In the past few years, postpartum depression has had a lot of press. Brooke Shields had it, Marie Osmond had it. Tom Cruise denied it exists. All good for raising awareness. Now we all know it exists, and maybe some of us know the warning signs. But no one talks about this: What if you have post-partum depression and you must continue working?

Three years ago, I was in this position. I haven’t written about it because it was bad. Very bad. I keep waiting for someone to write about what it’s like to have to continue working even with post-partum depression. I guess I will be the one.

Here is what you need to know about postpartum depression if you are the breadwinner of the family:

1. Take maternity leave. Even if you have to make it a little unconventional.
I was a freelance writer, with a husband who did not work, and we were living paycheck to paycheck. I thought there is absolutely no way I could take maternity leave. We’d starve.

But I tried to think of ways to craft an unofficial maternity leave by getting ahead with my writing. I didn’t tell my editors I was doing that, but my plan was to not have to write very much.

2. Plan ahead, for the worst-case scenario.
In our heart of hearts, we know that the best case scenarios don’t actually need planning for. So why make plans assuming best case? Make contingency plans.

I did that a little. Because I’m a freelancer and my husband and son are nearly uninsurable, for prior medical conditions, we usually have crappy, near-nothing insurance. But we raided the last of our savings to buy great health insurance for the baby and me, just in case something happened during delivery.

Other than that, I assumed that things would go smoothly when we got home from the hospital since this was our second child, and I already knew how to care for a baby.

3. Admit that no time off means you’re high-risk for postpartum depression.
The baby came early, and I was not really ahead on columns, and my book wasn’t finished.

So right after the baby arrived, I had to finish my book, which was behind schedule. And, my agent told me that there was no way I could promote the book when I was 40 pounds overweight. After all, there was a chapter about how bad it is for your image to be overweight. So I spent two or three hours at the gym every day.

The baby came everywhere with me—to my book publisher, to my agent, to my newspaper syndicate, to the gym. I breastfed in everyone’s office. I breastfed in the cardio room and the weight room.

I cried all the time, and I felt that I had no idea how to take care of the baby, but I looked okay in all my meetings, so I kept going.

4. Ask for help from people you don’t work with.
Then, one night, the baby was screaming and our three-year-old wouldn’t go to bed and my husband was telling me that I needed to get the three-year-old some milk and I was saying that he should and I’ll get the baby and he rolled his eyes, and then I took a knife out of the dirty dishes and stabbed my head.

I don’t actually remember doing it. I remember my husband saying, “Oh my god. There’s blood everywhere.”

Here’s how crazy I was: I just put the knife back in the sink and went to get the baby.

The next day I went back to my old therapist and told him. While I breastfed the baby.

My therapist said he didn’t think I’d ever hurt the kids, but he had to send me to the emergency room to be checked out. So I went there. With the baby, and my cell phone, and I handled edits for my Boston Globe column from the hospital hallway.

The doctor I saw wanted to admit me to the mental ward. I had a friend call all over looking for a hospital that could take me and the baby into a mental ward together, and not one could. “It’s a huge breaking point in the mental health system,” she said.

The psychologists did not want me to leave, but I was convincing, telling them that we would not be able to support ourselves if I did not work. And I was also convincing telling them that I did not want to risk losing my breast milk permanently by separating from the baby for a week in the mental ward.

The doctor said I could go back home with the baby but I couldn’t be alone with the baby.

5. Postpartum depression is one of those times when you should break the bank.
When I left the hospital, I told myself I would just ignore the doctor’s advice because it would be impossible to not be alone with the baby. My husband had to take our older son all over the city for school and activities. And we could never ever afford round-the-clock care.

But on the way home, I remembered Andrea Yates. I had always felt empathy for her, but now I felt like maybe I could be her. I know it came out of nowhere to her: first she was just sort of depressed, and then she was killing her kids.

Plus, I remembered two times when people had asked me how the baby was and I said, “Sometimes I want to slam his head into the wall.” Both times I got very concerned looks. So stopped saying it, but I knew it was not good.

So I hired someone to stay with the baby and me. Only then did I realize that I was terrified to be alone with the baby. I still cry thinking about how I was probably a danger to my own child. The babysitter was as much for me as for the baby.

I kept working. I kept seeing a therapist. And we went into huge debt in order to pay for the babysitter.

In hindsight, I wonder, What could I have done differently?

My career could not have handled a three-month maternity leave. But I should have hired the nanny at the first sign of trouble, even though it caused a lot of debt. I was so scared of spending money. I cut corners on things that I thought I could handle but couldn’t. And the biggest thing, in hindsight, that I thought I could handle, was being a working mom with no support system. No one can do that and stay sane.

140 replies
« Older CommentsNewer Comments »
  1. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Penelope,
    I don’t usually comment on blogs, but this is an amazing post. As someone who is currently struggling with depression, I am very thankful that you’ve been able to be so honest about your experience, that you’re bringing PPD into the public eye.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Tiffany Monhollon | Personal PR
    Tiffany Monhollon | Personal PR says:

    Penelope,
    This is one of those posts where I simply marvel at your courage and transparency. The way you use your experiences to add value to the lives of your readers is truly inspirational. I’ve already had several “real life” conversations with people about this post, about you writing it, and about the subject you mention. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles so openly and honestly.

  3. Dave Atkins
    Dave Atkins says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it is too easy for people who are not mothers to summarize and rationalize everything into a neat package when the reality is that life is messy.

    My wife developed postpartum anxiety that we believe was triggered by a medication, Reglan, that was “prescribed” by a “lactation consultant” to increase her milk supply to make breast feeding successful. This is a side effect that has been documented, but we didn’t know about it until my wife was having panic attacks and we sat in the emergency room with our new baby waiting to see a doctor.

    We did have a support system…but it wasn’t OUR support system. It was people who had an agenda to force breastfeeding on us even as our baby lost 10% of her birth weight and cried constantly because she was starving. Well, we said we wanted to do it…they were trying to help…it is all a blur now. The point is that all of this is a very irrational, stressful time for everyone.

  4. SA
    SA says:

    There is a reason why in older cultures (like India, where I am from) have a whole process for the mom before & after birth. There is family around to hold the baby, the new mom is given a rich diet & a massuese (sp?) is brought in for frequent massages. I had never heard of PPD in India. Maybe it existed, but probably for the women who had no family around them for some reason. A new mom needs support, no question.

  5. Elle
    Elle says:

    Thank God for you and your courage to write this! It’s all so true for so many of us, and no one mentions it! My burden is similar, and it is so very very hard to carry. Thank you.

  6. Susanna
    Susanna says:

    Thank you for your bravery & candor. This issue is coming more & more into the light & the need for immediate (father) & extended (parents/siblings/aunts etc.) family support, good nutrition & preapring financially have all made me more aware of how to plan for my own future family. Thanks for the great post & to all who shared their experiences & what worked for them.
    I realize I am not aware of your personal situation, but I want to kick your hubby in the pants for not working & then making you responsible for everything. What’s up with that??

  7. Jennifer SD
    Jennifer SD says:

    Hi all,
    I had PPD with both of my children. The first I did not recognize the second was soon after. The doctor asked me if I thought I had PPD and of course I said no! I said that I hated my husband and just wanted to run away from my life. So she said she understood and felt the same way. Hmmmmm…..I was fortunate to have a supervisor who encouraged me to get counseling, call me if I did not get to work on time and give me those hugs with support. For me it was just a thought that never left my brain “run away” “run away”. They are better with out me.
    AFter some counseling and medication I felt like a new person but it was over a year later. That was such a dark year of my life, the void, the hate, the pressure in my chest like someone was sitting on it and the TEARS!!!!!
    Thank you Penelope and all the woman who are not afraid to talk about it. I am not weak for having PPD (as my mother thinks by saying “do you really need to take that medication?”) I am smart for not denying it.
    I see a post that talks about your husband’s supposed poor decision but things happen so fast and without even realizing what is going on. With a child who has a disability one parent needs to have more involvement and at the time it needed to be your husband. It was a joint decision, so you can’t be too upset with what happened.
    GREAT POST!!!!!!!

  8. Julie B
    Julie B says:

    Penelope,

    My hat is off to you in being willing to be vulnerable and talk about more than just the post-partum depression label. It isn’t just “I’ve got post-partum depression.” Its more like – “I’m afraid I’m going to hurt my child and not even be able to control it.” Resources should be available for women to help them deal with this problem regardless of their ability to pay…and those resources need to be more than medication. I was there too and it is a scary, scary place.

  9. Michelle Reynolds
    Michelle Reynolds says:

    Thank you for your honesty! When I had my first son, his father had left when I was 6 weeks pregnant. I was the only breadwinner for us as I did not pursue childsupport. I, like you, felt if I did not work we would starve to death. I was alone all day during my maternity leave with him and he was a handful. I was so stressed about everything I can remember commenting that I understood why some animals eat their young. Thank you again!

  10. Dean
    Dean says:

    Way to go, Penelope! Very courageous, moving and invaluable post. This passion and honesty sets you apart from the crowd. Cheers!

  11. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    New Mom of a 3 month old here….
    I did not have PPD, but I certainly had no idea of the typical new mom roller coaster mental state during the 1st month after birth…NO one told me or prepared me for that. I had an 11 week maternity leave and I really don’t know how anyone could go with any less. You mentally & physically need the time to recover (and to lose the weight to fit into your work clothes!)

    Now that I am through that, I am now dealing with learning to balance work, baby, husband & household management. Like I have gathered from your previous posts, my experience is that its usually the husband that comes last in that game.

  12. Kristi
    Kristi says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’m an introverted, low-key person who likes to do things on my own. Your candor turns these advice bullet points from things I should do into things I will do. I know without a doubt that I am going to surround myself with support when and if I do become pregnant.

  13. Erika
    Erika says:

    This:
    “The biggest thing, in hindsight, that I thought I could handle, was being a working mom with no support system. No one can do that and stay sane.”
    is why we probably won’t be having a 2nd child. We live in Madison (hi!), my husband is a SAHD/WAHD, we have family on both the east and west coasts. We had no idea how hard it would be to have a small child w/ no family around. I’d love to have a second, but my husband doesn’t even want to discuss it.

    What’s discussed even more seldom than ppd is depression in pregancy. I went on prozac at 31 weeks b/c I was having massive anxiety attacks and insomnia. I’d hate to think what I would’ve been like post-partum if I hadn’t had that going on for me.

    And more advice: don’t decide you’re “fine” and go off your zoloft (or whatever) w/o advice of your dr. a year later, when your workplace is in upheaval, your child is going through a massively clingy phase, your husband is also depressed, and you can only see more change in sight.

    Just sayin.

    Welcome (belatedly) to Madison. I love all your posts–work, generational, personal, etc. Drop me a line if you want to discuss the difficulty of SAHDs (and their wives) sometime.

  14. Peggy
    Peggy says:

    Twenty-five years ago my husband was working for an American company doing business in W. Germany. We arrived in January. In a small town located in the Black Forest, we had our first baby in April. We moved to Munich in June. We lived in a high-rise hotel on the 20th floor. I remember having to force myself to take walks up and down the loooong hall to keep from throwing him over the balcony. My husband did not believe in what I called post-partum depression. Years later, he now realizes how fragile our situation was and the danger both our son and I were in. We stayed for 18 months. I think that I still suffer the effects of PPD. I have apologized to my sons (the second arrived 5 years after the first) on numerous occasions. I still feel badly for the way that I was emotionally absent. I tried to function normally but I didn’t always hit the mark. I’m hoping for a second chance someday with grandchildren.

  15. Ginny Wiedower
    Ginny Wiedower says:

    I too would like to thank you for displaying your vulnerability, your humanness. It is so very rare for people these days to admit that they’re not perfect, and that NO ONE has it all together or all figured out.

    I feel so fortunate that this issue has been brought to light, so that when the time comes that I do have a child, I can be prepared. Knowledge is power, and I thank you for providing your own personal knowledge on this very real issue.

    God bless, and may your Valentine’s Day be filled with much love and friendship.

    Ginny

  16. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:

    @ SA:

    ” I had never heard of PPD in India. Maybe it existed, but probably for the women who had no family around them for some reason.”

    Either this is a breathtakingly naive view, or your life has been blissfully sheltered.

    The truth in India about PPD is that like many things related to women, it is swept under the carpet. The ‘tradition’ you mention – of giving a new mother splendid isolation and care for 40 days – is from my grandmother’s days, not from any time more recent.

    Lets be realistic about life. A woman with PPD in India is already rolling chapatis or nowadays, back at work.

  17. Chris Yeh
    Chris Yeh says:

    Amazing post. I think every parent has had the experience where their kids stretched them to the breaking point. To handle the situation without a safety net is incredibly difficult, and I’m glad you made it through.

  18. Sjh
    Sjh says:

    Thank you so much for talking about this. I have yet to meet a new mother who didn’t suffer from some kind of PPD – from something mild to something more like your episode with the knife. I think it’s a symptom of strange societal pressures and expectations. There is something flawed about the idea that a woman should be able to give birth, and then just get up and go back to work without a whole team of people behind her (and, if she’s lucky, her spouse). No one can do that! No one can stay sane through that. We deserve better.

  19. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    Thanks for making more people aware of this. I too suffered the same thing with my second child. At my 6 week Dr. follow-up after birth, I told my (mother of 3) OB/GYN I had these feelings of hurting myself and/or kids very frequently. She brushed it off as “all new mothers go thru this…deal with it”. Well, it kept getting worse and that’s exactly when Andrea Yates hit the news in June of 2001. I sympathized with her, knowing I could do the same thing. I had to hit up 2 more doctors until I found one to help me. Prozac did wonders for a year until my brain chemicals were back to “normal” (whatever that is) and I didn’t need meds any more.

  20. Robin
    Robin says:

    Thank you so much for speaking out about the need for having support when you have young children. I was living in Alaska without any friends, an unemployed husband and no money. It was terrifying. My baby wouldn’t quit screaming and there was no one to help me figure out what was the matter — the doctor just said that is what babies do and when I joined a mom/baby support group, they just seemed so “together” and gave me the great advice to “just hang in there.” Well, how long can someone hang in there without getting any decent sleep, especially when you have to be at work at 8:00 am?
    Congratulations to all you dads and other family/friends who take your loved ones’ feelings seriously and help her get the help she needs.
    Penelope, You are awesome!

  21. Ahaz
    Ahaz says:

    Penelope,
    This is one of the most courageous and authentic essays I have read in quite a while. As I man, I can never understand the depth and breadth of pain you felt. After reading your heartfelt and gripping commentary, I do feel better able to identify with these types of emotions.

    I have always admired your “Brazen” style of writing and commentary; even though I disagree with your positions occasionally, I have never waivered on the fact that you are willing to open yourself up to incredible scrutiny and second-guessing. This posting confirms those convictions you embrace and share with so much clarity and insight.

    Thank you

  22. Cynthia
    Cynthia says:

    Thank you for having the courage to write your piece with such raw honesty and clarity. I’m sure it wasn’t easy but it helps to alleviate the stigma of not only having mental health issues but talking about it as well.

  23. Joselle Palacios
    Joselle Palacios says:

    Penelope, thank you for sharing your story. I love how you so often tell things as they are and not as they are “supposed” to be. In doing that, you really empower me and other readers to see the truth and at least attempt to be sane. Thank you very much.

  24. Joselle Palacios
    Joselle Palacios says:

    I also had a question for some of the non-US people talking about how crappy how health care system is (and it is). Would these benefits of paid leave also pertain to a freelancer? Can you get your own health insurance from the government or other entity if you are self-employed?

    Although I don’t think there’s any one culture or country that has come close to perfecting parenting–and particularly helping mothers–I do think there’s something to be said about the death of the extended family for many in the US and other western cultures that SA was sort of bringing up. I was raised by my grandparents as much as by my mother (father was mostly useless). My friend is studying for a grueling medical exam now, doesn’t work, has a 3 year old, and is only able to handle this because she lives with her family so her parents and sister care for her son. I cannot imagine having kids, especially with my own history of depression, and not having family there to help for free. I know I wouldn’t be able to deal.

  25. Shefaly
    Shefaly says:

    @ Joselle:

    “Would these benefits of paid leave also pertain to a freelancer? Can you get your own health insurance from the government or other entity if you are self-employed?”

    A fixed salary during maternity leave does not apply to freelancers in the UK. However there are many cash perks from the moment of childbirth including childcare vouchers and tax benefits that freelancers can also benefit from. And of course, at least in theory we have a free-at-the-point-of-delivery (service, not baby delivery) and universal access healthcare system. Although midwifery services etc vary hugely across NHS trusts, by and large the care – considering it is free – is very good. No large medical bills, in other words, and plenty of support.

  26. Maureen Sharib
    Maureen Sharib says:

    When my daughter had her daughter in September, one of the care nurses said to her, when she was being released, “Now if you think of hurting yourself or the baby in the coming weeks or months, tell someone. It’s normal to have those feelings.”

    I was so relieved to hear those words.

  27. Katherine Stone
    Katherine Stone says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story. Bravo to you! I would welcome you to share even more of it as a guest author at Postpartum Progress, the most widely read blog in the US on postpartum depression. Even more women could benefit from your experience and wisdom. I also was working — I had a corporate marketing job while suffering from postpartum OCD. I would go to the office and stare at my computer screen. I still don’t know how I managed to get a promotion while going through it — obviously no one was paying attention to the fact that I was getting absolutely nothing done. The issue of extending leave for women with PPD is a big one, and recently a woman from Revlon filed a lawsuit against her employer for firing her after she attempted to extend her leave due to PPD. I hope you’ll continue to speak out, and to consider writing your story for Postpartum Progress.

  28. Jill
    Jill says:

    I had PPD with my first child and felt like a freak of nature. More people need to come forward and share their experiences. Thanks for sharing yours.

  29. Arlene
    Arlene says:

    I don’t think I got to “postpartum depression” myself but darn close. Having a new baby in a situation with zero social support, money worries, and too many work pressures would break down Rambo.

    It’s been over 30 years since those days and many other traumas (job turmoil, family deaths, divorce) have happened to me in the intervening time.

    Here’s the thing, though: NONE were harder than toughing it out with a newborn. So, Penelope, in some ways, the worst days of your whole life are actually behind you!

    It’s too bad that the social consensus is that this is some of individual “female” failure. It’s a social failure, and anyone who’s had a baby in a grim situation knows it. What we ask of ourselves and each other in this culture is pure craziness.

    Thanks for sharing this story.

  30. Pickel
    Pickel says:

    PPD happens in all walks of life, even in women who do not birth their own children but who adopt. I had Post Adoption Depression that was diagnosed by our Attachment Therapist and treated by my physician. It almost prevented us from adopting again, as the US Embassy wanted to insure that I was going to be healthy.

  31. Steve
    Steve says:

    Thankfully, because I knew hard it had been for my wife with our first child, I paid very, very close attention to how she was doing after the birth of our second.

    Because of how challenging having two kids less than 18 months apart was, I purposefully changed my work schedule … bringing the baby to our bed to be nursed … going in to work later plenty of mornings … coming home early many days … giving my wife at least one hour away from the house and kids every day to be alone or with her girl friends …

    Did this impact our income? You bet it did. And I was darn proud of how we pulled it all off–working together–as the months and first couple of years got easier.

    Here’s my point:

    Men–YOU need to be there for your wives when they need you … and DO NOT wait to be asked (some wives won’t). Just do it. Clean the dishes. And the housee. Change the diapers. Make the dinner (or pick it up). Give your wife the break she needs. Get a sitter/ family to watch your child/ren for at least two hours each and every week so the two of you can go out together–alone.

    Even if it costs you money. Even if it affects your career. Even if your co-workers give you funny looks for going home early (though most the women will admire you for it).

    THIS is what being married and having kids is about, too.

    God expects it. Your wife deserves it.

    THIS is what being a real man is all about.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      Steve, I just read a comment you left for Penelope (Brazen Careerist) in 2008 about post-partum depression and how important it is for a husband to support his wife. You mentioned that you had two kids less than 18 months apart. My two are 13 months apart and I nearly fell apart trying to “do it all” after an 8-week maternity leave (because I didn’t qualify for FMLA) and with a stressful job as a social worker with juvenile offenders. I ended up deciding to stay home with the two until preschool/kindergarten but acknowledge that I need support and ASK for it (and damn near insist on it at times). My husband is incredibly supportive but has his limits — it’s just really freaking hard to have two kids under 2. And we have LOTS of help from my mother/father/uncle. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your comment and say that it spoke to me. Thank you for being a real man and taking care of your family no matter what the social cost.

  32. Kellie Portman
    Kellie Portman says:

    Penelope,

    You are my hero.

    I have never left a comment before on the Internet, but I knew I needed to respond to your post.

    In 1990, when I was working as an attorney and 9 months pregnant with my first daughter, my law firm “laid off” its pregnant lawyers and those lawyers already out on maternity leave. (Yes, lawyers discriminate too, and are good at it, because they know exactly where to draw the line and make it look like a good business decision) My husband, also a lawyer, decided to quit his job and hang out his own shingle when our daughter was born. His practice failed, neither of us had any income, and money was a constant worry. I developed a full-blown case of PPD.

    Note to 2/14/08 poster Keith–it’s not that a job is the most important thing, it’s the income it brings so your family can eat and not become homeless. Penelope had her priorities straight.

    And speaking of homeless, my mother-in-law, who lived in our SAME TOWN, who before I got pregnant always said “You’ll always have a babysitter!”, decided to go to work full time at a homeless shelter as soon as my daughter was born. How could a daughter-in-law with “mere case” of PPD ever compete with the neediness of the homeless? My mother-in-law wouldn’t see us for weeks at a time (though she quit that job to take care of her daughter’s baby full time as soon as he was born). My own parents had died years before and I had no brothers or sisters. My newborn didn’t believe in naps (I didn’t know there were babies like that!) and didn’t sleep through the night for her first 2 years.

    I didn’t know I had PPD at the time, I just knew I was strung out, exhausted, also 40 pounds overweight and (ha!) trying to find a job to support our family. My husband’s advice–“Just deal with it!” I didn’t have the urge to hurt our baby, but there were many times that I wished that I were dead. I would have stabbed myself in the head like you if I had had your courage.

    God bless you for bringing PPD into the forefront. Our country desperately needs policies to protect families from this nightmare–how many more Andrea Yates stories will have to happen before our government acts?

  33. Amy Beckett
    Amy Beckett says:

    EVERY new mother needs help, “working” mom or not. And, no, an involved and engaged dad is not enough, whether or not this is baby #1, #2, or #8. A family needs someone, or several someones, helping out. Full stop. The notion of doing it all on your own is just another example of our destructive American cult of individualism.

  34. kristi
    kristi says:

    penelope, thank you for sharing your story. I also had PPD after my first baby at 18, but I was 3000 miles from home married to a young soldier who left for months at a time throughout that first year. I knew no one because we got there just weeks before the birth. No family from either side ever came and the military acted like I didn’t exist when my husband was gone.
    At first I just thought about hurting the baby…but eventually I acted on it. I hit him when he cried and never told a soul…to this day. He is grown now, but I carry the guilt and pain of what I did every day. I wonder how much damage did I do?
    Iknow now that it didn’t have to happen, but I was completely powerless to stop myself when I was always alone with him.
    Please take PPD seriously. There are many ugly and dangerous shades of what can happen between “I think about slamming his head into the wall” and what Andrea Yates did.
    I also thought the same thing about the wall in the beginning, and even mentioned it to family on the phone. It was a warning that shouldn’t have been ignored.

  35. brenna
    brenna says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy to know that I am not alone in this world. I have 2 children, a 3 year old and a 4 month old. This is my 2nd time with PPD. The 1st time round it took me 9 months to completly breakdown & get help. Atleast this time I got treatment right away. Again-thank you for sharing.

  36. Greg
    Greg says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with so many readers. We all have scary experiences that are so common in this mess of being human and yet these may be normal but the the first time for us. And we all feel alone. Perhaps one or even many new mothers will not feel alone because of what you shared. Open acknowledgment of this condition and encouragement to ask for help is a great gift.

    Thank you for sharing your authentic self, it makes your writing touching and alarmingly real, and therefore powerful.

  37. bea
    bea says:

    Thanks Penelope; this happened to me in 1995 with the birth of my second child. I have a wonderful family and yet so many folks have difficulty understanding mental illness. I was always seen as the strong one in the family; plowing through much including developing and keeping diabetes after my first pregnancy. I did not suffer PPD at all with my first but at 8 weeks post partum with my second it hit hard. Was treated only when I realized there was no insulin in my pump!!!!with a blood sugar of over 400 ouch. I was, am the provider in my family and unfortunately my husband just could not understand my illness (we are divorced but friends) and therefore, he nor really any one close to me was supportive. To top it off I did have to go back to work at 12 weeks, that coupled with no support absolutely DELAYED my recovery. Quite honestly to this day much of that is a blur; I simply remember a great deal of crying and pain. In the end, God pulled me through with his grace and by providing me with all the “tools”, medicne, physchiatrist, etc. Looking back I should have been hospitalized (I refused) but I would have least gotten some rest and taken time without pay, EVEN if I had to mortgage the house to do so. I feel as if I lost about 6 months of my beautiful sons life.

  38. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Thank you so much for this. I have been there, twice. Both post partums periods were such dark times in my life. I had NO HELP with my second and it was so much worse. I was suicidal and would often hurt myself. My husband does not even know the depths of the pain I felt. It all seemed so ironic, too. I had just had a baby and was supposed to be *joyous* and here I was feeling beyond miserable. I thank God that I got past that time in my life without hurting my children. There does need to be more press about this secretive, yet common issue. I hope that by the time I have a 3rd baby, I will have built up my diet & nutritional stores in my body enough and have enough knowledge and also have plans in place to have people help me, that it will be so much better. Again, thank you.

  39. KK
    KK says:

    you write good about how to plan for interviews, new jobs, new careers, education, college etc but one thing you sure failed at….planning all this in the circumstance of a baby.
    When you are planning for a baby it is imperative to make it the centerpoint of your planning just to reduce the impact of the blues of PPD. I understand that you like the challenges of being an entrepreneur, but having a child is also equally challenging. Planning your life to handle one challenge at a time is prudence. You could have taken up a safe/non-demanding job for may be 1-2 years while you could focus on yourself and the baby.

  40. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    If this was the post that you mentioned you were putting off writing then I’m not surprised! The end result, however, is yet another wonderful/brave/enlightening blog post.

  41. Grace Briones
    Grace Briones says:

    Penelope,

    Thanks very much for your candor. I think this topic should be your next book!

    I’m 28 years old working as an engineer for a major utility company in San Francisco. I live in super expensive San Francisco too. I just came back to work after being on Maternity Leave for 4 months. Anyway, the work/life balance is tough to acheive – I struggle with it. I’m a big fan of your blog and I read your new posts everyday (since 2004/2005). If you’re ever in San Francisco, please e-mail me; I’d love to treat you to lunch or dinner. Bring your sons. My husband works for an upscale hotel here and I may even be able to get you a free room. This invitation may be weird, but I would love to meet you. You were scheduled for a book tour in San Francisco and then it was rescheduled, but I may have missed the date when I went away on Maternity Leave.

    Cheers,

    Grace

  42. Eleanor
    Eleanor says:

    I greatly admire your courage on speaking out on this issue. There is definitely still a shortage in awareness about PPD. As I was nearing the end of my pregnancy I did some research online for meds that could decrease my risk for PPD, and I came across this site. It has information on what multivitamins, and herbal/mineral supplements pregnant women should be taking in order to have a healthy baby and also to fight off the risk of postpartum depression. Luckily, I had no complications, but I know a lot of women aren’t that lucky. I hope this helps some of you out. Thanks again!

  43. merlotmom
    merlotmom says:

    Wow, reading your story I wish that you and I could have helped each other out years ago. I had PPD before the celebs confessed their experiences and I felt so confused, scared and alone. I recently wrote an essay on my blog http://www.merlotmom.blogspot.com and on blogher about this very thing. Our stories are different but oh so similar. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Postpartum Depression Treatments
    Postpartum Depression Treatments says:

    Thanks for your candid portrayal. It’s one of the hardest things a woman goes through. Suddenly, the hormones that took 9 months to build in your body are flushed away in a matter of weeks and you feel like you’re completely losing your marbles.

    For me the key was planning date nights with my husband along with time away with my girlfriends. I just couldn’t be alone. Everytime I was by myself, those anxious thoughts crept up on me. It was really really hard. I’m so glad it’s passed on.

    Your blog post is great for those who don’t know what to expect.

  45. Brooke
    Brooke says:

    Reading this, it just occurred to me that I’ve been in denial about my PPD. My first daughter was conceived by rape and I remember wanting to just heave her out of my arms on several occasions. Once when she wouldn’t stop crying and go to sleep in her crib, I took my heavy book bag (I was taking courses at the local community college at the time) and slammed it against the side of the crib repeatedly until I couldn’t lift my arms anymore. It didn’t come into contact with her as she was inside the crib, but she was still crying when I was done. When I said this to my government-appointed therapist (a perk of being on Medicaid)… I really don’t remember her reaction. I only saw her every couple weeks as a part of Maternal Support Services, but I probably should have been committed. My mother said to watch what I say or else someone would do something about it.

    Another time, when my first daughter was 15 months old, I was on the phone speaking with my brother who was in the process of driving my aging mother 1500 miles to live with me. My fiance was in the other room ignoring my daughter and balking at my being on the phone for so long, but I had to talk to my brother, they were on their way and we were making plans. My daughter kept coming into the kitchen crying for me and my fiance wouldn’t take her, and I couldn’t hear my brother. At one point I went to pick her up and in anger I lifted her too quickly with my one arm and inadvertently threw her over my shoulder. She landed with a loud bang on the kitchen floor, lying on her back, her legs up against the oven door. It all happened so fast I can’t even tell you what I saw between the time I went to pick her up and the time I realized she was lying on the floor with this gigantic welt rising from her forehead. I screamed and threw my phone down and scooped her up, rocking her, and my fiance got pissed because he thought she had just fallen and took off out the door. I cannot tell you how scared I was in that moment that if anyone had seen what I had done, they would take her away from me. My fiance’s mother took us all to the ER and my daughter was fine, the physician said kids get bumped on the head all the time, but I was afraid to tell him what had actually happened. I didn’t know my own strength. I called my mother in uncontrollable tears and told her what happened and I still couldn’t even tell her how she ended up on the floor — the mechanics of going over my shoulder but ending up where she did. I just remember heaving her upwards to position her on my hip so she’d stop crying, and then suddenly her weight wasn’t on my arm anymore. It was a terrible, terrible feeling, and I still haven’t gotten any help.

    For some reason I haven’t been as angry since my second daughter was born. In fact, I’m rather pleasant and more patient with both of them, whereas I was so angry and short-fused with my first, probably as a result of the rape. I’m still depressed in many ways but I don’t want to throw them out the window.

    I don’t know the purpose of this… other than to say, I’ve been there, and you are brave for sharing it.

  46. Dale
    Dale says:

    Brooke, this is so typical of PPD. You had alot going on in association with your pregnancy and it’s a wonder you and your daughter made it through. I am glad you decided to share this because it happens all the time and the public doesn’t know what new mothers go through. I speak from personal experience.

    Thank you!

« Older CommentsNewer Comments »

Comments are closed.