A Whole Lotta Warrior Moms Say Thank You, Katherine, for 10 AMAZING Years

Share Button

Katherine ComputerI dove headfirst into blogging about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders because of Karen Kleiman.

But I grew into an online advocate because of Katherine Stone. She embraced me as I fumbled through the early days of running a blog, a website for struggling women, and my third pregnancy after two terrifying episodes of Postpartum OCD (which, incidentally, is what Katherine also struggled with during her experience with a PMAD).

If I had a question about something online, I turned to Katherine. She always got back to me and sometimes prodded me to do more and be more involved. More importantly, she always treated me as if I were equal to her, this amazing woman who had no fear about discussing the nitty gritty about PMAD’s online.

Postpartum Support International dragged me onto FB but where I flourished was on Twitter. I noticed, back in the early days of Twitter, that people were having these “parties” for certain products. I thought to myself, why can’t we do that for PPD? I floated the idea by Katherine and a couple other bloggers (Amber and Ivy). They were absolutely on board and Katherine whole-heartedly supported the beginning of #PPDChat.

#PPDChat is now the go-to hashtag for PMAD support on FB. There’s a closed FB group with over 350 members. I may have started it, but it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the experience, support, and genuine caring flowing from Katherine in my early online days.

She inspires more than simple advocacy (although few of us would dare call it simple – it is EXHAUSTING but worthy), she saves lives, she kicks stigma in the ass repeatedly, and genuinely cares about the people who reach out to her.

I don’t think she has any idea how many lives she has changed. How many advocates now exist because of her decision to live her life out loud. To stand up, shouting until she is heard, when the world expects us to sit down and be quiet. The passion in her heart far exceeds capacity and overflows abundantly to those around her.

To her family, a sincere and heartfelt thank you as well for sharing the woman of your lives with us. For without your support, all of us would not be the women we are today. I would be remiss to not acknowledge your important role in Katherine’s work.

Be proud – your wife, your mother, your daughter – she saves lives.

Below are several blog posts, written by women who celebrate how Katherine has affected their lives. To read them, you will need a box of Kleenex. These are women from all walks of life, women who found themselves covered in the dark mud of a PMAD but were yanked out of it by Katherine or found Katherine after they found their way out and now reach down behind them along with Katherine to rescue others who find themselves trapped in the mud hole of a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder. (Because let’s face it, no one wants to go muddin’ in a PMAD!)

Katherine, you’re changing the world with every breath you take, every stroke of the keyboard, every post, every outreach, every encounter, every awkward step outside of your comfort zone. You are loved, your work has wrapped the world over and made it a brighter place. We are always climbing out of the darkness with you and we will never stop.

Keep on keepin’ on, lady.

You’re not alone, and neither are we.

 

PP Blogathon Button

Jenny @ Tranquilamama: My Lifeline Through PPD & PPA

Robin @ Farewell Stranger: Postpartum Progress: 10 Years of Magic

Jennifer @ Bipolar Mom Life: The Relief In Finding Postpartum Progress

Danielle @ Velveteen Mama: My Postpartum Progress

Charity @ Giggles & Grimaces: Hope In A Computer

Jenny @ Jenny Kavensky’s Blog: It Takes a Village

Erin @ Erin Margolin: Happy Tenth Anniversary, Postpartum Progress

Morra Aarons-Mele @ Women & Work: In Celebration of Katherine Stone and 10 years of Postpartum Progress

Tina Duepner @ The Duepners: Cheers to 10 Years

Esther @ Journey Through PPD: Happy 10th Anniversary To Postpartum Progress

Ravion Lee @ Vain Mommy: Postpartum Progress Turns 10: The Woman Behind The Change

Kristina @ Sew Curly: Postpartum Progress Is 10

Rita Arens @ Surrender Dorothy: In Celebration of Katherine Stone

Katie Sluiter @ Sluiter Nation: I Am Not Alone and Neither are You

Cristi Comes @ Motherhood Unadorned: Postpartum Progress: Kicking Ass for 10 Years!

Tabatha @ Tabulous: A Love Letter To The Woman Who Saved My Life

Susan @ Learned Happiness: First and Last: Happy Anniversary, Postpartum Progress!

Deborah Forhan Rimmler via My Postpartum Voice: Guest Post – On Meeting An Angel

Beth @ Beth Bone: Thank You Just Doesn’t Seem Enough

Andrea @ Good Girl Gone Redneck: Happy 10th Anniversary, Postpartum Progress

Julia Roberts (not THAT one, the other one!) via Postpartum Progress: The Man Behind the Woman Behind Postpartum Progress

Jess @ Just Jess In the ATX (note – this was not written for the anniversary specifically but was shared to the FB page for the blogathon to show the impact Katherine had on Jess’ life and recovery, therefore, it’s shared here): Picture Perfect 

Share Button

Working on Recovery From PPD In the Face of Life’s Challenges

Share Button

Today, Warrior Mom Jamelle is bravely sharing her story with us and how realizing she needed help has helped her begin to recover. Please send some love her way in the comments. 

me_jameson_park
My son was born April 2012. I’d had a slightly difficult pregnancy–24/7 morning sickness for the first five months and an outbreak of PUPPP in the last couple of months, with a dash of bad acid reflux in between. My labor was fortunately pretty easy and quick and, after a night in the hospital, we were home with our son.

Everything was ok, more or less, at first. I had difficulty breastfeeding. No one at the hospital taught me how and as I worked during my pregnancy, I didn’t have time to seek out assistance. I remember crying those first few days at home because I felt like I was failing my son. Watching videos from youtube helped me understand what I needed to do. I felt more confident about breastfeeding although towards the middle/end of my time doing it (I did it for 6 months) I began to feel resentful and wanted my body back.

It wasn’t until my parents left and my husband went back to work that I started having suicidal thoughts. I had been warned about PPD from a girlfriend who had given birth the year before, but for some reason I couldn’t equate how I was feeling and what I was thinking to having PPD. Outwardly I’m sure I just looked and acted like a typical new mom: frazzled, sleep deprived, confused. In fact I’m sure that’s how  most people saw me because no one expressed concern for how I was doing. Everyone’s so concerned about the baby and mom just gets pushed to the side. While my husband was gone, I would dwell on thoughts of him coming home to me and our son, dead on the bed. Sometimes I would just think about him finding me dead, with our son crying on the bed next to me.

After 3 months I went back to work, which helped a little. I was interacting with other adults and doing something with my day other than feeding, changing diapers, and napping. But work added other stressors, causing my depression to manifest in other ways. I became short with people, including my husband. Little things began to irritate me and cause me to become irrationally angry. I had a blow up in Dec 2012 that made me realize something was wrong with me and had been wrong with me since my son was born. It took me another month to tell my husband how I was feeling–my sweet, wonderful, patient husband, who made the call to our insurance for me so I could get help.

I can remember feeling such relief after talking to the intake counselor and explaining why I needed help. I had no idea how heavy a burden I was carrying until I had to detail out the thoughts and feelings I was having. They assigned a counselor and a doctor to me; after they assessed me I was put on anti-depressants and something else to help me sleep at night. The meds helped so much. I was feeling more like my normal self and I wasn’t having awful thoughts. I ended up seeing the counselor only twice–she and I didn’t really mesh and I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere with her. Shortly after that I went off my meds (for a very dumb reason that I don’t even want to get in to) and I thought I was going to be fine. Then my husband lost his job and we lost our house not too long after that. The stress of trying to keep my family financially afloat has triggered my depression. Luckily I can recognize the signs now.

I’ve only recently started going back to therapy. I found a counselor I really like and I’ll be going back on meds soon. I wish I hadn’t stopped in the first place but you never know where life takes you. I’m going to be much better about it this time around. This has been really hard to write, but I’m glad I did and thank you so much for listening.

Share Button

When Everything Is Unexpected: From Natural Birth Plan to C-Section

Share Button

RaivonToday I’m happy to welcome Raivon Lee from Climb Out Team Atlanta to the Warrior Mom community and share her story with you. Raivon wanted a natural birth at home, but the stress of a breech baby and C-section were the start of her experience with postpartum depression and anxiety.

Hi, my name is Raivon and I’m a 28-year-old mom of a sweet 15-month-old boy.

Back in April of 2012 when I found out I was pregnant, I was literally shocked! I couldn’t even say the words to my husband so I typed out the words “I am pregnant” on the notepad on my phone during church and showed it to him. I eventually got used to the idea of being a mommy and I was very excited. I knew I wanted a natural water birth at home and submerged myself in everything about natural birth. Books, classes, forums, groups, etc. A few weeks into my pregnancy the morning sickness hit. It was rough but I was sure it would be over by the 2nd trimester. After all that’s what EVERYONE told me.

Unfortunately for me I had morning sickness and took medication for it until the day Ari was born. My idea of an awesome, healthy pregnancy, and long jogs through the park were replaced with the reality of me struggling to make it off the sofa just to brush my teeth.

During the last month of my pregnancy, I went in for an ultrasound to make sure that everything was a go and safe for my home birth. We found out then that Ari was breech. This devastated me. I did NOT want to give birth in the hospital. Being a nurse made me scared of  hospitals (crazy, I know), and it just wasn’t in my plan. My midwife and back-up OB thought I could possibly still give birth vaginally depending on the type of breech positioning of the baby at the time I went into labor, but a home birth was out of the question.

My husband and I did everything we could to get the baby to turn. Chiropractic adjustments, moxibustion, inversions on the ironing board, cold packs, flash lights and last but not least … external extroversion. This was the most painful experience I think I’ve ever had. Imagine two grown men trying to turn a baby by pushing and twisting your stomach.

We did all of this and by the time my water broke, Ari was still breech.

I was admitted to the hospital and a few hours later after crazy painful contractions, I had a C-section and my sweet baby boy was born. I was actually ok with the c-section and my birth experience, even though it was the complete opposite of what we wanted.

Fast forward a week. I was home crying in pain. No one told me that breastfeeding and engorgement would be so very painful. The scabs on my nipples made it impossible to nurse, and I was so engorged that even when I tried to nurse Ari could not latch on. The thought of possibly having to give Ari formula sent me over the edge. I felt that everything else I wanted for my pregnancy and birth had been taken away from me and breastfeeding was the only thing I was doing right. It was rough but we got through it and eventually breastfeeding got easier.

But still…

I was not sleeping, but I was exhausted. I wasn’t eating and I was crying daily, and I NEVER cry. I would just be sitting and tears would begin flowing from my eyes uncontrollably. I would look at picture of Ari and cry. I thought maybe it was just baby blues and that it was normal. It would go away. I was afraid for my husband to go to work. I didn’t want to be left alone, yet when he was home I didn’t want him to take care of or help with Ari. I HAD to be the one to care for him. My husband and I had many arguments about me letting him help. He wanted to help desperately but the thought of him helping caused me great anxiety. Yes, I was exhausted and I wanted to sleep but I couldn’t let even my husband help.

After four months of this I decided I needed help. My husband talked to my midwife (our home birth midwife) and she gave me a list of natural supplements to try. I did and I felt a little better, like the edge was taken off, but it didn’t last long. I eventually went into my OBs practice and the midwife there prescribed an antidepressant. I started it immediately and honesty I felt worse. I felt like I was outside of myself. I’m sure I was hearing things as well. After two days I stopped taking it. And I suffered three more long months.

During those months, I spent the day at home alone with Ari, not eating, not showering and crying. I was so tired (Ari wasn’t the best sleeper). I thought to myself, “If I die I could finally get some sleep.” The thought of death was so peaceful to me. I was on forums constantly trying to figure out what was wrong with my baby -why wasn’t he sleeping? What was wrong with me? What was I doing wrong? I would try to talk to others about how I was feeling but I feel like they down played the pain I was in.

My husband would come home and thanks to him I would eat. Then I would go into a dark room and try to sleep with Ari (because he couldn’t sleep or stay asleep on his own) I’d be in that room for 12 hours. This this was my life.

One night while crying, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had the prescription somewhere, and I was going to give them another try. I decided to start with half of the dose.

I am so happy and blessed to be able to say that taking those meds saved me! I was able to find a PPD support group that was an awesome help. Knowing that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t overreacting, and that postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are very real and serious things, made me feel good, but honestly a little sad too. I needed to know that it was real and serious, and not just in my head. I think overall I was trying to downplay my issues.

Today I’m feeling great! I feel like Raivon again, maybe better. I often think of what it will be like to stop taking my meds. Sometimes I feel like a fraud, like the person I am now isn’t really me. But until then I’m going to try to enjoy each and every day I’ve been given.

Raivon

Share Button

Warrior Moms Book Club Review: Marie Osmond’s “Behind The Smile”

Share Button

Behind the SmileThe following is a conversation between several members of the Warrior Moms Book Club after reading “Behind the Smile,” the latest in our book club’s maternal mental health-related reads.  This book was authored by Marie Osmond. You may visit the author at http://marieosmond.com.

AKP: On pages 41 and 42 Marie discusses “not having been a stranger to depression in connection with her children” as she later realized by talking with a panel of experts on Oprah that what she had experienced was actually post-adoption depression.

Had you had any depression or anxiety with prior adoption or births that you didn’t realize was a form of PPD before you had the PPD experience that changed things or that was actually diagnosed or treated?

If so, did having that experience help you to more quickly realize it in the future or did it make it more difficult to detect?
If not, did having PPD after already having adopted or birthed at least one child and not having suffered PPD that time make it more difficult to detect? (We know that some moms do not suffer perinatal mood and anxiety disorders with first births but go on to suffer with later children.)

APR:  I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety with my first child, so I have not had this experience. I am hoping to birth a child and not suffer with this with my second (due any day now).

AKP: Speaking of giving birth, on p. 86 Osmond laments that “our current system of discharging a mother so soon after giving birth is a hazard. It may save money overall, but I have to question what the cost is to a woman’s well-being and the welfare of her infant. They are sending home an exhausted, hormonally confused, physically stressed woman with a tiny, fragile infant that needs 24 hour care. I think that alone is enough to cause depression in anyone.”
What are your thoughts about her statement and how do you think that we could best care for women in the immediate postpartum period in order to better prepare them for a healthy long-term postpartum experience mentally and physically?

SBC: I agree with Osmond’s statement. I think new mothers need community after having a child. We need friends, family members, co-workers, church members if we belong to a church, to help. So many people want to come and “hold the baby” right after birth, but it could be so helpful if these visitors also ran the dishwasher, made a meal or something. I needed this type of help and I asked for it. It was hard to ask for help, but I later realized my friends and family were so happy to help. Also, my health insurance company had something called Better Beginnings. Because I enrolled in this program, I had a free home visit with a lactation specialist, they sent me a good book and someone from the program called me just to see how I was (and they didn’t know I was having PPD). I felt pretty fortunate for this extra help.

SRK: I feel differently; I felt like the faster I could get out of the hospital the better. Maybe that was because I felt neither my husband nor I could rest comfortably in the hospital. My symptoms didn’t really start until our son was around 3 to 4 months old, so I don’t believe that being in the hospital any longer would have benefited me more. I definitely am a homebody through and through and enjoy having all the comforts of home available.

AJK: I agree.  The only benefit in my opinion to staying in the hospital longer would be IF it truly allowed the mother to rest. It wasn’t restful to me, or many others, to be there though. When/where the help and support is needed is afterwards, at home.

AKP: I wonder if there could be a middle ground on this. The hospital was awful for me, too, and my severe anxiety began there, both times — the lights, constant interruptions, lack of fresh air and access to the outside world. I watched a special on a particularly expensive Asian childbirth and postpartum care center for the wealthy about a year ago. Moms can stay up to two months postpartum and be cared for in the comfort of a medically equipped luxury hotel with round the clock care for themselves and their babies. But instead of the sterile hospital environment and being poked and prodded and fed awful food, they are pampered and nursed back to a place of recovery from birth while they are helped or taught how to care for their baby, which also boosts their confidence. If only this type of experience could be more standard, I do believe women would go into the postpartum period better equipped for a healthy experience. Nothing will fully prevent PPD, but having a full tool-box and being primed certainly would make it much less challenging to navigate and recover from.

LL: I also had a bad experience in the hospital. I was there for five days due to a failed induction and C-section and I never slept more than 45 minutes at a time. It was a teaching hospital so people were constantly in and out. Babies “roomed in” and when I asked them to take my baby for a few hours so I could sleep, they brought him back to me within thirty minutes. In addition, the nurses all gave conflicting advice to me about breastfeeding — every shift change someone would come in to “re-educate” me because apparently the nurse who had been there before had taught it to me incorrectly. While it was nerve-wracking to go home and not know how I was going to keep this child alive, I think the hospital (at least the one I was in) was not a helpful place to be. I am not going back to that hospital for my next birth, so maybe I will find a place that is more nurturing and would be beneficial like Marie states.

BR: I remember shortly after returning home from the hospital, wishing I was back there. I had a mixed experience during my hospital stay (which was just shy of 48 hours). It was scary, as my daughter had to go through some tests that we weren’t expecting. But I felt secure being surrounded by the medical staff, who coached us through learning those early tasks of caring for a newborn and I knew if anything went wrong they would be there to provide immediate care. I think being in the hospital also validated that something significant had just happened, and that it was okay for me to get extra care. When we got home I felt like it shifted to being all about caring for my daughter, which was exacerbated by my extreme anxiety about my ability to care for a newborn and intrusive thoughts about SIDS that kicked off my PPD. Every mother will have her own distinct needs following giving birth, but in my experience I think I could have benefited from a longer hospital stay to feel stronger and more competent about my new role as a mother.

APR: I gave birth to my first child in a free standing birth center, partially because I didn’t feel like I wanted to be in a hospital postpartum. I felt like I’d be comfortable at home. But, I should have arranged more help for myself postpartum and made it more clear to visitors and well-wishers how they could help. It was overwhelming to go home three hours after the birth and to have so many people coming over to the house the same day because everything seemed fine. With this next birth I am putting so much more emphasis on postpartum support, hiring a postpartum doula, using babysitters for my older daughter, taking a friend up on her offer to arrange a meal train, and putting limits on the amount of visitors. I think Marie is on to something that postpartum support for women is sorely lacking in our culture, since extended families are separated and work often doesn’t even allow spouses to help moms much. The hospital is better than nothing I suppose, for women who have no support at all and who will go right back to their family or work obligations directly after coming home from the hospital, but it’s definitely not ideal.

AKP: Related to support, Marie talks about one of her mother’s moments of wisdom when she said, “You have to be as gracious in the receiving as you are in the giving. If you’re not, you deny the other person the blessing of giving.” How were you at accepting help/giving before PPD? Did having a maternal mental illness change that?

SBC: That statement is so true. When I was really struggling, I called my midwives’ office and a nice nurse said that exact thing to me. She said “Give your family the gift of allowing them to help you.” It was hard because before the PPD I had thought of myself as completely self-reliant, a leader and the type of person who helped others. But I had to let go of this self perception. It helped me to think about it the other way around. If I had a friend or family member in need as I was, I would want to help them.

SRK: No one really ever mentioned to me that I needed to accept help from my family and friends. Before PPD I tried not to need much help and was a lot less willing to ask for help. After PPD I am much more aware of when I need help and willing to ask for help. I have accepted that it is okay to need help, whereas before I would try everything I could to do it all on my own. I feel that I am a better mother and wife for accepting help when necessary and using my support structure when available has kept me from digressing back into my depression.

AKP: My faith has helped me to accept this. I do believe that God’s grace is the perfect example. He doesn’t require our prayers, thanks, and worship, but he accepts it and offers his grace freely. I try to think of this example in that he was us to offer grace and generosity to others and to accept it ourselves, whether we “deserve” or need it ourselves. I realize not everyone sees through this particular lens, but regardless of religion, like SC and SK, I also took this important lesson away from my PPD experience…surprisingly one of the many positives.

LL: I personally have never been good at accepting help from others but always felt that I should be able to handle things on my own. Having PPD was the first time where I had to admit that I was helpless and needed support from others. People from church brought me meals for weeks, my friend came and cleaned my filthy kitchen, and while at first all of this embarrassed me I later realized that people weren’t helping because they felt obligated — after all, I could hardly bring myself to ask. They were helping because they wanted to. Since things have become easier for me with PPD (I wouldn’t say I’ve totally recovered, but I’ve gone into remission so to speak) I have tried to make it my mission to help other new moms, and it is such a help to me now that I know it must have blessed the lives of the women helping me when I was struggling myself. I think it is all a cycle.

BR: I think I have always felt confident about asking for help when I need it. However, one feature of my PPD/anxiety was thinking I should be capable of doing it all, and the fact that I needed help not only caring for my daughter but caring for myself as well as well influenced a strong sense of failure. It took support from my family to encourage me to really communicate what I needed so that I could get the treatment I needed and be the healthy Mom I so wanted to be.

AJK: It was very difficult for me to accept help. Or rather, I think it was for me, to GIVE UP even more CONTROL and have others do things I “should be” doing and do things FOR ME. It was ultimately a GOOD THING but very difficult really for me.

APR: I was not good at asking for help and my husband is practically allergic to it. After our experience with postpartum depression and anxiety and now a difficult pregnancy, we know we’ve got to ask for help when we need it or things get so much worse. We’ve also become much less reserved in paying for help, because it pays off big time in the long run. [Read more...]

Share Button