For Florence

 

Article by Amanda Ho

Dear Florence,

If I could have met you, I would have first given you a huge hug and then told you it’s ok. I know how you feel. I’ve been there. And while I can’t give you this message now, I send it out to all others who might be walking a similar path, in the hope that they will feel less alone:

I’ve felt like locking myself in my room and curling up in my bed and blocking any sounds from coming in. Pretending I’m just not here.

I’ve felt like running away because “I just can’t do this”. My family would be better off without me.

I’ve felt like having a baby was a big mistake and what was I thinking? And can’t I just go back to my old life?

I’ve felt like I’ve lost who I was and I don’t know who I am anymore. And furthermore, who is this little being that I’m holding but just feel numb towards? I’ve felt the guilt of not being blissful about having a new baby in my life. My baby. The moms in the magazines…they’re all so happy, bonding with their babies, crying happy loving tears while I only have tears of sadness, emptiness and loneliness.

I’ve felt anxious about being left alone with this alien creature that has taken over my life and left me with no sense of structure or control. I feel so out of control when previously my life was structured and I was in control. I knew what to expect. Now everything is unpredictable and that’s anxiety provoking.

I’ve felt the emptiness and loneliness that no one can understand unless they’ve gone through this.

I’ve felt guilty for the intrusive scary thoughts that go through my mind. Harming myself or baby.

I’ve felt like I am no longer “me”. The happy, goal driven, fun person I used to be is gone. That life is gone. And I want it back. Take this baby and give me my old  life back.

I’ve been there. I know.

And that dark dark tunnel is so lonely and scary and hopeless feeling.  There was a knot and heaviness in my heart, a sad sad heaviness.

But there is light. I promise you with all my heart there is light.

Just come out of the tunnel and see all the love the world has for you. And see that it is not your fault.

We can get through this together.

Patience and love and support and acceptance is all you need. You have it.

I promise you these feeling are only temporary and, again, they’re not your fault. Soon there will be a day that you transform like a beautiful metamorphosis into the woman you’re meant to be. You’ll grieve your old self, but you’ll be so much more. You’ll be stronger, more gentle with yourself, and, most of all, I promise you’ll love your baby and your new life.

You just can’t see it yet. But I promise you, it does get better.

florence_leung

Florence Leung. Photo provided by her family.

So many of of us whose lives have been touched by postpartum challenges are mourning the passing of Florence Leung. Her story runs parallel to that of every woman who has woken up to the reality of motherhood and felt unable to cope. Sometimes the battle is lost and for those who have walked in Florence’s shoes, and for those who have watched their loved ones suffer, her passing is a solemn reminder that motherhood can be a dark road. It’s also a reminder to all of us left reeling that we need to hold each other up and walk side-by-side as we navigate motherhood’s difficult spaces. Pacific Post Partum Support Society has heard from many of you who want to do something concrete to help. Members of Florence’s family have asked us to create a fund in her memory. Donations will help to assure that services are available to mothers and families who need support after the birth of a baby. Our deepest condolences go out to Florence’s family and friends at this time. 

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