The biggest gift 2022 brought us was our little baby, Krish. While gratifying, it was also an incredibly challenging year because I had to conquer one of my biggest fears to have our baby.
The birth of my first son in 2016 had been a horrifying experience for me. The first words I said after his birth were that I would never do this again. In the years that followed, I was a changed person. I was becoming increasingly introverted, anxious and depressed, with my closest relationships going downhill. Worse, my relationship with myself was suffering. I was constantly feeling angry and guilty. I did not know then that I was suffering from post-partum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Five years elapsed. It was only when I realized that I wanted to become a mother again but how scared I was to do it that I started reaching out for help. That is when I read the words “birth trauma” for the first time and came to realize how much of my life had been impacted by it.
Luckily, at this stage, my family doctor recognized what I needed and referred me to Ontario Shores. Through the Women’s Clinic, I was assigned to work with Cathy Greig, a lovely lady who helped me recognize how I was living my life and what I wanted my life to look like. Through weekly checkpoints, she equipped me with the tools and resources I needed to make the change. As my anxiety levels came under control, my relationship with my first son and my husband started improving. I was able to shed off a lot of the guilt I had been carrying for years. I was able to forgive myself and better understand my new self.
The process of healing also meant that I was able to conceive and look forward to the birth of my second baby. In the second trimester, I was again referred to Cathy. She worked with me throughout my pregnancy and beyond to help keep my paranoia in check.
Just days before my delivery, I experienced a surge of panic. I did not think I could go ahead with the delivery. Cathy was very non-judgmental. She calmly walked me through my doubts and helped me find my own answers. I entered the hospital on May 18, 2022, nervous, but with strategies to help me through. A couple of hours later, as my newborn nursed, I spoke with Cathy over the phone. I was able to talk about my experience, shed some tears and normalize what had happened, something I had never been able to do with my first-born. I was incredibly grateful for the one-on-one, personalized support I was receiving.
My journey with Ontario Shores did not end there. Recognizing the risks of post-natal depression and heightened anxiety in my case, Cathy continued to work with me until many months later. She walked me through my fears and equipped me to calm myself. I learned to be more present in the moment with both of my kids and at other moments of my life. I reconnected with friends, family and myself! I identified many core beliefs that had been compromising the quality of my life and learned to redefine them. Together, Cathy and I made a list of my biggest fears and I conquered them one by one over a couple of months. I felt braver and more confident. I was living my life more fully.
When I finally graduated from the program, it was a bitter-sweet moment. I met Cathy in-person for the first time at Ontario Shores for our very last session together. As petrified as I felt about living my life without Cathy’s support, it was an important milestone I had to conquer. On her recommendation, I turned to Recovery College to help me stay aligned with my recovery journey. At Recovery College, I am able to meet other people with similar experiences as we remind each other how best to live our lives more fully.
The best thing about my journey with Ontario Shores was that the therapy I received was completely online. In a COVID-19 impacted world, while being pregnant and later while having a tiny infant, I would not have been able to go to a physical location without putting my baby at risk. Online sessions meant that I received help where I was, including in the hospital on the day I delivered my baby!
My journey has made me realize that with more awareness, I may have been able to help myself and my family sooner. And that it is important to talk about and normalize the feeling of not being okay after having a baby. To anyone out there who struggled with motherhood, know that you’re not alone, reach out, and get the help you need. Talk about it. And if you worry about being judged for your feelings, reach out to me. You will find a supportive listener in me.
This story is part of our 2022 - 2023 Annual Report. We announced the release of our report during our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, June 14, 2023. The report was created with input, support and contributions by a team with lived experience, who shared their journey at Ontario Shores.
The report highlights the organization's accomplishments and partnerships. We invite you to view the report by following the link here. We hope you find this report informative and insightful, and we welcome your feedback.