PPPSS News & Events

Come Sing a Song for The Mothers

Holidays can be hard. The big ones and the smaller ones. They’re hard because we’re expected to celebrate and be joyful and sometimes that joy is hard to access. Sometimes the thing we’re supposed to celebrate isn’t accessible to us.

I find that it helps me to reframe holidays as a time for ceremony rather than a time for celebration. Ceremony may include celebration or it may not, but making the shift allows for opportunities for deep engagement without the crushing weight of expectation.

Mother’s day can be especially hard for women who are in the midst of postpartum difficulties. It’s near to impossible to celebrate motherhood when the transition to motherhood is causing so much despair, struggle, and feelings of inadequacy. And that doesn’t even consider the other painful confrontations we might have on Mother’s Day if our own mothers are absent in one way or another, if we have wanted children and weren’t able to have them, or if we have lost a child.

But ceremony doesn’t depend on having or being an ideal mother. It only depends on a willingness to explore themes of motherhood with an open mind.

It seems to me that celebrating mothers is a very small aspect of what we might do on mother’s day. It’s also an opportunity to mourn and remember, acknowledge suffering and work towards healing. While my own mother’s day will involve cards and breakfast made by my six year old and a trip to the garden center it will also involve some time to reflect on the baby I lost to miscarriage and the intense sorrow that comes from living across the country from my own mother. There is space for the grief.

Six years after the birth of my first child I am also a very different mother. I am no longer at the mercy of postpartum depression and it’s a good exercise on Mother’s Day to reflect on how much I’ve changed. Now a mother of two my life frequently revolves around my children, but I have learned the hard way that self care is not optional.

Today I hope you can create a mother’s day that speaks to your own journey in some way. I hope you can find a way to honour the place you are in and hold space for whatever joy, grief, challenge, or growth needs attention. When social media becomes swamped with pictures of grinning moms surrounded by happy looking children receiving their flowers or eating their brunches, know that this is only a small part of the story and it is not necessary to celebrate in that way to have a meaningful Mother’s Day.

I will leave you with this: Two Mothers, because I feel that this song really gets at the ways that motherhood doesn’t always conform to our expectations.

We’re In This Together: Chrissy and Dora

When I started writing my story for ‘We’re in This Together’, I began with the early days. I wrote about the trauma and confusion of those dark times; my sadness about not being the kind of mom I wanted to be; my heartbreaking inability to breastfeed; the unrelenting feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy; how I felt I’d never be ”normal” again.

However, reliving those difficult memories brought me to a realization: I’m not that fearful new mom anymore. My eldest is now 12 and my youngest 9 (how time flies!)and I thought, “Why not instead speak of the joys and triumphs of motherhood – in spite of, and yes, even because of PPD/A?”

This is the part in my PPD/A journey where I give back. I’m the older, experienced momma now. It’s my turn to give reassurance and comfort, and to share my hard-won gifts of experience and passage of time. I hope my story serves as the light at the end of the tunnel for you. You WILL emerge from this dark fog and feel the sun on your face again. Take my hand, and we’ll go through it together…

I experienced PPD/A with the birth of each of my two sons. In those dark moments when I was scared and lost, I wondered what life would be like on the other side – life after PPD/A. Would I ever feel happy again? Would I finally enjoy being a mom like I’d always thought I would? I wish I’d known then what I know now – that the answer is an unequivocal YES.

I want you to know and believe right now that you WILL be whole again (maybe even more whole than you ever thought you could be.) You’ll learn to trust your “rational” voice and let go of the persistent, negative ones. The fear and worries won’t totally go away, but they’ll slowly shrink to the normal size they should be. (Just enough to motivate you to be the best mom you can be, but not so much that it debilitates you.)

You’ll start to feel fleeting moments of peace and pure contentment as you emerge from the darkness. Those moments will become minutes, hours, days, and before you know it, years. You’ll not only survive this, but you’ll thrive, as will your children along with you.

Your little ones will become less and less a source of fear and worry and more and more a source of joy. You’ll begin to say to yourself, “Yes, I’ve got this. I AM an amazing mom.” You’ll get there – I promise. Just keep fighting.

As you continue on this journey, this biggest battle of your life, you may notice a strange and oddly uplifting thing about PPD/A. You’ll start to see how much you’ve grown because of your experience with it. You’ll become a better mom and a better you.

I had to look within and truly, finally heal so many of my past hurts. PPD/A forced me to see how I was inflicting pain on myself with old irrational beliefs and unhealthy expectations. I had no choice but to work through my issues of perfectionism and low self worth. The way past the pain wasn’t around it, but through it. This is what PPD/A taught me.

I’ll never say I’m glad I had PPD/A. It’s something I’d never wish on anyone. It took away so much from me when my boys were babies. It was a cruel and unfair punishment. Why did I have to go through that? Why me? There are no good answers. PPD/A IS cruel and unfair. No mom should ever have to suffer with it.

However, I AM glad that I used it as motivation to fight to heal myself and make myself whole. I’m so much stronger and happier because of my journey. I believe that you can get here too.

Don’t let the darkness win. Take it one moment at a time. Stop dwelling on the days ahead or the days that have passed. Focus on the moment you’re in right now. Just get through this moment, then the next, then the next. You CAN do this.

Lean on the support from PPPSS. Talk to moms who make you feel good, and give yourself space from the ones who make you feel like less. See the beauty and joys in your small child. Deal with the challenges, then move on (don’t get hung up on them). Ask your partner, family and friends for help – they’ll be glad you did. They love and want to support you. Let them.

You’ll want to give up over and over… and over again. Be kind to yourself and remember that this journey is a series of two steps forward, one step back. (Sometimes even three or four steps back!) This is normal. Keep fighting, and remind yourself often of the progress you’ve made (and have loved ones do the same for you.)

You will make it through, and you will be a better you. I know you will. I believe in you, and I can’t wait to read your story of triumph one day.

Love,
Chrissy

 

 

Dora would like to dedicate her story to the memory of Florence Leung.

She writes:

Dear Florence,

I tearfully followed your story and wished so hard that you would be found safe. I wanted to find you myself and give you a great big hug, tell you that you weren’t alone, and reassure you that it would all be okay one day. So many of us did. With your passing, I feel like I lost a sister. It is utterly tragic that we lost you, but it will not be for nothing. Your story will do so much good for so many moms. I will always remember you and keep you in my thoughts and heart.

 

*****

This is Dora’s Story:

I love this photo of me and my sister. We are both PPD/A survivors  so this photo is a wonderful memento of our journey, and a reminder that we made it. My sister’s fight with PPD/A came before mine. So when it was my turn, she became my greatest source of strength. Read her story and you’ll get a sense of what an incredible inspiration she was to me.

I decided to be part of “We’re In This Together” because I want to give comfort to all moms who are going through PPD/A. I especially want to reach out to moms who aren’t getting the support they need because of the stigma of having a mental illness. People from Asian cultures like mine can have an especially harsh and negative attitude towards mental illness. This has to change. No mom suffering with PPD/A should be stigmatized, especially not by the people in her own family.

I am so grateful that my husband, parents and siblings all “got it” when I was suffering through PPD/A. They were completely supportive and understanding, through thick and thin. Disappointingly, others in my extended family didn’t get it. I often felt like the elephant in the room and even endured outright shaming. Their reactions were so hurtful and made me feel so isolated. I sought comfort from my immediate family; and, through their love, I grew resilient. I refuse to feel stigmatized or ashamed any longer.

Never let anyone minimize or dismiss your pain or what you’re going through. Never let anyone make you feel ashamed to ask for help. If your family and friends aren’t giving you the understanding and love that you need, get in touch with PPPSS. You will find someone who will understand, listen and care.

When I was in the depths of PPD/A, it felt like life would never be good, happy or worthwhile ever again. Now that I’ve come through it, I can tell you with certainty that the good days do come back, and life will continue to get sweeter, the more healing you do. Hang in there – it will get better.

Erin and Katrina

I am the Board Chair of PPPSS, a former client and passionate about PPD. I was hospitalized many times when Kegan was a baby for PPD. I honestly believed he was better off without me and waited too late to ask for help. Perhaps there is value of telling a more acute story and coming out alive and seeking help. I lost almost everything including my marriage, job and dignity. Today I am giving back as a way to amplify this stigmatized issue. Without The Good Mother Project these stories would not be able to help others suffering from seeking assistance. Thank you!

 

Erin Arnold

 

We’re In This Together is a photography series, coordinated in partnership with the Pacific Post Partum Support Society and the Good Mother Project, that offers messages of encouragement, hope, support and love to new parents.
For more information on how you can share your message, please visit: http://goodmotherproject.com/were-in-this-together

Volunteer Week Message 2018

The theme this year for National Volunteer Week is “Celebrate the Value of Volunteering – building confidence, competence, connections and community”

We at Pacific Post Partum Support Society recognize our volunteers and celebrate their value.

We hope our volunteers know that we are mindful every day of the dedication and passion they bring to their work.  We have the pleasure to see them grow in confidence and competence as they make deep connections with the people they support while they continue to help us build community.

Our Volunteer Board of Directors offer freely their time to guide and provide governance.  They are the rudder of our little ship and keep us afloat. We value them and appreciate the responsibilities they take so seriously.

Our telephone support volunteers train long and hard to support mothers and fathers in our ongoing telephone support connections.  We are so grateful for the way they help share the work with the staff and help us reach out to support more community members.

Our Social Media team is amazing and with their busy lives they continue to work to build awareness through writing, posts and tweets.

All the volunteers who help out with our events – raising awareness, building community and sometimes raising funds – thank you.

Another year has passed and here is another opportunity to say on behalf of our Board and Staff how grateful we are to all the volunteers who give so generously to Pacific Post Partum Support Society.

Words are not enough!
Georgie Hutchinson
Volunteer Coordinator

We’re In This Together: Vincent and Lynsey

Vincent Fung

 

I chose to participate because there needs to be more awareness of postpartum depression or anxiety. My wife passed away from the effects of postpartum depression and it’s a health issue that has an impact on the whole family.

 

We tried all sorts of medical and therapeutic treatments, but ultimately our story is one that I do not wish for anyone else. Not only was it an emotional and psychological roller coaster, I have had to find the strength and drive to care for our child and home, especially now living with the grief of losing my wife and my daughter’s mother. My experience has shown me that medical treatments are not the only solution, but just part of an overall support system that should also take into account the history and experiences of moms/dads suffering from PPD, as well as the perspectives of family and/or close friends.

 

Being more aware during and post-pregnancy of PPD, as well as a support system for PPD, would have been very useful – that’s why having an organization like the Pacific Post Partum Support Society is so important and more awareness is needed for new and current parents and their families and friends.

 

I chose “It’s ok to not be ok” because it was something that I told my wife while she was in the hospital which seemed to have resonated with her. It gave her some hope and peace to accept her condition/situation while trying to get better. Not only do I remember this, it was also something that she noted in her journal/writings that I still have.

 

Lynsey

To read more stories in this series, go to our blog. (link in profile)

 

We’re In This Together is a photography series, coordinated in partnership with @postpartum and the @goodmotherproject, that offers messages of encouragement, hope, support and love to new parents.
For more information on how you can share your message, please visit: http://goodmotherproject.com/were-in-this-together