Kellie

Speaker::So I just want to start out, softball questions, you know, easy stuff Ė your name, where youíre from, you know maybe talk a little bit about married how long, Ö what you do for a living.

Kellie: My name is Kellie Schmidt. I am originally from Yardley, Pennsylvania, and currently I live in Toms River, New Jersey. I have been married for two-and-a-half years. I am a pediatric nurse and I have been doing that for nine years.

Speaker: OK. And how did you learn about the ďSpeak Up When Youíre DownĒ campaign?

Kellie: I contacted the 1-800 number when I was suffering from postpartum depression, and then a couple months ago at my place of employment, someone came in to advertise and we ended up talking and now here we are.

Speaker: Now was the advertising for palm cards?

Kellie: Yes.

Speaker: OK. When did you first hear the term postpartum depression?

Kellie: We learned about it in nursing school during our maternity rotation. And I wasnít really fond of my maternity rotation so you know I paid attention a little but I never heard of it since then. None of my friends had ever said that they experienced it but you hear about it in the news with celebrities or other people so thatís how I heard of it but nothing ever in-depth about it.

Speaker: And as a nurse, what population, what audience were you working with? Were you working with mothers at all?

Kellie: Yes, we worked on the maternity ward but we would only see them for a day or two so most likely they were sleepy or sore or tired but we never really did any follow-up with anyone. We never actually met anyone with postpartum depression that I can recall. We did work with mental health patients, but never PPD.

Speaker: In your words, knowing your history, how would you describe postpartum depression?

Kellie: A very overwhelming feeling of sadness and anxiety, just crying at the drop of a hat, questioning yourself. Am I doing things right? Am I being a good mom? But itís just so overwhelming that you feel like a big blanketís covering you, you canít get out from under, just anxious and sad at the same time, crying, tired.

Speaker: So why donít you take me back to your pregnancy experience? Did you have a planned pregnancy? Did you have any complications during your pregnancy?

Kellie: It was planned, a little bit early but it was planned. And I was fine. I had the typical morning sickness for three months and the very tired but overall once those three months passed, I felt wonderful. I felt great, I had energy. We even went to Jamaica for our babymoon as they call it. It was great, we had a great time and then towards the end, you know you get more tired and youíre waiting for the baby to come out. But no, no complications aside from being sick, morning sickness and headaches and tired, all the normal stuff.

Speaker: Did you have a smooth delivery? Did you go according to your birth plan if you had one?

Kellie: I didnít have a birth plan but I knew that I would definitely have an epidural. And I went one day early and I guess the whole process took 14 hours. So it wasnít bad, it wasnít bad. I would say the three months of morning sickness was worse than the actual delivery.

Speaker: Thatís some morning sickness.

Kellie: Yes, it was bad.

Speaker: So everything went good with the delivery. What happened after John was born while you were still in the hospital? How were you feeling? Was he fine?

Kellie: He was fine in the hospital. He was great, he was eating well, he passed all the tests. There were no problems or indications of anything. I was overwhelmed with happiness and I would look at him in his bassinet at the hospital and just cry and think, oh my gosh, heís all ours, heís so cute and little. And when we got home, the first few nights are just unbearable I think for everyone because you just think youíll put the baby in the crib and itíll sleep. But after hours and hours of screaming until 4 a.m., we realized that we needed some help. So my mom came over, sheís a great support and she stayed for a week. She lives locally so she stayed for a week and she would cook and clean and do laundry while we slept and helped us to just try and figure out what we were doing, and also for me to recover. And about 10 days after we were home, he stopped going to the bathroom on his own, having bowel movements on his own. And he was constipated for about four or five days and we finally, the doctor finally said, OK, I need to take a look at him. And thatís when we figured out he had a little internal problem going on but we tried to come up with ways to solve it. We thought he was colicky. We did everything we could, but it grew into a bigger problem.

Speaker: Now prior to your son having the issues that he was having, did you feel like, would you describe yourself as feeling like a typical mom during that time?

Kellie: Yes, exhausted, tired. But I was still able to shower and sleep and brush my teeth. A lot of new moms say, I didnít even get a chance to shower today. But I learned to know that when he was sleeping that was my turn to go up and shower real quick and just throw my hair up in a ponytail. I didnít need to get fully dressed. I didnít need to cook great meals anymore. If it was soup and grilled cheese for dinner, thatís what we were having. If a friend wanted to bring over dinner or pizza, I certainly welcomed it, but I was just very tired and I figured that was normal. But the hours and hours and hours of screaming I started to get worried that there was something wrong with him.

Speaker: So after you took John to the doctor and he ordered more tests and he knew and you guys knew that it might be something serious that he had to look into, take me through what you were going through. What were you thinking? What were you feeling?

Kellie: I was scared for him, for John, my son, because I didnít want him to be in any pain. I could tell by that point, after 10 days you can tell the Iím hungry cry versus the Iím in pain cry. He would arch his back, scream and red face and inconsolable, just screaming for hours and hours and hours. And I was nervous that there was something wrong with him and I thought it was definitely more than just a crying baby. You know, we would put him down to sleep and an hour later heíd wake up screaming. And heíd scream all day and take a break and then heíd scream all night and take a break so it was tough.

Speaker: So when did you notice that your feelings of fear and anxiety started to get, something that you were taking notice to?

Kellie: Probably, around my -- I believe I went for my OBGYN checkup a little later than normal, so about six, seven weeks into it, I realized that the baby blues were becoming more than that. I would take a shower and just cry in the shower for no reason. I would just start crying while I was making dinner. I was frustrated. I couldnít take him anywhere because it was, he would scream. I couldnít take him for a walk because weíd get to the end of the street and heíd scream. I couldnít run him to the grocery store because if he was napping and he woke up heíd scream. I couldnít take him to the mall, heíd scream. He was just so uncomfortable that and he canít tell me why, he couldnít tell me why so that was it. And after the doctor ordered a battery of tests then she referred us to another doctor so I felt that it was leading up to something bigger than just constipation and colic.

Speaker: Now I know you mentioned that when we talked over the phone that your pediatrician, Johnís pediatrician, had been doing this PPD questionnaire with you at each one of his visits. And you would take the screening and you would, your score would get a little higher every time you took it. Do you remember at the time, obviously he was already having symptoms that something was wrong, do you remember at the time exactly what you were thinking and feeling aside from being afraid for your son, obviously, but why were the results going up each time? Or what was happening just with you that Ö?

Kellie: I think besides the fear I had for John, I truly believe it was, I was exhausted, emotionally and physically exhausted, and I was lonely. A lot of my friends, everybody works. I didnít know any mom groups around here. My husband was working, my sister-in-law was working. I would be stuck in here all day with a baby that cried. I couldnít even go to the mall and talk to someone who was also sitting there with a baby because I would have to leave. And I realized, the questions would say, do you find yourself crying more often or not enjoying the things you like to do? And I would answer yes, yes, yes or almost often, or frequently, frequently. And then my mom sat me down one day, we were just sitting down and she says, do you think you have postpartum depression? And I said yes. I just canít shake these feelings. I just couldnít get out of it. So then I went to my OBGYN and the nurse there gave me the test at my checkup and I happened to know her. She was an old co-worker so I was really glad that she was the one giving me the test. So I filled it out and my husband was there with me and she came back in and she said she looked at the thing, at the test, and she just hugged me and I knew then that I had it.

Speaker: So what happened after, so you got the diagnosis and did your OB give you specific steps as to how you guys were going to treat?

Kellie: She told me that if I wanted to go on medication she would give it to me. And she gave me a number of someone that she trusted to go talk to and I ignored both. I said oh I can get over it, I can get over it. Heíll be fine, heíll be fine. Iím not usually like that but I donít think I wanted to admit that I was having feelings of regret. Nobody wants to say, oh I wish I didnít have him or I want to go back to my old life or something. I can see that maybe those occasional times that your babyís not sleeping and theyíre up multiple times a night, you can say, oh wow, this again. But I was feeling that that every day and I ignored it.

Speaker: Were you also feeling guilty at all for feeling that way?

Kellie: Yes.

Speaker: OK, so you ignored the doctor what your doctor says because you feel, Iím going to beat it. What happens after that?

Kellie: That, I felt like I could beat it but knew that I could call if I needed but I ignored it. And about three weeks later, on a Thursday, I remember the day, my son woke up screaming. It was right after Motherís Day. He woke up screaming from his sleep around 6 a.m. and he screamed until about 3 p.m. And I called the pediatrician and she said, bring him over at 5:00. I said OK. He napped for a little bit, I brought him over at 5:00 and he was screaming in her office. And she said you have to go right down to Philadelphia. Heís sick. He wasnít, we were aiding him to have a bowel movement but it wasnít enough and he had gotten backed up. And it was backed up where it caused an infection throughout his body so he was in a lot of pain and he had a high fever. So we went down there and we were there for a week and he had two surgeries and was on IV antibiotics around the clock. And we found out he did not have the disease they thought he had which was a big relief, and they took care of what they needed to do and he was having regular bowel movements after that so that was great.

We left there on the next Thursday feeling positive and the whole car ride home he screamed, and the whole next day he screamed and I thought he was better. And the whole weekend he screamed and finally by Sunday morning, I couldnít even look at him. I just was numb to the screaming. I wouldnít even look his way. I didnít want to hold him, I didnít want to cuddle him. I just said, I canít do this, we just spent five, 10, uh five days, seven days in the hospital and he had two surgeries and around-the-clock antibiotics and heís still screaming. And thatís, it was the next week that I finally decided I needed help. My husband said on that Sunday that he screamed all day and after the whole weekend, he said you need to leave, get out of the house, you need to go, you wonít even look at your son. Go, I got it. And heís been really good about it so

Speaker: So I know you called the helpline. Now was that from information you found on your own or from what your doctor gave you?

Kellie: After I had the baby at the hospital, they gave a bag full of information and coupons and folders and in the folder there was a whole list of numbers and one of them was that, and I believe there was either a pamphlet or a card for the 1-800 number and I called. I sat down with my mom and husband that night and we decided that I needed to call and they were here.

Speaker: Who was on the other side of that phone? What was that conversation like?

Kellie: I would have talked to anyone at that point I think about anything. And the woman I spoke to was very nice. I spoke to her for almost an hour and she asked me some general questions about myself and she told me a little bit about herself. And I told her how I was feeling and she guided me though some information on PPD and she said, yes I do believe youíre suffering from this. And I can give you lists of therapists and she asked me some important questions such as do you feel like hurting yourself or hurting your son? I said no, I just, I need to stop feeling like this, the overwhelming sadness and anxiety. And we talked for about an hour and the next day my husband actually called on his lunch break. He called a bunch of the numbers and I was scheduled to see someone that Saturday so it was within 48 hours I saw someone. And we spoke, I spoke to her - I donít remember her name - I spoke to her three more times after that. She called to check up on me. I thought that was great.

Speaker: Now I know you said that your doctor recommended medication, did the therapist do that as well or did you decide to go ahead and take your doctorís?

Kellie: I decided to take my doctorís advice. The therapist also suggested it so it was between one day of talking with my doctor on the phone and seeing the therapist the next day it was already in the works but it was just something they both suggested and I finally listened.

Speaker: So I know sleeping obviously was still a challenge knowing that John was still crying, not sleeping so you werenít sleeping and you were still having the same anxiety, the same symptoms of just wanting to escape Ö

Kellie: Run away.

Speaker: Did your mom or your husband - I know that you said that your husband did notice and kind of said that you needed a break - but earlier than that, like even before you took John down to Philadelphia for the surgery, did your mom notice anything different about your behavior or your husband or any of your close friends?

Kellie: Yes, my husband had brought it up a couple times and said, do you think you have postpartum depression? And I was even shocked he knew the words. And I said, I think I might. And he said, OK, what can I do to help? And I said when I go to the appointment to see my doctor, the first time when I denied it, I said I need you to go with me. Because I was even scared and anxious to bring John into the doctorís office because I thought he would scream the whole time and I didnít think I would be able to handle it. And he said, OK Iíll go with you and I think he did some research on his own and I know he was talking to my mom a lot on the phone and through e-mails. And my mom mentioned it and my, a good friend of mine, I kind of fell off the face of the earth for a while. I now understand thatís normal when you have a baby because you really just need to figure things out and get some sleep so new moms donít really need to be overwhelmed anyway with friends calling and everything. But after six, seven, eight weeks you start to come back to life and I wasnít calling anyone. And a really good friend of mine contacted my husband and said, I think there is something wrong with Kellie. She doesnít call me. We donít talk. She thought that she had done something wrong, but it was really that I just didnít want to talk to anyone. And my husband explained to her, sheís going through a tough time right now but you didnít do anything wrong and she just needs some time alone right now. Donít worry, itís not your fault. And I think she understood at that point.

He was, one night my son was screaming and my husband was out of town for a party. And it was Saturday night around 10 oíclock and he was screaming and screaming and screaming and this particular friend was text messaging me. And I said oh no heís still screaming and 20 minutes later she was at the door so that was helpful. But she definitely noticed and I think she felt the same way sometimes during her pregnancy, was this a mistake? You know, her son screamed a lot too.

Speaker: So you started the medication, how long were you on the medication and, more importantly, how soon after you started taking it, when did you start to feel a noticeable difference?

Kellie: About a month into it I started to feel a lot better. I was on the medication for three-and-a-half months, four months. And after a month I started to feel a lot better I started to feel that if he was screaming that it was OK and that what he was screaming for wasnít my fault and that he would get better and things were going to get better. I started actually realizing that this was a temporary situation and it would be 4 oíclock in the morning and Iíd be rocking him and Iíd say, there are probably tons of thousands of other women doing this same thing right now and they all live through it, why am I acting like Iím the only one? And it was just enough to allow me to get by and function and be a little more calm about things. And as the month went by, he started to recover so his illness started to go away and his insides started to heal and as he was getting better, I was getting better.

Speaker: Had you thought about going to any new mom, like a moms' group?

Kellie: I did but there wasnít one around here. I looked up the information and then I couldnít find one. Even my sister went on the computer and she couldnít find one. I looked into going to Stroller Fit, which is the stroller group, and the closest one was about 40 minutes away and I knew that there was a support group, actually, at Babies R Us every Wednesday or every other Wednesday, but by that point I kind of felt better so Ö

Speaker: So what would you, because unfortunately it seems to me like it was definitely an unexpected outcome. You know, you and your husband were looking forward to having your first child, bringing a baby home, you know, were somewhat expecting the difficulties that come with being new parents, but the fact that this was an unexpected outcome and the baby was unfortunately sick, it became very difficult for you. What would you say, well first I wanted to ask, do you think that you would have had PPD if John wasnít sick?

Kellie: No, I donít think I would have had it. I donít know, I just think that, if, maybe if I wasnít running from doctor appointment to doctor appointment and learning that he may need to have surgery or him not ever be able to have bowel movements on his own again or have to have a disease where heíd have to have altered intestines and surgeries, I think I could have probably handled the colic because that, it gets better and better, and if I had known that he wasnít allergic to milk and soy and that what I was giving him every two hours to eat was causing him to have a big infection, I think I would have just had the normal tired, baby blues exhausted feeling because when I see other friends who after six weeks their babies are sleeping better and cooing at them and they can take them for walks to the park and to the mall, I just feel that maybe I wouldnít have had it.

Speaker: And my other question, I remember it now. A mom who is dealing with a sick baby, now that youíve been through it, you clearly know the difference but how would you tell a mom who has a sick baby, how would you tell them to be able to tell the difference between them just dealing with having a sick baby versus maybe, you know what, maybe you are exhibiting signs of PPD? Because I feel like itís somewhat of a difficult, itís a thin line, because if your baby is sick, obviously youíre not sleeping. Of course, youíre very concerned and worried about whatís gonna happen, so how would a mom who has a sick baby know, you know, this is something more serious than me being a mom of a sick baby?

Kellie: For myself? I think, what would I tell new moms? Like how to deal with it ?

Speaker: Yeah, or if they are having a, because sometimes I think that women donít, they dismiss their own feelings, you know? And, like you said, I'll get over this. And maybe in some cases, itís not PPD and they will get over it but in the cases that it is PPD and they donít Ö

Kellie: I think once I realized that it wasnít just baby blues and my hormones trying to go back into place. I think once I realized that, A, I wanted to run away and never come back and I was calling myself the runaway mom as a joke but I really felt that way. B, when I wouldnít look at him. I wanted nothing to do with him, and just actually looked at him and felt blah. He would just be laying there and it was even when he was calm. He would just lay there because I knew that the calm was just temporary. I knew that an hour later I would be dealing with a screaming baby that just couldnít be consoled, coddled, anything. I think, and then did I make a mistake? Any one of those I think that you need to talk to someone at that point especially when I didnít want to look at him. And my husband knew right away, at that point he said you need to leave the house. Just go take a walk, go take the car, go up to the beach, do something. So I think that was the indication that I knew that you know you need a little more help and if you canít help yourself then how are you going to be there for your baby? You feel guilty. I felt guilty that I didnít want to hold him and look at him and cuddle with him but I knew that, I felt like he didnít want that back from me. Everything I did, I felt like I was doing it wrong.

Speaker: On a happier, lighter note, why donít you tell me the first very pleasant memory you have of John as a baby?

Kellie: I remember, it was around the 4th of July of last year, and my husband was out of town actually and my friend invited me over to go swimming in her pool. And I said, sure Iíll come over and then I was going to my momís afterward. And I remember bringing John and I told her, I donít know how heís gonna act so just beware. Oh Kellie, itís fine, I have two children. I remember those days. Just bring him over, bring him over. And he was an angel. He was a complete angel. He smiled. We laid a blanked underneath a tree and he just laid there and giggled. Her two children, who were older, oneís in college and oneís in high school. played with him and took him in the pool. And he loved it, he loved the water, he smiled, he cooed, he laughed. And I remember thinking, wow I can actually bring him places now. I can take him to the mall. I can take him to the park. I just felt at that point too he was becoming more aware of things instead of crying or feeling sick he was enjoying being around places and he was enjoying being with other people and he was becoming curious. And my husband called me that night and said, oh what did you do today? I said, I took John to Carolís house. You did? I said, he was perfect, an angel, an angel, smiling cooing and everything. So I think that was the first time that I really realized that he was getting better and so was I.

Speaker: And did you feel like almost a release and relieved Ö

Kellie: Yes.

Speaker: That you could kind of do some of the things that you were feeling like you missed out on?

Kellie: Yes.

Speaker:So looking back, how has PPD affected the relationship that you have with him? I know heís a baby, but even looking back now over the last year and a half, do you feel closer to him now than you did at the time? If you could talk a little bit about Ö

Kellie: I do, I feel more, I know every momís protective but I feel that even if he sneezes I need to call the doctor. Oh, do I need to call the doctor? And Iím a nurse! You would think I would know these things. Oh, itís fine. But I think Iím a little more neurotic in that area maybe because I donít want him to go backwards or get sick like that ever again. And I just feel, you know my mom said youíre his best friend. He sees you every day, youíre with him most of the day and you need to be there even if you have a bad day, he senses it. And I just, I donít know, we definitely have bonded and after a while I didnít mind waking up at 2 in the morning to give him a bottle because it was once not every hour. And I liked the quiet time and the rocking and the cuddling. I liked that a lot more than I did before because back then when he was waking up every hour it seemed more like a chore and I would be angry. I would throw off the covers and say some words I didnít mean because I was frustrated, tired and frustrated. So I definitely felt like that was probably unnecessary but I couldnít help my feelings back then.

Speaker: How did your experience with PPD affect your marriage?

Kellie: It may have strengthened it because my husband noticed it. He took the time to look it up on the computer. He talked to my mom a lot. He talked to my friend who called him who was upset. He went with me to my appointments. He would stay home from work. There were times, right before we went into the hospital and right when he got back when he didnít seem to be any better, I would beg him not to go to work. I would say, please stay home I cannot be in this house alone with this screaming baby. And he would call and just say, I need to work from home today. And he would say, go out. Go for a walk, go to the gym, go get your nails done, go do something. And that would just be enough to, you know a couple of hours away from the baby. And every night when he got home from work, he would take the baby for an hour and I would just go out even if it was just to go to Starbucks and read or go to the gym and do something for myself. I believe that every new mom that stays home with their baby for the first couple of weeks you need an hour or so away from your child. You just need some alone time and he was supportive with the medication. He didnít think I was faking it or needed to get over it. He knew that I needed it. He also woke up with the baby, we used to take turns. Before weíd go to bed, heíd say OK do you have the first shift or do I? Iíd say, itís fine, I donít care, whatever. Or heíd notice that I was extra tired or something, heíd say I got it all night tonight, you sleep through the night. So he was the dad that got up with the baby even though he went to work every day, he still got up and was just as tired as I was. And he would come home to a screaming baby and he even said to me he would get to the door in the garage and hear the baby screaming and say, I donít think I can do it either. He said he wanted to go back to work. There were times where he wanted to get back in the car and drive back to work.

Speaker: You guys both stuck it out.

Kellie: We did.

Speaker: Stuck it out.

Kellie: Yes, we did.

Speaker: Partners in Ö

Kellie: Thatís right.

Speaker: Looking back, would you have handled the situation any differently than you did?

Kellie: I may have taken the advice earlier and not let it get so bad and listened to the doctor a little more and my mom a little more but other than that. Maybe if I did, I wouldnít have gotten to the point where I wanted to run away or I wanted to not look at him. But I think that the five, seven days in the hospital and then coming home and him still being sick and not knowing what the problem was, I think that really was the icing on the cake. And then thatís when I really decided I really needed the help. I guess I thought that when we got released from the hospital he would be fine and from Philadelphia to here we had to pull over several times to calm him down. And it was later that night my husband said, letís take him back, heís still not better. Letís drive him right back to the hospital, but we didnít.

Speaker: Well, I know you mentioned that you really wanted to run away. You referred to yourself as the runaway mom, did you ever get in the car and get halfway down the street and say, wait a minute, I gotta go back?

Kellie: No but I had thought about it. I really had thought about just going away and never coming back. I really did. And sometimes on the ďTodayĒ show or one of those shows, you see the runaway mom and I think, that could have been me. I honestly, it could have been me. I was ready to pack my bags and never see them again. I wanted sleep so bad. I just wanted to go to the local hotel and sleep.

Speaker: Last question, what is your advice to women who may be going though PPD who might come across this video?

Kellie: That you should not ignore it and that you need a good support system even if itís just your husband or your mom or your mother-in-law or a friend. Donít be afraid to address it and take advantage of the resources out there. Iím a firm believer and that I should have taken my own advice in this, but in other friends or relatives or family members that may be going though depression or anxiety, that it is OK to ask for help and itís not, a lot of people are embarrassed about it, but itís not something you have to tell everyone thatyou work with, oh I had postpartum depression. But if you tell your support system, your mother, your father, a best friend, someone at the church that you have it, they can guide you in the help that you need. You know you have to look at that little baby and say that whatever situation youíre going through, itís temporary. Or thereís help for that. Thereís support for so many things out there that you can get the help you need.

Kellie's Video | Kellie's Story