featured post: you blissed-out moms are ruining futures

I used to volunteer with a youth group. And occasionally I would just be hanging out with the young women of this group and I would feel the need to lay some truth down. One day these young ladies were discussing another teenager who had a baby, and how cute the baby was and that they wanted to go buy this baby a cute outfit.

And after the danger of aneurysm had passed, I emphatically told these young ladies the following truths:

  • Babies will ruin your life
  • Babies may appear cute, but they are not
  • Babies will ruin your life

After this particular rant, talk, the teens seem rather shocked. Probably because I was the mother to an adorable 9-month old who I had raised since she was 5 days old in the NICU. She was my foster child, but she was my child in every other way. I loved her like nothing else in this world.

And yet I could honestly tell these young women those truths listed above. Because they are true. I further explained to my shocked teens that to really understand what it means to be a parent you have to imagine your current life ending. Over, done, no more. Not in the death sense, but in that nothing ever of your old life will remain the same. Certain elements may appear the same, but they are now seen through the lens of parenthood.

I also wanted to impart to them that yes I love my child, but that yes, it is okay to admit that being a parent can really suck sometimes. It’s not all kittens and rainbows and special Instagram photos. It’s diapers and crying and puking, good lord the puking! It’s days when you are convinced that your kid is a grade-A jerk.

And you know what makes being a mom even harder? Other Moms. Other Mom’s who feel the same way but don’t talk about it, like a comment Janelle, of Renegade Mothering, got from a reader:

“Lots of mum’s think this but no one actually says it.”

This is dangerous writes Janelle, in response to this comment:

Though many mothers experience the struggles you talk about, think and feel the same way, they have internalized the societal expectation that they SILENCE themselves for the good of their children…But check this out, my friend: How is dishonesty and lying and the perpetuation of misogynistic expectations GOOD for my kids?

Now throw in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) lens. After struggling to have a child for so long how many of you are afraid to ever voice frustration, concern, disappointment, or even anger about your children? Because we, of ALL people, we should just be SO GRATEFUL to finally have our child that nothing else matters. And society enforces this expectation.

I remember when Stella was a few months old I was just SO exhausted. We were still having to nurse every two hours due to her weight gain issues and unbeknownst to me at that time I was suffering from hypothyroidism, low thyroid function. I felt like walking death. I made a comment about it on Facebook, how I just needed the baby to sleep so I could sleep. And I got two comments from friends basically amounting to I should just be grateful after finally getting my miracle child.

What if I was PPD (postpartum depression)? What if that was my one way of reaching out for help? We live in an ever digitized and segmented society. Often our internet interactions are our only way of reaching out, venting, blowing off steam. And two “friends” just told me to choke it down and shut up. What if someone had instead said ‘hey, I know new Moms are always exhausted, but this seems like more than just that, have you checked in with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy?’ I don’t know if that would have helped me get my thyroid issues diagnosed faster, but it would have helped me feel better. To know that I wasn’t alone, and that someone cared about my well-being, not just my baby’s.

This trend is dangerous, we need to talk as Moms. I would say especially ALI Moms because it has been proven that ALI Moms have a much higher risk of PPD or PAD (post adoption depression). And we need to talk to show our kids that life isn’t always unicorns and lucky charms. That creates kids who don’t know what reality is, that don’t know how to handle sadness and anger and disappointment. And it creates daughters who grow up thinking they can’t talk about it, who become Moms. And that is terrifying.

Stella will always know how much I love her, how much I wanted her. But she will also hear the stories of how tired I was, how she wouldn’t nap except on me or her Dad for a month straight, how sometimes I was so tired I would just lay on the floor where she was playing and talk to her, and she would mimic me by laying down too (which is hilarious).

Infertility and Motherhood do not mean we cease to exist. Check out Janelle’s honest and inspiring post, there is so much more that she writes that is spot on and needed to be said:

You Blissed-Out Moms Are Ruining Futures

Comments here are closed so you can join in the conversation at Janelle’s blog, Renegade Mothering.

*Janelle, of Renegade Mother, retains all rights to her original content material. None of her material may be copied or otherwise transferred without her express permission.

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pail mmm 8-20-12 (2)Chandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.

news item: “study finds genetic prediction of postpartum depression”

I don’t discuss it much, but I went through a Very Bad Time after my first son was born. When he was about 4 months old, my husband realized that I was no longer doing things like leaving the house, showering, eating, sleeping, etc. He took me to the emergency room. A psychiatrist, social worker, mental health nurse doing home visits, support groups, and months of medication later and I was semi-human again.

Postpartum depression is FOR REAL. It is not the “baby blues” nor is it “regular” depression, something I have struggled with as well. Without going into much detail (as this is something I still struggle greatly with sharing) I was not myself. And on top of it all, I was debilitated with guilt and shame. How could I feel this way when I just won the lottery?

In hindsight, I had many risk factors for PPD all lined up neatly in a row. A history of anxiety and depression, suffering back to back miscarriages, infertility, an extremely stressful pregnancy, traumatic birth experience, lack of support after birth, and so on. However something I had never considered was whether I was genetically predisposed to it. Yesterday on Twitter I came across an article (thanks KeAnne, you re-tweeter you) that has me thinking…

Study Finds Genetic Prediction of Postpartum Depression

It is not clear what causes postpartum depression, a condition marked by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, exhaustion and anxiety that begins within four weeks of childbirth and can last weeks, several months or up to a year. An estimated 10 to 18 percent of all new mothers develop the condition, and the rate rises to 30 to 35 percent among women with previously diagnosed mood disorders.

The researchers later confirmed their findings in humans by looking for epigenetic changes to thousands of genes in blood samples from 52 pregnant women with mood disorders. The women were followed both during and after pregnancy to see who developed postpartum depression.

The researchers noticed that women who developed postpartum depression exhibited stronger epigenetic changes in those genes that are most responsive to estrogen, suggesting that these women are more sensitive to the hormone’s effects. Specifically, two genes were most highly correlated with the development of postpartum depression. TTC9B and HP1BP3 predicted with 85 percent certainty which women became ill.

“We were pretty surprised by how well the genes were correlated with postpartum depression,” Kaminsky says. “With more research, this could prove to be a powerful tool.”

Without going off on a tangent about study size, sample population, and commentary on methodology, I will say that this study is very interesting. It is general assumed (even by mental health professionals) that PPD can be attributed to “wacky hormones being all out of whack.”  More specifically, that a drop in estrogen levels affects mood significantly in some women, but not others. Although, that reason doesn’t answer the question of why this woman and not that one?

This study suggests that certain woman are more sensitive to changes in estrogen. What is interesting about this research is that it could potentially lead to a blood test performed in the third trimester to determine whether these changes are taking place and raise a potential red flag for the woman, her family, and her healthcare provider.  The lead researcher, Zachary Kaminsky, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins, hopes that this could help HCPs and mothers make informed decisions about treatment for depression during and after pregnancy, including the appropriate use of medication when weighed against other risks. In other words, if you knew you higher risk, you could better prepare for the possibility that it might be more likely to happen.

I have been chewing on this all morning, and will likely continue to for a while. I felt that I had no choice but to go on medication or risk not being able to parent my child. Curiously, I have not remotely had the same experience after the birth of my second son, despite life (and life events) being more stressful now. I attribute this to a a different pregnancy, and empowering birth, and experience as a mother, but also to being on the lookout for The Very Bad Time – Part 2. I have written here before that I lied to my HCP about feeling depressed during pregnancy. So as I read this over and over this morning, I can’t help thinking that normalizing mental health issues before and after pregnancy is a good thing. Yes, a blood test like this raises moral and ethical questions and could be used for all sorts of nefarious purposes. But what if it is used for good?

I’m chewing on it.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, an excellent resource is Postpartum Progress. Click on GET HELP for more information.

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What do you make of this research? Can you see this being added to the battery of available pregnancy testing?

If this test were available, would you choose to take it? Why or why not?

Prior to giving birth did you discuss mental health issues (relating to pregnancy and the postpartum period) with your healthcare provider? 

Did you have adequate emotional support (or access to resources) after bringing your child home? 

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SRBSarah is a former high school teacher, turned medical writer, turned SAHM to two boys. She enjoys beer, knitting, gardening, and cheese, and is striving to raise boys who can will do their own laundry and cooking. This urban mama parents with an ever-evolving mix of natural, attachment and RIE principles with a dash of by-the-seat-of-her-pants for good measure. She blogs about her life at a sausage party at Little Chicken Nuggets.

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