Maternal Mental Health – Tell Your Story

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Maternal Mental Health – Tell Your Story

May 6, 2020

Now more than ever moms are isolated, many of us struggling with our mental health. It is HARD to be home with our kids without outside support. Today we will be sharing many stories of mothers who have experienced Postpartum Depression and/or Postpartum Anxiety. The statistics are high and we aim to decrease the occurrence of moms going without help through this challenging season of their lives. If you relate to any of today’s stories, or you are having feelings of your own that feel scary or upsetting, please reach out. Please speak with your family doctor. Please be honest with the people in your life you feel comfortable being honest with. Please allow yourself to get help. You deserve attention too, mama. We are so grateful to the moms who were so brave and willing to share their story with the world. It can be scary to be vulnerable and put everything out there, but these moms did it. For you. They, like us, wanted to help. We meet a lot of moms all of the time who are struggling with some level of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. We want to support you and we are here to provide support along with recommendations for other supports available in the community. We care about you and we are here to help. Please take a moment today to sign this petition that asks the UN to recognize World Maternal Mental Health Day. The larger the community globally, the more support we can get for our moms right here. Our hopes with this project were to open the floor for even ONE mom who saw ONE picture to step up and ask for the help she needs. Or ONE mom who saw ONE picture to recognize in herself that something doesn’t feel right and she should talk to someone about it. Or ONE mom who saw ONE picture to realize that there is #noshame is struggling with PPD/PPA and there is no better time than today to acknowledge it. If we helped ONE mom today, we did our job.
http://wmmhday.postpartum.net/call-on-the-un-to-recognize-world-maternal-mental-health-day/

I’ve been battling depression pretty much my entire life, and decided to get help 10 years ago. Things have been pretty stable since then until I had my baby.  Postpartum depression terrified me, but since I was on medication, I figured I should be ok.  I was wrong.  Due to miscommunication on my part I received the wrong dose while I was in the hospital.  About 4 days after she was born I had a panic attack out of nowhere. Between that, not enough medication, anxiety, hormone shifts, sleep deprivation and extreme exhaustion, a perfect

storm was created which sent me right back to the hospital.  I was absent from myself, my family and most importantly my baby. The doctors got me back on track and it took a few days to stabilize and for me to feel like myself again. Things have been great since then, but I can’t lie by saying the odd bad day doesn’t sneak up on me.


I have always had anxiety, but with able to cope using exercise. Fast forward to having daughter, I knew I was anxious. I told my doctor, but also told her it was manageable for now. It was because mini A and I walked and walked and walked. When I went back to work in April of 2019 it was hard. I couldn’t exercise as much as I used to. Work was exhausting and Mini didn’t sleep well. My anxiety was awful.  By August, I started counselling and felt better, but not enough. I hid my panic attacks from everyone. By December, I knew I had to go to my doctor and talk about medication. That was anxiety relieving in itself. 3 weeks after starting medication I was me again. I forgot how enjoyable life was and realized how hard I was working to keep calm. I am a better me, better mom and better wife thanks medication. It does get better. Ask for help. You are not alone.


Parenting one kid had its challenges and its learning curve. Parenting two kids became a totally different game. I didn’t realize how easy I had it with my first born. It was difficult for me to acknowledge that I was parenting two very different beings, and had to adapt to my new baby and his schedule in order to survive. Yet at the same time, I still had to parent the one I already had. Finding balance was challenging. We found our groove, somehow, and just as things started to feel normal, we were thrust into the midst of a global health pandemic. Suddenly, my way of coping had disappeared. My daily outings and socializing were gone. My oldest son’s daycare closed, and his support network was taken away in the blink of an eye.

Quarantine has now gone on for almost two months, and every day feels like Groundhog’s day. Every day, I go through the same set of questions: Am I doing enough? Are the kids fed and watered? Do I have a craft or activity to do with my 4-year-old? What new thing can we try today? I use every ounce of my precious energy to ensure their needs are met, while I’m often times barely meeting my own. Underneath it all, I’m moving through guilt and grief. Guilt about maximizing screen time in our house. Guilt about being short tempered with my kids. Guilt for not enjoying every moment of our time together. Guilt for feeling like I’m constantly touched out when my kids need reassurance from me. All the while, I’m grieving the loss of my freedom and normality. I’m grieving the complete lack of proper sleep. I’m grieving the loss of the “Me” from a year ago. I’m grieving the maternity leave I felt I was supposed to have. I’m grieving the world that has changed so rapidly in front of our eyes.

At the end of the day, I remind myself that we weren’t meant to do this parenting thing alone. We weren’t meant to live in a bubble of isolation. It’s not normal. But it’s okay if you’re barely getting by—basic survival is enough right now. You are enough. And your kids will be alright. Know that this won’t last forever. Your kids won’t always be this young and need you this much.

Reach out if you’re struggling, reach out to those around you, even virtually. You deserve support and attention, too.


My early experience of motherhood was nothing like I planned. Being a planner, this was a challenge for me. My pregnancy was high risk, something I had never anticipated. Despite the pregnancy progressing well, knowing at any point that could all change, left me with feelings of uncertainty and helplessness. I felt a range of emotions during this time, including guilt. Two of my closest friends had experienced infant loss around this same time and were going through their own painful situations. They were dealing with true grief, I thought, and therefore I should ‘just be grateful’ for my pregnancy and ‘how good I had it’. Part of me knew even then that we all have our own experiences, challenges, and emotions, and they are all valid.

Being a new mother was an overwhelming experience for me, in spite of the desire I had to be a mom and the gratitude I felt for my new family. I had to have a scheduled c-section at 37 weeks (also not part of my initial ‘plan’). My daughter was small but healthy and didn’t have to go to the NICU. When we left the hospital she was not nursing, we were battling with tedious finger feeds. I thought as the days went on this would change and she would begin to nurse, but that was not so. Trying to nurse (also in my ‘plan’) was incredibly exhausting, it was a mental battle that wore me out to the core and added stress which no one in our home needed. To add to the list of worries, our doc was concerned about baby’s growth; she was in the 3rd percentile. This validated the close monitoring of her feeding that had taken over my reality. Looking back now, I realize that these events- a high risk pregnancy and early struggles with growth and feeding led me into survival mode. My nervous system was constantly flooded. I became hyper-focused on my daughter’s feeding patterns, growth levels and became very rigid in our routines and schedule. I felt exhausted and overwhelmed a lot of the time; I was not my best self.

I did find ways to keep part of my ‘plan’, despite most things not happening the way I hoped. I became part of a community of women known as Exclusive Pumpers (EP’ers) who provide breastmilk to their baby strictly through pumping. These women changed my outlook on my breastfeeding journey and I was able to provide my daughter with milk this way for almost 6 months. EP’ing was a learning curve, and a lot of extra work, but it provided me with the control that I really desperately needed at that time.

I was blindsided in many ways by my experience, and if you were too, you’re not alone! Whatever it is that you’re going through, know that it doesn’t have to last. Reach out for help, whether its seeing a professional of any sort (counselling helped me immensely – yay social work!) or just talking to a family member of friend. There are many things that we don’t have control over, or that aren’t in our plan, but we can choose to make small steps in order to help ourselves, and in turn, our families.  ❤️


In 2015 I got married to my best friend and high school sweet heart. I always had this plan in my head that once I got married we would have a baby right away. Well for us getting pregnant was not super easy. After our wedding we tried to conceive for over a year and a half. I remember feeling inadequate, I felt like a failure, I felt frustrated because everything the doctors told us said that we are fine and this will eventually happen. Well it finally did happen for us and we had our first beautiful baby girl in September 2017. Once we had her I was yes over the moon excited but I also had feelings of missing out on my old life. Being able to go out whenever we wanted to, watching a movie uninterrupted, going to sleep when I wanted etc. Our lives were being run by our baby and her schedule.
My husband and I contemplated having another child. It was difficult raising one and still finding moments of freedom, the things we enjoyed doing. I did however have a surprise pregnancy at the end of 2018.
In February 2019 we lost our 2nd pregnancy and I was devastated. It didnt take long to get pregnant again though and as soon and I got pregnant I suddenly felt panicky again. Did we make a mistake? Can we really raise 2 babies? I decided that I wanted to be more active this time with two kids, take them places,meet new moms, let my toddler make new friends. Then Covid-19 happened and all my plans went put the window. Here we are today, most days are really good but I still miss aspects of my old life before kids, dinner dates with my hubby, going to the movies, talking with an adult uninterrupted and I miss going places and sharing other experiences with my kids as well. I know this is not forever. Some day we will be able to do more than just hang out in the backyard. And someday my kids are going to be old enough that my husband and I will get some of the freedoms back that we sacrificed to have kids. It’s ok to miss these freedoms and it’s ok to feel stuck somedays it doesnt make you a bad mom. Taking it one day at a time and enjoying this chapter of our life has helped me see that where I am today is exactly where I am supposed to be.


It wasn’t until a few months before my daughter turned two that I started to enjoy being a mom. I struggled from the very beginning. Everyone tells you how amazing it is to become a mom, and how you’ll experience love you’ve never felt before. Well, I didn’t feel that. Of course I loved my daughter. So much! But I never felt the “special bond” that everyone talks about. Yes, I had the hormones and I would struggle with my feelings, but it seemed to be never ending and I felt it was a little more than just hormones. I was anxious, I could never relax. I always wondered why it was so hard for me to be a mom, and why I wasn’t enjoying the time at home with my daughter.

I decided to be very open about my feelings because I felt that there must be other moms out there who felt the same way I did. I wanted others to know that it’s ok to not be ok. Rather than having the idea that being a mom is the most amazing thing ever. Of course it is, in many ways. But when you don’t feel that postpartum, you may think something is wrong with you. Why can’t I bond with my baby? Why am I so anxious? Why can’t I just chill out and enjoy my daughter, and everything she is experiencing and learning? It is ok to feel this, nothing is wrong with that! It’s also ok to ask for help and it is never too late to do so.

I had prepared myself to discuss my feelings and my struggles with my doctor at my daughters 6 month appointment. However, I ended up seeing a resident at the appointment and I was completely thrown off. I had been seeing my doctor for 30 years. She delivered me, she delivered my daughter. I’m comfortable talking to her about absolutely anything! But a stranger, the resident doctor that I just met?? I was not comfortable talking to her about my struggles. I wish I would have been stronger at this time, I wish I could have spoken up.

Instead, I kept quiet, I held my issues inside and I continued to struggle for over a year. Things got a little easier for me when I returned to work, after being home for the full year of maternity leave. I felt as though maternity leave was the hardest job I had ever worked in my life. And the lowest paying….. Returning to work gave me a bit of a pep in my step. Our daughter has an absolutely amazing daycare provider and I knew she was being taken care of so well. To be completely honest, I felt she was much better off there than at home with me. Also, I was able to work and enjoy spending time with my coworkers to take my mind off the “mom stuff” a little bit.

At that time, I felt like the stay at home mom role just wasn’t me. I thought I was just meant to be at work. I started looking forward to the time with my daughter, rather than looking forward to the time I got away. But something still wasn’t right. I was still very anxious about everything and always wondered why I couldn’t just chill out and live in the moment.

When our daughter was about 1.5 years old, I started talking to a counsellor. At first, I felt it was helping. But in the end, I couldn’t get past the anxiety and I couldn’t change my feelings and struggles about being a mom.

Over time I started to become depressed. Luckily I was able to realize this myself. I could cry nearly every night when I went to bed. I would read books to distract myself, but it didn’t always work. When I would stop to think about this, I would think about how great my life was. I have the most amazing husband and an absolutely wonderful daughter. My husband and I both have great families. We are lucky to have most of our family members living close by, and we love spending time with them. We recently built our forever home and are so happy with it. We both have secure jobs and are lucky to work for amazing employers who truly care and actually appreciate what we do. We are healthy and we don’t have financial stress. We have not had to get up with our daughter during the night since before she was 6 months old. So we also manage to get our rest and some alone time. Life on paper looked perfect! But I still wasn’t happy, which made me feel frustrated and guilty. Once I realized this, and felt I had no “excuses” or “reasons” for my unhappiness, I decided I should speak up.

I talked to my doctor and, after some discussion, we talked about the option of trying medication. The way she explained postpartum feelings, thoughts, and anxiety, and how the medication works to treat the issues, it made perfect sense. I felt as though what she was explaining was exactly what was happening in my mind. I decided to give the medication a try and I am so happy I did. It’s not something that would work for everyone, but it has helped me.

I feel the best way to explain it is that, before the medication, I felt like I was watching our daughters life from outside a bubble. I was in my head too much and couldn’t just be with her in the moment, which is what I had always wanted. After some time on my medication, I finally felt like I was living in the moment with her. I was right there, experiencing with her and enjoying everything she did. Finally!!! I also noticed that I was gaining some control over my anxiety. I would still struggle with some thoughts at times. But I would be able to let the thoughts pass, or accept certain things, rather than get stuck on them and make up crazy scenarios in my mind.

On the day I came home from a follow up appointment with my doctor, I was telling my husband about it, and explaining how I felt different in a positive way. His response was, “I have definitely noticed a difference!” This took me by surprise. I didn’t realize that others would notice any change in me. I felt it was more internal. But this thought was silly. Of course others notice. The best part was, I believe our daughter noticed. We were away on vacation for 5 days, without our daughter, roughly two months before her second birthday. The day we returned, I picked her up from daycare and she was chatting away on the drive home. Then after a moment of silence she said, “Mommy so happy.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, so I asked if that’s what she said and she responded with, “Yeah. And I so happy.” This melted my heart. I knew in that moment that I had made the right decision.

Our daughter will be 4 this month and we now have a 6 month old son. I made a plan with my doctor, and continued on medication throughout my second pregnancy. I am happy to say that the experience the second time around was completely different, in a good way. I experienced that special bond that everyone talks about. My mental health is in a great place, and my son just melts my heart. Watching my daughter interact with him, and seeing the love between them is so wonderful. She is such and amazing big sister. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Obviously there’s still tough days, but we always make it through.

Moms, you need to know that it is ok to not be ok. It is okay to ask for help and it is NEVER too late to ask for help.


“I am not a mother who will ever have it all together. There was a time when I might have tried to look like I did, but it gets exhausting pretending you know what you’re doing all the time. I don’t, I never did, and never will. I constantly question what I’m doing as a parent, and whether I am a good mom. One day, I figured it out: it’s okay not to be okay. Things started to change when I found out a lot of what I was feeling was anxiety related. I didn’t know I had anxiety until my son was around two, but looking back, I know I have struggled with it most of my adult life. At this time, I also discovered that if I talk about it, most will not look at me with judgement. Most people understand. I can talk about how I feel with friends or family, or on Social Media, and feel as though I’m in a space safe doing it. Mental health matters, and talking about what we are going through – be it good or bad – is what helps me get through it. I am grateful for my mom community, and I am grateful that I can admit my struggles without worrying that somebody will think I am a bad mom or attention seeking. We are in this together, and should be able to discuss what we are feeling – especially now in this time of social distancing. We got this.”


My husband and I have two amazing boys. We thought we were pregnant again when my youngest was 9 months old but it was a false alarm. We started trying actively after that and we ended up getting pregnant in June of last year, almost a full year of actively trying. We were so excited to welcome our little one what would have been this coming March but I ended up having two subchorionic hematoma’s and had bleeding off and on throughout the first trimester. It was the scariest thing ever seeing blood. We ended up having an emergency ultrasound at 10 weeks and everything looked fine with the baby and we saw the heartbeat. A few weeks later when I would’ve been 13.5 weeks pregnant I started bleeding pretty heavily and went for another emergency ultrasound but this time the ultrasound tech couldn’t find a heartbeat. The baby stopped growing at 10 weeks 3 days. I had had what they called a “missed miscarriage”. My husband doesn’t cry often but him and I were both crying in that room. The drive home was absolutely horrible and very silent. I ended up having to go to the emergency room a few days later with complications with the miscarriage. It was an absolutely horrible experience. I definitely cried for many days and nights after the loss of our baby. What they don’t tell you about miscarriage is that it’s not always obvious. Sometimes it’s silent. I honestly felt like it was my fault even though I knew it wasn’t. I had done everything right and this still happened to me. I went through all the stages of grief.
1. Denial and Isolation: definitely isolated myself from the world for a while because every time I would look on tv I’d see a pregnancy or baby ad, someone on social media was announcing their baby or I’d see reminders throughout the house such as the onesie we bought to take our announcement photo.
2. Anger: boy was I angry! Everyone seemed to be getting pregnant but me and those that were pregnant I really didn’t feel deserved to have a baby. I was angry that my baby was taken from me when I did everything in my power to keep it healthy and safe. Angry that I lost out on all those future moments with it and that I would never get those back.
3. Bargaining: I tried talking to God and saying if you give me my baby back I’ll be a better mom, I’ll exercise more, I’ll make better food choices, etc…I was so desperate to have my baby back I was willing to give/do anything. I remember rocking my youngest to sleep and just bawling. My husband came to check on me and I was so upset I screamed “I just want my baby back!”
4. Depression: I cried a lot. Every night was especially super hard because once my boys were asleep and the house was quiet it was just me alone with no distractions with my thoughts and feelings.
5. Acceptance: This took a while but one day while my boys and I were at the park I saw a yellow butterfly and it kept following me. Might sound silly but to me that was my baby coming to tell me he/she was okay. It gave me peace.
We were fortunate enough that a few months after losing our little one we ended up getting pregnant again. I’m currently in my third trimester and baby is due in July! There’s no time frame to grieve and no matter how many weeks or months pregnant you were, your baby was a baby and its life mattered.


When you have a newborn baby, mental illness can sneak up on you without you even realizing it. You’re so sleep deprived, hormonal, and overwhelmed with all these new changes of being a Mom, that you can barely comprehend if what you are thinking is normal or not. You’re always thinking about whether you’re doing the right thing for your baby and there’s always some underlying guilt or worry about something you think you should or shouldn’t be doing. The thoughts do not end and they come at you so fast in all hours of the day and night. You have times where you get so angry over the littlest things and your thoughts just keep evolving into the worst case scenarios. It becomes physical. Your throat tightens, your stomach churns, tears come to the surface of your eyes. You eventually start to cope by talking yourself down, maybe eating something, hopefully talking to someone, or just get some asleep. The cycle repeats until you just get used to living with these thoughts. They’re always in the background. You believe that this is what being a Mom feels like. However you might keep spiralling until you’re not able to pull yourself out of this dark place. You start worrying about things that are not likely to happen and you’re not able to just talk yourself out of it anymore. You get caught in a vortex of deep worry, overwhelm, and depression. It is so easy to fall into this place without even realizing it. Finding ways to cope like talking to someone, taking time for yourself and maybe taking medications is so important. Talk to your family and friends. You may not even know what you need but people who love you can help realize if you need extra help. And remember it does get easier. This is just a season. As my baby got older, I found I didn’t obsess about her milestones and sleep schedule as much. These little things don’t feel so big anymore. I’ve got better at giving myself time and strategies to take care of myself. This allows me to enjoy my child and role as a Mom. Please reach out. I’m here to listen without judgment.


Postpartum depression is a sneaky one. While I understood I was at risk due to a history of depression, I never thought it would happen to me. Having a baby is the happiest moment of your life, right? I gave birth to my son at 40 weeks 6 days on September 26th, 2018. The birth was 32 hours in length and extremely difficult as he was too large to fit in my pelvis. After being in excruciating pain with failed epidurals and a failed spinal, I was wheeled in for an emergency c-section. All the plans of a happy, calm birth were swapped with fear, uncertainty, and worry. The surgery was rough and I felt a lot of pain. The surgeon was having difficulty getting my baby out. Finally, at 2:20pm, my son was born at 10lbs 6 oz. I was put under to complete the surgery. Breastfeeding was difficult. My son had a severe tongue tie and I was struggling to produce at first due to the trauma. I was so determined to breastfeed. It’s what I need to do for my baby. After a month of struggling to breastfeed, latch and even pump, he wasn’t gaining enough weight. He was colicky and inconsolable and seemed so uncomfortable. I cried and cried over how disappointed I was in myself. How could a mother not figure this out? It should be easy. My husband saw me struggling and said what I could never bear to say outloud, “it’s ok not breastfeed. That’s what formula is for”. 6 weeks in, I stopped and tried formula. With the help of a speech language pathologist, we resolved eating issues with getting his tongue tie clipped and testing different bottles and formulas. The colic settled. He gained weight. I loved my son. But what was wrong? I still felt horrible. I felt like a bad mom. I was sad and angry. I missed my old self. I wanted to go back to the hospital, and find myself because she was still there. This is not who I am, I thought. I had troubles sleeping; troubles completely unrelated to my baby. I would be scared to fall asleep because I was worried he’d wake up. I was worried he wasn’t breathing. Was he hot? Too cold? Were the sheets on tight enough? Is he on his back? I couldn’t stop. The intrusive thoughts became stronger and the stronger they became, the more it scared me. I’d wake up from a sound sleep, panicking, pushing my husband off the bed, looking for our baby because I thought I had brought him to bed and fell asleep by accident, holding him. The anger got worse. I mourned the career I was missing out on. I mourned my freedom, financial and time. I missed my friends. I missed my old body. I missed me. Just prior to being 12 weeks postpartum, I called out for help. I contacted the Maternal Mental Health department and got the help I needed. 5 months postpartum, I went on medication. With the support of my family, friends, and maternal health support staff, I was able to come to terms with my birth trauma and find new coping skills to help me on my healing journey. I am now 19 months postpartum and I’m here to tell you, it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to need help. It’s ok to mourn what you feel you have lost. It’s ok to mourn the planned birth you never got. It’s ok to not breastfeed. Your healing will ebb and flow and there is no time limit on this journey. You are important and loved. You are a good mom and you deserve to be happy and healthy. You are not alone.


When I first found out I was expecting our little girl, I was so excited! My ‘friends’ were too..

“We will have to throw a baby shower.”

“I can’t wait to see her.”

“The moment she’s born I’m racing to the hospital to see you.”

She’s 7 months old and they have not once made an appearance in her life, let alone 3 months before she was born.

I found myself to be the less desired friend, the friend who was less fun, the young “MOM” friend.

Being a mom, especially a first time mom, is HARD. It’s isolating, its exhausting, its scary.

I’ve struggled to come to terms with the loss of long time friends. Friends I have went to school with.. Friends I’ve celebrated birthdays and celebrations with… Friends I trusted with the secrecy of my pregnancy before the rest of the world knew..

With loss, I have developed my own friendship within myself, with my daughter, and with my family. I have been able to step out of my comfort zone and reach out, make new friends, make friends with old distant high school friends that I’ve never had relations with before, join mom groups and classes, and much more. For those who know me, THIS WAS HARD. I am an introvert. I’m shy. I don’t make friends well or often. It’s hard for me to open up.

I joined groups, I cried on my way to and from groups. Both happy cries and sad cries.. I miss my old friends but i’m dang THANKFUL for the new ones I have made. People who understand, who are in the same boat, who I can relate too.. It’s more manageable when I surround myself with people to talk to, to make friendships with and people to share my daughters milestones with and to watch her grow along side me. I am not alone, you are not alone.

I am forever grateful for mommy groups, organized classes, FRIENDS, and most importantly family.

Build yourself up, support yourself, provide yourself love, but most importantly BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND. ❤️


This was my 2nd baby, and we had been trying for awhile and when I found out I was pregnant I was so excited! That quickly changed. I kept hearing of pregnancy loss and it scared me so much. I stopped eating, sleeping, and talking. I avoided people and retreated. Finally a friend phoned and asked me if I was ok. She sensed something was wrong and thought she’d reach out. We talked for an hour and she shared her story of loss, and her rainbow baby, how she dealt with her fear and suggested I speak to someone. I reached out to a counsellor that specialized in pre and post natal support. It was the best thing. She suggested I speak to my doctor about medication, and I was so happy I did. Asking for help, reaching out to talk to someone about my fears, helped me deal with anxiety hidden from my first pregnancy. Fears I had that I hadn’t dealt with surfaced and I was able to address them. The medication helped me to regulate, got me eating and sleeping again, and improved my relationships. There are soo many women afraid to get help because they feel like they are weak, or a failure, I know I felt that way! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we all need a little assistance from time to time.. It won’t be forever and even if it is, you are not weak or a failure,  you are smart, brave and the best mom ever for putting yourself first and becoming the best person to raise those beautiful babies! I still struggle everyday, especially giving birth during a worldeide pandemic, but I know to ask for help and accept it when it’s offered. My friend saved me, and I hope sharing my experience will help someone the way she helped me. ❤️


In 2016 I became a mom and suffered silently with post-partem depression and post-partum anxiety. I was constantly overthinking things and playing different worst case scenarios over and over in my head. My son would sleep but I never could, I was always terrified something was going to happen to him or paranoid that I should be cleaning my house or doing laundry. I was terrified of leaving the house alone with him or going out in public. I would panic and have anxiety attacks if he whimpered or cried at the grocery store. What if he wouldn’t stop? Would these strangers judge me as a parent if I couldn’t control my child? I would snap at those around me that tried to tell me I was overreacting and that I was fine because I certainly didn’t feel fine. I felt like I was failing as a mother because I couldn’t handle normal, everyday situations. When my son was approximately 6 months old I finally decided to consult my family doctor and see if he could help. I do have a history of depression and had been on anti-depressants when I was younger, but didn’t go well. I was apprehensive to try medication to say the least. I ended up on anti-anxiety/anti-depressants and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I completely turned around. I was able to stop overthinking and go out with my son without completely falling apart. We even joined swimming lessons, something I never could have done before. I’m glad I finally took the plunge and it changed my life for the better. Don’t ever be afraid to ask to help. It’s okay

not to be okay.


Maternal mental illness is different for every mom, and every baby. My first experience with this started six weeks after the birth of my first child. We began to struggle with breastfeeding. I felt like a failure – I could not feed my child – it was my one job to do. This was supposed to be natural? Why was this happening? Appointment after appointment, specialist after specialist, with no improvements, no answers. I would wake up in the morning – paralyzed with anxiety. The thought of the day ahead of me with feeding, and getting my baby to sleep was like a heavy weight on me. Tears streamed down my face throughout the day, I couldn’t concentrate. We tried a bottle. We tried a soother. Then another 5-7 bottle types with still no success. It seemed that others would have slightly more success than me. Why does my baby hate me? Why does he take the bottle better from other people? Decided I wasn’t coping. Went to a postpartum support group. Again – anxious thoughts running through my head – why did no one else have feeding issues? Why wasn’t my son sitting up? Why wasn’t my baby easy to get to sleep? Decided this wasn’t working. Went to more specialists. Went on different diets to try to help with feeds. Lost a ton of weight. Spoke to my doctor. I was shrugged off. “First time mom”, “paranoid”, “your baby is fine”. Left family doctor, and went to someone else. Poured my eyes out with tears. Finally, I was validated. I was not coping. This was not normal. Postpartum depression and anxiety – finally diagnosed. I started medications. The fog started to lift even with continued feeding issues. I was able to start counselling through onlinetherapy.ca. I learned to start making small goals, I was feeling more accomplished. At four months postpartum I let go of breastfeeding. I let go of pumping. Enough was enough, I needed to get better. Still struggled through finding the right fit for a bottle. Started attending KCC (child development program). They validated my concerns. My baby was struggling with feeding, as well as development. Seven months postpartum we found our answer. After 13 specialists, someone listened. She agreed something wasn’t right. It wasn’t just me being a “paranoid first-time mom”. They did an MRI on my little boy. The very same evening – we got the results. My son had suffered a stroke in utero/at delivery. Everything made sense! The feeding issues, the delays in development. Although this is not something you would want to hear about your child – this was a turning point. I was right all along. I should have trusted my mothering instincts. We started on some medication for reflux at this point, and feeds improved. He began to take the bottle best from me. He was more content; he was easier to settle to bed. I was finally – after seven months of struggling, enjoying being a mom. We went to our original doctor for a checkup at nine months. She saw the results of the MRI and laughed “wow that’s quite something”. No apologies. We left. We decided to find a new doctor to give us the care we needed, and the support I needed with my mental health. This experience was dark. It was lonely. It was frustrating. But it made me who I am. It made me passionate to help others with their journeys with mental health, and their journey with feeding. My second baby was a completely different experience. He was easy going. Breastfed well (although only in the dark – haha), was easy to settle to sleep. I had some mild anxiety at times, but overall, I managed well. I was able to complete my course to become a lactation consultant during this maternity leave. With my last babies I had twins! This was another whole experience in itself. I thought I was coping. I didn’t have the constant crying, and paralyzing anxiety. They were fairly easy going, and were my best breast feeders yet. But something wasn’t right this time. I was irritable. I felt angry. I felt rage. I didn’t realize until they were a year old that this wasn’t normal. I assumed this was a “mom of four” thing. I ended up going on some medication at this point – a different type that was more compatible with breastfeeding. The results were life changing. I was enjoying being a mother more than I ever had on this medication. My relationships with my children and my husband grew even stronger. I realized when on this medication – that my whole life, and capabilities were so much more. I likely had been struggling with anxiety/depression for a lot of my life and didn’t realize it. Fast forward 3 years. Things are stable. I’m on a great mix of medications. I need these to function at this point in my life. And that is okay. I am enjoying parenting – even amidst a pandemic. I get to spread my passion in my job – as a postpartum nurse, and lactation consultant. It truly does not feel like a job to me. It feels like my purpose. I want to help others navigate this dark time. You are not alone; you WILL get better. Number one step – acceptance. If you aren’t listened to, advocate for yourself, find someone who will listen. You got this mama. Just remember maternal mental illness looks different with each person, and each pregnancy/postpartum. Be kind to yourself.

 


Where can you go/who can you talk to for help?

Here is a list I have complied, if you have others please add them into the comments below

Your Family Doctor

Mental Health and Addition Services – Maternal Mental Health – 306-655-7777

Mobile Crisis – (306) 933-6200

Healthline – 811

Canadian Mental Health Association Saskatoon  306-270-3648.

Calm After the Stork 306-954-3411

Empty Arms (306) 244-5677

Lumica Virtual Healthcare app/service

Maternal Depression Online www.onlinetherapyuser.ca

Mothers Empowering Mothers Inc: Saskatoon’s Postpartum Support Group 306-491-4382

SK MotherFirst Maternal Mental Health Strategy 306-537-5636

PSI International 1.800.944.4PPD

 

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