The Scorpion Tale of Perinatal Mood Disorders


Last night, I had a rather in-depth discussion with Addye over at Butterfly Confessions. We’ve discussed the same topic before and we’re finally doing something about it because we both think there’s not enough out there about this subject. Her blog post went up last night, discussing the role her antenatal depression, postpartum mood disorders, and other mental health struggles have played in her son’s recent diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum. While our children’s diagnoses are different, our story is the same, and it begins with a long hard look at the stinging guilt with which we now carry along our paths of Motherhood.

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It’s taboo, really, more so than admitting you struggled with a Postpartum Mood Disorder. It’s a secret locked in a trunk hidden in a house deep in the woods where no one will find it. It’s the poison-tipped tail of a scorpion, the thing that gets you after the initial reaction of having a scorpion land in front of you. It’s the nagging feeling you get in your throat every damn time you look at your kid and think, even for a brief second, that you did that to them. It’s YOUR fault.

I’ve been there. I still am, sometimes. Not as much as before, but it’s something that I will always carry with me. A small part of my heart will always be tinged with guilt and a depth of sadness I’ll never shake. I’ve learned to accept it instead of fight it, to give it space to just breathe, knowing I’ll never get rid of it as long as I live. Right next to it though, now, is a space that is filled with a peace I’ve worked very hard to achieve – a peace that cancels out that guilt and sadness…as long as the see-saw is working that day, that is.

I struggled with Postpartum OCD after the birth of my first daughter. I’ve made no secret of that. I sought help but was shot down by my OB, an integral part of this story. I had to fight on my own to heal. Looking back, I didn’t do a great job at healing. What I excelled at was shoving all of the darkness down and faking it until I felt like I made it. Only by the time I got there, I was pregnant again and my hormones became the scorpion.

They flowed into my pregnancy, along with severe morning sickness. There were days I had to choose between eating or my prenatal vitamin. I often chose eating because I knew the vitamin would make me vomit whereas I might be able to keep the food down. One day, I lived on just one powdered donut. Other days, less. I couldn’t tolerate food for almost four months, if memory serves correctly.

I remember thinking I didn’t need the prenatal vitamin. I’d be okay, baby would be fine. Or so my hormone rattled brain said so. I didn’t want to get up, I would lay on the couch as our oldest, just a little under a year and a half, begged me to play with her. I couldn’t move or I’d vomit. So she learned to play by herself.

The pregnancy progressed, everything seemed fine, I didn’t have Gestational Diabetes again, the baby measured fine, all was good.

Until my baby shower. I went into labor that evening. I was 35wks and 6 days pregnant. (Women with untreated antenatal depression are more likely to go into labor early….or so says the research). At the time, I didn’t relate the two. I just knew I wasn’t full term and contracting. I labored at home until the next morning when we finally saw the doctor. I was dilated enough for them to send me to the hospital. Baby was on her way. Instead of happy, I was nervous. What was wrong? Why was she coming early? We were close enough to full term, really, less than a week away. But still, she was early.

After 42 hours of grueling labor, my daughter was born. She looked perfect. 10 fingers. 10 toes, screaming, a perfect squishable pink human all mine. I made her. As I tried to latch her to nurse, she wouldn’t latch. Just kept screaming. I didn’t know why. I tried for 30 minutes. Then we called the Lactation Consultant. I knew what I was doing, damn it, I had nursed our first for 16 months. Why wouldn’t she latch?

The Lactation Consultant swept her mouth as soon as she got to our room.

That’s when shit got real.

My darling perfect little squishable baby was rushed away from me, the word “cleft palate” left hanging in the air.

There I lay, in a hospital room, epidural still wearing off, all alone, no staff, no husband, nothing to show for almost 2 full days of labor except for the echoing of my heart shattering, insidious voices flooding my head with the phrase, “It’s your fault.”

I did that to her. She grew inside of me, imperfectly.

I lost it that night, brushed my hair for 10 minutes in front of the mirror. Ugly cried on the phone a lot that week, so much so that my ex-husband couldn’t even understand me at several points. In front of nurses. I cried a LOT. This? Wasn’t the way things were supposed to go. Why had I failed?

She was in the NICU for 21 days, undergoing one major surgery for her jaw at just 9 days old. Seeing your 9 day old infant on apparatus breathing FOR her… yeah.. um… yeah. “I did that to her.”

The kicker? The geneticist at the hospital asked me if I took my prenatal vitamins. I lied. I didn’t need any more guilt. I really didn’t. In my fog, I failed a lot.

People told us if we made it through the first year….we’d be scot-free.

They lied.

She’s seven now. Is one of the bubbliest personalities you could ever hope to meet. She’s perfect in every possible way. But she’s struggled so much and her struggles are far from over. Because of me.

She fights for every word she says. It could be worse, I tell myself. She could have so many other issues kids with her same condition have – texture issues, an additional syndrome, etc. Aside from her Pierre Robin Sequence at birth, she’s fine. She has speech therapy, and has had additional surgeries to help with her speech. Before she was 2, she’d been through three times as many surgeries as I have in my entire life.

I did that to her.

What if I’d taken my prenatals? Would she have been born this way? What if I’d fought harder for myself in seeking help for my depression after the birth of her sister?

Intellectually, I KNOW it’s not my fault. But still, the sting is there, long after the scorpion has faded out of sight.

It’s there, just a tinge of it, every time we talk. Every time I have to decipher what she’s said to me based on the context of the words I am able to understand because I still can’t understand every single thing she says. I recently won $200 headphones. They help me immensely in understanding her when we Skype. The ear-buds I had before just weren’t high enough quality to do so. Even now, I have to make her slow down and repeat what she’s said because she’s seven and well, seven year olds get excited.

She will need a lot of orthodontic work. She has the risk of giving birth to a child with similar issues. Kids will tease her because of the way she talks. She was born a fighter without having a say in the matter. While I know this will serve her well later in life, it is something with which I struggle.

Some mothers have Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, etc, and they heal, with no adverse affect on their children. But there are those out there who experience issues with their children. And because of what we’ve been through, we draw that line from point PPD to point whatever Alphabet Soup DX with our kids. There’s research to back most of it up. There isn’t research (that I’ve found) to back up PPD related to cleft palate but a “Friend” of mine once tried to draw a line to the type of med I may have taken to my daughter’s cleft palate. Punch.IN.THE.GUT.

Moms like me need a gentle hand. We need to be heard, not dismissed. We don’t need to hear that “It’s not your fault” because in our heads? It is. It always will be no matter how much you tell us that it’s not. It just will be. We need you to stand with us, to be there when we need to scream, cry, vent, and shake our fists at the sky. To understand that our truth is a hard truth and sometimes it will break us but we will rebuild, a constant practice in our lives shattered by this spike of unexpected blow-back from our already complex, shame, and stigma-riddled experiences.

We are women made of glass. Under that glass, yes, we are steel, because we have to be, but on the outside, we are glass and we shatter. We need you to be someone who lets us shatter, someone who helps put us back together and take another step forward as we walk toward processing our new truth.

It’s time for us to come out of the darkness and speak up, to be honest about the role we feel we played in the issues affecting our kids, and to find support, REAL support, not dismissive attitudes, in our search for the light both we and our children need to thrive. We seek out the research drawing the lines from Mom to our kid’s issues, whatever they may be. Sometimes, the line tracing back to Mom is real, worth exploring, and worth understanding. Without it, we’re just left wondering why. I, for one, don’t like hanging out in the middle of nowhere with no answers.

Any answer, even a horrible one, is better than no answer at all.

It’s something. A direction in which we can begin to move forward from, a new beginning from which we can start to walk toward solace. Even if we never reach it, walking toward it is often enough. It has to be, right?

 

 

 

Sharing the Journey with Ivy Shih Leung


Ivy’s joined the blogging ranks of PPD Survivors recently and I decided to scoop her up for an interview here. She’s been writing some really great stuff over at Ivy’s PPD Blog and is working on a book based on her experience. Check out her blog and enjoy a little slice of her story here!

Tell us about yourself – who is Ivy when she’s not busy being a mom or working?

Hmmmmm……since 3/4 of my life these days revolves around being a mom and working, I have to think a bit on this one. For the past 4 years, I’ve been trying to write a book about my PPD experience. For the past 1-1/2 months I’ve been blogging about my PPD experience, realizing that blogging is an effective means of helping women who are currently suffering from PPD and getting the word out to as many people as possible about PPD in hopes that one day PPD will no longer be so misunderstood, under-diagnosed and under-treated. My motto is: Knowledge is power; information is enabling, and it needs to be shared! Obviously, PPD has shaped my life tremendously. I would like to do more in terms of advocacy and PPD support through telephone support and PPD support groups, as well, but I need to get my book done first.

In terms of what I try to do for fun, I’m a big TV watcher. Nowadays, that’s the cheapest & easiest form of entertainment. I record my favorite TV shows to watch at a convenient time (i.e., after my daughter goes to sleep), like American Idol, Lie to Me, Brothers & Sisters, CSI Miami, Fringe, and Heroes. I try to catch lunch and dinner with friends in NYC a few times a month. I love movies and Broadway musicals, and try to see them as much as I can. I love beaches, shelling, kayaking, and snorkeling in tropical waters. And I love going to craft shows to admire the creativity and talent of artists. I also love to travel, and try to go somewhere different for vacation each year (by plane) and the more exotic the location, the more pictures I take. Last year, my husband and I made it to Athens and Santorini, Greece. I was in photo-op heaven!

You’ve recently joined your voice to increase awareness of PPD. What made you decide to go public with your story?

It was anger of people’s ignorance – those who were my doctors, those whom I’ve talked to and those in the media who say stupid things – that propelled me to write this book. I never would have thought of writing a book had it not been for Tom Cruise’s ignorant ranting that aired on the June 24, 2005 Today Show that “there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.” I suddenly felt the urge to write a book about my battle with postpartum depression. Rather than just get mad at Tom Cruise’s remarks and sit there and do nothing about it, I decided there weren’t enough people out there telling their personal stories. I would channel all the energy stemming from my anger and do something positive and try to help others. I would tell my story in the hopes of helping and educating as many people as possible about this silent and potentially deadly condition.

I want to reach out to moms currently suffering from PPD. With access to personal stories of PPD survivors, the less alone and ashamed mothers suffering from PPD will feel and the more empowered they will be to seek the help they must get. One of the two things I regret about having PPD is the lost opportunity to bond with my daughter to the fullest extent possible in those months where I was transformed into a different person. The other regret is not having found an understanding individual to help me through the darkest days by assuring me that I wasn’t going crazy, I wasn’t alone and I will get better. Because of this, I want to share my story to give hope to those suffering from PPD and help them feel less alone knowing that there are others who have survived PPD.

I want to reach out and validate the experience of moms who have already suffered from PPD, and encourage them to speak up. The more PPD survivors speak up, the more others will know what PPD is and that it’s a real illness that should be taken seriously. You would think that, of all people, fellow women would be able to empathize with you. But that’s not the case at all. The woman who has never had a child before or who had a perfect pregnancy, delivery and baby tend to be as clueless as men about PPD. Those who have neither experienced PPD firsthand or even secondhand, by way of someone they know and therefore witnessing its devastating effects, cannot understand and empathize with those suffering from PPD. Out of ignorance usually comes pre-conceived notions, or myths, that can’t be farther from the truth. We dispel those myths once and for all.

Finally, I want to reach out to all parents-to-be so they can be knowledgeable about PPD, so that if a new mom succumbs to it, they won’t be totally caught off-guard. When they seek treatment from a doctor, they won’t be at a total disadvantage if the doctor doesn’t spend time to 1) explain to them what is going on so, 2) answer questions she will undoubtedly have, and 3) give reassurance that she is not alone in what she is experiencing and she will be fine, though it takes time for the treatment to be effective.

What was childbirth like for you? Was it what you expected or did things get unexpected and frantic?

I had no expectations of childbirth. I was a bit nervous from not knowing what to expect. All I knew was from what you see on TV and in the movies (i.e., women screaming from pain). Labor and delivery actually went pretty smoothly, which was a tremendous relief. It quickly went downhill from there, though, with the discovery that my placenta would not come out. It turned out to be a rare incident of what they refer to as placenta accreta. Three days after delivery, my doctor had to remove my uterus because the placenta had grown into my uterus. If this weren’t done, I would’ve died. I am absolutely sure that it’s not the traumatic delivery experience itself that caused PPD to rear its head. The following series of events led to my insomnia, the first sign of PPD for me:

  1. negative experience in the hospital-e.g., constant sleep interruptions in the hospital, constant moving from one room to another and changes in hospital staff, multiple attempts to replace IVs in my arms/hands, food deprivation (I only had about 2 meals the whole week I was there….otherwise what I had were ice cubes for the most part, plus an occasional broth or jello), below-par treatment of certain hospital staff, searing pain (felt like someone was burning me) in my abdomen that came & went for 2 days after the surgery
  2. constant sleep interruptions from the noises the baby made throughout the night, plus night feedings
  3. baby’s bad case of eczema and cradle cap
  4. baby’s one week colic

For some Moms, the glow after childbirth simply isn’t there. Instead it gets dark, creepy, and eerie. What was your postpartum journey like?

My childbirth experience was not a glowing, happy experience–at least not until I came out of my PPD fog. And it’s unfortunate that I won’t ever get another crack at this, now that I’m missing a uterus. My experience wasn’t exactly dark, creepy or eerie, either. The 7 days immediately following childbirth were spent in the hospital. It was a negative experience that I try never to think about. You can read more about my hospital experience and my descent into PPD, with insomnia followed by panic attacks at my blog: http://ivysppdblog.wordpress.com. My ignorance about PPD (and my doctors’ ignorance) aggravated my situation. Had I known what PPD was, how to identify risk factors for it, realized that insomnia and panic attacks are symptoms of PPD, and proactively tried to keep risk factors to a minimum (e.g., make sure I got round-the-clock help with the baby and housework), I would not have suffered as badly as I did. Hell, I may not have even suffered from PPD!

What did you find the most helpful in climbing out of the gaping hole of your Postpartum Mood Disorder? What did you learn in the process about yourself?

Firstly, my husband’s love and support (see my response to the next question). Second, Paxil, without which I would not have been able to recover in 4 weeks and get on with enjoying my motherhood experience with my baby. My brain biochemistry was so messed up (due to hormonal changes, delivery complications resulting in a major surgery 3 days after delivery, traumatic one-week hospital stay, constant sleep interruptions throughout the night for a month starting from the time I was in the hospital, sleep deprivation and anxiety), that it’s highly unlikely any other treatment would have cured me as quickly. If I had requested my doctors to test for cortisol levels because my body was undergoing so much stress (“fight or flight” response on overdrive), I’m sure they would have been off the charts (which is probably why I had daily hive breakouts on my arms, legs, butt and mouth…some of them were 2″ long welts).

I learned a couple things about myself as a result of my PPD experience. Firstly, I’ve never been depressed before (I’ve always wondered whether I had been previously). Second, I emerged on the other side of the dark tunnel a survivor and a much stronger and smarter person than before. I realize that my calling is now to help educate others about PPD. I would like to help prevent other mothers from going through what I went through. I wouldn’t have realized this calling had I not suffered the way I did.

How did your husband handle your PPD experience? Did it affect your marriage?

He handled my PPD experience like the trooper that he is. He was there for me EVERY step of the way. I never even had to ask him for help. Though he didn’t really know how to comfort me on those really, really dark days where I just wanted to wither up and vanish into thin air, he did all he could to listen to me, give me hugs, come home from work early whenever a panic attack was setting in, and help with the baby, housework and cleaning–on top of having a full-time job. It wasn’t just a heck of an awful experience for me, it was really tough on my husband as well. He became physically and emotionally drained and didn’t have many people he could turn to for advice. This experience showed me how lucky I am to have him for a husband and how lucky my daughter is to have him for her daddy, and how strong our relationship is to have survived what we both went through.

At your blog, you make reference to a book you’re in the process of wrapping up. Where are you in this process and has it been helpful to write it all down?

If during my high school and college years and even up until before I had the baby, someone had told me I’d be writing a book one day, I would’ve laughed at them. I’ve never even kept a diary. It definitely takes life-altering experiences to motivate you to do something that you think might make a difference in someone else’s life. My husband thought writing a book was an excellent idea, and would certainly be a great outlet for my feelings. I’ve been working on my book for the past four years and plan to finish in the next few months. Writing the book has been such a therapeutic experience.

Name three things that made you laugh today.

Though there were definitely more than three things that made me laugh today, the primary ones that come to mind: 1) my daughter makes me laugh in delight and amazement each and every day in terms of some of the words/phrases she uses; 2) my daughter (again – but why would that surprise you) and the way she loves to dance; and 3) I have to admit that I watched the movie “The Shaggy Dog” (starring Tim Allen) with my daughter and I cracked up throughout the movie. Great comic relief after a long day at work!

What do you find the most challenging about parenting? The Least?

I’m not sure if other parents would agree, but just having to think of ways to stimulate her intellectually, socially and athletically is challenging for me. After all, as a parent, I am responsible for her future and I only get one shot at it. The least challenging is loving her…it comes naturally.

Last but not least, let’s say you have just one chance to provide some advice to an expectant mother (new or experienced) about Postpartum Mood Disorders. What would you tell her?

PPD is the #1 complication of childbirth, with 1 out of 8 mothers experiencing it. You wouldn’t know it, though, because most mothers keep their experiences to themselves. Knowledge about PPD & adequate social support to enable mom to get the rest she needs postpartum are CRITICAL! The more knowledgeable and prepared a mom is for situations that can reduce risk factors for PPD-getting adequate social support is just one example-the better off she will be. No woman is completely immune from PPD after having a baby. With the right combination of risk factors and stressors, any woman-even you-could end up suffering from it.

Open Mouth. Insert Foot.


As if ABC’s Private Practice hadn’t failed enough recently, there’s a brief interview with Tim Daly in this week’s TV Guide.

Mr. Daly rails against Violet’s character rejecting help from both his character and the other possible father of her unborn child by calling it “sexist and bulls#$%.” Wait. It gets better, I promise.

Then Daly goes on to share his thoughts on way birth is portrayed on the show. (This is where it gets good) “For the sake of the psyche of American women, I’d like to see one woman on the show have a really easy, happy, joyous birthing experience.”

What, so watching a happy birth on a drama is supposed to help the American female psyche? How? Nevermind that your show just totally screwed the American female psyche over with your hack job on Postpartum Mood Disorders. Do you REALLY think they could do better with birth?? And what is your definition of an easy, joyous, happy birth? Medicated? Natural? What? Let’s go there, Mr. Daly.

Nevermind that birth isn’t always easy. And let’s just totally ignore the work of people like Ricki Lake and The Business of Being Born or Karen Brody and her play BIRTH. Or Susan Hodges and her organization, Citizens for Midwifery. Let’s show a Mom giving birth at home with a midwife instead of with an OB in a medical environment – that’d be happy and joyous!

And FYI, Mr. Daly, there is nothing EASY about birth. Try it sometime. Oh wait, you can’t. Sorry.

Sharing the Journey with Amber Koter-Puline


I had the pleasure of meeting Amber during an initial meeting for the formation of Georgia Postpartum Support Network. Amber is a mom, a working professional, a blogger and a dedicated Postpartum Peer support volunteer who facilitates two groups in Atlanta. She also serves as GPSN’s Secretary. Thank you Amber, for being a brave and courageous woman in adding your voice to the ever-growing group of advocates for PPD Support!
koter-10Tell us about yourself. Who is Amber when she’s not being a mom?

I am a friend, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and also a career-oriented woman.  I enjoy my work in service as Director of Intergenerational Ministries at my church.  I also provide one-on-one and group volunteer peer support to women with Postpartum mood disorders.  I do this through email, meeting moms in person, the telephone, and also a support group in Midtown Atlanta that I facilitate twice a month.  I also host a playgroup and mom’s discussion group at the church, each once a month.  I serve as Secretary of GPSN and I hope that this role will allow me to help bring awareness and education to Georgians and all Americans someday.

Share with us how your Postpartum Experience unfolded. Did you feel prepared for childbirth and the postpartum period prior to giving birth?

I was commited to a natural birth, but after 36 hours of labor I had to get an epidural and then after ten more hours I had an emergency c-section.  My birth was completely different than I had planned or hoped for, and I was devastated.  I began my postpartum experience filled with regret, shame, and completely sleep-deprived in addition to being physically unwell.  I utilized the Hynobirthing method in preparation for and during labor.  I did feel completely prepared for a natural, vaginal birth.  Unfortunately, in my desire to be commited to natural methods I didn’t even consider the possibility of it not unfolding the way I wanted.  This left me disappointed and shocked.

What prompted you to seek help – what wasn’t going well and what helped you get on the road to recovery?

After 5 weeks of exclusively pumping breastmilk because my son would not latch on and not getting more than 2 hours sleep at night I felt completely a wreck.  I was scared, unhappy, exhausted, and I had so many unsettled feelings leftover from the birth.  On top of that, I was still recovering from major surgery.  My head was filled with obsessions and anxiety.  I knew that I needed help.  I was thankful that I had the business card of a psychiatrist my OB-GYN had given me early in my pregnancy (it was a surprise and I was not sure how I felt about it when I first learned I was pregnant).  What helped most was the medication.  After two weeks on anti-depressants I knew I was still very unwell and we added a couple of other meds to my regimen.  This helped SO much.  I really needed something to help me sleep and quell my anxiety.  Talking with my doctor who is an expert in this field made me feel normal and less alone.  The biggest thing I did to help myself was to admit to everyone how sick I was.  I told my parents and husband the truth about my obsessions, my depression, my lack of sleep, and how helpless and hopeless I felt.  Because of my truthfulness, they were able to be fully aware of my situation and to act appropriately to care for me and my son.  During the 4th week postpartum we had begun utilizing the nanny who had planned to be with my son once I returned to work.  After I was diagnosed and through my early weeks of treatment she continued helping several days a week.  Knowing my baby was well cared for was reassuring.  During the most difficult time (weeks 6-12 postpartum) my husband was my rock.  I am not sure how he was able to keep a positive outlook while living with someone who was so depressed, but he did.  Returning to work at 13 weeks postpartum was healing for me.  I found the me that had something to offer other than diaper changing and rocking.  Lastly, I have a best friend that was there for me in every way on an almost daily basis.  That support rounded out my treatment and allowed me to recover much faster. 

I know that you’ve had some Postpartum Thyroid issues. Share with us some of your experience and how your physicians uncovered the Thyroid factor.

It is still unclear as to the severity of the thyroid issue or whether it has had any role in my postpartum struggles.  I have had fairly moderate gastic pain and also sleep difficulties and fatigue since I first gave birth.  In my efforts to explore what was wrong physically and emotionally in the 2nd month postpartum we learned that my thyroid was functioning in the hyper spectrum, if only slightly.  One year later, the results are the same.  I will be having a thyroid scan on Monday to determine how my thyroid is functioning on the whole.  I do know for sure that thyroid issues can have an extreme impact postpartum, though, and recommend that thyroid tests be done on anyone experiencing a PPMD.

At what point in your recovery did you feel the desire to turn your journey into support for other mothers? How empowering has the experience been for you?

I knew from the moment that I began coming out of the darkness (around 11 or 12 weeks postpartum, after 6 or so weeks on medication and with therapy) that I felt called to serve other women and to educate all people about PPMDs.  In my darkest hours I never felt alone and always knew that God would make good out of a truly horrific experience.  He has opened so many doors for me.  I am still amazed at how women find me…it feels very spiritual at times.  Being able to help others makes me feel purpose in my pain.  It allows me to relate to others and provide true empathy.  It is a precious gift.  As I often share; it took me 31 years to find my calling and spiritual gift.  I never was good at sports or music, and though I did well academically, I believe that this work is my true passion and area of giftedness.

Share three things that made you laugh or smile today.

My son trying to “swiffer” my hardwood floors at 16 months old.
Realizing that I endured 36 hours of labor naturally…and that really, I shouldn’t feel guilty or embarrassed…that’s not a bad track record!  (It only took me 16 months to get to this point!)
The thought of sitting on the beach reading a book in complete peace and quiet.

What has been the most challenging aspect of parenting so far? The least challenging?

For me the loss of identity initially was devastating.  I had a very difficult transition into motherhood that I believe they now call Postpartum Adjustment Disorder.  I simply could not accept that my life entailed changing diapers and trying to entertain a completely helpless being.  Finding a way to find myself again and then balance the “new normal” with fulfilling my own personal needs was a challenge.  I believe that it is only in the past 3 months that I have found my way again.  I typed the sentence, “the least challenging for me…” three times before I finally erased it and decided to share that I don’t think there are any aspects of being a good parent that are easy.  That’s the deal…you reap what you sow.  I know that each time I face a choice when it comes to my son that the “harder” option in the short term will be the better one for the long term.  That which takes effort is rewarding.

As you recovered from Postpartum, how much of a part did your faith play?

As you can tell from my previous answers, my faith was everything to me.  I am not a fundamentalist and I don’t feel like an extremely “religious” person, but I do believe that God can be seen so many times in my day, each day.  His hand touches my life with great blessing.  I am not rich, powerful, or even close to perfect, but overall I have a good life.  There was a time that I didn’t, so I think I appreciate my life now even more.  I believe that being in conversation with God through prayer during the difficult childhood I endured and the horrible PPMDs I overcame made the difference in who and how I am on the other side of all that.  Faith defines who I am.

Tell us about your blog. What should readers take away from your writing there?

My blog began as a way to talk about what I was doing with the mom’s groups and what I hoped mothers would get out of those groups.  I also wanted to document my experiences in an organized way and once I read another blog I realized that was a free and easy way to do so.  That was almost a year ago.  Since then, I have developed it into a much more comprehensive site.  I post news and research, personal stories, support group info and more at www.atlantappdmom.blogspot.com.  Had I realized that I would be writing in the long term there and that the readership would grow, I would have chosen a different web address.  In order to have a more educational site with a name that will appeal to everyone I created a website, additionally.  www.postpartumhealing.com has specific information for those who are just discovering postpartum health topics.  I hope that readers of my blog will find honesty and integrity in what I share about being a mother.  I try to tell it like it is, even if I am only feeling that way for a short period of time.  I know a few things I have shared have made people cringe, but I never was good at hiding the truth.  Maybe there are women who LOVE every moment of it.  But, I think that most of us dislike a lot of aspects of being a mom.  It doesn’t mean we love our children any less, though.

And last but not least, if you had a chance to give one piece of advice about Postpartum Depression to an expectant mother, (new or experienced), what would it be and why would it be important for her to know?

My advice to everyone, postpartum or not, is to have and to offer REALISTIC expectations of motherhood, especially the first 3 months.  It is normal not to fall in love with your newborn.  It is ok to feel inept and scared.  It is not really easy or fun to care for such a little person when they can’t even provide a smile to thank you for your exhaustingly hard work to keep them alive and well.  Being a new mother is a journey with challenges that match each joy.

Thank you for inviting me to share my experience with your readers.

Hello Kitty joins L&D in Taiwan Hospital


Thanks to Heidi Koss-Nobel for bringing this one to my attention.

photo courtesy Jenn J at flickr

photo courtesy Jenn J at flickr

I needed the ensuing smiles and feelings of “ummm… say what?” in reaction to a fluffy piece of news related to mother’s moods after the week we’ve had in research around here.

Apparently Hello Kitty has been recruited to help soothe mothers at a maternity ward in Taiwan. Not sure if this is based on legitimate research or is just an anecdoctal piece but still, Hello Kitty? Really?