I had a huge problem with some of the old school papers I read on Autism relating to the "refrigerator mother" creating the Autistic child. Mainly because I went through postpartum depression and anxiety. Yes, I am very open about this topic because somewhere out there is a Mother who can relate and she needs to hear that it is NOT her fault. Here is my story....
My son was born via c-section. Something we had been against from the beginning. We had been so against the idea of a c-section that I had built it up in my mind as the most violating evil thing that a doctor can do to a woman. Well, it is what you think of it. Anyway, the first thoughts that came to me upon seeing my bundle of cuteness, was that he was not my son and someone had made a mistake and brought me the wrong child. There was a bond but I couldn't feel it. It was hell, and the second day we were in the hospital I started having really, really, bad crippling anxiety. All of which arose out of something called "intrusive thinking." I'm gonna make people do some research here as to not trigger anyone with PPD or Postpartum Anxiety. SO google it people.
Now sometimes when Mothers go through PPD the want to hold their child is not there. I forced myself for fear of what it might do to my kid if he didn't see pics of him and I together, later in life. I wanted him to know that my PPD was not his fault and that it's something so common to a lot of Moms. SO I forced myself to get over my fear and dread, and hold him. It helped having him on me. At about six months in to our bond forming, I overworked myself on Christmas prep trying to make everything perfect. Wanting people to know I was a good Mom (who cares what others think. One of the first step to overcoming it.) Well, my PPD and anxiety hit me full force and we stayed with a family member so that I felt safe and secure.
I went through therapy and called phone crisis lines every week, (check links and help line numbers in P.S. of this blog) almost everyday in fact. To make sure I was getting help and on the road to recovery. I just wanted things to be "normal" and not have to experience the anxiety associated with having a child. At least not to the degree I was experiencing it. At about the year mark I noticed that everything was fine. I had experienced the healing but was still wary of it coming back. I was on a strict self-care diet my husband saw to (cause you forget to do things when your taking care of a little one).
Not long after that we noticed a difference in our son. and the way he was processing the world.. When I first set out reading old school theories on autism (which some doctors still believe) surprise, surprise, I found that hey were blaming us. The PPD experiencing Mother. I was pissed to say the least. It made no sense for me, being attached to him the first year of his life. I sat back and wondered how much damage something like this would cause to a Mother who hasn't recovered yet and was dealing with the autism assessment process. What cruelty to put on someone who spends every waking hour of there day dedicated to their little ones, regardless of the chaos their going through. And for the woman who new she needed help and time away to heal, the cruelty it sends to her is unfathomable.
I survived PPD and anxiety and I'm here to say it's no ones fault to experience it and it is not the cause of autism. Certain circumstances may put you at risk for PPD and anxiety, but if you learn how to deal with it early you recover sooner than if you let it sit and build.
The first thing any Mom with PPD and even with just the kid on the spectrum is SELF CARE. Find someway. get creative, because when you take care of yourself you are able to take care of others. This goes for fathers too. Find time for self-care! Superman and Superwoman had to eat, take a shower, have water, vitamins, and small comforts in life or else it wouldn't be just the kryptonite that got to them. So, for every parent out there SELF-CARE, it is a necessity.
And to the Mother's out there that experienced or are experiencing PPD or postpartum anxiety and have a kid on the spectrum...let me get the megaphone for this....IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
I hope this has helped you in someway and feel free to post questions in the comment box below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to vent, relate, or hear more of the story. The more we open up about PPD and Anxiety the less of a stigma it becomes.
As always thank you for reading!
Much love and Gratitude,
P.S. A great telephone line for PPD support is Postpartum Pacific Support: 1.604.255.7999 or 1.855.225.7999 Link to their website is below: