Elise and Jon Napier didn’t quite know what hit them when their oldest child, Sophia, was born. Two lively and successful individuals; Elise, a nurse in the labor and delivery unit at St. Joe’s, and Jon, a Project Manager at GM, felt they’d turned into anonymous “parents” with their identities fast disappearing. Elise had it the worst; suffering from Post Partum Depression (PPD), she says she was reaching the desperation level. They both realized that they had to remain loving parents, but somehow get the right balance back into their lives.
“My girlfriend and I used to walk the mall for hours, pushing our kids in their buggies. This was just so I didn’t have to be isolated at home with Sophia,” said Elise. “I was trying to deal with a crying baby, PPD and an identity crisis.”
It was during one of her mall walks that Elise discovered an exercise class specifically for moms with small kids in strollers, called fit4mom. “I joined the classes and felt like it saved my life, at least my sanity.” notes Elise. She now teaches the program at Briarwood while she continues her nursing career.
“I’ve found the thing that makes me tick,” said Elise. “Fabric and sewing is my passion and I try to devote time to it each day, to the detriment of pesky things like housework!”
She has become a big advocate for PPD recovery. On her sewing blog, she describes a “Climb Out Of Darkness” day, a worldwide family event aimed at dealing with the darkness of pregnancy-related mood and anxiety disorders. Recognizing the effect on the entire family, she notes that only 15% of families coping with this disorder seek professional help.
“I was totally caught up along with Elise in parenting and Elise’s PPD for the first year,” admits Jon. Finding the right balance was also important to him, so he started playing the piano again, plays ice hockey and soccer once a week, and dabbles in woodworking. “Activities that are not related to work or the business of parenting has been good for us both,” said Jon.
Elise and Jon are now really proud parents of Sophia, now four, and her 17-month-old brother, Wesley. Sophia subscribes to Ranger Rick magazine, and she is a well practiced young ornithologist. That includes observing the Downey Woodpecker which is busy eating the wood siding on their house. Wesley gets himself involved in everything from playing the piano with dad to claiming Sophia’s favorite book as his own.
Elise had a tough climb out of her own darkness while trying to find the right balance of family life. Astutely recognizing the problem was half the battle. Now the entire family benefits from the right balance of parenting, work and play.
“That’s the ultimate goal for parents,” said Elise.