This Isn’t What I Expected – Overcoming Postpartum Depression (12)

What Happened to That Person I Used to Be?”:  Exploring Your Losses and Reclaiming Your Self-Esteem” …

–  “When people think about having babies, they usually think in terms of what will be gained:  a new baby who will carry on the family name and family traditions, a source of joy and pride, the embodiment of one’s hopes and dreams.  But along with the gains come some very real losses.”

–  “A mother of a new baby may lose:
     – spontaneity
     – self-confidence
     – independence
     – control
     – predictability
     – security
     – money
     – sleep
     – her physical shape
     – self-identity
     – her career
     – time for herself
     – intimacy
     – sexuality
     – the special attention of being pregnant
     – adult company
     – the dream of being a perfect mother
     – the dream of having a perfect baby”

–  “The sudden changes brought on by becoming a mother are illustrated in the case of Ellen, a nurse who was three months postpartum when she described what she called “the devastation of motherhood”:
     “I was so used to feeling in charge of my life.  Things made sense and were somewhat predictable.  Everything 
     had its place.  Then, I had a baby.  Suddenly, I find myself in this new place, with spit-up all over me.  I haven’t
     washed my hair in four days because I haven’t had five minutes to take a shower.  I’ve been eating fast food for 
     weeks, and I don’t have the nerve to ask my husband to do a load of laundry.  I haven’t left the house in days,
     and I can’t even remember when I got more than two hours of sleep in a row.  And I wonder why I feel so out of
     control?”
Ellen’s testimony demonstrates how rapidly things can fall apart.  Many losses – control, predictability, time for self, sleep, independence, physical shape, etc. – will combine to create a picture of frenzy and confusion.  Each loss represents an area of your life that held special meaning to you, and when you experience several losses at a time, you can be quickly and quite understandably overwhelmed.”

–  “It takes much more energy to stuff negative feelings inside than it does to confront them.  Only after you have brought negative feelings to light can you safely put them away in a place that will no longer impede your recovery.”

–  “You may discover that some losses cut more deeply than others.  If there are specific things you miss right now that weigh heavily on the definition you have of your self, you should consider adjusting your life to restore them.  Every woman must decide for herself what changes need to take priority.  Women who find the lack of private time most frustrating can take steps to get help in the house to free themselves for some time alone.  Women who are more affected by the change in their physical shape should try to get involved in an exercise program.”

–  “Most new mothers, regardless of their situation at home and regardless of whether or not they have PPD, will at some time struggle with the issue of working versus not working.  Even if one of the options is not available due to extenuating circumstances, women will still describe intermittent feelings of ambivalence about their decision.”

–  “We have not seen any single pattern of the effect of work on PPD.  Some women tell us that returning to work helped alleviate the symptoms of PPD.  Others have found that going to work seemed to make PPD worse, perhaps because work became just another place to fail or because of the stress of working, especially if it was out of necessity, not choice.”

–  “No matter how much you want to go back to work, or how ready you think you are, there is no doubt that the day you actually do it ranks right up there as one of the most traumatic adaptations of new motherhood.  It’s hard to do when you’ve been home for a year.  And it’s hard to do when you’ve been home for three weeks.  The conflict a woman endures when she must simultaneously care for her baby and herself doesn’t ever go away completely – we just get a little better at dealing with it.”

~ by cmb0414 on June 14, 2010.

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