You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories of Hope and Healing.

 

Carol Harnist photograph for Sharing Our Stories.

Carol Harnist
Why it Matters to Me

I write this with the hopes and prayers that no other woman may ever have to experience the isolation and shame that Postpartum Depression/Psychosis bestowed on my life. It kidnaps our minds and menaces our new fragile and innocent families with its deception. I can assure you of this, because my family and I were one of Postpartum’s victims.

At thirty eight years old my prayers to become a mother had finally been answered. Once pregnant I was elated and nervous, but I anticipated the birth of my son and could not wait to hold him in my arms. I did everything in my power to maintain my health and the health of my unborn child throughout the pregnancy. His father, also a first time parent, was helpful and we attended all the appointments and classes offered to us. At no time was Postpartum Depression, (or worse) Psychosis ever discussed with us. It is the big PINK ELEPHANT in the room. Imagine holding your beautiful healthy child and excitedly looking forward to bringing home that child only to realize that darkness awaits you just around the corner. I brought my son home with his father. Expecting the recovery to take a little time, I settled in and looked forward to being a hands on mother.

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Julie Ende photograph for Sharing Our Stories.

Julie Ende - Why I Care
Postpartum Resource Center of New York's Project 62
Western New York PMAD Task Force  Member

I’m Julie. I’m the mother of three beautiful boys ages 9, 5 and 2. I’m also a survivor of Postpartum Depression.

Nine years ago I began a journey I never expected. My symptoms actually began during my third trimester which means I also suffered from antenatal depression. In my gut I think I knew what it was but I tried to brush it off as normal anxiety about becoming a new mom. During this time I’d get what I could only describe as a “twinge of sadness” most every time I felt the baby move (essentially any time I had a physical reminder that I was pregnant).

My son’s delivery was difficult. Some might call it a traumatic birth – keeping in mind that the definition of traumatic is different for each individual. There was meconium present when my water broke so we knew that this technically classified us as a high risk delivery. Four and a half hours of pushing, and three vacuum assists, later my baby was whisked away to be suctioned so that none of the meconium would make its way to his lungs. My husband didn’t get to cut the cord and I didn’t get to hold or see my baby for what felt, to me, like an eternity. This all just contributed to my sadness. I just didn’t feel right. The rest of that night is a blurr. I don’t even remember where my baby was as I was moved from labor and delivery to maternity. My hospital stay continued to be rocky. I couldn’t sleep, he wouldn’t nurse… I never even changed his diaper. I always sent him back to the nursery; usually with both of us in tears. In hindsight I don’t understand how the maternity nurses failed to see all the signs that something was wrong with this new mother.

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Carolina Zaharako photograph with children for Sharing Our Stories.

Carolina Zaharako - Why I Care
Postpartum Resource Center of New York Volunteer
Postpartum Resource Center of New York's Project 62 NYC Supporter - New York County

I can’t really recall the first time I ever heard about postpartum depression. What I do recall is that the idea of it definitely struck me as very surreal. For sure, this only happened in the movies, I thought. Another made up mental illness brought to us by Big Pharma to get people hooked up on the next money-making psychedelic. Little did I know that years later, I would have a starring role in my very own postpartum experience.

My name is Carolina and I am blessed to be the mother of two amazing, happy, healthy beautiful souls. Today my girl is 7, my boy is 5 and we’ve come a long way! The endless, sleepless nights are over and seem like a lifetime away. Today, I see two unique little individuals with their very own personalities and infinite possibilities ahead of them. It is hard to believe that, for so long they were 100% dependent on me.

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Carolina Zaharako
Por qué me importa Centro de recursos de postparto del voluntario
de Nueva York Centro de recursos para después del parto del proyecto 62™
Nueva York partidario de nuevo York - el Condado de Nueva York

La primera vez que escuché hablar sobre la depresión post-parto, la idea me pareció algo surreal. Seguramente esto solo ocurría en las películas, pensé. Otra enfermedad mental inventada por las grandes farmacéuticas para hacer negocio con la última droga psicodélica. Nunca imaginé que años después sería yo protagonista en mi propia experiencia de postpartum.

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Mary Banahan's family photograph for the You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories page.

Mary Banahan - MS, PA-C, LCCE
Postpartum Resource Center of New York's
Project 62 Advocacy Team Leader

Why do I care? Why do I care about mothers who experience suffering, grief and despair when they should be experiencing joy and happiness on the birth of a beautiful new baby? Why do I care about mothers that I don’t know, that may come from different backgrounds than I do, that may never know my name? Because I am one of them; because I know their pain and share their grief and despair. Because I lived it and I don’t want any other new mother to live it. That’s why I care.

When I suffered from Postpartum Depression 15 years ago with my second son, I did not know then that it would lead me onto an incredible journey of helping other women who suffer with PPD. All I knew then was that crying was an every day event for me; that awakening every morning to the start of a new day only brought me anxiety and despair about how I was going to make it through the day; that life had no joy, only sorrow. I had a beautiful 3 ½ year old boy, a new baby, a husband, and supportive family and friends, but I wasn’t happy. The fact that my new son wasn’t gaining weight and had severe reflux only made matters worse and I was obsessed with his gaining weight. PPD often does not occur alone; it often brings anxiety and obsessive compulsive symptoms as well. As a Physician Assistant skilled in making diagnoses of my patients, I was unable to make my own diagnosis, to see the severity of my illness.

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Bridget Croteau - Mrs. Suffolk County photograph for the You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories page.

Bridget Croteau - Mrs. Suffolk County America 2015

After having a wonderful and “easy” pregnancy with my first daughter, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I had a difficult, long and unexpected induction, a NICU stay for my daughter and lots of trouble breastfeeding.

I felt alone, scared, miserable and like I couldn’t handle anything. I felt like a complete failure. I felt inadequate as a wife and mother and felt enormous guilt. I felt like I was to blame for how difficult the birth was, my daughter’s NICU stay and because I couldn’t exclusively breastfeed. I also felt that my family would be better off without me and didn’t need me around. I often thought of packing some of my belongings and moving elsewhere by myself. I also had difficulty bonding with my daughter when she was first born. I had expectations of this wave of “love and euphoria” flowing through me when I held my daughter the first time. I didn’t feel this at all and I felt horrible about it.

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Winter Paris photograph for the You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories page.

Winter Parris

Who knew I, Winter Parris, would ever be in a place filled with so much self-love and compassion! Almost 14 years to the date of the birth of my eldest son. Let me give it to you straight, those first days, months after the birth of my son wasn't easy and parenting as a whole is the most challenging job there is, and at times, I didn't think I would make it through. Some days I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning, but "joy comes in the morning" so I'd take one day at a time. Frankly that is an understatement I would take one moment at a time, not thinking of my next step, or things to do, because that would complicate my moments and cause chaos.

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Julissa Zambrano photograph for the You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories page.

Julissa Zambrano - Mrs. Nassau County, New York

As I sat with my newborn I had so many overwhelming feelings that I couldn’t explain. They were all so confusing and conflicting, I knew I was supposed to be happy because I was blessed with this little human being, but all I could think of was darkness and emptiness.

I felt alone despite friends would visit me for few hours; the minute they left the emptiness engulfed me again. Nothing anyone said or did for me could make me happy, I couldn’t make myself happy. At times after my first born I found myself crying all the time, I thought this was normal, I watched enough t.v. to know that women cried a lot after pregnancy because their hormones were still adjusting. WOW, what a misconception! I didn’t know what was wrong with me, my husband didn’t know what was wrong with me, and that scared us. It scared me! I felt as if the world was going to swallow me up and at times I would welcome the world eating me up alive. This emotional roller coaster went on for months and what seemed to be years. Honestly it did go on for years.

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Renee Pizzuto and family photograph for the You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories page.

Renée Pizzuto - Why I Care
Postpartum Resource Center of New York's
Project 62 Staten Island Team Leader

I care because I suffered from Postpartum Anxiety and Depression. Trapped in my own head, ill-equipped to understand or escape my own thoughts from what seemed to be an undefinable loss of self.

I care because I know what it is like to lack the insight, the words and the clarity to articulate thoughts and emotions when enduring postpartum. Not to mention trying to explain how I got “here.”

Who would understand?

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Annette LaMorte photograph for the You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories page.

Annette I. LaMorte, M.D. - Why I Care

I am a reproductive endocrinologist, an OB-GYN who specializes in the care of women during their reproductive years. My genetic pool is dotted with depression. How could I have depression 6 weeks into my pregnancy and not make any one aware of it? I am a doctor who should know better. It turns out, that like today, depression during pregnancy was not talked about.

Although I felt sad most of the time during that pregnancy, I was not able to tell any family member or friends. I did not want to burden any one. I felt guilty and alone. I did not want to be perceived as weak or as a complainer. I had a 3 year old boy and a husband who I had to stay strong for. I got through each day behaving as normally and “happily” as I could. I had childcare to help me out and used it as much as possible. My judgement was clouded by my depression and seeking medical help did not cross my mind.

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Wendy Isnardi and family photograph for the You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories page.

Wendy Isnardi - Why I Care
Author, Nobody Told Me: My Battle with Postpartum Depression
and 
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Being a mother was something I dreamt of since I was a little girl and In July of 2002, my dream came true. My beautiful baby girl was perfect In every way she could be, and more. Although, I had a rough delivery that ended up in an emergency cesarean section, I was elated. All that I wanted to do was love her and give her my undivided attention, which I did — but that joy and happiness was very short lived.

I was an attentive mother, almost to a fault. I wouldn't let anyone else care for her but me and my husband (sometimes). I “obsessed” over her — I was so afraid that she would get sick or get hurt. I watched her sleeping to make sure she was still breathing — I just loved her so much. Then one day, everything changed. In the blink of an eye my happy life turned Into a deep, spiraling depression that I called “Hell”.

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Heather Sherman and her son Owen's photograph for the You are Not Alone. Sharing Our Stories page.

Heather Sherman - Why I Care
Postpartum Resource Center of New York Volunteer
Postpartum Resource Center of  New York's Project 62 CNY Supporter - Onondaga County

Watch and listen to Heather's Story - The Struggles of Postpartum Depression are Real. To view on Youtube, please click here.

Would you like to share your story to help other moms and families? If yes, please contact us.


Postpartum Resource Center of New York
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders:
Finding the Help you Need.
Serving New York State families since 1998


In New York State please
email us or call
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regarding your own situation.
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