Hello and Welcome to my blog. I am glad that you are here.

I am a mom who has experienced Postpartum Depression/Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMD). I am now a Postpartum Depression Awareness & Support Activist.

I entitled my blog "It Takes A Village" in reference to the African proverb that is so commonly known. I feel very strongly that we as a society have set very high standards and expectations of new mothers to take care of their children on their own, without support or help after the first week or so.

I think we have it backwards: New Mom's need respite and support whether they are well or not. We need support and encouragement, and someone to relieve us so that we can get some sleep and time to rejuvienate.

My aim with this blog is to bring awareness to the world, and support to other Moms (and possibly Dads) that are going through this experience. I am passionate about reducing stigma as it creates the barrier that keeps women silent and suffering. I want Moms to feel safe enough to share their story and get the support and help they need to get better.

I encourage you, if you believe you may be experiencing more than the "baby blues" to seek out help. You will not be judged or criticized. The goal of all list here on this blog are to support you and help you heal so that you may live the life you dreamed of with your child.

This blog is a work in progress, please check in often to see more updates and new information!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We are NOT alone. (Support is Essential to Healing)

I just came back from my PMD support group. I missed the last two weeks and I am really really grateful that the program is available to me. Going in I was a mess, and coming out I felt the relief I had been seeking from my tumultuous emotions.  Solace can be found in sharing and support from other PMD Moms.

 We are all scared, we are all dealing with our postpartum depression alone four days out of the week. We have Doctors to visit, families to take care of, appointments to keep, houses to clean, events to plan, all the while dealing with insomnia, anxiety, bad dreams, guilt, anger, stress, sleep deprivation, and the infinity of our thoughts.

 I have had a very difficult week as all my emotions have exploded out of me all at once like a waking volcano. I felt angry, I felt sad, I felt frustrated, I felt scared, I felt anxious. I thought I was finally balancing out, but it seems this emotional purge has to take place first. UGH! I can't stop crying.

It is an uphill struggle and just knowing I am not alone is very comforting to me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You Are NOT Alone!

I didn't have any knowledge of baby blues or postpartum depression before or after my son was born. So, from my experience I felt I was hit by a sunami and my world as I knew it was violently torn away. Strong words, yes, but it totally describes how I felt.

My biggest fear was that I was going crazy. I had no clue about what was happening in my body and mind. If you knew me, you would be shocked as I am a researcher and knowledge seeker. But, for some reason, I wasn't interested in any knowledge gathering during my pregnancy. My mind went on hiatus.

And so, I felt I was alone. My body was a wreck, my mind twisted in terror. I couldn't stop crying, my heart was racing in panic, I was exhausted and everything that was simple turned to the biggest chore possible. My limbs were heavy, I just wanted to lay down and sleep forever.

This is how I felt the first two weeks after my son' s birth, and then at the four week mark when I had reached complete exhaustion from sleep deprivation it all started again.

As I said in my story, my Mother was my saviour with the first piece of information that gave me relief: Brooke Shield's book excerpt. (Link can be found on the side bar). Her story was almost parallel to mine. When I say relief, it's equivalent to drowning and someone pulling you up and you breathe that first breath of air once more. Ahhhhh.

Shortly after I posted this blog, I received an email from the author of the article "Bundle of Joy" from the local Caledon magazine "IN THE HILLS". ( I had added a link to her story from the online magazine.) I was surprised but very happy to hear from her. She gave me encouragement and offered suggestions for more resources I could add to my blog as well as programs I might be interested in: FAB-Feelings after Birth and Adjustments after Birth which can be found in Orangeville and Bolton.
(I will be adding them to the list on the sidebar).

I have been attending a postpartum support group in the OEYC in Bolton since my son was one month old. (He is five months old today) It was like jumping into a cold pool of water after being lost in the desert, dry and parched and desperate. It was so wonderful to meet other Moms going through the same thing. I found comfort there, as well as courage to continue on.

The staff is wonderful there. They are all warm, friendly and attentive to all who enter. I am so grateful that I was introduced to the centre. I can go there anytime when I am feeling overwhelmed and need to be around people who are supportive. I also attend other programs, one of them being "You and Your Baby" for first-time Moms. It is great to meet other first-time Mothers and share information as well as learn things I don't have time to read about. LOL!

We are out there, and you are NOT alone. Seek out a support group, call a number and get the support you need and deserve. There is no need to suffer in silence in fear of a "crazy" stigma. You don't have to tell the world. (And, you are not crazy!)

Ontario Early Years Centre in Bolton -Caledon Parent/Child Centre:  905-857-0900

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Friend Anger

At the start of my postpartum journey, anger was a bitter enemy. It consumed me, twisted me and taunted me and I had no exit from it.

I had never learned the healthy ways to release anger and it sat in me making my mind hurt as it spun in angry spirals down my body.

I was angry at so many things: my loss of freedom, my loss of independence (the c-section emphasized this), my son (this was irrational anger because I was very happy to have him but the happiness was pushed down to a dark corner in my heart), and my husband--oh boy-- how his life didn't change, how he was so happy and in love with our son, how he was so easy going to name a few. Grrr...

My anger scared me. I didn't know how to deal with it. Suppression was the only technique I knew and now the lid was broken on my anger jar and nothing would stay down any longer. It came out mostly in tears, which left me depleted and desperate.

I analyzed why I was angry at my son, realizing I wasn't really angry at him, but I had superimposed him as the target of all of the responsibility I had on my shoulders now. Once I realized that, I said to myself that I would look at my son as my new job, and I would do it to the best of my ability. This change in perception helped my anger decrease considerably. 

I went on analyzing all of my "irrational" thoughts and worked through more of them on a mind level, but soon realized that the anger was not quelled that easily. It was a challenge for me not to think and fester about my frustrations which led to my body to respond in anger. Once I felt the anger, I needed an outlet.  

What works for me now is exercise. It is an excellent outlet for the physical release of anger, and I also journal when I can. (I used to journal everyday and since I haven't found the time so far, I found another resentment I need to clear up.) Journaling was a great stress reliever for me because I think alot and need to get it down on paper. (Oh, I did find a solution to journaling; I have a giant magnetic wipe-off board to write down things I want to remember. This has eased my stress level somewhat. )

And now, anger is my friend, in a keep your enemies close kind of way.  ;)

Releasing my Expectations

This has been one of my biggest challenges. My first expectation was the wonderful family life I would have after my son was born and how happy we all would be. Having a baby and then taking care of it isn't a piece of cake, and the insomnia I had in the last two months of my pregnancy did not prepare me for the lack of sleep I would experience as I cared for my baby. Add postpartum depression to the mix and the entire scene goes foul.

Many more expectations followed: my ability to be the projection of  this horrible rumor called "super mom", my "natural" ability to breast feed (but that's another story), my belief that I could conquer postpartum on my own by talking myself out of it using my coaching skills,  and basically my expectations of just being and doing better than I thought I was.

I am learning to be kinder to myself and to release self-judgement. I am my own worst enemy at times and I have realized that every person's journey is different. I have learned that we all have a similar but unique experience with postpartum depression. This means that I don't compare my recovery with another's and torture myself with it.

For me, it means that I do practice acceptance for my situation and at the same time follow the healing path that works for me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Warm Fuzzies

I am falling in love with my son. I realized it two days ago and have finally made time to write about it. My mom moved back home a month ago, and I am adjusting to my new routines. My son is 4 months old,  and will be 5 months next week and I choose not to regret the "missed time". It is how it is, and I work on focusing on the "now" time we have and practice cherishing it.

It has been a long time coming. I began bonding with my son when he first smiled at me, before that it was extremely difficult. I could not believe that the little being I carried inside me for 10 months was such a stranger to me. I felt we had no connection at all and I could not understand why. I wished for the easier days when he was inside me and I would sleep in his room in the lazyboy chair because I was so uncomfortable. I would talk to him and play music to him then. I felt so close to him.

I even have thoughts of having another child and I say I must be crazy. When I came home with my son it felt like my world had disappeared, that I had landed in some alternate reality. I felt trapped and terrified. My husband commented on when we would have the next one and I said "NO" so vehemently that his eyes popped open wide. Of course, that was way before I knew I had Postpartum depression, just days after coming home from the hospital. I just knew that I didn't ever want to go through it again.

I could say I am adapting to the lack of sleep, but no, I am just not a person who functions well without it. Even though my family doctor told me I would get better at it, it didn't come true for me. Right now we have the schedule set up so it is pretty easy for me and I am grateful. My husband will feed him at midnight, and I will feed him when he wakes up next, which is around 5:30 a.m,  then put him back to bed and I sleep till 8:30am. When he starts sleeping longer, we will move the 12 a.m. feeding to 11 p.m. and then 10 p.m., until he is sleeping through the night.

And so, I try to take it one day at a time, but lately my mind has been so dizzy with thoughts and a running "Things To Do" list in my head that I forget five minutes later why I boiled the kettle. Just this week I opened a can of beans and poured them into the strainer over the kitchen floor, not the sink. I knew that that was it, I had to find a solution to the frantic pace I was trying to live at. I finally stopped and asked myself why I was doing this to myself. Was a perfectly cleaned house worth my mental health? No.

My solution was to get a large magnetic wipe off board and separate it into columns of things to do and remember and I see it everyday. This keeps the crap out of my head so I can relax and try to enjoy my day. The seasons seem to be moving faster now that the winter horror is over. (I hate the dark days and dark nights) I want to enjoy my life, not be lost in lists of chores.

I really want to know who made the rule that a new Mother's job included all of the housework and cooking on top of taking care of your child?  Taking care of a child is a full time job by itself and I think it really needs to be recognized. The days my husband has my son and says its a piece of cake, I take out my imaginary baseball bat and hit a home run with his head.

Ok, my rant is over, but it won't be my last. The good stuff is that I love my son, and that is a wonderful thing to me.