As someone who has dealt with depression my entire life I love that depression, in all forms, is a subject that has come to light over the years. I love that people try to understand and have sympathy for many mental illnesses whereas in years past they didn't. We've come leaps and bounds in the mental health realm, but in some ways we still have much farther to go.
I'm sure you've heard of postpartum depression. It's commonly talked about and even shown in the media and entertainment industry. However, have you ever heard of post-adoption depression? It sounds ridiculous, right? Someone who spends months and years trying to have a baby, going through the sometimes difficult process, but then when they should be the happiest - when their holding their new baby, finally - something else starts creeping in.
I never knew this was a thing. I'd never heard about it. I never even thought this was something that was possible. Until it happened to me and I began researching. This is my first time ever opening up about this, I've told no one. There I was in the hospital room, holding my brand new baby boy, but it didn't feel like I "thought" it should have felt. Maybe it was because of all the very mixed emotions that come with adopting.
We had three days, three whole days still where his birth mother could change her mind. 3 DAYS. In normal circumstances three days doesn't seem like much at all, but when you're holding that baby and you have the thought that all you've ever wanted - wrapped up in this tiny little baby that already has your heart - could be taken away just as fast as he was placed in your arms... your emotions go crazy. The first instinct is to try and protect yourself, just a little... if possible.
When I looked at his birth-mother my heart shattered. How could I be so happy (because, don't get it twisted I was ecstatic in a sense - it just wasn't complete) when her heart was going to break in order for my happiness? I felt a weird sense of guilt. I loved this baby more than I could express, but so did she.
The next week we spent what felt like endless hours at the hospital while GG was in the NICU. When we weren't there we were taking turns calling to check on him. I held him and my love only grew. I rocked him and feed him and wanted so desperately to be able to bring him home. One week in the hospital then it was time. The day came when we brought our son (while still not legally "ours") home. That's when it began. A nagging feeling slowly crept up my spine. I was a horrible mother, i thought. Maybe that's why God didn't allow me to have children of my own. I didn't feel like I was doing anything right. Was I really good for him? I didn't feel like I'd always imagined parenthood to feel like.
I was the most doting mother, he was (and still is) my universe. However that deep connection that I expected wasn't there. What was wrong with me? I had taken care of children my whole life it seemed, so how come, when it came to my own child --- I didn't have a clue what I was doing!?! I was angry with myself. How was I so good with other babies, but it didn't seem like I was good enough for my own? When he cried I blamed myself. Why couldn't I help him? The depression crept in and stayed. Stealing the deep joy that I should have been feeling. I still felt joy, but it was a shallow, barely scratching the surface joy. It wasn't the deep elation that I had waited so long to feel.
That's when I started trying to figure out what was going on. As I stated previously, I've dealt with depression my entire life. I know what it feels like, what it can make you feel, and I knew that it was causing this, I just didn't know that it is fairly common in the adoption community. I spoke with my doctor and got a handle on things.
I feel like post-adoption depression is something that needs to be spotlighted. If I wouldn't have experienced it myself I still wouldn't even know about it. If I wasn't aware of what depression feels like, I might not have gotten any help!
My son is my heart.
Adoptive parents need to know and understand that PAD(Syndrome) is a normal and even predictable crisis, and it does not reflect on an adoptive parent’s desire, willingness or ability to parent. Knowledge, preparation and support are all critical to surviving and moving past PAD(S).
Signs you might be experiencing PADS:
· Loss of interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy
· Difficulty with concentrating or making decisions
· Fatigue or loss of energy
· Difficulty sleeping or increased need for sleep
· Significant weight change
· Excessive guilt
· Feelings of powerlessness
· Feelings of worthlessness
· Sense of hopelessness
· Suicidal thoughts or ideation
How to handle it:
We've taken Gregory to Disney for the past several years. Granted the first time he was 8 months. He stayed in his stroller while we enjoyed Mickey's Christmas and slept through it. Last year however he was able to ride several rides, but this year! Oh this year was magic! He's getting close to the big "3" now and the difference just the year made was amazing!
A 2 year old at Disney- the thought may make you cringe. It use to make me cringe, I won't even lie! It was so much easier than taking a 1 year old. At 1 he got bored with so much. While there were things that held his attention (It's A Small World held it the longest!), there was still so much that he couldn't do yet. I'm not saying it wasn't fun, but it wasn't AS fun.
This year, at 2, when we told him who he was going to get to see he knew who we were referring to and he was EXCITED! So excited in fact that he didn't sleep the night before, so yes, we greatly regretting not waiting until the morning of! This year was special. This year he was ready and boy did it make a difference!
In my opinion there is no ideal age to take your little ones. If you want to take them when they're tiny babies, do it! When they're that little it's for you anyway, not them.
I thought I'd share some tips with other toddler mommies out there!
 Get the mydisneyexpericnce app. It's worth it! Find out if your park is doing the extra magic hour that day. If they are it means they're open an hour early and if you already have your ticket/magic band you can take advantage of this! Go early! Always go as early as you can!!
 Set your fast passes on your app! You can set 3 to begin with. DO IT! Once your three fast passes are out you can choose one at a time until you run out. Typically I think you get about three more, but with all the walking around and extras you may fit it, it's enough!
 Your toddler can walk, does this mean ditch the stroller? While it would be so cool to go without - it's a must to have. Those little legs can only do so much and eventually that little one will need a nap! Take the stroller!
 Take things that will fit under the stroller or on it. Don't make yourself drag around unneeded items all day. They get heavy very fast!
 Again, back to the app. This thing can show you restrooms AND baby centers. What's a baby center? Well, they're amazing for one! Baby centers are fully staffed and have all things baby! Here's a list of what they have:
 Know what your toddler likes and aim for that. Know their limits. Don't push what you want because frankly, we all know, a toddler whats only what interests them!
 HAVE FUN. Don't get caught up in rushing or getting to this or that. Just enjoy it.
Hello! I’m Hilarie!
I am a wife, mother, an assistant, and now a blogger! I am so exciting to relaunch Jacksonville Housewives in the city.
I love the beach, coffee, marketing and meeting new friends. I cannot wait to meet y’all!