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You're Not Alone - Transcripts
My name is Nancy I live in North Bergen, New Jersey, and I am a Registered Nurse.
I was aware of PPD, never knew anybody who experienced it. I knew some of the symptoms, what women may go through, what they experience.
No one in my family has any history of depression, neither did my mom when she had the three of us, never a history of depression. I never thought I would come anywhere close to any kind of depression.
My pregnancy wasn’t easy, I pretty much went through my pregnancy alone, of course with the help of my family and friends, my support people, but it was a little bit complicated of a pregnancy. I went into pre-term labor, so I was home early from work, so I was home before, actually 2 months prior to my due date.
So I was pretty much home alone. I often did bring a lot of work home to do to keep caught up with work, but I was a little bit lonely, a little bit down. I never attributed it to any kind of depression, I just thought that was a normal process of being home and bedridden.
I was on a couple of meds to prevent pre-term labor, but other than that I was excited. It actually let me catch up on her room, painting and stenciling, so I took that time for me to get ready for her, because I knew once she came I wouldn’t have the free time to myself.
Every once in awhile, I did cry because I was home and didn’t have the contact with my friends from work, and everybody was working in the day and I was home. It was beautiful out, but I couldn’t go out. I’d sit on the balcony and read a magazine, but I couldn’t do shopping, because any time I did a lot of activity I'd have contractions and stuff so I was pretty much on bedrest during the latter end of the pregnancy.
I was hospitalized a couple times because of the complications, not so much because of the nausea and vomiting, but I did have a lot of reflux so I was on a lot of medications for that, so it wasn’t the smoothest transition into motherhood.
I went into the hospital because I was having contractions, and it was exciting. I was nervous, I was a nervous Nelly throughout the pregnancy. Being a nurse I knew the complications that could go along with a pregnancy. My specialty is neonatal intensive care nursing, so I always knew the worst. I guess ignorance is bliss in this case.
So I went in and they hooked me up to the monitor and I knew what the strips were reading and I knew what was going on, so I was a little bit nervous, and I knew they were going to call for a C-section, and called my family to come in. My best friend was there, I had great support from work, everybody was there, and it was just wonderful, the first 24 hours were wonderful.
I was on a high, I was very excited to see her, and she had a lot of hair, she was beautiful, she was my world. So I was very excited, and my dad, I’m his oldest daughter, so he was excited to see his granddaughter, so it was just perfect, it was beautiful.
I didn’t even think, postpartum depression was the farthest thing from my mind, I didn’t have any thought that it was going to affect me at all.
I was there about three or four days. I took the extra day, I said, let me get my rest, let me get the extra support while I’m at work (in the hospital).
I brought her home and my mom stayed with me for a week, and it was just wonderful. The first few days were great, I was breastfeeding, everything was going well. I think I took the turn, at work (in the hospital) the day before I came home. I was breastfeeding, sleeping, getting some rest, and I remember sitting there at the end of the bed ... it was a Sunday night, and I was sobbing and I couldn’t understand why, so I was reaching out for anybody I could call, just to talk to, and I didn’t understand why, the breastfeeding was going so well.
I was just looking to speak to somebody, and at that point I knew it was just hormones, and I thought I would get over it. And I did leave messages for people to call me back, and they were in a panic because they didn’t want to call back because it was so late and I was calling. So the next day I did see those people I was reaching out to, and it was fine. I told them I was just having a moment, I’m fine, I was just having the baby blues.
It was two or three days later, and I knew at that point with my experience that I would be fine, I’d be home, I’d be in my own house, in my own bed, and I’ll be able to do what I need to do and not have any interruptions with what I’m doing, and I’ll have my time with my daughter and my mom.
And then when I came home it was fine, it was bliss. She was home, I showed her her beautiful room. I was excited and I was able to dress her in her cute little clothes. I was just bonding really well and breastfeeding really well, and once that week ended I had my mom go home. I just needed time for myself, I was just feeling very overwhelmed at that point. And I think that’s when everything just turned.
I had another moment when I really needed to speak to somebody, and I was just crying frantically calling people, just crying all the time, and I still believed that this was just the hormones raging. And the breastfeeding started to fold, it didn’t go very well. She became very colicky, and I got very upset with that.
I’m a maternity nurse, this has to work, this is the way it’s going to go, I’m going to breastfeed her for 6 months to a year until I get back to work, and I just started to feel that everything was falling apart. The breastfeeding didn’t go well at all, and it just made me feel so bad, because I think she sensed it when I tried to breastfeed her.
And I lived with it for so many months, with the colic. We put her on formula, and I was disappointed for that because I couldn’t breastfeed her. To me it was almost embarrassing when people would ask me, oh are you breastfeeding her? No, and it was almost like, I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding and I couldn’t do it because of the colic, and things that were going on with me personally, and I couldn’t do it so I was just embarrassed and ashamed.
So for me, that was a failure and the colic, and I put a lot of blame on me with the colic. And I always felt there was something wrong with me, I’m a nurse, and my mind was racing all the time, and I reached the point where I was like, I want to breastfeed her, and it was four months later, and I just broke down crying, and my mom was here and I told her to go home again. I told her, I will manage.
I’m the type of person who likes to manage things on my own. So for awhile I told no one what I was going through. I thought it was just my nature of being so regimented, things done a certain way and this was out of my norm now, and I didn’t know what to do. So I kept it very quiet for a very long time.
My mom really didn’t understand. She knows how I am as a person, and she knows I have a Type A personality, and she took it to that. And she knows when I need my space, she would give me my space. But she didn’t see anything that she would consider depression to be concerned about. She thought it was just my way of coping, so she really never questioned me. She would call me a couple times a day, but she would never think twice about me not picking up, she just thought I had things to do, and I respect her for that. And I got through it, but there were times where I never had any doubts about having my daughter or regrets, but it was just getting to the point where my focus was, is she OK?
I was always thinking the worst. I was always crying like, I had visions of her with IV lines and being sick and attached to monitors all the time. It just got to the point where I would have to wake myself up from sleeping and get up and walk around and make sure she was OK. And I would wake up five to 10 times a day to make sure she was still breathing. And then I started to have visions of me burying my daughter, and I got to the point where I wasn’t sleeping.
And I never admitted it to anybody but it was just horrible. I’m supposed to be excited, she’s starting to be six months old and starting to smile, and I would have visions of her being sick or me with my family burying her in a little casket. And it just got to the point where I said, you know what? I’m going to deal with it, I’m going to shake it.
And I never admitted this to anybody and it took me awhile until one day I was listening to the news, and there was a news report about something that happened in the city, about a toddler found in the city in his stroller who was murdered alongside with his mother. And I was cooking and I saw the knives, and I had to throw all the knives in the drawer.
And I said, this is it. I can’t do this anymore, there’s something wrong, I shouldn’t be having these visions. I never had visions of hurting my daughter, but I don’t want to get to that point. So I said, you know what, I m a strong person, I can do this. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. And I called my mom and I said come over, I need to go somewhere.
I made an appointment with a psychiatrist, and he told me I had the postpartum depression, and from then on it was almost like, it was like bricks were lifted off. To me, it was like immediate therapy. I was able to speak to him, and I started my medications the same day, and within 24 hours I knew I got the help I needed to get, that she was going to be OK, we were going to be OK.
I knew I wasn’t going to hurt her, not that I was going to hurt her, but just the dreams and visions of her being hurt,, the anxiety, the dreams of me burying her. To this day, I think about those dreams. I go back to that time of me having those and it’s just hurtful and I love her with all my heart, and I thank God every day that I came to that point, that I had the courage to do that.
I didn’t think about it. I want to say no. In the beginning, I was just trying to cope and adjust because I was set in my ways and here’s a new little human being coming in and I have to do other things and I have to put her first and I just needed to cope and change my life. And I thought it was going to happen step-by-step, day-by-day, and I didn’t work for the first six months so I thought it was going to be easier for me to transition to that. And then I went back to work and it was OK but I had to change my hours at work and I had to change, and I don’t do well with change.
And I got to the point where I thought I would get through that, coping and being a mother, and a life-altering event, and I was going to be fine. And when the visions started coming of her getting buried or being in an incubator, hooked up to IV tubing, and intubated and always thinking the worst. And then Brooke Shields' book came out and I think with the media focus on that, I think I started to think, do I have PPD? Am I going through that? And that’s when I started to think about it and I thought you know what, she’s going to be a year, and it’s usually within the first year, and I tried to ride it out, and tried to let myself get adjusted, get my me time back and change my focus a little bit and it didn’t, it just got worse.
Work for me personally changed but I don’t think anyone caught on to it, I wasn’t as focused at work. I knew how to manage my time prior and I wasn’t doing that anymore, and it was affecting me personally, so no members of my staff thought anything differently of me, but myself personally I knew because I was falling behind on a lot of projects that needed to be done, a lot of work, a lot of statistics that I needed to do, that was falling behind. So I knew there was something. I wasn’t focused. I took part of my day daydreaming, and just thinking about things, life, my daughter what am I going through, how am I feeling, and I was there in body but not in mind.
I would’ve probably from the day I went into the hospital and I was crying hysterically, I think at that point I should’ve talked to my OBGYN, who has been very supportive, who actually referred me to my psychiatrist. I would’ve told them sooner, I think a lot of it was, I’m embarrassed. Here I am as a maternity nurse. I should know the signs and symptoms and I should know that it was more than baby blues. And I had a lot of guilt with that, and I just hope and pray that it didn’t affect the bonding with my daughter, and that’s the timeframe that bonding is very important.
And I still have regrets that I didn’t breastfeed, and to this day I still have regrets, and to this day having visions of her not being here, to think that if I didn’t get the help would she still be here? Would I be talking to you now? I don’t know what, and I didn’t want to get to that point, and I said, I cannot do that.
I’m more attuned to it. If I have a patient that is stating XYZ, I’ll go in there speak to them one-on-one, not as a nurse, but as mother to mother. I do that a lot more, it’s taken me this long to get comfortable with sharing my story, because of the embarrassment. I didn’t want people to think, but people still have a lot to learn about it, people often tend to stereotype, and I didn’t want that, especially with my line of work. I’m in charge of the department, and I didn’t want people to think I lost my composure, and I knew it wasn’t like that, but people still have that belief, and there might be stragglers who still think that.
But I think now, with all the education out there, with the media, people are really starting to become more focused and aware about PPD and it affects everybody. So I talk about it more and more now. A lot of my friends are really surprised that I kept it for three-and-a-half years to myself. And I think if I could help just one person realize, don’t be scared, don’t be worried, just get the help that you need, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. And it’s taken me this long not to be ashamed, and I still have a lot to work on with it, because I only tell a select few, but it’s getting better.
With the experience of postpartum depression, it takes a lot of the time away that you’re supposed to be sharing with your children, at that high of your life, and you don’t get that back. So if you can do whatever you can do, with your family, your support, to help you get through it as quickly as you can and not lose that valuable time, it’s worth everything, because you don’t get that back, that quality time that loving time, that you’re supposed to be so excited about, the emotions are supposed to be there for your child. You may not identify as quickly as most, there’s risk factors. The PPD scale is a wonderful tool, don’t shy away from taking it. If you’re taking it in the hospital, use it. Use it as a guide to get the help that you need as early as you can, because that’s key, that’s a tremendous key.
Wendy: My name is Wendy, I live in Hoboken, and our daughter is going to be 2 in March.
Ron: My name is Ron and my daughter is also 2 in March.
Wendy: Umm, the pregnancy was planned and we were very fortunate to get pregnant right away. The pregnancy was very normal, sick for the first three months and after that. I live a fairly healthy lifestyle, practice yoga for a long time, I eat very healthy, and I remained very active and worked up until six months. I’m a flight attendant, and they let you work up until six months. The pregnancy was very normal, I was really happy.
Ron: And another thing, we were very well-informed, with the Web you have so much access to information, and I think a lot of couples here in Hoboken and the rest of the country have so much access to information. So you go into this thinking, I know everything, oh this this this and this, it’s all laid out for you. We felt like we had control of the information and control of ourselves, and we know what’s going to happen and how everything progresses. But we felt like we had the bases covered, not to be hyper- controlling, but we felt like we had all the information we needed. So what could go wrong other than things happening with the birth?
Interviewer: Were you aware of PPD prior to the birth?
Wendy: I was aware of it, I had read about it. I had heard about Brooke Shields was open about it and had written a book about it. I had read about it in the preparation for pregnancy, and that after birth this could happen. And I have to be honest, I kind of skipped over those chapters. This is supposed to be one of the happiest times in my life, you don’t want to have to read about something that might not apply to you. So I just figured we’d cross that bridge when you get to it type thing.
I remembered seeing this one commercial about it, a father's at work and someone’s asking, “oh, how’s the baby?” And in his mind he’s thinking, oh everything’s terrible, my wife doesn’t want to be around the baby, and (choking back tears) and I remember when he answers he says, "oh, everything’s perfect, everything’s fine." And I remember seeing the commercial thinking, oh that poor woman. But that seems so far off, I didn’t think I was at risk at all.
I thought from what I understood, it affected women with a history of depression, history of depression in their family, their situation was possibly unwanted pregnancy or having a stressful time in their marriage. Certain things were just lined up if you’re at risk, and I thought I’m not at risk, so I just dismissed it.
Those things I didn’t read of all the certain things that could go wrong. Why would I fill my head with those things? I had heard of it, but hadn’t heard much about it other than depression. I had heard of others with depression and for me there was always a sense of, well, after a time can’t you just pick yourself up and snap out of it? Can’t you just do certain things in your life to make yourself happier? I didn’t understand it until I had it myself, and then there was just this aha moment like, oh, these people are suffering. It just shed a light on depression and mental illness for me that I could never have understood unless I had gone through it.
Speaker: Was your labor particularly stressful?
Wendy: I wanted to attempt a natural birth. I had a midwife and I really felt that birth is a natural thing, your body knows what it’s doing, let’s not let medicine and doctors get in the way, wanting things to happen too controlling of it, so let’s just let my body do what it does. So my water broke at 3 o’clock in the morning, I was a week overdue. I would say the only time was the week I was overdue, it was starting to bear on me, all the calls, did the baby come yet? did the baby come yet? And I don’t know if that had anything to do leading up to the situation. My water breaks ...
Ron: We called the midwife, we said things were OK, and we were told the contractions were too far apart so we should just go back to sleep. And we woke up and everything was normal, but she slowly started to feel irregular contractions, so I figured I’d take the dog out. There was nothing consistent that I could say, well, we should go, I come back about an hour later, it was about 11 in the morning, and at this point she’s just gripping the table. So what we started to do was time them to say what’s going on, to get a sense. For about 30 minutes we were doing that, it was starting to really hit, so it was like Ricky and Lucy, running back and forth, I got this you got that, it felt like that to some degree.
We get in the car at about noon. We had the route figured out. We go through the toll and ... we’re stopped dead, the lights for the tunnel go to red. And we’re in between the toll and the mouth of the tunnel. So I said, the traffic's not right, so I put it in park, tell the cop, and he said a bus is broken down in the tunnel. So I pull over to the side, the cops are radioing back and forth. And once they told me about the bus, I said, why can’t we just go around the bus? The ambulance then came, and we looked at each other and said, I guess this is going to be our story. The cop said, “Will you guys go to the Jersey City Medical Center?” And I didn’t know there was a hospital there, because they called it a medical center, she got into the medical center.
Wendy: At that point I didn't care, just get me there. I didn’t want it to be in the ambulance. The woman in the back with me said, if you need to push just push and we’ll pull over. And I was like, I am not having this on the side of the road, I’m not going to be on the news tonight.
Ron: It only took 90 minutes, here I say, oh it only took 90 minutes. It was a relatively new hospital, the experience of that was exciting and different.
Wendy: At that point I surrendered to it. Once the baby was out and safe, everything was fine. Before we left, I had to fill out a sheet on postpartum depression, it had maybe 10 questions, and I’m thinking well, I haven’t experienced any of these things, I’m exhausted and delirious, and I’m thinking what kind of questions are these? I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine.
Ron: We were thinking, oh, it must be a little overreaching in these questions. Oh, it’s only people who have had a history of all these things going on for this to hit you. So that was the only thing about this information. If it had been structured in less of a broad spectrum, you kind of felt like you could wave it off. We put it in our folder, and filed it at the bottom of our pile of papers.
Speaker: Did you feel a sense of disappointment about how the birth didn’t go the way you wanted it to?
Wendy: To be frank, I was really happy that we had a little story, and happy that we could do it naturally. In many ways I fulfilled what I wanted, just not in the location I wanted.
Ron: I wanted our daughter to be born in NYC, she was going to be born in NY and live in New Jersey. Which is fine, it was one of those things, one of those stories you have, more of an oh shucks.
Wendy: I don’t think there was a sense of disappointment. It was exciting.
Speaker: So you guys come home and are completely clueless.
Wendy: My mother came in to stay with us for a week, and I really thought that was going to be perfect. And I don’t know which night it was, it was the second night we were home, she was maybe 4 days old, we were watching a movie at night, and I had my daughter and I was holding her, and this feeling came of being overwhelmed. These feelings came in of - what was I thinking? I can’t be a mom. I can’t do this. This is completely, no, I didn’t sign up for this, and now she’s ours. And I remember sitting here and I was like, Ron, and I started balling. I am completely overwhelmed, I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I’m thinking.
Ron: We were told in advance that your body is flushing out a lot of different chemicals and hormones, even if you read about it its more than what you’re expecting.
Wendy: It was this constant buzzing going on inside of me, it was getting to the point that I couldn’t ignore it. I couldn’t sleep, whatever I was doing it was always there, when I sat still I could feel it crawling inside of me.
Ron: Plus, she stayed pretty active, it’s not this obvious dramatic thing, she still went about doing what she would do. We kept trying to be active, let’s keep busy, maybe that could help it out.
Wendy: I was nursing, it was important for me to nurse, I had enough milk, but it was nothing compared to the stories I hear. I was very fortunate, and because of that, and a friend of mine once told me, and she told me, you know the baby nurses every two hours, and they nurse up to an hour. And I thought, I could deal with sleep deprivation, I was a flight attendant, I’ve done red eyes.
But the sleep deprivation just accumulates and accumulates and accumulates, and with the anxiety it was pumping my body full of Cortisol and anxiety. So when I had a moment I couldn’t sleep. I just fretted and fretted. I thought, I’m not cut out for this. And I look outside and I see all these other women with children and I thought, how do they do it? And my friends said, it’s hard, and you just do it. And a couple heard in my voice, they were like, Wendy, you might want to talk to somebody.
I was really asking, how do I get through today? I can’t get through the rest of today, I feel like I’m going to jump through the window at any moment.
It just was so overwhelming and I couldn’t see past her infancy. And I thought, for 18 years I’m going to feel like this. I can’t make it to 8 o’clock tonight; I can’t make it to her first birthday. And I guess that’s part of what depression does; you can’t look past the small things.
Ron: You get tunnel vision. We were fortunate because we had one mom who could be here for a week, and my mom who could come out here whenever we needed. I was able to take off three-and-a-half weeks from work. And we thought to ourselves, imagine the people who don’t have these kinds of resources. They don’t have family, don’t have the money to take the time off, and they have to deal with having postpartum depression, just the combination of those things. So it’s not just the sort of class issues, it’s the human issue. Any woman can be hit by it, it can sneak up on anyone, you can think you have all the information, but you don’t know, you just don’t know. And that’s why it’s important to separate the issues of it's not about the issue of you just being weak, thinking, I’m the only one suffering this.
Wendy: From what I could see, everyone was fine, and I was a defective mother because there was no sense of ease with her. I would care for her, kiss her, but when my mom left, I broke down. I really thought I was going to jump out the window.
Ron: That was when I started feeling a little, uh oh, not just for her, but the translation to me, thinking, I can’t take care of the kid by myself. I knew it was serious, but I thought it could work its way out. I had gone through battling the black dogs as they’re called, I had gone through periods of dealing with depression. I thought I’d be the one feeling overwhelmed, I mean, I was overwhelmed when we first got our dog.
Wendy: That was the interesting thing. We were so excited, everyone tells you it's tough. I am up for the challenge, I can make the sacrifices ...
Ron: I had to convince myself, I overanalyze things, and I’m dead asleep upstairs, and a lot of what happened was, I knew what was happening to her, but I wasn’t sure if it was just a mild case of the blues, and I could feel a little edgy, feeling the ghosts of my own problems. But I knew what she was going through, and tell her this is what’s happening, this is what I felt like for me.
Wendy: I was so very fortunate, because he was able to, I called him constantly, it's coming, I can feel it. That was the thing, it was this underlying feeling of anxiety, through the morning and afternoon everything was OK, it’s going to pass, it’s a new day, and then the day went on, you could see it coming. And the women that I’ve talked to say, yeah, you see it coming, and you’re like, oh, I’m kidding myself, aren’t I?
Speaker: Do you have a memory of your lowest day or what prompted you to get help?
Wendy: I do remember a couple really bad times, one was later, when she was three months old. The initial time I decided to find help was when the baby was three weeks. It wasn’t that I wanted to hold her or being around her, but it was just that, please somebody take her, take her off of me for a minute, I need to clear my head, I couldn’t see clearly at all.
Ron: The nursing was the problem. Well, I can’t even get away for three hours, because she always had to go back, so even if she could get a breath, no one could take over feeding. It was almost like this kite, depression, was tied to her. She could walk down the street but she was always pulling this thing along with her.
Wendy: The awful thing about that was that at the same time, I had this option of giving the baby formula. I truly started to feel that I was so incapable as a mother, I was doing such a disservice that I wasn’t feeling joy of mothering her, that at least I was giving her my milk. It was something I didn’t have to figure out. The milk was perfect for her, it didn’t what was in my head, one of the things that really couldn’t get my milk.
Ron: I felt bad going to work. It’s like, well, your brain exists in two, you have this one side that’s ... scrambling around like crazy, but you have to pull yourself by your boot straps. You tell yourself things you have to do to give structure, you go to the gym, you eat, but doing things, being around people, seeing people going about their lives, it gave a sense of flow to what was going on around you, that didn’t make you feel so separate from what was going on, and you could have a connection with people which helps to ease the clouds in your head. But whatever remedy you’re seeking, it makes it better to follow it. You start seeing a pattern saying, well I got out of that day, how can I get through today?
Wendy: The low point was, we were at a coffee shop, the baby was two weeks old. Another mom there had a baby, a couple weeks older than my daughter. She said, we go to this moms groups, and I thought, people had told me about groups and I thought, I have enough friends. But when she told me about it I put it in my head, and maybe the baby was two weeks old and I thought, maybe I should go to this to see if this is what everyone was feeling. But it was canceled that week and I cried. But I waited until the next week and I went. And I didn’t break down that week, but I remember them talking about PPD, and a psychiatrist came in, and he said I’m available to talk anytime, give me a call and come talk to me.
And the very next day was bad, it was really bad. I was sitting in the back room just weeping, and weeping. I couldn’t get out of this head, it seems like it’s never going to end. I can’t ever foresee finding any happiness in anything I found happiness in again -- listening to music, I would listen and think, oh that’s when life was this way, it will never be like that again. I’ll never be able to surf the Web again.
And I called to get a hold of the doctor, and I made an appointment for the next day, and the thing that was so wonderful was that, No. 1, when you’re so sleep-deprived and in a state that your normal functions, you can go to the bathroom and eat, but to try to organize or look something up, she was on me all the time so making a phone call, the easiest thing, seems so overwhelming because I had no time. The hour I had between feeding her I was trying to sleep or I was eating, or I was changing my clothes. It was like, oh, time to feed again, and so I made one phone call and she told me to come in.
And seeing Dr. Barnett, I see her once a week, and it was a professional that was watching me, monitoring me, so if I were going off the deep end, and I needed more than just talk therapy, she would catch me if I needed to be caught. And there was something so relieving about that. And she was really able to help me see, to cope with how to get around caring for the baby so I could sleep, rework my schedule, rethink things so I could get more sleep.
She said, “If I think you need to take medication I’ll let you know.” I had asked my midwife when my baby was a month or two old, and I asked her, can I still breastfeed and take antidepressants? And she told me that I couldn’t to her knowledge, which I’ve found out since that you can. But I don’t know if I should take them.
Ron: I was more against it because I know how the basic antidepressants work. There’s a time to use them and a time to wait and see. And one of the things about it was, to say you couldn’t use them it bothered you because you felt like a potential safety net was taken away from you. Sometimes knowing you have the pill in the cabinet is a reassurance, not that you have to take it. I remember you thinking, maybe you should be taking it. From what my own experiences were, well maybe, I would wait longer than the three months, because doctors said after three or fourth months you should take antidepressants. And I was like, I was on a more conservative viewpoint of it, so unless you have total desperation ...
Wendy: There were really only a couple times that I was on that edge. I remember thinking, I got to get out of here, and I thought, well, if I run what am I going to do? I’m nursing, that’s not going to solve anything.
And for the first time in my life I felt like such a burden to my husband and my baby. And not that I was calculating how to end my life, it seemed like that was the only way to end everything. I won’t have to deal with the feelings, trying to figure out how to get through this for the rest of my life. I was calling him all the time, he was constantly talking me off the edge. How long will my friends and family want to have to hear about all this? I’m even tired of hearing about it, maybe I should contemplate leaving this Earth, not calculating how am I going to do it ...
Ron: Committing suicide is like having this option, like the pills. In a lot of ways it’s almost a relief to think about doing it, and you don’t go and do it, and it’s not something you should be scared of, you shouldn’t think about isolating yourself as a result. It’s a normal thing that normal people go through. It becomes an option, it’s just something people sometimes think of. I had gone through it.
She said, you’d probably be sick of hearing this. I thought, at my worst, I was like this for a year. I didn’t sleep for a year. You haven’t even gone through what I went through for a year.
We were lucky because I had been through on my own. What happens if you’re that women who’s on her own? You have to go through it, maybe if you have a stronger will, but it’s harder the more isolated you are.
What’s worse is, they expect the opposite thing, you get farther away because it pushes you into isolation, not just being on your own, but expect the opposite emotion coming from you. And it pushes you apart, and you have to find a way to get unisolated, deisolate yourself, and that’s where seeking help on a Web site, that’s the great thing about the Web. You can type something in and get the right information, sort through the right information, and the important thing is to get through the isolation thing.
Wendy: I agree. It was like, reach out reach out, and that’s the important thing about the new mom group. New motherhood is challenging. You’re in this group of women where everyone was challenged, everyone was sleep-deprived. We’re all nursing in front of each other, and we’d all say the best and worst of the week. And it was nice to hear people's challenges, and it felt like a safe environment, which is so important to just let it out. It was such a load off the first time I said something, everything just came gushing out of me. I told everything, everything I was feeling.
I couldn’t stop it, and tears were streaming out and I talked about how miserable I was feeling, and I felt so much love from everybody, and Robin came over and hugged me and said, you’re going to get through this. We can figure it out.
Iit’s so much more difficult to do by yourself, you suffer longer and it’s just such a relief to hear other people, my baby’s 2 years old and it’s still so comforting to hear other women say they’ve been through these things. You feel like a freak, so to feel comforted ... once you reach out, it starts to take on its own source of support where more people can get involved, people checking up on you. You’re also so involved in nurturing your baby, you need someone taking care of and watching you so that you in turn can take better care of your baby.
Speaker: At what point did you think you started to get better?
Wendy: I think probably I’m guessing maybe three months ... I sort of saw things coming, but after June (her daughter was born in March) I started to have more consecutive good days and I remember Robin having told me that, be aware for a year you can still come in and out of this, and I’m so glad because I’d still have some bad times.
Ron: You get ambushed, you can get ambushed any time, just be aware when it occurs.
Wendy: Your mind will tell you terrible things, and you want to believe them all, and the very least I can say no, they said this would happen and I can come out of it, and I would. So then I would say, I nursed her up until a year, and after I stopped nursing, for that full year it was a slow and steady climb. But still I'd fool myself, I’d say, you're pretending to be a good mom, and you’re not. And there’s still times I feel like, oh, am I a good mom? And now it’s like, the more time that passes, the further it gets away, the more time I get under my belt of being a confident mother it seems like it’s more of a blip on the screen.
Wendy: We’re not meant to raise children in isolation. In nature you would have the whole community around you, your mom, your aunts, your sister, someone would always be there to step in, and either nurse your children, or cook for you. You get your sleep, so even though PPD clearly occurred back then, you had the support group around you, other women were there for you, and that’s how the human race survived.
Ron: And now we have modern solutions for different problems. Modern life has isolated us more. We have apartments, we have a tendency to think we’re raised as individuals. The modern solution is that you have therapists, Web sites, literature, nannies to get breaks. And if you don’t have the money, there are avenues, like with New Jersey, the state has things available. These are the modern solutions to help you get through it, that’s fortunate that this is where we’re at now.
Speaker: Is it different the way you deal with your friends who have babies now?
Ron: I understand what it’s like to raise a child now, that’s the real difference. From the standpoint of suffering I’m more aware, you give that second look, or you make ask, did you notice anything different? But not so much that I react differently.
Wendy: Pregnancy should be a happy and hopeful time, but I always stress, you’re going to need more help than you think, you can get ambushed.
I do look for it, there’s always a little bit of me that’s waiting to be there for a friend, to help them see their way through it, and none of them, thank goodness, have communicated to me that they suffer through it. I didn’t think I’d be a candidate, and I didn’t think it would happen to me, but part of me is like, the statistic is this, something is going to have to suffer from it.
Ron: If you hear somebody else has gone through it, you don’t feel that isolation, you feel like, at least it wasn’t just me.
Speaker: People expect you to be happy ...
Wendy: Our friends were getting e-mails saying, I’ll e-mail you back when I have something good to say about motherhood.
Ron: I remember thinking, telling other people, this one friend of ours felt like I overdid it. What did you expect, saying like, it's 100 times harder than you expect. And she actually didn’t follow up with her. It was hard to deal with, but it wasn’t like, oh darn, I remember thinking also, I overdid it.
We’re not going to be like, oh, it’s so wonderful, we wanted to be like, this is what it’s really like, what we went through is what we went through. There's no mathematic equation that says, you have to go through it for three months. There maybe something wrong, but it’s not an issue of time element. You have to go through your suffering on a certain time element, you have to go through your suffering the way you go through it. It’s very individual and very specific and you shouldn’t compare yourself to other people, because that’s another thing that isolates you, You just have to find ways to get out there and find help in your own way.
Speaker: When did you send out the e-mail, I’ll tell you when something good happens?
Wendy: It was probably the first week, that first deep where things just didn’t let up and they didn’t let up for a while. I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was so painful. I didn’t realize how depression was so very painful, not physically just that emotional pain of that you feel bad, it’s just that feeling of hopelessness, that nothing's every going to feel good again. It's lower than the lows of having a bad day and it lasts longer than you ever imagined. And you start to think, this is the way it’s going to be for a long time, I can’t live like this.
Speaker: Do you remember your first moment where you had good thoughts about motherhood?
Wendy: Yeah, there were times when she would do something that would make me laugh. She would giggle so loud and it was infections and it just felt so good, it felt so good. I couldn’t say when.
Ron: Even if you had a temporary parting of the clouds, the predominant feeling was that you would always go back into that feeling bad, and even if it only felt a few hours, it always dominates your thoughts because you fear that you’re going to go back into it.
Wendy: And you just don’t feel like they were genuine moments, because once you go down you’re like, that’s not real.
Speaker: Did you feel like you could have joy as a father with all this going on?
Ron: I had my own things trying to deal with a newborn baby. I thought I’d be the one to be more concerned and partly it was more of a time management, as scientific as it sounds, it’s an issue of administration. If I could put structure to it in my brain, during the time it was definitely colored, and I felt bad that she was missing out on the joy of being a mom and enjoying that thing. But I definitely remember plenty of times enjoying what it was like to be a dad, holding her, having her fall asleep on me.
Speaker: Did you feel guilt about enjoying it?
Ron: No, I know it's specific to the individual. I felt a little guilty if I wasn’t trying to help her out and understand what she was going through. Why am I enjoying it and she’s not? But I understood what she was going through. You feel bad for her, that you wanted her to feel better about things, but you don’t let that color your experience.
But time flies by so quick when you have a baby, next thing you know they’re not as small anymore. It would’ve been nice to have a smoother ride but ultimately I don’t feel like it was terrible, because here we are, it wasn’t terrible, this is our story, this is what it is.
Wendy: I would tell them, you’re going to get through this, you’re going to get through this. You've got to reach out and share what’s on your mind, you have to be honest, there’s support right there. Just let it out, let it out and you’ll feel so good. And look at me, I’m on the other side, you’ll do it, you’ll do it.
Ron: I remember, about four or five months, when we had more time, we started to look back and I think the summer, when the weather changed ...
Wendy: I’m so lucky, my husband knows what I’m going through. I’m lucky I have supportive friends and family, I have a moms' group. If there’s a silver lining I was so very fortunate, that I had all these other things in line. At the time I didn’t think I was fortunate, at the time I was drowning, so my heart goes out to women who don’t have the stars aligned. It’s a little more difficult, they’ll still get there.
Ron: But there is a way to do it, there’s a lifeline out there.
Wendy: Whatever gets you through the day, don’t worry about tomorrow, just get through today. I thought I can’t get through this for 18 years, I was honestly thinking this is what it’s going to be like, you just tick off the days, you tick off the calendar, you’re 5 weeks, you’re 6 weeks ...
Ron: We had a healthy baby; she was on the better end of health. She cried a bit, and adding all these other things to women, and you add in all these things that we had and others didn’t, you just need to find ways to get support.
Little things just pile on top, and that’s the other thing that make you feel worse than you thought you were, we had certain things that made us lucky and still the effect was strong. So anyone who has even less of that, even more so need to try and find ways to get out there and get help.
I actually just experienced postpartum depression with my second child; with my first child I had the baby blues for two to four weeks. With Nikos, considerably different.
I never cried but I started getting these very bizarre thoughts in my head, very early on after his birth like three days after he was born.
I was aware of PPD, ironically, in the sense that I used to work for Maternal Child Health Consortium. I'd set up conferences on PPD. I didn’t know anyone personally who had gone through it, but I knew what I was going through, but it was such a shock that I was experiencing it that I didn’t tell anyone about it.
Both my pregnancies were planned, three months before we wanted to try to start getting pregnant, I went into preconceptual care. I got prenatal vitamins, I got tested for everything, making sure that I was healthy enough to take a pregnancy to term. I have to admit nothing was very different, on the second time around. I knew kind of what to expect, even though every pregnancy is different. I was relaxed, just as excited but a little more tired because I had a toddler around and I was nauseous in the beginning, I felt a little more relaxed because I had already gone through it.
It's weird because you see me and my younger sister are two years apart so we’re very close, and Michael and his sister are close but not so much, but of course you're nine months pregnant and you have a 2-year-old. They play together, they’re not as high-maintenance as they were when they were both very young.
When Katarina was born it was so traumatizing. I mean, they tell you it hurts, but they don’t tell you how much it hurts. Also I didn’t take any medication so it was completely medication free and that’s painful. And also it was 25 hours from the beginning to the end. The minute she was born I was like, there’s no way that just happened to me.
And then I really do wonder why I didn’t go through it with Katarina because right after I gave birth to her I actually hemorrhaged. I was bleeding a lot that the midwife had to put her hands into my uterus and take out blood clots. And I’m just lying there and I couldn’t believe this was happening and even though I was thinking that 50 years ago this is how women died, I mean they bled to death after a birth. So that happened and just giving birth to me was very traumatizing, as well as I didn’t have any family around, even though Michael stayed home for the first week. He went back to work and left me there like, OK what do I do now? But it was only the baby blues.
But definitely with Nikos, he was 24 hours, so I gained an hour of no pain but he was a big baby. Katarina weighed 6.13, he weighed 9 pounds. So pushing him out was actually quite stressful because I couldn’t. He was a big baby and the nurse actually had to push on my uterus. I remember looking at Michael thinking, I can’t push him out, and eventually I did, and again without the use of medication, which, I don’t recommend that. But I still remember though the minute I pushed him out I’m thanking the midwives for helping me, which I didn’t do for Katarina.
So I felt that the experience of labor was different from one baby to the next, and then afterward I literally just stayed in the birthing center for four hours, partly because they made me feel like I couldn’t stay longer. So I was kind of upset leaving as quickly as I did. But at the same time I realized at home I could be in my own bed and relax so I could fine with that, even though I really did feel like they wanted us to leave sooner than later, which I didn’t think was right.
But it was great, he fell asleep the whole night at 4 weeks, where Katarina didn’t sleep for two years for the whole night, so it was great. ...
I’d have to say a couple of days afterward, he was the best baby ever, which is weird to say. He breastfed very quickly, he was such a loving baby, you name it he was great, She was actually difficult to breastfeed, did not sleep through the night, even when she got older, she did not want to sleep at night, definitely a night person, so she was definitely different from him. She stressed us out when he didn’t.
When he was 2 weeks old he almost died of RSV, which is some type of lung infection which actually kills a lot of preemies, and he wasn’t a preemie. And when we went to the emergency room they said that if he was a preemie, he would’ve died of it. But he was a big baby, but that was just horrific.
But what’s interesting is that I had literally been experiencing his death every day since he was about 3 days old. And it was just very bizarre because he was a planned pregnancy. I always wanted these children, I love my children, so the thought that I was seeing my son die every single day was just horrific. It was very difficult the fear of what people would think, I really did feel though that there was a chemical imbalance, because that was so not me.
I’m not saying I never experienced depression before, but I always saw it as environmental factors that caused my depression, where this I was happy.
Michael actually after the first week of being home with me he decided that you know what, I’d like to say home full time with our son and my daughter. And I just thought that was awesome. And he quit his job on Wall Street to stay home full time with our children for about 9 months until I had to go back to work because we needed money.
It was amazing, he’s such a great father, so it was interesting that certain things were coming into place that I just thought were phenomenal. So I didn’t see any environmental factors that would lead to depression, yet so quickly on the most bizarre thoughts were coming into my mind that were literally giving me physical symptoms of disgust.
I can’t explain to you how it really felt when I went into the kitchen and at the time we lived in Jersey City in a really small apartment and it was a really small apartment, and I’d walk in even if I wasn’t carrying Nikos, and I would envision him in the oven burning .And I could see him, even thought I knew he wasn’t there, I could see him in the oven as a newborn burning. And I could smell his flesh burning, how could I possibly smell something of my own child burning, when it had never happened before? But I knew that’s what I was smelling even though that made no sense to me.
Then I’d get these physical symptoms. I felt my heart was in my throat, my stomach was churning, my knees were buckling, and I was having a panic attack, and I knew he wasn’t there so how could this be happening to me? And this was happening on a daily basis, so I would never go into the kitchen, and my saving grace luckily was that I never cooked. I mean I can make a joke of it now, but Michael had no idea, it’s one thing if he said, how come you don’t go into the kitchen? But he’s the cook in our family. I don’t need to go into the kitchen to be honest for anything pretty much, and I rarely did then unless I really had to because I always saw my son in the oven.
And I always wondered, is it me doing it? There was always such a fear, and I think that’s also why I never told anyone, because I thought one, I would never do that to my children, and two, there’s a line I would never cross about my hitting my children. And I always thought that so long as I kept it to myself I'd be the only one who was suffering, and I’d be OK with that because a true aspect of me of suffering is if my children were taken away, and even if I was having these horrific thoughts, I'd still have my children, and they just don’t have to know about it, and I could just hide what’s going on within me. And I truly thought that if I told Michael about it he’d take the children away, because to be honest I put myself in his shoes, I’d take the children away. So I’m thinking if he told me this and I wouldn’t want him close to my children why would expect anything different from him?
So I thought so long as I’m not hurting them physically I’m fine. Hindsight is 20/20. They didn’t suffer, but we all suffered in some way, because I never wanted to carry him. I never wanted to be home, it went from the oven to him drowning in the bathtub, him falling out the window and we lived on the 19th floor. I mean you name it.
And also I was going to school for my doctorate degree, so me not being home wasn’t an issue, even though it was my excuse, to be at school to be in the library, because I couldn’t deal what was going on with my children and with my son.
The most horrific was the oven, but I guess because it was my first initial thought, but I think maybe both of those together, the seeing and the hearing of him burning, as well as smelling burning flesh, whereas not that it’s not horrific to see him drowning in the bathtub, but there wasn’t any sound or smell connected to it. Then when he was falling out the window, I could even see his brain splatter. I can’t even believe these thoughts were coming from me. There was even a point when I was walking through my apartment thinking there must be aliens up there doing this, I was seriously contemplating that because I’m thinking how could this possibly happen one to anyone but two I really did feel like my life my environmental factors in a sense didn’t in anyway come together to say this is going to happy to you. In hindsight I still couldn’t see why it happened, never why me, but thinking, where’s the cause of it all? And part me did think it was aliens, but I was serious at the time, there must be aliens up there in space doing this to me, because I could not in any way believe that I personally in any way put these thoughts in my head.
I didn’t have the baby blues, they just quickly went into postpartum depression, at least as they’re defined as the thoughts leading to depression. But I never had the baby blues with Nikos, with Katarina definitely, I would cry over a commercial, and it had nothing to do with anything sentimental, but never with Nikos. So very early on there was such a shift in everything that I knew it was more extreme and definitely serious.
After I gave birth to my son, the midwife called me every day for a week, which was interesting. So maybe they thought something, but I never told anyway, feeling guilt, shame or fear, as well as thinking this will go away, sooner or later, it’s not going to last. But it didn’t, it didn’t go away.
I crossed the line I didn’t want to cross, I hit my daughter. My husband had gone back to work, Nikos was around 15 months old crying, my daughter was crying. I had had it and all of a sudden I smacked her, I hit my daughter in the face. And I couldn’t believe I did that and right there all of a sudden I had to take a step back thinking, oh my gosh, I just did something I thought I’d never do, and I had to get away.
And, interestingly, right at that moment Michael had just gotten back from work, and he was late. He went back to work and he was working 12- to 14-hour days, so when I was off from work I'd be with the kids, and that was very difficult for me, because here I am trying not to have these thoughts and be a parent, and literally I was thinking about my son dying every day. I would see a casket, I’d be in a cemetery burying my son every day. I didn’t understand why I was doing that. So as much as I loved my son, I found it so tough to bond with him, because it was so tough to watch him die every day, and I felt so bad.
He was such a loving child, he still is, but I cannot tell you, such a loving child. From the beginning, he loved to be hugged, he loved to be taken care of, oh my goodness, and now I can’t give that back to him. And I just think about that, what I lost, I have to tell you that’s why it’s so difficult to tell my story sometimes, because it’s so painful, but women and families need to understand one, for most women, after 15 months, it didn’t go away, and two, I had lost so much time and energy of trying to be in the moment, trying to keep these thoughts and feelings of death and not enjoying what I had right in front of me.
It is so sad that I do not have a lot of memories of my son's first 15 months of his life, I don’t want women to regret that, because I could never get those back, I mean now I have great memories of him as he grows up, but now he’s 8 years old, he’ll never be 6 months again, never be a year old again, I’ll never have that. I don’t want women to experience that, they don’t have to, I didn’t have to. I mean I think we live in a great state that we have such amazing resources that weren’t around when I was experiencing PPD, and there’s just so many avenues that women can take to get so much help, not for the shame, not for the guilt, and realize they are so not alone and so many other women have experienced it and feel their pain, their shame, their guilt, but their hope, because I had hope, because I finally got help, and they changed my life.
I went to the emergency room right after I hit my daughter. (When Michael came home) I literally put my hands up and said, I’m done, and he thought I went to the mall, which I laugh about now, until it got late and he thought I guess he didn’t go. I went downstairs, and thank goodness we had a doorman, I had completely fallen apart.
I had kept myself together with Scotch Tape. I felt myself in pieces, and I remember looking at the doorperson and I thought to myself, there’s no way I’m going to drive myself, and I said, can you call me a cab to take me to the emergency room? I didn’t want to get anyone involved in my business, but I had to, I had to ask for her help even though he didn’t know what was going on. And I completely fell apart in the hallway, just sitting down balling, until the cab came and I just set take me to the nearest ER, and I remember seeing the cab person's face and he felt so bad for me, he didn’t know what was going on with me. I remember getting out of the cab and he said, do you want me to wait for you? which I thought was amazing and I thought I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, and I said no, I’ll find a way home. And I remember him saying, I hope you feel better.
There was a moment I remember thinking, do I enter the ER or do I throw myself in the river? It was interesting the thought process in my mind, because I thought my children are better off without their biological mother. I thought it was better to kill myself because I thought I was such a horrible mother. I don’t know what kept me from actually doing it. I don’t swim and part of the fear was, how long does it take to drown? And I can see the humor in it now, but I thought to myself, how long does it take for someone to drown? Is it going to hurt? And I seriously think I contemplated that, and I thought, it won’t be that quick. I was thinking, I’ve been through enough I don’t want to suffer when I die, and I went in and I put my name down and I waited for six hours in the corner of the hospital, crying the whole time, no staff member ever stopped to see how I was doing.
Finally I was seen by the staff and put on medication and my boss helped me find a therapist, which was just phenomenal. And everything just began to come together and I started healing and recovering after what had happened. It wasn’t just medication, I needed to learn to cope what was going on with me, but I needed to forgive myself, not that I have, but I needed someone to help me figure out why this happened, which we really don’t know, other than the hormones, probably a predisposition. I asked my mother, which I knew she did because she was crying all the time, which was part environmental because her husband was abusive, but I knew she had, but she said no, I’ve never been depressed, even though I could count the times I could see my mother just crying and crying and crying. So I don’t know if people define it differently, or just deny it, but I know, I will never deny it, not only to myself but I do believe unfortunately my daughter may be at risk for clinical or PPD, so I’m very wary of it, so I can help her for the future.
Even after I came out, I told very little people about it, my therapist, my husband, the hospital, the Division of Youth and Family Services, but when I went in to the hospital because I had hit my daughter they opened a case, so a case worker had to come to my house and got involved. I believed things had changed considerably, but it was no help at all for me, because I begged for a therapist and she never gave me a name, never referred me, that I had to go to someone who wasn’t even family, she was my boss, and asked her. And she was the one who found someone for me.
Even the psychiatrist I saw at the hospital wasn’t very willing or supportive to see me as a regular patient or even refer a therapist for me, and I couldn’t believe that. And even now I think there are people who have received training about PPD, because even my therapist at the time had no training about it, and she had to read along as I read about it just so she could help me.
But one thing that really led me to telling my story was that I realized I wasn’t alone, but I was listening on the radio that Mary Jo Cody had gone through postpartum depression, I just started crying in the car, I felt such relief, I felt now I know I’m not alone, and there’s no reason to have shame and really I felt, if this happened to me I have to help other women not experience what I went through because they don’t have to. To see the courage it took Mary Jo, I thought I have to do it too. If I had experienced it now, it would be so different.
After I experienced it, I had told our pediatrician, and when I’d go back asking about me before my kids, which was phenomenal. And when I went to my private doctor he said to me, you bring Michael in next time you come in, we’re going to talk about it, and I want us all to be on the same page. He was so proactive about being supporting, to know that what I was going through isn’t normal, but that I’m not the only one, that I’m not this horrible person that I personally felt for so long, it was amazing the people who were truly there for me.
I think one he was concerned for the children, as well as not knowing how to help me, what do you do with someone who has kept something from you? I mean we’re best friends, how can we best friends and how can I hide something so personal and so tragic from someone whose my best friend? They put me on loads of medications -- antipsychotic, anti-obsessive compulsive, a sleeping pill, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, I mean, can you put me on anymore?
Oh my gosh, I think he found it hard to try and understand. We found another therapist, and we went for six months, and it so helped our relationship. He needed to express certain relationships, I can only imagine what he felt when I told him everything, and the need to build up that trust again that I would never hold something like that back again. And there’s always this fear that I might experience PPD again, even though we only wanted two children, there’s always this thought, there is no way I could have another child again, and other women do, even when they’ve had PPD, and there are some great gynecologists/obstetricians, who will see women who’ve experienced PPD and want children again.
I have no interest in making sure I don’t experience PPD again. I know for sure.
The minute I started getting into therapy the relief was just unbelievable. The thoughts were still coming from day to day and the meds were starting to kick in, but it was like loads of bricks were being taken off my shoulder. It was like I could breathe again, like I could take this mask off and I could show people who I am and realize I don’t need to apologize. I didn’t make this happen, I’d have to say maybe two to three months afterwards I really started feeling so much better but I also changed a couple of things.
I took off time from grad school, I needed to re-evaluate my life. I had to take time to focus on myself, I thought I was focusing on myself, I wanted to get my doctorate I wanted to work full time, but I needed to take off some time. I still worked full time, but I made sure I took some time off, made time for therapy, it started off two times a week. I always took my medication, I took off almost a year from grad school.
I needed to take time for me, but really seeing how my children were and letting them really get to know who their mom was. There were other things that could wait, they really could, and they did. I mean, I have my doctorate now, I’m a college professor, I have my dream job. It just happened a little later, but that’s OK. In the long run everything worked out better, even though I regret waiting as long as I did.
I really did think throughout the 15 months everything would go away by itself. Oh my gosh, after a few weeks I should’ve realized, OK it’s not going away I have to do something, it’s just denial.
It’s interesting that I breastfed my son the whole time and that was the only thing I felt I could give my son truly, which was interesting because I felt I knew at that time if I go on medication I will have to stop breastfeeding which I did. So I felt given that I can’t give anything to my son, at least I could give him breast milk.
And Michael stayed home. Nikos could’ve cared less who I was. He was with a parent, he was with someone who loved him, and even though I would carry him, he would look around the room for his father. His head would be back looking at his father the whole time, that’s how bonded they were, which was phenomenal. He just wanted me for milk, that’s all he wanted from me, but that’s all I could give him, so I was OK with that because I couldn’t give him more. He was such a loving baby, and I really lucked out that I had such a loving partner who was a father who loved his son so much to quit his job and take care of him full time. It was just amazing. I couldn’t have asked for better circumstances given what I went through, I can’t imagine.
Well one, hearing someone’s story makes it more real, makes me realize that other people went through and to realize most people don’t just go through it and it ends. There has to be some intervention, therapy or medication or both, it doesn’t get better, it really doesn’t. The lies are just packed with more lies and more deception, you’re keeping so much inside. It takes so much energy that you don’t have enough for a newborn, for anything else. I really do believe that if women are experiencing this believing that it will just go away because they can handle it, and I did handle it, but horribly and it was so unhealthy not just for me but for my family. And I’m not trying to put on any guilt in the sense that you want to be there for your family, but you also need to do it for yourself, for your health, you have to realize this is a mental illness and I’m OK with that. I’m OK that it happened, no one’s at fault, but I think I am at fault in the sense that I could’ve gotten help sooner, if not for my family but for myself, because it helps everyone in the end.
But to realize you can only deny so much and sooner or later it’s going to catch up to us, and the regrets that will happen when you don’t get help.
I’m sure people were thinking that. I don’t blame them, it was a terrible thing for me to have done, I truly do believe that. And I’m not trying to make excuses because there is no excuse, but the shame, the fear, the guilt, they were so overwhelming and also part of me truly thinking I can handle this, like I can handle anything else, I can handle it on my own. And it didn’t work out the way everything was supposed to happen, and I’m sure people think that, and they always will, but to realize, I have regrets of what I do.
As hurtful as it is, and as painful as it is to tell people my experience, I really don’t care if people judge me, and I’m sure people do, but for me it has more to do with, I don’t want women to experience what I did and wait such a long time to get help. So judge me all you want, you know what, it doesn’t faze me, so long as I can reach women and they don’t have to go through what I went through.
One thing that I was always unsure where I should go, I’d have to call someone but then I’d have to give my name, I don’t have to give my name now if I don’t want to, there’s a phone number, I can go on the Web site, I can actually look things up, so there are certain things available that are not available to me. And also I think it’s phenomenal that all women in New Jersey after they give birth, receive information. That was another fear I had, if I ask for information on PPD, they know I’m going through it, so I’m not asking for it. So giving it to everyone and you read it when they gave it to me, along with everything else in the welcome packet I think that’s just fantastic because there’s going to be women like me who don’t want other people to know their business. But if you give it to everyone, everyone’s going to have the same thing.
So I just think that’s just one of the greatest thing they could’ve done, so many resources available now that weren’t available when I gave birth to my son.
My name is Sylvia and I’m married to Michael, and we reside in Franklin Lakes. We’ve been married for, its going to be 16 years this October.
When I had my daughter, and I was suffering from PPD, no one had ever mentioned those words, maybe once after. A few months after I went to go a psychiatrist who was pregnant herself, about seven-and-a-half months pregnant, and she maybe mentioned it once. But it was never mentioned in the hospital when I gave birth.
In fact, I still have the handbook that when they discharged me. It spoke in this handbook about how to care for your child, the umbilical cord wound, how to feed, how to change its diapers, you know, when to call a doctor, but it never mentioned anything about baby blues or postpartum depression, and that was eight years ago, so we’ve come a long way.
But the first time I ever heard of postpartum depression was probably a few months after birth, where someone would say, maybe what you're going through is called postpartum depression. And then things started to come in to fruition. I started to do my homework on the Internet, but there wasn’t much there. There were a few Web sites, but no resource centers or support groups I could contact. And I also, I was still in denial, there was a lot of shame for me, so it was tough.
I found out when I was going through postpartum and I was starting to heal, my mother had a nice conversation with me and told me that she had suffered postpartum depression with one of my younger brothers John, but they diagnosed it years ago in the '60s as a nervous breakdown. And I couldn’t understand why she didn’t tell me that, because she still felt that shame.
And to this day there's still a special bond between John and my mother because you feel like you need to make up for it. But as for depression, no, before I gave birth to Melina I was, my husband and I were both running two restaurants, well, we were running the first restaurant and in the works to open our second. So things were working very well, we were married seven years at the time and the birth was planned. So there was no depression or serious depression as I was growing up, no.
The doctor visits were all fine, I had a scheduled C-section, because I was a little small so the doctor was concerned. But Melina, my daughter, arrived two weeks early. But the pregnancy was fine, I worked all through the entire pregnancy. I was in the middle of painting our wine cellar in our new restaurant we were opening up, barefoot, I was literally barefoot and pregnant and tired, and I came home and my water broke. I never had the opportunity to nest.
I mean there were a couple times during the pregnancy where I was a little edgy or stressed but I always associated it with working too much. I still kept the same hours. But the pregnancy went well, thank goodness I didn’t have morning sickness. I felt tired the first trimester, but I knew when I finally gave birth to her it was about 2 in the morning and I was concerned because I didn’t hear her cry, but once I heard her cry and Michael had taken her and given her to me and I was just lying there and I looked at her and that was the first and last time I looked at my daughter, and looked into her eyes and after that I knew something was wrong.
I felt like, oh my God, what did I just do? I made the biggest mistake of my life. I was in the hospital for about five days and I did talk to a couple of the nurses and they said, ohhh, you’ll feel fine after the first week, its just the baby blues. And I talked to the nurses about actually giving her up for adoption.
So I knew immediately, hey, this isn't just going to pass, this was the baby blues. I knew that something was seriously wrong. And I didn’t have that bond, I didn’t feel anything. I felt sad, there was a little bit of anger, a lot of sadness, a heavy weight on my heart. At that time I had regrets, here we are we’re married, we’re happily married, what did I just do. So immediately I knew, something was off, and it hurt.
I did not try breastfeeding, because at the time, I didn’t want her near me. The first few days I didn’t sleep, I didn’t look at her, Michael was home, and my aunt who helped us at the restaurant came and helped me, she was going to help me out for the first couple weeks and then my mother would come.
I came home, and from the moment I got out of that car when I was leaving the hospital and my parents were outside with their video camera and my mother was holding her cappuccino, trying to capture every moment on video camera. I just started to cry, handed her the baby, and ran upstairs and shut the door and sobbed.
It was very, very difficult, and when Michael was leaving for work and I was screaming at him, here he was, just going to work and he always has been, and I was just so angry because nothing changed for him, and everything changed for me. And here I am, I’m so depressed, and he doesn’t know ... I just gave birth, maybe my hormones are a little off balance, but I was angry and sad. And I just put her in a bassinet and my Aunt Lina had gone to work with him and it was a struggle, it was very difficult for me the first three days, and things started to fall apart.
I was in denial, the stigma in any depression is heavy, but to have that associated with a mother not wanting her child, thestigma is just so heavy and so severe. What had happened was I had taken a nap, and Melina was in her bassinet in my room, and I had a nightmare which seemed so real. I had a nightmare I had gone over to the bassinet and smothered her. So in the middle of that I woke up and was literally wet with sweat and I was so afraid to walk over to the bassinet and see what I had done because it had felt so real.
When I finally walked over and saw she was OK, I ran over to my bed and there was some sleeping pills that I had and I emptied all the contents on the bed and I was about to swallow the pills, handfulls of pills and at that moment Melina just sighed and I just cried.
I couldn’t believe that I was going to do the unthinkable. So at that point I called my mom who lived about 15 minutes away, and she heard it in my voice. I said Ma, I just can't do this, and she said immediately, where's the baby, and I said she’s sleeping. Is she OK? Yes, and she was like, don’t you do anything stupid, promise me. And before she hung up she made me promise her, because it’s a bond my mother and I have, my word is everything, and I promised her.
And she arrived in about eight minutes, she was flying. A little Sicilian lady, I can only imagine her going down Skyline Drive with all its turns, and she ran up the staircase, picked up Melina, held my hand, and we all just cried. About 10 minutes later, I heard Michael’s footsteps come up, my mother had called Michael, and he had all his chef clothes, and she just grabbed his hands and said, everything's OK, Melina’s OK, Silivia’s OK, and she looked at Michael and said, I’m going to take the baby home with me as long as she needs to be with me and I trust you with my daughter's life. Someone needs to be with Sylvia, basically 24/7. Which is what happened, it was family, friends, brothers, cousins, always around me.
So that was a very touching moment and a scary moment, at that point I felt like, I couldn’t care for her. I couldn’t care for myself. Prior to that, I didn’t shower, I didn’t bathe, just the thought of getting up and brushing my teeth was so strenuous. I would sit there and lay in bed for hours, for two hours talking to myself, OK, I have to get up, I have to brush my teeth, I have to go to the bathroom. I felt like a failure. What kind of mother, what type of monster, that’s the way I felt. So it was very very traumatic for that week.
At that time, Michael couldn’t understand, I couldn’t understand, nobody really understood. My mother knew I was going through some type of depression, she knew in the hospital that something was wrong, but not this severe. And friends and family just knew immediately. I never held her; I never went to functions, and like I said, everybody orchestrated my recovery process very well. My brothers and my friends would come to visit. At the time I had a doctor who was a friend of mine, she’s still a friend of mine, and who's actually a psychologist who knew what was going on but because we were friends couldn’t treat me with the postpartum depression.
So she helped Michael and helped my family deal and help with me, but the baby stayed with my parents for the first nine months. I was only allowed family supervision, if I was in the bathroom for more than 5 minutes, somebody would be at the door knocking, and if I was at my mothers house in the bathroom for more than 5 minutes she’d knock or literally break in. Because her fear is, what are you doing, it was a very, very tough period. I didn’t know, I was like a child myself, and all the guilt walking past the bassinet even at my mother's house I would almost scurry past it so I didn’t have to look at her. So it was very difficult.
Right around that point I had to, but I went through a few, the first psychiatrist was leaving because she was in the middle of her final trimester. Then she set me up with a colleague of hers, which didn’t work out for me. In fact, the first time I saw her I saw her with my mother, and she just basically looked at me and looked at my mother and said, your daughter needs to take her baby home and bond. And my mother basically leaped from her chair, that was the first time I laughed I think, she leaped from her chair, shes 4'8" and went after the psychiatrist in her Sicilian slang, WHAT ARE YOU CRAZY? She wanted to see her credentials, that was a scene in itself. Because she couldn’t understand how this woman was telling me to not only take my baby home and bond with her but after everything I had been through, and she knew that I had tried taking my own life and she knew about the intrusive thoughts that I had to harm my baby, so my mother couldn’t get it.
So it was a few doctors I saw, and basically it was me and my family and their understanding of postpartum depression and the medication that helped me through it. But it was mostly family and friends, like I said, Maryanne helped in that sense because she was a doctor and explained what I was going through with the PPD, I didn’t know. It was so archaic, even though it was 8 years ago, but going 8 years ago, we’ve come such a long way that it was just a matter of time, and things started to turn around.
I wanted to be able to go visit my baby at my mother's house. Still, when I picked her up it was always in full view of my parents because they were always afraid if I would drop her, if I would do something, I couldn’t walk into the living room, I remember one time walking into the dining room and my mother is in her house coat drinking her espresso and she’s following me, and I turned around and said, Ma I just want to be alone with Melina, and she’s like, not yet.
In hindsight, I thank her for it, because I still wasn’t well. So it was just clockwork precision, my brothers spending time with me, my husband, my friends Kelly, Donna and Janey, Karen. I just had such a great support group, I was just so blessed, and I’m grateful. You look back and I just don’t think, well, I know I wouldn’t be here today. You look back and you think, wow, how truly honored and humbled and grateful I feel having that network that many women don’t have that and I feel for that. 800,000 women alone in the United States suffer from this and it’s a disgusting dark illness. A lot of them are suffering in shame, and blaming themselves and it's an illness, nobody wishes this upon themselves, just like nobody wishes to have breast cancer. So we have to treat it like an illness. I look back and think how people sacrificed for me, and I remember going down the shore with Maryanne and her husband, Chip, and they sacrificed weekends for me just to care for me to watch over me.
So there was a lot of things going on behind the scenes which I'm so grateful for. And my husband who stood behind me and I remember sitting at dinner one time in Florida and barely able to speak and I said to him, you know, I think you’re better off finding a new wife because I’m not going to get better and you deserve the best and Melina deserves the best, and he stuck with me.
So there was that undying support and love from my mother, my father, my Aunt Lina, my Cousin Anna, who all shared the responsibiliy of caring for an infant. My mother was in her 70s, she had raised 5 children, so they put their lives on hold. So I was truly blessed, for all my brothers John, David, Jim, and Nick, who were there, always at the right time. My sister-in-law Kim who would always just check up and see how I was doing. My mother-in-law who would call up to see how I was doing. So I just had this support group, but not many people have what I had, it’s rare. So many people are mothers who have family that are in different states, or further away, or husbands who have to work, but I was allowed the time to heal and acclimate my child.
And I remember when I was recovering I never wanted to speak about it again, I was so embarrassed, but I would never do that to someone else because if I can help one person, one mother, I can help a family, I'm helping a husband a child, a grandparent, an uncle, the siblings so I would not, for me to never talk about postpartum depression is turning my back on these women, and I won't, I refuse to turn my back on women who are suffering like this. To embrace them and say hey, it’s going to be OK, I know what you're going through and you will be OK, that means everything to me.
I remember sitting on the couch with my brother because he had a newborn as well, Lara, who was a month old, she was born in July and Melina was born in August and we were both sitting there, and my mother plopped the baby on me and we're watching TV, me and john, and Melina is on my chest, And my mother's standing there and I could see her from the corner of my eye and she's standing at the end of the couch, at the other end, and we're watching TVat my mother's house, we had like 25 TVs and none of the TVs were less than 70 inches big so it was like a cineplex in every room and Melina is just fussing, she’s probably about 2 months old, and she's trying to pull her shirt and fussing, not crying but just to do something, and I knew she wanted me to look at her, and I just wouldn't give in. So finally, she kind of pushed her little neck and I looked at her and we just made that eye contact and I looked at her, and she sighed, she just went, siighhh, and put her head on my shoulder and she just slept, it was like a small miracle, but every miracle's a miracle.
And I remember looking over to my mother and she's crying and I look over at my brother John and he's emotional and I kissed her forehead and said, Mommy's here, I hear you, I feel you, and I see you and it was like the gates just opened, and it was like, this child with as much love as she was receiving from her grandparents, her uncles, her friends, she wanted to be loved by her mother, she wanted to know, hey Mommy are you here, because I’m here, and it was just a beautiful feeling. And I will never, ever forget that feeling. Her smell, what she was wearing, her little fingers, how everything in her body just released, as well as mine, and that was I think, the road to recovery.
The next week I started walking her. My parents lived in Ridgewood at the time at the end of a cul-de-sac and I'd walk her in the stroller, it was my mother and my Aunt Lina and we'd all walk around the cul-de-sac and I'd notice a few days later it was just me and her walking, and I realized, oh my god, my mother trusts me with Melina. And she would just sigh and make all these sounds just to be with her mother, and that's what a child wants, to be loved, it's truly God's gift. It's just an amazing gift having a child.
There's no better relationship, she's the lifeline to my heart. She's the air that I breathe, to hear her laugh, to hear her breathe, to hear her play outside or with her friends, there's no better feeling, it's priceless. You've acquired all the wealth, me and my husband have done it together, but nothing compares to your child's laugh or her hug, or her smile, she's truly a happy child, and a lot of that has to do with all the love she got when I couldn't be there for her. And she doesn't care about the first 9 months or being at my mom's house, or me not picking her up or changing her, or me not feeding her for the first 5 days in the hospital, because the most important thing is that she has her mommy.
We take our walks, we laugh together, we joke together, we get our nails done. She doesn't care about anything other than having her mother around and that's what mothers need to know that your child just wants you around, your child wants you healthy, and you will get better, so there's no better accomplishment I've done in life than having Melina. I couldn't imagine a day without her. And at times when I speak, or when I travel around, when I travel out to Washington, I miss her, she's a funny little kid, full of life, so it's wonderful having her.
I feel blessed I was part of that (change in awareness) with Mary Jo Codey who I'm dear friends with, we've traveled a lot together as we spoke a lot. And Susan Stone, who is a past former president of postpartum support international, who's now with Perinatal Pro. I feel totally blessed and so relieved that these women, anytime, anywhere, could go on the Internet, make a phone call and get the support and help they need.
We've come a long way, and a lot of people have plowed the way, and I'm just a part of the ride. I wasn't the entire force, but former Governor Richard Codey, Senator Menendez. I mean, there's so many support groups out there.
You're right, I think about wow, it's a lot more easier for a woman to navigate and get the right help, and search for the right help. Or even for the families, if they feel that their daughter, or their niece, or their wife is suffering, they can go on the Internet and there's 1-800 phone numbers that you can call to receive the right help.
There's so much more than 8 years ago, but still there's so much more that needs to be done. Theres so much more that needs to be done, legislation still hasn't passed, the Mothers Act, we have to pass the Mothers Act, and New Jersey is truly blessed, we have paved the way. We are in the forefront, we’re the pioneers, but we need everyone else to join on board now, and we will not stop until everyone women in the United States can get the help, or before they're released or discharged from the hospital, it will be in that handbook that wasn't in my handbook.
A nurse will say to you, if you don't feel right or you feel depressed don't hesitate to call, here are the numbers, they'll talk to the husbands, there's so much more work that needs to be done. I don't want to sit here and gloat and say OK, everything's done, let's sit here and sit back and relax, nah uh, I’m not going to sit here and relax until every woman can speak about postpartum depression and come clean without the shame or the embarrassment and I will not stop until that happens.
So there's still a lot more work that needs to be done. I'm very proud in the state that I live that we're knocking out PPD. Everybody knows that if you click on postpartum depression, even in South Dakota, it will lead you back to New Jersey, because we are so ahead of its time. But we still have more room to grow also, so I think we have come a long way but there's still a lot more work that needs to be done.
If there was a screening tool available and if someone did talk about postpartum depression before I was discharged absolutely I would've reached out for help sooner. I didn't know what I was dealing with, my family didn't know, my husband didn't know. But we need to let these women know, they're not to blame. Don't feel any shame, when we're depressed or we're feeling sick about something else, we reach out for help. If we have diabetes or our cholestrol is high, we're put on the right medication. We should not feel ashamed to ask for help and if those tools were planted there when I had given birth, yes, I think the recovery process would've been a lot quicker, or my family wouldn't have endured the pain I went through.
Yeah, I wish, but I'm not going to look back, I'm not going to be angry. I still go to the same OBGYN who at the time said, don't worry about Sylvia, you're going to be fine. You can't blame the hospital, you can't blame the nurses. It takes so much negative energy to do that, let's move forward, let's instill, let's add these screening tools, let's talk to the mothers, let's talk to the families, prior to the birth, or when she gives birth, say hey, if you're experiencing this, this is where you can reach out, here's a number where you can call.
Let's not be ashamed. So I'’m not going to look back and say, oh, I wish, or I should've, or they could've, or would've, let's just move forward and offer this, what I didn't have and what a lot of women didn't have prior to Melina, and a lot of women, Mary Jo Codey and all the owmen who suffered, let's offer this to all the women who suffer now. It's not too late.
My advice is to not be ashamed, you're not alone, you're not to blame, and with help you will be well, I promise you. Postpartum Depression is 100 percent treatable, but you first have to ask for help. And that includes the family, some women sleep too much, some women don't sleep enough, they cry, they're agitated, it's different for everyone, but if you feel that you're not right, and your husband knows that something's wrong, do not be afraid to reach out for help.
My name is Michael Frodella and I’m married to Sylvia Lasalandra Frodella and we’ve been married for 16 years, and born and raised in New Jersey, both of us.
I had never heard about it, when it was introduced to me I actually had to write it down, because it was postpartum depression, and words that were very unfamiliar to me. With regards to if I said it, which was very rarely if I did, people would look at me with a little bit of a tilted head with no understanding at all. Nor did I have any understanding of postpartum depression.
I think the first time I did hear about it was when an office psychologist, or at a psychiatrist’s office and it was myself, Sylvia, my in-laws were present, and we were all in a room and after an interview with Sylvia they took us up to a room and after several visits to different doctors this one doctor said she felt that Sylvia may have postpartum depression.
Even at that point, as a professional she was not able to depict whether it was or not, and obviously it was a severe depression. She was incapable of doing many basic things around the house and even personally. There was definitely something wrong and that was the first time I had heard of it.
Even though I was very busy with the restaurant, we had a very busy restaurant, I used to work 12-16 hour days, I always made time to go to the doctors and visit. We actually had a very good rapport with the OBGYN, and I guess there was never really an issue with the pregnancy. We felt like we were going through a very normal pregnancy.
With regards to Sylvia’s demeanour, she seemed fine. We were happy to have a child, and when we found out it was a girl, I think the only issue was that maybe she thought I wanted a boy and it didn’t really matter to me. But that was the only blurb that maybe through the pregnancy she thought that there was an issue, and that probably lasted two hours, it was a conversation in the car and that was the end of it.
But, with regards to the pregnancy, everything went well other than it was a scheduled C-section and she was due a couple of weeks early and it was a combination of me watching the Mets game and her water breaking, and me asking if she was sure her water broke, but other than that it was pretty normal.
When Melina was first born, the doctor gave me the baby because Sylvia was in recovery because of her C-section, and I knew there was something wrong when Melina was three minutes old. I walked into the recovery room, and Sylvia was sedated, but knowing the woman for the 10 years that I knew her, not only were we married but we were great friends and we had a really great relationship, you just know the person. And I said to her, I was holding Melina, and I said, Sylvia look, it’s Melina, it's our daughter. And Sylvia kind of looked over at the child and kind of glanced away.
And I just knew, that wasn't right, I knew something was wrong. It was amazing, the connection, when I finally got Sylvia to say hello, and Melina was only 2 or 3 minutes old, but as soon as Sylvia said her name, Melina's neck just went to her right away. I was just amazed by that, and obviously, she heard the voice within all the time, but obviously she recognized it, but it's just amazing the alertness of a 3-minute-old child to recognize her voice. So I thought even that reaction to her would spark it and having no reaction to that, even sedated somewhat, coming out of sedation, I knew that there was something wrong but it kind of stood inside and didn’t come out.
I'm one of 8 children, Sylvia's one of 5 and our mentality is we work, we raise a family, we go to work every day and we raise kids together. I noticed it in the beginning, obviously in the visits to the hospital, and the first night I slept in the hospital on the sofa in the room. There were some feelings of, I don't want to change the baby, the scar, it hurts, every excuse not to pick up the baby or even connect with it.
Every time somebody came in, there were enough friends or relatives coming in to pick up the baby, so she was able to get away with that. But from afar I was watching and knowing my wife and the love that she has for and the compassion that she has for people, I noticed something that there wasn't a connection.
When I brought Sylvia home from the hospital, she was hoping that I forgot the car seat so they wouldn't release her, and I didn't forget that. On our way home, when we were walking out of the hospital she was crying and I thought it was just hormonal but there was still something.
We got in the car and I put Melina in the carseat, Sylvia was in the passenger side and there was nothing said, not one word. I think I might've said a little bit about the business, I think I might've made a little small talk, but I knew, being with the woman so long that she didn’t want to talk right now, and I gave her that space. When we got home, there was a big reception there, and stork on the lawn, and there was my mother-in-law and my wife's aunt, and a whole bunch of people, and the video camera was out and Sylvia basically just gave the baby to my mother-in-law and ran inside and cried. I didn't know what to say, I was embarrassed to a certain point, there was another part that was protecting my life, saying like, she's not feeling well, you know, and it's, whatever excuse I gave to people.
And the next day I woke up, that night was a tough night, just a lot of anxiety, as one would have on the first night that a baby would be home, and Melina was great through it, I think she woke up once through the first night, and then maybe early morning she did not cry, she was an easy baby.
The next morning I had to go into work, I was building a restaurant as well as running one, and I felt bad for her, I saw her eyes and they were empty. I felt guilty for going to work that day. Did I need to? It was just a responsibility I felt, we had 70 employees I was responsible for, not only for our business, but for our family, you know, we need to pay the bills. It was something I look back on and think, maybe I could've done it a little differently.
So I went to the supermarket and bought some of those easy bottles of formula like they have in the hospital, all you have to do is put on the little nipple and feed her, and I thought that was my idea of, everything's good, you can feed her now, and I left that day.
And I remember this server who used to work for me and my family for years, and when I walked into work everyone was excited for me and I was up pretty much the whole night, and she was like, how is it, how is it. And I looked at her, knowing that we were a little bit more friendly and more of a mother figure for me, and I burst out into tears and I ran up into the office, it was uncontrollable, but I knew it was this pain starting deep inside that I didn’t know how to express, nor did I want to express it.
Part of it was embarrassment and inability to raise a family, and there was failures not only for the mother but for the father too, you have to understand that. I was a person that felt like they were in control of things, together with Sylvia. You try to control things and certain things you can't control, theres those anxieties and depression that you start feeling. But on the most part, it starts there when you start to bury it, and not knowing much about it, you protect it, and because that's what's going to harm you, that's what's going to expose you, so you dig deep and just kind of bury it there for as long as you possibly can.
Listen, I'd like to paint myself as the perfect person, but the point of not understanding it 100 percent, and you're married, and you have your own frustrations in work and trying to handle life's challenges on a professional side.
Then there's the home side, and you're trying to balance it. With regards to how I treated Sylvia, you know, there was a point of feeling robbed a little bit because you come home every day and you'’re working and you want to come home every night and just say hi to your daughter and kiss her or hug her, or go to sleep with her on your belly. All those things that you see on TV that happens.
And I think with regards to, there's a feel for normalcy, so I think that although you dig deep and you know that, listen, my wife has to get better, and the only way for her to get better is, A, appease her, and give her whatever she needs, whatever she asks for, you try to appease to the best of your ability.
Then there's the other piece where you have to be an actor, where you know you have hurt inside and you know your wife's hurt, but you have to be the stronger one, knowing that you're not the one dealing with depression, not from a medical standpoint, but the reality is you do, and when things aren't well at home, you feel depressed and you feel trapped and now where do you go.
Not only is it at this point, we're starting to understand somewhat of what Sylvia has, meanwhile you're balancing things, and you feel, almost a feeling like, what about me? And you don't want to, because it's so selfish, and you don't want to feel that, but it's human nature, and you start feeling like, well, I'm feeling it, I'm feeling depressed. But, at the same time, you have to show your strength to support your wife and support everything that you feel and it's a rollercoaster and what you really have to do is, I remember one point we went down to Florida for a week thinking with the craziness of everything happening, the restaurants, at this point my mother-in-law took Melina and we went down to Florida, and it was the first time I was able to read a book in a very long time, because there was really not a lot of conversation, Sylvia was sleeping a lot, and when we did find time to go out to dinner, there was one time when Sylvia said to me, why don't you find somebody and we can't have this baby, we need to put the baby up for adoption and inside I knew that would never happen.
But there was one point when, well it was two parts, but first I had to make sure I wasn't going anywhere and I wasn't going to leave her to give her that confidence, but then the second part of it is, I almost had to appease her and tell her whatever it takes, if it takes that, to do that, which you never want to do, which I knew would never happen, you almost have to say it, just to appease her and make her feel better, so she comes out of that dark hole that she's in, like sending a rope down so you can pull her out, just a little bit, so you can see a little light at the end of the tunnel.
And that's probably one of the hardest things I've had to do, in trying to do the appeasement of getting her back out of that dark hole where you don't want anyone to be.
With regards to exactly day to day, there's so much that I could go on and on and say that every day had a different occurrence and the tension that you feel when she looks at you in the morning, and your wife looks at you and says, I know you want Melina home, what do you say? Do you say yes, I definitely want my daughter home, the obvious answer, or you go down deeper in your soul and you say, whatever it takes, my daughter will be home soon, or however long it takes, and when that time comes that's the right time.
I wasn't that keen to always say that, I will tell you. I eventually got it, that is the right answer, that's definitely the right answer, when it's time, our life will come back together again. But until that time comes we'll wait and be patient because I will be honest with you and say I wasn't savvy enough to say that from the start.
When she says, I know you want your baby home, and I was like, yes, I know, that's the wrong thing because it's just like letting go of that rope and letting her go deeper. And I didn't get it at the time, but I eventually got it. It was hard, the first couple weeks and first couple of months there was so much going on, forget about going in to work and the craziness of seeing a thousand people, and answering questions, that's the hardest part.
Answering questions about how is it, how is it at home, how's the baby, yeah, the baby's fine. I think the one time, and I think I learned by mistake, a couple that I knew well and they didn't have a baby, the woman couldn't have any children, and the man did have a couple children, and she said, oh, how great is it, and I was at the end of the night and I was just ready to go home, and he goes, have a drink with me at the bar and I said OK, I'll have a drink. He goes, how is it, and I go, to tell you the truth we're having a lot of problems and Sylvia's depressed. She wants to give the baby up for adoption. Well, that didn't go over too well, he looked at me like I had three heads, and I learned from that to be careful and choose your words. That's kind of what the feeling of the day to day and what you go through to try to cope.
What we started to do as an exercise was to, I had to take more responsible in the role, and it was something I wanted to do and it was a chance for us to spend time with our daughter alone. On our day off, we closed the restaurants on Sunday. I used to pick up Melina either before or after church, I'd pick her up from church and I'd bring her home after and we'd spend the day together. And we'd do things, we'd go to family functions if we needed to, or go out, or even just stay home and spend some time watching TV on the sofa. I tried to keep every responsibility away from Sylvia, washing the baby, changing the baby, even feeding the baby, and then she would pick up and say, hey, let me do it.
Sometimes I'd see her face and it becomes challenging because there's almost this disconnect to a point of, it's a chemical imbalance, and I think that was the start to turn, picking up the baby and doing those things on a slower pace. Remember our lives weren't like everyone else'’s, we didn’t have 9-5 jobs, it was a very demanding life that we had that we were used to, and it changed. And I don't know if that was part of it, but anyone I know that I see who has it, there's no same scenario, like it has to be this and that's why it happens, but that doesn't happen, it can happen to anybody at any given time. There's no rhyme or reason to it.
Of course, you try to rationalize with yourself and say, well this is why it happens because we have crazy lives and we're always so busy, but the reality is that everyone has it in their own way. We live in a very busy area and we feel like that's the reason, but it happens in Nebraska, it happens in Europe, it happens in the cafes in Paris, it happens everywhere. So I think that's kind of the feel of every day, that was when she started to feel closer, and we started to have a few days together, and then it starts feeling like the confidence, the wholeness of what you feel. It's hard to explain, because so many people ask me, how long does it take. I don’t know, it could happen in a month, in a year, in two years. It doesn’t have a path, and that’s the craziness to it. But I think in regards to Sylvia, she knew she wanted to be a mother. She fought it to a certain extent, and then it started to feel better to her.
I mean, is it overwhelming, no, because I think it still has a certain stigma still tied to it. I'm sure people have wanted to ask me about it and maybe didn't. But yes, because of Sylvia's outreach, I've had a couple of instances when people have called me. There was one actually when I was running a club, a private club, and I spotted her and I knew her, and I realized even before she had the baby, she told me that knowing that I went through it, she started confiding in me, I'm feeling depressed. And that was actually before, so it was a different issue, so I gave her materials to read. She's still getting help.
And then another person called me who I knew, a friend through a friend, and was diagnosed for postpartum, his sister had a daughter, and she actually started coming up to New Jersey for treatment and living with her parents just to get through it. And that was so far a quick success rate because she was able to get better rather quickly, I think it took her maybe two or three months as opposed to the other situation which was probably over a year.
Yes people do come, I’ve had some interview with Sylvia, and it's something that I don't mind speaking out, because to help other men and women to cope with it and try and get through it. I don't think enough men come out and speak about so other men can relate to how to treat them, and how to be a husband while your whole family life is going crazy and how to deal with that. But yes, people do come to me and I try to help.
You'd have to understand that to bury it, because the more you bury it the more you feel trapped. And for any person, for any man or woman, or from the husband's side because I can probably relate more is that you really just have to embrace your wife and your child as much as possible. Appease your wife, there might be some demands that she might say, and understand that whatever she says she doesn't mean to a certain extent.
I remember there was a point where she didn't want to be married or she said I should move on and I couldn't imagine A, if I listened to her, or B, what her life would be or what my life would be or even what my daughter's life might be. That's really when you understand the true meaning of family life . When an illness hits the family, any illness, and someone's needed to deal with it before, you know that life changes to a certain extent and its life changing, you look at things differently. When you go outside, instead of that run and run and run, you tend to look at the trees and smell the roses and let me understand that. And to avoid collapse, you never want to look back and say I coulda shoulda woulda, and it's time to really tighten your belt and understand that your wife is very sick, and whatever you do, you have to rescue her, because the worst scenario is looking back and saying I could've done things differently.
We all have regrets and we all understand that there are things in life that we should've decided to do differently. This is one that you really just have to take hold of and embrace and tell her that you love her and that you're behind her and that whatever it takes to make her better that you’re going to do and that you’re there and that she has your support implicity, because she will never get better unless you give her the support.
It's a shame if just because of PPD that can break a relationship a family, it has ill effects, shocking waves throughout the family if it takes hold, but don't let it take hold of that. Don’t let that control you, you control it, and the way to control that is through love and compassion and patience. And every virtue that you need to take hold of and everything you can say, and sometimes you have to say things that you may not even truly believe in yourself, but remember supposedly you're the one that has total sanity at this point, and that chemical reaction that kicks in with PPD, women and mothers cant make rational decisions.
To go to the bathroom might be a huge decision to go or not, believe it or not, it sounds crazy, but should I take a shower today. Should I shave my legs, I mean, all these pieces are like huge decisions and you're just looking at it like get a grip, come on.
I think the mentality of men is, not to say that I wasn't one of them, is come on, people have been raising kids for thousands of years and what makes you so different. And it's just this mentality, and the public eye that doesn't look at PPD as an illness, and there are people still out there like that unfortunately. They look at it that way, and just because a mother was fortunate enough not to experience PPD, well God bless that person. But don't look down upon woman who have, because you don’t know. Some women told me they had a perfect pregnancy and I could wait, and I loved it so much and I'm just like, you know what, God blessed you. But don't down others who haven't had that ability to or the pleasure of, because we have to live with knowing that we missed some treasured years, or months, or moments.
And that is the key to understanding, don't judge others and I've never heard, I don't know of any illness out there that people have an opinion on, whether its real or not, but I will tell you, it is real. When people don't know its real, I think Brooke Shields said it the best, she said, well grow some ovaries and figure it out. It was a great quote, and I giggled when I heard it because you can't condemn, you shouldn'’t condemn yourself, you shouldn't condemn what's happening, just embrace it. In short, embrace it, try to understand it, and really just give the love and compassion that your family needs.
And don't worry about anything else because it'll all work itself out. Just get help, Google postpartum, there is help out there, we need a lot more, and I can't believe that with the trillion this country spending on the bailout that we can not afford ourselves for the Mothers Act Bill to pass it and get some much needed support and dollars to every state in the union that can help mothers who are out west and don't have what we have.
We’re in the Mecca of hospitals and help, what about that person or mother who's out in farmland and cant get help, and can't even speak about it because her neighbor lives 5 miles away. There are so many pieces of it, but I just think embrace, and that's the best piece of advice I can give.
Speaker: OK, letís just start off with you giving us your full name umm ... how old are you, where you live, married how long, the basics on you.
Adrienne: My name is Adrienne Richardson, I am 31 years old, I live in Vineland New Jersey I am married with two children and I have been married for 4 years.
Speaker: So well just go ahead and get right into it Ö when did you first hear the term postpartum depression? And in your own words how would you define it?
Adrienne: I probably heard about postpartum depression long before I was ever pregnant. I have heard about it through the media and watching things on TV hearing about other things. Iím sorry what was the second part of the question?
Speaker: How would you describe it?
Adrienne: I would describe PPD basically as pretty much ok sorry do you want me to talk about what I thought it was or what I think it is now
Speaker: Maybe both because maybe it will show like you know after you went through it, how your definition changed, so what you thought of it when you initially heard about when you initially heard about it on TV and what not what you thought it was and after you experience.
Adrienne: I when I first heard about PPD I would hear things on the news or in the media I didnít have a lot of opinion about it or thoughts about I just thought it was women getting very depressed after having a baby, my experience with PPD kind of enlightened me to that it is more than a depression and itís a lot more about isolation and shame and those are things that I wasnít even aware of or gave a thought to previously to me having it.
Speaker: Did you experience PPD with your first child or with your second child? I know you have two.
Adrienne: I had PPD with my first child.
Speaker: Was it a normal pregnancy or was your experience a good one when you found out when you were pregnant? Did you have any type of complications? Or did you have a normal pregnancy?
Adrienne: For me, I have had previous miscarriages so right from the beginning this pregnancy was I had to take a lot of progesterone hormones lots of doctors visits lots of ultrasounds, so it was kind of riddled with fear from the beginning, very cautious all the time. It was a pretty normal pregnancy besides frequent doctors visits and taking medication. It was really when I went into labor the night before my birthday, it was three weeks early. I really didnít think I was in labor, I thought I had been to the hospital before three times previously thinking I was in labor so I was thinking that I was really not going to go to the hospital unless I was really having a baby so I kind of just putting it off. putting it off.
I was in labor for about 14 hours at home and then my water broke at home and my contractions were like every three minutes so I had an hour drive to the hospital with contractions every three minutes. By the time I got to the hospital I was like seven centimeters dilated so they rushed me right up to labor and delivery got me all set and ready to go but because it was early my son had never dropped so they kind of just had me sitting there waiting for him to drop and basically I was dilated to 10 for hours and hours and hours before I ever actually got to start pushing. Once I gave birth, because I had been in labor for so long, my uterus was exhausted and so it couldnít contract so I started to hemorrhage. I lost more than half the blood in my body, they were very close to doing a hysterectomy.
As soon as my son came out they realized he had a problem with his heart. It was beating very fast, about 300 beats a minute, so he was taken immediately to the NICU and it took them about three hours to get my bleeding under control. So it was a very, very horrible, traumatic delivery, extremely traumatic, very, very painful.
And for the first couple days, I didnít even see my son. He was in the NICU and I wasnít even able to even get out of bed because I didnít get a blood transfusion until like three days after I had given birth so it was extremely difficult to see him. They couldnít bring him to me and I couldnít go see him and I really because of all the pain that I was in, it was like I couldnít even think about it. I was thinking about him but at the same time I couldnít even get excited that I had just given birth because I was in such a tremendous amount of pain.
So it was a couple days before I got to go see him in the NICU and he was only in the NICU for five days. He was lucky. Some preemie babies are there for months, I canít even imagine that. But when he came home, he came home on a heart monitor and medications that had to be measured just right or you know it could cause more damage than good. And when he was about three weeks old, he became colicky.
And the first couple weeks after he was born I was tearful but I just assumed it was because I just had the horrific experience, you know my son had a heart condition and I had lost all this blood and I was weak, and he was weak. And so in the beginning just being tearful I just thought well Iím sad because I have this sick baby. But about three weeks into it he developed colick, he had acid reflux and so every time we fed him he was vomiting. He cried all day, all the time, never stopped. He didnít sleep for longer than 45 minutes at a time so I wasn't sleeping for more than 45 minutes at a time. And I was very sleep-deprived. I was still very weak from all the blood that I had lost. I wasnít able to breastfeed. I tried, but my milk would not come down so I was devastated about that because I really wanted to breastfeed. All around, I just really felt like a failure like I was so excited, I tried so hard, I wanted a child so badly and now I had this baby and it was like, this isnít what I thought it was going to be. This isnít, I wasnít full of joy and happiness. I had friends that were like, oh I saw my baby and I instantly fell in love. And well, that didnít happen for me and I thought whatís wrong with me? It was a very sad time and I didnít want to admit that to anybody that I was feeling that way because I felt wrong for feeling that way so I kind of just kept it to myself. People could see that I was sad and tearful. My mom and my husband could see that but they didnít really know the thoughts that were going on inside my head.
Speaker: So at that point when you were tearful you considered that maybe it was just a result of the delivery and how, when did you start to think that it might be a baby blues or even possibly postpartum?
Adrienne: I really, itís a funny thing about PPD is that I donít think that at least for me that you donít consciously think you have PPD, you really just think that especially for me that being a very strong independent person it was like I can handle this. You know, whatís wrong with me you know, whatís nothing I havenít been able to handle before. You just need to get your act together, get over it, this is what it is. But at the same time it was like, feeling sorry for myself like you know, I donít want to be a mom anymore. This is horrible if this is what being a mom is all about, I donít want to do this. I was starting to have these bad thoughts. My husband was actually more concerned about it than I was. He was talking to my mom and my mom would say, she doesnít have PPD, she just has the blues. That is normal, every woman goes through this.
I would cry all day and my mom would tell me, this is completely normal, every woman goes through this. And my husband kept saying, something is wrong with my wife. And my mom kept saying, she doesnít have PPD, she doesnít need medication. And it was like this battle going on in my house because my husband felt that something was wrong with my wife and my mom was like there is nothing wrong with my daughter, she doesnít need medication, sheís not crazy, thereís nothing wrong with her.
And I was just kind of keeping it to myself what I was really thinking and really feeling and I remember calling one of my girlfriends and saying to her, you know this is, I kind of opened up to her and I kind of told her how I was feeling. This is whatís happening to me, Iím crying all the time, you know this is how Iím feeling. I said, do you think I could have PPD? And she was like, no way. She was like, you know she couldnít really relate to what I was going though because she never had experienced that. But at the same time she was like, no it's not PPD, you just need to snap out of it, you need to get over it and move on.
And I just became more and more isolated, the thoughts that I was having in my head. You know, wmy son would be crying all the time, I would sometimes be like, oh I could just put a pillow over his face. Or I started to have these visions and thoughts of hurting him, you know I would think all the time, I just want to to die, I just want to die. You know, if I wasn't alive it would be better so I just started having thoughts of suicide, I had thoughts of hurting my child. I became very physically violent against my husband and I would blame everything on him -- I wouldnít feel this way if you would do this, it's your fault because you're not helping me. I just started to attack him. And so everybody around me could see what was happening to me but I was in denial, not consciously but you donít actually chose to be in denial. But the fear and the shame of the thoughts I was having kept me from admitting the problem.
And so I actually never consciously decided I have PPD or never looked for help. It was my husband. He called my doctor, which shocked me. My husband is not the go-get 'em, take control kind of person and how he even knew what my doctor's phone number was I have no idea. But he called my doctor without me knowing and told her what was going on. So she called me and just said, oh Iím just calling to check up on you. And I said, everything is fine. And she said, well you know your husband was a little concerned about you. And instantly I was furious that he had called her and I said, thereís nothing wrong with me, the problem is my husband not me. And you know I just began to complain about him and said heís the problem not me if he would just do this or that then everything would be fine, thereís nothing wrong with me. And she said, well Iím going to order you medication that I want you to pick up and just try and see if it helps. I said not thereís nothing wrong with me, Iím not going to take it. She said, well Iím going to order it anyway and I hope that youíll go pick it up. This, of course, started a huge fight between me and my husband, I canít believe you called my doctor. What did you tell her? Thereís nothing wrong with me, the problem is you. I called my girlfriend and my girlfriend said, donít you dare take that medication, thereís nothing wrong with you, you're not crazy. And my mom said the same thing, but the next day, I donít know why, but I went and got the medication and I didnít tell anybody and I started taking it without anyone and I thought well, let's see what happens. And it slowly started to get better and then I admitted that I was taking the medication to my husband and to my mom. And my husband was thrilled and my mom was mad and, you know, taking the medication helped. It took a couple months, it took probably a good three to four months before I was better. And I think that my son was about nine months old before I actually started to enjoy him and looked at him with that unconditional love that you expect to have when they come out and they are born. And they you know I finally had that joy and happiness and excited about being a mother and really, really, truly loving him. He was about nine months old so it took awhile.
Speaker: At any point did you go to therapy or any kind of support group for moms or anything like that?
Adrienne: No, and I wasnít aware that any even existed. I do know that my doctor gave me the pamphlet, the Speak Up When You're Down pamphlet and said thereís an 800 number on here that I'd like you to call. Each time I'd go visit with her, she would ask me how I was doing and I would tell her that I was miserable and I didnít understand why people had kids and I was never having any more and it was horrible. And she would give me the pamphlet and say you should call this number and I wouldnít. I said Iím not calling this number and talking to some stranger, thereís nothing wrong with me and I wouldnít call the number and I never did, never did. I never had any counseling sessions I just had the medication. And had my doctor said, well hey, we have this therapist at the hospital maybe next time you come ypu can talk to her, I might have been willing to do that. But therapy was never, ever brought up by my doctor or anybody else and I didnít seek it either.
Speaker: So you basically overcame it with the medication?
Speaker: How long were you on the medication?
Adrienne: I was on it for a good four months before I actually started to feel better feel myself again but I took it probably for about nine months.
Speaker: Can you share what was your first memory when you said, you know what, I like this motherhood thing? What was your first memory of like you said, looking at your son and enjoying him do you remember what you guys were doing?
Adrienne: I remember I started to enjoy him more when he was 9 months old but I remember his first birthday and saying you know I actually might want another child. My mom was like, you're crazy because she knew just how horrible it had been for me and it was his first birthday party and I looked at him and said I love him so much and I want another one. And I actually got pregnant that next day with my second child. My son is born on my birthday. It was my birthday and my daughter was conceived then and so that was the first time I remember standing there and him sitting there in front of his birthday cake and me really enjoying that moment and thinking, Iím ready to do this again which I never for a whole year I thought I donít know how anybody ever has more than one child. How can you do this and decide to do this again? And my friends were like offended because I was like youíre crazy if you have more than one child. I even asked my doctor why would anyone have more than one child and go through this and decide to go through it again? And at that moment in the kitchen with my son on his 1st birthday I understood why somebody would do it again and that was my first real memory that I remember that was happy.
Speaker: Most women say that their first pregnancy Iím not going to go through that again. Why donít you talk about your second pregnancy and knowing what you now knew about PPD, what you did to prevent or what you had in your head what to look for the signs and what not?
Adrienne: The second time around, I had a different doctor and I kind of asked a lot of my friends and people that were in that industry who they recommend. And I knew that I didnít want to drive another hour away so I was looking for somebody nearby. The doctor that I found I was very from day one by that time I was done with the shame and the guilt and I could talk about it openly and didnít feel like there was anything wrong with me anymore. So I went to my doctor and on the very first appointment I had I told him I had PPD and I told him I canít go through it again, whatever we have to do, whatever needs to change, you know we have to do something about it. I donít want, you know, I asked him, is this going to happen again? He said it does increase your chances of getting PPD. If you have had it the first time, the chances are high you will have it the second time.
And when I was very open with him, how bad the PPD was and the thoughts I had and the things I was going through. I didnít hold anything back and so he was like right from the beginning was like you know as soon as your child is born, we have therapists, we can get you in touch with them we can have you talk to them. And I want to start you on a medication the day that your daughter is born. And I kind of struggled with that, well should I wait and see if I have PPD first and then start the medication? It was like kind of going back and forth with it.
I had a difficult pregnancy the second time around. It was complicated and so my doctor was doing everything he did not want me to have the same experience I had the first time as far as the delivery and the afterwards. He was very practical on we're changing that and so because of the bad hemorrhaging the first time we had planned a C-section that would be in a more controlled environment so he ordered medication for me. At the time I decided I donít even want to take my chances with going through that because what if, again I think there is nothing wrong with me, what if I donít recognize the signs? So I wasnít willing to change it especially because my first child was so young. He wasnít even 2 yet and I thought, I canít melt down like that when I have got a 2-year-old now and a new born to take care of.
And so we did a C-section and I started medication the day that she was born. And I remember calling him about a week into after she was born and called the doctor and I said, I feel great. I said, do you think that itís the medication because I was only on it for like 5 or 6 days and before? It was a different medication he gave me the second time from what I had the first time. I said, you know do you think itís the medication that is making me feel this way? Or do you really think it's been a different experience? It's a completely different experience.
I felt great, I felt amazing. Most people I had know who had C-sections were like, itís the worst thing ever. And I was like, this is a piece of cake compared to what I had been through the first time, this is great. So he said I donít know. He said, it could be the medication is getting into your system and I suggest you keep taking it. So I kept taking it and I never experienced any PPD.
I actually had, I was a very happy person after I had my second child and so I continued to take that medication probably for a year and when it came time to get off of it I couldnít get off of it. I struggled with withdrawal from the medication and it actually took me another 6 months to wean myself off of the medication. And looking back now you know I think, well maybe I shouldnít have taken it because it was so hard to get off of but you know the alternative who knows what the alternative could have been? You never know.
Speaker: Iím actually curious about your mom. I know your mom was very adamant that nothing was wrong with you and that you were just having a difficult time, it was just the baby blues. Do you think that she did not understand what PPD is or was? Have you guys talked about that and how did she feel knowing that you did have PPD and it seemed like she was in denial too?
Adrienne: I think that because of my motherís generation they didnít know anything about PPD and women who behaved the way that I did were crazy. And so for my mom to hear in the beginning when my husband was suggesting there is something wrong she might have PPD, to me that was like someone telling my mother her daughter was crazy. I think that her denial actually made me -- none of this is her fault -- but her denial actually hurt me because I think that if my mom would have said this isnít normal, maybe we should talk to somebody that I would have been more willing because at the time I felt like I was fighting my husband because I felt like he was just attacking me. I didnít trust what he was saying and so my mom I think because of her generation they didnít know anything about it what it was there wasnít a name for it, you were just crazy you know and so she didnít want she was in denial about it too. After I was actually diagnosed with it and she became more educated about it and through me starting my magazine and things I have done with it, educating other people, my mom very much is accepting of what it is and knows that itís a real thing. She was worried about me the second time and worried that it would happen again. And so I think that her idea of what PPD is or was now is completely different then what it was then she was just uneducated about it because we all were and especially her generation was as well.
Speaker: Looking back over the whole experience with you having PPD knowing what you know now, how would you have handled it differently if you would have been informed?
Adrienne: I think that I would have been more willing to go if there was a support group or therapist or something that I had known about, I probably would have talked to them. Iím not for or against medication. I think that some people need it and sometimes you donít and I think that I probably would have liked to try therapy first to see if it would have worked. Like I said, it wasnít offered to me the first time around, I didnít know anything about it. And for the helpline, I think that it just depends on the person. Some people would feel better picking up the phone and talking to someone who doesnít even know them and would have judged them and for other people they're like, I'm not going to call a stranger and tell them about this.
For me, looking back now, I would hope that now that I know what the signs and symptoms are that I wouldnít have been in denial and would have gotten help sooner. I would have gotten at least a therapist and somebody to talk to because I feel like being able to get out, being honest about what you're actually feeling and not keeping it to yourself is the most important thing because you can't really get the help you need if you canít acknowledge what the problem is if you canít admit the problem. So I would hope that you know, knowing what I know now that I would have sought help sooner and would have been more open about talking about it.
Speaker: When was the date of your son's birth?
Adrienne: May 12, 2006
Speaker: Were you screened at all?
Adrienne: I donít remember. I do not remember being screened like I said at my follow-up appointment being given the pamphlet I donít remember being screened but my second pregnancy I do remember being screened. I remember being asked those questions, but whatís funny is, knowing that I had PPD the first time and so the second time when I was given the screening questions the way they were given to me I was so disappointed because I felt like if there was a woman who was really feeling the way that I was the first tike around this isnít enough. A nurse would just hand me a piece of paper and give it back to me there was no conversation between myself and the nurses. I think for them to ask the questions themselves and kind of elaborate and try to have a dialogue with me before having me fill out this paper would have been more helpful. At least the facility that I was at and the staff that worked with me, they just handed me the paper, had me fill it out and was done with it. So the screening was there and was a step in the right direction but for somebody who was truly feeling the way that I had felt I felt like it was not enough.
Speaker: Do you have plans for having number 3?
Adrienne: My husband and I have bounced that idea back and forth. Itís a possibility. We kind of are like, you know, three means you have to get a bigger car, a bigger house. When you go from two to three now you have five, that really changes the dynamics of your entire family. There is a possibility which I never ever thought in my life I would have three children especially after having my first.
Speaker: I know your marriage had hard times from the PPD. As you healed, did your marriage heal as well?
Adrienne: The damage was long-lasting. It definitely took years for my marriage to recover from that and for some people who have a very strong marriage and are married for a long time before they have children, I think their experience might be different. For myself, we had children very quickly after getting married ... and my husband didnít understand it, he didnít know why I was acting that way and he took it very personal. And it caused major damage to our marriage that took probably three years to recover from, but it is a lot better and luckily heís learned too. And so you know he is on the lookout for, heís always the guys at work, he'll be on the lookout, asking questions and heíll come home and ask, do you think she has PPD? And so, luckily heís learned a lot from it too and we have been able to recover but it took a long long time, a long time.
Speaker: Talk about your publication a little bit and how that was really a reason why your experience was a reason you started it.
Adrienne: Well, when I was pregnant with my first child and I was about five months pregnant, I got laid off from my job and it was two weeks before Christmas and I was devastated. I thought, nobody will hire a woman who is five months pregnant and what amd I going to do with myself? So while I was collecting unemployment, I'm kind of the personality where I donít like to sit still I donít like to just do nothing. I wasnít satisfied. I was going to be a new mom, I was reading every book and every magazine and I really felt like there was a lack of resources in the area where I lived and so I had an idea.
When I was attending an unemployment class they said if you have an idea to start a business, submit it to the state and if it's accepted they will send you to classes to teach you how to start a business. So I had an idea to start a parenting magazine so I could have a resource for moms in the local area. I started out with the idea of an moms group and it went to a newsletter and then it went to a magazine. So I started working on the research and the getting the business started while I was still pregnant.
Once my son was born and I had the PPD it was like, what magazine? I could barely get a shower each day. I was not thinking about a magazine whatsoever. But once I recovered from the PPD it was like that drive and to get this thing going was stronger because I knew there had to be other women out there like me who felt very alone and felt like there was something wrong with them and felt isolated. And I wanted to reach out to those women and let them know that thereís help out there and youíre not alone and you will get through it and it does get better.
And so I really started to work on it once I got over the PPD, I really started to work on the magazine strongly then. My son was 9 months old when I launched the magazine. We do some stuff on PPD and all the time Iím very honest with what I went through. I put in there local resources, I look for support groups. ... Whatís really interesting is, we always, whenever we're going to talk about a topic we look for someone who has experienced it to share, even if were going to talk about a story in general we want to insert a personal aspect of it and share someoneís story. And I can never find a woman to share her story about PPD. I have even offered to keep their names, change their names but theyíre not willing to share and I think one of the reasons of course is there's still this stigma attached to the shame and there is something wrong with you and you're crazy but because my magazine is so local the women are afraid somebody will recognize them. The magazine is read, you know, there are neighbors reading it, they are afraid to share and so this past May, our May issue was the first issue that we had a woman who was willing to share her story openly and talk about her experience.
But for the last three years of having South Jersey Mom, nobody would share their story so I shared mine and every year when we do something about PPD, I get lots of e-mails from women that say thank you so much for writing. We get women who suffered with it for years who were very depressed and their life was a mess for one, two, three years and I get a lot of em-ails from women thanking me for talking about the topic and being so open and you know saying the things that theyíre thinking and arenít willing to say and so I used my magazine as a way to help other women, to educate them on the resources out there because I wasnít aware of them when I was going through them.
Mostly I just want them to know that they arenít alone and it's OK to talk about it and thatís what I do with South Jersey Mom.
Speaker: What advice would you give to a woman who might be going through PPD?
Adrienne: My advice would be to just talk about it with somebody you trust especially your doctor if you feel like you canít be open with your husband or you mother or your best friend because youíre afraid of what theyíll think of you or that they'll judge you to at least talk to your doctor. The best thing is to be honest and tell them 100 percent how you feel and what youíre going though and keep telling people until somebody listens to you and offers to give you help.
Speaker: In previous interviews, you talk a lot about how youíre a private person, can you talk a little bit about why you decided to speak publicly about your experience with postpartum depression?
Nancy: I think one of the main reasons why I decided to talk about it was, I didnít want people to live with it the way I was living for a couple years, Once I was, I suffered with the postpartum prior to actually being diagnosed with it, but I lived in silence for a very, very long time. And itís almost like you have this black cloud over your head and youíre suffering alone and there is no one technically there to help because nobody knows what youíre going through. So I think that was with the campaign it really made me think a lot that there are people out there going through this and Iím not alone. And you donít want to do this by yourself. You canít do this by yourself. This is something that you need your friends and your family to help you get through it. And I think doing this alone doesnít help you heal. Youíre always going to suffer and youíre always going to wonder and youíre always going to worry what people are going to think if they did ever find out about it. And this is just something that you shouldnít have to do alone, you shouldnít do alone and you should never be ashamed. There is no reason why you canít talk about it and bring it out in the open and try to help other people.
Speaker: Was the shame and the fear, was that your actual biggest fear about coming forward?
Nancy: Absolutely, absolute, especially with the field that Iím in and working with postpartum moms and pregnant moms every day I was ashamed. I didnít know what my co-workers would think, with me going through it. I didnít know how their reaction was going to be, what my family and friends would think. And at first, knowing that I deal with this pretty much day in and day out, I have been doing this a very long time it, taking care of these moms, it almost felt like, what did I do wrong? Was there something I could have picked up? Was there something I could have done differently? Was it something that I did? You know itís always that doubt, that uncertainty and in that guilt, and in that shame, and I really didnít want people thinking that, you know, I donít want to use that word, I was going to say crazy but I donít want to use that word. Can we do that again? Iím sorry. A lot of it was the guilt and the shame and a lot of it had to do with me as a person. I do work with pregnant moms, before and after pregnancy, and you know, itís just the person I am and this is what I do for a living. I should know better, I should know what Iím doing and how to diagnose and pick up on it. And you know the person that I am, Iím a strong person I should be able to deal with this, this is something I can get over, I can do it by myself. I can take care of this on my own. I donít need to go to see a physician. I donít need to take any medications. I can do this, you know, Iím a tough cookie, thereís no reason why I canít do this. And then when I realized thatI couldnít do it and I had to get the help and I needed to do this for me and my daughter just to even go on daily. I had to do it and you know the longer I waited, the more shame and guilt I had in not coming out sooner.
Speaker: Obviously, I know you coming out has had an effect on not only you but the people surrounding you, how has your speaking up affected your relationship with your family, co-workers and friends?
Nancy: Itís almost like they were going through the grieving process as well when they found out. They came to me and they were like, why didnít you tell me? We were here for you and we could have helped you through it. There was nothing for you to be ashamed of. It was almost like they were saddened that I had to do this by myself. The help is there. Itís just a matter of speaking up and getting the help. There are a lot of my friends and family couldnít believe it because I hid it so well. And in the beginning it was almost like they couldnít believe it. She came to work every day, she did what she had to do and she went home and she took wonderful care of her daughter, but behind the scenes I was just breaking down. It took them awhile once I spoke about it and, the campaign, and the conference, it really enlightened them they were like, we were here for you, all you had to do was ask usand we would have helped you.
Speaker: How has speaking up affected your outlook on the illness?
Nancy: Itís a true illness and itís not in your head as people think it is. Itís something that you go through and you experience and you do need the help. You cannot do this on your own. And I learned firsthand you cannot do this on your own. You do need the help whether itís just therapy, whether itís a combination of therapy and medication, you do need the help. The campaign alone is just remarkable. If it wasnít for the campaign, I donít think I would have gotten through the next step of really, truly accepting the fact that I did have postpartum depression.
Speaker: At the PPD event last May, you met with a few other PPD survivors. How did it feel to hear their stories and meet them face-to-face?
Nancy: For me, personally, it was very reassuring to know that I was not alone. Even though I know that a lot of women go through it, you still think itís just affecting you. And to know that a lot of women of all different calibers go through it, itís not, it doesnít discriminate. And you know any woman Ė young, old, first-time mom, moms that have several kids -- you can go through it. And it really, it was really reassuring to me and it almost felt like again, here I am in therapy again because everybody was consoling each other, we talked about it and talking about it is the best therapy, just to get yourself through it every day. And I still talk about it daily, as much as I can because you still deal with it that you went through it.
Speaker: If you would have heard the stories of other women going through PPD during the time that you were going through it, do you think you would have went for help sooner or said hey somethingís wrong I need help?
Nancy: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that with the campaign and seeing the commercials and a few of the celebrities talking about it, it really helped me come to the point where this is something I really want to do and focus on it and help others and along the way it will help myself as well. And if it wasnít for that, I donít think I would be speaking up about it. It would be something that stayed dear to me and I donít think anybody would know other than the few people that did know.
Speaker: I know you work with pregnant women and new moms every day. Has embracing an advocacy role changed the way you approach and how you work with new mothers who might be experiencing or showing signs of emotional issues or those who may be having a high-risk pregnancy or delivery?
Nancy: I have really become more sensitive and I have really become more focused on really listening to them because behind, in between the lines they are reaching out for help and sometimes it takes a certain person that can truly listen and sit there and really look into their eyes. And they are reaching out for help and a lot of times moms give up. They may be reaching out for help but nobodyís truly listening. And they think that this is just something they are going through, theyíre going to get over it and then they just stop. They just let go. And I really believe that a lot of people do try to reach out, but I donít think people in general are truly listening and seeing the signs and the symptoms and I think thatís key right there.
Speaker: That just actually makes me wonder about your staff. When you learned about the campaign did you go back to your staff and, I know some were probably at the training event, and I was wondering if you talked to them at all about helping them to listen more closely or pay more attention to some of the warning signs?
Nancy: I think the staff in general did a complete turnaround and they have become completely, become a lot more sensitive to the moms. And when they perform the Edinburgh scoring, they become a lot more sensitive. And I think it really hit home to them and a lot of them it was an eye opener to them because I did deliver at the hospital. I did go through my postpartum blues at the hospital and nobody picked up on it. And I think now with them knowing that I went through it and them understanding what I went through, they have really become sticklers about the scoring system and getting the moms the help that they need.
Speaker: How could other survivors benefit from speaking up? And do you think coming forward and speaking publicly about your story, if thatís helped with your healing process? I know you kind of touched on that. Do you think other survivors could benefit from talking about their experience?
Nancy: Absolutely, because I think if you speak about it youíre going to know somebody whoís going through it -- a friend, a friend of a friend. And I think speaking up and letting people know, youíre not alone. You may know somebody thatís going through it and then you are speaking to somebody and, oh, my friend is going through this, or my sister is going through this, or my wife is going through this. And do you think you can speak to her? And I think outreach is very, very important. And I think itís the first step, one of the many steps that you can do is really speaking up Ė I think for me personally speaking up about it has really gotten me to that point where I am really at ease with it. Iím not ashamed anymore. I can move on and work through it and continue to work through because like I said, itís a process and itís an area, you donít forget and you always carry that guilt of what you went through. But the more you speaker about it, the more you work though it, it makes it easier, it really does.
Speaker: What is your advice to women who may be hesitant about talking about their PPD?
Nancy: Donít be. Talk about it. Thatís the best thing you can do for you, your family, your children and people you may know that may be going through and still suffering in silence.
Speaker: What were your thoughts the first time you saw your testimonial video?
Nancy: I cried. It really, for keeping it inside for such a long time, it almost, like I said before, it almost felt like I was doing this alone but speaking out it really enlightened me that, yes I got through it. I did it. I got through it and you know I am here to talk about it. And I am here to talk about my daughter and how sheís growing and I donít know where I would have been if I didnít get the help and I donít know if I would be sitting here talking about it. So I think, just talking about it and trying to help people really helped me to believe I did it, I got through it. And I think, if I did it, anyone else can do it.
Speaker: Has anyone ever recognized you from the event you participled in last May of from your video or even when you did the interview for Fox?
Nancy: Yes, a couple people did, actually in the supermarket, came over to me and they just looked at me, and I saw you were on TV and they were like, thank you, my sister went through it.
Speaker: How did that make you feel?
Nancy: I got the chills. It was unbelievable for them to just say thank you. It meant a lot, it really did.
Speaker: Do you tell when youíre treating someone and you think that they have it and they say, no, Iím fine, everythingís great, do you actually tell them, well I went through it and this is how I know what youíre going through and youíre not OK?
Nancy: Yes, absolutely, I would touch on especially with them being in the hospital the first few days, I would touch on the baby blues and I would tell them and I would try to make it funny so itís not so, it is a serious thing, but I would try to make it funny to get them comfortable, to try to talk about it. And a few people that I have done that to, the next day they would tell their physician, I really need to get someone in here, I donít feel good right about now. And sure enough, with the consultation, they would go home with couseling and some therapy. And they would just leave and say, thank you. And I would check up on them every day if they were there. But I do talk about it and I do tell them. And a lot of times the nurses will come to me, can you go talk to this mom? We really think thereís something wrong and we need somebody to go in there and try to get her to open up a little bit. Because a lot of times itís cultural, they donít want to talk about it, just the fear of talking about it and the fear of maybe the baby might stay in the hospital. That to me was a big fear for myself along with the stigma, will they keep my daughter? Even though I knew nursing-wise, I knew that that wasnít going to happen or what they might think and so on and so forth, but there is always that fear and I think thatís what, you just have to ease them and if they knew someone was going through it or went through it, then a lot of times they do speak up a lot more.
Speaker: So if you want to either read this or kind of say it in your own words Ö
Nancy: I just want to say thank you for the Ö scratch that. I should just read it because Iím a little bit nervous. Iím going to start to cry again. See, itís been so many years and Iím still going to cry.
Speaker: Oh, you know what, you could even say that you want to share a little bit of an e-mail that you wrote about your participation in the campaign.
Nancy: OK, thatís better.
Nancy: I just wanted to read an e-mail that I did send to you regarding my personal feelings about the campaign. Just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you so much for the opportunity to continue to try to reach out to as many people as we can to help those experiencing or even those who experienced postpartum depression. It is my pleasure and honor to help with these efforts. If it wasnít for you and the ongoing efforts of the ďSpeak Up When Youíre DownĒ campaign, I donít know if I would be able to do this. You have given me the courage to face this and to help others. Thank you.
Speaker: I just want to start off by you sharing your name where you are from and your age.
Thaydra Perez: Iím Thaydra Perez I am from elm wood park new jersey and I am 34
Speaker: Are you a stay-at-home mom?
Thaydra: Yes, I am a stay-at-home mom.
Speaker: When did you first hear the term PPD?
Thaydra: I first heard it I was watching a show on TV when I was pregnant with my first son. Ö It was like a documentary about a woman who was pregnant and had experienced the postpartum. I paid a little bit more attention to it because I was pregnant. I probably have heard it before but never really paid attention to it because obviously I wasnít pregnant but that was really the first time I ever really sat down and listed to someone talk about it, so on TV.
Speaker: In your own words what is PPD?
Thaydra: Actually, it is something that women experience, a lot of women experience the blues, most of the women after they have a baby. PPD is more than that. Itís actually more severe. It is going into some sort of like a depression, it is a depression actually, just a lot worse than your normal depression and usually it occurs after the child is born.
Speaker: With your son Steven, why donít you just give us a sense of what your pregnancy was like? Was it planned? Did you have any sort of complications with the pregnancy?
Thaydra: I did not have any real complications other then they told me that he had a single-vessel umbilical cord, which is a birth defect that isnít really common. Other than that, I really didnít have any other problems. I had to go for more sonograms, obviously, because of the problem. They said that he could possibly be born without limbs; he could have autism, among other problems. We had to go to heart specialists, they said he could be born without the four chambers of his heart and then we would have to terminate the pregnancy.
Other than that, we had a very good pregnancy. We were excited being that we had a miscarriage before that and that was it basically other than that, but that was very upsetting to us being that we were looking forward to this pregnancy.
Speaker: Were you able to confirm during any point during that pregnancy through sonograms that the heart was OK?
Thaydra: We had to actually go to a heart specialist but from the sonogram, the first couple sonograms I think, it was the second we found out that he had the single-vessel umbilical cord. But after that we couldnít confirm it until about three sonograms after we had to go to a heart specialist to do that. So thatís when we found out everything was OK with his heart.
Speaker: Iím sure that alleviated any type of anxiety.
Thaydra: When they first told me actually it didnít. I got anxiety from this. I never had any type of anxiety before this but the minute they told me this I just went to full-blown anxiety I used to get panic attacks from this. Itís actually funny because I was getting full-blown panic attacks and my blood pressure was going up and I went to the doctor and he said to me, you need to calm down. And I said that you just told me that my son can have a birth defect and not be born with any limbs and now youíre telling me you want me to calm down? Thatís something thatís upsetting to us and you know from there gradually it got better. Ö Each sonogram was hard to go to. We got anxiety just going there but then once we heard everything was OK, it was like a sigh of relief. So it got better.
Speaker: What was your labor and delivery like?
Thaydra: For Steven, I was in labor for about 12 hours and after 12 hours the doctor decided to do an emergency C-section because Steven wasnít going down in the birth canal and my and his blood pressure was dropping. So the C-section went OK but I was in labor for about 12 hours and then they decided to do that. So once I had the C-section, everything went OK from there.
Speaker: While you were in the hospital after you had the surgery, the C-section, did you notice that you started feeling any of the symptoms then or did that happen later?
Thaydra: It happened later. With Steven, it happened later. I was ecstatic to hold him, to be with him. I couldnít wait until the nurses brought him in, in his bassinet from the nursery. My family was all there. We were extremely happy especially because we had the miscarriage and we were trying to have him for a little while before we actually did conceive him. That didnít kick in probably for about two weeks later. In the hospital, I was excellent.
Speaker: Two weeks later, youíre home with the baby, youíre into a new routine with him and what made you start noticing? What seemed off?
Thaydra: I started to cry a lot and I didnít really know why I was crying. I would hold him and sob and I would cry and also I didnít feel connected to him. I felt like when I put him in his bassinet to go to sleep I was relieved because that meant I didnít have to be near him and I didnít have to be near him for a while. I would, mostly it was just a lot of crying and not knowing. My head was in a fog. I didnít know what I wanted to do. I didnít know where I wanted to be. I just felt like I didnít want him and I kept telling myself that I do want him and I was trying to convince myself that I wanted him but I knew something was wrong because for me being that I wanted him so bad this was like, why am I like this? Because I couldnít have an answer for that, it was constant crying. I couldnít even take care of myself let alone take care of him so it was kind of not wanting to be by him at all.
Speaker: At that time, did your husband or any family members step in to help you?
Thaydra: My husband was home for two weeks. He had two weeks leave, maternity leave. He was always helping me. He saw the crying, not really as much because I kind of tried to hide it. He did see it and I had told him not to let anybody know, that it was something that I would just have to go through and that Iíll be able to take care of it and Iíll get myself better and a lot of women go through this and it just basically that I was OK and especially do not tell my parents because I knew that my husband would kind of go along with me to try and do what I wanted to happen but I knew that if my parents were involved they would definitely want to get me help but I didnít feel I needed the help.
Speaker: Did you have any other symptoms aside from you not feeling like your normal self and the crying? Was there anything else that you experienced that made it clear in your mind that something is definitely wrong?
Thaydra: It was the crying was the No. 1 thing and the disconnection from him was the other thing. Other than that really, I just, it was scary to be around him because I didnít know if I would do something to him or harm him. I felt like I knew deep down that I wouldnít harm him because I did love him, but I also felt like if I were to, I couldnít, this is crazy but I couldnít watch any shows with children harming because then I always thought, this is what Iím going to do to him.
I canít be near him. As soon as I would feed him and do the necessary work with him that I needed to do like changing and feeding, I would put him right back to sleep. I never really played with him because I didnít know what I would do. Even though deep down I knew I wouldnít, I still had that scary kind of thought.
Speaker: As you were going through these symptoms were you sleeping and was Steven like a colicky baby at all?
Thaydra: No, he slept pretty good. He would have about two middle-of-the-night feedings so I would get up with him. I had him in the bassinet next to our bed and I was sleeping pretty good. I wasnít sleeping the greatest but I always checked. Another thing I had was, I was more fearful. I was always getting up every so often just checking that he was there and making sure he was OK. In my subconscious, I guess I thought that did I do something? Is he all right? Even though I knew I didnít so I would get sleep but not as much as I really should have.
Speaker: So you mentioned that your husband did notice you were crying a lot more then you normally would. Did he talk to you about it or, do you know, did you guys talk about it and try and figure out what might be going on?
Thaydra: He had told me that he doesnít think itís normal and that if I needed to get help if I wanted to speak to somebody. And I told him, this is something that Iíll get through and he went along with that because he wanted to be on my side. In other words, he didnít want to be a force or push me into anything. He thought that if he just went along with me that it would be better for me instead of trying to fight me on it.
Speaker: Take me to the day when you had your breakthrough, where someone had to intervene or you said enoughís enough.
Thaydra: My mom had come over for, just to help me. She had the day off and she wanted to see him and she came over to help me. And I just started crying and I said, I canít do this and itís kind of like, I didnít expect to say that but I think I was actually asking for help. At that point, I really literally couldnít take care of myself or him. I think I kind of wanted to just help and I had enough with it and I knew my mother would get me that help. So I said to her, I just started crying and she said, whatís going on? And I told her I been feeling this for a little while and I need some kind of help I donít know what kind of help but I need it. So at that point, thatís when we had a family therapist, a family friend, and we went to him and thatís where it started on the road to recovery.
Speaker: How long would you say approximately did it take from the time you brought Steven home to the time that you went in for treatment?
Thaydra: It took probably about two months until I had my first therapy session.
Speaker: When you went to see the therapist, were you diagnosed with anything other than PPD or just PPD specifically?
Thaydra: Just PPD. I did have a little bit of anxiety that was getting better because now I saw he was OK, but I was still very anxious because I was fearful of taking him out and doing things with him and I was kind of getting myself more anxious but it was mostly just the PPD.
Speaker: What kind of treatment did your therapist recommend?
Thaydra: Constant therapy sessions and he put me on an antidepressant and it was just he wanted to see me and he felt also like I needed to hold my son more. He had given me some tips and advice: even if you donít want to, you need to bond and hold him more. And I would start to see that I was getting better especially that I was on the medication it gave me a push.
Speaker: How often were your therapy sessions and did you do any type of other?
Thaydra: The doctor recommended me to do journaling. I started doing that and as I got better I started doing more often. He actually recommended I do it every day but, like I said, at that point I didnít even know what I felt. My head was in a fog so once I started feeling a little better I started doing it more often. And I was going to these sessions I would say about two to three times a week and then I started going maybe like once a week once I started feeling better with the medication. I never really had to go, he never had to up the medication. I was on a certain amount of milligrams and I stayed on them.
Speaker: Approximately how soon after you started getting the therapy and taking the medication did you start to feel better?
Thaydra: About a month or so, a little bit over a month, maybe a month and a half.
Speaker: When can you just share you first memory of when you really felt that you had gotten over PPD and you were able to enjoy your baby?
Thaydra: Probably just wanting to hold him really. Like I said before I just basically wanted him sleeping constantly. I felt more at ease when he was sleeping. So I remember one time once I started feeling better, he was in his bassinet and I went over and I was looking at him and I said, I canít wait until you wake up because I wanted him to be up so I can hold him. I wanted to take pictures of him. I wanted to dress him up. I think thatís when I started to realize that I was getting at least a little bit better. I wanted to interact with him more than just feeding and changing him.
Speaker: Did you continue to maintain the therapy sessions and also the medication? If so, for about how long?
Thaydra: I continued for probably about a year. I went down gradually on the milligrams and finally just got off. The therapy I continued and, actually itís funny, I still continue. Itís an ongoing thing. You really need, itís good to talk to people or to someone whoís not in your little circle that kind of is trained in this also. And thank God I donít have this anymore, but still itís stressful with having three kids and sometimes you just need to talk to somebody. So I actually donít need it but I actually do make appointments every couple of months to speak with him.
Speaker: Now your second pregnancy with the twins, same questions. What was your pregnancy like? Was it good? Were there complications that you found out about?
Thaydra: No, itís funny because you would think with them, you would think it was difficult because there were two, but their pregnancy was excellent. I had nothing wrong with them besides the fact I had gone for to hear their heartbeats, my first sonogram and thatís when they had told me that they only heard one but after probably a half hour or less they found the other one so It was quickly taken care of and from there it was a breeze.
Speaker: Being that you had already experienced PPD the first time, did you work with your therapist and doctor at all to kind of create a plan going into the second pregnancy?
Thaydra: Yea, my doctor told my gynecologist and told -- I had two doctors that were going to be there being as I was having twins I had one and an assistant one -- and worked with them and told them he wanted me in the hospital right, the second day after I had given birth to go on the same antidepressants I was on before. So they had that in their notes and thatís what they wanted to do.
Speaker: So you said the labor and delivery of the twins went smoothly.
Thaydra: Yes, I had a scheduled C-section and we knew when we were going to have them and were prepared. And we went in there and it was like I said, a C-section and it was very quick and very calm, everything was good.
Speaker: When did you start feeling off with the twins? Was it immediate?
Thaydra: It was immediate. It was about the last day I was in the hospital, coming home. When I was in the hospital, I didnít feel as joyous as I did with my oldest son. I felt like I was connected to them in some way but I didnít feel as joyous. When I went home from the hospital, thatís when it really kicked in and I started crying and my husband was also not doing too well with that either. So it was probably the last day I was in the hospital.
Speaker: Just so we can, what date did you give birth to the twins?
Thaydra: May 22, 2007.
Speaker: Were you sleeping at this point?
Thaydra: I was literally probably getting two hours of sleep at night. I was trying to accommodate my 4-year-old. He was home, he was in school a couple days and wanted to be with mommy and daddy and I think that just added on to the depression because I felt like I had spent four years with him and now I threw them in the mix and I think I kind of felt like they were like a burden, so it was kind of hard.
Speaker: Would you say you had the same symptoms with the twins as you did with your first son?
Thaydra: With the twins, I was a lot worse. I started crying. It was, literally, I cried night and day. It was every minute of every hour and I would sob to the point where I just got where I couldnít even cry anymore. I would wake up and my eyes, you couldnít even see them. They were just closed from crying so much and red and puffy. It was extremely worse with them and I had fears of hurting them.
With Steven, I really didnít have a fear of hurting him as much I kind of just didnít want him around me and I didnít really feel like I loved him like I should have. But the twins it was like I felt scared to be around them and I didnít want them to be around me also, but it was more of like a scared feeling.
Speaker: Since your husband had went through PPD with you the first time, did he notice right away?
Thaydra: Yes, and so did my parents. My mother, she knew right away because of the experience I had had with Steven.
Speaker: Even thought they knew about the medication did you call the doctor right away?
Thaydra: Yes, I called the doctor. It was after he put me on it, about a week and a half later that this is. I wanted to try to stay on what he had given me but it was getting worse and I told him you need to put me on more medication, up it, because I am getting a lot worse and he had told me he would call and up the milligrams and he wanted to see me a lot more for the therapy.
Speaker: Did you go to therapy more frequently with the twins?
Thaydra: Yes, in the beginning I did I went a lot more.
Speaker: At any point, had you heard of any momsí support groups or anything that the state was doing or any programs regarding PPD support or anything?
Thaydra: Yes, I heard at Valley Hospital that they were doing a support group and it was for women who had given birth and are experiencing PPD and also it was for women who just wanted to come out and be with other women who had just given birth, maybe get some pointers. And my mom had actually heard from somebody about this. She had told me but even though I knew I had it because I had the experience before I still was in denial where I said, itís not going to work. Iím not, I need to do something else because this isnít going to work. Iím going to sit there and get myself more upset because there are women there who are better and felt like telling me what to do. I felt like pushed away at first until she kind of literally said, youíre getting in the car and youíre going to a group. So if it was up to me I wouldnít have gone to begin with. Iím glad I did and I would recommend it but at the time I didnít feel it was necessary.
Speaker: The second time around, do you remember getting screened for PPD?
Thaydra: I had paperwork that I know I filled out about how I was feeling, but other than that I didnít. The doctor had to ask me a couple of questions and I think it was more so because I had it the first time. Other than that, no kind of medical screening. It was just basically paperwork and my doctor asking me questions and I think it was for my therapist.
Speaker: When the milligrams dosage went up, did things get better?
Thaydra: It was still gradually getting better. I had to go on the highest milligrams that they have. I started out, it was at 25 milligrams and I actually was up to almost 200 milligrams because it was just not getting better. It was getting a lot worse and I wasnít getting any sort of relief. I, at least with Steven, I had felt some sort of relief and I had felt like more refreshed and more clear, my mind was more clear. With the twins, it was like, I remember I would call my parents and my husband would call me a lot to see how I was doing because they knew I was very bad and they knew I was on the antidepressant and they knew it had helped me the first time. Even though they didnít say it, I think they feared I would do something to the babies or myself because it was extremely bad. And I remember them constantly calling and saying, how are you? And every time they asked I would cry and sob like a child because I didnít know how I was.
All I remember saying is, theyíre going to put me in a mental institution and theyíre going to take away the kids. I canít take care of myself and I canít take care of them. And there would be days where they would be crying for a bottle and I would just sit there. And I knew what I needed to do but I didnít know if I didnít because I just didnít want to be around them or I just felt like I didnít even know how to make a bottle. I was just, it was very bad.
Speaker: What were things like with your husband, him having to work and he couldnít be there with you all the time to help? Was that straining on you and your marriage?
Thaydra: It did. We fought a lot. He actually got a lot more time. He was with me like a month and he got up with me in the night. We were both sleep-deprived so a lot of our arguments came from not getting enough sleep. He was always with me, he helped out. He didnít really understand fully what I was going through. He can say he did and he can say that he was there and by me, but really he was not understanding the full definition of PPD. He knew I was upset, he knew that I didnít feel connected to them, but he really didnít, I felt he didnít understand fully.
But he did try and help as best he could and there was actually a point where he was working and he actually let me sleep and he would get up with them for like a month. He told me, you need sleep because when Iím not here you need to be on your game and you need to have that refreshed feeling and you wonít get it if youíre not getting sleep so Iíll get up with them. And he didnít sleep for like a month and a half and I would sleep. And I felt guilty about that but I knew I needed it especially if I was going to take care of them all day.
Speaker: Did you get any help or did your mom come help with them more as you were continuing treatment and the medication? And how long before you actually did start to feel better?
Thaydra: My mom did come and help me. My husband was there up until the middle of June and my mom was working for schools so they had the month of August off so she was there. She would come on her lunch hours and she would come and help me and see how I feel. My stepfather works from home so he was flexible where he would come and check on me.
I feel like they felt I was going to do something, even though they didnít say that. Looking back, I think thatís what they thought. They wanted to see if I needed anything and my husband would call constantly and, when he could, come home for lunch. He would, I remember telling him when he would leave, I would yell at him and I wasnít very nice, I would cry and say, you get your life, you get to go out and eat with people and go to work. And he would say, listen if I had the opportunity I would be here but I have to work. Donít get mad at me for that. This is something I have to do to provide for you guys. And I would be angry at him. I felt like he had a life and even though it was going to work he was able to be out and to do things I couldnít do. I felt like all I did was take care of babies and I didnít want to do that.
Speaker: When did you start feeling better the second time around?
Thaydra: I started feeling better about 5 months later, I remember it was around Halloween and with my first son I had the first couple weeks I was good with him so I was taking a lot of pictures of him and he was, we got a lot of clothes as gifts from my shower so I would put him in them and take pictures of him. And with the twins, I didnít even want to look at them. I had so many nice gifts and toys and clothes that people had given me and I literally threw them in a closet because it reminded me of them and I didnít want to have anything to do with them.
They actually didnít get their pictures taken professionally until they were about four months and I didnít have any type, and I have basically have no pictures of them when they were infants aside from what other people took. I never took pictures of them so once I saw I was starting to get better and I wanted to see them in their clothes and started taking things out gradually, thatís when I knew. It was around Halloween.
Speaker: Do you have one specific memory when you really felt like you were enjoying them?
Thaydra: It was probably when they were in their car seats. I would feed them in the car seats. And I looked at them in a different way. They looked at me and kind of looked like they wanted my affection. And when I would look at them before I never looked them in the eye, I always looked away. I would feed them and look away and when I was done I would burp them. I was just going through the motions.
I remember I was feeding them and I kind of said to myself that I wanted to look at them and I looked at them and they both smiled at me at the same time. And thatís when I smiled back and I said to them, Mommyís getting better and Iím going to be able to take care of you.
Speaker: Looking back over both experiences, PPD has affected your life in a big way. Would you have handled either of the situations differently? And, if so, how?
Thaydra: I think that I would have gotten the help instead of trying to hide it the first time. I think that I should have taken peopleís advice and trying to do a lot more to try and help myself. I think I was trying to be like Super Mom. I was trying to feel. I was feeling like I need to be a good mom and right now Iím not and I tried to do things that to hide it. And I think I just needed to have it out there more and tell somebody sooner than I did. Try not to let it go.
Speaker: Do you think it would have helped if you would have heard another womanís story, say maybe in advance when you started thinking maybe something might not be right? Do you think it would have helped if you would have heard another woman share her story?
Thaydra: It would have helped me to know that I wasnít going crazy because really thatís all I used to say. I used to say, Iím going crazy, theyíre going to admit me. I would have felt better. I didnít know if it would have helped me completely but it would have put me at ease knowing Iím not alone in this. There are women who also are going though this so it must not just be me and I must not be crazy. I think it would have definitely helped.
Speaker: You have taken a proactive role in whatís going on in this state for PPD.
Thaydra: Yes, the woman who is the director of the support group in the hospital where I went to the support groups I keep in touch with her and she had wanted me to go to a bill signing with Senator Menendez, Mary Jo Codey and Silvia, who is the author who had gone through that. I had gone, I took part in sitting there and listening while they had signed a bill thatís still kind of trying to pass. And I am also working to try and get in the hospital to talk to women in the support groups and just any kind of work that I can do because I think this is something that really needs to have more light shed on it.
Speaker: With the twins, you thought you might do something to them. Was that a generalized feeling or was there anything specific?
Thaydra: My husband would say, we are going to get ready to give the kids a bath and I did not want to give them a bath. I thought I was going to drown them and I didnít want to tell him that because I thought, how could I possibly say I think I want to drown my kids? But I was actually scared. If I was alone, I would never give them a bath, never. I would always wait for him and even with him I thought, oh my God, Iím going to do something and Iím going to drown them. And I actually, a couple times had made an excuse so my husband asked me to bathe them and I said I would be busy. He actually had to remind me that they needed a bath whereas the type of person I am, Iím constantly giving my kids baths. I have no problem doing that, but at the time I felt scared. I felt like Iím going to give them a bath and Iím going to down them and itís going to be on purpose. So that was really my big thing with them.
I also thought when they were sleeping I would check on them and kind of run away from the room because I thought I would smother them. Like I said, deep down I really knew I wasnít going to, but I still had that feeling like that question, maybe I am, maybe I will, and what will happen? And they will put me away and it was horrible and mainly those two questions.
Speaker: Is there anything you think would have helped you, like if there were a network of survivors who maybe when you give birth you are assigned a couple new moms to call periodically?
Thaydra: Yes that would help. With my first son, I didnít even get paperwork as far as that. With him, I basically, they told me what to do when I got home and I was off with the baby. With the twins, it was a little bit, not better for me, but I was having more knowledge because I went through it, but that was my own. As far as the hospital, I just basically got paperwork saying, how do you feel? Do you feel this way or that way? Do you feel like you are wanting to hurt yourself? It was yes, no questions and I donít think thatís enough.
I think that, like you said, a screening like a physical or something and have people speak with you and it they see you are at risk, they should automatically before you leave have a plan on what you are going to do and have whether it is speak with other women or assigning a therapist if you have insurance, working with them to get a therapist, something, but I think for me it was mostly done like I said because I had a therapist from the previous experience. If I didnít, it would have been yes, no questions and Iím done so I definitely to answer I think there should be something for women who are going through this.
Speaker: So with Steven it wasnít like that?
Thaydra: With him, I felt like it was OK when I left. I didnít think I needed anything at that point. I felt good leaving. With the twins, I knew automatically I had some sort of depression at that point in the hospital like I said I wasnít full blown where I was very bad, I was just starting to get it. So I thought maybe it could just be the baby blues, but when I got home and I saw it was getting gradually worse and worse I knew something was wrong so even in the hospital I wasnít that bad, but I still think they should have done something more than what was done.
Speaker: What is your advice to women who are going through PPD right now?
Thaydra: Accept help. To get the help of someone who is trying to help you. Donít feel ashamed that thereís really nothing to be ashamed of. It is not their fault, it is not something that you should hide behind. There is a lot of help out there. It is a shame because I feel like you have to get the help yourself, try to start you off even though there Is a lot of help because itís not out there as much as it should be, like publicly out there. With the support groups, you should definitely go. It helped me, No. 1 getting out of the house and before I just wanted to stay in that house and not interact and it helped me to be with women who are going through the same thing. And I think that they definitely need to do that, they need to get out just for your own sanity and also to get knowledge to know. And once they start seeing that, Ö so other women who go through this, that the first step in recovery is acknowledging that someone else is going through this as well and that will help a lot.
Dana: My name is Dana. I am 34 years old and I found out about Speak Up When Youíre Ddown by getting pamphlets at the gynecologist and at the hospital and thatís how I found out the phone number to call.
Speaker: When did you first hear the term PPD?
Dana: I knew about PPD just being someone who reads and observes and things like that. The most I knew was women who wanted to harm themselves or the baby, things that happened in the news, things that Dateline had, the most severe cases only. That was kind of my idea of what it was.
Speaker: In your own words, what is PPD?
Dana: Well, now that I know what it really is, PPD is a point when you are not functioning like you used to and youíre feeling so horrible that you canít not function normally during the day or night and you cont feel adequate enough to take care of your baby. I feel that, yeah, itís symptoms of depression in there but itís this intense anxiety toward everything, the baby, not the baby. Normal, simple things are hard to do. That to me is PPD. Itís not always all the other things you hear in the media. Those are the things no one talks about, the simple things that are hard to get through. That to me is a big sign of PPD.
Speaker: Was your pregnancy normal?
Dana: My pregnancy was completely normal. We planned that we would have a baby, got pregnant. Besides a little bit of morning sickness it was easy. I worked, I only took off the last two weeks and my daughter was induced so I knew when I was going in. She was after 40 weeks so everything was normal. Even checking into the hospital and getting induced was OK, I wasnít overly worried. I had an epidural that went very smoothly. I had a great doctor, so nothing leading up to the birth was troubling for me.
Speaker: When did you first notice that you were experiencing something that wasnít normal? When did you know it was PPD?
Dana: Itís hard to pinpoint, but the first time I knew that something was wrong was when I was in the hospital, the second night, and I was nursing so I would send the baby back with the nurses but they would bring her whenever she would need to nurse. They woke me up at 1 or 2 oíclock and I nursed her and couldnít fall back asleep the rest of the night. I knew this wasnít normal but I said, Well, Iím a new mom and Iím in the hospital so maybe Iím just nervous. And I brushed it off.
Looking back, I know that it was one of the first times that something wasnít right because I was extremely exhausted and I couldnít sleep, which is a big symptom of anxiety. But that was the first time and I guess after that when I would come home, another symptom was I didnít want anyone in my house aside from my family and my husband. I didnít want neighbors or my husbandís family visiting. It wasnít a rational response to the situation. I just could not have people in the house. It made me so anxiety-ridden that it almost made me feel like a prisoner in the house. I didnít want anyone visiting me and you know thatís impossible. So people would come and it would be torture to have them walk in. I just felt like I was on display. That really bothered me at the very beginning.
I said, OK, they say the first two weeks you have the baby blues, everyone calls them, but for me that stuff never went away. So after she was about 8 weeks old, we planned this big baptism for her, like a big party, which was a mistake, given the fact I had 50 people in my house and I wasnít feeling well with everyday situations.
That was like the breakdown point for me. I see the pictures and it was a lovely day for her but it was a horrible day for me. I will never forget how bad I felt. There were a lot of people in the house, I was planning everything, I felt like everything depended on how the baby acted and if she cried it was my fault or I looked bad. What would I do in the church? Ö All these things are running through my head all day and thatís when I decided to call the hotline.
It was not normal what I was feeling, it just wasnít normal. How can I go on? This was already two months. I canít go any further and be like this and be happy. I was just miserable all the time and it was hard for people around me to pick it up because I kept doing things. I would go out and take care of her but I knew something was wrong and Iím sure my husband did because I was snappy and irrational but other people around me wouldnít notice.
Speaker: Did you notice any anxiety or depression while you were pregnant?
Dana: - I didnít have any, during my pregnancy. I was obsessed with Googling things, which is a symptom of anxiety. I would look up everything. When I had to get the 16-week blood work, I looked up all the things that were included in the blood work. I looked up what could the possible ramifications be if the baby was diagnosed with something at that point. I obsessed about things like that. I read a lot of books on babyies and breastfeeding and how to care for a baby. I am a reader anyway so no one saw that as strange. I read all the time, I was reading too much. I was looking up things too much. However, it didnít affect my performance at work or my sleep so it wasnít for me like a real sign. I feel like I am naturally anxious and I am a researcher and a reader. That didnít seem abnormal to me at the time. Looking back on it, I do see it as a possible symptom of that kind of obsessive behavior is an anxiety problem you know and I did think that is where the behavior intensified after she was born.
Speaker: Did your family or close friends notice a change in your behavior when you had PPD?
Dana: My husband noticed a change but it was our first child so we werenít sleeping. She wasnít a good sleeper she was always up. We were always miserable, sleeping in two-hour stretches for months so that was affecting the ways I behave and the way I reacted toward normal things. But he noticed that it wasnít right. He would do whatever I asked. I would say donít bring anyone home so no one came. I would not go anywhere outside of the vicinity of the house with her and he just let me be. But these are all symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thinking about visiting his family would make me upset. Leaving with her was a problem, I couldnít do it. He noticed it, but I donít think he knew what PPD was so he didnít think anything of it because I was still cooking and function and doing things with her and going out in the stroller. I was out there but the other things were crippling me even though I was getting out. My parents, they were there helping me so I donít know if they knew that I needed them. I wasnít crying, I didnít have the depression where I was crying I really wasnít. I was worried about everything al l the time. I lost my weight so quickly. It wasnít because I was exercising it was due to anxiety but everyone was always saying I looked great. No one looks at it like this woman must be suffering if she loses 30 pounds in five weeks. I didnít even care. I lost weight, I forgot to eat. My mother would make me food and make sure I ate but it wasnít something we talked about until one day where I started crying and I couldnít stop.
It was around the baptism. I said, Mom what I am feeling is not normal. And she felt really bad for me and said you know you can call a doctor but I knew I had to call the hotline and I did it on my own like I came to the realization I had PPD. So I called and they will be able to set me up with a therapist. I had never been to therapy or a psychiatrist. These things are hard to do and confront when you are someone who never had any kind of problems with mental illness or anything so for me to call was a big deal for me to get help because I didnít not want to get help that was for something that was in my head and not physical. It was the best decision I made though after I made it everyone was very supportive. I had great family support, my friends, I would tell them I am not sleeping well this and that but new mothers tend to complain about things and brush it off but no one looks at it like a big deal. Itís like being a new mom, thatís what happened. I would tell them the symptoms and what was happened but I never communicated how it was affecting my everyday life so a lot of my old, good friends who were good friends, they were not knowing what I went though. And those who really knew what I went through were those people in the support groups who are now all good friends. Weíve known each other for two years now and I can call them and say Iím having a bad night and they tell me it will be OK. And those are the friends who end up understanding. Unless you are friends with someone who has experienced it themselves, it is almost like a taboo. You donít really want to tell people you have it. They assume it means youíre suicidal and until the information is out there, that it is everything in between, it is a hard subject to bring up with other mothers.
Speaker: Talk about your treatment.
Dana: I called the hotline and right away I was set up with a therapist that actually got back to me that night and I was able to go that night, which was great because I felt like I was at the end of the rope. I didnít know how I was going to get through the rest of that night. I felt trapped. I really felt horrible, I didnít sleep. So I went to the therapist and started going every week to private therapy and that helped. She gave me ways to manage the day, taking baby steps, the little things. She told me, for me it was a tunnel because the night was a tunnel. I woke up and thought if I would sleep. I never lived in the present. In therapy, she taught me how to break up the day, like to let a morning be good and say, OK Iím going to have a better afternoon. At 12 oíclock, I will be OK. Coach yourself through the anxiety. She also encouraged me to do certain activities with the baby, to have them planned before time, to get out of the house and that helped. Also to take time for myself without her which meant my husband would do a lot with her. It was great to have those two hours when I went out and did something on my own. These things helped me recover and the therapist, it was long I went.
I still go occasionally. I used to go every week for a year that was a big help. And when my insomnia would not get better I saw a psychiatrist and was treated for that and it made a world of difference. I was against medication because I was breastfeeding. The first psychiatrist was not open to treating me while I was breastfeeding and that was big. It made me upset. I didnít want to go to a psychiatrist and the fact they wouldnít treat me made me not want to seek further help. The insomnia was so bad I knew it was affecting my health and itís better to get treatment for something that can make your life better then to not get it at all and there are many meds you can take when you are breastfeeding, which I didnít know. My current doctor looked this all up for me. I was trying to stay off Google it was at the request of my psychiatrist, donít read books she said too. It was nice to have a professional say, OK, Iíll take care of this. Here is what you can take. That really improved my quality of life when I started sleeping six hours in a row that really made a difference. I started to recover quicker after I was sleeping. With the therapy and the medication it made a big difference really. To say the doctors always made me feel comfortable doing what I was doing. They said, this is just for now. You wonít always be on meds, this is to help you now and you will feel better. The therapist would say, youíre going to get better but when you are in it you think it is forever and you wonít get better. But the professionals, you see them and they do encourage you and they do make you realize you will get through it and get better.
And I think I started to see that probably after the six- month mark. I said, oh wow I am getting better. It will be OK. There are resources for me. I got help and I do feel like a lot better than I did half a year ago. So I have to say that it is important to consult a doctor and go to a therapist. You canít do this on your own, you canít get better just by talking to people in your house. Family loves you but the medical professionals out there are there for a reason. PPD is a medical problem, it is something that can be treated like any other problem you would see a doctor for. It can be cured, it is something that you donít Ö like that you are ashamed that you need help but there should be no shame in it. Itís how you feel in the beginning there is a cure and thatís the thing that, even though people say you donít believe it, so itís important to hear it from someone who has been through it that you will get better.
Speaker: How did you hear about your support group and when did you start going to that?
Dana: Well, with the counseling center I go to they run a support group at a local place for kids, which is great because you can bring your kids there and the coaches of the place watch the kids and play with them. And we would have the support group in a different part of the room so it was really low stretch, the kids would play. If you had a baby you would keep them with you. We would all go and it was someone running it and after that we would have pizza so you didnít have to worry about dinner. Thek ids would have snacks, totally low pressure, twice a month the group runs and those of us that go still go. I love going. I see my friends and other new moms and you offer them support. I remember when I first went I was very quiet and all my friends that I know now were going for a few months and they were all talking and sharing stories and you laugh and itís like Ö really Ö you start laughing, maybe I am making a bigger deal then it really is. We are all here to get better. They would talk about things happening at home and you would share how you were feeling and it would make you feel better. That support group really made a difference and I really made good friends there and the people that you connect to because you all had the same experience. On the outside everyone looks 100 percent. Well you would never know I was thinking, wow that must be how people look at me too. You donít know until you meet people and then youíre like, oh this is funny all these professionals and great moms they are all suffering like I am and I would have never known unless I went to the support group. It was a big help.
And the other group before I went back to work was at Virtua Hospital. They do a group called TLC and the counselor is great. That was one of the first things I did when I first realized I had PPD I made myself go with my daughter every Wednesday. And that was a big help. It really got me through the early months. It was more like the newest moms go there a lot of people. Itís very emotional, a lot of crying, a lot of people have just reached out. It was their only outlet. You get to talk to other moms and you talk to just like the other group but were really important as you move through you donít need a group once you get treatment. Itís nice to still go to something so you interact with others and your kids interact so thatís been great. Itís a thing I will never give up. I feel like I might feel 100 percent better but I like going because even when youíre better, things come up that make you feel bad. You always remember things will get better, turn around your thinking, which is what you learn to do when you go to these things, you turn around your thinking.
Speaker: Do you have a first memory with your daughter when you were like wow I am better and I am doing this?
Dana: The first memory I have when I can say I enjoyed her for a whole day was her first birthday party. I remember think I have come through this in a year and now I am enjoying having her. Today, it doesnít feel like I am worried about her. I donít feel trapped, I feel happy. I am able to put together a party and I am relaxed about it. I canít believe I came that far. I remember that first birthday my husband and I were high-fiving each other, saying can you believe we made it? as hard as it was for me, your spouse goes through a lot as well because they have to pick up everything you canít do and we felt like we made it through the hardest year of our lives. Every day since that I was feeling better and better each day.
Speaker: Wwhat would your advice be to someone experiencing PPD now?
Dana: The first thing I would say would be call the hotline. They are therapists that answer the phone and they could just give you minimal information. I just wanted to get a therapist and they gave that to me but they will talk to you and help you figure out how you are feeling and give you resources in your area. Itís not that you have to have insurance to get these. There are many that are free or discounted and they will help you find them. So itís the first step is call the hotline. They are understanding and 24/7. Also follow through with what they recommend. If they say go to therapy, call a therapist and they will even call for you. Follow through, go to therapy and once you are there you can decide if you want to get medication, Itís very personal, they will never push it, they will recommend things that you can do. They may say, you know you have insomnia, you can get treatment, itís an option. A therapist will never push medication and I would say thatís the best route. Do that and then if you are feeling very bad and distraught go to your gynecologist, mine actually was the first person I called to get medication and Ö they were very understanding. They said we will give you enough but you need to go pursue more help. This is what you need to look into. They do know itís out there, they donít talk about it a lot when you go but they are there to help. So I found them to be another resource for me in between getting set up with therapy that was helpful. Also I say talk to someone in your home about it, say that you think somethingís wrong. You donít have to say PPD, but say something isnít right. I need help, I need you to call for me. One of the hardest things to do is call when youíre in depression. You donít want to move, you want to do nothing and not admit something is wrong.
Alicia Cooley: My name is Alicia Cooley. I am 38 years old and I heard about the ďSpeak Up When You Are DownĒ campaign while I was in the hospital after the birth of my first daughter.
Speaker: When did you first hear the term PPD?
Alicia: I had heard it years ago, in relation to other people or news stories, usually the most extreme cases, usually a psychosis. You hear about unfortunate incidents. I had heard about it but never thought it would apply to me.
Speaker: What was your pregnancy experience like?
Alicia: It was difficult. There were potential complications. I was 34 at the time. Since I was close to 35, they were treating me as high risk. There was always something with her pregnancy, back and forth, a potential blood clot in my leg, family history of heart disease, multiple ultrasounds. So the delivery went fine. I had to be induced, but she had no color, her body temperature was low so I held her for about a second and they took her in a warm room down the hall. That was pretty nerve-wracking at first. After that, she was fine. They thought she had a spinal issue. She has a tiny opening above her rectum so they were afraid the spinal cord didnít close, but she was fine. It was one red flag after another that there could be potential complications. I didnít have a great pregnancy. The delivery was as good as you can get when you are induced. It was vaginal, it was six hours of intense pain and then she was fine.
My recovery was really easy I would say. I was fine, I was elated, so excited she was born. We didnít know the sex so we were like, wow itís a girl! Wait, where are you taking her? And then they brought her back later and she was fine. When I asked about her Apgar scores, what was wrong? Why did you take her? She scored a 0 on color, she had no color. But she was term and everything leading up until that seemed fine. She just she didnít come on the due date so thatís why I was induced. My pregnancy the second time was very difficult, the second time.
Speaker: Was that a planned pregnancy?
Alicia: It was planned. We did plan it. We knew we wanted two kids. It didnít happen right away so it was like the back burner, it will happen eventually. I didnít even know I was pregnant until I was three months along. We had just lost my father in-law so there was an intense period of time where he was in ICU, we were back and forth to the hospital. I got my period once then skipped it. I thought nothing of it, it was stress. I bought new scrubs and then all of a sudden they didnít fit and I had two different people ask me (if I was pregnant) and I was so offended, I thought I wasnít (pregnant).
After a week or so, I took a test and I was 11 weeks along at that point, so we didnít have as much time to prepare as we planned. And we were still grieving and it was bad timing. I hurt my knee. I was out of work so I was not getting paid. My husband hurt his knee and he was out, but he was getting paid. And we both had rehab and he had surgery and we were concerned about the recovery.
Megan was still in the nursery. We wanted to get the room ready before the new baby came. After Sarah was born, she was in out room for almost a year until we were able to get the other room ready.
Speaker: How was your pregnancy with Sarah? What was the experience like? Did you have anxiety at all about the pregnancy?
Alicia: I was concerned about how my husband was going to react. If it had been any other time in our lives I think it would have been fine, but I knew he wasnít going to be excited he wasnít going to be fine or want the baby. He would feel overwhelmed. That was my concern and the other was, I lost three months to get ready. I am a procrastinator by nature but I like to be prepared for children and have things taken care of so the stress level went up. And it was poor timing. We wanted a child, just the timing wasnít for us.
Speaker: Did you have any difficulties during delivery?
Alicia: We had another blood clot scare and we met with a cardiac specialist, a pediatric one, and they ran tests and they were ruling out a congenital heart defect and all looked well in the tests. And they could only test for 15 out of 40 conditions so it wasnít an all clear. So we said, OK, thatís all we can do. We crossed it off the list of things to worry about. I really wasnít sleeping well at all. I had really bad varicose veins that started and got worse with Sarah, my second. She was breach and wasnít turning so I was trying crazy home remedies trying to get her to turn. My OBGYN said you seem anxious about the possibility of a C-section. I didnít want it. I donít want to have to go through a surgical recovery if I donít need to. We tried an external procedure where they give you painkillers and they push on your stomach and she started going but the heart rate dropped so that was an issue. The placenta was in the wrong spot, potentially, which could have made me bleed out. It was one thing after another. She was 75 percent of the way around, I didnít want to have to be cut, but her heart rate was at 70 and then 50 and it was time to go.
I had all these nightmares about two weeks prior and it was going to be a C-section and it always ended with them saying, we are losing her, and I died on the table. I was so convinced I was having a boy. The whole pregnancy felt different so I thought I must have testosterone in my system and in the dream it was me dying and it was a motherless child and my older daughter wouldnít have a mom. And it was terrifying, living that every night whenever I had it. It was so bad. I didnít want to tell my husband. I wasnít talking to anyone about it. I just got more and more anxious.
He (the doctor) was right. She was out in probably under five minutes. He asked my husband if he had a camera and told him to get it now, sheís coming. He called his mother and said, they are cutting now. When he came back in, she was on her way out. He had a really traumatic view of lots of blood and gore. Usually the father is behind the curtain but he walked into the thick of it. It was traumatic for both of us, but she was healthy and I survived to tell the tale.
Speaker: How were you feeling in the hospital after delivery?
Alicia: I had a few nightmares here and there. I was on a lot of drugs so you canít tell if itís hallucinating. I would wake up in a cold sweat and short of breath thinking something was wrong. Then I realized she was born, it was OK. I hurt like hell but I was OK. I started to have flashbacks and that continued for two weeks after. They were many times when I was sleeping, sometimes in midday if I was doing something else, I was on the table with that feeling of dread and I would shake and I felt like I couldnít breathe and I was going to pass out.
Speaker: Do you recall being tested before you left the hospital?
Alicia: Two young women came in together, maybe students, and my husband was there and they asked me if they could do the 10 questions, it would be quick. Snd I answered all the questions to the affirmative. Within the last week I had felt nervous or anxious or sad or cried Ö all of the above. I was scared of having the surgery and afraid. I had this feeling of dread all the time, that something bad was going to happen.
Speaker: When you completed the question are did you get referred to a therapist?
Alicia: They recommended I speak to someone in the department. As far as, they run their own support group, and they would contact me at home and they did two weeks later. And I was home I guess about two weeks and I had said to my husband, I need to get to see one of these therapists. All I did was cry all day long. So we went over there and I met with a woman and I wish I remembered her name, she was very kind. I spent about 45 minutes with her crying and she said, this is common and itís not under your control. Donít feel bad, you can continue to come to the support group but then you will have to drive into the city and park and walk. You may want to go to the one that we hold that will be in the suburbs and you will feel more comfortable so I went to that, the TLC program.
Speaker: How did you know what you were going through was different then how you felt after you had your first daughter?
Alicia: I noticed even in the hospital I wanted to hold her and I asked someone if they wanted to hold her, almost pass her off, let her rest. I was so exhausted from the surgery and I was coming down with pneumonia at the time and then I was diagnosed with that so maybe I just felt so lethargic because of the pneumonia and I just had major surgery. I just wanted to sleep and I wanted to sleep for four years and wake up when things were easier. And I just felt like the whole pregnancy was exhausting and now this and I felt even worse. I had a 2-year-old also begging for attention and all the typical things that needed to be done. I donít have time for her or myself. I want to check out and go somewhere and sleep for a while. I wasnít interested.
And my husband is wonderful. He was so nurturing to her and to this day she still is daddyís little girl whereas Megan has always been my girl. So I guess itís good in that way, they got what they needed from one of us. I couldnít give to her at that time. I knew that wasnít normal.
Speaker: Did your husband approach you about it or did he just know because you were so open?
Alicia: He never brought it up but I knew he noticed how I was irritable. If I wasnít crying and if I wasnít irritable, I was trying to go to sleep, just leave me alone, very different than my typical personality. I lost interest, I didnít want to call people back, a huge amount of energy talking to people about why it was a C-section and how everything turned out and rehash all of that. I wanted to be alone and Iím a very social person by nature so I was very honest and I said to him, I think I am going crazy, there is something wrong with me. I look at Sarah and sheís just this alien baby to me. I donít feel like sheís mine. If I wasnít in the room I wouldnít have believed she was mine. And she was such a different baby then Megan. All the books say that will happen so you think, but really they were like night and day. Everything we thought we knew went out the window. She was colicky, which made it worse. He and I were sleep-deprived. I have to get to one of these meetings, I am literally going to lose my mind or run out of here. I couldnít take it anymore.
Speaker: Did you do individual therapy as well as the original support group?
Alicia: I did. She gave me a few recommendations of people to call in my area so I called and I found a wonderful therapist, a clinical social worker. I still see her to this day. It has been two years now and sheís been there the whole time, thatís wonderful. My psychiatrists and I took antidepressants and a sleep aid because I was an insomniac so that helped to an extent until I went back to work part time and the antidepressants werenít enough to get me through the day. I tried switching medications and I have a lot of drug sensitivities and allergies. There are drugs that work for many people, but I canít take them. I switched psychiatrists to someone I felt was more intuitive to that he listened to the experiences I have had before as far as sensitivities. He found the right cocktail for me and that has been big made a huge difference in my life.
Speaker: How long were you going before you noticed a change?
Alicia: About four months I saw a change. I went back to work when she was three months and work was good for me. It was an outlet, something I felt I was good at, something where I got a break to use the bathroom by myself, to be around adults and it was huge. I had felt like a prisoner in my own house until that point so I felt better when I went back into my old routines. As far as a real noticeable change, around month seven, when I was changing up my medication up a little bit more and had more energy. She was beginning to sit up and talk and more interactive and I finally felt connected to her. I felt like this could be a good thing. She was getting to know me and I her and I liked it.
Speaker: When did you begin to feel the bond you should have had with her?
Alicia: At night just sitting and rocking with her in the chair, once the colicky nights were very bad until then and then all of a sudden she calmed down. She would curl up against my shoulder. I would rock and she would stroke my cheek or hair and I would think this is my beautiful baby girl. I wish I had felt that all along but I couldnít and I have regret that I wasnít able to give to her the ways a mother usually would or could but I was doing the best I could. I did everything right according to the experts. Itís just, it took my body a while to readjust.
Speaker: Did you do any journaling, and what was your experience with the support group like?
Alicia: I enjoyed them. Tthe TLC group was on Wednesdays during the day. I went for about two months before I went back to work and I was unable to attend, but I attended a different one where you could bring your children and they could play in a play center and that really helped a lot and I still go to that. Some days are better than others. I was supposed to be doing journaling but I was bad at it. I would sit and as soon as I would think about what I wanted to write I would get even more depressed if that makes sense to you. I didnít want to commit those words and thoughts to paper. God forbid someone else should see them. I should be grateful that I have this wonderful family and I felt anything but. I was really overwhelmed and I rather not put that down.
Speaker: How often did you go to the sessions?
Alicia: I saw my social worker once a week for several months and then we dropped down to twice a month. Now I see her once every three weeks to go back and check in. The whole postpartum was difficult to the marriage. We have other family issues that were stressful so my husband dealing with those and he and I in our interaction with each other. My therapist said, I think if you didnít have these issues going on that you and I would have been done a while ago. The depression has lifted. Some days are still hard but the good days outweigh the bad and now the anxiety that is an issue. I see a psychiatrist once a month for medication management and seeing what we can do about getting off the meds.
Speaker: Are you still on the medication?
Alicia: I am trying to wean off of Xanax. I take such a small dose but I take it between two and three times a day. I am trying to get down to twice a day and then not at all.
Speaker: Did your therapist ever diagnose you with anything specific outside of PPD?
Alicia: No, they said it was a mild case of major depression, a moderate or so. But I had some post-traumatic stress syndrome signs but I guess they disappeared fairly quickly. It wasnít separate in and of itself but I know many women have OCD tendencies or anxiety in addition. I had the anxiety but I would say not greater then you typically would with PPD. They usually go hand in hand
Speaker: Did your sisters talk to you about this? Did they experience anything like this?
Alicia: My younger sister has two kids and she had the baby blues after her son was born and my mother was there helping her for about two weeks. She cried a lot the first two weeks and then she was OK and it all changes. After her daughter she was pretty all right after the fact.
My other sister was not able to have kids so they adopted two boys and that was a major adjustment. I know she had some depression and anxiety when they got the boys to the U.S. One was already starting to walk and you had to babyproof your whole house. You expect a baby and the process dragged on for so long, it was dealing with toddlers pretty much.
One of the things I found interesting my mom shared was that when my older sister was born they didnít have the technology they do now but they couldnít detect the heartbeat. She didnít know if it would be stillborn or not. And her mother died of a heart attack six weeks before my sister was born so she was grieving. And she said, I had a healthy baby girl but I just I was so depressed. I thought I expected my mother to be there to help raise my child in the beginning like she had done with the sisters. Instead of going home to my house with my husband, I stayed with my sister and my father and I think that was a bad mistake. I was so surrounded my motherís things. All I could do was think of her so she said, I remember what that was like but had no idea what I was going through. I tried to keep it to myself but I eventually told my family and they never knew.
Speaker: Do you feel like they really understood?
Alicia: I think they did. I think when it happens to someone you know it takes you by surprise, you never expect that. But we do have a family history of depression so I always had in the back of my mind itís a potential in some point of my life I could be depressed. I was hoping it would never happen but with my two sisters having kids I knew what it was like, oh I know when there are some days like that, not days on end, days that felt like they were never going to end and they were supportive of me going to therapy and seeing specialists and my husband was extremely supportive. He just wanted the real me back, I wanted you to be healthy, the way you have always been, this is not your personality, this is scary Ö
I remember vividly, I canít recall how old she was, but it was when Sarah was colicky and she would usually scream for about three hours a day and eventually settle down. And this day was so much worse, it was six hours and I tried everything I could think of, in the stroller, in the bouncy chair, laying her down, letting her scream it out, and my nerves couldnít handle that. I didnít want to take her in the car. I knew that would make her sleep, but I was so sleep-deprived I was afraid to drive. So I did do that, I put her in the car and I drove around the local streets and pulled into a CVS and called my husband and I said, you need to get home right away or I am going to drive her somewhere and drop her off and I donít know where I am going after that. He said, give me 45 minutes I will be home. So he left work and I said, I canít do this, itís too hard and I just I donít know, it was like having a small angry boss in your face screaming at you all day and you canít do anything. The more she screamed, the more I cried and the more I cried, the more she screamed. We fed off each other. She was always slightly different around Dale, she was more relaxed because he was more relaxed. I was always tense, which made it difficult for both of us.
Speaker: Would you say you enjoy her now that you have been through everything to get you back to where you want to be?
Alicia: Things are much better now. I would say we have a good relationship. Sheís sweet, funny, smart. She makes me laugh and she comes over and she can say I love you and gives me a hug and she does that to Dale too. And she will give me a kiss. She is funny, a handful. When she turned 1, she really started to get more independent and, not that itís less work because itís still the same amount of work, itís a child, but it became more enjoyable for me to interact with her, the worst of it was over. I was feeling so much better I planned a big first birthday party for her that I would not have been able to plan a few months prior. I had fun, I had a good time at the party. I thought, I was proud, this is my little girl and sheís growing up and everybody loves her and she and her sister get along and sometimes they fight. I am a much better mom because of the therapy and the medication. They say PPD will lift eventually on its own even without (medication), but that wasnít even an option in my case. Something drastic had to be done and I would have done whatever it took to feel better. I felt so alone even though I was surrounded by people who loved me I felt lonely and very helpless all the time. And the therapist that I work with helped me see that I have a lot of strengths and I had just lost faith in myself and had to find those qualities again to understand.
Speaker: At the support group, did you find yourself bonding with other women who openly had PPD?
Alicia: Everyone there was having some kind of an adjustment issue, whether it was going from a couple to their first child or from one or two to all of a sudden four, another child and you donít know if you can financially or emotionally handle it. Most of us had PPD and that was the reason we were there. We heard about the group, we wanted to find other people who were going through the same thing. It was an instantaneous bond. We clung to each other this, you know my friend Nicole that I met, she was my life ring. I just reached out to her and I remember meeting her and she looked so together and she didnít have a spit-up stained T-shirt and sweats like I did. She looked like she was really over the hurdles and she was like, oh no, I havenít slept in five hours and longer than five hours here and there. I am just kind of faking it until I make it, trying to get through each day as best we can. We would call each other because we all had insomnia. I could talk to her at 11 and she was wide awake. Itís, you can, I guess have this connection with other people who truly understand what itís like instead of the typical new mother who is excited and everything is wonderful and oh my baby spit up it was great. Thatís not my reality right now. I am just grossed out and thatís just on top of everything else not what I want to deal with right now. It was good to have a group of friends that I could really be real about my feelings and thoughts and we became good friends and some of them have thought about suicide. While I was pregnant, I thought about giving away the baby after he or she was born. You canít say that to someone who hasnít been through it without judgment or thinking they need to intervene on your behalf and call someone. Those are thoughts, not actions. Itís very frightening when you know your mind is not rational, you canít trust the things that are running through your head and I had some very angry thoughts and things were not in my nature to feel and I just thought, this is not, something is not connecting in my brain the way that it should.
Speaker: Did the nightmares stop once you began therapy? Did the episodes, cold sweats and things like that, did they end after you got home?
Alicia: Within two weeks and I started on an antidepressant right away but they donít take effect until six weeks or so. I think it was the combination of the talk therapy with the social worker but also I was on antibiotics dealing with pneumonia so when I was better with that they also coincidentally just stopped. Thank God they stopped. I never knew when they would happen
Speaker: Would you say that the hard days were some of the worst you ever had, the day she cried for six hours?
Alicia: Yes that was the worst. There were other days when it was hard but that was the worst. They were earth shattering, they werenít the worst ever, my mindset was everything was so difficult, every waking moment was hard and some days were torture and sleeping wasnít much better. So it was just this cycle of unhappiness and feeling terrible about myself as a mom. I knew I could do better but I wasnít. I was a bad mom. I felt I was withholding from my daughter. Why canít you give to her the same way you gave to your first daughter? I physically had nothing in the tank, I was wiped out.
Speaker: What was your relationship like with your oldest during this time?
Alicia: Still good, but I had a short fuse. I am usually patient in most respects but I found myself very short tempered. If she was persistent on something, if she gets a no she doesnít settle, Ö try and keep going at you. And I would just snap and say, enough you are going to time out. I would overreact to little things. She would get this shocked looked in her eyes and I would feel so bad and say, Mommy is just grumpy today, Mommy isnít feeling well. Letís play a quiet game of something instead of running around the house like she typically wanted to. I felt like I maintained a good relationship but she was on edge. What kind of mood is Mom in today? And it hurts to think of that.
Speaker: Would you like to share a memory when you look back and were really happy that you have two little girls and they are growing up and you are in a better place where you feel better, maybe a party or something?
Alicia: There was just one the other day. It was cute, we got these dance recital dresses at a yard sale and just to get them something to dress up in and you would think that we gave them a million dollars. They were so excited, they wanted to run home and put them on and I put them on and they came out and did a little recital for my husband and I and my mother in-law and they were just hamming it up and having a good time. And I thought, this is fun, this is what it should be like. They were just enjoying the attention and I felt like I could give 100 percent and give them what they needed. I wanted them to be happy and you know play with them and spoil them a little bit, give them all the excitement and attention they wanted. We had a great family vacation. We went to DisneyWorld and seeing them really in a childís element ,the most exciting place they could possibly go and Megan had been there before but she was small so she didnít remember some things that she had seen but for Sarah, it was a first for everything. She was so excited. She kept pulling my hand, look at this, letís do this. And so I thought, she chose me over my husband, but normally she goes to him first. She wanted me to experience that with her. That was a good feeling, that she wanted to bond with me over this new experience.
Speaker: Looking back, would you change anything about how you handled the situation?
Alicia: I think the only thing I could have done differently and I wish I knew more was to seek out counseling while I was still pregnant. But I wasnít sure what I was experiencing was depression, I thought it was grief. How do you separate the two? A lot of that was tied into, yes I have the grief but also these unresolved feeling of not feeling prepared for the pregnancy this time around, issues with being hurt, my husbandís surgery, we had financial difficulties with that. There was a lot of stress I wish I had dealt with earlier on and I always heard of PPD but not perinatal mood disorders. I didnít consider treatment. I just thought I have to get through this. I am grieving. It will be better when the baby is born.
Speaker: Would you, say someone said it could be depression you should talk to someone, would you have, just to see?
Alicia: Yeah, I think I needed to talk but I wasnít and, like I said earlier with a family history of depression, I donít want to end up in a hospital. I had a job years ago I worked in a psychiatric hospital. It was one of the saddest places I have ever been and it made me avoid that kind of situation. I would have gone but nobody mentioned it healthcarewise.
Speaker: Did you have a fear of being institutionalized? Did you think you were that bad?
Alicia: I didnít think I was bad enough to have to go to a hospital. I didnít have fears that I would kill myself or hurt the baby or kill her, something like that. My thoughts were more of leaving, getting away, that I was incompetent and that anybody else could do a better job, but I didnít feel like I needed to be in a hospital 24/7. I didnít think I was a danger to anyone.
Speaker: Do you find yourself trying to reach out to new members of the support group?
Alicia:I try but itís not always easy. Itís not always the best day. I bring both girls with me, how in the world do you get out of the house with two girls but we are here and it is possible to get better it is doable. A lot of the women I meet, this is their first and they are scared to have another. I would be too. Two was the number I wanted. I am happy with two, not planning on having three but I would be scared too if I found out I was pregnant again to think this could happen again, the depression, anxiety, insomnia can come back. I try and let the newer moms know it gets better you have to make yourself a priority but a lot of women donít get the treatment. Itís OK to ask for help. They say, oh you have a baby what can I do? Watch her for an hour while I go to therapy. Come cook for me. I donít have the energy or just let me shower and nap while you babysit. Those are all constructive things people can do but a lot of times people are afraid to ask for that time for themselves but they need it.
Speaker: What would your advice be to women who are experiencing this?
Alicia: I would say reach out for help, tell your partner or your close friend or family that what I am feeling, I donít think is normal. I need professional help and I need you to help me get it. I need your support on this. A lot of families are not supportive or they donít want you to talk about it. It might be embarrassing to them, itís not about them, itís about you and what she needs. And they can always call the state 800 number to get immediate help if you feel like you are in danger or you are in doubt you go to the emergency room. Something is wrong call and they will find you someone in your area to talk to. You have to let someone know that this is a problem because women do a very good job of hiding it. I know I did for a long time so you have to ask for help.
Speaker: What did you know about PPD prior to Thaydra's experience?
Diane: Other than the horror stories that are in the news, I read an article in the gynecologistís office, that was her doctor, when she went in one of her monthly visits before she had Stephen, other than that no.
Speaker: Did the thought cross your mind when she was pregnant that PPD could be a possible issue?
Diane: Well no, not at first. I had read that article when she was probably about three months pregnant. And in her fifth month she went into severe anxiety and thatís when it crossed my mind that it could happen.
Speaker: So you noticed changes in her even while she was pregnant with Stephen?
Diane: In her fifth month she was experiencing anxiety, yes.
Speaker: Was that connected to when you had been told that Stephen could have issues?
Thaydra: Yeah, but she didnít know that. I never told her because I knew she would worry. So she didnít know until after. I know itís horrible but I didnít want her to, because then she would worry about the baby and me and so I didnít really want her to worry.
Speaker: So when you did notice the anxiety, you didnít ask her about it? Did you ask her about it?
Diane: Well, when she was going through the anxiety, Thaydra couldnít even do her food shopping. She had to leave work early. I used to drive her to work thatís how bad the anxiety was, at one point. And then even her food shopping I would go in with her and then sheíd have to leave so I said to her, why donít you let me do your food shopping? But she didnít want that. She kept saying, Iím going to be a mom, I need to do this myself. So we made a deal. I said, weíll go in, weíll do the food shopping, have your list with you and whatever you canít finish up, Iílll do and you go wait in the car. So thatís when PPD came to my mind that it could happen, and thatís in her fifth month. Thatís when it started.
Speaker: Thaydra, I know that you said you kept the anxiety from your mom but after Stephen was born I know that you wanted to hide it, you didnít want to show what you were going through whereas Mom, did you start to pick up on changes in her behavior immediately?
Diane: When she went to the hospital, we had talked to them before she went into the hospital to have our first grandson, her first child. We said, look we donít want to be meddling grandparents because we live right around the corner. What weíll do is, weíll drop meals off at your house. Iíll do the food shopping. Iíll do your wash. And then we were dropping things off, my son-in-law would come out to pick them up, come to the door. We werenít seeing the baby and we were fine with that because we figured they were new parents, they wanted to be with their baby alone. They were hiding it well. My son- in-law stayed home for the first three weeks and I got the next week. And when I got there, I knew it. It was the blank stare, the confusion, not crying yet, not crying yet.
Thaydra: Well, I was crying, but not in front of you.
Diane: But not in front of me at that point. At that point, no crying yet. And I talked to her and asked her how she felt and I said, we need to get help. And at that point, I think Thaydra was happy that I mentioned we need to get help because at that point she was ready to give it up. She wanted the help.
Speaker: So what types of things was she doing that was out of the norm?
Diane: I can see, she was confused about anything she did. She was confused about, if she had to do something she would stand there and stare at it for a while. I picked it up probably in the middle of the week, only because I probably would have picked it up at the beginning of the week, but she was saying Iím going to take a nap and I want to hold Stephen. So I would clean while they were doing that and then my son-in-law would come home a little earlier. They were hiding it well until like Wednesday of that week. Tuesday night I said to my husband, I have to have a talk with her tomorrow. And she was laying across the bed and thatís when she started to cry. And I immediately called Ö
Thaydra: Because when you wanted to have a talk with me was the same day that I told you too.
Diane: Yes, that was it. I said we need to, you canít do this alone. We need to get help. So I knew of a very good therapist and it just so happened that he Ö had an office in Ridgewood. And when I tried to contact him he had moved to Red Bank. So I drove her down there and than he said to me, why donít you call her insurance company and see if theyíll do telephone therapy, if theyíll cover it? And they did.
Thaydra: Yeah, but for Steven thatís when I started working with Dr. Campbell. I think more for the babies Ö
Diane: Oh for the babies, Iím so sorry. But she did take the same therapist I got the therapist for her and along with medication the therapist had said, you know Diane we canít work with her because sheís crying so much sheís going to need to go on medication which she didnít want to do.
Thaydra: They couldnít really talk to me even, because I just would cry.
Diane: No, she would just cry.
Thaydra: I couldnít even really communicate.
Diane: We tried the baby-sitting thing. Weíd baby sit and next thing you know they were going to the movies, they came back 10 minutes later, I canít go. Yeah, I noticed it my first week.
Thaydra: I had a lot more anxiety with Stephen than I did with the twins. The twinsí pregnancy I have to say, like I told you, was excellent. It was Stephenís, was horrible. Stephenís was more anxiety in the beginning and postpartum at the end. And like you said that was actually after I was told about what he had because before that I was, the first two months I guess, I was OK. It was just after they told me, thatís when I started getting the panic attacks and the anxiety.
Speaker: Yeah, especially thinking about all of the things that might go wrong. So Diane what were your feelings when you realized that something was seriously going on with Thaydra and she needed, you needed to step in and get her help? What were you thinking?
Diane: My feelings were fear and actually fear and sorrow for Thaydra and my son-in-law and my grandson. Sorry, thatís what my husband and I felt .
Speaker: Were you afraid that she wouldnít go back to the way she was before and that she wouldnít be able to take care of herself and the baby?
Diane: When you see this happening to your child and I know what a good mother she is, we knew Thaydra would be a good mom, and sheís just, itís, she canít do anything. All she did was walk back and forth to the mirror, look in the mirror and cry.
Thaydra: The bathroom was my room.
Diane: The bathroom was Thaydraís place. We would say go out and get your nails done. Once she started getting a little better, sheíd get in the car and all you would see was (patting her eyes), in the car for five minutes, wiping her eyes, wiping her eyes. And you know, itís sad. You know thatís the time you should enjoy, they were so looking forward to having the baby and my husband and I would worry about it. It was fear and we were sad for them.
Speaker: So the day that she came to you and you at the same time were going to her to address about what was going on, were you relieved because you were finally getting to figure out what was going on with her?
Speaker: Were you surprised? I mean, I donít know exactly what Thaydra said to you when you guys talked about it.
Diane: I just asked her how she was feeling and she told me. And I said to her, Thaydra you should have talked to me before this. We could have stated the process sooner. So I , yeah I was relieved and so was my husband and honestly we didnít waste any time. I was on the phone probably five minutes later.
Speaker: And when did you start to see a change in her as far as getting her recovery?
Diane: I know this very well. I saw the change in August. Stephen was born June 22nd and we started seeing the change in August. I was keeping a journal and then after the journal, after she started getting better I said to her, you need to keep a journal. At first when I went to the doctor with her he said to me, she needs to keep a journal. This was the psychiatrist that had to give her the medication, not the therapist. And I said to him, Doctor she canít even think straight. How can she keep a journal? Well I want her to keep it. So I just thought, well, OK. I kept a journal and didnít let her know about it. And how you saw she was getting better was, she wasnít asking the same things over again. She would ask, Mom, when am I going to get better? She wasnít saying that anymore. And she was back to taking control because thatís Thaydra. She has to be in control of everything. When I saw she could do it, I wasnít getting a lot of phone calls, which I didnít mind. She would call me up, and how I really did notice is when I called her and she would say, I canít talk right now, Iím busy. And we went, whew. Thatís when we really started to notice.
Speaker: Did you take her to the support group after Stephen or the twins?
Thaydra: The twins.
Diane: The twins.
Thaydra: The twins.
Speaker: Ccan you talk a little about that second experience after she brought the twins home? How was that different and did you pick up on it right away?
Diane: Thaydra had called my husband from the hospital and said that the gynecologist wanted her to go, because of her history the first time, she mentioned to Thaydra that she thought she should go back on the antidepressant. My husband said to her, call the doctor. See what he says. So then I called him and he said, yes. Tell her gynecologist, when youíre on an antidepressant you really shouldnít be getting, and we learned this through her experiences, you really shouldnít be getting an antidepressant from a gynecologist or a medical doctor. It should be from a psychiatrist and that does not work if you donít have the therapy. You need the antidepressant and the therapy is the most important. So she went on the medication and they told us, we had had my grandson with us while she was in the hospital. And she said I want Stephen to come home because they missed him. So I quick ran for formula and they came home, they shut their door. I went for formula and diapers and when I got there, something was strange. And then I look, I saw that both of them, their eyes, they looked like they were crying, not just her, but him. But I was worried about this because I did research on it and I asked the doctor the first time, if Thaydra gets pregnant again Ö Most likely if you have it the first time you will have it the second time. But I didnít want to worry her because I was worried her carrying the twins and I lost twins so that was more extra added worriment when we were worried about that.
And I noticed it right away. What we were doing was the same thing we did when Stephen was born. We were bringing the meals but it was a couple days.
Thaydra: It was right after the hospital.
Diane: I couldnít talk to her. She was crying. Thaydra's second bout with the PPD was much, much worse than her first time, much worse. We would try everything. As for the first time, I did the wash for the family. We ran to the store. The second time was honestly very sad. Thaydra would cry. She couldnít do anything, nothing. And I work in a school system. I am off for the month of August. July is a bad time for me to take off. I asked and they denied me. And I would be on the phone with Thaydra. I made a lot of mistake at my job, which my job was wonderful to me with that. She would call me at my job and Thaydra would constantly repeat, Mom, please donít let them put me away.
So we would try with Stephen. One time we were feeding the babies in the middle of the living room and Stephen just kept walking around the babies, saying, Nan, this is crazy, this is crazy. And then when I would take Stephen out with me, she would call us and say, I donít know why you are taking Stephen out. I want to be with him. We were trying to get Stephen out.
Thaydra: They felt bad for Stephen.
Diane: And then we told them, go away for a weekend with Stephen. So it was 4th of July weekend and she would call me every half hour, you shouldnít be watching the twins, theyíre my babies, they should be with me. And I would say, Thaydra, we just want you to be with Stephen. Youíre missing your vacation this year. And she would say, this is terrible that Iím doing this to you and itís not fair to you guys. Itís hard and we just kept lying and saying, oh no, itís not hard. And we just couldnít do the right thing. What I did do was Ö
Thaydra: I was kind of more nastier this time around too. I felt like they were taking the kids away from me because they kind of thought I was crazy that was my thinking. I was very paranoid, I was kind of thinking, I even said to Steve once, I donít know why they want to be around the kids so much. And Steve said, theyíre their grandparents, theyíre trying to help you out. And I said, yeah but theyíre thinking I canít do anything. And theyíre thinking that, you know, and then my kids are going to love them more than they love me because I canít take care of them right now. So Steve said, Thaydra thatís not how it is. Once he started feeling better, because he was sick too for the first two weeks, he was sick too. So I would get mad at her when she was just trying to help me I would get nasty with her because I felt like she was doing everything in her power just to take the kids when really you probably didnít even want to take them.
Diane: Exactly, sometimes I have to say as much as I love them. There were some funny times though. Iím off in August, this had to be, you have to laugh a little here. I said, letís get them outside. So we take the pack and play and weíre outside and we put them where itís, she has a pool, and we put them where itís shade. And we get, she goes in the pool with Stephen and Iím just sitting there watching them and they just fall asleep and all of a sudden the pack and play collapses. Iím ready to laugh and sheís mad. Iím like, I canít laugh. I canít laugh. I just have to get the babies together.
Then another time, OK letís go to the park. So we stop at McDonaldís and we get Stephen lunch and we pack the babies up and she was just dragging along, but I wanted to get her out of the house. So we get to the Saddle Brook Park and weíre there and itís nice and shady. All right, now weíre gonna put, Stephenís gonna go on the swings and everything and weíre all excited. Iím pushing the babies so she could spend time with Stephen. She says, all right the babies have to be fed now. OK, Iím trying to keep it calm, feed the babies. All of a sudden, donít you think a bee comes on Matthew, one of the twins.
Thaydra: And stings my son.
Diane: No, he didnít sting him, on his head, and Iím like oooh (frantically waves away bee). Then I thought, oh my god, I donít want to get her nervous so Iím like, oh (gently waves away bee) a second time. This thing is not moving. I pick it up and throw it down. I didnít even realize I was, I didnít even realize that I got bit. I got a bee bite. It was like, Iíd come home and my husband would say, Hun Iím worried about you because Thaydraís gonna get better and Iím worried youíre gonna get sick then.
But, as for the groups, Iím sorry to get off the track with that. I started with, I said to my husband, there has to be some type of a group for these girls, once she was on medication. Oh, and medication, they werenít getting the right dose. They just werenít getting it. We tried to get her a doctor because that doctor is $200 a visit. And we tried to get a doctor on her plan and it was just a nightmare, took her to a university here in Hackensack and this doctor actually, he said to me, yeah, all right what dose do you think we should give her?
Thaydra: He put me on a medication, to make a long story short, a medication that just made me be a zombie. I couldnít, and then I had to get off of it because we were trying anything but it wound up that it went back to the one I was on with Stephen. That was what worked for me with both pregnancies.
Diane: But then he had my son-in-law there and my son-in-law come back and he said, I donít think we should go to this guy anymore. He said, heís typing and the he would turn around to my son-in-law and say, yeah, itís crazy, isnít it? I said, oh no, youíre not going there anymore.
Thaydra: He prescribed me something and then he told me, and I would ask questions and he would get kind of, like, aggragvated because I was asking questions. And so he kind of gave me this medication that he told me in other words that it was like the magic pill and in two hours, Iíd be OK. And in two hours, I was falling asleep. I said I canít be on this, Iím falling asleep. How am I going to take care of twins? So Ö
Diane: My husband said, weíre going to pay for her to go back. So anyway we did and, as for the groups, we were, it was a Saturday afternoon and we were driving to one of the colleges here to bring our recyclables and I asked, I said to my husband, you know what I need your cellphone. And he said, why, you forgot yours? I said, no because Iím going to be on two phones here. So I was on Hackensack Hospital on this ear and Valley on this ear. And Hackensack couldnít help me so I was on the phone with Valley and they told me they had a new moms group although it wasnít for postpartum but if there was anyone in that group with postpartum, she should come and try it.
First she didnít want to go, and it took a lot of coaxing and she said she would go. And I said, you know what Thaydra, if you want and if the, because I spoke with the social worker and I really, this is the person who really helped my daighter. The social worker from Valley Hospital, I say Thaydra should pay it forward to, she was a wonderful woman. She told me about this group, we went to the group and I said, look if the social worker says I can sit in with you Iíll do that. I prefer not to, I said, but Iíll do it. And thatís how we worked it. I thought she was gonna say no to me for that but she said yes. So I sat in there. Was she into it there first time? No. I said, OK, look Iím looking forward to next week. And then she did go and then it went from I graduated. I wasnít in the room anymore, I was in the hallway. And then I graduated to outside in the parking lot and then that was it. She said, you know what, Iím gonna go by myself. Thatís when I knew she was getting better
Speaker: Wow, thatís support. Thatís a strong support system there, from working with the insurance company and her issue with the doctors because I know thatís a proces, thatís a difficult process and system to navigate and it would have probably been close to impossible for you to navigte.
Diane: By herself? The second time? No.
Thaydra: No, the second time I was Ö
Diane: The second time, the second time, Thaydra was much worse than the first time, much worse.
Speaker: Thaydra mentioned in her testimonial that she felt like that you and your husband and her husband were concerned that she would do something to the babies or herself. Did you have that fear? Did you feel that?
Diane: The second time, yeah. Not the first, but the second time, of course. You know, you read about it. Then, of course, now youíre on the computer with it. OK, let me see what could happen here. So every time, I can honestly tell you. I work from 9 to 5. I would be on the phone with Thaydra, right Thayd?, probably a good 20 times a day. And when I couldnít get her on the phone, thatís when the anxiety for me came. And I had said in August of 2007, she started getting better in August, but just before she started getting better, I sat at the kitchen table and I said to my husband, I cannot go back to work unless this kid is better. I cannot leave this family and he agreed. And I said, you know what, weíre taking a chance. Iím taking a chance. I love my job but this is my kid and my grandchildren. And right after that, in August, it was the same thing. I was getting less calls, the crying was subsiding and I was keeping a journal and how many times a day would she cry and then it was, maybe it was 20, and in August, maybe it was six.
Thaydra: I think more with the twins I had a fear that I was just gonna be put away.
Diane: That was it.
Thaydra: That was my main fear because I was so bad that, Iíve heard stories, you know like a friend of mine who had to go in the hospital and I was so scared of being in that position. Even though, it would probably, God forbid I didnít have to, but it would probably just help me to get better but I just had a fear of being put in the hospital. So I think it was more a fear of being away from everybody. So I remember calling up her and my husband and my husband would say, I will not let you be put away. You are not that type of person. Youíre just going through the same thing you went through before with Stephen, but itís a lot worse. But you will get better but you have to give it time. But who wants to hear that really because time is like dragging and my days are dragging and when youíe sick a day is Ö a week and a week is a month so as much as I kept saying, OK, OK, OK, I just wanted it to be right now. And especially when youíre on antidepressant medication, it takes two weeks to even start feeling something and something means one little bit of something it doesnít mean youíll feel 100% better because youíre not going to. So and then with this pregnancy, this time with postpartum every time that I would finally get to that certain point where I thought I was, then Iíd go right back down. So it took months and months before I got to a milligrams that I felt, I kept feeling better. So each time that month would come I kind of would psych myself up, all right Iím going to start feeling better and then I didnít which made me even think that, OK Iím definitely going to be put away now.
That was my biggest thing, like now I can say to me that was kind of weird to think that way, but I thought that way. I was sick you know. So I always thought that I was going to be put away. And I remember constantly calling my mom, my stepfather, my husband and just saying, my husband always tried to work from home as much as he could but he has a job you know. And it got to the point where he got really scared where he actually told his boss about it to an extent, you know, that if you can let me work from home I really would like to work from home because my wife is, my wife is sick, you know. And he did, my husband has an excellent boss, excellent. So he let him kind of, I think my husband saw me, they saw me at my worst too, but my husband saw a lot of things with both pregnancies that they didnít see so I think with the second pregnancy he was more scared of what I would do with the kids and to myself. Because he actually said to me, whereís the kids? Or could I hear them? Not that he would ever think that I would do that but he knew I was very sick. So I think he felt more safe for him to be home, for me and for the kids not just the kids, he felt for my safety too.
And like I said, there were times where I thought I was gonna hurt the kids but I knew that I was deep down not going to. Just when youíre sick your thinking is irrational and your thinking is not what it is when youíre healthy. So did I want to think that way? Of course not, but I was sick. So thatís the thing. I think he was just scared and more nervous with this pregnancy as was everybody else I was extremely sick.
Diane: She even did that to her husband. I would tell her to go out and get her nails done, at some point in July I guess it was. It was, in July. And she would go out and right away she would call, whereís Steve? Upstairs, heís upstairs working. Oh, is he? Oh, OK. And he would come downstairs by me and heíd say, Di, I love her but he says Ö thatís not my daughter, I know my daughter. My daughterís like me. She started checking his wallet, sheís calling Ö
Thaydra: Yeah, I was very paranoid this time. I kind of thought that he, Iím a very independent person and I kind of had to rely on him and thatís not me. I donít like to rely on anybody. I like to just do my thing and I donít like anybody to kind of tell me what to do. And I feel like if I need the help, Iíll ask you for it. Itís nice if you offer it and Iíll accept it if I need it, but I like to do it. And sometimes thatís a bad thing, sometimes thatís a good thing, but I feel like if I can do it, Iíll do it myself. But I think that knowing I had to rely on him kind of made me feel less independent which kind of made me kind of paranoid in some sense. Because like it he would go down even to walk to the store I thought since he saw me at my worst he wasnít gonna, I guess, love me the same because I wasnít that independent person anymore that he loved that about me. So I thought that he was gonna to leave me or I thought that he was seeing somebody. Itís crazy now, but thatís what I thought. I thought that he was kind of even though he cared for me, I thought that maybe he was thinking I wasnít this strong person so therefore he didnít want to be with me, which was ridiculous.
Speaker: Did the doctors ever have any theories about why it might have been so bad the second time?
Thaydra: Because of the hormones, the hormones with the twins. Itís like double. And theyíre so high when youíre pregnant and then as soon as youíre done, they just drop.
Diane: They donít come down gradually.
Thaydra: And they donít come down gradually. Itís just a drop in hormone levels. So when you have twins, itís lot because my hormone levels with the twins were crazy, the numbers as opposed to when I had Stephen.
Diane: When they came in to tell us she had, with the twins like I said, I was nervous about it when she told me, oh Mom, Iím pregnant again. And honestly donít think Iím terrible, but was I excited? I was more worried. And then when I found out that it was twins, that was double the worriment. And I used to drive my husband crazy and my husbandís very patient, very patient. Anyway, so when they came in from, I guess having, you had a test?
Thaydra: A sonogram.
Diane: A sonogram and she said she was having twins and she said donít say anything. They didnít want want, she wasnít supposed to tell anybody yet but she told me. OK, so now they go away for their anniversary, which was in October, this was September that she told me, and we have Stephen. And they come back and my son-in-law sits in the chair and he says, Stephen so come here I have a secret to tell you. So, why Iím getting to this, this is a funny story it will make everyone laugh. Stephen says, what? And then he goes, he runs over to her, youíre having a baby? So I knew it and Iím trying to hide because I know it. And my husband says, oh youíre pregnant? And my son-in-law calls him back again and he says, Mom youíre having two babies? And my husband went, What? Two babies? What do you mean? And my son-in-law says, weíre having twins. So my husband goes downstairs and he gets them a shot for each of them. So what did he say?
Thaydra: Oh, I donít remember. He said something funny.
Diane: A toast! My grandson saw the little shot glasses and he loves anything small. So he said, how come I canít have one? And my husband says, weíre gonna have a toast. And he said, youíre having toast and Iím not getting any?
Thaydra: Everybody was excited.
Diane: We were excited but as soon as she left I said to my husband, Iím scared hun. He said, oh donít start worrying about it now sheíll be fine. And the pregnancy was fine but the whole time, the whole time Thaydra was pregnant the second time, I knew it. And there was no hiding it. They did great hiding it the first time. The second time they couldnít hide it.
Thaydra: Everybody knew more about it.
Speaker: You guys have been through Ö
Thaydra: Hell and back.
Speaker: I have to say the pictures, the picture of you in the hospital holding the twins where your eyes, you can tell that itís hit you already. And comparing that with the pictures you sent this morning of you holding, and I can tell itís the twins because itís a little pink hat, you look like such the happy grandma. And thinking of it side by side, itís just sad that you werenít able to have that joy.
Diane: Very sad. She had nothing for the first Ė May, June, July, August Ö
Thaydra: Probably about until almost Thanksgiving time, around there is when I Ö I mean I did start feeling a little better but until I felt completely myself was toward the end of the year.
Diane: But September started showing signs ...
Thaydra: Yeah, a little bit where I wanted to interact more with them around that time. Even now I feel like I owe them something. It kind of sometimes Steve, my husband, will say you have to be a little bit, not Ö Iím never mean to any of my kids but I do, I catch myself kind of favoring them, I do, not favoring them against Stephen but I feel like I owe them because with them, I didnít enjoy them, I didnít take pictures of them, I didnít do anything. Stephen had his portraits taken when he was like three weeks old, he had everything. I didnít do anything with them so I kind of feel like I owe them something.
Diane: In September, when I decided I would try to go back to work, I went to work the first, and try to keep this happy but sheíll Ö
Thaydra: Youíre taking up all her questions, she has to ask you questions.
Diane: Iím sorry. This is the end of it. This is the funny story. My boss asks me, he says oh you know what Diane we donít have any coffee. I say, oh Iíll run to the store. I go to the store. Iím still a little nervous so I would always call her and I would tell her, Thaydra if youíre taking care of the babies or Stephen donít answer the phone but Stephen was already in school then. And Iím crossing over Route 4 and, no earpiece, and Iím talking on the phone to Thaydra. And, everything all right Thayd? Yeah, and she sounded so good, Iím so excited sheís so good. And you donít want to say, oh how do you feel? You never said that. You would know. And she said, oh I have this and this to do today. Iím gonna be busy. Oh good, I said, oh Thayd, I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you and all of a sudden.
Thaydra: And then all of a sudden it sounded like she got killed. Somebody hit her Ö
Diane: Head on.
Thaydra: And I heard, oh no, screaming and the phone dead. Now I have two twins that Iím getting ready to take a bath and Iím trying to go in my car, get them in the car and find where she is, calling 911.
Diane: They spun me around on the highway, glass breaking all over, all the glass broke, my car was totaled. I just thought, Iíll have to give it up. And I am yelling the phone is on the floor and Iím yelling, Thaydra, Iím fine, Iím fine. I had my hands over my face this way and Iím saying, oh God, please just let me make it. Thaydra, Iím fine! Iím fine! And I hear her saying, Mom are you sure youíre OK? Iím fine!
Thaydra: So I called 911 and they told me exactly where she was .
Diane: And sent my son-in-law there.
Thaydra: And I sent my husband there but at the same time I got the kids in the car, but thank God Stephen wasnít in there.
Diane: Thatís when I knew that Thaydra was better because she was back in control . When I saw my son-in-law there and he came over, he said, what happened? Are you all right?
Thaydra: Oh no, Steve said, Iíll go. And I said, no Iím going because itís my mother, Iíll go. So I got the kids dressed and normally it would take me forever. I would just sit there like I didnít know what I wanted them to wear. I got them dressed in two seconds, put them in the car and did how I am today with them. You just get them in the car and I went to go see if she was all right.
Diane: So my parents show up there because everybody, my parents showed up at my job because I was supposed to sign a paper for them. So everybody was at the scene of this accident and Iím thinking, ohh this is great. Thaydraís better. So my boss shows up and says, Diane you have to go to the hospital you cannot return to work. And I said, Iím fine. I want to go back to work. Just leave my car here, my son-in-law will take care of the car. You canít go back to work unless you go to the hospital.
Thaydra: So then you knew I was better, to make a long story short, by me yelling at you when you called back.
Diane: So when I called back, Thaydra was yelling at me.
Thaydra: I said to her, you donít call me back, you call Steve and you ask Steve to come! You donít ask me? Iím your daughter! How come you donít ask me? And then you just let the phone die?
Diane: No, I didnít ask him. No, you asked him to come. You asked him to come, and then when I saw him there Ö
Thaydra: But I got mad at her because she didnít Ö
Diane: She got mad at me. I canít believe that youíre not paying attention. Iím on the phone trying to figure out, is everything all right here? Those are the good stories. Thatís the better story.
Thaydra: Thatís like I guess sheís trying to say, thatís kind of like when I started getting better because I wanted the control, I wanted to go there. I wanted to Ö And then I started getting back to my nasty self.
Diane: Yup, we knew Thaydra was better.
Speaker: So after going through both of the experiences, has it brought you guys together? Are you closer would you say? It seems like you guys are already close.
Diane: My kids and I were always close. It was just, for 22 years it was just them and I so we were always close. Do Thaydra and I have our arguments? Absolutely, absolutely but any mother and their daughter. But this, did it bring us closer? I canít say it brought us closer, we were always close but it, itís something that you, like now that Thaydraís out there with it I am very proud of her. I just hope that every time she speaks or she sees someone on the street she can help another girl because we didnít have any of that help. There was nobody that she could speak to that went through it. So even if I had to take a phone call from a girl, I would try my hardest and get Thaydra. And we did, Thaydra did, it was a family member who went through it, had twins. She did talk to her on the phone. As for, we were always close.
Thaydra: We were always close. I think it just made me kind of more open about how I was feeling. Even though Iíve always been open, it just made me closer to where she, I could tell her you know. I didnít feel like ashamed.
Diane: Iím a worrier, so Ö
Thaydra: Yeah, thereís a lot of things we keep from her too, because, that arenít gonna, things that arenít gonna hurt her or hurt us but she worries about something, about everything. If she could, sheíd worry about you. She worries about everything, she worries about her neighbors, she worries about pets, she worries about everything, so thatís why we tend not to Ö
Diane: And I always find out.
Thaydra: Yeah, she does always find out.
Diane: I always find out.
Speaker: What would you say to other parents who have a daughter who is going through postpartum depresion.
Diane: I would definitely tell them to get involved because I believe that I know of someone. And like I said, since Thaydra came out with this, I was on the phone with a mortgage person for my mom and he knew Thaydra was sick because at that time when Thaydra was going through that, I was also going through my mom with congestive heart failure, in and out of the hospital so we were running back and forth. Anyway, I spoke to this mortgage person just a couple months ago and he says, howís your daughter doing? And I said, oh wonderful. And I told him about what sheís doing now. And he said, oh Diane, thatís a great thing. And then he got real quiet and I said I didnít say anything, and he said we have a very good friend whose daughter was just institutionalized. Oh, and it just brought back the words, Mom please donít let them put me away, please.
And I said, Chris, if thereís anything, anything that we can do, my daughter, myself you know. Hereís a case. These are very good friends of his, their daughter but he doesnít want to say he spoke to me about it. See, me I would want to do that. I would want somebody, when Thaydra was going through this with the twins, when it was worse, I was out there asking questions. I wasnít out there saying oh my daughterís got postpartum. I was out there asking questions because you donít know how many people donít want to come out and say it, but you know how many come out and say it to me now and talk to me?
Thaydra: Me too. A lot of my girlfriends that I met through school, through that their kids are in school with Stephen, when they heard and especially when I was in the newspaper, that went through towns that all my friends live in, which they knew before anyhow. But I mean my acquaintances that I talk to and so many are like, I canít believe, I have the same thing and I wish that I knew you back at this point, at that point. And I wish knew that thatís what it was. You know, so a lot of people come out once they see that youíre Ö I think they feel ashamed, thatís what it is. And I felt the same way, but now I think itís so much better. Like yesterday when I went to that support group and I could actually see the girls. I put myself in that, because we were in the same room we used to be in, and I put myself right in their place. Thatís how I was. I was them. And I put myself in their shoes and I know what theyíre going through. You know, one girl was crying and I know what she feels . When I was talking to her and she was asking me questions she kind of felt relieved, just hearing that someone else went though it.
Speaker: You werenít ashamed to ask questions?
Diane: No, thatís how you learn. Thatís how you get help.
Thaydra: And itís not something really to be ashamed of. Everybody goes through some sort of baby blues. This is just something that happens because of your hormones. It doesnít happen because you are crazy. It doesnít happen because thereís a problem with you personally. It happens because itís hormonal, itís a lot of other things too, but mostly because of that so you know itís not to be ashamed of. And Iím not ashamed of it. I went through it. It made me a stronger person really because I went through it not only once but twice. It made me a stronger person and it actually made me want to help other people because I donít want them to be in a position that I was in and not knowing what to do you know. And some people arenít fortunate enough to have a family like I have. Sometimes they have, like these girls yesterday at the support group, they had parents that lived in another state that donít even know half of the things thatís going on with them so theyíre going to a support group and thatís all they have, once a week. I had a support system at least and thatís what helped me to get better quicker because I felt better when I didnít go to therapy, then I had therapy at home too so it did help me.
Diane: I believe that all families should get involved. I once had my son-in-law say, you know we really donít want, anybody, too many people to know. And if thatís the way I was getting answers to get help because Iím not a doctor, thatís what I was doing. And you know what? Everybody will get over it later. Iím not meddling. I am looking for this family to get Ö
Thaydra: Well thatís because I did feel ashamed at the time. I did feel ashamed, thatís self, thatís what youíre gonna to feel. Now Iím not, but at the time I was because I felt like I can take care of this, I can do this on my own. And you feel like youíre not that mother figure that everybody else is you have something against you and itís your fault or something.
Speaker: Diane, weíve talked to a couple of families where either the womanís mother has said, oh no, itís just the baby blues, sheís fine or the husband was sort of, I donít want to say was in denial because thatís not fair, but wasnít really seeing what was really happening. But youíre saying, your son-in-law was saying we donít want people to know. What would your advice be to a family that might be, a husband that might be going through that or his wifeís mother is saying sheís just got the baby blues and heís saying itís more than that. How would you suggest that Ė you kind of touched on it in saying, theyíll get over it later Ė but what would you tell someone in that situation?
Diane: Well, if they were at the stage where Thaydra was where it was being hid? Baby blues are one thing. They donít last as long as postpartum, you cry. But when youíre crying, confusion, staring, donít know what to do. If a family thinks that, thatís, I mean you have to know that thatís not normal, so hiding it Ö
Thaydra: Itís not gonna make it better, go away. Itís gonna make it worse.
Diane: Itís not gonna make it go away. Thatís what I explained to my daughter. Itís not gonna go away.
Thaydra: Itís gonna get worse.
Diane: So we need to get in gear here and a family, I understand, I understand where they were coming from , they Ö
Thaydra: I think I told Steve a lot too. I told him I donít really want a lot of people to know this so I think he was more on the defensive side for me.
Diane: Yeah, he wasnít mad but he just said because I had Ö
Thaydra: I was making friends at the time at the school and I didnít want people to kind of label me so to speak. But now I see all my friends like, oh my God, youíre wonderful. I donít know how you do this, if I had twins Ö So now I see it but at the time I was just looking into, you know what my sonís starting a new school. Iím going to be involved in the school and I kind of feel, which is ridiculous to say, but at the time I thought theyíre not going to want me to be involved, theyíre gonna think Iím a little crazy. So thatís why we told him, because my mom knows a lot of people in the area and we kind of figured so she might say something, who might know people that I know.
Diane: We have an active life, my husband and I. We have a lot of friends so weíre out, weíre out. And we had just happened to be at a diner and we werenít going out anymore, I didnít want to stay, even though we live around the corner and even though where we go is usually in the area, I was getting paranoid with it. I did not want to leave this house. So the diner was OK, itís down the street. And we just happened to be there and they were asking, Diane, whatís the matter? You donít come out. And sometimes it just builds up and you just need to vent a little bit. So I started crying and I said, my daughter is not feeling well. And she said, Diane, whatís the matter? Is it? She just had the babies, does it have anything to do with the babies? And I said, itís postpartum. She said, Diane I went through it. But I had already gotten help so we were already on that path. But it was good to talk to somebody who because now youíre looking and youíre saying, oh hereís some body that went through it years ago - Doris is in her 50s. Then, years later, itís a relative of Thaydraís who became our friends and sheís in her 70s. And she said, you know Diane, she said for the first, after one of her children, she said for two years, she said, I just rocked back and forth. She said and her father-in-law used to say to her, youíre crazy. So I would say thereís a certain point where you have to say, I have to cross this fence and I have to get involved here. And then everyone will be happy again because, Thaydra's house was a very happy, little home. It became a house of sorrow, a lot of sadness, a lot and Ö
Thaydra: Now itís a lot of craziness.
Diane: Now itís a lot of craziness.
Thaydra: But itís good craziness
Diane: Ö which is good. Itís a good craziness, thatís right.
Thaydra: It is, itís a happy, crazy house but itís good. But itís my house and itís good. And I said, you know what thereís gonna come a day where Iím not gonna have any of this. So right now, even though itís crazy, you walk in, you have a dog barking, you have two, three kids running at you. Itís still home, itís very homely. And you know, all my kids get along. I mean, they fight but everybody loves each other and weíre not the perfect family, but weíre happy.
Diane: I think you are.
Thaydra: And itís crazy but I wouldnít want it really any other way right now because thereís gonna be a day when theyíre gonna go on their own and if I had it any other way I would be like, wow, now what do I do? Sometimes I like that aloneness but then sometimes I donít know what to do with myself without kids hanging or crying. I like to get away, donít get me wrong, I love to get away, but sometimes I need that too. Sometimes when theyíre gone, Iím like, this feels very different and I need that. So itís a good house right now.
Diane: And went from, why do you have to have my kids to have my kids.
Thaydra: Take the kids! The weekend? Fine.
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?
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?
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 -0 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
Speaker: That you could kind of do some of the things that you were feeling like you missed out on?
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 definitiely 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 half way 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 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.
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P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
Last Modified: Thursday, 12-Jul-12 11:44:47