Tips to Help Post Adoption Depression Syndrome and Postpartum Depression

On January 18, 2017, was a morning like today. I woke up my Isabel and Elijah to get ready for school at 6am. While they got ready, I got ready. I had to drop off Ruthy at my sister’s so that I could be at court to hear the proceedings for my children’s case. I waved goodbye at my children on the bus shortly after 7am. Went inside and got Ruthy in the car.  There was a lot of traffic. I must have dropped off Ruthy around 7:40am and tried to take the quickest route to court. Despite my efforts I made my way to the courtroom at about 8:05am.

The hearing was over. Yes it started at 8am. I tell you those court hearing can be very quick. My kids social worker came out of the room and greeted me. She told me my kids case plan had changed to severance  and adoption. She then looked at me and said that I was in labor.  I laughed and told her I was fine, just huge. Brycen’s due date was not for a couple more days and my doctor told me he would be a week late! Sure I had back pain, but that is normal when you are this far along right? As I started driving, my water broke.  You can read the rest of Brycen’s birth story here.

In the hospital room, the day we got to bring Brycen home!

That day I received two life changing news. The three kids we were fostering we would be able to adopt in the near future and we would have a new baby within 24 hours! Wow, crazy right? It is like something you hear about in the movies or shows.

However in the hospital, and the days, weeks, and months that came after I began to feel very much overwhelmed.  Actually overwhelmed would not quite describe the emotions that overcame me. A dark cloud followed me around. I spent a lot of time in tears and when I was not in tears, I was angry. I felt absolutely incapable of anything. Everything stressed me out.

I was told that baby blues were normal after having Brycen, but this lasted more than a couple of weeks.  It was also more than just Brycen that overwhelmed me. Sometimes I wished that I started my family the normal way… You know one pregnancy at a time.

I was overcome with guilt. How could I be feeling these feelings? I longed for these kids, I prayed for them, and waited for them. Now that I had them, I was having second thoughts. I kept these feelings hidden the best I could.

In desperation, when Brycen was 6 months old. I made an appointment with my doctor.   I had to take all four kids to the appointment with me. I did break down in tears, but this was a new doctor I was seeing. The advice she gave me was to get a babysitter.  At the time, this overwhelmed me more. I truly felt like a failure of a mother.

Overtime the cloud went away. I have to admit, it took months to go away. Brycen sleeping through the night probably helped the most.

I have learned a few things from this period of my life and thank goodness it is now in my past.

  1. PADS – Have you ever heard of it? Neither had I, until a couple of weeks ago. PADS stands for Post Adoption Depression Syndrome. Stress is a leading reason to PADS, especially when there is attachment and bonding problems. It impacts  65% of adoptive mothers and I might even add fathers. I believe Bryce went through this shortly after our kids entered our home. Something I found in adopting a child, it is like any other relationship… it takes work and commitment from both sides. Bonds might not happen over night.  I cannot express enough, how important open communication is. There were so many times that I have apologized to my children and asked for their patience. I have shared a lot of my feelings with them as well, not sure if my children would understand. These conversations brought us closer together.
  2. PPD also known as Postpartum Depression – 20% of pregnant or new moms suffer from postpartum depression.  Postpartum Depression is widely known and recognized. Some signs of Postpartum Depression include crying spells, hopelessness, irritability, anger, loss of appetite, feelings of inadequacy or guilt, severe mood swings, deep sadness, and so forth.

I never got diagnosed, but I think I had a little of both going on.  The following are tips I did to help:

  • I took things minute by minute. One foot at a time.  Sometimes thinking about dinner, laundry, or other chores just paralyzed me. To the point that I would get none of it done. But if I tackle my tasks one bit at a time, it was a little more manageable.
  • Get out of the house. Even if you have a number of chores to do, get out and do something fun with your kids. If your home is anything like mine, chores will always be there. Getting some sun and out of my house helped me breathe a little better.    Read my post on Survival Guide to a New Stay at Home mom here to get more ideas of how to get out of our house!
  • Join groups – I joined an adoption Facebook group and other mom groups. These helped me through some pretty difficult times. If anything, I did not feel alone in what I was feeling! I am learning a lot through the groups. The adoption group is where I heard of Post Adoption Depression Syndrome and immediately felt relief! I found others I could relate to! Sharing helps take the burden from my shoulders.

What I Wish I Would Have Done:

  • I think the most important thing I wish I would have done is to find professional help.  When I was finally brave enough to talk to my doctor, and I received the reaction that I did. I lost my bravery. I wish I would  have continued to seek help from a professional I could trust.
  • Taken more time for myself early on. It took months for me to speak up and ask Bryce to watch the kids so I could go to the store alone.  I barely started doing things just for me. Recently I started arranging play dates where I could play as well! Sometimes moms are walking, while kids are riding bikes or moms are exercising while kids play! I love these mom play dates and wish I would have planned these last year!
  • Get more sleep – Brycen crying caused me high anxiety that I would cater to him. I could not handle sleep training. It was not until he was 8 months old that I moved Ruthy back into our room, and Brycen in her room. He immediately started sleeping better.
  • Eat Right – I skipped way to many meals and resorted way to much to fast food. You can read my post 5 Major Changes I have noticed in Meal Planning  here!

If you are struggling with Post Adoption Depression Syndrome or Postpartum Depression know you are not alone or crazy! Seek out the help you need!

 

 

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Comments

  1. Amy Whetten says:

    Melina, I hear you! After all of the hopes and pleading with Heaven, the reality of the responsibilities and adjustments and sleeplessness is shocking and difficult. I’m relieved to know I wasn’t the only adoptive mother to experience it, and it certainly had nothing to do with how very much I love and am thankful for my children. Great blog.

    1. Melina says:

      Exactly, thank you Amy! I love my children so much. Stress can be so harmful in building relationships!

  2. Kari says:

    Thank you for being open! My story is very similar. We fostered a sibling group of three (newborn, 1 and 2 y/o), they reunified, then our bio daughter was born. When she was 3 months old, our “big three” came back into care and we were suddenly a family of six! I remember feeling guilty because I wasn’t full of joy ALL the time, and I couldn’t figure out why I felt so off. Didn’t I have it all? It was over a year before I realized it could be depression. And, I agree, I think it was a little of both PPD and PADS.

    I remember finally taking a shower one day at like 2:00 in the afternoon and making a decision that I needed to talk to someone. And then, I broke down, realizing that I’d never even one time asked God, The one who created my heart, who Psalms said is the “lifter of my head” and “health of my countenance” for help. I prayed hard that day, and asked the Lord to heal my heart. That evening was the first time I verbalized to my husband what was going on inside my heart, and, honestly, the first time I’d prayed about it. The biggest thing that helped me was I began a Bible reading plan on the Bible App I had called “Healing of Depression through the Psalms.” It is literally just reading a chapter from Psalms a day. As I read David’s words, begging the Lord to save him from his enemies, I begged God to help me escape the dark cloud that loomed over me. It wasn’t overnight, but I can say now that He did heal my heart, and cleared my mind. To other mamas, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! And there is hope! 😊 Thank you for sharing, and for the reminders to take care of yourself in the midst of the chaos, and that it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your family.

    1. Melina says:

      Kari,
      Thank you for sharing your story! You are absolutely right, God can heal all hearts! It is hard not to feel guilty, and we should not have to go through it alone!

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    1. Melina says:

      Thank you for the feedback! It is hard for me to write such personal thoughts, but I do it that so I might help others going through similar experiences!

  4. Cassandra davis says:

    Thank you for sharing! I know it’s hard to write your personal struggles but I always find it is worth it if it helps someone! I haven’t had the same kind of depression but have had depression over losing someone close to me and some of the same thing in this article still apply to me and others!

  5. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I know it’s hard to share personal feelings/thoughts.

  6. Milk and Hugs says:

    I never heard about PAD before…. but it makes perfect sense, and I feel rather ignorant for not even considering this facet before. The stress of adoption alone has to be extreme, add in bonding, lack of sleep and attachment and you’ve got a recipe for depression and strife. I’m sorry you went through this mama, and I am so glad you found help – and that you are now helping others! Oh… and your water broke, WHILE YOU WERE DRIVING?

  7. Amanda says:

    I can not imagine having that many kids! More power to you and that is awesome that you are adoptive parents ❤

  8. Kathy Thut says:

    I suffered from PPD as well. But wow, you were hit with so much at once! Thank you for sharing your story and helping other moms by giving tips on what worked for you. Us moms have to support each other.

  9. Kristi says:

    Wow! You had a lot going on. I remember being thrust into motherhood with twins and wishing I had only had one. As I’m sure you know, it gets much easier. Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. Verla says:

    You describe post part depression so clearly that I am remembering mine. We need more conversations like this.

  11. Monica says:

    Getting out of the house and joining a Facebook group helped me tremendously. Knowing when you need help and asking for it is the hardest part.

  12. justbusylovinglife says:

    I experienced Postpartum Depression after both of my girls. I couldn’t explain it and people just thought I was crazy. But it’s real and it’s serious and it is great that you are getting this information out there. I just ignored mine and went on with my every day life and I don’t think this was good because years later it caught up to me!

  13. Alyssa says:

    Great tips. I don’t have kids yet, but I know this can be a real struggle for so many.

  14. Cheryl says:

    Wow, what an experience. I have never heard of PAD but it makes sense. I have heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I have many friends who have adopted and that’s how I learned about RAD. I pray that isn’t an issue. And I also suffered a little Post-Partum depression too.(undiagnosed). But, it’s real. I had five children. My first at 35 and last at 44. It was exhausting, but a blessing. You are a blessing to those children you adopted. Hope you are all well today.

  15. LauraBelle says:

    These are great tips for fighting depression. Just getting out of the house does wonders.

  16. enjoyingthedays17 says:

    I cannot say that I have specifically heard of PADS, yet it makes sense. I see the stress and emotional roller coaster that some of our adoptive friends experience. Thank you for caring enough to share this information.

  17. Heidi says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I bet a lot of mothers will find this useful. 🙂

  18. Vessy says:

    Great post that so many of us women/mothers can relate to! ❤️ It is so important to not forget that we are just as important…we need time for self-care and relaxation! You are doing an incredible job raising these kiddos, and they are absolutely adorable! ❤️

  19. Dee says:

    That’s a lot to deal with in a short amount of time. Great tips though. I had never considered PAD before. Thanks for sharing your story!

  20. Poeksel says:

    This is amazing. I couldn’t imagine having 6 children (I struggle with the 3 I have). Bless you for what you did and thank you for sharing this. It was a very honest post and I find that wonderful. Some people are so scared to talk about these things.

  21. Anitra says:

    I hope that you have found help and are doing better! You are amazing to have taken all this on, and I wish you all the best! Keep your head up, and hang in there. Thanks for sharing your story!

  22. Nicolette says:

    Great advice to get help (which can be in various forms). You had a lot happen in a short amount of time!

  23. shanna says:

    yes to getting out of the house! That has always been the key for me!

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