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People of NASPA IV West: Becoming, Self-Defining Experiences

Region IV-W
December 12, 2019 Molly Pierson Washington University in St Louis

To often, we engage in conversation and ask questions that do not get at the heart of what humanity is all about. Humanity is about passion, connection, vulnerability, heartache, and love.

Can you recall a time you told someone something and chills ran through your body? Can you remember a moment where you were so passionate about something that you were yelling without realizing it? Or a time where it felt like your tears would never end or your anger was unending? Then, take a moment and share it. We all have a story to tell.

My story:

When my first daughter was born over five years ago, I mostly felt disconnected and afraid. Inevitably love but mostly fear. A fear that would stay with me until I was ready to face it. I never felt confident enough to be alone with her. I hid my sadness and fear so well no one, even my partner, knew it was eating away inside of me.

However, I was functional and once I was back at work, I felt like I had reclaimed ground, familiar ground. It would sustain me for a while although I remember never feeling like I wanted to be at work or at home. I felt lost.

Eventually, untreated postpartum depression hit a point where I had to address it head on. It was complicated. It required me to completely break down who I knew myself to be. Through talk therapy, medication, and taking the time to just breathe and heal, I finally began to see clearer than ever before who I truly was.

It was because of this dark time and being able to return to work that I was passionate about that I came out the other side more whole. A better person who had more to give. A person who had shed fears, faced depression, and who knew what it meant to manage and move forward. A few years later, I had another daughter and because of what I had learned from my experience with my first child the transition to becoming a mother of two daughters was a beautiful one (despite the lack of sleep).

Now, most of the time, I love being with my partner and girls and I love where I spend my weekdays (and let us be honest the occasional nights and weekends). I encourage others to not live a life avoiding emotions but instead embracing all emotions along the spectrum. To trust what emotions tell you, and when you can, do what brings you joy.

Although I would never wish the postpartum depression I experienced with my first child on myself or anyone, I cannot help but be encouraged by the journey and by what I am now able to give because of it. I have hard days and life-giving days and because of them I am the ever-evolving educator, supervisor, mother, and mentor I am today.

Related article on my experience: https://parenting.nytimes.com/parent-life/baby-bonding?module=recirc&action=click&rank=3

Feel inspired? Be the next story to be shared through our new regional newsletter series, People of NASPA IV West: Becoming, Self-Defining Experiences. I look forward to helping your story be told in whatever way works best for you. I hope to hear from you soon! Our NASPA IV W community awaits your voice.

Email Molly Pierson at molly.pierson@wustl.edu if you are interested in telling your story or you would like to nominate someone.