When motherhood is misery

Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress, along with her son, Jackson Callis, 12, and daughter, Madden Callis, 8.


Editor’s note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She is a mom of two girls. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(BURSA ESCORT) — After Katherine Stone’s first child, a son, was born 12 years ago, she immediately felt super anxious.

Her son had jaundice, a relatively common yellow discoloration of a newborn’s skin and eyes. I thought he was going to die,  said Stone, an Atlanta mom of two.

When hospital staff wanted to discharge her while her son remained behind for more treatment, she refused to depart, so she had to pay full price for a hospital room to stay.

I was like, I’m not leaving . I’ll be a horrible mother if I walk out of this hospital, so I was already intently hyper-vigilant, Stone said in an interview.

Things only got worse when she arrived home. She constantly scrubbed bottles and kept reorganizing the basket of diapers so they were all straight.

Then, around seven weeks postpartum, Stone had the first of what are called intrusive thoughts frightening notions about what could happen to you or someone else in your life. She thought about smothering her son with a burp cloth.

She reached out for help about a month later, not because she thought she could get better if she got treatment; she just wanted the pain to go away.

I’m not insane?

I thought they would cart me off either to jail or a mental institution, said Stone. I really thought when I told the therapist that I met with for the first time about my intrusive thoughts that she was going to pick up the phone right then and dial 911. And she goes, Well those are intrusive thoughts, and this is what that is, and it’s very common.

I’m not insane? Stone thought,with relief.

She was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety and was treated through therapy and medication.

Postpartum depression: My 6-month-old saved my life

As many as one in seven women in the United States, or nearly 15% of new moms, is believed to suffer from some form of mental illness during or after pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The spectrum of illnesses goes beyond depression, which people don’t realize, said Stone. Moms could be suffering from a range of mood and anxiety disorders; in the most rare and serious cases, impacting only 0.2% of all moms, they suffer from psychosis, the disorder that often garners the painful national headlines.

Those cases include one of the most horrific in recent memory, when Texas mom Andrea Yates drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2001, and one of the more recent, when Miriam Carey was shot and killed after she led police on a high-speed chase in the nation’s capital last year with her 1 year old, who was unharmed, in the car.

In the vast majority of cases, women with perinatal mental illness won’t ever physically harm themselves or their children.

The birth of a mission

As for Stone, it took many months before she felt like herself again.

When she returned to her corporate marketing job, she’d go into the bathroom and just sit in a stall, she said. She’d think, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what’s going on.

Even after she got better, she felt alone and somewhat angry. How could a fairly educated woman like herself not know anything about intrusive thoughts or how postpartum mental illness could include anxiety disorders?

She decided to write a blog post. It was July 2004.

I thought, I’ll write and hopefully someone will read it, she said.

Ten years later, Katherine Stone and her blog, Postpartum Progress, are considered one of the leading sources of information and support for moms suffering from some form of perinatal mental illness. The blog, which half a million women access annually, has also led to the creation of a nonprofit with the same name focused on raising awareness, pushing for more scientific research on causes and treatments and improving screening for the disease.

People always think you have a master plan and honestly, even from the start with the first blog post, there was never a master plan, said Stone, whom I interviewed last year and again this year for this story. The focus was always on what can be done to help other moms so they’re not alone.

Climb Out of the Darkness

To help raise money for the nonprofit, last year one of Postpartum Progress’ board members suggested holding an event on the longest day of the year, the first day of summer, to shine the most light on the issue. Four weeks later, the first annual Climb Out of the Darkness was held, with 177 people from around the world climbing mountains, hiking and walking along beaches to raise $40,000 from family, friends and other loved ones.

This year, the event grew exponentially, with 1,600 climbers from 41 states and nine countries, including England, Switzerland, Mexico, Malaysia, South Africa and Australia, raising a total of $165,000, quadruple the amount raised the year before. It has become the largest event in the world raising awareness of maternal mental illness, according to Postpartum Progress.

For many of these women, it’s the first time they’ve ever told their story. It’s the first time they’ve asked people to support by donating money, said Stone, adding that many of the climbers have been interviewed by local television stations and newspapers. They’re all having absolute heart attacks with me ahead of time, and I keep reminding them (to) keep focused on the fact that there’s a woman in the audience who needs to hear what you have to say.

One of those first-time climbers this year was Raivon Lee, a mom of a 17-month-old, who cried every day for months after her son was born. In her email to family and friends asking for support as she planned to climb an Atlanta area mountain, she revealed how at the lowest point of her postpartum depression and anxiety, the thought of death was actually a peaceful thought.

It’s really a very scary place to be, and I really don’t think people get it, but I don’t think I got it before it happened to me,” said Lee, who worked as a nurse before becoming a mom. If I can just help one mom feel a little bit better or just get help, then it makes me so extremely happy.

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Lesley Neadel of Hoboken, New Jersey, climbed for the second time this year. She suffered from severe postpartum depression and anxiety when her daughter was born three and a half years ago, and is now six months pregnant with her second child. She knows she could battle depression and anxiety again.

I’m focusing on how good I feel now and that if I find myself feeling badly again, I have support systems at the ready at this point, she said.

One of those support systems includes Postpartum Progress, which she said she came across when she was searching online, trying to find a community of women who might understand what she was going through.

I found Postpartum Progress and suddenly was reading exactly my symptoms and stories of women who had been through what I had, who had it worse than I had,” said Neadel, a public relations executive in New York City. Just finding that community, knowing you’re not alone has been unbelievable.

Much more progress needed

While Stone believes there is more awareness today than when she started what has become a mission ten years ago, and that women are finding a safe place to connect with other women who know exactly what they’re going through, she still believes there is a lot more work to do.

She still hears stories from women who said their doctors told them they were suffering from the baby blues, which would eventually go away, or not to take medication because it could shrink their brains or who told them they were fine as long as they didn’t want to kill themselves or their baby.

Women are still getting treated horribly, there’s still stigma, they’re still not getting the right kind of help, said Stone.

More also needs to be done to educate and help lower income women, said Stone, noting how studies show the number of women in high poverty areas suffering from postpartum depression can be almost double the number of moms battling the illness nationwide.

Only 15% of those who ever get a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder get treated, which means that the 85% who don’t get treatment could have chronic mental illness throughout their lives, dramatically impacting the mental health of their children, according to a report by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child.

Stone wants to see more research into the underlying causes of the illness and the development of more targeted treatments, with the goal of one day being able to identify women ahead of time who are most at risk.

Additional and improved screening are also needed, she said. Many women say no one ever talked with them about depression or mood and anxiety disorders while they were pregnant or after giving birth.

The only reason I knew about the illnesses and was on the lookout for any signs during my two pregnancies and after my deliveries was because of news stories I had reported. I don’t remember reading about them in any of the pregnancy prep books and don’t recall my OB/GYN or pediatrician ever asking me about them either.

Today the most common screening is a questionnaire to try and assess how a new mom feels about herself and her baby called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. New mothers are asked to answer questions such as whether they have been anxious or worried for no good reason, if they have had difficulty sleeping, if they are feeling sad and miserable and if the thought of harming themselves had ever occurred to them.

One of the issues, said Stone, is that the questionnaire, if given out at all, is often given to women soonafter childbirth when a new mom has a hard time focusing on just about anything, let alone being able to reflect on whether her feelings at that moment are out of the ordinary.

Motivation from the women

What keeps Stone going, even when she feels anxious about how much her blog and nonprofit have grown, are the emails and comments she gets from women: comments like It wasn’t until I read this that I knew what was going on or I thought I was a horrible mother or “I’ve just called my doctor.

When I realize that what we’re doing is not only raising awareness but facilitating people into treatment, that we are convincing them that it’s okay to call and ask for help, I (know) we’ve hit on something, she said.

When women started writing and asking if they could tattoo the logo of Postpartum Progress, an image of what Stone calls a “warrior mom, she could not quite believe it.

Holy crap. What happened here? she remembered feeling at the time. We’re going to keep going. We’ve hit a nerve and women needed this. They needed this.

For all the daughters

Stone is feisty and passionate about helping women who are suffering or have suffered from a perinatal mental illness, saying she would throw herself on a fire or in front of a bus to help moms. But when she talks about her daughter Madden, who is now 8, the emotions break through her steely resolve.

When she has a baby, if she has a baby, she’s not going through what all these women go through right now, said Stone, fighting back tears as she recounted the suffering of women, including her own mother and grandmother, who have experienced depressive episodes around pregnancy and hated themselves for it.

My daughter’s every daughter. Every mom out there should be concerned about this.

Have you or anyone you know suffered from depression and anxiety during pregnancy or after childbirth? Share your thoughts in the comments or tell

Leaders meet to discuss MH17 access

(Bursa Escort)– International monitors and investigators have been unable to reach the MH17 crash site due to fighting


Heavy fighting around Donetsk again prevented international experts from reaching the crash site of flight MH17

The Malaysian and Dutch leaders will meet in the Hague later to discuss how to secure access to MH17’s crash site.

Trade between the Netherlands and Russia is dropping as Anna Holligan reports.

Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to EU: The Russian economy has been through challenges like this and it will survive”

On Wednesday, Russia hit out at new sanctions from the US and EU, calling them “destructive and short sighted.

But G7 leaders said Russia would face further economic sanctions if it continued to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

The EU is due to release details of its expanded sanctions on Thursday, targeting Russia oil, defence and technology sectors.

It has also added eight individuals, including several members of Mr Putin’s inner circle, to a list of people hit with EU-wide asset freezes and travel bans.

That list now includes a total of 95 people and 23 entities and features the heads of Russia’s intelligence agencies, the president of Chechnya, and two Crimean energy firms.

The dead dog that changed colour twice

London Jack after being restored to his original colour


From the Victorian era until after World War Two, charity collection dogs were a popular sight in British train stations. They continued their charitable calling even after death.

“Though dead, Jack is still on duty and solicits a continuance of your contributions in support of his good work for the Orphans.” So reads the plaque in London Jack’s glass display case at the Bluebell Railway museum.

The black retriever has spent almost a century – eight of his living years and a further 83 years as a stuffed corpse – collecting for good causes.

Once famous for patrolling London’s Waterloo station, he was one of a group of celebrity dogs who made thousands of pounds for charity from the mid-Victorian era until the 1950s.

He and others like Brighton Bob, Bruce of Swindon, Chelmsford Brenda, Wimbledon Nell and Oldham’s Rebel mixed with commuters, sometimes boarding trains on their own to encourage more giving by passengers. They barked, “shook hands” and performed tricks for money, their exploits frequently reported in the national and regional press.

“They were cuter than human beings and people responded to that,” says Jan Bondeson, author of Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities. “There were very many postcards printed of them.

“If the dogs were docile enough, they were allowed to walk around the stations on their own. But some were tethered in case they walked in front of a train.”

This was not the only risk they faced. In 1896, a gang of criminals picked up Tim, an Irish terrier who worked at London’s Paddington station, and held him upside down over a suitcase, shaking him to free up the coins from his collection box. When released, he bit one of his assailants on the calf.

Some dogs were less than honest themselves. Initially they collected coins in their mouths and gave them in, but secure boxes had to be tied to them after a journalist for a Christian magazine discovered in the 1860s that Brighton Bob was using some of his money to buy biscuits at a bakery.

The dogs, usually looked after and trained by railway staff, proved popular and lucrative. For this reason there was a whole line of London Jacks. The first, who came into service in 1894, disappeared in 1899, but was later found in a house in Soho, where he was being held by criminals, after a boy heard barking and informed the police.

He retired, died and was stuffed and put on display in a cabinet with a slot for coins at the front. “From his glass case at Waterloo station, he still appeals to the passengers who pass by,” reported the Sphere newspaper in 1901. His son took over and was said to stop and look at his late father whenever he passed by.

The fifth Jack – the one now on display at the Bluebell Railway Museum in East Sussex – was born in 1917 and started collecting in 1923. He made more than £4,000 to help maintain an orphanage for railwaymen’s children in Woking, Surrey.

He wore, and still wears, a large collection of medals on his back, a silver one awarded for every £100 raised and a gold one for every £500.

In 1924 he was photographed with Jackie Coogan, the child star of Charlie Chaplin’s hit comedy film The Kid, as he passed through Waterloo. The event caused a shortage of luggage porters, who rushed to view the meeting of celebrities.

By 1930, Jack’s eyesight was going and he retired. The press showed him demonstrating to his successor how to board a train safely with a collection box.

He died the next year. He too was stuffed and mounted in a cabinet. But strangely at some stage during his journey from Waterloo to the Bluebell Railway, which bought him in 1967, he changed colour.

Find more canine portraits – including collecting dogs such as L Magill’s portrait of Tim (above) – on BBC Your Paintings

For many years he was regarded as a golden, rather than a black, retriever. A drawing of him featured on a first-day cover sent in 1979 is coloured yellow.

“He was in a case for a number of years and must have become bleached by the light over time,” says Colin Tyson, who edits the Bluebell Railway’s quarterly newsletter.

Jack went for a restoration five years ago and was dyed black once more after the taxidermist discovered that, judging by his roots, he was not a natural blond. He returned to the Bluebell Railway, where he still collects. For a while his takings went on funding his own renovation costs. Now these are paid off, he collects for Woking Homes, on the site of the old orphanage, which cares for retired railway staff.

“People go to a museum like ours expecting to see preserved locomotives and carriages, not preserved dogs,” says Tyson. “But Jack is very popular, especially with the kids. Maybe they expect him to raise a paw when they put a coin in.” He doesn’t.

Most of the stuffed former station dogs have disappeared or are in private ownership. The most prominent of those still on display is Station Jim, who died aged just two in 1896. He remains in a case on platform five of Slough station. A spoof Twitter feed shares his imaginary observations.

Jim was part of what Bondeson calls the “golden age” of station dogs. By the time Britain’s railways were nationalised in 1948, numbers had dwindled. An Airedale terrier called Laddie, who worked at Waterloo until 1956, is thought to have been the last to work the platforms. Stuffed animals were also gradually removed.

“Under the more corporate British Rail, they didn’t want things like dead dogs in stations,” says Tyson. “But animals like London Jack and Station Jim are a proud part of our railway heritage. They helped a lot of people.”

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Obsolete strategy in chokehold death

People participate in a demonstration against the death of Eric Garner after he was taken into police custody in Staten Island. Joel Graham photographed the demonstration, and captured this image of Garner’s friends and family rallying alongside the Rev. Al Sharpton.


Editor’s note: Errol Louis is the host of “Inside City Hall,” a nightly political show on NY1, a New York all-news channel. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

The tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD a fatal scuffle caught in all its horror in a video shot by a bystander is, in part, the product of a nationally recognized police strategy, broken windows.” It may have outlived its usefulness in many parts of New York.

Garner, a father of six, was allegedly a low-level street hustler, a “buttlegger” illegally selling cigarettes one at a time or in packs without taxes applied. When police approached and tried to arrest Garner — something they’d done before — the man jumped up, complaining that he had no goods on him, had not been dealing and didn’t want to be hassled.

The cops swarmed Garner, with at least one appearing to choke Garner and press on his neck as he gasped, eight times: “I can’t breathe.” You can see the disturbing video here. He died shortly afterward.

As the video went viral, community protests and vigils mounted. A central issue in the protests is the fact that the video shows one officer, Daniel Pantaleo grabbing Garner by the neck and pressing down on his head and chest, in apparent violation of a police rule that bans such choke holds.

“Members of the New York City Police Department will not use choke holds,” Section 203-11 of the NYPD Patrol Guide says. “A choke hold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.”

Two of the officers involved in the incident have been assigned to desk duties with their guns taken away. NYPD Commissioner William Bratton has promised a “top to bottom” retraining of every member of NYPD in how to arrest people, as well as a review of the department’s use-of-force policies. Bratton has also met with the FBI in anticipation of a possible federal lawsuit alleging that Garner’s civil rights were violated.

Choke holds were banned 20 years ago after the death of a young man, Anthony Baez, who was killed in a confrontation with police after a football he was tossing with friends hit a police car. The officer who choked Baez to death was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison. Bratton was recently re-appointed to the top post after a long stint in Los Angeles, giving the latest incident an eerie deja-vu quality.

Despite the ban on choke holds, new incidents continue to pile up: The NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board received more than 1,000 complaints about the use of choke holds between 2009 and 2013, but punished only nine officers, none of them with anything more serious than a loss of vacation days.

The Rev. Al Sharpton has vowed to press the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio on the investigation of the Garner case, which has been turned over to the local district attorney.

But the larger question remains: Why was a team of six officers enforcing an almost laughably low-level crime like selling loose cigarettes for 50 cents apiece?

The answer lies in New York’s dramatically successful experiment with battling an out-of-control crime wave in the early 1990s, much of it built on a “broken windows” theory first developed by criminologists George Kelling and the late James Q. Wilson and laid out in a famous 1982 Atlantic Monthly magazine article.

The idea is shorthand for a phenomenon known to sociologists: Leaving an otherwise safe building with an unfixed broken window signals to criminals that nobody cares about the property, which quickly becomes a haven for prostitution, drug dealing and serious crimes.

With murders back then hitting more than 2,000 per year, NYPD cops were told by Bratton to stop waiting for the next 911 call and tasked with enforcing seemingly minor “quality of life” matters like public urination, panhandling and vandalism that made people feel unsafe.

The strategy provided an immediate payoff. Cops doing quality-of-life patrols in the subways discovered that people jumping the turnstile (entering without paying) often turned out to have drugs, guns or outstanding warrants.

Most turnstile-jumpers weren’t dangerous felons, but it turned out that dangerous felons often didn’t bother to pay the fare. So enforcing small violations helped catch truly dangerous criminals.

Even more important, when streets and subways began to feel safer, more people used them — and the very presence of more law-abiding citizens always acts as a deterrent to crime (it creates more witnesses who are likely to point out the bad guys to cops or actually intervene to stop certain kinds of crimes).

Bratton, an architect of the broken windows revolution in policing, appears to be going back to his old playbook during his second tour as commander of the NYPD: So far this year, officers have arrested 240 subway performers, who do such things as break dance and perform backflips on moving trains.

But the Garner case shows it may be time to revise, reduce or scrap broken windows policing, at least in some neighborhoods.

When Bratton became commissioner for the first time, in 1994, the city had just finished a year with 2,420 murders. The number last year was just 333. The subways aren’t out of control, the break dancers aren’t carrying weapons, and low-level cigarette hustlers aren’t causing the kind of disorder the city weathered in the 1990s.

As Garner is laid to rest and the cops involved get whatever fate the court system has in store, the NYPD should re-evaluate how much force and attention it needs to train on low-level crime in a much safer city.

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After Dodd Frank system still broken

Four years after the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law’s enactment, problems remain in the financial system, critics say.

Editor’s note: Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican, is in his fifth term representing North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District. He was recently selected as chief deputy whip and also is on the House Financial Services Committee, where he is chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

in 2007 and 2008, the American economy suffered through its greatest crisis since the Great Depression. The Treasury Department estimates that from 2007 to 2009, the heart of the Great Recession, more than 8.8 million American jobs disappeared and more than $19 trillion in household wealth was lost.

In response to the crisis, the federal government took steps to reform our financial system, most significantly, passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Signed into law by President Barack Obama four years ago Monday, this bill was designed to improve accountability and transparency in our financial system, ensuring we never again face a financial crisis of this magnitude.

Regrettably, Dodd-Frank has done little to address the root causes of this crisis. Instead, by institutionalizing bailouts and undermining a competitive and fair marketplace, this law has joined Obamacare as another example of big government overreach that has ultimately done more harm than good for the American people.

Wall Street reform law only half done

At 849 pages, Dodd-Frank touches nearly every aspect of our financial system, from capital ratios of large financial institutions down to new rules on the credit cards most Americans have in their wallets.

Dodd-Frank has only grown larger since Obama signed it. Much of the statutory text tasks Washington bureaucrats with writing nearly 400 rules. As of the first of this month, law firm Davis Polk reported 45% of rulemaking deadlines have been missed.

Since its enactment, Dodd-Frank has imposed $21.8 billion in compliance costs while producing regulations that require nearly 60 million hours of paperwork with which to comply, according to estimates by the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute.

These compliance costs can be devastating to small community banks and credit unions. Often they are the only financial institutions serving small towns and rural areas such as those throughout my district in western North Carolina. Assuming these small institutions can withstand this Dodd-Frank-induced regulatory onslaught and stay in business, they will join larger banks in passing these added costs along to consumers, driving up the cost of borrowing and reducing access to much-needed credit.

Among the great indignities of the financial crisis:American families were footing the bill for the massive taxpayer-funded bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other large financial institutions while struggling to scrape by in the broken economy. In 2009, Bloomberg estimated that the U.S. government and other federal agencies had committed nearly $13 trillion to support these failing institutions. The nearly $13 trillion represented 90% of the U.S. gross domestic product for 2008.

In signing the law, Obama claimed that never again would the American people foot the bill for these large firms. Yet amazingly Dodd-Frank does not just fail to end these bailouts, it cements them into law and greatly increases the likelihood the American people will be stuck with the federal government’s bailout tab again in the future.

In addition to an alphabet soup of new agencies, such as FSOC (Financial Stability Oversight Council) and OFR (Office of Financial Research),Dodd-Frank also gave us the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a uniquely (some might say dangerously) unaccountable addition to our federal bureaucracy. Designed with the noble goal of consumer protection, the agency was given significant power to regulate financial offerings but was designed in a manner to leave it free of oversight from both the White House and Congress.

Among the agency’s accomplishments is its qualified mortgage rule that has negatively affected credit availability in the mortgage market. The rule has especially harmed those who have typically struggled to access credit in the past, women and minorities. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Board showed roughly one-third of black and Hispanic borrowers would not qualify for mortgages under the rule.

Even more troubling is the bureau’s latest project, the National Mortgage Database. In an apparent effort to make the National Security Agency jealous, this database will track individual Americans and their personally identifiable information, including the most intimate personal and financial details, going back as far as 30 years.

And this does not even begin to address the consumer agency’s management failures that have led to claims of discrimination and retaliation against minority employees going unpunished andspending $216 million to renovate its rented office space.

Put simply, Dodd-Frank is but another failed big government reform just like Obamacare, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, and the stimulus. When will this administration realize more government does not solve problems, it is the problem?