It’s Okay To Say No

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mental illnessIf you’ve ever found yourself overwhelmed by commitment and struggling with anxiety as a result, this post is for you.

Dear Mamas everywhere,


It’s OKAY to say NO. 

I’m in a place right now where I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed with pretty much everything. Commitments are skyrocketing, even as the slower pace of summer creeps in. I’m stretched too thin. I feel I don’t have time for all the important people in my life, including myself.

I’m guessing you’ve probably been there. I think we all have at some point. Speaking strictly off the cuff and not as a person who actually has any science to back this up, but the inability to say no is probably a major contributing factor to anxiety for some of us.

We say yes when asked to do something, thinking the task a small one. No problem. We can totally handle it! But the small tasks add up, and suddenly we’re standing at the foot of a mountain looking toward the top and incapable of seeing the summit.

The trouble is we don’t want to let anyone down. A lot of women, moms especially, are people pleasers. We want to make people happy and keep them that way, so we sacrifice ourselves and our own mental health (and sometimes physical health too) in an effort to do that.

But that’s just not working, is it?

There comes a point where we feel our responsibilities slipping, taking bits of our peace along with them. Getting behind on a task, or worse, forgetting about it completely, just causes a ripple effect throughout the remainder of things we’ve promised leading to feelings of failure and negative self-talk.

It’s okay to make yourself a priority and to cut back on your commitments when you’re feeling lost in an ocean and barely treading water. I need you to hear me when I say that you’re not letting anyone down by refusing to take on more and more and more. (Hi. I’m speaking to myself here, too.)

Saying no is a skill we all need, and we only get better at saying no by practicing it. Reducing the number of commitments we make allows us to focus more intently on those we choose to accept.

Whether it’s refusing to join another committee at school, church, or work, or being honest and saying “no visitors” while in the hospital or after coming home with a new baby, the value in saying no is the same. Saying no is being honest with yourself and others about what you can handle and when.

Give it a shot in the coming weeks. Think about the commitments you’re accepting and remember that it’s okay to say no.

I promise. I’m learning to say no, too.

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The Connecting Threads Among Us

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Did you catch the Mother’s Day Rally last Sunday?

Since it’s Mother’s Day every day here, we wanted to be sure you were given the opportunity to read all the poignant and powerful essays that were published for this year’s Mother’s Day Rally. We are so grateful for the Warrior Moms who shared their stories with us and made the day an inspiring one for so many.

You don’t want to miss these stories, friends. They are an opportunity to behold the connecting threads that run through each individual experience with postpartum mood disorders. Each woman’s experience is unique and yet, we find a powerful “me too” when we talk about the struggle.


The Return by Cristina Spencer

Rising from the Ashes by Jen Gaskell

That July Afternoon by Robin Neidorf

Fahrenheit by Kimberly Zapata

Batman to the Rescue by Joanell Serra

A Different Breed by Lauren Hale

Happy Mother’s Day to ALL Mothers by Esther Dale

Before Kids by Susan Petcher

Growing Roots Through Mud and Metal by Sarah Bregel

Mad at You by Joyce Munro

Mother’s Day–It’s MINE by Raivon Lee

Newton’s Second Law by Kaly Sullivan


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Join Your Sisters & Raise Your Voice for Maternal Mental Health

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We’re getting closer ladies! It’s almost time for our 3rd annual Climb Out of the Darkness®. We already have more than 150 teams in 44 states and 3 countries. More than 1,000 Climbers, many of them mothers just like you who know what it’s like to be in the deep darkness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and more.

Please join us this June. We can only succeed if we work together to eliminate stigma and make sure all mothers get the information and support they need. It’s time to Climb Out!

Registration is free. You are not required to fundraise, but those of you who raise $100 or more by June 30th will receive our awesome official 2015 Climb Out tee. Here’s what it looks like:

climb tee 2015

You’re going to want to be wearing that t-shirt, I’m pretty sure. I know I’ll be wearing mine proudly!! (Note: those who have joined the Climb early and already raised $100 by May 15 will receive their shirt to wear at the Climb. Otherwise, your shirt will be sent in August.)

To find a Climb in your area and learn how to register, click here.

To get answers to frequently asked questions about the Climb, click here.

Can’t wait to Climb with you!

~ Katherine, CEO & Founder, Postpartum Progress

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Pregnancy Anxiety and Family History of Miscarriage

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Pregnant BellyFirst-time mothers can find many things to be anxious about when they become pregnant. What will pregnancy be like? Will my baby be healthy? Did I start taking my prenatal vitamins early enough? Am I really ready for this? But some women may have an additional fear that seems more relevant than it might to other pregnant women: Will I be able to stay pregnant, knowing that my mom had a history of miscarriage?

This anxiety was something that I had to deal with when I discovered I was pregnant with my son shortly after beginning infertility testing. After a year of trying to conceive, I had been getting rather depressed about failing each month, and the beginning of that year of trying may or may not have started with a miscarriage I was too afraid to see my doctor about. I know now that that was a bad decision, not telling my OB/GYN about the three weeks of heavy bleeding that had forced me to reschedule my initial annual exam where I’d intended to ask for a prenatal vitamin prescription, but I didn’t bring it up because I didn’t want to know for sure. My mom had suffered three miscarriages when I was a kid – the reason why there ended up being eight years between the births of my two younger brothers – and I was trying to shield myself from the emotional aftermath of knowing for sure whether it was a miscarriage or just an exceptionally heavy period. My periods were awful and unpredictable when I went off the Pill. I still have plausible deniability.

So there I was with a positive pregnancy test around Christmastime 2004, overjoyed that I was finally pregnant, but haunted by the shadow of a possible miscarriage. Some of these things are genetic. Some are due to environmental factors. Some don’t seem to have any reason whatsoever. Were those genes passed on to me?

These fears led to a tearful call to my OB/GYN just after New Year’s. I was spotting. They tried to reassure me over the phone as they set up the appointment for me to come in. Spotting can happen in a normal pregnancy. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong. But predisposed as I was to anxiety, this was no consolation. I saw the CNM I liked at my OB/GYN’s office for a pelvic exam and a urine test. The blood was brown, though, old blood, and my pregnancy test was positive. My cervix was inflamed, though, so they sent me to the local women’s hospital for an internal ultrasound because they didn’t have any ultrasound techs in the office. I was only five weeks along, so all they could see what the egg sac and yolk sac, which was good enough for them to reassure me my pregnancy was fine. Only if I started seeing red blood along with cramping should I worry and give them a call.

I didn’t have to make another call like that, but my anxiety didn’t go away.

My inflamed cervix ended up needing to be treated, and I was prescribed MetroGel for it. MetroGel is considered Category B for pregnancy risk, but I was still in my first trimester, and I was terrified that something bad would happen if I introduced this foreign substance so close to where my baby was developing at such a crucial period. I ended up waiting until the first day of my second trimester to actually use the MetroGel. That decision in itself was risky, as an untreated infection can also potentially harm a developing fetus, but it was what I considered the safest route at the time.

Thankfully, my anxiety levels decreased appreciably once I reached 24 weeks. That was the magic number in my head where I felt I could stop worrying about a miscarriage, because about 50% of babies born prematurely at that fetal age survive. And with each passing day, I knew my son’s chances of surviving and being born relatively healthy were just getting better and better.

Unfortunately, my anxiety came back with a vengeance after my son was born, alongside my undiagnosed postpartum depression. If I’d known then what I know now, 10 years later, I would have talked to my doctor. I would have tried to get help. I know I would have avoided taken any medication during my first trimester, but I might have considered some of the lowest-risk medications during my second and third trimesters according to the best available information at the time. I certainly wouldn’t have waited until my son was three before finally seeking treatment from a psychiatrist.

I know I couldn’t have stopped worrying about losing my son, but I could have had someone to talk to about it if I’d looked into therapy. But that’s why I think Postpartum Progress is so important – so people like me can encourage other women to get the support we never had.

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