PPD is a topic that many of us never openly talk about yet it affects more women than we think. The reason for this blog post is because a new mom in our community went missing and she is suspected to be experiencing PPD. We all hope she would return home safely and get supports that she needed. Please go to https://www.facebook.com/HelpUsFindFlorence/ and see if you can help spread the words to your friends & family and help us find her.
Our dear friend, Danielle Woo, have wrote a heart touching post about PPD on fb and she has given me the permission to re-post it here to raise awareness for PPD. I personally think what she wrote was exactly how I felt too when I just had my baby. Is a long read but is definitely worth the time and please share it with your friends too if you agree or feel the same way.
From Danielle Woo's FB:
To all my friends who are pregnant with their first baby or are thinking of becoming pregnant in the future, I hope that you can take the time to read this post.
Since the disappearance of Florence Leung last week (Help us Find Florence Leung), I've found myself lying awake at night thinking of her and her family and am always unsettled just trying to imagine how she must have felt (and might still be feeling). I did not have PPD after either of my two children, but that's what makes this more difficult to talk about openly because it would be "admitting" that being a new mother oftentimes felt like something to survive through, let alone enjoy.
I think most women go through some form of Post-Partum mood imbalance... How can we not with the imbalance, surges and dips in our hormones levels, the chronic fatigue and the unrealistically high expectations we set for ourselves on what new-motherhood is "supposed" to look and feel like. While social media can be an important outlet and source of support for new moms, it's also a double-edged sword because I would have expected (from facebook and Instragram posts of new moms) that new-parenthood should look like this:
- smiling mom in hospital bed holding swaddled infant
- baby smiling in their first bath
- mom and dad taking baby for a nice walk on the sea-wall
- angelic baby sleeping in their bassinet or crib
- mom and dad having an extravagant meal on their first "date night" after baby
When in fact the reality was this:
- <Thinking> "Please don't take my ***** picture right now because I just spent 18 hours in labor, pushed this kid out without any pain meds, just got 3 stitches where nobody wants stitches and I barely have the energy to lift my head up right now." <Reality> Smile for the iphone picture!
- Why didn't I pay more attention when the nurse was showing me how to bath her... Oh yeah, because I was hopped up on pain meds and hadn't slept in two days.
- Walk on the sea wall? It was a good day if I got change out of pajamas and walked down the hall of our condo.
- Angelic when asleep maybe, which lasted all of 60-90 minutes at a time, through the night for both my kids for the first 3 months of their lives
- Problem with date night: needing to change out of pajamas, needing to drive somewhere, needing to stay awake and make meaningful conversation while running on fumes, needing to take selfies and food pictures to prove that we can still be a normal couple even with infants
So stop looking at celebrity new-mom posts right now... They can be a misleading representation of how life with a newborn looks, and not at all productive to use their experiences as a guide to how yours will be like.
As a new mom, I would say I had breakdowns at least once a week for the first few months after having my first. By breakdowns I mean the worst moodswings I'd ever had in my life times ten. I think the hardest part about having these breakdowns was the guilt that came with them. Not understanding why I was bawling when I was holding a perfectly content and healthy newborn. I had the most supportive and understanding husband, so how could I possibly feel sad or scared. Feeling that I'm supposed to "suck it up" because this is just what all moms go through. Even if everything is going well with your recovery and your infant's first months of life, you will never feel perfectly fine or capable or happy all the time.... and that's normal.
My suggestion is to enlist the help and support of a "go-to" mommy friend (or two) before baby comes. Ask them to check-up on you at least once a week to give you the opportunity to talk, ask questions or vent. If you don't ask them now, you may find it hard to ask for help when the time comes. Because asking for advice or support can feel like admitting that you're already not a perfect mom, that you don't understand what your baby needs all the time and that you're struggling to handle this new position that really nothing can prepare you for. For me, Rica Durnin and Shannon Chung were my people. Whether it was by phone-call or messages, I would ask them dozens of questions at all hours of the day and night and I would get useful, supportive and realistic advice. Aside from Phil, nobody heard me cry more. They would calmly and assertively reassure me that it was normal to stress over whether Emma was feeding too often or not enough, that my boobs would eventually stop aching once my milk came in, that it was ok to be angry with my peacefully sleeping husband while I was awake 3-4 times every night, that I didn't always want to talk to or entertain guest, and mostly that it was ok to cry for no reason at all.
Nothing could have prepared me for the chronic fatigue, the hormonal changes, the changes to my body and the feeling of losing my identity during those first few months of motherhood. But knowing that those things were normal was what helped me get through those months. My heart hurts when I think of what Florence and so many other women go through silently. Maybe they don't have a person they feel comfortable sharing their feelings of guilt, sadness or fear with. Or maybe they do and the clinical effects and changes to the brain that come with depression are too great to overcome. I am hoping and praying that Florence is safe and is able to find a way to get the treatment that she needs so that she can rejoin her family.
To my future-momma friends, know that while motherhood is amazing the first few months can be a struggle and there are many ways that you can find support if you find yourself having difficulty coping: Friends, your family doctor, nurses from your local health authority, local and online support groups and mommy-groups. Do not ignore the signs of depression or hesitate to seek medical attention if you're at all unsure about your mood.
Please share this if you feel your friends may benefit from reading about one mom's experience. We need to stick together sometimes!