Category Archives: Postpartum Depression / Anxiety

One Day at a Time

by Heather

I am really struggling today. My girls are seven weeks old tomorrow and we had a very traumatic start to their lives (long story short, I had pre-existing depression and anxiety and was treated extremely poorly in this regard by hospital staff once the girls were born.) The first couple of weeks were very emotional and draining; around week five I had to stop breastfeeding as it was too much.
My husband has been amazing, he’s been off work since they were born and has been such a rock for us. He takes care of the girls all night as I’ve been struggling with sleep and being able to get up in the middle of the night. But reality is starting to sink in that he is going back to work next week, and it’s a lot to take in as I still am not feeling confident about being a mom.

When I woke up this morning at 5 am, the girls were crying and my husband was downstairs getting their food ready, feeding the cats and taking care of everything. I tried to get up and help with the girls’ feeding so my husband could go back to bed; I prepared their bottles and brought them upstairs. I started to feed one of the girls but as they cried and I felt exhausted, I couldn’t do it. I could feel my anxiety rising and I had to step away and go downstairs to take a deep breath, have a cry and try to refocus so I could be strong and finish helping everyone.

It didn’t work and I had to ask my husband to come in and help. As I heard my one daughter crying while my husband fed the other, I struggled with not being able to be there for them, I struggled with the feeling that I needed to step away. I tried to tune out the cries, to try and turn negative thoughts into positive: (I’m so fortunate to have such an amazing husband, if she cries a little it’s okay there is 2 of them and only 1 of us when we’re feeding them, needing to step away for a minute doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong for knowing that I need that) but as much as I tried, I couldn’t get into those positive thoughts.

I told my husband I needed to go out for a bit to relax and breathe; this was the first time I felt I needed to leave the house. I felt so guilty but I knew I needed to do it. We are fortunate to live ten minutes from the beach. As I’m sitting here listening to the silence of the 6 am morning with only the sound of waves and birds, I am doing my best to be strong. I look up and see that the sun is rising, maybe a positive bright start to my day?

I came home about an hour later, I felt calmer and more relaxed, but the guilt of leaving my family when they needed me was still there. My husband gave me a big hug and told me it was okay. As I looked at my daughters sleeping and my husband, I knew that I did the right thing, we got through it and we will get through it, it’s just going to take time.

I saw my family doctor this week and we are working on meds management. We have changed the medication I was on, and I am now taking something new for my anxiety. I find that with the new medication I am more focused and my mood is more stable. I am also getting a much better sleep at night. I plan to book a counseling appointment again soon so I can continue talking to someone and working through the trauma and postpartum depression and PTSD that has occurred.

I also met with hospital management staff on Thursday; I sat down and told them my story and what I had faced seven weeks prior. I shared with them the trauma their staff put on me at the hospital and the struggles I have been having since that day. I received a few apologies and was told they were very sorry as they could see that I was mistreated and that their staff could have done a much better job. Facing the hospital that mistreated me not too long ago was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I spoke up for myself, but also for those who struggle with mental health who don’t have a voice or the strength to speak up. I have been asked to be part of their family advocacy team and help lobby for sensitivity and mental health training for their security staff. I look forward to getting involved with these initiatives when the time is right.

For now, I am going to take one day at a time. I am going to have hard days, I’m going to cry and I’m going to need to step away. Just like you might as well, but know that we are doing the best we can as new moms and new parents, and know that when you ask for help it doesn’t mean that you are weak, it actually makes you strong.

Heather

First time mom to identical twin girls born at 35 weeks

The Truth, My Truth, My Story

by Katie Vigen

The Truth: Postpartum Depression can happen to anyone
My Truth: Postpartum Depression will never happen to me.
My Story: It did……

I’ll start at the beginning.

November 18th, 2007: Found out I was pregnant, best day of my life. I was so happy and had always wanted to be pregnant and have a family. I couldn’t believe it had happened and that I was finally going to be a MOM!!

January 10th, 2008: Heard heartbeat for the first time. 11w1d along. Amazing. I don’t think you could have wiped the smile off my face if you tried.

March 3, 2008: Big ultrasound 18w5d. I was so happy to find out what we were having. Boy or girl, I did not care, I just wanted to go shopping and start decorating our nursery. Ultrasound tech says something to me that changed my life even more significantly than I knew at the time. “Umm….I see two in there”. We were having twins!! Shane was thrilled, he had always wanted twins. I was so happy as well, I mean really, I’m a pediatric RN, how hard could twins be?? We found out Baby A was a girl but we could not find out Baby B yet.

April 17, 2008: 3D ultrasound. Amazing again. Found out for sure two girls. I was getting two daughters and they were each going to have a sister. I don’t think my life could have been any more perfect.

June 2, 2008: 31w5d ultrasound. Babies were growing fantastic! Baby A was 4lbs 10oz and Baby B was 4lbs 15oz. Baby A was still breech so a c-section was scheduled. I was very scared and upset about having to have a c-section but quickly warmed up to the idea.

June 30, 2008 (Our One Year Anniversary!): 35w5d ultrasound. Babies are now measuring 7lbs and 7lbs 2oz! Wow! They are so big and both scored 8/8 on their BPP. Healthy girls are on their way……

July 14, 2008: My beautiful daughters were born at 37w5d. Happy, healthy and screaming away!!

I had a scheduled c-section and felt like crap for the next 12 hours. I do not remember a lot about this time period, I was so out of it. I do not remember their first bath or who came to visit. I have no idea if I even tried breastfeeding in that time period at all.

Later that evening, I wake up more and start to stare at my children, my daughters, why then do I look at them like I don’t know them? Why do I not feel this overwhelming love for them, why when I stare at them do I not instantly start crying with emotion? I thought that is what all new mothers do??

Hmm……maybe that will happen tomorrow.

July 15, 2008: We start trying to latch them on to breastfeed and it goes okay, or so I think. Four hours later my nipples are already blistered and bleeding and I am crying for someone to please feed my babies since I obviously cannot do it. We supplement them as I had NO milk and we sleep for a while.
The lactation consultant comes bursting into my room and throws the pump at me and says here, let them feed for no more than 20 minutes then pump for 15 minutes afterwards and do this every 3 hours. Okay, I can do that. I latch, then I pump and I get nothing again, I am heartbroken. Not even a drop of milk. How was I going to feed my two 7lbs babies?

This continues on for the next 2 days in the hospital. Bleeding nipples, blisters, and still nothing when I pump. I am feeling like the most useless human being on the face of this planet. I can’t even feed my own children.

I know!! Once we get home things will feel better, I will be in my own house and I can relax and enjoy my babies and I WILL fall in love with them. I am sure of it.
July 17, 2008- We go home. Double pump in my hands and my babies in my husband’s arms. This is what I always wanted. Why am I so sad? I get home and continue to try and latch babies on and continue to pump, I get excited when finally I get about 5mls.

Next two weeks- Complete blur of visitors, pumping, latching and crying (babies and me!). I cry every day and not just a little cry, a big one. I am hating the pump and it makes me feel like a cow. I am starting to wonder if this breastfeeding is all it is cut out to be. Maybe if I quit doing that, I will not feel so stressed and sad about it and we will just do formula. I will keep pumping for a couple weeks but that’s it. My husband agrees and I hope this will help me take back my body and now I WILL love my babies as I will have more time to bond with them instead of pumping all the time.

I still cannot seem to bond with my babies. Shane has to go back to work soon and the thought TERRIFIES me. I start to get this pit in my stomach when I think about being alone all day with the babies and having to look after them. This continues and just gets worse and worse. I start crying on the couch one day and I cry to my mom “Promise me you won’t leave me alone, promise me”. Of course she agrees and we work out a schedule with Shane, my mom and my mother-in-law so that I always having someone at home with me.

August 10, 2008: ~ My Birthday~ I wake up sleep deprived as usual after about 2 hours of sleep and I start to think ‘If one of my babies would just go away, then I could have breastfed’ ‘If one of them died of SIDS, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing, then I could handle this’ I am honest with my husband and tell him my thoughts and he says “You need to call and get some help”.

We have a 24-hour hotline for new moms so I call and talk to the lady for almost an hour, she recommends we go to the local ER and see someone immediately. My mom and mother-in-law come over to watch the girls and I sit on the couch crying holding my daughter telling her “I’m so sorry, Mommy is so sorry” I am crying now just remembering how I felt that day.

I go to the ER and wait six hours, I am seen by many doctors and they decide I am severe enough that I need to stay in the hospital. Are you kidding me? How did this happen?? What did I do to deserve this? Someone just rewind time to before I got pregnant and tell me not to do it. It is just not worth it.

I spend the next week in a haze of drugs, therapy and family meetings. I tell my doctor that I am going to be the only mother in history who doesn’t love her children. He tells me that I WILL love them and I just don’t believe him. No drug could ever make someone love something so how is that possible??

Next week I am on overnight stays at home but I am back at the hospital at 10am for therapy and meetings every week day.

August 31, 2008- I am discharged for good and am now on anti-depressants daily. I am coping and starting to see the light and the fog lifting.

September, 2008: I still need help at home to care for my girls but I am starting to be alone more and more and that awful gnawing pit in my stomach is gone. I can finally breathe, I feel amazing. I start to stare at my babies and just feel so much love for them, I love to play with them and kiss their little feet, watch them sleep and cuddle them in bed with me as they nap. My doctor was right, I am falling more and more in love with them every day.

October, 2008: I see a mental health therapist once/month. I joined a postnatal yoga class with my babies and I’m back playing ringette. I am home alone all day with the girls and have help once or twice/wk. We go out on playdates and are out of the house most days. I can’t imagine my life without them; it actually hurts physically to think about them not being here. I feel overwhelming pride when someone tells me they are beautiful and I love taking them out and having people come up and talk to my about my babies. I love kissing their little cheeks so much that is probably why they are a little chapped right now…..oops.

The point of writing this is slightly selfish. It feels good to share my story and I find it helpful to go through it all so that I don’t forget it. I don’t want to forget what I went through, yes it was awful but I came out of it and for that I am forever proud.

PPD is such a taboo topic and I want to try and educate more people about PPD and hope that with better preparation, the signs can be noticed earlier and no one will have to suffer months of feelings that they don’t have to feel. I got help fast, as I knew right away this wasn’t normal postpartum blues, it didn’t go away and it was getting worse. I read the book “Down Came the Rain” from cover to cover and it described my feelings to a T.

I am not ashamed of PPD.

If you or anyone else is suffering please share my story with them and let them know there is hope. You WILL feel better. You WILL love your children. You WILL get through this.

To you all, thank you for listening, reading my story, it truly feels great to get it out. If anyone else wants to share, I’d love to hear it.

To my beautiful daughters, I love you more than life itself. Thank you for sticking with me and giving me unconditional love right from the start. You are a blessing to Mommy & Daddy and we love you more than you will ever know. Thank you for smiling at me daily and grabbing my face when I am feeding you. Thank you for calling me ‘Mamamamama’ and for laughing when I tickle under your chin. Thank you for loving me no matter what I do. Thank you for being you.

Katie

My PPD Journey

by Andreea Mohora

I am originally from Romania. I came to Canada in 2003 to do my Masters degree. Less than year later, I met a man who I thought was going to be my life partner. He was everything I dreamt of when I was younger. Being so new to Canada, he helped me so much with everything. Shortly after I met him, I had to move to a different province. He kept helping me even then. I felt I owed him so much. Unfortunately for me, I was blinded by the fact that I needed someone to be my husband so bad, that I did not see everything.

Little by little things started to change. I started noticing little things, which later turned into big things. However, even then I was determined to make the relationship work. My instincts were never good from the beginning, so I ignored anything that seemed abnormal. All I knew from back home was that I needed to lower my expectations, that I needed to do what the man tells you to do, that I needed to not care about how I felt. It did not matter that I felt trapped when I was with him, that we fought about many things, big or small. All I had to do was to please him whenever he needed me, or as a “make up” after a fight. Against all the red flags, I persuaded him to leave his province and move with me. I was still thinking that he was the right person for me.

Shortly after the move, the relationship started to get very tense, at times with physical episodes between the two of us. After one of these episodes, I ended up with a concussion. My supervisor at the university, a medical doctor, recognized the symptoms of the concussion and after finding out how I got it, she sent me straight to the counselling services. The counsellor started working with me, but she also sent me to get help from the Sexual Assault Center. Between the 2 services, I started to learn about abusive relationships and sexual assaults. However, what shocked me the most was that they started to uncover the multiple traumas and abuses that I have been subjected to as a child. Not knowing any different, I continued to accept and allow the Canadian partner to do the same.

It took me 2 years and lots of tries to finally move out. Though the contact with that person continued and he was still able to control me for some years after that. Counselling allowed me to realize that the “crazy” symptoms and reactions that I kept having were just “normal” symptoms of post traumatic disorder. One of these symptoms was that I could not be close or intimate with another partner. Seeing how time flies by, I decided to have a family, on my own. So I used a donor and insemination to get pregnant. I now have a set of twins (boy and girl). However, during pregnancy, the PTSD symptoms got worse, to the point that I had to work with a counsellor prior to giving birth, because I did not think I could breastfeed my children. After I had them, I had a very difficult time. Due to financial restraints, I had to work up until 2 days before I delivered, and I went back to work 9 days after delivery. I knew nothing about raising kids, so I had to learn very, very fast. I brought my mom from Romania to help me out when I was at work. However, that did not allow me to connect and attach to my babies. I learned many things from her, and she helped me tremendously, but at the same her beliefs and traditions kept me from attaching to my children. When my babies were just over 1 year old, she had to go back to Romania. The moment she went on the plane, I could not hold it together any longer and everything crumbled under me.

For a few months I barely kept it together. I had no one I could tell how I felt and if I said anything, I was seen as an unfit mom. The nurses at the public centers kept questioning me about my choice of having the children on my own, or about the timing of my choice. I also kept telling people that I don’t feel any difference between the children I worked with in the orphanages in Romania and my kids. I cared for all of them the same way, I fed them, I changed them, etc. I liked my children, but there was nothing more. I had colleagues in Romania telling me how they were invaded with these feelings towards their newborns that they could not explain. I had none of that. Before my mom left for Romania, I was very scared to be on my own with the babies. She also contributed to that fear, always telling me that I would not be able to take care of them on my own. After she left I was terrified to be alone with them. Everyone outside saw me as this super mom. Yet, I felt I was a wreck. And I was.

During that time I would drop off my kids to daycare and then, for hours, I would drive around the city, I would walk through stores, just to not be home by myself. I could not think clearly, I could not focus, I could not work on school or anything else. I would be driving towards a red light and would think: “What if I do not stop? What if I go right through and get hit by another car?” In the middle of the night, when I would finally be able to take a shower, I would think I should fill up the bath tub with water and stay under, not come up. I never intentionally went driving to kill myself, or went swimming to drown, but the thoughts would come as I did things. I felt it was safer for my kids to be in daycare than with me. I did not hurt my kids physically, but I am sure I hurt them emotionally. Because I would get so mad about a little spill, or about broken toys, I would remove myself so I did not hurt them. I would close the door to the bedroom, just so I had some time for myself. But that made things worse for them. They would scream and cry at the door, needing me even more. They probably felt that insecurity from me, so they would cry at the daycare when I dropped them off.

To the outside world I looked normal, I looked like I had no problems. I was very good at putting on a mask, something I had learned when I was a kid. My kids were fed, dressed, clean, well taken care of, so who would think that I was struggling so much to just live day by day? I felt like an impostor!

Besides the depression, I also had this huge anxiety of losing my children. Part of it was due to PTSD, part was probably just the postpartum fears. I kept having these dreams that terrorists would chase us, would want to shoot us, would want to take my babies. I kept dreaming that I had to jump off the balcony with one baby, but could not take the other one with me. I felt like I had to choose between the two, which one was I going to save and which one to sacrifice? I kept falling asleep every night holding both of them to my sides, so that I had them close to me if I was to evacuate fast during the night. This anxiety was also fuelled by different medical professionals. I felt that the more I told them how I felt, the more likely it was for them to call child services and take my kids away. If I said anything to the nurses, they would be suspicious of my potential to care for my children. If I mentioned to a dietician that I was not eating much, rather than helping she sent a letter to the doctor saying how I was not taking care of my eating. Yet, she told me there was not much she could help me with, as eating disorder was not something she knew how to deal with.

Things got a little better with time, and I was not as depressed, but the detachment from my children continued until they were 2.5 years old. We went back to Romania to visit that summer and things got very heated there because of my abusive dad. So I took the kids and went somewhere else. My mom kept telling me that I would not be able to take care of my kids while away. Yet, another friend there assured me of the opposite. We went to a sea resort with an old friend of mine and she showed me a different way to be a parent: much more relaxed, less strict, less abusive. It was completely different than how my parents were with me and what they showed me. When we came back to Canada that fall, I started to connect more with my children. I was finally feeling something more for them. It took me months after that to feel connected to them, to feel attached, to feel they were different than the orphans I worked with. They were probably 3 years old when I could really say they were my children. It also took them another good year to feel less insecure and not to cling on to me as much.

My twins will be 4.5 in a few months, and I love them very much. Do I still struggle? YES. In fact, I just got over another episode of depression. My PTSD is very complex. It was explained to me that it not just one event that I need to get over. It is a lifetime of traumas and abuses. All these affect how I interact with my children, how I feel and react about certain things, about relationships, etc. But now, I am more confident that I can live and take care of my children and not let them experience what I have been through.

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

 

I finally figured it out while sitting at an MBC Conference…

by Valerie Hodgins

When I got married at 21yrs old I already knew that I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and was following the recommended treatment for it. Finding out at 23yrs old that I was having triplets was a shocker. I think that I was in shock for the first few weeks. Everyone around me was so happy so why shouldn’t I be? Reality sets in when you are immediately put on bedrest because finding out at 13 weeks that you are carrying 3 babies “back then” there were no other options. From 15wks to 31wks I would LOVE to say that I enjoyed my pregnancy and that I was a glowing pregnant mom, but in fact I was scared out of my mind, huge and hormonal! Every week that passed was one week closer to a new milestone`.

Being admitted to the hospital at 26wks cause I was “close to delivery” was the scariest day of my life, they wheeled me into the NICU to show me the size of a baby that I was carrying to put it into perspective for me that if I were to deliver now this is what I would be faced with….then they showed me a baby that was 33wks gestation and said this is what I want! The pressure was on for something that was totally out of my control, listen and follow the strict hospital bed rest rules because I wanted those 33wks babies!

Well the babies came at 31.1wks during a planned C-section because the babies were growing so much that my lung capacity was restricted and my cervix was 5cm dilated. I felt so much guilt because I couldn’t get my babies to 33wks, I begged the doctors to wait to 32 wks and they explained that they would rather “plan” for their delivery then have it happen in the middle of the night with no extra support. So on Aug 14th 2002 at 6:45am the prepping for the C-section began. We had a waiting room FULL of family and grandparents waiting to see these 3 tiny babies. At 8:25 Chloe was the first to make her arrival at 3lbs 4oz screaming and was whisked away to the NICU, at 8:27 Carter was delivered at 3lbs 12oz and immediately brought to the NICU and 8:29 Cameron at 3lbs 12oz known as the baby of the family was also brought to the NICU. I never got to see my babies when they were born; I remember hearing them cry as they were taken down the hall to the NICU but that’s it. The guilt that I’ve had since day one, but had no control over. Finally after 3hrs in recovery and being horribly sick with the epidural and the C-section I was wheeled into the NICU to see my tiny babies. I cried because they were so perfect, I cried because they were so tiny, I cried because they were hooked up and I had no idea what was going to happen. We spent 42 days in the NICU and most of my days I was there for 14-16hrs because where else should I be? I felt guilty when I wasn’t with my babies, so I would sit in a rocking chair and hold each baby for little while and move to the next again feeling guilty that I couldn’t hold all 3 at once.

We call September 25th OUR FAMILY DAY, the day we finally got to bring our babies home. We loaded the babies into the van and drove 25km/hr all the way home with our precious cargo, my parents even followed us because they didn’t want anyone else to drive too close…LOL. We got home, put the babies in the house and looked at each other and said “Now what do we do”….. Our life for the past 6wks someone else did everything for the babies, we finally felt like parents and cried! Well one of the babies started crying and so began the routine and feeding schedule. Different formulas, different amount of iron drops, different acid reflux doses. Trying to keep track of all the wet and poopy diapers, who ate what and when? We had a perfect nursey set up with 3 different cribs, but when it came to that first night at home with the babies I was scared to leave them! So I dragged a futon mattress in their room and “slept” on it every night for the next 8 months. It wasn’t until my first POMBA meeting that I realized that this wasn’t “normal”. The other moms encouraged me to move out of the babies’ room and back into my bed. They gave me the confidence that I needed that my babies were OK and that I needed to trust that!

Having 3 babies and now being faced with going back to work, financially we had no choice. Mommy had to work so we had various family members coming to the house on their respected days to watch the kids as I went to work. That first year of trying to juggle being a working mom and 3 babies is a blur, somehow we got through it.

We started to notice that the now toddlers were not hitting certain milestones and self-referred ourselves to the local 0-6yrs children’s program. By the time the kids were 2.5yrs we had 2 of them diagnosed with severe autism. The guilt that I felt as a mom, was it because I went back to work that I didn’t notice the clues, was it because I was so exhausted from trying to keep up that I missed something? I had no control and I was no longer “in charge”. The life was crazy busy as we knew it would now change forever. Now we had no other option but look for daycare that would help Chloe and Cameron with their disabilities…but how would we pay for it??? So Mommy applied and got a second job working afternoons, midnights and weekends to cover the cost of daycare. Now I felt guilty because I was away from home even more but had no other choice….my heart ached every time I had to leave them.

Fast forward to 12yrs later, when last October when I was sitting at a workshop for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. WOW….everything the facilitator was describing was ME, how can I be figuring this out…NOW? I always had a smile on my face and I didn’t feel the “scary” symptoms of PDD but it was the anxiety of everything that, in my opinion was buried for 15yrs and I had no idea. Talking about our experiences will only educate and help others. As well put together you are on the outside no one sees the inside. People always say I don’t know how you do it….well you know what me neither….I just do it! I do it for my family, my husband and most importantly my kids…cause that’s what moms do!

Thank you,
Valerie Hodgins
Mother to 14.5yr old triplets

“The universe inside my mind” A Life with Mental Illness

By: Stephanie Anne Margaret

“Am I good enough?”, “why are they staring at me? Do I have something in my teeth?”, “I’ll do better next time”, “I don’t deserve to be happy”, “I’m worthless”, “my family would be better off without me”.

These are just some things I’ve said to myself.  I repeat these phrases in my head multiple times a day sometimes; no wonder why I don’t like myself and don’t want to get out of bed today.  This is why I never finish a project and put myself down.  This is why I am jealous of many simple minded people (in a good way) that know how to live in the moment without even trying.

My name is Stephanie and I’m a mother of 4 incredible children. Molly is 7, Lily is 5 and my identical twin boys, Sawyer & Brady, are 2.  I have never imagined my life with children.  All my pregnancies were a precious surprise.  I never planned one pregnancy.  But I believe these beautiful little humans chose me as their mother for a reason.

I lived in a good home growing up, with my mother, father and older brother Daryl.  I had a few bad boyfriends that most likely have to do with my low self-confidence and need for constant approval. I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. As a child I didn’t understand what I was feeling so I could never reach out and talk about it.  Family and friends think I’m happy and have it all together, when in fact there’s this storm inside my mind.  I’m constantly fighting with myself.  Until I started telling close friends and family, I truly didn’t realize that my thoughts and feelings weren’t healthy.  I started to begin to understand I didn’t have to live this way!  I remember my first panic attack. I was 8, I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath, my heart was racing, and I honestly thought I was dying. I was only 8!  I was sleeping and woke up in the middle of the night feeling this way. My mom tried rocking me in a chair and we ended up going to the E.R. They gave me oxygen and I eventually settled on my own.  I never understood what it was until I was much older.

My first pregnancy was a healthy one. Molly, now 7, was conceived in Banff, Alberta.  As you may be already thinking, i was shocked by the pregnancy and came home to Windsor Ontario to be with my parents.  I was 24 at the time and thought my parents would be upset or disappointed, when in fact they were pleasantly surprised. I was feeling like I was on cloud 9 after that.  Feeling happy and content for most of the pregnancy until I had to be induced because Molly was 2 weeks late.  This started smoothly but ended up in an emergency c-section after I was pushing for 5 hours.  Molly just wasn’t ready to come out, and on top of it, her umbilical cord was wrapped around her upper arm.  In the end of an unruly delivery, both baby and I were healthy and happy.  We left the hospital after a couple of days and I was a mom!  After a few months I decided to talk to my Doctor about how I have been feeling and how I have been feeling my whole life really.  She ended up diagnosing me with generalized anxiety and prescribed me a mild medication.  I left the doctors office knowing it was much more but I was too embarrassed to say my symptoms out loud.  I also still didn’t fully understand.  It is hard for me to concentrate on a task, let alone the mess inside my head! Constant worry, fear and panic.  All i wanted to do was feel “normal”.

When Molly was 6 months I met my husband Bill.  A great friend, father and son.  Bill suffered with alcoholism and paid the price.  He is now 6 years sober and I couldn’t feel more proud.  He made mistakes but took the actions to fix them. It was hard at the time because I became pregnant with our second daughter Lily (5) before he started rehab and spending 3 months in prison.  He even proposed!  And I said yes.  The prison wasn’t close either.  About 8 hours away.  At this time in my life I spent a lot of time on my own with Molly.  I moved into his house and made it our home.  My c-section for Lily was booked a week before Bill got home, so I pleaded with my doctor to hold it off until he got home.  My incredible OB ended up booking me for the following Saturday, even though they don’t book on weekends.  Bill came home the night before Lily was born.  We ended up going to the hospital early because I believed I was having contractions. We got to the hospital on time! Lily was born via c-section and everything was great.  Happy and healthy.  We went home and were now a family of 4.  I still continued my mild medication for anxiety but I knew what i was feeling was darker.  I believe I am a smart girl and I knew I had symptoms of depression.  I carried on through life and tried to keep myself busy.  I graduated from the Personal Support Worker program at St. Clair College and had a few jobs afterwards.  I didn’t last long because I was too sensitive and emotional.  I quit several jobs and then started working in home care.  I learned a lot about myself, like pushing through my anxiety made me feel better and that i was a good person.

Not far into my career, I became pregnant for the third time!  I procrastinated the prenatal process because I thought “I know the drill”.  About a week after I surprised my family with the positive pregnancy test my doctor booked an appointment for an ultrasound.  Oh! Did I forget to mention my husband’s mother is an ultrasound technician?  Well of course I wanted her.  Maybe a couple weeks later we brought the whole gang to the first ultrasound appointment, Bill, myself, Molly and Lily. We get called into the little dark room that I’m 100% used to, but the girls became scared when the machines went on, so they stuck to Daddy like glue.  Bill’s mother came into the room and put the warm jelly on my belly and we saw a baby!  She than started looking concerned and said “oh my goodness!, I need another opinion”,  and ran out of the room.  Now I am freaking out and so is Bill.  The girls are crying.  Another ultrasound tech walks in with Bill’s mom and does the scan, she says “Yup! You’re right”.  Than everyone keeps saying there’s 2!! There’s 2!!  I broke down in tears and yelled “We Need a Van!!!”.  They finally got a chance to show us both babies after I calmed down and Brady was much smaller but had a strong heartbeat.  After this I knew things were going to be different.  I saw my OB after a couple ultrasounds and she got real with me.  If Brady continues to not grow at a normal rate we would have to terminate him to save Sawyer.  Now, knowing both babies were stable and had strong heartbeats, I knew this was not an option!  We went for the full ultrasound and they couldn’t find all the parts of Brady’s heart because he was so small.  Now we have to travel to London Ontario for a more detailed ultrasound that lead to a second ultrasound in London.  Brady ended up not having an important valve that they need to survive in the womb.  But the doctor was rather optimistic with his diagnoses.  We just tried to keep happy thoughts brewing in our minds.  For about the last 10 weeks I had weekly ultrasounds and everything was ok up to the c-section date.  My pre-op discovered that my blood pressure was too high and they should deliver right away but my appointment was the following morning so we left it at that.

My beautiful boys were born at 36 weeks in November 2014. Sawyer came first at a whopping 6 pounds 7 ounces, and then Brady was 2 minutes later at 3 pounds 10 ounces.  Sawyer struggled more with breathing and had to be taken away.  And Brady actually came with us to recovery.  He surprised us.  Sawyer was in the NICU for 10 days before we could bring him home.  Knowing Brady was still at the hospital killed me.  I went every day to visit Brady at the hospital.  I breastfed him, held him, talked to him, bathed him and begged the universe to help him grow.  I remember whispering to him on a regular basis, “you’re a strong baby boy, you don’t want to live here because you have your whole family waiting at home for you. You have a home, baby”.  As soon as he got out of the incubator it was only days later that he had to be put back in.  He ended up with NEC which is in his bowels and he needed to be on antibiotics and couldn’t eat for 10 days.  He’s already small! Now he can’t eat!  Only a day passes and we see blood in Sawyers diaper at home.  I broke down as I got ready to bring him to the ER.  Now I had a baby on the paediatric floor and one in the NICU.  I lived at the hospital.  I still to this day don’t understand how I stayed strong.  It wasn’t until everyone was finally home, as the family I pictured, that my symptoms spun out of control.  It was Christmas time so I fought myself daily until the holidays passed.  I wanted to die.  I didn’t believe I was good enough.  I honestly felt my family would be better off without me.  Family and friends had to convince me to get help, but just to get out of bed was hard enough.  I didn’t want to be in public or even talk on the phone.  Once I forced myself to call I got an appointment for a few days later.  It was the worst doctor’s appointment I ever had.  I never cried so much.  I never felt so weak and helpless.  Diagnosed with postpartum depression and major depressive disorder made me feel like less of a human.  My doctor was not very sensitive and her bedside manner made me feel like a pile of shit!  I ended up finding a new doctor and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  My new doctor looked deeper and sent a referral for a psychiatrist.  Now I know I suffer from bi-polar disorder, a mood disorder that I was born with.  This was hard to hear but at the same time my life made sense for the first time ever.

My diagnosis of bi-polar changed my life.  I started on many different medications and unfortunately most of them did not work the way they are meant to.  I am sensitive to mood stabilizers so now I’m on a variety of medications to help me stay stable.  I have recently went through a rough patch.  All I wanted to do was die. I didn’t want to exist.  I felt like a failure as a mother for no particular reason. I just constantly compared myself to other moms and felt that my children would be better off with a different mom.  If you ever feel this way you’ll never feel it will pass but it always does. Even if it’s just one good day within a month of darkness, that’s the day where hope is found. Those are the days you cherish and those are the days you need to train your brain to understand that when you are in complete pain and suffering it’s ok to ask for help.  Tell someone you trust how you’re feeling.  It will save you.  It’s so easy to say, I know.  When I’m in my dark place no one can change my mind but they can just be there.  Support is lifesaving, but you need to reach out. On your next good day, reach out.  You won’t be judged, you’ll be supported and you’ll feel better because the ones that love you will do everything they can to understand your mind.  You’re creative, you’re beautiful, you’re unique, you’re a mom.

Email me if you ever want to talk to another mom that is surviving with a mental Illness.

steph_uhrin@hotmail.ca

My PPD Story

by Jaylyn Renaud Hosburgh

After struggling with infertility for 7 years, 7 IUI and 3 IVF we finally were pregnant with twins. The pregnancy was not the easiest. We had a few scares and the last one landed me in the hospital for 4 weeks. At 36 weeks and 1 day my babies were born healthy and giant.

I had a bad delivery. I had a postpartum hemorrhage they couldn’t control. I stayed in the OR for over 6 hours. I wasn’t able to hold the babies for over 36 hours. The next 5 days were a blur. I don’t really remember much, but all that mattered was my babies were here and healthy. I didn’t care what was going on with me. While being in the hospital for 5 days, having a difficult pregnancy and even worse delivery, you would think they would discuss postpartum depression with me. Instead I had to watch a video of why I shouldn’t shake my baby which was mandatory before we left.

After being home for 2 days we returned to the hospital for our checkup. The nurse asked how I was feeling which I replied with “emotional” and started crying. Why did I feel like this, I fought so hard for these babies. So she handed me a flyer and told me I had baby blues and it’s normal and should go away in 4-6 weeks. Well, 1 week later I went to visit my family doctor for a checkup. She asked how I was feeling and I tell her emotional and tired, her response was short. “You have 2 healthy babies, nothing to be emotional about”. I blew her off as I was 2 weeks postpartum and going on about 2 hours sleep.

Four weeks after the babies were born the health nurse came out to the house. They assessed the babies and then handed me a questionnaire to fill out for Postpartum Depression. Surprise – I scored 16/20! So by law they need to let my family doctor know.

Once my doctor got wind she called me in right away. At this point I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t stop crying, all the time. All day long. I kept thinking “why do I feel like this, this is what I always wanted?”. So once I got into my family doctor office she told me my score. She then told me “this is what you always wanted, why are you sad?”. Well that made me feel horrible I already thought that going in and now it has been confirmed by a medical professional. She then asked me what I wanted her to do, at this point I wanted out so told her “nothing you called me in”. She prescribed some meds and off I went.

I called my mom from the car crying and told her what happened. We talked and I went home and did some research. Turns out I had all the risk factors to develop PPD. 1) suffered from infertility 2) fertility drugs 3) suffered from anxiety and depression prior to being pregnant 4) hard pregnancy 5) hard delivery. Wow, all these risk factors and not one person told me what to look out for, not one person told me I was at risk to develop PPD.

Since then I have reached out to the POMBA group and switched family doctors. Both of these things helped me get through.  I am feeling ok now. The twins just turned 6 months.  Some days are harder than others.  My husband has been off on paternity leave and is going back to work soon.  That will be another challenge for me.

Please know if you are suffering, you are not alone. People just don’t talk about it.