Birthmarks and PPD (postpartum depression)…

parentscover parentsletter parentsarticleWhen our daughter was one year, I’ll never forget an incident that left me angst-ridden and moved me to write and submit a letter to the editor of Parents Magazine. Here I share the letter I submitted and the subsequent article which we were included in a follow-up article on birthmarks.  I would later find-out that my heightened anxiety was a symptom of PPD.

I encourage all new Mom’s to reach-out to other Moms’, family and friends as resources for help, support and information. It’s something I didn’t do initially and think was the primary cause of being diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD).

If you google postpartum depression, the wikipedia definition is listed first at followed by an article by the Mayo Clinic at  I encourage all new Moms’ to talk openly with their pediatrician and OB GYN about any symptoms they think may be related to depression and feeling down.

I was in denial, unaware of the symptoms and convinced myself that my severe insomnia would resolve itself and that I could not be depressed since I was fully functional.  My Grandmother’s passing which resulted in appetite loss in addition to insomnia and then my emotional absence for my father’s grieving landed me back at the Dr’s office where I had previously visited and denied I needed any help. Weak and unable to perform simple daily tasks, I sat and listened as he told me how he could help by prescribing anti-anxiety medication which, up until this point, I had refused to take because of the stigma I attached to being diagnosed and then treated with medication.

Within a week, I was finally sleeping through the night and, in a month or so, noticed a change in my mood.  I was more calm, relaxed and a lot less anxious.  As I accepted my situation, I also began to share it with others in my baby group and discovered that almost two-thirds of the Mothers’ in the group were also experiencing varying degrees of depression with a few on medication as well.  A huge burden had lifted and this was probably the beginning of living my truth as a Mom who no longer felt the need to pretend that everything was fine when, in fact, a lot was not with a colicky baby, sleep deprivation and exhaustion from depriving myself of a break in the day or at all since her birth.

As a new Mom, I encourage you to allow yourself a break.  When I did, our daughter was 13 months old and I spent two hours away attending a bikram class. It was nearby and something I had wanted to try: it became not only a stress relief but a break that strengthened me physically and calmed my mind.  It was the perfect antidote to the rest of my day.  With our second, being proactive and experienced, I avoided PPD with an easier going baby whom we put on a schedule.

Are you living today that will leave you smiling back upon one day?

A very powerful exercise that was done at a seminar I attended almost a decade ago, had the audience imagine their life 5 years out if they were to make NO CHANGES. The audience was left sobbing, weeping and crying audibly. It was a very powerful moment for those who realized they couldn’t and didn’t want to live the same life…

If you are not happy with life as it is today then changes need to be made.  The first step is awareness then the what if and when.  Change is unsettling and can be scary but it is also an opportunity and a choice.  Create the opportunities and make the choices that will leave you looking back upon today with a smile and not regret.  I am living a change that was a result of what will probably be the most difficult decision of my life that was made a year ago. I will share it in an upcoming post.  It required every bit of strength and is frightening but it’s a choice I made to live my truth.

Here is a beautiful quote that represents my purpose. My strength will surely come from helping others by sharing my journey…Thank you NM for sharing this quote.Image

Creating changes…

Slide1Try this exercise and see what happens:

Take 2 minutes to envision happy (what, who, where) and write down what comes to mind. What you write will most probably be gut driven. Instinct is very powerful and often represents our heart and passion: two motivating forces that can propel you to create changes in your life.

Remember, there are no rules and dreams are meant to be crazy!! All athletes will tell you that when they are in the zone, everything is aligned. In life, it’s the same thing. When you are living in your zone, your life is aligned and you are living at your BEST.

The hardest part is identifying the goals to make you happy and working backwards to distill them into daily consistent actions.


Settling into a new routine w/your baby…

DSC000131. Establish your routine of feeding, sleep and life whatever it may be for you as a full-time Mom, part-time and/or a Mom w/a full-time career.

2. If you are a full-time or part-time Mom, I would encourage joining a baby group when your baby is 3 months old. Whether it’s a formal group with a leader with weekly topics or an informal gathering. The support, advice and resource sharing are extremely valuable.

3. Make time for yourself. All Moms’ need a break.

4. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and open. No one is perfect and being the perfect Mom isn’t possible because she doesn’t exist!!

5. Connect, network, share and research. There are many blogs, resources and lots of information out there for new Moms. One can not imagine what it’s like until living it.

6. Be forgiving and kind to yourself…

Delivery day and newborn tips…

1. If you have challenges with trying to conceive, this book helped me and a few friends, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”, by Toni Weschler.

2. At the hospital, if you choose to nurse, make sure you meet with a lactation consultant who shows you the proper latch-on and watches you do it yourself.

3. Read the book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”, by Marc Weissbluth.

4. If you decide to co-sleep, my advice is to move your baby to their crib as soon as possible (usually at 3 months or sooner).

5. Take a deep breath and get-out at least once a day. It has been documented that one of the leading preventative measures for postpartum depression (PPD) is getting out whether for a walk or to the grocery store with or without baby.

Blogging advice from a friend…

Thank you all for your support.

I met with a friend yesterday who has a year-old blog and is doing well. Please visit her site at to see what she is doing.

Her advice to me was simply, “write what you want”. So I will start by sharing a few things I wished I had been told, asked or knew as a new Mom and go from there keeping my posts short but informative.

A little about me…

As I learn my way through this process of sharing through social media, wanted to quickly share a few facts about me here:

1. Born in Malaysia and raised in South East Asia primarily in the city I call my hometown, Hong Kong, even though I have resided in the States the longest both on the East coat (NYC) and currently West coast (San Francisco area).

2. Attended a liberal arts college in Vermont (Middlebury College, US News ranks it at #4 on their top ten liberal arts colleges in the US, where I majored in Political Science). I am compelled to note this as my whole family attended Ivy League Schools both under and post grad and so I am often asked why Middlebury and my response with a smile is, “it’s the best school where I was accepted” so I often like to point-out it is on ‘a list’ :).

3. Joined Bloomingdale’s Management Training Program upon graduation and spent my career in retail management and buying with various companies ranging from The Gap to Ferragamo and a Hong Kong based Department Store with international travel.

4. Met and married the father of my two children ages 8 and almost 12 years soon after graduation.

5. Took 9 months to get pregnant with first child and was diagnosed with postpartum depression when she was 1 1/2 years old.

6. After settling into motherhood and overcoming PPD (postpartum depression), my 2nd child was born when 1st was 3 1/2 years old.

7. Enrolled children in every imaginable activity, joined playgroups and volunteered at their respective schools.

8. Upon our arrival to our current hometown of Los Altos, CA (Bay Area), my family urged me to take a break in the day to do something for myself. I had a 2 hour break.

9. In December 2007, I stepped into a fitness facility which upon reflection was a defining moment in my life (I had no idea at the time but it’s pivotal to where I am today).

10. Flash forward to today, I can not imagine a life without exercise. When I stepped into the fitness facility, being known simply as Debbie and not Mom of or wife to, is where and when I realized the power of regaining one’s identity as a Mom. Fitness became something that others looked to me for advice and where I found another purpose.

11. As I tried-out classes, what I had learned from personal training sessions became apparent as other instructors started asking where I taught when I was just a student and participant in their class.

12. I contemplated teaching and then it became a dream 2 years ago as I couldn’t imagine standing in front and leading a 45-60 minute continuous class counting, cueing, showing and motivating!! I have yet to teach a perfect class as all instructors know, a perfect class doesn’t exist :).

13. How I got from dream to reality was learning how to teach from my favorite instructor at the kickboxing facility where I had been a member and where my passion for fitness developed from struggling with attending two personal training session per week to religiously attending at least 4-5 classes per week.

14. I subbed and demo’d and persisted with any and every contact at every facility I could think of in the area until I was offered an opportunity to volunteer at a Y and soon after was hired at a private facility then hired by 3.

15. After a few years at the cardio kickboxing facility and two years teaching, I found my way to another facility (fate in my favor) where I had no intention of joining but where I am today.

16. The facility is another home to me…and truly is a community of like-minded individuals who live the lifestyle of health and fitness. I am so grateful for the timing and fortune to have found my way to

So today, I live my passion for fitness where I have found purpose and where my strength is fueled by my peers and other women who ask me questions of how, what and now I am here to pay forward what I have learned and help to inspire women to find the strength to make daily choices that lead to a life of passion and purpose.

Yes as a Mom, I have had to make compromises and am no longer as active in my children’s schools where I once served on the PTA board and signed-up for a lot of volunteer projects and with a very involved and supportive father of my children, I have been able to nourish this part of me that I hadn’t realized needed attention:

It’s not easy being a Mom with a career and/or passion but it’s possible. Compromises will be made along the way but I believe that one must be happy with who they are and what they are doing to be able to then share their love and care for their children. I have experienced the spectrum and am at crossroads again in life where I find strength in other women who are able to make the decisions they need to and where I will leave my journey here and continue on…thank you and believe!!

Pursuing a dream…

Yesterday, I decided to put on hold teaching group fitness classes because I had met the goal I set two years ago of learning to teach and being added to a regular schedule at a few facilities.  Recently, I realized my lack of motivation to take my class to the next level was a sign that it was time for me to reassess this goal and perhaps move-on to another.  So here I am again figuring-out what goals to set for 2013 and beyond not just to have but more importantly to achieve for the purpose and meaning they will serve.  As I mature, the fear of regret and not the fear of failure is what motivates me.

I have always wanted to be in the entertainment business in some capacity but reality overcame dreams and I went on to do what I should: graduated from college, secured a job, continued working until after getting married and started a family.  Now I’m at a crossroads in life where I will surely regret not pursuing my dreams and making them happen no matter how outrageous they may seem versus living life passively.

My first goal of 2013 is to ensure that my goals are aligned with my dreams.  I’m not sure how I am going to get from here to there but I will remind myself of the other recent goal I set where at one point it seemed impossible.  I have ideas but, again, ideas are only ideas until we create a roadmap of action to make these ideas reality.   My first step in making this dream a reality is putting it out there and making myself more accountable than if it were still in my mind and shared with only a few friends…..

One action item I am considering is entering a figure competition.  Entering the competition would serve two purposes: it would be my way of making a point to pursue our dreams no matter what and where we are in life as a woman/Mom and possibly provide a platform into entertainment….This idea/goal seems outrageous to me right now but I can’t help hearing the quote “If it doesn’t scare you, the dream isn’t big enough” so I suppose this dream falls into that category and now that it’s out, though scary, makes it a little bit more real :)…

Journey continues…

beforeandafterI never set-out to look the way I do now but, ironically, how I look today has become the vehicle for my purpose in life which is to inspire women and Moms’ to pursue their passion, whatever and whenever it may be.  For me, I knew I always wanted to be a Mom.  It took 9 months to conceive our first child and no time for our second but I distinctly remember how sad I was when it took time for the first.  I remember thinking about adoption and not even IVF or other fertility treatments.  What I didn’t know at the time was the degree of responsibility and change that would accompany this life changing decision.  I encountered quite a few challenges from severe nausea to Nicole being admitted to the NICU (intensive care unit) when she was a few days old for jaundice, nursing issues and postpartum depression.  All of which I had none with our second.

What then transpired was an angst ridden Mom whose purpose became being the ‘perfect parent’ who didn’t leave her children with anyone for the first year.  I immersed myself in all things related to being a Mom from joining a baby playgroup, signing-up for every imaginable activity to teach, stimulate and educate my children to volunteering in school as a PTA board member to researching pre-schools where we had to apply to one and actually be interviewed and wait with baited breath for the acceptance letter.  Yes, this was for preschool!

When we moved to the Bay Area in October 2007, the geographic change was also the onset of a personal one encouraged by my family.  This is when I ventured into allowing myself a little time but I never expected to be ‘good’ at what I was doing or for it to become something.  Fitness has become my purpose because it’s empowered me as an individual, a woman and as a Mom.  I can stand proud of two children and myself and though I’m at a crossroads in life where I have my own challenges to overcome, I believe that where I’m at and what I’ve been blessed with via fitness, I’m stronger than I ever imagined to face the future with excitement and hope.

I have so much I want to do and accomplish but what keeps me going is the thought that maybe I can inspire others to forge ahead and discover something they love and to pursue it.  My mission is my passion and I feel so fortunate to love what I do and do what I love.  How I look is only part and parcel and yes, I’m thankful for it but I also know I work at what I do because I love it.  So here’s to finding what you love and loving what you do and you are never too young or old to “just do it”!