Revelstoke community rallies around family dealing with postpartum depression

Moms step up to help

A man is thankful to the Revelstoke community for helping his family during one of the hardest times in their life.

Claude Awad says his wife has been battling postpartum depression since the birth of their third child just four months ago. She is currently in Vernon Mental Health getting treatment, which means their newborn baby is unable to get the nourishment she needs from her mom.  

As word travelled about their situation, Awad received an outpour of local mothers reaching out to offer their breast milk. 

"One lady came with huge two or three ice boxes full of her milk that she's pumped and she could have just as easily thrown away because there was so much of it. To see her break down and cry as she was giving it to me certainly touched a heart string," Awad expresses.

"Formula is expensive but breast milk is so precious," he says. "I've watched my own wife struggle with her breastfeeding, so to think that somebody would go through that and would give it to my child is really touching. It has been exceptionally useful to know that we're secure in her food now for a few months until she (the baby) can start on solid foods. It has been one of the really positive things that has come out of this."

One local woman even created a Facebook group for people who want to help the Awad family and it already has 450 members.  

Awad's wife is an active Revelstoke community member, having owned and operated her own daycare centre for 10 years. 

"She is well-known, and well-loved," Awad says about his wife.

Just three weeks after she had the baby, she had trouble sleeping and started having a heightened anxiety, a sign of postpartum depression. According to Awad, those smaller symptoms quickly spiralled into full-fledged manifestation.

Within a short period of time, the couple agreed that she should check into Vernon Mental Health, where she stayed for almost two months.  

As things started looking up, doctors felt she was ready to be discharged from the hospital and sent her home to Revelstoke. She stayed home for about a week, which was when things took a turn for the worst on Oct. 10.

"I was preparing supper," says Awad. "She just told me she was going for a walk around the block to stretch her legs before supper. I didn't think much of it at the time. By the time an hour went by, I started getting a really bad feeling about it. By the time two hours passed, I decided to call the RCMP."

The Revelstoke RCMP issued a missing person's alert and began searching for her, and so did members of the community — but to Awad's relief, his wife came home the next day. She told Awad she wanted to die.

They both agreed it was best she returned to Vernon Mental Health, and she's been there since.

To add to the family's stress, the COVID-19 pandemic protocols put in place at the hospital limit them from visiting her at the hospital. Awad is the only person allowed to visit; the children and other family and friends are not. This poses an issue considering Awad is caring for three children on his own, two hours away in Revelstoke, and can't leave any of them alone. 

The father-of-three is taking care of his children completely alone right now. He says he will continue to try to mitigate this uncertain time for his family.  He is so devoted to caring for them that he made the tough decision to quit his job to be at home, despite the financial stress the family is under.

"We're going to have to make some pretty hard decisions pretty soon," he tells Castanet.

The pair has been together for 21 years and, according to Awad, they instantly magnetized. 

"We've always been close, we have never been apart, and my kids are everything to me."

Although the couple feel vulnerable sharing one of the most painful times in their lives with the public, they hope sharing their story will destigmatize discussions around mental health. 

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