Tag Archives: Postpartum Mood Disorder

#PPDChat Topic 06-23-14: Kicking The Summer Blues to the Curb

ppdchat-06-23-2014

We associate winter with the blues. Everyone stays inside to stay warm.

But summer is the opposite – some of us stay inside to stay cool. Or because it’s too much trouble to tote the little ones outside because OMG WE HAVE TO PACK ALL THE SUNSCREEN and everything else in the house just to go to the pool and dear sweet lord don’t forget that we need swim diapers, formula, a nursing swimsuit (OMG – nursing at the pool…)…the list goes on and on and on and on…you get the point.

Summer blues are just like Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. We’re supposed to be happy and carefree in the summer. Cheery. WHOOOO!! Water! Camping! No responsibilities. (Have you ever been a parent with three small children home for the summer? HAVE YOU?! I’d rather..well, anything.)

This chat will be chock full of tips and mamas chatting about how to manage the issue of parenting/adjusting to a newborn in the summer months. Summertime creates an entire extra set of issues, issues we all seem to just dance around. Well, tomorrow night, we’re gonna stomp on them and figure them out.

Join me on Twitter at 830pm ET. See you there!

A Few Thoughts On Rejection

For those of you who had the balls to go audition for Listen To Your Mother, you rock. To those of you who made it, congratulations.

To those of you who didn’t – hello, my sisters.

I have seen friends celebrate and I have seen friends react to not being chosen. Of course it’s natural to be upset. In addition to pouring our souls out through words, we then got up in front of others and *gasp* read those words aloud.

The challenge in being rejected is to not take it personally. But.. but… those are my words, you’re thinking! I READ THEM. HOW IS THIS NOT PERSONAL???

Think of it this way – you plan to sew a gorgeous quilt. You need fabric first, right? So you go to a local fabric store with hundreds of choices. You spend hours sorting through the fabric, comparing them to each other and analyzing the appearance of each scrap in the final design. You can’t possibly use every single scrap of fabric in the quilt and end up with the appearance you want, right?

That’s what the people in charge of LTYM are doing – they are creating a quilt of words and they can’t possibly use all the words they hear or read during the audition phase. So they are forced to make a final selection after browsing the most amazing “fabrics” they have to choose from. In doing so, they work to find pieces which fall into a specific pattern, pieces which will work together for the show they envision. So, you see, it isn’t about you at all. It’s all about their job to select the best pieces for the design they see before them.

I went into auditioning this year with the mindset that I wouldn’t be chosen. But if I did that, then why bother auditioning?

Because standing in front of people, reading words I wrote, scares the ever-loving crap out of me. It is beyond my comfort zone. I don’t even read my blog posts to myself after I write them if that gives you any indication of how much I dislike reading my words. I struggle to accept the compliment of “hey, you’re a really great writer!” to be completely honest.

I am genuinely happy for those who made it into LTYM shows this year. It is an honor to be chosen and it takes courage to get up in front of such large audiences and read personal stories. To those who with me in not being chosen – you are still just as awesome as you were the moment before you took a shaky deep breath and stepped inside that audition room (or connected via G+ Hangout or Skype). No one gets to tell you any different. It takes guts to do that and even more guts to cope with rejection.

Below is the piece I read on Sunday morning for my audition. I like it, they laughed, everyone who has read it has told me it rocks. But it just didn’t fit into the show for whatever reason. I’m okay with that because you know what? I’m writing way more this year than I was last year and with each audition, I’m getting better at it. Sure, it’s nice to have acknowledgements and acceptance from others but in reality the only opinion which matters of yourself is your own.

Enjoy reading my audition piece!

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It’s a strange balance, this juxtaposition of womanhood and motherhood.

If we falter even the slightest, it’s as if someone yanked the worst possible Jenga block out of our intricately formed tower and we’re left hoping we’re as brilliant as Raymond Babbit, able to immediately calculate what’s fallen down as well as how to fix it.

As mothers, we are expected to heal everything, know everything, cook everything, be everything. I don’t know everything, I can’t heal everything, I am not everything, but I am able to cook almost everything. Except insects because that’s just gross.

When I was a little girl, I shoved stuffed animals under my shirt in the sunroom of our family cottage over on the Jersey Shore. I’d unceremoniously yank them out after a few minutes (which back then, felt like an eternity), giving birth to my “children.”

Stuffed animals made the best children in the world. They didn’t cry, they didn’t poop, they didn’t throw up….seriously. They were awesome. Plus, how on earth could you be sad whilst cuddling an adorable fuzzy teddy bear?

Fast forward about 20 years or so and there I was, in a hospital in rural South Carolina, about to give birth. It was a bit more complicated than yanking a stuffed animal from under my Mickey Mouse shirt – this time, I was screaming, pushing, and praying the epidural would magically start working on the side of my body engulfed in enough pain to convince me it was on fire.

Then, after 14 or so hours of labor, she arrived. In true Jersey Girl fashion, my oldest slid from the womb giving the doctor the finger on my behalf. I didn’t know what to do with her. She wasn’t soft and fuzzy. She was wet, naked, kicking, and screaming. The advice from the nurse about breastfeeding? Make sure you get the entire areola in her mouth – you know, the brown part. (Gee, thanks!)

I sought help at 12 weeks postpartum for depression only to be told “Hey! You don’t have PPD because at four weeks postpartum, your hormones slid magically back into place! But wait, there’s more…you’ve won a visit with our in-house therapist who will keep rescheduling!”

Swell.

We moved back to be closer to his family and I toughed it out without professional help. Then we got pregnant with our second.

Second time around saw me through over forty hours of labor. Delivery was fast once I pushed. But then, she was diagnosed with a cleft palate and I lost my mind. Medication at 10 days, hospitalization at 56 days, enlightenment shortly thereafter.

I didn’t have to suffer. I didn’t have to struggle. I had forgotten to mother the most important person in my life…me.

Self-care is not selfish, it is selfless. If you attempt to pour a glass of water from an empty pitcher, it is impossible. The same goes for self-care. If you attempt to care for others while not filling yourself, you will give nothing.

My third child was born after a quick and relatively simple labor. I didn’t have any issues after his birth as I did what I needed to in order to take care of myself first. I took care of my little guy and his sisters, but I managed my own well-being at the same time instead of just theirs.

I mothered all of us.

That, my friends, that is the key to mothering. It isn’t in balancing. It isn’t in being the Martha Stewart at the bake sale. It isn’t in knowing how to solve every single issue that may or may not crop up. It isn’t in being the Joneses on the street or even in being the Mom who lets her kid do whatever he or she wants.

The key to mothering is mothering EVERYONE in your family the best you can, yourself included. You are the nucleus of the family, the center of their worlds, and they are yours. Embrace this. Cherish this. Nourish this. In the process, however, remember to take impeccable care of yourself for without this important step, all of this may suddenly disappear into a dark vortex and suddenly, you won’t be in Kansas any more.

Remember Dorothy’s mantra? There’s no place like home. Only in real life, a mother’s ruby slippers are self-care and you absolutely must remember  to click them together….often.

When a Blog Goes Silent

I’ve been quiet this summer, save for a few posts here and there.

As I’ve blogged before, there has been a lot of change flowing through my life lately.

I’m still running #PPDChat but increasingly quiet on Facebook and Twitter as well. I haven’t had a video chat in what feels like weeks. Between visits with my kids, falling in love, and re-defining myself (again), there’s been a lot of time spent in my head and focusing on what’s really important to me these days – actually LIVING life.

In the dust though, I’ve been ignoring this place, this blog which kept me sane during my pregnancy with my third child and has allowed so many women to feel supported and less alone as they too navigate the trails of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

I’m silent here because I’m not sure what to say in this space right now. I know that working with women through the Postpartum period is something I want to continue doing. But right now, I’m not sure how to fill this space, how to speak about Postpartum Mood Disorders when my experience and understanding of my experience has literally been redefined over a lot of internal re-evaluation over this past year.

Sure, I can discuss the latest news, issues, etc, but that’s what Katherine Stone over at Postpartum Progress is best at and I certainly don’t want to duplicate her work. What I do here is my thing – it’s filled with heart, compassion, understanding, and my goal is to put forth the feeling of the comfort of reading a letter from a girlfriend who GETS WHERE YOU ARE and can assure you that there’s a light at the end of your tunnel. I freeze when I don’t feel as if I am writing with all of my heart. I freeze if I am not giving things my all. I know what it’s like to not get support and don’t want to give you anything but my very best. Because when you’re hurting and lost in the vortex of a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder, you deserve NOTHING BUT THE BEST COMPASSION I CAN GIVE YOU.

Right now, as I let the dust settle (again), in my life, I hope you’ll be patient and understanding. Know you can find me on Twitter. Or if you aren’t on Twitter, go follow my FB  page and drop me a message there. Or email me. It may take me longer to get back to you via email though, so please be patient.

My words are somewhere out there, my passion is still burning deep inside me. It just needs a vacation as the scaffolding and remodeling continues within.

Here’s to looking forward to a grand re-opening and here’s to hoping that it’s right around the corner.

Don’t judge me

Last night, I asked my #PPDChat Mamas to chime in with suggestions for today’s chat. To the left is a suggestion I received this morning from Amber over at Beyond Postpartum. It got my wheels turning. Judgment, to me, is such a dirty dirty word. The following post is what spilled out as I thought more and more about her suggestion. Read. Share. Comment. Love one another, mamas. And daddies. Love. Don’t hate. Don’t judge. Love. It’s why we’re here.

Why do we judge one another, mamas?

Why?

Aren’t we all in this together?

Don’t we all have the same job when it comes down to it?

Do you know why that mama is giving a bottle?

Do you know why she’s chosen not to co-sleep?

Did you ask? Did you ask if she’s doing okay? Or did you glare? Did you judge? Did you sit on your throne and think better of yourself because you nurse your toddler, have your infant strapped to you 24/7, and only shop in the organic section of the grocery store never stepping foot in the formula or diaper aisle?

Shame on you. Shame on you for judging. For not stopping to ask if this mama is okay. If everything in her world is still right side up. Shame on you for tossing guilt onto her already full pile.

We are all parents. Most of us fight the same battles every day. A child who whines when it’s time to sleep. An infant who screams for hours on end because of digestive issues. A house in which laundry and dishes get laid and multiply more often than we do. We fight through this day in and day out through a fog of exhaustion. We make lifestyle choices based on what we can handle… based on what is best for our families.

Just because my infant isn’t super-glued to my boob doesn’t mean I’m less of a mother.

Just because my toddler stopped nursing before 2 doesn’t mean I love her any less. It doesn’t mean she loves me any less.

Two of my kids have had formula. I feared judgment. But I shouldn’t have been forced to worry about that. I fed my children. They thrived. I thrived. We all thrived. The end. The in between doesn’t matter.

My kids eat non-organic bananas too, by the way. And watch TV. Yes, they LOVE chocolate. And candy. And have eaten at McDonald’s.

I’ve ordered pizza because I didn’t want to cook. Popped open Chef Boyardee for the same reason.

Thank GOD.

Because frankly?

I’m not the kind of mom who can throw myself under the bus on purpose.

No, I’m the kind of mom who’s accidentally stepped in FRONT of the bus and been run over a couple of times.

There’s no full body cast for me but my brain’s a bit loopy still so excuse me if I’m not the Stepford parent I’m supposed to be at the moment. Excuse me if I look a bit more like Roseanne instead of June Cleaver. You see, I’ve been run over by Postpartum Mood Disorders and need to take care of myself in addition to my children because if I don’t, it can get fatal. Seriously. FATAL. As in I might lose my life FATAL. So excuse me while I indulge my child in some Enfamil and pop culture in order to maintain my sanity.

It’s OKAY.

My kids know they’re loved. They’re thriving. They’re using three and four syllable words by the time they hit three.

More importantly?

They already understand mental illness. They know it’s not anyone’s fault. That it just happens. And that it’s okay. Sure, right now they think tickling is an appropriate therapy (it really was in our house, by the way). My kids don’t jump to conclusions. They show compassion. They help. They offer support when someone is sad. They are empathic. They already know the importance of self-care. Our oldest is seven.

The next time you jump to conclusions about another parent in public, remember your children. They are watching you. They are learning from you. Before you even inhale sharply and bite that bottom lip because some mom whips out a bottle to feed her newborn, ask yourself why you’re judging. Ask yourself if it’s your place to judge. Instead of inhaling and glaring, go say hi. Ask that mom how she’s doing. Refrain from judging. Understand we’re all struggling on the same road but need different tools for our own journey.

If we could just show a bit more compassion to each other, the world would be a much better place. Don’t you want to be a part of that world? I know I do.

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Guest Post from @SavageLaura: A tale of two sisters & the power of social media

Last summer. It was terrifying.

My heart skipped a thousand beats and my butt barely clung to the edge of my office chair when “I’m at the hospital. I’ll call you back” were the last words my mother said before the call ended. My eyes filled with tears. That lump in my throat, hard as a fist, reached down and wrenched my guts.

Rewind a few months, and I will tell you why.

It was the end of April, 2010 when a pretty yellow envelope peeked at me from inside the mailbox. It was addressed to me; my sister’s chicken-scratch handwriting a dead giveaway she was the sender. The cutest card adorned with white buttons and a pastel tree slipped out of the envelope. A cutesy font read “Your Family Tree is Growing More Beautiful Each Day”. Oh my God. I read it over and over, the blurb “See you in November” on the inside written in the same chicken-scratch handwriting.

Excitedly I fumbled with my cell phone to take a photo of myself, card next to a wide grin, and send it to my sister. Within minutes she was calling. An immediate barrage of questions ensued. “Yes, I really am pregnant. No, we don’t want to know what it is. Yes, I already told you I AM PREGNANT. Yes, mom knew. We wanted to wait until we were past the first trimester in case something happened.”

I was happy for her. For them. Really I was, but I couldn’t push aside some strange feeling that something wasn’t right. I could hear a smile in her voice, but it was entwined with a sort of sadness. Why didn’t she tell me? I’m her big sister… she could tell mom, but not me? My mind tried to recount the last month or two, searching my memory for something I may have said, or not said, or did or didn’t do. She had been quiet. Her calls had been infrequent.

A few weeks later I confronted my sister. She said she’d been a little down, and having morning sickness. And wanting to sleep a lot. She’d been real tired. Ding ding! I asked her about her meds. The antidepressants. I know my sister, and when the depression starts looming her recourse is to retreat to her bed and stay. For days.

At one point she broke down and cried. I encouraged her with whatever uplifting words I could muster. And then I asked her, “Have you talked to your doctor about this? Pregnancy blues are one thing, but you sound miserable. You really should talk to her.”

And that was the beginning of a long, horrible pregnancy.

I can’t even really recall what happened, or when, or why. But I do know that one summer morning I called my mom, her breath strained and that tone in her voice, “I’m at the hospital. I’ll call you back.” I was scared to death. I managed, somehow, to call my mother when she was walking into an emergency room at a hospital three hours away from where she was supposed to be.

My sister had been admitted by her OB. Delusional and suffering anxiety attack after anxiety attack, an orange band was secured around her wrist. Her shoelaces removed. Her purse and its contents taken. She had been placed on a suicide watch.

The psych ward became her world for a week. My sister had access to psychiatrists, therapists, and even a nutritionist due to a discovery of an eating disorder she had hidden for years. They tried all the pregnancy-safe drugs available, supplements, diets and exercise. But it didn’t help. My sister’s downward spiral was in full force and moving fast.

After she had been hospitalized for a third time, their last resort was electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. Most patients receive benefits from this treatment, especially pregnant women since it doesn’t harm the baby. I was shocked (no pun intended) and buried myself with articles, anything I could read and get my hands on. My mom had quit her summer job and resorted to living with my sister and her husband, desperately trying to hold it together herself. I became my mother’s confidant. At times she would call, and I’d listen to hours of tears and sniffles.

I believe I didn’t sleep more than four hours straight for two months, my sister’s emotional rollercoaster weighing heavy on my mind.

By October, emotionally spent and drained, my sister had been through it all – gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, tremendous weight gain, nightmare after nightmare. Her doctor agreed it was time to induce. At 34 weeks she gave birth to my beautiful niece, weighing 4 lbs 14 oz and a headful of silky hair.

But the fight wasn’t over.

Due to the medications, my niece was unable to eat for 24 hours. Even more depressing news, my sister was unable to breastfeed. My mother still scared out of her mind. And then the news that my niece would have to stay in the NICU for four weeks blew my sister down like a violent midnight tornado.

My sister and her husband finally brought their daughter home, it was so foreign. Here was this baby that was in her belly, but had been taken and cared for by these other women. For four weeks. And now she was stuck, all alone, with this tiny person she didn’t know. Loved? Yes, with all her heart. Bonded? No. Once they brought her daughter home, it was as if she’d stepped in the path of a freight train; her world had been turned upside down as it went from being self-sufficient to OMG WTF I have this crying thing 24 hours a day.

As weeks went by, my sister called every couple of days to vent. Until one day she had called me twice a day, at work, for two weeks straight. I had had enough. And as much as I wanted to say “Get the f**k over it. Put your big girl panties on. Shit or get off the pot”, I knew I couldn’t. And until she decided she wanted to do those things, it was pointless to waste my breath.

Now. I’m going to tell you something about being a big sister. No matter how bad you get pissed off, or irritated, or want to haul off and slug your little sister(s), you still love them with all your heart. When they hurt, you hurt. When they’re happy, you’re happy. But when they’re miserable and can’t do anything about it, you do what ever it takes, come Hell or high water, to open their eyes. To fill their heart with golden love and make their soul sing. You roll up them sleeves and take charge. Why? Because you’re THE big sister. That’s why.

For me, taking charge meant scouring the Internet for hours, looking for postpartum resources until my tired eyes would send me into a migraine. I looked up mother’s groups, even though I knew my sister wouldn’t go. Short of myself driving 12 hours in order to MAKE her go, I knew it was impossible. I have a husband, and a daughter, too.

One day (and I’m still not sure quite how it happened) I was on twitter, when a tweet caught my eye. Someone I had been newly following, a friend of a friend sort of thing, tweeted something about motherhood and then put ‘#ppdchat’ at the end. My eyes got huge. I’m telling you, I’m pretty sure I pee’d my pants with excitement. And being the bossy move-out-of-the-way big sister that I am, I simply tweeted: Need #ppdchat info.

I still tear up about it, like right now, but this simple tweet changed my sister’s life. The power of social media came to my rescue. And somehow I am sure God had a hand in it. It all happened so fast that within ten minutes I had a message from Lauren Hale, of My Postpartum Voice, giving me her email. Within 24 hours I had been in contact with a therapist whose office is located five minutes from my sister’s house. FIVE MINUTES. TWITTER. WOW.

It has taken time, months, and will probably take years for my sister to heal. She is receiving help, guidance, and nurturing to become the mother she has always wanted to be. I know it’s not easy. I mean, I had a touch of depression after pregnancy. Nothing to the magnitude my sister has endured. And I hope I never will.

I do know this. Never be afraid to speak up for someone who can’t. Someone so down and distraught is neither sinking nor swimming, just stuck treading water. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. Do not be afraid to reach out and grab a hand for help. Do not be afraid to try. Do not be afraid.

Go. Do. Be.

Laura Savage finds at least four new gray hairs every morning. At thirty, she still wears a retainer (only when she sleeps).
She has battled migraines, college algebra, ugly prehistoric-looking centipedes, and an addiction to Dr. Pepper. And won. 
Laura currently lives in Southern Colorado with her husband, daughter, and three canine companions.

An Angry Sea

For so many the sea can be a source of calm, peace, relaxation, meditation. It is in the sea that many find their anchor. I am one of those people. I grew up at the beach as I noted in a post from the other day. The sights, smells, and feel of the beach trigger so many wonderful memories often locked within my heart. Memories which are the foundation of my life.

But even the sea, the tranquil sea, gets angry.

Today is one of those days.

A storm system is traveling through the area. Filled with lightning, thunder, threat of tornado, the clouds are moving swiftly over land and out to sea. As a result, the ocean is reacting to the forces placed upon it by nature.

Soft and gentle waves are replaced by short and choppy waves as far as the eye can see. They crash harshly onto shore, pulling more sand angrily back out to the depths of the seabed with each new crash. A red flag declaring no swimming is raised tall in front of the lifeguard stand. No one is meandering along the beach except for a few brave souls.

So here we sit, waiting for the storm to break, the rain to fall, and planning alternate activities for the family so as to maximize our last day here at the beach.

And that’s when it hit me.

That this, this storm, this angry weather, is just like a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

Sure, we can predict to whom it MAY happen.

We can identify the jet streams which may swoop it into the lives of certain people. Identify the environmental factors which ripen the possibility of occurrence. But until we get pregnant or give birth, we don’t know if it really will happen to us.

Then when it does, we seek shelter. We make alternate plans. Hopefully we have an emergency kit ready to go in our shelter which should include a list of resources to which we can turn if the waves of emotion get short, angry, and choppy. If the waves decide to reclaim us bit by bit. If they do, we hedge ourselves in until we can heal, seeking respite from the very storm which threatens to tear us apart.

Just as we sit to wait for a storm to pass, we also must wait for a Postpartum Mood Disorder to pass. Some storms pass through quickly, a mere blip, other storms linger and take days to pass. Of course, a Postpartum Mood Disorder takes longer than days to pass – for some it may be months. For others, it may take a year or more. Again, this is in direct relation to your risk factors, level of support, contributing circumstances, proper professional care.

We may feel helpless as the storm whirls around us. But we are not as helpless as we believe ourselves to be in the midst of this vortex. Others always stand ready to come together as a community to support us, to join hands with us in this shared experience.

We must also remember our loved ones become trapped in this vortex with us. They too, need support, love, and understanding.

As I sit and listen to the angry sea, I find peace in knowing that soon, this too, will pass. So the angry waves crashing upon the shore bring solace and strength. The sand will one day be replaced, the beach will grow stronger, and once again, we will play in the waters of the ever-changing sea.

Know too, that one day, your Postpartum Mood Disorder will pass, and you, you will be stronger, able to play in the ever-changing sea of your life.

Faith & Motherhood: Power, Love, and Self-Discipline

When I first experienced Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, my relationship with God was not what it should have been. I still prayed. Occasionally. I did not fear reading bible verses. I knew God was out there. Somewhere. But I was not actively seeking Him. I was not running from Him either. We had become roommates, God and I. Drifters in the night, one of us (me) barely acknowledging the other. Little did I know that my life would begin to change so drastically as I spiraled downward.

We lived in rural South Carolina during the my pregnancy and through the first five months of our oldest daughter’s life. No family nearby, no social support, no friends, no real knowledge of Postpartum Mood Disorders, an existence of ignorance of PMD’s within the local community – you see where I am going with this. Everything was right for me to experience a PMD. This is not to say that every woman who has these factors surrounding her will struggle but they do increase her risk.

With this perfect storm surrounding me, I succumbed to it’s power.

I worked at first to deal with everything on my own. I failed spectacularly for three glorious months. Then I sought help. My doctor denied my Postpartum and refused to help me. He did refer me to the in-house therapist but they kept rescheduling. At the time, I got angry. I felt so alone. Abandoned. Betrayed. Hurt. I had nowhere to turn.

If only I had opened my eyes then.

We moved back to Georgia, near my husband’s family, when our daughter was 5 months old. At first I was grateful for the help. But even then, I was not able to be fully appreciative. Relaxing? Hah. Totally out of the question. I lived filled with fear and anxiety triggered by my intrusive thoughts. Then we got pregnant again. My emotions continued to worsen through my pregnancy. Our second daughter was born with a cleft palate and spent a month in the NICU. Once again, a perfect storm slammed onto my shores.

During our daughter’s NICU stay, the first few verses of James became stuck in my head. In particular, verse 2 & 3. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” I finally opened to hearing the Word of God. We had begun to attend church a bit more regularly and leaned harder on our Church family as we struggled to come to grips with our daughter’s NICU stay and all the issues which lay ahead of us.

I know you may feel lost right now. I felt lost too. Completely lost.

God did not build us that way. Yes, we must get lost sometimes in order to find ourselves – even Jesus wandered in the wilderness. In order to walk strongly in faith, love, and have a strong sense of self-discipline, we must first be taught how to have faith, how to love, and how to practice self-discipline. I questioned my faith. I questioned why I had been left to wander in this wilderness. Now that I am a little over four years beyond my last brush with a Postpartum Mood Disorder, I see why I had to wander. I wandered so that my faith would be made strong, my ability to love myself and others grew immensely, and my ability to practice self-discipline toward myself and others also matured. For this, I am grateful. Yet still, I would not wish a PMD on my worst enemy. My faith, love, and self-discipline continues to grow, and I am re-assured on a daily basis by God that He will never forsake me. Faith, just as healing, takes time. If you feel you have lost your faith, please do not despair. You may not feel Him there but He is there, waiting for you to call for Him to carry you.

Then & Now: Why I blog turns three

Three years ago and thirty nine or so weeks ago, I was driving home from my therapy appointment for the Postpartum Mood Disorder I struggled with after the birth of our second daughter. It was THE DAY. The trees were greener. The rain drops sparkled. The sun breaking through the grey clouds summed up my mood perfectly. My heart soared. My oldest daughter would soon be three years old. Our youngest had just turned one. I was heading out to a relative’s house for the weekend with my mom, my first weekend away from the kids in a very long… well, ever. The Sunday after that weekend, I would discover I was pregnant with our son. And would totally freak out.

I did not want to go back to that dark place. So I read. Intensely advocated and prepared. Began to blog as an outlet for myself and to help other women.

Little did I have any clue that my first post would lead me here.

To three years and thirty nine or so weeks later. Never did I have a clue that I would interview Karen Kleiman, the author of What Am I Thinking: Having a baby after Postpartum Depression, here on my blog. Her book was what inspired me to begin to blog in the first place as it urged moms facing subsequent pregnancies to reframe them. So I did.

I haven’t stopped yet a nor do I plan on stopping any time soon.

I am ever so grateful for my positive Postpartum experience after the birth of my son. After struggling so hard with the first two, I finally got to immerse myself in the bliss of motherhood. I smeared Vaseline on the lens of my life and it totally rocked. Having been through hell it was certainly even more cherished and certainly not taken for granted.

I remember losing myself in the sweet scent of new baby. I remember holding him close and feeling our hearts beat in sync with each other. I remember him nuzzling my neck as he cuddled closely after nursing. I also remember curling my toes in pain because nursing was rough with him. I remember Thrush. I remember cracked nipples. But mostly I remember all the good stuff.

And these days, he is the light of our lives. Our little boy is a joker, a prankster, a caring and concerned three year old who loves to kiss, hug, and watch Cars. He doesn’t snuggle nearly as much but that’s okay. He will sit down on the couch with his toy laptop and blog right along with Mommy & (now) Daddy.

I am ever so thankful for his presence in our lives. Ever so thankful for his laughter, his camaraderie, his energy, and his caring spirit. Even when things get challenging with him, it is hard for me to keep a straight face. Damn his adorable infectious cuteness.

Who knew that when God decided to bless us with our son, it would also birth in me such a strong advocate for women with Postpartum Mood Disorders?

Thank you, little buddy, for motivating Mommy to put herself out there for so many women. You have no idea how many lives you have helped touch. None.

On the fifth day of Dismissmas: Five hours of sleep

On the fifth day of Dismissmas,

Postpartum sent to me

Five hours of sleep,

Four Just Snap out of Its,

Three perfect babies,

Two depressed parents,

And a wailing mess in a pear tree.

If she just gets some sleep, she’ll be fine. This will all go away. I’ll have my wife/sister/friend back. She’s just tired. Five hours should do it.

Yes, sleep helps alleviate some of the symptoms of a Postpartum Mood Disorder. But it’s only part of the recovery picture. The primary supports around mom should be focused on helping her rest, receive help from medical professionals, and regaining her sense of self with the added identity of mother.

If a new mother is struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder, she may need additional help beyond housework and infant or childcare assistance. She may need a team of medical professionals. If Mom is particularly fatigued, be sure to encourage her to get her Thyroid, Iron, and Vitamin D levels. Any discrepancies in these levels may cause some rest issues. Insomnia, exhaustion and extended sleeping, or sleeping yet not feeling rested are all symptoms which should not be ignored.

Rest when you can but if your sleep is not up to par with your normal pattern, (you know, beyond the whole infant every two or three hours thing), talk with a physician about how things are going. Lack of sleep can really throw anyone for an emotional loop!

Dirty Talking with the hubs about PPD

Harry: Why are you getting so upset? This is not about you.

Sally: Yes it is. You are a human affront to all women and I am a woman.

Harry: Hey I don’t feel great about this but I don’t hear anyone complaining.

Sally: Of course not you’re out of the door too fast.

Harry: I think they have an OK time.

Sally: How do you know?

Harry: What do you mean how do I know? I know.

Sally: Because they…

Harry: Yes, because they…

Sally: And how do you know that they really…

Harry: What are you saying, that they fake orgasm?

Sally: It’s possible.

Harry: Get outta here!

Sally: Why? Most women at one time or another have faked it.

Harry: Well they haven’t faked it with me.

Sally: How do you know?

Harry: Because I know.

Sally: Oh, right, that’s right, I forgot, you’re a man.

Harry: What is that supposed to mean?

Sally: Nothing. It’s just that all men are sure it never happened to them and

that most women at one time or another have done it so you do the math.

Harry: You don’t think that I could tell the difference?

Sally: No.

Harry: Get outta here.

 

Fake it till you make it, right?

SO many moms I have talked to have shared that they have not told their significant other the true depths of their suffering as they move through their Postpartum Mood Disorder.

He goes to work.

I don’t want to burden him when he gets home.

He deserves to come home to a happy home.

He won’t understand.

He thinks I am using a PMD as an excuse to make him do everything.

He deserves time with his friends so I’ll lie and throw myself under the bus.

Ladies?

Your husband cannot read your mind.

Gentlemen?

If your wife is smiling on the outside but it’s obvious there is something going on, sit her down and ask if she’s okay. If you’re struggling too, let her know. It will help her feel less alone in her hell. (And trust me, it IS hell!)

A good relationship is centered on trust. Trust relies on open communication. Open communication fosters a strong sense of intimacy. Intimacy suffers when open communication falters. When open communication falters, trust cracks wide open. When trust cracks, good relationships are monumentally at risk for destruction. Relationships at risk for destruction are toxic to all involved – there is a ripple effect that reaches out in every direction, including your children.

Postpartum Depression is nowhere near as exciting or pleasurable as an orgasm. (And never will be.) But recovery will only lead to a pleasurable place IF you’re honest. An honest recovery as opposed to a faked recovery is infinitely more pleasurable for all involved. We owe ourselves honesty, we owe our partners honesty, we owe our CHILDREN honesty, we owe our medical professionals honesty.

Because without honesty, we have nothing.

I am just as guilty as the next mom for lying about my Postpartum Depression. I minimized my symptoms, lied to my husband when something was wrong, lied about hating him, about resenting him, sucked it up when he came home – how could I tell him about my hard day when he had been at work for just as long as I had been at home? I threw myself under the bus. The only person I hurt in the process was myself. I let it slide until I was having good days – until he got home. All my built up resentfulness would burst through the door along with him – and suddenly I morphed into super bitch. He couldn’t do anything right:  he was in the way, he was a bad dad, MY life was interrupted the instant he arrived home annoying me to the zillionth degree. But none of it was really his fault. Why? Because I didn’t share with him what was really going on with me. Once I started talking WITH him instead of yelling AT him, things began to improve. It took both of us nearly five years to begin to truly communicate with each other after the birth of our first daughter, making it almost three years after the birth of our second.

The other night I came at him the wrong way about something as we were putting the kids to bed. We moved on with what we were doing instead of arguing in front of the kids. Once the kids were down for nap, I apologized for handling it poorly. He apologized as well. We moved on with our evening and put it behind us. The old us? Would have argued in front of the kids. We would probably still be arguing about who was right or wrong. Instead, I’m throwing the remote control into his shin, nearly gimping him for life, and we’re cracking jokes about it on Twitter. I am SO madly in love with the new us.

Postpartum Depression sucks. It sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks. Did I mention it sucks?

But given the chance, it allows for such amazing and miraculous growth within yourself, within your marriage, within your relationship with your children.

Be honest with your significant other about your journey, your feelings, your emotions. Get dirty. Get into the nitty gritty. Life is messy. Emotions are messy. We cannot wrap everything up in a neat package like we do before Christmas. Not everything has a shiny sparkly bow on top. Sometimes they look like they’ve been in the gutter with Edgar Allan Poe after a bender. It’s hard to admit you are not okay. But until you do, you’re just lying to yourself and those around you. You? Deserve better. So do those around you.

Write it down. Reach out. Get the help you need. There’s no need to continue to fight in silence or in loneliness. There is hope. There is help. You are not alone. You are so not alone.