jenn mullen

Surrender and see where it can lead you.

“It took me a while to learn the true meaning of patience and surrender, but I have finally accepted that healing doesn’t happen on our schedule. It doesn’t have a clock or a calendar.” Yolanda Hadid

Tonight’s theme is yoga class was surrender. This notion has always been a hard pill for me to swallow because I love having control & planning ahead for everything, but as we talk about #maternalmentalhealthday I realized that I haven’t truly surrendered. I haven’t surrendered to fully forgiving myself for my postpartum anxiety because I still mourn those early moments. I haven’t truly surrendered to the change in my life not just being a mom in the emotional sense, but the physical sense, too.

My mental health changed and went through a major shift. I’m lucky to be on the opposite end now. I’m lucky that I didn’t struggle with anxiety before my boys, but I’m super lucky that I know how to cope with it now. Momming ain’t for the faint hearted, that’s for sure. But aside from not recognizing my emotional state, I also see my physical self as a stranger. My body is a totally different one and the things it once did are so much harder for me now. Two c-sections in two years is no joke, people. It’s not the easy way out of delivering a baby. My core is shot. My ab muscles are so shifted and separated. For awhile, I hated my body, but then somehow something magical happened, I surrendered. This body that I don’t recognize created life- two beautiful, healthy, amazing little baby boys. Does my body look the same? Not even a little. Does my body feel the same? Nope, but here’s the thing, I’m surrendering to that pain and fueling it into a new strength, a new love for myself.

Yoga has been my most cherished form of self love and self care. I take my practice very seriously and sometimes I let my ego speak rather than my soul. I get mad at myself if I can’t get into a pose that I was able to do prior to my boys. But then it seemed to shift tonight, I surrendered and this happened…My very first head stand since having my babies. I let go of my fear of not being able to do it, fear of falling, or fear of failing and I breathed in love. The love for my family, the love for my yoga practice, and the love for me.

Surrender and see where it can lead you. 

frosted glass

Life Beyond The Frosted Glass

[vc_row][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text]

I experienced life through Frosted Glass. Out of reach, just going through the motions. I made it through many of days that I thought I couldn’t. I wanted to give up the Rage, OCD, Anxiety, Obtrusive Thoughts.  I would cry – but you would never know. I was losing my mind. I had no idea who I was anymore.

I had 2 under 2. I packed and moved into a new house at 7 months pregnant with no help.  Returned to work earlier than I should have. Nobody knew what I was going through.



Because I didn’t want my kids taken from me. 

I was embarrassed that I wasn’t living in a perfect world with a newborn baby. The perfect world you see people always posting about. Families always smiling. Life is so wonderful if you saw me, you’d never see beyond my Poker Face. 

Motherhood IS tough. And you need a strong core of friends who understand what you are going through. 

It took me 10 months to find the RIGHT help. 10 months to walk into a hospital and find my tribe. The struggle of ‘Me Against Myself’ was real. 
I share only a part of my story with you to let you know that we have to end the stigma surrounding Maternal Mental Health.

We have to feel comfortable sharing our stories because this is what is helping others.  I do not want anyone to suffer the way I did. And if someone can relate to some or all of my story, then I have saved a life. 

I volunteer my time with The Bloom Foundation as a peer to peer group facilitator for moms in recovery – Embracing Your Motherhood.

If you or anyone you may know is suffering, reach out to me. Any state. Nationwide. The women behind The Bloom Foundation are angels – no judgement – our mission is to #saveallthemamas 

I have a 3yr old and 4yr old; together we are stronger and I no longer live my life through Frosted Glass

You. Are. Not. Alone. 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=””][vc_column 0=””][vc_separator 0=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row 0=””][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text 0=””]

Elena Juliano originally posted this on Facebook on May 1st for Maternal Mental Health Day. 

Within minutes she received this private message

I have to say I’m completely blown away by how open you are with the struggles you had.  I deal with high anxiety on a regular basis and it was very much exacerbated by the adoption of each of the children. I love my kids and would do anything for them and my anxiety is most about them. I would love to hear your story.

This woman is now attending Elena’s Support Group – Embracing Your Motherhood. 

Share your story, someone is waiting to hear.


An Open Letter to My Warrior Mom Friends

[vc_row 0=””][vc_column][vc_column_text 0=””]

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” — C.S. Lewis

I came across this quote today and it stood out to me so bright like the gleaming sun reflecting off of the ocean during a sunset. As a thirty-something year old woman, I’ve had many friends throughout the different stages in my life – childhood friends, high school gal pals, college partners in crime, and a lot of those friends are still a major part of my life, but nothing, and I mean nothing could prepare me for the friendships I made during my struggle with my postpartum anxiety. 

I walked into a center for maternal wellness when Jake was 2 months old without realizing that I would meet fellow warrior mamas who were struggling with the same issues that were suffocating me. I surveyed the ladies I met with a closed heart and mind for fear of judgment. I didn’t want to share my story or admit to the things that were weighing me down. Momming should be easy, right? Rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns with a splash of glitter for everyone!!  Well, not so much. I always wanted to be a mom, so how could I admit that my anxiety was literally taking over my life? What kind of a mother would that make me? So I kept my distance, casting judgments in my mind like “They looked normal,” or “Why are they even here?” It wasn’t until I decided to go to a peer group therapy session that I saw beyond their masks. It was such an “aha moment” when I heard how there were all feeling similar emotions, tangled up in the same worry, paralyzed by the same fears, and triggered by the same situations. I quickly realized, “I’m home and these are my people.” I started to open up more, slowly letting my guard down, no longer afraid of the judgment or criticism. These women are my go-to’s, my life-lines, my cheerleader. I can remember clear as day when I walked out of that group in the middle of a panic attack because my baby was crying (one of my biggest triggers), and one of those angel moms followed me out with her beautiful baby girl. She gave me the space to be, to cry, to find calmness. We found out that our babies were exactly 2 weeks apart, we both had older sons, and lived a couple blocks from each other. The stars had aligned with this one. I found my person. My warrior mom bestie. I am so thankful for her friendship and all of the women who contributed to my story.

We come from all walks of life and parent with contrasting styles, but the constant is this, we have a bond so deep, so real because we came out on the other side together. In a world full of so much discourse, it’s easy to get swept up in negativity, but these women filled me with love and positivity. So here’s to the moments that we all said, “Me too” and realized we weren’t alone in this crazy thing called motherhood.  They are part of my story, a hand in my healing, and a piece of my heart.

Jennifer Mullen 
“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”


An Open Letter to My Loved Ones

Dear loved ones,

It isn’t anyone’s fault I ended up having Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders after my son’s birth, nor have I done anything wrong while suffering from this illness. I know surviving this has affected me in a number of ways and I imagine it has affected you in a variety of ways.

For that, I am sorry.

I’m sorry I wasn’t honest with you.

I’m sorry I kept you out.

I’m sorry if I hurt you.

I wasn’t well and wasn’t able to do more than I did at the time. Denial was present before I had any clue what was happening to me followed by intense confusion and all consuming fear. I wanted so badly to believe I was ok, I could do this mom thing, and the hard times would pass. I wanted it so badly I tried to fake it till I made it. I only started to make it when I stopped faking it.

I was lost within myself. My thoughts and feelings terrified me to the point where I couldn’t believe anyone else could handle them. I kept you at a distance because the thought of horrifying you with how I felt or losing your love as a result of my feelings was far too much to bear.

None of what happened is a reflection on you or the love you have shown me. It speaks to what mental illness and trauma can do to a person. My postpartum anxiety,depression, and PTSD altered my perception of everything including what I know to be true about myself and all of you.

You’d give me the world if you could and do anything to make sure I was ok. These facts weren’t in my mind for a while but were always in my heart. When I started to put myself back together again, I began to remember the truth.

The truth is you were with me through the darkest and scariest hours, the smiles I faked, the lies I told, the times of real joy and fun, and the moment I accepted what was happening to me. My being able to come to acceptance of my illness, receive treatment, and share it with you speaks to who you are in my life and the love you’ve shown me.

Please understand that PMADs are a complex beast to war with and it takes a strength, determination, and resilience you don’t know you have until you start digging for it. It wasn’t that I wanted to be how I was or treat you as I did; I was in deep pain and survival mode. What I thought I needed the least I needed the most – a tribe of other mothers who shared my experience. I needed to be in this community to begin my healing then carry it out into my life with you. It couldn’t work the other way around.

Please know my struggle wasn’t your fault. None of us were properly educated in PMADs and, even if we had been, it may have all played out the same way. I was so panicked from the depths of my being that I strapped on a mask and held it in place as tightly as I could. If you saw past my mask and have any regrets about how you handled that moment, please try to let it go.

It is unknown to me whether or not you having said something or done differently if I could’ve received it. I do know now it is worth it to ask questions of a mom and say you’re concerned when you are even if it appears to fall on deaf ears. We can never know what might stick in a person’s mind and how they may use it later on.

Please hold onto the fact that your love and acceptance of me is what helped me climb out of the darkness and re-emerge back into our life.

Thank you for never giving up on me.

I love you.

3 smiles pmad

Three Smiles


These three pictures were taken at very different times.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1219″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d” css_animation=”slideInLeft”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1214″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d” css_animation=”slideInDown”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1218″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d” css_animation=”slideInRight”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]True, they are only a few years apart, but the person in them is different. The first was taken in December  2012, the second in May 2017, and the last in April 2018. It’s the same person on the outside, but a very different person on the inside.

The girl in the first picture is scared, haunted by obsessive thoughts and feeling like a bad mother for wanting nothing to do with the baby she can’t believe is hers. This girl would be put on medication for the short term, but then suffered with crippling anxiety and rage long after. This girl was a one and done with children. This girl thinks she just made the biggest mistake of her life. She hates the baby, her husband, and herself. She overcompensates by keeping her house obsessively clean and working out for hours on end. She cooks months worth of homemade organic meals and keeps herself up at night making homemade graham crackers. She is not me anymore.

The girl in the second picture can’t believe she did this again. She can’t believe she’s feeling this way again. She had it right this time: exercised and ate healthy all through pregnancy, switched from her  OB to a more natural minded midwife, had a natural birth, encapsulated her placenta, took magnesium supplements and had read every book out there. Yet, once again, she’s plagued by sleepless nights, panic attacks, and a crippling depression. She’s heartbroken to see a safe haven sign and learn that she can only drop off a baby 30 days old, and her son is 33 days old. She has visions of dropping her newborn down the stairs. However, she’s  acting as if nothing has changed, and she can totally handle life. She repeats to herself: This is normal. It will pass. She is not me anymore.

Then that girl got the help she needed. That girl started therapy, found the right medication, and met her people. She made it her job to go to every possible event at the Center for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety disorder. She learned she has struggled with anxiety her entire life. She learned that therapy, meditation, mindfulness, writing, exercise in moderation, medication and acupuncture could help her thrive.

The woman in the third picture is not without her battles. The difference now is that smile is genuine. Sure, her kids drive her nuts sometimes and she still struggles with anxiety and not having a constant sense of order. But, she knows how to handle it. She laughs more and stresses less. She’s found a sisterhood of amazing women who accept her for who she is. It’s hard work changing her mindset, but she’s committed. She loves her boys fiercely and knows that she was brought to this place for a reason. This woman is me.

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders are the most common complication of childbirth, and affect one in five women. There is help out there. It’s work, but it can change your life. At almost thirty-five, I’ve finally found myself. I’m a work in progress and that’s alright. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

jenn mullen shares her PMAD survivor story

My PMAD Journey Led Me to Mindfulness

Have you ever wondered how you became the person you are? This question haunted me for awhile because I had realized that the person I once was, has left the building—ok, ok, she left the building but it was for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Even typing that makes me wonder, “What?! How did I get there?” Thinking back to my pre-baby life, I can remember myself as fun, carefree, and maybe at times a little stubborn and bitchy. But never anxious- never manic- never this distorted version of myself. So this recollection always led me back to, how did I get here because I followed the path I had always envisioned for myself- college, teaching young children, home by the beach, happy marriage, & beautiful, healthy babies. I had literally managed to get everything I’ve ever wanted for myself, so what changed? Well on my road to recovery, I realized- I changed, I evolved, I bloomed. Becoming a mother is beautiful and amazing but oh my stars, it’s mostly terrifying and filled with doubt and worries. The constant anxiety and obsessive behavior over •every. little. thing.• took over my life. I could’ve gone down a dark, slippery slope and just accepted this version as the new, crazy, manic me, but I fought and clawed my way up that hill. Once I reached the top, the view was so clear, so obvious. The new me is an improved version of me. I’m still fun (within limits because, you know, adulting is tiring). I can be carefree in the sense that I’ve accepted to live each moment in the present and stop obsessing over the past and future. I can still be moody at times, but as soon as that mood or emotion enters my mind, I choose to release it as it no longer serves me in a positive way.

Through this crazy journey, I have learned that becoming mindful is my greatest asset because it has allowed me the gift of time- the present. I’ve often asked myself this question, do I want to be a Mindful Mom or a Mind-full Mom? To answer, I want to enjoy the little moments and celebrate the milestones with peace. Life tends to speed by, and it’s easy to fixate on the little shitty things, but that’s when we miss out on those big, beautiful moments. I turned my lemons into a refreshing lemonade- with a splash of vodka on the side…see, i can still be fun.

So here’s the deal…It does get better- I’m living proof and for those days that might seem harder than others, I remind myself- a bad moment doesn’t make a bad day and a bad day doesn’t make a bad life. Stay strong, trust the journey, and lean on your tribe.

Silenced By Fear. A Postpartum Anxiety Story

6 years. 72 months.

72 times I got my period and was so disappointed that my body had failed me again. That’s how the inability to conceive feels and the words that we in the medical field – I am a maternal child health nurse use – the inability to conceive. Just to make sure you know that your body doesn’t even have the ability to get pregnant. This is risk factor number one (infertility).

Struggle with Infertility

When most of your friends are in the same specialty you are – maternal/fetal medicine – you know right where to go to fix the problem. Which is exactly what I did. My story begins in May of 1998. After six years of infertility, being of “advanced maternal age (34), and one round of IVF, I am laying on a gurney having my beautiful, large, round eggs extracted. Twenty two eggs to be exact.

The eggs meet the sperm in a perfectly warm environment and each day we get updates as to how they are “doing”. Three days later, six zygotes are implanted back into my body. Six. The doctor tells me not to get hopeful; one was looking good but the other five were really being placed back inside me to increase my chance of pregnancy. I lay on another gurney for an hour, willing that little strong little group of cells to stick. To find a home inside me and fulfill my dream of becoming a mom. These are risk factors number two (infertility treatment) and three (my age).

Pregnancy – Finally!

Seven days later I’m in the hospital for ovarian hyper stimulation and I find out I am pregnant. I. Am. Pregnant. My body didn’t fail me again. Though I’m alone when I find this out, which is not what I pictured for this momentous occasion, I’m so thankful and happy that it didn’t even matter. This is the first time it’s mentioned to me that there is a real possibility I am pregnant with twins. Twins! I am overjoyed and so proud of my body for finally doing what it’s supposed to. One week later this possibility is confirmed, and we see two tiny little egg sacks. This is what they call them, egg sacks. This is risk factor number four (pregnant with multiples).

Another week later and I’m vomiting each day, all day. At the same time we see another egg sack. Three. There are triplets inside me and I am somewhere between super impressed with my body, and absolute terror. As a nurse in this field I know all the risks that come with “higher order multiples”. We’re 4 weeks from implantation and the doctor looks in utter disbelief at the ultrasound screen – there are now FOUR embryos. FOUR.

I cry. I cry for me. I cry for these babies who are so desperately wanted. I cry because I know too much and because I haven’t stopped vomiting in over a week. I am officially diagnosed with Hyperemesis, vomiting all day, every day, and requiring hospitalization for dehydration. These are risk factors number five (Hyperemesis) and risk factor number six (hospitalization during your pregnancy).

Hospitalization and Health Problem

Fast forward to Christmas Day and I am now 30 weeks and 1 day pregnant with triplets. One of the babies was lost somewhere between the 12th and 14th week. I was hospitalized almost my entire 30 weeks of pregnancy, eventually being diagnosed with Pancreatitis. I had been in labor five times by Christmas Day but it had been stopped with medications. I was done. I wanted them out – I had nothing left to give. I was a shell of the person I was just 30 short weeks ago.

Though I wanted to be a mom, I felt like was a host – being kept pregnant to grow these babies as big and strong as possible. I delivered two baby boys and one baby girl later that morning. One of my babies is born not breathing, while the other two are so tiny weighing barely over 2 pounds each and in need of around the clock care. They are wicked away after I catch the briefest of glimpses. These are risk factors number seven (traumatic birth experience) and risk factor number eight (premature delivery of infant).

Time Stops in the NICU and ICU

Time gets really fuzzy after that. I remember them taking me to the NICU on the stretcher to see all my babies. The shear volume of emotions that go through my heart and mind are indescribable. There is one son a ventilator to assist his breathing. The other two of my babies are in incubators – fuzzy, yellow, and heavy with IVs. The day is a blur but I remember thinking, and knowing that something is wrong with me.

I remember looking at the bag holding the urine coming out of the catheter inserted into my bladder, trying desperately to remember what would be a sufficient amount. My heart felt like it was racing all the time. I remember being so cold. That same day I’m transferred to ICU in kidney failure and with too much fluid around my heart. Once again I’m alone and I am praying for my babies’ birthday not to be the day they lose their mommy. I don’t remember the next 5 days in ICU. These are risk factors number nine (NICU stay for your baby/babies) and risk factor number ten ( a significant illness suffered by the mother).

The First “What if” Thought

On New Year’s Eve day I’m brought out of my drug induced haze in the ICU and begin lying to get to my babies. Yes – lying through my teeth. I tell hospital staff I am fine, that I can get in a wheelchair, and I can be moved to the step down unit. Yes, yes, yes. Whatever you need me to say. I’ll say it so I can touch my babies. I get to them. My heart explodes with love. I can feel my body wanting to lose collapse from pushing it too far too fast. But I will it away.

I’ve heard of moms lifting cars off their children and this was my version of that experience. I stay with them the rest of the day. It’s at that time I’m struck by my first “what if” thought. “What if I lose one of these babies? How will I survive that?” My mom tells me not to worry. They are in the best hands, in the best unit, and that I have always been a worrier. This is risk factor number eleven (history of anxiety or depression).

Bringing My Babies Home

The next 6 weeks are rotation of going to the hospital during the day to be with the babies, and going home at night and crying because I had to leave them there. They all come home within five days of each other. I go from no babies to all three babies in five short days. “No problem”, I thought. After all, I have been the nurse in charge of the nursery so often, and at any given time there were 15-20 babies. What I didn’t is remember sleep. I would leave work as a nurse, go home and sleep and then start again at work the next day.

Within 72 hours of all my babies being home with each on a three hour feeding schedule, and each feeding taking about 2 hours – I’m a total mess. My worried thoughts turned to non-stop racing thoughts. I was unable to sleep even if all the babies slept at once. Unable to swallow from anxiety. Unable to control this bubbling rage I felt. I mentioned my racing thoughts to my OB at my post op check – he assured me it was nothing, and that a shoe shopping expedition would bring me back to normal. Based on all my risk factors, I should have been screened for depression and anxiety immediately. But I wasn’t.

Silenced By Fear

My OB’s face and eyes looked worried and alarmed but I knew then to never say another thing. I didn’t want anyone thinking I was unstable and taking my babies from me. That is how it went on for months, and months. I was so broken and ashamed of how I felt and the thoughts I had. When I mentioned it my (then) husband he looked at me in disgust and said, “you got everything you ever wanted”.

I was a monster, and I didn’t deserve these babies. I became obsessed with death, and how many ways they could die. In a house fire (which I solved by buying a ranch style house), driving my car off a bridge (which I solved by no longer going over bridges) and many more. But I could always fix it. I always set up a safety net.

The Long Road Towards Recovery

I would like to tell you it got better sooner, but I didn’t. I had a severe case of untreated postpartum anxiety/OCD and intrusive thoughts. It didn’t get better for years. Years later working as a floor nurse on a postpartum unit, I’d see the face of new mothers who I knew were feeling what I felt. My pain was so deep and life altering I vowed that I never wanted another mother to feel that way, to feel like a bad mom, a monster, again. I started giving out my cell phone number to keep in touch with these women. At the same time I started getting them to the help they needed – therapy and medication. All without owning my own story with anyone but these soul sisters. Women who were feeling what I had felt.

In 2007, New Jersey became the first state to mandate depression screenings for new moms before they left the hospital. It was thrilling. At the same time I started volunteering for a consortium that was getting PPD resources into the hands of moms. In 2011, I started an official postpartum depression support group at my hospital, and it quickly became the most attended support group in the hospital.

Helping Other Moms

My phone number was passed around and I became something of an urban legend: if you call/text this number, she will help you. In 2013, I presented an idea to my hospital for an actual PPD program. There were none in the state – hell there were only a handful in the whole country. It took 2 years but I got the go ahead, and began building the very program and services I know would have helped me.

The program quickly took off and in less than two years we officially became an interdisciplinary Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Center. Specialized treatment given by the right team, for any new or pregnant mom. We can easily see 50 new moms a month. We have days we get 10 phone calls – from moms, from husbands/partners, from grandmas. All are asking for help, and we bring them in and we heal them. We validate what they are feeling immediately. I tell each and every new patient that this is the most common complication of childbirth. One in five new moms will experience this. PPD is both temporary and treatable, and we can help you – you will get better.

Peer to Peer Support

Our peer to peer support group is the absolute crux of our center. It’s an honor to have been able to make this happen. Thrilling that I’m part of a hospital system that feels the responsibility to take care of mental health as much as physical health. It’s a blessing to be part of an amazing team of women who are selfless and tireless in helping moms. This job has no clock and we are on all the time. Because in taking care of a new mom, you are taking care of the baby and the family. You are keeping everyone together and intact, which is vital for recovery.

If a new mom isn’t doing well and she is not bonding/attaching with her baby, it can have devastating effects on the whole family unit. Our calling is to keep moms healthy in every way. New Jersey is the first state to mandate postpartum screening and will be the first state to offer pregnant and new moms help – no matter where they are in the state. It’s my dream that one day these same supports will be offered to all moms across the country.


the bloom foundation postpartum depression and anxiety

This Was My Trigger Moment… Surviving Postpartum Anxiety

I am the mother, I am in labor, so why do I feel so out of the loop?

I remember waking up from a nap mid-labor (yes I had an amazing nap during the height of my contractions…thank you epidural!) to a darkened room, spa-like music playing from the TV, and some woman I have never met before massaging my feet and staring intently at the readings on the monitor. I remember asking her what was going on in my lethargic stupor, and although I do not remember her exact response, I do remember feeling like something more serious was going on. This is the moment I have identified as the trigger for my postpartum anxiety.

When my husband was allowed to come back into the room, I asked him what was going on and he told me that my contractions were becoming too frequent, and because of the epidural, I was unable to feel a thing. The baby became in distress. The reflexologist was consulted to help slow down the contractions. So why wasn’t this explained to me?

When it was time to begin pushing, I knew something felt off. As a dance/movement therapist, I have a good sense of my body. I know when something does not feel right. My job is centered around kinesthetic awareness and utilizing that in a therapeutic setting, but for some reason, I immediately felt disconnected from my body. I remember after my first round of pushing, I collapsed into the pillow and felt like I was going to faint. Oxygen was placed on me and I was asked to turn on my side and try pushing again. Second round of pushing and that feeling of weakness and defeat fell over my body once again. I looked at the nurse, probably with sheer panic in my eyes, and she stated “I don’t like what I see. I am calling the doctor in.” I looked to my husband for an answer once again, but this time, he was unable to provide me with one. We were both out of the loop.

The doctor came in and told me I was going to go in for an emergency c-section. Baby was in distress. I was whisked away, separated from my husband almost immediately, feeling so anxious and scared. While they began the operation, my husband recalls being asked to wait in a small room by himself and told to put on scrubs. He says that was the worst fifteen minutes of his life. My support, my rock, the one person that knows how to calm me down, was now separated from me at the scariest moment of my life. Am I ok? Is the baby ok? My plan of having a seamless, stress-free vaginal delivery was now crumbling down right before my eyes.

In the end, we had a beautiful, happy, healthy baby girl. She brings such joy into my life it is unfathomable. But after my birthing experience, I was struck with postpartum anxiety almost immediately. I have often wondered whether or not I would’ve been struggling with it if I was informed about what was going on during my labor rather than feeling like an outcast. I had always imagined this experience to be about me, my husband and our new addition to our family. When in reality, I essentially felt invisible.

I read somewhere that the key to happiness is to accept the present moment as if we chose it. While this is a personal struggle for me because when dealing with anxiety, that state of total powerlessness is a scary, scary place. I have come to accept that is it ok to not have all of the answers. I could ask myself “what if I was better informed about what was going on, would that have helped my anxiety? Would that have alleviated my severe anxiety after the birth of my daughter?” Perhaps. Who knows. But I do know after the birth of my daughter, I have learned to advocate for myself more. To not ever feel left in the dark again. In all aspects of my life. And I have this experience to thank for that.



bridget kroteau

Survivor Stories – PPD, This was NOT my Plan.

I’m a planner. I had plans for how my life would be for years – I was going to be a mom, a science teacher and we were all going to live happily ever after. But I soon came to learn with the loss of my teaching job due to budget cuts that life wasn’t going to go according to plan (at least not all the time).

We decided that with me being unemployed, this was a great time for us to start our family. In 2011 I had my first daughter. My pregnancy was relatively easy and very uneventful, but I ended up being induced very unexpectedly (this was NOT my plan!).

The induction was quite difficult and lasted over 30 hours. Instead of feeling elated about her birth, I was just exhausted and scared. Because I had a fever during delivery she was sent to the NICU. During her stay, we had a lot of difficulty with breastfeeding. I always thought breastfeeding was “supposed” to be “easy and natural.” I felt awful and cried often in the NICU.

When we got home, I continued to cry frequently and remained determined to breastfeed, even with the difficulty we had. I felt like a failure. I was her mom, I felt like I was “supposed” to be able to breastfeed her. I also felt tremendous guilt about her stay in the NICU and for my lack of warm, motherly feelings after she was born. After four months of the guilt, crying and sadness, I finally realized that I needed help.

I talked to my husband about how I was feeling. He assured me that we would find help and it would be ok. I found a local support group and a therapist. I cannot say enough about the support group! I felt at home. I felt accepted. I felt cared for and most importantly, I didn’t feel alone. I continued to attend this group weekly and then attended their “Keep Getting Better” group.

A couple of years later, I had my second daughter. Before she was born, we did all we could to prepare for her arrival and prepare to make the transition to a family of four as easy as we could. We hired a postpartum doula to help me when my husband went back to work and I stocked my freezer with as many meals as I could fit. At this time, we also had a close family member go through a very rough health issue.

My second daughter’s birth was a breeze in comparison to my first and she breastfed very well. I felt good for awhile. But as the months progressed and my doula left, I was left juggling two young children and helping my husband manage the family health issue as best as I could. It was a very stressful time in our lives and it all caught up with me. I became very anxious, especially about anything dealing with sleep and my baby. I had panic attacks. I had a lot of trouble straying from a very set schedule. I became very angry. I reached out for help again and attended my support group and started seeing a therapist again. We eventually sleep trained our daughter and once I started to sleep again, I started to feel better.

To the moms struggling right now, you are not alone. This is not your fault. This is not your “new normal.” You will feel better with help.

Bridget lives on Long Island with her husband and 2 daughters. She is currently Mrs. Suffolk County America 2017/2018, an author, volunteer and stay-at-home mom. Bridget is a volunteer for the Postpartum Resource Center of New York, serving as a part of the advocacy committee, speaking at support groups and community events and assisting with fundraisers. Bridget is passionate about raising awareness for and helping to erase the stigma of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, like Postpartum Depression. Bridget contributed a story about her experience with Postpartum Depression to the book, A Dark Secret and is currently writing her own book about her experience with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

Contact Us

The Bloom Foundation
716 Newman Springs Road, #117
Lincroft, NJ 07738


postpartum depression support group New Jersey the bloom foundation for maternal wellness logo

Copyright © by The Bloom Foundation All Rights Reserved

The Bloom Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization