I’m Back

11 Jun

Recently, I stood in a public space for four hours and advertised my experience with postpartum depression and anxiety. You would think that after years of blogging about how I suffered, I’d be used to speaking about PPD, but there’s something unique about face-to-face interactions.

b.good benefitMy local b.good restaurant was kind enough to host a benefit night that my new friend and fundraising partner, Candice, cleverly named “Take a Bite Out of Stigma.”  We felt so professional, with our glossy signs and our fancy raffle tickets, and I’m convinced we appeared professional as we greeted customers, shared b.good tattoos (fake, I promise!) with the kids, and spoke about PPD.  But deep down?  There was a part of me that wanted to shrink back from the arena, that wanted to hide behind the 15 latex balloons that announced our presence.

But then?  Then my local bestie walked through the doors and I found myself squeeeeeeeing and running to hug her.  An older gentleman stepped through the doors only to walk back out and stand at our poster, reading carefully through the information, returning later to hand me a twenty dollar bill with only a few words exchanged.  I met moms who had a multitude of questions about PPD.  I saw old friends and heard about how I was inspiring people.  And I sat with Candice and we talked about our common hell over milkshakes and strawberry lemonade.

We walked out with over $250 for Postpartum Progress, a new partnership with a great local company, and a feeling of empowerment and sisterhood.

And now?  Now we have a new video promoting our Climb Out of the Darkness and the faces of our warrior moms, with an up-and-coming musician.

Special thanks to David Gray for the use of his beautiful new song.  It speaks right to the hearts of the Warrior Moms.  We?  Are BACK.  I have watched this as least 2 dozen times and it still gives me goosebumps.

You can donate to Climb Out of the Darkness HERE.  Those are the faces of your wives, your sisters, your daughters.  You neighbors, your childrens’ teachers.  Your mother.  Honor their recovery by supporting the recovery of moms just like them.

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All local donors can be entered to win our amazing local raffle, including a night tour of Wallace Observatory!

All non-local donors are entered to win a $20 gift certificate to my Etsy shop, Crocheted Happiness!

Love Is An Open Door: A Thank You Video

1 Jun

Thank you so much to all the Climb Out of the Darkness sponsors. As promised, my husband and perform Love Is An Open Door from Frozen. Poorly. I am not a trained singer (you’ll have to excuse the lack of costume.  Our recording window was short as were our resources).

PPD and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (postpartum OCD, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis, and antenatal depression and anxiety) affect 1 in 7 women yet only 15% seek treatment. Stigma and shame keep new moms from reach out, while under-trained physicians miss the warning signs. Postpartum Progress, Inc is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to increasing awareness of maternal mood and anxiety disorders. Together, we can drop kick despair.

LEARN more about Postpartum Progress http://postpartumprogress.org

LEARN about Climb Out of the Darkness at http://www.postpartumprogress.com/join-climb-out-of-the-darkness-2014

DONATE to my Mt. Washington #COTD2014 team at https://www.crowdrise.com/susanpetcher-COTD2014/fundraiser/susanpetcher

FIND A CLIMB near you at http://postpartumprogress.org/climb-out-of-the-darkness/find-a-climb/

COTD2014

Phone It In Phriday

30 May

See what I did there?

I am buried in Climb Out of the Darkness (HAVE YOU DONATED YET?), Warrior Mom Conference, and preparing all the new hat designs for their July debut.  My music studio’s recital is this weekend, I’m exercising 6 days a week, and with the added responsibilities of household chores, I’m barely keeping up.

But as I lifted my bicycle onto the car rack yesterday, I had a thought.

Six months ago, I would NEVER have been able to do this.

Lift the bike.

Take both kids out for a ride on my own.

Juggle motherhood, two home businesses, non-profit work, and preparing a child for kindergarten.

Make phone calls to hospital executives and sound official.

Write sponsorship emails to major companies.

I may be phoning it in here, but I’m definitely in the arena in all the other areas of my life.  It’s a good kind of busy.  Amiyrah would call it “full.”  I like that.  Full.

My blog may be neglected.  My toilets may be dirty.  But my life is full.

gratuitous adorable toddler photo

gratuitous adorable toddler photo

 

I’m a Boston Mama

27 May

If you need me, I’ll just be over here, fanning myself and trying to get over the fact that Christine Koh of Boston Mamas lent me some blogging real-estate this past week to talk about Postpartum Progress and Climb Out of the Darkness.

My five-year-old daughter bounded into my bed this morning, dashing my hopes of a few more winks of sleep with her Tigger-like enthusiasm. And as I returned her hugs and kisses, I cherished the small moment of happiness between us. Because there was a time when I could not return her love, when the gift of bonding was stolen from us both….

Please click on over to Boston Mamas to read more.

And if you haven’t donated yet to my Climb Out team?  This is a great time. Our fundraising website is giving away several prizes in June, including an iPad mini, Jawbone Jambox, and Reef Sandals!

Click to donate to Climb out of the Darkness, Mt. Washington

How Is It May?

18 May

I’m sorry. How is it May already?  It’s like one day my yard was barren and grey, and the next day the whole thing had been colorized a la Wizard of Oz.  I keep finding myself surprised when my windows are full of green.

I’ve been neglecting the blog as of late.  And blogging in general.  I keep wondering who is reading all these blog posts that people write.  I barely have time to brush my teeth, and yet somebody is, because we all keep writing them.  I’d like to set aside an hour a week to just read and comment.  But which hour?

Elephant HatWhat have I been up to? Crocheting.  I want to have a new line of hats for babies and toddlers for the fall, and that means prototyping.  Nothing’s quite as horrible as spending four hours on a project only to finish it and decide you don’t quite like the look of it.  But I’m excited about the successes that have come out of all that failure and can’t wait to debut them in the shop.

Now that it’s nice out, I’ve been hiking, biking, walking, and jogging.  I’m supposed to climb a mountain in 34 days, so I’ve been working out in hopes that I won’t return from Mt. Washington in pieces.  I’ve actually GAINED weight (UGH) but I feel stronger and I have noticed my endurance improving.  It’s a good feeling, knowing that I’m taking care of my body and teaching my kids to be active and healthy.

And if I happen to pick up my computer?  I am writing, but it’s been sponsorship emails to hospitals and pieces for local media.  Between the Climb Out of the Darkness and the Warrior Mom Conference, I’m getting a crash course in marketing and PR – and thank goodness I’m a quick study.  Oh, did I not mention that I’m co-chairing the first ever Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference?  Honored.  Overwhelmed.  Determined.

There really do need to be more hours in the day, because I just can’t find enough for all the things I want to do AND to watch Grey’s Anatomy while eating a sleeve of Oreos.  But I am still here.  And I’ll be back blogging before you know it.

Therapy, Spring Cleaning, and An Update

23 Apr

Doodlebug

Almost 2 months ago, I wrote about taking my eldest daughter to counseling.  It’s a hard thing to start, counseling – at least it was for me 5 years ago when I began treatment for my postpartum depression.  All I knew of therapy was what I had seen on television and in pop culture, and neither was particularly flattering.

I believed that seeking therapy showed weakness.  Deficiency.  Now I know it shows strength.  It takes courage to admit that things are not as they should be as you want them to be.  What surprised me was the amount of bravery required to see the process through.

For me, it was kind of like cleaning out a long-neglected closet.  First, you take everything out.  You dig to the bottom of boxes and bins.  You spread the clutter throughout the room and it feels like you’re going backward – making more of a mess instead of cleaning up.  It’s at that precise moment you consider just scooping up armfuls of momentos, lost buttons, and dirty socks and  closing them back in the boxes they emerged from.  Maybe you can pretend you never saw them.  But instead, you take a deep breath and make a conscious choice to move forward.  As each item crosses you hands, you make a decision.  You process what it means to you and you decide how to let it further affect your life.  This goes in the garbage.  That gets put away on a shelf.  And maybe this other thing was something you had been desperately searching for.

It’s laborious.  Tedious.  Emotional.  And some days, I left therapy feeling worse than when I went in.  And then?  One day things started to feel less overwhelming.  It was like that moment when you place the last organized bin in the neglected closet and the doors shut for the first time in years, and you think maybe, just maybe, you can tackle another room.

So.  I was prepared for a process when my daughter began working with her counselor.  I was prepared for things to get worse before they got better, and I was ready for it to take a while.  As it turns out, she’s made incredible progress in the last 8 weeks.  Her outbursts are fewer and less intense.  She can identify her emotions and use her words to share about them.  And most importantly, she’s learned to ask for help.

It’s honestly been an amazing transformation, and I can’t rationally give all the credit to 6 therapy appointments, no matter how much I like and respect her therapist.  At the recommendation of several friends and family, despite my intense skepticism, we substituted almond milk for cow’s milk in our house.  Some of you suggested that a food allergy or intolerance could manifest as behavioral problems.  Doodlebug suffered from MSPI as a baby, and I assumed she outgrew it as the physical symptoms disappeared after about 18 months.  Because of her history with milk intolerance and her sister’s current inability to drink milk, I thought it was worth a try. She’s well-nourished, so what could it hurt?

Now, maybe the counseling gave her a sense of connectedness and belonging that she was missing.  Or maybe, like many things, her behavioral changes were just part of a phase.  Perhaps she matured neurologically in the last 8 weeks and everything I’ve done to help her only appears to have worked because of coincidence.  This is not hard science, and I’m not prepared to test my theories by handing her a giant glass of milk and waiting for the fireworks to begin.  I’m happy to just be glad things are better and to be mindful of what may have helped.

We’re taking a break from therapy for a while – she and I both know it’s there if we need it.  And my daughter knows it’s nothing to be ashamed of or to fear.

What a gift I’ve given her, normalizing something that was so traumatic and stigmatizing for me.

I’m kind of proud of myself.

Now if I could only find time to work on those closets.

 

Click here to donate to my Climb Out of the Darkness Hike!

Click here to donate to my Climb Out of the Darkness Hike!

Kitty Cuddle Time

17 Apr

Need a little happy today? You can borrow Marble, my 11-year-old Tabby. She’s got your happy right here.

Climb Out of the Darkness and a Raffle!

13 Apr

It’s that time of the year again – when I ask you to support moms just like me – with your wallets.

Believe me, it’s awkward for me, too.  I’m not good at asking for help, and I’m definitely not a sales person or an advertising expert.  But I believe in Postpartum Progress and the work that Katherine Stone is doing to help new moms.  She gave me back the joy that was missing from my pregnancy and postpartum period and has given me a voice as a writer and advocate.  It’s my time to give back.

Whether it’s $1 or $100, every dollar helps get new moms access to up-to-date information about perinatal mental illnesses.  With the money raised, Postpartum Progress will be contributing to local organizations that support new moms and families.  We will be increasing our outreach by streamlining our widely popular blog (90,000 view a month!).  Your money will help this baby non-profit grow into the powerhouse advocacy organization that mothers and babies need it to be.

Here’s where I appeal to your sense of obligation:

Just $10 (the cost of a few coffees) from 50 readers would far surpass my wildest dreams of raising $400.

And your practical side:

It’s tax-deductable!

And the part of you that loves winning stuff:

Each $10 donation enters you in a drawing for a $20 gift certificate to my Etsy shop, Crocheted Happiness.

  • Shop the sale and get two ready-made hats!
  • Shop made-to-order designs and have something made for next winter or for that friend you know who is having a baby soon!
  • Have something custom-designed just for you!

Crocheted Happiness

All hometown donors are also entered to win a free piano lesson ($20 value).  I teach students aged 5 and above.

How to enter: Simply make your donation on the Crowdrise website.  I will add your name and entries to my list of donors and will randomly draw one name using random.org on June 24th, 2014.  Local donors will be added to both the Etsy drawing and piano lesson drawing.

Those of you who have already donated?  THANK YOU!  I am tracking all donations and have already entered you in the raffle.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 3.08.38 PM

 

 

Accomplishment, Worthiness, and Compulsion

11 Apr

I let someone down recently.  They saw a side of me I genuinely hate but can’t seem to change.

I have “compulsive completion disease”.  If there’s a job that needs doing, I throw myself into it and knock tasks off the to-do list with wild abandon.  I honestly can’t help myself and usually don’t realize I’ve overstepped my bounds until it’s too late.  I was the kind of kid in school who completed class projects weeks before their due date, who looked forward to homework, who hated group projects, and who reminded the teacher that he had forgotten that extra credit assignment for us to turn in on Monday.  If you *were* in a class project with me?  You probably got an A but didn’t get to do much.

My mom has it, too.  When she comes to watch the kids, she often puts in a load of laundry and unloads the dishwasher.  She brings rolls of paper towels and reorganizes my pantry.  It drives me nuts.

I used to feel like she helped out because she thought I couldn’t handle the housework … as if her assistance was a quiet judgement of my diminishing value as a housekeeper.

But really, that was just how I felt about myself.  I was the only person who thought her help was about me.

I’ve learned to let her help.  I ignore the thoughts that feel annoyed and focus on accepting her assistance, because the truth is that I really do need it with the housework and the girls.  And I’ve learned when to ask her not to help… because the truth is that there are times I want to do things for myself, and I want her to respect those boundaries.  She does.

A friend asked me to step back recently.  To help less and to listen more.  And that my personality hurt her somehow is eating at me.  I know I always seem so wise and so in control of the shame that plagues us all, but this one, I just can’t shake.

I’ve apologized.  She and I are okay.  I know that my imperfection does not make me unworthy of her friendship.  But I know I’ve let her down.  I loathe letting people down as much as I adore helping people –  which just goes to show that I’m equating my self-worth with my accomplishments instead of believing that I am worthy of love and belonging despite what I do or what mistakes I make.

Letting accomplishments feed my joy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when I find myself clutching success with an iron grip in fear of losing people I love, I need to reexamine my motivations.

I’m a do-er.  It’s a part of who I am.

But I want to do better at doing less.

“Do You Wanna Build a Snowmaaaaan” Cover: by my 2-year-old

4 Apr

You guys.  The toddler who wouldn’t talk suddenly has a huge vocabulary.  And thanks to a few dozen viewings of Frozen, she SINGS.  Sings.

Wait for it – it’s worth every second.  The way she leans into the door to muffle her voice like Anna?  And when she touches the door before singing “okay, byeeeeee….”  I just couldn’t love this kid anymore.

p.s.  The husband and I will perform Love Is An Open Door when my Climb Out of the Darkness fundraiser hits $400.  I am not a singer.  That’s how epic it will be.

 

 

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