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PEPS, The Power of the Greater Community

I realized that joining PEPS was not only the best decision I made as a new parent, but the best prescription to fight my loneliness.

- Iliana Dahl, PEPS mom


At the hospital

Babies in a circle

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On 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. We had recently left California, leaving behind family, dear friends, a wonderful job, two dogs, and home - to move to a city with no friends, no family, no job, no sun, and worst of all, no ability to move. When my water broke at 11pm, I found myself driving to the hospital. The unexpected C-section left me in pain and the recovery was much more difficult than I could’ve imagined. I was overwhelmed with emotions and wanted to run away.

The first two weeks started off OK. I was distracted by visitors, phone calls, Skype sessions, and text messages. The days passed quickly, so it was easy to ignore my feelings. Slowly, however, the visitors stopped coming and the messages slowed down. I found myself not eating, not sleeping, feeling extremely sad all the time, crying, and I began to have panic attacks. The day I dropped my mom off at the airport, I was clinging to her. Here I was, a new mommy needing my mommy. I drove home in tears. Being a counselor myself, I quickly recognized 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 describing my signs of depression. My doctor described PEPS as an organization where I could meet other first-time parents and share similar experiences with. My doctor shared that she was a PEPS parent herself and she highly recommended I join. I was skeptical at first, then realized I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. With my husband in his residency, money was tight, so I was relieved when PEPS offered our family 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 and felt nervous. I was anxious. Would I fit in? Would they like me? Would we have anything in common? Would I be judged for experiencing postpartum depression? The moment I walked in, Polly, our awesome Group Leader, quickly put me at ease. I felt welcomed and started to feel increasingly comfortable. It only got better from there and Wednesdays at 11am 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, the bond of our group grew stronger and in the fifth week, we talked about emotional challenges and changes, and that was when I felt we could let our guard down. This meeting really made an impact on our group because we discussed postpartum depression. I felt relief knowing I wasn’t the only one feeling 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 had made as a new parent, but the best prescription to fight my loneliness.

PEPS was there for me when I needed it and I’ve been amazed at the power of the greater PEPS community. Joining PEPS has been such a blessing to me. I am a different person and feel like a better mother to my daughter because of my experience.

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