Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cheers- the story behind the smiles for some

When in Power Fitness PDX class, the topic of Postpartum Depression has popped into discussions. In every day life, many women don't discuss it.  It can feel embarrassing, humiliating, and heartbreaking since as a Mom all you want to do is be the best for your kids. But, sometimes that isn't possible and not in your control.  The following is a blog I wrote in December 2008, when living in Portland and owning Baby Boot Camp. It feels so far away, but when reading it I can visualize and feel the tingly nerves again. Take a read, share with a friend, know that as Moms we are all in this together and forever stronger for supporting one another.

"Cheers" -the story behind the smiles in 2008
I am a cheerful person by nature. I try to find the positives in challenging situations, I have attempted to see what is to be learned out of horrible events and I always attempt to feel the "cheer" I love to feel during the holiday season.

This season marks a special holiday for me- I made it through what was an incredible but very challenging year. We started off 2008 welcoming our little Emerson McCafferty Shirey into the world. And what an incredible mark she made- charming everyone whom she encounters. While I was worried how I could love two kiddos as much as I loved my Makenzie, I quickly learned how "ginormous" one's love is. Emerson opened my heart to feel even more love and joy than I realized, and also taught me how strong I was and had to become.

After Emerson was horribly sick in the hospital for 2 weeks in March, I realized my cheerful mentality was actually getting worn thin. I was trying to care for my sweet baby who was unable to breath on her own and had additional health concerns, my energetic 4 year old, two businesses and my Baby Boot Camp Leadership role. All attempting to do so maintaining my positive demeanor. Through it all realized I wasn't feeling like "myself". I didn't have the cheer I normally felt, but was feeling more anxious and worried about getting everything done. The levels of stress I felt when leaving my escape- teaching class- were bigger than I could conquer on my own.

I have always been a referral source for Moms with postpartum depression. I have been one to help those in need and those who needed the extra support, comfort and care when they were trying to take care of themselves and their little babies. What I realized in July was I was one of those Moms I had always helped. I wanted to truly feel the energy, joy and exuberance I normally felt for life and those around me. I didn't want to cry over nerves relating to not getting everything done and feeling I was letting everyone down. I wanted to feel complete and happy at the end of the day and allow myself to be in the moment with my girls.

I worked hard at finding ways to take care of my family and myself, working with my doctor. I sought out the services I referred many of my Baby Boot Campers to. My OB-GYN said that with my own pneumonia, Emerson's RSV-pneumonia-pertusis, 2 businesses and being type- A, he was actually not surprised. What he shared with me and I feel honored to share with you is that those who one would think are least likely to experience postpartum concerns are the most likely to experience them.

It has been 5 months since I started my path to true recovery and I feel "cheer" again. I have done so on my own pace and privately, out of hope to not disappoint any of my students who look up to me for energy and enthusiasm. But I would actually be letting you down if you didn't realize I am a REAL MOM like everyone else.

Postpartum depression doesn't discriminate and doesn't play favorites. Selfishly I wish that were not true, but I also feel fortunate to know I can genuinely relate and understand where many of you are coming from. Through the last year I feel my experience has only made me a better teacher because I know I LOVE teaching so much. I know how Baby Boot Camp is genuinely integral in so many womens lives; to be active, social, supported and around genuine "cheer" helps.

I carve out additional time for myself to take care of my own needs in addition to those required and requested of me. Now many people may be surprised that I had/have PPD, but that is the reason I am letting you know. You have no idea if you might not feel the cheer you are used to, and please don't ignore any signs or symptoms. It is nothing to be embarrassed about, but something we can all help one another when healing. I am fortunate, my symptoms were not as severe as others, but they have been challenging none the less.

What I am pleased to share is that I feel the genuine "cheer", support and confidence this Holiday Season. I have an excitement and gratefulness for not only my incredible family, but for the talented and gifted Moms I am surrounded by every day. This holiday season, when I say "cheers" know it is with deep warmth and joy to have a great holiday. Enjoy it, and celebrate how far you too have come this past year.

Cheers to you and your family this Holiday Season ---Erin Shirey
December 1, 2008

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