Laurie Syphard is the mother of two little girls, ages seven and a half and two and a half. She experienced postpartum depression after the birth of her first daughter.
Laurie had an amazing pregnancy with no symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder. She had, however, experienced some anxiety during her late teens and early twenties. This put her at risk for a maternal mood disorder, but no one ever connected the dots and discussed the possibility with her.
Her mood disorder started with a scheduled c-section (her daughter was breach). Laurie was blind sided by the onset of extreme anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. She often wanted to sleep to escape her symptoms but had trouble sleeping because of her anxiety.
She talked with a therapist she had seen before she gave birth, but the therapist was less than helpful. (If you already listened to the episode, then you know I am doing my best to be polite here! Because seriously %#$@!!!)
Talking was not enough to get Laurie out of the physical and hormonal experience of extreme anxiety. She started taking medications but it took several months for her to start feeling better.
A big part of Laurie’s postpartum adventure was adjusting to her new life as a stay-at-home mom after being a successful professional for many years.
Laurie’s obsessions concerned tasks and routines. For example, with breastfeeding, she focused on the logistics of cleaning pump parts and obsessing over when the baby would need to feed again. She also obsessed over the packing the diaper bag, like how many outfits she would need in case of a poopy blowout. She wanted to get out of the house but it was difficult with all the logistics she felt the need to control.
Laurie sensed something was wrong, that her experiences ran deeper than the baby blues, but she did not know what was happening to her. She found some articles online at Postpartum Progress that helped her understand that anxiety and OCD can be part of postpartum depression. One of my favorite blog posts from Postpartum Progress is The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English).
Laurie did not experience a mood disorder after the birth of her second child. She took medication throughout her second pregnancy and while breastfeeding. She was supported by a new therapist and a new obstetrician. She did not suffer from any anxiety or OCD. (Hooray!)
Laurie and another warrior mom, Samantha Dowd, started a support group for postpartum moms at a local hospital. If you are in the Maryland area, check out the postpartum group at Sinai Hospital.
Laurie and I talked about how advocacy work has helped us heal from our postpartum adventures. Laurie is considering participating in the advocacy days in D.C. this May. Learn more about that from 2020 Mom right here.
Last but not least, Laurie enjoyed reading Brooke Shields’s memoir Down Came the Rain. I recommend the book as well.
Thanks for coming on the show, Laurie, and so bravely sharing your story!