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Newish mom, writing my way out of postpartum depression. Oldish photographer, telling stories about families, love and life.

Reflecting on a life lost to suicide

Photo by the author, Lori and Erin Photography

Perhaps the silver lining to my postpartum depression is empathy for those with a mental illness. Mental illness is this all encompassing term for a number of ailments. It’s always felt kind of vague and taboo to me… until I joined the ranks of those who suffer from it.

A friend and I were just discussing a life lost to suicide. He and the deceased had spent long days carpooling and working together. He expressed this all to common confusion, ‘How could I not have seen this coming’? …

“You’re raising a tiny human, and we want to support you in doing that really well.”

mother kissing boys forehead, standing near purple lilacs
Photo of the author by Erin Perrotta, Lori and Erin Photography

At 35 years old, I believe I fall into the category of Elder Millennial. I recently had a conversation with a woman, a few years my younger… a regular ‘ole Millennial. She is a happy dog mom, avid board-gamer, fellow gardener, and happens to work with my husband.

The three of us were enjoying a game night, when my husband stepped out to tend to our child. As we watched championship curling, we dug into some deeper topics that really left me feeling fulfilled. Was it just the rarity of a deep, personal conversation in this age of Covid plus…

a rant or poetry or something

black and white. baby boy leaning over the edge of an arm chair, looking off into the distance.
Photo by the author, Lori and Erin Photography

I read novels & memoirs
so I can see through eyes other than my own.

I skim Facebook and Instagram
so I can think about lives other than my own.

I desperately want to have deep, meaningful conversations
but I am afraid to start them.

Behind closed doors, I am fierce.
But I listen more than I talk
because I want to understand you
not hurt you.

I’m quieter than I was.
I’m thinking more than I was.
…Maybe that’s why I want to escape.

I’m over it.
disgusted by it.

The culture we live in.

I don’t…

a poem for the sleep deprived

dad holding hands with sleeping baby
photo by the author (Lori and Erin Photography)

Nurse you, cuddle you, until your eyes close.
Until your breathing slows.
Until your grip relaxes.
My boy, you have to practice.

We’ll take this slow, for both our sakes
the trying to let go.
Who knows how many nights this will take?
But this is how you grow.

I’d keep you little if I could
but mama needs some sleep.
Without it, you’ll be cranky,
but mama sinks in deep.

I don’t blame you for my depression
cause darling, you’re the cure.
This hole I’m in, is black sometimes,
but I’ll be back, I’m sure.

Together for so long,

Dreams for my child on Earth Day

small child bent over smelling daffodils
I hope you always stop and smell the flowers

I hope you can breathe clean air and drink clean water.
I hope you can sit under trees so tall you can’t see the top.
I hope you can see infinite stars in the night sky.
I hope you can hear the sound of a glacier calving.

I hope you can experience the changing seasons.
I hope you can enjoy the smell of fresh pine and flowers.
I hope you can hike to a place where all you hear is organic.
I hope you can be entertained by watching the clouds shift.

I hope you can savor food picked fresh…

Reflections on the journey of nursing and weaning

looking down a hallway to a mother rocking a baby
Photo of the author by Erin Perrotta, Lori and Erin Photography

This is not easy to articulate, but I want to explore the complexity of this season: Weaning.

My first attempts to express the situation were very negative. “It started so selflessly, now it ends selfishly. I started this for you, and I’m ending it for me.” Then I had a revelation: weaning is not negative. It is hard, and it is necessary.

I consider breastfeeding one of the proudest achievements in my life. The first six weeks were a huge learning curve of pain, consultants, engorgement and leaking. But that was followed by sixteen months of relative nursing ease.


a story for the sleepless parent

stars in dark sky
Photo by Skies & Scopes on Unsplash

It is 9:30pm.
I know what your dad wants, but I’m in no place to give it to him.
I’m on the verge of tears, have been for days.
Anxiety, stress, exhaustion, fear.
But the tears don’t come. I feel the pressure, but I don’t give in.
Maybe I ought to let them out, let it go, move on.

They don’t come.

A cry from the other room.
Short, short, long.
We both start to move, but your dad is faster.
I lay back down, try to distract myself while he attempts to calm you.
A few minutes pass before I go in, bring…

a poem about priorities

silhouette of boy running away in the dark
Photo by the author, Lori and Erin Photography

It’s 9:30pm and my baby is wide awake.
It’s been 45 minutes since he was almost asleep.
Since he bit me.
My nipple still aches.

While dad takes a turn,
I read the news.
Hurricanes & Wildfires.
Police shootings & Protests.
Oh, don’t forget about the Pandemic.

But my baby won’t sleep.
And the dog still growls at him.
What is a priority?
How am I supposed to give any of these issues
the attention they deserve?

I heard recently that the country
could be on the verge of another civil war.
That image has stuck with me.

I have no guns.
No way to defend my home.
My son.
We’d die pretty quickly.

But first, I need him to sleep.

words 10 months postpartum
photo 16 months postpartum

a poem for the fighters

dark moody portrait, face blurred, hand resting on top of head
self portrait by the author

I just had an episode.

I have armed myself with
a therapist,
a room of my own.

I am building my toolbox,
examining my emotions,
breathing deep.

I’m taking time for myself,
I know it is necessary,
but I still feel guilt.

My mind starts looking for solutions…
a plan.
What’s the next step?

More help.
More sitters.
Day care?

I miss my independence
and sometimes, I grieve for it.

I love my child
but I grieve.
I grieve for the lack of space
lack of time
lack of daydreams
lack of solitude
lack of freedom.

Even with my weapons,
I still fall short.

I just had an episode
but I will continue the fight.

words 15 months postpartum
photo 16 months postpartum

Lori A. Coleman

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