My Warrior Mom Conference Recap!
Last weekend I boarded a plane headed for Boston, to take part in the 1st EVER Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference and I have to tell you, it was one the best things I could have done for myself and my community! The insight, education and skills I learned over this past weekend are going to serve me for years to come, as I move forward with building a better support system for moms here in Regina.
As some of you may already know, I myself am a survivor of PPD/Anxiety and I’m so glad I stumbled upon the Postpartum Progress blog when my second daughter was just a few weeks old. And just know that when I say “stumbled upon” I really mean, I was sitting on my basement floor, bawling my eyes out with a newborn in my lap and a toddler watching Dora, searching the internet trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me! Just sayin! (#honestly). To say this time was pretty difficult is an understatement! PPD rocked my world so hard, that I never thought I would see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had these two beautiful baby girls in my life, but for some reason I could barely get out of bed in the morning, let alone be the mom I wanted to be. I was completely exhausted, overwhelmed by my responsibility as a mother, and wasn’t able to handle it. I spent many of these early days/weeks crying ALL DAY LONG for no apparent reason, other than I felt I wasn’t a good enough mom for these girls, followed by complete frustration that I was slowly wasting this precious time with my babies. It’s a vicious cycle and depression has a funny way off making us believe we aren’t good enough! Simple tasks like getting out of the house for a library class was a battle every single time. I had lost my ability to think clearly as the fog of depression creeped into my world so fast, inhibiting my ability to make simple decisions like grocery shopping or meals plans. Long story short it was one of the hardest times I’ve ever been through and I don’t wish that on a single person. Having a baby is supposed to be the most fantastic experience of your life! Right?
Well, what most people don’t realize is that 1 in 5 Canadian moms each and every year suffer from this crippling issue, making it the most common birth complication to date! 1 in 5 EVERYONE 1 in 5! Going through this process I knew there had to be a purpose…. My babies, my husband, my family wasn’t going to suffer for nothing….I just couldn’t see it yet.
Everything clicked when I got involved with Postpartum Progress. I came to realize that I did in fact, have PPD once I learned the signs and symptoms in “Plain Mama English” but more importantly, I was NOT alone and there was a huge community of moms, Warrior Moms that its! waiting with open arms to help me regain my strength. I decided to participate in the 2014 Climb Out Of The Darkness event by organizing a local climb right here in Regina and it was awesome! People I had never actually met came to the Climb, and that filled me up in a way that I can’t really describe. It solidified the fact that there certainly was a reason that I had to go through this terrible experience, and that was to turn around and help the moms coming up right behind me! Tickets for the 1st ever Warrior Mom Conference went on sale just after the Climb and I knew I had to buy one! I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to get to Boston at that point, but it HAD to happen. So I bought a ticket and put it on my bulletin board and that’s where it sat for an entire year…. until last weekend!
I really just want to share some of the highlights from the conference that really hit close to home for me, in hopes that they will also help you if you are also finding yourself in the heat of PPD, or maybe you are like the many moms out there who are “recovering from recovery”. So here we go!
Let’s start with treatment! Did you know that upwards of 20% of new mothers experience PPD/Anxiety but only around 14% of those actually receive the treatment they need to get better? Why is that? Well for me, and I know many others out there, they are concerned about how the meds will affect their baby while breastfeeding and don’t have enough information surrounding this issue, so they avoid it and try to figure it out on their own. But the truth is, there are very SAFE and effective medications available to nursing mothers! What we don’t really look at is the downward effect and results of untreated PPD on the baby’s emotional and psychological state. So moms, just know that medication is only 1 piece of the puzzle. I was also afraid that I would walk into the office, talk with a Dr. that I didn’t really know, and they would just put me on medication. Period. The End! I knew that wasn’t going to work for me, so I want you to know “treatment” looks very different to each person and that also includes things like therapy, self-care, nutrition and exercise. The new hashtag that came out of the conference was #treatmentworks and I just love this because it is so true!
“A Listening Presence, Provides A Healing Path” -Peggy Kaufman, M.Ed., LICSW
We also talked a bit about how our society currently treats new mothers, and somehow we turn that back around and blame ourselves thinking “I’m supposed to be able to do this myself”. Mothering is a learned skill. I tell clients all the time that of course they will have mothering instincts and feel a strong surge of energy if something is ever wrong with your baby, but adjusting to motherhood and learning the new hands-on skills it takes to raise a child well, we used to learn that from the mature mothers around us. Now a days, we head home from the hospital 2 days postpartum and are expected to just pick off where we left off without even skipping a beat. Well guess what? That is working well!!! So be kind to yourself mama, find and recreate the village around you! You deserve all the support in the world J
“It is not natural to mother a child in isolation” Kate Kripke LCSW
As women, we also tend to only share the “good parts” of being a mom with those around us. We are so scared that someone is going to think less of us if we communicate the fact that this is absolutely the hardest job on the planet, not to mention we do it with no manual, alone and on little to no sleep! So I think it’s time we break that silence and begin to talk about the truths of motherhood, and the entire spectrum of feelings and emotions that come along with it. We surely aren’t doing our new mothers any favours by hiding the reality of what motherhood really is. It’s one crazy roller coaster filled with the highest of highs and sometimes the lowest of lows… and that’s ok because it REAL!
“The reality is, that we live in a culture that sugar coats motherhood. Speaking the truth is revolutionary!”- MotherWoman
One of my favourite breakout sessions was with an amazing woman by the name of Kate Kripke. She is a perinatal health specialist with her own successful practice in Boulder Colorado. She spoke to us about how to thrive after PPD. I could go on forever about her talk, but here are some of the things a woman “Knows” when she is thriving in her life after PPD.
- She knows that anxiety is a normal part of motherhood. We just need help finding the difference between Productive and Non Productive anxiety. She had us list a few thing that made us anxious, then we were to look at that list and cross off the things that we truly had no control over. Just gave us a bit of perspective on real and perceived threat.
- She knows the difference between being “SELF-ISH” and “SELF-FULL”. She understands the need to take care of herself in order to take care of her baby. “Take care of yourself in SERVICE of your baby”
- She understand the need for Community
- She LOVES Herself!!!!!
This last one was the absolute best and moving forward, I will be changing my language surrounding motherhood to reflect this one and I hope you can to.
- She knows the difference between “GUILT” and “REGRET”. Guilt means that there is a punishment that needs to be applied for the action or crime committed. Regret means that you feel sad about certain situation and you wish it would have been different. That was a light bulb moment for me…. I 100% do NOT deserve to be punished for having PPD! This was something that of course I feel sad about, but this wasn’t my fault and it’s no yours either! I do regret not seeking treatment sooner but I do not deserve to be punished! Loved this!
Not only was there fantastic speakers present but being in a room of over 100 Warrior Moms who are all fighting to improve supports in their area and increase awareness, was an amazing experience in itself! The issue of improving maternal mental health across the board isn’t as clear cut as we would like it to be. It would be fantastic to say “Here it is moms! Here is the thing that is going to fix it all!” but it’s a layered issue that is very much unique to each and every woman out there.
“There is no such thing as a single issue struggle, because we do not live single issue lives”- Audre Lorde
What we do know, is that we need to increase awareness and education, increase screening DURING PREGANCY, because guess what? PPD actually starts in pregnancy and by the time we screen at 6 weeks, THAT SHIPPED HAS SAILED! We need to help women create a new kind of village of support, one that allows them to safely talk about all the ups and downs of mothering, one that provides evidence based information at their fingertips, so that they can make choices that work best for them and above all… we need mother’s to know that there are others out there willing to scoop them up and walk right beside them as they recover and find their true strength!
I am so excited to move forward in my work and continue to serve the women in my community, because our moms are worth it, our children our worth it! If you need help or have questions surrounding PPD/Anxiety, contact me anytime as I am here to help in any way I can. Thank you Postpartum Progress for kicking some serious ass when it comes to ending stigma and improving supports surrounding Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, and I am beyond proud to be a part of it all!!!
Owner- Family First Doula Service