Category: postpartum

We Are the Face of Motherhood: a Series on Postpartum Depression by Mommy in Flats

Lion Fox & Co are privileged to welcome Jamie aka Mommy in Flats. Jamie is from the USA, the youngest of five, mother to four, and wife to one (although some aspects of the idea of a sister wife are appealing). Growing up, she was a quiet introvert who much preferred reading to running around outside or going places with lots of people. Not much has changed…oh wait four kids later and she doesn’t have time to sit still much less concentrate on a whole book. Jamie can be found, running around her house after a crazy two year old, snuggling a sleepy infant, or feeding two (always) hungry growing girls.

In honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness month, I am kicking off a series on real women’s experiences with mental health and motherhood. Every week day in May, a blogger or guest blogger will share her experience struggling with mental health and motherhood. Check in here to read their stories and for warning signs and advice on how to spot PPD, PPA, and other mental disorders. Please consider buying a PPD Awareness t-shirt, all proceeds go to help mothers in need. Have questions or need support please join the discussion on Facebook.

Did you know that Postpartum Depression affects more American women than breast cancer, than sexual assault, than eating disorders? Sure, you hear about the random woman who shows zero interest in her baby or maybe a woman who can’t get out of bed and thinks of self harm. But, what about the rest of us? What about the ones who continue to put their feet on the floor and carry on day after day. We’re here to tell you that the face of PPD is varied. A smile can mask symptoms of sadness, fear, and anxiety.

In the USA, Postpartum mental disorders affect roughly 20% of new mothers (the statistics are hard to pin down because many women go untreated or unreported- this also doesn’t take into account those suffering with general anxiety, bipolar, and other mood disorders). That’s approximately 4% more than women who will experience physical assault, 8% more than women who will experience breast cancer, and 10% more than women who will face an eating disorder each year. Yet, there is no ribbon for mental health disorders. No fundraisers. No one is walking to end depression or anxiety associated with motherhood. In fact, we’re afraid. Afraid to speak up and admit that our mental health is affected. Afraid how outsiders will perceive us. Afraid what our friends and family will think of us. Afraid of how our status as a good mother will change if we admit just how much we struggle to get through each day.

When someone has a physical ailment, a doctor examines her. She is diagnosed through a series of tests that can (hopefully) accurately pinpoint the cause of her distress. At that point, she can begin to treat it with traditional or alternative medicine.

When you have a mental disorder, there is no definitive diagnosis. Anxiety looks very much like mania or ADD. Depression can mean days spent in bed or it can simply be the inability to focus, irritability, and impatience. A lot of times, these disorders not only mimic each other but coincide. So, the person with bipolar may also suffer from anxiety. Or someone with OCD may also struggle with depression. This further confuses the diagnosis. Often, even when there is a history of episodes, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what one is struggling with. Is it bipolar or anxiety coupled with seasonal depression? Is it ADD or a mix of perfectionism and compulsivety?

If you can get a concrete diagnosis, that is only half the battle. Next, what do you do? There is no magic pill to fix depression or anxiety or even bipolar. It’s all a mix of trial and error. This may be why so many women go undiagnosed or untreated. The road to help is too hard.

I have had four babies. I have had at the very least heavy baby blues with four babies. I have sought help at least two times. Yet, it took a severe series of never ending panic attacks (if I had to describe hell on earth that would be a close description) for me to get real, reliable, steady professional help.

Why? I mentioned to my doctors my second time around that I was struggling badly. I was prescribed estrogen (which I never took since my mom had breast cancer, which puts me at risk) and an antidepressant that didn’t work along with some anti-anxiety pills. I don’t know how many times I visited my family doctor those first few months. Not once did she refer me to or suggest I might want to see a psychiatrist. I chugged on and got over it. Why didn’t she see my pain (pain I was desperately expressing to her time and again) and really treat it? She did (at my request) give me a list of therapists. I thought about calling one of them. In the end, I made it through without any successful treatment (I will be talking more about my experience next week). It makes me wonder why we don’t have more thorough mental care for new mothers (first time or sixth)?

Our goal with this campaign is to show you the many faces of motherhood, to raise awareness, and remove the stigma associated with post (and pre) partum mental health struggles. There is no one experience, no one sign, no one symptom that encompasses all women. We are the face of motherhood and we are here to share. We are here to support. And, we are here to show you that you are not alone. One in five new mothers in the USA will experience some sort of Postpartum mental health issue this year, and here are our faces.

{Think you or someone you know may be struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder? Please contact your health provider including your OBGYN or family doctor. Need more information? Visit PANDA for great information on maternal mental health disorders and more. If you fear that yourself or someone you love may be contemplating suicide or facing a mental health emergency, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 and/0r visit your nearest emergency department.}

#motherhoodunplugged

As you all know.. I have two gorgeous, lovable, delightful and amazing little boys that I am so lucky to call my own.

Lucas, the Lion. He is our wild, dramatic drama queen and has an absolute zest for life. From the minute he wakes up in the morning to when he goes to sleep at night, he just doesn’t STOP. He is our wild child, and doesn’t do anything by half, which includes misbehaving.

Flynn, the Fox. He is our quiet, sensitive and content baby boy who loves nothing more than to just sit with you and enjoy a cuddle. He is curious and eager, and loves exploring. Which for now is mostly my face, including sticking an occasional finger up my nose.

Now it ‘may’ come across that I have this gig called “Motherhood” worked out, and that it ‘may’ seem natural to me. Well here is the truth about what motherhood means to me.. Without a doubt it has been the most challenging and anxiety driven period of my life. Mostly caused by my lovely son Lucas, haha lets face it.. he has not been an easy child to contend with.  And seeing how I am laying down some truths, it has only been over the last few months where I finally feel comfortable enough with my capability of being a Mum.

When I was learned that I was pregnant with Lucas, fear stained me. I was 27 years old, so definitely old enough to be able to manage the new role. I was in a relationship, content with where my career was heading, and I thought I was a very mature and responsible person (haha what was I thinking). But shit.. the thought of pushing a child out of my vagina just did not sit right with me. I had never been around babies, never changed a nappy, never burped a baby, never taught how to hold them the correct way. I was way out of my depth!

The pregnancy was shithouse, I suffered terribly with heart burn, gall stones, and ligament pain which often left me unable to walk, sleep, and be sane?! And finally when it was time to give birth my body was like..nuh..not happening. I never experienced a contraction even after my waters had broken, so of course after 24 hours I was induced and finally gave birth to a squashed face little boy. The poor kid was stuck in my birth canal after pushing him out for three hours. His poor sweet nose resembled what you’d find on a troll doll. And my bottom has never been the same after that traumatic event. Hello hemorrhoids.

Lucas terrified me, I didn’t know what to do with him. I kept asking myself, “when am I going to feel that glorious hormone oxytocin?” Honestly, I did not know how to be his Mum. Chris though.. he was beyond amazing, he just got stuck in and did it. He has never been afraid to get his hands dirty, which funnily enough happened at Lucas infant photo shoot. Sharted right into his hand..

I never bathed Lucas, for fear of drowning him. I gave up breastfeeding, because I was not psychologically able too. Anxiety drove me to quit, which is my biggest regret because breastfeeding is something I have such passion for now. Thinking back, I probably had some sort of post-partum depression, but I wasn’t going to admit to that. I didn’t want to be stigmatized, judged and pitied.. Even though I was 27 years old, I was being so immature about it.  Especially now, that I have addressed my own mental health issues and it gave me my life back. People..please don’t be afraid to step up and ask for support. Talk to your GP!

I started to calm down a bit when Lucas became a toddler, but I was still a helicopter parent. Forever holding him back for fear of him hurting himself. Whenever he got sick I mollycoddled him. I was taking him to the doctors for the smallest things. I was just constantly under duress, my poor brain must have been damaged by the constant arousal of the neurons. I constantly doubted myself as a Mum.. But.. I need to remind myself that there was a few challenging factors that most (term used loosely) families don’t face. My husband was away.. ALOT! Most of Lucas life he was absent, which at the time was awful but we had to create a means to an end. We also live in a state which is thousands of kilometers away from family, so being able to reach out for support was impossible. And lastly I was not yet diagnosed with anxiety. Again.. speak with your GP!

Now falling pregnant with Flynn.. It felt different. I was calm about it. I felt at peace with the idea of having another baby. Plus lets face it, Lucas was due for a sibling.. as it had been three and a half years until we finally decided to fall pregnant. Even when there were hiccups along the way, I remained calm. I am actually quite proud of myself as I rarely experienced anxiety at all. When Flynn was born, he was born into a calm and relaxed environment.

Now as cliche as it sounds, I feel like my role as a Mother has been reborn.. A born again Mum. Now it sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. I have never felt more at ease with being a Mum. When there is crisis, no matter how small, I hold my shit together and get on with it. I no longer compare my children to others, I no longer do dr google, I don’t even have any baby/child related apps on my phone. I just go with my gut and it always leads me correctly.  I now gaze upon my children, and that sweet sweet love hormone just makes my heart strings sing. Now it has taken five years, but finally I am happy with my new role as a Mummy.

Much love

Melanie xx

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Good Riddance 2016

2016 – Definitely Not an Odyssey

Well, 2 days into the new year and it feels largely the same as 2016!

I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that by some kind of divine intervention, the coming of a new calendar year is somehow going change them (new year, new me). Or that it may  bring them some kind of different life. As though there is some kind of divine being in control of their fate, a ‘Sky Wizard‘ if you will!

I’m not about to start waxing lyrically about how I’m a pessimist, or a realist (of which I am neither) or any other kind of ‘ist’ really. If I was forced to choose one like my very existence relied upon it, I would be somewhere between optimist and opportunist.

For me, I strongly believe that we are in full control of our own destiny. We are our own Sky Wizard, and as such, it’s up to us to get about fixing the things we don’t like. And let me tell you, there was a lot about 2016 that was not to like. I’m sure everyone has their own list of reasons that 2016 could fuck right of and your probably damn well happy that it has!

However, on the other hand, there was a lot about 2016 that was to like, a lot!

2016 was a year of change for us in the Edge household. The first half was pretty mundane. Work was pretty straightforward, Mel was plowing through her pregnancy (and bags of chips) with flying colours. Lucas was getting in trouble looking under the toilet doors as school (to see people wee), and we were fostering rescued Greyhounds. By all accounts, most likely an average 6 months in an average Australian family of 3.

The second half of the year was where things got interesting.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of my (our?) year was finally getting to meet Flynn. You can read the story of his Birth here. He is an incredibly sweet, calm and easy going little boy. He has brought a sense of calm to us both that we didn’t know before, both Mel and I love him dearly. As we do both of our sons.

Mel had made the decision to take a full 12 months maternity leave after Flynn was born. A decision that had (and still has) my full support. When Lucas was 6 months old, Mel made the tough decision of returning to work. Even though things have worked out fine, has always felt that this was the wrong thing to do.

And you know what, even though money is tight, we shop at Aldi, and no longer eat meat, things have been great! Both boys are thriving, Mel is a lot more relaxed (most days) and she has an incredible bond with the boys that is completely different to mine.

I reckon anyone that claims to be a perfect father is fooling themselves, but not fooling anyone else. Parenting is hard work! It’s the hardest bloody thing I’ve ever done. And it’s a heck of a lot of responsibility. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way? It’s our job, to care for, nurture and mold this person into the kind of adult that will be able to function in an ever changing society. That’s some heavy shit right there! I’m flat out most days just getting myself to do the things that I need to to get through my day. Brush my teeth, shower before work, no sugar in my 4th cup of coffee for the day. And that’s before 8am.

For my brother and I, we grew up in a pretty typical household. Dad worked (a lot), Mum did the household stuff, and we went to school. Both my parents are fantastic. They sacrificed everything to bring us from the UK to Australia in 1989, so I’m not about to get on my soapbox about how my childhood was hard, and that it’s not my fault that I am the way I am. But it is you see. Yes, Dad was quite authoritative and at times dictatorial, but we were kids. Pushing the boundaries, testing the limits and creating chaos wherever we went.

Do I want to be that kind of parent to my boys? No. Am I? Sometimes, yes. And it’s not until it’s too late, that I realise that I am slipping back into learned habits.

I’m sure by now you’re thinking ‘Why the bloody hell is he banging on about his daddy and 1989 when this is supposed to be about 2016?”. Well, I do have a point, and I’m getting to that (Shush Mel, my stories are important, however meandering.)

Back in October, we had Lucas assessed by a pediatrician. A pediatrician that charged us $400 to have us and his teacher do all the work for her. (I’m definitely in the wrong line of work.) Long story short, she came to the conclusion that Lucas has symptoms that suggest he has ADHD. I say suggest because I’m still not convinced, or i could just be reluctant to label the boy. Nonetheless, he does behave different to other boys his age and has issues recognising boundaries and when Mum and Dad are feeling the pressure of a constant barrage of begging for the tiniest morsel of our own dinner. Coincidentally exactly the same as his.

He can be an incredibly sweet boy, and has an amazing zest for life that i think all adults forget. Life has a nasty habit of making us get way too serious about things, and we can sometimes forget to have a sense of humor.

And here it is, the point of the last few paragraphs is that coming out of 2016 and in to 2017, we’ve had a lot of changes in our household. Quite significant ones at that. Most notable is the obvious additional mouth to feed (good on you love, you’re boobs are doing a great job!), we’ve had a significant drop in income while an increase in expenses and lastly. We’re having to completely redesign the way we parent. And it is unquestionably more of a lesson for Mel and I than it is for Lucas.

So here I am, jumping on the bandwagon that is full of people that proudly chime “Fuck off 2016!”, as we launch into what I’m going to call “Fuck yes, 2017!”

That’s all for now. I’d love to hear what you have said goodbye to in 2016! I’m sure you’ve got your own stories to tell.

If I’m not back in 5 minutes. Just wait longer!