Monday, December 16, 2013

A Post about Postpartum Depression




Last week a friend asked me how I'm feeling about the impending arrival of our little baby girl.  I found myself stumbling over my words as I talked about feeling excited, but also about feeling nervous.  With both of my kids I've had a healthy dose of postpartum depression and while that doesn't necessarily mean I will this 3rd time around, I also know the chances are good that I will.  And while I've tried not to let those fears dominate my thoughts, it's hard not to worry about it to some extent.  As I was talking to my friend I realize that often I feel shame for feeling this trepidation at a time when it seems I should only feel excitement, thus the stumbling over my words.  Intellectually I know PPD is not something I should feel guilty about, but sometimes I do.  So while I've talked about this in the past, I don't think I've ever put it out there in it's entirety and I'd like to do that today.  One, to help ease my own shame and fears surrounding PPD and two for anyone else who is currently going through something similar or who has in the past.  If nothing else, I hope by sharing my experience you'll simply know that you're not alone.

*****
Let me start by explaining that as a first time mom I didn't even really understand what postpartum depression was about.  For some reason (you'll probably find this laughable... I do now) I thought the depression a woman felt after giving birth had to do with the 'parting' of the baby and her body--thus 'postpartum'--and that it was directed to this loss of closeness, of actually having the baby in your body or something.  Seriously!  I really didn't know or understand why someone would feel sad after having a baby, so I thought that might be why.  And in a way, it is about that separation... about the sudden and daunting responsibility and all the overwhelming things that come with caring for a tiny, helpless human who was somehow so self-sustaining in that cozy little womb.  I mean, babies just put themselves to sleep in the womb, why can it be SO hard getting a baby to sleep once they're out?  Not to mention the eating, burping, and changing of diapers.

With my firstborn I decided I wanted to try for a natural birth in a hospital based birthing center.  And that is what happened.  I delivered my daughter on a cold, February Sunday morning in a mid-town Manhattan birthing center.  Upon talking to other moms and hearing other birth stories, I had heard about that moment.  You know that moment when they place the baby on your chest and that overwhelming feeling of love and joy that just envelopes you immediately as you meet your new baby for the first time.  I was really looking forward to having just such an experience.  After about 36 hours of labor and an hour of pushing my daughter popped like a cork and as they placed her on my chest my first thought was, "It's over, it's over...thank goodness it's over.  Why would I EVER do that to myself again," referring to labor.  My first thoughts were of relief because really I think my body was in shock.  (Although for the record I'm glad I had a natural birth--another discussion for another time.)   As for my precious baby girl laying naked and squawking on my bare chest I felt...well not much.  I didn't know what to feel, but I know I didn't feel that overwhelming sense of love and joy so many other first-times moms seemed to feel.  Instead I just felt overwhelmed.  I was weak from 2 days of sleeplessness and hours of hard labor, and overwhelmed at the sudden responsibility this tiny, red-faced human now brought into my life.  She was here, and I didn't know what to think.  Having a rather complicated relationship with my own family certainly played into my psyche, as I did not have confidence in myself as a mother.  I just sort of hoped I would feel this natural mothering instinct kick in.  But it didn't.

The first few days were OK... she slept a lot and I was fine.  Nothing too crazy.  By day 5 I was a mess.  Crying off and on the whole day and not really knowing why, only knowing that I felt sad.  Why was I feeling sad?  Nothing bad had happened, rather something good had happened.  In fact, one of the best things in the world had happened, but all I could feel was sad.

That word, overwhelmed, would define the next few weeks and months.  My life now revolved around a fussy little baby who was not only unpredictable, but didn't actually seem to like me very much.  She was hard to get to sleep and to stay asleep, and she was hard to feed and in-between those two things there was little time left for anything else.  By this point I understood why women felt so sad after having a baby.  I was prepared for hard and I knew babies were work, but I didn't know it was THIS hard and I didn't know that they were THIS much work.  Yes she was cute and I loved her in a very dutiful sense, but I wasn't an over-the-moon-obsessed-with-my-baby new mom type of love that seemed to emanate from so many other mothers around me.  Clearly, I thought, something was wrong with me.

A lot of people told me to give a couple months and it would get easier.  I would say it didn't get 'easier' for about 5 months and it would still be until she was 8 months old before I had that totally-in-love, obsessed-with-my-baby, I-love-being-a-mom feeling.  8 months.  

*****

Things with my second daughter were different.  Obviously we had a very crazy pregnancy finding out that she would be born with special needs (at the time we didn't know what to call those needs and we didn't know the extent of what her needs would be).  However, by the time of her arrival we were excited and ready to meet this sweet little girl.  She was born 3 weeks early via c-section as our Dr. was concerned about possible complications.  The c-section and recovery were actually quite easy and my first few days with my baby and I in the hospital were a dream.  She was a calm, quiet baby who was sweet as can be.  And because I was now well acquainted with that motherly love and I felt infinitely more confident in my abilities as a mother, I wasn't paralyzed with overwhelming fear and uncertainty as I had been my first time around.

In general things were going great.  The weeks rolled by as family came to help and everything was going well.  Lamp was definitely an easier baby than PSP had been.  She slept better, she ate better and was overall just more calm.  She could be awake and not cry!  This was amazing!  However, she was still a baby and even 'easy' babies have their hard times.  Right around 6 weeks--when the last of our family was leaving and B was returning to a longer work schedule (he had an easy rotation at the hospital during the first 5 weeks of Lamps life and was home very early every day)--I started to feel that familiar uneasiness.  I was certain the postpartum fairy wasn't going to visit me this time around, but anxiety and fears started to creep back in.  Finally it hit me and one Sunday morning I was laying in bed shaking, crying and pleading for my husband to help me.  I wasn't feeling sad or like I just didn't want to do it, I was completely mentally paralyzed and knew I couldn't do it.  My mental state was such that I could not have been more incapable of taking care of my baby had I been in a full body cast.  That's the best way I can think to describe it.




Two different babies and two very different experiences.  Here's how I handled them.

The first time around was less paralyzing, but longer and characterized by sadness and a constant feeling inadequacy and everything being difficult.  Looking back I definitely had a lot of irrational thoughts that also seemed to characterize that period as well--thoughts like when my baby woke up from a nap I would wonder, What if she never sleeps again?  And in my mind, that was a real and legitimate concern.  Or rather than just recognizing that she was fussy, I actually thought she didn't like me and that I was just an annoyance to her.  Irrational thoughts like those tell me my brain just wasn't right.

I came up with a game plan during this time to help me through this difficult period.  Here are some of the things that helped:

1) Getting up, showered and ready every day.  This included doing my hair and makeup.  For some reason just looking my best, helped me feel better.

2) Getting out of the house every day.  Even if just for a walk around the block.  Living in NYC and being on the tail end of winter, I couldn't stay locked up in my small apartment all day or I'd go crazy.

3) Reaching out to other moms.  This was big--I emailed, called, and talked to anyone who was willing to talk.  It helped to know that other new moms had struggled, or were struggling.  It helped to share my feelings and ask for advice and tips as well.

4)  Doing what I needed to in order to survive and reduce anxiety.  This may sound strange, but I think every mom has their 'things' or their trigger points for stress and for me, it helped to do certain things to counter those triggers.  For example sleep is a huge trigger point for me--yes night sleep, but also naps.  With both of my kids but particularly my first, I kept actual sleep logs on excel spreadsheets tracking nap/sleep times.  I did this for months!  Sure it's a little crazy, but it's completely harmless and it really helps me feel better.  I think it gives me a certain sense of control over the uncontrollable and having a visual also helps me establish a schedule and notice patterns as the baby starts to become more predictable.  As long as it's harmless I try to give myself permission to do crazy 'survival mode' tactics without worrying about what other people think or even if I myself think it's a little extreme.  Additionally, I become the crazy-nap-lady when I have a baby.  It's not always convenient and our schedule sort of rotates around the baby, but that is part of easing my anxiety--so I do it.  For other moms this feeling of life revolving around a baby's nap might do the exact opposite as it does for me--perhaps that will throw her further into PPD!  We're all different!  And our babies are different!  The point is, I do what I have to do to cope as best as I can and I try not to let the judgement of others get to me, and conversely I try not to judge others for doing the baby thing differently from me.

5)  Finding ways to still do things I love or that bring me joy.  Sometimes it's as simple as putting on head phones and listening to music I enjoy, other times it's getting out for an hour by myself.  You may not get a lot of these little moments in the beginning, but trying to make room for little joys helped a lot.



The second time around the PPD was much more short lived, but also much more severe.  I now realize I was on the brink of a mental breakdown and I needed more than just lipstick and a walk around the block.  Here's how I tackled that second bout of PPD.

First, around 5 weeks as I started to feel that uneasy feeling I talked to my husband and a good friend and decided to get on medication.  It was difficult for me to make this decision, but I also know I was willing to do whatever it took to be mentally healthy.  However, by the time I started medication I was already sinking fast.  So that one Sunday morning, as I lay in bed shaking not knowing what to do, I called a friend from my church.  I called this friend because I knew that somehow she would help me, I didn't know exactly how, but I knew she'd help.  I told her point blank that I needed help.  She listened and asked what I needed.  I told her that what I really felt like I needed was someone to just be there.  I wanted someone who could be with me, at my house and act as a safety net 'just in case'.  We hatched a plan and immediately I felt relief--not all the way better, but I knew it was going to be OK.  I guess that would be step 1--recognize that you need help and ask for it.  So that first week my friend came, with her three kids, to my house at 8 in the morning and stayed until B got home around 5 or 5:30 in the evening.  She stayed all day, every day for that first week.  The first few days she sent me out of the house while she took care of my kids (and hers!) and let me get some space and time to myself.  The next week she came every day, but didn't stay as long and the week after that she came a little less.  By the end of those 3 weeks I felt ready to handle it again.  Yes I was still on medication and perhaps it had kicked in by then and was really helping, but if I had to bet which was more helpful to me it was my friend who was willing to be there for me when I really needed her.  I asked her what we would do if I needed more help and she said we'd figure it out--we could get other people from church to help and we'd figure it out.  I can honestly say thats one of the most serviceable things someone has ever done for me.  It literally felt life saving.  And while it wasn't easy asking so much of someone, I'm glad I did.  I really don't know what would have happened if I hadn't asked for help.

*****

So what am I doing to prepare for another case of PPD this time around?

1.  I'm praying, asking for help and insight and doing some mental preparation for when the baby comes.  For example, I walk myself through past newborn baby experiences to help me mentally cope with them if/when they should come up this time around.  The thing about mental health is that when you're in the moment, you can't reason your way out--things that seem like 'no big deal' to me right now become catastrophic in the moment.  If you have never experienced these sort of mental chains, it's likely you don't understand how debilitating they can be.  So right now, while I am feeling healthy and strong I try to talk myself through scenarios from past babies in order to help myself have some pre-PPD ways of handling the stress.

2.  I'm prepared to get on medication again if needed.  Like I said, I don't know how much the medication helped with baby Lamp, but I'm willing to do just about anything.  This time around I may consider some alternative choices before medication--like acupuncture, for example.  So we'll see.

3.  Scheduling family and paternity leave around the time I think I'll need the most help.  We've asked for help from my mom and from my in-laws both of whom came after the births of my other children.  The difference is that this time I've asked them to come a little later in the game--we're shooting for them to be here around the 4-6 week mark instead of right away as this seems to be the period when chaos and stress really kick in for me.  In the immediate aftermath my husband has a pretty generous paternity leave (generous compared to our past options at least) and he has many vacation days saved up that he can use as well if/when I feel like I need him around in between his leave and our parents coming.

4.  Lastly, and probably most importantly I sent out an email to a few friends giving them the rundown of my history and asking for help if/when I should need it.  Again, this is not easy!  But I'm lucky to have wonderful friends who I know will be there if I need it and addressing it before it becomes a problem actually helps ease my worry now.  They were all so great in letting me know that yes they would be there, here are the days/times that would work best for them and their schedules and just to let them know what I needed.


I really hope I don't have to sound the alarm too hard this time around, but just feeling prepared, having a plan and asking for help ahead of time has relieved a lot of the pre-baby stress I was feeling.   That being said, it doesn't erase the anxiety completely, but that's OK.  What about you?  I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts on PPD--how it affected you (since I think it affects each of us in different ways), how you coped and any other methods, tricks, advice, etc. for getting though those initial crazy weeks.  Also, I think the actual baby has a lot to do with PPD--how fussy/calm they are etc.  Thoughts?    



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25 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Oh my, this hit home. I had a similar situation to yours in that with the first child I had a hard time adjusting to a new life (and realizing what "babies can be hard" REALLY meant). Then, the second time I had a colicky baby who screamed all the time (or we were spending every bit of effort to keep him from crying). I was fine until that started - and so I do agree that the actual baby has a lot to do with PPD. I remember one night when I couldn't sleep (a side product of PPD) and knew that not being able to sleep would make things worse and I just feared that I'd end up being hospitalized (which, luckily, I wasn't). I woke that morning, called my midwife and said "I need help". I ended up on meds too because I just couldn't handle it and was having panic attacks from the screaming that would sometimes start in the morning and be an issue more or less all day. (It turned out he had silent reflux as well as your usual colic). It was probably the hardest period of my life so far and I can only agree with the things you've written here about the importance of support. I completely understand your fears going into it this third time, but I know you'll be fine. You've weathered it twice, have a plan and clearly have great support. If you have some tough times, you know you'll make it through and will have a wonderful person in your life forever more. Thanks for addressing this topic and making it less taboo! - Suzanne

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  2. Miggy, you are an amazing woman. I'm so sorry for your struggles, but in the same breath, I'm grateful you are able to help so many mothers with your honesty. I will pray for you that things will go well for you and your awesome family. I feel confident in saying that your life is truly an inspiration for many! :)

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  3. While I have never had your exact experiences when one of my sons was born I was to tired to feel anything. I was so tired I just wanted to sleep. I think its more common that women feel that way but its hard to say I was handed this tiny red baby and I didn't even feel anything, I just wanted to curl up and sleep. When everyone else says they are feeling this amazing love thing. I am glad you posted this. Its real and emotional. We all try to show our perfect side and so we do not know that everyone else is really just muddling along like we are.

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  4. What a helpful post! I haven't read much about PPD but it seems like everything I've seen says: 1. it's okay to have PPD and 2. talk to your Dr. That is not very helpful. I love all of your ideas and I am so touched by the enormous service given by your friend. One thing I found helpful was having a regularly scheduled playdate out of the house for my older child. With both of my kids it has taken me a few months to "fall in love" with them. I hope when/if I have another baby I will be better about giving myself permission to take the time necessary to develop that relationship instead of feeling guilty. Thanks again for sharing and best wishes (and prayers)!! It sounds like you have good help lined up but I'm here as another option if you need it- just send me an e-mail if I can help.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this. I was so unprepared for how much I felt I HATED motherhood when my daughter was born. I was miserable, overwhelmed and felt so isolated because every other friend who had a new baby was over-the-moon with happiness. I hope your experiences with #3 are better than you could imagine. You're setting a wonderful example by being proactive now.

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  6. This was incredibly brave and I am so amazed by your ability to reach out and ask for help. I don't know if you keep up with Postpartum Progress, but it's an incredible community: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/

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  7. Anonymous2:43 PM

    I had severe PPD after my third pregnancy (a son, after having 2 girls - I wonder if the different hormones from a boy is what caused it to be so bad). The scary thing is that I truly felt like everything was fine. I loved my baby more than anything, and I didn't feel too overwhelned with the care of him. I just had extreme feelings of sadness. Since my feelings of sadness weren't about my baby, I didn't even recognize that it was a problem. I have a part time job, and I can remember just sitting at my computer with tears running down my face (almost every day). The reason I knew it was PPD though, was that after 6 months of this extreme sadness, one day I felt like a dark cloud had suddenly lifted. And it was over. Then I looked back and realized how very bad I was. I wish so much that I could have recognized this before, and gotten medication. I know for sure that I needed something, and was having very irrational thoughts (which I couldn't recognize as irrational at the time) through all of it.
    I think it is wonderful that you know this about yourself, and have started to prepare for this. I know that if it does hit, that it will still be so difficult, but at least you are getting yourself the help that you need. I wish that I could have recognized what was happening to me, and gotten the help I needed. I pray that somehow this one will just be easier for you.
    Sarah

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  8. This is a great post Miggy, and I plan to share it with a few friends who need to read these words. Thank you!

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  9. Anonymous3:43 PM

    What you say about not thinking rationally when you're "in" it rings so true for me. I had PPD with my first child, and then when I had it again with my second, I was in complete denial. My friends and my husband said to me, "You are acting the way you did when S was born. I think you have PPD again," and I truly thought they were wrong. I felt completely different the second time, with feelings of complete worthlessness and guilt that I was not only not caring for my newborn well, but neglecting my 2 year old by spending time with the newborn. I never got baby #2 to nurse successfully, so I gave up and put her on a bottle (and felt terrible about this). When the clouds finally lifted, I realized that I had been suffering from PPD again and I had let myself suffer for 10 months for no reason. I should have gone on medication or asked for help, like you did. I felt like if I asked my friends for help, they would say, WHY DID YOU HAVE ANOTHER BABY WHEN YOU SUFFERED SO MUCH THE FIRST TIME?? Which they would never say, but that's how I felt at the time.

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  10. Miggy, thank you for this!

    I'm struggling with PPD again, after having my fourth. I had it after my second for a long time, and very briefly after my third (which was more related to a long trip my husband went on at the peak fussiness...once he got home and the baby got a little easier, the PPD went away.) But this time PPD has struck hard. Like you, it's been incredibly hard for me to admit to myself that I am struggling. For me, the biggest indicator is that I feel overwhelmed constantly. Everything is "too much." I struggle keeping up with the most basic of tasks because even folding one load of laundry seems insurmountable.

    Because this isn't my first rodeo, I'm able to identify triggers: Lack of sleep, chaos, dirty house, busy husband, too much to do, far away from family-- those start me on the downward spiral. The hard part of course is that my husband's in grad school, I have three other children and my baby is 8 months old, so I think I should be able to do everything again and I'm not thinking in "newborn mode".

    One of the biggest triggers for this time is lack of sleep, because my baby has a metabolic disorder and I have to feed her several times a night. At 8 months, I typically wake up 3 times a night with her. Compared to her at 4 months (5x a night), I feel rested. But I'm not and it significantly affects my PPD.

    Coping mechanisms? Naps. Chocolate, but only very small amounts as large amounts make PPD worse for me. LOTS of fruits and vegetables, healthy, healthy foods. Exercise. I've started training for a half marathon, which sounds crazy when I think about everything going on in my life. But running 4 miles 3x a week has been keeping me off medication. Sunshine. Lots, and lots of sunshine. We moved to Savannah this summer and while being away from family has been hard and definitely contributed to PPD, the sunshine is a HUGE help. The ocean. Scriptures and lots of prayer. If I actually do all these things, I can cope with PPD. If I don't, then it's horrible. I haven't been coping well lately, so it may be medication again for me. But that's okay.

    Good luck. I wish you the best. As the mother of four girls, welcome to the "lots of girls" club! It's a blast! I never imagined I'd have four girls, always thought of myself as more of a "boys" mom, but I wouldn't trade it.

    You'll be fine. Realization is the hardest step. Keep being honest, keep asking for help.

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  11. Anonymous4:21 PM

    What a brave and wise woman you are! You seem to have such an insight and it's wonderful that you want to share your experiences with other people.
    I haven't experienced PPD myself but I've read/heard that it's mainly due to hormonal changes in the body.
    Märta in Sweden

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  12. If I lived near you I would volunteer to be on your call list! I believe I suffered from PPD after the birth of my twins almost 19 *gasp* years ago but never was officially diagnosed. Like you, I was functioning fine the first couple of months and then the fun began. I think it was at its worst when the boys were about 10 months old. I even lost some friends due to my anxiety and "freaking out" episodes. I didn't have family close by and wasn't especially close to them anyway so that wouldn't have helped. And I didn't have a network of friends or even church contacts. I was completely alone; my ex-husband was distant and blamed me for not putting him first and making his life difficult by asking him to be home (that was more during the first 1-6 months). It helped when I went back to work part time at night even though I sorely missed the nighttime rituals. I know working isn't the answer for everyone but that was the only time I was truly away from the home by myself and it allowed me to "shelve" my issues for a few hours a day. I did end up connecting with a group for multiple births and the friends I made there made a big difference.
    Your post will help mothers out there who may go thru PPD, have gone thru it, or like me, didn't even know they went thru it until years later. Thank you for being so transparent and brave; and for believing in yourself.

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  13. Anonymous7:40 PM

    This will help so many. I love your analogy of the full body cast. I've suffered from depression my whole life and PPD on top of that. Even though I've taken medication and benefitted going to therapy for years, only recently have I begun to feel more confident about my needs and advocate for myself and not feel guilty and like I'm making it all up in my head. Elder Holland's talk was monumental and I hope it helps people too. You are amazing. Thank you.

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  14. I had a really tough time with my first, Albie, but so much of it was entwined with his heart condition ( http://www.thislittlemiggy.com/2013/02/special-needs-spotlight-albie.html ) that it is so hard to know what was that and what was PPD.

    It must be the week for braveness though! I've just written about how my fear of the first months of motherhood has shaded this pregnancy - which by all accounts is a healthy one, http://mrwrigglesworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/how-expecting-a-healthy-baby-after-a-medically-fragile-one-is-as-scary-as-it-is-awesome/

    I wish you grace and a gentle third time around, xx Sarah

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  15. Your honesty and vulnerability are beautiful and powerful... thank you so much for sharing your experiences. That was so brave and was extremely helpful to read.

    I second what Sarah said- I wish you a gentle third time around as well, but if it's hard again, you undoubtedly will handle it with as much courage as the first two. You are amazing.

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  16. Anonymous11:58 PM

    Thank you so much for writing this! I am due with my second baby girl in April and am having some anxiety over the postpartum period. After having my daughter three years ago I suffered severe postpartum anxiety and had a bit of depression, I literally felt like I was dying and ended up in the hospital several times. I learned to "coach" myself through my anxiety attacks and was able to return back to normal several months after my daughter's birth. It is reassuring to see that I am not alone and can overcome this again, if it should happen. After reading this post I am definitely going to try your method of taking a shower and getting dressed everyday, I stayed in my pajamas and didn't even shower for days when my daughter was first born and looking back, I think that contributed to a lot of my depression. Again, thank you so much for this post :)

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  17. Anonymous11:22 PM

    Thank you so, so much for posting this. I think you explained postpartum depression in a way that will really resonate with so many women. I too suffered varying degrees of postpartum depression after all 4 of my births and it really wasn't until after I clawed my way through the worst of it after my 4th child was born that I even recognized what it was! I am now a childbirth educator and talk with all my clients about postpartum depression. I strongly advocate for women to stay grounded and also connected to the outside world. New motherhood can be isolating and terrifying, and yet who wants to admit to that?! I recommend to all my clients that they shower and get dressed completely every single day, and that they find a reason to leave the house each day. Just one errand, one "task" outside of the home (drop off library books, pick up dessert, exchange a duplicate baby gift...) A task that has value and will give the mum a sense of accomplishment and yet the world won't come crashing down if she doesn't get it done. It is amazing how fast the walls can close around a women when she is alone with a tiny squalling ball of baby! Your words are beautiful and gentle and I am genuinely impressed by how well you were able to communicate your needs and ask for help when you needed it. That is truly wonderful to read. I hope this birth is amazing and that you allow yourself the time to slowly, slowly enjoy all that you want it to be. xoxo K.

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  18. Thanks for sharing this! I have been spared PPD but do take care of patients who have faced it. For women who have had significant PPD with prior pregnancies I sometimes offer starting medication immediately after delivery. Many of the SSRIs can take 4-6 weeks to really kick in so starting something immediately allows it to start to take effect before they hit their nadir. Best wishes this time around!

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  19. I really appreciate this post- As a mother of 4, I had mild PPD following their births, but the worst was the depression I experienced DURING my fourth pregnancy. It was so severe, I had lost all enjoyment and purpose in my life. Luckily, it subsided after birth, and I was able to take medication- I do believe education about PPD, during pregnancy depression, and any other type is key. Well written!

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  20. Anonymous8:07 AM

    Thank you for writing this. Have you considered starting medication now or as soon as the baby is born?

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  21. Thank you for sharing your story. I think it is so helpful to others when they realize that they are not alone and it's okay to ask for help. That's my problem... I can't ask for help, I never have been able to. But, this weekend I am being induced with our second child, and while right now I feel confident and happy and secure, I know things can go downhill fast and I need to recognize that I can ask for help and it doesn't make me any less of a mom. With my first son I'm not sure what I had was PPD, but I was definitely some sort of baby blues. I cried a lot and apologized to my husband a lot for turning our lives upside down and I felt trapped by being home with the baby all day long. Then the non stop crying from reflux started and I thought I was going to lose my mind. Looking back I know I should have asked for help. Looking back, like you, I thought small things were huge catastrophies, and that is so not how I would "normally" handle things. So this time around I keep telling myself that most of the things I worried about with my first were over quickly. Those first four months or so were very hard, but also in the scheme of things, go by very quickly. I hope that when I am distraught over giving my son a pacifier or feeling tied to the house, that I can calmly repeat in my head that this is temporary. I'm praying that both of our game plans work this time around! Best wishes!!!

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  22. Miggy, thank you for this post! I did a Special Needs Spotlight with you right when my son was born about 10 months ago in february. You wrote me an email about how you struggled to get into the groove of motherhood and I'm so grateful you have fully shared what you went through. When you wrote me that email, I think I was only 3 or 4 days postpartum but I was so sad and weepy all the time. As the days went by, I started to have anxiety attacks and I wasn't able to sleep, which made things so much harder. My husband is in medical school and so his days away from home were long and I was so lonely. It kind of all came to a head one morning when I had slept maybe 2 hours that night and he was getting ready to leave for the whole day. I broke down sobbing and told him I couldn't be alone and I didn't want to take care of our baby. It was so hard to admit that, but that's how I felt. I didn't want to take care of him. I knew that was so wrong but I couldn't help it. Ben went to his grandma's for the day and we got some medication for me. It took 2 weeks to start working which was a really long time and I tried everyday to control the depression and anxiety, doing a lot of the things you did. But it wasn't until the medication kicked in that I really felt like myself again. I cry just thinking back on that time because it was so difficult for me. I feel so many things- guilt, anxiety, sadness, etc. I am so nervous to have another baby. Thank you for your inspiring and honest words. Best of luck to you with your 3rd girl!
    Love,
    Emily

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  23. Thank you for writing this and being so honest. Your emails during my first few months of motherhood meant SO much. I still think about them. Hugs!

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  24. Thank you so much for this post.

    I struggled with infertility for three years before my daughter was born. I had a history of PSTD and depression, so I knew that I was at risk for PPD. It hit hard about two weeks after my daughter was born. She was a very challenging baby - I needed to hold her non-stop (really, 23 hours a day) to keep her from crying. I wanted to be a mother for so long, and now that she was here, I couldn't do anything right. My husband had no leave from work. We had no friends or family in the area. I was dying.

    I found comfort in a breastfeeding group offered at the hospital where I delivered. "Just make it until Friday," I would say over and over again to myself through the week. Although I was still very much struggling, I was no longer alone. The lactation consultant provided a lot of information about antidepressant medication and nursing, and that information provided me a great deal of comfort to know that it was okay to start medication. For me, I also got a lot of relief in returning to part-time work. I only had to work at the office one or two days a week, and while it posed a whole slew of other challenges, it was so comforting to be somewhere where I was good at something.

    Again, thank you for posting. I hope to have another child again soon, and I am going to do all that I can to create a game plan for the second time around.

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  25. MIggy, I was in labor with my second when you posted this so I only just read it. Thank you so much for writing this. You're description of PPD after baby #1 is exactly how I felt. Something I fully explained to my husband, I didn't know for sure if it was PPD, but now I do. This time around I really didn't want the same struggle so I incapsulated my placenta, I don't know if it's helping, but it's helping to try. my baby is three weeks now and just like you said the feeling is overwhelming. this baby is easier but now I have two little people! Thank you for your steps that helped you, I'll have to try those.

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