This blog is about life with a baby. It's not always what you expect and there is definitely no job description. Every baby is different and unique which is why motherhood can be so scary, fun, terrifying, exciting, and rewarding all at the same time.

We encourage you to share your experiences - by sharing your experiences and commenting on other posts, you may be helping other moms.
  • Friday, March 09, 2018 8:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)

    Life With A Baby is turning 10.  To celebrate, we are excited to share with you insights from 10 different Moms, answering 10 questions honestly.



    SARAH M. 

    Sarah is a mom to 5 boys (9-8-7-6-4). Radio news announcer and administrator for a local midwifery practice. Hobbies include baking bread, fermenting and riding a rad scooter.

    1. How would you describe yourself before having a baby?
    I was Organized, controlled, private.

    2. How would you describe yourself after having a baby?
    I am open & honest.

    3. What is one thing you miss about your pre-baby life?
    I miss sleep.

    4. What is one thing you wish someone prepared you for, when it comes to Motherhood?
    The ultimate loss of control

    5. How has Motherhood changed you?
    I’ve really solidified my personal philosophies (the why stage does that) and gained such a deep understanding of myself.

    6. Do you feel like you have “balance” in your life and why?
    Yes! I have a very supportive partner and we have a mutual vision of what our expectations are (it’s ever changing)

    7. What helped get you through the postpartum transition into Motherhood?
    Community, not every interaction led to a friendship, but every interaction was needed at the time.

    8. Motherhood is hard. What gets you through each day, day after day?
    Being part of a very interesting family.

    9. What makes you grateful about motherhood?
    Getting to really know myself, and making sure I stay grounded surrounded by my favourite people.

    10. What is one thing you would tell a new or expecting Mother?
    Be real, the more you share the more you’ll get back. Make a mom friend who “gets you”. Let your partner parent they way they do, you might learn something.



  • Thursday, March 08, 2018 8:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)
    Life With A Baby is turning 10.  To celebrate, we are excited to share with you insights from 10 different Moms, answering 10 questions honestly.


    Summer C
    Summer is a first-time Mom from Niagara Falls to a beautiful, stubborn baby boy and is a Stepmom to an equally as beautiful, sweet girl. She is currently on maternity leave until September. She loves to curl up and browse through Amazon for great toys and baby things, while watching her guilty pleasure channel TLC.
     

    1. How would you describe yourself before having a baby?
    I was more spontaneous. I wanted to go and do so many things. Go out for drinks, go to the casino, go shopping. I had very different priorities. Get the renos done with our house. Go to work and have fun with my husband. Buy a bottle of wine after work and just chill out. Stay up until stupid times watching movies or drinking or talking.

    2. How would you describe yourself after having a baby?

    I'm more reserved now. I was orderly before, but now with my son, I have a schedule. Instead of drinks, its a coffee. Instead of the casino, it's baby talk groups. Instead of shopping for me, its diapers and wipes and baby food. My priorities are not renos. It's putting together the new exersaucer. Now I don't go to work. I go to a crib to work for the wonderful baby I've brought into this world. I still have fun with my husband, it's just spent together on the couch with two wonderful children between us instead of a pool table. And I do stay up, But I'm watching a baby monitor, drinking a big glass of water and talking about the newest struggle or newest skill baby James has acquired.


    3. What is one thing you miss about your pre-baby life?
    In a way, I miss not having someone depend on me and not having to worry about someone else's well-being but my own. Don't get me wrong. I love my son and I wouldn't change that for the world. But I do sometimes miss not having to do laundry every day so we both have clean clothes that aren't spit up on; being able to sleep for however long I wanted. 

    4. What is one thing you wish someone prepared you for, when it comes to Motherhood?
    The emotions. The baby blues were horrendous. Going from being excited, to depressed,  to angry,  to flat all in 10 minutes. I thought I was going crazy. And I wish someone prepared me for PPD. But There isn't much help or talk about that until, most times, it's too late and you think you're going crazy yelling at your husband and crying while you hold your baby at 3 in the morning. 

    5. How has Motherhood changed you?
    I'm more reliable now. I need to be reliable. I can't just flake or run away when there's a problem. More time oriented. I now truly see the meaning behind taking all the pictures. Wanting dinner time to be family time. I now know that its okay to ask for help. That I need it sometimes. Even if I don't want it. 


    6. Do you feel like you have “balance” in your life and why?
    HA! Balance? What's that? For me, since I chose to breastfeed, the scales all weigh closer in my son's direction. I do get loads of help from my family and especially my husband. But I don't feel like there's much balance for me and "me time". Unless I forfeit sleep or a shower (laughs). 


    7. What helped get you through the postpartum transition into Motherhood?
    My husband and my parents one hundred percent. Having them to help and talk to was my saving grace. I give kudos to all those women who are single moms who don't have the support that I did. 

    8. Motherhood is hard. What gets you through each day, day after day?
    Knowing I have a little person that I'm helping to mould into a human being. Hearing my husband say that he is proud of me for doing the things that I'm doing to get better. Seeing the amazing smile from my son next to me first thing in the morning. Hearing my stepdaughter giggle and coo over her little brother. There are so many things that get me through the daily struggles like no sleep, sore nipples, and dishes spilling out of the sink onto the counters.


    9. What makes you grateful about motherhood?
    I'm grateful that I get to watch my children grow. That I created that person or helped to raise that person. That I get to see their personalities develop. To see my son go from a helpless, tiny being to slowly becoming his own person. To see my stepdaughter go from a sweet little 4 year old who just started school and was so shy, to this wonderful first grader who is starting to open up to her surroundings and see the world differently every day. Watching my son learn to grab toys and trying to teach him to roll over.

    I'm grateful that I get to call them mine. And that they will be able to say that's my mama/ stepmom. 

    10. What is one thing you would tell a new or expecting Mother?
    Don’t be scared. Even though it's easier said than done. When someone asks if you need help WITH ANYTHING! Take it and let them help! And if you ever feel like something is wrong, whether it is with you or baby, whether it's how you feel emotionally or physically. Talk to someone, anyone. You are not alone. There are others who understand you and love you. There are many people who know you're a wonderful mom or will be and they want to see you succeed and be happy. I want to see you succeed and be happy. 


  • Wednesday, March 07, 2018 8:00 AM | Christina (Administrator)

    Life With A Baby is turning 10.  To celebrate, we are excited to share with you insights from 10 different Moms, answering 10 questions honestly.




    MALLORY C.
    Mallory is a single Mom of four children (5 months,6,8,11). She works in the community as a Family Service Worker with The Salvation Army. Her hobbies include drinking coffee and taking pictures. Although, if her children were asked, they would say her hobbies are cooking, doing dishes and laundry 
          

    1. How would you describe yourself before having a baby?
    I was a lot more calm and had a ton more patience. I was always babysitting and enjoyed being around kids.

    2. How would you describe yourself after having a baby?

    A little less patient and always tired. But not much different to be honest

    3. What is one thing you miss about your pre-baby life?
    Just getting up and going at the drop of a hat. And sleeping whenever I wanted....also having a clean house lolll

    4. What is one thing you wish someone prepared you for, when it comes to Motherhood?
    That you will never sleep again, lol

    5. How has Motherhood changed you?
    It has changed me for the best. I feel like i am better person. It's made me more assertive and outgoing.

    6. Do you feel like you have “balance” in your life and why?
    As for the balance between work, the kids, and keeping the house with a social life no lol......I don't really ever have me time or any sort of social life if it doesn't involve my kids or social media Lol, especially as a single mom its tough but I try to do small things like a nice walk or a drive which yes the kids are there but usually quiet or hot bubble bath when they are in bed.

    7. What helped get you through the postpartum transition into Motherhood?
    I'm very lucky to have some great friends and a very supportive mother. I always dreamed of being a mother and loved to be surrounded with kids, so I was so happy to finally be a mom. Also joining moms and tots groups in my community helped to meet other new moms as well and connect with some "new friends (it's hard to continue friendships with people who do not have children I found)

    8. Motherhood is hard. What gets you through each day, day after day?Very hard....sometimes I struggle more than other days and honestly can't wait until it's bedtime. I try to keep myself and kids busy every day to make the day go fast. Always remind myself that we all have bad days and its OK. Sometimes venting to friends especially ones in similar situations helps as well. Also, I started going to church after my 2nd child. I had never gone as a child, but for me being there and joining programs the church ran made me feel much more whole inside and much better about myself.

    9. What makes you grateful about motherhood?
    Everything. As hard and frustrating as it gets, just looking at my children makes me feel amazing. I've read a lot and know many women who have trouble conceiving or who have children who are sick. And me having been blessed with 4 healthy children makes me very grateful. 

    10. What is one thing you would tell a new or expecting Mother?
    To not "read" into it too much. There are no books with the right answers. No doctor who knows it all and no other mom who is living in your shoes. You know what is right and wrong for your child. There is no right or wrong answer also, you can plan all you want, but it will never work out that way. And always remember that having a bad day or feeling like giving up is normal and OK. You don't have to be a super mom......just be you, your child will love you unconditionally no matter what. Also in saying that it is OK to ask for help, it is OK to tell someone when you are struggling. Do not keep it in, if you have a friend or a Family member or ever your Dr or even a church pastor.


  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 10:52 PM | Claire (Administrator)


    If you have mental health issues, exercise can often feel like the last thing you want to do, yet it’s one of the easiest and least intrusive ways to manage mental health. Study after study has shown that physical activity can help lessen feelings of anxiety and depression and help reduce stress. In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health both recommend exercise as a way to reduce stress and promote mental well-being. Exercise has been demonstrated to be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and insomnia. The best part about this is that it doesn’t have to be regularly scheduled exercise in a gym (though it certainly can be), it just needs to be a total of 30 minutes of physical activity (3 x 10 minutes or 2 x 15 minutes work just as well as 30 minutes at a time) between 3 and 5 times a week. Here are some of the ways that exercise can help promote mental health.


    Better sleep

    Regular exercise can help improve the quality and duration of sleep. Not only that, but exercising in the morning or early afternoon can help to reset the sleep / wake cycle – which is a great way to beat things like jet lag, and recover from a few too many late nights. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you are less able to small stressors and that can steamroll and negatively affect anxiety and depression. Conversely, getting a good night’s sleep can improve feelings of mental wellness. It’s worth noting that vigorous exercise in the 2 hours before you want to sleep has been shown to negatively affect the ability to fall asleep in many people so to maximize the benefits of exercising for sleep, plan your workouts accordingly.


    Reduced Stress

    Research has shown that something as simple as a 10 minute walk at a moderate-brisk pace will lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and contribute to a more relaxed feeling. Exercise that focuses on mindfulness, such as yoga, can help interrupt the flow of negative thoughts that is common to sufferers of anxiety. Stress also causes physical discomfort, including muscle tightness through the neck and shoulders, and can negatively affect sleep patterns - both of which can be ameliorated by regular workouts and the stretching / cool down processes that follow a workout. It’s interesting to note that one of the ways scientists believe exercise helps with anxiety is through repeated exposure and desensitization to common anxiety reactions such as increased heart rate and perspiration. So not only can exercise help reduce anxiety and stress you already have, but it can help prevent anxiety and stress in the future.

    Happy Chemicals

    Can exercise actually make you happy? Well, that’s up for debate, but exercising has been proven to aid in the release of endorphins which do elevate mood. This is what accounts for the ‘runner’s high’ – the feeling many runners experience after a run that helps them ignore the pain. Endorphins go to the pain receptors in the brain and fill them, which reduces the perception of pain. Endorphins also help boost your mood, triggering feelings of satisfaction and optimism. Exercise also triggers the body to release serotonin which can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

    We all agree that exercising is important to physical health. It can help to treat and prevent conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Recent evidence is showing that regular exercise (30 minutes, 3-5 times a week) can help improve mental wellness as well as physical wellness. It’s not a magic bullet - exercise cannot replace medical advice and you certainly shouldn’t just stop any medication because you’ve started working out, but as part of a holistic approach to mental health, exercise can do wonders for your mental well-being.



    Recently I’ve been going to Orangetheory fitness to get strong and fit. While I’m at my ideal size and weight I was really out of shape. After just 2 months at the gym I see a huge improvement in my mood, my body composition and my energy.  So much so that a few days ago I was debating if I should go and hubby said: “go, you are so much better when you exercise’.  It’s true. I am.



  • Friday, February 09, 2018 1:47 PM | Glynis

    When an expecting mother goes on maternity leave, there’s a general assumption that what she’ll come back to when she returns will be the same job she left. Any woman who has gone on mat leave once, however, knows this isn’t always the case. A year, which is what mothers in Canada have traditionally been allowed by the government to have (it has since extended to an optional 18 months), is a long time in any business. A lot can change, including a person’s role or job description.

    This is exactly what happened to me during my first mat leave – the company restructured while I was gone, and my job disappeared. I kept the same pay rate, so technically it was legal, but I was essentially demoted. I didn’t bother fighting for the right to maintain my job duties, because I was only working part time and it wasn’t a “career,” but it made me realize there’s a reason some women feel a huge amount of stress while on maternity leave.


    If you end up suffering from a postpartum mood disorder, that stress can spiral out of control. There continues to be an enormous stigma attached to postpartum depression, and a woman who is suffering from it may fear repercussions in the workplace upon her return. What if your boss happens to be the type of person who assumes that postpartum depression is the same as postpartum psychosis? Many women may be afraid to talk about their PMAD openly due to how it may affect her role when she returns to work.

    In addition, there are so many people–including healthcare providers–who assume that postpartum mood & anxiety disorders end one year after giving birth. According to research, however, recovery time greatly depends on a number of factors. These include how long it took to be diagnosed and treated, what things are like in the rest of your life, and how effective the treatment you’re in is for you. All of this to say, you may find that as you approach the end of your maternity leave, you still don’t feel stable enough to return to work. 

    Having a healthcare provider who understands that PMAD don’t abruptly stop at the one year mark can make the difference for any woman who needs to apply for long-term disability, as they continue treatment. There are members of our community who have struggled with this exact issue, and it’s one of the things we need to advocate for in Canada. Healthcare providers need to be properly trained in postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, so we don’t leave mothers facing the possibility of having to return to work while still incapacitated or losing their job.



  • Tuesday, February 06, 2018 7:28 PM | Glynis

    January 31 has come to be known as Bell Let’s Talk Day, and anyone who advocates for those struggling with mental illness can be found on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. Every single time someone used the hashtag on January 31, beginning in 2011, Bell donated $0.05 to mental health initiatives. Over the past 8 years, the number of interactions has more than doubled to a whopping 138,000,000.

    Not once in those 8 years has the Bell Let’s Talk initiative mentioned maternal mental health.


    Many of you reading the blog already understand the importance of making space for maternal mental health, but for anyone who isn’t convinced, let’s break it down. Postpartum depression and anxiety are, in many ways, different that other mood disorders. While having a mood disorder gives new moms a predisposition toward developing PMAD, the overall rate of moms who experience PMAD is higher than that of the general population. It’s not like other forms of depression or anxiety, and while many moms already know it, the study mentioned in this HuffPost article confirms it: the PPD that a new mom experiences manifests in the brain differently than a major depressive episode or generalized anxiety disorder. 


    There’s already so much stigma attached to women experiencing a postpartum mood disorder, thanks to the societal expectations that new moms should be happy and content with their new baby, and that motherhood comes naturally. Anyone who’s a mom can attest to how wrong those assumptions are, how much pressure those expectations create. Add to that the fact that a major player in mental health advocacy, Bell Let’s Talk Day, isn’t mentioning anything about postpartum mood disorders, and the stigma only increases.

    This year, Claire Ziobin created a new hashtag in the hopes of getting Bell’s attention: #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth. Claire enlisted the help of fellow advocates, Sarah Beckel, Patricia Tomasi, Shannon Henning, and Lisa Tremayne, along with other supporters, and got some serious traction. Personal stories about postpartum depression and anxiety were being shared on social media with the hashtag, and those posts were being shared by others. 


    It was amazing to see the hashtag grow across all social media platforms throughout the day. Right now, #BellLetsTalkMaternalMentalHealth has 16.5 million impressions on Twitter alone! 

    It also, finally, has the attention of Bell. The chair of Bell Let’s Talk Day reached out to Claire the next day to start a conversation about broadening and deepening the conversation about mental health. 

    Hopefully, this is the start of a beautiful relationship.



  • Monday, February 05, 2018 1:41 PM | Allison (Administrator)

    When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of the heart symbol. This year for Christmas, I bought crochet hearts for my research team Dr. Sheila O’Keefe-McCarthy & Dr. Karyn Taplay. Through Sheila & Karyn, in my role as a research assistant, I have learned a lot about early warning signs that can happen up to two years before other signs and symptoms of when the heart doesn’t work properly!

    When I think about heart attacks, I think of the media image of an older male clutching his chest with a facial expression of pain. The work of Dr. O’Keefe-McCarthy, and others, is asking people who have had a heart attack about their experiences to try to move beyond this image.  

    I have been privileged to sit in on interviews with women. They readily shared their stories of their heart event (some had experienced a heart attack, others could get medical help before it reached that point, such as bypass surgery or stents.)

    These women were also asked about their very early warning signs. These can happen 3-24 months before the heart event. These include fatigue and anxiety. Most women I know feel fatigue often, and we also brush off these symptoms, as we are busy caring for others, managing the motherload as some say.

    The other symptoms include increasing anxiety, unusual fatigue, arm pain/ discomfort, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal complaints, chest discomfort/ pain, jaw pain, back/ shoulder blade pain, dizziness, sleep disturbance, headaches.

    I feel it is important to get this information out and to have these discussions with family and friends, especially if anyone in your circle have a history of heart disease or other risk factors. Risk factors include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, obesity, smoking, stress and family history of heart disease.

    If you experience any of these, or have any concerns or questions, talk to your health care provider. Also, pass this information on to your family and friends so that everyone knows this information – all year long, but also during February for heart month! 

    For more information, please visit https://brocku.ca/applied-health-sciences/nursing/faculty-research/faculty-directory/sheila-okeefe-mccarthy/ 

    Allison Bowman 
    Community Manager - Niagara Region
    Masters Candidate, Brock University, Applied Health Science

  • Sunday, February 04, 2018 12:30 PM | Christina (Administrator)

    When I decided to run one of the Workshops for Life With A Preterm Baby as a "Building NICU Memory Boxes" it was because I needed to do it. If I felt like I wanted to "seal" that journey as a memory in a shadow box, many other Preemie Parents like myself must also feel that way. 

    The attention was astounding - so many Parents wanting to share their NICU journeys with one another, to share their keepsakes, and to capture those Memories in a display.

    During the time my daughter was going through her 91 day NICU journey, I collected a lot of items. Her first pacifier, her first outfit that actually "kind of" fit her, a Preemie diaper, and the dozens of hospital bracelets that she went through as she grew. These items sat in a box in my closet for almost 5 years. I knew one day I would be strong enough to revisit the items.

    On Thursday, I joined other Parents of Preemies in Mississauga at the Port Credit Library. We sat in a circle, shared our stories - some Veteran Moms, some recent Graduates. We sat and listened to one another, and a sense of Community was there. It was emotional, therapeutic and quite frankly magical. To see these Moms come together to talk with others who "got it" was inspiring. My heart felt so full to be able to be part of a group of peers supporting one another. 

    We all pulled out our boxes of Memories. Some had blood pressure cuffs, Oxygen lines, and name tags from the Incubator. This was the therapy we all needed. Revisiting our journeys, sharing it, and sealing it in a shadow box - our way of displaying some form of "Award" or "Certificate" to show what our precious little ones achieved while they did their time in the NICU.  The magic about this is, you can add to the shadow box whenever you'd like.

    For my daughter's, I included:
    - her first pacifier which was almost half the size of her face
    - her first hospital bracelet that was still to large it kept falling off
    - the first outfit a nurse put her in at 30 weeks & 6 days )which had to be rolled at the sleeve twice, and it's a preemie size)
    - her head piece from her Baptism on World Prematurity Day (November 17)


       


    Here's the final piece:



    If you want to make your own, here's what we used:

    FIND
    Items you've saved from your Journey
    Some examples of what the group brought:
    - Hospital Bracelet
    - First Outfit
    - Blood Pressure Cuffs
    - Preemie Diaper
    - Pacifier
    - Foot print Art
    - Going home outfit
    - Name tag from Incubator
    - Oxygen lines


    TO PURCHASE (purchased from the local Art Store*)
    - Shadow Box (11"x14") 
    - Pearl Top pins
    * Keep an eye out for 50% off one item coupons!

    STEPS

    1. Sit down, with some time to reflect on the journey you had. This is important as it may trigger some emotions. Share this experience with your Partner, a parent, or maybe even your child. Discuss the items and why they're important to you. This is part of the healing.
    2. Remove the backing place the items from your Memory Box that you want displayed on the backing. 
    3. Continue moving the placement around until you are happy. 
    4. Use the pins, inserting on an angle through the item and the backing to to keep the items in place (the backing is padded)
    5. Place the backing back when you are satisfied with all the items and their placement.

    TOTAL COST: $22.00


    Share your Memory boxes below or on our FB page! We'd love to see them.





    #NICU #Memories #LifeWithAPretermBaby #PreemiePowerCanada #CanadianPrematureBabiesFoundation #LifeWithABaby
  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 7:34 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    “How old is your son,” asked the patient sitting next to me.  “He is a week old,” I replied as I handed over a picture that I carried around of my only son, Landon.  “I also carry this miniature bottle of baby shampoo around so I can smell Landon whenever I want.  It is comforting to me.  I just miss him so much.” 

    That is one of the many conversations I had while I was being treated for postpartum psychosis six days after my first and only child was born.  At the time, the psychosis had its tight hold on me.  In the midst of my mind breaking into a million pieces, my son remained to be a priority and on the forefront of my shattered mind.  My love for Landon had no bounds.  Even postpartum psychosis and the severe postpartum depression that followed could not take that love from my heart.

    I believe a misconception people have about mothers suffering from a postpartum mood disorder is that the suffering mother doesn’t have a bond with their child or that they don’t feel a love for their child.  I can honestly say that I was able to bond with my son despite having the illness and that I loved him very much through my illnesses.

    I started displaying symptoms of psychosis almost immediately after my son was born.  I was so afraid that something was going to happen to my new baby.  I was desperate to protect him from kidnappers, germs…everything.  I remember when I started losing touch with reality; I still wanted to protect my new baby.  I was home alone with my son and I was pacing with him in the kitchen.  I did not know what to do.  The voices were telling me that my son was going to be taken away from me.  Even though my mind was shattering, I was able to pull out of it long enough to call my mom and tell her to come over right away.  As soon as she entered the house, I handed over my son knowing that he would be safe.  That was the last time I held him in my arms before I was admitted to the hospital.

    While I was in the hospital, I was frantic to continue breastfeeding.  I was unaware that my husband had made the decision a day before to switch Landon to formula because it was too stressful for me.  I ran up to the hospital staff and told them I was a new mother and I needed to pump so my baby could receive the nourishment he needed.  The staff knew I was no longer breastfeeding, but because of my fragile condition, they offered to allow me to pump in the hospital.  I remember when my husband told me the truth, that I was not going to breastfeed anymore due to the hospitalization and the medication I was taking.  It devastated me.  I felt like the one thing that I was doing right, the one thing that made me feel close to my baby, was being taken from me.  I cried so much.  It broke my heart.  I am so grateful that I was able to breastfeed at all, even if it was just for five days.  I believe that because of that, I was able to bond with Landon.  It was such a special time that I will always treasure.

    After I recovered from the postpartum psychosis, I went into severe depression almost immediately.  Four to five weeks after I was released from being treated for postpartum psychosis, I was readmitted for having suicidal thoughts as a result of my postpartum depression.  It would be twice that I would be hospitalized for being suicidal.  Both times, I checked myself into the behavioral health unit of the hospital and had to make the choice to leave my son to seek out treatment.  I recall picking up my things to leave for the hospital and kissing my son one last time before I went.  I looked at my sweet little bundle and just thought I don’t know if I can leave him.  I knew I had to though because I needed to get better so I could be the mommy that he needed me to be.  Leaving my son was so hard, but loving him is what saved my life. 

    I spent much of my time in the hospital writing letters to my husband.  The theme of all of the letters was that, 1) I wanted to get well and 2) I wanted to get well so that I could be the very best wife and mommy to my husband and my son.  I would call and check on Landon just so I could hear him in the background.  I remember how good I felt when my husband called me at the hospital because he could not figure out how to stop the baby from crying.  I gave instructions over the phone, I don’t recall exactly what I said now, but you could hear Landon’s cries stop and it was because of me.  I was still loving and mothering my son from the walls of the hospital.

    I am still recovering from depression.  I try each and every day to do better than I did the day before.  I loved that little boy before he was here, I loved him through my postpartum mood disorders, and I will love him through this depression.   Landon is my heart and he deserves the best that I can give.  I know now that I deserve the best, too.

    Christina Duepner is an accountant in St. Louis, Missouri.  She lives in the country with her husband of five years, “almost” two year old Landon, and Golden Retriever, Murphy.  She enjoys scrapbooking, reading, shopping, blogging, cooking, and Zumba.  Please visit her blog at http://theduepners.blogspot.com.


  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 7:33 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    My husband and I were prepared for the birth of our son and we felt that we knew what to expect during the first few days of his life. We read the books, took the classes, went to all of our prenatal appointments, and typed out a birth plan.  I don’t think a couple could have prepared any better than we did.  We are Type A personalities after all.  However, the classes, books, and appointments did not in any way prepare us for postpartum psychosis.  The evil illness took us by surprise and almost cost me my life.

    The first night I was home from the hospital, I had an awful dream.  It was so vivid that it almost seemed real.  I dreamed that my son disappeared and someone took him from me.  Every time I would go to pick him up, he would vanish and would reappear somewhere different.  I was terrified.  I woke up with tears streaming down my face.  I was hysterical and frightened.  I was so scared to sleep for the rest of the night.  I just watched my new baby sleep and I started writing out lots of schedules.  I create feeding schedules, medication schedules, schedules concerning my son’s dirty diapers and the frequency of his urination and bowel movements, and friend and family visiting schedules.  I was obsessed with charting everything.  My mind was constantly racing.  I would go from one thing to the next not being able to focus on any one thing for too long.  When I finally slept again, I had another terrible nightmare.  It involved my niece being raped and murdered.  It was extremely graphic and gory.  After that, I was afraid to sleep and refused to sleep. 

    I started to think that I was dying.  I was so afraid that I was going to die and that I was going to leave my husband to raise our son by himself.  I finally told my mom that I thought I was going to die and that I was just so scared.  I told her I needed to be by myself for awhile and I just lay on my bed and cried and cried.  I couldn’t stop.  I cried myself to sleep and had another terrible nightmare.  

    I continued writing out my schedules, which I know now is part of the mania of postpartum psychosis.  I started to become withdrawn and I would just stare into space.  The fear that I was dying was still profound, but I kept it to myself.  I was also so afraid someone was going to take our baby.  I told my husband that he needed to put an alarm system in and that he needed to teach me how to use a gun.  I started to believe that my husband and I were being tested and that every new parent is tested in order to keep their child.  If the parents failed the test, their baby was taken away from them.  I was so scared of “failing the test.”  We went to my son’s first pediatrician’s appointment when he was five days old and I remember hearing voices.  The voices were telling me that my husband was always right and to do whatever he told me to.  I remember the doctor asking me when to feed the baby and I could not answer him.  I was afraid I would give the wrong answer and that they would not let us leave with our baby.  It was terrifying.

    The next day, when our son was six days old, we went to the doctor so I could have my staples removed.  I grabbed onto my husband like my life depended on it and screamed as each of the staples was taken out.  In actuality, the staples being removed did not hurt at all.  My behavior was bizarre.  The nurse practitioner asked me questions.  I only remember one…”What would you do if your husband took your son away from you for a few days?”  I answered, “That would be fine.  Whatever he wants to do is fine with me.”  My voice was empty and monotone.  We left that appointment and went home.  We did not learn until much later that they had an emergency meeting about me that day and came to the conclusion that I was suffering from postpartum psychosis.  I was only the second patient in 26 years of practicing that the doctor had served who had postpartum psychosis.  By the time they placed the call to speak to my husband, I was already admitted to another hospital.

    I do not recall everything from that time period today.  I recall being left alone with my son and pacing back and forth while the voices in my head were telling me to run out the door naked.  I didn’t listen to the voices that time.  I called my mom and told her to come over right away.  I handed over my infant son to her as soon as she arrived.

    I remember being taken to the emergency room the first time.  I would pull myself together and act like everything was OK when the medical staff was in the room and the minute they would leave and I was alone with my mom, I would start talking about how God has chosen us and that God was talking to me.  That went on for 8 hours.  The hospital eventually released me and said it was postpartum anxiety.  I had fooled them all.

    Things continued to escalate at home.  I took a short nap and when I awoke I was hysterical.  I thought someone I loved was going to die.  I made everyone promise me that they would be alive and that they would be present when I woke up from sleeping.  My family tried then to get me to the car to take me to a different hospital.  I started to go willingly and then I started to fight my husband.  I told him to get his hands off of me.  I threw his hands away.  He was so surprised by the way I was acting.  An ambulance had to be called.  I was talking crazy and I was an absolute danger to myself.  It was as if all of my deepest fears were coming true and I could not escape them.  It was a living hell.  Thank God my husband called 911 and signed me involuntarily into a behavioral health unit.  I tremble to think what would have happened if he hadn’t. 

    Once postpartum psychosis starts, it unfolds so very quickly.  It is imperative that you know the signs and symptoms.  I reached a crisis situation.  But you or your friend or loved one doesn’t have to.  No one told me that if my immediate family members had bipolar, that it would increase my chance of becoming ill with postpartum psychosis.  My mom is bipolar and she experienced postpartum psychosis with the birth of her youngest child.  Had I been asked that question and prepped for postpartum psychosis, maybe things would have unraveled a little less traumatic for me.  I also had suffered a miscarriage before I became pregnant with my son and I experienced a difficult pregnancy with my son.  I was under grave stress before the birth of my son, including bed rest and my husband being laid off from his job.  I then planned for a normal labor and delivery, which turned into a long labor that ended in a surprise and unplanned cesarean.  Combine all of that with total sleep deprivation and it was a perfect recipe for postpartum psychosis.

    My doctor said that he would have never thought that I would be one to get postpartum psychosis.  I was an incredibly happy expectant mother.  If it can happen to me, it could in fact happen to anyone.  Please don’t think it can’t happen to you.  Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of postpartum psychosis.  It could save you or your loved one’s life.

    About the Author:

    Christina Duepner is an accountant in St. Louis, Missouri.  She lives in the country with her husband of five years, “almost” two year old Landon, and Golden Retriever, Murphy.  She enjoys scrapbooking, reading, shopping, blogging, cooking, and zumba.  Please visit her blog at http://theduepners.blogspot.com.






 

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