GUEST POST: By Julie Spencer Howard, Preemie Mom & Owner, It’s a Preemie Thing
I’ve had a few friends develop PPD this past year after having 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, add the stress of the NICU, and WOW, not a good combination!
As a military officer, it’s 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…
64 days in the NICU later, when they set up my son for “Early Intervention” just before leaving the hospital, they told me I had counseling available for me included. I didn’t need counseling, I said. I was fine, I dealt with most things with humor and life would go on. I had adjusted, adapted and would move on. Or so I thought.
Over 13 months later, I still see a counselor once a month. Sometimes things can still hit me out of left field when I least expect them. Both of my parents passed away in 2005, and my husband’s family all live in the UK. I didn’t realize that 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.
Those of you who 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. 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 very hard time. 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. But its OK to ask for help when you need it, whether publicly or privately. Its important!
Please feel free to share your feelings. by commenting below. They might help another mom who is silently struggling.