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Postpartum Depression and the 2021 Calgary Run for Women

Fifteen months after baby #2, I am finally starting to feel better. "I finally feel less like we are surviving and more like we are actually living," I said to my husband last week. Maybe it is the medication, maybe it is the counselling, most likely it is getting 8 hours of sleep semi-regularly for the first time in three years, and definitely it is living close to friends and family for the first time in 10 years. Without a doubt, it is a combination of all of these factors and hard to say what plays the biggest role. All I know is that having a baby, and then another baby, is the most hands-down wonderful, amazing, and absolutely life-altering thing that has ever happened to me and to our growing family.

Coming into baby #1, and looking back, I was definitely a "workaholic". At 33 weeks pregnant, I am lying in a hospital bed, diagnosed in pre-term labor and 3cm dilated with regular contractions. I also have my laptop open, perched on my hardened belly, connected to my ears through ear phones, and I am presenting to three senior Partners at my firm for promotion to Senior Manager. "I have never seen this situation before", says my nurse, adjusting the drip medication, which is slowing the contractions and hopefully giving my baby a few more weeks inside. "Well," says one of the Partners at the end of the call, "we definitely can't question your commitment to the firm."

Five weeks later my baby boy was born, and five months later, I learned that I had made Senior Manager and was promoted. Almost four years to the day, I am writing this blog from the comfort of my couch, a happy stay-at-home mom with baby #1, now a healthy, happy 3 year old boy, and baby #2, an incredible, spunky, and beautifully fierce 15 month old girl, both asleep down the hall.

For me, it has taken the full four years since my son was born to realize, come to terms with, and start thriving in a completely new direction - and I feel this is still the beginning of a new life (mine, ours, and theirs). Not only has it been a journey touched by postpartum (and pregnancy) anxiety and depression, but also the most beautiful, rewarding, fulfilling, and vibrant years of my life. After running full speed, and faster, for 12 or more years - living and traveling internationally, completing a Master's degree abroad, moving countries and continents 5 times and housing situations more than 12, I finally feel like I am breathing, listening, and living at a sustainable pace.

Tonight I am reflecting on this journey as I just received the official sign up notification for this year's Run for Women. The Run for Women is an event hosted by the Shopper's Drug Mart "Love You" program, which raises money in support of women's health. This program is near and dear to me and my family, as I have benefited from it for the past almost two years after our family moved to Calgary from California. This was an incredibly stressful time for us, as we had just faced a layoff and experienced a 4 day paediatric ICU admission with our son (15 months at the time), who had to be airlifted to San Francisco for hospitalization. This all happened within a three week period, including the cross-boarder move (all unplanned).

It was absolutely incredible to arrive in Canada and have health care (for all of us) from the moment we landed, as well as to be referred to the Calgary Women's Mental Health Clinic. This program provides 100% COVERED mental health services including counselling by specialized obstetric and mental-health physicians and nurses throughout pregnancy and for up to a year postpartum.

At the time, given our situation, I was incredibly grateful for the support this program offered me in terms of managing what at the time, I didn't realize was fairly severe prenatal anxiety compounded by the stress of the move. This turned out to be nothing in comparison with the gratitude I feel now, having had support throughout our first year with two baby/toddlers during the 2020-2021 pandemic. I can't imagine how the past two years would have gone without these sessions - not to mention not having to worry about paying for them while our family looked for employment in the current market.

I am beyond grateful to Dr. Lorraine Natho and the full Calgary Women's Health Clinic referral system and want to not only raise awareness for this incredible service, but also to raise money in support of other women who will benefit as I have in the future.

Out family will be walking the 10km on race day. As we did last year, we will be walking and logging our "training" miles in the lead-up to race day. Our goal is to raise at least $500 in support of the program. This is a fraction of what it would have cost our family to participate in the program, and we feel is the very least we can do. We will be posting updates again this year for anyone interested in following our progress and invite you to share the cause and/or donate if circumstances permit.

Thanks for taking the time to read about our journey and learn about this incredible program.

Some photos from last year (2020), when we were so proud and grateful to raise over $3,500 and walk over 100km in the lead up to the race!

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