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Thread: Postpartum Depression
March 15th, 2013 09:51 PM #6
My family doesn't do therapy or put much stock in psychology, but my mom had my sister when she was 42, and I remember her being "very sick" afterwards. I was 11 at the time and the oldest child, and I remember absorbing a significant amount of the household responsibilities. At the time, the ways in which it altered our family routine didn't seem abnormal...after all, there was a new baby in the house, and I was only 6 the last time that happened. Looking back I'm pretty sure she had PPD, even though she was never diagnosed. She just wasn't herself at all, and I was essentially the mom during that time. She also mentioned at one point that the most depressed she'd ever felt was after she had one of us...either me or my oldest brother...and she didn't understand why, because being a mom was what she'd always wanted, and it was "supposed to be a happy time."
I too will be following this thread with interest. I think Blade makes a great point about having realistic expectations. Not to go way too TMI on everyone, but I was a virgin when I got married, and let me tell you, I did NOT have realistic expectations about how THAT was going to play out. I'm sure motherhood will be full of joys, but it will also have moments where it absolutely sucks, and painting an unrealistic rose-colored picture doesn't adequately prepare us to handle the sucky moments. Great discussion topic, Blade!
ETA: While my family is largely distrustful of therapists and psychology in general, I am not. Just didn't want to give the wrong impression
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March 15th, 2013 09:55 PM #8
Not being either expecting nor a mum, I don't usually read this part of the forum, but stumbling across this thread just really made me wanna thank you for making it. I have struggled with a major depression for the last couple of years, and have family members who's been suffering from PPD, so I know just how horrible it is, and I think that this is a very important thread.Henry Ásgeirr Lórien • Alexander Adelin Pemba "Sasha" • Atticus Aksel Ivik • Oscar Edmund Igaluk
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March 15th, 2013 10:48 PM #10
I have a history of anxiety and panic attacks, but not major depression. I made sure to research all about PPD when I was pregnant so I would recognize the signs and be aware if I had it or not. I remember the first few weeks after I had her, my moods were very low and I was definitely in a funk for awhile. I remember it hitting me like a ton of bricks too, as soon as we got home after the hospital stay I had a feeling of such utter hopelessness... it was very scary. But I got out of it within a couple weeks, mostly because I kept telling myself "This is all hormonal. It's because my body is normalizing itself again. This is temporary." Talking about it helped too, with my husband and friends. I think being aware of it, educating myself about it, and being realistic and honest with myself helped get me through it quickly.My cherished daughter, Rowan Jane. ~b. 10/2011~
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March 15th, 2013 11:25 PM #12Senior Member
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I'm very grateful for this topic, Blade, thanks for starting it. I too feel that NB can sometimes gloss over serious issues and its nice to talk about something like this because of that.
I suffered from PPD. I had a surprise pregnancy, but my DH and I came round to the idea of having a baby extremely quickly. We couldn't wait to be parents. I didn't know anything about PPD at all, no one in my family had suffered from it. I had a normal pregnancy - A few blips but nothing major. I was lucky that unlike a lot of unplanned pregnancies, DH and I were financially stable enough not to have too many money or stability worries.
When Amelie was born it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I'm not sure how to verbalise this without sounding super self absorbed, but here it goes. When I was pregnant, every thing was about me. "How are you doing? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Are you too hot/cold? Can I get you anything?". You get my idea. I felt like I had so much loving support from all my family and friends.
At the hospital, the nurses helped me get the hang of things. Well wishing relatives came to congratulate us. And then we went home.
Suddenly, it was all about Amelie. Don't get me wrong, I WAS NOT jealous of the attention my daughter was getting. What started my PND (I believe) was the fact that my feelings were ignored. Everyone asked about Amelie - How she was sleeping, eating, developing, learning...And no one stopped to think for a second about me. Asked how I was holding up being a new mom. How I felt after my body went through the trauma of birth. How I was coping with sleep deprivation, how I barely had time to shower because I had such a high needs baby. I felt ignored, and this made me feel inadequate.
Maybe everyone deals with this fine, and that's why they're not asking how I'm doing? Because they just expect me to be fine? Those thoughts went through my head all the time. I was so confused.
The first 6 months of her life are a haze, looking back. I struggled to get through each day, only thinking in the present, and not about the future, because hell knows nothing made me panic more than thinking about going through 18 years of those feelings of ignored inadequacy. I loved my daughter to death but in my inferior mindset, I often wondered was I even good enough to be her mother. If someone else deserved to bring her up more than me.
I finally got help when she was 6months old and was put on some medications. When I realised that my feelings and experience was normal, it was like I had been set free. I blame the rose-tinted version of motherhood that is so commonly talked about socially and in the media for a lot of my feelings - If I had known it was normal for my baby to cry, for her to not sleep through the night at a month old, for her to need to be held all the time, I might not have gotten PPD. Instead I listened to all the other moms, moms whose babies slept through the night from birth without rocking/swaddling/cuddles, whose babies had no reflux and never cried..You know the type.
I'm perfectly fine now. I won't be so hard on myself with this baby. I'm human, I can only do my best, I'm not supermom. I know the signs, as does my DH, and I'll be vigilant for them this time around.
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March 15th, 2013 11:33 PM #14Senior Member
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Blade, thank you for starting this thread, and thank you to everyone else for sharing your experiences. I'll share a bit of my story--I'm kind of a detail person when it comes to this sort of thing, so I'm sorry if this is lengthy. Anyway, I've suffered episodes of depression all of my life and have in the past been diagnosed with dysthymic disorder (a sort of chronic, low-grade depression). When I got pregnant with my daughter, I'd been taking an SSRI for a number of years. In consultation with my psychiatrist (and with my husband's support), I decided to remain on the medication for the first two trimesters, after which I'd taper off, as some studies at the time (7 1/2 years ago) suggested that infants born to mothers who were on SSRIs through the birth had a decent risk of respiratory distress and withdrawal symptoms at birth. My first two trimesters were pretty excellent, but upon tapering off my med, I became severely depressed. My students (I teach yoga) threw me this lovely shower/blessing and I felt compelled to act all full of joy and light, but really I felt completely doomed. I couldn't any longer locate a drop of maternal desire, but at the same time I was possessed by fear that the baby would die. I went into the birth basically in this state, had twenty-four hours of unmedicated back labor followed by a C-section, as what turned out to be our short, flaccid cord was causing my girl considerable distress during pushing.
This was not a great way to enter motherhood, and yes, I had terrible PPD. @labmama, I could identify with a lot of what you said about breastfeeding difficulties--I'm sure depression had a hand in mine (though there were many other factors as well) and, conversely, failing to breastfeed became the singular, obsessive focus of my depression. Therapy and resuming medication (which I did after two weeks) helped to take the edge off, but the damage felt pretty deep and I struggled significantly for some time into my sweet girl's life.
I'm finishing up my MSW and have done some research (by which I mean literature reviews, not original research) on PPD and it happens that not only a history of depression in general but prenatal depression in particular is one the hugest risk factors for PPD. I have no medical training, but I've seen the warnings against prenatal SSRI use pretty convincingly refuted. Also, though much is made of the effects of antidepressants upon the growing baby, fetal exposure to maternal depression is not exactly benign either. And as you can imagine, PPD can have lasting effects on both mother and baby. Which is all to say that if I were to do it over again, I'm pretty sure I would stay on medication for the length of my pregnancy.
I adore my daughter and am so grateful for her, but I think it's really important that we don't perpetuate images of universal maternal euphoria, so again, thanks to all who've contributed to this thread.