Thursday, May 17, 2012

Down Came the Rain

(4 weeks postpartum with Syd, forced smile, tired eyes.  
This was right before I went on medication for the treatment of PPD.  Looking at this picture makes me want to cry.)
It's been about a week since I've written a true post here, I know.  There's been a few topics I could write about in the past few days, talking about the pregnancy, the kids, prepping for Syd's Boba Fett party.  But it's like I'm stuck in this zone where I can't move forward in talking about anything else until I write about the thing I most don't want to write about; my fears of PPD resurfacing after I have this baby.  I've let go of the notion that I can write this post with any sort of beauty or message to it, or whatever, and just need to write, especially since a few of you have reached out to me offline about different options.

I had a check up on Monday with my OB.  We did a quick ultrasound and Art and I both looked away when she told us to so we wouldn't see any baby parts.  We still feel so good about not finding out the sex of this baby by the way.  Excited, but not the least bit anxious at all.  I guess people can change after 36 years ;)  Anyhow, after the ultrasound, as she's typing in this or that into her computer screen, I ask her about placenta encapsulation.  She did a double take so hard and fast she almost fell out of her chair.  She sort of just smirked and chuckled and asked "Why on Earth are you asking about placenta encapsulation?  You're my last patient I ever thought would be interested in that."  She made claim to the fact that I'm so into fashion and don't even wear Birkenstocks or anything.  I realize at this point this makes her sound a bit dumb, but it was said in a very friendly banter type of way.  She's been my doctor for 8 years and has seen me through 3 pregnancies now, and I like her a lot.   We joke together at every appointment and I appreciate her ability to be serious and be silly, and even say sort of stupid things. 

Well doctor, clothing choices aside, I'm interested in it for the treatment of PPD is what I went on to explain to her.  After she got over her shock, she recovered and said she'd support me with whatever choice I wanted to make to treat this, but the fact remains that placenta encapsulation is not proven to be effective in the treatment of PPD, and I could be wasting time and money taking chances on something that wasn't a sure thing.  The zoloft worked the first two times, it would surely work this time as well.  It was a sure thing.  She always knows just how to say things to strike fear into me the most.  The thought of suffering through weeks of PPD to see if the placenta pills would work, was in fact enough to put me into tears right then and there.  I don't know if the third time around I have the strength or will to take chances.  Unfortunately, since I've had PPD with both previous pregnancies, medically speaking it's pretty much guaranteed I'll get it with this baby.

At this point some of you may be grimacing thinking seriously, eating your own placenta? I'd rather eat worms!  But if you've had PPD, you'd know that you'd be willing to try just about anything to prevent it or treat it.

When Taylor was born it didn't take long for the PPD to set in.  For me it happened within a day.  The second night I was in the hospital I had for the first time in my life, what I would describe as a panic attack.  I felt dizzy and overwhelmed, and literally like there was a huge blanket of fog over me.  I had a baby now, how was I going to take care of it?  It hit me that there was no turning back.  I chalked that night up to just being tired and overwhelmed after the trauma that is labor and delivery.  When I went home and within a few days I was crying for everything, I knew it was something more.  I had never, ever felt so sad or lonely as I did those first few weeks after Taylor was born.  I knew that deep down I loved her, but I didn't feel any of the euphoria or goodness that comes with love.

Everything was systematic and rote-like; changing diapers, nursing, smiling at her.  I did them out of instinct and because I knew that was what I was supposed to do, but most of the time I just wanted to run away.  I remember feeling true anger at my sister and sisters in law, who had all just had babies in the last year.  Why didn't they tell me it was like this, why didn't they warn me I'd feel like this?  I was truly mad at them.  One day about 3 weeks postpartum I started to pump and we began her on 1 bottle a day.  I left the house for 2 hours and just cried because I knew that it wasn't really freedom, just faux freedom in a way.  My life was no longer my own.  Suddenly every single thing reminded me of our old life and how we were never going to go back to that again.

At this point I know it sounds like I was just mourning the loss of my old life, but for me that's just how the PPD manifested itself.  When after about 4 weeks I wasn't feeling any better, Art called my OB and explained my symptoms.  She immediately prescribed me Zoloft and within a few days I felt better.  Not 100% myself, but I could see glimmers of myself peeking through. I started to enjoy Taylor for the first time since giving birth.  At the time Brooke Shields had just come out with her autobiography about her journey with PPD and friends and family quickly bought me multiple copies.  I read it and felt at least somewhat thankful that my symptoms didn't seem as strong as hers were.  I never wanted to hurt myself or Taylor.  I just felt so, so sad.

Within 5 months I weaned myself off medication and felt as normal as a new, tired mom could feel.  It simply worked, almost like the snap of a finger.

After Syd was born my doctor warmed me that since I had suffered with PPD with Taylor, it might come back again.  For the first 3 weeks or so I felt fine and good, with no symptoms to speak of.  By week 5 postpartum, the symptoms had surfaced and were in full force, but this time it surfaced in an extreme form of resentment towards Syd, and how he was keeping me from my daughter.  My 2 year old, sweet, happy daughter that I wanted to be with as much as possible.  Syd cried, a lot.  He slept, very little.  He needed tons of attention that quite frankly, I would have rather been giving my daughter.  Life was tough with him and I grew very resentful of him for how he had changed our cozy little family of 3 dynamic. 

Again, I know it's common to feel a sense of loss for your first born when your 2nd is born.  But I knew it wasn't common to feel such resentment towards your 2nd born.  I still feel guilt over those first few weeks and wonder if my emotional detachment from him caused him in some deep down way to not feel as close to me.  To this day, he prefers Art to me any day, any time.  I try to not let it get to me, but some days I can't help feeling like I'm to blame.

By week 6 I was back on Zoloft and within a couple of days I felt better again.  I was mad at myself for waiting as long as I did but I wanted to try and prove that I was strong enough to tackle this thing.  Stupid, arrogant, I know.  This time I was off meds within 3 months postpartum, proving that my symptoms were in fact hormonal, and proving that meds did in fact help.

So now here I am pregnant with my 3rd and my doctor says I can pretty much count on PPD returning.  She's even offered to prescribe me meds as soon as I deliver while still in the hospital so that I can get ahead of the symptoms.  I don't know how comfortable I am with that, in all honesty.  Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

I know doctors like to try and fix things with drugs, but I also know that her reasons for wanting me to take the meds as opposed to trying placenta encapsulation first, make sense. And I really don't want to have to make myself suffer if I don't have to.  But there's just something gnawing at me that doesn't feel quite right giving up so easily.  Even the phrase "giving up" makes it sound like I have control of this thing, when really it's out of my control.  But how I treat it is in my control, and if I could treat it in a more natural way, then shouldn't I try to give it a chance?

Have any of you out there ever tried placenta encapsulation for PPD, and did it work?  I know it's still so uncommon, but there may be a few of you out there.  I would really love any feedback you may have to offer.  I have a couple of months to still make a decision, but this thing is what is making me most anxious over anything.  More than figuring out a name or where this baby is going to sleep.  It's figuring out how I can keep myself as healthy as possible for myself, my baby and my 2 very aware kids.  They're 5 and 7 now, and there's not a lot of hiding things from them.  More than anything, I don't want them to have to see me sad.  Thanks in advance for reading this novel, and for any input you may have.


  1. First, I am so sorry that you have suffered twice with ppd. Second, I applaud you for looking for other options besides medications. I had ppd after my son was born and it lasted until he was 7 months old. Before I got pregnant with my daughter, I became a doula and also learned about placenta encapsulation. I decided it was worth a shot. My little girl is now 10 weeks old & I've had no issues. I was actually able to stop taking my pills by about 6 weeks postpartum & have felt fine. If I have a day where I feel off, I can take them and notice a difference. They are also great to take for your milk supply.

    I wish you the best of luck & I hope you do what is right for you and not what society tells you what you should do.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Going down this road is tough believe me I know!!!

    I had PPD after my 1st baby (2006) and did not realize it. She was 6 months old when I found out I was pregnant with number 2.

    After #2 (2007)I had PPD again and I believe was also worse since I didn't take care of it from before my body being on a high low roller coaster of pregnancy not pregnant hormones.

    When #2 was 6 months old we found out we were having baby #3-

    I didn't know what the hell I was going through after he was born or why I was so angry and sad and just "UN" uncaring, ussupportive, just not there. A big mass of empty space.

    I had a homebirth with #3 (2008) and started getting into more natural approaches when I read a site containing all the symptoms of PPD- I hit every single one.

    I went started seeing a therapist and I saw my Dr. and she put me on Zoloft. I was borderline psychosis with OCD imagery thrown in the mix. (I would have horrible images flash in my head)....

    Well the zoloft wasn't enough she put me on another anti-depressant (can't remember the name) and I just felt good but not perfect, or back to normal.

    Well I found out I was pregnant with #4. Daringly I asked the dosage to be dropped and wanted to wean off of it for this pregnancy and saw my therapist a lot.

    When I found out I was pregnant with #4 When my #3 was 9 months old- so yes they are all stair step and my body was a hormonal roller coaster-

    I knew I would have PPD because I did with every pregnancy. But over the year I got more involved with my "homebirth/doula" community and their were so many women proclaiming this magic pill of the placenta.

    I thought what is the worse that could happen if I did it? After #4 (2010) was born I encapsulated my own placenta and it was a day and night difference! I felt better (and normal) than what the zoloft ever did because it was my own hormones that was made perfectly for me.

    I didn't go back nor have I been on the Zoloft since then. It worked so amazingly I had to share this with other women and I now offer this service and have done over 60 placentas in my area.

    18 months later I have been "anti-depressant" free and my body balanced out-naturally I am pregnant with #5 and I am truly excited to do this again.

    If you go to my website I have other women testimonies on my page. And benefits of placenta encapsulation.

  3. ***18 months we found out I was pregnant with this one. but what I meant to say is it has been *26* months being "anti- depressant" free :)

  4. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think a lot more women experience PPD than we's one of those things that no one wants to talk about. So I applaud you and thank you for being so open.

    I have been a doula for about 6 years now. 2 years ago I started learning about placenta crafting and was immediately intrigued. It just made sense to me. We are the only mammal that does not eat the perfectly designed placenta, and women have been consuming their placentas for thousands of years.

    After gaining knowledge about the placenta it then makes perfect logical sense to eat it as it was designed to be. The only new thing to placenta consumption is the encapsulation process, which came about to help people get over the "ick" factor.

    When the sperm meets the egg - the egg splits in two - one half is the baby and one half is the placenta. It is the only organ that we grow for a specific purpose and period of time. It is such an amazing organ that modern medicine cannot even come close to mimicking it. Otherwise preterm babies would not be an issue.

    Obviously we, as women, are making all kinds of hormones all the time. When we become pregnant we need more of certain hormones. During pregnancy the placenta completely takes over making certain hormones. One main reason to consume the placenta is that when we give birth to the placenta our bodies have to cold turkey shift back into gear and take over hormone production once again. This doesn't always happen smoothly, and our hormones are imbalanced, which leads to a host of problems - low milk supply, depression, prolonged postpartum bleeding, mood swings, etc.

    There is a very simple solution. Consume your placenta. We have a 1 in 3 rate of postpartum depression in our country. In other developed countries where placenta consumption is accepted as the norm - postpartum depression is almost unheard of.

    Now, even if our bodies did magically and perfectly shift right back into gear with our hormone function after birth - it is still extremely beneficial to consume it. It is chock full of amazing nutrients that work wonders in postpartum healing. Our bodies are designed to give birth, but it does not mean that birth is not a big deal. Consuming all of those nutrients (that are perfectly made for you, by you) helps with postpartum bleeding, returning your uterus to its pre-pregnancy size, sleep patterns, etc.

    I don't think there's much else to be said :) In my years of experience working with birthing families - I have seen women who do it, and women who don't. And there is a HUGE difference. It is magical, and I believe, essential :)

    I'd like to share a profound experience that I had with placenta medicine - an experience that made me take it very seriously. I was working with a woman who had a history of severe PPD. My doula partner and I took her placenta after birth and made some smoothies with part of it, and the rest of it we made in to capsules. We brought it to her 48 hours later. In those 48 hours she had not held her baby, had not nursed her baby, had barely eaten or slept, was staring blankly at the wall and had a bag packed because she thought her partner and baby would be better off without her. We talked her thru what she was feeling and then we thought...."Well, she hasn't eaten. Maybe she can at least choke down a smoothie". So we grabbed a placenta smoothie. She took the lid off and smelled it. Then she grabbed her baby and started smelling him - it was very primal and animalistic. She gulped down the whole smoothie and then started cuddling and nursing her baby. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. And ever since then I don't dance around the subject of placentas :)

    We have a page on our website describing the benefits if you'd like to read more:

    And have collected some articles here:

    Much love to you, mama!

  5. wow, i am reading this as I am pumping out a bottle and see the wealth of knowledge and info above is awesome.
    PPD is terrible. I had it with my daughter, although I didn't know what it was. since it was 2002 when she was born i think it was just chalked up to "baby blues" and thought 'this too shall pass'. but it didn't and it took me a while before i felt "normal" again.
    I have to commend you for being pro-active about your options and looking into things other than just medication. there are so many other options out there and i feel like just making the effort to find out as much as you can is going to be just as beneficial in the long run.

    oh and while i was typing this i watched pregnant in heels and one of the girls had a placenta smoothie immediately post delivery so there's another option for ya!

  6. Placenta pills saved my life at 6months pp. I didn't feel much of an effect the first weeks pp, but I was having an ok time, lonely, disappointed in my dysfunctional mother, but satified with my birth experience, my baby, my older son's transition to big brother, all was pretty darn good. Around 4months I returned to flying (flight attendant) too soon. I also have Celiac disease and accidentally got gluten from kissing my hubby and just couldn't seem to bounce back. By 6months pp, Christmas time I was underweight, had difficulty forcing myself to eat my appetite was so horrible, I had intrusive thoughts, outbursts of rage, I was miserable but couldn't accept that it was PPD or anything like it because I DID feel so connected to my baby, to my kids. My friend intervened and promised to give me the rest of her placenta pills if I'd promise to eat one meal a day at least. I was very suicidal at that point, and being attached had horrible intrusive thoughts about leaving this world but not without my babys, it was terrifying to feel this way. I still had some of my own placenta pills left so I agreed to take them again, having no faith in them to make any difference beyond maybe a little nutrition. My Dr. gave me Zoloft but she said it would take a month to know if it worked for me and that if my placenta pills helped right away that would be far better especially since it was from my own body and unlike pharmaceuticals wouldn't have side effects. So I took them again. I felt a little better after the first 2 placenta pills. The second day I wanted to eat again. The 3rd day I wanted to eat everything in the pantry and was up and about, feeling social, cleaning up around the house again, I slept easily without racing intrusive thoughts. I felt like I came out of some weird coma. After about 2 weeks I skipped a day a felt okay, but the next day my blood was boiling. My husband offered to make me food and through gritted teeth I asked him never to speak to me again (thats the PG version). He made me a deal, take a pill and he'd leave me alone. I did and an hour later was myself again. I took 2 a day for 2weeks then 1 a day for the next 2weeks and then no longer needed them. My once skeptical hubby started proclaiming "I love placenta pills!" any time I did anything it seemed...dishes, eating, sexy time, planning time with friends, waking up easily. Just last night my husband asked if he could give some of my pills to his friend's pregnant wife to try who is so painfully hormonal their marriage may be ending, he said he told the guy all about it and what a life saver it is. Lol!

  7. I initially brought up placenta pills with my hubby by first telling him how some people eat it like steak or shred it on pizza *gag* and freaked him out, then said that some people hide small pieces in a smoothie (hmm...), then said it could be put in pills and he relaxed a little and started asking why. My mother in law asked me why too. I told her that a small piece immediately pp can stop a hemorrhage, that other cultures and mammals consume it, how it can help with milk supply, nutrients, and hormones preventing or treating PPD and suddenly she asked why wouldn't everyone give this a shot, afterall we can take anything in pill form...premarin for menopause is from pregnant horse(mare) urine and Cervadil and Prepadil, inserted vaginally to ripen the cervix for labor induction comes from pig semen as is Cytotec with is used for labor off lable but is origionally an oral medication for stomach ulcers, freakin pig spunk, yuck!! My own placenta from my own body that I'm designed to consume but socially am grossed out by, well in pill form is not bad at all. I'm saving a few for morning sickness in my next pregnancy, thats what originally enticed me the most, but who knew I would get so much more from it. The lady who made mine dehydrated it on low enough heat to keep it raw and preserve the hormones and nutrients so it took 3days to make and I keep the jar in the freezer. It's my emergency medicine. Because of 2nd baby afterpains and the 3days it takes to get my pills I will find a way to hide a small piece in a smoothie to get me through the first few days and ease those big afterpains. Good luck to you. I really think this is worth a shot for you. (((hugs)))

  8. I want to say thank you for being so honest and brave about your past with PPD and your pursuit into alternatives to deal with it.

    I suffered from PPD with both of my children as well and with V, we thought that she had a medical condition that wouldn't let me take medication and breast feed so for the first five months I was unmedicated and miserable. With A, I was on the lowest dosage possible of Lexapro from the outset.

    Knowing how miserable you felt in your last two pregnancies and knowing that the Zoloft worked for you, I would take the Zoloft. I'd just want to go with what I know would work because I wouldn't want to spend ONE DAY feeling like I felt back then.

    That said, whatever you decide to do...know I'll be in your corner rooting for you, praying for you, and hoping that you are one of the few who DOESN'T have a repeat PPD experience.

  9. I was 18years old when I had my daughter, but she was a surprise, I was on the pill, and her father was no one special to me. That alone was enough to depress a person. Add to that fact, I had no knowledge of PPD or antidepressants. At that age, I obviously didn't have a peer group of mommies. I sure didn't have access to all the awesome blogs like yours. Hell, I didn't even have a cell phone. I don't come from a family who talks about illness. We didn't really go to the doctor unless we'd broken something. Now, I'm 30, and hoping to have a second baby in the next year (currently engaged to a wonderful man).

    I now know I suffered from PPD. It was severe, and to this day, I live with guilt for not seeking help sooner. I had the vivid imagery one of your other readers mentioned, and I can see it plain as day, even though my daughter is far from a baby. It was so vivid and traumatic.

    I fear this next pregnancy might be even worse, because I'm older, my patience and energy are less than my first pregnancy, and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2008. I've been on Zoloft on and off since 2004. It took me three years to have the courage to tell my doctor I was depressed and needed help.

    Meds helped me tremendously, but like you, I'm interested in a more holistic approach this next go round. I don't know anything about placenta encapsulation, but I'm so glad to read your post and accompanying comments. It's enlightened me, and I will definitely research it if/when I get pregnant.

    I wish you nothing but the best of luck with Baby #3, your recovery, and your transition into your new party of five. Thank you for sharing your story, your concerns, and your life with readers like me.


  10. I only had a very brief time (maybe a day or two) where I felt very weepy. I do know that PPD exists and is very real and I'm sure very scary. I think you should do whatever you need to do. I do not judge anyone who chooses meds as treatment for any depression situation. Since yours seems to be pretty short term (based on the last 2 pregnancies) I would lean towards starting meds early but totally your choice. No judging here do what works for you! I've not heard much about the placenta thing. Sounds interesting. Wishing you all the best!

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post. I know that it isn't always an easy topic to discuss with those you love, let alone express for the rest of the world to read and dissect. I have been there with both of my postpartum recoveries and feel that if we decide to add to our family some day I will be in your shoes. I know what you mean about trying something, anything to make it so you don't have to go there again. I also know what you mean about not wanting to tack the medication from the get-go. Seeing how your body can handle it on its own this time.
    I will keep you in my prayers. I will pray that you find the right choice for you this time around. I will pray that your mental postpartum recovery is manageable. I will pray that those that know and love you are there to support and nurture you in those early months. I will also pray that you find forgiveness for yourself and peace for what has happened in the past. From your blog I find you to be a kind, loving, and caring mother and I am sure both of your kids see that and most importantly feel that in you as well.
    Blessings on the months ahead. And once again, thank you!

  12. I know this is an older post but I found you from Pancakes & French Fries and am catching up. I have three girls and have suffered with ppd before though I was never medicated. I think after my first was born I should have been but I didn't, for reasons I don't want to get into, and I wish I would have. My second born was a difficult baby, to put it mildly, she didn't sleep a lot and was colic-y. I had some ppd but was maybe just too busy to notice it as much? My third baby was our hardest with regards to being colic-y and she had issues with her ears from a very early age until about 18 months. Anyway, I did the placenta encapsulation with her. I am pretty natural minded but I don't wear birkenstocks either. ;) The placenta pills saved me postpartum with my third child. I was exhausted. She cried a ton. But my mood was so even and my emotions so much less roller coaster like. It was amazing the difference. I was less tired than I think I would have been without them. I was just more relaxed and happier. We may have another child and I would do it again without even thinking twice about it. It made a huge, huge difference to me.


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