Tag Archives: postpartum depression

It is MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK in Georgia!

4 Feb

MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK
FEBRUARY 3-9, 2013!
 

Join us in making Maternal Mental Health a priority!

The Georgia Coalition on Maternal Mental Health (of which I am proud to be a part) promotes the well-being of mothers and families through community partnerships, awareness, education, and advocacy with regard to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

We invite you to join us at the Georgia Capitol on February 6th at 3PM when Sarah Schwartz, Executive Director of MHA of GA, will be presenting to the Health & Human Services Committee to advocate with the Coalition in making maternal mental health a priority in our state.

Please join us to show your support for maternal mental health by joining us at this legislative presentation.

Contact Liz Smulian at liz@mhageorgia.org or 678-904-1968 for more information.

p.s. In case you have media connections, please share this with them.  Look for us on Weds…we’ll be wearing the green sashes and buttons with the Mama and Baby Green Ribbon logo!

Bless your heart 😉 (and mind),

Amber

Positive.

7 Jan

I want to have goals.  I do have goals.  I mean, really, who doesn’t…it’s just that many of us are good at keeping them and some of us are more mediocre.  Anyhow, over the past few years, I have chosen a word to meditate on, to direct my choices.

In 2011, as I approached the birth of my second son, after having survived (barely) horrible postpartum depression and anxiety with my first, my word was HOPE.  I had that word plastered everywhere.  I spent a whole weekend praying on that one word, in fact.

In 2012, after successfully avoiding severe PPD, I realized that while I was so proud and grateful for the blessing of being able to not only remember, but enjoy, my son’s infancy, that I was still fighting.  Fighting the demons of my past, and honestly, the demons of my present, too.  The difficult relationships, the imperfection of just being human.  I felt constantly disappointed and convinced that the difficulty letting go and finding joy in everyday life, not just special events, was the fault of others and outside factors.  And then I woke up.  I realized that my life was pretty good and that a big part of my challenges were about my lack of being able to cope when things weren’t exactly how I wanted them.  Ahhhh…enter ACCEPTANCE.  It began as a Lenten practice and then became a life practice.  Two steps forward, seventy five back.  I probably could’ve taken that one on as a five-year-plan, but instead in 2013, I have chosen anew.

This year’s word is POSITIVE.  I am anything but 100% certain that I will be anymore successful at this practice than I have been at others, but I am determined to try.  To become someone who sees with rosy glasses and always views the glass as half full.  It won’t be easy.  It will take lots of practice and mindfulness and thought-stopping or replacing, but I will do it.

Here’s to facing life each day with the calm, goofy, and upbeat perspective I had in this photo!

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Bless your heart ;-),

Amber

Disarming the “Mommy Wars”: One Mama’s Fight to End the Guilt and Stigma of Bottle Feeding AND Support Breastfeeding

4 Oct

My friend Suzanne Barston has been writing at The Fearless Formula Feeder for a long time.  When I say “my friend”, though we’ve never met in real life, I mean it.  Suzie has walked almost my entire motherhood journey along side of me.  We began blogging at approximately the same time and found one another because, well, way back then, nearly five years ago, there weren’t many of us out there.  Moms who had postpartum struggles that is, especially with breastfeeding, who were willing to talk about it publicly were few and far between in 2008.

I had been suffering from a paralyzing and life-threatening (I was so ill that for many weeks I would tell my husband daily that I wanted to die.) postpartum depression and anxiety, and a big source of my irrational guilt was my son’s initial inability to latch (enter never-ending pumping sessions and bottle feeding breast milk), followed by my “decision” to switch to formula when pumping was getting in the way of my recovery.  I was vulnerable and isolated (figuratively and literally, as the few friends and family members I had around me at the time had either formula fed by choice and didn’t understand my desire to breastfeed or had successfully breastfed and were a silent reminder of my “failure”).  I hadn’t found much support online either, as most of what I read encouraged moms to breastfeed to combat the blues and even supported breastfeeding while on psychiatric medications, if under the care of a physician who supported that choice.  Now, I totally agree with those statements for those mamas for whom that feels right.  However, I was not that mom and that made me feel even more like a failure, especially after my dreams of a natural childbirth were already dashed thanks to a very unexpected c-section after a ridiculously long labor.

Finding Suzanne’s blog and forging a relationship with her was probably the number one factor in my eventually overcoming constant anxiety about not having breastfed my son and moving past the guilt that riddled me for months and got in the way of positive thoughts and interactions in the beginning of my motherhood experience.  I knew that not only was she a support and ear, but that she actually did her homework to provide factual information, not just opinions.  The emotional and analytical sides of me were appeased and reassured by reading her blog posts and eventually joining the Facebook page associated with her blog.

Please know that this blog, Atlanta Mom, is not ever going to promote taking sides or making judgment about moms’ choices, if they are well-intentioned.  However, as the author here I wouldn’t be exhibiting integrity if I didn’t share my own story honestly and encourage others to end the stigma and the competition that has arisen within parenting in the past few decades.  I believe strongly that mothers need to band back together, not tear each other apart.  That’s why I started Beyond Postpartum over four years ago and it’s also why I’ve created this blog.  We are stronger.  We are better.  We are more informed.  We are doing good, when we share and care for one another.

One of the ways that Suzanne has decided to reach out to mothers and even healthcare providers is to publish a book she’s written based upon her diligent research on infant feeding.  Unlike just about any other parenting “expert” out there, Suzanne’s unusual position to support families no matter how they choose to feed their babies is a breath of fresh air.  Below you’ll find a press release about the book and a link so that if you’d like to you can easily purchase it on Amazon.

BOTTLED UP: How The Way We Feed Babies
Has Come to Define Motherhood, And Why It Shouldn’t
by Suzanne Barston

As the breast vs. bottle feeding debate heats up, some experts believe breastfeeding advocates may have gone too far. While breast is certainly best from a nutritional standpoint, thousands of mothers find themselves unable to breastfeed for physiological, emotional, or situational reasons. Once breastfeeding has “failed”, they are unable to find the support they need, and some are even feeling shunned or bullied.

BOTTLED UP: How The Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, And Why It Shouldn’t by journalist Suzanne Barston (University of California Press, August 2012), probes breastfeeding politics through the lens of Barston’s own experiences as well as those of the women she has met through her popular blog, The Fearless Formula Feeder.

“Breastfeeding has become the yardstick by which parenting prowess is measured,” says Barston. “Yet, it’s not always the right choice for every mother and every child. 
In fact, in some cases the pressure to breastfeed has created a dangerous atmosphere for both mothers and babies.”

Barston, who was devastated when she was unable to breastfeed her son, calls herself a “lactivist” and a formula feeding defender. “It’s an odd stance, but one that is sorely needed,” she explains. “I understand the debate on a level most don’t because I have engaged in the conversation on BOTH sides for nearly four years. My point of view is controversial, but it shouldn’t be: Support those who want to breastfeed, and support those who don’t want to.”

Incorporating medical literature, expert opinions, and popular media, Barston offers a corrective to our infatuation with the breast. Impassioned, well-reasoned, and thoroughly researched, Bottled Up asks us to think with more nuance and compassion about whether breastfeeding should remain the holy grail of good parenthood.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne Barston has worked for the past decade as a writer and editor for health and parenting publications, including as the Editor-in-Chief of Los Angeles Family Magazine. She has impressive internet following within the mommy-blogosphere at The Fearless Formula Feeder, and is also the resident “Bottle Feeding Expert” for a video-based website launching in September called KidsInTheHouse.com.

Because, like I said earlier, Suzie rocks and all, she’s also agreed to send a signed copy of the book to one reader here at Atlanta Mom.  To enter all you have to do is comment below with your email address so that I can be in touch if you win!  If you’d prefer not to share your email address publicly, please comment that you’ve emailed your mailing address to atlantamom930@gmail.com.  The winner of the book giveaway will be randomly selected on October 15, 2012.  GOOD LUCK!

I hope those of you who aren’t familiar with Suzanne’s work will take a moment to browse her blog, to join The Fearless Formula Feeder Facebook community, or to consider reaching out to moms who make different feeding choices than you and reassure them that you support them.  We’re all in this motherhood thing together, so let’s be good to one another instead of guilting each other, k?

Bless your heart ;-),

Amber

Having More Kids? When everyone says “You’ll know…”, but you don’t.

5 Sep

When I was growing up I always said I wanted to have three children.  Maybe it was because I am one of three myself.

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~Meet my siblings~

Maybe it was because all three of my parents were technically one of three in their families (my stepmother lost a teenage brother when she was 13).  Or, later on because my husband is also one of three.  It seemed like everyone around me had three kids.

I pictured myself with a little girl, I think mostly because of the clothes.  I’ve always loved fashion and dressing someone else is so much more fun than (and easy than, right?) yourself.

After I had my PPD baby (which happened much later in life than expected on my 31st birthday due to some unexplained infertility the first few years of marriage), I was certain I was DONE.   I was so ill physically and emotionally from a traumatic birth and postpartum period that I couldn’t imagine having anymore kids.

~Meet L1~

Thank God, I didn’t go ahead with having my tubes tied, as I had begged my OB to do back then.  Because, of course, I got well and eventually got up the nerve to have another baby.  Things were totally different the second time.  I had a little more difficult pregnancy, but the birth was beautiful and I only had a couple of weeks of postpartum challenges.  And that’s when I fell in love with the newborn and early infant stage that sadly I could barely remember with my first son.

~Meet L2~

In fact, I remember blogging about that very thing the day that I took the above photo in late May 2011.  I believe I named the post “Best. Decision. Ever.”.  And it has been.

Since I had never dreamed I would have a second child, after all the difficulty becoming pregnant the first time and then my emotional challenges that had to be overcome to reconcile my PPD experience, you can imagine my surprise when I became pregnant with L2 after just a few months of trying.  It was meant to be.  Except, about halfway through my pregnancy I got a pretty bad bout of antenatal (or pregnancy-related) depression.  Because it occurred right around the same time we had our 20 week sonogram (and this time chose to learn the gender of our baby, which we had not done the first time around), I blamed it on gender disappointment.  I cried for three weeks straight.  I told only people who directly asked me the gender that I was having a boy.  I refused to shop for the baby or his room and denied my pregnancy in my mind, despite my expanding belly.  Thank goodness my hormones leveled out after a few weeks and I began to accept and acknowledge that I was going to be the mother of two boys.  Also, gratefully I was in the care of a psychiatrist (though I had decided not to medicate during pregnancy) and a therapist who helped me work through this difficult period.

I had deemed myself to be “done” prior to even conceiving L2, so it seemed obvious to me and everyone else (many of whom were also secretly disappointed I wasn’t having a girl), that I would never be a mother to a female.  I made plans to give away my maternity clothes, infant clothes and paraphernalia and toys as soon as L2 and I grew out of them.  I had labeled bins and bags ready and waiting in the closet.

And when that little head popped out of my belly and L2 greeted me with a wave and we locked eyes, I felt instantly that our family was complete.  My heart felt full and my eyes welled with tears, and this time they were tears of joy!

But here we are 15 months later, and all of that stuff having been donated, consigned or gifted.  And there’s still a little part of me that sighs when I walk past the maternity section at Target.  When I catch a glimpse of a mother nuzzling those soft hairs on her baby’s newborn head.  And mostly when I think about the future.  I always pictured big family holidays and reunions with lots of kids and in-laws and grandchildren.  With just two boys, will we always be just the four of us?  Or, will my boys marry and go to be with their wives’ families, leaving my husband and me (or even just me, if something happens to him later in life) to eat turkey alone?

I know lots of things rationally.  Sure, having lots of kids doesn’t guarantee they’ll be close to you or each other later in life.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll get to have a child of each gender.  Then there’s the advanced maternal age label and the associated risks now that I am over 35.  There’s the fact that I am still taking a small dose of medication to deal with anxiety that accompanies the first couple of years postpartum for me.  There’s my workaholic, traveling husband and the fact that I live far away from all of our family.  I can rattle off a thousand reasons why I should be able to proclaim “I’m done!” and mean it.

I know it’s what’s right in my head.  I know that my capacity to be a good mom is greater with just two very active boys.  But somewhere in my heart, not down very deep I yearn for another baby.  And if not for that, then for the courage and confidence to say “Just two for me.” and mean it.

Am I alone in this dilemma?  How did you “know” your family was complete?  And if you feel like you don’t know if you are “done”, then how do you believe you’ll decide whether or not to have more children?

Bless your heart ;-),

Amber

http://naptimeshopper.blogspot.com
p.s. I linked up with Naptime Review today.  Check it out, I think you’ll like it!
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