Seven women who had survived postpartum depression and anxiety all became pregnant around the same time and decided to support each other using social media and email as they navigated a pregnancy and childbirth after PPD.  We have featured all seven this week in a special 5-part Postpartum Depression Survivor Series. Today is part 5, and shares a conversation the group had after one of the group members, Grace, delivered her baby boy.

Deborah: Welcome, readers, to a real-life conversation that our group had over the course of 24 hours when one of us delivered a baby boy last Fall …
Grace:  Hi ladies. I just wanted to take a couple minutes to drop in. RM was born on Monday morning via scheduled cesarean. Two nights in the hospital – went well, I was feeling great! Yesterday we came home and had a wonderful afternoon and first night together as a family of four. Today at about 1pm is when I started to break down. I know it’s normal to be a puddle of tears, but of course I worry and fear what couldcome. I’ve been unable to stop crying for about three hours straight. So, please just keep us in your thoughts and prayers! Again, I know this is normal first week postpartum stuff. But still … Most of what I feel is grief — missing my one and only, worrying about what I’ve given up forever, grieving the loss of our family as it was, etc. Feeling overwhelmed, worried, and scared that I could lose it at any point. Anyway, here’s to a good night’s sleep and starting fresh in the morning!!!

Deborah: Congratulations! I’m thinking of you. Not sure where you are on the medication front, but I really believe that taking my medication made a huge difference for me with DG along with getting sleep. I know this is never an easy choice. Love to talk with you about it if that is ever helpful. Take care!

Amber: Amen to what Deborah said. I chose to give up breastfeeding (per my contingency plan, though such a difficult decision) and go on my meds when I had that hormone crash. In hindsight, I might have been able to combo-feed so I didn’t have to completely dry up, but I try not to live in hindsight. You will be okay… either way. If I chose to have a number three, the thing I would focus most on is balancing how much I could take during the “wait and see if this is just bad baby blues or postpartum depression and anxiety again” phase versus being proactive and pulling the trigger on full attack treatment for PPD. I think everyone has a different capacity and can move forward with a plan without regret at a different point. Praying for you … call me day or night.

Amy: So excited to get your email announcement! This time has got to be hard – the wondering. I will be keeping you in my prayers, that you would feel good, get the sleep you need and get to know your boys together. Blessings and hugs to you!

Suzanne: I’ve been thinking about you so much, Grace. Sending lots of good vibes. I stayed on my medication throughout pregnancy and postpartum. I had to increase my dose a few weeks after S arrived because I felt that familiar crashing. It worked. And I was able to continue breastfeeding (which I was ready to stop doing and nearly did almost every day). I think my self-awareness got me through. And I see that very same thing in you. And I promise (PROMISE) that the feelings of grief over your firstborn and your family of three, while intense, will go away. I was devastated. And now I can’t imagine our family any differently than it is right this very moment. Please keep in touch! Thank you for reaching out. That’s why we’re here.

Amber: I completely agree with Suzanne. I CANNOT imagine life without L2 for even a second. I literally just talked with Katherine about this very thing … that somehow, as crazy as it sounds, I actually love my first child more (not less) after having another. It’s like my heart doubled in size or something. Sure, managing #2 and giving #1 time to grow into having a sibling is challenging, but seeing the beautiful relationship blossom is amazing. And you may not, but even if you do have some PPD again it will never be like the first time because you are so well-armed. We are all here for you and have different perspectives and experiences to offer with the common goal of supporting each other. I am so glad you reached out. I hope we all will give ourselves and each other that continuing self-care.

Yuz:  Congratulations – what lovely news!!!!!! I’m so happy for you. Sorry you’re feeling low at the moment, but hopefully this will pass and it will be what people call the ‘normal baby blues’. Whatever you decide to do with your meds, just an FYI that I stayed on meds throughout my pregnancy and am still on it. I was advised by many to ‘see how you go’, but I just didn’t want to take the chance. See how you go and do what you think is the right thing for you, but my advice is not to stop taking your meds if you’ve started them (or stayed on them during your pregnancy).

I totally get where you’re coming from going from a family of three to four. I felt completely guilty when I had to be admitted to hospital early and leave O at home for that. I felt as if I was choosing one child over another and I didn’t even know this other child yet! BUT and wait for it, you have just given your toddler the best gift ever. And watching your two kids get to know each other and begin to interact with each other is one of the most AMAZING moments in your life and a reminder as to why you went down the path again. And when your toddler kisses, cuddles or holds the baby’s hand, ahhhh, get ready for it my friend, it’s awesome.

For now, just take one day at a time. Getting used to having and caring for two kids is a massive adjustment. It’s not easy. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the space to go through your motions and emotions. Please stay in touch as these first few weeks are tough for anyone, not just us PPD mamas. 🙂

Grace: Thank you everyone -Your words have helped so much! I stayed on medication my whole pregnancy and will continue to. It’s nice knowing the option is there to increase if I feel I need to in coming weeks/months. Last Thursday was awful, but I managed to re-group and things have been better since. Positive self-talk is so important! Last night was rough – babe up for hours it seemed, I was bleary eyed and exhausted. This morning I felt despair briefly – but I know, I KNOW that tonight will be better. My three year old, is back at preschool today (we had a two-week vacation, city-wide) and my husband is back at work. Just me and R at home, which I was sort of dreading last week, but today I’m trying to embrace the beauty of it. Thank you for your support, I’ll keep checking in! Hope all are doing well. Happy Halloween 🙂 grace

Grace: Update: things are going much better! I think my hormones have leveled out for the most part and the intense crying episodes have hopefully ended… I haven’t cried since Thursday 🙂 My parents are here now for two weeks and that has been a very helpful distraction!One thing that has been my saving grace is going to bed really early with R (usually between 7:30 and 8!). It helps me to get a longer stretch of sleep at the beginning of the night so that I don’t completely lose it by the wee morning when he tends to be more fussy and needy.It’s been freeing to just remain in the present, only focusing on one day at a time. Sounds simple but it’s been very important for me in just these short weeks. My anxiety is triggered when I over analyze and get too far ahead of myself, so I’m practicing shutting off those thoughts and just staying present. How is everyone else doing? Thank you all for the support, advice, kind words, it all helps sooo much!

Amber: Thanks Deborah for organizing this last of our week-long posts and to all of you for sharing your experiences so publicly. I know that it will help others so much to better understand how having a baby after experiencing a PMAD is not only possible, but that often the experience can be better than you imagined. I also hope that the unique aspects of our experiences and plans, as well as effective treatments will speak to moms and let them know that while there is not one magic fix to these awful disorders that they are treatable, knowing that we all fully recovered and found lots of self-awareness and gratification in that process.

Thanks, also to Katherine to allowing us to share our stories at Postpartum Progress, a source of reliable information and support for each of us, and therefore a special “place” for us. And, most of all, thanks to all of you Survivor Mamas for reading. Best wishes for a future filled with promise and peace.

Editor’s note: I have so much gratitude for Amber, Grace, Suzanne, Kate, Amy, Deborah and Yuz for sharing their experiences and wisdom here all week. Way to go Warrior Moms! I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have! ~ Katherine