Sunday, March 20

Women helping Women

I received an e-mail earlier this week from a really wonderful woman. She told me about her children and a little about her life and family. I love hearing from and about the people who read my blog. It warms my heart. I continually am amazed that people actually read my blog. Before I go on, thank you everyone, deeply from the bottom of my heart.

The reason I am posting about her, is she asked me a few questions and shared with me her current struggles with PPD (Post Partum depression).
I take few things in life seriously and I am not a doctor (obviously) nor do I pretend to know anything about anything... but this is one of a few things I don't joke about. I wanted to do what I can to help this wonderful woman get as much information, help, and support as I could possibly get her in a non-judgmental and loving way.

I have had doula clients of mine, a few close friends, and I myself have struggled with this vicious demon.

Looking back I believe I experienced PPD after all of my children's births; I think I was a little more arrogant and unwilling to admit it (to myself) with the first two - I just pretended like nothing was wrong because in my mind a "good mom" doesn't have those thoughts and feelings about her babies.  Thankfully with a lot more experience and maturity I am able to admit that what I experienced and felt was actually PPD.  I wish more than anything I could go back to those years and do them over with more honesty and humility.  I wish I would have asked for help and I wish I would have been OK with admitting when things didn't feel right.  I think I would have spared myself a lot of heartache. I would not have damaged relationships that I valued, caused my marriage a lot of tension, and my experience as a mom would have been a little easier.

After I had our third son Seth was when my struggle with PPD was at its worst. I felt really tired all the time, overwhelmed with having 3 babies in 3 years. I was very angry and it seemed like it was all the time; I was having unkind thoughts towards myself and others. (Because my children will read this one day I am choosing to not go into detail about this one aspect) but all in all, I found that time very, very difficult. I was a very different person then than I am today.

I felt angry a lot, and Drew took the brunt of it. I just had a baby, why was I not feeling euphoric? I had already sacrificed my body so a human could come to this earth, why was I not feeling the joy that should accompany this gift I had given?
I felt like God hated me, and that I had been forgotten. Women give so much, why was my mind being taken too. I was unable to concentrate or focus, I had anxiety over the smallest of things. I was angry, hostile and felt sad all the time.
And I hated myself.  My body.  I was very unforgiving of my physical appearance (having extra weight) after I gave birth. Before I have the baby I can see my body as a beautiful vessel that is giving life. I loved being pregnant; I felt my most beautiful during my pregnant years. But sadly only days after I give birth the tape recorder that has played for so many years in my head of  "you look awful", "why don't you exercise", and "I can't believe how gross you look" begins and never seems to let up.
I logically know these thoughts are damaging, but you could not have explained that to me then, because I was not me.
I started exercising like a mad woman. I was cutting my calories into a third of what I needed. I slept very little and heartbreakingly the one who suffered the most was my poor baby Seth. My milk dried up and  he had lost weight. It was a friend of mine who noticed how thin he was looking and that he had no tears when he cried. She lovingly told me about her concerns and I rushed to my pediatricians office that day. I remember having guilt and anxiety the entire drive to his office. He lovingly looked Seth over, weighed him and sat down with me. He (the doctor) hugged me and told me Seth had lost a fair amount of weight.
I told him about how I was feeling and what was going on. He told me he thought it sounded like PPD and we spoke very openly and honestly about what he wanted me to do. Because I trusted and loved him, I listened. I did not feel judged or threatened.
He was very kind and gentle to me; he knew me. He made sure Drew was involved and asked me to bring Seth back over the next few days so he could check on him and me.

Sobbing like I had not cried before I contacted a dear friend who helped me with feeding Seth for the next few weeks. She herself was a brand new mom and she answered questions and gave me the support I desperately needed during this time.

Drew found me a vitamin and mineral supplement to start taking that was designed for mental health.

My experience with PPD felt long, although I have no idea how long the ugliness lingered in my head; it felt like forever. My personal journey with PPD did not involve anti depressants (absolutely NO judgment AT ALL concerning them, they just were not what I chose); I chose a different path, and with time I felt like I could breath again. With time the sun returned, and with love and support I returned to the me I remembered.
People who really loved me saw past the situation, the people who mattered tried to understand.

What I wanted to offer this very special woman who wrote me was the experience of myself and others. I don't for one moment believe this is anything to be ashamed of. We all go through some version of this. If you have had a baby, are going to have a baby, are thinking about having a baby... if you have the capability of having a baby you have at some point felt some version of this, or will.
With help, love, kindness and support we can get through this.

I am asking you all, my dear friends and readers to share what worked for you. I am hoping you might share your experience and let this women pick and choose what path she would like to take for her own recovery. There is no need to leave your name if you don't feel comfortable. I just believe there is strength in numbers and no-one is better able to help women than other women.

I appreciate any and all offerings in this situation. I want her to know she is loved, and not alone.

I deeply thank you,

J