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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 09/27/2010

How Liz spent her summer vacation

By Liz Kelly

Me and my guy. (Photo by Matt Nelson)

For the past three months I have done my utmost to NOT pay attention to the world of celebrity. I have some general awareness of a few of the bigger stories (Mel Gibson reinforced the conventional wisdom that he is, indeed, a first-class jerk, turns out Lindsay Lohan isn't a fashion designer/actress/singer, but a chronic drug abuser, Paris Hilton's new leaf looks a lot like her old leaf) that filled the summer, but remain blissfully unaware of most celebritological goings on since late June.

Why? As most of you know, I had a baby, Desmond, who literally burst into my life and pretty much turned everything upside down. Three months later, everything is rightside up again. In fact, things have never been righter, but it's been a bit of a journey. One I want to share with you. At least a little bit.

Oh, and if we need an excuse to relate this to celebrities, then I'll add these names -- with whom I now have something other than leggy good looks in common -- for our search engine friends: Brooke Shields, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Soon after I gave birth -- a C-section after 14 hours of labor -- I felt, well, wrong. My body had just been through ginormous hormone fluctuations and major surgery and, hello, I need to try to breastfeed this squirming little human that is already somewhat annoyed at being wrestled out of his cozy digs. I knew all this. I knew I was undergoing a king-size life change and would need time to adjust -- mentally, emotionally and physically. It wasn't until three weeks later -- when I was thinking about how I could possibly extricate myself from my newly-minted family and run away -- that I realized I wasn't adapting. I was flailing. Worst of all, I wanted nothing to do with the three-week-old crying lump of flesh that, more than anything, needed me.

I resisted the idea that I might have postpartum depression. Instead, I was convinced that my rapidly unraveling sanity and sense of well-being were the result of having made a huge mistake. I wasn't supposed to have kids, I thought. My life will never be the same. I want my old life back. Is it normal to want to vomit when you see your kid? Is it abandonment if I move back into my mom's house?

To make a long, personal story short and safe for public consumption, my husband calmly observed my daily (sometimes hourly) crying jags, sudden mood swings and erratic behavior and pushed me to call my OB. My OB quickly connected me with a therapist who specializes in postpartum and she, in turn, connected me with a psychiatrist who concentrates on postpartum disorders, too. I didn't get better overnight, but thanks to a little education and the right medication, I was able to kick the postpartum to the curb in a matter of weeks and truly begin to enjoy my incredible little son, who is full of smiles and coos and gurgles and was, thankfully, unaffected by what I went through. And now, on my first day back in the office, I'm missing little Desmond big-time and can't wait to get home to spend a couple of hours with him before bedtime.

I was lucky. Many women don't recognize the signs of postpartum for months and spend that time miserable. Others are ashamed or afraid to get help. Some women don't even know postpartum exists and soldier through it for a year or more. I found help much sooner than most women -- women like Brooke Shields, who describes her own journey through postpartum in her surprisingly candid book "Down Came the Rain." Or Bryce Dallas Howard, who opened up about her own debilitating battle with postpartum this summer while I was in the midst of the same struggle.

But enough about me. I want to thank Jen -- and her helpful contributors, including Sarah Anne Hughes and producer Paul Williams -- for keeping the blog running full steam ahead while I was out. A gargantuan job well done (and did I mention Jen has a toddler at home, too?). I'm back and ready to rejoin Jen as we explore the worlds of Lady Gaga, Lilo and the other passengers on the crazy train that constitutes our subject matter here.

It's good to be back.

Learn More:
Postpartum Support International
Postpartum Support Virginia

By Liz Kelly  | September 27, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Miscellaneous  
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Thanks, Liz, for sharing this.

Posted by: lydandy | September 27, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Your tale brought a tear to my eye. Your baby is adorable and we're glad to have you back.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 27, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Glad to hear you and Des are doing well. Man, I hope this doesn't turn into an anti-psychiatry BKD.

Posted by: KevFromArlington | September 27, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Jen! Welcome back and thank you so much for sharing your story of sense, sensibility, sensitivity and all out cuteness (that photo!). It's about time that we stop looking at depression like a freak accident of nature. Why is it that it's OK to see people holding hands in separate bathtubs and NOT see normal women struggling with hormonal hurricanes after having a baby?
Congrats on becoming a healthy, happy mom and please (por favoooor!) share more baby pictures (yes, i'm the kind of woman that enjoys baby pictures... so there!)

Posted by: ileschinder | September 27, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Is it normal to want to vomit when you see your kid?


Not until they are teenagers! :)

Kudos to you and especially to your hubby for understanding what was going on.

Posted by: elias_howe | September 27, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

All hail Queen Liz!

Thank you for sharing your tale, Liz. Glad you're doing well and enjoying the great parenting adventure. Welcome back!


Posted by: pras40 | September 27, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Liz, it's great to have you back! Thank you for sharing such a personal story with all of us.

Posted by: aludholtz1 | September 27, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back!

Posted by: lkop56 | September 27, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Liz, I'm so glad you got the medical attention you needed in a timely manner, in order to get on the road to recovery from PPD sooner rather than later. I think you and Brooke and Bryce (and even Goopie Gwynnie) are a whole lot more normal and sane than Wee Tom with his wackadoodle propaganda. Bravo for having the courage to speak out!

And hugs from me to you, baby Des, Mr. Liz and the furry ones!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | September 27, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Of course you named him Desmond. I guess Sawyer or Boone would have been too obvious!

Welcome back and thanks for being brave enough to share your story.

Posted by: MDSCP | September 27, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Liz Kelly, and good for you for recognizing the symptoms of PPD, seeking treatment, and for your bravery in sharing the story.

But it just feels so weird to read all these comments and not see an iota of snark, so wouldya mind doing us a solid and replace the photo with one previewing you and Des in your Hallowe'en costumes?

For starters, he'll be just adorable dressed as Elmo...

Posted by: byoolin1 | September 27, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

darn Byoo, I did snark on teenagers!

But the idea of a new pix is capital!

Posted by: elias_howe | September 27, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

First, Welcome Back, Liz!! Desmond is beautiful, thanks for sharing the picture. Kudos for writing about your postpartum experiences. Hopefully, the more people who read pieces like this, the sooner PPD will stop being so misjudged.

Posted by: Lizka | September 27, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

For starters, he'll be just adorable dressed as Elmo.

And if Queen Liz is still breastfeeding, she can be Katy Perry for Halloween.

Izzat snarky enough fer ya?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | September 27, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Liz we are so glad to have you back and thank you for being vocal about what is usually silent suffering. Bravo to Mr Liz for helping you see what you needed...

Snuggles to little Celebrito, you are adorable...

Posted by: LTL1 | September 27, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Liz!

Thank you for letting us share with you a very personal part of the baby process. You spend so much time just surviving through those moments, that I think once you're out it's hard to go back and even remember them, much less write them down. So thank you. I very much believe that sharing your experience can be another mother's lifeline.

Posted by: rachelt2 | September 27, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Liz! We are delighted to have you return to center ring of the Celebritology circus. Plus, we are so proud of you for sharing your personal journey of coping with PPD--which is way more common among new moms than anyone realizes. You have a gorgeous little boy, an intuitive and caring husband, one-of-a-kind pets, and a whole community of snark-prone commenters on your side. Looking forward to hearing your unique cyber-voice again in the blog and on the chat. Welcome back!

Posted by: madams712 | September 27, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Liz! Love the picture of you and Desmond.
And as someone who also had PPD and had to take medication, I'm so happy you shared your experience. I try so hard not to scare my "first time mom" friends with my stories but it's so much more common than women realize and NOTHING to be ashamed of. I also had those feelings of wanting to run away and hide (my idea was to hide away in NYC). Be good to yourself as you adjust to being a "working mom" and good luck with this adventure. Raising a baby/kid will always be hard but it gets more and more fun with each passing day.

Posted by: dckt | September 27, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Elias, you're right - I missed that one. My apologies.

And, Nosy, yes, that was snarky enough. Of course, if I know my boyz (yes, with a zed) here like I think I do, the mere mention of Elmo had them well on their way into scripting "Liz Kelly in 'Katy Perry's Sesame Street After-Party.'"

Posted by: byoolin1 | September 27, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Liz! Desmond is too cute.
I too suffered from a major case of PPD, and thankfully got help as well, though not as soon as you - Great job, Mr. Liz! My son is now three and going to preschool! Watch closely, because these years will fly by...

I second the vote for Halloween photos. :)

Oh, and the celeb world seems about the same as the plot for General Hospital - you can stop watching for a couple of years and if you tune back in, you will still know what's going on.

Posted by: VaLGaL | September 27, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Good on you and your husband for taking note of and action on the PPD. I'm glad you got to enjoy (as much as you can) those early days. Congrats to your family, and welcome back. Now you just have to stay clear of all the WOHM/SAHM landmines out there. And the BFing/ERFing/BWing/non-vaxing landmines, too. Those letters are no joke. There's a whole lot of mom d-baggery out there. See:

Posted by: atb2 | September 27, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

So where's his tutu?

Posted by: kabuki3 | September 27, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Back!!!!!!
We've missed you so, even tho Jen, Sarah, Paul, et al did a superb job.
As everyone has expressed, thank you for pic, for sharing your experience, and to Mr Liz for knowing, understanding, taking action, with no shame. Bravo to you both, and delight with little Des.
Has your perspective on celebrity changed with this change in your life?

Posted by: agog1 | September 27, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

kabuki, you just made me go SPLOOT!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | September 27, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing what so many of us go through alone. The worst year of my life was after I had my son. 14 months after he was born, I came clean and admitted to myself (and friends and family) what I had been too scared to face. Luckily now, at 18 months, I'm loving parenthood and feel like I have something to offer to my kid. The best thing that came out of that dark year was the knowledge of what this thing is and how to help others (and potentially myself) in the future. I wish more women were so honest and brave. "Down Came the Rain" was a lifesaver for me (and made me actually like Brooke Shields, how previously annoyed the heck out of me). Good luck!!

Posted by: smc68 | September 27, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Liz, I am so glad to hear that you got help before you missed all of the fun.

No matter how embarassing some of the situations you & Desmond will find yourselves in you'll think it's one to never forget.

(ex: like almost ready to hop on the ride at Disney after waiting 45 mins. in the heat at Disney only to hear "mommy, I have to go potty and I CANT wait". BTW - just ask the attendent for a fastpass.)

Posted by: anonymouslurker | September 27, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Liz! Glad you got the assistance you needed and are on the right track. Now, back to normal around these parts! :)

Posted by: franchiseinATL | September 27, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Liz. I struggled with post-partum depression for six months before getting help. I thought it would go away, but it only got worse. I am so much more present in my baby's life, and I only wish I could have enjoyed the first few months more.

Posted by: momismyname | September 27, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh all the best to you and your hubby and of course your little cherub, Des! I echo everyone else's sentiment when I say I'm so glad you got help for your PPD and for sharing your story. BTW- you'll only want to run away when your boy takes a Sharpie pen to the couch or gets into other shenanigans the way my 2 and 4 year olds did this past weekend!

Posted by: plamar1031 | September 27, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing this, Liz.
So glad you're back! And the baby is adorable!

Posted by: choirgirl04 | September 27, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

What a beautiful little feller, Liz--and you look fabulous, btw. So proud of you for being so open about your struggle with PPD. As a lifelong sufferer of clinical depression, I am always encouraged when others share their stories of sickness and treatment so openly. Each story helps to erase the stigma attached to depression, and means fewer people will continue to suffer in silence. Thanks, Liz.

Posted by: PQSully | September 27, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Hi Liz. Des is absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing the picture and your postpartum depression story. Every woman thinks her pregnancy will be textbook but too many find out the hard way that that's not the case. My first pregnancy was easy as can be, but with my 2nd and 3rd, I had horrible kidney complications. You don't want to tell 1st time moms that it'll happen to them, but they do need to know it can happen. Very happy to have you back! Congratulations to you and Mr. Liz!

Posted by: carusocm | September 27, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Happy to oblige, nosy. And Liz, it's Lady Gaga, not GooGoo.

Posted by: kabuki3 | September 27, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

kabuki, I assume that baby Desmond calls her GooGoo.

On a serious note: For all the hand-wringing that some tongue-cluckers do over the prevalence and excess negative influence of celebrities in popular culture, PPD is a perfect example of how celebs can sometimes serve a valuable societal purpose by shining a light on medical and other problems that can potentially affect people who may not realize they have a treatable problem or challenge they can get cured or managed. Thank you, Liz, for contributing toward eliminating the unjustified stigma of PPD.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | September 27, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Of course, now that Desmond's here, Liz will have to have another boy sometime in the next couple of years so that Des will have someone to call "Brotha."

Then again, Desmond will also have to develop a Scottish accent. And his younger brother might have even more problems:

If he's named Charlie, he'll have to learn to speak with a British accent.
If he's named Sawyer, he'll have to learn to speak with a Georgia accent.
If he's named Hurley, he'll have to say "Dude" a lot.
If he's named Jin, he'll have to learn to speak Korean.
If he's named Jack, he'll be able to stick with a generic American accent, but he'll have to develop a savior complex.
And if it's a girl, and she's named Kate...okay, we won't go there.

Posted by: KevFromArlington | September 27, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Liz, it's good to have you back! Congratulations on your son! Des is adorable, those cheeks are aaaawwwww-some. And props to you (and Mr. Liz) for getting the help you needed to get through the PPD. As someone who wrestles with regular depression, I know it can be a dark, lonely, airless place - I'm really glad you didn't go there for too long. Thanks for sharing the message that it's okay to ask for help, and that this is something that can be fixed. Be good to yourself now that you're back at work!

Posted by: northgs | September 27, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back! We've all missed you and are thrilled about Desmond. Thanks for sharing your personal story (glad you're feeling better!) and the picture of the handsome little man!

Posted by: Section416akatheAlps | September 27, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, late to the Welcome Back party. Court today.

Granted, I don't know you personally Liz, but you always struck me as a kinda down earth person who could handle anything. The fact that you had postpartum depression and got help should let everyone know that it's okay to get help when you need it. PPD can happen to even the best of us (that's you Liz) and there is no shame in it.

Desmond is adorable.

Hugs to you Liz. To Mr. Liz for being so understanding and helpful. Hugs and kisses to Desmond for just being.

Posted by: epjd | September 27, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Really late to the welcome home party, new job has the worst net nanny ever! Congratulations to you and your family. I'm so glad you were able to get the help you needed so quickly so you will be able to look back on Des' babyhood fondly. Believe me you'll need to when he's older. Little boys are really special creatures and you're in for a delightful time.

Posted by: jes11 | September 27, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks. Just thanks. I missed you guys.

Posted by: Liz Kelly | September 27, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

What can I say that hasn't already been said? I appreciate your willingness to share an intensely personal story with us and I'm so glad you're feeling better in time to enjoy Desmond's cute baby phase (remember that adorable smiling babyface for when he's an annoying teenager!). And finally, in the immortal words of Louis Armstrong, Welcome back where you belong!

-Snarky Squirrel

Posted by: 7900rmc | September 27, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing Liz, I'm preggers and hadn't even thought about PPD. I'm going to tell my husband right now; if he notices that my behavior has changed, hopefully he can delicately point me towards my OB too. Baby's due in early feb, I usually get sad enough in the middle of winter, I can't imagine what the hormonal changes will do. Thank you for your story and enlightening me! By the way, I love the photo, Desmond is a darling!!

Posted by: snappymouth | September 27, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Liz! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: kayteeo | September 27, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back, and I'm sorry you had such trouble post-birth. I'm glad you are feeling better and are back at the helm. Jen did a wonderful job while you were away but we all missed you too! Desmond is adorable!

I have decided not to have children myself, for a long list of reasons. PPD wasn't on the list, but it's going on now!

Posted by: DCCubefarm | September 28, 2010 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Liz, and thanks for sharing your story. I think sometimes that experienced Moms participate in some sort of weird "code of silence" so they don't scare the new Mom, but in reality it just allows problems like this to go undetected longer. Thank you for speaking up.

Desmond is a cutie!

Posted by: DCCubefarm | September 28, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double (triple) posting. Computer's gone wonky and the first one didn't show up..... Sorry!

Posted by: DCCubefarm | September 28, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Tom Cruise is notable by his absence in this conversation about PPD.

Liz, looks like you're a lot thinner than you were pre-pregnancy.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | September 28, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

good for you Liz, for getting help and for talking about it. I had a rough first few months with my amazing daughter, and I think there is a lot of pressure to just say "Oh, everything is great, it's wonderful..." and stew in your own anxiety/depression.

Posted by: chiquita2 | September 30, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Out of town Monday, so I didn't see this great piece until now. Kudos to you for getting the care you needed, to your husband (big time!) for recognizing something was wrong and pushing you to get help (always so, so hard when you're in that pit), and to the docs who helped you pull yourself out. And congratulations on your new little person! I'm delighted that you at a place where you can enjoy him without being overwhelmed. (Well, no more overwhelmed than any parent of a 3-month-old.)

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | September 30, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back and welcome back!

You are one tough dame and we Lizards love you for it.

BTW, you and Mr Liz make really cute babies. Nice goin'.

Yours with a dash of mommy hands,


Posted by: bmschumacher | September 30, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Contratulations Liz on both the birth of your son and your courageous sharing of your PPD. As a former OBG nurse, you will never realize how many gals you have helped by writing this. Also your husband is wonderful for his contributions to your welfare. By the way, my granddaughter has an eye freckle just like your son. Their eyes don't usually change color till after about 1 yr. She is 4 and it is very cute!!

Posted by: katesgram | September 30, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

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