One Family’s Story: A Scary Time, But Now They’re Safe
A Scary Time, But Now They’re Safe
Diane was working with new moms as a postpartum doula when she gave birth to her son Louis. A few months later, she experienced later-onset postpartum depression.
“I thought I was just a bad mom – I didn’t think I could get postpartum depression because I know so much about it.” -Diane
Due to destructive thoughts, a disassociation from reality and other troubling symptoms, Diane sought out help. She began receiving psychiatric care and medication through the Mother-Baby Program at Hennepin Healthcare.
Then, after a particularly rough patch that included suicidal thoughts, Diane decided to seek emergency in-patient care on Christmas Eve 2015. Diane spent Louis’ first Christmas in the hospital.
The Nursery and Hennepin Healthcare work together to support families experiencing mental health crises, so when Diane was discharged five days later, she was connected with a social worker from the Nursery who provided home visits to support her and keep up with her progress.
Diane shares her experience in hopes that it will help other new moms experiencing mental health concerns.
How did you feel about having a home visitor, and was it helpful?
It was so helpful to have someone see me and my baby together at home and affirm that I wasn’t a bad mom. It helped to have someone assess my son, too. I was afraid I had broken him somehow. It was really hard to believe that I hadn’t profoundly damaged him because I had been so out of my mind. To have someone sit with me and say, “Nope, I don’t see anything interesting here. I see a loving mom and a well-bonded child,” was so reassuring.
What happened during the visits?
We set goals for me to work toward; she tracked my progression toward a more healthy interaction with my son, and I could see it. Someone came at one point to video us, and then she showed it to me later so I could see how I reacted to my son. To have someone come in and say, ‘You seem fine,’ – I didn’t believe them at first. I felt a lot of shame. I thought, ‘People think I’m a good mom but I’m not.’ People don’t talk about these types of feelings and experiences. You don’t see many people on social media posting about severe parenting struggles.
How long did the home visits last?
She came weekly or biweekly for six to eight months. It’s a long-term thing – that’s the idea, that the same person is with you regularly. It mattered so much just to have someone there for support.
Did you ever use the Nursery to care for your child?
No, we lived in the top half of my parents’ duplex at the time, and they helped. I absolutely would have used it otherwise – the hospital made us very aware of this offering. They explained that grownups need a chance to be grownups and address grownup things, while the Nursery cares for your child.
How are you doing now?
My son and I are great now, although it was probably three years until I felt totally mentally fine. I’m working full time and just finished grad school.
You’re now a Circle of Hope member. What motivated you to stay in touch?
I wanted to give back to the Nursery. Once I have more time, I want to volunteer at the Nursery, but for now I can make a gift each month, so I’ve joined the monthly giving program.
What do you want others to know?
The world is a hard space – it’s difficult to know where you can do the most good. Everyone came from a home of some kind. If we can help people in their most intimate place, it is going to make the world better as a whole. I was lucky to have a huge support network of friends and family. There were at least 12 people I could’ve dropped my kid off with. It’s so scary to think of people who don’t have that — to think of moms who don’t have support and are afraid — you can’t grow in a place of fear. You have to have a sense of safety. The Nursery provides that for families.
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