Friday, September 28, 2012

Melanie's Story: A Must Read For All Moms

Yesterday at work, I helped to host an annual event honoring individuals who have contributed to reducing the rate of infant mortality in our state.  The theme of this year's event was how postpartum depression, child abuse and domestic violence impact infant mortality. These issues are related and our goal was to bring awareness to them through this event.  We had several great speakers but one in particular stood out: Carol Blocker.

Carol is from Chicago, a retired teacher, a mother and grandmother. At first glance, Carol might seem like just anyone you would meet in passing on the street or in the grocery store. But she is so much more. Carol is an advocate. She is a fighter. She is determined, passionate and relentless to get her daughter's story out.

Carol's daughter is Melanie Blocker-Stokes. Melanie, too, was just like any other woman you might know. Successful in her career, married to a doctor, and a new mom. But something was different with Melanie. Immediately following the birth of her first child (a child she had longed for and eagerly awaited), Melanie changed. She stopped eating and drinking. She became paranoid that her neighbors where saying bad things about her as a new mom. She believed her new daughter hated her and that she was a bad mother. Carol knew something was wrong. But despite repeated attempts to receive help from doctors and mental health professionals, Carol's concerns went unheard.  Melanie took her own life, jumping out of a hotel room 12 floors above a busy Chicago street.

There wasn't a dry eye in the room when Carol finished her speech and took her seat. Melanie's story is beyond heartbreaking. I cannot get it out of my mind and woke up last night thinking about her. I'm deeply saddened that Melanie felt she had no other choice to but to end her life (ultimately to save her baby's life) and leave behind her husband, daughter, mother and countless friends.

Over the last decade, Carol has told everyone who would listen that Melanie's death could have been prevented. The events that transpired in the last months of Melanie's life, were nothing Melanie had control over. She was suffering form postpartum psychosis. A rare (1-2 of every 1,000 deliveries), yet very real, perinatal mood disorder.   Postpartum depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder make up the continuum of mood disorders that affect more than 30% of new moms.  Warning signs range from frequent crying, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, lost interest in fun things, fear of harming or being left alone with baby, and thoughts of self-harm.

Hearing Carol and Melanie's story, I knew I had a responsibility to share. I know that being a new mom can be overwhelming.  But these debilitating mood disorders should not take away from what is supposed to be one of the happiest times in life. Sadly, Melanie didn't get the help she needed more than ten years ago. But things have changed, thanks to amazing women like Carol. Help and treatment are available. There are great resources including Postpartum Support International  and Postpartum Education for Parents 1-800-311-2229.

If you know a new mom that needs help, get her help. If you are new mom that needs help, ask for it.

Will you take a moment today to help me in honoring Melanie's life by sharing her story? You never know who's life you might save.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To Work or Not to Work?

We've been looking at day cares for little EG and think we finally have a winner! It's been a tough search-mostly because all the day cares we like are booked through next year. Long waiting lists are ok when you are expecting...not when you have 4 weeks of leave and an almost 6 week old!

I have really enjoyed my time at home with Emily. It's been awesome to see her get bigger and change day to day. I've loved our outings and all the visitors we've had. But I've missed work! I know lots of moms feel torn about life at home with the wee one and life outside in the "real world". I've officially become one of those moms. My job is tough and challenging, but it's also rewarding. I've put a lot of time and energy getting my career where it is today. And I love it. I love that my ideas are valued and that I am a part of something bigger. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I see my hard work finally pay off.  And above all that, I feel like God has given me these talents for this very purpose and it's part of His plan to do what I'm doing.

But I also love my new baby girl (and she was a part of His plan too!). The thought of leaving her at a daycare to go to work every day is not an easy one.  Pre-baby I'd work long hours and check e-mails all hours of  the day (and on my days off). A bit of a work-a-holic. Now I know that won't change overnight, but I'm getting a bit more balance to my life these days.

Luckily, I have great friends that are moms and also manage to have careers. And they've given some great advise. One friend shared that she reminds herself on a daily basis why she goes to work. On those days that it's tough to leave Emily behind, I remind myself and tell her why I do it. For instance, if she wants to do ballet, play soccer, take piano lessons, attend art camp or anything of the like...I want to have money saved up to nourish her budding hobbies and interests. If we want to take a family vacation to Disney World, I want to be able to make those memories with her without worrying (too much) about a price tag. And in 17 or so years, when it's time for her to choose a college, I want her to be able to attend her first pick without student loans hanging over her head.

More than doing things together or the "stuff" extra money in my pocket provides, I want Emily to understand that life is about balance and sacrifice when it comes to providing for your family.  I want her one day to look back and see that it is not always easy at times but it can be done. And that even though I worked, I was a better mommy for it. It made those precious hours and days at home with her that much more important. Even though I spent  8+ hours a day at my office, I crammed as much snuggle, fun, and awesome time in the 5+ hours at night at home with her.

This is where God has called me to be at this time, and I'm ok with it. I'm going to make the most of every day. There's balance to be found and a lesson to be learned. I'm going to soak up as much time as I can with my daughter and role with it in the working world.  Who knows what's in store for the next chapter of our lives. I may be writing a new post a few years from now as a stay-at-home mom. And I just might be ok with it. :)


Friday, September 21, 2012

2 months

Emily Grace was two months old yesterday and had her two month check up today! She is getting bigger-21.5 inches long and 10.7lbs! She's on right on track with the growth charts and is definitely my little "chunkamonk" in the 40th percentile for weight! :)
The last month has been busy with lots of changes. Both Randy and I went back to work full time. We've been so fortunate to have both his mom, my mom and my sister stay home with Emily! It's been wonderful to have them keep her and has helped with the "back to the grind" adjustment. We did find a daycare-yay!-and she will start there October 1st. We had our last home study visit with our wonderful social worker and the adoption will be finalized October 29th! We've been incredibly blessed with many gifts for Emily from friends and co-workers. I'm so amazed every day by just how much love surrounds us.
A few more Emily highlights:
  •  She's officially out of newborn clothing and in to all her cute 0-3 month clothes!
  • She is starting to sleep longer during the night! Woohoo! She will sleep at 5-6 hour stretch now!
  • When she wakes up she is all smiles and is so chatty. She loves to lay in her crib and laugh and talk with her wind-up stuffed giraffe.
  • She's moving her legs and arms more. When she's on her stomach, she can hold up her head for several minutes.
  • She loves to look around and is noticing us and her stuffed animals. You can see her really studying them! She also loves to be outside looking at the trees and listening to the birds.
  • She finally has eyelashes! For the longest time she didn't have any and they are finally coming in nice and long.
But I think my favorite highlight happened today. While having lunch with a friend at Villa Tronco (very nice Italian restaurant), Emily decided it was time for a stinky diaper. With the car parked blocks away and no changing area in the bathroom, we turned their hideaway booth into a diaper changing station (the staff were great about the whole situation). Emily Grace, only 2 months old and already keeping it so classy! Can't wait to see what's in store for month 3. :)