PPPSS News & Events

We’re In This Together: Eran’s Story

Day after day, I sat on the couch with my baby, alone & crying, trying to painfully breastfeed, and wishing my husband would take a break from his work upstairs and come save me. I sat and watched Netflix, I read The Hunger Games Trilogy, and I obsessed over how much my baby was sleeping (and how much I was sleeping). I wanted to leave the house but I was afraid to leave the house. I wanted to be alone, but I felt a responsibility to my baby. I wanted to drive away and leave it all behind, but it made my heart hurt to think about it.

When my son was finally old enough to go in his Jolly Jumper, things finally started to change. I didn’t have to hold him anymore. My hands were free to do other things, and he could bounce and giggle. I made a playlist of all my old, favourite 90’s songs.  I played it on my iPhone while he “danced” away in his Jolly Jumper, and I sang along to old Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears songs. My husband came downstairs that first afternoon after I made the playlist, and he said “This is the first time I’ve heard you sing in months. You sound happy.”

It took a long time for me to feel like myself again, and to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like my pre-baby self. But what time and support allowed me to do was rediscover pieces of myself that I thought I lost when my son was born. I want other new moms to know that they will come out of the haze of breastfeeding or colic or sleepless nights, and they will find new joy. It doesn’t last forever. You will find yourself again.

 

 

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

We’re In This Together: Robin’s Story

Being a mother is most rewarding life experience I’ve ever had, but it didn’t start out so great.

When my firstborn was about eight months old, I became extremely depressed, to the point where I had occasional psychotic episodes. It was a very dark time for our family, and I felt that if I told anyone but my husband what I’d been feeling that my son would be taken from me or I’d be locked up. So I kept quiet and muddled through. It was really, really hard.

When I was hit with postpartum depression again when my second son was about ten months old, this time with inexplicable rage, I knew I could no longer suffer in silence. I couldn’t live like that. And I didn’t want my kids to remember me like that. So I finally asked for help.

After trying a few different types of treatment, medication was what saved my life, and subsequently my relationship with my family. I have made it part of my life’s mission to make sure that other moms know that it’s okay to ask for help; had I done it sooner, the three years that I suffered would look very differently. Don’t wait it out. Talk to someone. You are not alone and you will get through this.

 

Robin

 

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

We’re In This Together: Amanda’s Story

When my second child was born it felt like our family was complete and that we’d all live happily ever after. I’d had very little problems with my first child and was loving motherhood so I figured a second child would be no problem.

But I was completely unprepared for the stress and demands of raising two young children. Not only did I have a newborn that needed my love and attention 24/7 but also a toddler trying to deal with suddenly having to share me.

Raising two children felt like three times the amount of work and I quickly became exhausted, overwhelmed and angry. And with most of my days spent alone with my children that anger usually came out at my toddler. I had no patience left and would yell at my daughter constantly. I’d often say the first thing that came to mind, and it was rarely nice. I felt like a monster who was failing her children and family.

That’s when I called  Pacific Post Partum Support Society. The woman I spoke with was so kind and understanding, for the first time she made me feel like maybe I wasn’t so horrible, that maybe I was just doing my best under difficult circumstances. With her encouragement I started seeing a counselor who helped me realize how hard I was being on myself. I had given myself high and unattainable expectations and when I failed I’d be angry with myself and take it out on the wrong person.

My counselor asked me to write a list of all the negative things I said to myself and beside it a list of the positives. While my list of negatives was long, I struggled to even find a couple positives. As I looked at that list I realized that I would never have allowed another person to talk to me like that, so why was it okay for me to say those things to myself? How could I love my children the way I wanted to, when I didn’t even love myself? How could I give them patience and understanding when I had none of those for me?

By giving myself the space to be imperfect and acknowledge that I was in fact a good mother trying her hardest, I was able to let go of some of the guilt and shame that I carried.

I am still a work in progress but at least now I know I will probably always be one, and that’s okay.

Amanda Buck

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

We’re In This Together: Joanna’s Story

I’d always wanted to be a mother. My earliest memories are of playing with my dolls- rocking them, feeding them, putting them to bed. I was constantly playing “family”, pretending to be pregnant and give birth, and imagining my future kids- I even made up pretend chore lists for them.

When I got married, I knew I wanted to have a family right away. I’d so been looking forward to being pregnant, and I was lucky enough to get pregnant with my daughter right away.

But I hated being pregnant. I was moody and grouchy and not at all myself. Looking back, I think I suffered from perinatal depression and anxiety, though I did not know it at the time.

After my daughter was born, I was surprised at how hard it was to have a newborn. I was not mentally, emotionally or physically prepared for the toll it had on me, and I felt as if everyone else who had a baby had a much easier time than I did. Luckily, my daughter was an “easy” baby, so I adjusted relatively quickly after the initial surprise, and my mental health went back to normal.

With my son, though, things were different from the get-go. What I thought was hard with my daughter was nothing like what I experienced with my son. Though undiagnosed, I definitely experienced perinatal depression and anxiety with him. I was unbelievably moody and miserable, worried all the time about everything, and constantly felt like I couldn’t breathe.

After he was born- a relatively smooth birth- things went downhill quickly. I experienced intense dizziness, due to my anxiety, all day long which basically confined me to the couch and bed. All I could do was breastfeed him, which drained me. I had to have an emergency procedure, which made my anxiety worse.

My son was colicky and miserable and hated the car, the stroller, the swing- anywhere that wasn’t attached to me. I was trapped in my house and in my mind. After a few weeks, the dizziness subsided so that I could at least get around, but the depression increased. I found myself unable to cope with much- I couldn’t fathom getting dinner ready, so instead sat on my couch, numb, watching my kids, waiting for my husband to come to solve the problem. Grocery shopping, or shopping of any kind, was out of the question, as was visiting with friends.

Everything was hard- too hard. I was isolated, sad, and needed help. Luckily, my mother recognized that I wasn’t myself, and so she urged me to seek help. My doctor referred me to a couple of different programs, one of which was Pacific Postpartum Support Society- and it completely changed my life. Hearing the comforting voices of the support workers on the phone, reassuring me that none of it was my fault and that I wasn’t alone, was the first step on my road to recovery.

My weekly meetings with other moms suffering from PPD were my life-saver. It was there that I felt accepted, validated, and supported, and began to heal. Motherhood is still hard. My kids are not perfect, and neither am I.

I have days where my anxiety gets away from me, days where I make parenting choices that I am not proud of, and days where I want to curl up and stay in bed. But the skills and strategies I’ve learned help me manage and cope when I feel like that. My anxiety is no longer in control of my life. So to anyone currently suffering- it’s hard. It really is. But it does get better. I promise you.

Joanna Noakes

 

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

We’re In This Together: Jolene’s Story

I always knew that I would be a mother some day. When I was in elementary school I was constantly pretending that I was “the mom.” I loved taking care of my dolls as if they were my own babies. As I grew, I began to babysit all of the neighbourhood kids, which evolved into nanny jobs, and a job as a birthday party coordinator. I went to university and became a teacher- kindergarten was my passion. Everyone said, “You are going to be the best mother one day!” My plan was to get married by 26 and have my first child before 30. As a planner (and a bit of a control freak) I made all of my dreams come true.

My first pregnancy was as expected and the birth was surprisingly easy. With a month’s worth of meals in the freezer, the nursery all set up, and the house all cleaned, I felt more than prepared for this little one to enter our lives. However, I was not prepared for what came next.

My baby did not want to be put down. He wanted comfort and wanted to be held all of the time. I was able to nurse quite easily and he wanted to nurse a lot.

The first couple of days were tiring but it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth day that the flood of emotions came. I felt so desperate and overwhelmed. My baby’s crying seemed never ending and I felt like I was the only one who could soothe him. I felt trapped and alone even though I had the support of my husband and my mom. I worried about what I ate because I didn’t want my baby to become gassy and even more fussy. I over analyzed everything and I felt like I had no control.

I didn’t know how long these feelings would last and I feared that they would never end. I contemplated leaving. I knew that I would be caught if I went over the border and I knew that I would never make it on an airplane, so Alberta was my plan. Looking back, it seems silly but at the time it felt like my only way out and the only solution to a terrible situation. I knew that my husband would be a great dad to my baby and I knew that I wasn’t coping so I thought that this would be best for everyone. However, I also felt like breastfeeding my baby was the only option, so I was stuck.

After a few weeks of feeling like this and my emotions becoming stronger and stronger, my mom and husband forced me to see my doctor. My doctor sent me to BC Women’s postpartum clinic to see a psychiatrist and that is when I started to get help. My psychiatrist explained that in my case my anxiety and depression was most likely chemical. She explained that I would need to go on medication to balance out the hormones in my body so that I could function again. This didn’t feel right to me. I felt like I needed to breastfeed and I worried about what the pills would do to my baby. I held off taking the pills for a few days, but finally gave in to the pressure from my family. It was a slow process- I didn’t feel better right away.

I was so fortunate to have help around me in those first few weeks after starting the medication as I was exhausted and often needed to sleep. Slowly my body became more accustomed to the pills and my mind began to clear.

When my baby was about three or four months old I felt more like myself. I still had bad days, but I was able to face them and I began to enjoy my baby. I no longer called him “the baby” anymore, and I started calling him by his name.

By his first birthday I was dreading going back to work part time. We had built such a bond and the thought of leaving him saddened me.

Fast-forward two years, and after being off my medication for over a year, I get pregnant again. It was a planned pregnancy and we were both excited. Again, it was a typical pregnancy, but I went back to BC Women’s for a consultation when I was pregnant as a precautionary. She said that there was a 50% chance that I would get postpartum again. I felt like those odds weren’t too bad. I had the option of starting the medication before the birth as a preventative measure but the risk to the baby was too great for me.

The birth was incredibly fast. First contraction was at 1am and the baby was born at 4:30am. His APGAR score was 10- the doctor said that it was the most beautiful birth she had ever seen.

The first night in the hospital was great. He laid down in his bassinet without crying and he didn’t need to be held all of the time. It was a breath of fresh air and I was optimistic that it would be ok this time around. The first three days were wonderful. I was tired and adjusting to life with two little ones but I was happy and I felt in control.

I will never forget the moment that all of my happiness quickly disappeared. I was walking down the hall in my home holding my newborn, he started to cry, and then I fell to my knees. All of a sudden, I felt completely overwhelmed with emotions. I worried that he wouldn’t stop crying, I felt guilty that I wasn’t spending as much time with my oldest son, and I worried that I would never feel like myself again.

This time everyone around me, including myself, knew that this was postpartum depression taking over again. This time my treatment started much earlier but the feelings and emotions were so much stronger. I wanted to be with my oldest son all of the time and I didn’t want anything to do with the new baby. I wanted to take my oldest son away and leave the baby with my husband. I tried to be strong for my kids and never show them my struggle but I felt guilty that my emotions were affecting them.

I contemplated leaving everyone, thinking that they would be better off without me. I even thought about harming myself. I knew that these options had severe consequences, so once again I just felt stuck. I went back to BC Women’s to see my psychiatrist. I will never forget what she said to me: “If you take your oldest son away do you think that would be fair to leave him without a father?” Ahhh- I was trapped again. I knew that I couldn’t do that to my oldest and I knew that I needed to be there for my family but it would take all of my courage to stay.

It was a rough few months as the medication started to work, but eventually, I returned to my old self.

Four years later I choose to continue with the medication as my anxiety still lingers. It isn’t nearly as bad and is quite manageable with some self care. Being a perfectionist and a planner with two small boys is a challenge sometimes, but I do my best.

I feel proud that I overcame postpartum depression. I feel proud that I stayed with my family and I didn’t leave. I feel grateful for all of the support from my family and the medical community. I feel happy that I have two healthy boys who are thriving and whom I have a loving relationship with. Mostly, I feel lucky. I know that some women aren’t as fortunate as me. Some women don’t have the resources or support, which is truly tragic. I am here to tell you that you can overcome postpartum mental health issues.

It isn’t easy and there isn’t a quick fix but it is worth all of the effort. You can have a happy family and you can feel like yourself again. It will take time and there will be bad days but if you reach out to someone and tell them your struggle you will be on the right path to recovery.

We need to share our stories. As women, we need to be supportive to each other. We need to listen, to be understanding, to withhold judgement, and to raise each other up. We are all in this together.

 

Jolene