On PPD and Carol Burnett

08/20/2009 at 10:16 pm | Posted in PPD, Thinking | 1 Comment
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I’m still trying to figure out how to move away from my postpartum experience, but it’s so easy to hang on. There’s a delicious, twisted sort of satisfaction in dwelling. I really, really want to unglue myself from those memories. Baby steps, right?

Even just a week into this, blogging already has proven to be healing. I have new eyes, in a way. Annoying situations are suddenly potential blog posts. Small Fry is sitting on the bathroom floor, playing with a tampon, a hair band and a tub of Stridex pads?  Funny.

Another big part of Project Move the Hell On With My Life is to pay it forward. I’m going to volunteer as a peer facilitator for the support group that played a big role in my recovery.

To prepare, I went to a very interesting — and encouraging — conference on perinatal mood disorders. I was one of a handful of people in the room who wasn’t a medical professional. So I tried to seem smart. Very smart. And informed.

But, seriously, the only thing I could have talked confidently about that day were the contents of the dessert buffet.

That room was packed with brilliance. Doctors who talked about anti-anxiety drugs and the effects of those drugs on pregnant and postpartum women. Psychiatrists well-versed on treatment options for PPD. Incredible women starting support groups all over the state. And survivors. Two women sat at a table in front of us and calmly told stories of how they tried to kill themselves after the births of their children.

My favorite part was the lone dad panelist who shared what it’s like to support a woman with PPD. I still wonder what the experience must have been like for M. Have I mentioned I have the most patient husband in the world?

Here are a few outtakes from my notes:

  • “The public understanding of postpartum depression is nebulous. Definitions are based on intuition as much as science.”
  • “Moms and babies are not bonded instantly … Many women feel overwhelmed and resentful of having to feed for an hour-and-a-half after just two hours of sleep.”
  • “A woman has to make the transition from whoever she was before pregnancy to a 24/7 caretaker for a totally dependent baby. It’s something she really wanted to do, but it’s not clicking.”
  • “It’s a trauma like warfare … all of a sudden a woman doesn’t know who she is or what she’s supposed to do.”
  • “It is a VERY BIG DEAL to create a human life. For a woman, it’s profoundly taxing, emotionally and physically.”
  • “We are often our own worst enemies … we should be a sisterhood. People become wed to particular ideas and divide into factions, like working moms or stay-at-home moms.”
  • “Both mom and dad deserve “pimp time” … 20 to 30 minutes a day to themselves.”

And my favorite, a quote from Carol Burnett:

“Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head.”

Amen.

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  1. I really like this post! Re-inventing and then re-discovering yourself after having a baby is a vey painful process. I did not have PPD, but I did went through a period of anxiety after giving birth to my son. Mostly, I felt I had made a big mistake. One I could not take back. I felt like such a horrible human being for having those thoughts and felt very very lonely. I wish I could have talked to someone back then. It is a great thing you will be volunteering!


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