by Tracee Sioux
For Blogher's Postpartum Depression Mother's Act Day, I want to write about a deep inner conflict I faced. And inner war which might help explain some of the increase in PPD we're seeing today.
During the first three months after birth I was faced with two completely unacceptable choices.
Was I to give up my profession as a journalist and stay home with this no longer hypothetical human?
Or was I going to leave her with strangers at least 55 hours per week? Missing all her firsts and resigning myself to being a "bad mother?"
For the 12 weeks the Family Medical Leave Act protected my job, I labored with my two terrible choices until I became paralyzed by the fact that I loathed both with a valid and legitimate passion.
If you disagree with another person or a social norm, but hold true to yourself, you'll probably avoid depression, anxiety and various forms of mental illness. But, if your conflict is within and the war between two negative choices rages within, it will likely result in depression, anxiety and mental illness.
Behind my inner conflict was the influence and pressure of all previous generations of mothers telling me only bad mothers left their children to pursue personal ambition. Mine were particularly loud due to the Mormon upbringing I had in which a woman's only role was to mother. Pitted against the present-day pressure and influence of my husband, who didn't want to make the financial sacrifices it would require for me to stay home. Not to mention the deep gratification I got from my professional life, which I didn't want to abandon. The trouble was I believed they were both right.
Of course, I tried to create a third option for myself. Having read all the media hype about telecommuting and realizing my duties were all performed over the phone or on the Internet I felt working from home was a reasonable request. I had a plan that included going in for meetings and fulfilling all my obligations. I took it to my employer.
No. Though we had one male staff reporter telecommuting from San Fransisco, I was denied.
PPD exasperated. Choice between my need for professional validation and financial security or the bonding and development of mother and child.
My hypothesis is that we'll see fewer cases of Postpartum Depression when we see better employment policy for families. When there is real flexibility, versus media hype about flexibility, that allows women to pursue both mothering and professional ambition without sacrificing one or the other I believe the prevalence of PPD will drop.
It's something worth working towards even if it wasn't in time for me. The motivation is to create a more flexible and supportive professional environment for our daughters.
More reading about other factors of my Postpartum Depression:
Readers please go to Congress.org and ask the representatives working for you to pass the MOTHERS Act. What is the MOTHERS Act? The Moms Opportunity to Access Help, Education, Research and Support for Postpartum Depression Act, or MOTHERS Act (S. 3529), will ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms and provided with essential services. In addition, it will increase research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression.