Erin

Speaker: Why donít we start off with you sharing your name, your age, and you know, what you do, just basic information about yourself.

Erin: My name is Erin Glospie, Iím 32. I am a nurse-educator at Robert Wood Johnson in Hamilton.

Speaker: And, are you married?

Erin: Yes, Iím married.

Speaker: How long have you been married?

Erin: Almost two years.

Speaker: And why donít you tell me, when was the first time you heard the word postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorders?

Erin: I actually heard about postpartum depression when I was in nursing school and I really Ö I screwed it up.

Speaker: No thatís OK, whenever you need to restart it, do exactly that. Thatís what we want you to do.

Second Speaker: It sounded good to me.

Speaker:I know, I was like Ö

Second Speaker: Looking good.

Speaker: All right, so when did you first hear the term postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorder?

Erin: I heard about postpartum depression when I was in nursing school. I really thought it was just something that happened for maybe a few days after you had the baby, just like, you know you get a little bit sad and then you get back on with everything.

Speaker: OK. Well, Iíll ask you to describe it in your own words maybe. Well, you know what, we can go ahead and do it now. Now that you do know of the illness, can you maybe put in your words what it is?

Erin: It is an overwhelming sadness, I had anxiety. Just that I had really no control over it. It was ... postpartum depression is debilitating and thatís the best way I could describe it.

Speaker: Were you aware of any history of depression in your family prior to your experience?

Erin: Yes, I did. My mom had depression, my grandmother, and my momís sister, so my aunt.

Speaker: Had you, had you ever experienced depression at any other time in your life?

Erin: Not, I probably had thought I did but, experiencing postpartum depression, I realized that nothing that I had experienced was anything like that.

Speaker: OK, why donít we talk about your pregnancy a little bit? When you found out you were pregnant, how did you feel? What was going on in your life at the time?

Erin: When I found out I was pregnant, I was very excited. I had always wanted to have a baby and, although it wasnít the perfect timing, we were both really excited to be having a baby. We started making plans for the baby. I initially felt really good pregnant and I probably remained feeling good pregnant until I was, I would say, 7 or 8 months pregnant and I started to get really bad back pain. I had high blood pressure and the doctors put me on bed rest at home so I had to leave work a little bit early.

Speaker: Now was that, what was that like for you? Because Iím sure you hadnít anticipated leaving work early. Did that make you feel sad or upset at all?

Erin: It was very stressful. I was sad because Iím very social so I like to interact with people. And everybody at work is my friend so I wasnít really, you know, having that connection. And at the same time I was also worried about my job because, you know, if youíre out too long they can terminate you. So I was worried about that and finances.

Speaker: During the pregnancy, aside from you saying that you were starting to feel a little bit anxious because you had to go home on bedrest, were there any other things that happened while you were still pregnant that kind of maybe raised a red flag with you or something that you were concerned about?

Erin: Probably it should have. It didnít at the time, but looking back, everyone, including my doctors, told me that it seemed like I was very emotional, more so than, you know, the normal pregnancy emotions, that I was very anxious, constantly worried, um, about the baby and things like that.

Speaker: Now did you carry full term or was your baby premature at all? Iím trying to get, leading into your labor and delivery.

Erin: My baby was full term. I started to have some contractions but they werenít really strong enough to have the baby. I did go into the hospital and they decided to induce me. And after about 24 hours of labor and induction, the baby started to have some compromise to her so she wasnít doing well. So they decided to do an emergency C-section.

Speaker: Now Iím sure thatís not what you wanted to hear Ö

Erin: No.

Speaker: Ö when you found out about it. So how did you react to learning you werenít going to be able to have her the way you, kind of, planned all along?

Erin: I was really terrified. I was terrified that something was going to be wrong with her, that something could be wrong with me. I was scared of the surgery itself.

Speaker: Um, so how did the C-section go? What was, you know, did everything go as planned? Were there any complications?

Erin: Um, not really. I mean, she did swallow some meconium but, other than that, she was perfectly fine when she came out and there was Ö after, for me, she was fine, but for me I was having problems with my heart rate. I had a really high heart rate after the surgery and a lot of pain.

Speaker: So after she was born when you saw her for the first time, what do you remember feeling?

Erin: I remember feeling nothing. I remember thinking to myself, I should be feeling something. And I remember everyone else coming into the room and being so happy and, oh my God, and I didnít have any of that towards her. I had, it just was nothing. I really didnít feel any attachment to her.

Speaker: Iím sure that was difficult because you knew that that wasnít a quote, unquote, normal response.

Erin: Right, I knew I should have been having some kind of connection with her. I should be trying to take care of her. I was letting my husband do all the caretaking in the hospital. I was putting her in the nursery in night so she really wasnít in my room at all.

Speaker: When you were in the hospital, did any of the nurses or the doctor talk to you? Did they notice anything strange about your behavior?

Erin: No.

Speaker: They didnít. What about your husband and your family?

Erin: Um, looking back on it, he did realize that something was wrong. But at the time, nobody really, nobody really saw it. I think because they were so overjoyed about the baby that they didnít see what else was going on.

Speaker: That and Iím sure they were probably just chalking it up to you being tired Ö

Erin: Right.

Speaker: Ö youíd just had a major surgery so that tends to make sense as to why they donít necessarily pick up on it. Do you remember being screened at the hospital?

Erin: I did. I think I was screened before I was discharged.

Speaker: And did any of the questions, if you remember any of the questions from the screening, did any of them resonate with you or Ö ?

Erin: No, no.

Speaker: So why donít you tell me a little bit about that first day home.

Erin: The first day home was really difficult. We had been told that we should wake her up every two hours to feed her and she was sound asleep and I remember waking her up to try and feed her and I wasnít even sure if I was going to be feeding her correctly and she would just scream and scream and scream and it was like inconsolable. And I had all this pain from the C-section and I was trying to, you know, take care of her and I just couldnít. I had no idea what to do for her.

Speaker: So how were you , how were you coping with that? Did you cry? Did you just let your husband deal with it? What was your way of Ö?

Erin: I remember sobbing and I couldnít stop. I just couldnít stop crying and I told my husband that he needed to Ė my mom had passed away Ė so I told him that I needed to call my friendís mom and she needed to come because I donít know what to do, I donít know what to do with the baby. And she came to help us.

Speaker: So, OK, you were lucky enough to have help. Someone came in who, you know, a mom who knew, who had been through it before. Iím sure that was a huge help to you. Iím just wondering, if you could tell me more about what was going on with you at the time? How did you feel having to call in for help and just what were your overall feelings, being home from the hospital with your new role as a mother?

Erin: I felt really overwhelmed, unprepared, unsure. I was starting to feel really anxious. I started to have, you know, these anxiety attacks that started increasing in frequency, and I just couldnít Ö Towards, you know, towards the end of that first week, I couldnít even get out of bed, I couldnít eat, I couldnít sleep. I just couldnít do anything.

Speaker: So when did you start to, when did you really know that something was wrong with you and you needed to get some help?

Erin: By the second day I was home, I knew that something was wrong. I actually thought I was probably having a heart attack or something because the anxiety attack made my heart race so bad. So I told everyone that I needed to call the obstetrician, they needed to see me because something was wrong with me. When I went in to see the obstetrician, I was sobbing and sobbing in their office and telling them what was going on. And she called in some social workers who I knew from working with them at the hospital and they told me that they were gonna help and that things were gonna be OK. And they set up an appointment for a psychiatrist to come to the obstetricianís office, to see if he could help me. And so I came back in an hour, when the obstetrician, when the psychiatrist was there and he saw me for a few minutes, talked to me and put me on some medications. And he told us that if we had any other problems, that this should start to work in a few days, and I would start to feel better, and that was pretty much it.

Speaker: Now did he or the social workers ever mention anything about support groups or going to the therapy sessions, do you remember anything like that?

Erin: No, no.

Speaker: I was going to ask you something, I canít remember what it was. It was something about the psychiatrist. I know you mentioned that he prescribed medications. Did he give you a diagnosis at that point?

Erin: He said that I had postpartum depression. He gave me the medications. I went home, my husband went and got the medications, I started taking them and I was thinking, you know, thank God, this is really gonna help me. Iím gonna start to feel better. And it didnít. It didnít help and my symptoms got worse. And so I think it was that Friday, my husband had no idea what to do for me anymore. No one knew what to do and I called work to talk to some of my friends that are nurses and one of them came to my house. Sheís a nurse-practitioner and she told me, we need to get you to a crisis center. And thatís where I ended up going and they ended up hospitalizing me for a week and adjusting my medications and then I was sent home.

Speaker: So, obviously, I canít imagine, you know, having a baby, going through what you were going through and then going to a crisis center and then going into a hospital, but you were clearly that determined to get help and you knew. What do you, what would you say was driving you to get help? What made you, because women deal with this very differently, what was your reason for really being determined to get help for yourself?

Erin: It was my daughter. I, like I said, I always wanted a baby and this just wasnít what I thought would happen after I had a baby. And I really wanted help because I wanted to be there for her and I wanted to get better and feel all those things that moms feel for their children.

Speaker: So once you did leave the hospital, your medications were adjusted. At that point, did you go to therapy regularly? What kind of happened after you got home?

Erin: After I got out of the hospital, they wanted to set me up for partial hospitalization, but it would mean taking a lot of time away from the baby. So my husband and I researched local therapists in the area and postpartum support groups and my obstetrician Ė one of the midwives there, actually, recommended a specialist in postpartum depression. I contacted her, I set up an appointment to see what their postpartum support group was all about and then I also contacted a therapist so that I could see Ė I saw her in the beginning probably a couple times a week, then once a week, then once a month, once every couple months, until the point when I really didnít need her anymore.

Speaker: Which brings me to, when did you start to realize that you were feeling better?

Erin: I would say I probably started to feel better, probably by the time she was 6 or 8 weeks old, I felt better. And then I felt completely better, 100 percent, probably by the time she was 3 to 4 months old.

Speaker: And did you just notice a change in how you felt when you did things with her?

Erin: Yeah. I know that when I got home from the hospital, you know, I was still having some anxiety and I was still really tired and so I would watch the clock, you know, and I would say, OK, itís one more hour until I can go to bed. And thatís all I would focus on. And then gradually I started to, you know, not worry about the time, that was like the least of my concern. And I started doing more things with the baby. I pushed myself to learn what to do with her and at first it felt kind of like a chore, you know, because thatís just the way it felt at first. But when I started to get better, it just felt like something natural that I was doing with her.

Speaker: And the anxiety and the panic attacks, did they go away gradually?

Erin: Yeah, they did go away gradually. They were not happening as frequently and eventually they just subsided altogether.

Speaker: Iím sure you were very happy about that.

Erin: Yes I was happy.

Speaker: OK, well can you share the very first memory you have of looking at your daughter and feeling that motherly bond with her?

Erin: I just remember looking at her one day, I would say probably, probably, maybe around the six- to eight-week mark and thinking, like, oh my god, sheís so cute, sheís so, you know, look at her, I canít believe she came out of me. And that was like the first time I actually felt all those feelings that people say you should have.

Speaker: And itís been uphill from there? So just recapping, how has postpartum depression affected your life?

Erin: Postpartum depression is definitely difficult but I think that it has made my life better knowing that I could overcome such a challenge. Itís strengthened my relationship with my husband, my friends, my family, to know that these people I can really count on. Itís strengthened, it actually has strengthened my relationship with my baby. I love her so much and I hate to be away from her. (You know, when Iím at work, people say, oh my God, are you ever gonna stop talking about Stella? Because, you know, sheís just like the highlight of my life now.) So I think that, even though it was such a terrible thing, it really did help me to become a stronger person.

Speaker: Looking back, do you, would you have changed the way you handled any or approached the situation?

Erin: No. I mean, I think that I was really lucky because I have a nursing background and I kind of knew something was wrong. I think that I asked for help as quickly as I could, so no I donít think I would have changed anything.

Speaker: Has the experience affected your decision to have any more children?

Erin: Thatís a good question. I never wanted my daughter to be an only child so I always wanted to have a lot of children. Iím not sure if I would have another child. I think about it a lot, I talk about it a lot with my husband and we havenít decided yet whether we would do it again.

Speaker: And is that because you know the risk involved with having another Ö?

Erin: Yes.

Speaker: All right. How old is Stella by the way now?

Erin: She is 14 months.

Speaker: Sheís very cute.

Erin: She is very cute, but Iím biased.

Speaker: All right, last question. What advice would you give to a woman out there who might come across your video who is currently in the throes of PPD?

Erin: Please, you know, donít be ashamed of whatís going on. There is help out there. You can get better and itís not forever.

Erin's Video | Erin's story