Guest Profile

Arielle Wozniak

PPD/PPA can be a lonely place and period in a woman’s life. The birth of a baby brings on a flood of emotions, body changes, and hormone imbalances that without the right tools, can lead you on a spiral you feel you have no control over.

Before you share your story with me, allow me to share mine.

I met Jeremy, my now husband, in March of 2011 at a bar (of all places) while in college in Connecticut. A few months later we were inseparable, engaged, and planning our wedding. During the planning stages, I found out I was pregnant with a baby boy. At the same time, my mom and sister were making plans to move to Georgia. It was a lot all at once. I couldn’t imagine giving birth to and raising my first child so far from my mom. Shortly after our wedding and 6 months pregnant, we moved to Georgia.

All the changes from the last year began to take a toll on me. I didn’t feel the same. I felt sad all the time. Something was wrong. My new OBGYN noticed the signs of prenatal depression and recommended I go therapy. Therapy did nothing to help and the therapist recommended I see a psychiatrist who could prescribe medication to help.

However, she was reluctant to prescribe any medication while I was pregnant. Towards the end of my pregnancy, after my continued misery, she finally prescribed an antidepressant, but it was such a low dose that it did nothing but upset my stomach. 

In October of 2012, I gave birth to my son, Abram. While in my birth plan I was set on delivering naturally, he had other plans, and due to complications, he was born via c-section. It was another blow. The sadness I felt from my pregnancy never left, it only got worse. I didn’t enjoy anything about being a new mother. This was NOT what I wanted to do with my life. I remember a time that Abram spit up all over himself in the back seat of my mom’s car. I looked back at the mess, rolled my eyes with a huff, and said “This is why I don’t want to be a mom.” My mom told me that day, “You have two choices. You can either divorce Jeremy, let him raise Abram and I’ll help him however I can or you can accept that this is now YOUR life and do what you need to do as a mother. Either way, stop complaining, stop threatening to leave and just do whatever you plan on doing. ” I went with the latter. I did my best to hide my anguish and take in everyone’s congrats and well wishes, but on the inside, I still wanted to run away.

A few months later, I was still seeing my psychiatrist and feeling more depressed than I had been when I started treatment. My doctor was nearing the end of options for what she could prescribe medically. One afternoon, after answering a question, she asked, “Arielle, can I pray for you?” I said yes (I had nothing to lose). That prayer started the healing that I needed so very much. I cried so hard in her office that afternoon. I let everything out… all the tears, sadness, anger, feelings of worthlessness, confusion, regret. After our session, she invited me to her church. I eventually joined the church and was welcomed with open arms by the congregation. In time, my husband and I even became leaders of a small group at the church.

Fast forward to 2017, I am a happy dedicated wife and mother of two beautiful boys, now 5 & 4. My second pregnancy was 100 times better than my first. Things were going well with my home life, work-life, and church life, so well that I wanted to try for a baby girl. After two months of trying, a few months later we confirmed we were expecting a girl. I didn’t believe it when I found out. I became obsessive over mine and the baby’s health. I was overwhelmed with anxiety and worry. There were multiple visits to the ER during my pregnancy, all were false alarms. This anxiety came to the climax during labor, I ended up having my first panic attack and thought I was dying.

Within 2 days of giving birth, I was home with my baby girl that I prayed for and I was miserable. More miserable than the first go around with my son Abram. I was constantly crying. I suffered numerous panic attacks; too many to count. I couldn’t sleep.  Some of the worst symptoms of PPD emerged: racing thoughts, ringing in my ears, headaches, dizziness, intrusive thoughts, feeling like I was going crazy, brain fog, I could go on and on. The symptoms progressed and worsened over time. So much so that, I voluntarily checked myself into a postpartum psych ward at a hospital in North Carolina. In hindsight, this was a TERRIBLE idea. TERRIBLE! 10/10 do not recommend it, but I went. I learned in one 24 hour stay, that this was not the place for me to heal and that my circumstances could be a million times worse. When I checked out, I decided I had to stop allowing the anxiety to control my life. I stopped working. My mom, who I could never thank enough, quit her job as well and did all she could to take care of me and my children. I leaned heavily on the Holy Spirit and my faith to pull me out of the darkness.

It took almost a full year to get to a better place. I’ll be the first to say, it was a DAILY battle, but I am fully healed. After being delivered from the hold of PPD/PPA for a second time I was convinced that I needed to start my ministry, DefeatPPD, to give other women a personal coach to support them during their battle. I know exactly what it’s like to have the joy of being a new mom taken away due to postpartum depression and anxiety. I want to use the skills and tools that helped me escape the darkness to coach other women walking through the same fire.