Without warning (PPMD Story 3)
afternoon when things were at their worst a friend stopped
by and pretty much dragged me out the door to a local mall
and to a Well Baby Clinic. God how I wanted to run out of
that room. There were so many blissful women comparing notes
and milestones. It caused one of my worst panic attacks
ever. My friend, wouldn't let me leave. I tried to distract
myself by reading the posters on the walls.
[Read the full story]
These stories have been submitted by women who have experienced
PPMD and want to use their experience to help others. Any
names have been changed for privacy reasons.
Without warning (PPMD
We just knew it was
going to be a boy. From the moment that second blue line appeared
on the test, my husband Don was sure that I was carrying his
son. We couldn't have been happier. It was what I had always
wanted. Everything was going as planned.
Of course there were
a few concerns along the way, some spotting, a false positive
maternal serum screening scare and a grueling thirty hour
Finally, almost two
weeks late, Thomas came into our lives. He was big and beautiful,
and totally terrifying to me. I was completely unprepared
for the upheaval in my life. Sure I knew it would be hard
and I would be tired but no one told me that I wouldn't instantly
fall in love with my child and that I would resent my husband
for working and I would feel so alone.
It's amazing how
a person can put on such a cheerful face when inside they
are void of any emotion whatsoever. That was how I spent the
first part of Thomas' life. Numb. That is the best word to
describe my state of body and mind for the next year.
Sleep was impossible.
Even when my son was starting to have long stretches of rest,
I couldn't convince my body to relax enough to even lay still.
I would pace the hall frantically, waiting for him to start
crying or worse stop breathing. The degree of exhaustion I
was in is indescribable. Everything seemed to be lacking in
colour, if that makes any sense. The world around me was a
constant shade of grey.
I know Don didn't
have any idea how terrible things were for me. He was involved
in a new family business and his day started around 4 am and
didn't end until around 6 pm (if I was lucky). That was seven
days a week. I didn't want to burden him. My family lived
several hours away and all my close friends were busy with
their own children. Of course they would call and try to get
together but I always had some excuse or another.
Soon after Thomas
was born I joined a new mothers group. It was difficult to
watch other women and their children interacting so easily
and happily. I honestly tried to fit in as well as perhaps
soak up some of their delight in being a new mom. It didn't
work. I usually felt even worse after a meeting.
By the time Thomas
was nine weeks old I had to stop nursing him. My appetite
as completely gone and I knew that I wasn't eating enough
to keep my milk supply up. Don took over the night time feedings
so that I could get some rest. The only problem was I couldn't.
His solution to my insomnia was to exercise, to get out and
get active. That was rather difficult when every time I left
the house I was struck with an anxiety attack.
I found that around
the time I weaned Thomas the despair really took hold. I was
having a hard time dealing with the day to day tasks in raising
an infant. Just getting me dressed took a lot of effort and
trying to entertain a two month old was out of the question.
Most days when Don would come home, I would be sitting on
the floor or on the balcony holding the baby and crying "I
can't do this." He would just take Thomas and tell me
to go and lay down. All I needed was some sleep.
I felt guilty asking
anyone for help with the daily chores or cooking. I was ashamed
for feeling this way and was sure that no one would understand
why I couldn't just snap out of this mood.
I was to the point
where I didn't want Don to leave the house. I was actually
afraid of myself and what I might do to Thomas or myself if
I was left alone too long. Suddenly, thoughts of harming the
baby were popping into my mind. I can't even bring myself
to talk about some of the images; it makes me ill just thinking
back on them. Soon after, thoughts of suicide starting creeping
in. I thought that Thomas and Don would be better off without
this crazy woman in their lives.
One afternoon when
things were at their worst a friend stopped by and pretty
much dragged me out the door to a local mall and to a Well
Baby Clinic. God how I wanted to run out of that room. There
were so many blissful women comparing notes and milestones.
It caused one of my worst panic attacks ever. My friend, wouldn't
let me leave. I tried to distract myself by reading the posters
on the walls.
One in particular
caught my attention. It was about post partum depression and
psychosis. There were symptoms of both listed. I had all of
the symptoms for depression and actually a couple for psychosis.
I felt as if someone had knocked all of the air out of me.
I knew I was suffering from anxiety but I had no idea that
it was linked to post partum depression. For the first time
since giving birth I felt a small ray of hope.
The moment I got home that day, I called our local health
unit. The nurse was very calming and reassuring. After I promised
her I wasn't going to hurt myself or the baby she had my designated
nurse call me back. We talked for a long time and she advised
me to call my family doctor immediately and tell her what
I was experiencing. She called me everyday for quite awhile.
One thing she kept
telling me was that this was only temporary. I would recover,
I would soon bond with and love my child and no I wasn't a
bad mother. Her constant encouragement and kind voice probably
saved my life. My doctor took me in right away and I was sent
to a psychiatrist who helped me deal with my depression and
anxiety. Soon I started to have good moments here and there.
Then came good days. Since I decided not to take any medication,
my recovery took longer than it should have and I had some
really dreadful days once in awhile. But week by week the
grey cloud slowly started to lift. And soon that little boy
with the big smile found his way into my heart. I fell head
over heals in love with Thomas and my husband all over again.
It was like waking up out of a coma, I had to learn how to
sleep and eat and laugh.
There was something I discovered during my recovery was that
I wish I had been warned about during my pregnancy. A personal
or family history of mental illness is an indicator that a
new mom may be at risk for post partum problems. As a young
teen I had suffered from anorexia nervosa. It brought on many
ailments. One of which was agoraphobia, the fear of open spaces.
I suffered incessantly from panic attacks, every time I left
my house. It took about two years to recover from this devastating
disorder but with a caring mother and one dedicated doctor
I finally did.
Don and I didn't
think we should have another child. But when Thomas was nineteen
months old my mother in law suddenly passed away. I saw how
important it was to have family around to help at times like
this and we decided to give Thomas a sibling. Soon I was expecting
This time I was proactive.
I called my nurse who reassured me that not every birth will
result in PPD. I should talk to my family doctor and see what
she recommends. I started seeing my psychiatrist in my second
trimester. I took all the help I could get.
Don left the business
and went to work for himself. He was home much of the time
and took wonderful care of me and Thomas. Once Matthew arrived
he took the night shift every night so I could get enough
sleep. Thomas stayed in daycare full time and I had a wonderful
aunt who would come over to help with the housework and pick
Thomas up at the end of the day. My mother and father came
for the first couple of weeks to keep me company and to let
me rest and bond properly. I can't tell you what a difference
I can honestly say that aside from the usual baby blues, I
breezed through Matthew's first year. Even with the colic
and nursing (I breastfed for eight months) I never felt any
of the anxiety or depression with this birth.
I know that it was
the lack of post partum support that caused my illness with
Thomas. Most new moms feel that they can't ask for help, they
feel it means that they are failures as women, especially
in these days of the "super mom". It is unrealistic
to assume that they can do it all. I think society as a whole
owes it to new moms everywhere to help out as much as possible.
It should be one the most remarkable, happy and memorable
times in a woman's life. It shouldn't be a time one tries
Thank you for listening to my story, I hope
it helps some of you to understand some of what it's like
for too many women.
Warning Signs of Post Partum Depression:
for no apparent reason
concern for the baby
of helplessness, inadequacy and inability to cope
in your marital relationship
of interest in sex
or acts of aggression toward the baby or and older child
that ranges from sadness to thoughts of suicide
to relax or sleep especially when your children are sleeping
Warning Signs of PPP (Post Partum
loss of contact with reality is experienced for extended
periods of time
or actions related to suicide and/or the death of your baby
If you experience any of the above symptoms
you need to seed IMMEDIATE medical help.
Risk factors for PPD:
of abuse: physical, emotional or substance
or personal history of a post partum mood disorder
or personal history of psychiatric disorders
risk pregnancy, or previous problems with infertility
tragic events: deaths, loss of job, miscarriages
labour and delivery
problems connected to the baby
of support system
sensitivity or history of PMS
What a Partner Should Do and Say:
not your fault."
will get better."
can still be a good mother and feel terrible."
baby will be fine."
me how I can help you."
play with your baby.
and assist with feedings.
nourishing meals; encourage friends to bring food.
are other children, help care for them. Reassure them that
mommy will be okay.
to mother's appetite, sleeping patterns, feelings, energy
to PPMD Stories]