I can’t tell you how happy I am to have Lauren guest posting on the blog today. She is such a beautiful person who I actually *met* on Twitter when searching for postpartum resources. She is a true advocate for postpartum support, as you will read below. The women of #PPDChat on Twitter and Facebook are a wonderful resource of support and love for me, and I hope they can be for you too. Please check it out if you are in need. Thank you Lauren for sharing!
GUEST POST By: Lauren Hale, My Postpartum Voice
Thus, my blog, then Unexpected Blessing, began on May 3, 2007. I had little to say at first beyond the typical kvetching about morning sickness and the challenges of parenting two toddlers while a third child grew inside me. Swollen sore breasts when toddlers want to pounce on you? SO.MUCH.FUN. Also fun is extreme morning sickness triggered by motion. Have you ever tried to get a four year old and a two year old to stay still? It’s like deliberating a solution to the debt ceiling limit with a Senator. Damn near impossible.
After giving birth to my son, I rebranded my blog to “Sharing the Journey.” One feature at this time were regular interviews with mothers and experts within the Postpartum realm. Through these interviews, my connections grew and I enjoyed sharing different aspects and experiences with my readers. I also began to receive emails from readers thanking me for blogging. Every one touched me so very deeply. One of these interviews was with Karen Kleiman, the Postpartum expert who’s book inspired me to start blogging. Karen has been very supportive of my blog over the past four years and I am entirely grateful to her for her enduring work and dedication to families as well as professionals in relation to Postpartum Mood Disorders.
I branched out from blogging into Social Media. Not sure which came first for me – Twitter or Facebook. I joined Facebook to help with a Postpartum Support International group. I do not know why I joined Twitter. Probably because all the cool kids were there. I finally began to tweet on a regular basis and grew to know quite a few parents. I have never been shy about sharing my Postpartum experiences as anyone who knows me well will tell you. I do censor how I tell it depending on where the mother/family I am currently helping is at mentally. Some details of my story can be very triggering.
My first postpartum experience involved a physician who refused to treat me. My second experience involved a stay in a mixed gender psych ward. I am thankful to share I did not experience a Postpartum Mood Experience after the birth of my son. I stayed in therapy, on my meds, and relied heavily upon the online support I had developed through social media and postpartum advocacy.
Postpartum Advocacy quickly evolved into a very important part of myself. I lived, ate, and breathed Postpartum facts, support, contact, etc. I refused to let anyone suffer alone and I still refuse to let anyone suffer alone. If I can help, I will.
In 2010, I rebranded my blog yet again as my son was a bit older and Sharing the Journey did not seem to fit the ideas I had in my head for my blog. Along with this rebranding to “My Postpartum Voice,” I introduced a chat on Twitter called #PPDChat. I approached a few other Postpartum Advocates with the idea and asked for their support as I started this new venture. Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress, Amber Koter-Puline of Beyond Postpartum, and Ivy Shih-Leung of Ivy’s PPD Blog, were the early supporters of #PPDChat. They still support the chat as much as they can and for this, I am eternally grateful.
#PPDChat occurs every Monday at 1:00 pm and 8:30 p.m. ET on Twitter. Typically an announcement regarding the topic is posted at my blog Monday mornings. Our first chat was relatively small but overwhelmingly powerful. Today we have upwards of 50-60 moms per chat with professionals and medical organizations chiming in as well. #PPDChat is recognized as a solid community of support, an army of love, if you will, ready and waiting for any parent struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. This chat has literally saved lives, given people access to support and provided hope. When I started this chat, I had no idea if it would even take hold. But a year later, we are still growing. There is now a Facebook group which allows the active #PPDChat Moms to share even more in depth without fear of stigma or judgment. Professionals and Moms alike refer struggling parents or those with questions to me on Twitter as a result of this chat. The entire experience has been mind-blowing as I am only doing what I wish had been done for me when I struggled.
No mother deserves to suffer from a Postpartum Mood Disorder alone. No parent should ever think there is something horribly wrong with them or they are an outcast because they have signs or symptoms of a Postpartum Mood Disorder. There are other parents out there just like you, some of them with a driving desire to reach out their hands to help you through the hard darkness. All you have to do is get on Twitter and use the hashtag #PPDChat. Because these days? Help is only a tweet away.