Excerpts from the Book

Straight Talk from Mothers Who Recovered

"I expected big demands and sleepless nights, but I never imagined I would feel the way I felt. My severe sleep problems were the most disturbing symptom. I wanted nothing more than to sleep, but I was too riddled with anxiety to relax. Even after taking pills to sleep, I'd wake up at 3AM and would immediately feel the anxiety as if I had not slept at all.

I felt incapable of mothering my baby. I felt my life was over, that I was losing my mind, and would end up dead or institutionalized."
-Amelia, 34, Teacher, California USA

"A friend of my sister's had to be hospitalized after the birth of her first child, but it was talked about it hushed tones, and we all thought this woman was a little "neurotic" and just couldn't handle the pressures of motherhood. Little did I know that I would be speaking to her just a month after I had my baby, talking about feelings and experiences we had in common." -Madeline, 33, Magazine Editor, New York USA

"About two weeks after our baby was born, I began to feel terrified. I had a constant fear that something bad would happen to my baby. I couldn't look at our set of knives. I moved them so I wouldn't see them. I would notice the baby would fit in the oven. I was plagued by visions of horrible things happening to my child, of him falling out a window, you name it. I was repulsed by these thoughts. My heart would thunder in my chest from terror." -Ophelia, 37, Artist/Floral designer, Massachusetts USA

"I had no idea how "touched out" I would be at the end of the day. The constant holding, breastfeeding, cuddling and touching my baby made me fantasize about being naked in a dark room with nothing -not even clothes touching me. Not a good thing to be thinking about when your husband comes home from work." -Reba, 27, At Home Mom, California USA

"Why do mothers have to pretend that their mental health is not going to be effected by massive rapid change (following childbirth) combined with prolonged sleep deprivation? Why does PPD have a certain shame to it...when it is, in fact, the most logical manifestation on the face of the earth? As a friend of mine put it, "Labor is a set of contractions…and then a mother is born." -Ava, 32, At Home Mom, New South Wales Australia

"People that I'm close to have all said that from my behavior, they would have never guessed that I had PPD. At face value, I was loving toward him as a tired mom can be. I made every effort to interact and bond. Inside, however, I felt like a fake, just going through the motions, making the right "cooing" and comfort noises because I knew how, not because I wanted to.

I remember a friend describe to me how she would watch her son sleeping, wishing secretly that he would wake up so that she could play with him. This seemed like such an alien desire."
-Grace, 32, Charity Fund Raiser, England, UK

"My expectations of motherhood were ridiculous. I had absolutely no idea how stressful it was to maintain the constant vigilance newborns demand. I felt very committed to my daughter. I knew I absolutely had to protect her, but the real love and pleasure in her company came later.

I was filled with the anxiety by the sense that I had so much to learn and by feelings of grief because my life changed so irrevocably. I was terrified that I'd never recover my old self, that I'd never feel relaxed or happy again. I was ready to die of grief and the feeling of entrapment. Here I had struggled to have a baby, and now that I had her, I didn't want her."
-Sheena, 38, Writer, California USA

"I believe obstetricians, insurance companies, and therapists need to learn about PPD, its many forms, and how devastating it is to mothers. Many doctors don't understand the seriousness of our circumstances, and the depths of our despair. All people who treat women need to be educated. Too many women suffer longer than they have to because of misinformation, poor diagnoses, and trial-and-error treatment." -Audra, 30, At Home Mom, New Jersey USA

"What I needed was a community of women to support me - just like in giving birth. I was birthing my new self, and I needed guides, helpers, angels. I was filled with thoughts of me as the villain, hurting my baby. I cannot emphasize enough how painful these thoughts were and how I knew I was absolutely not capable of hurting my baby. I adored my little girl. I now understand the pain of mental illness. I feel so much compassion for those who suffer. After all, if you have a broken leg, no big deal. But if you have a broken mind..." -Erin, 41, Musician, New Mexico USA

"I wish I could say that I found something to make the depression and anxiety go away. The only thing that pulled me through was time. Time to get to know my son. Time to adjust my preconceived notions of motherhood. Time to learn to take things one step at a time - and definitely not one day at a time - that was too much to handle. Time to learn that formula is not going to make him stupid, and it's not going to make me a failure. Time to learn that trusting in God is the only answer, and that he will pull me through.

My son is nine months old now and the pride and joy of my life. He is my single greatest accomplishment in the world. I can't imagine life without him. He wakes me every morning with a beaming smile. There isn't a single day that I don't remember the pain of postpartum depression. But thank God I am past it now. How precious he is to me!"
-Joni, 29, At Home Mom, Indiana, USA

"At four months postpartum, what was supposed to be one of the most special times of my life turned into something far beyond my worst nightmare. I had postpartum psychosis. For me, this was the most cruel, twisted joke mother nature could play - and probably one of the world's best kept secrets.

No one told me becoming a parent automatically put me in the running to qualify for the one in five hundred to one in one thousand chance of completely losing my mind from hormones, crippling my thoughts as severely as the body is crippled by a spinal cord injury. If postpartum psychosis were not such a "hush, hush, don't scare the pregnant woman" issue, and it were out there in the open, mothers would have a better chance of receiving treatment right away.

Over the past decade there have been an exponential increase in baby gadgets for baby's comfort, safety, and development potential. Have we forgotten that a mother has the most important job in the world? The baby's most precious entity is mom. More knowledge of the postpartum period needs to advance, like everything else in our world around us."
-Vanessa, 35, At Home Mom, Ontario Canada

"I was blessed. My energy, enthusiasm and maternal instincts did indeed return. And I went on to have another baby without experiencing PPD. Let people help you if you suspect you have PPD. Your body has been through a magnificent and formidable ordeal while giving birth. You are fragile. Allow yourself the time you need to get strong again with the assistance of others. This is not a sign of weakness. It is wise." -Ashley, 45, At Home Mom, Wisconsin USA

"If you have PPD, don't blame yourself for how you feel. Don't ever underestimate the magnitude of the challenge you're experiencing. Applaud yourself for going through it and be proud of your willingness to face up to the struggle. You'll grow and develop from it. Motherhood is a true crucible. You are surviving the heat that melts you and the hammering that bends you into shapes unimaginable. You will never find final form, but you will discover the enduring strength of steel, the breath-taking strength of your own courage and abilities…and the inspiring strength of you." -Shelby, 32, Librarian, Michigan USA

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Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
ISBN: 0425208087