The summer I went away to Israel, when I was 17, I remember coming home and feeling changed. More connected to my Judaism, to the new friends that I'd made and the country I'd fallen in love with. I had such profound experiences there that truly made an impact on me and I remember to this day. (Sadly, my mother made me remove my more visible reminder of that trip - the upper ear cartilage piercing I got against her wishes - within one day of being home, when we were meeting my grandfather for lunch. Teenage angst sigh...)
This weekend was yet another trip that has newly defined me. I can't stop thinking about it - rolling around the facts we learned inside my head, recalling stories I was told and that I shared with others, replaying the funniest and most poignant moments of the weekend over and over. I have been almost in a daze since returning home to my darkened apartment late Sunday evening. I feel like I'm somewhat straddling two worlds, as part of me has stayed either in Boston or in the dark days of my postpartum past, reeling from discoveries that the weekend led me to make.
|The night we all met - pre-conference cocktail party!|
What were those discoveries?
- That I'm not 100% healed as I thought and willed myself to be. If that is all it took, I'd be set. But after only four years, and since having a baby just ten months ago, I'm still more in postpartum depression and anxiety's grips than I realized. Through guilt (I mean REGRET. Regret. I regret missing the first few months of Rebecca's life, and worrying through the first couple months of Lila's. I regret not remembering Rebecca reaching the milestones that Lila is now hitting. I regret the burden I have put on my husband. I regret that I still have days when my mind is fuzzy and patience short.) Through bouts of anxiety. Through rage issues that flare up when the anxiety does. Through the medication that I take daily to help me get to the point where I currently am.
- That self-care is SO important. Yes, I came back from this weekend away a bit rocked and more than a bit exhausted - but I crept into my daughters' room when I got home, studied them sleeping and took a photo of each, so I'd remember how I felt. Filled with gratitude for them, and the overwhelming desire to wake them up (I didn't - what do you think I am insane!?).
Monday morning when Lila awoke and I got her from her crib, she wouldn't leave my side. When I had to wake Rebecca for camp, she did a double take, jumped up and into my arms with the hugest smile. Taking time for me, gives me more room for them.
- That support - true, unconditional support - is invaluable. The women I met held each mom there in the highest regard. We heard about each other's lowest lows, and shared pictures of our kids - our highest highs. We told stories of the darkest days and cried, and quotes from our littles that made the room erupt in laughter. We assured each other of things we know is true - that we are all great moms, and the exact right moms for our children.
- That Warrior Moms are incredible; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6iQp-JdjkU&sns=fb
- That a room full of moms needs really good AC.
- That education is SO important. Women need to know more about maternal mental health issues. Pregnant women need to see a list of risk factors to determine where they may fall. Pregnant women need to see a list of various symptoms that they may or may not find themselves dealing with, so that if they do, they know to get help. New mothers need to be given clear materials that stay top of mind during a time when so much information is being thrown at them. The partners of new mothers need to be given materials that will help them recognize an issue with the other - and fathers should know about their risk for postpartum depression too. As should adoptive mothers. There is SO MUCH that is unknown. So much that is misunderstood. So much information to get out there.
- That Postpartum Progress is made up of incredibly strong, powerful and courageous women.
- That I will will be attending every Warrior Mom Conference in perpetuity.
- That I have only just begun to use my experience and my voice for good.