The Whole Veterinarian

Navigating Postpartum Depression with Dr. Misty Gray

August 20, 2020 Misty Gray, DVM Season 1 Episode 10
The Whole Veterinarian
Navigating Postpartum Depression with Dr. Misty Gray
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The Whole Veterinarian
Navigating Postpartum Depression with Dr. Misty Gray
Aug 20, 2020 Season 1 Episode 10
Misty Gray, DVM

My very good friend, Dr. Misty Gray, generously shares her experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety in this week's episode. With veterinarians' mental health status already at high risk, I wanted to touch on a subject that could easily affect any one of us as we enter parenthood. If your gut is telling you that things don't feel quite right after you've brought your baby home, please discuss it with someone who loves you! I'll also attach some resources below.
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Dr. Gray's info!
Dr. Misty Gray is a 2007 graduate of The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an equine internship at BW Furlong and Associates in Hunterdon County, NJ in 2008 and worked as an associate at the practice for the next 13 years. Her primary veterinary interests include broodmare management and foal care. Misty is also certified in Acupuncture and Chiropractic medicine. She and her husband, Dave, are enjoying raising their two boys, two cats and pup, named Penny! Any chance she gets, Dr. Gray will hop on a pony and let her hair blow in the wind to remind her of her childhood pony club days!

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Postpartum Mood Disorder Resources:
-FAQs from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
-Postpartum Depression site from the Mayo Clinic
-Postpartum Health Alliance Screening Quiz
-BetterHelp online therapy (Get a free month when you enroll through the NOMV website!)
-Not One More Vet
-Crisis Phone Numbers (International listings also)
-Infant Risk/Mommy Meds app from Thomas Hale for drug medication guidelines while breastfeeding
-Balanced Breastfeeding - virtual lactation consultations with Katie Madden, RN, IBCLC (you can also hear Katie address working mom issues in Episode 3!)

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Ways to connect with The Whole Veterinarian!
Instagram: @thewholeveterinarian
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewholeveterinarian/
Email: thewholeveterinarian@gmail.com
www.thewholeveterinarian.com

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Music Credit: Journey of Hope by Alexander Nakarada

Show Notes Transcript

My very good friend, Dr. Misty Gray, generously shares her experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety in this week's episode. With veterinarians' mental health status already at high risk, I wanted to touch on a subject that could easily affect any one of us as we enter parenthood. If your gut is telling you that things don't feel quite right after you've brought your baby home, please discuss it with someone who loves you! I'll also attach some resources below.
...

Dr. Gray's info!
Dr. Misty Gray is a 2007 graduate of The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an equine internship at BW Furlong and Associates in Hunterdon County, NJ in 2008 and worked as an associate at the practice for the next 13 years. Her primary veterinary interests include broodmare management and foal care. Misty is also certified in Acupuncture and Chiropractic medicine. She and her husband, Dave, are enjoying raising their two boys, two cats and pup, named Penny! Any chance she gets, Dr. Gray will hop on a pony and let her hair blow in the wind to remind her of her childhood pony club days!

...

Postpartum Mood Disorder Resources:
-FAQs from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
-Postpartum Depression site from the Mayo Clinic
-Postpartum Health Alliance Screening Quiz
-BetterHelp online therapy (Get a free month when you enroll through the NOMV website!)
-Not One More Vet
-Crisis Phone Numbers (International listings also)
-Infant Risk/Mommy Meds app from Thomas Hale for drug medication guidelines while breastfeeding
-Balanced Breastfeeding - virtual lactation consultations with Katie Madden, RN, IBCLC (you can also hear Katie address working mom issues in Episode 3!)

..

Ways to connect with The Whole Veterinarian!
Instagram: @thewholeveterinarian
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewholeveterinarian/
Email: thewholeveterinarian@gmail.com
www.thewholeveterinarian.com

....
Music Credit: Journey of Hope by Alexander Nakarada

Stacey Cordivano
Hey, how's it going?

Misty Gray
Hey, I'm doing good. How are you?

Stacey Cordivano
Good...you know, the lawn mowers going in the background. It's good. Anyway, I wanted to talk today about your experience with postpartum depression. I know that it's not exactly a veterinary topic, but we are largely a female dominated profession. I know that when you experienced it, I had not experienced anyone close to me, so I was wholly unprepared to help you. Not that I necessarily could have helped you. But I was wholly unprepared and I was just thinking that if anyone's listening that is either going to be pregnant or friends with people who are pregnant, this is a topic that might help them. So I was hoping that you might be willing to share your story today.

Misty Gray
Yeah, definitely. Postpartum depression, I mean, now I think they're calling it postpartum mood disorders, which ranges a bigger span of symptoms or feelings rather than just depression. It's interesting because there's so much talk about it, and you hear about it, you know, at all of your prenatal visits, and there's a lot of like celebrity feedback and yeah, social media type of stories. And so it's not that it's something that people don't know about. And yet, still, I think I was pretty unprepared for what it would feel like or what it could look like. Maybe the best place to start is just kind of from from the beginning, I like you said, I have two boys. At this point in life, I have a different perspective, or maybe a more well rounded perspective of what my initial experience was because my experience really came about with my first son with following my first pregnancy. And now that I've had a second experience that was really different. I think that it kind of solidifies to me just how impacted I was the first go round. That's probably the hardest part of all of it is that you don't know. You can read about the symptoms and you can listen to somebody else talking about the symptoms, but so much of what just new motherhood in general is so overwhelming and exhausting. And then if you have an infant that is not a unicorn, baby, those really come about all that often. But you know, some people have them.

Stacey Cordivano
Apparently they're out there.

Misty Gray
You can know about it, and then still not know, in the moment. Are you just tired because you have a baby?

Stacey Cordivano
You know, I mean, some of the symptoms are just like exhaustion, right? You're like, confused. You don't feel like a great mother. You doubt yourself. There might be a little anxiety like you're exhausted.

Misty Gray
Right? So you just described every single new mom. And then when you're coming from like, I think a lot about In our profession, because so many of us are perfectionists really, really driven and focused and very trained and skilled.

Stacey Cordivano
You work hard enough, you figure something out.

Misty Gray
Yeah. And if there's not an answer, you can find it in a book or in literature. Or if you ask the right person or find another professional or you consult or. and also very trained at taking our own feelings and concerns, pushing them down,

Stacey Cordivano
Shoviing them, shoving them down.

Misty Gray
Bury it down, and then carry on, you know, to get the job done. You know, whether that's a colicky horse or crashing hit by car dog, or in this case of colicky infant, you just take that like feeling of overwhelmed oh my goodness, or you know, I don't want to get out of bed and you just get out of bed. You know, you just do it. You don't feel good about it. But you do it because your job as you know it right then is to keep this person alive. And so yeah, so the first time was really really tough and was definitely not normal. So it wasn't this is hard, because it's just hard. I did know it or I suspected it in the moment. And now having done it again, I've had another baby who was not a unicorn baby. I mean, Tyler was easier in a lot of ways than Jesse was. And some of that probably comes just from the experience and like, you're just, you know, you've given up the idea of control by that point, but he wasn't it's not like he was a unicorn baby. I held him for every nap for 17 weeks, you know, like, yeah, I had mastitis four times. It's not like that was some magical easy experience. And yet I never felt in my second go round the way that I didn't my first I remember over and over again telling us like you were right, that experience that wasn't right or normal, that could have been better.

Stacey Cordivano
Can you elaborate a little bit on what you are feeling in the moment with after the first

Misty Gray
so you know, a lot of people talk about like the birth experience. You know, they're entering in concerned about you had a traumatic birth or the birth didn't go the way that you had planned it. And none of that was my case, I had a fabulous pregnancy, it was pretty easy. I felt good. I was able to work right up until I decided I wasn't going to work anymore. And then I had a week off where I was like, what, what am I gonna do with all of this time? Let's plant some tulips...haha! And then I you know, I wanted to have an unmedicated delivery, if possible, like, I felt like if horses can do it, I can do it, or I should be able to do it.

Stacey Cordivano
Haha That's a hard comparison.

Misty Gray
I know. But listen, for those of you that don't know me, that is my area of practice. I mean, I do brood mirrors and breeding, among other things, but I have always marveled at how like these horses have no understanding, they have no idea. There's no preparation, and they're pretty graceful about it, you know, so I figured Surely, like we're made to do this. I can do it.

Misty Gray
So I did. And I, you know, the labor was intense, but I like 12 hours and the baby was born and no real complications. And so like the birth experience was exactly what I had planned for,

Stacey Cordivano
which is pretty amazing, actually.

Misty Gray
Yeah, it is. And like that we I was in a hypno birthing group and the nine of us I think two of us had the labor and delivery experience that we had hoped for. And everybody else had one of the millions of things that change what happens in the moment, because that was one of my things like I, if something doesn't go well or doesn't turn out the way that it's supposed to, I assume that there's something I have done to create that when I wasn't feeling good after having the baby. I tried to blame it on myself, you know, because I could have said like, it was the epidural, or it was the you know, like, and I didn't have that. I mean, I didn't have any of that. Yeah, it started out where I felt really nervous about you know, like if he wanted a nurse to see And like cluster feeding that he wasn't getting enough and then like it turned into the cycle of like really fixating on all of these details. I think I felt so out of control that I had like an app and a notebook where I would write basically like I was trying to make treatment sheets for my infant, you know, like, what side did he nursed on? How long when was his last bowel movement? How long did he sleep and like where is he on the eat wake sleep cycle and,

Stacey Cordivano
and this comes back to that whole idea of we're used to being able to figure it out. Like there's a plan, there's a path there's something, but this ain't anything like you've ever done before!

Misty Gray
Well, and if you I think if you at least for me, if I feel out of control, I assume that if I am organized enough, I can rein it back in that I can I can like direct the flow or and when you have a new baby You know, the that was the biggest reckoning for me was actually have no control. Like, I don't control what time I wake up, I don't control how much sleep I get, I don't control when I eat, I don't control anything. So, so that part was really hard and and you are tired, right? Like tired, tired, but I remember from the moment the baby was born, I was so just depleted. I just felt exhausted. And that made sense, right? I mean, I'd done 12 hours of natural labor. But you know, they're talking about you're supposed to have this like oxytocin release, and you feel so proud of what you've done. And I really didn't experience that in the moment. I have this brand new baby, I've checked all the boxes, and like, I just didn't feel it, you know, I felt I felt dampened or depleted or, you know, just down from the beginning and I thought, well, I'm overwhelmed or, you know, I'm just worked really hard. I did have some blood loss. So like, maybe it's that I'll sleep it off, but like, that part doesn't come.

Stacey Cordivano
Yeah. And you know, like that magical moment is not a guarantee and it's not guaranteed that if you don't have it that you have postpartum depression. I think I read a stat that 85% of moms have what they call the postpartum baby blues, which lasts a week or two, where your hormones are all over the place. And yeah, I don't want anyone to think that just because you don't have this magical moment, you're gonna have postpartum depression, but then for you that feeling

Misty Gray
It just carried on and it stayed that way. I felt really foggy. I really had trouble eating. So you know, I was making myself eat because one of the things we're really struggling with was like milk supply or volume supply. And so I felt like I needed the calories but I just felt nauseated all the time. Like it just felt bad. I have like, I'm lucky to have a lot of people that love me and care about me and even a couple of friends. One of my closest friends that had had two babies before me and I think it's tough because I asked, you know, like, I I tried, I tried to talk to the people that I was close to, you know, and say, I don't know if I'm doing it right or if I'm not sure, I feel right. And I think that in their effort to be really supportive of me, they're like, no, you're doing great. It was really hard for me to and no, that's that's not to blame them. They love me and are trying to help me you know, and say like, No, Misty you you're like, Look, you're taking care of your baby. This is a hard time you have a really high needs infant, you know, all of these things. And I think what I wanted, and what I've wanted several times throughout my five and a half years of motherhood so far, is there are times when you just want somebody to say, this isn't right, you you need to do something differently. And I think that's one of the big lessons as a woman that has been amplified in motherhood is that so often we really want an outside voice to confirm what we're feeling and we our own voice is not enough. It's like listening to our ourself say you know something's off, or I need to change something like we know it on the inside, and we want somebody else to confirm it. And in some of these really important things they just can't like it has to be it has to be you, you got to listen to that knowing. And so you know, they do that postpartum screen. When you go to your ob, however many weeks in. Check, the boxes...like failed miserably. I knew it. You know, like, as I'm answering the Yes. Do you cry every day? Yes. Do you have trouble sleeping? Yes, failed. And I still even then I was supported. And I remember them, like the midwife. You know, I want to talk to you because your surveys a little bit concerning. Have you considered that you might have postpartum depression? Or do you think that you're, you might be struggling with this? And I was like, Yeah, I really, I really don't feel good. I mean, I answered your questions, honestly. And even then, there was like a suggestion made like, okay, we really should stay on top of it. We really should talk more about it. Let me give you a number so you can consider reaching out to talk to someone like, even then it was the perfect opportunity for someone to say, Hey, take this seriously, this can be better for you. I still didn't get that confident, Girl, you got to do something about this answer that I really think I wanted and that I shouldn't have needed. But yeah, I did end up eventually speaking to someone. So I went back to work when Jesse was three months old. And so it probably wasn't until it was after that, like six month mark where I did finally go. And that's the other thing. When do you go to a therapist, like they tell you you want to go talk to somebody, but when is that supposed to be because you're either at home with a newborn? or in our case, often you're back at work. So the idea that I could actually go get any meaningful time with a professional just felt too hard, you know?

Stacey Cordivano
Yeah. Or you feel just feel guilty, leaving again.

Misty Gray
Yeah. And then when you're in that kind of mindset, everything feels so hard already, you just don't do it.

Stacey Cordivano
Yeah. I guess people are probably a little luckier now that there's more virtual options, I guess.

Misty Gray
Yeah, I did end up I did. Eventually, when I was at work, I started having more symptoms of like panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and just felt terrible. And so I did finally speak to someone, the midwife at that appointment, or one of the following appointments had actually written me that prescription for Zoloft. I never filled it early on. And again, I think that's just because there was that, like, it still felt selfish, you know, because they couldn't tell me for sure that the medication wouldn't have some sort of long term impact on the baby. And I felt like he needed to nurse as long as possible because that's supposed to be the best thing for them. And like, it's just so easy to fall into that trap of if it's just for me, then that's selfish. So I should like I'm doing okay, the baby's doing okay. Yeah. So yeah, that was really tough and it The further away I got from it, the better I got and the better I got the morning looked at it and said like, man, I did myself a disservice. Because I feel like postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. I feel like that robbed me of a big portion of life like a big life experience that I would have liked to have been more present for and wasn't. And then then it comes around like, do you want to have another child and we had always planned on having more than one baby, but I was so scared to feel that way again. But I was also able, my husband and I were both so much more educated on what to look for. And I was able to tell him and to tell you, and to tell like you know, some other people that are close to me, like listen, you have to call me out because I'm not capable of making that choice in the moment and I'm worried about it. So I'm telling you right now clear minded, I do not want to feel that way. And I know that I know that I respond well to medication and so if you see see this happening and you're concerned, please, please tell me hold me accountable. I don't want to do that again. And as it turns out, like the second go round was just a totally different experience. Now I did end up going back on the Zoloft, probably six weeks or so after Tyler was born and it was different with him it was I started having more of the intrusive thoughts you know, like a lot of like visual imagery of picture myself like walking up the stairs at the doctor's office and hitting his head on the wall accidental not on purpose not like purposeful harming, but right. Like all day, I would worst case scenario, and I could feel that like feeling in my chest, but I get when I start to get the anxiety kind of ramped up. So I'm glad that I did and I was able to, and I was able to make that choice for myself at that point.

Stacey Cordivano
So comparing your second postpartum period to your first postpartum period, I know it was a couple years later, you obviously have had the experience of having a child already but what are your takeaways? After having gone through the two different experiences.

Misty Gray
So I think what was most telling to me when you're comparing the two is that on paper both experiences look really similar in that I had what many people would consider, you know, textbook, labor and delivery. I didn't labor for too long my babies were born healthy. Both experiences were exactly what I wanted. And I got a beautiful little boy to bring home both times I had a lot of breastfeeding challenges both times I didn't have one of the babies that comes home in two weeks later is getting six hour stretches. I you know, I had the typical two hour sleeper. So both times on paper, everything lined up. The difference is strictly how I felt. And even the second time I had a toddler at home, I actually had less physically present support the second go around, but I just felt so much better. Like I felt at peace. I missed the peace in round one. And there were moments of really intense joy, you know, where you have this like, letting moments of love where you're like, oh my goodness, I can't believe that this is my life. And so it really it was internal, you know, because even with the first experience, I think most people would look at me and say, Yes, she was a new mom that had a hard time and they would not see how differently I felt on the inside on round one versus round two.

Stacey Cordivano
If you could go back would you have filled the script that the midwife gave you for?

Misty Gray
Yes, definitely. My question to myself over and over again in those earlier, days and weeks and months was constant like is this normal? Is it just that I'm not good at this? Is this what everybody gets? experiences and it's just that I'm not good at it. And that's why I feel this way, or is this not normal? And so now I have the confidence to look back and say that was not normal, that it can be common. But that doesn't mean that it's normal. And so, yes, with that confidence would definitely would have filled the prescription and I would have hopefully reached out to speak to somebody sooner. For me, the meds make a huge difference. That one step alone is very helpful.

Stacey Cordivano
I hadn't had a child yet when you had your first and I know you'd pull back. But it's also like someone's trying to learn how to be a new mom, and it's the winter, and it's flu season. And I knew you didn't want me to visit because of germs. And I look back and obviously I should have pushed harder, but I felt Well first of all, I didn't know and second of all, it seems hard to push that onto someone bubeing a mother now, if someone asked me that in the midst of it, and actually you've asked me a few times, like are you feeling depressed? I don't think I would take that offensively if I if I wasn't, you know. So I guess I would recommend asking, do you agree with that?

Misty Gray
Yeah, I think so. Because I think many of us are really lucky to have have a group of people that care and because they care, they don't want to hurt your feelings. You know, people want to be uplifting and bright. I think that when it comes to the heaviness that comes with true postpartum mood stuff, I think you have to be able to ask it boldly. Yeah, I agree with you that if I'm, if it's a person that I know and love, and I know that they know and love me, and they ask that and I am not experiencing that. That's not offensive. Right? I just, it's just further proof that someone is asking and cares. And if I am experiencing it, then at least I know that someone sees me. I think the other thing that's so hard is that when you're talking to people, mothers in general have this, almost like a code where you get to say something, some truth about something that's not great about motherhood, and then you have to follow it up with, you know, but I love them so much or they're the best thing that ever happened to me. As a person that didn't have kids, all I really heard was a lot of like, I heard Part B,

Stacey Cordivano
This episode is not that, by the way.

Misty Gray
Like, I can't imagine my life without them. I mean, like when you're in the middle of that I could imagine my life without kids.

Stacey Cordivano
Sure. You can still imagine it even when they're toddlers running around like maniacs.

Misty Gray
Yeah. And so, and like, I remember even talking to a friend and I was like, Oh my gosh, this is so hard. She's like, well, Misty, Who told you that this was gonna be easy or wonderful? And it's like, You Did! You told me this was gonna be great. It's the best thing that ever happened to you. She was like, Well, yeah, it is. But it's really hard. So for anybody who's listening, sometimes it's just hard. Like real hard.

Stacey Cordivano
Yeah and some things, you can't just figure your way out of. you know, you'll figure them out eventually. Or you'll figure out a different plan. But you're not going to read enough books to figure out how to get a bad sleeper to sleep. Like they're not going to sleep. No, like, maybe you can hire someone to help you get sleep, but right not gonna force your kid to be a better sleeper in some circumstances.

Misty Gray
right.

Stacey Cordivano
I am very thankful to you because you were definitely very honest about you know, especially breastfeeding, but all of it.

Misty Gray
It's tough. You know, they talk about having a village, but you don't know who you need in your village. You know, like it got to be the right, the right fit.

Stacey Cordivano
It does. I'm glad you're in my village,

Misty Gray
Me too.

Stacey Cordivano
Thank you for sharing your story.

Misty Gray
You're welcome.

Stacey Cordivano
Do you have any advice that you give to new moms like I always write in cards. Like if you can't get away at all try to get a 15 minute shower because it feels life altering in the beginning.

Misty Gray
No Don't think I have to go to

Stacey Cordivano
trust your gut.

Misty Gray
Yeah, I think you got to listen to yourself. That's my advice to myself every single day, even just as a person or as an employee or as a mom, as a wife, whatever is. what I have found over and over again, is that when my gut is pushing me in a direction sometimes I don't realize until it's way down the road and it's hindsight, but you know, it's pretty true. That gut instinct is pretty well honed in us so, gotta listen to ourselves.

Stacey Cordivano
I didn't ask you but I ask everyone. What is one small thing that has brought you joy this past week?

Misty Gray
Oh, there's been a lot of them.

Stacey Cordivano
Okay, good.

Misty Gray
Yeah, one thing I have started going on a walk in the mornings by myself

Stacey Cordivano
by yourself?!

Misty Gray
Mm hmm. And I'm a big I'm, I like to picture myself like a Disney Princess like nature and saw birds. Yeah. And this morning, so this morning, I went on a walk And, like at one point, in a way there was this cute little bunny. And then there was a red tail Hawk that swooped by another place. And like, really the birds were singing it was

Stacey Cordivano
You were in Snow White!

Misty Gray
That's what it felt like!

Stacey Cordivano
that's good. I like that time alone is hard to enforce as a mother, but important, even if it's a small amount of time,

Misty Gray
I obviously listen to all of your episodes. So I've heard you ask that question before. And I wanted to make sure you know, there there have been plenty of moments of joy this week. I'm kind of navigating a different stage of life. And I've had a lot more time with my kids this week and so like, there's been a lot of joy just with that getting them out ww went and saw waterfalls, and but for this podcast, you know, we're talking about self, recognizing things in ourself, I wanted to try to also highlight a moment of joy that was just for me.

Stacey Cordivano
It's great. I appreciate that.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai