Ivy Shih Leung is a fellow PPD Blogger and someone I consider to be a friend. She’s had a rocking journey through PPD as well, but her path is unique. Ivy is ferocious, fearless, and doesn’t mince words. I asked her to write this post as part of this week’s theme focusing on books about PPD. Ivy’s book, “One Mom’s Journey to Motherhood: Infertility, Childbirth Complications, and Postpartum Depression, Oh My!” can be purchased through Amazon. The link is not an affiliate link of mine so I don’t stand to make any money off of your purchase. Read on for what motivated Ivy to share her story.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Lauren, for letting me share info about my book to your blog readers! I would like to share how fulfilling an experience writing this book has been for me, what factors motivated me to write my book, and what I hope to accomplish with my book.
Writing my book has not only been an amazingly cathartic experience, it has turned out to be one of the most fulfilling accomplishments of my life and a tremendous confidence builder. Writing this book has boosted my self confidence in such a way that negative thoughts and attitudes of those around me— people who are competitive, jealous or just plain mean-spirited—no longer have the same crippling effect on me as they had before I finished my book. About a decade ago, I remember telling a former manager (who was, quite simply, a totally callous and condescending jerk): “There’s nothing more satisfying than being creative and seeing the fruit of your labors,” while he just sat there and gave me this “I don’t give a damn” look. Well, eat your heart out!
If asked what motivated me to write my book, aside from my personal goal for over a decade of wanting to create a piece of work I could feel proud about, I would answer in the following chronological order based on the circumstances that presented themselves:
- The 2005 infamous words “There’s no such thing as a chemical imbalance” were my initial trigger. Tom Cruise is a name that resonates negatively the most, I think, among moms who have experienced a PMD and thus realize how idiotic his infamous words were. If it weren’t for him, I’m not sure my creative juices would’ve flowed the way they did. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that I write the most passionately and words seem to flow more naturally and quickly when I am angry.
- I needed a means to release pent-up anger, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Starting in June 2005, my manuscript became my journal that enabled me to release and process pent-up anger, emotions, thoughts and feelings, as well as keep track of the chronology of my experiences. In February 2009 I decided to try to reach a wider audience via my blog before my book was done. It’s at that point that I realized there are many more moms who have experienced, or are in the process of experiencing, a PMD than I had previously realized.
- I wanted to help other moms feel less alone in their experience. Remembering how alone and anxious I felt during my bout with PPD, I wanted to share my experiences to help expectant mothers become knowledgeable about PMDs so that, if they succumb to a PMD, they won’t be totally caught off guard. Being ignorant about PMDs causes unnecessary fear, anxiety, guilt, and inability to appreciate one’s baby for the mom who succumbs to a PMD. For example, insomnia after the third week postpartum is a common first symptom of PPD. Since my blog is hit numerous times each day via Google and other search engines using words relating to insomnia in the days and weeks following childbirth, to me that means that there are many moms out there who are going through what I went through, in terms of insomnia as one of the initial symptoms of PPD. Had I known about PPD and its symptoms BEFORE my daughter was born, I would not have been as scared as I was as to why I had insomnia and couldn’t sleep even though I was exhausted beyond words and even when my baby slept. My fear would not have escalated into full-blown anxiety attacks. I would’ve recognized other symptoms like loss of appetite and quick weight loss. As soon as I started to have insomnia, instead of merely taking the Ambien prescribed to me by my OB/GYN, I would’ve immediately known to question it as a sign of PPD and gotten the right treatment then, and I might have been able to prevent the panic attacks from ensuing. As they say, hindsight is 20/20….but at least now I can help other moms know that insomnia is an indication that they need to seek medical and/or mental healthcare right away.
I find that, and I’m sure others will agree, pregnancy books and magazines focus too much on how moms can quickly get their pre-pregnancy figure, weight and libido back—things that shouldn’t really matter but somehow do—and not enough about the silent epidemic of PMDs experienced by as many as one in eight new moms, plus child-care complications like colic, eczema, and cradle cap that add to the anxiety levels of first-time moms.
So, I wanted to write a book that would let me share the following with other moms (and their significant others and loved ones):
- Just as the title suggests, my journey to motherhood, comprised of infertility issues, childbirth complications, and postpartum depression (PPD).
- Practical tips from what I learned from my journey, including things to know/do to minimize risk of a postpartum mood disorder (PMD) before baby arrives and things to know/do if a mom were to develop a PMD.
- My experience with child-care complications like colic, eczema, and cradle cap, so new moms wouldn’t be as anxious and in the dark as I was on how to cope with these types of issues.
- The biopsychosociology of PMDs—as there is a biological, psychological and sociological element to PMDs—including a brief introduction to the biology of the brain and reproductive hormones (to debunk the ignorance behind the expression “there’s no such thing as a chemical imbalance”), as well as PMD symptoms and risk factors (nature vs. nurture).
- Info on how to get help (medical, mental, social) and the kinds of help available (e.g., doctors and medication, therapy and therapists, postpartum doulas/baby nurses), including the historical perspective of social support and why it is so crucial, yet lacking, in the early postpartum weeks.
- How far we’ve come in the past decade and how much further we need to go to improve postpartum experiences, reduce PMD rates, improve public awareness and combat stigma, and improve patient experiences with medical/mental healthcare professionals.