Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.
Here is the end of the story of my experience with PPD (Postpartum Depression) after my oldest son was born. (Here is the beginning in case you missed it.)
After sizing up the situation and realizing that there would be no applicable help offered in the hospital setting - I set to convincing the doctors and nurses how much I had improved. I definitely faked it. I was willing to say or do just about anything to get them to let me out of there and to get back to my baby.
I agreed to a low dose of Zoloft. I agreed to follow ups with a psychatrist. I showed up to every group activity they scheduled. I was the best little patient I could create. I agreed and smiled and nodded.
And I got the heck out of there.
Getting released was like finally being allowed to have my life back. Things were still not easy, but I knew now that it was really up to me to buck through it.
No it's not healthy, and I really really don't recommend it to anyone. But when I was faced with faking my way to better or staying in a hospital - I made the choice I felt I had to make.
My stay in the hospital put my milk supply in a death spiral. I quickly had to accept that formula feeding my baby was the only way he was going to survive infancy. I learned very quickly that that there life decision would get zip zero support from just about everyone.
Nothing like fighting to just make it through the day only to be talked down to and policed about what I dare feed my baby. I just wish that was an exaggeration.
I made a lot of structural changes when our second child was born. Here are my top 7 recommendations for moms hoping to hold off PPD.
Have the hard talks with your care provider
We're talking explict lay-out-the-plan for what kind of support you can expect, in the event you start to have depressive symptoms. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there" is not the response of a reliable postpartum care provider. You need a plan, honey!
Don't be afraid to switch care providers
Looking back, there were definate signs my care provider with my first baby was not going to be reliable postpartum. For starters, she danced around the direct question of "who will be delivering my baby?" multiple times. That's a question someone who professionally delivers babies should be able to answer.
I really should have looked elsewhere. Even if it was late. Even if it was scary.
A health care provider who is worthy of trust is worth their weight in gold!
Be brutally honest with your husband
Most likely your husband is going to be the other person involved here who knows you well enough to see when you are not doing ok. Sit down and talk about the plan for postpartum. Who should he call with concerns? Does he have any dad friends he can de-stress with? Is he actually clear on what physical changes will be going on postpatum?
These are the answers he needs so y'all can be strong partners in the weeks ahead.
Be aware that dads often need to recover from birth too. Babies have a liking for being born at ungodly hours. No, it's not the same exact type of recovery as mom is going through, but sleep depreviation is no joke. I HIGHLY recommend taking two weeks of planned off time - off from work, outside committments, etc. - for BOTH of you. Taking the time to recover is the surest way you will both be able to meet any challenges ahead.
Prep as much as you can
Anything you can get done ahead of time, get done.
I'm a big fan of freezer meals! Anything that could just be thrown in a crockpot from a bag was the way to go. I have an itty bitty freezer, so I didn't do any full size casseroles.
Think ahead to things to keep any older siblings busy in those very early days with a newborn.
Got any pets? Handing off walking duty to an awesome neighborhood kid might be a great solution.
Especially if you have other kids, write down your routines and funky stuff. Because no one is going to magically know that the toddler says "nap" to mean "milk", or that that one bottle of laundry soap is really handsoap. (These are all real examples from my life right now. Yes, I know they could go so bad!) That's why we write things down. It's just the nice person thing to do.
Rally your community
This is part of prep, but it is so important it deserves its own spot.
Decide what you will need/like from your family and friends as best you can before birth and just ask!
Set up a meal train (we used this one with Therese) so people can see when and what you need for food. Check with your parish/church to see what minstries are available. Take up those baby shower offers.
It's ok to let people help you, and to show them what you need. No one was born knowing how to help families through transitions -some teaching is needed.
Find mommy friends but also non-mommy friends
You really will need people who are in this same season of life. Because there are just some questions that can only be asked around women who are in the know.
But you might also need someone who does not also has the pressures of small children who can come and entertain the older kids at the park for an hour. People who can't always commiserate, but can empathize. Someone who is not also burned out from reading Barnyard Dance 50-bigillion times. Someone who might actually be available at 8pm when you are having a moment of "oh my goodness please tell me you want to drink some wine with me!"
A little distance from the up close and personal of raising small children can be such a breath of fresh air!
Hedge your bets
Been through PPD before and really want to avoid it again? Here's some other things I did that may or may not work, These are hedge-your-bets things that may not be proven to work, but I've had good results on them.
Always talk with your health care provider about these things before trying!
I found taking ReBalance before bed REALLY helped with the emotional coping of choppy sleep. It also seemed to make the placenta medicine more effective.
AfterEase is for use as needed for after pains. They do get worse with each kid, and will flare up when nursing. Great alternative to popping pain pills!
Placenta Medicine: Yes it's weird. Can it help? Maybe. Honestly, I probably would not have jumped on this if I wasn't so desperate to avoid PPD the second time around.
I went with getting the placenta dried and encapsulated without any added herbs. Not all herbs do well with everybody and you only have the one placenta. It would be a bummer to not be able to use it because of unnecessary additions.
I lucked out and my doula offered placenta encapsulation as well. This was far and away the easiest option. You can arrange for someone to just do the placenta processing as well.