PPPSS News & Events

Support from family and friends

I am certain I would not have survived my postpartum depression and anxiety without the supports I received. The depression was so difficult, because connection with others was what I really needed, but all I wanted to do was isolate and be completely alone. Motherhood was isolating. I could no longer connect with friends and family on my own schedule. I was completely exhausted, hormonal, stressed, and everything was based around my daughter and her schedule.

Support from my family and friends came in many different forms. My husband was my biggest support in that he helped me through each day and he took over the majority of the childcare. Just knowing that my daughter was safe and in good hands was the biggest relief I had. It was frustrating, at times, as he just wanted to fix what was happening, and there wasn’t one obvious answer or quick fix. In hindsight I think the biggest help was his being there for me each day, not leaving (which was a huge fear of mine), not making me feel guilty for feeling the way I was feeling, and reminding me on the bad days that they were just that – bad days – and that I would get better.

I had a large group of family and friends, both near and far, who were supportive in many different ways. People called daily, dropped busy lives and came to help when I needed it the most, sent emails, brought meals, took care of my daughter, and just listened. When I felt my lowest, I found comfort in knowing that people were there, without necessarily having to talk with them frequently. The phone calls seemed like too much effort, and at the time I felt some guilt if I wasn’t able to report that I was feeling considerably better. I gave myself timelines for when I should feel better, and I was certain that others were doing the same thing.

One specific thing I recall doing, based on a suggestion from a woman in my weekly support group, was a “gratitude email” with a friend. The idea is to have a daily email exchange with a friend to identify one thing you are grateful for each day. In the midst of the difficult, emotional, raw feelings I was experiencing, it was nice to change perspective a bit and focus on something positive, no matter how small. I still read through them at times, and smile at what I wrote (e.g. sunshine on my face, a warm bath, a delicious cookie, a smile or laugh from my daughter, a nap).

My weekly support group was immensely helpful, both because of the expertise and support of the facilitators, and also because of the friendships I made with the other women in the group. It was comforting to hear things said out loud that I had thought but never verbalized. It was amazing to see a bit of myself in each and every mother I met in the group, and to see the strength, courage, and willpower in each of us. I still remain in touch with many of these women, and I believe it is a bond that can’t be broken because of what we experienced and helped each other through.

I think it was most helpful when I was able to be specific about what support I needed from others. So many people wanted to help, but didn’t know how. Telling them “I need meals for the week,” “I need a break on Wednesday,” “I need laundry done,” or “I need help cleaning the house” was very helpful, both for myself and for those offering support. On some days it was also “I need to be alone” or “I appreciate your calls and messages, and I will call you when I am feeling better”. When I wasn’t able to be specific about what I needed, my husband could be, and that really helped.

Support was crucial to my recovery, and I don’t think I would have made it through my PPD/A experience without it. While every individual and experience is different, these are the supports that worked for me. The most important thing, in my opinion, is finding the type of support works for you and using it for as long as you need it. This is an awful, vulnerable time – but it is also temporary. Support is a huge part of recovery.

Kelley lives in Vancouver with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

If you want to receive more information about the support groups offered at Pacific Post Partum Support Society please contact us by telephone at 1-855-255-7999 or via email at admin@postpartum.org.

Andrea’s Story – Embracing the Darkness of Postpartum Depression

Andrea's Story on Pacific Post Partum Support Society's Blog

Self-portrait by Andrea Paterson

 

 

By Andrea Paterson

There was a morning, nearly a year after I had my son, when my body crumpled to the living room floor. I heard myself sobbing, saw myself throwing whatever stray toys were in reach, and watched myself give voice to suppressed rage and despair. It was a horrifying moment, like the inverse of birth when the inhuman sounds rising like smoke from my throat made manifest a strange animal wildness and power. In dark contrast, my voice from the floor was an instrument of utter brokenness, the sounds made by a woman who has come apart in a profound and traumatic way. Through the haze of my grief and confusion, I saw my little boy standing in the doorway, fearful and crying, backing away from his mother who had, it seemed, lost her mind.

When I was finally able to get up, exhausted and depleted, the truth came to me with grave clarity: I was suffering from severe postpartum depression. I could no longer lie to myself, no longer believe that the agony I experienced every day was a normal part of parenting, the feeling of suffocation just part of the transition to motherhood. Though perhaps I should say that these feelings of trauma upon beginning the journey into motherhood are normal, or are far more common than most people know, but they were not feelings that I needed to bear alone, or suffer silently.

In a miracle of foresight my midwives had provided me with the number for the Pacific Post Partum Support Society before I gave birth. And so I was aware that there was help out there, but had stubbornly avoided calling until I was in extreme distress. When my son was 15 months old, I began attending a support group in Richmond where, over the course of the next year, my life transformed. With the PPPSS I was inducted into a group of strong and courageous women who were willing to articulate the multi-faceted nature of their postpartum experiences. I saw myself in each and every one of them. They were mirrors for my struggle, my lack of confidence, my fear, my feeling that my life had blown apart and could never be reassembled, and for the deep existential confusion that can accompany the sometimes violent transition to motherhood. Together, with the assistance of our group facilitator, we began to tease apart the tangled strands of motherhood and learn to care for ourselves more effectively, we learned that unrestrained self-sacrifice can only lead to self-destruction. We learned how to save ourselves from drowning so that we would have the ability to care for those around us.

During my year of recovery from postpartum depression I read extensively, suddenly drawn to ancient mythology and archetypal psychology. I had a distinct feeling that what was happening to me was as old as motherhood itself, but that our modern culture had forgotten the dark side of new parenthood. When you become a mother today, you receive the message that a child should utterly fulfill you, should bring only joy, should brighten your days and give you purpose. So what happens when instead your life as a mother feels meaningless and mind numbing, when joy is elusive?

We have forgotten motherhood’s underworld. We have forgotten Kali, the Hindu mother goddess who is both creator and destroyer, a life giving spark and a raging fire that consumes everything before it. In focusing too heavily on the light aspects of motherhood, on the Virgin Mary ideal of sweet sacrifice and eternal calm, we have repressed and hidden the dark energy of Kali that is equally necessary for balance and health.

I came to embrace the darkness of my depression with the help of my fellow journey-women in our support group. I came to see the black emotions, the shadowy places, and the pain as indicative of the immensity of my transformation. Who can expect to have the essence of themselves changed so completely without any struggle? We don’t expect to have a painless birth so why do we expect the birth of our new Mother-Soul to be effortless?

It took a year of hard, soul-baring, sometimes agonizing work and self-reflection to begin to emerge on the other side of postpartum depression. I still have bad days. There are moments when I begin to worry once again that I can’t cope, but more and more often I can approach my life with a sense of agency and curiosity. I am coming to know my new Mother-Self more intimately and to know my son as well. I can now say with honesty that I am grateful for my experience because it took me further into the depths of myself than I had ever gone before and brought me into contact with new powers of empathy and compassion that I couldn’t have accessed otherwise.

The PPPSS was instrumental to my process, and the support group renewed my belief in the power of women to uphold each other and act as scaffolding for each person’s process of rebuilding. I am left in a state of awe and gratitude for the kinship I was gifted and I can always call upon the communal energy of support and understanding when I inevitably face dark moments. I no longer feel the need to hide or repress that darkness. I know how to hold the grief and the pain like the vulnerable infants they are and care for them tenderly. The darkness deserves as much respect as the light and I am glad that my own experience will allow me to pass on this challenging lesson to my son as he grows and faces his own dark nights. For it is only in the darkness that a seed can germinate and finally bloom forth into the full light of day.

Andrea is a writer, photographer, and mother to a very active and curious 2 year old. Currently an at home mom, Andrea makes time for the passionate pursuit of knitting, art, blogging, and reading as many books as her spare seconds will allow. She is deeply grateful for the assistance of the Pacific Post Partum Support Society that was provided after her son was born.

Great Expectations Fashion Show + Other Ways to Show Support

Fashion Show Postcard PPPS

By Erin Arnold

Pacific Post Partum Support Society presents an informative, interesting and hilarious Fashion Show this October. Great Expectations features beautiful, bizarre, and memorable 20th century maternity garments from the extensive private collection of fashion historian Ivan Sayers. This innovative fundraiser will help our non profit make a difference in the lives of women and families.

Our programs are funded by government contracts, community and foundation grants and individual donors. In the light of limited government/grant funding and an ever increasing demand for our services, your support is needed now more than ever.

Donations provide for our telephone support, weekly women’s support groups, partner education sessions, community trainings and resource materials.

We had a very successful Angel Donors Fundraiser Dinner held at the Shaughnessy Golf Club in May. Over $45,000 was raised in one night thanks to our hosts Mike and BG Burdick and a champion for our cause, Catherine Chow. We are grateful for this incredible gift and the team of caring community members.

How to make a donation: Phone Our Business Line at 604.255.7955 to discuss your donation.

Mail your donation to: Pacific Post Partum Support Society 200 – 7342 Winston Street Burnaby V5A 2H1

Make an online donation through CanadaHelps or Chimp.net

Become a sponsor for Great Expectations, our historical maternity fashion show, or buy tickets and attend.

Volunteer: Without our volunteers we couldn’t do the fine work we do at the Pacific Post Partum Support Society. We are always looking for volunteer support in various capacities including fundraising, research, office support and more. If you could offer your time to our Society, we would be happy to connect with you. Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@postpartum.org

Current Volunteer Positions:

·         Fundraising – join our committee we meet monthly

·         Research

·         Office support

·         Microsoft training for staff

 

We look forward to seeing you at Great Expectations!

Location: Hycroft 1489 McRae Ave, Vancouver on Oct 05, 2014 1:30 PM- 3:30PM

Tickets can be purchased online for $25 at  http://pppssfashionshow.brownpapertickets.com

 

PPPSS 2013–14 AGM

PPPSS 2013-14 AGM

Learning Self-Love: Put Yourself First

Self-Love by Pacific Post Partum Support Society

By Georgie Hutchinson

Let’s face it – when mothers, in particular new mothers, first hear the advice: “Put yourself first;” their reactions are often of confusion and disbelief.

“Put myself first? Why, that would be irresponsible!”

“Guilt” kicks in all too quickly, even within the first minutes of motherhood. This guilt is closely associated with the constant perpetuation of the motherhood myths; these myths help to create the gargantuan and unrealistic expectations that mothers consciously or unconsciously feel they must live up to, in pursuit of being a perfect mother. While putting our baby first before ourselves can feel as natural as breathing, we may be grieving the old opportunities life before baby afforded in nurturing ourselves whenever we darn well pleased. When mothers dare to utter these thoughts, some feel they should be struck dumb in retribution for daring to speak about that part of motherhood, something that is actually a part of the natural process of adjusting to having a baby.

I can relate to the thousands of mothers who call us at PPPSS. My struggle to put myself first is ongoing. I have taken a multitude of steps forward over the years towards embracing the deep place of self-acknowledgement and self-love that felt out of my grasp when I first became a mother. This, for me, is the essence of putting myself first. I am a slow learner and luckily have had some amazing support along my mothering path to help remind me about “the unknown possibilities of goodness.”

Many of the calls we have with moms are conversations that bring me back to my early days of motherhood – when I was raw, vulnerable and emotional. I would hear the advice to put myself first by ”sleeping when the baby sleeps.” I remember being told, “Don’t hold her so much it tires you out,” or “ You need to have a break.” This only made me feel inadequate, as I thought I should be able to do it all.

My babies were not good sleepers; I was an anxious mom and carried my babies all the time. Taking the time to arrange a break seemed impossible to comprehend in my foggy-brained state. I had not yet learned that what I needed was to put myself first in a KIND and GENTLE way. I did start to learn this somewhere in those baby days, but it was a slow climb to this place of lowering my expectations, taking only what I wanted from well-intentioned others, and leaving the rest without feeling I was “less than” or did not measure up. A big part of putting myself first was stepping away from the “shoulds” I created for myself and instead focusing on what would be helpful. One of those steps forward was to ask for help clearly and directly from my husband and my family and friends. I had to take gentle baby steps in acknowledging I deserved support.

PPPSS is an exceptional place where I am constantly reminded that “putting yourself first” is a different process and discovery for every person. The discovery and re-discovery of those basic elements of self love, gentleness and kindness help to light the way to experimenting with the possibilities of modelling a deep place of acceptance so that our children will have a foundation with which to navigate the world from a kinder place.

We will take steps forward in our experiment with “putting yourself first” and then we will forget – I take great comfort in the words of Rumi, the Sufi poet,

“Come, whoever you are, wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. This is not a caravan of despair. It doesn’t matter if you’ve broken your vows a thousand times, Still and yet again come!”

In other words—Begin and begin again!