PPPSS News & Events

Father’s Day

Article by Georgie Hutchinson

Father’s day is here – another year passes. It may be the first of many Father’s Days for many new dads and partners – I know my husband will be celebrating his 31st Father’s Day , marking the day as a Father with his first baby who was close to 10 months at the time.

I remember thinking at the time it was lucky that the day was coming closer to the end of the first year of our son’s life rather than the beginning. Things were calmer and the anxiety was dampened down for both my partner and myself in our household. We had had a bit of time to sort out how to support each other through our exhaustion and to start to reclaim and practice more open and direct communication with each other. The father of my first born was a dedicated parent. It seemed that for the first many months his main job was to walk and soothe a fed and changed but distraught baby.

In the early days – one foot in front of the other, soothing his son’s piercing cries and finding the right rhythm to sway the very hard to settle baby. In the later evening, ages after what felt like hours of nursing for me, he would take that baby son and pack him up in his snuggly (which in those days was a shoulder killer) and out he would go -pacing in the back lanes of Vancouver during the rainy Fall and Winter nights with his son tucked under his parka, looking like a strange lumbering apparition with an abnormal growth . He was stopped by the police one night and had to unzip his coat to prove he was not making off with some stolen contraband.

That is just one of my memories of him- this loving and tender side of him that started to emerge more strongly as a new father and continued on as he loved and tended to two other babies.

We don’t talk about those baby days often. He was either going to school or starting a new job during each of our three pregnancies and postpartum times. I don’t think I really thought about how tough it was for him. I was too absorbed in my own adjustment issues of feeling overwhelmed and anxious about Motherhood. I realized after the fact that his adjustment was huge as well and that he did not really talk about what was happening for him. He might just fall asleep in his soup during supper after getting very little sleep as he came home from a long day at work, helped me with the babies and then started fitting in studying time before he managed to get a few hours of sleep.

When I think about all the new fathers and partners who sometimes can feel like they are not as important in those days where the baby is breastfeeding I can see more clearly now how much of an adjustment it is for them as well. Those partners who might feel like they are not knowing where their place is in the whole new family system and may be feeling a bit anxious about how to handle and soothe their baby.

We know from evidence–based studies that Fathers and partners can experience postpartum depressive and anxiety symptoms as well as the birth and adoptive mother. The statistic for risk is close to 13% . So I want to salute new fathers and seasoned older fathers as well for your commitment to this huge job. We encourage fathers like we encourage mothers to be gentle and loving with themselves. This parenting gig is a huge and it takes time to find your feet and feel solid – reach out to friends and family and your partner. Talk about the issues that come up for you in this adjustment as a father. You deserve support and it is great modelling for your children to see you practice reaching out for support and it makes the world a better place.

2016 Angel Donor’s Dinner

We are so very thankful for our sponsors and hosts, our attendees, and the volunteers who go above and beyond to make our Angel Donor’s Dinner a success!

You are all Angels.

Our Emcee, Michael Burdick
BG speaks at the dinner

Eran presents the Good Mother Project at the dinner

 

Justin speaks at the dinnerCatherine speaks at te dinner Angel Donor's Dinner Michael speaks at the dinner Angel Donor's Dinner Angel Donor's Dinner Sheila & Kerry from PPPSS Angel Donor's Dinner Angel Donor's Dinner Angel Donor's Dinner Angel Donor's Dinner

 

Thank You to All Our Volunteers!

PPPSS-volunteer-note-from-Georgie

Lessons Learned from Lego

Article by Clare Zeschky

 

Lego

I’ve been playing a lot with Lego recently. I mean A LOT. My daughter is obsessed. I have to say, it’s not the worst part of this parenting thing.

There’s nothing better than this box of bricks. There’s nothing she can’t build- we’ve made schools for aliens, vet surgeries, day cares, windmills, cars and vehicles of all shapes and sizes. When we first started we had varying success.  Long rows of bricks were laid down, walls were built with no thoughts of structure or integrity. Weak joints, gaps, spaces for windows and doors that didn’t fit, wheels poorly placed so cars would run in circles. But our building has gotten better with time. We learned to stagger our bricks to strengthen our walls, find pieces to fit gaps, place wheels to balance cars.

While my daughter has been enjoying the engineering I’ve been thinking about how our buildings have been a lot like the journey we’ve been on together. In those really early years, things were often wobbly, pieces often didn’t fit and frequently it would all come tumbling down into a mess of tears, self-doubt and tantrums. On both sides.

But fitting pieces of a wall together, creating a slide for a “day care” I can see how much we have learned. For our creations to stand tall they need support. Pieces need to be put together in a certain way to work, fragile joints and tall structures need extra supports to keep them strong.

I spent a long time- too long- being fragile and refusing support. In our early years as a family I believed I could do it all. I hid my struggles from my friends and family, refused to let my husband in and denied, even to myself, that in order to stand strong I needed support.

I thought I looked after myself pretty well. I ate well, I exercised, I rested whenever possible. My daughter was a poor sleeper, exceptionally poor, and I put most of my struggles down to her sleep patterns. It would get better, I said, when she started sleeping.

In the big picture I was low on the list of priorities. My husband worked long hours so I made sure he got sleep, got time off to do things he loved. I could wait. I didn’t need anything. Or so I told myself. But slowly, over time, I crumbled like our poorly built Lego creations. My walls wobbled, there were gaps that needed to be filled.

I’d love to be able to say here that I saw the light, that I started to ask for help and started to look for what I needed. But I didn’t. I carried on like this for two years- angry, depleted and refusing to see I needed something more than the basics to survive.

But  that isn’t the end of the story. Not long after my daughter turned two I got in touch with Pacific Post Partum Support Society looking for volunteer opportunities. Things were getting better, mostly because our sleep improved. But I was still raw and fragile. I remember the information session vividly- it was like a light turned on in the room and I could see myself clearly. There was a also a message,  one that I carry with my to this day and that I hope I can carry with me through my life, and pass on wherever I can: It was self-care. I learned that I deserved to be looked after too, that I didn’t have to do everything alone. It went deeper than the simple acts of eating well, resting, and exercise that I usually managed on a daily basis. It was about caring for myself at an emotional and spiritual level.

It looked great on paper. I went home full of good intentions, full of the idea that I would use this new knowledge to not just improve things for me but my whole family. And I wish I could say it was easy. But it is still a work in progress. Some things are hit and miss. I thought taking breaks would do it- but it turns out I actually like spending time with my family. Getting out for a coffee and going to a yoga class helps but so does spending quality time playing Lego. I realized there was a duality to a lot of my self care.

One one side I need to ask for help (and accept it!). This has been hard- I’m exceedingly independent. But I learned that people like to help, my husband especially. And that my daughter can thrive in other people’s care as well as mine. On the other side I also need to say “no”. I never used to say no. I would do anything that was asked of me- work extra shifts, babysit for friends, run errands. Learning to manage what I can reasonably do without getting stressed has been huge.

I have learned to recognize the signs when I’m running low on energy and positive emotion. I get angry and I see myself closing people out. It’s then I know that I need to step back, open the doors that finally fit into place and let people in, accept help and take the time to restore myself with the things I love. I let the dishes pile up in the sink while I build a rocket ship, or cut down on commitments for the week.

So while I sit surrounded by multi-coloured blocks it’s nice to recognize the work in progress that is my journey as a mother, knowing that I’m starting to find the blocks I need to support my walls, and find all the pieces that fit to keep me strong.

Having a Baby after PPD/A: Notes from my Second Trimester

Article by Andrea Paterson

People generally try to comfort you by saying that your second pregnancy will be different, that your second baby will be different. My second pregnancy has certainly been different–it’s been worse. After suffering severe postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my son four years ago I went into my second pregnancy with a lot of trepidation. Everyone said “this time will be different” and I thought they meant “this time will be better.” So far, not really. Hyperemesis, painful acid reflux, the return of anxiety and some intrusive thinking…I can’t classify this as better and I want to tell you that it’s okay. I’m 18 weeks pregnant and I’ve had four hospital visits so far this pregnancy, I’m terrified about what’s coming postpartum, and I don’t know how I’ll handle my four year old and a baby, but I have about a thousand tools in my coping tool kit that I didn’t have before.

So far this has been a horrible pregnancy but the support I’m receiving is so much greater. I’ve called in the troops from grandparents to social workers to midwives to  psychiatrists to friends. There is a team standing behind me that was completely absent my first time around and while the circumstances of my pregnancy have not been great, the support has kept me afloat.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that the decision to have another baby after PPD/A is a huge one, and a very personal one. It’s important to be realistic about the fact that the second time around might not actually be better. There is just no guarantee of smooth sailing, but you can go in knowing the risks and with resources in place to deal with challenges. While the hurdles may be great it’s probable that you have developed the fortitude to get over them, perhaps not gracefully, but without significant injury.

And I think it’s okay to say that things are just not fun, that some days you wonder why you’ve put yourself through this again. It’s okay to have mixed feelings about your second pregnancy. In my first pregnancy I was awash in a sense of idealism, hope, and love. This time I’m awash in worry, dread, hope, and love. The idealism definitely died. I know what’s coming in the early days of infancy and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m not looking forward to all of it. I want to give myself permission to be ambivalent. Knowing that my days won’t be full of blissful baby snuggles and a sense of peace gives me the impetus I need to put together my survival kit. Hopefully I won’t need all of it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

This time I know that help, in a million forms, is out there and I’m not afraid to go out and get it. While I’ve lost my idealism I’ve also lost my shame. While I’m sick and exhausted already I’m also have the gift of awareness: this will pass. One day soon enough I won’t be pregnant, and my body will heal, and I will feel like myself again. My baby will only be a baby for a short time and then things will get better. I’ll have another independent four year old on my hands before I know it and I can let infancy go into a haze of forgetting. There is a light in the darkness that wasn’t there the first time around because I’ve already lived it once and I know that there’s an end.

Right now I can live in gratitude that my first trimester is over, that I’m no longer taking medication for hyperemesis every three hours, and that my baby is healthy so far despite the huge doses of drugs. It hasn’t been fun but I got through it. I’ll find a way through whatever is ahead too.
Remember that Pacific Post Partum Support Society Supports pregnant moms too! PPPSS is a great first stop in your journey towards healing. You can always call in to the support line on rough days and support groups are open to you as you approach the end of your pregnancy. The earlier you reach out for help the better off you’ll be!