October 19, 2017

A Friends PPD Story

Back when I shared one of my most difficult chapters in motherhood, I got so many messages, comments and emails of other mothers wanting to share their story. There’s something so comforting in not only knowing you’re not alone, but in actually speaking about it. At least, that’s what I found. I also know that I promised to share some stories a bit sooner than I am, but to be perfectly honest, I had to be in the right mindset to go into it again. This time around, it might not be my story, but no matter whose, it tugs at something inside.

Today, I share the story of a friend of mine. I met Cara through my best friend and I remember Susy (my best friend) coming home and telling me how worried she was about her. Thank goodness she’s in better spirits today, but she so generously offered to share her story in hopes of helping other women realize that this topic is not taboo. It’s a conversation that should be normalized and not make women, especially new mothers, feel like they’re alone.

So without further ado, Cara’s story:

It started with crying uncontrollably in the hospital after being up all night with the baby. That was my first night alone without my husband and I refused to give the baby to the nurses (I wanted to try and do it myself!) So when the tears came the next day, I thought it was due to exhaustion. It probably was partially, but not the whole reason, something I now know.

For the next four weeks, I found myself crying every single night. As soon as it would get dark outside, it was like a switch was flipped and the tears would just pour for hours on end until my husband or mom would calm me down. They kept telling me “this is normal! a lot of women feel this way after having a baby,” but I just remember thinking “then why haven’t I heard about it?!”

After about four weeks, the crying subsided and I thought, “thank god it was just ‘baby blues’ and  I don’t have post partum depression.” For the next couple of months, I didn’t really cry that much, but I was extremely sleep deprived since Chloe was up 3-4 times a night. Around 3 1/2 months post partum ( a week before I was supposed to go back to work), Chloe started sleeping longer stretches at night, yet I couldn’t. I figured it was just my body getting used to waking up so much and it just needed some time to readjust. Unfortunately that was not the case and I had full blown insomnia, something I now know is one of the first symptoms of PPD.

Before I had Chloe, I was a champion sleeper. I could sleep for 12 hours straight and not wake up once. I loved sleeping, but now sleeping became this thing that I was afraid of. The sleeping eventually got so bad that I went to my OB in desperation for help. She suggested I stop breastfeeding in hopes of getting my period back and furthermore, to get on birth control to help regulate my hormones. Once I was weaned from breastfeeding, I got my period immediately and felt a huge sense of relief, thinking it was my answer to everything. While it did help,  I didn’t have complete relief. The birth control actually made me worse (in my opinion), so I stopped taking it altogether.

I started seeing a therapist who specializes in PPD. She has been my biggest help on the road to recovery. She helped me with my sleeping habits like insisting on no television or phone one hour before bed as well as trying to get to sleep at the same time every night. This has helped me IMMENSELY and I am sleeping well on most nights!

She also informed me that PPD can happen to anyone and it stems from three different areas:

1) Hormones: your hormones are all out of whack after having a baby. Check for me!

2) Social atmosphere: is there anything going on with your friends/family that is causing you stress? Big check for me. I found out that my mom has Stage 3 ovarian cancer on the same day I found out I was pregnant.

3) Finally, what is your personality type? Are you type A? Check for me. Babies are often uncontrollable, so when you can’t control the situation, this is hard for someone with type A personality.

This has been by far, the hardest thing I have gone through in my life, but I don’t know if I would change it . Although I am not completely recovered, I have learned so much about myself and appreciate my daughter more than ever.

image via Huff Post.
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6 comments

  • Naty Diaw

    incredible story
    xx
    https://www.closettostreet.com/

  • Francine

    Hi Helena,
    Thanks for posting Cara’s story, It’s certainly all too familiar. It’s so important that we share our stories so that we know we’re not alone!

    I, too, experienced PPD on both pregnancies. And looking at Cara’s 1-2-3 areas, it maps exactly. Though I know it’s not for everyone, medication helped me enormously.

    My biggest piece of advice (after having twins) is to never be afraid to ask for help or say YES if someone offers. If you’re asked “hey, is there anything you need?” or says “Let me know how I can help” – take them up on their offer! Don’t try and take on the world. Truly, my mantra was if someone offers, I will say YES.

    Hugs to Cara and all new moms struggling with PPD!

  • SeL

    Hi Helena, as your courageous friend Cara shared, PPD can stem from many different areas. Something for consideration that may help those who are suffering – I have read that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can contribute to or exacerbate depressive feelings, particularly being low in Vitamin D and the B group of vitamins (I think from memory Niacin). A blood test may be something to consider to rule out any nutrient deficiencies. I also read an article by a practising Obstetrician that the oral contraceptive leeches Vitamin B and Zinc from a woman’s body. She advises her patients to wait at least 8 months after coming off the pill before trying for a baby to give the body time to get its nutritional stores up. It’s been nearly 21 years since I had my son and not a single health professional advised me about having a blood test to make sure that I wasn’t deficient in anything before trying for a baby. Maybe they do now and I apologise if my comment comes of as preachy, my intention was to share something that may not have been considered and may possibly help someone. Lastly, in the same way that a pregnancy can induce diabetes in some women, it can also induce a mother to have a low functioning thyroid. One of the symptoms of a low functioning thyroid is depression.

    • Jen

      My thyroid crashed after giving birth, as did my progesterone levels. Estrogen based birth control pills made this worse, and I didn’t get better until my doctor put me on thyroid medication and bioidentical progesterone supplements. The change for me after that was dramatic.

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