Postpartum Depression in a Small Town

IMG_20150209_203820I have been crying every day. I am totally overwhelmed since the birth of my second baby. Do I love him? Oh yes. Do I wish life were back to the way it was before he came? Absolutely. How can both of these feelings be true at the same time? I feel sudden rage and then calm acceptance like I am on a random and nasty seesaw. The simplest tasks seem monumental. I am stuck in a paralysis that I don’t particularly seem to want to pull myself up out of.

So there it is and this feels like a terrible admission but here’s the truth – I really don’t like my life right now. The vision that I had of how we would all be together once he arrived and what our days would look like with a new baby and a preschooler at home has died. I am mourning the loss of that vision. I can’t just put Vincent down while I do a preschool craft with Althea. He needs me in a way that I don’t remember Althea needing me when she was very little. Moreover, Althea has become much needier herself as she struggles to figure out her new role in the family and has begun to regress to patterns and behaviours I was sure she had gotten past. Add some new normal preschooler manias to the mix and I barely recognize my little girl anymore. I miss her very much.

There is more television watching in my house than there has ever been in the past … well… except for that Six Feet Under marathon we did before we had kids but I digress. As an organized type A parent who wants to introduce my child to new stories, outdoor experiences, arts and music every day – I am discovering that not only do I not have the energy or time to do our old activities, I can barely find out whether she wants to watch Clifford the Dog or Napkin Man and select the channel before racing off to quiet her wailing brother.

Of course all of this is completely normal and is going to pass but right now it’s so hard to imagine the future as anything but dismal. Why am I sharing this on this blog? Why am I telling this to all my friends and family? Because I’m learning that while I feel emotions of guilt – I am not ashamed of who I am right now. I am horribly horribly saddened and wish it were otherwise but I don’t see this as a personal failing. I understand that there are environmental and hormonal reasons I am suffering. I am learning that suffering is not something to run from but something to acknowledge and work through.

So what kinds of resources can a person in small town Aylmer find to help them with postpartum depression? Not a lot truthfully. I am on two waiting lists for counseling help. One with the CLSC and one with the Ottawa Hospital. It’s not clear if the latter will even accept Quebec patients and so I have to acknowledge that this may be a 6 to 7 month wait for the CLSC to contact me. By that time I’m quite certain I will no longer need the care. Such a shame but this is the truth about mental health care in this region.

So does this mean I have to go through this alone? No. And while they are not specifically focused on postpartum care, here are the resources in my small town that I have found particularly helpful to get me through this difficult time:

Clinique parents-enfants (Sharon, our pediatric nurse, helped me to diagnose the depression using the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale and has reached out countless times since to see how I am progressing)

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Nourri-lait (Sylvie, an experienced lactation consultant, worked to help me battle a bad case of mastitis and gave me a space to talk about the stress of not sleeping)

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Christ Church Playgroup (My dear friends at the local playgroup who hold my new little man, make jokes, and talk about all sorts of things that have everything and nothing to do with the little beasts who live in our homes and make our lives both rewarding and horrifying).

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Otherwise, I have been seeking aid through my guy’s Employee Assistance Program counselors, my OBGYN, my yoga studio and of course my family (mom is a gift and a treasure!) and friends who have been there or who have suffered in other ways (my sister calls them my “me too” people). So there. That’s what’s going down. If you are going through any of this kind of issue well – me too. I hope this post may be helpful if you live nearby. I am blessed with friends and family who understand that sometimes I need space and sometimes I need their ear or loving arms right away. It’s a fine balance right now and I am walking the tight rope, holding my arms aloft and trying to see the platform on the other side. All my love to you all.

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Prenatal Practice

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I’ve found it hard to carve out time for just me and my new little one. Now that I’m heading into the last trimester I know that I need to spend some time getting to know him especially since he is definitely attempting to communicate with me. His movements tell me when he likes a particular piece of chocolate I’ve eaten, when he needs a good stretch and when he wants to let dad know he’s listening to his voice. With my first child, I was aware of all these things at all times and was in a state of semi-awe for the majority of the pregnancy. I made sure to slow down and touch base with her regularly when she was in the womb. This time – not as much. So. I decided. It’s time for me and my little guy. We joined a prenatal yoga class in our community at Centre Yoga Aylmer. Last night was the first session.

I stumbled along the stone-lined path leading from the parking lot to the studio located in a small heritage home in my town. It was dark and the rain was coming down so I wasn’t actually sure I had the right spot but when I opened the door and was greeted by three women with beautiful round bellies – I knew I had found the place. Several of the women had been to the studio before and eagerly requested that the instructor light the wood stove in the corner of the room to ward off the November chill outside. These same women just as eagerly clamoured for it to be turned off as the class got under way. Squats, push ups, salutations and hip openers had us all working out our “sitali breathing’ (cooling yoga breaths) as we remembered that everything is heavier and harder right now.

So good to be together with these women and with my baby. And what a cute little studio right near home! Next season I think Althea and I might check out the family yoga classes on the weekend while daddy bonds with Vincent.

Barbe a papa

Last weekend, we headed out to our little town’s very first Fete de l’erable. It was so nice to be out in our community and even nicer to be sampling all things sweet and lovely! We tried maple syrup water (for use in cooking) at the Chorizo et chevre noir cheese and sandwich shop and the beautiful flowing barbe a l’erable over at our little Moca Loca – the area’s favourite coffee shop.

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In french, cotton candy is called “barbe a papa” which literally translates to “father’s beard.” Isn’t that a charming name? There is a strange sensation eating something that feels like fleece but it melted on the tongue like a syrup-drizzled cloud. Althea thoroughly enjoyed!

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We rounded out our sugar-laden afternoon with a stop in to Beatrice et chocolats to pick up our Easter treats for the cousins who are visiting for a short while from the Boston area at Easter time.  For little Ian a small milk chocolate egg so that he doesn’t get too wound up on the two day drive home and for our sweet Della-Louise a milk chocolate kitty cat! Mee-ow!

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Well. We are hooked. The only thing for it is a trip to the sugar bush this coming weekend at the Sucrerie Alary up the line in Luskville.

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Town Hall Bells

There is something about the sense of community that a simple sound creates. In our little town, we have always had town hall bells that ring at noon and 6 o’clock in the evening. I love hearing them and knowing that everyone else in this town is listening to them at the same time that I am. It makes me feel connected and as a stay-at-home mom that is so important to me.belltower