[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!
So inspirational. I have had PPD with all 6 of my kids so I know where these ladies are coming from. I'm still battling this horrible demon and my youngest is 5.5 months.
katherine – thank you for letting us share our stories!
Ladies – much love and gratitude for the blessing of you all in my life.
It's so nice to read about the positive and real experiences from other mothers who have suffered from PPD in the past. My husband and I are thinking about having another baby (our first "baby" is almost 2!) and it's nice to know that there are other families out there who have endured. I was a bit nervous at first, even talking about the prospect of giving birth and there being a chance that I could go through the depression again. But this website is such a tremendous source of encouragement and hope.
Good for you for seeking out resources and thinking ahead. There are lots of ways to prepare for and even prevent the severity of PPD in the future. We can't control everything, but the places where we can make adjustments and plan ahead can make all the difference. Peace and best wishes, Amber
So many…so so SO many woman with PPD need to read these stories. They are so important.
I need to read them.
Bookmarked and saved for a "rainy" I may want another baby day
PS. The smiles on all of these faces are absolutely genuine…right from the heart. Love.
This is the answer to my prayers. I've been struggling with the decision of whether or not to have another child. I suffered from severe PP OCD with my first and still have some struggles. I'm so excited to hear these stories so I can make a better informed decision when the time comes.
If you choose to do it, you will get through it. Use your resources! We're all here for you.
Do you know what mental health medications are safe during pregnancy?
Patricia, here is a good resource for you:
Ask your doctor. Not the internet.
Really great…this is such a tough issue. I've had PPD twice now, and we've talked a lot about whether or not we should have another baby knowing that it is almost certain I would have it again, and what we can do to try to make it easier if we do have another. Thanks to these brave ladies for sharing their stories!
So glad to have the opportunity to be sharing this journey with these incredible women and to be here, where there is such a great readership, to offer hope and encouragement to those who are expecting or who are considering more children after surviving PPD. We really want to put ourselves out there for all of you…please feel free to ask questions throughout the week or to reach out to us for support!
I'm so glad to hear that this topic is resonating with so many mamas. Hving another baby after surviving PPD is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I always knew I wanted more than one child & also knew I wanted my baby to have a sibling but had to weigh this decision up with the chance I might have slipped again. The difference is second time is that you already have experience of being a mum – nothing is new or foreign. And you are well armed with info, can word up friends & family to help you & look out for your triggers & basically go into it armed. It's possible to have a better experience but planning is the key. Looking forward to sharing the rest of the weeks interview with you all & as Amber said, if you have any questions, we're here to help. Yuz xxoo
This is such a great idea — thank you to Amber, Katherine, and the women who participated!! 🙂
this is beyond inspiring! thank you for sharing your stories and your progress with us.
I'm so excited to learn about this series. Sometimes I get pangs for baby #2, but then I think, "I cannot possibly go through PPD/PPA again. Forget it." So I definitely will read the series with an open mind. Thank you, all of you, for sharing!
It's a difficult decision and there is no right one for everyone. But, we're here for you to talk to about it…anytime!
Thank you, Katherine, for opening your home to us this week! Honored to be part of this. xo.
My home is your home.
It blesses my heart to see women being encouraged from this series. We are here for you all! These ladies in the series have been the greatest encouragement to me the past year!
Such a wonderful, inspirational idea! I am looking forward to it! I think a lot about the "what ifs" surrounding Baby #2 in the future and it helps me to hear stories of women who have been where I am and had a completely different experience the next time around.
Love that you are doing this series and interviewing survivors of Perinatal Mood Disorders! I suffered with PPA/OCD with my first child almost 12 years ago and nothing like this was available. All that you're sharing is SO helpful to moms going through a PMAD. I also went on to have a 2nd child, 2.5 years after the first, and with much planning and preparation, didn't have a reoccurance. Thank you for sharing your stories!
Love this series. I know and love many of these mamas, and I know their strength, so it's great to see that here. Those of us contemplating another after PPD need to hear these stories, so thank you.
Hello, My name is Jennifer. I am 29 years old. My daughter was born in November 2007. Shortly after I had her, my husband noticed that I wasn't acting like myself. I wasn't sleeping, wasn't eating, having crazy thoughts. I never wanted to harm myself or my daughter thank God, but he knew something just wasn't right so he took me to the hospital. I was admitted to the psychiatric ward for almost 3 weeks, for post-partum psychosis. This is very rare and very scary. The nurses and doctors did not even know I had it at first. It took my best friend doing research of my symptoms on the internet and printing them out and bringing them to the hospital before they actually put two and two together. The closest thing that I can say it was like was like having amnesia. There are things that I don't even remember doing. i had to be told to eat, shower, etc. it was really really hard. I had to be on medicine for quite some time, and it took a while before they got it regulated. I am much better now, still have mild depression some days, but I do not take meds- thats my choice. i really want to have another child but my husband is afraid that the same thing will happen again. It upsets me so bad because i always wanted at least two children and I am very happy that we have our daughter, but I feel as if what did i do to deserve to have what happen to me happen? How can i know if it will hapen again? There needs to be more awareness! I hope this may help others by reading my post. Thank you
Thank you for your honesty. PPP is real and is rare, but you are not alone. There is a Facebook group dedicated to it and there are several stories of it here at PP. Seek both professional and peer support resources if you choose to have another child. They will help make sure you are all safe and well. Peace.
My son is nearly 41/2 and i am dieing inside for baby number 2 i had pnd for 3 years, and we got pregnant last year and it came back but after all that i lost the baby:(, i keep trying to relive having another baby and i feel like i can do it but all the anxity comes back straight away once i build myself to doit, sometimes i just think i should just move on but i so badly want another baby ……….. i am really stuck:(
Can you recommend (or link to another post) ways to prepare for “next time” to minimize the severity of potential PPD/PPA? How can it be prevented?
I thank you for your stories. They are very encouraging. I’m still struggling with having a 2nd child because it was so bad after my first. Almost losing my life, my husband and my son. I’m so much better now but I dont want to risk having anyone go through that again. Any advice?
Miranda, my best advice is to do what you feel is best for you. Each mom is different. Some of us choose to have more children and some of us don’t. It’s certainly possible, if you want to. But there is no right or wrong answer. It might be helpful to have some sessions with a therapist to talk this through if you’re feeling conflicted and not sure which decision to make. ~ K
Miranda, there are many of us that have travelled the road again. Some of us didn’t get PPD the second time because of all the planning we did before & during our pregnancies. Some of us did get PPD again, but it was never as bad as the first time (I am sure there are cases of it being the same or more severe, but not to my knowledge as help & support has been set up).
I’ve also started a closed FB group supporting those of us that had PPD & went on to have another baby. There is a comprehensive support action plan, resources etc there that can be accessed at any time. If you’d like me to add you to the group, request to join here or send me a friend request for me to add you. xoxo
No pressure to join – just know you’re not alone & there’s plenty of support no matter what decision you make. Yxo
I think this is inspirational as well. I’ve been thinking about having another baby for about six months. I feel like I could enjoy things and tackle being a new mother again in a much healthier way. I took me a few years to get well. I had severe ppd and ppa. My daughter is 5 now . We’ll see. It feels right. Thank you for sharing. I’m glad more women are being open rather then hiding. We have to support one another.
I just found out that we are expecting our 2nd child (our son is 3) and I suffered with ppa after having him. I still have anxiety issues and am on medication to help make it more controllable. I know I am more educated and have better resources then I did when this first hit me out of no where but I am still very nervous. I just want things to be different this time around.
Sonya – It’s perfectly normal to be concerned about all of this the second time around. You’re not alone. The best thing you can do is stay on top of your mental health (it sounds like you’re already doing that!) and get resources and supports in place now for the things you might need during your pregnancy and postpartum period. Like you said, you have so much knowledge this time around and that will surely serve you well.
This is so great to read, I’ve struggled so badly with PND with both my beautiful children. But I hid my feelings as feared what may happen, thanks to a wonderful husband and my own mother I got through some horrible months. I would love another baby, as would my husband, but feel so desperately sad and fearful that I don’t know if I could do it, especially as I never seeked out help. Reading others stories is so healing. Thank you ladies
Way to go the warrior mommies in this series. But shame on you for making it look way too simple. PPD can escalate each pregnancy, so for severe cases, like mine, it’s comparing apples to oranges and giving false hope.
Hello Berry, thank you for your input. It is very important to us to consider those that have a different experience. We also recognize and support mothers who decide not to have more children, and those who cannot. Sharing these particular experiences is in no way meant to belittle the experiences of others. This isn’t the possibility for everyone, but it can be for others. Each post here may not fit all stories and all mothers, but we do our best to honor and respect a wide variety of women and experiences through what we share here.
I saw Emily writes appear on “the cafe” a few days ago, it inspired me to start writing about my experience with severe postnatal depression, I’ve started to write a bit about what I went through, it’s pretty rough reading, but heartbreakingly honest and cathartic. Anyone searching for a real, uncensored story of SEVERE postnatal depression please check it out https://postpostnatal.wordpress.com/
I’ve done everything this second baby to not have ppd and I still do. The treatment curbs it to where I only have angry outbursts once in a while rather than feel suicidal. I am thankful that with help that I am not suicidal this time. What scares me most is having my 3 year old see mommy angry more than how the baby is doing. Have I scarred her for life? I’m trying so hard and failing.
What a truly inspirational and honest account of the journey these women have gone through with their PPD/PPA/PPP/OCD etc. There are so many variables with these conditions and no right or wrong for any woman. I would love to have another child, but I am still in limbo with whether I want to put myself, my husband and most importantly my child (now 2.5yrs) possibly through it again. Although I feel so much better now than I did in those early months of motherhood (I was quite frankly a sleep deprived, anxious wreck), the scars are still there and I am not sure a woman ever completely gets over PPD (does she?). Certainly in my experience I feel I have changed since my experiences and I am not sure I can ever get ‘me’ completely back again. I expect any mother feels that way, PPD or no PPD. More sleep might make things feel better, of that I have no doubt 😉 (my little one is a VERY bad sleeper and always has been… & I am still BF’ing – no judgement please!!). But reading these wonderful stories really does help me get some rationale behind my thoughts of potentially embarking on another pregnancy. My husband says we will get through it and is in full support of us having another child, but as us survivors all know all too well, this is our body, our mind and unltimately our wellbeing that would be affected most, should PPD (or in my case PPA most significantly) rear its ugly head again. Lots to think about and consider… Thank you ladies. xx
I had ppd afyer my first and want to have another one. i asked tge doctor about it he said on that sane day he was quitting but if he were to be my doctor he’d lower my meds byt i was so upset he was qiitting. this is at county mental health. so now i have to wait six months to see a nrw doctor and i am praying he is going to understand that i want a second child. things have definetely changed in my life and my husband and my family think i can handle another baby. my counselor didn’t nescessarily say but said to ask the doctor. from what I’ve read it seems possble to be on certain meds and be pregmant. so far I’ve read very encouraging stories. so I’m waiting to gibd out more from a new doctor but my famiky is willing to pay a private doctor if needed. i just hppe the best qitg this new doctor