when my pregnancy started, and I was able to take things as they came.

Postpartum Depression can sneak up on the best of us and knock us flat on our backs. Tell us about your experience.

I would say that my postpartum depression started before I even had my daughter (I call it pre-partum depression). There were intermittent periods of time when the prospect of birthing the baby I was carrying seemed depressing and confining, like some kind of cage I was trapped in. One day I’d be excited about all the pink clothes my baby would wear, and the next day I would wish I wasn’t having a baby at all.

After I had my daughter, the depression was severe and constant. I felt like I wasn’t bonding with her…I knew she had needs and I met those needs, but as far as “falling in love,” that just wasn’t happening.

Much of the time I wanted to pack my bags and leave everything behind. I cried a lot, lashed out at my husband and family, and felt very down.

When did you finally seek treatment for your PPD? What made you realize you needed help?

I knew what I was feeling wasn’t healthy, but it took my dad calling me out before I finally went to a doctor to talk about my PPD. One day, after some incident which I can’t remember, my dad said something to the effect of, “Why are you so negative all the time?” I’m not sure why, but that was the moment I decided to try to get some help.

Name three things that made you laugh today.

My daughter and her friend played “Ring Around the Rosie” over and over and over. When they were done, they were so dizzy they fell down all over again!

My best friend just called me on the phone and called me “Stinky Pete.” She’s random, but she always makes me laugh.

Whenever my daughter catches me looking at my belly in the mirror, she says, “Mommy, you’re pregmint.” That never ceases to make me laugh.

What role did family play in your recovery from PPD?

My husband is incredibly supportive. He picked up my slack when I felt like I couldn’t do what needed to be done for our daughter.

How did your husband handle your journey down PPD lane?

He was great. He never made me feel crazy…he supported me as best as he could even though he didn’t understand what I was going through.

You’re currently pregnant with your second child. Do you think things will be different this time? Why? What are you doing to be pro-active this time around?

As soon as I give birth, I am planning on getting back on the same anti-depressants I was on before I was pregnant. Unfortunately this means I won’t be breast feeding, but it does mean I will be able to function normally during my baby’s first weeks, whereas with my daughter I felt like I was just in a depressed daze.

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

The most challenging thing about motherhood is making those daily choices in how/when to discipline and wondering how those choices are going to affect my daughter long term.

The easiest thing about motherhood is loving my child unconditionally. Though it took me longer than most mothers to bond with my baby, she is so special to me now. Nothing she could ever do would change the way I feel about her. It’s the same kind of love that God feels for his children, I believe.

Last but not least, what advice would you give an expectant mother (new or experienced) about PMD’s?

It’s better to ask a doctor if what you’re experiencing is normal than to spend any amount of time detached from your newborn. PPD is hard to deal with, but it is fairly easy to get under control once a mother realizes she needs help.