These 4 Signs Might Mean You Have Postpartum Depression

(PPD) is more common than you’d think. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 to 20 percent of women who give birth have symptoms of it. What’s more, you can begin experiencing PPD up to a year after having a baby, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

But how do you know you have it? While each woman is different, there are consistent themes when it comes to symptoms, say Mary L. Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., director, department of obstetrics and gynecology, Montefiore Health System, and Allison Kurzman, M.D., psychiatrist and clinical instructor of psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

You may experience one, a combination of a few, or all of the symptoms, although it varies by individual, according to Rosser and Kurzman. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, those who have experienced depression or bipolar disorder before, have a family history of mental illness, had medical complications during childbirth, or lacked emotional support from a partner, family, or friends during pregnancy could all be at an increased risk.

Read More: These 4 Signs Might Mean You Have Postpartum Depression

Are You Depressed?

Laura

Why We Shouldn’t Shame Moms Who Hate Infancy

A month or two ago, a woman who I knew as an acquaintance at my gym had her first baby.

“How’s it going?” I asked, congratulating her and asking how she was feeling, something I noticed most people don’t do.

It’s all about the baby, after all.

“It’s OK, you know, she’s not sleeping very well and she cries a lot. I mean a lot, a lot!”

I heard it in her speech: infancy was not her cup of tea right now.

“I’m so sorry. You know, it’s OK if you hate this right now. My daughter slept very well, but I’ve had friends and family who dealt with colic.”

Looking at me with a face of relief: “Thank you — you’re the first person I’ve been able to be honest with. The first person who asked how I was. Honestly, I’m struggling and totally hating it. I feel so guilty.”

Read More: Why We Shouldn’t Shame Moms Who Hate Infancy

Support All Moms,

Laura

How to Support a Mom With Postpartum Depression

I remember vividly watching someone at a moms’ group who was suffering with postpartum depression as she broke down. My heart ached for this mom. As someone who has experienced depression in the past, I could only imagine how hard it must be to feel that way while caring for a baby, especially your very first baby. I felt so fortunate that after having a difficult pregnancy, my postpartum life was a happy one. Having an easy baby helped. People have a hard enough time wrapping their heads around depression and mental health issues in the first place; the idea that a woman could be severely depressed after an event that is supposed to bring someone the greatest joy is even harder for people to comprehend. Yet according to the CDC, 600,000 women get PPD annually in the United States alone. That’s a huge number for something that’s supposedly “rare” to happen. Obviously it’s not so unusual or rare if so many women struggle with it, yet it’s still not something that’s talked about very openly. To feel depressed after birth is almost sinful in some people’s eyes.

Read More: How to Support a Mom With Postpartum Depression

Here For My “Sisters,”

Laura

The Baby (ies) I never had: A Plea to the Medical Field

I was at the park today with my daughter when it happened. All it takes is one sight,smell, taste, or sound, and I remember my last pregnancy.

Summer time reminds most people of pools, ice cream, sunburn, long days, sweaty nights, sex on the beach, and reggae until the break of dawn.

For me? I am able to conjure up all those things, but I also remember vomiting. I remember vomiting, vomiting, and vomiting. I remember a very cruel family member standing at the edge of my bed telling me to “Put on some lipstick. Maybe it will make you feel better. Hurry up and get better.” This person was saying this after I had been unable to keep anything down–food or liquid–for four days…despite being on IV fluids around the clock and the highest dose of Zofran, an anti-nausea medication through my PICC line. My doctor had been telling me I was a candidate for TPN and steroids, yet I was only 7 weeks pregnant. Side effects are: birth defects and death.

I remember trying to eat watermelon. I remember calling people desperately for help. Help with laundry, cleaning, meal-making for my daughter and husband. I remember the pleas of “Mommy, pick me up, pick me up!” from my 16-month old.

I remember the nastiest piece of garbage resident, who treated me like a piece of garbage as I lay there on a hospital bed, barely able to urinate, despite being on fluids for two whole weeks, around the clock.

I wonder when I will ever be okay with this. That I won’t have that baby, or another baby most likely, ever.

That I will never feel the kicking of a child inside me again. That I will never see an image on a screen of my soon-to be child, and wonder who he or she looks like.

That when my daughter looks longingly out the window at other kids, that I will most likely, never give her someone to play with.

I hate that a special and lovely day with my daughter at the park is ruined by this memory that came up from nowhere. It took the sight of one familiar object to bring me to this place I had forgotten for quite some time.

Some people think I’m whiny because hey, I have one beautiful and healthy child. I should be grateful. Who cares if I threw up and my body basically shuts down when I’m pregnant? No Big deal. I should just accept the losses, and move on, and shut up.

Guess what?

When men discovered the cure for the erectile dysfunction, the world shouted hurray. Plenty of men with worthwhile penises needed this cute, and I can’t blame them for wanting it.

I want to know, OBGYN’s around the world, when are you going to educate yourself on hyperemesis? Some people puke when they’re pregnant, sure, but then there are others who do more than just puke. We puke until we lose teeth, ruin our bodies, lose our vision, and lose our babies either to miscarriage or abortion. Some women die.

When will you give a shit, doctors of the world, that some of us can’t just take a little ginger and crackers? That Zofran, the cure-all for those with average or sometimes severe sickness, isn’t a cure-all?  That Reglan, another common nausea drug, while helpful for some, drives the rest of us crazy? It made me have neurological tics, tightness in my throat, and anxiety like you wouldn’t believe. And with all that, it still didn’t make me feel a lick better.

I just want to know that other than one researcher from UCLA, the medical field cares.  That other than helpher.org. people are listening and creating change for those of us with hyperemesis. People had a hey-day when Kate Middleton was diagnosed with hyperemesis, but even her case doesn’t come close to describing what the most extreme patients like myself dealt with.

Please care medical world, and OBGYNS of the United States of Opportunity.

I will probably never dare to get pregnant again, unless I end up with more support and my career can take another year leave of absence, but I care for my daughter, who is at risk of having hyperemesis in pregnancy since I did.

I want my daughter to not have it like I did. I want her to have as many babies as she likes and can care for, (maybe she won’t want any–that’s fine!) without having to compromise her health, marriage, and life.

I want other daughters and women who still want kids and have had HG to have that chance that I probably will never have.

I care because it robbed me of a healthy pregnancy, and robbed my daughter of a sibling. It shot my career, finances, and pursuits in the foot, and strained my marriage.

I want people to start caring. Pregnancy is not supposed to be some death-enabling stunt. It is supposed to be hard, yes, but not life-risking. Science has helped many women conceive babies, so why not start to help those who struggle after conception?

I was given one amazing and intelligent daughter. I never forget that. I never forget a moment of what it felt like during pregnancy. The first year of my daughter’s life was literally one of my happiest years ever. I was so strained during pregnancy that post-birth, I feasted on all the oxytocin nursing provided me with. I looked at my daughter daily and felt a gratitude words cannot express. I know many cannot have that feeling. That cribs are empty and hearts are void for life for some folks who cannot have kids.

This doesn’t make my losses, our losses, any smaller.

One day I will have to sit down with my daughter and tell her about my three pregnancies. I will have to tell her about how hard and sad they were at times because if I don’t, she may succumb to it in her own pregnancies, and I want her to understand if she does, her feelings are normal.

Many women with hyperemesis gravidarium do not recover fast after birth. Many women suffer post-partum depression and anxiety, PTSD, and numerous physical issues. For the longest time, I could not go into my bedroom for long without feeling panic and sadness because I had lived in my bedroom sick as a dog, all to end up with nothing.

I measured my life in minutes. I could only get through an hour. My chest burned, my heart rate was beyond rapid–150 laying in a bed–and my vision blurred.

I want my daughter to have better.

It’s time to learn about the condition OBGYN’s. You’re not all that savvy in this illness. Medical professionals need to be trained. Nurses, techs, doctors, etc. The nurse who looked at me with my PICC line and said, “Oh just morning sickness,” should have gotten kicked in her uterus for her insensitivity, but I was living on ice chips, and didn’t have the strength.

For those of you in New Jersey, I wanted to share that my OBGYN at the time, Dr. Van Horn, was amazing and compassionate. My high-risk doctor, Dr. Fernandez was as well. In my last pregnancy, Dr. Tal was direct, caring, and educated. Miriam Erick, a nutritionist an HG specialist, was also supportive and helpful to me.

There are professionals who care, but the amount is minute, and the lack of knowledge and treatment in the medical field is astounding and disgusting.

Wake up, people. Women are suffering, and the costs to treat HG patients in the hospitals are astounding. It’s better financially to provide better treatment.

For those family members whose wives, daughters, sisters, or cousins are suffering, try to be empathetic. Imagine starving for days on end. Months. Imagine vomiting for days on end. Months.

Do you think you would be happy?

I may never see another positive pregnancy test again, and if so, may I survive it, but I think for a very long time, I will always say good-bye to those babies.

Goodbye to you that I never knew. Goodbye to you who daughter will never call brother or sister.

Good night to you, and let peace come onto me.

Maybe there will be a summer in which I do not cry for you and miss you.