Mom Shaming

In today’s society, we tend to be more worried about what others are doing, instead of focusing on our personal growth. This is also true for moms. The term “mom shaming” emerges from the constant berating that occurs when parenting “experts” pounce on other mothers if they feel she isn’t doing a good enough job. While it may seem like just another petty argument between mothers, it is fuel to the postpartum depression fire.

I was a victim of mom shaming- by the very nurses that were caring for me mere hours after the birth of my son. I was a 20-year-old new mother, who was just coming to terms with the idea of parenthood, all while having an episiotomy. As soon as I was taken to the recovery room, I was instantly bombarded with pamphlets and other educational materials for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding? Wait, what? Remember, I’m 20. I was overcome with a sense of discomfort and fear. This was not something I signed up for. When I told the nurses that I was not comfortable breastfeeding, and preferred bottle feeding, the frowns reared their ugly heads, and the “ I’m a mom and I tried it; it’s super easy,” stories swirled around my head, making me feel dizzy. The nurses excused themselves to bring me the bottled formula, but instead returned with a doctor in tow. The doctor sat down, and in the most professional manner, explained to me why breastfeeding was more beneficial, not only because of the nutrients, but also for bonding purposes. My fear got the best of me; I mean, I didn’t want my son to hate me because I didn’t breastfeed. The three nurses, along with the doctor, sat there as I attempted to breastfeed my son. Moms, when they tell you that your baby notices your discomfort and stress- they do!  My son refused to latch on, and I was in tears because I’d already convinced myself that because of my ignorance and reluctance to breastfeed, my son would starve and die. I had let the pressures of medical personnel, as well as my own fears label me a bad mother.

After what seemed like an eternity, they excused themselves and said they’d take my baby to be fed in the nursery while I relaxed and took a nap. I need white noise when I sleep, so I asked if they’d turn the TV on for me, which they did, and I closed my eyes. I couldn’t sleep, and when I looked up, I noticed they’d left the TV on one of the hospital’s channels- the breastfeeding tutorial channel. Yes, you read that right. They have a channel dedicated to “experienced” individuals that can help quell your breastfeeding fears. Experienced? Like, they do this for a living?? I was so annoyed, and I gave up and “knew” I was a bad mother, and I hadn’t even been a mother a full day.  My mother was so upset, that she spoke with the doctor, and told them to back off because I’d made my decision, and their bullying was affecting my recovery. It really was. They backed off, BUT…..they conveniently added a plethora of pamphlets and literature on breastfeeding.

I decided to try again when I went home, thinking that maybe I could do a better job in the comfort of my own home. Nope. I gave up and chose bottle feeding. At the time, I didn’t realize I was suffering from postpartum depression, and the breastfeeding fiasco was only adding to it. I’d like to say that the support I received from my family was enough to get me through it, but the truth is, the breastfeeding brigade continues to cast a pall over mothers who choose bottle feeding, and vice versa. It is a constant war between mothers to prove that one is better than the other. Looking back, it was difficult having medical personnel bombard me with pressure, but it’s a lot more difficult when you look for support from other moms, people you should be able to share experiences with, only to have them berate you as well. Moms, we are a team, with the same goals – to raise happy, healthy children and to make sure they have the best lives. How we get there may be different, but in the end, we have the same goal. Please stay tuned for future support group meetings; let’s stick together to erase the stigma of postpartum depression. 

Adapting to Change

I know I’ve been MIA for a while, and I apologize, but I’m back! Like most moms, I just experienced a major change in my life- I got a full-time job, and boy did it shake up my schedule. I was having a ton of fun working part-time and indulging in all my extra time, but when duty calls – it CALLS. Adapting to change can be tough, and we may not always like it. It’s a constant in our lives, and some changes are easier to adapt to than others. One major misconception about motherhood is that since we’ve got 9 months before our child’s grand entrance into the world, we’re extremely prepared for the changes. Wrong! Becoming a mother, whether it is your first child, or your tenth, will always bring about a change. Some mothers see it as a positive change in their lives, and others see it as a negative change. That’s ok.  You might even “miss the old and happy you.” That’s ok, too. Here’s the good news- the “old” you is still there- she’s just got some new stories, and maybe a few extra gray hairs- she’s also got sass and character. Sometimes, we just need someone to talk to that will help us out, even if it’s just lending an ear for venting. So, let’s take this next step together. Bring in the new year with a peer-to-peer support group meeting, held January 6, 2018 at 10:30 AM. Click the following link for more information:

https://www.facebook.com/events/140729070045861/

Take the Time to Laugh...

You probably saw this title and thought, “ why would I laugh right now” followed by the list of reasons why you wouldn’t/ shouldn’t laugh. I’ve been there. Nothing frustrated me more than people telling me to “ just laugh it off; there are people with so many more problems!” While I knew this was true, it didn’t change the fact that I was knee deep in poop, pee, and any other bodily fluids my toddler felt like ejecting from his body that morning.

I tried to laugh at the little things; sometimes it helped, other times it did not. It especially didn’t work when I tried to laugh over a spilt cup of milk. My toddler thought it gave him carte blanche to repeatedly drop his cup since it made mommy laugh. Other days, I just began to laugh for no reason and I thought I was losing my mind. What I did notice, was that the more I allowed myself to laugh, the easier the day became. The stress was still there, but my body did not feel as tense as before.

Sometimes, my husband would do things that drove me up the wall, and I wondered why on earth I chose to marry him, and other times, he did the most adorable things that warranted laughter. Not only did I feel more relaxed, but our bond intensified, as did my relationship with my children. We only get one life, and one of the easiest ways to lessen the tension is to sit back and have a good laugh. 

Things to Remember....

Do you often find yourself trying to keep your head afloat, caught up in all the lists and deadlines for groceries, doctor or dentist appointments, dance classes, etc..?  Here’s a little checklist for you:

- Take a nice, long stretch in the morning.

- Look in the mirror, and say something nice about yourself.

- Wash up and change into something different.

- While making breakfast for your family, make a little extra to make sure there’s enough for you.

- Let the housework sit for a while.

-Play with the kids

- During their naptime, take a nap with them; allow yourself to relax and unwind.

- Open the windows, and play some fun music while fixing lunch.

- If you have a partner, let them take over the parenting duties for a while.

- Catch up on some housework. It might seem a little late in the day to do so, but better late than never. Besides, that nap might have really come in handy by now.

- Have dinner as a family. Share stories. No electronics. No newspapers. No TV.

- Watch a movie together after dinner.

- Put the kids to bed and have a glass of wine with your partner and spend some quality time together before bed.

This might seem like a fantasy written in a movie script, and for most people it is. However, since children are so unpredictable, and no two days are alike, keep this list handy for ideas on how to relax and unwind while planning out your day. Know that these options are available for you, and you don’t have to live a mundane lifestyle. Take care of yourself, mom. You deserve it.

 

Supermom

Moms have about a gazillion superpowers, and that’s not counting the ones our kids and husbands think we have. We’re expected to wake up with all the answers, and have the world in the palm of our hands before bedtime. Although we appear perfect on the outside, not many people understand the pressure we feel on the inside, and how high our standards as mothers actually are.

My kids are old enough to help out with dinner and chores, and they don’t need much supervising on homework and anything else school related. However, they were tiny terrors once upon a time, and I wish I’d read the memo on how to handle it all, seamlessly. Wait- that’s right- there is NO MEMO! Each day is a new day, and we do the best we can.

There is no such thing as a supermom- there is only mom. Have fun with your new title, Supermom. Make a game out of all the things you have to do. Take a deep breath, and allow yourself to live and love life. So, mom, stand tall, don your cape, and rule the world!

 

Putting On a Show....

Take a bow, mom. Show’s over. The only thing more exhausting than being overwhelmed, stressed, and depressed, is pretending you’re not. It takes a lot more effort to keep up with your story than it does to actually tell the truth. You’d be surprised how many people will come to your aid- a friend, family member, spouse, another mom. Build your support system and unload some of that stress on anyone willing to help you carry it.  I know at times when I’m stressed, the last thing I want is company, so I limit myself. What is it that I am stressing about? Who can relate to this the most? For example, if you are stressing over not having enough time with your partner because you always have the kids around, talk to your partner about it. Let him or her know how you are feeling, and allow them to brainstorm with you on how you can spend more time together. Perhaps leaving the kids with grandma is an option. Consider a friend you often have playdates with, and then you can return the favor at a later time. Don’t allow yourself to carry the weight on your shoulders alone; building the right support team works wonders! Don’t forget- you also have the Corpus Christi Maternal Mental Health Coalition support group meetings as an option!

Time to De-Stress!

 

The number one rule of thumb for de-stressing is to surround yourself with positive minded people. Steer clear of the naysayers that criticize you, bash your parenting style, or simply have nothing but negative things to say. The more you spend time with them, the more inclined you are to believe what they say. By eliminating this toxicity from your life, you allow yourself to make room to see the good in your life. You will begin to see the amazing person hiding beneath all the self-doubt.  

I remember giving birth to my first child in 2002. I was 19-years-old, and all my friends were halfway through college, and preparing for their careers.  A lot of us remained friends after high school, but things quickly changed when my son was born. Suddenly, they didn’t have time for me, but the few times we were able to do things together, they made a point to constantly remind me that my “life was over.” They told me things like, “oh my goodness; when do you have time to live?” or “I would just die if I had a baby at that age!” There was my personal favorite, “You don’t even dress up or do your makeup like you used to. You’ve gotten boring since becoming a mom!” The more time I spent with them, the more I envied their freedom and began to resent my own life, and the fact that I had a baby. I hated the way they made me feel, and I eventually stopped calling them or stopping by, and I noticed that a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I slowly began to embrace the lifestyle I was living; I wasn’t stress- free, but I was definitely headed in that direction.

Keep your head up, and choose people that keep a smile on your face! 

Placing Blame

Isn’t it so much easier to just blame someone else for our problems? Sure, it is, but it won’t take the pain away. Too often, when something bad happens in our lives, we need closure so badly that we tend to point fingers in every direction except toward reality. We waste too much time looking back, and not enough time looking forward. We are consumed by anger and resentment towards mothers with seemingly perfect lives, that we forget to take care of ourselves. We walk around with a heavy load on our shoulders instead of looking for healing methods.

Repeat after me…

You don’t get over it; you get through it.

It doesn’t get better; it gets different.

Every day, just like me, grief puts on a new face.

-Anonymous

Put those blaming fingers down, stand up, take a deep breath, and come talk to us. You don’t have to go through your pain alone. If you missed our last meeting, you still have another chance to attend.

Thursday, August 3, 2017; 6 – 7:30 PM

Gomez Properties

4814 Cain