Postpartum Depression. You may have heard about it, or you may have gone through it yourself. I didn’t know anyone who had personally battled postpartum depression until my sweet friend Samantha was fighting for her life. I’m here today to share Samantha Casper’s story on her battle with severe postpartum depression after the birth of her first daughter, Charley. Samantha was luckily able to get the help she needed to fight for her life and now has now made it her lifelong mission to help other women beat all levels of postpartum mental issues. The interview that I had with Samantha gives me chills and tears, but I am so very proud of her! She not only got the help she needed and fought the battle, but she decided to have another baby and dedicate her time and energy to helping other women suffering with mental health after birth.
Q: Shortly after giving birth to your first daughter, you suffered with more than just the post-baby blues; tell us a little bit about that time.
I had a very traumatic vaginal delivery with Charley at 38 weeks pregnant and had a bad case of preeclampsia. I remember the Doctors handing me my beautiful baby girl and literally thinking to get her out of my arms. So much doubt and sadness had begun initially. However, It wasn’t until about two weeks after I had Charley when mentally everything exploded. My entire life, all I had ever dreamed of was being a mom. I felt so guilty and like a monster for feeling so depressed and upset about my situation as a new mom. I literally was not able to function or get out of bed. All the joy of everything I had enjoyed prior to becoming a mom was not there. My extroverted and friendly personality was gone. It was so bad I was unable to hold my daughter and /or take care of her. Watching other happy mothers would make me so upset and resentful. Why was this happening to me? That is how me and my family knew something was really not right and I needed help.
Q: What kind of support did you receive?
About three months of a rat race and trying to find help is what led me to a psychiatric hospital. I had family support, husband support, and medical/psychiatric support the first year. I also work on a therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to tackle my mental health problems. At the hospital, I needed to have all my medicine swapped and be monitored for three weeks. I was suffering specifically from OCD postpartum depression. In my teens, my OCD had gotten bad but this was the worse it had ever gotten. My mind and terrible thoughts would not shut off. This OCD plus the change of hormones, was what caused this deep, deep depression.
One day in the hospital I remember waking up and thinking to myself I was going to fight and work as hard as ever to beat this postpartum depression and become the mom I had always dreamed of being to my daughter Charley. A lot of therapy, hard work, and family support made me a proud survivor.
Four years ago, laying in that mental hospital bed, never would I have dreamed of becoming a postpartum depression survivor, activist, and have had a second child. It is my lifelong mission deep inside my heart to help other women beat all levels of postpartum mental issues and of course, draw hope. I am also proud to say I am bonded with my daughter and the worst of it got better after year one of being a mom.
Q: You gave birth to your son just 3 years after your first birth. Can you describe how your pregnancy and experience with your son was different than with your daughter?
I gave birth about 3 years and 8 months after having my daughter. Unfortunately I had an even worse case of preeclampsia ( which is very high blood pressure and basically the pregnant woman becomes allergic to their placenta). I had to deliver my son, Brooks Jerome, at 32 weeks via emergency C-Section. He remained in intensive care nursery for roughly 6 weeks. I am so grateful to report he is a healthy and very happy almost one year old.
Q: What inspired you to share your postpartum story?
I just know by sharing my story and continuing to raise awareness for PPD and other maternal mental health problems, was what I was meant to do. I know my story draws hope and strength for other women and families struggling. Also, more people struggle and I want to make it ok to have that thought and feeling. We as a community need to be able to talk about PPD.
Q: You have your own business and you also donate your time raising awareness for postpartum depression. Do you have any advice on how to juggle your work and children?
My skincare business that I have been working for almost five years was an amazing distraction from PPD truthfully. The business and role is very flexible. I love the products and have had a passion for sales my entire life. I raise funds for postpartum depression efforts as well as take phone calls with struggling mamas. Even if it is just a quick phone call or message, I literally drop what I am doing to help that mama in crisis. It is so important for that mom to feel heard. I just remember feeling so alone and guilty going through my ppd and struggles.
Samantha collaborated with Jewelry designer, Joie DiGiovanni, to create a beautiful “mommy and me” necklace set for mothers and daughters in honor of postpartum depression. Samantha donates 10% of each necklace sold to support others fighting postpartum depression.
Check out these beautiful necklaces and read more about Sam’s story here.
Samantha’s story is also included as a chapter in the book Ever After: Expanding Your Family After Postpartum Depression. When she wrote her chapter to go into this book, at the time she was undecided whether or not she was going to have a second child. She is so grateful that she and her husband decided to have a second child. Samantha says it was the best decision she has ever made in her life! She is enjoying her son’s babyhood this second time around!