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daugher's 1 yr. old--is it normal to still have postpartum issues?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
hi--my daughter, rachel, is a year old. When I was born, 33 years ago, my mother had post partum psychosis--she was institurionalized for six weeks--and heavily medicated for at least 6 months afterward--so I was nervous about PPD when I had my daughter. Sure enough, I suffered from uncontrollabe anxiety, confusion, and scary thoughts. I found a therapist immediately. She has helped me alot. I feel sane and alot more competant now--but I still seel odd. I feel like I'm exhuasted all the time. I feel confused alot--my mind doesnt' seem to work very well. Rachel sleeps in the bed with us, and it can be a strain. Some nights when she wakes up to nurse like 5 times, I feel really angry at her, and just want to ignore her. I just would like soemone to tell me that this is normal--and maybe some advice--thank you !---karen
post #2 of 31
Well, in my case I believe that it was a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. After the birth of my first I had no energy or motivation, and would find myself getting irritated with the baby for just being a baby (in other words, for needing me.) I was really in a slump. Part of it was that I was not at all prepared for motherhood -- the pregnany has not been planned -- and I was having a hard time transitioning from being a hip and urban and social to being a SAHM in a small town, from being totally self-absorbed to having another being totally dependant on me. I also had a emotionally and physically traumatic birth, but because there were no complications and the baby was healthy, I felt like people would think I was a whiner, and I wasn't sure that I wasn't. I was also not comfortable in our living situation, and was in a transitional phase with my husband as well.

I believe that if I had had an empowered birth where I was treated with respect, if I was secure in my role as mother, in my relationships, and in my living situation, the openness that is birth would have been ecstasy. Instead, it made me even more vulnerable to all this negativity that already existed.

Anyway. I guess what I want to say is that while I don't believe it is normal to be so out of it after the birth of a baby, I think that it is sometimes a necessary defense mechanism, do you know what I mean? And I think that it is quite common in our society, so at least you are not alone. I encourage you to not be ashamed or guilty, and to not hide it, because that will slow your recovery. Good for you for seeking help!

The only other advice I have is to just take it one day -- one moment, really -- at a time. If you feel yourself starting to lose it, give yourself a time out. Meditate. Do yoga, get in touch with your body. Be kind to yourself, as in, don't sit there beating yourself up about your bad attitude. Pamper yourself as much as you can. Allow yourself to love you. Get help as much as you can. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, and avoid or ban people from your life that bring you down. It will get better.
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 

thank you!

thank you so much for taking the time to write and for caring. You're right about the need to take time for yourself. Sometimes I feel like Rachel eats up all my time and I don't have anything just for myself--I even take her to the bathroom with me. Today for the first time, I did yoga in the morning for 15 minutes while semi-ignoring her. She cried and wanted my attention--but I told her that I was taking 15 minutes to do yoga and that we would play after I was done. It was like an epiphany, like, "Oh yeah, I'M in charge here and if I really want to do something, I can. " as opposed to spending my whole day entertianing her. It felt good. It was an exercise in setting a limit. well--thanks for the advice!!--karen
post #4 of 31
My youngest dd is just over a year old. This past year I have been extremely tired, but figured that it was from being in my mid-forties and having three kids, nursing dd etc. Well it turns out that I went to the doctor last week for an unrelated problem and blood tests showed that I had hypothyroidism (extremely underactive thyroid). Other symptoms are dry skin, depression, mental sluggishness, weight gain (I didn't have that, I was losing weight). I have been on medication for almost a week now (ok to continue b-feeding) and already feel better. It might be worth having your doctor do bloodwork to see if this could be a problem for you. Ironically, I had been to my ob/gyn 3 weeks ago and he didn't find anything wrong, although I didn't really complain to him about my fatigue. I just got used to feeling that way and thought it was normal.
post #5 of 31
My son is over two now and I feel that I'm finally "adjusting"... I have struggled with depression in the past and after my son's birth I felt really isolated and torn about the need to return work, being strongly attached with my son and finding time for myself.

Our son is still nursing and he sleeps in our bed (and goes with me to the bathroom in the middle of the night!!), but I'm finally at the point where I don't feel guilty about doing things for myself since he is growing more independent. I went to bruch yesterday with some girlfriends and my son had was really missing me so I went and got him a few minutes early, but I didn't feel the same guilty tug that I used to feel gripping at me whenever I would go to a yoga class or work.

I intend to get pregnant again this year and I worry about the couple year adjustment period that will probably follow, although I don't think I will feel the isolation that I did when my son was a newborn. Now I have LLL and other attachment parenting friends and I will have a toddler to go out and about with.

Nursing a one year old 5 times a night IS EXHAUSTING and it's alot like having a newborn. I understand your resentment - I have felt it too. It has gotten much easier for me now that our son can handle limits, but I don't think I would have done things much differently.

I tend to think of myself as being somewhat "co-dependant" and nursing is hard because it can feel like the ultimate co-dependant relationship. You give, give, give and your child takes, takes, takes... but it's a short term thing. I'm glad that we are still in a nursing relationship, but it has gotten MUCH easier now that I feel that he is old enough to handle limits.

Someone here on the boards has a signature line with the quote "The Days are Long, but the Years are Short". That has been my mantra on hard days.

I think what you are experiencing is totally normal! Hang in there.

post #6 of 31
I experienced depression throughout my entire last pregnancy and it has only subsided over the past six months or so. I finally found a homeopath who was able to find a remedy that helped alleviate much of the depression so that I could work on the issues behind it. I was able to continue nursing, which was the one thing that pleased me about being a mom!

I understand how interrupted sleep can really affect your mood. DD is 22 mos. and still doesn't sleep thru the night! For some reason, as she got older, I became less able to sleep while she nurses at night. However, I found that I AM able to sleep while she nurses during the day, so I allow myself to nap a few days a week. This extra rest really helps.

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email or PM me. I'd be happy to share my experience with you. Please hang in there, it eventually gets better (although I recommend you continue w/ therapy if you feel it helps) and you are definitely not alone.

I also want to add that I had a glorious, empowering home birth and still had very severe PPD, so that isn't always a factor...
post #7 of 31

Do check out your thyroid

Glh I was also going to suggest getting her thyroid checked as well. In fact hypo-thyroidism is a very common occuurance after pregnancy (sometimes it is temporary and other times permanant) because the immune system has been supressed during pregnancy so that the foetus will not be rejected and afterwards it can go on overkill and attack parts of the body (in this case the thyroid gland in your neck.)

I am forever grateful to my midwife at a checkup 6 weeks after my first son was born noticed that my neck seemed a little tender and so ran a check. I was also having frequent night wakings with my son and assumed that was the only reason I was so tired. I was losing weight (usually people gain weight) and felt totally unable to cope.

For me it took a while to take effect but it felt good to know that there was a real reason for my problems!
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone!!!

Thank you all so much! I feel so often that I'm a big whiny wimp and it's so nice to get some encouragement and empathy. My doctor checked for the thyroid thing a few months after she was born. Could it have developed after that? I feel like I would be able to handle all this if I could just get an hour or two more sleep a day. In the nightwaking forum a mom posted her method of nightweaning and transitioning her kid ( I forget how old) from the family bed to a crib. It sounded really good. I love being close to Rachel at night, but the sleep deprivation is driving me so nuts that the crib sounds better and better. I'm conflicted about it--don't really know which way to go. I just really miss my brain!---anyone know what I mean? And I worry that that sleep deprivation has a cumulative effect and one day I will just go crazy. I'm so much better than I was after I had the baby though. I don't know--I am just so grateful that you all are willing to listen to me. ---karen
post #9 of 31
My son is now 22 months old and we started out with him in our bed from birth. I planned on having him sleep with us for a long time since it was so easy to nurse him at night and it felt so good having him next to me. However, as he grew older, he began using me as a pacifier every time he stirred at night and I was no longer able to sleep while he nursed. He was nursing as much as ten times a night and I was exhausted! For my own self-preservation and sanity I had to move him out of our bed and into his own. It was a hard decision at first. I felt guilty - like I was abandoning him to sleep alone while my husband and I cosied up together. But, it's a decision I've never since regretted. We all sleep better now. He no longer wakes up all night long to nurse and I feel like a well-rested Mommy. If he does stir at night, he normally gets himself back to sleep. I do occasionally need to nurse him at night, but it's nothing like it was before. Good luck - hope you are able to find something that works well for the both of you.
post #10 of 31

Boy do I understand the 5 times a night nursing thing. It has been driving me crazy too. My dd is 13 months and she sometimes wakes up about a million times to nurse. I called her my little vampire yesterday (Sleeps all day and sucks the life out of you at night.) Then I noticed that she was teething. 2 new teeth! That usually makes me feel better, when I know why she is waking so often. Soon we are going to try to move her to her own sleeping area near us, but not in bed with us. We have our bed on the floor, so this should not be a very big move. I want to cuddle with my hubby again, and not nurse all night long. When I do, I am a bear, and I don't feel as loving towards dd the next day. If you are ready to night wean because it is really effecting your mood, check out the other forums Like Nightwaking for help with that...

post #11 of 31

Thank You

I was so glad to see this post right on the main page of Mothering. I really needed to read these posts of encouragement. Thanks for posting your dilemma and for everyone else posting their experiences.
post #12 of 31
I just wanted to thank you for your question. There are many times when I still feel frustrated with my 14 month old and my 4 year old for that matter. When my youngest was born I spiralled into a horrible depression. Since he was two months old I have been doing everything to combat this and it is working! I have changed my whole life as a matter of fact. I am changing from a career that is completely unfulfilling for me to something that has more meaning to me. I know it sounds odd but in a way I am very grateful to my son and to the PPD. It has led me to a path I may never have found otherwise. Hang in there. Although I still have days where I don't think I will make it somehow I always do.
post #13 of 31


I felt the same way you do, but insisted it was just because I had a high needs baby to take care of. My husband kept insisting I see a dr. I finally did when my son turned 13 months and they found an extreme case of hyperthyroid (turns out I have Grave's disease) This did not start until Matthew was approx 9 months old. I read an article just yesterday saying that auto immune diseases frequently appear some time in the YEAR following birth, (one form of both hyperthyroid (Graves) and hypothyroid (Hashimotos) are considered auto immune disorders. It cannot hurt to see your dr I recommend seeing your primary care and please write down all your symptoms as you will forget once in his/her office. It is important to tell them everything for them to diagnose. Even silly things are symptoms. I had weakness, severe fatigue, losing weight, excessive appetite, going BM upto 5 times a day, muscle spasms in my abdomen and under my ribcage, my knees hurt, muscle soreness and a big thing for me was mental confusion and extreme anxiety. Good luck and good health.
post #14 of 31

It does get better. My dd is almost 2! (nest month) and in the last month is when she has started to slow down the night time bf-ing. We all sleep in bed together (dh,dd and me plus our dog and cat on occasion ) It is hard being a mom - especially when attachment parenting, extending bf-ing, co-sleeping and on call 24/7. That said it is the love I try to focus on, and yes I take breaks everyday (sometimes more than one!) even if it means in front of the tube!! Dd is very a sensitive - high spirited child, so I can never know what will work and what won't and every day is different. But I have found that if it's a really bad day I start the day over, even if it's noon! Dd and I get back in bed, read stories, do quiet finger play games and bf. Sometimes we both fall back asleep. Then we start the day over with smiles.

I have gone on too long but I do believe in the saying of the wise women on this board who writes The days are long but the years are short - it's is a great mantra!!!!

good luck,
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 

You are all so wonderful!

Thank you everyone! I just want to cry that you all care about what I'm going through. And BiGoergia and Button--how nice that this thread is not solely helping me!!! I'm going to take everyone's advice about taking time for myself. I know I need to do that because sometimes I do resent Rachel for taking over my life. I started doing 15 minutes of yoga in the morning as a result of a little epiphany I bacame aware of in therapy. Let me backtrack...I was feeling like I spent the day entertaining Rachel and putting my needs to the side. I also love doing yoga--I'm a total begginner--but whenever I do it, I feel like I"m taking care of myself. So the epiphany: I realized that I'm the mom, I'm in charge, and I can do whatever I want and Rachel can just deal with it (ok, that doesn't sound so good...). So now most mornings I do 15 minutes of yoga, while semi-ignoring RAchel--for the last relaxation pose I put her in the playpen for 5 minutes. She does fuss--but I feel so much better, like I'm an independant being and not her servant. I might've already written about this--I get my posts confused. I have alot of guilt and I'm a huge slob---so many times when I have a spare minute I feel like I should clean something and I don't deserve to sit down and read an article in VANITY FAIR magazine ( what I really want to do). I also am going through a rough patch with dh. He seems more overwhelmed than I am and I spend alot of time calming him down while repeating silently to myself, "I can handle this. I am up for this." and it seems like everything's on my shoulders. He also seems unintersted in sex, and I really miss it. When I let myself sit and just breathe, it all catches up with me like a wave and I feel totally drained and on the verge of sobbing. Anyone been there? Please?? well, I'm new at this--I dont' know all the abbreviations--so---big hugs to you all!!!
(((((((HUGS!))))))) I did the hugs!
post #16 of 31
Karen -

More hugs to you!! Go sit down and read an article in Vanity Fair! You DO deserve it! You deserve to rest, have fun, do things without a purpose, do thing that you enjoy...

I made a list of 3 things that I am going to focus on for 2002 and one of them is to HAVE FUN. What am I waiting for?? Last night I went out and got a manicure (3rd time in my life and no special occasion), got my hair cut and got highlights. This was HUGE for me. I'm natural girl, so this was strange in many ways. I spent a bunch of $ and colored my hair. Hey, I wanted to start the "HAVE FUN" thing off for the New Year right. Am I supposed to WAIT until someone gives me permission?

I made a list of FUN things that I like to do and I'm going to do some fun, friviolous thing every day. Read a stupid magazine, go on-line, take walk (not for fitness, just cuz I like it!), go to the library, eat something yummy, do yoga for myself...

One of my other things for 2002 is the phrase "B+". I am going to do things in a "B+" sort of way - not perfect, just really good. I have a perfectionist tendency that causes me to judge myself harshly and get depressed (sound familiar??), so I am going to strive for "B+" and having fun and let the rest go.

You are NOT alone. Many of us have been in your shoes. How much do you get out with other people? I find that being in the house alone makes me crazy. I need other people (thank goodness for this board). I work part time (that is not necessarily ideal), but it works for me right now. I also need a certain amount of alone time. I know that the time our kids are young is very short, but I need at least the ability to shower, pee and breathe alone for a few minutes each days.

Hang in there and keep checking in. And go read a trashy magazine, just for FUN...

post #17 of 31
i am new here and responded to another. i wanted to share a new piece of information in helping postpartum depression. Dr. Andrew Stoll has done studies at Harvard and has found high doses of omega fatty acids to be helpful with bipolar as well as postpartum depression. You can look for the site over the internet. It is very interesting. My cousin who is bipolar, under her md has decreased her medications and is doing very well although not pregnant is planning to soon. i think this could be valuable information to be out there. i myself have not heard of anyone trying it for postpartum depression. it seems obvious as it also has been used to treat children successfully with "add".
i am hoping this will help .
thinking of you and blessings.
post #18 of 31

This is more "normal" than you think

Post Partum Mood Disorder is more common than you may think. It is estimated taht more than 20% of women experience postpartum mood disorder. This can be characterized by anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, frightening thoughts, rapid weight loss or gain, incessant need for sleep, and sleeplessness. Hyper-vigilance is probably one of the most common symptoms. The biggest problem with PPMD is the shame that is unfortunatly associated with it. There is nothing to be ashamed about. It is a real issue for women, and left untreated can continue for years. Many women go into a subsequent pregnancys without having dealt with the PPMD, only to find that it is worse. PPMD cannot escalate into post partum psychosis, which is in a league of its own. What we hear about in the media is often post partum psychosis, not PPMD. I would encourage you to speak openly with your care provider about your situation. If your care provider is not current with recent information about PPMD, find another. You can also contact Depression After Delivery for information on therapists in your area, and support groups. You can contact them at 1-800-944-4773 ANYTIME. You can also go to their web page at www.depressionafterdelivery.com. I would also urge you to get the booklet Beyond The Birth: What No ONe Ever Talks About by: Dawn Gruen, MSW, ACSW and Rex Gentry, MD. YOu may also find helpful information about the hormones involved with PPMD from the book Women's Moods. This is normal. It is normal to experience these feelings after what is "supposed" to be the happiest time in your life. You will get better. Your good moments will turn into good days, and your good days will turn into good weeks. You are the best mother your child will ever have.
post #19 of 31
hi, Karen. I, too have a one year old. He was born last October. Please don't feel guilty for feeling frustrated over nursing so often in the night. When you aren't resting well, life is hard. At about 11 months, I started putting Joe in the crib after he'd gone to sleep. He'd wake up in the night, and I'd end up bringing him back to bed. Over time, I started putting him back in the crib after nursing, and I discovered that If I'm not right there, he stops thinking so much of nursing and sleeps. I do, too, though just last night was only his second night of sleeping all the way through. Dr. William Sears says in the Baby Book that "when the mother begins resenting the child for nursing, it's okay to quit" (specific times or all together). You just do what you need to do to be a good mom. I believe in extended nursing, but it's harder for some than others. Before giving it up, though, try taking vitamin B-6 or any B complex. It has been proven to reduce fatigue and depression, especially in women. I read that at my naturopath's office. Take care.
post #20 of 31
I think that after reading through all of these posts that I, too, had symptoms of ppd. I never thought that having a new life to love and nurture would bring ou the feelings that I had after the geat home birth of dd. I was so scared of everything! I had much trouble going to the bathroom in a dark house at night alone, had to cancel cable tv (blessing in disguise!) because the news freaked me out so much. Never considering ppd, I just thought that all of a sudden I became a big fluff! I am much less paranoid now, and can walk to the bathroom without the light on. It seemed that the turning point for me was when I started getting my period again (about 6 months after birth) My hormone levels must have been returning to 'normal'. I still nurse my bebe, and enjoy the nightwakings more that I'm not looking for things lurking in the shadows.
Seems ironic that we are so tough, and yet so fragile.
Good Luck to you, Karenhillary!
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