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PEPS, A True Blessing

Through the weeks, our bond grew stronger, but the fifth week, when we talked about emotional challenges and changes was where I really felt we could let our guard down.

babies group 1.jpgPEPS moms 1.jpgearly days 1.jpg- Iliana Dahl, PEPS mom

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The day I moved to Seattle I was eight months pregnant. I didn’t know a soul except for my husband, who was gone 99 percent of the time due to his residency. When my water broke at 11 o’clock at night I found myself driving to the hospital. This baby was coming and there was no turning back. I had recently left California where I had my family, dear friends, a wonderful job, my two dogs, and my home— and moved to a place with no friends, no family, no job, no sun, and worst of all, no ability to move. The unexpected C-section left me in pain and the recovery was much more difficult than I imagined. I was overwhelmed with emotions. I wanted to run away.

The first two weeks were ok. I was distracted with visitors coming and going, phone calls, skype sessions, and text messages. The days seemed to come and go, so it was easy to ignore my feelings. Slowly however, the visitors stopped coming, the messages slowed down, and I found myself not eating. Not sleeping. Feeling extremely sad all the time, crying, and I was having panic attacks. The day I dropped off my mom at the airport I was clinging to her for dear life. I was a new mommy and needed my mommy. I drove home in tears. Being a counselor myself, I knew I was experiencing postpartum depression and that I needed to do something about it.

The first time I heard about PEPS was from my OBGYN after I described to her my awful feelings of depression. My doctor explained PEPS is an organization where I could meet first time moms and share similar experiences with. My doctor also shared she was a PEPS mom herself and she highly recommended I join. I was skeptical to join at first, but I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. With my husband in his residency, money was tight, and I was so relieved when Cari from the PEPS office offered me financial assistance.

Soon after joining, I received an email with information about my new group. I saw the names of the moms I would be meeting. I felt nervous. Sadly I missed the very first meeting, but I marched myself to the second. I was really anxious. Would I fit in? Would I have anything in common? Would they like me? Would I be judged for experiencing postpartum depression? The moment I walked in I was greeted by our awesome facilitator Polly, who quickly put me at ease. I started feeling comfortable. I felt welcomed.  The next few meetings only got better. Wednesdays at 11 were truly the highlight of my week. I knew that no matter how horrible I felt, I had a place to share, vent, cry, and laugh.

Through the weeks, our bond grew stronger, but the fifth week, when we talked about emotional challenges and changes was where I really felt we could let our guard down. This meeting really made an impact on our group because  we discussed postpartum depression. I felt a relief knowing I wasn’t the only feeling I like I had a grey cloud over my head. The group was supportive and sweet, and I realized that joining PEPS was not only the best decision I made as a new mom, but the best prescription to fight my loneliness.

PEPS was there for me when I needed it, and I’ve also been amazed at the power of the greater PEPS community. I recently had the opportunity to meet a newborn baby named Treyvon, who was born under difficult circumstances. He was born drug-dependent and  had nothing to his name except for about five onesies. In hopes of helping this little guy out, I reached out to my PEPS group, who then shared with another PEPS group, who then shared with another and then another. I couldn’t keep up with the messages and I couldn’t believe my eyes! Clothing, baby gear, formula, diapers, gift cards, and so much more! Before I knew it, I had moms in Oregon contacting me to give to Baby T.  I was blown away by the tremendous outpouring of generosity.

I know this NEVER would have happened had it not been for PEPS, and the strong communities that we have built. Joining PEPS has been such a blessing to me. I am a different person and feel like a better mother to Penny because of my experience. What’s even more satisfying has been witnessing the community spring into action to make sure Treyvon’s immediate needs are met. Like the saying goes, it really does take a village.

Today, I am proud to say I’m still connected to my group. Although being a working mom is an everyday balance act, I know I can continue to lean on my group for support no matter what. To this day, we continue to meet on a weekly basis, and we are getting ready to celebrate our first PEPS-niversary! No occupation in this world is more trying to soul and body than the care of young children. What patience, wisdom, skill and unlimited love it calls for. I know I am a better mother because of my PEPS group. Asha, Beth, Brooke, Eowyn, Jessica, Jorie, Lisa, Mary, Mickie, Morgan, and Nikki. You ladies rescued me. When I felt alone and stressed, you were there. You’ve taught me so much and I am forever thankful to have you in my life. Thank you.

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