Postpartum Voice of the Week: @Hopin2bHappy’s Email to My Husband


Within the #PPDChat community, members not only share how they’re feeling or what they’re going through, sometimes they tweet specific requests for support with a current situation. Such was the case just the other day with one particular member. @Hopin2bHappy tweeted about an email she sent to her husband in regards to her current struggle with her Postpartum Mood Disorder. Then she posted the letter at the #PPDChat Closed FB group. Her letter is phenomenal and one every husband should read. One every Mom with PPD should read. It’s honest, raw, and powerful. She graciously offered to allow me to share her words here. I’m honoured to do so and hope you will share it with everyone you know. The entire post from the FB group is included (with her permission of course)  – her introduction, the letter, and her husband’s reaction to the email. With no further ado, I give you quite possibly one of the most powerful pieces I’ve ever posted here for husbands and wives:

 

 

Hi Ladies.
I’ve been having a really tough week. I’m in the middle of a med change, kids have been sick and I’ve been exhausted. Last night my husband and I had a huge fight at 2am, I felt so beat down, alone and really ready to just stop trying.
This morning I wrote my husband an e-mail. Here it is.

Dear Hubs,

I love you and you need to remember that I don’t want to be this way. You have been working so hard to care for our family, and I want you to know how much I appreciate all you do for the boys and all you do to keep us afloat. That’s why it has been so hard for me to talk to you about what I’m about to write.

Sometimes, I think you forget that when I’m having a bad day, I am not capable of being rational. Telling me to get over it and just deal, or stop having thin skin, or that I  should be happy [we have a comforter, etc.] doesn’t help. It actually makes me feel even worse for not being able to control these feelings. That’s when I get filled with rage and lose it on you.

Sometimes, I think that what you want is for me to lose it, just so you can blame everything on me being crazy.

I know it’s hard for you when I’m saying crazy things.  I know you want to defend yourself and tell me what’s on your mind. What I don’t think you understand is that THIS IS NOT ME. When I get overwhelmed and lash out at everything?  Most of the time I dont even believe what I’m saying, but I just can’t stop. The more you tell me I’m crazy, a liar, and insane, it just gets worse. I feel helpless and I start to believe those things you accuse me of, which only makes matters worse.

Instead of you trying to analyze my words and picking out inconsistencies, accusing me of lying, or fighting back by saying I’m being irrational, what I REALLY want, no, NEED, is for you to hug me. I need you to tell me you are sorry I feel this way and that it will get better. That you love me. That I’m a good mom.  I know these things are hard for you to do sometimes, especially in the heat of the moment. But I’ve never needed your love and support more than I do right now.

I am trying so hard, but sometimes I feel like you don’t give me any credit for trying. I’m talking to doctors, taking medications and seeing a therapist. I wish I could snap my fingers or drink a magic potion and make it all go away, but unfortunately, it is not that easy. I will get through this, but I can NOT do this alone. If we get through this together, as a team, things will get better faster and be easier for us both. The best gift we can give our boys is a happy and healthy relationship. I’m fighting this as hard as I can, not just for them, but for you, too. You deserve the best of me, which is what I want so badly to give, but I need your, love, support and encouragement to make it happen.

I love you.

He came upstairs and hugged me. He commited to try and not take things so personally, and not react so strongly. He acknowledged that I am trying, and we are going to fight this as a team.

I am so relieved. And I Want to thank a very special friend for helping me edit my letter so it actually made sense.

A Father’s Insight


What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That’s what little boys are made of !”
What are little girls made of?
“Sugar and spice and all things nice
That’s what little girls are made of!

Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails grow up to be stoic and fearless, handymen expected to fix everything. At least that’s the hole into which society attempts to place men and has for some time now. Men are our rocks. Our shelter in the midst of the storm. Our protectors. As such, emotions are off the table for them. No tears. No anxiety. No fear. Fixers of all.

Men are human too. Capable of emotion. Sure, they may not process it out loud as we women so often do but they are capable of emotion in the face of life’s events. Men love. Men suffer heartbreak. Men hurt. Many may be silent about their loss or their pain. But every so often a man exposes his heart and offers invaluable insight into a man’s emotional world. When this happens, it’s important to pay attention.

I recently met Jeremy on Twitter. He blogs over at 2 Baby Dad about life as “An Expectant, Already Dad’s Blog.” His wife suffered a miscarriage. As we chatted, I asked if he would be willing to write about his view of his wife’s miscarriage. He agreed and posted his insight today after emailing it to me so I could read it over.

Jeremy’s account is raw, insightful, powerful, and honest. As I read through it, I felt the emotion building. By the time I finished, there were tears and my heart felt full as I exhaled. His words, the rhythm, the way he opens and then closes his experience embraces so vibrantly the experience of a father when it comes to fatherhood. There are emotions, even if “concealed by a wall” as Jeremy says.

I strongly urge you to go read Jeremy’s piece entitled “A Father, His Wife’s Miscarriage, and a Lost Unborn Child.” Share it with the men in your life. With the women in your life. Communication is key between husband and wife in the midst of any crisis. The better we understand where the other party is coming from, the better our communication with them will be when crisis hits. Please read this and pass it on to as many as you can.

Saturday Sundries 03.05.11: Husbands and Baby Blues


Welcome, y’all!

This morning I jumped out of bed, thinking I only had 20 minutes to get dressed and travel to my church for a Women’s Brunch. Turns out I had 50 minutes. I took the time to do dishes before I left. Once I arrived, I felt so blessed and loved. Women of all ages sat together at tables and shared their inspirations for daily faith and Christ-like living. One of the older women at my table cried as she shared her story. I left filled with a sense of camaraderie and connection with several new women in my Church. I am so grateful for the ability to meet in the open with people of the same faith – to be able to speak freely of my beliefs and of Christ’s power within my own life. There are so many places in the world where if you even mention Christ, you will be put to death. But not here.

I spoke of my Postpartum Depression and how God has used that to change my life and allow me to reach out to several women on a daily basis. You know what y’all? Not ONE woman at that table judged me for my hospitalization. Not one woman at that table loved me any less or told me I failed as a mother because I had Postpartum Depression. I know I speak about Postpartum Depression all the time online but I don’t get the opportunity to talk about it in person very often. To sit in sisterhood at a table with other mothers and not be judged for my experiences – WOW. So very grateful and blessed.

Today, I don’t have specific questions to answer. The questions I’ll be addressing are based on search terms which led people to my blog within the past seven days. If people are looking for these topics, I want to provide information to answer their unasked questions.

I wish every one of you a wonderful Saturday – one filled with insight, peace, and happiness.

And as always, take care of YOU first.

*The answers given here are written by me, a non-health care professional. I’m a mom who has been through hell with Postpartum twice, ante-natal depression once and has dedicated her life to learning all there is to know about Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Please check with your healthcare provider prior to implementing any of the information you may find below. It is NOT meant to be and/or replace professional advice or orders.

 

1) Should baby blues last for more than 4 weeks?

No. The blues should not last for more than 4 weeks. It may take up to 4 weeks for the blues to dissipate completely but if you are consistently experiencing what you feel are the blues for a solid 4 weeks, you really should talk with your doctor. Postpartum Depression also does not just manifest as “the blues.” There are other issues which are also included in the Postpartum spectrum. Anxiety, irritability, anger, intrusive thoughts, and obsessive-compulsive behavior are all symptoms that may manifest in an episode of a Postpartum Mood Disorder. Up to 80% of all new moms experience the blues. As many as 20% of those who experience the blues go on to develop a Postpartum Mood Disorder. Just because your symptoms of the blues are continuing past 4 wks does not mean you are developing a serious case of Postpartum Depression. But you should absolutely go see a health professional to explore what’s going on with you. Be sure to ask for a thyroid panel, an iron level check, and a Vitamin D level check to rule out any health issues for your continued struggles. It’s beyond important to get the Thyroid panel as Anti-depressants will NOT help with a thyroid issue – and may actually make things worse for someone with a severe thyroid issue, therefore delaying successful treatment and recovery. It’s also very important (and hard) not to blame yourself for Postpartum Depression. You have not done anything to deserve this or to cause this to happy. There is help, there is hope – and you are absolutely not alone as your journey toward recovery.

2) How does husband cope with postpartum?

There are several ways in which a husband copes with postpartum. The answer to this question really lies in what the person asking meant.

Does she mean if HE has postpartum? Or does she mean if SHE has postpartum? And then – does she mean What’s the best way for him to cope? Or how do most husbands in general cope with postpartum? I want to address all of those below in as succinct  a manner as possible.

If HE has postpartum: Men & women exhibit different symptoms when it comes to depression. Men keep quiet. They will stay at work longer, avoid home, self-medicate, get angry and irritable, shift blame, shirk responsibilities, blame themselves for the failure. If your husband is suddenly not at home as much, angry, frustrated, and not smiling or as easy going as usual – it might be time to try to get him to a healthcare professional. A great website to learn more can be found at Postpartum Men. It’s run by Dr. Will Courtenay, who is an expert in Male Depression. Dr. Courtenay is amazing and truly knows the male psyche. If you suspect your husband is struggling with depression, visit Dr. Courtenay’s site and then sit down to talk with your partner. Let him know you won’t judge him and encourage him to get help for himself and for his family.

If SHE has postpartum: He needs to avoid telling her to snap out of her depression first and foremost. Dive in with the chores, housework, and baby duty. Take older kids out to play. Change diapers before mom nurses at night or if she’s sleeping (those precious extra moments of sleep are heavenly). Also, he should read this cheat sheet for a fabulous list of things to say to his wife. Support her going to doctor’s appointments but don’t force her UNLESS she’s clearly expressed intent to harm herself or others. Never every sneak attack a psychiatric appointment on your wife. Bad juju.Very Bad juju. Ask how you can help. And then do it. Don’t wait for her to ask – because she won’t. Bottom line, love her, support her, and help with the work around the house. Give her time to heal and recover. It’ll be a thankless job but one day, she’ll tell you thank you. Trust me. I’m eternally grateful for the support I received from my husband during Postpartum. (This also covers the BEST way for him to cope)

How most husbands cope: The most common gut reaction is to deny there’s anything wrong. Some husbands even believe their wives are faking symptoms in order to get out of parenting responsibilities. Still others tell their wives to snap out of it. Or they believe that medication and doctors can’t do anything to help so they don’t support their wives seeking help, instead telling them that they need to suck it up and just tough it out. Husbands are just as shattered as we are when Postpartum strikes. They are lost – the woman they love with all their heart has faded away. She’s gone. In her place is a new woman, a shadow of the woman she once was – the woman she was maybe even hours before… they don’t know how to fix us. So they get angry, scared, and frustrated. They snap at us, not knowing how else to react. I would highly recommend getting a husband reacting in any of the aforementioned ways to attend a doctor’s appointment with you. A doctor will legitimize your experience for your husband. Many husbands have what we call “White Coat Syndrome,” ie, until he hears it from a doctor, it’s not real. It helps to get him to the Doctor because it involves him in the solution, thereby allowing him to “fix” the situation at hand in some way, which is what men excel at – solving problems. It’s not an easy ride with a husband who is not supportive. You’re also not alone in this – but when you have Postpartum, it is so very important to have support at home – get BOTH of you to the doctor as soon as possible. There is hope, even in this.

Saturday Sundries 02.05.11: Nutrition and taking Postpartum out on your husband


Hey Mamas and Dadas! How’s it going?

Hopefully your little ones let you sleep in today. If not, then my sympathies. Lots of coffee. Lots.

Our family has been taken out one by one this week with something which can only be described as a Plague from Dante’s fifth circle of Hell. It starts out with a nasty sore throat, proceeds to cold and congested status, then a cough, and then it steals your voice in the middle of the night. Oh, and while I had the girls at the Pediatricians, I was lucky enough to slam the four year old’s hand in the door of the car. Her middle finger? Broken. We had to trek (in the rain) to the hospital for x-rays. Then yesterday out to an Orthopedist 30 minutes away. Trying to drive a car with a gabby four year old in the backseat whilst fighting off the Black Plague should be an Olympic Sport. Turns out her finger is barely broken and we only have to tape it together for two weeks. In three weeks, we go back for a re-check to make sure things have healed properly. Here’s to hoping.

We have humidifiers going, homeopathic cough and cold medicine, Dayquil and Nyquil for us big people, OJ, chicken noodle soup, and rest. Lots of rest. Thanking God for Netflix.

If my kids aren’t well enough to go back to school on Monday, I’m going to Lowe’s to buy what I need to build them their own bubbles. They can go in bubbles, right? Right?

Enough about my family’s close brush with the Plague.

This week, I only got one question for today. The second question is from a statements/concerns from search terms for my blog. They seem to crop up quite often so I wanted to bring them to light and share them with y’all. I had plans to do more than just one but I’m flat worn out from this past week.

Enjoy today’s Saturday Sundries!

1) @Granolamom asked about using Vitamin D to ward off Postpartum Depression. I took the question to the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to Postpartum and Nutrition, Cheryl Jazzar. Her website is linked at the end of the post. In the interest of full disclosure, I have not received any compensation for linking to it. And as always, if you are already under the care of a physician, check with him/her prior to discontinuing any current treatments and/or introducing any new therapies.

 

Thanks for this interesting question! The use of vitamins for perinatal mood and anxiety issues is becoming very popular. As with any treatment options, it is important NOT to self-treat. Having support and guidance from a professional can prove invaluable. There are many different types of care providers out there, including those who can help with non-pharmacological options.

First, using nutrition for mental health challenges is a strongly emerging treatment for a reason: there is a great deal of scientific data to support it’s use. The problem with scientific data is similar to the problem of using one supplement to help with symptoms: one ‘ingredient’ usually doesn’t work for either symptom control or data collection!

Many women find a great deal of symptom relief by using a few different things together, depending on their presenting symptoms. Typically the same things that new mothers are lacking are the same things curiously absent from prenatal vitamins- things like calcium and magnesium. Some women have a higher need for stress-busting b vitamins; and some have a need for natural progesterone cream. Normally these moms are suffering with a more severe anxiety reaction and they could be high in postpartum copper stores. In these cases, specific trace minerals also play a part in healing.

The good news is that nutritive approaches can work very quickly! This was the case for me when I suffered a severe, lethargic postpartum depression 13 years ago. I was guided in using nutrition by my mentor, Sheryl Cozad of Postpartum Support International and significant relief came so fast I thought it was a placebo effect! Years later I was visiting with a world-famous perinatal mental health expert who said her patients mood symptoms turn around dramatically using supplements, too.

The short answer is, yes, vitamin D is a fantastic element to get more of at any phase of life. However, most postpartum moms are so deficient in so many different vitamins (according to the USDA), that a deeper look with a qualified practitioner can yield quick, lasting results.

 

Cheryl Jazzar, founder of WellPostpartum Consulting, has provided support and encouragement to thousands of women suffering with postpartum depression and related issues.

2) Why am I taking my postpartum out on my husband?

Ever been to the beach? I ask because going to the beach sounds awesome in the middle of February. Unless it’s a beach in the northern part of the US in which case you’ll freeze your bum right off. But I’ve digressed.

So.. let’s say it’s a warm summer day. You pack up the kiddos to go to the beach. Lunch, towels, sunscreen, you’ve got everything. Everyone goes and has a blast. You shower off before you come home. Shower again when you get home. Cook dinner, hang out, put the kiddos to bed. Then you and the hubster cuddle to watch a movie. About thirty minutes into the movie, you start to squirm. There’s something stuck down THERE. It’s uncomfortable. Begins to burn. You can’t shift into a comfortable position. You go to the restroom to try to see if it’s your underwear or toilet paper. Then it hits you – it’s a piece of sand. So you hop into the shower and try to get it rinsed out. But you can’t. It’s stuck. It’s not going anywhere. You go back to the living room. There’s your husband, conked out in the chair. HE’s not dealing with this sand in his vag issue, now is he? Nope. He’s all comfortable and drifting off into la-la-land. You? Want to smack him clear to Beijing. But you can’t because it’s illegal. And mean. So instead you do a few deep squats and jiggles. Take a bath. Eventually the sand dislodges and it’s a distant memory.

Postpartum is that damned piece of sand. It gets lodged in your mind though instead of your vag. You find yourself stuck in a whirlwind, crap flying at you from every direction while your husband seemingly sits in his recliner, completely un-phased by your discomfort and struggles. He’s not doing enough to help with the baby. Where the hell was HE at 2am this morning anyway as you tried to nurse/feed Jr back to bed for what felt like the billionth time in three hours? Asleep. In bed.

Often times, when we are hurting, we lash at those closest to us. Why? Because they are there. We want them to catch us when we fall. Thing is, if we push them too hard, they’ll fall right along with us and won’t be able to or want to catch us. When loved ones react negatively to our behaviour as we fall into a mental illness, it is often hard for us to handle. We react negatively as well, not because we mean to – but because it’s a natural reaction. Not logical, but natural. When mental illness surrounds us, it’s as if we are lost in a dense fog or deep jungle. We have to fight to get out. Sometimes, our loved ones get in our path.

I had tremendous arguments and fights with my husband when I was in the middle of my own episodes with Postpartum OCD. We yelled and screamed at each other. Often, I assumed he would know just what to do – that he could read my mind. When he didn’t do what I had not communicated to him needed to be done, I got angry. But it wasn’t his fault. I also became terribly jealous that he got to go to work every day and spend time with adults. He got out of the house. I was stuck at home with an infant.

Turns out he was jealous of me. I got to stay home with our daughters and watch them grow up. I didn’t see it as spectacular. For me, it was torture. Our communication had completely failed. We were totally jealous of each other, not sleeping, frustrated, angry, and as a result, had become very short with each other. It sucked.

So many postpartum women report issues with their husband as part of what is going on. He doesn’t know what you’re going through. It’s hard for him to relate, hard for him to support you when he doesn’t understand. Take him to the doctor with you. Have them talk with him about his part in your recovery – how he is an integral part of the equation to heal his family. You have to be willing to work too though. Anger is a two way street. BOTH of you have to agree that it’s closed. It’s okay to disagree and have a rational discussion about what’s going on – but rage and tantrumming is not cool. At all.

If you find yourself angry at your husband – start asking yourself why you’re mad at him. Walk away if you have to. Breathe. When you go back, talk with him calmly.

I’ve found the following formula very useful:

“When “x” happens, it makes me feel like “X.” How can WE fix this?”

This approach does two things. One, it doesn’t accuse him of anything. It’s non-attacking. Two – it presents a problem/issue which he can then help solve, creating a teamwork atmosphere. It takes a bit of practice, a lot of compromise on both parts, and time to get back to a place in which you don’t hate him. But eventually you’ll get there if both of you are dedicated to making things work.

 

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#PPDChat Topic: The Great Divide: Failure to Communicate after PPD