Posted on April 24, 2013
At the end of March we were feeling so sick of our cold snowy weather. Our babysitter Mary had spotted a photo that I had put up of my Mary in her Halloween costume, a red queen’s dress. All she had to say to me was “we should take some photos of Mary and I, as I have that same costume at home”. The wheels started turning. I had some late night chats with my creative friends, and a few days later with help from my very creative friends Jenn of By Invitation Only and Michelle of Chellshots Photography we did a styled shoot. Into the woods. An escape from the “castle” for the day.
Once upon a time there were two friends who spent their whole day behind castle walls, learning everything they need to become royal princesses. They were both named Mary and they loved all things nature and outdoors. One snowy day they escaped from their castle and into the woods…..
They came across a tea party in the woods, where they stopped for a rest.
When they had finished their sweets and had decorated with hearts, they kept walking in the woods in search for some treasure….
Posted on February 19, 2013
A few weeks ago I posted my story and my experience with Post Partum Depression. I have had so many emails, and messages from friends and strangers reaching out to support me and also share their story. Together with these women we are discussing concepts to portray how they felt during their journey with PPD. I was fortunate to visit Esther’s farm this past weekend to photograph her. Here is Esther’s story.
Esther~Mom of 2, Wife, Sister, Nurse, and Farm Girl
“I experienced PPD after the birth of my son Nathanael. I lost my own dad in a tragic accident just one year prior to his birth, and my father in law 5 months before the birth. We had been living at our “dream farm” for just over a year and I was supposed to be happy. But I felt alone, surrounded by people and things that I loved. The barn was my place. The animals accepted me for all my imperfections and I always had things to do to keep my mind busy. I felt close to my dad in the barn-he had helped move us in, he had helped build and hang the barn door just 3 days prior to his death. It was like he was watching over me there. Through the love of my family and friends, and my faith in God, I’ve persevered and recovered from my PPD. That sun shining through the the barn reminds me of my dad looking down on me. I look at my beautiful children and realize how truly blessed I am and that I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s been a journey, and I am a stronger person because of it”
Posted on January 29, 2013
Yesterday I got an email from a young lady who was asking some business related questions. I am often asked how long have I been a photographer, and I always answer how my dad bought me my first slr camera in high school, and it was then that I started taking photos. I have never stopped. This young lady asked me about why I started my business. I shared a bit of my story with her. Then it got me thinking. A lot has happened in the past 24 hours. I posted on my facebook page about Post Partum Depression and the role my photography played. I also re-visited an idea I had last year (but I was too busy to think about fully) I thought about it last night. Since that post yesterday I have been overwhelmed with email’s and messages and other mother’s just like myself sharing their story. Here I have this blog, so I thought why not share mine.
I was so blessed 7 years ago to find out I was pregnant after many difficulties (there was a lot of medical stuff going on at that time). My pregnancy was great. I could hardly wait to become a mom. My daughter was born August 2006. She was the love of my life. I felt the bond with her. I wouldn’t let her leave my side. That’s when the anxiety started. I breastfed her, which was a great control method on my part to ensure she didn’t leave my side. She was my job. I was a mom. No one could care for her better then I. I was isolated to a new town (we moved just before I found out I was pregnant). My husband worked very very long hours. My friends were all an hour away. I experienced such intense anxiety about driving that I was now isolated more from my friends and support system. What I can remember clearly about that time was the intense feeling of anxiety. I was worried about her health. I was worried that we would both die. I had daily visions of our death. Of our funeral. There were days that I wouldn’t leave the main floor of our home with her because I was so worried about something happening. I started to share my fears with my husband. They were so real to me. I planned our funeral, I told him how I wanted us buried together. I was so sure we were going to die together. He listened to me. We both didn’t recognize what I was feeling.
I took a lot of photos during that time. It was what we did. I had just switched over from film to learning my digital camera (that had sat in a box for a year-a gift from my husband that I wasn’t sure that I wanted). I took photos of her every day. I wanted to remember every last detail of her days.
For me the Post Partum Depression lasted while I breastfed. I weened Mary at 10 months as I had to go back to work part time. I was devastated, but after a few months began to feel like my old self again. The anxiety decreased dramatically, the visions of death, the thoughts, they stopped.
Fast forward to July 2009. My beautiful baby boy was born. I thought I was prepared. I had all the right supports in place. I had spoke to my doctor, I had arranged for a Nurse to visit after I came home from the hospital. I did my best to rest, exercise, eat properly, take vitamins and all those other things that “they” say helps Post Partum Depression. I breastfed my son as well.
All the anxiety’s came back. I thought I could control them. I was prepared for them. I was a Nurse I thought to myself, I should know how to manage these things. I had a Nurse doing home visits. I had a child development worker doing home visits. Those weekly visits were the light of my week. Somewhere I could talk and express all my anxieties. I was referred to a Feelings After Birth Group at our Early Years Center. It was a support group for mother’s going through PPD. The group of women I met there were amazing. I saw my Doctor regularily. He was concerned. He offered to write my husband off work for a bit. My husband’s job is far too demanding for that.
I had major anxiety’s again about driving. I had to stop while driving several times to try and catch my breath. I had to take different routes as I was so fearful of potential accidents.
Then the thoughts started coming. The bad thoughts. The ones you read about, but never think they will happen to you. The thoughts of death were always there. The suicidal thoughts were always there. The funeral’s were planned mentally again. I shared some of these thoughts with my husband. I was afraid to tell him about the bad thoughts. The ones I had of harming the baby. I can easily see how those horror story’s occur that we all see about on the news. The mom who harms her children and herself. I was afraid of my children being removed. That would have killed me. I was afraid of my husband not letting me care for my children. That was my job. I was their mother.
During this time I didn’t sleep. My mind wouldn’t shut down. The only time I felt “normal” was when I was taking photos, editing photos, or submerged into a photography forum learning all I could about the business. It’s when my business was born. It was why my business was born. It was something I could do to stop me thinking.
These bad thoughts lasted for me a few weeks. We often went to the park to keep my 3 year old entertained while the baby slept in his stroller. I snapped at some older kids at the park that day that were acting out. I was wound so tight. I was having a hard time holding it together. I was having a very hard time “pretending everything was okay” especially in front of my 3 year old. My friend waved me over the fence to come for a visit. She is a good friend. I broke down. I told her that I was having bad thoughts. We talked for hours. She convinced me to go home and tell my husband.
I did. He listened. We got me to the doctor. He prescribed an anti-deppresant. It was something that I never thought I would take. I was at the bottom then, and agreeing to take the medication for me was like an intense feeling of relief. I was relieved that something else was going to look after me. I was relieved that those thoughts might stop.
This photo was taken of me that same weekend. Our family went out with our friends to shoot some family photos. My friend grabbed my camera and snapped this photo of Adam and I.
Whenever I look at this photo, I am amazed at how happy I look. I look like any other mother with a new baby. I always look at new moms, and wonder how they are coping. Wonder if they are thinking like I did. I envy those who appear to have it all under control. This photo for me brings me right back to those extremely dark weeks, those extremely bad thoughts, and to a time that I never want to go back to. But I look so happy. Which I was in that moment. I had my baby boy and my perfect family. All the rest of it just happened. I remember that weekend so well. The weekend I told my husband about all my thoughts. The weekend that I decided to take anti-depresants. The weekend that I took that extra step to take care of myself.
The following year was a struggle. But I survived. My children survived. My business thrived because of it. When I finally came out of the fog I was over booked and exhausted. I have a daily struggle as a mother finding the proper balance in my life. Mother, wife, business owner, Photographer, Nurse.
I have been humbled and overwhelmed in the past 24 hours. I have had messages and emails from strangers and from friends. They have shared their own story with me. Some have suffered in silence. Some still are.
This year I want to create a self portrait that puts a face to how I was really feeling during my Post Partum Depression. I would also love to photograph other women that have dealt with similar situations. These strong and courageous women, these mothers, wives, business owners. These normal people. I want to recognize them, and celebrate their battle, and bring some recognition to Post Partum Depression.