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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Strong Start Day 2011.

Today Postpartum Progress is collecting donations in it's new-found non-profit status to help the half a million moms each year that suffer through postpartum spectrum disorders realize that they are not alone, that they have not failed as mothers, and that there is hope for them as long as they get the help and support they need.

You guys have no idea how much this site has helped me in the years since Kiedis' birth, the kind words in comment sections and though email I've received supporting me in my struggles with postpartum anxiety and depression.

And it's all because of Katherine.

Start Strong Day wants to help new families do just that -- start strong when a new baby enters the picture. They want women to know the symptoms of PPD and to have access to resources to get help when they need it. They want family members to be aware of the signs and complications of PPD so that they can help hold up their wives and daughters and sisters when they cannot do it themselves. They want to protect the children of moms with PPD from the negative effects on their cognitive development, attachment, and their own psychological health.

Here's where I break down.

Looking back it's so obvious it's shameful. We'd moved and gotten married in the year prior, both huge life stressors. My pregnancy was high risk. My son had serious health complications. We were battling the insurance company to cover our claims and were fighting the charter school to stop bouncing Kyle's paychecks, so money was constantly tight. I have pre-existing mental health issues. My husband began an affair the month before I gave birth. If anyone should have had a blaring neon sign over their heads flashing AT RISK it was me.

But instead, I sat for months struggling to get up every morning, being left on my own with a fragile child for 16+ hours a day while Kyle ... escaped the situation by working two jobs and entertaining a mistress. I slowly deteriorated while everyone went about their business, focusing all their attention on Kiedis and sometimes literally shoving me aside. I only remember one person asking me if I thought I might have more than my regular mental health issues going on, and I vehemently denied it because the thought terrified me.

I wish I hadn't been so scared in my loneliness and despair. I was scared of everything -- of Kiedis dying, of me losing him, of Kyle leaving me because I was a terrible mother. I was afraid that the one thing I'd wanted nearly my whole life -- children -- was actually never meant for me, and that I was inevitably ruining everything good about life by having a baby. The only reason I'd made it as long as I did was due to the community of mom bloggers who assured me that I wasn't a bad mom, that this parenting gig was far harder than anyone anticipated, and that while I was very physically alone, there were virtual shoulders to lean on nearly every hour of the day and night.

But it wasn't enough, or too little too late. That damn demon got the best of me and I really thought that Kiedis and Kyle would be better off without me in the picture. That they would have a fighting chance if I wasn't around.  So I tried to take myself out of the picture.

I failed. And it ignited a shitstorm where a lot of my other worst fears came true -- Kyle was divorcing me, Kiedis was taken from me, everything I thought I knew and trusted was blown to bits.

But I survived. I pulled myself together, got help, and learned that I wasn't a failure as a wife and mother, I was just a victim of a silent disease that touches too many of us, takes too many of us every day. I fought for my son, for my husband, to be a family again. I fought back against the darkness (and still do some days) to reclaim my role as mother and wife and to make them celebratory titles, not debilitating dirges.

I can never get that time back with Kiedis, and I will forever have to carry the guilt that maybe part of why he is delayed and needs intervention is because I never had one when I needed one, and I wasn't strong enough to ask for the help I so desperately needed.

So please, for me, for Kiedis, if you have a dime to spare, please donate to Postpartum Progress to help them reach the women out there who really just need someone to acknowledge them, understand them, and help them be the wonderful moms they are underneath all the heavy weight of PPD.

You never know, your dollar might just help save a life.