May 8, 2018

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“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”

―Donna Ball

In honour of Mother’s day, we’ve teamed up with the Modern Fort & BC Women’s Hospital to shed light on the side of motherhood that is often forgotten in hopes that no mother ever feels alone.  To all the moms out there who are showing up every day and doing their best, this one is for you.

Below are seven stories of motherhood, unfiltered.  To read all of them visit The Modern Fort Mama Diaries.

Photo Taken By: @angelabaronphotographer
Story By:Eschelle Westwood of @mumfection

“Motherhood is one of the most rewarding and isolating experiences any woman can have.

I soon became pregnant with our second child, given the due date February 17th, 2010 the anniversary of my mother’s death day. Deep down I knew that he was going to be born that day, regardless of everyone saying there was only a 3% chance. Low and behold that morning at 6:30am I started going into labour and gave birth to my son on the anniversary of my mother’s death. It was a full circle feeling for me as he responded to my finger immediately,and my mother’s name till he was two. His birth was a very healing experience for me in my grief as I felt my mother with me in him every day. Of course this didn’t solve all the issues I had developed from my still lingering postpartum trauma from having my first son. That feeling that I was never quite doing enough. There were days that grief would swallow me making me a sub par parent at best some days.

Then I found out worse news: my father, who I was estranged from, had passed away during  September just a few years after my youngest was born. Myself and the rest of his family didn’t find out until the following October as he listed no contact information. It was a huge blow to know he had passed of lung cancer as well and all alone. It once again began another long battle with a deep depression. A depression I wouldn’t have gotten over had it not been for my beautiful family.

Each and every day I take it one step at a time and some days are better than others. Sometimes my house is a mess but we manage with a little love. After losing both of my grandparents this year again to lung cancer I need all the love I can get” – Eschelle Westwood of @mumfection

Photo By: @angelabaronphotographer
Story By: Jennifer Stafford of @thesweetlifeapparel

“My first born, Caleb, was born at 41 wks via an emergency C-section (following 2 rounds of induction in one day & hours of pushing with no success).

The C-section went well, and soon enough we were home and getting settled in.

It had only been one week since we had been home from the hospital, and I was sleeping on the couch at night with Caleb (I know that’s a no-no, but he would only sleep on you), as we were taking turns sitting with him over night so at least one of us could catch some zzzs.

I woke up in a lot of pain (basically septic shock), sometime around 2am and it felt as though I was paralyzed. I could barely open my eyes, couldn’t speak, couldn’t stand, and was drooling.

It took everything I had to sit up with Caleb in my arms and make my way to the bedroom to wake my husband up as something was definitely wrong. After a call to the nurses’s help line 8-1-1 I was told to head to the emergency room.

I really wish that there had been an option to have my son with me, or see him more. I don’t feel like there was any support for me as a new mom. I’m very grateful for the care that I received but the care certainly wasn’t tailored to a first time mom, 1 week post partum, recovering from a c-section. It felt so strange to have become a mom and then suddenly I wasn’t. I’m so grateful that my husband was able to care for our son 110% in my absence, along with bringing me meals etc. And I’m so lucky that my son was such an easy going baby, and went right back to breastfeeding when I returned. But because of that, it was a bit strange adjusting at home, at first I felt a bit un-needed since they carried on without me, and I felt guilty for missing an entire week of my son’s first first month on earth. Most people commented about how ‘lucky’ I was to get to sleep through the night when I had just had a baby, but I certainly wasn’t getting any sleep in the hospital, and the ‘mom guilt’ for not being the primary care giver for my child was really upsetting.

Of course we carried on and eventually adjusted, it just took me some time to ‘officially’ feel like a mom. I just hope that for other moms who end up being hospitalized soon after they give birth, that there is an option to have their child with them and more support for them with breastfeeding & recovering post partum” – Jennifer Stafford of @thesweetlifeapparel

Photo By: @angelabaronphotographer
Story By: Jessica Birack of @mintandbirch

“Postpartum. Even the word in itself feels dark and scary for me. Before I had children, I assumed that I would easily and seamlessly transition into motherhood, and that it would feel like a honeymoon. I believed that I would suddenly bloom gracefully into motherhood. But I was so wrong. I have 4 babies: I’ve experienced 4 dark postpartum periods and am still very much in the thick of my 4th postpartum tunnel.”

With each baby, the theme seems to be one of being peeled and broken down to my very core. So much of my naked, raw inner self makes me question myself. It makes me wonder who I am at my very core. I feel like I’m about to fall into a sea of emotions and tears.

Something about this time makes me feel raw, vulnerable, and most of all; broken. When I’m asked how I am, I say that I’m surviving, or that I’m getting better, but what I really want to say is that I feel so broken.

If I dig deep into my heart, I know that I AM broken. But perhaps it’s a beautiful, broken mess.  What a beautiful opportunity it is for me to heal and discover at this very deep level. I feel like I’m a vase that has been shattered, but maybe I don’t need to put the pieces back together like I think they should be. Maybe the broken pieces come together to form a new, beautiful mosaic art. The pieces are beautiful because it simply exists to form something new. I just don’t know how I’m going to get there yet. But I know that’s okay, because we’ll figure it out together” – By: Jessica Birack of @mintandbirch

Photo By: @angelabaronphotographer
Story By: Samantha Lenz of @snlenz

“Handling life as a new mother is terrifying, yet alone a new single mother. Going through the highs and lows of childbirth and dealing with them alone is so a tough pill to swallow. We do it, and we do it with a smile on our face – but deep down we really just need a break sometimes. Honestly, talking with someone about the fears, anxiety, and moments of what seems like insanity can really help and show that you aren’t as alone in this as you may feel. I still feel alone most days in this journey, but that is part of my depression. I know these feelings, and just because I feel them doesn’t make me less of a mom or someone who loves their child any less. We all process things differently — physically, mentally and emotionally, and we must acknowledge and respect everyone’s process. We all are doing the best we can!”- Samantha Lenz of @snlenz

Story By: Sasha Ruscheinski of Tattrd Threads
Photo By: @angelabaronphotographer

“It was March 11th, my husband’s 26th birthday. I was 10 weeks pregnant and had my first ultrasound scheduled for that morning. Within 10 seconds of the ultrasound starting I just knew. The tech had this look on her face that I will never forget. She looked so hard at the screen. Her lips were pursed and her eyes were slightly squinted. I braced myself for the words I knew the tech was about to say. She turned the screen towards me and said the words no one wants to hear “I’m sorry, but it looks like there is no heartbeat”. My world instantly shattered. I felt as though my heart was literally breaking into pieces. I had never experienced that type of pain before. It was excruciating and completely crippled me.

Again, a month after trying we got another positive pregnancy test! But just two weeks later it happened again. One day before our wedding anniversary I was in the ER being told that I had an ectopic pregnancy. My world shattered once again. How could this happen to me again? I was given two shots of methotrexate to treat the ectopic and was sent on my way.

Two months later I got another positive pregnancy test. I was SO excited. I knew I was going to bring this baby home. I just had this overwhelming feeling of peace. This baby was going to make it. I had no doubt in my mind. Well, two weeks later it happened again. My third loss in eight months. Three babies that were once in my body were gone. Devastating doesn’t even begin to cover how it felt.

My journey to have my second son was not an easy one, but it is one I am grateful for as it brought us the most precious little boy. Of course I wish that we could have just gotten this boy without all the pain, but that’s not our story. Our story has turned out better than I ever imagined it would. I sit here writing this with my 4.5 year old beside me, my 17 month old running around with my husband and baby #3 rolling around inside my belly. We are about to become a family of five literally any day now. Even in my best dreams I never imagined this.” – Sasha Ruscheinski of Tattrd Threads

Story By: Andrea Firmani of Mama in the City
Photo By: @angelabaronphotographer

“Right after I had Elisabeth I sunk into a weird unexpected cycle of feeling anxious. I never had any post partum depression or anxiety with the other two babies and to my intellectual brain it did not make sense. I had a healthy baby in my arms and she was my third baby, I knew how to mother a newborn. I’m sure the high risk pregnancy, crazy delivery and NICU experience all played a role in my post partum anxiety but truly post partum anxiety can target any new mum.

Anxiety is a complex beast, it is completely controlling of your daily life. It steals your joy and your sense of self. The idea that something bad is about to happen all the time is utterly exhausting. Things that used to make you feel happy and satisfied were now coated with a new layer of uncertainty. I wish that someone had flat out asked me if I was having any problems coping when I had Elisabeth. Just having someone to talk about these weird feelings would have been beneficial.

Slowly over time I started to feel less and less anxious. As my baby grew and I felt more in control of my daily life I had more anxiety free moments. It was not an over night transformation but a gradual continuous shift into feeling more like my old self. For me the feelings were the most intense for the first 3 to 4 months post partum and slowly eased off over the rest of the first year.” – Andrea Firmani of Mama in the City

Story By: Amy Libby of @bellybagsca
Photo By: @angelabaronphotographer

Half way into my first pregnancy I knew something wasn’t right.  I was anxious, fretting things that once brought me joy (like shopping or seeing friends) and I became reclusive.  I knew something was wrong so I approached my doctor, who had me fill out a questionnaire. I scored high on that little test, but was only given a prescription for Ativan and told I’d be “monitored”.  

Fast forward 6 months and I had a beautiful baby girl.  This sweet babe had colic and a round of her own health issues, all the while my anxiety worsened and I could no longer really leave my home without a panic attack.  Again I reached out to our GP and was given another prescription, despite the fact that I had voiced concerns that I was legitimately scared to take anything and wanted to exercise all other options first.  This concern went unheard and I eventually parted ways with my physician when my daughter was misdiagnosed several times.

By the time my daughter was 9 months old I could no longer leave my home without a panic attack (or several), and several routines in order to get out the door.  I had to have an arsenal of unnecessary supplies, anything to ease the anxiety I felt at being in public alone or with baby.

It was about 3 months into my second pregnancy when the anxiety began to worsen.  The isolation, anxiety and depression returned except this time it was ten fold. I began to have to plan grocery trips two hours in advance.  Often I wouldn’t even leave the house and never saw friends or family. I had tried to go a different route with this pregnancy and saw a midwife.  It was a few appointments in when she softly asked me if I was doing ok. I thought I could continue to hide all of the suffering and downplayed my response.  “Oh I’m ok” I would say while inside screaming for help, pleading that she would see what was happening to me, which she thankfully did. Within two days I had an appointment with a counsellor who had experience with postpartum.  She was a Godsend for me, but the anxiety continued and worsened by the week.

When I finally did see the psychiatrist I was diagnosed with my own mental health cocktail. On top of the ppd, and ppa, I was also Diagnosed with OCD and agoraphobia, things I suspected but never had confirmed prior to this.

While this may have brought some into further despair, it brought me hope and the idea that I could get through it.  I reached out to the pacific postpartum society on the advice of a friend and found comfort in the bi weekly calls they made to ask how you were doing. It was when I was describing my history that my call coach gave a gasp and let me know that Surrey memorial Hospital has a dedicated space in the ER for postpartum moms. Had I known this I would have spared myself hours clinics, er’s and offices begging for help.  It is in this experience that I grew as a mother, as a woman and as an advocate. I feel strongly in the opinion that I suffered through this to being attention to the lack of understanding of ppd/ppa in our current medical system.

Women are strong and courageous, but we all need the support of our villages.   I will forever strive to be an advocate for anyone suffering with his debilitating disease whether in pregnancy, birth, Postpartum or adoption” – Amy Libby of @bellybagsca.

BC Women’s Hospital, Shoppers Drug Mart, the Running Room and many other members of the community are partnering together to raise funds and awareness for post-partum depression. The SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women will give women new tools to combat post-partum depression. Thru an innovative research project at BC Women’s, women from across BC will have easy access to web-based treatment for depression – through an app!

By supporting BC Women’s Hospital, we can help women in our community who bravely face mental health issues win a victory of their own.


Date: Saturday, May 12, 2018

Time: 8:30 am

Location: Wesbrook Village UBC, Vancouver

Options: 1K Little Steps Run, 5K Walk/Run or 10K Walk/Run

More Information and Register: http://www.runforwomen.ca/

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