My 8 Takeaways from Black-ish’s Postpartum Depression Episode

By now you are probably aware that the hit show Black-ish tackled the topic of Postpartum Depression (PPD) last week on their show. Here are my better-late-than-never takeaways from the show. For those of you who do not watch Black-ish it will probably be helpful to read this post anyway although, I strongly suggest watching the show, it’s just so good!

1- PPD doesn’t happen right away. Bow was her regular bubbly self in the season premiere of Black-ish shortly after Devonté was born but over time her emotions changed. This is consistent with how PPD operates, it can take months before a mama experiences symptoms of the mood disorder.

Black 72- Partners and close loved ones are key and identifying and supporting mamas who are experiencing PPD in getting help. Without the support and recognition from Dre (Bow’s partner), Bow may have never gotten the support that she needed in order to recover.

 

Black 23- There is a difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression. Most women experience a drop in their energy, increased anxiety, and extreme mood swings after having a baby, this is known as the baby blues and eventually goes away after a few weeks. Postpartum Depression lasts longer and can have more extreme symptoms. In addition, PPD needs to be treated in most situations or can lead to harmful behavior. So when Ruby (Bow’s mother-in-law) was telling Bow, oh you just have the baby blues, under most circumstances with new moms that would be true but it is important to distinguish the two.

 

Black 64- Getting help can feel like more of an inconvenience than being ill. I know when I find myself sick or injured it can seem like a lot of  work to rest or go to the doctor when I have so many other things going on. I interpreted this as part of why Bow was so hesitant to go to the doctor. I can imagine her thinking but who is going to watch the kids? How much milk will I need to pump for that trip? Does that mean I have to shower? All these questions aside, we as mothers need to remind ourselves that we need to put the symbolic oxygen mask on ourselves first before we can help anyone.

 

black 15- The most healthy thing you can do to recover from PPD or the baby blues is to distance yourself from people who are critical about your child rearing. Grandmas, lolas, abuelas and most aunties alike will take offense to this but this is really important. I know I would have had a better experience with adjusting to motherhood with my first child if I had put in place the boundaries that I had established by the time I had my second. Bow’s confrontation with Ruby was so real and brought back so much for me. Mothers need to feel empowered to distance themselves from negativity (even if it is seemingly well meaning) while they are transitioning to raising a new child. In addition, partners need to be prepared to back up the mother’s of their children when trying to create that distance.  

 

6- Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. Dre expressed concern that although Bow was on medication, he had not seen a change in her mood. Recovery takes time and mother’s and love ones need to be aware of that.

 

TRACEE ELLIS ROSS, YARA SHAHIDI, MARSAI MARTIN, JENIFER LEWIS, ANTHONY ANDERSON, MARCUS SCRIBNER, MILES BROWN, LAURENCE FISHBURNE7- PPD is hella confusing. It goes against everything that one is told about motherhood. Mother’s simply aren’t themselves and that is confusing for all parties involved. I think Bow and Dre did a good job of communicating with their children about what was going on. In addition, although I wouldn’t recommend “women’s magazines” for information, Dre did a good job of educating himself on the topic and taking the correct steps to get help for Bow.

 

8- Having PPD does NOT make a woman weak. I don’t often agree with Ruby but in the end when she apologizes to Bow for her actions she explains how Bow exhibited strength by getting the help she needed. Strength that  Ruby had not had when she needed help. It takes a strong mama to do whatever it takes to be well for our children and that includes attending to our mental health needs.

A Post Abortion Story

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Photo Credit: J & L Photography

There has been a lot of discussion about abortion lately. Talks that don’t take into account any aspect of what it means to be a woman. Talks that don’t include women voices at all. Hours of meetings and tweets of ignorant men spewing out words of hypocrisy never taking into account how difficult of a decision it can be for a woman to decide to have an abortion. Now more than ever it is important that we share our stories and shift the narrative. With that, I introduce to you all, Lily. This is her post abortion story.  

When I got pregnant, I was probably wearing this matching lingerie set. I was sleeping with two men. Both I thought I loved, but differently. One I thought was everything I wanted. The other I loved how he fucked me. I got with him before I broke up with my ex, and once we started having sex, it was like I got to be a virgin again. I told myself this was the physical manifestation of my sexuality changing; it was biological. I was 25, and my body was ready to have children. At the time, I didn’t know what that meant.

Condoms, we tried, but they were too small. More of an irritation than something I felt was non-negotiable. I had just ended a long-term lesbian relationship, so birth control had not been a part of my life for the past four years.

I remember being confused. I wasn’t aware how many weeks late I was, even though I have always been regular. I was searching for an explanation for the nausea. “Did your girlfriend miss her period when she was on the Whole30?” I asked co-workers who were familiar with the diet. I read testimonials online from older women. I blamed it on the dietary changes. But all the signs were there. I felt so exhausted some days I couldn’t get out of the car.

Finally I made an appointment to be tested for STDs and pregnancy at the Planned Parenthood in Birmingham.

When I found out, I was already six weeks.

Right after I left the clinic, I drove to Milo’s for fries. My pregnant body was starving for carbohydrates; the diet I had been on made me so nauseous. I researched everything I needed to eat; what things I had to start and stop doing. I was mad at myself for drinking, eating raw fish and tuna, everything I had already done wrong. But I kept working out, running. I loved the body I had just started coming into. I had lost 40 pounds recently. I felt attractive and was getting a lot of attention from men. I felt so special being pregnant, but I wasn’t ready to lose my fitness, where I was at right then.

Even as I took care of myself and enjoyed my pregnancy, every day I woke up I knew it was a ticking time bomb. Even as I talked to everyone, mostly people I couldn’t trust; even as I used every possible tool to figure out if having my baby was possible; even as I imagined every possible path, thought of every angle; I think I knew from the beginning.

I couldn’t have my baby because my circumstances did not support me.

I chose not to have my baby because I am committed to raising a child healthier than I was raised.

I wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t willing to risk not being able to give my daughter what I didn’t have.

My baby needed things I didn’t have for her and could not acquire quickly.

I asked for her to wait for me. I told her how much I loved her. I pleaded with the universe. I was tormented that this was what was meant to be and I was destroying it.

Finally, I had to make the decision to send her back.

***

It took every shred of strength that I had to make that decision; and it continues to demand all of my strength to keep going.

Whatever gave me this strength, will give me the strength to build the life I want to have – the one that will eventually support another pregnancy, and having a child.

No one wants to make the decision to have an abortion and survive; but I would never erase it from my life. Mostly because I would never erase her. I hold on to her, still, in so many ways, she is profound, forever a part of me, never having been able to separate and be on her own.

Only I know what I went through, physically and emotionally; all the options I considered, all the paths I drew out, all the worries, all the non negotiables, all the prayers and the rituals and the pleas I made to the universe to let my daughter wait for me, to open up some path that would make this possible. In this context, anyone else’s opinion simply does not matter.

Defensiveness, yes, I still have this. I think I will for a long time. I even have to remind myself that yes, I knew what I was doing. I made the decision I knew I had to make. This is grief. Your life is not over. You did not ruin everything.

I have an incredible sadness, and an explosive anger at the world. I don’t rest or relax well. Sometimes, when I allow myself to own that I made the best decision for my baby and me, I feel proud. And what gives me hope, sometimes just enough to stay alive, is that I can help someone because of my experiences and my honesty. Sharing my story could save the life of someone like me.

I hope that my story can start to change the narrative. “I’m pregnant and I’m keeping the baby.” Not all pregnancies result in live births, but we are mothers if that is the experience that we feel we had. I have no child with me, but I have my post pregnancy body, all the ways she took up space, all the ways she demanded that I change.

Written By: Lily Andrews

Beyoncé, Please do a Post Babies Photo Shoot

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Dear Beyoncé,

Love you, love you, place no one above you. Well, except my family (or at least that is what I tell them). I don’t need to tell you how much your awesomeness radiates throughout the universe. You said it yourself that you “stop the world” and you do. As you did when you released your goddess inspired maternity pictures. The green veil, the flowers, the car, the underwater magic — when in the world has anyone ever done that like that? Never! It might have seemed as if people were hunched over their computers looking at your maternity shoot pictures but really they were reacting out of reflex, bowing down to your greatness. The more and more I read about the intentionality of the shoot, the more and more I am inspired by your ability to weave artistic expression, Afrocentricity and pop culture breaking headline stories together. Each bead, each camera angle, each flower petal of your look serving as a thumbnail to some deep history, a story often told in some spaces and forgotten in others.

We know you deserved that Grammy. What Adele said is what we all would have said if we ever had the honor of your presence bestowed upon us (you also deserved the Oscar for Dreamgirls by the way, but we won’t get into that right now). What I am attempting to articulate is that the winner of the most coveted award in the music industry acknowledging that you were more deserving of the award than she was is just one example of how you can transcend any form that comes your way. That is why I think it would be super awesome if you approached a post-baby body shoot in the same manner that you approached your maternity shoot. Same vulnerability. Same intentionality. Same beauty. Same body, but just in a different form.

Don’t get me wrong, Queen Bey, you don’t owe me anything. You have already awarded me countless nights of pure fun, like lying to DJ’s that it’s my friend’s birthday just so they would play “Get Me Bodied” one more ‘gain. You have shared with us some of your most intimate life moments. You’ve pushed your artistry and donated to charities, you have lent your voice to movements and have marched in city streets. Most importantly, you created the soundtrack for my adolescent and adult life. I remember studying for AP Biology in my friend Anya P’s bedroom while listening to The Writings on the Wall, belting out: “I’m doing so, so, so good, good, good, good” until my voice was hoarse. I sang “End of Time” to my son when he was an infant to calm him down when he had his daily fits. When parenting got a bit stressful I would get in my car and play “Mine”, trying not to blow out my speakers with the bass turned up high. I was in my kitchen when I first found out about the video for “Formation”. I never finished the dishes that day, I couldn’t stop watching the video. First the Superbowl, then seeing you perform it live at Levi’s Stadium a few months after, was truly a powerful experience. I don’t think I have ever stepped foot on an elliptical or ran a single mile in the past ten years without your voice in my ear pushing me and inspiring me to keep going. When I want to stop I think, “would Beyoncé stop?” And of course, I am not alone. There isn’t a single friend that I consider near and dear that does not feel the same way as I do. Your music is EVERYTHING.

However, there was a time when I felt really frustrated with you. It was after I had my second child and my baby weight had not melted off of me like it had with my first child. I felt like a freak of nature searching for affirmation. While I do remember listening to “Blow” and “XO” during this time, I also remember thinking, “did Beyoncé go through this with Blue?” I know you had a full staff of people to support you through your postpartum transition, but did your boobs sag a centimeter at least? Did you have a single stretch mark? Did you have a pooch? Was there any extra skin that took a little while to regain elasticity? Is the only part of your body that bears any evidence of you having a child your uterus? Ok, I’ll stop. I don’t mean to get all up in your uterus. I have since realized that just like every baby is different, every post-baby body is different. I’m not emo about my body anymore and your body is none of my business. I just think it would be hella dope if you had an out of this world postpartum photo shoot. It could be on the moon, it could have Aida theme or it could be in your bathroom. I’ll let you and your people figure all of that out. You are Beyoncé. Really all you would have to do is roll up like ‘this is what I effing look like after having some twins’. Soak up my femininity. Embrace my feminism. This is motherhood unfiltered. Smell the sweet nectar of my honey breast milk. And yes, I woke up like this because I sleep when they sleep and they wake up every 2-4 hours.

So, in closing, I just want to say that I know this extremely intrusive request is far fetched and probably will never happen but whatever you do, just know that as a fan I will always love you, flaws and all.

Love,

Whitney