The eagerly awaited sequel to ‘Sarah’s Child’; ‘Sarah’s Turn’ is now available on Amazon as both an eBook and paperback. Check it out today!
We are 15,000 words away from the gripping sequel to ‘Sarah’s Child’. Due out in the second half of September, ‘Sarah’s Turn’ sees our heroes and heroines continue their struggle to live with the people they love. Despite a chain of events that devastate the Clarkson family, they soldier on and, together, come through.
Post Partum Depression returns to strike Sarah when she is the most vulnerable. Her parents deal with society’s prejudice against older couples having children through IVF and we discover the reason behind Stewart’s controlling behaviour!
The IVF program is often used to give older couples a chance at having the child Life never brought them before then. They may be wanting to increase their family once the ‘original’ kids have grown and gone, or they are in new relationships in the second half of their lives. Whatever the reasons for IVF, it gives people options they never had before.
What Rights The Donors?
But what if you die? If the IVF uses donor sperm or egg, do the donors have any claim on the child? Do they have any legal responsibilities towards the child they helped create? These are very real and important legal questions that need to be considered when choosing whether to go with IVF, more so if you use donor material than provide your own. Many donors sign away their rights to have anything further to do with any children they help create. Some prefer never to be identified while others may change their minds. It really can be a legal minefield.
This is why it is imperative to research the topic thoroughly. Not just the medical implications, but the socio-legal aspects, the economic outcomes and so on. Some jurisdictions these days are allowing access to the records of IVF providers, sperm and egg banks and so on to those children who make application to learnt he identity of their genetic parents. Is this right? Is it right the courts deny a person the right to know who they are bred from?
Choose Your IVF Provider Carefully
There are safeguards. Choose an IVF provider wisely. Use reputable facilities and professionals and make sure the laws in the jurisdiction where the IVF is performed, as well as where the child is born and also, if different, where you will raise him or her present no potential problems. Make sure you get all your ducks in a row. Look beyond just the conception, pregnancy and birth. Look to the future and consider what arrangements you should make in the untimely event of your death. Nobody plans to die any time soon but nobody knows when or how it will happen to them, only that it will happen eventually.
If you are, say a 60 year old father then you will be 78 when the child comes of age and is legally considered an adult. Anyone who has kids who are now legally adults knows the caring doesn’t stop there and the reliance they m ay have on you doesn’t just quit the day they hit 18, either. While kids will keep you young, or feeling younger, keep in mind they didn’t ask to be born and it is up to you to make sure you can give them what they need and deserve.
Postpartum depression strikes as many as one in every 4 parents although prevalence is a variable that is affected by the health and wealth of the parent, which we’ll cover in a later article. Before we explore the prevalence, let’s look a little more closely at the risk factors of postpartum depression, or PPD.
While there is no hierarchy that my research can find, birth-related psychological trauma and birth-related physiological trauma stand out as two that might be major causative agents. These are pretty major issues in their own right and will be also covered separately. Other risk factors include elevated prolactin levels (the protein that enables the production of breast milk) and oxytocin depletion. Oxytocin is a hormone that has a lot to do with childbirth, in fact the name is made up of the Greek words for ‘swift’ (oksys) and ‘birth’ (tokos). Large doses are released after the distension of the cervix and uterus during labour and this can cause depletion which will affect other hormone levels and thus, bring on PPD.
Formula feeding rather than breast feeding is another risk factor as the breast feeding triggers all sorts of good things in the brain, apparently. Without these triggers going off on cue it seems it is easier for PPD to form. A history of depression can also morph into PPD and this ties in with low self-esteem which is another risk factor. Naturally smoking gets a mention and recreational drug use might as well also be on the list.
If there was prenatal anxiety or depression, again the risk is increased. Life stress, a rather broad term, is also considered a risk factor and this includes a poor marital relationship, which may be present before pregnancy but is often exacerbated by the addition to the family and the pressures that might bring. It is no doubt increased if the pregnancy is unplanned or unwanted for any reason. Being a single parent is another factor to consider as well as mothers with low levels of social support. These women are more likely to succumb to PPD. Feeling isolated and alone, even abandoned, isn’t going to help her cope.
Low socio-economic status also increases the risks of PPD forming as there are additional stress factors at play. As we can see, so many of the risk factors are stress or environment related. While there are chemical factors, most PPD risk factors appear to be what I call human-induced. Stress is a killer and it is only in recent decades it has been acknowledged as such. While we can’t eliminate all contributors to our levels of stress, we can minimize the damage by being aware of how PPD can form. If you are a new parent or know one, consider these risk factors and how, if any apply to you or your loved ones, you can do something positive to reduce or remove the risk.
Have compassion, tolerance and try to understand – nobody wants PPD.
In ‘Sarah’s Child’, father to be Stewart Lethbridge gives his partner and mother of his first child, Sarah Clarkson, what he laughingly terms a ‘love tap’. Actually he gives her several because no woman who has suffered physical violence at the hands of their domestic partner has ever had it happen just the once; at least not those who seem predisposed to choosing such partners.
Rare is the woman who will cop a hit and walk out the door, never to see her ‘man’ ever again. “Why? Why do so many women seem unable, even incapable of leaving ‘him’? Part of the reason may lie in the nurturing nature of the female of the species. Women are, mostly, hard wired to care and comfort, to be the nurturer and this means they are usually more tolerant and understanding, more empathetic.
Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else may be going through and to give them some leeway when dealing with the outward effects of whatever it is they are doing as a result, to put themselves in that person’s shoes and be them for a time. I used to have empathy for people like the fictional character Stewart Lethbridge, but I ended up bitch slapping myself unconscious. I have very little empathy and absolutely no sympathy for such ‘wife-beaters’. Perhaps if my father had been one I might, like Stewart, see it as the norm, the way things are and are supposed to be between man and woman.
I had the good fortune to be raised by parents not afflicted with such behaviour. Were they luckier on the IQ draw? Was it all about how affluent their parents were? I doubt it as they were both born during the Great Depression, grew up in war torn Europe and had it tough. But their fathers never assaulted their mothers. My father never assaulted mine so forgive me if I can’t empathise with men who do and blame their father, or lack of one, for why they do it.
Back to empathy, though. Women have empathy and understanding and compassion, right? But they also have common sense and an intellect of their own. Even the least academically endowed has enough sense to leave him when he uses her as a punching bag, right? Well, sadly, no. So why? What is it that has some women pick loser after loser, basher after basher? And her mother had the same taste in blokes, too!
Sarah’s mum, Sue, didn’t pick a loser; nor did her mother so it can’t be all down to genes and hereditary influences. Sarah wasn’t the smartest kid in class but she’s not stupid. Yet she goes back to him after he ‘love taps’ her. Why? And while you’re thinking what to write in the comments below, what do you think about his terminology? Does calling it a ‘love tap’ minimise the effect or the pain? It’s a bit of a backwards politically correct phrase, don’t you think? Tell us what you do think in the comments or on our Facebook page.
Sadly the stigma of ‘mental illness’
still hangs over those who are afflicted with one of the myriad of complaints that can affect our mental capacities. For new mothers, postpartum depression, or PPD, is a significant risk for anywhere up to 25% of first time parents. It can and does strike fathers as well as mothers and anywhere from 5%-25% of parents may be suffering, too often alone and in silence. Some studies have found the rate among first time fathers to be as prevalent as between 1%-25%.
If nothing else, the fear of being ostracized for being a ‘bad parent’ means many sufferers bottle it up and fail to seek help at the early stages, when intervention and a speedy recovery are more likely outcomes than once the condition takes hold. It is not permanent and it is ‘curable’ with treatment, often undertaken at home.
The signs and symptoms include:
A feeling of being overwhelmed
Sleep and eating disturbances
Inability to be comforted
Anhedonia (an inability to experience pleasure from activities normally enjoyed)
Low or no energy
Becoming easily frustrated
Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby
Decreased sex drive
These can occur at any time within
the first twelve months but are not the only indicators of PPD. All of us at some stage will experience one or two of these symptoms, even three but more than that over a week or two and we are sailing into treacherous waters.
Let’s face it, childbirth alone is both an amazing and terrifying experience all at the same time. Having a new human growing within you is something only mothers can fully understand and their anxiety may take a different path to that of a new father. The health of the mother and child are paramount concerns during the forty one weeks of pregnancy and once the baby has arrived, postpartum depression can begin at any time.
Mothers and fathers who were subject to less than optimal parenting, for want of a better description, may mimic the examples they had more than those brought up in loving, effective family groups. Of course there are many who, despite or perhaps because of the childhood they had, do a super job but even they can be a victim of this insidious ailment. While this may be an influence on how they manage parenting, it is not proven to be a cause of PPD.
The real causes of PPD are not properly understood
and are the subject of another article to come. What is important for now is that we all raise our awareness of PPD and how it can strike anyone. It is not a sign of weakness or a black mark against your character, upbringing or your parents. It is a very human condition that has been with us for eons and will no doubt remain while ever we exist on this planet. Have compassion, tolerance and try to understand – nobody wants PPD.
‘Sarah’s Child’ has ranked as high as #1,234 in the UK Amazon store placing at #43 in the Family Life genre. At the moment it is down a little but by next weekend, when sales usually spike, we are confident we can break the #1,000 tag and hopefully get the book into the top ten in Family Life.
US sales are slightly behind but that is often the case with books not set in North America. Some of our best reviews, though, have come from US readers and we think that is terrific. The sad thing is that the issues addressed in ‘Sarah’s Child’ are present in all societies and especially western ones.
Paul recently dropped the price to just $0.99 for a limited time so that everyone who wants to read the novel can afford to do so. A couple of bucks between the regular retail price and the discounted price might not be much to some, but for struggling single parents who can personally relate to Sarah… it’s a lot of money. Buy the book, read the book, give us your opinion and we thank you.
We have put together a simple, but hopefully powerful video trailer for ‘Sarah’s Child’ It is already helping people to find this website and where the book is available and that is what trailers are all about!
Sarah’s Child is almost ready to be launched on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions. We have also updated the edition sold on Lulu.com and the Smashwords.com eBook (available as an .epub, .mobi, .pdf, .rtf or plain text file) to the final manuscript, fully proofed and edited for your reading pleasure.
The response has been enormous with over 900 free downloads given out, more than a dozen great reviews already and interest is being shown from the USA with Paul approached about appearing on radio and reading an excerpt from the novel.
It is still very early days but we have also had some mention of a movie treatment being put together, although that is a long way down the track. Stay tuned and please, keep those reviews coming! The best place will be on Amazon once it is available there, we’ll keep you posted.