Lindsay Maloan

Lindsay became a serendipitous advocate after being diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety in 2011, six months after the birth of her son. She lives and breathes New Orleans with her patient husband, spirited son, and critters. She blogs at www.withalittleloveandluck.com and you can find her over-sharing on Twitter @lilloveandluck.

    Quick (and Perhaps Obvious) Reminders About Self-Care

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    self careThe number one mantra we must learn as recovering women is: the best way to care for everyone else is to care for you first. Sounds easy, right? From experience, I can say that as mamas, self care is singlehandedly the hardest thing for most of us to learn. What’s even harder is putting it into practice. There’s always someone that needs us — friends, other adults, random children, your children, your partner, the dog, the judgey cat — all there, waiting to distract us from ourselves.  Self care comes in all forms: painting, writing, running, helping others, and even seeking quiet.

    If you’re still feeling bruised and broken, it’s okay to still feel that way. It will get better. I cannot say how or when, but it will. Find what makes the weight on your shoulders feel lighter, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and do it. Be proud of yourself for doing it, too.

    If you’re finally feeling okay, I need you to know that it’s okay to be okay. No guilt if you’ve recovered and your friend has not. Neither of you has done something wrong by recovering or still struggling. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the why me’s, even the surprising ones. Why am I okay and she isn’t? She’s worked just as hard as I have, maybe more. Do I even deserve to be okay? Yes, you do deserve to be okay. No one deserves to be not okay. [Read more…]

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    Reward and Risk: My Decision to Stay On An SSRI During Pregnancy

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    postpartum depression medicationNearly two years to the day after my overdue diagnosis of postpartum depression and anxiety, I found myself pregnant and still on an SSRI antidepressant. We had been trying; I had done my research, consulted my OB and my Pediatrician for their thoughts on wether or not I should taper off of my medication prior to becoming pregnant again. They both agreed that the risk was outweighed by the reward-a healthy me was the best way to guarantee a healthy baby in the long term. When I specifically asked my pediatrician about the increased risk in heart and lung defects, she stated that we could handle it on the back end, IF it needed to be handled.

    Fast forward three weeks. To our complete surprise, we discovered we were expecting not one baby, but two. Fast forward a few more weeks, a lot of tears, panic, a couple of therapy sessions, and dozens of honest conversations with my husband, doctors, and some other Warrior Moms later, and I had decided that the best thing for me and my babies was to remain on my Celexa until the third trimester of the pregnancy.

    SSRI antidepressants do cross the placental barrier during pregnancy. This means that the fetus will be exposed to the medication while in utero. My doctor suggested that I wean off of the medication during the third trimester because some babies exhibit “‘withdrawal’ symptoms such as breathing problems, jitteriness, irritability, trouble feeding, or hypoglycemia (Psych Central, 2006).” However, she stressed that many of these symptoms, specifically irritability and trouble feeding, are normal for newborns and would likely be hard to discriminate from the normal behavior of newborn twins. [Read more…]

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    In For a Reason

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    As I laid in the bed listening to my girls’ heartbeats and kicks on the monitor this morning, I cursed myself for making the phone call to my OB. I had been having constant pain in my abdomen for four days, which peaked to a point that I broke down in tears from the pain. She sent me in for monitoring, and it turned out I was having irregular but mild contractions. The doctors concluded that nothing was wrong, and I just needed to continue my high water intake and take it easy. It seemed that the pain I was experiencing would just be my new normal for these last couple of months.

    About half an hour in, the on-call residents asked the sweet nurse if she thought the mother-baby unit consultation time would be a good opportunity to present the new initial risk assessment for postpartum depression. One of them made the point that they would be more likely to tell the truth in writing, rather than say it out loud.

    My ears perked up-my husband knew I was about to interject my opinion at them through the curtain. I resisted…For a minute.

    My nurse came in to adjust one of my monitors. I told her that I had overheard, and as an advocate for PPMDs, and a contributor here at Postpartum Progress, I agreed wholeheartedly. Knowing that many mothers do not seek help because they are afraid to say things, or speak up, I went on to say that a written questionnaire would be a great place to start, especially for a pre-discharge screening. I told her that any screening would be great, since the hospital system did not have a screening program three years prior when I had my son. That it took me six months and a lot of struggling for me to get a diagnosis.

    After she left, she told the residents what I had said. One of them poked his head in, introduced himself, and said “Thank you-I feel affirmed.” I thanked him and told him how thrilled I was that any sort of screening had been implemented-that this was a great step.

    I settled back in to the beeps and blips and my husband grabbed my hand. “I know you’re feeling silly for being here when there seems to be nothing wrong. But see? You’re in here for a reason.”

    I hope so, Honey. I hope so.

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    Hopeful and Armed

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    The post-pee-on-a-stick euphoria lasted a couple of weeks. I can do this, I thought. I can wean off of my meds.

    And then two words changed my life.  “It’s twins.”

    B3-
    There’s no real way to explain the feeling of being stuck in a blender of sheer panic and complete bliss. The two of them became so intertwined in that moment that I still haven’t figured out if I ever really got them to break apart.

    I had wanted this pregnancy so badly. It was planned, unlike our first.  Why couldn’t I just be ohemgeesoexcited like everyone I shared my news with?

    Why did I feel like a terrible person for having a hard time processing this gift and all that comes with it?

    Why couldn’t I believe the words everyone kept telling me? That it would all work out? That God would provide?

    As much as I wanted to say that I wasn’t, I was suffering from Antenatal Depression, a condition that affects many women. I was already on an SSRI (approved by my OB during pregnancy) to help manage my depression and anxiety, but this news and all that came with it was just too much.

    And then came the more frightening words: high risk, bed rest, prematurity, NICU. “Prepare for the first six months to be a survival mode blur.” How would I care for my sweet handful of a three-year-old and give him everything he needed while we simply tried to survive? How could I miss out on six months of his precious life? Would he ever forgive us?

    In the two and a half years that I’ve been a part of this community, I’ve done my best to be an advocate for mothers to do what they need to do. So why did I feel like a failure?

    I finally got an appointment with a new therapist, who calmly listened to all of my fears and concerns. She told me I needed time to process, time to grieve for the life I had planned that wouldn’t be as I had expected it. She assured me that my son would forgive me, that we weren’t ruining his life.

    Once I finally got myself together enough to read a book on multiple pregnancy, I was surprised to learn that all of my feelings were normal. So normal, in fact, that the book lists the stepped process that most women go through when they receive such big news.

    I realized that I was not a failure. Instead, I realized that I had learned from my past experiences that not only was it okay for me to advocate for myself and all three of my babies, I had actually done something awesome, because I had been able to recognize my own symptoms and my own needs. My boy, the one whose existence nearly broke me but then healed me, taught me to do that.

    I’m now 27 weeks pregnant with my girls. So far they’re healthy, and so am I. I’ve been able to wean off of my medication, but I understand and accept the reality that I may need to get back on it at any time, and postpartum depression and anxiety may rear their heads again when I’m faced with anything the future may throw at us.

    In the meantime, I’m hopeful and armed.

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