Postpartum Depression is being discussed more and more out in the open and we as a society are making huge strides to normalize it. But I think something that is less discussed but just as equally in need of attention, is depression during pregnancy. Jackie is sharing her story today about her struggles with perinatal depression that began during the pregnancy of her third child. After reaching out to her doctors and hearing that what she was experiencing was 'normal' for a pregnant mother of small children, it became more apparent that she needed to share her story to help others realize that what she was going through was not in fact normal. It was a dangerous and all encompassing mood disorder that was eating away her happiness and her ability to care for herself and her family.
This week marks one year that I've been on the journey back into myself since struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety. Despite a move to a different part of the country and a deployment, it's been a year of calm and happiness for me. I wish I had started this process years ago, but this whole journey really began during my pregnancy with Penny.
My first trimester was largely spent in bed, despite another cross country move from Washington. I was nauseated and super tired around the clock, until I started medication that finally put the nausea at bay. As we settled into our new home on an island in Rhode Island, a traumatic experience set me on the path to depression. While asleep one morning, then two year old Teddy snuck out of the house to go find daddy who was out fishing with Ben. I didn't hear him open the front door. He was walking down to the water's edge when a bounce house delivery man found him in undies and a t shirt. He was so young and we were brand new into the area that he couldn't explain who he was or where we lived. When I woke up a few minutes later, I discovered the door open and my heart sank. I ran outside in tiny sleep shorts and a shirt without a bra, to find him surrounded by Saturday morning joggers and the delivery man who all had formed a crowd by this point. I thanked them, holding back tears and started to walk home with teddy in my arms. They stopped me and kindly explained that I had to wait for the police to come because they called when they couldn't figure out who he was. The police came and I explained what happened. He took down my info and sent me home. I was broken. I was terrified that they would send someone to take my children or throw me in jail for neglect. I was terrified at the what ifs. What if that delivery man had scooped him up and drove away? What if Teddy wasn't seen and made it all the way down to the secluded rocky beach himself. What if he had drowned? I could hardly sleep after that, always scared of the what ifs.
My second trimester began the dark period of depression. I would go an entire week without showering. I would yell and scream and get angry very easily. I would cry. And cry. And cry. I didn't exercise. I didn't do chores. Max took over everything. School drop off and pick up, grocery shopping, cooking. Baths, bedtime, diapers. He did everything that I couldn't because I was no longer in my head. I don't know where I was. I tried to speak to my doctor about it, I cried in her office after my prenatal check up. But she told me what every counselor had told me before- that I'm a mom of young kids and that is hard and overwhelming and it's normal to feel how I do. I couldn't find the heart or the energy to explain that this wasn't normal. I started to go outside and walk a few times a week like she suggested. Baking was the only joy that I could find so I also baked a lot, and ate a lot, and gained more weight than I should have. Once I hit 40lbs with months to go, I started asking the nurse not to tell me my weight at my checkups, and I had Max hide the scale in the basement.
My third trimester was largely uneventful and I got a break from the depression. I gave birth in February and fell immediately and madly in love with my daughter. She brought me calm and love and joy and I just adore her. Friends helped watch Teddy and brought me meals and gifts for the baby. At my six week check up I was happy and cheery and still on a high from having the birth experience that I had wanted and finally having a daughter. I was cleared for everything and told to start birth control again. I made an appointment to get a birth control rod inserted in my arm.
A few weeks later, I had my appointment and got the rod inserted. I was exercising again, running and doing a town workout class and going to pilates classes. I felt great and was determined to lose the weight from pregnancy. My baby was perfect and all seemed well. And then it started. I fell into the deepest depression that I could imagine. I never really understood depression or anxiety before and didn't realize for a few months that I was suffering from anything. Instead, I believed the lies that it was telling me. I couldn't run because someone was always waiting in the bushes to grab me. I got irrationally angry at my children. I threw cast iron pans onto the floor in anger. I cried and cried and cried. Max would take the boys out of the house for the day so I could have some quiet because any noise or mess triggered me. And there was always noise and mess in the tiny house that we were in with two active boys and a baby. I believed that Max made a huge mistake in marrying me. He needed someone better. Someone prettier and happier and calmer who would be a better wife and a better mother. I believed that I never should have become a mother. I believed that I didn't deserve this beautiful family. I wasn't worthy or loveable. I was a terrible person. I wanted to run away and never come back. I didn't want to kill myself but I wanted to get a disease and die because that's what I thought I deserved. I looked out the window and could see a flash of a noose dangling next to the kids' swing or a flash of my car driving off the bridge. I didn't deserve life.
And Max. Oh man, what I put that man through. I don't know how I ended up marrying the most perfect person in the world for me, but somehow I did. Instead of freaking out and telling me to grow up or snap out of it or telling me that I was acting like a bitch (which I was, constantly), he treated me with dignity and kindness and respect. He treated me with unconditional love. He eventually realized that I was sick. I wasn't in my body. He married me in sickness and in health, and I was sick. It scared him when I told him that I could see a noose dangling from the tree outside, and that was the last straw. I needed help.
When I went into the psychiatrist's office with the baby in her car seat, I was sure they would send me home and tell me that this was just who I was. I was just a terrible mother and there was nothing they could do. But instead, my pain and suffering was FINALLY validated. It took about an hour for me to fill out a very extensive questionnaire on their computer. The questions weren't vague ones like in my 6 week check up. They were specific and incredibly helpful. Do you feel like running away? How often? Do you feel unworthy? Do you feel you deserve to live? Do you ever imagine suicide even if you don't intend to follow through? Nobody had ever asked me these specific questions before. The doctor was kind and patient. He never questioned me bringing the baby to my appointments. He gave me the choice to figure out what kind of treatment to pursue. He assured me that medication would be ok with breastfeeding. I left with a prescription for a SSRI. I picked it up immediately, but was hesitant to begin it. Was it really safe for my baby? Would it make me numb? Or more crazy? I consulted with some ladies in my online mom's group and was assured that I could safely take it. SO many of them had taken meds. I had no idea.
I immediately felt relief. I never felt numb and Penny was never affected by my medicine. I would still get angry but I wasn't blowing up and going Hulk on my kids. My doctor asked me at my follow up if my kids still covered their ears as soon as I would start getting frustrated. It still breaks my heart that that used to be our normal. But no, it no longer happens.
I'm still on the medication for depression and anxiety and I have no plans to stop it. I am enjoying motherhood more now than ever. My kids make me giggle and smile. When messes start to overwhelm me, I can say, "Guys, I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. Help me clean this." It hasn't been a cakewalk, but my emotions are so much easier to handle. PMS is still scary for me because some of the anger comes back when I have it. But I'm trying to own my emotions now. I was terrified of my emotions before. Slamming the front door and cracking the door frame terrified me. Slamming a pot on the floor terrified me. Cursing at my kids terrified me. But that wasn't ME. That was depression and anxiety taking control of me. Jackie is a happy person, a good mother, a loving wife and friend and sister and daughter.
Going through Postpartum depression was terrible. I understand now how women take their lives while going through it and it breaks my heart. There are so many options for treatment. Please, if you have a friend or daughter or spouse or patient who you feel might be struggling, don't ignore it and don't only tell her that this is normal. Sure, some baby blues are normal. But ask her specific questions. Ask her if she often feels like she should run away or if she feels cut out for being a mom. Ask her if she ever thinks about suicide or dying, even if she would never go through with it. And follow up with her. And sit with her. And let her cry. And let her know that you love her and this is hard and she WILL get through it. She is worthy of love. And motherhood. And joy. And she will find all of those again.
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression please reach out and get help
or call 1.800.944.4773
I'm Jackie Ferguson, an army wife and mother to three kids (Ben 6, Teddy 4, and Penny 1). We've lived all over the world, but currently call Tennessee home. I enjoy baking, hiking, working out, and watching trash tv in bed with wine and pistachios after the kids are asleep.
Lately Iv been getting more and more people coming to me wanting to tell their story of postpartum depression and I think that says a lot. It says that it's so common that even in the small sampling of women this blog has reached, the majority of the stories on here talk about postpartum mood disorders. It says that while you might feel alone in what you are going through, there are in fact so many other women and mothers where you are right now. It tells me that the recent influx of celebrities speaking up and telling their story has made an impact. It tells me that we are making strides to normalize postpartum depression.
Agatha is currently fighting postpartum depression. She has recently found the light at end of a very long very dark tunnel and she hopes that by sharing her struggles she can help someone else who may not see the light just yet.
I’m sharing today.
I’m sharing to combat the numerous stigmas our society associates with postpartum depression. Let me just say I’m not crazy, haven’t lost my mind, I’m not going to hurt myself and I love my little ones very much. It so happens to be that growing a precious baby and experiencing birth, has created deficiencies in my body and a chemical imbalance in my brain that require treatment.
I’m sharing because many new mothers choose to internalize their struggles with postpartum depression and instead, opt to “ride it out”. Left untreated, postpartum depression can ruin so much time. It can take the most special time, particularly that first year when there are so many amazing milestones to savor.
I’m sharing because I realized that postpartum depression was stronger than I was. And I wanted to win. I wanted to look back at this time as a warrior victorious. I wanted to feel better so I could enjoy moments with my little ones and so I could be proud of the mother I am.
I wanted to share because I craved the confirmation of knowing I wasn’t alone. I shared because I was tired of trying to keep my life glued together in an intricate façade while the most precious moments of motherhood passed me by.
I wanted to share, because I knew in my mind that one day my experience would be history. And though this experience was very painful it was valuable, significant and very important to share.
Six to eight weeks after my baby arrived, postpartum depression also arrived. An unwelcome visitor that came with an influx of thoughts and emotions that persistently had me occupied. Being struck by PPD was shocking. I thought I was too strong, independent and motivated to be “touched”. I’d been around individuals with postpartum depression before and I just never understood why it was so crippling. I realize now.
I was constantly assessing thoughts, fighting emotions, working to make sense of it all and trying to keep calm. My thoughts suddenly felt like an enormous “traffic jam”.
Suddenly, any outside pressure or problems seemed more than I could handle. If you’re a mom, you would know how many silly, ridiculous things happen in a single day of tending to little ones. Spilt milk or snacks, messy crafts or naughty adventures I would find my little ones in the middle of…you get the drift. Anything small tipped me over the edge and I found myself losing patience and crying, often for insignificant reasons that seemed colossal in the moment. I found myself flustered and overwhelmed in the simplest situations and I frequently felt a great deal of challenging emotions for no reason at all.
These made me react to problems and situations in ways that I’m not proud of. Although I knew better, PPD made me believe my little ones were better off and happier with someone else. I have never felt such strong feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem and inability to raise my little ones.
No matter how inadequate I felt, I had no choice but to continue caring for my loved ones. I spent my days filling bellies, wiping noses, breaking up fights, cleaning little hands, folding laundry, tidying typical kid messes and trying to keep them content. In my emotional state it felt like an undefeatable stream of never ending needs that wouldn’t subside. I felt like I was failing my family on all fronts. The pressure was more than I could bear, and the resulting guilt was just another contribution to the mountain of emotional stress I was dealing with.
On rare occasions my emotions felt like a physical weight, bearing me down. The pain was so heavy emotionally that it felt physically debilitating. I felt completely incapacitated. To cope, I focussed on the bare minimum. I took care of my kids. I limited housework, stopped business work and didn’t engage in any social interactions with others. On these days I was unable to reach out to sisters as I sometimes did for a dose of positivity. Although these times were few, I was always left worrying when the next time would come.
Increased stress came from trying to fulfill my own expectations. I felt like I was losing myself slowly and couldn’t understand why I was feeling so emotionally out of control and why I had lost my motivation.
I felt ashamed to show my tears and weakness to anyone. I was ashamed that in the midst of a blissfully perfect life, I was struggling. I was embarrassed and scolded myself inwardly for not being more optimistic and content with the many blessings I was granted. I was worried I wasn’t meeting other’s expectations just as I wasn’t meeting my own.
During my struggle with PPD I noted, that my worst critic was myself. Being a perfectionist, it was shocking to suddenly find myself incapable of completing simple tasks I believed I should be able to complete. I wanted to take perfect care of my two toddlers, breastfeed the new baby, look presentable, take care of my husband and tend to my household. I found myself frustrated and humbled; realizing I just couldn’t do it all. Being fiercely independent, it was difficult to step back and acknowledge my postpartum depression and accept help. It was a turning point and essential to my wellbeing.
I’ve shared today because, as mothers we need to be more open about the challenges we face. Motherhood is wonderful and amazing and the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but motherhood is also much harder than I ever thought it would be. I believe that as mothers, we owe it to other moms, especially new mothers, to be authentic and real about our experiences; the good as well as the bad so that others can be equipped with realistic expectations.
I’ve shared today because postpartum depression is not a condition to be ashamed of. It’s common, treatable and short-term if treated correctly. If left untreated it can develop into a lifelong, chronic mental disorder. It’s not necessary to suffer in silence.
Since seeking help and treatment I’ve started seeing the light. Although extremely difficult, this journey has made me realize more than ever, how blessed I am. I’ve been surrounded in love by my husband who’s held my hand and patiently waited for me understand myself and my experiences.
I’m surrounded by an amazing family and a wonderful support network. Although I’m still dealing with PPD symptoms, my family has been pivotal in helping me in my recovery up to this point.
My life is amazing, and I’m looking forward to returning to it.
Most of all, I look forward to finding myself again.
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression please reach out and get help
or call 1.800.944.4773
I’m not really into writing about me. But here’s just a little tidbit.
Becoming a mother is most beautiful experience but also the most difficult experience I’ve lived through. I’ve done it three times with no regrets. Each of our littles has a special place in our hearts, and together with my husband we are trying to raise them to be good little humans. Martina (3), Rowan (2) and Alana (4 months). We live in lush, Fraser Valley, BC where we are surrounded by incredible landscape and mountains.
To keep myself challenged daily I run an online shop called @shopmartinas where I aim to bring mothers the best natural teething remedies. It’s a delicate thing, to balance motherhood and work, and it brings unique trials, but it’s also very rewarding.
Motherhood can be trying, and I’ve shared my thoughts and experiences about Post-Partum depression to create awareness about this incredible mountain that many mamas face. Post-Partum depression is a mental illness that can be treated promptly if it’s identified, discussed and properly treated. This can only be done, if we as a society battle the stigma surrounding PPD and educate ourselves to become suitable supports for those dealing with postpartum depression.
Agatha's Website is Shop Martinas
And you can follow along with her on Instagram @shopmartinas.
Think THINX but for bladder leaks.
Now you have Icon
I have always wanted to try THINX but I have an off the wall period so I didn’t know if I would have a good use for them. I use actual depends 3-4 days in my cycle *insert cry face emoji here*. But when I found out about Icon (thank you instagram for always opening my eyes to the best products and people!) I was all “underwear I can pee in?! Where do I sign up?!”
After having three kids my pelvic floor has slowly weakened causing me to have bladder leaks when I do anything straining ie sneezing, coughing, barfing, existing in life. And I know what you're thinking “Go see a PT Ashley, you can totally fix that!” but let me just be honest here for a second. I’m kind of too lazy to do that. The thought of having to find a PT, make an appointment, find child care, and then actually go to an appointment, or 5, that's like my nightmare.
Luckily for me Icon is here to help me out when I’m not willing to help myself (let’s also seriously note that not all pelvic floors and bladder leaks can be fixed by PT, at least not totally) It should also be noted that they do encourage you to take care of your pelvic floor and offer advice and exercises to do on their website so. bases.covered.
So what exactly are Icon undies? They are essentially underwear that take the place of disposable panty liners. They hold an average of 5-6 teaspoons of liquid (pee) depending on the style you get, all while keeping you odor and bacteria free thanks for their fancy technology. So you can sneeze and not have to follow it with an ‘Oh Shit!’ You get to just have that bladder leak and go on with your day because Icon's got your back (or I guess, front in this case)
“But that cost!!!!” Yeah, I know. They are a little bit pricy for a pair of underwear but hopefully this video can break that down a little better for you
Basically, you're replacing your disposable liners. So you're saving money on all of the liners you would be buying and tossing otherwise, and instead, reusing your Icons. Can we also talk about how much better that is for the environment? I mean, if you’re into things like helping our our mother Earth. And while we are talking about positive impact, a portion of each pair of underwear sold goes to the Fistula Foundation to help fund life-changing surgeries for women in developing countries. In their first year alone, they funded surgeries for 71 women. I don’t think your panty liners are doing that. Just sayin.
And incase you don’t know what a fistula is or what it means to have one
“The most common type of fistula involving these systems is a vesicovaginal fistula, in which the woman's vagina is connected to the urinary bladder. This causes leakage of urine from the vagina and results in frequent vaginal and bladder infections. Fistulas may also develop between the vagina and the large intestine (a enterovaginal fistula) so that feces leaks from the vagina. Although both these types of fistulas are uncommon in the developed world, they are common in poor developing countries and result from long, difficult labor and childbirth, especially in very young girls. As a result, they are sometimes referred to as obstetric fistulas.
Some experts suggest that in parts of Africa, as many as 3-4 women develop these fistulas out of every 1,000 births. Others estimate that as many as 2 million women worldwide are living with unrepaired obstetric fistulas. If left unrepaired, obstetric fistulas cause women to constantly leak urine and feces. As a result, they become social outcasts, causing them extreme hardship and psychological trauma.” Source
Yeah. awful right? I think we can all get behind ICON in their mission to fund these surgeries.
Lets touch a little on my actual personal experience so far.
It started off with me ordering the wrong size and feeling like a total dunce but then getting the most amazing customer service and the correct pair being sent to my door right away with no issues. Thats huge. Especially when you are spending a significant amount of money on a product. (thanks Bridget!)
So then I get the right size and they are great. You can tell that they are made from quality material just by looking at them. They are also packaged adorably with the best sayings like “Our favorite wine? Pinot.” (I know right?!) Which, I know packaging doesn't matter to everyone but it totally does to me. (Yes I will spend $20 extra dollars on the same exact product because it has a pretty box. I'm so annoying) (JK I'm poor but if I wasn’t, I totally would) And when they say that there is no bulk with their padding, they mean it. You really can’t tell that you're not wearing normal underwear. It’s amazing. Nice work team.
On top of the quality and comfort, they really do work. I was actually typing this up and I sneezed and guess what?! I didn't have to change my pants. That’s a sure sign of a good time right there folks. So, no leak. Check. No odor. Check. No weird infections from bacteria. Check. They really do it all.
My only, very small, very personal, complaint would be that they have an elastic waistband (all except the thong cut) and elastic waistbands tend to cut into my well cushioned hips. Which I personally don't love. For this reason, I would recommend sizing up. But again, that’s a personal preference and I’ll reiterate how wonderful their customer service is if you have any questions or issues with sizing.
In conclusion, I happily stand by Icon's quality and service, their environmental impact, and their charitable actions helping women in third world countries by providing life changing surgery. I wholeheartedly back them and their products as well as their mission in “celebrating our strength as women, while chuckling at the ways our beautiful, imperfect, sexy, hilarious, resilient, leaky bodies can go rogue.” So what are you waiting for?? Go order yourself a pair of Icon undies. Trust me, urine for a treat. (you guys, I had to)