Postpartum Progress Gave Me Hope

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a post from Keely. I’ll include this little note from her before I send you off to read her piece. It warmed my heart. Maybe yours, too.

“I just wanted to say THANK YOU for creating this safe haven for us women and mothers. This website literally saved my life. It enabled me to find groups and others that are/were going through the same things I was going through and still go through!” See? Hope. -Jenna]

Postpartum Progress Gave Me Hope -postpartumprogress.com

When I had my first and probably only child (son) in September 2014, I was fine at the hospital and had a great delivery via C-section, but the day of leaving the hospital everything came crashing down on me. I knew I was going to be all alone with no help from the doctors or nurses with this tiny little stranger whom I had no idea what to do with. I had never even changed a diaper in all of my life, so I really was very clueless.

The drive home was the beginning of this nightmare. We stopped at the store to pick up my new prescription of antidepressants because of course my doctor already knew I would be a high risk. I was already shaking and in my head had lots of thoughts. “What the hell did we just do”? “This was a horrible mistake to have a baby!” “I don’t want him” and “Take him back please” They were all I could think about.

My husband said he was emotional about how beautiful he was and all I could think of was how the hell I got into this mess. I wanted my old life back so desperately. I was so jealous of people that came over to visit that weren’t in my situation; I just wanted to run away and never come back. I felt bad for people with kids.

I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t do anything but sit on the couch or in my bed and sob. I gave up breastfeeding early and that was very emotional as well. I still struggle with that. My husband was no help as I think he was going through something as well. He was cold and emotionless about the entire situation, so I wasn’t going to get any help there.

I remember a specific time standing in the shower starting to plan my “out” as I was going to take all my money in my savings account and hire a hit man for myself on Craigslist. I kept thinking “surely someone would be desperate enough for thousands of dollars to come kill me with no questions asked right?”

I had to have my mother with me every day that my husband was gone to work. My mother gave my son the love I couldn’t at the time. I couldn’t even babywear at the time as it was too much of him around me. I just wanted to be myself again and he just required too much.

It hurts me to write these things as it was not my child’s fault. He didn’t ask to be brought into this craziness. However, I was bound and determined to get better so that I could be the mother I needed to be. He deserved that and so did I.

I started to research on the internet during maternity leave and found Postpartum Progress and read many stories just like mine. I read as much as I could get my hands on. I bought several books that were also on the subject mentioned on Postpartum Progress. I also found a group link on Postpartum Progress that led me to the Healing Group in Utah where I attended a group every Wednesday. I also found a wonderful hotline for other moms to talk to women that had gone through the same thing I was going through.

I found a decent doctor and tried several different medications in my journey and I have found one so far that works okay for the time being. I am somewhat calm, hopeful, and happy as I think I could possibly be at this time in my life.

Here we are almost two years later and I am still alive and doing much better. My son is happy and healthy. I am very affectionate with him and make it a priority to show him love. People said it would pass, and it has slowly. I am still a little nervous of what might happen almost every second of the day which is probably related to OCD and my preexisting anxiety. I never go out past 7:30 PM with my son as bedtime is my major trigger.

My life still pretty much revolves around my son and a schedule to ensure he gets his naps, proper feeding, playtime, and bedtime for a good night’s rest, but this works for me as it keeps my anxiety tolerable. I cannot fathom having another child. It makes me terribly sad that my son may be alone with no siblings, but I am not sure I could make it out of that dark hole again.

I still grieve for my pre-baby self in some ways, but I also find myself so grateful for the beautiful baby boy that has blessed my life beyond measure. I NEVER thought I would be able to say that. I am also still on medication and I am very grateful that medication exists. I attend a postpartum group with ladies associated with Postpartum Progress. It is so very amazing to know that we are not alone!

THANK YOU AGAIN!

Love Keely from Utah

How Sweet It Is To See and Interact with Warrior Moms

How Sweet It Is to See and Interact with Warrior Mom -postpartumprogress.com

Today was kind of a big day at Postpartum Progress.

We Went Facebook Live

First, we held our first Facebook Live Event. Our intention was to talk for ten minutes, some about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders and some about Climb Out of the Darkness. But we also wanted to answer questions from our mamas about anything on their minds.

So we ended up chatting for an hour. And it was the best.

Our Warrior Moms loved it. Katherine, on the camera, loved it. We think her postal worker loved it. (You gotta watch to understand.) The staff, busy in the comments, connecting moms with links and other support, loved it. It really just went way above what we expected.

And we’re thrilled.

From the feedback we received, we’ll be holding our Facebook Live Events regularly. They’ll be loosely based on a topic but, as was the case today, we’ll follow YOUR lead about what we need to talk about during any given experience.

If you want to watch what went down, we’ve embedded the video here. Excuse some of the pixelation and pauses; Katherine’s suburb Internet got a little cranky from time to time. You’ll lose the interaction of being present for a Live Event, but you’ll get some good information on postpartum depression duration, treatment, symptoms, as well as information about the Climb Out of the Darkness—taking place ONE MONTH from today!

You can also view it directly on Facebook and add more comments if you’d like.

2016 Climb Out of the Darkness Video: How Sweet It Is!

Then, as if talking with other mamas for an hour wasn’t cool enough, we launched our 2016 Climb Out of the Darkness Video. We put a call out to our Warrior Moms and Climb Leaders to send in video of themselves dancing with their kiddos and we set it to “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” by James Taylor. Because postpartum mood and anxiety disorders often make moms feel like they aren’t worthy to be loved—by their children, by anyone. They fear that their babies won’t ever love them.

We know that’s not true.

So this is for every mama who worried that she was doing more harm than good to her baby. For every mama who fought a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder. For every mama who doubted herself but fought hard anyway. For every mama still fighting. For every Warrior Mom, whether you’re participating in the Climb or not. (PS: There’s still time to register. It’s one month from today and we’d love for you to join us.)

Just click anywhere on the video section of that Facebook update and it will play the YouTube video for you. Fancy pants, no? (But if that doesn’t work, you can watch it on YouTube.)

We’d love if you would take a moment and share this fun (#earworm of a) video on Facebook so that others might learn a little more about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, the Climb, and maybe just feel a good feeling about their own children.

It is SO sweet to be loved by them; it is so sweet to LOVE them. We want all moms (and their partners) to someday feel that feeling, so we hope you’ll spread it around a little too. You are the best mom for your child. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

See you on June 18? We hope!

4 Things I Wish I’d Known About Postpartum Depression

[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Warrior Mom Catherine Barber. She lists the things she wish she’d known more about postpartum depression before experiencing it first hand. -Jenna]

4 Things I Wish I'd Known About Postpartum Depression -postpartumprogress.com

Our culture celebrates the joys of motherhood. We shower expectant mothers with gifts and tell new moms to “enjoy every minute” because babies grow up so fast. But what if pregnancy or motherhood is nothing like what you expected?

Many women have heard about postpartum depression, perhaps when a friend or celebrity shared her experience. But we don’t talk enough about how common, complex, and devastating postpartum depression can be. One in every seven mothers in the United States gets postpartum depression; much of it goes untreated. Suicide has become the second leading cause of death in the first year after giving birth.

I love children and have always wanted to be a mom. Although mental illness and mood disorders like depression and anxiety run in my family, I never expected to have postpartum depression.

Like me, you may have an image of a depressed new mom in your head, who recently gave birth, and is so weepy and sad she can’t take care of her baby or form an emotional connection to them. But I want all mothers-to-be to know postpartum depression may be nothing like this. It is a treatable illness that passes. You are a good mother. This is not your fault. You are not alone.

1. Depression is Common in Pregnancy and in the First Year after Giving Birth

I thought postpartum depression was a continuation of baby blues—the normal hormonal shifts many women experience in the first few weeks after giving birth. It is for some women. But you can develop mood disorders in pregnancy or, like me, when your baby is older. Mine hit when my baby was four months old and we began planning a stressful move.

2. You Might Know Something Is Deeply Wrong, but It Doesn’t Seem Like Depression

I seemed fine to others, and didn’t believe I was experiencing depression and anxiety. I seemed together, but on the inside, I was falling apart. I was completely overwhelmed by everyday activities like grocery shopping, driving, and preparing meals. I was scared and ashamed I was feeling the way I was. I felt like I was going crazy. And I was angry.

I knew something was very wrong and I didn’t feel like myself. As a first-time mother though, it’s so hard to know what is “normal.” You might be thinking to yourself, “This is so much harder than I expected. Other moms seem to be doing fine. Why can’t I handle this? What’s wrong with me?” You don’t want to feel the way you do, but you can’t help it.

3. Recognize Your Symptoms and Find Support

Things improved quickly after I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. I finally knew what was wrong and found great local and online resources. I learned about postpartum mood disorders and connected with other moms who were going through them. We all had different stories and symptoms, but we all loved our babies and wanted to feel like ourselves again.

4. This Treatable Illness Passes

It is not my fault I had postpartum depression. Like physical illness, it was out of my control. I needed treatment to get better. Joining a support group for first-time moms with postpartum depression and anxiety, combined with counseling and medication worked for me.

It was hard to believe the illness would pass when I was in the depths of it. But it did. My daughter, the love of my life, just turned a year old. She is doing great, and I feel like myself again. I can laugh and make jokes, appreciate the natural beauty around me, see the good in people, and discover the world through my daughter’s eyes. None of this would have been possible without knowing I had postpartum depression and getting treatment and support.

We owe it to mothers to talk openly about postpartum depression. One million women in the United States experience postpartum mood disorders; only one in five gets treatment. Let struggling mothers know they are strong, good mothers. What they are experiencing isn’t their fault, they are not alone, and they will get better.

 
Catherine Barber is a first-time mom living in Los Angeles. She works in healthcare and loves exploring Southern California with her daughter. Catherine is Climbing Out of the Darkness with other survivors to raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders this June.

Join Us for a Climb Out of the Darkness Facebook Live Event

Join Us for a Climb Out of the Darkness Facebook Live Event -postpartumprogress.com #climbout

One Month Until Climb Out of the Darkness!

You guys. Climb Out of the Darkness is 32 days away. Which means on Wednesday, May 18, the Climb will be ONE MONTH AWAY. ONE. MONTH. As Postpartum Progress Staff, we are so excited to watch the numbers climb as you continue to fundraise, sign up family members and friends to Climb with you, and generate excitement all over the web for your event.

We’re so proud of you. We want to celebrate how much good we’ve done already. As of right now, we’re sitting at $151,800 raised by YOU. We still have about 39% left to reach our goal of $250,000 for this year’s Climb Out of the Darkness, so it’s time to get motivated!

To help things along in that endeavor, we decided we’d host a Facebook Live event on the Postpartum Progress Facebook Page this Wednesday, May 18, 2016 which is exactly one month before the majority of Climbs will take place. (Please check the info with your local Climb Leader as there are a number of Climbs taking place on days in and around the Official Climb.)

We’re going to talk about how there’s still time to sign up (find a Climb near you). There’s also still time to fundraise and donate for Climb Out of the Darkness. If you’re struggling with how to ask or whom to ask, we’ll give you a few clues as to what and whom to ask. With 30 days left, you also have time to raise money on your own with unique ideas to donate to your own fundraiser. (Or, your kids can! Lawns need mowing already. Just sayin’.)

You Can Still Earn Your Climb Out of the Darkness Shirt!

And, with today’s announcement that you have until Wednesday, May 18 to raise $100 via your fundraiser to earn the official Climb Out of Darkness shirt, you may want to send some emails, post some things on social media, and get in gear before our Facebook Live event on Wednesday. Get that shirt! You know you want it!

How to Join the Climb Out of the Darkness Facebook Event

If you’ve never participated in Facebook Live event before, you simply have to visit the Postpartum Progress Facebook Page to view the live video of Katherine talking. You can like it and leave comments that we’ll be able to address while she’s on air. So if you have Climb questions or are just REALLY EXCITED about your Climb, be sure to tune in at noon on Wednesday.

If you miss the Live aspect of it, the video itself will live on our Facebook page for you to view at any time. We’ll be sure to link it when we’re done. We plan on using this more often to engage with our Warrior Moms, so we’re excited to use it to talk more about our upcoming, annual Climb Out of the Darkness and what you can do to get more involved before next month.

We’ll see you there!