Is it PPD? Or does being a Mommy just suck?

I would just assume that it is PPD and get some therapy and/or drugs (assuming I could find a shrink I actually like in this town - the last one I tried missed seeing me while I was seated in his waiting room, next to the obligatory fish tank, and left several prissy messages on my home vmail before leaving for lunch, which is when I decided he really was in no position to help me) except that I can’t see how I could possibly feel any differently about my life.

Of course I’m grateful for my babies, for their health and liveliness, but why on earth would I prefer this life to the one I had? Yes, their little smiles are yummy, and I adore the way my baby girl rests her tiny hand on my shoulder when I carry her around, the way my son explores his toys with his little pudgy fingers; but sleeping was nice, too. Going out to draw and paint was nice, going to orchestra was especially nice (even though I’m a lousy musician & was always slightly embarrassed), seeing an occasional movie was nice as well.

Now it’s just fear. Fear of hazards, illness, joblessness, lack of money, lack of patience, terrorists, child molesters. The daughter of a friend of mine dropped dead one day, at age 14, from a heart defect that no one knew she had. Those poor women in Iraq and Bosnia and the Sudan and wherever else are watching their babies die, for no good reason, no less deserving of life than we are here. I don’t see much that separates us from them; no particular reason why we can assume we’ll stay safe, or deserve to.

Then there are the everyday tasks, the overwhelming daily domestic work - I had no idea how easy my life used to be. None. My twins’ needs are infinite, my resources finite. There’s no real measuring of the job I’m doing so far, either, whether I’m on track or slowly messing up. And then will come the time when they’ll need to reject me, move on to their own lives. I’m afraid I’ll be as clueless about them as my own Mom is about me, as my friends’ parents are about them.

I feel like I should be going to high schools and preaching to the girls, sort of a “Scared Straight” for the promiscuous. Some days I just want out.

Find someone you can really talk to. You certainly could have ppd.

I don’t remember how old your twins are but I do remember reading about their births not too long ago. Bringing home one child is stressful - the stresses of two must be more than double that. Any other mom can understand. I know I do.

If you think about it there is a lot to be worried about. I can see how people become agoraphobic! I had to just put each fear into perspective to balance my fear over the kids’ needing to just grow up like regular kids.

I also missed the life I had. I had to rediscover who I was now that I was a mommy. I love being a mother and I love my kids but as selfish as this sounds - that’s not enough for me. So I had to find out what was enough. I’ve taken some classes, teach ceramics, pimp creative memories stuff, do a little cake decorating. I am a lot happier and I cherish the time I’m home with the kids a lot more now that I have a decent balance of mommy time/me time.

I have ppd since the birth of my son. I couldn’t bring him home from the hospital right away and every time someone even mentioned him to me I just bawled. When he came home my depression did not get better. I got help and take antidepressants. I’ve been on them almost a year and we will be weaning me off of them soon. I’m hoping I can stay off of them after the weaning is done.

I remember the birth of your son, tanookie; what a little dear! The pictures you posted were so cute. I believe he’s your second child?

I can definitely relate to what you’re saying about the NICU being depressing - my son spent 12 days there, due to pneumonia. When I’d go to see him I was doubled-over from the anxiety & couldn’t breathe. I did start taking Paxil then. Within a few weeks I was so busy I kept forgetting to take it, so I just let it go. It seems like after 6 months I should be able to cope :rolleyes: .

I just can’t imagine how women have been doing this all these centuries, cheerfully and with love. With all the resources we have now, it’s still damn near impossible.

You know, in a lot of ways we have fewer resources these days. In past times it would be assumed that a new mom was surrounded by friends, neighbors, and extended family, with any number of people available to lend a hand and just let you breathe for a couple of hours. Somewhere along the line we lost all that and replaced it with the current ideal of mom staying home and devoting herself 24/7 to spending quality time with the children (while somehow maintaining a perfect home and a perfect body.) All by herself.

Being the completely selfless, perpetually cheerful mom is as unattainable as the images in any fashion magazine. You need to make sure you get time for yourself every day, if possible, and if that isn’t helping a whole lot, by all means see a doctor. I don’t know your situation, but does dad know how you are feeling right now?

Oh fessie, I feel for you! I am still struggling with some of these issues, and I only have one, and she’s 13 months old.

I’ll tell you something that made me feel a lot better, even though it sounds nuts. Everything you’re feeling is perfectly reasonable and normal, yet some things you are feeling are probably not just regular mommyhood, and do indicate PPD.

I guess what I’m trying to say is every issue you bring up is completely valid, and I think we’ve all felt totally burnt out, empty-headed, resentful, and overwhelmed. But to me it sounds like you are taking the regular helping of mom challenges, and then borrowing a buttload more worry and grief that isn’t applicable to you right now (like your fear of dangers, even remote ones).

I went through the same thing. I borrowed trouble left, right, and center. And in the midst of worrying about her safety, I also hated her a lot in the first six weeks or so. I hear that’s pretty normal, actually.

I took Zoloft (safe during breastfeeding) for a couple months, and it really helped. Then it stopped working so great, and instead of going to the doctor to up my dosage, I decided to stop it. I feel pretty good most of the time. Also, the baby got to be more and more fun (even if she is still a challenge), and that helped too.

Sometimes being a mommy does suck. But it sounds like you’ve gone beyond that so you can hardly enjoy your kids at all. It’s probably worth a trip to the doctor. And get a babysitter once in a while - treat it like something very important, because it is necessary to your sanity!

And try to remember that housework is often optional. Live out of the laundry basket, don’t dust, and leave the beds unmade. It works for me!

Finally, my midwife told me something really valuable: “No baby ever died from crying.” If they have exhausted your resources, there really is no shame in putting them in their cribs or a playpen, shutting the door, and doing something for yourself for 30 minutes. I know the attachment parents out there are cringing, but if it is the difference between being a miserable mom-bot and having some joy in your mothering, it is well worth it.

It could be PPD or it could be a normal healthy reaction to a huge and difficult life change. How overwhelmed and weepy are you feeling? Adjustment to life with a baby is tough – I’d imagine adjustment to life with twins to be that much harder as there is so much more to do.

I’m trying to find an article in the Australian from last weekend which discussed exercise and PPD but it doesn’t appear to be online and I chucked it yesterday. Basically the gist of it was that a walk each day (with babies) can really help.

The Edinburgh Scales are a selftest for PPD

Housework is definitely optional when life is tough. I’ve done virtually nothing except dishes, cooking, laundry and an occasional pick up and vacuum for the last 6 months and we have all survived.

I’m not a mommy, just a husband of a mommy who’s been dealing with PPD off and on for eight years now (since before the birth of our first – we now have three). First, parts of being a mommy definitely suck – even for mommies who’re otherwise thrilled with it, there are times when you just want to chuck the whole business. That’s normal. What you need to examine is whether how you’re feeling about things is getting in the way of functioning normally – not as you’d normally have functioned before having kids (those days are gone), but whatever you think normally would be under the current circumstances. One clue in your post is when you say “I can’t see how I could possibly feel any differently about my life”; one hallmark of depression is an inability to visualize or conceive of any way for your situation to be different. Despair tends to feed on itself in a downward spiral. Part of the cognitive approach to treating depression, and especially perinatal depression, is to help the subject identify strategies for dealing with this – to recognize when it’s happening and cope with it when it does.

The challenges of dealing with babies, especially in the first few months, are huge, even when there’s only one. I can only imagine what it’s like with twins – I know that when our second was born, two and a half years after the first, it was more like a geometric rather than arithmetic increase in difficulty (i.e., difficulty squared instead of difficulty+difficulty). And I definitely think that having two at the incredibly dependent infant stage instead of one infant and one toddler makes it that much more difficult again. Sleep deprivation makes it even more difficult to cope – the fatigue makes things that would be minor problems or annoyances under other circumstances into catastrophes or seemingly insurmountable obstacles when you’re wiped out. And yet you have to keep going, because these little people are utter dependent on you for everything.

There’s no law of nature that says you have to enjoy your current life more than your life before kids. You’re not a bad person or a lousy parent to wish that you could be doing more of the things you did before having kids – everybody’s different, and everyone’s reaction to having kids is different. So don’t beat yourself up over what you think you ought to feel. Acknowledge what you do feel, find whatever strategies you can for coping with it, and move ahead. As long as you’re not neglecting your babies or actively harming them, there’s very little chance that they’re going to know or be affected by whether you’re thinking how adorable and precious they are or that you’d really rather be sailing (or whatever). If anyone tries to bully you into feeling something you don’t, just offer them an outward “Thank you – I’ll certainly give your suggestion the consideration it deserves” and an inward “Pound sand, putz” and forget it.

Another clue that you may be tending toward depression is when you say “My twins’ needs are infinite, my resources finite.” The second part is indisputable, but the first is indisputably false (much as it may seem otherwise), and it’s indicative of the sort of spiral of despair I mentioned above. It may feel like there’s no way you can meet all of childrens’ needs, but the reality is that if you’re able to keep them fed and sheltered, and perhaps clothed (as the weather begins to cool down), most of the rest is optional. Meeting their absolute needs is difficult enough – don’t make your own task tougher than it is by piling a whole lot of optional expectations on top and then finding fault with yourself for not fulfilling those expectations. It’s easy to miss how much the way we describe the situation determines our reaction to it – if their needs were in fact infinite, there’s no way anyone could meet them, which means that there’s no point in trying. Acknowledging that what’s infinite is the number of things you’d like to do for them, or that you would do for them if you could, is a very different thing. If they’re still alive and healthy you’re meeting their needs (much as it may not seem like it at times).

The fear of all the bad things that might happen is also natural, and I won’t claim that it ever goes away. But you have to ask yourself when you experience this sort of anxiety “Is my concern about this in proportion to the likelihood of it happening?”, and then “Are there reasonable precautions I can take to mitigate this risk without allowing it to control my life?” Rationally, I should be much more worried about my kids getting in an automobile to drive to school than I should be that they will be abducted from the school grounds. I do what I can to mitigate the risk of the former by ensuring that they’re riding with a sober driver, are properly restrained in car seats, etc. The latter isn’t particularly likely, and I’m satisfied that the precautions in place at their school are reasonable and that anything more would be disproportionate. I can’t control many of the risks we all face each day, and there are risks out there so rare that I could never anticipate them in advance, yet any number of these could end up harming or killing one or more of my children. For those, there is no answer except to go on with life and cope as best you can should one of them strike – if they do, it’s not going to be your fault, whatever you or other people may try to make you believe.

The most hopeful thing I can say is that the baby months are the hardest, and they do come to an end (and sooner than you think). Your life will never be the same as it was before you had kids, but before long it won’t be the same as it is now, either. There will come a time when you’re able to resume doing at least some of the things you did before, albeit less often or in different ways. Difficult as it is to believe now, there will come a time when you’ll find it hard to remember what these days were like.

Having said all that, I think it’d be worth your while to find a counsellor of some sort to explore this with. Don’t assume that J. Random Shrink is up to speed on PPD – there’s a lot of research going on in this area, and you really want someone who makes it a point to stay up to date on developments. If you’re not able to find one on your own that you’re comfortable with, see if there’s a university anywhere in your area with a program in postpartum or perinatal mood disorders to see if they’re able to recommend anyone. I’m personally a big fan of an approach that combines cognitive strategies with medication as determined by the doctor. Meanwhile, my wife’s psychiatrist recommends that all his new patients read This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression; he’s also one of the country’s leading researchers in this field, so I give his opinion a lot of weight.

I’m 8 months pregnant with my first child (a little boy) and I have been reading these parenting magazines and they kind of scare me. Is parenthood really that bad?

No. It just seems that way from time to time. And some mothers do get a chemical/hormonal imbalance that leads to these symptoms. Plus caring for a child can be very, very tiring. Many, probably most, mothers get weepy for a couple days while balance is restored through the body’s natural processes. Some need help getting back in synch. IMH (and non-professional) O, if these symptoms continue one MUST get professional help. Sometimes counseling helps, or a support group, or some meds for a while.

I think it’s also a factor that many times a woman is too isolated. There’s not a ready community of others to commiserate with or to share burdens. If you’re lucky there’s a caring, sensitive, responsible father in the picture, but even then he’s probably off earning a living a good portion of the day. If you can find even one other person to visit with for a while some days just to have another adult to talk to for a while, that’s a big help. Or someone to keep an eye on the little one(s) while you take a much-needed nap.

Wow, these replies are phenomenal. As you might guess, my opportunities for posting are limited, but I’m looking forward to sneaking some time to continue this conversation. Thanks for the compassion and insight. :slight_smile: I figured I wasn’t the only one & Dopers are exactly the people to discuss this with.

Well my husband works anywhere from 12-13 hours a day so I guess I will be pretty isolated myself. I already suffer from bi-polarism I hope my PPD isn’t that bad. I do have his parents, who live pretty close though, I’m sure they won’t mind helping from time to time. :slight_smile:

Back slowly away from the parenting magazines with your hands where I can see them. Put down the propaganda that says you can indeed have it all and look beautiful in full makeup without a hair out of place and with 8 full hours of sleep a night.

The reality is kids take time, patience and money. There are toys everywhere in my house and I haven’t made the beds except when I change the sheets! The laundry gets worn before it gets folded most of the time and the dishwasher is my best friend.

My kids are happy and healthy and I’ve made peace with the rest. I’ve told a few people to take their opinions and stuff them. Yes we’ve probably had a few chicken nuggets too many this week but I think that’s better than having a kid that refuses to eat any meat at all.

I also tell people we don’t charge extra for the pet fur.

The infant days do suck as the work/reward ratio is huge. This does get better. I’m betting once my daughter potty trains I will be ecstatic for months.

I’m pretty thankful for the outlet the board provides. I can come here and talk about whatever stage the kids and I are going through and then I can cope better or have something to try to change things and all without leaving the house.

I still have days where I wonder who decided I’d be good at this parenting thing but I no longer feel so overwhelmed. My hubby is a great supporter though. He even gives me guilt free time to lounge in the bath whenever I need it.

My son turns one this October. I don’t know where this last year went. We try to keep the pictures updated. Yep, he is our second. The girl child turned 3 in May. pictures are under family/zachary/cara sections

A couple of things:

If you have in-laws close by, and they’re willing and able to help, use them as much as you can in the early months. The more they’re able to do, the less you’ll have to do, and the less you’ll be dealing with whatever comes along through an impenetrable fog of fatigue (you’ll still be tired all the time, just not unbearably so). On the other hand, if they want to spend a whole lot of time visiting and playing with the baby and expect you to play host the same way you would have before the baby, cut that off ASAP. You’ll have enough to deal with without having to try to be Julie McCoy, Cruise Social Director, at the same time.

Is your OB/GYN aware that you are/have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? If so, I’m surprised that you haven’t already been referred to a psychiatrist with a speciality in perinatal mood disorders. If not, you might want to bring it up in one of your next visits. In my wife’s case, the mere fact of having had a family doctor prescribe Paxil for her for a short time several years before she became pregnant was enough that her OB/GYN referred her to her current psychiatrist in the last couple of months before our first child was born. I’ve always been grateful that we had already established that contact and had a sense in advance of how we were going to deal with things.

fessie, it might be a good idea to talk to a professional about the possibility of PPD. Even if PPD isn’t the source of your feelings it would still probably help. As a starting point, your hospital might have counselors and resources that you can use (possibly for free). And certainly the various moms groups would too. At the very least, it will give you a chance to get out of the house alone. :wink:

My wife and I had twins three years ago and, in retrospect, it seems like she might have suffered from PPD. I really wish we had realized it and dealt with it rather than trying to tough-it-out.

Of course, with twins a day didn’t go by where I didn’t ask myself: “How can people possibly manage triplets?”

Oh hon. You’re so not alone.

When I was born I nearly died. My mom didn’t physically see me until I was about 3 weeks old, as we were in different cities. I didn’t come home from the hospital for about a month.

As such, she openly admits that while she knew she had to take care of me, for the first year of my life she wasn’t “in love” with me. She thinks it’s because all she saw when I was born was my little foot, and then I was out the door. No touching, no bonding, nothing. Add to that the antics of my idiot alcoholic father and her own brush with death and my birth was NOT a happy time for her.

So the bonding process took a bit longer.

My point is, though, that it DID happen.

I’m NOT saying that you haven’t bonded with your babies. It’s a process, it’s not just something that happens instantaneously.

However, if you spent time away from them in the beginning, and also taking into account that at least one of them was in the NICU, it doesn’t sound like you had a chance to really ENJOY being a new mommy. You were too busy recuperating and worrying about your little ones’ health! And now it sounds like you’re running yourself ragged and expecting waaaaaay too much out of yourself.

Are the kids alive? Have they been fed? Have you taken a bath within the past 48 hours? Is the Health Department threatening to condemn your house? Then you’re doing fine.

Hormones are so nutty even after the delivery. IANAD but it does sound like PPD. Your body has just finished making 2 entire human beings and pregnancy screws with every body part you have, even your brain. Antidepressants may be able to help get your brain chemistry back on an even keel.

You have got to get yourself a babysitter and get out of the house. Yes, run away from home. Go see a movie. Lock yourself in the bedroom and take a nap. If you’re eligible for something like LINK, put them in a daycare for a day or two a week. I’m not a huge fan of daycare, but I am less of a fan of mommies walking around exhausted and miserable. We are not designed to be with our offspring every second of every day; this is why God invented grandparents and other family members. Ask for help!

Wonderful responses, everyone! I’m so proud of us. :slight_smile:

The only thing I wanted to add is this: when you ask for help, be as specific as you can. My good friend just called me today seething because her mother came over and started sorting laundry, when all she (new mom) wanted to do was sit and chat and get some mom advice.

“Mom, would you mind terribly coming over and running two loads of laundry for me, and maybe whipping up some of your fabulous stew?” lets her know exactly what kind of help you need. That way, she isn’t expecting to come diddle with the little one if what you really need is a clean shirt and food while you get to know your baby better. Or “Dad, could you just hold the baby for 45 minutes while I get a nap? I’ve pumped some milk if she needs it.”

This can save a lot of grief and misunderstandings if the “help” your in-laws or friends provide is not what you consider helpful.

Also, if you have any spare room at all, invest in a deep-freeze and freeze meals ahead. Dinner prep is so much easier if all you have to do is preheat the oven and throw a pre-made casserole in. Add a bag o’ salad and you’re done. When I was a new mom, my mother would come over on Sundays, we’d make five or six freezable meals, and then enjoy one together that night. Ordering pizza once a week will not kill your family, either.

My aunt killed herself in January because of PPD. No one knew anything was wrong, because she hid her pain so well. The shock and agony my family has gone through since then has been indescribable. Everyone feels guilty that they didn’t see what was happening to her.

If you even think you may have PPD, please, for the love of your families, see a doctor immediately. Don’t hide what you’re feeling-- let those who love you help you.

fessie, all of these responses are so right on the mark I don’t think I can add too much except maybe some perspective from a distance. My daughter is grown now, she is a beautiful young woman, a productive adult and someone I would like and want to spend time with even she were not my daughter.

But reading your post and the responses made me remember having those same feelings and worries when she was a baby. Am I doing ok? (I was.) Am I really screwing her up? (Nope.) Will my life ever be the same again? (No, it will be better.) For that matter, will it ever even be my life again? (Yes, with some great new benefits.) I know now what I didn’t know then; that these are very normal worries and fears for a new mom to have.

I loved tanookie’s comment to “back away from those magazines”, spoken like a new mom who has figured it out.

So many good ideas already given. Do share your feelings with those around you and let them help. Talk to your doctor about the possiblity of PPD. And keep coming back to the SDMB for support.

You. are. not. alone. :slight_smile:

I wish I could hold and take care of a newborn now and then! :frowning: I’ve always had that baby-hunger thing (at least since I was 5 or so!) but I do not wish to be a parent.

Maybe we should set up a Straight Dope Babysitting League or something. I bet you’d feel a lot better if you could leave it all behind you for a few days now and then!

I wouldn’t medicalize what you’re feeling without really good reason. You have perfectly legitimate situational reasons for feeling what you’re feeling without positing a brain disorder.

I’m serious about the Babysitting League thingie. I bet there are lots of folks here who don’t happen to have kids and don’t want kids on a permanent basis but would enjoy playing Uncle Tuesday or Aunt Sunday & tickling little feet or playing hide 'n seek or reading Dr. Seuss - ??

Wow, thank you so much everybody ((((((hugs)))))). So many excellent points made, you’ve all really made a difference. I’m feeling much happier. This is a terribly long post, but my babies are sleeping and I’m so grateful to all of you.

Lissa I am so sorry for your loss! How sad. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure I’m not the only bummed-out mommy reading this thread; you’ve undoubtedly reached many people.

cher3 I like the way you talk about squeezing in a few minutes here & there - that’s a lot less daunting than trying to imagine “arranging my life” to better suit my needs, and it’s something I can do right away. You and tanookie (love those birthday pix of your little girl!) are so right about the impossible image of motherhood. One of the gifts I received at a baby shower was one of those calendars with stickers for the milestones, and it talks about what a “cuddly snuggly” time it is when you first bring a baby home. I think I’m going to burn that calendar - when I first brought my babies home, it was “terrifying and sleepless”. But I don’t suppose that would sell as well. :wink:

All of you who mentioned babysitters - you’re right, I know you’re right, I’ve got to find a way to do that. A Babysitter’s League sounds excellent! Maybe there’s a way to do it? We do live in Chicagoland right now.

And I should join a mommy group, as CaveMike pointed out; I do know of one, but frankly they terrify me. I just don’t feel like a real mommy & I don’t want these women to overpower me! I just know they’ll all be swapping recipes & whipping out their glue guns to do craft projects involving egg crates and toe jamb – or else they’ll all be breastfeeding their 4-yr-olds and warning people away from immunizations! It shouldn’t bother me, I should feel confident enough of my identity and choices to celebrate diversity, or at least accept and respect other opinions. But I don’t, I’m defensive and judgemental and I don’t want to inflict that on other people. I wonder if this is why a lot of moms are isolated, as MLS pointed out; I know I’m responsible for doing it to myself. After the sheer number of hours required to care for children, I think the “Mommy Identity Crisis” may be the biggest challenge, and I can’t think of any remedy except for time and practice.

AerynSun, that’s so true about borrowing fears - as you and rackensack pointed out, I’ll have to work on being more deliberately rational, keeping things in perspective. And I appreciate hearing from you and tanookie and smartini that your emotional journeys weren’t easy, either. That’s huge. Abbie Carmichael I’m glad to hear you remarking about the bonding process as a lengthy one; I wish that it weren’t the case, but I have to believe you’re right.

Re: housework, this is tragic - living out of the laundry basket was already our norm! It’s hard to lower your standards when you didn’t have any :stuck_out_tongue: . Terrible, but true; I’m now doing what you do, Primaflora, which you see as a minimum, but for me this is new! Aaack! All those years of being a slob were not a good thing!

WhyNot, that’s an excellent point about getting the help that’s truly needed. I think we women have a hard time asserting our needs.

And I definitely agree with you AerynSun about letting them cry for a minute or two when you just can’t take it. I have to admit, I’m already using TV for brief spells when my resources are exhausted; Noggin is my friend! I mentioned to someone that the bathroom was the one room in our apartment in which I couldn’t hear the babies crying, so they gave me a baby monitor - I sent that bugger back! No way I’m giving up that refuge!

rackensack, that was wonderful, thank you so much for all of those insights! I keep reading and re-reading your post. It really resonated for me when you said Acknowledging that what’s infinite is the number of things you’d like to do for them, or that you would do for them if you could, is a very different thing.. How true! I really had never thought of it that way. You’ve given me a lot to consider.

OK, now I’ll tell you guys a funny story, just to show I’m not completely around the bend. Or maybe I’ve always been around the bend. One of those. It might be TMI, but I suspect everyone can relate.

I often feel that I’m channeling Erma Bombeck. Earlier this month we all developed a good-old GI flu (we’re fine now, nobody got dehydrated). My daughter picked it up first, vomiting and diarrhea over a weekend. It wasn’t too violent and happened during the daytime. My case showed up starting at 10:00 pm Monday, and my son started at midnight. So the first time he gets sick in our bed (I’m co-sleeping), it’s strip the bed, change the sheets, bath for the baby, fresh nightie. At 3:00 I settle for washing his face, changing his clothes & putting a fresh towel under him (I have to pause while washing him so that I can throw up a few times). 3:30 he gets a damp washcloth and scooted over to a clean part of the sheet. 4:00 another clean corner. At 5:00 we’re on the floor, as there is no clean spot left on the bed, and I’m like, face that way if you have to heave, kid!

He was mostly fine a couple of hours later, poor little guy.