Category Archives: sick

Thoughts about Ebony

I was going to wait to publish this post until after I’d had time to read it through. But given that I just accidentally posted it, freaked out, made it private, I’m realizing that folks who got it through email will be able to read the entire thing anyway. SO. Here ya go. With a temporary title that obviously will be the permanent title – my ramblings and thoughts regarding Ebony Wilkerson, tragically better known as the mom in Daytona who drove  her minivan into the sea.

The public defender’s office said there was a reason she beat her stomach. “She {is} being held in seclusion naked in her cell,” said Craig Byer.

Public defender James Purdey at first asked for Monday’s hearing to get Wilkerson’s 1.2 million bond reduced.

Purdey instead asked his client be transferred from the Volusia County Branch Jail to a psychiatric ward for longer than a typical Baker Act hold, so she can get mental pre-natal care.

The judge did not rule on the request to move Wilkerson because the judge said it’s something that hasn’t been done before. (Source)

According to the Ebony Wilkerson narrative we have thus far, she drove to Central Florida from South Carolina to escape an abusive partner. Her family struggled to get her help but she signed herself out of the hospital and somehow managed to get the keys to the minivan and drive it and all of her children into the ocean despite the family’s efforts to hide the keys from her.

This week, we are told she has been held naked, in seclusion at the local jail and started punching her stomach, causing her defenders to push for her to be moved to a psychiatric ward for “mental pre-natal care.”

What the hell is wrong with this picture?

From an emotional and advocate standpoint, a lot.

From a logical standpoint, I can understand why these measures may need to be taken, particularly if Ebony has been suicidal. Of course you don’t want to give her anything that she could possibly harm herself with but there has to be a way to do that without completely stripping her down and removing all sense of dignity, something she was more than likely running low on if indeed she was escaping an abusive relationship.

The judge’s reluctance to move her may also be grounded in logic as well. Perhaps she did not feel she had enough facts to justify setting a precedence with Ebony’s case. Or perhaps the Volusia County Jail has the capability to be considered as “clinically appropriate” (as is required of examination/treatment in the Baker Act) and therefore the judge did not see moving her as a necessity. Or perhaps there simply wasn’t anywhere to move her to which offered the same level of security the judge felt Ebony requires at the moment.

But when examined from an emotional and advocate point of view, this is absolutely heartbreaking.

A pregnant mother, escaping an alleged abusive relationship, drives her kids into the ocean despite attempts to help her. To me, this screams of absolute desperation. This is beyond sanity. It’s more than a call for help. This type of behaviour requires action.

But is what Volusia County doing enough?

How do we best handle this type of situation in this day and age?

It’s like I tell my kids and my partner – we can’t fix a problem unless we know about it. Unfortunately, women (and men especially) who are in abusive relationships are often quiet about their situations until it’s almost too late, and some until it is too late. Why? Because they are often threatened by the perpetrator that if they don’t remain silent, there will be repercussions.

Silence is also a hallmark of Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders for multiple reasons. Society believes we should be happy when pregnant or in the throes of new parenthood. Thing is, mood disorders have been happening since the dawn of time. Our responses to them over the centuries have varied but even early on, a few folks got it right. Take Asclepiades, for example. According to Thomas Millons Masters Of The Mind, he “argued against dark cells and dungeons for the mentally ill…thought patients should be in settings that were well lit and comfortable.” Asclepiades also proposed that “biological and chemically based treatment would be beneficial” in addition to dividing conditions into acute versus chronic and also distinguished between hallucinations, delusions, and illusions.

The main point of Asclepiades is that even in the early ages (171-110BC, by the way), someone recognized that locking away the mentally ill in dark, dank places was NOT the way to go.

Arataeus believed the “soul was the basis of psychic disturbances” and “mental disorders were exaggerated normal processes”. (Millon)

Then there’s Soranus who posited “consider(ing) culture as a factor in both investigating and treating mental patient.” (Millon, Masters Of The Mind). He also advocated for decent and kind treatment of the mentally ill, asking “his peers to remember who was ill; physicians should not view their patients as disagreeable persons who offended their self-image.” (Millon) It seems to this outside observer that Volusia County is not doing that in Ebony’s case.

Does being an abused woman or a woman at the hands of a Perinatal Mood Disorder excuse the type of behaviour Ebony Wilkerson has exhibited? No. But both are mitigating factors which led to her behaviour and should absolutely be taken into consideration as her case proceeds.

I’ve written extensively about Postpartum Depression as a defense. Cases like these are both fascinating and heartbreaking because all at once, those of us who have experienced a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder, see fractions of ourselves in the women who make headlines. We collectively gasp and think, my God, what if I had given into all those thoughts racing through my head? I could be her. I could be Ebony. I could be Miriam, I could be Andrea, I could be Otty.

We shudder because we were there, with them, in the dark, in the hell, holding their hands and they fell as we watch in horror. The way their fall is paraded in front of society scares the crap out of us and drives many to silence. Is this healthy for society? Yes and no. We should be outraged when children are subjected to death (or the threat thereof) at the hands of their parents. But at the same time, we need to take steps to prevent this type of situation from occurring in the first place.

How do we do that when every single case, every single situation from mother to mother and from birth to birth is different? How do we catch a falling mother if we don’t know she is falling?

Even if we start by putting measures in place to check for signs of falling, we will still fail if the mother doesn’t admit to having a problem or, as in Ebony’s case, refuses help (for whatever reasons – cultural stigma, fear, etc) which is offered to her because she is far past the breaking point and sees death as the only way out. Do we just throw our hands up in the air and let her do what she may? No. So what do we do then?

I don’t know.

What I do know is this:

  • Mothers (and fathers) do not deserve to be alone in this battle
  • Mothers (and fathers) deserve emotional support
  • Mothers and fathers need a village
  • Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders are not deserving of whispers, they require shouts
  • We need to speak up, every single time, not just when there is a crisis
  • Accept those who are hurting with open arms and provide a safe space for them to fall apart
  • Not judge those who have/are struggling so harshly

So what can we do to improve the situation for struggling parents across the globe with the very real (and often co-occurring) issue of domestic abuse/violence and Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders?

  • Make it okay to reach out for help and ditch the supermom/superwoman/superman/superdad façade
  • Initiate requirements for ALL health professionals who may come in contact with an expecting or new mother to be well-versed in the ins and outs of a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (this includes pediatricians, OBGYN’s, GP’s, Family Doctors, IBCLC’s, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, you get my point…)
  • Create local, state, and national referral networks which incorporate above said training on a regular basis
  • Create networks of parents willing to mentor other parents through these tough situations and make it easy to access across the board

Are these solutions going to fix our current problem? No. But they’re a start and sadly, most of it revolves around a tradition which our current technologically advanced society has strayed greatly from – the tight knit expanded family. It takes a village to raise a child but it also takes a village to raise a mother to raise a child right. In my post “On Not Wanting To,” I state the following:

Our village is in peril. Our village? FELL THE FUCK APART AND NO ONE GIVES A DAMN.

In America, we have a pitiful excuse for maternity leave. We are bombarded by stories of celebs who gave birth and look AHMAZING in less than three weeks after giving birth. We are insanely comparing ourselves to women who are a) genetically blessed and b) have crazy access to things like trainers, nutritionists, nannies… and then there are the way we compare ourselves to each other. Stupid idiotic milestones of when we went back to work, how much we manage to get done every day, pushing ourselves to be better than the next mom and still have it all pulled together.

It’s no wonder we are screaming out for help and some of us are doing so through extreme measures.

Let’s keep the “if I were her, I would” out of the conversation. We do not know what she’s going through. Even if we’ve been through hell ourselves, we do not know *her* hell nor should we take her story as one which portends the downfall of ALL women who struggle with domestic violence/abuse and a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. Instead, reach out to mothers, to fathers, let them know it is okay to reach out for help. For that matter, teach it to your kids so that when they get older they don’t feel as if reaching for help is in essence, failure to handle something on their own. Yes, independence is a grand thing but there is a time and a place to lean on someone else. Not to lean in, but to lean on, sometimes for dear life.

Our village has forgotten how to do this very simple yet necessary human act. We are now expected to be everything to everyone and dear GOD help us if we are not. Should we assume something is wrong with every mother? No. But instead of oohing and ahhing at her baby, ask how she’s doing. Ask how Dad is doing. Do not dismiss their very real role in their new situation. By acknowledging them, you acknowledge their existence and empower them to express their feelings. And that, my friends, is possibly one of the most powerful things we can ever do for a new parent.

Will it keep more pregnant women from being held in seclusion, naked in a prison cell, after they’ve attempted to kill their older children and themselves? Not all of them, no. But it’s a start.

An even better start would be to continue educating people about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders, including those in the law enforcement and legal arena. I realize they are bound by the courts and must adhere to the law but if they had a better understanding of the facts behind Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders, perhaps, at least, the treatment of mothers imprisoned for crimes committed whilst experience these disorders would stand a chance of improving.

In the meantime, I genuinely hope that Ebony Wilkerson receives the help she so desperately needs as she awaits trial for her actions on the fateful day she drove her minivan into the sea. We’re watching, Volusia County. Don’t fail us more than you already have failed Ebony.

Two Hours to finish a Smoothie?

My attempt at hiding Alli’s medicine in a smoothie failed miserably.

It took nearly two hours for her to finish the thing and if I had recorded the sounds she was making the entire time, you’d expect me to be announcing the birth of a child after it was all over. Seriously!

What the heck is going on here??? Why won’t my kid take her medicine? Chris says it’s because she’s got his discerning palate which means she’ll be a chef someday. I don’t care about someday, I told him. All I care about is that she take her medicine now so she can go back to school.

I just got off the phone with a very unfortunate nurse at my pediatrician’s office who’s first suggestion was to hid the medicine in some yogurt or pudding. Were you NOT listening to what I just told you about the friggin smoothie???  The medicine was hidden in blended layers of frozen blueberries, yogurt, banana, and blueberry juice. AND SHE KNEW IT WAS THERE!!!! Then the nurse brilliantly told me to hide it in some Sunny D. Listen here sweetheart, my kid’s got strep. I’m not giving her something as acidic as Sunny D. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that’d be a bit like rubbing salt in an open wound. And then Brilliant Nurse Idiot suggested I not let Alli see me put the medicine in whatever I’m hiding it in. Really? Oh My God. Thank YOU for that brilliant tip. I HADN’T THOUGHT OF THAT ONE!!!! The pediatrician is supposed to call me back. I think I got a bit too belligerent on the phone but I’m at my wit’s end, can ya blame me?

I want to go curl up in our bed and go to sleep.  I think I will right after the ped calls me back.

Anyone have a tracking number for that Cuervo?

Diagnosis: Strep Throat

No school until at least Wednesday for Alli.

Hopefully we’ll be able to get through the night without waking up at 3am as we’ve been doing the past two nights. It’s wearing me out!

Tomorrow is Day 2 of Chris’ on the job evaluation. Today went well as he really impresed the Management Development person.

Another big thing happens tomorrow – I will be attending a Meet & Greet for the Spring Interns at Common Ground here in Athens. Two of the interns will be working with me on the overhaul of the support group meetings for PACE. I’m hoping the new format will draw in new attendees, gain additional community support, and also form a strong base for a new nationwide support movement for families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. I’ll be posting more details about the project as they arise. I’m really excited about this and feel that it is the beginning of something really awesome.

Meanwhile, the bulk of tomorrow will be spent at home, resting and hanging out with the kids as Alli recovers.

Hanging in there

Tomorrow was to mark the beginning of Alli’s second week back to school after the giddy holiday season.

She won’t be going.

Poor little girl has had a fever all weekend. She’s also been complaining of a sore throat and owwie ears. We’ve been giving Motrin and using Cameron’s ear drops for now and will probably be taking her to the doctor’s office tomorrow depending on what morning brings. She hasn’t been lethargic – far from it, actually. This evening she was a bit worn out but her fever was higher than it had been.

Chris and I are doing ok. He’s been working every day from 8-12n on trying to find a job and has been actively participating in household duties and parenting. In fact, I haven’t even had to ask him to do chores. He’s been doing them on his own. Who is this man and what has he done with my husband? Am I going to find my real husband bound and gagged somewhere? Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the new Chris and am very grateful for the effort he’s been putting forth. This is the Chris that has been hiding for so long and he’s starting to shine. I pray that God will allow him to continue to shine and continue to get brighter as he goes.

Tomorrow I’ll be driving Chris to an on-the-job eval. It’s supposed to last for three days but we only have his hours for tomorrow. On Tuesday evening I’m supposed to be getting together to meet with my interns at a Meet and Greet. I’m hoping I will be able to go and that his schedule won’t preclude me from attending. We’re having a bit of a difficult time with his parents right now so I don’t think asking them to watch the kids will be possible. It’s so frustrating to be left out in the cold like this. And with Alli sick I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone but family to keep the kids. Prayers that this situation will resolve itself would be gratefully appreciated. I’ve done my best with giving the entire situation to God but man is it hard!

So it’s New Year’s Eve…

It’s been a rough year.

Can I say that again?

It’s been a rough year.

One more time –

It’s been a rough year.

And here I sit, on the last day of it, sick, tired, and trying not to worry about the future.

I’m worn out. Slap worn out. But amazingly enough, still hopeful, still laughing, and still smiling.

I know I should focus on the positive. Focus on the gifts of my renewed faith, my renewed strength in God’s power and plan for my life. I’m trying. Really, I am.

It’s been a good year for my PPD work –

  • This blog has had nearly 20,000 hits since May
  • The PPD Dads Project has over 1,000 hits and has only been in offical existence for 26 days now.
  • An interview at 5 minutes for mom.
  • Lots of interviews here!
  • There’s been the development of a statewide initiative here in GA
  • Several local connections made, one of which has netted me two interns to help overhaul my support meetings!
  • I’ve really had a blast working over at iVillage as the CL of the Postpartum Depression Board and thank God I am able to provide support in that way too.
  • I’ve provided support for at least 1 woman/family each day this past year (that I know of). That’s a minimum of 365 families. Wow.
  • Chat at Pampered, Pregger & Beyond

Personally it’s been a rough year but I’ve struggled to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. I know if I focused on the negatives, I would be swept away into the deep dark depths of the sea of sorrow forever.

My car accident taught me we can never know what is coming our way and that the protection we thought we had here in the world may not be there at all. There is only one way protection and safe place in which to rest – on Him. He will never fail.

My probation as a result of my car accident taught me that if you do truly lean on Him, He will bring compassion to those around you and allow the repentant nature of your soul to be revealed to them. He will humble you.

Alli’s diagnosis with ADHD has shown me that we need to be understanding of others and patient with them no matter what. We are all beautiful no matter what because HE made us.

And more recently, my husband’s job loss has taught me that even when things seem irreparably damaged, there is hope as long as both parties are willing to work towards the same goal with the same fervrent dedication.

So while I am not ending the year on a high note, I have truly learned some valuable lessons this year. Lessons that have allowed me to grow by leaps and bounds and have carved a new me. Just as I have in the past, I intend on pulling myself up by my bootstraps (yes, I KNOW that’s a cliche!) and wading into whatever 2009 has to offer. Serve it up, baby. I’ve got God on my side.

The Insanity of Sickness & Christmas

Oh how it royally bites to be sick on a holiday. Especially when you’re the one cooking THE MEAL and it’s your first time at the helm for such a big event. I somehow managed to hold it all together and pulled off an awesome Christmas Lunch of (get this) Roast Beef Tenderloin with Beef Mushroom Sauce, Carrot Souffle, Green Bean Bundles, Creamed Corn, and Yorkshire Pudding. I baked a Scripture Cake the night before in honor of the man of the day, Jesus.

Yet once I stopped moving frantically about in the kitchen and sat down, my body realized the rush was over and apparently gave itself permission to implode.

My left hip? Out of alignment for the better part of the afternoon and evening. Only heat and a whopping dose of Tylenol and Ibuprofen cleared that up. And thank goodness it did because I was unable to bear weight on my left side without almost collapsing and crying outloud.

My head and chest? Obscenely Congested. Tylenol Cold did nothing for me. Ended up making a Walgreens run at 10p last night for myself and for Cameron. I got Severe Cold Meds and Nasal Spray. He got a little Flowing Vapors desk thingy by Triaminic. (Have I mentioned Charlotte’s sick too?)

All of this started last Friday when Alli was coughing slightly. The cough got worse and by Sunday evening I was at the ER with her. First thing I did when we got ushered back to a room? Turned on the NY Giants game! (Thank GOD they won!) She had to get a strep swab, flu swab (which is a nasal swab and not an easy thing to watch), take some ibuprofen and tylenol, get some chest x-rays, get said x-rays done again, and finally ended up with a diagnosis of Possible Pneumonia. She was given antibiotics there and we were sent home with a prescription. Half an hour after she took the antibiotics she threw up. Repeated this again in the morning when we tried to give Motrin. Off to the ped’s office with a feverish uncooperative toddler in tow.

Much of this past week has been spent in a headlock with Alli to get her to take her meds and trying to conserve the tissue use because her nose has been running a freakishly long marathon. We’re all coughing (except for Chris) and today has found me in bed for the better part of it – I’ve been awake a couple of times but not very long. I’m due to take some more medicine here shortly (I think – how bad is that!) and am ready to crawl back into bed and rest. I just can’t take being awake anymore. My head is pouding, my voice has apparently bought the last ticket to Clarksville, and this cough and congestion is driving me insane.

And for the record, Chris has been absolutely awesome today. He’s really taken the reigns and let me pass out. I can’t even begin to express how much that has meant to me!

So forgive me if I haven’t posted much the past week or don’t post much for the next few days. I’m taking my own advice and doing some much needed self-care.

Sharing the Journey with ME!

Here’s a twist on the typical Thursday Interview fare around here.

I asked my husband to email me 10 questions. He sent 11. I figured it was only fair to allow him to interview me being that he was kind enough to do the same.

Enjoy getting to know me even better!

Tell me about the first time that you thought you might be suffering from PPD. How did you cope with it?

We were living in South Carolina and miles away from any family or support when our first daughter was born. Just a few months prior to her birth I discovered the online community at iVillage.com and became quite active there as I did not have any friends or family nearby and was practically bedridden due to severe pelvic misalignment issues. Allison’s birth was quite the traumatic experience (the doctor is very lucky I had a moment of sanity and decided NOT to kick him) and no one really seemed to offer any help after she was born. It was kind of an in and out experience, which, unfortunately, is the norm nowadays.

Once we got her home, the first thing that happened was an employee of yours stopping by the house with her son who was sick and sneezing. He proceeded to touch all of the baby stuff and I totally freaked out. At the time I did not see this as the beginning but the level of anxiety I felt that day took a very long time to dissipate. I really started to sink lower when you went back to work and remember standing over Alli’s crib and apologizing to her because I had no idea what to say to her. I thought she was judging me for not knowing how to be a good mommy. I was also very upset with myself because motherhood was what I wanted – even more than being a wife – I grew up wanting to be a mommy more than anything and here I was, finally a mom, and felt I was failing.

I realized it might be PPD through the online community at iVillage and reading things other women had posted. At three months postpartum and after some serious soul searching, I finally made an appointment with my OB. I was tired of the intrusive thoughts, the anxiety, the anger, I was tired of not being myself. So I went online, took a screening test and scored severely depressed having answered the questions about self-harm and harming my infant with a yes. I took this to my OB and he refused to acknowledge the possibility of PPD but did admit something was going on – PPD, no – because I was more than 6 weeks PP and my “hormones should be back to normal by now” Calm down now – it gets worse. Alli was screaming to be nursed as we discussed things (crying is my WORST trigger) and my OB brazenly asked how important it was to continue breastfeeding. What he said next shocked me. He refused to medicate me because I refused to quit nursing. His precise words were that I refused to stop nursing for trial therapy. I have my medical records to prove it. Because I was clean, had applied make-up, and was well-spoken, I couldn’t be depressed. Because I didn’t “look” the part, that couldn’t be what was wrong with me. He admitted something was going on but refused to admit that it was PPD. I was referred to the in-house counselor but they kept changing my appointment which made things worse so I refused to go and canceled my appointment.

Just two months later we moved back to Georgia and things started to improve because we were able to leave Alli with your parents and I started to get some time to myself. I thought I was recovered but sadly we discovered after I gave birth to Charlotte that I had not and things were worse than ever.

After giving birth to three children, how did your pregnancies differ in relation to your PPD experiences?

My first pregnancy was the easiest but I think all Moms say that – after all, you don’t have other little ones to chase around or keep up with. My first round of PPD was also mild compared to the second time around.

The second pregnancy was a bit easier physically because I knew what to expect but harder in the aspect that I had a toddler to run around after which is the last thing you feel like doing when your stomach is revolting against well, the world. The postpartum period after Charlotte’s birth was the most intense – her cleft palate, my depression and subsequent hospitalization, her multiple surgeries, Alli’s terrible two’s, your stressful and exhaustive job, pumping full time for Charlotte… you name it, there wasn’t a roadblock we didn’t face. But we made it through, clutching the bar holding us down into the roller coaster until our knuckles were transparent.

Honestly, how supportive was I when you were going through such a terrible time? What do you wish I had done differently?

Wow. Hard question. I think you were as supportive as you could be given the existential circumstances of each situation (no support system, birth defect & NICU, unexpected pregnancy), the information available to you at the time, and the irritability that you were constantly ducking from me. I am sure you probably felt as if you were walking on eggshells most of the time, not knowing if the next word out of your mouth would set off an “episode.”

Knowing what we now know as a couple about PPD, obviously there are some things we would have done differently like gone for a second opinion, pushed for better treatment, worked together instead of drifting apart into our own worlds which I think led to the path on which we found ourselves after Charlotte’s birth. I wasn’t able to be there for you and you felt as you couldn’t show any emotion when all I wanted was for you to show something – to let know that I wasn’t alone in feeling so lost about her cleft palate and the NICU stay. Of course I didn’t say this to you – I expected you to read my mind and got pissed when you didn’t. That’s just not fair at all (and is hallmark behavior of a postpartum woman)

Overall, you did a great job keeping us together as a family even if it meant putting on a show for me and for everyone else. As for having done something differently, hindsight is 20/20 and there’s nothing we can do to change our past behavior. I believe strongly that our marriage can now withstand anything anyone wishes to toss our way. We’ve certainly been through quite a bit in six short years.

You have certainly turned some very tragic events into ammunition to help other women fight PPD? How have your PPD experiences helped you help others?

I have found my inner strength, beauty, and grace as a result of the darkness of PPD. The same strength with which I battled my own PPD energizes me each and everyday to help other women who are in the same place I used to be. I will NOT let another woman suffer alone if there is anything I can do to change that for her. Each day I wake up with the goal of helping at least one woman. Small contribution but it goes back to a quote I fell in love with while in college by Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What role has your faith and belief in God played in your battles with PPD?

Raised Christian and having given my heart to the Lord at the tender age of 6, I had fallen away from the Lord and had really not been close with him for quite some time when Alli was born. I started to pray more and continued with this throughout my pregnancy with Charlotte. After Charlotte’s birth, I could feel His presence and let myself lean on Him although not as much as I should have, looking back. God knew he wasn’t done with me yet so He sent us Cameron to show me how much of a miracle He was capable of making. And He made a cute one!

When I first started helping others with PPD, I was uncomfortable talking about faith and God. Now it’s one of the easiest things to talk about. God has truly taken me into his Arms and blessed me. And I figure – if Jesus died for our sins, what a small price PPD is compared to His sacrifice. It’s taken me nearly four years of intense growth and molding to come to that conclusion and is not something I have come to believe lightly. My faith is stronger than ever and is still growing.

On the other side of the coin, have your PPD experiences affected your faith? How?

My PPD experiences have certainly brought me closer to God. I have come to realize that He has big plans for me and I have learned to quietly listen to his voice and truly lean on Him during times of need. In fact, if I start to worry now, I instantly pray rather than let it spiral out of control. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for all the growth He has allowed in my life over the past few years!

Life can be busy. Ours certainly is. You are a mother of three, homemaker, PPD advocate and wife. It almost seems impossible what you do. So I have to know, how do you do it?

I have no idea. If you figure it out, let me know.

Seriously though – I grew up watching (and helping) my mother around the house. She was a Stay at home mom too and I picked up a lot of tips from her too. I still call every day (HI MOM) well, almost every day as I’m much busier now and she gives me lots and lots of tips.

A lot of the PPD work I do is online so I can do bits and pieces here and there. I’ve also got the housework down to a science and can have that going while I’m working on PPD stuff in the living room.

One rule I’m working on is that when the girls are awake, I am all theirs unless I have to cook or clean. Even then I try to get them involved so they don’t feel left out or get them playing with play-doh at the dining room table so they’ll at least be having fun. I love my times with the girls as it’s what keeps me sane – well, along with time with you too!

What do you find most challenging about motherhood?

It never ends. My mom has a cartoon on her fridge at her house that I would LOVE to have – a census worker is at the door and a woman is standing there. She is saying, “Work? I just wake up and there it is.” I am never off – I am on call 24/7. Just today I was mother, nurse, friend, poopy cleaner, fan fixer, chef, linguist, wife, writer, brain-stormer, dishwasher, laundry lady, pie maker, dog walker, hand-holder, singer, and most importantly, ME.

What is your favorite thing about motherhood?

Bedtime.

Seriously though – I would have to go with getting the kids to laugh and have a good time. There is NOTHING more heartwarming and uplifting than allowing myself to be a total kid right along with them. I know this is not something you’ve seen terribly often but I’m working on it. At least I’m singing more in front of you more, right?

And last, but not least. What is it like being married to such a hunk and amazing man?

I’ll let you know when that happens. 😉

It’s like the way the Earth smells right after an afternoon rain shower. No matter how many times you experience it, it’s always new, refreshing, and uplifting even though the storm that brought you there may have been the most difficult storm you’ve ever experienced.

Sharing the Journey with My Husband

As I sit here having just read this interview, I am blown away by how far we have truly come since the birth of our first child. We have overcome so much and I know it is because neither one of us is afraid of staring adversity in the eye. Chris and I met November 2000 while we worked at the same company. We’ve been inseparable ever since, no matter what the storm brought to our world. Relying on each other’s strengths and shoring up each other’s weaknesses, we’ve managed to build an extremely strong marriage that has been tested time and again in the short six years of wedded partnership. And you know what? We’ve come out of each storm stronger and closer than before. There’s a quote by Louisa Alcott:  “I am not afraid of the storm for I am learning to sail my ship.” Together we are not afraid of the storm and have slowly begun to master sailing our ship through whatever mighty waves come our way. I hope you enjoy this honest and compassionate look into my PPD experience from my husband’s perspective.

Would you share your experience of watching the woman you love suffer from Postpartum Depression? What were some of the emotions you went through as you watched me spiral downward and what was the hardest part for you?

Wow, thats tough. I guess it is hard because I have blocked that out of my mind. I think the best way to answer that question is to just explain what PPD looks like from the outside from the perspective of someone who is uneducated in the signs, because that is where I was when it all began. Honestly I really didn’t know what to think. All I knew is that the woman that I married and loved was gone. You were reclusive and moody most of the time. All I really wanted to do is just tell you to snap out of it, and I think that I did a couple of times. I thought you had become lazy and selfish. I knew something was wrong, but I thought it was more of a problem with lack of motivation and lack of discipline. It made me angry. After our second daughter was born, I had educated myself. I found that even though I got frustrated with you, I understood. I probably didn’t show it all the time, because I had my own stresses going on with sixty hour work weeks and the hospitalization of our daughter. The hardest part of it all though was watching you hurt. I just wanted so bad for you to be happy and it just didn’t seem to happen.

Looking back, would you agree that the lack of diagnosis/treatment of my first episode compounded my second episode?

Definitely. I actually believe that it just carried over into the second pregnancy. You never really recovered from the first episode. It wasn’t until nearly a year after the birth of Charlotte that I even began to recognize you as the same woman that I married.

You recognized my PP OCD the second time around well before I was able to admit there was a problem. In fact, you even made the call to my OB’s office for initial treatment. What were some of the warning signs that alerted you to the beginnings of this episode?

You had become anti-social. You were sad most of the time. You did a lot of cleaning, and please don’t take this the wrong way because you really are a great housewife, but neither one of us is Mary Poppins when it comes to keeping the house clean. What really tipped me off though was that you just didn’t seem well. You wanted to sleep a lot and you also seemed to snap very easily at the smallest things.

My hospitalization absolutely frightened me but ultimately became the turning point in my recovery. Would you share your memories and feelings surrounding my hospitalization?

Honestly, I was scared to death as well. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was working sixty hour work weeks with a two year old and newborn at home and I didn’t know how I was going to take care of them. And how would I juggle having to make the hour drive back and forth to the hospital that you were in to bring you the things that you would need and to get milk for Charlotte? I didn’t know how long you would be there. I was really scared. I was also concerned for you. I love you and didn’t want to see you hurting. I was also thankful for the fact that you were getting the help you needed. When you called me at work and told me that you were having intrusive thoughts, I couldn’t get home fast enough. Who knows what the outcome would have been had you not gone to the hospital that day? That thought still crosses my mind today. I am so grateful that you understood the severity of your problem and took the help that was given to you. I think it all goes back to education.

We worked very hard together to prevent PPD after Cameron’s birth. What were some of the differences in how we approached the postpartum period this time around?

Well, I know that you took antidepressants during your pregnancy, but we also had a set of written guidelines as to what to look for and for how we would respond if certain events took place. We tried to educate (there’s that word again) our families about the signs to look for and also what were the right and wrong things to say and do in the event that PPD reared it’s head again. During your second bout with PPD I really think that we were better educated, but our families were not. This caused a lot of tension and strife. With the whole family knowing what to look for, it helped make everyone sympathetic to the situation. Boy do I wish we had that in place when in the throes of your second episode.

What is the biggest lesson you feel you’ve learned from my PP OCD episodes?

I always viewed mental illness as something that happened to other people. I viewed people with mental illness as weird or abnormal. The biggest thing I learned is that mental illness can strike anyone, at any time. I suffer from ADHD, depression and anxiety and would have never sought help with my issues had I not educated myself about yours.

What has it been like to watch me grow from mother suffering from PPD to the PPD Advocate I am today?

First I would like to say how proud I am of you. You have turned adversity into triumph. I have been amazed at the transformation. Most people just take their hard knocks and then move on, but you have taken up a cause and have made a difference in other peoples lives. I am inspired and in awe. I love you and encourage to keep up the great work that you are doing.

Share with us what you find to be most challenging about fatherhood. The Least challenging.

I have always been a rather impatient person. Fatherhood is teaching me patience. That is a challenge since I tend to want instant results. Maybe that is just the ADHD in me. Kids sort of move at their own pace, and I have learned that they are learning all along the way. To rush them along is not only detrimental to their growth and development, but it is also unfair to steal those learning experiences away from them. The least challenging is loving those precious kids. I just can’t seem to get enough of them and can’t give enough hugs and kisses. That is not a challenge at all.

How important do you feel it is to hold onto a sense of self once you become a parent? What are some ways a father can provide some much needed alone time?

You must know who you are before you can help someone else, namely your children, discover who they are. The best way to do that is to have some “me time”. It is very difficult to get when you are a parent between diaper changes and cleaning mud (or other mud like substances) off the walls, but is essential. Sometimes I will stay up late to get some alone time or will go to the store. Don’t forget though that you and your spouse need some time together too. Also, it is ok to ask your wife to take the kids for a few hours while you go get some coffee. Just remember though that you need to provide her with that same luxury as well. Ask the Grandparents to take the kids too. Even if it is just for an hour or two, you and your spouse can have a nice dinner or just go home and work on some of those household projects that you have on your “honey do” list.

And last but not least, if you had one piece of advice to give an expectant father (new or experienced), what would it be?

Educate, educate and when it’s all through educate some more. You can never fully prepare yourself for everything that fatherhood throws at you, but knowing some of what to expect takes a lot of the anxiety away and relieves a lot of the stress on you and your spouses relationship

Absolutely OUTRAGED

UGH!

As if it’s not enough that we already face enough during PPD, the stigma, the refusal of acknowledgement, the confusion over baby blues, postpartum depression, other mood disorders, and Postpartum Psychosis – then along comes an article like this one: Woman found insane in Baby Blues Case seeks Sanity Restoration with the subtitle specifying: Sheryl Massip was found not guilty by reason of insanity 20 years ago for killing her infant son while suffering from post-partum psychosis.

Cover your ears. Prepare your eyes. i’m about to yell. And I mean YELL.

THE BABY BLUES ARE NOT AT ALL SIMILAR TO 

POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Get your facts straight Mr. Welborn. (by the way, you can email him and call him (714 834-3784.) Let him know that he is seriously mistaken with his usage of terms.

Let’s revisit the facts, shall we?

According to an article by Helen Jones at the Postpartum Support International website, the baby blues affect up to 80% of new moms and involve crying for no reason or general stress or anxiety that dissipates after the first few weeks.

Within the same article, Jones defines Postpartum Psychosis as:

Postpartum Psychosis (PPP)

The onset is usually sudden, with symptoms including: delusions (strange beliefs) and/or hallucinations; feeling very irritated, hyperactive and unable to sleep; significant mood changes; and using poor judgment in making decisions. Women who are more vulnerable are individuals who have a previous history of psychiatric disorders, previous postpartum mood disorders, or a family history of psychiatric disorders. Women who display any of these symptoms should contact their health care provider immediately. Family members should be alert for these symptoms as well, since they are often able to recognize serious symptoms sooner than the mother does.

 Do these even SOUND like they’re in the same ball park?

NO.

In fact, Baby Blues aren’t even classified as a mental health disorder.

Could referring to PPP as the baby blues scare a brand new mother who may be feeling a little weepy or be starting to become seriously depressed? HECK YEAH.

To make matters worse, Mr. Welborn also later refers to PPP as an extreme form of Postpartum Depression. Let me make one thing crystal clear. POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IS NOT THE SAME THING AS POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS. It’s an entirely different creature consisting of a break with reality. From what I understand, Postpartum Depression cannot develop into Postpartum Psychosis. (I’m doing some checking into that and will get back with you regarding research on that point)

I am very disappointed in Mr. Welborn’s apparent lack of tact and compassion for new mothers struggling with this range of disorders. And even more disappointed that the newspaper he works for would publish this article without such a brazen irresponsibility and lack of concrete understanding into the condition on which they are reporting. VERY DISAPPOINTED. Did I mention I’m pissed too? Or have you already figured that out?

Those of you who either read this blog regularly or know me should recognize that I don’t do this very often but when I do, I mean it and I am truly, deeply saddnened that this is still happening. Media sensationalism of these cases is a barrier to treatment for women – I’ve had many women share with me that they or their husbands are fearful of admitting they have postpartum mood issues for fear that what happens to the women they read about in the paper may happen to them. UGH! I can’t personally guarantee that you won’t develop PPP but I CAN tell you that it is rare – extremely rare BUT these cases are the ones who make the news. Not the positive cases of recovery – no – the ones that end in sheer tragedy and will bring in viewers.

Email Mr. Welborn. Call him. Contact the OC Register’s Editorial Staff and Operating Management. Let them know we won’t stand for this. Let them know that if they’re going to cover a PPD story they need to get their facts straight and focus on the positive rather than the negative. BE SENSITIVE not only to the people in the story but the people who may be reading the story. They owe us that much.

Finally getting back on my feet!

Yesterday was my worst day of that horrible cold I referred to in my previous post. I had zero energy and was just shaky most of the day. The cold had also degenerated into a horrible cough which is finally starting to dissipate as well. I went to bed last night at 8pm, right after putting Alli to bed. It took everything out of me just to cook dinner and care for the girls yesterday.

Today is much better, combination of a ton of sleep (nearly 12 hours) and just general recovery. I’m about to lie down and rest for now though. i do have a couple of posts I really want to get up – one involves a recent online article I read by a columnist for the Oprah magazine that kind of irked me. The other is about a really cool farm in MI designed for rehab of the mentally ill. More on those tomorrow though – right now, I am going to continue to rest. i don’t want to push myself too much on my first good day!