Shannon Armitage, LMFT

Adult, Child, Couple, and Family Therapy in Seattle


New Parent Support Group Root to Rise Meets Thursdays in Seattle

Root To Rise is a Postpartum Support International of WA drop-in support group for parents and their babies up to 1 year, Thursdays 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Essential Birth and Family at 5370 Wilson Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118.  Come join us for conversation about the ups and downs of parenting in the first year.  All are welcome!

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Surviving Out Loud

Getting a mood disorder is like getting the flu.  It strikes seemingly at
random.  No one is to blame.    No one should feel ashamed or guilty that they
have it.  There’s no vaccine or miracle cure, but there is hope. It sucks, but
it will get better with treatment and care.

That’s why I love Katherine Stone’s album of postpartum mood survivors over on her great Postpartum Progress site.  Just beautiful families who have overcome great hardship to survive
and thrive.  As Stone says, “We aren’t defective. We aren’t strange or unusual.
We are great moms who were waylaid temporarily by a terrible illness.” 

And there’s nothing shameful in being laid up by a terrible illness.  Indeed, in the
same way that catching the flu can make a body more resistant to future illness,
surviving a postpartum mood disorder makes a family tougher and more resilient
in the face of future struggles. 

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My daughter is turning 7 next month, a bizarre-seeming realization that takes me back to  the days leading up to her birth. I had a particularly long–though not horrible–labor that progressed quite normally until it didn’t.  Despite all our best efforts (e.g. climbing stairs, doing squats, laboring in  the tub, walking the hallways, you name it!), I never dilated enough to push her  out. I chose to go on Pitocin which had the effect of causing some particularly  nasty–yet ultimately unhelpful–contractions. My doctor tried upping the dosage  as a last attempt to bring my contractions into a productive rhythm, but it only  caused my daughter’s heart rate to decelerate alarmingly. The birth team managed  to stabilize her, but after more than 12 hours of no progress, we  opted for a Caesarean birth, a mere 75 hours after labor had begun.
Her birth was beautiful. Our labor and  delivery nurse and our doula made the atmosphere light and celebratory. We were  so excited to finally see our baby. As soon as I was prepped I was wheeled into  surgery where our 10 lb., 11 oz. baby was delivered, healthy as can  be.
Something my doula said to me afterward has stuck with me all these years. She said our birth proved that Caesareans can be “real” births–not just “procedures”. It seems that sometimes folks from the world of natural/home birth think that medical/hospital birth folks are wrong-headed and vice versa. Even the phrase “natural” childbirth seems to imply that anything different is “unnatural”. I wonder if some women get caught up in these right/wrong, natual/unnatural birth discourses. These wrong birth/right birth discussions can lead to the very first seeds of guilt, shame, and self-doubt. I think a better way of framing the discussion is to talk about how Caesarean or other medical intervention can be beneficial (as when mom and/or baby appear at risk) and when it is seemingly unnecessary (as a means of convenience, for example).
As for me, given the circumstances of our  birth, I could not have hoped for a better team or a better result. It was definitely the right  birth for us. Happy birthday, indeed.