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Coordinator’s Corner: Meet Our Volunteers

Diane Ashton

Hawaii Co-Coordinator, Pacific Region Coordinator

My road through postpartum depression was like a mystery / horror movie.

In 1994, in Hawaii, I really felt alone, and crazy too. My son was almost five years old when, after a bit of a yucky pregnancy, I had an awesome birth, bringing his little sister into the world. A GIRL! We had one of each! Despite declaring I wasn’t one to dress a girl in ruffles and pink, we stopped at Sears on the way home from the hospital (!!!) to pick up some ruffles and pink.

At first things went smoothly. My sister came for two weeks and we hung out, chose names for my daughter, and baked a Valentine’s cake and a birthday cake. We went to my weekly moms’ playgroup with my son’s friends, as we had done for over 4 years. The other moms were happy to have an infant to dote on-I was happy to hand her off occasionally.

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Meeka Centimano

Past Kansas Area Co-Coordinator
Founding Director of The Postpartum Resource Center of Kansas

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant. I was a School Social Worker at the time and the bathroom was across from my office. I stood in that bathroom. I stared at the pink line and fell to the floor. I was stunned and overwhelmed. I burst into tears and called my husband. These were not tears of joy. Being pregnant was the last thing I wanted. My family and my husband’s family were thrilled, so the guilt of not feeling happy about a baby started in those first few months of my pregnancy. Why was everyone so happy when I felt so lousy?

I spent the rest of my pregnancy with many physical illnesses and with mixed emotions. As the delivery date got closer I was beginning to panic. My father assured me that when I saw my baby for the first time I would fall in love.

Imagine the horror when that didn’t happen. It had been my one hope. I looked at my little girl and felt nothing. The only thing that went through my mind was, “I must feel so disconnected because I didn’t want her. How could a good mother not want her baby?” That wasn’t the case at all, but I didn’t know that. Instead the feelings were part of the onset of my Postpartum Anxiety.

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Joan Getz-Heller, RN, LCSW

Past Colorado State Coordinator
Regional Coordinator for the Mountain States

As many others before and after me, my interest in this area developed during my pregnancy as well as after the birth of my daughter 24 years ago! I was a licensed clinical social worker and also had a background in psychiatric nursing. Yet when I brought my daughter home, I was unprepared emotionally for the changes that I was experiencing. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.

It was an isolating time, with little outside support for a new mother. My family was out of state and, at the time, I did not have many friends who were having children. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I had worked since I was a teen and now had the luxury of being home with my daughter. I remember feeling so inadequate and ill prepared for motherhood. I was receiving so many conflicting messages from well meaning people. My identity was changing, but I was not prepared for the profound psychological changes that I would be going through. Who was I now? Would I be a good enough Mother? I had a small group of very good friends who were supportive, and I met a few women in a pregnancy exercise class. Over time, I built a support network.

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Linda L. Meyer

Executive Director, Mother to Mother
Missouri Co-coordinator Postpartum Support International

After three years of marriage, I became pregnant. The pregnancy went well, just a little nausea in the first couple of months. Joe and I were really looking forward to becoming parents!

I was two weeks overdue when my OB decided to induce labor. At the hospital, I was hooked up to the Pitocin and eight hours later was sent home. What a disappointment! No baby to bring home. The following week, on June 4, 1990, I came back to the hospital and went through the second induction, 18 hours of labor and an hour and a half of pushing. My doctor shouted at me to stop pushing, then without warning pulled out the forceps and delivered Danielle. Why did he shout at me? I was exhausted and had no feelings of happiness when I looked at her. This was not how I had dreamed it would be. I went home with this new baby, feeling scared, sad and very strange. Why is it so hard taking care of this baby? Why did I ever think I could be a mom? Did any other moms ever feel this way? I wasn’t going to share these feelings with anyone.

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Adrienne Griffen

Virginia State Co-Coordinator
Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region

In 2002, I suffered from post-partum depression following the birth of my second child. I knew right away that something was wrong: lying on the operating table after an emergency C-section, I felt virtually no connection with my newborn son. Where was the joy of the miracle of birth that I felt with my first delivery?

In almost every way this experience was the complete opposite of becoming a mother for the first time two years earlier. My first child arrived after a relatively easy pregnancy, labor, and delivery; she was a happy, predictable baby who slept through the night at two months. I felt euphoric about this beautiful baby and our new little family. How else could I have hosted a dinner party for 40 people when she was only three months old!

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Jessica Banas

PSI Online Coordinator, Online PPD Support Group

My father built my first computer as a present for my 31st birthday. I had no idea how to use it… I never wanted to touch it.

Then the second time I became pregnant, I wanted to find out what had happened to me during my first pregnancy to cause me to become so unstable. I found the subject of PPD online but could not figure out how to access information. I was clueless. After a short while I gave up because I thought I would never get PPD again anyway…

A few months after having my daughter Nicole, my husband came home and told me about the Yates family tragedy. I reacted by crying uncontrollably. On the TV I saw those children’s faces… how much the boys looked like my son… how much the little girl looked like my daughter……and how they died so violently… I was inconsolable. I was horrified. I became haunted by the faces of those children.

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