Today, I decided to continue with the “If Only I Had Known” theme from my first post 5-1/2 years ago in which I had blogged about a prior abdominal procedure to remove a dermoid cyst as a likely cause of infertility due to scar tissue formation. What prompted me to write another If Only I Had Known post is an article on my feed a couple of days ago. I’m writing about the same darn dermoid cyst removal procedure and scar tissue formation, but this time as the likely cause of the placenta accreta that ended up setting the stage for the postpartum depression (PPD) that hit me from left field 6 weeks after my daughter was born. Earlier on in my blogging days, I had shared my less-than-perfect childbirth experience– the “Childbirth Complications” part of the trifecta of conditions in the subtitle of my book “One Mom’s Journey to Motherhood”–that led to the PPD rearing its ugly head. In that blog post, I shared what happened after the perfectly normal vaginal delivery.
The title of the NPR article that I stumbled across a couple days ago titled “If You Hemorrhage, Don’t Clean Up: Advice from Mothers Who Almost Died” is, needless to say, very attention-grabbing. The article, written by Adriana Gallardo and Nina Martin of ProPublica and Renee Montagne of NPR, starts off with the life-threatening situation that occurred to Marie McCausland after she gave birth. The article then shares the advice of other survivors of traumatic and life-threatening childbirth experiences in several categories: choosing a provider, preparing for an emergency, getting your provider to listen, paying attention to your symptoms, after the delivery, and grappling with the emotional fallout. This is why I love the article so much. Although it contains frightening scenarios of possible complications that can occur during childbirth, it was written not to scare folks already anxious about having babies but to provide advice. After all, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Every mother should read it because if, God forbid, a complication does occur, she’ll be prepared. As they say, hope for the best BUT EXPECT THE WORST. This is not pessimism. It’s reality. In reality, complications can and do happen. And we cannot and should not rely solely on our healthcare providers. If you read the NPR article in its entirety, you’ll see how healthcare providers repeatedly fail their patients.
I absolutely love these types of KNOWLEDGE IS POWER articles! Chapter 3 in my book is titled “Knowledge is Power” and is broken up into “What to know and do before the baby arrives” and “What to know and do if PPD hits.” The sole purpose of my book was to raise awareness so others would not go down that dark, lonely, hopeless road I traveled after having a baby. There is so much covered in my book, that I laughingly refer to my book as “an encyclopedia” purely due to the girth (i.e., 429 pgs)….yes, I had a lot to say! In fact, that’s how I referred to it when I posted to my Facebook page a pic of my books on the Postpartum Support International table at their annual conference I attended a few weeks ago in Philadelphia. Following is an outline of how I wanted my book to educate readers.
Chapter 1: The Statistics: A Wake-up Call
Chapter 2: Sharing My PPD Experience
- Insomnia Sets In
- Next Came the Panic Attacks
- The Dark Abyss
Chapter 3: Knowledge Is Power
- What to Know and Do Before the Baby Arrives
- What to Know and Do if PPD Hits
Chapter 4: Environment vs. Heredity, Nature vs. Nurture
- Role of Genetics/Nature
- Role of Environment/Nurture
- Role of Reproductive Events
- My Story: Environmental and Genetic Factors Wreaking Havoc on My Life
- What You Can Do to Make a Difference for the Next Generation
Chapter 5: Know Your Risk: Risk Factors
- Biological Factors
- Psychological Factors
- Social Factors
- Coming Up With a Prevention Plan
Chapter 6: My Postpartum Period – Exhausting, Anxious, Uncertain
- Interrupted Sleep/Sleep Deprivation
- Startle/Moro Reflex
- Nasty Eczema and Cradle Cap
- My Hair Loss
- Returning to Work
Chapter 7: Ignorance and Stigma: Barriers to Progress
- The Stigma of PPD
- Silo Approach to Health Care and Ignorance among Medical Community
Chapter 8: Those Darned Myths
- Myth #1: Pregnancy Is Always a Smooth, Easy and Blissful Experience
- Myth #2: Baby Blues Is the Same Thing As PPD
- Myth #3: PPD Is a Make-Believe Illness
- Myth #4: Loving Your Baby Means Never Taking a Break
- Myth #5: Motherhood Is Instinctive and Can Be Handled Solo: The Supermom Myth
- Myth #6: All Mothers Fall Instantly in Love with and Bond with Their Babies
- Myth #7: Breast-feeding Is Instinctive
Chapter 9: Trend Away from Social Support
- First Few Days at Home … Now What?
- New Moms Need Nurturing Too
- What Is Social Support?
- Support of Husband
- Other Sources of Support (in the U.S.)
- Postpartum Practices in Other Cultures
- Tips for Establishing a Support Network
Chapter 10: Postpartum Depression 101
- Defining Postpartum Depression
- PPD Symptoms
- The Spectrum of Perinatal Mood Disorders
- Reproductive Hormones and Mood
- The Brain, Neurotransmitters and Stress
Chapter 11: PPD Impacts the Whole Family
- Effect of PPD on the Baby
- Effect of PPD on the Dad/Husband
Chapter 12: Passing on Lessons Learned
- Tips for the Dad/Husband
- Tips for the Mom Regarding the Dad/Husband
- Tips for Friends and Family
Chapter 13: Steps to Recovery and Wellness
- Health-Care Practitioners
- Treatment Options
Well, like I said, the goal of the book was to help others, but who wants to read an encyclopedia nowadays when you’ve got the Internet, lol…..guess you can say it’s the thought that counts. Hopefully, folks are finding my posts because the intent of this blog post, as with all my other blog posts and my book, is to try to educate women and their loved ones (and even health professionals too) so they can know enough to advocate for themselves, much like the intent of the NPR article. I am not doing this for me. I’ve already survived PPD. I’m doing it for those who do have access to the Internet, find my blog and read my posts to learn how to prevent/survive PPD.
Jumping back to the NPR article…..
It’s a link in the post that led me to a Wall Street Journal article titled “The Quest to Untangle Why Pregnancy Can Turn Deadly,” written by Daniela Hernandez about Kristin Terlezzi’s experience with placenta accreta. This article contains the most info on the topic I’ve seen in all my years of blogging (since 2009). Kristin Terlezzi recently, along with Alisha Keller Berry and Jill Arnold (two other survivors of placenta accreta), established the National Accreta Foundation in April 2017 to work towards reducing the incidences of placenta accreta by partnering with other federal, state and local organizations.
Another link in the article led to the ProPublica article “Do You Know Someone Who Died or Nearly Died in Childbirth? Help Us Investigate Maternal Health” published on February 10, 2017 by Adriana Gallardo and Nina Martin, which asks for those who know someone who died or nearly died in pregnancy, childbirth, or within a year after delivery to share their stories. The hope is that this information can be used to help researchers come up with ways to reduce the occurrence of and deaths from placenta accreta.
The only problem with these articles on NPR and other similar media is that they are only accessible to those who read such articles in the first place. As I’ve realized in these past few months since T took over as President and split the nation into two factions, there is a whole T-supporting, alternative facts supporting faction claiming everything but Breitbart, Fox News and now Trump TV as #fakenews. So, how is this information going to reach everyone? It’s not like these misogynistic media are going to share scientific articles dedicated to improving the experience of mothers, because all these media only care about is the fetus, the health/well-being of the mother be damned….but then again, I digress. But I won’t apologize for raising this critical point. It’s definitely food for thought as to how we can get this information to EVERYONE.