May, 2008

Postpartum Depression:
You Don't Have to Suffer Alone

"I always thought postpartum depression was in a woman's head," says Deb Guerra of Chester. "I thought they were just trying to get attention. I didn't think it was real." Before she experienced postpartum depression (PPD) eight years ago after the birth of her fourth child, Guerra, 43, shared the prevailing attitude of many people who have never had PPD - and some who have.

"It hit in the hospital," Guerra recalls. "I was overcome with sadness and emotion. I kept crying. I was overwhelmed and didn't want to go home. I remember picking up the baby and just crying. I would hold her and sob."

The hospital kept Guerra an extra day, but soon after she got home, things escalated. "I was saying things like, 'I miss her,' to my husband, while he would point out that I was holding the baby."

Guerra feels she may have been grieving the apparent twin, detected by ultrasound, that had died early in the pregnancy. "I was so concerned with the baby who was alive that I didn't have time to grieve. I also never nested, as I had been put on bed rest toward the end of my pregnancy and didn't get things ready." Bereavement is one of the risk factors for PPD.


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Mother and child

A Harmonious Whole: Gardening by System Design

The Visible V-8 is a desktop model of an internal combustion engine. It's housed in a clear plastic engine block, with red pistons and cams, blue distributor cap and electrical wires, green radiator and coolant hoses. With a battery attached, the Visible V-8 actually runs, and you can marvel at how the pistons go up and down, the valves go in and out, and the cams go 'round and 'round - all simultaneously. Yet, complex and amazing, the engine is still just a mechanical system in which each part is intentionally designed to work in a certain way and never change, until it breaks.

Imagine a different kind of model, just as complex and even more amazing, in which every component is organic, alive, and ever-changing. Each element expresses its own individual nature and yet the whole still works together, its subsystems flowing through time, intersecting and impacting one another.

That harmonious whole would be a garden. And its designer may well be Judith Irven of Outdoor Spaces Landscape Design.

Irven holds academic degrees in physics and mathematics and worked for over 20 years in systems engineering. After moving to Vermont in 1994, she enrolled in the USDA Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program. A lifelong gardener, her passion for garden design burst forth, and she went on to study landscape design at Vermont Technical College. Three years later, she started Outdoor Spaces, a firm that offers landscape design services as elegantly thought-out and intertwined as the branches of the shrubs and perennials that weave throughout the many acres surrounding her home. She lives in a 150-year-old farmhouse in Goshen, atop the Blueberry Hill ridge in the Green Mountain National Forest.


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The Mother of All Rainbows

Over a century ago, my great-grandparents packed up their six children, got in their wagon, and then took a train from Belfort to Havre, France where they boarded a ship for America. One hundred years later to the month, after a difficult and emotional search, I stood on the very ground they gardened, admired the same chestnut trees they enjoyed, smelled the same rich, damp earth they tilled, and touched the cornerstone of the home they built as newlyweds - the same home that my grandmother would be born in. I was the only descendant to return in 100 years.

My journey began with a scrap of paper on which my frail grandmother had drawn a map to where she was born. With a trembling hand she drew a shaky line from Paris to Belfort to Hericourt to Courmont. Then, as an afterthought, she added the words Cote de Chenes. That piece of paper is all I had when I decided several years later to travel to France in search of my ancestors and my family history.

One day, I showed this paper to a new friend who had recently emigrated from France to Burlington. She immediately started talking in fast forward French, her voice pitching higher and higher: in an extraordinary coincidence, it turns out she was born and raised in the next village, Lure, where her mother still lived. Soon she arranged for me to stay for a week with her family, who offered to assist me with my search.


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Publisher Sue Gillis