I remember a week or 2 after Ava was born, a colleague came to visit me at home one evening. I was sitting on the couch, rocking Ava, desperately trying to get her to fall asleep. She walked in, took in the scene in front of her and said what just about everyone, who had met us as a family of 3 for the first time after a long journey of trying:
“How’s it going MOMMMEEEEE?”
With major emphasis on the Mommy part. She was thrilled for Walter and I, as was everyone, for Ava’s miracle arrival in our lives.
All I could manage was a half hearted “fine” as a response when in fact all I wanted to do was burst into tears.
I remember for the first few months after Ava’s placement, in fact I’d go so far as to say, the first year after Ava’s placement, feeling out of sorts, cloudy, tearful, overwhelmed, inadequate and yes, depressed. But I felt immense pressure, because of the long and painful journey to this point, to hide how I was really feeling. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that here we were living the dream and everyone expected that I should be walking on cloud 9 and instead, I felt so depressed that I felt physically sick on the inside, I just wanted to hide away from the world, I wanted to isolate myself and us from the world, while we somehow tried to figure all this confusion out.
I remember sharing with a select few of the people closest to me that I wondered if it was possible to have PND, even though I hadn’t been pregnant. I felt that bad.
I remember one night, somewhere at about 3am, after about 5 hours of trying to get Ava to settle as she was wracked with cramps and colic (only now I realize this was probably as a result of the stress she was experiencing post placement), Walter, pacing the room, our longed for daughter cradled in his arms, as he continued with the rocking marathon. I remember him looking at me, wild eyed and overwhelmed and saying to me that he thinks perhaps he was just not cut out to be a father and hearing him wonder aloud if it was possible for him to have PND?
And the resounding answer is YES! But it wasn’t PND that either of us had, it was P.A.D.S – Post Adoption Depression Syndrome.
I only recently came to know of P.A.D.S. I wish I’d know about it earlier, it would have gone a long way in helping me feel better about myself, about my mothering skills and about the guilt and embarrassment I felt over how depressed I was feeling.
P.A.D.S symptoms include the following:
a combination of symptoms that may include: depressed mood, irritability, diminished interest in most activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia, or sleeping too much, feeling worthless or excessively guilty, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. The severity of PAD may vary and should be taken seriously if you have five or more of these symptoms during a two-week period. Whether an incapacitating depression that requires treatment, or simply “the blues,” PAD is a very real phenomenon.
Some survey’s and studies have found that up to 65% of adoptive parents struggle with some level of P.A.D.S and that the studies into the causes and treatments of P.A.D.S is now where the studies into P.N.D were 10 years ago.Which means that there is a long way to go before this syndrome is recognized and/or understood by society at large.
Which interprets into very little understanding from my support system into how I was feeling. Had I been pregnant and birthed Ava myself, people would have sympathized and supported me through my P.N.D. I would have been given medication and/or counseling and the necessary tools to help me manage it. But because I had (I’m convinced of it) P.A.D.S and I couldn’t name it or claim it and no one around me knew anything about it, I didn’t get the support, both professional or otherwise, that I probably needed to get me through that difficult period.
I was on the Infertility Support Forum a few days ago, and a waiting-to-adopt-mom asked what to expect when finally getting the placement she longed for and I felt compelled to share with her what I have learned about P.A.D.S.
I only wish there had been someone who could share this with me when my turn came.