by Robin Farr
Source: Family Resource Guide 11/12
Original Article: Click Here
Originally Published: Family Resource Guide â€™
When I was 38 weeks pregnant with a breech baby and low amniotic fluid that indicated a need for a fairly quick c-section, the obstetrician asked my husband and I a question: “Would you like to have this baby today or tomorrow?” Not prepared to be whisked to the operating room that instant, we chose “tomorrow.” Our son Connor was born on June 13, 2008, which happened to be a Friday. Friday the 13th. And thus began my journey into motherhood.
In the early days, that journey included a lot of things I couldn’t have anticipated, including a fussy baby who needed to be bounced all the time and would accept no substitutes—no walking, no rocking, no swaying. He also appeared to think sleep was for weaklings.
At first the sleep deprivation was hard, as it is for any new parent. Then, when he was about five months old, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and we attempted sleep training. I’ll give you the short version of the saga: it didn’t go well.
By the time he was eight months old, I was miserable. In desperation, I phoned a counselor and, after listening to me bawl through a description of my concerns, she immediately said, “It sounds like you have postpartum depression (PPD). You should really see your doctor.”
I rejected her suggestion. “I don’t want to call it that,” I told her. “I’m not interested in that label.” I did see her for a few sessions, an hour a week in her office crying so hard my tear ducts actually hurt. It was more exhausting than helpful, and I was convinced better sleep would solve my problem, so I never actually addressed my real issues.
She was right about the postpartum depression, of course, but I didn’t realize it because I didn’t feel “depressed” and I wasn’t having trouble bonding with my baby. My issue was anger. Rage, actually—red-faced, adrenaline-fuelled rage. I had no idea it was a symptom of depression.
Finally, after reading someone else’s story, I clued in and slowly started to accept that I was dealing with postpartum depression. A little while later, when my son was 18 months old—after almost losing my marriage and my new little family because of my anger—I went to my doctor for help.
Initially, help came in the form of anti-depressants, which I had long been opposed to. I don’t like pills at the best of times and had heard all kinds of horror stories about side effects. Nothing else I’d tried had worked, though, so it seemed anti-depressants might be my best bet.
The medication helped—at first. It took the edge off and I no longer felt like I might throw my high-energy, non-sleeping child out the window. But for another 18 months, things would get better for a little while, and then tough again, and on and on I went riding my extended postpartum roller coaster.
I looked for different options and more help. By this spring, as we neared my son’s third birthday, I had started seeing both a therapist and a psychiatrist who specialize in PPD.
I had also started blogging about my experience, and then actually telling family and friends. That was hard, partly because of the stigma attached to mental health issues, but I also didn’t want others to know I was having a hard time being a mom. Once I opened up, I realized how common postpartum depression is.
In telling my story I’ve found nothing but support, and others have thanked me for being open so they don’t feel so alone. I won’t lie—it’s still hard to say this out loud to others. But I tell my story because I didn’t know enough about postpartum depression to get help when I needed it. I tell it because I don’t want others to go through what I did. Every week someone new contacts me to tell me my story has helped her, and that makes it worth it, so I’m going to keep telling it.
Postpartum Depression Support
If you suspect you have postpartum depression (PPD), see your family doctor. Your doctor can rule out other possible causes for the same symptoms (for example, thyroid) and suggest possible resources in your community.
The Postpartum Support Program is available with a referral from a doctor, midwife, public health nurse, community agency or social worker. Visit web link or web link.
The Pacific Post Partum Support Society website includes information, a self-help guide, stories, and resources for dads/partners. Visit web link.
Postpartum Progress (postpartumprogress.com) is a popular blog on postpartum depression. Written by a survivor who founded the affiliated charity to support mothers with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, this blog is full of information, checklists, and people’s stories. The site also offers a Daily Hope e-mail, which can be a great source of reassurance. (postpartumprogress.com/suffering-ppd-check-out-postpartum-p rogress-daily-hope).
The PPD to Joy website (ppdtojoy.com) offers several great resources, including a symptoms checklist and a video about PPD designed to make talking about it with friends and family easier. The founder, Yael Saar, also hosts a monthly support call (www.ppdtojoy.com/support/speakeasy-call).
And, as always, if a struggling mother ever feels as though she might harm herself or her baby, she should call a friend or family member to come over, and then phone her doctor or the Vancouver Island Crisis Information Line at 1-888-494-3888. RF
Robin Farr, mom to three-year-old Connor, is a writer and a believer in the incredible power of the parenting community. She blogs at farewellstranger.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
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