by Bridget Croteau |

Being a new parent is “supposed” to be the happiest time of your life — or so the myth goes. 

For some moms and dads, it isn’t. At all. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are very common — 1 in 5 moms and 1 in 10 dads are affected.

In New York state alone, over 100,000 parents will be affected each year. Sadly, most of these moms and dads don’t get the help they need for a variety of reasons, including feelings of shame, and not knowing or understanding what perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are. 

I am one of the 1 in 5 moms. I had postpartum depression and anxiety following the births of both my daughters. Both my pregnancies were “typical” — some morning sickness and some nerves about being a new mom, but I generally felt good, both physically and mentally.

I had read about postpartum depression while I was pregnant, and knew I had some risk factors, including previous depression and anxiety and a major life change (for me, it was a job loss).

With my first daughter, I was unexpectedly induced and had a difficult labor and delivery. My daughter ended up in the NICU for a week and we struggled with breastfeeding for months.

Almost immediately I started feeling awful — including feelings of guilt, failure and crying. But I stayed in denial for four months before I told my family how I felt and reached out for help.

I started therapy and attended the “Circle of Hope” support group. 

This support group was incredible and was a major part of my recovery. 

Just over two years later, I had my second daughter. Her labor and delivery was a breeze compared to her sister; breastfeeding was relatively easy. But she was not a great sleeper.

As time went on the exhaustion caught up with me and I became incredibly anxious — especially to anything relating to her sleep schedule.

I was angry and I yelled at everyone. I went back to therapy and attended the “Keep Getting Better” support group. Slowly I started feeling better (especially after sleep training my daughter). 

When I felt better, I promised myself that I would give back by getting involved with the Postpartum Resource Center of New York. 

It is my goal to help reduce the stigma of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, raise awareness and to help educate by sharing my story and using my title of Mrs. Suffolk County America to help do so.

I speak at various events, fundraise and shared my story in the co-authored book A Dark Secret, and I am currently working on my own book as well. I will be competing on March 24-25 in Rochester for the title of Mrs. New York America

The Postpartum Resource Center of New York is an incredible resource for moms and families, and has been helping families for 20 years! Included in their work, the center works to educate, increase screening, provide support programs and train healthcare providers and support group leaders. 

Their initiative, Project 62, works to create a “Safety Net” of resources in all 62 counties in New York State.

On May 12, 2018, the fundraising committee, Sounds of Silence, Friends of the Postpartum Resource Center of New York, will be holding their 10th annual Sounds of Silence 5k/10k Run/Walk/Stroller walk at Jones Beach Field 5.

This family friendly event raises funds to help continue the programs and services of the PRCNY so families in New York can receive the help and support they need.

Registration will begin on January 30. Click here to register.

Bridget Croteau is a stay-at-home mom and writer. She lives in Bay Shore.

Click here to read about more parents who shared their stories through the Postpartum Research Center of New York.

Photo: Bridget Croteau and her daughters, Chloe (middle) and Natalie at the 2017 Sounds of Silence run/walk at Jones Beach – Field 3.

Coverage from 2017:

The Sounds of Silence 5K will run again April 29 to break the stigma of postpartum depression