Some call it the baby blues and some call it postpartum depression, but there are a range of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders that can affect mothers. Click below for stories told by six Shasta County moms. Their honest stories don't sugarcoat motherhood. Instead, they share their hardships -- during and after pregnancy -- and how they found support and joy in motherhood.

Amber Keegan   Amber Poeschel   Elisa Knopf   Shannon Brown   Stacey Finkle

Amy Ross: Meant for Motherhood

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"Growing up, I always wanted to be a mom. When we started trying to have a child, it took us almost a year to get pregnant. We were so excited about it. I am not really like into being pregnant very much, I found out, but it was worth it. When I had Mason, it was this huge transition for me. It is such a unique experience that you can't really describe it. I had all the good stuff, but I was also nervous because I wanted this thing for so long, and he was just so tiny and vulnerable – I was worried he was just going to die.

 My anxiety initially manifested in these insane dreams where I would just leave my baby or forget him. That transitioned into daytime feelings of fear that I was going to drop him, and then he'd hit his head on the edge of the table and crack his head open and die. People kept talking to me about postpartum depression. But I knew I wasn't depressed. I was happy, but I was scared."

 

 


 

Initial Treatment

458"I came to WIC and I saw Sara, an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). I came for breastfeeding stuff, and I ended up talking about a bunch more than breastfeeding. She told me about her experiences with her son, and how she had these racing thoughts. She said that is how Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders can manifest. I had never heard of that. I went home, I thought about it, and I just kind of like watched myself through the day. It was exactly what I was going through.

I function pretty well with my depression overall. I can come to work every day and I can do my job well. But on bad days, I'll come home from work and just pass out. I am just exhausted. There is lots of weird stuff that happens with my anxiety and PTSD. I sweat, I bite my nails, or I pick at things. I get racing thoughts, and I’m clumsy and forgetful.

I realized I needed to get some medication for this because it was really intense. I also got this little baby monitor that clipped to Mason’s diaper and monitored his breathing. Best $90 I ever spent. Those things together really helped, and I am glad that I reached out for that help.”

 


 

Losing a Child

“Now, we fast forward six years. I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I had immediate mixed feelings. We had talked about having another child. I had this joy and this surprise, but also this intense fear again. Other people were so excited for me and I liked holding onto their joy.  

The day before my first prenatal appointment, I start bleeding. I went to the hospital and they just told me to keep the appointment with my OB. The OB did an ultrasound and the baby was only measuring at five weeks. I knew that was impossible. They said it could be a miscarriage. I was scared about it and I remember going home and just kind of sitting with myself and realizing that could be the situation.

On January 31, I woke up at 4 a.m. to the most intense cramps of my life. It felt like contractions. I did not want to go back to the Emergency Room. I wanted to see my doctor. I called my doctor’s office and went in to see the Physician's Assistant. She made me feel like I was crazy – that this intense pain and blood clots were not real. She said she'd had three miscarriages and they weren't painful. She did end up giving me pain killers, but she kept telling me I needed to take my Ativan for my anxiety. I filled the prescription, and it didn't touch the pain. I finally had to go to the Emergency Room because I started bleeding out. 

We finally got help, the pregnancy passed completely and the bleeding stopped. I could see the gestational sac, and I was just so relieved. I just knew it was okay that this happened, that I had gotten through it and I was not going to die. It was like we had come so close to feeling like I was dying – it helped in dealing with the emotional side of things. But I did not want to talk about it.

There is a stigma about miscarriage. It's so terrible that we just don't talk about it. I felt like my needs were not being answered by my OB’s office. There was also this intense relief from losing the pregnancy. It made me feel so guilty because I did not want to be pregnant, and I was not ready. The thing that I really took from all of this was that I do want to have another baby. This time was not right, but I feel like this is going to be the catalyst that helps me get to where I want to be.”

 


 

Health in Body and Mind

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"From this, I started a new weight loss program, and I am taking control of my life. As I'm getting to a healthier weight and eating right and wearing my Fitbit, it is helping me mentally. Therapy is going to help me more and help the weight loss even more because I emotionally eat. I am feeling better about how to feed myself right, and what steps I need to take, but there is still stuff that I need to work out in my brain to make sure that I continue doing those things. I want to be here for my family for a long time.

Talk about your issues with somebody that you trust or find somebody who can give you an honest opinion. There are so many resources in our community for moms. There is free therapy. Or, if you cannot go get professional help, talk to someone. Don't be alone. Find somebody that will listen.  

I also stood my ground. We need feel okay about standing up for what is right for us. We need to be able to talk about hard things, like miscarriage. It happens; one of my doctors said it happens one in three women. It might even be more than that, because sometimes people don't realize they're having a miscarriage. I do not want anyone to feel the way that I did. If something is not right, if you do not feel right, there is a reason for it. Listen to yourself and advocate, advocate, advocate.”