One of the first things I thought about after finding out I was pregnant with my daughter was Postpartum Depression. I had recently watched a close friend go through some pretty tough times after PPD took over her life and I was terrified that the same could happen to me. What was worse was the knowledge that PPD seems to run in my family and I couldn’t shake the fear that I was doomed to struggle through the first year of my baby’s life. Many lengthy discussions with my father, sister, grandmother and friends happened as I awaited my first appointment with the midwife. I told everyone I could think of to watch me closely after having the baby and to force me to seek out a mental health professional if they saw any signs of depression. I was determined to prepare my family!
Unfortunately, my pregnancy came with some complications. Due to what my doctor called a “dynamic cervix” I was at a high risk for going into pre-term labor and was hospitalized for a period of time to keep that from happening. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse my neighbor called me to tell me that my house was on fire! There I was, hospitalized and terrified that our baby would come to soon and our house was on fire! Thankfully my dutiful neighbors were able to save my pets AND our home in our absence. Once I was sent home I was ordered to strict bedrest for the remainder of my pregnancy. The next few months were a truly terrible time for me. I am a get-up-and-go kind of girl who likes to get things done and do them myself. I DO NOT like to be waited on or allow others to take care of my responsibilities. And yet here I was, watching as my family pulled together to take care of my pets, household chores, cooking, shopping, etc. and my husband worked constant overtime to make up for my lost wages. All while our house was being worked on to repair smoke/fire damage. I couldn’t have been more grateful for their help but as I laid on our couch day after day I was sinking deeper and deeper into a depression.
One would think that an experience like mine would just slide a person right into post partum depression. But, something about those post-birth hormones gave me just enough of a boost to do something before things got worse! I knew I needed to take action, and soon! I made it a goal to shower every single day and to engage in adult conversation with at least one person each day. One day after being released from the hospital and I was out and about with my baby! I know some people feel that a new mom and baby should stay inside for a certain period of time, but I needed freedom. I needed my life back! However, even with that determination I was finding it easy to slip into long days on the couch, just breastfeeding and moping around. Thankfully I was soon saved by La Leche League.
La Leche League is a group that meets locally (there are local groups all over the world) to discuss breastfeeding and other mothering issues. There is a leader at each meeting who tries to keep things on track and who is the expert on breastfeeding and breastfeeding resources. I was 3 weeks post partum when my local chapter was having their monthly meeting, and it was within walking distance of my house! I figured that I would go, just to do SOMETHING that day, and so I packed up my tiny little one and headed out the door. It seemed upon arrival that I was not the only first-timer. In fact, most of us (we were a group of maybe 8 or so) were just nervously tending to our babies while waiting for the leader to begin the class and break the nervous tension. I don’t know why we were all so nervous because as soon as the meeting got rolling we all quickly bonded over our experiences as mothers! That was it! That was what I needed! I just needed to connect with others who understood what I was going through at that particular time, and La Leche League gave me the opportunity to connect in that way. Not only that, but it connected me with moms who were members of other mom’s groups and before I knew it my days were transformed from long and lazy to busy and connected. I was going on playdates and walking at the park with other moms. I even connected with a mom who attended a church that I had wanted to try! The network of moms that I have joined up with is truly amazing and I 100% believe that it is what saved me from a long period of PPD! For being my motivation out of the house, and connecting me with other moms who understood my current situation, I couldn’t be more grateful to LLL!
If you’ve ever witnessed a mother going through Postpartum Depression, you know how difficult it can be for her and her family and I do believe that for some it is unavoidable. Some moms need medication and psychotherapy and I would encourage anyone who thinks that they may be in that boat to ask for help. But, if you are fortunate enough to be like me and just need the right situation to keep you going, networking is key! Meetup.com has tons of available groups and La Leche League has meetings all over the world. Don’t be nervous. All the other moms are probably feeling the same way. Just take that first step and go to a meeting. You won’t regret it!