The miracle of birth comes packaged with an array of trials: morning sickness, a hormonal rollercoaster, the incomparable and incomprehensible (if you are a man) sensation of passing a human child through an orifice that, not so long ago, was just big enough for something much smaller (if you are most men). And once that’s over, it’s not over.
Physical pain melts into mental anguish, as the thrill and the joy of bringing a human into the world turns into anger, sadness and weeping. For most women, the “baby blues” go away after a few days. For some, it never goes away, and becomes postpartum depression. As much as 20 percent of women have trouble sleeping, are overwhelmed with anxiety and suffer other symptoms a year after their pregnancies “ending.”
After her first child was born, Celia Behar couldn’t get out of bed. She cried uncontrollably; she had no connection to her daughter; she wanted to hurt herself. She was prescribed Prozac—and while that left her with insomnia and migraines, it was “better.” After her second child was born, she started smoking marijuana. And wouldn’t you know—it worked “right away,” she told Texas-based TV station KXAN.
Behar is lucky. She lives in California, where cannabis use is prevalent and the drug is widely available. Even so, parents who smoke weed are at best frowned upon—and they run a real risk of a visit from child-protective services. In Texas, cannabis is totally prohibited—and you may as well ride a broom and perform animal sacrifices in your front yard rather than be a pot-smoking mom. This is why, KXAN reports, there’s a “growing group of mothers in Austin” who “secretly [use] marijuana to treat postpartum depression.”
One of them, a 34-year old mother of three who wished to remain anonymous, told KXAN she tried cannabis at the suggestion of a therapist, after finding herself saddled with intractable “postpartum rage.” She’s used the drug, acquired on the black market, for several months.
Texas does have a very limited medical-marijuana program, but only low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil is available, and it’s restricted only to patients with severe epilepsy. That leaves a hospital’s worth of sick people in the lurch, so Texas state Sen. Jose Menendez is pushing a bill that would expand cannabis access to patients afflicted with a wide range of “debilitating” illnesses.
His Senate Bill 269 would provide medical marijuana to people suffering from chronic pain, post-concussion syndrome, PTSD, cancer, nausea and “any other medical condition approved as a debilitating medical condition” by health officials. Does postpartum depression count as debilitating? Absolutely, according to some researchers.
But Menendez’s bill also allows Texas medical marijuana to contain THC. That may prove debilitating in the State House, especially considering how difficult the state has made access to low-THC cannabis.
So the secret sisterhood of pot-smoking moms may have to continue to risk losing their children and going to jail just in order to function. Which would you choose?