No way! Ill take my 15 minutes of peace in the morning. This year I started getting up before the kids so I had time to have a cup of coffee in peace before the craziness of the day started. When I was a new mom with only one child I used to hear about mom’s getting up at 6am to enjoy some personal time while their children slept till 7 or 8. I could not imagine at that point why on earth anyone would do this to themselves! I didn’t mind eating breakfast with my child, so it did not seem like something to loose precious sleep over. Even with two children and preschool drop offs I still stuck strong to not getting up any earlier than I had to. JK came along, nope I was still not getting up till I had to. But this year with each of them having their own schedules and all the craziness in the morning, I finally got it. There is a reason those mom’s were up so early! Those 15 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours or whatever you take are PRECIOUS! They let me start my day awake and with a level head. The caffeine has had a chance to start its work on me, I am slowly transforming into super mom! So, yup 5 ish years into this Mom thing I finally understand why people choose peace over sleep. You can keep your 15 minutes of fame, Ill keep my peace.
Bet you are wondering what I am apologizing for. Nothing. Yes there are probably some things I have done or said in the past 6 years that I should apologize for, maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. But one thing I am not apologizing for is suffering from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Didn’t know that about me? Then you are probably not a member of my local moms group www.chesapeakemommies.com a part of www.themommiesnetwork.org. Chesapeake Mommies has been a major support for me in the last 3 and a half years. It has connected me with many other moms, introduced my children to new friends and new experiences. It has been an invaluable resource for us! It has also been a safe place for me to open up about having PPD. But the reality is I feel like I should not have to hide my struggle with PPD. Lots of people suffer from depression. But one thing about PPD that is hard for many to understand is that during a time people assume is one of the happiest in your life you have trouble facing the day, may have paralyzing fears or compulsions that drive you to do things you know are not rational. Most people know about the “baby blues” when the hormone shift after birth causes the mom to become a little sad, a little sentimental and usually a good laugh with friends or just the joy of spending time with her husband and new child are enough to lift her out of it. But PPD is different. I know you didn’t ask but I thought I would give you a glimpse into my world with PPD.
It’s 8pm, my mom has made a wonderful dinner, I am fed, loved and should be happy. I go up to take a hot bath while my mom, dad and husband look after our newborn son. He has just been fed and I should have at least an hour if not two till he needs me again. I sit in the hot water pretending to read and contemplating how to take my own life. I know one thing for sure, I don’t want anything to happen to my son, but I need out. The unexplainable pain needs to go away and I can’t figure out anyway to stop it but to no longer be alive. It went on like this with me being able to put up a good show for a couple of weeks. None of them had a clue. My mom was actually pleasantly surprised with how well I was doing. Eventually it came out though. I was starting to lose my ability to care for my son. To care for myself. I had also started to develop anxiety. The only way I could get myself to leave the house was for his doctors appointments and for the breastfeeding support group at our local hospital. That support group was my life line. Though that group I was able to connect with other new moms. I met a group of women who became my life line. We started a play group and we met weekly for over 3 years. I am still friends with many of those women, though we don’t see each other much. Life gets in the way. They were there for me when we had BK and they were again my life line. I had the support of friends, we had a busy social schedule and we were so ecstatic that BK had survived her traumatic birth that I was blessed not to suffer PPD in the early days with BK. With BK I probably have a touch of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have developed a severe anxiety over her getting sick. To the point that I some times can’t function. It’s very embarrassing when she needs me so much I often have to call for outside help. Vomit is a huge source of that anxiety for me. I had trouble dealing with it before BK, but now that most of her seizures seem to have been triggered by Stomach Viruses I become particularly unhinged when any of the kids vomit. Fortunately my husband has been very good about stepping in when I need help.
JK was born 15 months ago. I had lost a lot of my support by this time. I no longer had a weekly play group we were attending and while I had Chesapeake Mommies the lack of face to face contact with other adults has been hard. We also have had some major changes in the past year. BK changed preschools this fall. TD started kindergarten. JK is growing up. I have had to face the last of the firsts as I think of them. The last child I will breastfeed, the last child I will watch take her fist steps, the last child I will feed her first solids. It feels good to know we are done having kids some times. But it’s also a source of sadness. What Mommy doesn’t want to hold forever those precious tiny moments when your newborn is so tiny, sweet and quiet. They smell delicious, they are beautiful and when you have the time to snuggle with them it is priceless. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss middle of the night feedings, I won’t miss diapers and I won’t miss the tantrums for no reason I can’t figure out. But its all bitter-sweet. It has led me in and out of depression over the last year. I have had some really dark days. But now 6 years into fighting this monster I am better able to formulate my thoughts and better able to figure out what I need to do to help myself. This self discovery has led me to realize that my PPD is feeding itself. I need interests outside my home, I can not let my anxiety and my PPD imprison me in my home and force the cycle to continue. But it’s hard! I mean really hard.
The bus stop has become over the last 4+ months my biggest challenge. In some ways its awesome, I get out, I see other adults and I have 5 minutes every morning that I feel normal. But it is also a huge source of stress for me. I don’t know many of my neighbors well and I honestly don’t know how to get to know them better. We moved into an established neighborhood almost 3 years ago. Most of the kids here are older than my own so our oldest is younger than or the same age as many youngest children around here. Many of the neighbors are very nice! But I don’t know them. I don’t know how to reach outside of my comfort zone to say “come on in for a cup of coffee” I don’t know how to get the kids around here to accept my son (or my daughters) and include them in things. I feel like I am back in high school some days. I am on the outside looking in at that bus stop. Even though I am standing right there in the middle of it all, I still feel like an outsider. I know part of it is the depression talking. Whispering its evil poisonous thoughts. But it’s persuasive, I some times can’t help but listen.
Maybe in reading this you recognize some of this in yourself? In your wife? In a friend? Reach out to them. Tell them you are there for them that it is OK to admit they need help. The best thing you can do for any mom that first year is just check in periodically see if everything is going ok. They will appreciate it.
For more info on PPD and Postpartum Anxiety I recommend this site, it has good info.
Those letters, M, P and B, represent some of the first sounds that most children make. Early on they start with goo and gaa sounds as tiny infants. But when children start to babble and intentionaly put speach sounds together they are usualy playing with those M, P and B inital sounds. Words like Mama, Pop, Ba-ba or Baby are often early words children can master. Ball is another popular word in the toddler set. Today I watched my 15 month old in her weekly speech tharapy session struggle to figure out how to put her lips together. She has been seeing Ms.Amy weekly since she turned one.
JK is a happy, social and funny child. She loves party’s and other social functions, she loves the grocery store and getting to people watch and she loves the bus stop. The bus stop has people watching, the social interaction and seeing the big yellow bus come and go taking the kids to and from school. But JK is not saying much. She has master some form of “Hi” and “Yea” and she can say Da-Da but because its one of her few sounds it means a lot more than just her Daddy. She uses it in diffrent settings with diffrent infelctions to mean diffrent things. To us we can usualy use her cues and her vocalizations to figure out whats going on, but in terms of communication and speech development she is behind. After 3 months of weekly sessions with a speech therapist we had a huge break though today. JK said “-all.” She was trying to say “Ball” but could not figure out how her therapist could make the B sound. I watched Ms.Amy take JK’s little hand and put it over her lips and make various B, P and M sounds and JK would put her hand over her own lips and say “-all.” To JK’s credit she never got frustrated. She just kept trying. Show her a ball and she would smile and say “-all” she is a smart cookie and knew she had figure out something major. But she also relized that our version of the word and hers were not the same. It was heartbreaking to watch.
TD was almost an entire year older when he started speech therapy. He saw Ms.Karen for 3 and a half years. Its hard to compare the two any more because while as infants they were both so quiet we started JK’s intervention so much sooner. I am hoping that is one of the reasons for the differences. The difficulty with the Bilabial Consonant sound (M,P and B) really is concerning though. I wish I knew when TD developed those sounds.
Though JK has not been formally diagnosed at this point the therapist has on more than one occasion mentioned Child Apraxia of Speech. This is a little more involved than just a simple “speech delay.” CAS is actually a Motor Planning disorder and though it is not usually diagnosed under the age of 2 its sessions like this that remind me that the therapist is trying to quietly let me see that JK’s speech is not just delayed, it is developing outside the normal progression. I have faith that she will make a lot of progress in the coming year. And I can see how much progress we have already made in just 3 months. But it’s frustrating to watch your child struggle with something that comes so naturally to others.