My Journey with Post Partum Mood Disorders
By: Dr. Shannon Viana
My husband and I were pregnant with our daughter in my last year of my doctoral degree. He had just finished school and was working full time and I was working five days a week as an intern and another day and a half a week in a local clinic to learn the business side of being a chiropractor. My strong willed daughter who’s name literally means ‘with purpose’ decided to boot her way into this world a whole three weeks ahead of schedule. This was the about where I began to understand that having children meant no schedule, no timeline and plans change – a lot. Her early arrival meant Mama would need to cart a newborn to clinic to finish her hours and numbers to graduate. To be honest it’s two months of my life I don’t even remember.
It wasn’t pretty. Add on her significant reflux and a typical day looked something like this…nurse every 2-3 hours for at least an hour, pump, get thrown up on and repeat almost immediately. Our couch had a permanent impression of my butt and I managed to make it through all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls! At the time we lived in Mississauga in an apartment building with the most unreliable elevators ever. If they worked, it was a freaking miracle. Unfortunately for me these were the days when baby wearing hadn’t become such an everyday sight so it wasn’t uncommon for me and little miss to be stranded on the 12th floor for most of the day. Stir in that we had no local family or friends and that most of the ‘parents’ at the local community centre programs were in fact grandparents and she and I were alone. It was a perfect storm.
It’s interesting because I would have said then that I didn’t have a post partum mood disorder. I thought PPD was depression – intense sadness and not connecting to your baby. Now I can and will tell you differently. I was angry, perhaps the most angry I’ve ever been my whole life. Angry that I was stranded, angry that I was alone, angry that I no longer had adult conversations and angry that I no longer got to use my brain in an academic way. The longer the isolation went on, the angrier I got until one day I took a hard look at those feelings and I realized that we needed a change, we needed to move and we needed to find our community.
We picked up everything and we headed to the one place I always felt like visiting and never leaving – Kitchener-Waterloo. We bought a house, we settled in, we got involved and we found our community. As we approach our 7th year of living in this lovely city I sit here typing this and smiling to myself thinking of my family here. We are happy. Life isn’t always pretty, it’s rarely fair but we have built a village of lovely people around us who have become family. It’s these people, this village who protect us from life’s storms.
About 4 years ago a lovely woman named Heather reached out and wondered if I’d like to get involved with a new local chapter of a charity called ‘Life With a Baby’. A charity dedicated to helping break the isolation around becoming a new parent in a changing society. I jumped at the chance to make a difference and I’ve never looked back. Becoming a parent is a scary, wonderful thing and I think at the end of the day we could all use a little more community backing us up. If you or someone you love has been touched by a post partum mood disorder connect them with Life With a Baby or consider helping by donating so that they can reach more moms with their great work.