The Journey of Laurie Lyng

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My name is Laurie Lyng, and this is my story.

I would consider myself to be a fairly laid-back person and always have been. It wasn’t until after I gave birth to our second daughter, Lily, just a couple of months before our first daughter, Lyla, turned 2 that I started to notice the change in myself. I started to become short tempered and on edge. All of the hardships that come with having a newborn and a 2-year-old were really testing me. I was just learning how to juggle both of them pretty much by myself. My husband is an amazing father, a good provider, and always supportive but his job requires him to work 12 hour shifts, alternating between nights and days which means that I am the sole one taking care of the girls most of the time. Along with being a full time mom I also run my photography business from home, and it was around the holidays so it was a very busy time for me. Some days I was starting to lose my cool and I even found myself to the point of yelling, a lot.

One day in particular I had my mom over to help me with the girls and Lyla, my 2-year-old, was doing something so completely harmless and innocent but for some reason it was driving me crazy! She was pulling all of her books off of her book shelf which she seemed to find really funny, but it just made me so heated! There she was with a big smile on her face making a huge mess all over the floor (like most toddlers do) and it just pushed me over the edge. Rage, which is such an ugly word to me, but yes rage consumed me and I started screaming at my precious 2-year-old daughter over nothing really.  You could just see the joy on her face from making this harmless mess turn into sadness and grief.  And in that moment, my mom said something to me that I will never forget. She said, “Oh Laurie, don’t scream at her, you’re going to break her spirit”.

Break her spirit. Oh man, that one sank in deep. But she was 100% right. Was she doing anything seriously wrong? No. Was it annoying to me? Yes. But that was my problem, not hers. She was just being a child, that is her job, and patience and understanding is a part of my job as her parent. With a degree in Psychology, I know full well the effects that displays of anger can have on a child in their formative years and how it can be a very dangerous, slippery slope. Children all have big beautiful spirits and bright shining lights inside of them, who am I to break that spirit or dim that light? I know this can be how troubles begin for people. That knowledge weighed heavy on my heart and I knew I needed to change me. But how could this have even happened? I’ve never had anger issues in my entire life and that is so uncharacteristically like me.

When discussing postpartum depression (PPD), one symptom that is not commonly talked about is anger. I didn’t even put the two together until my mother’s words struck a chord and I started to seek advice to change myself. It makes sense though, after giving birth there is a huge fluctuation in hormones that can cause a wide variety of mood changes that are alarming or out of character. For me, it was anger. It wasn’t until I took to internet though to find out I wasn’t alone.

From this whole experience something positive came from it. I decided to start a project using my background in Psychology along with photography to create visual tools to help remind me that there are healthier ways to communicate without turning to anger. I decided to call it “The Shine of Mine Project”. The first visual aid I created was my daughter’s “Let it Shine” t-shirt. I use it as a reminder that she has a bright, shining light inside of her and just because she might be doing something that frustrates or annoys me, I can talk to her about it in a calm manner.

Along with providing aids for myself, another part of the project is also to teach my children about respect for others. From that, I created my daughter Lily’s “Share Your Shine” onesie. She is a representation of pure shine and when I look at her smile, she lights up my world. It’s important for my children to know that not everyone’s life is full of light and if they have the opportunity to share their happiness or stop anyone from trying to dim someone else’s shine, that they should.

I also made the “Good Vibe Tribe” shirt for myself as a reminder that I’m the one who sets the mood for our whole family, our tribe, so it’s up to me to keep the positive vibes flowing.  

With my photographs, I started an Instagram account @theshineofmineproject to spread positive messages with imagery. Stay tuned for more to come but like anything and like myself, it’s a work in progress. I still have days where I feel like I am about to lose it and I’m sure there’s many more of those to come, but I try to reflect on the tools I have put together and the fact that I am not alone.

It is really great to be able to talk about these issues because sometimes they come in forms we are not familiar with. Even for me with an education in behavioral sciences, I didn’t link PPD with the behavior I was, and still am battling with because it is not nearly discussed enough. Postpartum anger is very real and more common than I even realized.

I hope my story will connect with others and hopefully by being open and having these discussions, we can all share a little shine!

"Just the Baby Blues"

“ Just the baby blues,” is one of the most popular phrases women hear after giving birth and not feeling like themselves. In fact, it occurs so much, that they too tend to shrug these feelings off with a “ this too shall pass,” blasé attitude. Shrugging these feelings off, and not giving the situation the attention it deserves could potentially be dangerous.

Take the story of Greg and Elizabeth Ludlam, for example.  Greg, and his wife, Elizabeth had the picture perfect, fairy tale marriage. Even after the birth of their first child, they tackled parenting and married life like pros. After the birth of their second child, Greg began to notice a change in Elizabeth. He figured it was stress related, and that she just needed a break. After she continuously rejected his offers to stay with the kids while she went out with her friends, Greg figured she might just need a change of scenery, and be closer to family. After numerous attempts to cheer her up, or to figure out what the problem was, Greg resorted to the internet to find a solution.  I’m sure you know how the story ends - Elizabeth committed suicide.  She leaves behind two children and a husband.

As a wife and a mother, I know that sometimes talking to your husband about “women issues” may not always be the most comfortable feeling.  Getting together with mom friends can help because they may have a solution for you; you never know if they went through something similar. You also have the Corpus Christi Maternal Mental Health Coalition peer groups. Your life is important; you matter. Don’t let these negative feelings bring you down- take care of you. No one else can take your place.

For more information on Greg and Karen’s story, visit: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a43999/postpartum-depression-elizabeth-greg-ludlam/

Follow CCMMHC on Facebook to keep you in the loop on our peer – to - peer support group meetings. Visit, https://www.facebook.com/ccmmhc/

Unnecessary Silence

Due to the increased focus on censorship in the media, I feel inclined to speak on the normality of postpartum depression. It may not feel normal, nor seem normal, because of the stigma attached to it, but it happens, and we shouldn’t be silenced on the topic, simply because it might make others feel uncomfortable. A few things to remember:

1.  There is no qualifying level for PPD; in other words, just because you don’t feel like inflicting harm upon yourself or your child does not mean that you are not suffering from PPD. If you feel tugs of insomnia, withdrawal, panic attacks, mood swings, or fatigue, you just might be experiencing PPD.

2. Hormones, y’all. Hormones. These things are like tiny little aliens inside our body that we have no control over. It’s bad enough that our hormones go nuts with minor changes in our body. Enter pregnancy, and you’ve got a circus going on.

3. Let’s talk a bit about Dad. He’s that big guy in the corner of the room who seems to be staring into outer space half the time. Truth is, he’s probably thinking of ways to cheer you up, or possibly doing something special for you. But- he’s at a loss. He doesn’t know what to do or say. Now, before you think, “man, this crazy lady is adding to my stress,” I bring this up to remind you of your options. Talk to him. He may not have gone through the roller coaster pregnancy the way you did, and he may not understand completely, but he can be a good support system for you. Sometimes, we just need someone to talk to.

The bottom line is, you are not a bad person, or mother. It doesn’t help that the media loves to demonize mothers experiencing PPD, by labeling them “crazy” or “psycho.” Each mother has her own story, her own journey. This is why it is important not to censor these experiences. These stories add to our repertoire of motherhood experiences, and help others come forward and seek help.  Most importantly, remember that everyone is different; while some mothers might just need a break once in a while, others might need more extensive treatment and that’s ok. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to seek help.  Do what is right for you.

 

 

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!