Friday, June 22, 2007

Postpartum Depression

I just wanted to note that I've decided to blog only on Fridays. So, consequently, I have a bit of a backlog to write about!

I got the book Hillbilly Gothic from Bookins this week. The subtitle is "a memoir of madness and motherhood." I am a "momoir" junkie and thus love basically any book that is about a woman's experience of motherhood, regardless of how closely it mirrors my own experience. I guess that is my way of saying that I didn't identify with her story that closely, but I truly enjoyed reading the book anyway. The memoir is set in Knoxville. I didn't mark any pages to go back to in it, which means I didn't get a lot of insights/things to ponder from it. I thought it was good though--funny at time, depressing at times. She definitely had a "birth is torture" attitude and then didn't seem to connect how her experiences contributed to her feelings toward her baby (this was the part I couldn't identify with--I *get* the feeling of being totally derailed by the reality of motherhood, but I don't really identify with seeing the baby as an inhuman "other" who is out to torture you! Like I said, I really like reading about other women's experiences though, even if I don't identify). She also didn't seem to realize how much she was overdoing it after the birth (such as going to wedding less than two weeks after giving birth and leaving the baby to be babysat--no wonder she was a weeping mess. She really need the "cocoon" of being with her baby, not immediately struggling back to being "independent"! Let me be clear, I felt a lot of empathy for her, not blame or like she "should" have done things differently).

Anyway, she ends up on the psych floor of the hospital and the book bounces between her experiences there, her family's history, and her experiences with her baby. It was an interesting read!

It prompted me to get another book off my shelf that has been languishing there since I last bought wholesale books to sell on Amazon: The Mother-to-Mother Postpartum Depression Support Book. I zipped through this one really quickly. It was interesting and caused me to dig out my journal following L's birth. In hindsight, I definitely think I experienced some elements of PPD (and, really, probably after Z as well). However, I'm not sure how much was actually a PPD experience and how much was my perfectionistic, overachieving, Type A style clashing with the reality of motherhood--for example, I really like positive feedback and it has been such a struggle for me to adjust to what is often a thankless and devalued (by society) role. I know cognitively that I need to value myself, etc. etc. & not need to seek outside validation, but it is hard for me to feel sort of socially/politically "invisible." I'm not explaining this well--I feel like I was groomed by my education to be an "agent of social change" & I often feel like I am not doing that (though then I remember a phrase from one of Peggy O'Mara's Mothering editorials that said, "see your mothering as a political act" & that helps. I just find I don't feel as *purposeful* in parenting as I used to feel in my professional life. This is a *personal* issue/struggle/lesson for me though & I need to stop seeking external answers!). I have always been very ambitious and achievement oriented and it has been hard to "mold" myself into the cracks around mothering little ones!

Back to the book, I was a little disappointed that many of the stories seemed lacking in detail--they got very familiar (as in, they all said very similar things and lacked specifics). Also, of course, I was saddened to see how many of the mothers in the stories stopped breastfeeding to take antidepressants--with the message being, "you have to take care of yourself and your baby will be better off not being breastfed if it helps you get well." This bothers me because it is NOT an either-or situation. You can overcome depression AND continue to breastfeed, they are not mutually exclusive! There are a number of antidepressants that are considered compatible with breastfeeding (thought the knee jerk response of the medical community is usually, "you have to wean--medication isn't safe for the baby."Ranty side note--and yet you CAN take antidepressants while pregnant and also morphine and any number of other powerful drugs during labor?? Hmm.)

I also got and read the summer issue of Attachment Parenting.

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