Wednesday, 9 September 2015

"From darkness to spiritual enlightenment"

On occasion I am asked by people, "Why don't you write anymore"? Sometimes it's a critical comment, "You should write about the Habs again". I am humbled an appreciative that people not only took the time to read my posts, that one year after my last post there are some people that still remember my existence in the Hab-o-sphere. One of the things I tried to present with "The Breakdown" and specifically with the "HABS-TOWN" feature was that anyone can have an intelligent opinion on the Habs. You do not need to be a seasoned Journalist, you do not need to work in sports. Each and every one of us is entitled to and has an opinion. I am humbled that any of you took the time to read my opinions and encourage you to seek your own forums and share yours.

Almost nineteen months ago I became a father. In hockey terms it was on the very day that the Candian women were doing our nation proud and capturing gold at the Socchi Olympics. I never saw one minute of that game for the best possible reason. The next few months were a very trying time for my family. The first few months are very difficult for any new parents. There are many adjustments, a total lack of sleep, and an endless mountain of laundry. As prepared as we thought we were, we weren't - especially not for what was coming. It took some time to realize that things were just not quite right.

My amazing wife, who has gone through a tremendous amount - particularly over the last nineteen months - has written a piece talking about the emotional roller coaster she has been on, and while this is not even slightly Hab-related, I am sharing it here. (Below the picture of in-arguably the cutest kid to sport a Habs jersey)


From darkness to spiritual enlightenment

 by Shiri Hermelin


“It’s just a phase”. 


“The real fun begins soon”. 


“Be strong”. “Be patient”. “Hang in there”.


“This too shall pass”.


 All words that are meant to encourage, yet hearing them still gives me a hint of anxiety.

Just 18 months ago, I gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy. He was perfect - ten fingers, ten toes, I was ecstatic to hold him. My pregnancy was not easy, and was quite painful towards the end, yet I waited with great excitement to meet my baby boy. The delivery was a planned C-section, yet I didn’t plan nor anticipate all the hardships that I was going to face in the months following the birth of Aiden.


Although I was so happy when I met my baby boy for the first time, this excitement was quickly tempered and shattered. Hospital staff continually ignored my physical pain and instead, I was constantly pressured to feed, feed and feed my baby who was not latching properly.  Aiden became dehydrated and my husband had to buy infant formula at a pharmacy because the hospital staff would not provide it.  The nurses stuck to their famous rehearsed script, ensuring me were that I was producing colostrum and doing very well. The truth is I was not doing well at all, and I soon discovered that things were unfortunately going to get more difficult.

 It took eight weeks of breastfeeding, pumping, and syringe feeding until I realized that it was simply NOT WORTH IT. My bond with Aiden was non-existent. I did not enjoy holding him. He was colicky, had intense reflux and was not sleeping for more than ninety-minutes at a time. I was crying all the time and feeling resentment towards the baby that I was holding in my arms-as he was not the baby that I dreamed of. Family and friends tried to tell me that I was doing great and even my family doctor told me that sleep deprivation could really impact my mood, patience, and capacity to bond with my son. The words of encouragement did nothing to quell the dangerous storm brewing inside my body.


Quickly, words that were offered as encouragement, like “Be strong” & “Be Patient” translated into synonyms for “failure” and “despair” to my ears. I was feeling like a failure as a mother who simply was not “strong enough” to hear her baby’s crying. I was feeling like a failure since I wasn’t the mother that I knew my son deserved and needed so desperately.  I was feeling like a failure because I simply DIDN’T ENJOY MOTHERHOOD.


By the time Aiden was four months old, I realized that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I could no longer get out of bed. I couldn’t take care of either Aiden or myself. I couldn’t talk on the phone with friends, I couldn’t eat and sleeping was out of the question since Aiden was just not sleeping. The depression clouds that had been quietly growing had reached their maximum capacity of silence. I was lying down in my very comfortable bed, wrapped up in my horrible feelings of anxiety, depression and emotional pain worse than anyone can imagine. This was a very dark period in my life and I wouldn’t wish this level of sadness on my worst enemy.


Thankfully, throughout this time my amazing husband and my mother were taking care of Aiden. They both put their lives on hold so I could regain some semblance of strength and seek medical attention. The storm had hit it’s most virulent point, and this was a dark chapter in my journey of motherhood, yet, I was profoundly impacted by the storm in positive ways.

Bit by bit, I was getting better. I never imagined that getting the RIGHT kind of help would be so difficult. In different ways, both my mom and husband needed to advocate for me immensely and the right combination of medications and therapy “worked their magic”. I say this with exactly the right amount of facetiousness, because the truth is there simply was “no magic pill”. I was motivated. I was scared. I met the battle head on.


After months of individual therapy, group therapy and even family therapy, I started feeling a little happier. Storm clouds were lifting, things were looking brighter and Aiden and I were slowly, yet surely, developing a special bond.


My Therapist taught me the magic of living in the moment, moments when things seemed the most “impossible”, moments when the pain was “unbearable”.  By living in these moments, she helped me overcome my fears and see the beauty of life’s challenges. Just as Aiden was growing and developing- so was I. I opened my heart to people, to friends, to other mothers and began living my life with gratitude.


A beautiful  friend bought me a very meaningful gift that changed my life-a journal called “The Secret gratitude book” by Rhonda Byrne. The book has space for me to chronicle my gratitude and intentions. Through my writing I’ve achieved a healthy outlook on life, I’ve learned about the powerful effects of gratitude and positivism and I’ve begun to envision a different life by believing that I will continue strengthening my bond with Aiden.


I began engaging in various readings, soul searching, attending parenting lectures, and even sought a professional purpose related to my journey of postpartum depression.  My professional and personal life became a lot more profound and defined. I realized that motherhood was not what I expected it to be it all - It was much greater and more fulfilling than I could have ever envisioned. Motherhood made me grow quickly and mature in very important ways. Aiden Meir fulfilled and continues to fulfill his purpose in life.


Like the meaning of his name: Aiden (fiery one), Meir (he who lights), Aiden brings clarity and light to my world. He is my emotional compass, he teaches me to persevere and be calm when I’m feeling anxious (as this is what children needs). He is my reminder of what is truly important in life.

Aiden has led me, along with my best friend to work on creating our own pre-natal. “BabyTalk” will be a complement to, and unlike any other pre-natal class currently being offered. Pre-natal classes often talk about labour, delivery and child care, but they often don’t cover REAL EMOTIONAL issues that arise after child birth. We need to bring awareness and information on these issues to the forefront. Topics such as; postpartum depression, child developmental delays, colic, and reflux from mothers that have experienced these issues and others themselves. As social workers, and young mothers my best friend and I have first-hand experience with these and other issues.

There’s an old cliché that tells; “It Takes a village to raise a child”. Based on my experience, there’s no shame in the fact that is a well worn cliché with good reason. Please, never suffer alone. Reach out to your village. It is not always “Just a phase” and it may not “Just pass”.


Shiri can be reached at shiri_ro@hotmail.com