consider it PURE JOY recently kept it very real on her blog and chose me as one of the ten she wanted to keep the honesty torch rolling. Hmm... I can't think of much that you haven't already heard. Except the raw stuff- maybe it's time for that.
After the birth of my second daughter, I suffered from a life altering case of postpartum depression. At least, that's how it felt to me. And I'm sure that's how it felt to my oldest, who was just two years and ten months old at the time. It took four months before I went to counseling and another two in counseling- twice weekly- before I felt okay again. I personally didn't choose medication because this was 1997 and my counselor told me that I'd have to stop nursing to take anything. Finding out I was pregnant in 2001, with my third child was both thrilling and scary. However, knowing that there was an increased chance I would experience postpartum depression again, I created a PPD management plan(symptom sheets for John, and close friends and family, along with an action plan if symptoms did arise) along with my birthing plan- just in case. I felt so relieved and safe. Fast forward to about oh, my seventh month of pregnancy and you would find me sleeping entire days away. Barely moving. Eating wayyyy too much. (I gained 85 lbs!) Back to the counselor and back home with a diagnosis of pregnancy related depression. This time, after Shaye was born, I only nursed for 12 weeks- so I could try and get my hormones back in check and get some additional support via medication. Still, it was a long, 9 month or so, road to recovery. Pregnancy four? You guessed it PRD and PPD. No meds- I added lots of walking, talking, and ASKING FOR HELP to the agenda. It was during my fourth pregnancy that I wrote a story for our state's own parenting mag- and women came up to me everywhere, and for years (literally) afterward, recognizing me from the story's picture and telling me that my article got them to recognize what was going on for them and/or ask for help. These women also gave me valuable insight into what isn't helpful when someone you know is trying to cope with PRD or PPD(and you would be surprised at how many women experience these same conversations with people they love!):
- Saying things like "You wanted kids". We did. We still do. We don't want to give them back. We just need help coping. Pregnancy Related Depression and Postpartum Depression are medical conditions. Would you tell a woman who smoked who was suffering from lung cancer- "You wanted to smoke." Probably (I hope!) not.
- Asking if we want help. Just give it. Most women suffering from PRD and PPD are already weighed down with guilt and feelings of inferiority or not doing it right/normal/better and will often not ask for or admit we need- or want- help. Just come over, without judgements, and take the baby- tell us to take a relaxing shower. Clean our house. Make us call the doctor. Get us moving and talking- and keep at it until we are really okay. I had a great friend who called me several times a day, often showing up and putting the baby in a stroller and taking us for a walk. (Thanks Micky!)
- Saying things like "Well, I had (enter number of kids here) and never had a problem". Lucky you. You were one of the 87% percent of women who don't suffer from PPD. Either that, or time has colored your memories a little too rosy. No matter, it's not helpful. In fact, it hurts. And it is one of the most common things we hear. Really. Especially by older family and friends- like parents and in-laws- I know, it's hard to believe because it sounds so cruel in print. See # 1 people!
if you love us,
tell us what you can do to help.