Mothering Through the Darkness


Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience

A unique collection of 35 essays by some of today's most talented female writers
  • Published by She Writes Press (November 2015). 
  • Honest and powerful. These writers explore the most intimate details of their descents into darkness and their recoveries. These personal stories shatter the myths surrounding postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders.
  • Raw and vivid. The talented contributors include award-winning poets and artists as well as essayists, popular bloggers, and authors. 
  • Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.


Lisa Belkin Author and Journalist

"Every one of these stories is about the descent into the depths, the belief that these mothers feel alone and at fault, and then their recovery. Each story has power on its own, but the essay collection as a whole really drives home to me how many women suffer, how similar their suffering is, and how it's a tragedy that they think they are the only ones going through this and it is theirs alone to bear."

A single copy

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5 Books

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10 Books

$105.95 + $10 shipping and handling


A one-of-a-kind anthology....


Read the winners of the first HerStories Project's essay contest. This contest was judged by Katrina Alcorn (author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink); Kate Hopper (author of Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood); author and journalist Lisa Belkin; psychologist Jessica Zucker; writer and blogger Lindsey Mead; and novelist Julia Fierro (author of Cutting Teeth) 


The book features a foreword by author and international postpartum depression expert Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW. She is the author of This Isn't What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression (Bantam) and several other ground-breaking books for mothers and for clinicians.  She is the founder of the Postpartum Stress Center.


Dr. Jessica Zucker is a Los Angeles based psychologist and writer. She specializes in women's reproductive and maternal mental health. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Brain Child Magazine, Modern Loss, Mothers Always Write, Every Mother Counts, PBS, Glamour, and elsewhere. Jessica earned advanced degrees from Harvard University and New York University and worked in international public health for many years. 


Ten percent of the proceeds from this book will be donated to Postpartum Progress, an organization that raises awareness and supports women with postpartum depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychosis, and pregnancy depression. Katherine Stone is the founder of Postpartum Progress, which is also one of the leading sources of information and support for women suffering from perinatal mood disorders. 

About the Editors: Stephanie Sprenger and Jessica Smock

Stephanie and Jessica are co-editors of Mothering Through the Darkness, as well as two other popular anthologies for women, The HerStories Project and Foreword Reviews' Book of the Year finalist My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. Stephanie and Jessica are also founders of The HerStories Project, a writing and publishing community.

The Book's Contributors

Click here to learn about all 35 of the book's contributors

 Maggie Smith, "Here Comes the Sun"

“After the birth of my second child—on the heels of two miscarriages—I was exhausted, obsessive, and angry, frankly, that I’d given birth to yet another colicky non-sleeper with acid reflux. I thought that by writing everything down, I might find the pattern that would help us both sleep and heal. [My essay] 'Here Comes the Sun' is about my experience going through postpartum anxiety and coming out on the other side of it. ”

Alexandra Rosas, "We Come Looking for Hope"

“I did not understand how someone like me, who wanted a baby more than anything could be experiencing a total breakdown of ability and capability. As someone who was always around children, teaching children, and wanting children, how could finally having the one thing I wished for so much, culminate in despair, fear, panic, anxiety, and most of all, guilt? I spent so much time trying to understand why, looking for a reason that made sense... and in the meantime, my world quickly fell apart." 

Randon Billings Noble, "Leaving the Island"

"'Leaving the Island' is about pre-partum depression. It uses Robinson Crusoe as a metaphor for the isolation that depression brings, as well as the fears of being colonized and cannibalized by your own pregnancy. I would tell other mothers who are struggling that, unlike Crusoe, you are not alone! And that's partly why I wanted to tell this story; as an essayist I write to explore the realities that our cultural myths deny."

Maureen Fura, "Scar Tissue"

"My piece ["Scar Tissue"] is about the scar tissue that exists even when a mother is better. How her experience impacts her perceived bond with her child. It is about the tiny places we can't let go and we can't forgive." ”

Suzanne Barston, "The Breast of Me"

"As soon as I delivered my first child, I felt a cloud pass through me, over me, erasing all happiness and hope. I remember them handing him to me, and thinking, 'please take him somewhere safe.' In the weeks that followed, I failed to breastfeed in every which way, and hearing him scream at the sight of me, at my incompetence, my inability to nourish him, reaffirmed what I already thought: I wasn't fit to be a mother. This piece ["The Breast of Me"] is about my first important lesson of motherhood: that in some circumstances, what society says is the right way to mother can sometimes be the absolute wrong way.”

Eve Kagan, "Fragments of a Fractured Mind"

"I wrote this piece as an exorcism. There was a long period of time where even the idea of putting pen to paper or fingers to keys was overwhelming and inconceivable. When I was finally able to step just far enough outside myself to know that I was no longer myself I found the courage to write and to ask for help. No matter who I was with I felt utterly alone and isolated. I wrote this piece in hopes that raw honesty would break the silence that alienates us as mothers."

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