***Trigger warning: If you are feeling fragile or struggling, this post might be triggering. I talk about intrusive thoughts and infanticide.***
When I first heard the news of this infant death, I reached out to a wonderful PPD advocate, Lauren Hale. Her wise counsel really helped me to process this event. She also gave me ideas on how I could help to bring awareness about postpartum mood disorders. I spoke to my family, my friends, my therapist and my online support community regarding my emotional health and wellbeing when this tragic event occurred.
Last week the trial ended. The mother of the infant was found not guilty of mental illness. She suffered from postpartum psychosis which resulted in this tragedy. Her sentence was to be transferred to a mental institution for life.
Once again I felt the scar of my intrusive thoughts rip open. I felt raw and emotional. The littlest thing could move me to tears. I rushed home after work that evening to snuggle with my girls. I told them over and over how much I loved them. I relaxed our bedtime routine in favor of reading just one more story, giving another hug and kiss.
I am trying not to dwell on this and read all of the details in the newspaper. I wonder all the time “Why her and not me?” I turned to my friend Lauren again. Her response was “It brings a reality home that is scarier than anything in the world – something we’d rather not think about.” I continue to grapple with these questions as I continue to heal again. Stories like this make me flashback to my darkest days where I could barely make it through the day. I was terrified that I would hurt my sweet baby girl. I was convinced that I was going crazy. I knew that something was wrong with me, but I could not articulate exactly what it was.
I got help. I did not act on my intrusive thoughts. As my friend Jenna reminded me, “there but for the grace of God go I”. I told my husband about one of my intrusive thoughts. He made sure to have a plan, and he never left me alone with the girls. I reached out, and I received help. My girls are thriving. I am in recovery. I am living my life; I am no longer just surviving. My marriage is strong. My story has a happy ending. I wish it did for this local woman. I keep her and her family in my prayers. I pray for continued healing for her, for her family and for her community.
We need to recognize the signs of postpartum mood disorders. They are far more common than we think. No one should have to suffer alone or in silence. Please see Postpartum Progress or Postpartum Support International for available resources.
Thank you Shell for providing a safe place to share.