Warrior Mom Conference Dinner Recap

Share Button

On the first night of the Warrior Mom Conference, the attendees were treated to a beautiful candlelit dinner at the St. Botolph Club in Boston. After a cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres and wine, the women drew seat assignments at random, allowing them to enjoy the company of those that they may not have gotten to meet during the first conference session that day. The tables were lined with candles and vases filled with red roses. Sprinkled among the glittering glass were red and pink rose petals.

After brief toasts from Susan Petcher and Katherine Stone, the mic was handed to Deborah Rimmler, the chairwoman of the Postpartum Progress board, and the mind behind Climb Out of the Darkness. Her two-part speech was so beautiful that the only way to do it justice was to reproduce it here, in her exact words. 

11754453_10200748759798647_5403172059499486083_o“As survivors of maternal mental illness, we all staked our claim on motherhood with the special passion of one who had to fight for this right.  Not with the birth of our beloved babies, but with passion and hard work and sacrifice did we become true mothers….Able to be present to the love and joy of being a parent without the deep fog of depression or paralyzing anxiety or heart-stopping intrusive thoughts or mind altering psychosis. 

When I think of us mothers, better now or on the path to healing—through a myriad of professional help, medication and other alternative therapies—I always harken back to a red rose.  For me, it is a symbol of the blood and thorns from which the beauty of motherhood emerged for those who suffered from maternal mental illness.

Yet even now, many years after my intrusive thoughts have lost their hold on me and are just a distant memory, I am always—always—surprised by the little moments when my two sons give me their unbridled love.  The six-year-old looking me in the eye and telling me how much he loves me or my four-year-old wanting endless goodbye snuggles before I leave in the morning or running to the door when I get home.  Really, I think….they actually love me? After all we’ve been through?  I know in my head that I’m a good mother and that my children are not suffering from my suffering (or if they are…we can deal with it).  But I have to work constantly on getting my heart and soul to believe that the moments of true joy and connection to my family are real.   Here…the red rose is just too tough.

So I’ve started to picture a pink rose, like the petals here, of softness and compassion mixed in with the red.  A simpler and lighter and less complicated symbol of what I always dreamed motherhood could be.  The red rose got me to where I am today and will always be my center, but I want to be open to embracing that I have survived this terrible ordeal and that motherhood going forward can be ordinary.  No surprise that my kids love me.  And no surprise that they are naughty little devils more often than not.

I wonder if others here have the same hard time relaxing into the simple pleasure and joy of being a mother….When they randomly present themselves?  I mean, you gotta take it where you can.  Honestly, I just can’t spend the next 50 years having this moment over and over.

So I propose a toast, for myself, and hope that it resonates with you all as well:

To mothers who fought like a red rose to survive unfathomable darkness to be the true strength and beauty of their families

To mothers who can also live moments without the shadow of these struggles … showered in pink rose petals, bubbly like this champagne, and grounded in the playful love and joy of family.” 

1898634_10200748760878674_4051142737284535131_o

Deborah went on to discuss the idea she had about rewriting the famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Poem, Paul Revere’s Ride, to tie in the host city’s history. She confided later that she had no idea if it would go over well, but after you read it, I’m sure you’ll agree with the attendees that she deserved the standing ovation she received.

Listen my mamas and you shall hear

Of the Warrior Mom’s message of cheer

On the 11th of July, Twenty-Fifteen

Your compatriots’ support rings supreme

She whispers; when you struggle alone in the night

Light your candle, my dear, as a signal light

Depression, anxiety, psychosis, OCD, and I on the opposite shore shall be

Ready to ride and spread the alarm

Through every internet village and farm

For the Warrior Moms to be up and to arm

Then the mothers assembled said goodbye to their friends

Wishing this gathering would not have to end

Just as the moon rose over the bay

They travel home to their families where their moorings do lay

Remembering always this vision of candles alight

Knowing they will never be alone in this fight

So through the night rides the Warrior Mom Spirit

And so through the night goes her cry of alarm

To every internet village and farm

A cry of defiance, and not borne of fear

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door

And words that shall echo forevermore

For borne on the night-wind, at times roughly blown

She chants forever to remind us–you are never alone.

When the toasts were finished, the attendees were treated to a delicious meal and fabulous dessert. The love and happiness in the building were palpable, tears were shed, and friendships were formed. The laughter drove out the darkness for those still suffering, even for just a few moments. To make that feeling last, each attendee was given her own commemorative votive holder in which to burn a candle when she found herself in need of the light she felt that night. Everyone left refreshed and ready to greet the second day of the conference, together.

Special thanks to Deborah Rimmler for sharing her toasts and talents in order for me to share here.

Share Button

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

Share Button

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.

 

Share Button

You Are Never Alone

Share Button

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.

Share Button

Calling All Homestead Warriors – A Giveaway!

Share Button

Helloooooo, lovely ladies!

We haven’t forgotten you! Hopefully, by now, some of you who signed up for postcard love from the Warrior Mom Conference have received notes of hope, tinged with a bit of Boston magic, from our attendees. I want you to know that all the attendees were so thrilled to have the postcards to send to you and several attendees offered to fill out multiple cards. The love for all of us, there or not, was overflowing.

While we were together in Boston, there was a lot of discussion about those who couldn’t join us. You were there, Homestead Warriors. We felt you. Your presence was felt in everything we did this past weekend at the first ever patient centered maternal mental health conference.

And now, it’s YOUR TURN, Homestead Warriors.

Today, we’re announcing a giveaway just for you. That’s right – if you were unable to join us in Boston and live in the US or Canada, you are eligible.

All you have to do is comment below with what you’re going to do just for you today. That’s right – just give us a peek into your self-care and BOOM. You’re entered.

Winners will be announced on July 24th at 12:00N ET.

Oh, what are you entering to win, you ask?

These lovely prizes:

HSW Giveaway 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HSW Giveaway 2

 

 

 

 

HSW Giveaway 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, without any further ado, let us know what you’re doing in the self-care realm!

Winners will be notified by email so make sure you leave us that information.

Good luck, dear Homestead Warriors!

Share Button