Postpartum Psychosis Survivor (Pinay Mom NYC)

Hearing things that weren’t there was bad; keeping silent about it was worse.

For months after my daughter was born via C-section, I felt miserable and pathetic. I had been so independent prior to giving birth at 31; then I saw myself as this needy, ugly thing, financially dependent on a husband who was suffering through his own depression. I feared he didn’t love me. With my family 3000 miles away, I watched the laundry and dishes pile up. Worst of all, I heard things.

Not voices, per se, but laughter–a quiet, but biting mocking laughter that seemed to arise whenever I was tired, alone, and trying to breastfeed my baby. I also sensed a hand pressing down on top of my head, as if trying to break in through my skull. I’d scream, waking my baby and alerting my husband to something terribly wrong. Eventually, I told him. A neuroscientist by training, he was familiar with what was happening to me and assured me that I wasn’t “crazy.” I did some internet research and found that I was experiencing post-partum psychosis. Well, great, I thought. Now let me get back to adjusting to motherhood, thank you very much.

Only the adjustment to this new role, this new body–this new life–still shook the very core of my sanity. And I kept trudging through, silently. I loved my daughter. I hated my life.

When she was 10 months old, I tried to kill myself using the unused painkiller meds prescribed for me after my C-section. A fight with my husband triggered off what I had been quietly plotting to do for months. I swallowed four pills before he wrested the remaining meds out of my hand and flushed them down the toilet. We talked throughout the night. I decided to seek professional help. I decided to live.

Searching for a care-provider that took my insurance was humiliating. The bureaucratic run-around and telephone-tag belittled my condition, making me feel even more guilt and shame for my experience. Did no one realize that post-partum depression with psychosis required immediate medical attention? I went to the one place that could definitely spot a life-threatening condition when they saw one. I checked into the ER with a simple note: I am going to kill myself. That was the beginning.

It’s been 9 months since I voluntarily committed myself for a three-day stay as a psychiatric patient in the very same hospital in which I had given birth. 9 months of reflecting, re-prioritzing, and cleaning-up. 9 months of getting to know my daughter and getting re-acquainted with my husband and myself. The last 40 weeks haven’t always been easy. But they’ve helped me to acknowledge and accept my husband’s love, and to nurture my family, my career and my needs–no matter how difficult. I love my daughter. I love my life.

I urge everyone out there to question why the physical and psychological toll of motherhood should bring about so much shame, so much silence. It needn’t be this way. Stigma and silencing are often just symptoms of ignorance. Most people don’t recognize that we mothers can love and adore our children and still feel intense pain transitioning into our new lives. Transition can be brutal. But what hurt me and my family more was keeping quiet about it until it was almost too late. Who benefits from maintaining the stigma–the ignorance–around post-partum psychosis? What false ideas of motherhood does this stigma uphold? If people took seriously the personal and medical havoc brought on by motherhood, imagine how we might change maternity policies, healthcare, career-planning—our idea of womanhood, itself.

My daughter is napping in my arms as I write this. Soon she will wake, and the silence will be over. I can only hope.

Thank you for reading.

pic 1: Me a couple months before my 30th birthday, and about 8 months before getting pregnant.
pic 2: A week before giving birth.
pic 3: I took-up pole-dancing as a way to reclaim my body. Here I am attempting a (flawed) outside leg-hook, 15 months post-partum.
pic 4: My little monkey!

~Age: 32
~Number of pregnancies and births: 3 pregnancies, 1 birth
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 1 daughter, 19 months

10 Years Isn’t Always Enough (Christine-Y)

age – 24
2 pregnancies, 2 births
4 1/2 years, and 2 years.

Well, I guess it starts with middle school. My ex-stepfather was an older man who was very manipulative. He mental abused my mom, and treated my brother & I worse. My mom would work 2 jobs, & he would gamble her money at the race track. She even caught him there cheating on her once but she took him back. I promised myself that I would never let any guy treat me like that. He started lying to my mom, telling her how we lazy we had been, while he worked scrubbing the house on his hands and knees. The first time I stood up for myself, he didn’t say anything. My mom left for work the next morning a little after 5 am, he pulled me out of bed by my hair, and told me if I ever tried to discredit him again, I wouldn’t have a mom to “tattle” to anymore.

A few months later I started high school, (my brother & mom would get home 2-3 hours after me) he started molesting me. He would corner me in the kitchen, & one day he tried to take my shirt off, so I locked myself in the bathroom. I told my friend about it, & she said if I didn’t tell an adult, she would. I told my school counselor. The policeman that showed up at home just “happened” to be my step-dad’s nephew. He told my mom I was looking for attention, that I was lying, and that once I was over the death of my step-dad’s dad, I would stop lying and behave better. I kept my mouth shut for 2 years after that – he should me the gun he would put to her head if I said anything again. My counselor didn’t follow up even one time.

I stopped caring about my grades & began to plan my suicide. The night I had hand-picked, I couldn’t find the bullets. 1 week later, my little brother did, and for a few months, he didn’t try to touch me. When my Mom started to wake back up, he started to say I needed new clothes, everything was too baggy. I was a size 5-7, 112 pounds, 5 feet 8 inches but wore a black hoodie year-round (in California) & size 9 jeans to hide myself. He picked up where he left off, & one day told me he wanted to hear me scream, because no one would believe a filthy little liar like me. I was talking to a grief counselor at school, when I mentioned the abuse was still happening. By that evening, my mom had him escorted out of her house, & was in contact with a divorce lawyer. I got to move back home in time to graduate, & started going steady with the man I am married to today.

I can’t imagine life without him here. I still have panic attacks, and I wake up crying, screaming, or just plain scared. There are days where I can’t be touched, and a cupboard door slamming still gives me flashbacks.
We got married a year after high school ( I was 18), 3,000 miles away from my family, and had our first son shortly after I turned 19. I started out at 125 (the most I had EVER weighed) and ended up at 180 by the time he was born, stretchmarks from my breasts to my calves). I was miserable, my hip ( I had a bone graft @ 12) was hurting constantly, & my back (which I hurt while hand-digging a pool, not to mention hand-mixing the cement at 13) never stopped. I hated myself after JJ was born because I couldn’t get him to latch, & had to stop before he was 5 weeks old. I went from a 32B to a 38 DD trying to nurse him. I was so depressed over it, I stopped letting my husband look at me because I felt like a horrible, hideous failure. After 1 1/2 years, I still couldn’t loose the weight ( I was 160 pounds), but we wanted 1 more. With Daniel, I was sick from day one. I lost 32 pounds the first 6 months, & was medicated to help with the nausea. My boss told me it was my fault I got knocked up, so deal with it. My sciatic nerve kept me in constant pain from the end of my 2nd trimester on. I ended up at 162 pounds. When Daniel was born, I tried again to nurse, & even got compliments from WIC on how well I handled the techniques, but he wouldn’t latch either (inverted nipples). I cried for weeks afterword, because he wouldn’t nurse, but I couldn’t pump like I needed either. I was working 60+hours a week (6 days) with 25+ hours of commuting. I would cringe when he would put his arm around me at night, because he would touch my fat tummy. Daniel is 2 years old now, and I am (slightly) more comfortable. I still weigh 156, and I know what it is going to take for a healthy 3rd pregnancy (we are trying & hoping for a girl), and I know there will be pain ahead, but I know that my babies love me, I love them, & as often as my Husband sings “One Hot Mama” to me, he must mean it.

It’s been a long 10 years since my troubles started, but the next 10 will be better. I have a man that calls me beautiful everyday, and two boys that love their mommy. The only way it gets better than this is a house with 2 toilets…;)

Picture 1, 3 – me, 12/09/2010
Picture 2 – my Handsome Boys

Rebuilding the Body (Annie)

Children-1 (a 2 year old)
C Section birth

I want to thank you for making this site. It is so wonderful to know I am not alone, because here in person I really am. And I thought I was. And I am so excited to read everything on here and see that I am not.

Pregnancy was supposed to be the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me. But I felt like a bad person because I hated every minute of it. I had morning sickness from the day I found out (8 weeks along) to the week after I had my son. I was a small girl that liked showing off my body. I was over weight when I entered puberty (almost 200 pounds at 12 years old) and I worked so hard to loose the weight. I finally got down to 110 pounds when I was 17 and I loved my size but I still felt like I had so much to work on.

I moved out of state to the other side of the country to be with my sons father and he did his best to make my pregnancy comfortable. It was hard making friends. All the girls that were my age with kids were not very good parents at all. They all had great bodies with little to no stretch marks and left their kids with their mom all week long to go hang out, party. I thought I would bounce back as fast as them when I had a kid. I was so wrong.

I gained 100 pounds with my son. I had a high risk pregnancy because I hadn’t gained any weight from all the throwing up. I was put on a diet that blew me up. I got so big, I have stretch marks all down my legs, the back of my calves, my tummy, and my sides.

So there I was, 19 years old, a size 14, 210 pounds and depressed. My husband (35 years old) told me that he loved me inside but my outside was a turn off and he couldn’t make love to me. He slept with all my “friends” and would constantly turn me down, telling me they got in shape fast and I should too.

I was so depressed. He left me saying that I was a downer and was turning his life sour. I am still torn up so badly over it. He made me feel like my body was worthless, like I was less of a person because of how I look. I hated myself so badly. I was so hard on myself. I moved back home, and my friends that had kids came by to visit. All of them back to their old size only 2 months later, and without a stretch mark on their bodies. I got so depressed I . It was a big turninhad tried to kill myself. I felt like I didn’t deserve to live, no one would ever want me because my body.

It was a big turning point in my life, where I decided I needed a real change.

I have worked hard on my body since then. I have a great stretch mark remedy that I practice often (derma roller and vitamin e cream and body scrub, it works pretty well!). I am now at 140 pounds, a size 7 (or 9 sometimes but I seem to have a permentent muffin top in anything I wear) and I am doing my best to stay happy and positive. I still break out in bouts of depression over my body, but I have an amazing new boyfriend who has been my best friend for years, and I have a great 2 year old that means the world to me. I hope one day I get into a bikini again. I think I will. But it is going to take a lot of love from myself and hard work to do it…

Now I am 21 years old. My son just turned 2, and I am thinking I might have another one, but not for another 5 or so years.

The Whirlwind (Anonymous)

2 weeks after I got married, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I was 20 years old. My husband was to be deployed for a 15 month tour with the US army in 6 months, at that time. He left for Iraq when I was just under 6 months pregnant. He thankfully got to come home for the birth. He surprised me when I was at work, on my last day before I was to go on maternity leave. I went into labor a week later. September 10th, 2008 I was in labor for 12 hours. I pushed for 2 hours and the doctor decided that the baby needed some help coming out. He used forceps to get the baby out. I ended up with fourth degree tears. Labor was extremely traumatic for me, afterwards I felt like I had been raped (I know that sounds bad, but true). I was so thankful to have my husband by my side at the time, nothing else mattered after I got over the initial shock. But he had to go back to the war in Iraq, our baby was only 12 days old.
9 weeks postpartum, I was still in pain from the birth. I got checked out and the doctor said I had a hole in my vagina! I freaked out. He “fixed” the hole the best he could and told me to give it 6 weeks to heal. 6 weeks later, any time I was on my feet for more then a half hour, it felt like I needed to push out a bowling ball from my vagina (I know! So not fun).I went to see the doctor again. The doctor gave me a look like, “your looked for drugs, aren’t you”. I did not want drugs, I just did not want my vagina to be “broken” anymore. He gave me three options, to have him re-cut me open and stich me back up (no thank you), give me a nerve-killer shot in my vagina to numb me forever (HECK no!), or to deal with. I choice to deal with it.
16 weeks postpartum, I was still in pain. I just figured this was the way it was going to be the rest of my life. I was just glad I didn’t have to deal with my husband wanting sex, since he was still in Iraq. I thought I would go into liver failure with all the Tylenol I was taking just to survive each day. I was not happy. I was in pain everyday, I was dealing with a colicky baby by myself, and I was not getting much sleep at all worrying about my husband and everything else on my plate.
18 weeks postpartum, I decided to stop breast feeding. I wasn’t making enough milk to feed the baby because I wasn’t eating enough. I was miserable. I missed my husband, and life sucked at this point.
One night I was home, putting the baby to sleep like normal. I heard voices in my head as I rocked him that told me to just knock my sons head on the wall and just get it over with. I was hearing voices that told me to kill my son. I panicked. I put him to sleep and I just cried. How could I think like that? I looked at the bottle of pills that was so familiar to me, Tylenol. I thought, I need to end my life if I was thinking about taking my childs life. I took a few pills and I knew I needed help. I called my mom and told her I needed to go to the hospital immediately. I was admitted to the psych ward of a hospital for a 5 day stay for severe postpartum depression. My husband came home from Iraq for emergency leave. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what happened, so I told them I fell and hit my head. My husband was home for 10 days to help me back on my feet. I got support for my immediate family and they all helped me a lot.
Today, my husbands 15 month tour in Iraq ends in 3 months. I have a beautiful almost 9 month old son. I am fully recovered and not on any meds anymore. I just wanted to share my story to tell everyone that postpartum depression is real and it can be really scary. Just ask for help when you need it, with the baby or just for yourself, if you don’t you will make yourself crazy like I did. Nobody can do it alone, and nobody should.

1st photo is me 8 months pregnant
2nd photo is my husband and I getting our son baptisted when he was 11 days old the day before my husband left to go back to Iraq
3rd photo is my son now (8 1/2 months)

PPD & Suicide

There is a lot of talk here about Postpartum Depression and depression can, in some cases, lead to suicidal thoughts. I want to say here that if you suffer from these thoughts – PLEASE get help now! You are worth it, your child is worth it. Your life CAN be happy again.

Here are some suicide hotlines you can call:
You can also go straight to your closest ER and they will help you find help.

For more info on PPD, read this.

You are loved and needed.

Would those of you who have suffered, and healed (or are healing) post a message here for anyone in need of support?