Two years ago, I participated in this event and shared with you that I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety following the birth of my son, Michael, in July 2018. The Postpartum Resource Center of New York was instrumental in helping me recover, both through the direct support of individuals and groups, as well as in providing my friends and family with resources to help.
After my experience with postpartum depression and anxiety, I wasn't sure I'd be able to have another child. However, as time passed and I healed, we decided that for us, the benefits of adding to our family outweighed the fear of my dealing with another perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD).
The Postpartum Resource Center of NY helped me to understand that having a plan in place during pregnancy and for after birth was key in minimizing the chance or severity of struggling with another PMAD the second time around. I attended support groups while I was pregnant, and we arranged for family to come help us at home after bringing the baby home. I was able to ask for specific help with things like making meals and doing laundry, as well as being able to sleep for some chunks of time during the day to cope with the lack of sleep overnight.
I had Daniel on February 22, 2021. We were so fortunate to have another healthy baby. Labor and delivery were much easier and shorter this time, and I even felt fine spending the night alone in the hospital so Chris could go home to be with Michael. I had struggled with breastfeeding when I had Michael, and suffered a great deal of anxiety for a month as I continued to try in pain and without success. I decided ahead of time that I would try again with my second child, but that I'd stop if it was too difficult. The wonderful lactation consultant at the hospital spent time with me during my hospital stay, and as I struggled in pain again, I felt the familiar sensation of anxiety rising within me. She came up with a plan to help me try to make it work this time, but as the anxiety around managing breastfeeding, pumping, and supplementing with formula along with sleeping in 1-2 hour chunks increased, I knew I had to follow the plan I set up ahead of time and accept that it was okay not to breastfeed again.
Unfortunately, I fell into the category of 50-80% of women who experience a PMAD in a subsequent birth. I felt terrified. "Terrified of what?", friends and family asked. "Terrified of everything. Of life", I replied. I'd wake up in a state of panic, I'd cry frequently and seemingly without any triggers. I forced myself to smile in front of Michael, often turning my back or going into the bathroom when I couldn't stop the shaking or tears.
I kept putting one foot in front of the other and moving through days. As much as it was difficult for me to believe that the plan I set up in advance would work, I stuck to it. When I had no appetite, I ate and drank whatever didn't completely turn me off. My mom, Chris' parents, sister-in-law Alicia, and my closest friends were either there in person or checking in on me daily. They made meals, folded laundry, fed Daniel, and played with Michael. They texted me telling me I'd be okay. Chris pushed through the loss involved in not being able to experience a joyous welcoming home of our newborn son yet again, and was there for me. I continued seeing a nurse practitioner and began seeing a therapist who specializes in PMADs. The Motherhood Center, which is located in NYC but is operating virtually at this time, offers incredible support groups and has allowed me to connect specifically with other women experiencing a PMAD for a second time.
Daniel will be exactly 3 months old on the day of the SOS run. I have improved much faster than I did the first time I experienced a PMAD. I feel a strong connection with Daniel, and I can laugh and smile, and truly mean it. I still experience anxiety and depressed mood - the best way I have been able to describe it is like a monster that is constantly lurking in the background, creeping up slowly and sometimes taking me over. However, it is now more often in the background than it takes over, and instead I often get to experience a sense of joy and overwhelming love for my family. I can see that the plan I put in place has been key in helping me recover faster, and I have the Postpartum Resource Center of NY to thank for connecting me to all of the tools I needed to allow that to happen. When that monster creeps in, it's hard to believe that it will ever go away, but as The Postpartum Resource Center's founder Sonia has reminded me during several personal phone calls she's made to check in (yes, she's that amazing!), I just need to keep "taking care of me", following the plan, and it will.
If you're able to donate anything at all to the fundraiser, I'd greatly appreciate it - The Postpartum Resource Center of NY uses all funds to support people experience PMADs in so many ways. Even if you can't donate, I hope this will help increase awareness of PMADs and allow you to support friends and family - ask them if they're okay, and ask what, specifically, you can do to help.
The Sounds of Silence, Friends of the Postpartum Resource Center of New York is a fundraising committee of the PRCNY. All proceeds contributed support the essential programs and services of the Postpartum Resource Center of New York, Inc., a 501(c)(3) IRS recognized non-profit organization. Tax ID# 11-3449880.
Any payment by check should be made payable to: Postpartum Resource Center of New York.