PPSM Baby Brain; Emotional Wellness in Pregnancy, Postpartum and Parenting

Past Trauma Plays a Role in Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

August 31, 2021 Samantha Season 2 Episode 4
PPSM Baby Brain; Emotional Wellness in Pregnancy, Postpartum and Parenting
Past Trauma Plays a Role in Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.
Show Notes Transcript

Joy McAfee survivor and postpartum doula shares her story of overcoming postpartum depression and anxiety rooted in past trauma. 

Postpartum Doula and founder of Joy the Village Doula LLC Member of CAPPA, Member of PPSMN,  trained and special interest in serving birth folks of color experiencing PMADS. Despite many challenges created by the COVID pandemic, Joy has had the honor of servicing 20 families since opening her business in 2020.

facebook.com/joythedoula   
instagram.com/joy_the_doula

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Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

Hi listeners. Welcome to baby brain. I'm Samantha Huga your host with me tonight is joy McAfee. She's a postpartum doula trained in P Mads and a member of pregnancy and postpartum support, Minnesota. She's also a part of the scholarship program and one of the doulas who provide services through the award program of PPSs welcome joy.

Speaker 3:

Thank you for having me.

Speaker 2:

I'd like to start by having you describe for us a little bit about what life was like pre any mental health concern.

Speaker 3:

I was a newlywed. I was very community focused. I was in the midst of figuring out financial stability. As a young adults are working crazy hours, things like that, a love for the outdoors. And I was a camp counselor and enjoyed doing that. Enjoy connecting with children. I'm a twin. Um, my family also adopted five children. And so, um, being at home as the oldest girl, helping take care of all the littles and create great memories with them, um, was a lot of what I, I enjoyed doing prior to meeting my husband and becoming a newlywed and all that jazz. Did you have

Speaker 2:

Any mental health issues prior to the baby and P mat?

Speaker 3:

I prepared myself for being on an infantry infertility journey as was my mother's journey. And so there came a lot of thoughts and feelings with that, but more severely working at, at the camp. I survived a fire as a survivor of the fire. I ended up having post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, and I was receiving care through regions hospital to work through post-traumatic stress disorder and the anxiety that came with healing. And that was six that happened six years prior to me giving birth to my first child, my son, I had no idea. I was never warned how post traumatic stress disorder or how anxiety having those would impact my postpartum journey. I was never informed. I was not aware. I read this book about baby blues from a comedian and it was incredible, but it never mentioned how her struggle with baby blues was impacted by having any type of previous mental illness that was never discussed. And so even in speaking to my practitioner, it was not discussed. I found myself struggling in my postpartum period. I was caught off guard.

Speaker 2:

Can you share with us a little bit about your journey with pregnancy and mood or anxiety?

Speaker 3:

When we discovered we were pregnant with my son, there were a lot of mixed emotions. As, as newlyweds. We had discovered that we were, that we were pregnant when we were preparing ourselves for a journey to be struggling potentially with infertility. And so while there were lots of ups and downs during that time that even triggered some thoughts and feelings within myself. And also while we were trying to gain our footing as a new couple with financial stability, we found ourselves really wondering if we were, if we were ready, but also counting our blessings that we weren't on the infertility journey. So that was a lot of the ups and downs. And I believe that that truck that triggered some of the anxiety in the beginning during my pregnancy adding all of that. And also some of the health anxiety, not, not having any of that on my radar, but really knowing, looking back that it was bubbling under the surface. I was diagnosed as high risk during my pregnancy because of gestational diabetes, working lots of hours until I absolutely couldn't anymore to stave off some of the instability, the financial instability anxiety that was bubbling up when my son was born, our experience in the hospital was, I wouldn't say traumatic, but it wasn't tense and frustrating. I had a induction with my son at 38 weeks because of my gestational diabetes. I was told by a nurse that my son's clavicle bone would have to be broken if I chose not to have a C-section, I didn't know what to expect. I was terrified that that that was going to happen, that they would have to break my son's classical bone in order to remove him from the birth canal. If I chose not to have a C-section trying to advocate for myself and my husband trying to advocate for myself at that moment, we asked the nurse not to return, um, and asked to have enough acid doctor to have another nurse come in. And the nurse returned and asked in the midst of pushing why, why she was asked to leave the room when my son was born and was absolutely normal size and came out fairly, fairly quickly after pushing that's was still stayed on us. That experience still stayed with us, that we have to trust a doctor. We have to trust these medical professionals with our child's care, and we couldn't even be heard or seen or valued in our most vulnerable moment. And having that be the beginning of our, our journey as parents added a lot of questions and even more anxiety when we got home, it, it didn't equate to for several weeks that this is my child. As I had walked through so many situations as a babysitter, as a childcare provider, as a childcare provider at a camp in so many community focused instances. And even as an older sister with all these younger children under us under me, I, it didn't equate to me that I'm a mom now, until things started getting really hard. And I'm a mom became I'm all me, me and my husband. We're all we got. That was really difficult. I didn't realize that the difficulty and all of the anxiety and all of the hard bubbling up under the surface with everything that was going on, I never paused to reflect in those moments that I'm really struggling. I didn't see that not, not resting because I'm making sure that baby's okay, the baby's breathing. I'm making sure that baby's feeding. Um, even if baby's not hungry, I was waking baby up to feed. And when baby was hungry and I did fall asleep, I would get discombobulated. I would get really confused that, oh yeah, I guess it's time to feed baby. Um, in those moments where I would be between wake and sleep, um, it's time for me to, to do this. And even in, in that, even in breastfeeding, it still didn't occur to me as fully real that this was, this was my child. I think there was a lot of disassociation going on. And again, when it did, when it finally did Dawn on me and it was okay, this is what we're doing. It was so hardcore that even when, when and intense that when others, including my husband wanted to hold baby, wanted to console. Baby wanted to encourage me to sleep, wanted to encourage me to eat. Everything was uncomfortable. If it wasn't me, if it wasn't me, that was consoling baby. If it wasn't me, that was providing the feeding. If it wasn't me, that was, that was there, Johnny on the spot taking care of everything. I got burnt out really quickly with hindsight that I'm, that I see this not in the moment when it was time for my six to eight week appointment, uh, the doctor asked me, so how are you doing really? My OB GYN looked me in the eyes and asked me, how are you doing really? And, and she asked me, no, really, how are you doing? How are your how's there? And I just broke down crying that she asked again, when she asked again and waited for my response pouring out of truth that came out, I just could not stop crying. And I ended up being prescribed a medication and being told to schedule an appointment with a therapist to walk through what was going on internally. And a lot of the walkthrough brought up several triggers that came straight from my PTSD and my anxiety. And it was brought to my attention at that time that having PTSD and anxiety, it doesn't go away. It just changes when I thought it would go away because, oh, we're not struggling with infertility. Oh, we're, we've got these things going on in life. We're being blessed with an extra, with, to add on into our family. I thought that, oh, that my, I don't have any reason to be anxious. I don't have, have any reason to struggle with PTSD. I have other things to fill those thoughts in that time with, but that was simply not true because it didn't look like wanting to hurt myself or my child at the time that I started therapy. I didn't think that I had postpartum depression. I didn't think that I had postpartum anxiety. I thought I simply found myself struggling. I ended up getting to a really dark place, a really scary place. And I was thankful to have the support of my father insight from my practitioner to ask my father for support in order to get through those dark times,

Speaker 2:

First of all, way to advocate for yourself to not have the C-section and have the fortitude to push through and address the hospital staff head on. That's amazing. You had in your mind that you were going to need to go through fertility treatment in order to get pregnant, and then bam ended up pregnant. And so that in and of itself kind of a trauma trigger, because it didn't go according to plan like that, wasn't part of the plan,

Speaker 3:

Right. That wasn't a part of the plan and I didn't even associated as a traffic trigger.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And in a way it's an unplanned pregnancy then, right? Yeah. Even though you were putting things in place to work, work really hard at getting pregnant, all of a sudden it was there and unexpected,

Speaker 3:

Including a surgery in order to prepare for pregnancy six weeks after surgery, we're pregnant. It's like the

Speaker 2:

Person you saw for your followup, your did you see a midwife or an OB GYN?

Speaker 3:

I saw an OB GYN.

Speaker 2:

So it sounds like your OB GYN was pretty crucial in getting you connected to help tell us how you went from that appointment. Being told to get an appointment and then being connected to somebody for care.

Speaker 3:

I was informed by my OB GYN to get on my phone and make a call. As I was leaving, she had saw, had seen me in the hallway and it said, jump on your, make the call, make an appointment. I was in robot mode after all of that emotion. So I just did what I was told. And I'm glad that I did. There was a long wait. I remember that there was a long wait between when I could be seen. And when I scheduled the appointment and there were so many thoughts and feelings flying around like, oh, we're back, we're back in, in therapy again. And that comes with a lot of hard work and I still have to show up for this baby. And I still have to show up for my husband and I still have to take care of my needs. So I should brace myself for the hard emotional and mental work that is being in therapy.

Speaker 2:

Tell us about your recovery experience and what life has brought for you since then.

Speaker 3:

My recovery experience was long because of how long I disassociated myself with my symptoms. I would say it took three or four years before I finally felt like myself, even with medication, even with the support of my father, being there often, even with therapy, it still took quite a long time to get back to me with so many Hills and valleys along the way. But once I realized that I was back to me, I was excited. I was on fire. I felt unstoppable. Um, I, I did a career change so that I could spend more time with, with my child and was able to share my experience with my sisters so that they knew what without being without, without it being shared in a scary way, they knew that it doesn't look like what we think it looks like doesn't look like it doesn't have a face. And so to be able to share that with my sisters and help them navigate their postpartum periods as well, it gave me a lot of purpose. And I realized that this was something that I wanted to continue doing. So healing for me. And after those three or four years of lots of dark and dim looked like a lot of empowerment and a lot of change making and emerging, almost new with a new, with new purpose and new understanding of what postpartum journey can look like and how it looks so differently when they're, when they're support. And when there's information, have you had more children? I have,

Speaker 2:

Hey, how's that compared?

Speaker 3:

It was, it was very amazing. It was great. I didn't experience, I did experience baby blues and some slight anxiety at the beat, the first two to three weeks of her birth, but it was so incredibly short-lived that it made me, it made me wonder why we waited so long. It made me wonder why my son was six when my daughter was born. And so for how short-lived the anxiety and the baby blues were and how quickly I was able to enjoy my postpartum period with support, with having a therapist on board with proper planning and, and preparation. It just, it was a night and day experience. It really was.

Speaker 2:

You mentioned making a career change. Tell us a little bit about what you're doing now.

Speaker 3:

I'm a postpartum doula. And so I have the honor truly considered an honor of serving families that are navigating their own parcel, post partum journeys. I do so in-home, or virtually, virtually looks like emotional support in providing coping skills and a listening ear, as well as affirmations and resources as well to families that are navigating their own postpartum journey for in-home support. It looks a lot like pampering, um, w where I am providing herbal tea baths to help with healing. I am making meals in home. I am making lactation balls to help with lactation. I am supplying the family opportunities to rest by looking after baby, by taking care of the heavy household things that pop-up, that we become so aware of after birth. And it's, it brings me so much joy to be able to lavish on families, the type of love and support that allows their postpartum journey to look as sacred as it should, and not as daunting difficult or dark as it could. Oh,

Speaker 2:

That sounds amazing. What a great resource. Thank you. Any last words you would like to share with us?

Speaker 3:

One of the perspectives that I shared with my sisters regarding their post-partum journeys was that it doesn't have a face for me. If it didn't look like Brooke shields, it's not postpartum depression. That was, that was the belief that I was holding that stopped me from getting, getting help or seeking help for myself. I'm having a hard time as a mother, I have to figure this out. It's a part of earning my stripes was my, my belief system at that time. Really, I would really want anybody to know that postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum mood disorder, it does not have a base. It can look like anger can look like sadness, isolation. So if you or anyone, you know, finds themselves struggling, if that postpartum period doesn't look or feel sacred, um, if it looks dark and daunting, I would encourage anyone to seek support in this information age so that you can be surrounded with all that. You need to turn that dark and daunting into sacred and meaningful. Thank

Speaker 2:

You for joining us joy. How would somebody get ahold of you if they were interested in your services?

Speaker 3:

Great question. I am the founder and owner of joy, the village doula, LLC. I can be reached at joy, the doula@gmail.com. I also can be reached via DM on Instagram at joy underscore the underscore doula or on Facebook at, at joy, the doula one word. And that will bring you to my page, joy, the village postpartum doula. I would love to support some families. Thank

Speaker 2:

You. We will connect all of those resources in the description of today's podcast.

Speaker 1:

[inaudible].