I’m Not Sorry {Guest Post by Climb Out Leader Jessica LaBonte}

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As I was sitting in a hospital room with my very pregnant, sick and dehydrated sister-in-law, I realized I had a bunch of awesome Postpartum Progress Hug Cards in my purse. So, while the nurse was changing out her fluids, I announced I was “going to work.” When I walked back into the room, the nurse began asking me about my maternal mental health advocacy. She told me how she and another nurse on the floor always made sure to discuss perinatal mood and anxiety disorders with their new mommies. She then told me how sorry she was that I had to go through what I did.

And for the first time in three years, my response changed to that statement. It wasn’t the simple “oh, thank you”. It was “Thank you…I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.” I reflected on that statement for a few days. Yes, postpartum anxiety and depression are horrid, no matter what side of the spectrum you fall on. There is nothing fun about it. Nothing enjoyable. It’s not something you run and brag to your friends about.

But, something had changed inside of me that I hadn’t realized. I was no longer searching for answers. Trying to figure out what in the world had happened to cause all of this. Why I was so screwed up in the head, that I would probably be on some form of medication for only God knows how long.

I was no longer dwelling on the fact that yes, I suffered from postpartum anxiety and depression. Yes, I still suffer from anxiety and depression even though I’m pretty far out of the postpartum stage. Yes, I had intrusive thoughts. Yes, I did not want the responsibility of having a child. Yes, I lost precious time with my child because I wasn’t “present.” Yes, I suffered from near lunacy when faced with changes. Yes, to so many things.

Am I sorry? No.

No, I’m not sorry. Not anymore.

I realized that I had finally taken my negative experience and turned it into something positive. Something truly beneficial to myself and others. I hadn’t gotten over it, but I had moved from it. No longer letting it keep from being the parent and the person I was meant to be.

And although none of my questions have truly been answered, I no longer search for them. But, in my searching I found something else. Someone else. Multiple someone else’s. I found Warrior Moms. They have all been searching for the holy grail of postpartum disorders. Trying to find the same answers I have been looking for. Some, much longer than me. Others, just starting. But, we all have the same common goal. To spread awareness, fight the stigma and make sure no one is left alone in the dark.

With these women, and their help and in the safety of their virtual arms, I have found what I would consider my closure. My closure to a relationship with guilt, anger, frustration and sadness. I can move forward. Start a new relationship with pride, empowerment, understanding and happiness. I can take what I have learned and help others. I can be part of a movement that will change the face of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Am I sorry? No. Never again.


KCP_5945aJessica is a stay at home mom and an advocate of maternal mental health. After suffering from postpartum anxiety and depression after her son was born, she has made it her ambition in life to help as many mothers as she can. She volunteers her time to Postpartum Progress and has been the Climb leader in Amarillo, Texas for two years.


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Finding Your Circle

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Image via Pixabay

During the Warrior Mom Conference last week in Boston, we did an exercise where the brilliant Kate Kripke, LCSW, asked us to draw a target. In the bullseye, we were to write the people that we could call that would be there in an instant, whether by phone, physical presence, or text. In the next circle, we were supposed to write the people that would help out as well, maybe not immediately, but would be there to make us a meal, to invite us out, to babysit, or lend an ear. In the outer circle were people that were around, maybe not as close or present, but still important.

Anyone in your life that doesn’t fall into one of those categories? Their opinions don’t matter. Your life is yours to live and the people who are allowed in your circle are there for a reason. Think of it as reading the comments on a news story or blog post: don’t let the harsh words of people who don’t deserve a place in your life bring you down. If you need to let someone toxic or unsupportive go, then do it.

During this exercise, the room filled with tears. Some people were sad because their circles were small, and they were surrounded by other women who felt isolated by motherhood. Those women met each others’ eyes across the room and smiled because they had found their people. Others cried because they realized the enormity of their village and how well they were taken care of and loved, and what an absolute honor and privilege that was.

So, back to the people in your three circles. Treasure them, Love them. THANK them. Give them hugs, make them dinners, hold their crying babies when their turn comes and they just need a few minutes to shower.

A hard lesson I learned that weekend was that I mattered. I have worth, even if I don’t believe or see it. The people who continue to show up in my life show up because I am worth it. That’s a really hard thing to accept for people like me, but slowly, I hope to do so.

Find the people who matter to you, whether it’s two, or two hundred. Make sure they make you happy, keep you fulfilled, and lead you to your best self, no matter how far along you are in your recovery. It really does take a village, and you are worthy of living in it.


Kate Kripke is the founder of the Postpartum Wellness Center of Boulder, and one of the empowering speakers at the 2015 Warrior Mom Conference. 

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You Are Never Alone

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Lesley after having her second daughter

When I first became depressed and anxious after my oldest daughter was born four years ago, I kept it bottled up inside – but its devastating effects on me were all too visible anyway. I wasn’t eating, couldn’t sleep, was mute and crying at the smallest instigation – and I thought I was all alone. Forever.

The first time I felt not alone, despite having been surrounded by family since my daughter was born, was a few weeks in when my husband said, “I think you need to see someone.” I nodded silently with tears streaming down my cheeks as I rocked in our glider while feeding Rebecca, one of the many tasks I apathetically completed during that time. I suddenly felt like perhaps he understood that something going on inside my brain was not right, and felt it start to shift the slightest bit.

Finding my therapist was the next step out of the lonely dark. During our first phone conversation, she made a point to let me know that nothing I had said to her was something she hadn’t heard before. That immediately had an impact – I wasn’t the first person to not be flooded with love for their baby? I wasn’t the first person to not want to take care of their baby? I wasn’t the first person to cry at and feel paralyzed by every parenting decision I had to make? Yet another small mental shift occurred.

After she diagnosed me and while I waited for my medicine to kick in, I found Postpartum Progress. The patient forum. The blog. The symptom list that sounded exactly like what I was experiencing. And while still alone in my apartment, I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. These moms were putting words to the exact feelings in my heart and thoughts in my head, and even more importantly? They were better. They were Warrior Moms, and now I was one too, fighting the battle against my own maternal mental health. That was the biggest shift of all. Until now.

This past weekend, I met more than 100 of these moms in Boston at the Warrior Mom Conference. I hugged them in real life. I talked with women who had the same symptoms I did, some who suffered more devastating setbacks than me, and some who recovered more quickly than I am. Each conversation that we had, at a table during a meal or just in the hallway in passing was loaded with love, light and understanding. There was so much healing going on in the St. Botolph Club that there was no room for judgement – not that any of us is in the position to judge another anyway.

Women nodded with each other as they divulged memories and cried. Tissue boxes were passed up and down rows of seats and emptied quickly. Hugs were handed out freely. The ripple effects of cathartic panel discussions, a group therapy session and small support groups could be felt constantly – and amid the sniffles and blowing of – ahem – Warrior Snot (to be trademarked soon), laughter also prevailed. Smiles were present almost constantly, as personal burdens were shed and women emerged lighter, happier and more whole. The power of this support was undeniable.

The closed Facebook group for Warrior Mom Conference attendees has been a special place since it was created. Attendees chimed in to share excitement, sign up for different parts of the Conference, transfer tickets as needed and more for months. As a virtual pre-conference icebreaker, many of us created introduction videos telling our stories, allowing us to put voices to each others’ profile pictures. And in the days leading up to the event, the group was a buzzing hive of activity where we shared anxiety, excitement, memes and fashion tips. I wasn’t sure what would happen to the Facebook group after the Conference, but – it has only gotten busier. The healing that began last weekend is continuing as we speak, through the power of support.

None of us are alone – a fact we knew as soon as we found Postpartum Progress, and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt now. So despite how lonely any person suffering may feel, know that there is an entire family of Warrior Moms armed with love, light and understanding, just waiting to welcome you – to help you through this tunnel and out the other side – and to support you the entire way. As a Warrior Mom, let me make it abundantly clear – you are NEVER alone.

Lesley & family


Lesley NeadelLesley Neadel is a blogger and freelance writer living in Hoboken, NJ. A mother of Rebecca, 4 ½, and Lila, 10 months, her mission is to give women the most real sense of what pregnancy and motherhood are like – the good, the bad, and the downright nasty. She has written about her struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety, how she’s changed since meeting her husband, her adventures in attempting to breastfeed and how she feels about her babies growing up (HOORAY!). Her raw, honest and often humorous writing has been featured on Yahoo! Parenting, GoodHousekeeping.com, Redbook.com, and MommyPlayZone.com. She blogs at www.RealLifeRealLaughter.com.

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The Power of the Warrior Mom Community

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Our small but might COTD!

Our small but mighty COTD!

On our way down, at the Climb Out of the Darkness, a miracle happened: I forgave myself for my prenatal anxiety. The power of the Warrior Mom community, right there in person, surprised me; I’m used to participating in our online community. As we walked, the other moms compared experiences, and each noted that she could mark the darkest time as the weeks she could hardly remember. For one Warrior Mom, pregnancy was a blur of anxiety, and she felt better “the minute she gave birth.” For another, pregnancy was a dream, but anxiety and depression had obliterated her memory of her baby’s first months. Then, a thoughtful pause allowed me to realize that there was a shadow over my memory, too. Next came a wave of understanding, as I forgave myself for taking so few pictures of my giant belly, never finishing that expensive and involved knitting project, and everything I can’t recall.

I remember few moments from my third trimester of pregnancy, and I need help from my husband to put those moments in any sort of chronological narrative. I have struggled with anxiety all my life, and it has always been at its worst during times of anticipation. In other words, I hate waiting. Waiting for my grades in junior and senior high, as well as college, gave me panic, anxiety, stomach aches, even bouts of depression. I had a fantastic pregnancy, right up until the HypnoBirthing course ended, the major baby growth milestones slowed, and the real waiting began. I needed to remain on my anxiety and depression meds while I was pregnant, so I wasn’t just waiting to meet my baby. I was waiting for his birth to reveal whether or not he had experienced “defects” that wouldn’t show up on any prenatal testing. I was waiting to find out whether I would experience the worst-case postpartum mental health crises that I could not stop imagining. I knew that I had may risk factors, but I had finished the work of educating myself and my loved ones. I had to “wait and see,” a phrase I loathe. Did I mention that I hate waiting?

As we completed our small but mighty Climb Out of the Darkness, swapping stories with ease and without judgment, moments of silent understanding reached the deep reservoir of guilt I had held onto for almost three years. These amazing, strong Warriors inspired me, of course, but they also allowed me to see myself from an outside perspective. Did I not deserve the kindness, empathy, and understanding that I felt for them? Of course I did! I deserved their empathy, too. I soaked it in. It may have rained that day, but I let some warmth and light into a cold, dark place inside that I had hidden away.

I am writing to you from the train, on my wait to Boston for the Warrior Mom Conference, and it just so happens that I have this chance, at this time, to reflect on the power of being together as survivors. Leaving my house, choosing what I will wear, anticipating having to talk to people in person at a hotel or a conference–these things trigger huge anxiety for me. But I know that I will find so much healing in this community. This time, excitement outweighs anxiety as I anticipate soaking up the power of all these Warrior Moms, together, in one place.

Note: if you are not coming to Boston, check our the Warrior Mom Conference Facebook page for updates on how you can still participate, follow our live tweets at #WarriorMomCon, look out for a giveaway post, and get together with a friend! Coincidentally, I lucked out and booked myself on the same train that Lauren Hale is riding–community can even find you, sometimes!

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