My name is Martha Escudero.  I am a mother of two loving girls - almost 6 year old Victoria and 3 year old Meztli.  I currently work as a case manager doing home visits for high risk mothers in the East Los Angeles area. I had postpartum depression with my first daughter but during my second pregnancy my anxiety and depression was so strong it almost knocked me over.

At the time I found out I was pregnant, I was receiving post bachelor education as a Mental Health Specialist and had been looking for a job for 2 years.  My partner was also unemployed.  We were living in poor living conditions in a roach and mold infested apartment.  We did not have a bed so we slept on the cold hard floor.  Sometimes we did not have electricity or gas working.  We did think of abortion but could not go through it.  I was also not receiving any prenatal care due to issues with my medical insurance.  Then I became sick with pneumonia when I was bed ridden for a week, which made my depression and anxiety worst.

I would spend many nights pacing back and forth my apartment worrying about money and my baby.  During the day I had trouble getting out of bed and caring for my older daughter.  My partner was also going through his own form of depression and he preferred not to be home, which caused us to argue a lot.  My partner and I would fight constantly, we even ended our relationship a few times during the course of my pregnancy.  I had a lot of blame and guilt of having to put my daughters through all this, and often thought that maybe we would be better off dead.

Often I felt I was drowning or falling down quick sand.  However, I did have support through these times and I did reach out.  I called friends and family and they allowed me to vent and cry.  My family and friends dragged me outside my house to go walking or offered me warm teas.  Praying to my ancestors provided some peace. Writing and drawing in a gifted birth journal offered an outlet to release my feelings.  One friend would take me to receive donation based acupuncture.  Another friend asked around for others to help me pay my rent one month and they also provided me with a bed.  The breakthrough came in December a few weeks before the birth of my daughter.  My friends organized a mother blessing here they provided my family with community prayers and reminded us that we were not alone and we truly felt blessed.  After the gentle home birth of my daughter Meztli, my doula and friend organized community postpartum support.  While I was recovering from giving birth, friends and family stopped by to offer food, teas, child care, house work, herbal baths, massages, and all the love a postpartum mom deserves.

After finding support during such challenging times I was able to find a great job that allows me to help other mothers in similar situations.  I was able to find better housing and have all my basic needs met.  I now have a better relationship with my partner and adore my daughters who help me become a better person every day.  I am also able to share my story without fear or shame. I now know that I have support and I am not alone. Nobody is, but sometimes it may be scary to speak up.  I hope that women that read my story may be able to find the strength to speak up and seek help.  It is unnatural to raise a child alone.  Don’t isolate yourself, it really does take a village to raise a child!

The mission of the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force is to remove barriers to the prevention, screening and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression in Los Angeles County. The Task Force is a project of 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor Community Partners.