Seeking Professional Help

Updated on October 18, 2012
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
12 answers

I am having a difficult time dealing with my sons premature birth. It's been 2.5 years. My son is doing great and has been fine since day 1 except he had to be in the NICU initially. Those 25 days were the most difficult of my entire life. I did not get diagonised with PPD because my feelings were normal in the circumstances. I had lot of support from family and did enjoy seeing my son grow. I really thought I was fine until this year. There were episodes before when I used feel very sad and spend couple days going through all those emotions again- extreme guilt for putting my son through NICU and regret for not catching symptoms soon enough for them to be able to stop my labor. This year I have lots of my friends having babies.. feels like it's raining babies. Though I don;t wish a preemie experience to any of my friends, and am happy to see their heathly babies, it still takes M. back to those NICU days where I felt so helpless. I keep questioning why things didn't go well for M.. I know things happen for a reason and not everything is in my control, I have been through these days so many times and later thought I should be happy for what I have. I am able to smile and be happy inspite of everything. There are times when these thoughts don't even effect M.. Until it hits M. again and then no amount of positive thinking helps. I just met my friends babies this weekend. I was so very happy and love those babies so much. But ever since I came home, I am down in the dumps.
I am tired of feeling this way time n again. I sometimes feel I have completely overcome it and then something triggers those memories and I just can't snap out of it easily. I hate wasting a day or two everytime because of this.
I am thinking I will seek professional help. But not sure how to go about it. I haven't been to the OB GYN ever since I had my baby, do I go back to her and explain everything? I have a yearly physical coming up soon at a different clinic, do I mention these issues to this new doctor? or do I directly get an appointment with a psychiatrist?
I really want to go to a good one. Where can I look for recommendations or referrals? I am totally confused and sad I am not able to manage my emotions all by myself. Thanks!

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

First of all, my heart goes out to you. You went through something traumatic, and you love your child so much that you continue to beat yourself up over what you perceive as mistakes you made. I would venture to guess that you did the best you could at the time with the information you had, and my hope for you is that you can forgive yourself and let go of this guilt. You did nothing wrong. I have not read any other responses but this is my opinion as someone who had postpartum depression. You can share this with your OB/GYN if you want just to possibly get referrals to a psychiatrist and a therapist who know how to deal with what you are going through. Don't ask the OB/GYN to treat this. I made that mistake at the beginning of the PPD and it didn't go well. They are really not qualified to do so. Psychiatrists talk to you a bit about your feelings to determine whether you need medication. Therapists offer "talk therapy" that would probably have to be ongoing to help you get to the bottom of why you are having these feelings and why you haven't been able to let them go. I would suggest you start with the therapist so you can begin to work through some fo this stuff. The therapist can't prescribe medication, but may have an opinion on whether it would help you based on your circumstances. Good luck to you and give yourself credit for reaching out for help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I want to send you a virtual hug ( ). I have been through a similar situation, as my child was born at 36 weeks, and when he was 10 days old, he contracted a random bacterial infection and almost died right in front of my husband and I. I had to sit through the medical staff giving my baby a spinal tap, and watch in panic as the nurses and doctors scrambled to hook up machines as our child started to breathe erratically. The doctors said our little one was within hours of death, and we did the right thing by bringing our child to the ER. We are first time parents, and were completely blind-sided.

What you are experiencing is completely normal for what you have been through. Trauma is hard for the body to handle and cope with. What you are describing sounds to M. like PTSD, however I am not a doctor, just speaking from personal experience. I am a PTSD sufferer, and many things trigger sadness or anxiety in M., bringing M. back to those days in the hospital, and fear for the future. My child spent 10 weeks in the hospital, and it was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I thought once we got out of the hospital, and we got back into a routine, things would be fine. I figured if I can make it through the hospital, it should be smooth sailing....that is not always how the human body works. It gets you through the present situation, but then it needs to heal and come to terms/cope with what has happened. I have read research that trauma actually changes the brain in many ways.

In the days following trauma, we learn how to move forward in the best way we can. I personally started to have panic attacks and anxiety. Fear of sickness and death for my family. None of the doctors, including Infectious Disease, could tell us where our child got the infection from, and cleanliness in my home has always been really important. But the doctors told us that the particular bacteria our child came into contact with can survive on surfaces for up to 30 days. So it could have been anywhere in public, someone could have touched a doorknob, and then grabbed my child's hand, and then maybe he stuck his hand in his mouth...

All of this to say, I am in a season of combatting my PTSD, so I can be the best momma I can be :) And I hope for the best for you, hopefully with the advice you are receiving and with the health care you receive, you can find what works for you. Everyone is different. I needed to talk to a professional, so I called my insurance company to see what I needed to do to be covered to see someone. I realized that I needed someone who could hear my concerns, validate what I was going through so I would not feel like a leper, and give M. ways to practically learn how to deal with and minimize my sadness and panic attacks. I identified my triggers, and figured out safe situations for M., as I baby stepped back to a healthy momma :) I also had a double whammy of my in-laws being quite negative and pushy, saying things that were not at all encouraging. So besides my own challenges every day, I was having to combat my feelings of being a bad momma as a result of their comments and actions. You mentioned having a supportive family, and that is a huge blessing. They can be a great resource in moving through this season of learning to cope and move forward.

I am happy to report that our child is doing wonderful, all of his doctors have been amazed at his healing...he really was a miracle baby. I hold onto that on my challenging days. My husband and I did the best for him in the situation we found ourselves in. No one would ask for their child to be sick, or ask for any kind of trauma in general. But know that you made it through the situation. You and your son survived. The outlook could have been far worse, one only needs to watch the news to see this. You are blessed, so hold onto that, even if you have to write your blessings down when you are having a good day, and then when a challenging day hits, take it out and read it, over and over if you have to. Life is quite fleeting, and we all need to remind ourselves to enjoy the good stuff when it is here. Hopefully this is encouraging to you, everyone deserves encouragement, even if it is from complete strangers :) More hugs ( )

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Please do speak professional help - what you're going through is so normal. I dealt with something similar. My twin girls were born at 36 weeks, so not too early, but one of them spent 30 days in the hospital. At first it was just that she was small (3lbs11oz) and couldn't control her temperature, but then she started not being able to breathe when she ate. It took almost four weeks for the doctors to diagnose her with severe reflux causing aspiration. The milk was getting into her lungs. Anyway... she's fine now with no lasting issues. But yes, those 30 days were the worst of my life and I still look back and feel helpless and sad and like I did something wrong. I had a great support system of women who had dealt with similar situations, so I've been able to put it behind M. 99% of the time.

If you haven't - then it's time to talk to a therapist. You could ask your OB or primary care doctor to recommend a psychiatrist, a psychologist or a therapist (not sure which you'd prefer). Or, if you already know a psychologist/therapist, you can book directly. I wouldn't be surprised if you are diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome. A lot of women who deal with unexpected NICU stays have this...

a therapist should be able to help you move past the pain, sadness, panic, and helplessness you felt.



answers from Boston on

Given that your problem is very situation-specific, I would start with your OB's office or even the hospital where your baby was in the NICU. You probably don't even need to make an appointment. Just call and say that you are looking for a referral to someone who can help you with some lingering negative feelings about your son's prematurity that are still interfering with your life in an unhealthy way. What you're describing sounds more like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) than something organic like PPD or generalized depression. I would bet that what you're feeling is not uncommon and that there are people out there who will help you to process your grief and guilt in a safe place so that you can let it all out and move on and not have to worry about having this be triggered over and over again.

Good for you for recognizing that you need some help with this - my step-daughter has PTSD and talking through everything with a counselor really helped her to understand that what happened to her was genuinely distressing, that she's not alone, she wasn't at fault, etc. She didn't need any kind of medication, just a place to express her feelings, have them validated, and learn coping skills for letting go and moving on.

This article talks about NICU parent PTSD. It looks like the March of Dimes has resources to help parents deal with the trauma of being a NICU parent, so their website might be a good place to start. I do want to warn you that the article talks about some upsetting NICU experiences. I teared up reading it so if you're feeling fragile, it might not be a great read for you:



answers from Kalamazoo on

I recommend a psychologist. They are registered and certified by a board.



answers from Miami on

I fully understand. It sounds like you have birth related PTSD from what you went through and that would be perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, the U.S. does not have a lot of resources or support organizations: English speaking birth related PTSD are mainly in Australia but you can google them. Then consider contacting your local ICAN chapter: [email protected]

and ask them if they have any resources for birth related PTSD and or referrals for counseling. You could also try your local hospital or birth center. This might help as well:

Please get some help so that you feel better. Your son deserves it and so do you. C.



answers from Chicago on

Hi, sometimes we try so hard to justify what happened in the past that we bring every feeling and reenact all the emotions that took place during that hard time all over again. We begin to identifying with certain people or things that trigger us to go back and live that moment all over again. We cannot help but hold on to the pain that has taken control of which we are and allow it to stop us from enjoying what is important and present in our life today this very moment. Our pain makes us believe that it was our mistake or our fault. We can’t help but wonder why M.? Or how couldn't I have known? It’s those fears and pains that take away the moments in which truly matter, moments in which you can enjoy your beautiful child who deserves to have his happy M. fully present in his beautiful life as yours. You should be proud of what your baby and you have survived. For you have gone through what many mothers are so afraid even to think about. The journey and mountain you climbed with you baby boy was a hard one and yet he survived as did you by not giving up and learning to cope with what was going on. When you can accept what happened and be proud of the outcome no matter what it is or was, then you will look at this moment like a past situation that does not defy who you are, but give you hope that you have the strength within . It was a moment in your life that has showed you what it takes to hold on and not give up. We are not wonder woman; we are mothers that are thrilled to have our babies join our life. There was no hand out or video given to us teaching us how to have a normal delivery or how not to have a pre mature baby. You were not in control of what your body was need of or doing at the time. You only knew what every M. knows when it comes to our first baby or any baby Joy, Love, Happiness, Nervousness and the reality that this will be the beginning to your shinning light. Smile for you deserve it today and everyday……
Best Wishes



answers from Los Angeles on

Definitely see somebody. You don't want to look back on this time and feel guilty for missing out on your son because you were too busy feeling guilty about his birth. The internet is a wonderful source of info and that includes doctors/psychologists. I would talk to your OB and get recommendations but i would also google anyone s/he recommends to see what kind of reviews they got on Yelp, Yahoo, etc. i don't go to any doctors until I've seen their reviews - learned that the hard way. i believe also has a database you can search. Good luck!



answers from Wichita Falls on

Talk to you primary care doctor and he will make the referral (most insurances will require that order anyway). He may also want to take some tests for hormone levels and other indicators. Treatment is often a combination of therapy and medication.
This is not being weak - being weak is seeing the problem and doing nothing. Getting help is being strong.


answers from Boston on

Get some help - you are not alone in your feelings, and you may be suffering from depression or even a form of PTSD. You have been through a trauma and it's not easy to get over it by yourself. Talk to your ob/gyn about a referral for some counseling, or to your primary care physician if that's someone else. They give referrals like this all the time, as it is part of your health care - mental health is just as important as physical health. They can refer you to someone who takes your medical insurance. You might choose a psychiatrist, or you might choose a psychologist or social worker. If you need medication and want to take it, the psychologist or social worker will have a working relationship with someone who can prescribe it - either a consulting psychiatrist or someone else. It's more important that you get someone with experience in the type of situation you've been through and also someone you are comfortable with and can confide in. You can get referrals from friends too, but sometimes that means you have to tell them more than you want to, and it can sometimes feel awkward to go to the same person that your friend goes to. You don't always want to be comparing notes, you know?

And don't be so hard on yourself that you cannot manage your emotions by yourself. You go to doctors for physical care, you have professionals replace your roof or repair your car, you use professionals all the time in many ways. Your emotions are just as important, and they are just as deserving of time and attention. Your life is negatively impacted by your feelings, and it's more than okay for you to reach out for help.

Good luck and take care of yourself.



answers from Cincinnati on

It definitely sounds like you may have PPD. Start by talking with your doctor for your physical. I dont think you neccessarily need a psychiatrist, but may a low dose med for the depression?
But talk to a docotor asap. While Im sure guilt is normal for moms of premature babies, the fact that you cant get over it despite your child be healthy means you need some help. Your hormones end emotions are obviously still out of whack.
And its great that you realize that this isnt normal. Dont be so hard on yourself! Hang in there :)



answers from Cumberland on

yes-tell the new doctor-and if you need to see someone before then, go to your OB-if you get really down-go to the ER-they would love to help-and have access to all kinds of specialists at all hours of the day or night-feel better and take care and never be reluctant to ask for help:)

Next question: Postpartum Anxiety/ Panic Attacks? Postpartum Depression?