Preemie Post Partum Depression

I have had a few friends in the past year have PPD after delivering their child and saw first hand how hard it was for them.  They obviously didn’t see it coming, nor could they turn off a switch to make it stop.  For preemie parents, then you add the stress of the NICU on top of that, and WOW, not a good combination!

For those that have had PPD, what advice can you give new mom’s going through this? How did you find help, or have you?  For anyone thinking they may have PPD, DON’T think you are alone for starters, and talk to your NICU social worker and see if there is free counseling for you…AND USE IT! Even without PPD, counseling after the NICU is good, we’ve been through a stressful and hard time, and I know some more than others.  That being said, we all deal with stress in very different ways and sometimes don’t want anyone to know what we’re going through. 

As a military officer, it is hard for me to admit failure, or show weakness (yes, I went through the old school OCS where they broke us down to build us back up), so when they told me after almost dying from HELLP, that I wasn’t allowed out of bed for at least 48 hours, I was caught 8 hours later going down the hall to see my baby.  He is my first, and I struggled with infertility and went through several rounds of IVF to have this precious child, this was NOT how it was supposed to end.  I had maternity photos scheduled, I had not bought a crib yet, how could he already be here?  What did I do to cause this?  My baby shower wasn’t even for another 6 weeks…

When they set me up for Early Intervention for my son prior to leaving the hospital, they also let me know I had counseling available for me included.  I didn’t need counseling, I was fine, I dealt with most things with humor and life would go on, I had adjusted fire, adapted, and moved on.

Over 13 months later, I still see my counselor once a month as sometimes things hit me out of left field when I least expect them.  Both of my parents passed away in 2005, and my husbands family all live in the UK,  I didn’t realize how not having family around for support would hit me one day.  What would my mom do?  Why didn’t I ask her these things?  What was I like at this age?  Things I will never know and am now sad that I didn’t ask earlier.

So, another hard topic I thought we should discuss, and I needed to be WAY more long winded than the allotted 420 characters for a status on FB.  I think we all need to support each other, and I do love that we can vent and others understand.  I am now stepping off the soap box, please feel free to share your feelings! 😉

Spencer at one month old

8 Comments + Add Comment

  • I had never experienced as much stress and feelings of being defeated as I had while Jalesa Faith was in the NICU. I spent a month in the hospital on bed rest because of preeclampsia and she spent another 94 days in the NICU. I felt alone! I felt very guilty! I wasn’t the happiest when I found out that I was having another one. My other two were 9 and 7. Where were my “friends,” where was anyone, why won’t my milk come in?! One thing that helped me get through was the weekly scrapbooking class that the NICU offered.
    Bringing Jalesa home was bittersweet because I was leaving my NICU friends and most of them lived hours away. I felt alone and very overwhelmed once again. o2, monitors, appts, spoiled baby who only wants her mommy (still to this day).
    I make a point to see my counselor, as well as taking a zumba and dance class several times a week.. with a tagalong. 🙂

  • I think my depression set in almost immediately after my daughter’s delivery. I remember being in complete shock after she was whisked away to the NICU and all of the doctors and nurses left the room. I was almost numb and kept trying to “feel” something but what was I?? Joyful at the birth of my daughter, scared at the thought of her being alone, angry at the world for robbing me of the birth I dreamed of? I could not put my finger on exactly what was inside of me and for the remainder of my hospital stay I almost floated from my room to the NICU in a rare state of psuedo reality. The day I left the hospital without my baby was the day my heart broke, crumbled and shattered. I remember an overwhelming pain sweeping over my body and realized that was the first time I truly felt anything in 3 days and I was able to put my finger on feelings: pain; raw and unmatched hurt! Leaving your child behind is the most unnatural phenomena and as my husband drove me home all I remember is repeating: It hurts, it hurts so bad. The next few weeks I lingered in between anger and sadness. I was a mess! I blamed my husband, I blamed myself. I was unable to function outside of the NICU. I was even angry at my 9-year old son at home because I HAD to be there for him. I was beginning to drift away mentally. At the NICU I was the picture of a perfect mother. I baked bread and cookies for the NICU staff. I decorated my baby’s room and brought extra decorations for the other families during the Holiday’s. I was always well dressed, polite and wore a permanently painted on smile. I was able to keep this cherade up until I made it to the parking garage and was safe to break down in my car with nobody watching. My husband was the one who brought my depression up to our social worker at the NICU. Alexis…she was my life-saver. As my husband began telling her the things I was too embaresed to admit she never looked at me with sadness or disappointment as I suspect, in fact she acknowledged how I was feeling as completely normal and encouraged me to call my OB and discuss the possibility of medication in conjunction with therapy. Things have gotten better since that day. I still have days where I feel sad. I am also still dealing with the resentment and blame that is misguided but every day becomes a little easier and having somebody to talk with about these feelings has made all the difference in the world. PPD is real. Having a preemie though conjures up much more and I now accept that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress on top of PPD. Once my preemie is healthy(and sleeping through the night) I plan on returning to school to work on a degree in social work and apply for positions to help mothers with premature infants. It’s not only a gift I’d like to share with the world, it’s a therapy for me!

  • Sitting here and reading this I just started crying. The thought of the twins birth and how I wasn’t allowed to see them. When they were in the nicu I wasn’t able to see them but 30 minutes at a time 3 times a day. They had to close the nicu bc there were so many babies. I sort of understand but not being able to see my daughters when they needed me most was heart wrenching. I remember being so excited to get the hospital for visiting time and then crying like a baby everytime I left. The only updates we were given was if you called and they would only tell you weight and how they were eating. I had a 2 year old at home as well who needed me too. One day I was checking the mail and got a letter from the state of Texas saying one of the twins possibly had an autoimmune disorder and that the hospital should have already told me. I was crushed. No one had talked to me and I wouldn’t get to see my babies for another 4 hours. It was the worst 4 hours EVER. I couldn’t wait to get up there and find out what was going on. Then they said it was just their prematurity and she would be fine. The whole experience of the emergency csection, me almost dying on the operating table, my husband not being there, the girls being taken to the nicu and me not being able to see them for a whole 36 hours. I still cry thinking about it. I don’t have any friends locally and no family local either so I don’t get to go to any dance classes or workout or anything. I am home 24/7 with my three amazing girls but it is still hard. I guess after this long I still haven’t been able to coup with it. One day I will get over it I am sure but I still blame myself. I don’t know what I did to make them come early or how I could have stopped it but it just seems that from start to finish it wasn’t an experience I EVER want to have again!! I do thank god everyday for my two little miracles though!!

  • I think the hardest part for me was admitting that I needed to see someone and that while yes, I am supermom, I might need a little help. My son was born at 29 weeks due to preeclampsia this past summer and only about a month ago did it start hitting me that things did not happen the way they were “supposed” to happen. I am going to therapy now but it is going to be a journey before I start to feel better and not have a mini panic attack everytime I think of my son’s birth experience.

    I think my best advice to be to try to breathe and make time for yourself. From my own experiences, it is really easy for moms to get wrapped up in the lives of their family and forget that they need recovery time as well. Even if its an hour or two in the morning with a cup of coffee and a book while everyone sleeps, time alone is precious and it will give every mom a chance to collect her thoughts and be stronger for her family.

  • My experience with PPD after my third son was the worst I could have imagined. I didn’t have a micro preemie, but a 3 pounder non-the -less, who spent 30 days in NICU. I worked at the hospital and in the NICU and knew everyone who cared for him. I remember feeling so very defeated, and so much like a failure. I couldn’t even carry him to term. I unfortunately was single and going through it alone as well, which didn’t help a bit. I didn’t feel anyone understood me. There were times when I would go to the NICU to spend the day with him, and cry for and hour or more in the parking lot prior to going in. It felt like he wasn’t even my baby. He was everyone’s baby. In hindsight, that was a good thing, that he was everyone’s baby, he received exceptional care. The doctor wouldn’t let me go back to work for 30 days, so when he came home, I had no paid time off left. Once it was time to go home, at the 30 day mark (which is little time compared to others, I understand) I was petrified. I doubted myself over and over. It was agony. I was in counseling, on meds which the neonatologist gave me hard time as I so wanted to give my son my breastmilk, It was the ONE thing I felt I could do for him. Fortunately, a fellow coworker and nursing mom graciously donated tons of milk for him. Long story short, It was a really rough, frantic start, and now my son is about to celebrate his third birthday. He is happy and healthy. I still suffer from depression, but have found that sharing with others is a big help. Counseling has been iffy- as I hate to be judged and unfortunately I feel that way a lot of the time. My advise, is just hang in there, those beautiful babies are here for a reason, and need us, almost as much as we need them. If there is someone you can share your feelings with, do it. Don’t try to handle it alone, there is no reason to suffer by yourself. Further, you have done nothing wrong. It just happened. Depression is NOTHING to be ashamed of. Now….to practice what I preach 🙂

  • I have never seen counseling for PPD. I probably should have, but the hospital my daughter was born at was less than helpful. The nurses were great to me while I was stuck in the hospital with preeclampsia but getting anything out of most of the NICU staff was like pulling teeth. There was no offer or suggestion of counseling and I had to search out the breast feeding counselor to get practically no help. I remember being so sick when they wheeled me in for the emergency c-section. I remember getting to kiss her as they took her away and then the rest of the day was a blur from being doped up with anti seizure meds. I didn’t get to see my daughter for more than 24 hours, and when I finally was functional I had to harrass the nurses to take me to see her. I didn’t feel anything when I saw her; it just didn’t seem real. I was released 4 days after she was born and I still really didn’t feel anything. My husband and I would go see her every night and I remember him always being upset when we left but I still didn’t feel anything. It took almost a week after I was released before it really hit me. We were watching an action movie and in the middle a fight scene it hit me that she wasn’t home and I started bawling. After a false alarm from the NICU about bringing her home at 25 days, it took almost another week before we were able to bring her home; not long as compared to some parents but until the 7th month I had had the perfect pregnancy. This was not how the “perfect” pregnancy was supposed to end. I feel better now. I am not a wreck when I have to leave her to go to work.

  • Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and feelings. I think it does help to open up and talk about it as sometimes you don’t realize how you feel until you have to “admit” what hurts. Hugs to all of you!!

  • I should have known my son would be born early. We found out we were pregnant right at 4 weeks and found out the sex at 12 weeks. Nevertheless, I was completely spechless when my water broke at 29 weeks. After spending just 24 hours in the hopsital, i decided i would be much more comfortable at home.this is when I began my relationship with my pump and have been faithfull to him every 3 hours since. The first week was an absolute blur and was filled with trips to the NICU and a flood of inquiries from friends and family.
    The only thought on my mind at the end of that week was getting back to work so I wouldnt miss a moment of my time when he got out of the hospital. I figured “I’ll make the sacrafice now and go back to work, that wayIi can start my maternity leave when he gets out.” Well, I have a very stressfull job in the Las Vegas Food and Beverage industry, so this was a bad idea from the start…
    For the next 3 weeks, I maintained a schedule of working an 8 hour day, visiting the hospital 17 miles away and being a slave to my pump….at work, at the hospital, and all through the night. That’s right folks, I ONLY TOOK 5 DAYS OFF WORK!! I was just begging for PPD to rear its ugly head. I would smile at everyone and give a cheery report about how “I have no reason to be sad or worried considering I have a healthy, growing baby boy.” WRONG!
    Around the 30 day mark, I started feeling terrible. I was crying all of the time, racked with guilt and experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. With the guidence and advice of my friends and family, I realized that it wastime to give my body a rest.
    Maternity leave is not just for the child bonding, its also for the new mother to heal; body, mind and soul. Just because he couldnt come home right away did not mean life should pick up where it left off. I needed time to grieve the loss of my pregnancy (which i loved!). I needed time to understand what had taken place and that it was completely out of my hands. My best advice to those going through the same thing is to not forget about you!
    Having a premature baby can be a very lonely and heartbreaking time. Constantly remind yoursself of the things you have control over and the things you simply do not. Take it day by day, because in the life of a preemie, 24 hours can really make a difference!

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