[Editor’s Note: This week we’re doing a special five-part series featuring seven mothers who survived postpartum depression or a related illness and went on to have more children. The series was put together by Amber Koter-Puline, and will feature input from these mothers on their experiences. I know you’re going to love this. -Katherine]
Welcome to our world. The world of survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, like postpartum depression, who have decided to have more children. Some of us are well down the path with those additions, and others are waiting. You’ll learn more about that later. For now, I invite you to sit back, relax, maybe even grab a cup of tea and meet the women who changed my life.
Amy has a four-and-a-half-year-old daughter and is working on adopting the next. She and her husband have been married for five years and live in Washington State. Here’s Amy, in her words.
I never had any symptoms until my daughter was five months old. I went to numerous doctors because I knew something was “off” but no one mentioned postpartum depression ever and that is the hardest thing for me to still accept. I finally started doing my own research and found a website about PPD; I had every symptom listed.
My husband and I went to my doctor and I was finally diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety with OCD tendencies in 2008. I started counseling and medication when my baby was ten months old. This continued for 2.5 years. In late 2010, I wasn’t getting better or at least felt like I was stuck, like I was almost over the last hurdle. I was encouraged to start seeing a psychiatrist and she helped tremendously. I also began to diligently start seeking out women who have/had postpartum depression which was when I found PPD blogs and finally started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.
Facebook, PPDChat and this group of survivor moms saved my life and my sanity and allowed me to accept what is now my testimony in hopes to help others. I also started my own PPD survivor’s blog, to start writing as a way of healing for me. I still battle anxiety and depression that was brought on by the PPD but it is no longer PPD. We have chosen to not get pregnant again because of the severity of my postpartum depression so we are on the waiting list of adopting our next baby! That in itself was the hardest decision to make—choosing not to become pregnant again and feeling like I was broken, no good, choosing second best and a failure.
I’d like to assure women that everyone will have a different journey and every woman will have different symptoms. I’d like to encourage women that they are not damaged or different, that they are not failures as moms or wives. Guilt can be a very damaging aspect of PPD; I am proof of that. I’d like to share some thoughts on choosing “not” to become pregnant after PPD again and how women make that decision. I really needed to read about that and I found very little last year when I was struggling the most over this.
I hope to be able to reach women like me who found help when they thought they had reached the end. Women who don’t know what is wrong with them and feel alone. I want to offer support and encouragement to their families, especially their husbands. I would not have made it if it weren’t for my incredible husband and his support and love.
Deborah is a married mom to two boys. Meet Deborah.
In this series, I would like to share what we as a group and individually found that worked to help create a new postpartum experience for us and our families. I hope we’ll reach any moms thinking of having a baby after postpartum. Kind of like those who have successfully had a vaginal birth after c-section or VBAC. We are the “BAPPD” (Baby After PPD) survivors with a positive message.
Grace and her husband have been married for eight years and have a 3 ½ year old son and had a baby boy born in October, 2011. She is an American from Oregon who has been living in Mexico since 2006. Meet my friend, Grace.
I suffered from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety most severely from December 2008 to September 2010. I’d like to share about my experiences with postpartum strategies that have helped keep me healthy so far with my second baby, communication with your partner, medication during pregnancy and self-care. I hope that we reach moms in the midst of PPD, giving them hope of recovery and healing. I also hope that moms contemplating having another child will be encouraged and empowered to move forward. You can be well!
Kate has two children is married and lives in the USA. She experienced PPA/PPD after her first pregnancy. Here’s Kate, my friend in real life, too.
I had risk factors and I asked for help, but it was hard to find. Too hard. Professionally and personally that changed the trajectory of my life. For baby two I prepared and managed to have a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period. Six months after my second baby and feeling well, I returned to a job I left in the midst of the postpartum depression turmoil. My job involves helping PPD moms through therapy and advocacy. It’s all very full circle and satisfying.
I want to raise awareness of risk factors and encouragement to seek help. And, it’d be nice to have an emphasis on all the different ways we chose to tackle pregnancy after PPD and how valid each was/is (each woman is different, and what she ultimately does for wellness will be unique both in decision and effective care/treatment). I hope to be able to reach women who think that they just hate being a mom as well as those lost ones who don’t know what is wrong and aren’t being helped.
I always wanted three children. With my eyes wide open, I am wading in again: my next baby is due May 3, 2012.
Suzanne is married with two children. She survived postpartum depression and anxiety with her first baby and she is just out of the trenches with baby number two. She lives in North Carolina. ’m pleased to introduce Suzanne.
One of the biggest lessons I learned with my first baby is how important it is to reach out for help if you think something is wrong. I waited longer than I’d like to admit, but once I took that first step the relief was immediate. I was fortunate not to experience PPD/A the second time around largely because I did some important things to prepare (and we all knew the signs to look for). I really hope that through this series we can reach moms who’ve survived a perinatal mood disorder and might be afraid to try for another child out of fear. It IS scary. But it also can be wonderful.
Yuz lives in Melbourne, Australia. She’s been married for four years, had three pregnancies, has two children both born at 36 weeks weighing just over 2kgs and both with feeding issues, the second child worse than the first and has since been diagnosed with laryngomalacia (floppy larynx). Yuz, in her own words, which always seem to garner laughs and sometimes even tears.
My daughter was born unexpectedly at 36 weeks. We were separated after the birth and she remained in hospital five days following my discharge. I was officially diagnosed with PPD (called postnatal depression or PND, in Australia) as well as PPA (PNA) when she was five weeks and was admitted to a parent infant unit in a psych facility (which I have affectionately called the nuthouse) when she was eight weeks and was there for three weeks. I went back to the nuthouse weekly for the next nine months and was part of their outreach program where a staff member came to my house every fortnight to check up on how I was doing at home.
We decided to have another baby mid 2010 and I was pregnant soon after. Our son was born in at 36 weeks via a scheduled c-section due to a complicated pregnancy (bi-partite placenta, placenta previa & vasa previa the latter giving my son a 20% change of surviving if my membranes ruptured unexpectedly). I was admitted to hospital at 34.5 weeks, got to the scheduled c-section day at 36 weeks and we were both discharged together five days later. After a week and a bit with only a 50g weight gain my son was readmitted to hospital and was there for nine weeks where he was (finally) diagnosed with laryngomalaia (floppy larynx) at 11 weeks (or 7 weeks corrected). I stayed with him for the duration of his admission.
The reason I am so passionate about sharing my story is to assure other postpartum depression (postnatal depression) survivors that having a positive experience is possible. Having a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder is not your fault; you didn’t ask for it and most importantly it’s not forever. Even though it was a difficult time for us the second time round, it was not because of my mental state. My love and bond for my son never wavered. On a practical level, I want to be available to share where and how to get the help you need in Australia. We have wonderful resources and a fantastic medical system that makes it easy to seek and get the help you need without taking out another mortgage. On an emotional level, I want to implore mums to plan ahead so that you can give yourself the best chance at having a better experience.
The driving force which led me to plan well in advance was my daughter. I didn’t want her seeing me slip and for her to have an even more difficult adjustment period on top of getting used to having a sibling. My other driving force was husband and sparing him having to look after a toddler, a newborn and an unwell wife.
Meet the Interviewer, Amber Koter-Puline:
Amber Koter-Puline is a part-time working mother of two. Amber suffered a severe postpartum reaction after her first child in 2007. Since recovering with proper treatment and care her passion is supporting and educating expectant and new mothers about the postpartum period and being a first time mother. Amber facilitates new mothers and postpartum support groups in the Atlanta metro area. She lives in Atlanta with her sons and husband.
Amber writes at Beyond Postpartum and when pregnant with her second son decided to create a network of moms who could support one another through pregnancy, trying to conceive or adoption after surviving a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. She was greatly blessed by this experience and is thrilled to be the “interviewer” in this series of blog posts!