When It’s Mother’s Day During A Pandemic

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When it’s Mother’s Day during a pandemic and you are sheltering in place in Oakland, you will find yourself on the brink of tears at any given moment for no reason at all and for so many reasons.

A good friend will tell you that it is difficult to process trauma when you are still experiencing it.

When you are sheltering in place during a pandemic on Mother’s Day you will feel incredibly guilty for the words that you could not keep from your lips. You will tell your kids to leave you alone and you will be angry with your mouth for not being restrained by your heart.

You will start to fear the world that you are preparing them for. You will think about the days of school missed because of wildfires and now this. Will school ever be the same?

You will note that racism literally does not shelter in place.

You will wonder how crime seems to be down all over the world and yet people are getting shot on 580.

You will listen to Cranes in the Sky and Mamas Gun on repeat when DNice isn’t enough.

You will have to mentally prepare yourself for the grocery store but appreciate it for the welcomed break from your family.

You will mourn the lives lost. Some from the virus, some not. Some of people you know and some of people you do not know; but somehow you miss them.

You will begin to long for the between times. The drives to work. Prep periods. The moments before picking the kids up from school. You realize though short, those times were invaluable.

When it’s Mother’s Day during a pandemic and you are sheltering in place your husband will do whatever he can to cheer you up. He will grow frustrated when your mood doesn’t change.

You know that the only thing that would grant you solace is to have a break. The problem is, the only person who can help you needs a break too.

You feel stuck.

Your family is healthy. You have a roof over your head. You are able to work from home. You have a million things to be grateful for…

You feel guilty.

When it is Mother’s Day during a pandemic and you are sheltering in place. You will Facetime your mother. You will breath. You will enjoy a break from homeschooling. You will enjoy a break from work. You will sleep in a little bit. Maybe drink some wine.

You will survive.

This is Postpartum Depression

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Months after her second child was born Prish was diagnosed with postpartum depression. This is her courageous story.

The Pregnancy

For me, I feel like it really started with the pregnancy. We had an unexpected pregnancy and it was in the midst of what was becoming a chaotic work life, of me becoming an executive director (of a well established non-profit). I was a couple of months in when I found out I was pregnant and I was not ready for it but I charged forward and embraced it and had what I thought was a decent pregnancy. But with a lot of emotional roller coasters from the stress. And I did end up actually getting gestational diabetes, so it was a hard pregnancy so when he was born all those factors I think really stayed with me.

Postpartum Challenges

On top of everything I didn’t have the luxury to actually step away from my role as an executive director during my leave. I did have some time off but I was always available. And then I had to immediately rush back to work. I did the 12 weeks but I would be lying to you if I wasn’t on email. I don’t know, I think part of me really wanted to honor that role and everything that comes with being a woman of color and having this opportunity that I couldn’t fuck up. There was a lot of pressure that I had put on myself. The board of directors had really given me the vote of confidence and the previous ED had really advocated for me to have the position so I had moved up. It hadn’t been my plan to become an executive director as much as it is dope but then I got pregnant and time and energy was limited on top of having Mina who at that time was 2 years old.

I think from our families and culturally there are always these expectations of “be mother first” and I’m not hella domestic. Motherhood and mothering doesn’t come as naturally as we think that it is suppose to and I was really embracing this idea of how to become this organizational leader and it really threw me for a loop. I think it was really hard to translate what it meant to have all these responsibilities at home and pregnancy. You know you give birth and I don’t think my partner knew how to be helpful or how to be emotionally available. The second pregnancy was so different with our relationship than the first. He was so attentive with Mina.

Living with Postpartum Depression and Psychosis  

The second one was like oh, I’m still doing the same amount of chores while you watch Mina and also he would be like, “why are you working so late?” Well it’s not because I want to but because I have to. I felt really lonely throughout the second pregnancy. I was like,  “no, these reports are due.” There is a deadline. So that pressure wasn’t good and I held it in and that wasn’t good. This is what I learned because of the depression-that I need a support system and I didn’t have one. I think I manifested my mental health issues by working more. There was this period after I returned back to work where I was drinking three cups of coffee a day. I was staying up all these crazy hours. I was still breastfeeding. Still doing everything else and so it got to a point where not only did I have postpartum depression but I had postpartum psychosis. I dissociated with reality. It got to this point where I was just going and sleep became disposable. That all intersected and one day I woke up and I had no sense of reality and it was really scary. I had no outlet.

I was thinking irrationally. We lost funding and I had to do all of these layoffs. It was a lot of pressure and I started just creating all of these story lines around what may or may not have happened. I think people really cued into that and at one point I thought someone was out to get my partner or out to hurt our family and that’s when it was like you need to go in. You need to sit down and take care of yourself and that was when I was not in reality. They (the doctors) were like have you slept? And I was like maybe a few hours in the last three days.

It forced me to slow down. I had to take a medical leave. I had to really consider and sit with it -I had a really hard time, just feeling really shitty like motherhood is not my identity. Like it feels so hard to mother, to be present and to take care of everybody and feed everybody. I had my lapse when Pacal was eight months. So after eight months I hit a wall. I was just like go, go, go, do, do, do and there was no self care, no nothing. Then I was like oh shit I have all of these feelings.

I had a very overachieving idea of who I was. I was on medical leave for two months and during that time I had to reevaluate my priorities. As for being executive director, the idea of being a thought leader, a leader and moving on issues that I think are really important is really important to me but the kids really needed me and I can be of service to the world in a different way. So during those two months I made the decision to quit my work and create a plan around that but it was hard.

Recovery

I kept getting all kinds of weird diagnosis so they tried different medications. You know what I really learned? I just learned the concept of getting grounded. The medication really helped but I had never taken the time to take baths, I went on a yoga retreat, I forced myself to do a lot of self care mind body spirit practices that I had never allowed myself to enjoy or participate in and it helped me understand my mind and my body. I was like I’ll try anything. Teas, I was drinking hella teas all kinds. My friend suggested reiki massages. It was about what do I know about my body and what is my body telling me? And what do I hold in and what do I release? There are certain emotions that I don’t express much and I learned through that process that I needed to, including grief.

I went to an orthomolecular doctor that my parents had found. I think they felt really helpless. I needed that to understand that it’s not just my mind and I am not just losing it emotionally, there are chemicals. Part of me was just really resistant too, like I can’t have a mental illness. I can’t fucking have anxiety and depression issues. I feel like going through all these things helped me understand myself and also like how there is the medical world but there are also other practices, vitamin B was a godsend for me. I started taking magnesium supplements and that helped. Walking barefoot in the park or on the beach. I didn’t know how helpful that could be. There are a lot of practices that I knew you have to do to be a healthy and balanced human but it wasn’t until I hit crisis mode that I actually did them.

It wasn’t until it happened to me that I learned that I had a history (of postpartum depression) in my family that no one talked about. My  grandma had 14 kids but it wasn’t until I was hospitalized that we learned that my grandmother had had two postpartum situations that had to be hospitalized. And I was just like why doesn’t anybody talk about this? Why didn’t anyone know? Somebody randomly remembered. It was one of the great aunts that was like “oh, yea there was that one time.” I’m like, “her descendants need to know.” Nobody knew what it was, they just say that after she gave birth to one of my aunts or uncles she just stopped talking. That was her coping mechanism she just disassociated. I felt relieved it’s not just me. There is a reason and it would have been awesome to have known but now we know.   

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Thank you Prish for so courageously sharing your story. You are an amazing woman and your story is truly inspirational. 

My Post Baby Body Journey- 11 Days Postpartum

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11 days postpartum

My mind: I have my good moments and my low moments. Sometimes the idea of going outside with a newborn is overwhelming but I know that staying in the house all day every day is bad for my mental health. My husband made me go for a walk around the block the other day which was nice and much appreciated. Still feeling anxious about him going back to work. I’m also feeling overwhelmed by my house. So much cleaning, so little time, so little energy.

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11 days postpartum

My body: Where do I begin? There’s been a lot going on! Well first off, my milk came in like crazy. Maxwell spent a day feeding and after that my boobs were uncomfortably humongous for days. I couldn’t even hug my kids which made me a little sad. In addition to that, breastfeeding has been hella painful. While the cramping had subsided, each feeding felt like he was biting my nipple. I used all the techniques my lactation nurse taught me but they weren’t working so I we went in for an appointment and was told that Maxwell was tongue tied. So it didn’t just feel like he was biting my nipple he literally was biting my nipple. Ouch!

Moving on, my pelvic floor is done. It hurts to crawl, I can hardly stand up in the morning, I can’t sit up without using my arms to support me, I can’t even lift my legs too far off the ground and I have to sleep with a huge pillow between my legs or else I’ll feel an unbearable pain in my groin area. Like they say, there is no rest for the weary. Now for my neck, it hurts badly and it is super stiff. I thought it might be from sleeping crazy because I fall asleep in all different positions these days but it turns out I hurt is breastfeeding. My little one is so cute I like to watch him while he eats and that has been straining my neck. The cure to all my pain issues, as prescribed by my doctor, has been heat and pain medicine. I don’t like taking pills but I am super unpleasant when I’m in pain and my family deserves to have the best version of me even while I’m healing. I’m starting to get my energy back, got to dance with my boys to some MJ today so that definitely makes taking some pills worth it.

My soul: I don’t know how my soul feels. I guess I need to do some soul searching…

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11 days postpartum