Letter from Perinatal Support Washington Executive Director, Allie Lindsay Johnson
Dear PS-WA Community,
Since joining Perinatal Support Washington last fall, I’ve had the joy and privilege to meet many of you and hear your stories. I think it’s about time I share mine.
Until this Seattle Times piece last week, the story I shared widely was my sister’s – her battle with postpartum depression and our family’s inability to name it as such until her recovery. The process of getting to know this community, the many conversations with friends and family it has inspired, the courage and strength with which you’ve shared your stories… helped me tell mine.
“Grief does not compete.” Hearing those four words from my mother-in-law, just two months into my work at PS-WA, helped me come to terms with my story, my miscarriage. I wasn’t sure mine was a story to tell. I hadn’t felt loss to the degree that many have. I wasn’t sure I had the right to claim it.
But she was right. The loss I felt was my loss, my story, and I felt it in a big way. I had treated my body like it had betrayed me. I had gained 40 pounds, lost interest in trying to conceive again, and shied away from family gatherings. My husband’s support had gotten me through it – but there was an ‘it’ to get through and it was time to name it, just like we had with my sister: depression.
I’m now 26 weeks pregnant and feel so incredibly lucky. But just as I was celebrating the entry into my second trimester, resolving many of my anxieties, I and many other expecting parents in our community were hit with this new reality.
I’m constantly working to adjust my expectations for this pregnancy: my close-knit family’s support looks different without our regular family dinners; the birth classes I always imagined attending in person will be virtual; I’m forgoing a shower in fear of cancellation; I might have to make the choice that many birthing people are making now between having their partner or doula present in person for their birth…
All of these changing expectations have an impact on someone’s mental health and I’m proud of the work Perinatal Support Washington does everyday to help expecting and new parents find ways to cope in these unprecedented times.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing more stories about how COVID-19 is impacting parents in our state and how we’re here to help. I continue to be inspired by their resilience and courage – and yours.
All my best,
PS. THANK YOU for continuing to share your stories, time, and financial support. If I had to boil down the warmth and wisdom you have shown me and our community these last 8 months to one lesson learned, it’s how fiercely you believe in our mission, how you’ve rolled up your sleeves time and time again to advance it, and how invested you are in our future. We’re so fortunate to work for – and be nurtured by – such an incredible community.