“I remember sharing my story and crying. That’s when my recovery began,” says Natalie Roebuck, pictured with her two children. Natalie had postpartum depression after the birth of her first child, Reid (left).
Natalie Roebuck knew she hit a critical point a few days after the birth of her first child. She hadn’t slept in five days. “I’m exhausted,” she thought to herself. “I just can’t turn my brain off to sleep. I can’t possibly be a good mom to my baby feeling this way.”
Looking back, Natalie calls it “the tailspin.” She remembers telling her mother-in-law that things weren’t going well. Her husband called her obstetrician, who recommended she go back on a sleep medication she used before her pregnancy.
The medication meant Natalie could sleep while her husband did overnight shifts with her son. “I went from a desperate mom to thriving in the span of a few weeks,” she says.
During that time, Natalie also received a referral to the Women’s Mood and Anxiety Clinic: Reproductive Transitions at Sunnybrook. “I remember sharing my story and crying. That’s when my recovery began,” says Natalie, recalling her first visit.
Dr. Sophie Grigoriadis, head of the clinic, assessed Natalie and adjusted her medication. She was encouraged to educate her family and her support network on postpartum depression and on ways to help her.
When Natalie and her husband began to think about having a second child, she worked with Dr. Grigoriadis to develop a plan both for the prenatal period and the time following the birth of her baby. “I felt incredible peace of mind knowing that my second postpartum period wouldn’t be an inevitable replay of my first,” says Natalie.
She refers to it as “the game plan”: her husband, family and close friends all knew the importance of protecting her sleep in contributing to a healthy state of mind. Feedings were planned, with her husband and other family members getting up through the night.
“What a great start it was, it set me on a wonderful course,” explains Natalie. “I didn’t experience any sort of depression. I got to experience the happiness I didn’t after my first child.”
Her son, Reid, is now three years old. Her daughter Blythe, whose name means “joy,” is eight months old, and Natalie says she is a healthy and attentive mom to both her children.
When asked about her advice for other mothers, Natalie shares in her own words:
- Talk to someone: Everyone knows about the baby-blues, but if you’re feeling like you’re close to the cliff, and worried about what might happen to you or your baby, you need to tell someone and ask for their help and support.
- Be kind to yourself: There is such enormous guilt around being a “good mom,” and for me it was incredibly helpful to let the guilt go and realize postpartum depression was beyond my control. I wasn’t a bad or weak mom; I had an illness.
- Listen to your doctor: I’ve done everything my doctor suggested and my family have also supported the recommendations, like ensuring I was able to get my rest overnight.
Do you think you, or someone you care about, may have postpartum depression? Dr. Grigoriadis encourages women or their partners, friends or family to call your family doctor or visit your closest emergency department.