Tag Archives: Postpartum Voice of the Week

Welcome to #PPDChat Voices!

Hi there!

My hopes for this faded when I hit a tech snafu this past weekend. Granted, I should have recorded earlier than this past weekend but life has been crazy up and down with recovering from a road trip and days full of pain which induce fog-brain so, yeah, I was totally behind. HOWEVER.

I’m having a decent week now, still taking it slowly but I’m thrilled to be introducing this new feature at the blog! We’ll be rolling it out as we get submissions so feel free to send yours in whenever you want. I had grand plans of doing mine first, but recording is just not cooperating over here so I need to get that aspect ironed out.

PPDChatVoicesToday’s #PPDChat Voice is Lindsay, or if you know her on Twitter, @lilloveandluck. She is all sorts of awesome. Her piece is too, despite the fact that she keeps apologizing for all the uh’s and um’s. It’s tough to put yourself out there on camera, yo.

Huge thanks to Lindsay for submitting. (Check your email for your badge for your blog!)

LindsayLindsay’s bio: Powered by espresso and cake, Lindsay is a jill of all trades trying to find her niche in the world. She became a serendipitous advocate after being diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety in 2011. She lives and breathes New Orleans with her patient husband, sprightly son, and critters. She blogs at www.withalittleloveandluck.com , and you can find her over-sharing on Twitter @lilloveandluck.

JaimeQuote

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @jamesandjax’s “Ghosts That We Knew (Hope in the Darkness)”

This past week there were several powerful posts about PPD. The writing these days is not only prolific but profound. It’s encouraging to see so many new voices growing and fearlessly sharing their journeys.

The post which caught my attention this week was over at Jamie & Jax’s place. She wrote a piece in which she used music as the inspiration, “Ghosts That We Knew” by Mumford & Sons to be precise.

I rarely listen to new music as I get stuck in my own rut because of my OCD. But I decided to find the song on Spotify and give it a whirl.

I cried.

The song is so perfectly fitted for #ppdchat, as Jamie points out –something another Warrior mom, Lindsay, mentioned to her. I haven’t listened to the song since the other day because it’s that powerful.

The lyrics that got to me the most?
Slam into you right at the start of the song. I was a blubbering mess for the rest of it.

The first few lyrics are:

“You saw my pain, washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart”

These lyrics truly embody the spirit of #ppdchat. We see the cracks yet we still love and support one another without judgment, without hesitation, and with compassion.

Thank you Jamie & Lindsay, for bringing this to “light” and for being such amazing members of the community –together, we are a light which will never rest, never fade, and always be brightly shone upon the path of those who follow in our path.

Go check out her post and the video for the song here.

My Postpartum Voice of the Week badge

Postpartum Voice of the Week: The Monster Within

Every so often, I read a blog post which takes me right back into the darkness. Right back into the days spent in the middle of the vortex with the Wicked Witch flying right past my window.

This is one of those posts.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time ruminating or introducing the post.

I will say that if you’re vulnerable, you may want to avoid it. There’s a lot of showing instead of telling, raw honesty, and power in this post.

It’s why this post by Kimberly at Reflections of Now is my pick for Postpartum Voice of the Week.

Go. Read. Love.

My Postpartum Voice of the Week badge

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @jenrenpody’s Horror Show in My Mind

I have a special place in my heart for women who struggle with Intrusive Thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I have a place in my heart for all women who struggle with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders, but Intrusive Thoughts plagued me during both of my episodes. They are insidious tenacious monsters hell-bent on tearing your mind and soul apart.

When I come across a post mentioning Intrusive Thoughts, I read it with a heavy heart. I know how she felt when those thoughts attacked her. The burning fear, the anxiety, the repulsion of “Oh my GOD why am I thinking like this?!?!” which catapults itself through her brain as the monster takes hold in her mind.

This particular blogger, Jen, a proud member of #ppdchat, writes a heart-rendering (and potentially triggering) post about her journey with Intrusive Thoughts. She’s revisiting this time in her life as a result of a tragic event in her area this past weekend. It’s difficult, as women who have been through this, not to flash back when something terrible happens in a family near us – or even harder yet, a family we know personally. We internalize our thoughts, our fears, and everything comes flooding back, threatening to pull us under.

My absolute favourite part of this past is this paragraph:

I knew that these intrusive thoughts were not real and that they were not rational.  I could not stop them from replaying over and over in my head.  It took me months of therapy to realize that I had suffered from these thoughts.  In order to protect myself, I stuffed those thoughts way down deep.  I could not bear to bring them to the light of the day because they were just too horrible to contemplate.

Jen deals with these emotions in a powerful post which you absolutely should read. As stated earlier, however, it may be possibly triggering if you’re still struggling and on fragile ground. So read her post, “Horror Show in My Mind: Intrusive Thoughts,” with a mindful consciousness and an open heart. Then show her some love, will you? She needs it this week.

My Postpartum Voice goes Zeen

I joined a new Beta site this past week. Darren Rowse, over at ProBlogger recommended checking it out.

I received my official invite last night and spent the morning playing with it. It’s a neat site, allows you to aggregate content from across the web, social sites, and beyond into a neat “zeen” (that’s hipster for magazine, I think).

I produced a Zeen focused on “Celebrating Postpartum Voices” this morning. The theme is “A Retrospective of Postpartum Voices of the Week.”

You can check it out here.

Postpartum Voice of the Week: Bravado Designs

Tuesday morning began like any other. Until I saw a tweet from @phdinparenting referencing an earlier tweet by @postpartumprogr, Katherine Stone. This tweet questioned the title of a giveaway post at BabyCenter involving Bravado Designs products. At the time, the title of the post was “Can Color Cure PPD?”

I discussed it briefly on Twitter then decided to do some research into the legitimacy of colour and PPD. I’m always wary when someone, anyone, claims to be able to “cure” PPD. It turns out Chromotherapy does indeed exist and has a long history. But nothing I found directly linked it to treatment of PPD, let alone a cure.

Having read the post at BabyCenter, I decided to write a reactionary piece here at my blog. There was a growing concern within the #ppdchat community regarding the approach used by BabyCenter in the giveaway post.

Within minutes of my post appearing, I was in touch with marketing from Bravado. She was concerned about the reaction the piece was receiving and interested in elevating the discussion to educate new moms, something to which Bravado is very dedicated.

By the end of the day, after a few edits, the piece at BabyCenter moved well away from claiming to “cure PPD.” The piece is now titled “Can color help the baby blahs” and an italicized paragraph in the beginning of the post states the following:

Special Note: While color therapy can never cure anything as serious as PPD, which is a very serious condition best left to a doctor’s treatments, there is something to be said of boosting your mood through color therapy. There have been many studies that have shown an improvement of mood due to exposure to certain “happy” colors.

BabyCenter also publicly tweeted an apology regarding the article.

But the real gem in all of this is the apology note at Bravado’s website from their CEO. It’s respectful, engaging, and acknowledges the struggles moms with Postpartum Depression face, stating they should never be taken lightly.

If you’ve not read it, you really should. Go here to do so. 

Thank you, Bravado, for diving in and taking a stand in a situation gone wrong. We, mothers who have fought and are fighting Postpartum Depression, deeply appreciate your willingness to listen and react to our concerns.

Huge thanks too, to all of the #ppdchat community who raised your voices as the awareness of this grew. Many of you were fearless in speaking out against this. Don’t ever stop speaking up. It makes a difference.

Postpartum Voice of the Week: Afterbirth by @angiekinghorn

Music. The way feelings sound.

The above is a quote featured in a picture I shared at my Facebook account not too long ago. I believe in it, strongly. Music, for me at least, is one of the most powerful ways to enhance or change mood. It’s powerful, all-encompassing. Hidden in the beats, rhythms, and lyrics of certain songs, there are memories. Some blissful, others haunting and terrifying.

I blogged about overcoming the haunting memories which Linkin Park’s album Reanimation held for me. It’s the album I listened to as my then 9 day old daughter had major surgery for the first time in her life. It was while listening to this album I first slid under the waves of the sea of Not Okay and wanted to stay there, drowning in my terror at the hard swirling around me. It took me five years to listen to the album in it’s entirety.

Yesterday I read Afterbirth over at Angie Kinghorn’s blog. In it, she recounts how a specific song, “Lines Upon Your Face” by Vertical Horizon, holds similar memories for her. Angie writes, “I’ve tried playing it in small doses to get used to it, musical allergy shots, if you will, but the violin pulls my heartstrings out and flays them bloody every time.” 

Unlike me, she didn’t play this song purposely, it simply happened to play on her iPod as she sat in the dark in the nursery after a traumatic birth, her father in pain in his illness, and the fear it brought forth within her soul.

With each verse, she swirled deeper into the darkness, just as I did while listening to Linkin Park. The darkness was comforting for me, but for Angie, it broke her wide open, shattering her into pieces, ultimately leading her to the realization she needed help.

I’m listening to the song Angie listened to that night in the dark right now via Grooveshark. I understand how it could break someone apart.

Go read Angie’s post. Show her some love for sharing such a powerful experience with the world. It takes courage to fight your way out of the dark but it takes even more courage to share it as Angie has done at her blog.

Postpartum voice of the Week: Mommy Guilt Starts Early

Today’s Postpartum Voice of the Week post is shared with us by a dear friend of mine from way back. Kim and I “met” at iVillage when we were pregnant with our first kids back in 2003. Her second child was born around the same time as my second daughter. iVillage was the first place I found a community of support and the first place to encourage me to seek help for Postpartum Depression with my first daughter. Kim and I have stayed in touch and evolved to FB friends these days. We still have to meet in person but she truly is a friend. She’s hilarious, tenacious, and just all around awesome. The piece below is something she emailed me a few weeks ago. She wasn’t sure what to do with it. I asked her to consider thinking about sharing it with my readers as it left me in complete awe. When she emailed me to let me know I could indeed share it, I squealed with delight. Kim’s words capture what so many of us have experienced and they capture it exceedingly well. May her words mean as much to you as they have to her, to me, and I hope you share them with others who may need to read them.

Mommy Guilt Starts Early

I never would have thought that one of the happiest days of my life would involve peeing on a stick and waiting, breathlessly, to see how many lines appeared in the window. It also would be the beginning of a journey so wrought with pitfalls that left me battle scarred both inside and out.

My pregnancy was not a blissful, glowing and euphoric time in my life. It was amazing, yes, but I was so sick and miserable that the “mommy guilt” started before I even gave birth. I should have been radiant. I should have been mesmerized and enchanted by the little things that make growing a human such a miracle. I should have been breathless with anticipation of becoming a Mommy, the greatest profession ever. But, I wasn’t.

The Best Laid Plans

We had planned a natural birth. We had a doula, we took Bradley classes, we were ready. Baby had other ideas. Eight days after his due date, I was induced. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details, because scaring other ladies about childbirth is not my goal, but suffice it to say nothing went as planned. Not the pregnancy, nor the birth, and not even the first few hours and days after he arrived.

I was completely overwhelmed. I chalked it up to not knowing what to do having not really been around babies before. I attributed it to not getting enough sleep, the pain meds, and to the fact that he was a fussy baby. At night, I would awake in the midst of a panic attack and bolt upright (not an easy or comfortable feat after a C-section) to check on him. He would cry and my anxiety would go through the roof. Sitting in the dark, rocking and nursing him, should have been soothing but my skin would crawl and I just wanted to run away. In the dark, he wasn’t my baby. In the dark, he was the reason for the internal battle that raged inside me; the darkness that ate at me and consumed me. I cried. A lot. We both cried. A lot.

He grew and thrived and I swallowed my anxiety. We went for walks and play dates and splashed in the puddles. He was sleeping better at night and we enjoyed each other. He still wouldn’t be left with anyone else and had the random crying fit but, in general, life became a comfortable place. That’s when we decided to give A a brother or sister. As before, my husband barely breathed on me and I was pregnant.

This pregnancy wasn’t any easier and I was even sicker than the time before. The doubts started creeping in and I was finally able to verbalize a small part of what I’d gone through before. My OB mentioned post-partum depression and offered Zoloft for the end of my pregnancy. I felt fine. I refused and said we’d keep an eye on it. Baby N arrived and things went better. I chalked it up to knowing what to expect the second time around.

Little A was a good big brother. The first year was a blur of trying to balance the baby’s needs and those of his big brother. As the boys approached their birthdays (A turning 3 and N turning 1), life began to get more complicated. Little A began really acting out. I mean, the 2’s had been hard enough but the 3’s were looking like they were going to be the biggest challenge yet. The mommy guilt came hard and fast and I felt completely ill equipped to handle these toddlers. Little A became more and more angry and belligerent. He began to hit his brother when he was angry. I visited a therapist and she made me feel like it was my fault. He was just a little boy.

He wasn’t intentionally hitting my buttons and it was my inadequacies that caused the escalation in behavior. I tried talking to the pediatrician and was told that it was normal behavior on the part of a 3 year old. The darkness started coming back. I cried. A lot. I felt like a complete failure as a mother. We hadn’t bonded. I had un-diagnosed, un-treated PPD that held me back from bonding with my son and he was showing this to us. That’s what I thought; what I felt in my heart. That same heart was broken.

My heart was broken as was my kid. *I* had broken my kid. My son. My beautiful boy who had depended upon me for his very well being had suffered because of my inability to be the mom he deserved.

After the birth of our third child, I could no longer deny that I was depressed. I was having anxiety attacks frequently and for days on end I would start every day by sitting in the shower and sob big, body-wracking, sobs. Finally, I spoke up and my doctor listened.

No longer was I viewing my son through guilt-riddled lenses and I began to see other things that I had missed. It became clear that the things I felt had been my fault were not. I was suffering from a chemical imbalance, as was he. The rages, the meltdowns, the complete irrationality were not, in fact, due to my own parental failings but a chemical reaction within his brain coupled with the fact that my son is gifted. Put those two together and it became a whirlwind of emotion, both high and low, and instead of seeing this objectively, I took the blame.

Shoot, I didn’t just take it, I doled it out in big giant steaming heaps. I have been my own worst enemy. I saw fault where there was none. I suffered guilt when it was there was no need.

I did not break my child. Whew. I did not break my child.

Those of us who hold the platinum award for Mommy Guilt could easily find guilt in missing out on so much pleasure from his childhood because of all of this. But I won’t. I refuse. I did not break my child. I did not ask, nor cause, myself to suffer from Postpartum Depression. My son and I ARE bonded and I adore him; madly, completely, and without question. Because of me (ok, and his daddy too!) Little A is crazy smart, he’s sweet, and funny, creative, athletic and loving.

My son is whole. I did not break him.

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @Hopin2bHappy’s Email to My Husband

Within the #PPDChat community, members not only share how they’re feeling or what they’re going through, sometimes they tweet specific requests for support with a current situation. Such was the case just the other day with one particular member. @Hopin2bHappy tweeted about an email she sent to her husband in regards to her current struggle with her Postpartum Mood Disorder. Then she posted the letter at the #PPDChat Closed FB group. Her letter is phenomenal and one every husband should read. One every Mom with PPD should read. It’s honest, raw, and powerful. She graciously offered to allow me to share her words here. I’m honoured to do so and hope you will share it with everyone you know. The entire post from the FB group is included (with her permission of course)  – her introduction, the letter, and her husband’s reaction to the email. With no further ado, I give you quite possibly one of the most powerful pieces I’ve ever posted here for husbands and wives:

 

 

Hi Ladies.
I’ve been having a really tough week. I’m in the middle of a med change, kids have been sick and I’ve been exhausted. Last night my husband and I had a huge fight at 2am, I felt so beat down, alone and really ready to just stop trying.
This morning I wrote my husband an e-mail. Here it is.

Dear Hubs,

I love you and you need to remember that I don’t want to be this way. You have been working so hard to care for our family, and I want you to know how much I appreciate all you do for the boys and all you do to keep us afloat. That’s why it has been so hard for me to talk to you about what I’m about to write.

Sometimes, I think you forget that when I’m having a bad day, I am not capable of being rational. Telling me to get over it and just deal, or stop having thin skin, or that I  should be happy [we have a comforter, etc.] doesn’t help. It actually makes me feel even worse for not being able to control these feelings. That’s when I get filled with rage and lose it on you.

Sometimes, I think that what you want is for me to lose it, just so you can blame everything on me being crazy.

I know it’s hard for you when I’m saying crazy things.  I know you want to defend yourself and tell me what’s on your mind. What I don’t think you understand is that THIS IS NOT ME. When I get overwhelmed and lash out at everything?  Most of the time I dont even believe what I’m saying, but I just can’t stop. The more you tell me I’m crazy, a liar, and insane, it just gets worse. I feel helpless and I start to believe those things you accuse me of, which only makes matters worse.

Instead of you trying to analyze my words and picking out inconsistencies, accusing me of lying, or fighting back by saying I’m being irrational, what I REALLY want, no, NEED, is for you to hug me. I need you to tell me you are sorry I feel this way and that it will get better. That you love me. That I’m a good mom.  I know these things are hard for you to do sometimes, especially in the heat of the moment. But I’ve never needed your love and support more than I do right now.

I am trying so hard, but sometimes I feel like you don’t give me any credit for trying. I’m talking to doctors, taking medications and seeing a therapist. I wish I could snap my fingers or drink a magic potion and make it all go away, but unfortunately, it is not that easy. I will get through this, but I can NOT do this alone. If we get through this together, as a team, things will get better faster and be easier for us both. The best gift we can give our boys is a happy and healthy relationship. I’m fighting this as hard as I can, not just for them, but for you, too. You deserve the best of me, which is what I want so badly to give, but I need your, love, support and encouragement to make it happen.

I love you.

He came upstairs and hugged me. He commited to try and not take things so personally, and not react so strongly. He acknowledged that I am trying, and we are going to fight this as a team.

I am so relieved. And I Want to thank a very special friend for helping me edit my letter so it actually made sense.

Postpartum Voice of the Week: @ewokmama’s journey with jack

Not too long ago, I was featured over in Band Back Together’s “Go to 11″ series. I was honoured to be given the opportunity to share my story with the Band readers and community. It’s my turn to share Crystal’s story of PPD with her son Jack with you here at My Postpartum Voice. Crystal is an editor and board member over at the Band.

It takes courage to share your Postpartum story but as more and more of us refuse to be silenced by the stigma surrounding our journeys, the less hold stigma has on us. Thank you, Crystal, for sharing your story with us here.

I was terrified of my brand new baby.

 

I was working hard to try to breastfeed.  I had read all the books, visited with the lactation consultant, and I still couldn’t figure out how to get him latched properly.  My nipples were raw and bleeding.  I quickly decided I hated breastfeeding, but I was stubborn and refused to admit defeat.  I WOULD be the perfect mother and I would NOT fail.

 

As I latched Jack onto my breast again and gritted my teeth in pain, fear snuck into my brain.  I suddenly feared my baby was evil and that he was hurting me on purpose.  I resisted the urge to throw him from me, to shrink from his presence.  I looked away from his eyes and tears ran down my face.  I felt ridiculous – this was my baby, my son, not some gollum!  How in the world could I fear my own child, an infant only a few days old?

 

I admit, I wasn’t sleeping well at night.  My son would sleep for three hours at a time, which was pretty amazing for a newborn, but I had trouble nodding off because I worried I wouldn’t wake up if he cried.  I needed to get to him the moment he stirred, or the crying would rip me apart – I would be cowing in a corner and crying myself.  His crying was pure torture and if I couldn’t stop it, I would have to kill myself.  I just COULD NOT handle it.

 

I had read about post-partum depression.  In fact, I had had it after a miscarriage the prior year.  My husband and I had talked about how I could avoid falling into that hole again.  Knowing is half the battle, right?

 

Unfortunately, he went back to work a week after Jack was born and all our family members went back home.  I was alone.  I spent hours in our apartment by myself; we lived in a town far from family and the friends there were my husband’s.  I didn’t know what to do with my kid.  I was anxious when he was awake and I spent his naps worrying about when he would wake up.

 

Things improved when I joined a mother’s group, when I was able to get out of the house and hear about other mothers’ struggles.  Still, I was too embarrassed, too ashamed to talk about my feelings toward my baby.  I worried that if I admitted to feeling afraid of Jack, admitted to feeling like I needed to get away from him, someone would call Child Protective Services and my child would be taken away.  Surely they would think I was too crazy and incompetent to be left in charge of a baby.

 

I wish I had reached out earlier.  I wish I had contacted my OB much sooner, rather than waiting and living with these feelings.  My early days with my son are a blur of fear, stress, and exhaustion; PPD overshadowed all the good moments.  I did not enjoy my baby for nearly two years of his life and I regret that to this day.

 

If you struggle with these feelings, please reach out to someone.  The community at Band Back Together can help – we have a wide variety of individuals who have survived PPD (and everything else on the mental illness spectrum).  There are people who will understand what you are dealing with, who won’t judge you, and who can give you the support and kick in the pants to take control of your situation.  You do not have to be alone.

 

 

Crystal, aka Ewokmama, is a re-married mother to one alien/superhero/transformer boy named Jack. She is an obsessive multi-tasker, making her the perfect Executive Assistant at a software firm in San Francisco. When not parenting her fierce and fuzzy ewok-child, Crystal can often be found tending to her Facebook game crops on the laptop while simultaneously dominating Words With Friends on her iPhone and explaining the family’s finances to her devastatingly handsome and uproariously funny husband (who didn’t help write this bio at all). Not to mention that she will be taste-testing cupcakes and sipping wine, as well.

 

As a trauma survivor learning to live a normalish life with Chronic Depression, PPD and PTSD, Crystal feels very strongly about the need to connect with others when experiencing difficulties in life. For this reason she has dedicated time to mentoring new mothers who are learning to breastfeed, sharing her own parenting struggles and triumphs on her own blog, Ewokmama.com, and becoming a member of Band Back Together.