TIME Crime

Pregnant Store Owner Gets Five Years in Puppy Arson Case

In a Wednesday, March 12, 2014 file photo, pet shop owner Gloria Lee in Las Vegas
Steve Marcus—AP Gloria Lee in Las Vegas on March 12, 2014

Gloria Eun Hye Lee used a pregnancy defense

(LAS VEGAS) — A former Las Vegas pet shop owner who was caught on surveillance video torching her business before 27 puppies and dogs were rescued last year failed to sway her sentencing judge with a courtroom announcement Wednesday that she was three months pregnant.

Clark County District Court Judge David Barker said he thought Gloria Eun Hye Lee, 36, was using her pregnancy to try to get him to hand down a lesser sentence.

He sentenced Lee to five to 14 years in state prison — nearly the maximum that prosecutor Shanon Clowers sought.

Clowers accused Lee of using her pregnancy in a manipulative bid for a “get-out-of-jail-free card.”

Lee’s attorney, Tom Pitaro, didn’t immediately respond later to messages.

Clowers noted that Lee told the court the father of her child was her husband, from whom Lee was estranged at the time of the January 2014 fire at the Prince and Princess pet shop in southwest Las Vegas, and who she once tried to blame for the crime.

Store security video showed Lee removing files in an office while co-defendant Kirk Bills poured liquid on the floor around locked kennel cages and ignited it.

Lee pleaded guilty in October to arson, insurance fraud and attempted animal cruelty charges in a plea deal that had 28 other charges against her dismissed.

Bills pleaded guilty to arson and attempted animal cruelty. He’ll be sentenced Monday. His lawyer, Roger Bailey, said he hopes for leniency and a two-to-five year sentence that, with time already served, could get Bills out of prison as early as next year.

Ceiling fire sprinklers quickly doused the flames, and none of the 27 animals was fatally injured before firefighters arrived.

But the incident sparked intense passions among animal rights advocates who picketed the courthouse for nearly every court appearance. Lee was arrested in Las Vegas shortly after the fire. Bills was arrested days later in Crown Point, Indiana.

It also touched off a weekslong ownership battle that ended when 25 rescued puppies were raffled in March 2014 for $250 apiece to benefit a foundation that runs the local Lied Animal Shelter. Two adult dogs were placed by a rescue group called A Home 4 Spot.

TIME apps

4 Ways Tech Can Help You Get Pregnant

Rayen Luna Solar, 27,  33-week pregnant,
AFP—AFP/Getty Images Rayen Luna Solar, 27, 33-week pregnant, is seen by a midwife in a routine checkup, in Santiago, on July 13, 2012.

From wearable sensors to pregnancy-tracking apps

According to the most recent figures, the U.S. birth rate fell again in 2013, down 9% from the 2007 high. The big reason for this is that fewer women under 30 are getting pregnant. But, interestingly enough, there was actually an increase in births for women over 30.

Still, as many hopeful parents know, it isn’t always easy to bring a new life into the world. So from apps to wearables, here are four ways technology can help you get pregnant:

Track your cycle:

There’s an app for everything under the sun, so of course there’s more than a couple for monitoring your body. Glow Fertility Tracker, a free app for Android, Amazon, and iOS, can help women chart and track their fertility and periods, forecasting peak ovulation days to improve their chances of conception. With modes for women undergoing IVF or IUI, the app does everything from reminding you to get your prescriptions to integrating data with Apple Health.

Likewise, the free Ovia Fertility app, available for Android and iOS, can keep track of periods, ovulation, and a variety of other helpful statistics like blood pressure and basal body temperature. But in comparing the user’s data with more than 800,000 other users, the app is able to use its predictive engine to crank out ovulation dates it claims are accurate. According to Ovuline, which makes the app, Ovia’s users conceive up to three times faster than the national average.

Swab your spit:

As science marches on, there will probably be dozens of ways for us to know when peak baby-making time is. A new one is the FDA-cleared Knowhen Saliva Fertility Monitor. This $59 spittoon is to be used first thing in the morning, even before you brush your teeth. Just drop a gob of saliva into a lens, wait between five and 15 minutes for the spit to dry, drop the lens into a tube, and look through the tube at the lens to compare the dried spit with an accompanying chart.

The reason it works is that ovulating women have high levels of estrogen, which affects salt retention. Saltier saliva samples look more crystalline when viewed through Knowhen, which is actually a mini microscope, letting women better tell when they’re ready.

Keep your temperature in check:

Tracking your basal body temperature, or your body’s lowest temperature throughout the course of a day, is another popular way to see if you’re ready to conceive. But to record that number, you have to take your temperature right when you wake up and without moving much. Duo Fertility is an FDA-approved wearable sensor that measures your body’s vitals, making it easy to see what your temperature is first thing in the morning.

But it doesn’t come cheap (then again, neither do kids), costing $795 — well above a $9 thermometer, though Duo also gives you access to an online dashboard, automated reports for your doctor and other benefits. A similar but much cheaper product called Tempdrop is scheduled to come to market this spring. A wearable sensor that pairs with a smartphone app, this $69 device is worn when sleeping, collecting all the temperature information needed to forecast your ideal fertility days without needing to use a thermometer every morning.

Mind your bump:

Once the sperm and egg form an ovum, it’s time to keep track of how things are going. BabyBump is an excellent app for expectant mothers, explaining all the magic and science that’s going on inside them, every day. But more than just a pregnancy-tracking app, BabyBump is also a social network where parents from all over can consult each other on forums. On top of that, it’s full of great information regarding your baby’s ideal size and development.

TIME Pregnancy

Woman Gives Birth to 14-Pound Baby

Big Baby Florida
St. Joseph's Womens Hospital/AP Mother Maxxzandra Ford, father Ford Allen Denton, and Avery Denton, the 14.1-pound baby born at the hospital in Tampa on Jan. 29, 2015.

He's one of the largest babies ever to be born in Florida

Maxxzandra Ford thought she was pregnant with twins. Instead, when she gave birth last Thursday, just one baby came out. One, 14-pound baby.

Avery Ford, at 14.1 pounds, set the record for the heaviest baby born at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, and is one of the largest babies ever born in Florida, Fox 13 Tampa Bay reports.

“I was cussing up a storm,” Maxxandra said of the birth. “Yeah, it was bad.”

Maxxandra and Allen Denson, the baby’s father, already have two other children. But with the addition of big baby Avery, “I have a linebacker now instead of a fullback,” Allen says.

[Fox 13 Tampa Bay]

TIME Pregnancy

Kate Winslet on Losing Baby Weight: ‘I’d Rather Be Well-Fed and Happy’

Actress Kate Winslet attends the "A Little Chaos" premiere during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 13, 2014.
Philip Cheung—Getty Images Actress Kate Winslet attends the "A Little Chaos" premiere during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 13, 2014.

"I so didn't want to be one of those 'Oh, wow, she's back in shape after 12 weeks' women"

Kate Winslet isn’t looking for perfection in life – in fact, far from it.

In an interview with the U.K.’s Harper’s Bazaar, the Oscar-winning actress talks about raising her three children during emotionally difficult times.

“I think it’s very important to teach your children to struggle on some level,” Winslet, 39, says in the publication’s March cover story. “I wouldn’t change a thing. Even all the bad bits. It doesn’t matter how [bad] times have been, they all matter, because those things shape who you are.”

A busy mom to three children – daughter Mia, 14, from her first marriage to Jim Threapleton; son Joe, 11, from her second marriage to director Sam Mendes; and 15-month-old son Bear with her current husband, Ned RocknRoll – Winslet has neither the time nor inclination to indulge in body-conscious thoughts or post-baby diets.

“I so didn’t want to be one of those ‘Oh, wow, she’s back in shape after 12 weeks’ women,” said actress, now based in rural Sussex in the U.K. “When I read things like that, I just think, ‘Oh, for f—‘s sake, that’s actually impossible.'”

Winslet – who can be seen onscreen next month in Insurgent – is more likely to be found choosing new floor tiles and organizing a fundraiser for Mia’s school than she is dieting.

“I want to keep my health and my sanity and be well fed and happy,” she says. “My body will never go back to what it was and I wouldn’t expect it to after three babies.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Family

How Workplaces Can Combat Pregnancy Discrimination

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Getty Images

Having a baby shouldn't put Americans' jobs at risk

As a mother of a young child today, I know much has changed for mothers in the workforce since my mother and her mother had children. But there’s one thread that ties our narratives together – a subject that’s too often fleeting in the broader discussion of working moms: the discrimination women experience during pregnancy, and after they return to work.

Every year, thousands of women file charges against employers for acts of pregnancy discrimination. In fact, charges of pregnancy discrimination filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) actually increased by 71 percent between 1992 and 2011.

What does pregnancy discrimination look like, exactly? It occurs when an employer treats a job applicant or an employee unfavorably due to her pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. It could involve refusing to hire or promote a qualified individual because she is pregnant, firing a woman because she missed a few days of work to give birth, or forcing a pregnant employee to take unpaid leave. Sure, this behavior hurts pregnant women and their families, but it also hurts employers: In addition to breaking the law, these companies may be failing to retain some of their most highly qualified employees – losing out on their skills and productivity.

The bottom line is that women comprise a significant proportion of the nation’s talent pool, and when their contributions are constrained by patronizing and outmoded notions of what motherhood should look like (even well-intentioned ones), our workforce, our economy and our families suffer. At present, women serve as the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of American households. In other words, women’s sustained participation in the labor force is critical to the economic security and stability of millions of individual families.

And yet, here we are in 2015, and some employers still view child-bearing and employment as mutually exclusive activities. Just last year, the EEOC announced a $30,000 settlement to a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit a woman brought against her former employer, Triple T Foods in Arkansas, which fired her the day she announced she was pregnant. This is only one example of the $3.5 million the EEOC recouped in damages for victims of pregnancy discrimination between 2011 and 2014.

We have a long way to go. But we’ve made progress in some ways. For example, just a generation ago, many women left the workplace when they became visibly pregnant. In the 1960s, almost half of women who worked during their first pregnancy left the workforce by the time they were about 6 months pregnant. Today, only about 12 percent do.

And we’re certainly better off than we were. In 1908, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Muller v. Oregon, upheld a state statute restricting the number of hours per day a female employee could work and thereby set a precedent for paternalistic laws intended to “protect” women from the hazards and indignities of the workplace. While the Court acknowledged that the statute treated workers differently on the basis of sex, it also found that that a woman’s “physical structure” and “maternal functions” justified such unequal treatment.

Although the precedent established in Muller had unraveled by the late twentieth century and its discriminatory assumptions are no longer formally codified in law, they still permeate the cultural expectations surrounding women—especially pregnant women—in the workplace. These expectations can affect women even before they enter the workplace. Pregnant women face discrimination at job interviews and face much greater discrimination than other workers with short-term disabilities who may need minimal accommodations. For example, in a survey funded by the W.K Kellogg Foundation, 69 percent of respondents who reported being denied a pregnancy-related accommodation felt that their employers had honored similar requests from coworkers with other limitations or disabilities.

Knowing that this culture exists can and often does discourage women from requesting accommodations from or disclosing her pregnancy to her supervisor. In the same survey, more than half of respondents reported needing scheduling accommodations for prenatal visits and the like, but more than a quarter reported failing to request such an accommodation. That’s a shame, because the truth is that employers should be able to accommodate these requests with minimal expense and inconvenience.

How do we ensure that women who work during pregnancy are treated equitably, and begin to break down this discriminatory culture? That requires a combination of more progressive employer policies coupled with a set of robust legal and regulatory protections. At the federal level, women are protected by laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but there is more we can do.

In June, at the White House Summit on Working Families, President Obama called for federal legislation that supports pregnant workers. Some states like Delaware and Illinois have taken the lead and passed their own versions of the proposed federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The EEOC has stepped up, too, releasing new enforcement guidance last year to clarify the applications of the PDA and the ADA, as they apply to pregnant workers. This guidance “requires that employers treat women affected by pregnancy or related medical conditions the same way they treat non-pregnant applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.” This means that employers have to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers if they also make such accommodations for other employees who have a temporary disability. The EEOC’s notice also includes women who undergo fertility treatments, are nursing mothers, or are discriminated against based on stereotypes and assumptions about motherhood.

Outside of government, workplaces across the nation are already teeming with examples of managers and employees alike who are dismantling outdated assumptions about the needs and abilities of pregnant workers, as well as the responsibilities of the employers who hire them. Combining statutory and regulatory protections with voluntary actions by employers can amplify this groundswell of progress. From the classroom to the board room to the factory floor, we see daily evidence of the powerful alignment of workplace policy, statutory protections and individual determination in ensuring that women can, in fact, do and be just about anything.

Building a workplace culture that aligns with the demographic realities of today’s labor force allows employers not only to stay on the right side of the law, but, as a growing body of evidence suggests, shows that employers can still do well with their bottom line by treating all of their workers fairly. After all, support for pregnant workers doesn’t simply benefit this generation of workers; it’s an investment in generations to come.

Latifa Lyles is the Director of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Health Care

Battle Over Paid Surrogacy Opens New Front

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The bill is personal for this New York senator

In many states, hiring a woman to carry and give birth to a child for you is illegal. But democratic New York Senator Brad Hoylman is fighting to change that in his home state. On Wednesday, he and the New York State assembly re-filed a bill called the Child-Parent Security Act to legalize compensated surrogacy in New York, and provide protections that ensure surrogates are entering into legal agreements and there’s no question that the intended parents of the child have full rights.

For him, the issue is personal and political.

New York forbids compensated surrogacy and is the only state where criminal penalties can be imposed on people who enter into a paid surrogacy agreement. That means that couples who want to use a surrogate to have a child that they’re genetically related must travel to a state where the practice is legal in order to do so.

That’s what Hoylman and his husband David Sigal did. Their daughter Silvia, now 4, was born via a surrogate in California, where compensated surrogacy is legal and parental rights are established prior to the birth of the child. “It added a lot of time and expense and uncertainty to having a child as a gay couple,” says Hoylman. “California has codified legal protections for surrogate families, and I would like to see that replicated in New York.”

Twenty-two states allow the practice and four states—New York, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey—as well as Washington, D.C., forbid it . The remaining states don’t have any rulings on the matter, meaning it’s technically not illegal but there are no laws to protect people should something go wrong, such as legal arguments over who has parental rights.

“I’ve had reports of surrogate children being born in New York illegally,” says Hoylman. “It’s a bit of a wild west scenario.”

Paid surrogacy, whether in one’s home state or elsewhere, is still costly. Basic fees for a surrogate mother can range from $32,000 to $40,000, with medical bills, legal fees, finding an egg donor and paying for insurance on top of it. For couples who travel out of state for a legal arrangement, there’s the added cost of travel throughout the pregnancy. All told, out-of-state surrogacy arrangements can cost around $100,000 on average.

One of the reasons many states are still wary of paid surrogacy is because of a 1988 ruling in New Jersey over “Baby M.” In a traditional surrogacy scenario, a woman named Mary Beth Whitehead agreed to be the paid surrogate for William and Elizabeth Stern, whom she found in a newspaper advertisement. But after giving birth, Whitehead changed her mind and tried to take the child back. Ultimately, the court gave custody to the Sterns, but Whitehead was given legal visitation rights. After that, paid surrogacy was outlawed in New Jersey, and others followed suit.

But thanks to in vitro fertilization, surrogacy today looks very different than it did a decade ago. Experts now recommend gestational surrogacy, where a surrogate fetus is implanted with an embryo made from donor sperm and egg—as opposed to tradition surrogacy, where the surrogate is inseminated with sperm. In the latter case, the carrier is genetically related to the child. Hoylman’s bill does not endorse that form.

Hoylman’s bill establishes the concept of “intended parentage” so that regardless of how a child was conceived, intended parents get rights. For example, in many cases, if a lesbian couple has a child via a sperm donor, the non-biological mother must adopt the child, something Hoylman says women find “embarrassing.”

For now, Hoylman says he has to prove that compensated surrogacy can work in New York.

“I was in the delivery room with my daughter and not everyone has that vantage point,” says Hoylman. “I am mindful that this is a longer term project.”

TIME public health

Paying People Could Help Them Quit Smoking

Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

Researchers offered women more than $1,000 to get them to stop smoking

Paying people to quit their bad health habits may be a powerful way to address public health issues like smoking, according to a new study in the BMJ. In the study, pregnant women were more than twice as likely to quit smoking when offered financial incentives than when they were given regular counseling.

“If financial incentives are effective and cost effective they may well have the future potential to sit with vaccines as an important preventive healthcare intervention strategy,” the study says.

The research, which looked at more than 600 pregnant women in the United Kingdom, offered women up to $1,200 dollars in shopping vouchers for following steps to quit smoking. Nearly a quarter of women who were offered the money successfully quit smoking. In the control group, a separate group of women received free nicotine therapy and were counseled on how to quit. Less than 9% of those women were able to kick the habit.

Read More: What I Learned From My $190,000 Surgery

That success gap remained when researchers followed up a year with the women in both groups who had quit. Fifteen percent of the women who had been paid to quit had stayed away from cigarettes, while only 4% of the counseling group quitters had done the same.

Using financial incentives to encourage better health behavior has been explored in depth in recent years by public health experts, but many remain skeptical due to underlying ethical concerns. Some have argued that such incentives are coercive and diminish a person’s sense of personal responsibility. But the researchers in this study argue that it can help in more ways than one; getting additional funds before a child’s birth helps the people who need financial assistance the most at the time they need help.

“In the developed world there is now a clear socioeconomic gradient in smoking, with tobacco use concentrated among the poorest in society,” the study says. “Receipt of financial incentives can contribute to needed household income in advance of the arrival of a baby in low income households.”

MONEY work life balance

President Obama Wants You to Get Paid, Even When You’re on Leave

closeup of pregnant woman at office desk
Damir Cudic—iStock

New proposals for paid maternity and sick leave

President Obama thinks if you’re sick, or you have a newborn at home, you should stay home from work—and you should still get paid.

In many developed countries, that’s a given. Not so in the United States. Only 12% of American workers receive paid family leave, and only 61% have paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ahead of the State of the Union on January 20, Obama is proposing big changes to the rules governing sick pay and family leave, outlined by senior advisor Valerie Jarrett on LinkedIn yesterday.

First, Obama plans to sign a memorandum giving federal employees at least six weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child. Second, he’ll ask Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act that would let workers earn up to seven days of paid sick leave. Finally, he’ll offer a plan to help states and towns start their own sick leave programs.

Even these proposals are meager compared to the paid family leave in other nations. The United Nation’s International Labor Organization surveyed family leave policies in 185 countries or territories around the world. Only two nations did not offer paid maternity leave: the United States, and Papua New Guinea.

Weeks of paid maternity leave % Pay
United Kingdom 52 weeks 90%
Canada 17 weeks 55%
France 16 weeks 100%
Netherlands 16 weeks 100%
Germany 14 weeks 100%
Japan 14 weeks 60%
China 14 weeks 100%
India 12 weeks 100%
Obama’s proposal for federal workers 6 weeks 100%
Average length of paid leave for American women who got it 3.3 weeks 31%
Paid leave required by American law 0 weeks 0%

And the other 183 countries? French mothers get 16 weeks, paid in full. Indian mothers get 12 weeks, paid in full. Mothers in the United Kingdom get six weeks paid at 90% of their usual salary, a little less for the next 33 weeks, and then they’re entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

American parents are guaranteed only 12 weeks of unpaid leave, total, provided they work for a company with more than 50 employees. That means 15% of American workers aren’t allowed even unpaid leave to care for their families, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics.

Of course, some American employers choose to give workers family leave benefits. But it’s often not much. In the United States, only 41% of new mothers receive paid maternity leave, according to study in the Maternal and Child Health Journal. The 2013 study is based on a survey of 18- to 45-year-old mothers who gave birth in American hospitals in 2005. The women who did get paid maternity leave had an average of 3.3 weeks off and were paid just 31% of their total salary, on average.

Unsurprisingly, the more women earn and the more education they have, the more generous their maternity leave benefits tend to be. Still, just three out of five women with post-bachelor degrees received paid maternity leave—5.1 weeks, on average. (By contrast, only 29% of women with high school degrees or less received paid maternity leave, of 2.3 weeks on average.)

Then there’s sick leave. (You can guess where this is going.) According to a 2009 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the United States was again the only country out of 22 industrialized nations that guarantees no paid sick leave. Americans are only protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires that employers give employees unpaid leave in the event that an employee needs to care for a family member with a “serious illness”—the flu doesn’t count.

President Obama’s family leave proposal would apply only to federal employees, and his sick leave proposal needs to get through Congress. So perhaps your best hope comes not from the federal government, but from your state legislature or city hall. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island offer paid family leave. California, Connecticut and Massachusetts have instituted paid sick leave. San Francisco, D.C., Seattle, Portland, Ore., New York City, Jersey City, Newark, Eugene, Ore., San Diego and more cities have passed paid sick day laws, too. And Massachusetts just guaranteed fathers more unpaid paternity leave.

TIME Family

‘I’m Afraid My Baby’s Head Will Fall Off’

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

I'm afraid to write this, but I'm more afraid stigma will prevent other women from getting help

xojane

“I’m afraid my baby’s head will fall off,” I tell my psychiatrist.

She nods, normally, sympathetically, as if mothers everywhere suffer visions of their baby’s heads coming off their necks. “Can you explain that?” she asks.

And I tell her how, when I was 10, my father took me dove hunting. Most of the time, his shot didn’t kill the dove. So to end its suffering, my father would casually twist its head off. I watched in sick fascination, over and over, as his big hands almost gently wrenched the birds’ heads from their small gray bodies. I had no idea heads could be so precariously attached, no idea that one small twist could decapitate.

When I had my third son, I couldn’t stop thinking how delicately his head attached, how strong hands could twist and pull. It terrified me, this thin neck, this precarious joining of flesh and bone. I remembered the birds. I had seen their heads lie wide-eyed on the ground.

“That’s horrible,” my doctor said. She upped both my medications and added Xanax. “We need to get that under control,” she told me. “You can’t live like this.”

But I could. I did. And so do millions of other women.

I’ve been down the dark alleys of depression before. But it didn’t become utterly unlivable until I got pregnant. At eight weeks, we thought we were losing our baby. I sobbed for six straight hours, through the emergency room, the ultrasound, all the way home. I cried because I was still pregnant. I couldn’t possibly cope with this very wanted baby. How could I have made such a terrible mistake?

A case of borderline hyperemesis worsened my depression and anxiety. My husband left town for three days, which I spent consumed with thoughts of his imminent death. The panic attacks began: clutching bouts of heart-pounding terror that left me gasping for air, convinced every wheeze was hurting the baby.

When I admitted to my husband that I kept myself from suicide because I didn’t want to kill my baby, I finally got help: medication, and a real psychiatrist.

I was suffering from prenatal depression, which is experienced by 10 to 20 percent of pregnant women. Everyone talks about postpartum depression. No one mentions that the same hormones can trigger prenatal depression as well. Babies born to depressed women suffer higher rates of stress hormones, less coordination and motor control, and more sleep disturbances. Up to 14 percent of women take antidepressants during pregnancy, and their efficacy — and effects on the baby — is debatable. But for some women whose depression is severe enough that they can’t care for themselves or a child, their use is necessary. I was one of those women.

But my SSRIs weren’t enough after Sunny’s birth. Coming off a high-risk, debilitating pregnancy, I began to have obsessive thoughts. I would lay down with my son during nap time and think, This is how we will curl up after the apocalypse, when the nuclear bombs fall and we scrabble to live through nuclear winter. How would I feed us? Would people try to cannibalize each other? I was haunted by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Stephen King’s The Stand. The end felt nigh.

I had other symptoms. Constantly stressed, I snapped at my older sons. Depression doesn’t always look sad: It can look like mean instead. Normal kid behavior left me enraged; a simple lost shoe could ruin the day. I yelled. I stomped off to the bedroom. I couldn’t understand why my children had suddenly become so bad.

And I began, again, to worry my husband would die. I started crying in the bathroom. My baby, who I loved so much, felt like a terrible mistake. I was a mistake. I thought about killing myself, but knew he wouldn’t have anything to eat. I worried his head would fall off.

I needed more medication.

We had to tweak and tinker. But a year later, I’m on an even keel again. I needed a good deal of medication to get here, but the dangers of a depressed mother outweigh the medication passed through my breast milk (and for health reasons related to severe food intolerances, weaning was not an option). And other things helped, of course: I spend time outside; I eat well. I make sure to get enough sleep, and I cuddle my son as much as possible. I am happy and healthy. I am productive.

But I wasn’t always this way. I got help.

Millions of women do not.

And the first step toward helping women with depression is to take away its stigma. I’m afraid to write this. I worry about its implications for my relationships, for my life. We’ve been taught that depression means you’re weak or crazy. We worry it makes us less of a mother. We have been shamed for the vagaries of brain chemistry, for the feelings we can’t fix.

Millions of women suffer. They need us to come out of the dark and to say: I’ve been there. I am there. I hear you.

Depression doesn’t mean you hate your baby.

It doesn’t mean you hate yourself.

It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, a weak person, or a selfish person.

It doesn’t make you less than other mothers.

It shouldn’t make you ashamed.

It shouldn’t make you alone.

Elizabeth Broadbent is a writer and mother. This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: January 14

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

New Charlie Hebdo Issue Sells Out

Charlie Hebdo‘s defiant new issue sold out around Paris on Wednesday, with scuffles over copies of the paper fronting the Prophet Muhammad. The issue hit newsstands just as the Yemen-based branch of al-Qaeda officially claimed responsibility for attack

Uber Fights Traffic Jams

Uber said it will share its transportation data with Boston officials in hopes of helping the city ease traffic congestion and improve city planning

U.S. Medical Research Stalls

Funding for medical research in the United States is in a sorry state, but other parts of the world are experiencing the opposite, according to a new study

Zooey Deschanel Is Pregnant

The New Girl star confirmed to People that she’s expecting her first child, with boyfriend Jacob Pechenik. “Jacob and I are over the moon,” the 34-year-old actress said. Deschanel has been dating Pechenik, a 42-year-old producer, since mid-2014

Where to Buy the New Charlie Hebdo

The French satirical newspaper released its first issue on Wednesday since last week’s terrorist attack left eight journalists dead at its Paris office. Only a few hundred copies of the first printing are set to reach the U.S. over the next few days

Bartender Accused in Boehner Plot

A former bartender of House Speaker John Boehner plotted to kill him by poisoning his drink or shooting him, federal authorities said. Michael Robert Hoyt worked at a country club in West Chester, Ohio, that Boehner frequented for five years

Man Finds Himself (Almost) Alone on Delta Flight

A media strategist and writer lucked out when his flight from Cleveland to New York City had only one other passenger aboard. “There were no screaming babies, no one listening to loud lyrics or reclining their seats or taking their shoes,” Chris O’Leary said

Woody Allen Will Make a TV Show for Amazon

Allen will both write and direct a series of half-hour episodes of an as-yet-untitled show for the retail giant’s streaming network, a first for the Oscar-winning filmmaker. But Amazon’s big deal could bring with it big controversy, writes TIME’s James Poniewozik

Japan Cabinet Approves Record Military Budget

Japan’s Cabinet approved the country’s largest ever defense budget on Wednesday, including plans to buy surveillance aircraft, drones and F-35 fighter jets to help counter China’s rising assertiveness in the region. The budget must still be approved by parliament

Release Dates of 4 Disney Movies Announced

Disney has announced the release dates of four of its upcoming films, including the remake of Pete’s Dragon and The Jungle Book, an anime adaptation The Ghost in the Shell and disaster film The Finest Hours. Idris Elba and Bill Murray will feature in The Jungle Book

RNC Looks to Expel Committeeman for ‘Abhorrent Views’

Members of the Republican National Committee will gather this week to consider voting to expel one of their own. Dave Agema, the national committeeman from Michigan, has endorsed racist and homophobic material on social media and has refused calls to resign

Bitcoin Continues to Plummet

The price of Bitcoin dropped again this week, sliding to its lowest level since early 2013, suggesting that confidence in the contentious cryptocurrency may be shrinking. On Tuesday, its value dropped from $267 to about $224

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