Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mentally Healthy Mommies

When I was pregnant with Evelyn, one of my biggest fears was that I would suffer from postpartum depression.

Just the unknown of the whole thing, what the hormonal shifts would be like, how I was going to handle being at home with a baby all day - what if she was the kind of baby who cried nonstop and made me want to pull out my hair? Though, thankfully, I did not suffer from it this go round, it was indeed something that I was incredibly anxious about, though I have never been diagnosed with any other forms of depression.

I am equally thankful that Postpartum Depression has a name, and is a diagnosable state. You know, and that we don't live in the early 1900s where it was just "Baby Blues"and husbands saw their wives crying for weeks on end and thought it was normal.

Nowadays, at least for me,  PPD was something that was spoken about in every pamphlet I received once there were two lines on that test, and at every single class and appointment I ever attended regarding my upcoming status of "Mom" - childbirth classes, breastfeeding class, childcare class, normal appointment leading up to delivery, postpartum checks, and in at least three discussions before I was cleared to leave the hospital and take my baby home. My husband knew what the signs were that he was supposed to look for and had specific resources just for him from those same classes, etc.

Within the last year though, two different "Mommy" mental health challenges (professional terms are perinatal mood and anxiety disorders) have been written about by two of my very favorite bloggers - and I had never heard of either in all of my pamphlets, classes or appointments. These are of course not the only mental issues affecting new moms, or experienced moms or women in general. But, as a new mom, I found it sort of shocking with all the talk of PPD I hadn't heard anything about these.

So I want to help spread the word in any small way that I can, and share them with you. As I am not an expert in this field, in any way, shape or form, I'm not going to actually write much about these, but link up to others who can provide you with insight and info.

Postpartum Anxiety
"My mind was nearly always racing. I couldn’t focus on simple tasks, and just thinking about what I hadn’t accomplished made my anxiety levels rise. It was a horrible cycle because my anxiety paralyzed me and made me so overwhelmed I didn’t know where to start. So then I’d just do nothing, all the while feeling terribly anxious about doing nothing and knowing it’s going to bite me in the ass. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 
It wasn’t just tasks I couldn’t focus on. I’d find myself holding Leyna and zoning out, or just staring at her on the floor, not knowing what to say to her. I didn’t feel connected to her. I loved her, I knew this, and I took care of her. I never neglected her, but I had to force myself to smile at her and coo back at her. 
Shatters my heart to a million little pieces admitting that." Jill, Babyrabies.com
If you aren't already following Baby Rabies, you totally should be, because Jill is HILARIOUS. Aside from that, she is honest and real, and has been through her journey with Postpartum Anxiety, having two adorable kiddos, etc.

You can read about her journey with PPA here, here and here.

I had never, ever heard of PPA until Jill blogged about it. I am so thankful that she did, because if I am truly honest with myself I think it is a hell of a lot more likely that I would suffer from something like this than Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Progress is a great resource, mentioned by Jill in the above posts, and has a lot of information about PMADs.

Weaning-Related Depression
"One afternoon, while taking a walk along the Hudson River, I told my mom, who was visiting us, that I wished that Toby had a different mother. He deserved more, I thought. I felt like such a failure: I had always wanted to be a mother. I always had baby fever. I always looked forward to having children. But now that I had a sweet, curious, beautiful baby, I suddenly couldn't handle motherhood. I felt exhausted and inept. I hated seeing or reading about families with more than one child, because that meant that they could handle having a baby...and even choose to have another. What was wrong with me? I didn't want Toby to be affected by this weighty sadness I was feeling." Jo, A Cup Of Jo
Again, if you aren't already reading A Cup of Jo (where have you been?!), you should be. She has such beautiful posts and her gift guides are out.of.this.world. Seriously.

But a few months ago, when she blogged about her experience with weaning-related depression, I will admit I was floored. Here was another hormonal shift for many mothers, that I had honestly never thought about before. Especially not being linked to a PMAD. But again, so obvious once it was pointed out. Hormonal shifts like that are hard. Why had I never heard this mentioned before? Turns out, there is very little research on the subject.

Awareness and information is so important in these matters. Spread the word to your loved ones, and be informed about what could be happening to you, your sister or your friend. Be aware regarding what is your normal and what isn't your normal.

Mental health is so important for all of us, parent or not, new mom or not, and on some level, we are all in this together.

Evelyn Rae is nine months old

...and if you are interested in checking out another organization dedicated to education about PMADs you should definitely check out Jenny's Light.


  1. Will check these out... thank you for posting them!

  2. Um...you need a search box on your blog, yo! I'm trying to find that post where you reviewed the cloth diapers you've been using with Ev and I can't seem to track it down! My little girl, like yours, is long and skinny and I'm about to finally take the plunge!

    PS I'm planning on calling you tomorrow. Heads up! =)