motherhood

Tag: motherhood

Mothering Through the Darkness: One Year Later

It’s been just over a year since we published Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience, an essay collection written by 35 women sharing their experiences with postpartum and post-adoption depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

Since its publication last November, the Singapore Committee for UN Women endorsed the book, and it was one of Foreword Review’s IndieFab Book of the Year Finalists. We still believe the essays in this collection have a powerful message to share. Journalist Lisa Belkin wrote of the anthology:

“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.”

Our incredible contributors continue to be powerful advocates for spreading their messages to their community: you are not alone, ask for help, you can get through it.

Recently, in my home state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched an educational campaign to help women recognize the symptoms and get help. As part of Postpartum Support International, this organization shares resources for both mothers who are struggling as well as their family members and friends. It is a powerful campaign designed to spread awareness and make resources for seeking treatment more accessible to mothers.

This campaign reiterates the important message the contributors of Mothering Through the Darkness conveyed so powerfully:

800x800-moms2For women with pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, each day can be a struggle. Having a new baby is hard but we can help make it easier for you. You are not alone. You are not to blame. You can get help. www.postpartum.net/colorado #youarenotalone #Colorado #newmom #mentalhealth #PRD

One of the campaign’s most important messages is how to support a loved one experiencing postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders. They remind us: 

Pregnant and new mothers need empathy and support from loved ones. They may find it hard to be honest about their feelings and accept help in the beginning. Be patient and be available.

  • Encourage her to get help from a professional.
  • Help her find a support group and local resources.
  • Spend time listening without needing to offer solutions and advice.
  • Look after the baby or older children, or discuss other childcare options so she can have a break.
  • Take a simple action like cooking and cleaning without taking over these activities or expecting anything in return.
  • Encourage her to take care of herself by eating, resting, walking and limiting alcohol use.

If you are suffering, please remember that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and help is available to you. If you have a loved one who needs help, please reach out. You can find more information on the campaign, including resources for families, here.

For providers and others (bloggers, advocates) who want to spread awareness and provide resources, please use this fantastic toolkit. We encourage you to spread this message on social media, so please take advantage of the materials here!

And to the brave and gifted writers who shared their words with us in Mothering Through the Darkness, one year later, we are still so grateful for your words, so moved by your stories, and so honored to have worked with you on this deeply important project. Thank you so much.

~Stephanie & Jessica

**You can order a copy of Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience here.

**We recently announced our brand new online writing course, which will begin November 28th. Using Our Words to Change Our World is for anyone—professional writer, blogger, or not— who wants an opportunity to process our emotions after a difficult election, to understand better how to have an empathetic dialogue with those who may not agree with us, to practice self-care, and to learn from some incredible guest instructors about how to more effectively write opinion pieces. Please join us for a unique self-paced course unlike any we have ever offered– it will undoubtedly be a powerful experience within a supportive community. You can find out details and sign up here.

**You can purchase our most recent essay collection, So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood, right here. Like Mothering Through The Darkness, it aims to make motherhood less isolating and to shed light on those less-than-perfect moments and real life parenting challenges.motherhood-web1 (1)

HerStories Voices: The Miscarriage

This week’s essay was written by one of our So Glad They Told Me anthology contributors, Hannah Harlow. It’s about how one of her friendships was affected by a miscarriage. – Allie

HerStories Voices

THE MISCARRIAGE

“Tell me about your miscarriage,” Pia said.

“What about it?” We walked the bricked Cambridge sidewalks pushing my sleeping baby in a stroller. She already knew how shattered I had been after I miscarried my first pregnancy at 14 weeks—what sort of details did she want?

“Like, what happened exactly?”

Pia had always been my husband’s friend, really. They were best friends in college. Shortly after I met my husband, I needed a place to live and Pia had a room open for six months in her Brooklyn apartment. I was new to town, a little lonely, often lost, and Pia took me in. She took me to parties and watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer with me on the weekends as we ate cereal straight out of the box. Pia asked lots of questions, seemed genuinely interested in whatever I had to say. She introduced me to her parents. She made me laugh. Then the six months were up, I moved into a new place, and Pia gradually went back to being my husband’s friend. I didn’t know how to change that.

But occasionally it would just be us again and it could almost feel like old times. Pia and her husband had just started trying for a baby. Nothing had happened yet, but Pia was convinced something would.

“I want to be prepared,” she said.

So, I cautiously explained what had happened during the D&C. As Pia leaned in her curly dark head in that familiar way, I went on less reluctantly, because Pia could draw out the joy of sharing things you rarely talk about. She made you feel special for your experiences just by wanting to know about them. She’s one of the best listeners I’ve ever met. So I told her how the doctor inserted seaweed in my vagina, how bad the cramps were. I explained how my husband missed all of it, because he was stuck in Ethiopia on business with no flights home for days and how sick we felt over it. How the doctor had given me the drug Versed, how he said it would make me forget, but I remembered everything. I remembered gripping my mother’s hand while I stared at the whites of the ceiling, and I remembered the pain. What I didn’t tell Pia was how I held it all in until the doctor walked out of the room and then I burst into tears in my mother’s arms. She held me tight and whispered, “You’re so strong.” I thought, what other way is there to be? Because isn’t every woman who has ever gone through this strong?

“But now I have my son,” I told Pia. “So will you. Someday.” But I regretted it as soon as I said it. How could I know? What if it never happened for her?

Pia miscarried. Then she failed to get pregnant again, through three years of trying, through years and multiple rounds of IVF, and probably more that I don’t know about. Because we stopped seeing each other. We stopped talking.

During this same time I conceived and gave birth to our second beautiful, healthy son. We were grateful for everything we had, but that didn’t stop Pia from not wanting to come around anymore.

I even helped facilitate our distance—I didn’t call or text or reach out in any way. I felt guilty for our good luck and guilty for abandoning her, but I thought it was for the best. I missed her. But I understood how she felt. If I were her, I wouldn’t want to hang out with me either.

The day the doctor told me he couldn’t find a heartbeat, he handed me a prescription and I took it to CVS. The line at the pharmacy wound down the aisle of diapers and wipes and bottles and pacifiers. I thought, you can’t be serious. I stared at the baby things and tried not to weep. I wanted nothing to do with babies or their paraphernalia.

This was the cosmic response to lost pregnancies, it seemed. Suddenly there were babies everywhere: when I showed up to receive a haircut from a new and very pregnant stylist; when friends announced their pregnancies; every time I took a swig of wine and thought about what that meant, or didn’t mean.

As Pia struggled to conceive and I kept my distance, my husband continued to text and email and occasionally visit her. “I’m going to Pia’s, do you mind?” he’d say. “I think it’s hard for her to visit us.”

What he didn’t say to me was, “You’re not invited.”

I would say that I knew, that I understood, because I did. I knew Pia had shown strength in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I knew friendships don’t always travel in a straight line. But what I didn’t know or understand until then, as I cared for and loved our two utterly perfect children, was how much it can hurt to be so happy.

 

 

hannah-harlowHannah Harlow has an MFA in fiction from Bennington College. She recently had an essay appear in the HerStories Anthology, So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood. Her writing has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Day One, Synaesthesia Magazine, failbetter, and elsewhere. She promotes books for a living and lives outside of Boston with her husband and two sons. Find her online at www.hannahharlow.com or on Twitter: @hhharlow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Glad They Told Me Publication Day is Here!

It’s finally here!! We’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of this book ever since we chose our fantastic contributors nearly a year ago, and the day has finally arrived! So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood is now available for purchase as a paperback or e-book!

motherhood-web1

We are so proud of the 60 talented contributors who shared their stories about motherhood with us, and we think there is something for every parent in these pages, whether you’re newly pregnant, immersed in the first year, raising teens, or experiencing a brand new empty nest.

This book was inspired by our #SoGladTheyToldMe social media movement and viral essay; here is more info from the back cover of the book:

In the increasingly competitive culture of modern motherhood, parenting advice can often be judgmental, unrealistic, or smug. Or sometimes, there isn’t anyone there to offer advice or support. Mothers may feel isolated and lack a support network to provide honest advice, and others may face a barrage of unwarranted, unhelpful tips or warnings.

This collection of essays from 60 mothers will empower and unite parents with real, honest advice from women who have been there. These writers share the advice or support they received—or wish they had—on everything from pregnancy to surviving the first year to parenting teens to empty nest syndrome. Inspired by the viral essay and #SoGladTheyToldMe social media movement, this book aims to change conversations about motherhood by presenting a broader, more realistic, and more balanced image of motherhood so that women will feel less inadequate, adversarial, and isolated. So Glad They Told Me is filled with compassionate, honest advice, and the poignant, painful, and sometimes hilarious truths you wish your best girlfriends had told you about motherhood.

And to give you a taste of exactly the type of supportive, honest advice you’ll read in this book, here are some photos of our contributors sharing their messages in their own words.

This collection will share advice on surviving the early years of parenting:

14045971_1098388620223828_7054636289806110149_n

And work-life balance:

13932684_1098382153557808_86847994578706347_n

It speaks to the importance of finding a tribe and being there for other moms:

13924936_1098372256892131_8323372958167355961_n

And being honest with one another:

14040108_1098371016892255_335358026752135790_n

With so many fantastic contributors and a foreword by the incredible Ann Imig, founder of Listen To Your Mother, Jessica and I are bursting with excitement to release this book. We would love your support today! You can order a paperback or e-book here. Here are a few things you can do to help us spread the word and make our release day a success:

We are having a Twitter party on Thursday evening at 9 pm EST to celebrate the book, interact with the authors, and share our own motherhood stories. We’d LOVE for you to join us. Use the hashtag #SGTTM and join us! Details here:

14138329_10157279048855648_1370323123_n (1)

We are so thrilled to finally share this book that has been over a year-and-a-half in the making. You can learn more about the project here. We can’t wait for you to read our contributors’ stories– we are so glad they shared them with us, and we think you will be, too.

~Stephanie & Jessica

Publication Day for So Glad They Told Me!

It’s finally here!! We’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of this book ever since we chose our fantastic contributors nearly a year ago, and the day has finally arrived! So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood is now available for purchase as a paperback or e-book!

motherhood-web1

We are so proud of the 60 talented contributors who shared their stories about motherhood with us, and we think there is something for every parent in these pages, whether you’re newly pregnant, immersed in the first year, raising teens, or experiencing a brand new empty nest.

This book was inspired by our #SoGladTheyToldMe social media movement and viral essay; here is more info from the back cover of the book:

In the increasingly competitive culture of modern motherhood, parenting advice can often be judgmental, unrealistic, or smug. Or sometimes, there isn’t anyone there to offer advice or support. Mothers may feel isolated and lack a support network to provide honest advice, and others may face a barrage of unwarranted, unhelpful tips or warnings.

This collection of essays from 60 mothers will empower and unite parents with real, honest advice from women who have been there. These writers share the advice or support they received—or wish they had—on everything from pregnancy to surviving the first year to parenting teens to empty nest syndrome. Inspired by the viral essay and #SoGladTheyToldMe social media movement, this book aims to change conversations about motherhood by presenting a broader, more realistic, and more balanced image of motherhood so that women will feel less inadequate, adversarial, and isolated. So Glad They Told Me is filled with compassionate, honest advice, and the poignant, painful, and sometimes hilarious truths you wish your best girlfriends had told you about motherhood.

And to give you a taste of exactly the type of supportive, honest advice you’ll read in this book, here are some photos of our contributors sharing their messages in their own words.

This collection will share advice on surviving the early years of parenting:

14045971_1098388620223828_7054636289806110149_n

And work-life balance:

13932684_1098382153557808_86847994578706347_n

It speaks to the importance of finding a tribe and being there for other moms:

13924936_1098372256892131_8323372958167355961_n

And being honest with one another:

14040108_1098371016892255_335358026752135790_n

With so many fantastic contributors and a foreword by the incredible Ann Imig, founder of Listen To Your Mother, Jessica and I are bursting with excitement to release this book. We would love your support today! You can order a paperback or e-book here. Here are a few things you can do to help us spread the word and make our release day a success:

We are having a Twitter party on Thursday evening at 9 pm EST to celebrate the book, interact with the authors, and share our own motherhood stories. We’d LOVE for you to join us. Use the hashtag #SGTTM and join us! Details here:

14138329_10157279048855648_1370323123_n (1)

We are so thrilled to finally share this book that has been over a year-and-a-half in the making. You can learn more about the project here. We can’t wait for you to read our contributors’ stories– we are so glad they shared them with us, and we think you will be, too.

~Stephanie & Jessica