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Monday, January 7, 2013

My Experience with Postpartum Depression, and My Plea to You

I figured since I haven't done a particularly informative post in a while, it was time to do one. I have several friends having babies and that are currently pregnant, so I thought now might be a poignant time to share about topic that has historically been swept under the rug. Postpartum depression.

from Google

Not all women who suffer from PPD are having suicidal thoughts, or feeling as though they want to hurt their babies. It is my opinion that this is how the description comes across from medical professionals and anyone with lesser symptoms can have the unfortunate result of being brushed off as merely sleep deprived, or adjusting to a newborn.

Women caring for their first born are particularly vulnerable as they have nothing to compare their feelings to. Life with a newborn IS hard. Trying to adjust to finding your own new definition and role as a mother, adjusting your relationship with your partner or spouse, and finding time for daily necessities like taking the dog out, doing groceries, or even showering all become a delicate balance.

me with baby Spiderman on his 1st day home after 7 days in the NICU
My own experience with PPD was a sneaky one. I, like many others, chalked my feelings up to sleep deprivation and a failing relationship with my then-boyfriend. Spiderman had some initial complications,
and so it was my assumption that those, in conjunction with regular adjustment, and financial struggles had led to my feelings of complete (as in true, pure) exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed.

Almost a year after Spiderman's birth, I finally sought help and was officially diagnosed with PPD by a therapist. That began a probably additional six month recovery period, during which time I experienced the ultimate demise of my relationship with Spidermans' dad, and then began my journey as a single mom.

Move ahead several years to the pregnancy and birth of Baby A: Now knowing what postpartum recovery was like, I began preparations for PPD about 7 months into my pregnancy. My OB/GYN started me on some medication so that it would have time to "get into my system" by the time Baby A was born.

I also prepped by taking appropriate time off from work, which I had not done with Spiderman. I made arrangements for help at home, stocked the freezer with frozen Amy's meals and the pantry with easy to grab bottled water and Odwalla bars. This time, I also had the blessing of the all time greatest PPD preventative: a supportive husband <3

baby A's birthday!
We made a plan for care and support at home, we lined up my therapist and lactation consultant, and made additional post natal appointments with my OB/GYN and the visiting nurse.

Despite the preparation, I still suffered from PPD. The feelings of being completely (I'm talking utterly, totally, completely) overwhelmed were rampant, I felt as though I couldn't take care of myself, what little energy I had was focused at my colicky infant (so much for preparation!) and my now 3 year old!

Add to the colic and PPD recovery from a C section, an ongoing custody dispute, and a near failure to thrive diagnosis... and I was a mess! [One of these days, I'll post Baby A's full birth story] However, my preparedness did not go to waste. In fact, it was what saved me! I had the full support of my fabulous hubby, family, and friends. I did my best to remain hydrated and the frozen meals and protein bars were my savior! (along with coffee... lots and lots of coffee) :)

I did my best to NOT try and be supermom. For weeks I did nothing but stay inside and do nothing but snuggle, nurse, soothe and repeat. We spent time just myself, her and Spiderman watching movies, reading stories, and sitting on our front lawn with new library books chillin by the sandbox and the kiddie pool. I had family take Spiderman off to the park or the beach while we attended our multitude of appointments to the lactation department, pediatrician, OB/GYN, chiropractor, and local WIC office.

Baby A and Spiderman, still at the hospital 

jaundiced baby A and her auntie Amber, out with mommy on a trip to Target to get some nursing essentials ;)

baby A and tired hubby <3

One of my all time favorite posts about postpartum recovery is THIS one from The Leaky Boob.

Several months after Baby A's birth we had our miscarriage. As with any miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss; we suffered emotionally. I felt like I had done something wrong, like it was my fault. Thankfully, I was still on a low dose of anti depressants and still seeing my therapist, and I had begun attending church shortly before that, and found solace there and ironically online; particularly via Unspoken Grief.

In October of 2011, just 3 months after Baby A turned 1 year old, we found out we were pregnant with Baby B <3 She was a bit of a surprise ;) so I was still on a higher dose of medication from the miscarriage. Consulting with my OB/GYN, PCP, and therapist it was decided I should remain on the medication and just wean down to the lowest effective dose during the pregnancy.

We prepped a bit differently for the birth of Baby B, as she was to be a VBA2C, but nonetheless we prepped for her birth... and the ensuing PPD.

Baby B is now 7 months old, and I have to say this postpartum period has been my "happiest". I would venture to even say I'm not sure I even "have" PPD this time. My anxiety has been heightened for sure, now a complete SAHM of 4 kids; I now suffer from insomnia and am inevitably irritable. Besides that however, I would say I have "adjusted" far better this time around.  Despite her immune deficiency and low weight, baby B is a happy girl, which makes ME a happy mama!

Baby B

Call it experience.
Call it divine intervention.
Call it what you will, but here is my plea to you...

My plea to all "new" moms... that means YOU.. that means YOU with the brand new 1st born, that means YOU that has only angel babies, that means YOU that just gave birth to baby # 5....

* take care of yourself, you just had a baby
     this means eat food, drink water, sleep/nap, and SIT DOWN. 
* sleep in the knowledge and peace that your baby is with God, or nap when your baby naps
     laundry can wait 
     dishes can wait 
     do NOT plan to COOK meals. buy some nice, less preservative ridden frozen varieties or have friends and family bring you food ;) 
    make things easy to grab so you can eat or hydrate while you nurse or bottle nurse 
 * baby wear. NO LIE, it makes all the difference for BOTH mom and baby. You are hands free and still snuggling, and baby is SO. much. calmer. 
* shower, you will feel amazing ;) 

     the old addage: "It takes a village to raise a child" is TRUE. If you don't have a supportive or present spouse/partner and your family is too far away and your friends are too busy... find a mom's group- every hospital has one. Find a church if you don't already have one- you'll be glad you did. Try a few if you're not sure what you're looking for. 

    many communities also offer free or drop in mommy-and-me yoga classes, which can be a great networking opportunity that will also improve your health! <3 

     you can find support online as well, and many give you links or contacts to local support groups. Some of my favorites are; 

* take as much time as you can to SIT, NURSE, ENJOY. It goes by too fast. I know it doesn't seem like it now, but it does. I assure you. 


What has your experience in birthing and postpartum recovery been?? What resources have you found that have helped you the most and might help other moms? 



CALL 911




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