One of my favorite things is a sturdy, soft throw blanket a forever friend gave me when my teenager was brand new to the world and to our little corner of it. It has warmed me over the years, certainly by its versatility, but even more by its woven message of universal significance, courtesy of Winnie-the-Pooh: “It’s better with two.”
I was fortunately among the 80 percent of new moms able to charge through the “baby blues” with relative ease.
Since 2007, though, Postpartum Education and Support – PES for short – has worked to ensure that the other roughly 20 percent of new moms know that when the blues linger, they’re not alone with Postpartum Mood Disorder. And that they can recover from PMD’s classic feelings of hopelessness, anxiety or exhaustion; and its battles with alternating joy and sadness, lack of energy, concentration and appetite, sleep problems and frightening thoughts.
First under the PES umbrella was Moms Supporting Moms, a peer-led support group started in 1998 by Anne Wimer after she’d found herself alone on her journey to recover from PMD after the birth of her own children.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Now, in addition to the weekly, anonymous Moms Supporting Moms sessions, PES provides services to the health care community and the general public. There are community chats for groups looking to help new mothers and their families; credited courses on PMD; in-service programs for nurses, lactation consultants and doulas; and statewide consultations on starting new support groups.
A week from today, all of us can pitch in to help PES keep going – and pamper ourselves to relax.
The Primp for PES spa fundraiser is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. June 24 at Skin Sense Day Spa on Falls of Neuse Road. Registration is required. Skin Sense will donate 65 percent of proceeds to PES to help replenish coffers that have dwindled during the recession and its slow recovery.
Money raised will help fund PES outreach initiatives, including placing brochures with checklists and resources in new-mom bags at Rex Hospital and in doctor’s offices. PES funding also will train Moms Supporting Moms group facilitators and continue its “Warm Line” to receive nonemergency messages and return calls within 24 hours.
Primp for PES isn’t the organization’s first step at financial recovery.
To fill gaps in funding, the group recently completed a book drive, asking for donations to buy new copies of “Beyond the Blues,” or for used copies of the books to be dropped off at Love in Bloom, a maternity shop on Lake Boone Trail owned by Ele Roberts.
Roberts’ husband steered her to Moms Supporting Moms when their toddler was a newborn.
“It was great,” she said, adding she didn’t have full-blown postpartum depression. “I was just having a hard time, and the group let me know I wasn’t alone.”
Now, Roberts, who wishes for enough time to join the PES board, plans to open the doors to her store to host seminars and information sessions so women know far sooner than she that they can find support.
‘I wasn’t crazy’
When her 4-year-old was born, Suzanne Stanard found support through Moms Supporting Moms, which is led only by women who have had a PMD experience and medical professionals.
Now, Stanard, also the mother of a 1-year-old, sits on the PES board.
“I felt like something was wrong and it was my fault,” Stanard said of her first experience with PMD, adding she took a 10-question quiz at her three-week OB-GYN doctor’s visit “and I bombed it.”
All she’d heard about postpartum, though, brought to mind women who kill themselves or their children.
“That wasn’t me,” said Stanard, who later learned it’s the difference between PMD and postpartum psychosis.
Her doctor’s office “stayed on top of me,” she said, noting the test she took should be required of all.
“I had no idea,” she said. “If they hadn’t known, I would have probably crawled into a hole.
“But they were persistent, and I’m very grateful.”
Stanard said she also was grateful – twice.
“It was so refreshing talking to moms, knowing I wasn’t the only one, that I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t losing my mind,” she said. “It was nice going into the second experience with this network around me, this little village.
“I was ready.”
Yes, Pooh, it really is better with two.