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Hope for New Moms: Postpartum Depression

October 8, 2012 9:36 pm
Written by: Amy Davis

Every night I quietly make my way into my daughter's room to check on her. I cover her with her blanket and make sure Elmo is right beside her where he belongs. I watch her chest rise and fall and her long eyelashes flutter. I smile and thank God for this growing child stretched across the crib mattress. I silently laugh at her rogue foot that often sticks between the bars.

It wasn't so long ago that nightly trips to her room were not this pleasant. When she was a newly-delivered 7-pound baby, checking on her in the middle of the night was a scary, dark thing for me as a new mother. Racing, intrusive thoughts had me in a tailspin those first few weeks. Family was visiting, friends were stopping by. Everyone was happy and laughing. They all gathered around my precious baby.

Sometimes I wanted to scream at them all, "Get away from her!" Surely something terrible was going to happen to my child. Surely someone would take her in the middle of the night. Surely I was going to drown her, burn her, or smother her because I was such a terrible mother. I was anxious all the time. Dangerous and scary thoughts rattled my brain constantly. How can all of you be laughing?! Why can't I stop crying!?

Those days all seem fuzzy, almost like I was looking through cellophane. I felt like I had this darkness around me and a weight on my chest. My daughter was just eight days old when my husband was back at work and my mom left after staying a few days. When they left the house I could barely catch my breath. What if I hurt her? What if I mess this up? I cried and clutched her, rocking back and forth on the floor. Over and over, I told her I would never hurt her and I was going to get help.

I did. I'm one of the lucky ones.

I'm lucky because I identified the signs of postpartum depression early on. So many people tell new mothers, "Oh, it's just Baby Blues." "It's just your hormones." "It's just lack of sleep." I knew it was something else. I knew something wasn't right with me. I was embarrassed and horrified at how I was feeling. I should be overjoyed, right? I should be cherishing every moment of my child's first few weeks, right?

I called the postpartum support line at the hospital. I scheduled an appointment to speak to a counselor. I had to. My baby deserved better. I deserved better.

The doctor and I decided I was suffering from Postpartum OCD and medication along with therapy would be the best course of treatment for me. I agonized over taking meds while breastfeeding. I confessed to the therapist how awful I felt for putting chemicals in my baby's body. She said the negligible amount of anti-depressants that is passed through breast milk is nothing compared to the harm of a mother suffering from mental illness.

That's what PPD is. It's a mental illness and should be treated as such. The intrusive thoughts are not rational, nor real. In my rational mind, I knew I wasn't going to harm my baby. Thank God I never did. The best thing I ever did was realize something was wrong early on and ask for help.

Postpartum Support International says one in eight women experience depression after childbirth. Think about that. That's one of your friends. That's your sister, your cousin, or you. Of women, 3 to 5 percent experience Postpartum OCD like I did. Those are just the ones who report it. I can't imagine the number of women who suffer in silence.

It took me seven months to break my silence on my blog. I sobbed and prayed as I wrote this narrative of how I felt those first weeks after giving birth. The response was overwhelming. I had so many people reach out to me with love and understanding. I got phone calls from relatives and old friends. Texts and Tweets from blog readers and Facebook messages from coworkers. More women than not told me they struggled as well. Mothers a generation older than me said they had problems when they were new moms decades earlier. Sadly, they didn't have the resources we have now.

I am so grateful that I got pregnant and had a baby in this era. I found Katharine Stone at Postpartum Progress. She writes one of the web's foremost sites for PPD and has brought together an amazing community of mothers around the world. Doctors and healthcare professionals have done more research on Postpartum Anxiety Disorders and their effects on mothers and families. They can now get specialized training in treating new mothers. There are resources for fathers who are often the ones who identify symptoms the mother may not.  Dads themselves can often get depressed and overwhelmed too.  

If you need immediate help, call 911. Your local hospital offers help too. Here are some that I found right here in North Carolina listed at http://www.postpartumprogress.com/ppd-support-groups-in-the-u-s-canada.

Cary — HOPE PPD Support, email caryppd@gmail.com
Cary/Raleigh — "Moms Supporting Moms' PPD Support Group, 919-454-6946 email awimer@postpartumeducationandsupport.com.
Chapel Hill — PPD Support Group hosted by UNC Center for Women's Mood Disorders, call 919-966-3115
Cornelius — PPD Support Group 704-947-8115
Durham — Duke Postpartum Support Group 919-681-6840 or email william.meyer@duke.edu
Goldsboro — HEART for Mom PPD Support Group,Goldsboro Pediatrics 778-5598 x310
Greensboro — Feelings After Birth PPD Support Group 336-832-6682 or email tamborino@mosescone.com
Greenville — Hopeful Beginnings PPD Support Group, call 252-847-8263
High Point — Mother Baby Foundation hosts a support group called "PEP Talks" contact 336-812-3937
Huntersville- The Prenatal and Postpartum Center of the Carolinas 704-947.8115
Raleigh — Rex Hospital hosts a support group, contact 919-454-6946
Wilmington — PPD Support group call 910-791-5731 or sdhalvor@bellsouth.net

Carolina Parent's Baby & Toddler Guide and Parent Support Directory also offer parent support resources.

After getting help, I enjoyed my daughter's infancy, went back to work, changed careers, and continue writing with hopes of reaching other mothers. These days, I'm busy planning a second birthday party for my toddler. I'm a proud and happy mama. You deserve to be happy too. Don't wait. Don't be ashamed. It's not your fault. It's an illness. You deserve the joy of motherhood. Get help.

-- Visit Amy Davis, at her blog site, Somebody's Parents.



Every night I quietly make my way into my daughter's room to check on her. I cover her with her blanket and make sure Elmo is right beside her where he belongs. I watch her chest rise and fall and her long eyelashes flutter. I smile and thank God for this growing child stretched across the crib mattress. I silently laugh at her rogue foot that often sticks between the bars.

It wasn't so long ago that nightly trips to her room were not this pleasant. When she was a newly-delivered 7-pound baby, checking on her in the middle of the night was a scary, dark thing for me as a new mother. Racing, intrusive thoughts had me in a tailspin those first few weeks. Family was visiting, friends were stopping by. Everyone was happy and laughing. They all gathered around my precious baby.

Sometimes I wanted to scream at them all, "Get away from her!" Surely something terrible was going to happen to my child. Surely someone would take her in the middle of the night. Surely I was going to drown her, burn her, or smother her because I was such a terrible mother. I was anxious all the time. Dangerous and scary thoughts rattled my brain constantly. How can all of you be laughing?! Why can't I stop crying!?

Those days all seem fuzzy, almost like I was looking through cellophane. I felt like I had this darkness around me and a weight on my chest. My daughter was just eight days old when my husband was back at work and my mom left after staying a few days. When they left the house I could barely catch my breath. What if I hurt her? What if I mess this up? I cried and clutched her, rocking back and forth on the floor. Over and over, I told her I would never hurt her and I was going to get help.

I did. I'm one of the lucky ones.

I'm lucky because I identified the signs of postpartum depression early on. So many people tell new mothers, "Oh, it's just Baby Blues." "It's just your hormones." "It's just lack of sleep." I knew it was something else. I knew something wasn't right with me. I was embarrassed and horrified at how I was feeling. I should be overjoyed, right? I should be cherishing every moment of my child's first few weeks, right?

I called the postpartum support line at the hospital. I scheduled an appointment to speak to a counselor. I had to. My baby deserved better. I deserved better.

The doctor and I decided I was suffering from Postpartum OCD and medication along with therapy would be the best course of treatment for me. I agonized over taking meds while breastfeeding. I confessed to the therapist how awful I felt for putting chemicals in my baby's body. She said the negligible amount of anti-depressants that is passed through breast milk is nothing compared to the harm of a mother suffering from mental illness.

That's what PPD is. It's a mental illness and should be treated as such. The intrusive thoughts are not rational, nor real. In my rational mind, I knew I wasn't going to harm my baby. Thank God I never did. The best thing I ever did was realize something was wrong early on and ask for help.

Postpartum Support International says one in eight women experience depression after childbirth. Think about that. That's one of your friends. That's your sister, your cousin, or you. Of women, 3 to 5 percent experience Postpartum OCD like I did. Those are just the ones who report it. I can't imagine the number of women who suffer in silence.

It took me seven months to break my silence on my blog. I sobbed and prayed as I wrote this narrative of how I felt those first weeks after giving birth. The response was overwhelming. I had so many people reach out to me with love and understanding. I got phone calls from relatives and old friends. Texts and Tweets from blog readers and Facebook messages from coworkers. More women than not told me they struggled as well. Mothers a generation older than me said they had problems when they were new moms decades earlier. Sadly, they didn't have the resources we have now.

I am so grateful that I got pregnant and had a baby in this era. I found Katharine Stone at Postpartum Progress. She writes one of the web's foremost sites for PPD and has brought together an amazing community of mothers around the world. Doctors and healthcare professionals have done more research on Postpartum Anxiety Disorders and their effects on mothers and families. They can now get specialized training in treating new mothers. There are resources for fathers who are often the ones who identify symptoms the mother may not.  Dads themselves can often get depressed and overwhelmed too.  

If you need immediate help, call 911. Your local hospital offers help too. Here are some that I found right here in North Carolina listed at http://www.postpartumprogress.com/ppd-support-groups-in-the-u-s-canada.

Cary — HOPE PPD Support, email caryppd@gmail.com
Cary/Raleigh — "Moms Supporting Moms' PPD Support Group, 919-454-6946 email awimer@postpartumeducationandsupport.com.
Chapel Hill — PPD Support Group hosted by UNC Center for Women's Mood Disorders, call 919-966-3115
Cornelius — PPD Support Group 704-947-8115
Durham — Duke Postpartum Support Group 919-681-6840 or email william.meyer@duke.edu
Goldsboro — HEART for Mom PPD Support Group,Goldsboro Pediatrics 778-5598 x310
Greensboro — Feelings After Birth PPD Support Group 336-832-6682 or email tamborino@mosescone.com
Greenville — Hopeful Beginnings PPD Support Group, call 252-847-8263
High Point — Mother Baby Foundation hosts a support group called "PEP Talks" contact 336-812-3937
Huntersville- The Prenatal and Postpartum Center of the Carolinas 704-947.8115
Raleigh — Rex Hospital hosts a support group, contact 919-454-6946
Wilmington — PPD Support group call 910-791-5731 or sdhalvor@bellsouth.net

Carolina Parent's Baby & Toddler Guide and Parent Support Directory also offer parent support resources.

After getting help, I enjoyed my daughter's infancy, went back to work, changed careers, and continue writing with hopes of reaching other mothers. These days, I'm busy planning a second birthday party for my toddler. I'm a proud and happy mama. You deserve to be happy too. Don't wait. Don't be ashamed. It's not your fault. It's an illness. You deserve the joy of motherhood. Get help.

-- Visit Amy Davis, at her blog site, Somebody's Parents.


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