THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- New child? Baby yourself for support, survival
In the past few years, postpartum depression has had a lot of press. Brooke Shields and Marie Osmond had it. Tom Cruise denied it exists. Now everyone knows it exists, and maybe some know the warning signs. But what if you have post-partum depression and you have to work?
Here's what you need to know about postpartum depression if you're a breadwinner of the family:
1. Take maternity leave.
Try to think of ways to craft an unofficial maternity leave by getting ahead before the baby's born.
2. Plan ahead, for the worst-case scenario.
We know that best case scenarios don't actually need planning for. So why make plans assuming best case? Make contingency plans.
3. Admit that no time off means you're high-risk for postpartum depression.
Right after my second child arrived, I had to finish a book, which was behind schedule. My agent told me that there was no way I could promote the book when I was 40 pounds overweight. So I spent two or three hours at the gym every day. The baby came everywhere with me– to my book publisher, to my agent, to the gym. I breastfed in everyone's office. I breastfed in the cardio room and the weight room.
I cried all the time, and I felt that I had no idea how to take care of the baby, but I looked okay in all my meetings, so I kept going.
4. Ask for help from people you don't work with.
5. Postpartum depression is one of those times when you should break the bank.
When I left the hospital after my second child was born, I told myself I would just ignore the doctor's advice because it would be impossible to not be alone with the baby. My husband had to take our older son all over the city for school and activities. And we could never ever afford round-the-clock care.
But on the way home, I remembered Andrea Yates. I had always felt empathy for her, but now I felt like maybe I could be her. I know it came out of nowhere to her: first she was just sort of depressed, and then she was killing her kids.
Plus, I remembered two times when people had asked me how the baby was, and I said, "Sometimes I want to slam his head into the wall." Both times I got very concerned looks. So stopped saying it, but I knew it was not good.
So I hired someone to stay with the baby and me. Only then did I realize that I was terrified to be alone with the baby. I still cry thinking about how I was probably a danger to my own child. The babysitter was as much for me as for the baby.
I kept working. I kept seeing a therapist. And we went into huge debt in order to pay for the babysitter. In hindsight, I wonder, What could I have done differently?
My career could not have handled a three-month maternity leave. But I should have hired the nanny at the first sign of trouble, even though it caused a lot of debt. I was so scared of spending money. I cut corners on things that I thought I could handle but couldn't. And the biggest thing, in hindsight, that I thought I could handle, was being a working mom with no support system. No one can do that and stay sane.