By Ashley Mueller
Joining the board of MMHI has been life changing for me. After the birth of my second child, I experienced tremendous postpartum anxiety and depression. My daughter was born nearly a month early, and the hospital that I gave birth at did not have a NICU. Her first few moments of life were traumatic – she was having issues breathing and was whisked out of my arms almost immediately. The initial moments of mother-daughter bonding were cut drastically short. I was unable to leave the hospital, and she was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital with a NICU. I spent the next few hours alone, and in shock. Luckily, my daughter’s time spent in the NICU was only a few days, and she has not experienced any long-term side effects from her early birth.
I, on the other hand, was not in a great place. I had pushed aside any issues I was experiencing the first few months postpartum and concentrated on taking care of my newborn and my 2-year-old son. As it got closer and closer to the day I was to return to work full-time, I had a breakdown. How could I leave my baby? What if she had another medical emergency while in the care of someone else, and I wasn’t there to help? The intrusive thoughts piled on and on. I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into a depression I couldn’t shake. Fortunately, I was able to reach out to my OBGYN, and she got me into a therapist within days. I realize how lucky I was to be able to do this. With the help of my therapist, I was able to understand what triggered my intrusive thoughts, and how to work through them.
One day, while scrolling through Facebook, I discovered Moms Mental Health Initiative. Intrigued, I researched the organization, and knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. How I wish I had discovered the organization while I was experiencing my mental health struggles postpartum.
There are still some days that I struggle. I realize now that healing is non-linear; the path is different for everyone. What may work for me, may not work for everyone. Knowing that through my involvement in the board, I can help connect mothers to the right resources to help them on their mental health journey.
Remember: You Are Not Alone.
Ashley is an Assistant Vice President, Commercial Banking Officer at First Midwest Bank, a division of Old National Bank. She joined First Midwest Bank through the acquisition of Milwaukee-based Park Bank in June of 2020. Through her role at First Midwest, Ashley provides commercial loans and treasury management services to privately held companies in the metro Milwaukee area. Ashley moved to Milwaukee from eastern Iowa where her career in the banking industry began. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Ashley serves on the Board of Directors as Treasurer of Mom’s Mental Health Initiative, Milwaukee.