Tag Archives: interview

Mommy-Muse Day is here!

Today I’m the featured blogger over at the Mommy-Muse website.

Later today at 3:00pm EST, you’ll get an entire hour of me on the radio with her. I’ll be discussing my journey as well as sharing some general information and tips! (There’s information on how to listen at the above link!)

As if that’s not enough, Christy (Mommy-Muse), has agreed to allow me to share her journey with her. Look for her interview to post here on Thursday!

Sharing the Journey with YOU (Take II)!

There was ONE taker last time for this interview (Thanks Heather!)

So c’mon – just five questions. You never know who you might help by sharing your story with the rest of us because even though they’re similar, each one has their own unique nuances and experiences that may just reach out and inspire a Mom or someone close to a Mom to get help for her!

1) What is your personal experience with PPD? Are you a survivor, partner, parent, medical professional?

2) Has your experience with PPD changed your life? If so, how?

3) What are some of your favorite PPD resources?

4) What role, if any, did your faith play in recovery or in your treatment views of PPD?

5) And last but not least – If you could pass on one piece of advice to an expecting mother, what would it be and why?

Hey! It IS Thursday, isn’t it?

I know, I know.

where’s the interview?

Well, I am insanely busy this week preparing for that Maternity & Baby Fair Presentation.

And to add to the insanity, our internet connection was dead all day yesterday, forcing me to be tech free all day. We didn’t get internet connection back until just as I was going to bed. I did manage to get my presentation flyer finished but still have quite a bit to do between now and Saturday morning.

So Sharing the Journey the interview feature is on hiatus until next week when we’ll feature an interview with another father who’s been on the frontlines of the PPD Battle and survived! (And hopefully we’ll hear from his wife the following week!)

So take care and I will be back to posting regularly soon!

Warmest,

Lauren

Blessings indeed!

Sue McRoberts, author of The Lifter of my Head, emailed me last week requesting an interview. I excitedly agreed and then immediately came down with a nasty spring/summer cold. Ugh. Finally recovered enough to think straight, I completed the interview today and wow – she’s got it up already!

Sue has meant a lot to me and the way she entered my life seemed to be random at the time but with everything that has happened in the past few months, I have no doubt that God placed her in my life to allow me to witness how comfortable it feels to be open and honest about my faith in relation to my PPD experience, something I had been struggling with since first starting my journey in helping others. God has truly allowed Sue to be a shining example of how a strong Christian woman can be herself and not be at all afraid of what others think. So a tremendous thank you to God for placing her in my life and a tremendous thank you to Sue for allowing Him to work in yours.

Click here to read the interview!

Sharing the Journey with Karen Kleiman

Yes, I know this month’s interviews are dedicated to moms of women with PPD but I am just so excited about this interview that I just had to put it up!

If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning (and thank you if you have!), you know that Karen’s book, What am I thinking? Having a Baby after Postpartum Depression was what I grabbed immediately after the positive pregnancy test. It was that very book that led to the inspiration for this blog so in a way, this is coming full circle for me because it was about this time last year that I found out I was pregnant.

Karen runs The Postpartum Stress Center in PA and her website and books are the first places I will send a new mom or family member. She’s got her stuff together and in my opinion has some of the best straightforward advice and information for women and their families! I am so honoured to be sharing this with you and even more honoured that Karen agreed to do the interview. Thanks Karen for all your hard work! Keep it up!

 

What led you to specialize in women’s issues?

To steal a line from my new book, “Ever since I was a young child, I wanted to be a mother.”  I remember playing with dolls and always taking on the role of the perfect mother.  I remember proudly asserting to my own mother, “when I grow up, I’m going to be a mother!”  After studying to be a therapist and then, becoming a mother myself, it felt natural to narrow my professional focus to women and their unique needs.

How did the idea for The Postpartum Stress Center come about and what brought it to fruition?

When my children were born, twenty plus years ago, I went back to work part-time as a social worker and trained to be a lactation consultant so I could connect with new mothers when I wasn’t working.  That experience provided one of my earliest exposures to the emotional upheaval of new motherhood.  Women started telling me how bad they were feeling.  (As you can imagine, if you can talk to a stranger about your nipples, you can talk about anything!)  I wasn’t sure if it was because I was a therapist or because they were so overwhelmed, it didn’t matter who was on the other end of the phone, but either way, I became aware of how many women weren’t feeling good after they had their babies.  Some felt bad about their babies, some felt bad about their marriages, some felt bad about them selves.  The common themes were: lack of support, exhaustion, and chronic worry. 

So when I went into private practice, I started studying postpartum depression to better understand what some of these women might be experiencing.   It didn’t take long for me to realize that most of these women were falling through the cracks of the medical community, remember, this was twenty four years ago.  No one was talking about postpartum depression like they do today.  As my practice developed and I started treating more and more women with depression, it was apparent how insufficient the healthcare system was in response to this great need.  This is when my clinical practice evolved into the next phase which included psycho-education, trainings, in-services, and writing, in order to enhance the community’s understanding and promote optimal treatment options.

As a mother yourself, what has been most challenging? Least challenging?

As much as I hate to admit it… this Empty Nest thing… I don’t love it.  It’s funny, I often think to myself how fortunate I am to have such a loving husband (twenty five years with me cannot be easy!), a fabulous career and all kinds of wonderful things to fill my days.  Still, it’s hard not to have the kids here.  Both are close enough to home, but, it’s not the same.

Least challenging?  Laughing with and about my kids.  You know that feeling that a new mother gets when she hears her baby belly laugh for the first time?  It’s like you want to stop the whole world and tell everyone to listen to this exquisite sound, as if no one had ever heard a baby laugh before!  Nothing in the world feels better than hearing your baby belly laugh.  And when the baby is 15 years old, or 21, or 24?  It feels exactly the same way.  It’s magical.

How has becoming a mother changed you?

Motherhood has inspired all that I do, most of what I say, and much of who I am.

What activity refreshes you the most when you’ve had a rough day?

I love coming home and sitting on the deck with my husband after a day’s work; surrounded by flowers, birds, dogs, good food, and lots of laughs.  It is actually essential to my well-being.  I get very cranky if I don’t laugh.

In your opinion, what aspect of motherhood should be celebrated the most?

I don’t think there is any aspect of motherhood that can be singled out to be celebrated.  I truly think all mothers, as well as fathers, always do the best they can at any given moment.   Women need to stop comparing themselves to others; they need to try to quiet the critical voice inside their own heads and believe in themselves.  Mothers need to learn to celebrate their own accomplishments, big and small, and realize the greatness in all that they do.  If they wait for appreciation from others, they will, undoubtedly, be disappointed and disillusioned.

What led you to write The Postpartum Husband?

After working with the postpartum population for some time, I began to realize that husbands were often kept out of the treatment loop.   As more and more partners were joining our sessions, I became aware of their enormous influence on the recovery process.  Not only did they need information and support, but their presence and their connection to the process made a significant difference in how women recovered.

Your book, What Am I Thinking?: Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression, was what I grabbed when I got my positive pregnancy result for Cameron and it really helped me to put a positive spin on my pregnancy – inspired this blog, actually. What went into the authorship of this book and why would you recommend it to women who are facing either a decision about pregnancy or an unexpected pregnancy after experiencing a Postpartum Mood Disorder?

Well as you know, the decision to get pregnant after experiencing a previous postpartum mood disorder is a difficult one.  In my practice, I have seen that women will feel more confident, more in control and less anxious if they have information.  The information gathered from a previous experience of depression can arm a woman with details that can help her learn a great deal about herself.  It has been shown that preparing for the postpartum period by fortifying her resources can reduce the likelihood of a full-blown depression.

  As with all the books I have written, the women I see in my practice have literally led the way.  They tell me what they need to know, which is how I determine what should be addressed.  Postpartum women have taught me what I know and what I need to teach others.  I’m so glad to hear my book helped support you through your pregnancy and postpartum period!  And it inspired this blog?  What a sweet thing to say.  I think this blog is such a fabulous idea and I’m certain it has offered much support to women going through similar circumstances.

 I hope you don’t mind me plugging my newest book which is due out this September.  “Therapy and the Postpartum Woman: Notes on Healing Postpartum Depression for Clinicians and the Women Who Seek their Help” (Routledge, 2008 ) will be a nice companion book for women with PPD who are either in therapy or considering therapy. 

Any sage advice for families currently experiencing issues with a Postpartum Mood disorder? What steps should they take to help Mom get better?  

Talk to her.  Sit with her.  Stay close to her.  Tolerate her anxiety and ambivalence.  Encourage her to contact her healthcare practitioner.  If she doesn’t, make sure she knows you will do that with her or for her.   Do not assume she is fine if she says she is.  Stay connected to the process.  Do what needs to be done to enable her to sleep, eat, rest and get out for fresh air.  Remind her she is loved and no matter how long this takes, you will be there.  Tell her she will not always feel this way. 

If there was one piece of advice you could give to an expectant mother (new or experienced), what would it be and why would this be important for her to hear? 

An expectant mother is at a turning point in her life.  She knows that no matter how things unfold, her life will never be the same.  This can be experienced with great anticipation or with great anxiety.  Either way, it is best to prepare by being mindful and attentive; to her own needs, to those of her partner and to those of her marriage.
 
For women who may be symptomatic during or after their pregnancy, I am reminded of a wonderful quote by Emory Austin:

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart.  Sing anyway.” 

Sharing the Journey with Helena Bradford

Welcome to the second interview in this month’s series, Mothers of Women who have Struggled with PPD. Today’s interview is with Helena Bradford, mother to Ruth. Helena has courageously dedicated her life to helping women with PPD through her foundation, the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation. She tragically lost Ruth to PPD as a result of inadequate medical care and lack of information provided by medical professionals and is passionate about not letting that happen to anyone else. Helena has a wonderful quote as part of her email signature and it has immersed itself in my life and has kept my bad days limited to being singular in occurence as I remind myself of WHO holds my tomorrow. I want to share it with you and thank Helena for sharing it with those who email her.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds,
but I know Who holds tomorrow.

Helena truly has turned her tragic loss into such a powerful and wonderful shining light, filling those who are suffering with hope and allowing them to know that yes, there are people who care and they are NOT alone in their suffering. Thank you Helena, for your bravery, optimism, perseverance, and compassion. All four are awesome traits needed in the PPD world and we are indeed a lucky community to have your dedication to improving and spreading knowledge and resources to women and families who need it!

  

What was it about your daughter’s experience with PPD that led you to start the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation?

 The fact that she received exceptionally poor treatment and died as a result. We received no information about PPD, no guidance in how to help Ruth stay alive, and no support from the medical community. We were certainly never told PPD was temporary and totally treatable, so these are some of the services we provide to the public through our Foundation. 

 How soon after your daughter gave birth did you begin to notice something wasn’t quite right with her? What were some of her primary symptoms?

 Shortly after delivery – like a day or two. Ruth’s symptoms included:  

  • I’m not sure I’m capable of taking care of this baby
  • Social withdrawal; behavior totally out of character

    Ruth made the statement she felt she needed to be institutionalized and that scared her to death

  • MEGA frustration and feelings of inadequacy – how can I do everything that has to be done and do it in a manner acceptable to me?

  • “Freaking out”, internally, every time the baby cried even though she knew there was someone there to take care of Andrew when she didn’t feel she could. Felt it was her responsibility – not someone else’s

  • Couldn’t sleep because her brain wouldn’t quit racing about how she was going to get everything done for the baby as well as her normal, everyday duties – mega problems with sleep deprivation

  • Found her on the floor in a corner between two large pieces of furniture one morning. When asked why she was there, she said she was hiding.

 

  What were some things that you drew strength from during this difficult time with Ruth?

 My faith in God and the support of friends and church family. 

 Has working with the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation taken Ruth’s tragedy and turned it into something positive for you?  

   Absolutely! I believe God has taken Ruth’s totally needless death and saved many lives through the story of her tragedy.  

 How uplifting is it for you when you are able to successfully help a woman and family in need?  

 Indescribably powerful and affirming. Being able to rescue moms and their families from the devastation of postpartum depression/perinatal mood disorders removes some of the senselessness of Ruth’s death. It gives positive meaning to her life and to the beautiful person she was.  

  Do you feel that the resources available to women with PPD have improved? 

 Yes they have, but we still have an exceptionally long way to go to eliminate tragedies and devastated lives and families as a result of PPD. I would say the majority of medical care givers and lay people are still totally ignorant of facts surrounding perinatal mood disorders and their treatment. That’s unacceptable.  

 

 What were some of the things you did as a mother to try to help Ruth?  

 I lived with Ruth and took care of her, the house and the baby for nearly 6 weeks. In addition, I brought her home with me a couple of times. For 2 ½ months, I was with Ruth more than I was away from her. Although that kind of support is crucial in battling PPD, it may not be enough if bad medical treatment is being received. It certainly wasn’t for Ruth. 

I tried to find good medical care for her but was unsuccessful. I wish I had taken her to Raleigh, NC where there is a PPD support group. I think she would have benefited tremendously from the group. 

 

 Tell us about your Walk/Run coming up in September that helps to raise awareness for PPD as well as funds for your organization. How did it get started? 

 Well, that’s a really neat story. One of the sweetest men in the world came to our house one night about five years ago to deliver an oxygen machine to my husband that his doctor had prescribed. While Gary was explaining the operation of the machine to us, we got off on the subject of the Foundation. After hearing Ruth’s story, Gary was in tears and said he wanted to do a fundraiser for us. THAT was the birth of the PPD Awareness Walk/Run. 

 The Run is held annually at Hampton Park in Charleston, SC. (For more information, please visit our web site at www.ppdsupport.org.) Both runners and walkers are invited to participate. Each year folks from all over our country, who work with PPD issues, travel to Charleston to participate. To me, that’s the most fun part because I get to meet the dedicated, passionate professionals and volunteers (some are PPD survivors) with whom I work throughout the year. 

 

 In your opinion, what should all expectant mothers know about PPD? 

  Postpartum Depression is totally treatable and is a temporary illness. No one needs to die as a result of it.  

  • There is help available. Please reach out for it, and don’t hesitate to change doctors if you feel you are receiving improper treatment or if you are not being heard. Postpartum depression is a valid illness that is equally as serious as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Thank God, it is temporary if treated early on and properly

  • Although there are definite risk factors for experiencing PPD, to my knowledge there is no way to know who will experience it and who won’t. That’s why I feel good PPD information should be provided in all birthing classes.

Have a plan in place before symptoms appear – just in case you happen to experience PPD. Some of the things a plan should include are:

  • a psychiatrist who is experienced in treating PPD

  • a night nurse or postpartum doula to take care of the baby at night so the mom can get plenty of sleep at night. This is critical.

  • friends/family members who will help the mom for several weeks (minimum) after she comes home from the hospital 

    

 Any advice for other mothers whose daughters are struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder?

 Make sure your daughter finds the best available medical care. Help her understand medication is necessary in most cases, and there is nothing wrong with taking that medication any more than it is to take medication for heart problems, diabetes or a whole host of other physical ailments. PPD is a physical illness that just happens to affect the brain instead of some other “more acceptable” organ in the body. No one deserves or asks for PPD!

Sharing the Journey with my Mom!

Happy May Day!

Today I am starting a series of interviews in honor of Mother’s Day. Interviews this month are focusing on Mothers of women who have suffered from Postpartum Depression. Up first is someone I am very happy to have the privilege of being close to and honoured that she agreed to be interviewd for my blog. My Mother is an intensely private person and yet it is because of her that I feel comfortable in being myself and reaching out to others. Raising three kids is no easy task (as I am discovering these days) and I am grateful that I have my mom to reach out to and certainly do not take that for granted. Thanks for all you have done for me over the years, Mom, and Thank you for your wonderful continued support in my life!

1) I know that you have a strong faith in God. How do you feel watching me go through Postpartum Depression and the subsequent growth I’ve experienced has affected your relationship with Him? Has it made it stronger?
 
   Having a close relationship with the Lord, has allowed me to let Him take care of  life situations. Through all the PPD that you have experienced His strength has given me just all the more reason to be thankful for the gift of patience and understanding. It has been amazing to look back just not at your journey but mine also and seeing the understanding of what and who God can be in our lives everyday.
    As far as a stronger relationship with God, every year I grow with Him in my life, His strength has always been the strongest for me, and His strength is always there.
  
2) When and how did you first realize something wasn’t quite right with me after Allison’s birth? What were some of the signs that didn’t sit well with you?
 
       Being the mother of three children myself, and that back when PPD was really just something that was not talked about or not even believed to have existed, my feelings of what you went through were really not in that place at that time. I can only understand after Allisons birth the constant calling to be reassured was a need for security from my point of view. Unfortunately because of the distance of living situations I only heard your feelings and immediately prayed and gave them  and your family to the Lord.
    
 3) I want to Thank You for your willingness to help so much after Charlotte’s birth when we were back and forth to the NICU. How hard was it for you to come down and help care for Allison while watching Chris and I go back and forth to Atlanta to visit our newborn daughter?
 
       This is a very easy question, I have always felt if I could be there for our children I would be. It comes back as your mom I knew that in my heart you would feel much better knowing I was there for you and your family. This particular time was when you started sharing more with me the emotional struggles because of Charlotte’s disability and also the understanding of the situation among all family members was new so there was quite a bit of distress.
 
4) You also dropped everything to come down when I was admitted to the hospital for PPD to help Chris with the girls. What were some of your thoughts as we went through that weekend?
 
     My immediate reaction when I read this question was one of I prayed! Next I knew because of what you, again had shared, the reasoning at this time was a medication issue. I will just say that the peace that God gave me is a big answer for this one. It was His strength not mine and His peace came  along with it.
 
5) How do you feel I am doing this time around with postpartum issues?
 
   You are more understanding, mainly because you are aware of what the problems can be. You still call a lot but I am seeing more of you sharing what the children are doing and the funny sayings, antics etc. I see a willingness to look outside “yourself” which in my opinion has helped you grow because
 its  allowed you to see how others in your life live. Your own relationship with the Lord has grown. That is a wonderful blessing!
 
 
6) What, if anything, have you learned from my postpartum experiences?
 
    I guess one of the biggest things I learned is that I do feel for all the mothers out there who had PPD and had no idea what was going on with their emotions.
Years ago when PPD was unknown and how so many of us have been affected and we kept asking is this normal?  To understand that as a society today we also no longer have families living close by and therefore the help that would once have been there has caused extra stress and therefore insecurities.
  
7) Do you feel that my motherhood has brought us closer?
 
    Yes and no. Yes, because of knowing that you care about my opinion and also seeing the relationship with our Lord growing. No, because of the distance of where we live keeps a lot of what we would share face to face out of the spectrum of our lives.
 
8 ) Have you done any research on your own into Postpartum Mood Disorders? If so, did what you find surprise you?
 
      I have done a bit but since at my age I am experiencing a lot of emotional changes in my own life I am giving it to the Lord who has been my strength when I have needed it. I am hardly ever surprised at much anymore. Emotions run the gamut, all over map.
 
9) What is your opinion on how open I am about my experiences and my determination to help other women not suffer alone?
 
       This, is one area I can say I am proud of you that you have taken it upon yourself to let others see and hear about what you have gone through. A beginning, yes, for knowing you have ” kept” a part of yourself and I know as your children grow you will hold onto yourself so when you are older you will know who you are.
 
10) Any advice for other mothers whose daughters are struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder?
 
    As you have shared many times already, keep the communication lines open. There will be plenty of times when as a parent you really have a hard time dealing with communication but I have found it the best way to help is to listen and learn and also just be there even if you have nothing to say. I have always shared with my children that if you ask I will give you my opinion, but you do not have to take it. There are so many resources out there now and some of the best advice I can give is to get all the advice you can from all possible places and then make an informed decision. Prayer for my family has always been an answer, God opens the doors to show me the right decision to make!  As a parent of someone who has PPD, just give love unconditionally!

Sharing the Journey with Jane Honikman

Jane Honikman was one of the first people I reached out to while  researching PPD support groups prior to starting my own. She very graciously sent me her books and even included a handwritten note of support (which I still have!)
And that’s the kind of woman Jane is… caring, understanding, compassionate, everything a mother with PPD would ever want to find in their time of desperation and need. She truly embodies what PSI stands for and I consider it to be a true honor to post this interview. I emailed Jane the questions a couple of days in advance but the interview was conducted via phone. The following is what I managed to capture so “listen” in and I hope you enjoy what Jane has to say.

 

 1) In your book, I’m Listening: A Guide to Supporting Postpartum Families, you mention the practice of Mothering the Mother. How important is this concept and why do you think this practice has vastly disappeared from our society?
I think what people have done is found subsitutes because immediate family is not as available as it has been in the past due to geographic separation. My generation subsituted friendship as mothering. We need to be more vocal about the need for mothering the mother and more organizational about it. Mothering is the essence of life – we can’t do anything alone, life is all about connection and partnerships.

 2) What did you find (and continue to find) to be most challenging about Motherhood? The least?

 The most challenging aspect of motherhood is keeping communication flowing. Making sure you are able to make your own wants known and yet listening at the same time to the needs of those around you. I feel that finding a balance between these is the key to successful communication.

 The least challenging is falling in love with your children.

3) How did you develop the Postpartum Mantra (You are not alone, You are not to blame, You will be well with help)?

 When I started getting educated about this in the early 80’s – listening to what was being said through the grassroots & research, it was clear that there were three simple messages. I’ve always tried to take the complex and simplify it. A lot of advocates have used this concept for other purposes as well. I have been involved with self help in the 60’s and 70’s and those experiences fed into this mantra. Blaming and being well is something also used by Alcoholics Anonymous.

4) What advice would you give to partners and families of women with Postpartum Depression? What can they do to best help the mother?

 Hanging in there as with any illness -stay mindful that it is not the person’s fault, just like the person with cancer didn’t get it on their own. With any mental illness, when the behaviour changes and it is harsh and alienating, it is hardest because you don’t want to be there for them. Encourage them to get help and be there for them. Never give up on them or yourselves.

5) When you started PEP (Parents Educating Parents), what was the primary motivating factor?

 We were a group of girlfriends providing support to each other and realized we were motivated to share the support we were experiencing in our small group with all the families in our surrounding community.

 6) Has PSI’s success in supporting women and families with PPD experiences surprised you?

 No, I knew eventually it was a matter of staying committed and patient and given my previous experience of working in communities, I knew it would just take time. I always felt that this was the right thing to do.

It didn’t surprise me – it delights me.

7) What activity refreshes you the most when you’ve had a rough day?

 Most important to me is to not allow intrusions into family life. I will turn off the computer after five o’clock then go start dinner and focus on family. I also enjoy music and play the flute. Another thing that refreshes me is friendship, including my friendship with my husband.

8 ) As a woman who has experienced PPD, what has it been like to guide your children through their parenting experiences?

 We were very mindful and the absolute most important thing is the supportive stuff. Our oldest married someone who had no idea what depression was and the most important thing was finding a simple book (english was not his first language) for him to read to educate himself about this. Once he read about depression, it was amazing to see the light go on and see him grasping an understanding of depression. We focused on getting educated, increasing awareness, and providing a lot of mothering through the child-birthing process. I am grateful that there is improved support for my children’s generation because there certainly wasn’t the same level of support when I experienced PPD.

9) Any advice for other women who want to pay their experience forward and help women with PPD?

  Take care of yourself first. The issues will still be there but you absolutely must get yourself to a strong place first. Delegate, don’t do things alone. Set up an organization so you don’t have to go it alone.

10) If there was one piece of advice you could give to an expectant mother (new or experienced), what would it be and why would this be important for her to hear?

 Listen to your body and enjoy it…every pregnancy is different. You have to focus on staying well and get help when you need it – you can’t do this alone.

 

Sharing the Journey with Jess Banas

I have been tremendously blessed to have the privilege to get to know Jess Banas. She is one of the most vibrant, compassionate, and warmest people that I have ever encountered. Jess serves as the Online Coordinator for Postpartum Support International and is one of the Adminstrator at the Online Postpartum Support Page (which was started by Tonya Rosenburg who will be appearing in an interview soon!) I hope that you find solace, truth, and comfort in Jess’ answers. I know that I have found all three through getting to know her and I am very excited to be able to share her sparkling personality with you!

 

 

1) I know that you have personal experience with Postpartum Thyroid Issues. Would you mind sharing your story with us and why it’s so important every woman get checked for these if PPD is suspected?

 My first bout of PPD was in 1997.  I had no idea that I was ill because of the lack of information related to postpartum anxiety that was available.  I did not recognize my irritability and insomnia as relatable to thyroid imbalance or illness, I just thought I was ungrateful (for the gift of motherhood) and felt I was failing as a mother.  Finally, I could not take the mood swings any longer and when I went in to get help, my doctor took my blood for a thyroid screen.  I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and thyroiditis.   

The second time I had PPD, I was on thyroid medication, but still had a thyroid imbalance.  My levels were 12 times higher than the highest normal range!  I later discovered that thyroiditis is fairly common.  In fact, studies indicate that 10% of postpartum women have thyroid fluctuations after pregnancy.  Unfortunately, thyroid screens are not a common part of the six week postpartum checkup, even though the risk for thyroid imbalances are considerably higher than that of gestational diabetes which is 1-3%.

2) What do you find to be most challenging about Motherhood? The least?

 The most challenging part of motherhood for me is finding harmony between my personal needs and those of my children.  I find that if I don’t give time to myself and my relationship with my husband and friends, I become worn down, start to feel resentful, and feel less patient and tolerant.  Giving to myself and taking care of my needs is not only important, it is vital to being a good parent and a good person.  I have realized that saying “no” is a huge part of creating the time I need to give back to myself.  Saying “no” is actually saying “yes” to me and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!!    

The least challenging part of motherhood is the feeling of love and joy that comes with having two little lives join my husband and I.  It seems that the love just grows each day that they exist!

3)  How has becoming a Mother changed you?

  I have found out who I am in being a mother.  I have discovered what makes me tick, what is important to me, and discovered my priorities.  Once I did that, everything else became easier and calmer.  Nothing is as important to me as my family.  I have more inner peace now and take better care of myself as a result.  Because of this, I am in better shape than I was before I had children.

4) In your opinion, what aspect of Motherhood should be most celebrated?

 I am not exactly sure how to put this, but I strongly feel that mothers should be “mothered” more in this country than they are now.  There is so much attention given to the expectant mother, but once the baby arrives, the focus is centered on the infant and the mother is lost in the shuffle.  I feel that mothering the new mother is extremely important and not done routinely enough!  New mothers should be celebrated and focused on more so than they are.  By all means come over and visit the baby, but don’t come without having a casserole in hand and be willing to chip in to do a load of laundry (or two) at the very least.  Don’t expect to have the new mother wait on you, wait on her!  It takes a full year for a new mother to recover from pregnancy, so there is a valid reason for giving a new mother TLC!

5) What led you to become involved with PSI?

The Yates family tragedy occurred when my daughter was only 3 months old.  When the media (incorrectly) called it postpartum depression, I was totally freaked out and feared that I would possibly do the same thing, so I felt compelled to go online and search for answers.   I went to the ABC News Message board. There I learned what PPD was. I realized that this kind of thing would continue to happen unless somebody did something to change it. I realized that I was going to be that somebody. I had to do something to prevent things like this from ever happening again… I had to at least try. For those children and those mothers…I had to try.

Women I have met ONLINE taught me about links, URLs, spam, Google, how to research, and much more. Women who survived PPP (Postpartum Psychosis) were able to clearly show me the differences between sanity and insanity in regards to psychotic behavior. We, in turn, tried to educate others who came to the ABC News Message board searching for answers.

While researching, I found the PSI website. With the encouragement and help of Tonya Rosenberg, who strongly endorsed PSI as a force for change, I joined PSI.

 6) What do you do to spoil yourself when you have time away from the kids?

Lots of things!  I take long bubble baths, go out to dinner with my husband, exercise, talk on the phone, read, nap, eat great food, write, play my guitar, cuddle with my doggie, watch my favorite shows on TV (I have TV recorded), giggle with my hubby in bed, and when things are rough, allow  myself to have a good cry.  The best thing I’ve learned to do is to hug myself when I’m stressed instead of beating myself up.

7) What activity refreshes you the most when you’ve had a rough day?

 A combination of exercise, a shower, and either listening to music or playing my guitar.

8 ) How did you come to work with the Online Postpartum Support Page?

After a few weeks, ABC news shut down the Yates discussion; so in July of 2001, I created the Yahoo! Postpartum Mental Illnesses Group.  Tonya Rosenberg (The founder of the Online Postpartum Support Page) came to my Yahoo group, introduced herself to me, and invited me to check out her group in 2001.   

9) Any advice for other women who want to pay their experience forward and help women with PPD?

That is so easy!!  Go online and join PSI, other online PPD support websites, and start supporting other women.  Model the best that women can be by taking care of yourself and your family!!  Think globally and act locally!!

10)  If there was one piece of advice you could give to an expectant mother (new or experienced), what would it be and why would this be important for her to hear?

Educate yourself on the subject of YOUR BODY & HOW IT BEST FUNCTIONS thru the various ages and stages of life!  We know more about how to program our VCRs than we do our own bodies and that is simply to our own personal detriment.  Ignorance is NOT bliss, my friends.  In my own humble local library there are now tons of books on the subject of postpartum depression and women’s moods/hormones and bodies, so there is plenty of free information out there now!  Also, please PLEASE do not hesitate to ask for and expect HELP!