Monthly Archives: May 2010

Whatever Wednesdays: The one about my favorite TV shows

The #PPDChat @ Twitter earlier this week focused on taking time for ourselves. This is me putting it into practice. I also had a DM chat with @marymac in which we waxed about greener grass – and she inspired me to finally carve out a day on which I blogged about just life and not the main topic of my site. Welcome to Whatever Wednesdays! Let the ride begin….

It’s mid May. Sweeps in TV land.

Two of my favorite shows are dropping off the planet this year.

Both 24 and Lost will come to a screeching halt on the little screen within the next six days. Many of my other shows are airing season finales.

I may have to resort to Netflix or reruns of Star Trek Next Generation. On Demand may be an option. But for now I’ll just mourn my entertainment losses and move on to greener pastures. The summer line up better kick some serious arse.

Watching TV shows and movies is a favorite past time of mine. I’m mostly a sci-fi, drama, comedy chick. I’ve got the uncanny ability to recognize actors and tell you what they’ve starred in over the years. Sometimes I do have to resort to but hey, I’ve got kids. They’re sucking my brain cells up faster than I’d down an Icee on a hot summer day.

Oh, and do not leave the name of the winner of Survivor in the comments. I’m like, um, behind. And despite my constant monitoring of Social media, have actually managed to keep myself in the dark thus far. I’m sure my time is running out and I hope to catch up by this weekend. We’ll talk next week. Because I’ve got things to say about that show, oh yes I do!

A few of my new favorite shows this past season are:

FlashForward – this may well be my new LOST. I am loving this sci-fi thriller!

Modern Family – quite possibly the most funny sitcom EVER. Sorry Seinfeld, you never made me pause the TV for 5 minutes because I couldn’t stop laughing. Oh wait, couldn’t pause the TV when you were on air – but still… NO pausy pause for you! NEXT! There has NEVER been a funnier scene in sitcom history than Cam dressed as a clown sassing some poor guy at the gas station. NEVER.

V – Like Whoa. Anna is a class A well, yanno… whoa. Despite the remake aspect, I’d say they’re doing a damned fine job.

Happy Town – Although this show has already been cut, I liked it. Sad to see it go.

Parenthood – Nuff said.

Mercy – Almost as addictive as Grey’s. Notice I said ALMOST.

Trauma – This is a show I’ve struggled with watching. It’s intense. Very intense. But after a hard day, it would always remind me that yeah, there’s always someone out there who’s got it tougher. And somehow it would soothe me. And I found myself addicted before I even knew it.

Some old favorites:

Damages – Patty Hews would be perfect vs. Anna of V, wouldn’t she? Now THAT’D be a show!

Saving Grace – this one is on TNT. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you really should try and watch. It’s addicting.

Grey’s – ‘Nuff said.

Fringe – Only the 2nd season but I am SO hooked. I need my Walterisms on a weekly basis. (Wanna know how addicted I am to this show? I decipher the glyphs they show before the commercial breaks. I’ve got it bad!)

Survivor – stopped watching last season but then – I mean – really, who can resist Rupert? I HAD to watch Heroes vs. Villains. And no, as I said earlier, I don’t know who won yet. So shh.

I’m really looking forward to The Good Guys which starts on Fox this Wednesday night. Bradley Whitford from West Wing (may that show RIP) stars. It’s gotta be good. It’s Bradley frickin’ Whitford, dudes! (And no, I’m not channeling Hurley!)

Psych on USA starts back in June, I think. It better – I need my Psych fix.

And then there’s America’s Got Talent which will be a Hoff -free zone this year. I am hoffstatic about that!

Watching TV is a huge part of relaxation for me. There is NOTHING more soothing for me than to sit down after the kids are in bed and hear, “This Television Program is for Mature Audiences only.” blare forth from the TV. Because that means I don’t have to watch kid-friendly programming for at least 12 hours.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 05.18.10: How did you first share your Postpartum Mood Disorder story?

Today is a mash-up of posts.

It’s the APA’s Mental Health Blog Party day and my weekly installment of Just Talkin’ Tuesday. (If you’re interested in reading other entries for today’s Blog Party, the APA is rounding them up here.)

Today, the APA is asking all mental health (and not) bloggers to raise our voices in order to shatter the stigma which surrounds mental illness and disorders. In that spirit, I had to give quite a bit of thought to the topic for today’s Just Talkin’ Tuesday post. It had to be a topic we had not covered recently as well as one that fit the blog party spirit. And wouldn’t ya know it, inspiration strikes right as I am seriously craving some time with my bed. This topic has been meandering about upstairs for a few days but decided to wait until the last second to make a mad dash for the door, er, keyboard. So here I sit, at 1215am EST, words pouring onto my blog. I make no promises as to the length of this ramble. Proceed at your own caution and time restraints.

It started with a simple phrase uttered to me while at psych ward on a suicidal/harm to others hold during my second postpartum experience.

“You don’t have to tell anyone where you were this weekend.”


Why would I want to keep this experience a secret? What reason would I have for not wanting to share my struggle?

My mother raised me to keep the communication lines open no matter how deep the trauma. And my father taught me to always, ALWAYS think before I spoke. So you see, I strive to keep a balance between the two. Sometimes this means holding my tongue or my thoughts for a bit longer than I should and missing out on opportunities to speak up. But then I figure maybe it is for the best I didn’t say anything in the first place.

"Raffles Resort Beach"by fpugirl @flick

More than anything though, I believe strongly in both values. And these values are what caused me to question why on earth the nurse told me I didn’t have to tell anyone about my visit to the psychiatric wing. And what pray tell, would I have told them? That I had won a trip to the Carribean? Been waited on hand and foot? Slept the weekend away on pillows flatter than ironed Martha Stewart Linens? C’mon, people!

From the very beginning of my downfall, I was vocal about my experience. I asked questions. I sought answers. I wanted to talk to other mothers. I needed, desperately, to know that I was not alone in this new pitch black rough and tumble sea.

There was something I clung to as a lifesaver in the midst of my temporary insanity. And I don’t think I have ever properly thanked him for saying it to me right when I needed to hear these words the most.

“You are reacting no differently than anyone else in your shoes would be. Don’t let them tell you any different!”

My father spoke those words to me during a phone call from the hospital. I clung to that phone like a lifeline. My father’s words echo through my mind every so often but back then, when I needed to hear them most, they were a shiny buoy of hope in my dark dark sea. I never let go. Thank you Dad, thank you for knowing just what to say right when I needed to hear it. I am sorry if I have not thanked you before now but THANK YOU. From the very depth of my very healed heart.

If I could be on the phone, by golly, I was on the phone. Talking. Sharing. Being HONEST about where I was and how I had gotten there. And every last person on the other end accepted me, loved me, did not judge me. I know how fortunate I am to have that kind of support. Believe me, I am above and beyond grateful for the support which exists in my world. There are others who exist and fight with no support, no place to turn, alone in their dark sea upon which they are now sailing. Sailing with no compass, no supplies, lost.

There are mothers out there who struggle in the darkness for a very long time. So long, in fact, that Dr. Arlene Huysman coined a term, Progressive Postpartum Depression, an undiagnosed Postpartum Depression which gets darker and darker as time marches forward, dragging the darkness along for the ride. So long that there’s an entire Scientific American article dedicated to the topic and a ton of research on the impact of untreated Maternal Depression if you should care to go looking for it via Google or med journals. Why do they stay quiet? Why do they not seek help? It does not make sense. If your throat is sore, you see the doctor. Heart attack, ER. So why not this? Is it not the same? It should be treated as such.

But it is not.

Many believe you should be able to snap out of a depression. That Happiness is a choice. That somehow, we are choosing to be sad, insane, or conjure up these intrusive thoughts to get out of being a mother. That it’s all a conspiracy. But it’s not. Oh, it is SO not a conspiracy. There’s no dark back room to which we all retreat in the middle of the night and agree on what symptoms to exhibit the next day to escape the humdrum of domesticity. We don’t choose straws to see who gets to be the happy housewife and who gets to curl up in a ball muttering to herself. There are no auditions for this. IT.JUST.HAPPENS. And guess what? We don’t like going through it anymore than you enjoy watching us go through it.

A Postpartum Mood Disorder is sheer hell. First, there’s the myriad of symptoms from anxiety, to depression, to not eating to not sleeping to obsessing, to thinking horrific thoughts about what might happen to baby, what we might do to baby, etc, so on and so forth. And then there’s the guilt. OH the guilt. The guilt of not wanting to have anything to do with our baby. The guilt over not gushing over baby or not snapping back as quickly as celebrities or not coping like the suave women in the Johnson & Johnson commercials. The suave women who invade our homes every day as we sit in front of the TV with a screaming infant as our hair becomes ratty and our bathrobes and slippers wear thin because we haven’t changed our clothes in over a week. And then, there’s the judgment. We are supposed to be happy. Anything less than happiness is unacceptable in most families. Suck it up. Get over it. Yeah, motherhood is hard but I just did it. I didn’t get sad. I didn’t curl up in a ball. I don’t remember.

We are all different.

We are ALL beautiful.

And there is a quiet power in each and every one of our stories. An important power. One we must protect and share so that others will listen, learn, and understand.

"Stormy Sea" by Xeubix @flickr

When I was in the thick of my Postpartum sea with waves crashing all around me, I dreaded sharing my story. I hated having to explain to yet another person what had brought me to my knees. I hated answering questions.  At some point, that changed. At some point, it became liberating to tell others how I had managed to escape and heal. The mode of transportation whether it be natural, pharmaceutical, physical, spiritual – does not matter. All that matters is that you find what works for you, for your personal philosophy and situation. And damn anyone who dares to judge your choices. YOU are in charge of you – don’t ever forget that. It is your path to wellness and not that of anyone else. Take command of your decisions and let no man judge you for them.

When I first shared my postpartum story with power behind my words, it was with Wendy Davis of Postpartum Support International as I applied to be a Coordinator here in the state of Georgia. At the time, there was only one other Coordinator. There are now four of us, a statewide support network, and two support groups in operation according to the PSI Georgia webpage. That’s a lot of growth in just three years. Since then, I’ve operated my own support group (which has stopped meeting due to lack of local interest and support), began blogging to reframe a third pregnancy, and also become the Community Leader for two iVillage message boards dedicated to helping both Postpartum and Pregnant women who are depressed or struggling with mental illness. I’ve also recently started a #PPDChat at Twitter. Turnout there is still small but it has been powerful. I believe in quality vs. quantity when it comes to peer support. Every time I share a piece of my story, I empower another woman, another family. I continue to empower myself through my sharing. I am always healing, a work in progress.

There are power in your words. Share them but share them wisely and carefully.

How did you finally share your Postpartum Story? What made you decide to share your story? Was it with a loved one? With a colleague? A complete stranger? In person? Online? Or have you held it in for years, filled with shame because there was no one to tell who wouldn’t judge you?

Let’s finally get to just talking – and beat the crap out of PMD stigma while we’re at it, ladies and gents!

Oxytocin nasal spray may help moms bond with baby

An interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald details a new study by Australian researchers.

This new study involves Mom getting a dose of a synthetic nasal spray version of the hormone Oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone.”  Mom then participates in a few structured therapy sessions with baby to measure eye contact, affection, and if there is any improvement in bonding between mother and baby.

You can read more about this study by clicking here.

Friday Soother 05.14.10: The Bridge to Spring

"The Bridge to Spring" by WisDoc @

Life has no smooth road for any of us;

and in the bracing atmosphere of a high aim the very roughness stimulates the climber to steadier steps,

till the legend, over steep ways to the stars, fulfills itself.
W. C. Doane

@karma_D finds her Postpartum Voice

@karma_D, Lisa, found me via the #PPDChat at Twitter. At this week’s Just Talkin’ Tuesday, she expressed a desire to share her story but said she wasn’t ready to do so on her own blog yet. Lisa wanted somewhere to share her story anonymously in order to help other moms. I offered her a place here at My Postpartum Voice. This is truly what I want this site to be about – the power of sharing our stories to help one another find our own Voice as we journey through recovery.

Lisa’s story is powerful. Her NICU start reminds me of my own postpartum after the birth of my second daughter. It’s a rough start for sure and I hope Lisa finds the same strength as I have as she journeys towards recovery. Please don’t hesitate to send @karma_D some love. And if you’re a mom in need, you can follow me by clicking here. You can also visit Postpartum Support International to find a Coordinator near you. You are not alone, you are not to blame, and you will be well.

I have post partum depression.  That might be a shock to friends and family, but no one was more unprepared for it than I was.  My pregnancy was incredible.  I felt amazing, better than I have in years, both physically and emotionally.  I felt strong, hopeful, like a dream a lifetime in the making was finally coming true. Those months were full of planning, anticipation, expectation, all culminating in the beautiful instant my son was born.  It was the best moment of my life, euphoric almost in the sudden absence of pain and joy of meeting him.

Within hours of his birth, he was taken to the NICU for breathing difficulty, and so began the downward spiral, full of broken expectations.  Instead of bonding with a newborn in the hospital room surrounded by adoring guests, we shuffled back and forth to the NICU to stand around a helpless baby attached tubes and wires.

The night we came home from the hospital without our son was horrible. Pulling into our neighborhood late that night I vividly remember looking out the car window and feeling like I was witnessing life from another person’s body.  Reality seemed unrecognizable.  We arrived home to flowers and hospital bags dropped off earlier by our parents, mountains of gifts and food cluttering the house.  In that moment I couldn’t see this wonderful outpouring for the blessing it was, but instead as anxiety inducing clutter.  Exhausted, my husband went to bed but I stayed up and cried.  I felt alone, scared, not myself.  It was not at all the homecoming I had anticipated.

When we finally did bring our son home a week after his birth, things didn’t get better.  Breastfeeding difficulties often left one or both of us in tears.  It was not at all the bonding experience I had hoped for.  I pushed through because I wanted so desperately to do the right thing, to act like a good mother even if I didn’t feel like one.  I was tearful and scared because I didn’t feel like myself, and when I did manage to communicate this to my husband all I could muster was, “It’s so hard.”  He did his best to reassure me and I tried to reassure myself it was just “baby blues” and sleep deprivation.  I minimized my symptoms to the OB and Pediatrician, who screened me for PPD but didn’t pick it up early on.  I tried to will it away and hoped things would get better, and kept acting like everything was fine.

Months went by and it never did get better, and the mood swings actually got worse.  One moment I was okay, the next agitated or enraged, then crying and despondent.  I yelled a lot, mostly at the dogs or my husband.  One afternoon when my son was crying I yelled at him to “SHUT UP!  JUST SHUT UP!”  The guilt of yelling at him was awful.  I believed it was going to be burned in his psyche forever and he’d always think I was crazy.  Still not wanting to think the mood swings could be PPD, I blamed it on my IUD.  Eventually I did tell my OB about my symptoms (though admittedly I glossed over them again), and she said she “wasn’t getting a good read on (me).”  She agreed it could be the IUD but convinced me to give it some more time, and encouraged exercise and DHA supplements.  Finally I demanded the IUD removed as I wasn’t getting better, but even then no one diagnosed me with PPD.

I spent 6 months of maternity leave waiting for things to look up.  I kept hoping to turn the corner but never did.  Instead, the mood swings continued, and intrusive thoughts began.  I pictured horrible things happening to me and my baby and felt helpless to prevent them.  I often lacked motivation – even the simplest tasks seemed too much to manage. Once I went an entire week without leaving the house because it was just so overwhelming.  My mood wasn’t always down.  There were lots of times I felt fine, happy even, and capable, but they never lasted long.  These moments of calm made me think I was okay.  I never wanted to harm myself nor my baby, I got up and dressed every day, and I didn’t really feel like what I believed depression to be, so I never admitted what was happening in my head and never asked for help.

Returning to work was a blessing and a curse.  It gave me a much needed break but the guilt was crushing.  The mood swings got progressively worse until one night (Valentine’s Day), I got so worked up over my son’s difficulty going to sleep that I exploded.  After slamming the door to his nursery I went and hid under the covers, my body buzzing and feeling like I might explode out of my skin.  My thoughts raced and I just wanted to go away.  I didn’t want to die but I didn’t want to exist either, at least not then.  Later that night I had another fit when the baby woke up.  My husband asked, “What is wrong with you?” in a tone I’ve never heard from him, one that suggested disgust. That was my rock bottom.  I couldn’t hide it anymore.  The next day I finally told my husband I thought I had PPD and made an appointment.  I saw a different doctor and started treatment.

The improvement has been rapid.  I feel hopeful again, motivated, more clear headed.  I can reason rather than shutting down.  The anger is better, the crying is better.  The anxiety still creeps in and I do have setbacks.  On those days I just try to survive until tomorrow.  I’m learning to recognize triggers and figuring out coping mechanisms – Blair’s STOP has been helpful, as has reading and chatting with other moms who’ve experienced PPD.  (At the same time, I feel the need to control what I’m exposed to so I’m careful about following blogs and such and limiting potentially upsetting material.) I’m trying to let go of expectations and enjoy the moment more. My bond with my son is growing and I am starting to appreciate those wonderful Mommy emotions I had hoped to experience immediately. I wear a locket every day and inscribed on the back is “Before I understood your words, I understood your love.”  I have an amazing son and I know he understands the bond, too.

I think a lot about what it will be like next time – the “do over” as I call it.  In the darkest moments of PPD I swore we would be “one and done” – I couldn’t fathom ever going through this again.  Now, I am hopeful.  Things will be different.  Per my doctor, I’ll likely start meds immediately.  I’ll make a strategy for how I’m going to get support, something like a birth plan but for postpartum, and share it with my “team.”  I am almost certain I won’t breastfeed.  The stress of nursing was a huge trigger, even after all the initial issues as I worried about pumping and supply. I’ll also know I’m not alone.  I wish I had believed that months ago.