Victoria Mason: On Letting The Third Time Be The Charm

Dear New Mom,

I have gone through the dark, rocky tunnel that is postpartum depression twice now. I guess you could call me a veteran and a survivor. The first round, in 2006, was long, winding and possessed many deep caverns. It is like that Godfather movie quote, "Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!" That was PPD for me. I found myself incredibly violent and not towards my child but towards complete strangers. There was the time I checked a coworker into an office hallway wall. Or how about the day i inexplicably yelled out the words, "Shit, FUCK! Mustang and whore!" during a meeting. I still wonder what the hell that was about. I saw my doctor. I saw a counselor. I journaled and had many conversations with my husband and mother, a PPD sufferer herself. I took my meds and tried to keep from crying while brushing my teeth or drying my hair each morning. It lasted almost a year. There were many highs and lows. It was pure unaltered misery and something I would never wish on anyone. I still sometimes feel robbed of the first year of my daughter's life because of PPD. I got through it though ad felt stronger than before. I put it all behind me.

When I became pregnant for the second time, something I was hesitant to do because of my postpartum diagnosis from my first pregnancy, I lived with a bit of fear that entire pregnancy. It was like there was a monster under my bed or a phantom menace always lurking just out of my sight. Would it resurface? How would I care for a toddler and an infant if I had PPD again? For a few weeks after the birth of my second daughter all seemed right with the world. I was a more confident mother, had more of a support system and I knew what the signs of PPD were. Both my husband and I were on the lookout for it. Then, the minute we thought we were through the window it came crashing down in a sea of splintering glass. PPD had struck again. New meds, ones that would not make me homicidal (yes, really) and a new counselor was found. I saw my doctors regularly, had even more support from friends and family and I sailed through it. Looking back now, it was nothing like the first time. It was as if my ship just hit a stormy patch instead of being hit by a typhoon. I really believe it was because we knew the signs and I had so much support. I never stopped communicating either.

I am almost five months pregnant now with my third child. Again, I worry that postpartum depression will strike. It is not just me that it hits either. It affects my husband, my children and anyone else with whom I have a relationship. I have had numerous discussions with my midwife. We are vigilant and we know that sleep, support and proper nutrition will assist in making the post-birth easier. I admit that I am still afraid. A case of "what ifs" combined with fear is what it is really all about. However, I have my support group already in check and by walking this through during the pregnancy and after the birth I know that I will get through it if it strikes again. Knowing the symptoms of postpartum depression, knowing that no one will judge me and having support really do make all the difference. Each and every time, if needed.

VictoriaMason blogs daily about motherhood, pregnancy, PPD and every day life at The Mummy Chronicles. She believes that being vocal about being a PPD survivor helps to reduce the stigma and raise awareness each and every time she does it.

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

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Comments

  1. Lauren Hale says:

    Victoria –
    Your post reminds me SO much of my own story. I struggled with PPD after the birth of my daughters. My third pregnancy saw me focus more on myself instead of preparing for the baby. After all, I had that down pat. It was the reaction I may have to giving birth that was the unpredictable factor for me.
    All of the hard work, preparation, educating those around me, increased advocacy, and not being afraid to tell my story anymore ended up paying off for me. I was able to enjoy a postpartum without the insanity. It was sheer bliss. I hope the same for you.
    There is one piece of advice from my own experience I'd like to leave with you.
    When my son and I would cuddle, our hearts beating in sync with each other, I felt a happiness I had never known before. But after a couple of months, this happiness turned to a silent anger. I was angry at PPD for having stolen this experience from my daughters and I. I was angry PPD had come like a thief and ripped this bonding away from me before I even had a chance to realize it was gone. A lot of women go through this emotion when they don't experience PPD after having experienced it. It took me a couple of months to get over it but a couple of months was infinitely improved over the hell I had been through previously.
    Thank you for sharing your story today. I'm sure it will speak to many women who may find themselves in your shoes.

  2. This is definitely a story I needed to hear. My daughter just turned 2, and each and every time my husband and I talk about having a second child, PPD comes up. It's scary. We are both confident that even if it does strike, we know what we're looking out for, we know there's hope and treatment, and we feel like we'll be able to get things under control. Still – the fear remains, though. So, to hear your story really calms my heart. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  3. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Victoria,
    I identify with Lauren's comment. I did not have PPD the second time around, which I believe was because I was on medication and in therapy throughout my pregnancy and after, as well as having a great sleep management plan. I had a wonderful experience with my infant daughter, but I did feel angry about missing out on that experience with my son. Now I know that there are a million experiences you can have with your children, quite a few of which you will miss out on for one reason or another. I'm learning to cherish the ones I get to have and make the most out of them. It's the ones we've had that build our relationship. The experiences we've missed out on don't really enter into the equation.
    Thank you so much for being part of the Mother's Day Rally.
    — Katherine

  4. "It was as if my ship just hit a stormy patch instead of being hit by a typhoon." Wonderful analogy. I hope this third time around really is the charm and it's even easier for you.
    All the best to you!