Meet Jamie. She’s due in June with her second child. Her first brush with Postpartum Depression started during her pregnancy. Jamie felt depressed, upset and confused. Not feeling ready to be a parent, she even felt resentful when the baby moved. She even cried at her first ultrasound – proof that she was indeed pregnant.
Things went from difficult to worse after her first daughter was born. Jamie “cried constantly, was moody, and felt worthless and suicidal at times.” She finally sought help at six months postpartum. It took some time but Jamie was able to deal with the ups and downs of motherhood without wanting to pack her bags and run.
And now, I’m excited to let Jamie speak about her experience in her words. By the way, Jamie blogs too. She found me via 5 Minutes for Mom’s Ultimate Blog Party. You can keep up with her at Melody of a Mom.
Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do when you’re not being a mother or a wife? What fascinates you?
I was a scrapbooker long before I started having kids. My bookshelves hold probably 15 12×12 completed scrapbooks, four of which are full of pictures from my daughter’s first two years of life. Aside from scrapbooking, I enjoy almost anything that has to do with crafting.
After my daughter goes to bed you can find me reading or writing. I am working on a novel (which I hopefully will complete by the time I’m 30!) and I write songs which I hope to have published someday.
What was your first pregnancy like? Was it what you expected? If not, what happened?
My small amount of knowledge about what pregnancy would be like came from TLC’s A Baby Story and the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” So I guess you could say I had no expectations when my pregnancy started, and I was able to take things as they came.
Postpartum Depression can sneak up on the best of us and knock us flat on our backs. Tell us about your experience.
I would say that my postpartum depression started before I even had my daughter (I call it pre-partum depression). There were intermittent periods of time when the prospect of birthing the baby I was carrying seemed depressing and confining, like some kind of cage I was trapped in. One day I’d be excited about all the pink clothes my baby would wear, and the next day I would wish I wasn’t having a baby at all.
After I had my daughter, the depression was severe and constant. I felt like I wasn’t bonding with her…I knew she had needs and I met those needs, but as far as “falling in love,” that just wasn’t happening.
Much of the time I wanted to pack my bags and leave everything behind. I cried a lot, lashed out at my husband and family, and felt very down.
When did you finally seek treatment for your PPD? What made you realize you needed help?
I knew what I was feeling wasn’t healthy, but it took my dad calling me out before I finally went to a doctor to talk about my PPD. One day, after some incident which I can’t remember, my dad said something to the effect of, “Why are you so negative all the time?” I’m not sure why, but that was the moment I decided to try to get some help.
Name three things that made you laugh today.
My daughter and her friend played “Ring Around the Rosie” over and over and over. When they were done, they were so dizzy they fell down all over again!
My best friend just called me on the phone and called me “Stinky Pete.” She’s random, but she always makes me laugh.
Whenever my daughter catches me looking at my belly in the mirror, she says, “Mommy, you’re pregmint.” That never ceases to make me laugh.
What role did family play in your recovery from PPD?
My husband is incredibly supportive. He picked up my slack when I felt like I couldn’t do what needed to be done for our daughter.
How did your husband handle your journey down PPD lane?
He was great. He never made me feel crazy…he supported me as best as he could even though he didn’t understand what I was going through.
You’re currently pregnant with your second child. Do you think things will be different this time? Why? What are you doing to be pro-active this time around?
As soon as I give birth, I am planning on getting back on the same anti-depressants I was on before I was pregnant. Unfortunately this means I won’t be breast feeding, but it does mean I will be able to function normally during my baby’s first weeks, whereas with my daughter I felt like I was just in a depressed daze.
What do you find the most challenging about motherhood? The least?
The most challenging thing about motherhood is making those daily choices in how/when to discipline and wondering how those choices are going to affect my daughter long term.
The easiest thing about motherhood is loving my child unconditionally. Though it took me longer than most mothers to bond with my baby, she is so special to me now. Nothing she could ever do would change the way I feel about her. It’s the same kind of love that God feels for his children, I believe.
Last but not least, what advice would you give an expectant mother (new or experienced) about PMD’s?
It’s better to ask a doctor if what you’re experiencing is normal than to spend any amount of time detached from your newborn. PPD is hard to deal with, but it is fairly easy to get under control once a mother realizes she needs help.
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You offer wonderful advice about seeking help, rather than remaining detached. A fantastic book on bonding is “Love at Goon Park”. This book was written about Jane Honikman’s uncle, the famous pscyhologist Harry Harlow. Althought this book stands alone, reading it gives insight into why Jane founded Postpartum Support International.
Another fabulous book that describes how nutrition fosters strong bonding is “The Scientification of Love” by Michel O’Dent- the French obstetrician who brought water birth to the US.
If you do want to breastfeed there are many alternatives to using psychiatric medications to be found at WellPostpartum Weblog (www.wellpostpartum.com). I hope you have a beautiful pregnancy and delivery!