Tag Archives: communication

Just Talking Tuesday: Through the eyes of another

It’s dark. You are both collapsed into heaps, this time, you managed to make it to bed. You sigh, close your yes and mutter goodnight into your pillow.

It’s 234 a.m., your wife notes.


You lift your head and glare at the clock.

It’s 315 a.m.

You shove your face back into your pillow and silently scream.

Really? 46 minutes?

Sighing, you get out of bed to get the baby. Check the diaper. A little wet so you change it. Rock, sing, soothe. Nothing works.

Time to get mommy. She’s got the food.

You walk into the bedroom to wake her up. She sighs, shifts, and snuggles closer to the bed. When you do manage to wake her up, she snaps at you.

“But I JUST nursed! Did you check the diaper? Try to put him back down? I’m tired. I don’t want to…. ”

“Yes. Gimme a little credit. I’m not an idiot. I’ve tried everything. Clearly he’s hungry. You’re nursing so…”

“Dammit. I’ll be there in a minute.” She snuggles back into the bed.

You sigh, loudly, frustrated, knowing it will be a good 30 minutes before she even attempts to get out of bed. She will fall back asleep and you will have this conversation all over again before she finally gets out of bed, cursing you under her breath for interrupting her sleep.

She won’t mean it. She’s exhausted, just like you. And yes, you have work in the morning and should be sleeping but she won’t get to sleep much during the day either. Oh, she may rest, but it won’t be restorative. She’ll nod off while nursing, try to snooze when the baby does, but if the baby is up, she is up. And then there are chores. Dishes. Laundry. Cleaning. Cooking. Possibly other children to care for. Errands. Her job? Never.friggin.ends.

Your job never ends either. It’s hard for her to see that though. What SHE sees is you, walking out the front door toward other adults. Toward freedom. Toward conversation that involves more than a few garbled syllabic words at a time. What SHE sees is you, showered, shaved, dressed in something other than the same pajamas she’s now lived in for two weeks. What SHE feels is jealousy, hatred, sadness, grief. For the most part she knows it’s not rational. Somewhere, deep down, she tries hard not to feel this way. But she’s been moody for weeks now. Snapping at you for the simplest comment or action.

You bring home dinner. It’s not what she wanted but she loudly sighs and announces “It’ll have to do.” You pick up the baby and she watches your every move with him like a hawk, waiting for you to falter. You begin to falter yourself. Are you built for fatherhood? Are you doing things wrong? What if you’re screwing up your kid for life at just 3 months old? What if she never lets you really be a father? How will you ever learn what to do? Will your marriage survive? Where the hell are you?

What she doesn’t know is that as you walk out the front door every morning, your heart hurts. YOU are filled with jealousy because she gets to enjoy every moment with your son. She gets to watch him grow, change, and do new things every day. You mourn your fatherhood as you shower, dress for work. You fumble under her judgmental stares, worrying that your fathering skills are not up to par with her expectations. You’ve asked  a million times but you can’t for the life of you get her to tell you what her expectations are for you as a father. What are the rules to this ball game? If you only knew, life would be so much easier. After all, you’re not a mind reader.


Today’s Just Talking Tuesday is cross-posted with The Postpartum Dads Project. If you’re a mom, please go visit the Postpartum Dads Project and share what you wish your husband had known about Postpartum Mood Disorders and parenting. What would have best helped you when you were suffering? If you’re a dad, share here. What got you and your wife through those dark days? How did you keep communication open if you managed to do so?

(Note: The Postpartum Dads Project site is down for the moment. Let’s all just share here for now and I will cross post when the site is back up! Thanks for understanding.)

Social support is key for recovery from a Postpartum Mood Disorder. The best social support starts at home with your partner. Get them involved and you’ve zoomed forward a zillion spaces on your recovery path.

Let’s get to just talking.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 08.25.09: Sharing the PPD news with your parents

Communication today is often done via email, text, twitter, facebook status updates. It’s become much less personal and much less formal. For some, this is good. For others, not so good. Some things get lost in translation. It’s easy to type something and hit send without thinking. It’s also easy to apply this short communication style to every day life, leading to quick judgments, misunderstandings, and worse, the planting of grudges and beginnings of the end of relationships. The art of the thoughtful conversation seems to be drifting by the wayside.

Many women and families with whom I’ve worked have expressed to me that the biggest challenge they face is enabling those around them to understand what is going on without increasing stigma or losing their formerly close relationships. It’s a struggle to go through a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder let alone try to explain the complexity of it to a loved one from whom you need support.

When I spoke with my parents about PPD, they were understanding, compassionate, and actually did their own informative research. The one thing that stood out to me when I was hospitalized came from a phone call with my dad. He said something simple yet profound (my dad is full of those – I LOVE him for it). My father told me not to let anyone tell me I was “crazy” for the way I was feeling given my situation. My situation was that two months prior I had given birth to our second daughter who was then subsequently diagnosed with a cleft palate and by then had undergone two surgeries, one major to help lengthen her jaw in order to allow her to breathe safely. I held it together as long as I could but finally collapsed on day 56. Turns out for me, falling apart was precisely what I needed in order to pull it back together.

I’ve spoken with Mothers and their Parents alike who are frustrated and upset by the lack of information, communication, and the subsequent misunderstandings that follow all too often in the wake of a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder. Often these very issues only serve to compound a family’s recovery.

Today, I would like to take the opportunity to check in and see how (or if) you told your parents (or in-laws) or kept up appearances with them. Did you let them see inside the dusty window or did you keep the shade pulled down and pray no one would accidentally flip it up?

Let’s get to Just Talkin’!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 08.18.09: Telling Your Partner

Original photo by Pingu1963 @ flickr

Original photo by Pingu1963 @ flickr

We’ve touched briefly on seeking support and how you overcame the stigma of admitting something was wrong.

Today I want to take that topic to a more personal level.

How did your partner take the news?

My husband was so confused right after we had our first daughter. One minute I’d be fine, the next – yelling at him for simple things – like criticizing how he blew his nose or something equally inane. Or one of my favorites – the laughing hyena fits. Oh how I hated those! They hit at the most inopportune time! Him: “My day sucked.” My response: laugh so hard milk I had drank that morning would come spewing out my nose. Yeah, peachy, huh?

Once I kind of figured out what might be happening it really helped us both immensely. I stopped believing he had been born with super powers which would magically allow him to know precisely what (and when) I needed him to do with the baby and he started asking what he could do to help out. Before you knew it, we were navigating the perilous yellow brick road of communication quite successfully! (Did I mention he even talked to his parents about PPD for me? How sweet!)

By the time my second episode occurred, he knew more than enough to recognize old habits and encouraged me to seek help. We did have a bump when I was hospitalized but I think anyone with a loved one with a need for mental health hospitalization would be understandably stressed.

Third time around he was just as big an advocate as I was, knew a ton, and fortunately, sailed right through the experience with me. We were both very blessed to be able to fully enjoy the newborn stage with at least one of our children. That experience is something neither one of us takes for granted.

So – what I’d like to talk about today is how you told your significant other that everything was not alright in New Momville. How’d that conversation go? Did you initiate it? Did they? What was the reaction? What did they do to support you as you recovered?

I do want to take a moment to mention that if you have an unsupportive partner, talk with your caregiver about this. See if you can arrange to have your partner attend an appointment with you so that the doc can explain to them how important it is for you to have support at home. Good support at home is essential to a solid recovery and as your partner, they are on the front lines. In fact, it’s always a good idea to take your partner with you to your appointment because they may be witness to behavior you are not aware of in yourself.

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ Tuesday!

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.