The Journey of Kara Too

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My daughter was the surprise of the century. I could count the days I had been married. I had glimpses of excitement during the pregnancy, mostly when I worked on the nursery, but for the majority of the time, I was scared. 

When she came I feel like I went through the normal hormonal whirlwind all mothers go through at the beginning (especially confused first time moms). I read about the "baby blues" for all moms during the first two weeks and heavily identified with that title, except, where the articles said it should start to wear off as I bonded more with my baby, I felt things were getting worse, more hopeless. And where was that bond? I felt every instinct to keep her alive and safe, but it was more like a panic of "is her surroundings perfect?", "I read the fan should be on", "should I play baby music to make her smart?" There was no natural reaction to simply love her, hold her, and be thankful for this beautiful girl. I didn't understand the posts I saw on Facebook. A friend of mine, in love with her new baby said, "no one ever told me I could feel like this." I had the exact same thought, but drastically different emotions behind it.

I had had no education on postpartum depression. I had never met a friend that was open about their experience. I was even confronted by a family member and told to "be stronger". My family saw me breaking down. Finally, one day I read a post from a college acquaintance. She wrote out her experience of being diagnosed with postpartum depression and was posting it in case it could help any struggling, questioning mom out there. It was everything for me. Her words were describing me perfectly, and reassured me it wasn't my fault. I wasn't a selfish person who was a failure at parenting. This wasn't a choice. Something inside me was wrong and needed fixing. At 7 weeks postpartum I called my doctor. Through sobs, I told her I felt like a robot without emotions, programmed to care for this baby. I hid in a bathroom making the phone call so no one could actually hear me talk about the lack of feelings I had towards my baby. 

I started Zoloft the next day. I remember walking out of my bedroom a week later, looking at my house and thinking, "someone opened the blinds to me." I could still see the newborn challenge in front of me, but I had been navigating in darkness. After another week, I was able to feel the bond between me and my daughter. I started holding and kissing her for my own joy. Medication wasn't the "happy pill" that made everything easy. It took off a terrifying element that was keeping me from bonding with my daughter. 

I would have never known something was actually wrong inside of me if it hadn't been for reading someone else's story. I hope that this can shed light on someone else's situation and help them move forward to seeking help, healing, and a true understanding that what's happening inside of you isn't your fault. Better days are ahead. 

The Journey of Katarina Chapa

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The bright lights of the emergency room were something I was already familiar with when I first entered. I had been there 2 weeks previously when my baby boy stopped moving in my belly and they rushed me into an unplanned C-section. This time, however, I was here for a different reason. This time, I was the life that needed saving.

Our little Maxon was born April 14, 2018 and weighed 5lbs 14oz. He was born very pale and what doctors thought was just his complexion ended up being something more. Maxon was suffering from fetal maternal hemorrhage in the womb, a condition not much is known about because it is so rare. Blood has difficulty circulating and reentering the placenta and the result is a very anemic baby. Maxon ended up needing 5 blood transfusions and doctors said had we waited any longer, we wouldn’t have been so lucky. Maxon spent about 9 days in the NICU. These were the hardest days of my life. The first day Maxon was even born, he was rushed to the NICU and I didn’t get to see him until the next day. This was all so completely different from the traditional birth I was so looking forward to having. I wanted to give birth the natural way and hold and cuddle with my baby afterwards. I wanted to breastfeed him and know that he was perfectly fine. Everything was so opposite from this fairytale.  

When I first saw Maxon after giving birth, he had a tube down his throat that made it impossible for him to make any noises, not even cry. I felt like he was hurting but that there was nothing I could do for him. I immediately broke down and started crying. I felt like our little baby wasn’t going to make it. Doctors were still running tests to see how the blood loss affected his vital organs and the waiting game was oh so torturous. My fiancé kept optimistic the entire time, but I wanted to be realistic. My hormones were all over the place. I was perfectly fine one minute in my hospital room, but then when I’d think about Maxon, I’d begin to bawl. I remember crying uncontrollably after giving birth, before I even knew anything was wrong with Maxon. I just couldn’t stop crying. At the time, I remember saying I was crying because I couldn’t feel my legs, but I think I just had so many emotions running through my mind that I didn’t know how to express myself other than crying.  

Eventually Maxon got stronger and we were so blessed to find out that all of his organs seemed unharmed. After 9 days, we finally got to take him home. The part we had been looking forward to the most would become the part I would regret. Immediately the night Maxon was brought home, I didn’t feel myself. My fiancé’s family stopped by and I felt like a zombie, not knowing how to act.  My mother had driven in to spend the first night at home with us. She wanted to help us get some rest and offered to take over every other night feeding. She was such a big help. In the morning, she even helped me try to breastfeed Maxon. But he just wasn’t catching on. In the NICU, he was bottle-fed my breast milk the whole time, and I feel like this was new territory for him that he wasn’t comfortable with. We tried everything, including a nipple shield, but nothing seemed to convince him. He would drink for a few seconds and then stop. I decided I would go back to exclusively pumping for him until maybe he got stronger. But pumping was beginning to take a toll on me. I felt like a cow being milked and envied the bonding experience breastfeeding mothers had with their babies. I hated every part of the pumping experience. The pumping. The careful filling of the bags to make sure nothing spilled. The labeling with a Sharpie. Was this safe? Would the toxins in the Sharpie marker somehow permeate the plastic and enter the bag? The storage. How long should I keep it in the fridge before using it or freezing it? The Internet says so many different things. The warming of the milk. How long should I leave it under this running water? Is it warm yet or too warm? And lastly, the cleaning of the bottles. My least favorite part. Were the bottles cleaned well enough? Was the bottle brush contaminated and could I get my baby sick?

These internal thoughts eventually began to transcend into every aspect of being a mother for me. I couldn’t sleep at night, because I was scared that when I did, Maxon would stop breathing. I went to the extremes of putting a sock on him that monitors his oxygen and pulse. But the dang sock never fit quite right, so all night, I was constantly refreshing my phone to make sure the sock was still monitoring his levels correctly. I didn’t know when to sleep. They say sleep when your baby sleeps, but did that mean during the day too? I was exhausted all day and would take naps, but I desperately wanted some contact with the outside world. Being upstairs in our bedroom, I felt the most isolated I had ever felt. I remember going to CVS after Maxon’s first checkup and looking around at people and wondering if I would ever have that freedom and independence again. I didn’t think at the time that it was feasible for me to be one of those moms who just takes their baby everywhere with them. What if my baby started to cry in the store? Or what if I couldn’t get the stroller to open? My independence was something I loved so much prior to getting pregnant and I felt like it was gone now. My whole life now revolved around a little, tiny baby.  

My world felt like it was spiraling out of control. I wanted to have control of every aspect of my baby, but I couldn’t. I so desperately wanted to be the one doing all the feedings, because I was scared that my fiancé would drop Maxon as he was feeding him, but the pure exhaustion wouldn’t allow me the ability to do so. I felt so bad having Mike help with the feedings, because he was in his last semester of college and finals were quickly approaching. Even though I was in the same boat as well, I at least had extensions on all my assignments and was excused from going to class. Eventually, Mike would have to go back to class and I would be left all alone with Maxon. The day finally came and I was terrified. I began bawling as he left, but at the same time ensured him I would be okay. This became the new routine. Being alone all day, I would just cry. I didn’t feel comfortable being a mom and felt like a failure for everything going down the way it did. I began to wonder what life would be like not as a mother and envied friends who didn’t have this added responsibility. I began to lose a lot of weight, because I couldn’t eat. When I tried eating, I would vomit. The only thing I could get to stay down were liquids. My hygiene started slipping too. Taking a shower was such a chore, but I did it because I knew at least I could have some alone time and cry in silence. I finally decided I wanted to do something about it when I reached out to my OB/GYN. She tried to convince me that what I was feeling was normal and a part of being a new mom. I almost left empty-handed, but once my fiancé told her about how I had been experiencing uncontrollable crying, we got her attention. She prescribed me Zoloft but reminded me that it would take a while to kick in. I was happy to have finally gotten some acknowledgment that the way I had been feeling wasn’t entirely normal. But after one day of being on Zoloft, I reached my breaking point. I knew the medication wouldn’t kick in right away, but I had the unrealistic hope that maybe it would. When it didn’t, I began to panic. I found my thoughts wandering to thoughts of running away and how free I would be. Eventually, I found myself not wanting to live anymore. I would look over at my pill bottle and wonder if the whole bottle would do the trick. Fortunately, I was able to recognize that these thoughts weren’t my own and immediately called my mother. I went to the nursery and sat in the rocking chair crying to my mom asking for her guidance. She informed me to do what I had already planned on doing. I had my sister drive me to the nearest emergency room and we waited to be seen. I was so worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously and sent back home. I knew that if I was sent back home, I probably wouldn’t have lasted another night. Luckily, I was taken such good care of while in the emergency room. The nurse assured me that it wasn’t my fault and that I did the right thing by coming in. My mother made the 2 hour drive up to Corpus to be with me in the hospital and I remember asking her if she thought everyone was capable of being a mother. I felt deep in my heart that I was one of those women that just wasn’t meant to be a mom, despite what everyone kept telling me. I wanted to give up my child for adoption, because I just felt like I had lost my sense of identity. I didn’t know who I was anymore. My mother assured me it was postpartum depression talking and that I was going to be just fine.

Eventually, the nurse had me speak with an intake nurse at a local behavioral hospital to determine if I should be admitted. They asked me a series of questions regarding my family history of mental illnesses and my current symptoms. They determined that I matched their criteria and could be admitted to their facility. I was taken in an ambulance in the middle of the night to an unknown place. I had no idea where I was, but luckily, my mom was able to come along with me for the intake process. We were buzzed in and met with a nurse. The nurse asked me a series of questions and then the time came when my mother had to leave and go home. I was given a piece of paper to write down phone numbers on, because I’d have to give up my phone. I knew all of my important contact numbers by memory, as if I had been preparing for this moment my whole life. My mom and I said our goodbyes, and she whispered to me to look for the light. And that’s what I did the whole time I was there. 

It just so happens that week I spent at the behavioral hospital happens to be the same week as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. I find this to be no coincidence. I was taken to my room late at night and was placed with a roommate. All I saw was a foreign body asleep in the bed next to mine. I was changed into paper scrubs, checked for lice and then I finally had a chance to get some rest, or at least I would try. They left our door open and would check in on us every 15 minutes throughout the night to make sure we were okay. After many guilty thoughts of leaving my family behind, I was finally able to get some rest. I was awoken by the nurse drawing blood from my roommate’s arm. I was worried I’d be next because of my fear of needles, but luckily she just needed to check my vitals.  The light shined in through our frosted window, but I couldn’t see the sun or anything else outside. I worried that this place might feel lonelier than my home, but I was willing to give it a try. For the first day, I spent the day catching up on rest in my room. I’d come out from time to time and find people in the common’s area drawing or watching TV. I was scared of this new environment, but the patients there were so welcoming. I pulled up a seat next to them and they asked me about my story. Little by little, I learned everyone’ s story. Everyone there was just as normal as me. They were just facing the demon that is depression. One woman had just lost her son and was having a terrible time grieving. Another man’s 7-year relationship with the woman he loved had just come to an end and his ex-girlfriend had kept custody of their child. Some patients there were just long-time depression sufferers and needed a safe place to cope. Finally, I felt like I was somewhere where people understood me.

Everyday, we would wakeup and have group therapy, take a walk outside, go to the gym, make our phone calls, color, watch TV, and play dominoes. The food wasn’t so bad either. I finally had the chance to speak with a psychiatrist and he assured me that everything I was going through was all part of postpartum depression. I listed every intrusive thought I had, and once again he assured me it was all part of PPD. He prescribed me a medication that would help kick in the Zoloft quicker and asked that I stay a few more days to be monitored. I was okay that. I didn’t feel quite ready to leave yet. In the back of my head, I was hoping that he would prescribe me a medication that I couldn’t breastfeed with, but he was careful to find one that was safe. I was given time everyday to pump in the back room. I remember crying as I was pumping on my first day there, because my fiancé and mother were coming to visit me and I didn’t want them to see me like this, still in my paper scrubs. But the nurse motivated me pushed me to still go to visitation.

It was nice to see the familiar faces of my fiancé and mother for some time. They were happy that I was getting help, but I still felt guilty. Mike was in the middle of Final’s week caring for a newborn baby, and here I was playing dominoes and eating Rice Krispy Treats. But I knew while I was in there, I was getting better, so I stuck it out. On one particular day, I remember lying in my room and feeling a calmness overtake my body. I wasn’t anxious anymore. I felt at ease and the intrusive thoughts had finally gone away. I feel like this was the moment the medications finally began working. After 3 days of being hospitalized I was finally discharged to be with my family. I felt confident that I was on track to get better. I spent the first week home at my fiance’s mother’s house so that we could have extra help and I gave up breastfeeding, something that I feel also triggered my postpartum depression. Eventually, we moved back into our townhome and things became a lot easier. I was happier, less lonely, and could finally focus on enjoying the present. I was so grateful. I now have a beautiful 1-year old baby boy and the time I spent with untreated postpartum depression is now far in my past. The words NICU, C-section, formula, and postpartum depression are all words I did not see coming up in my future. They’re words that often times make mothers feel less than. But these words are a part of my story and I refuse to stop writing them because they have made me the strong mother I am today.

Words of Wisdom

When I worked as an English teacher, I liked to give my students random writing prompts as a way to relax. It started out as a daily bell work assignment, and later turned into what they called “relax writing.” After they watched the movie Wonder, they wanted to use some of Mr. Browne’s Precepts as writing prompts.  In case you haven’t seen the movie, Mr. Browne was an English teacher, and the precepts were thought-provoking quotes he shared with the class. Soon after the novel was published, a follow-up book with 365 precepts was published with a quote for every day of the year. I began to notice a positive change; the more they were exposed to inspirational quotes, the more progress I saw in their work. Most importantly – I noticed a change in their behavior. They felt human. They learned it was okay to be stressed. They learned that it was absolutely normal to feel overwhelmed with all their work and it had nothing to do with the level of intelligence. 

I am very proud of the positive outcome of this technique, so now, I’m going to share a few of my favorite quotes with you. I hope you will read them, let them sink in, and allow yourself to do something for yourself for a change. It could be the start of a brighter, happier you.

 On relaxing: 

"To help have less stress, take time to relax." Catherine Pulsifer 

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…Including you.” –Anne Lamott

On peace of mind:

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” —Eckhart Tolle

“If there’s no inner peace, people can’t give it to you. The husband can’t give it to you. Your children can’t give it to you. You have to give it to you.” —Linda Evans

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

Create a Happy You!

For the last few months, I’ve been feeling like - I think Carrie Underwood described it best in her song “One Way Ticket” : like a fish on a hook, like a bug on a dirty windshield. Nothing was going my way, save for the occasional perfectly plated pasta dish, and perfectly winged eyeliner. Small victories! I decided that I could sit here and stew in my own misery, or I could get up and do something, even if it was something small. 

 I’m too nervous to divulge information about my bouts with anxiety and panic attacks, which eventually trigger episodes of extreme sadness, for fear of being told to “get over it.” So, I did the next best thing: I sought answers on the internet (silly, I know).  That’s when I came across an article titled, “6 Ways to Create Your Own Happiness.” 

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12605/6-ways-to-create-your-own-happiness.html

I was so pumped after I read it, but then when I started to apply a lot of these methods into my own lifestyle, I thought, “ how realistic are these methods for moms?”  I decided to tweak them to work for moms! Here’s what happened:

 1.    Write your achievements. 

“Train your mind to find the positive by listing your achievements.” Who has time to make lists? If we had that time to spare, we’d much rather fit in a nap, shower, or a good movie.  How about this as an alternative: focus on the things you do get done and give yourself a high-five for each one. Wake up and make breakfast? High-five! Get the kids to school on time? High-five! Get a smidge of cleaning done? High-five! This will train your mind to acknowledge the great things you do get done, as opposed to the things that you didn’t have time to tackle. Since you’re in charge of your own happiness, instead of seeking gratitude from someone else, praising yourself ( with the help of that precious baby’s grin) will get you in the right frame of mind. 

 2.    Decide to make yourself a priority.

 “You shouldn’t only think of yourself on a random girls’ night or on your birthday.” Focus on doing things for yourself to improve your well-being. Mom guilt is real, y’all. If we so much as brush our teeth before checking on the baby when naptime is almost up, we feel like CPS is going to come a knockin’ on our door. Take a walk; studies show that walking 30 minutes a day can improve your mood and boost your energy. If you’re anything like me and you have a lot of work to do in the house, open up the windows and let the sunlight brighten up your home. Play some music and relax. Think of the things that relax you the most and find a way to incorporate them into your daily routines. Your mind and body will thank you!

3.    Fill your day with tiny things you love.

 “Sometimes, happiness is in the details.” Ok, I can really get on board with this one! Yesterday, I had a breakfast date with two of my best friends. Both have small children, 6 months and 10 months, and they were in dire need of a girls’ day out! Words can’t describe the difference in their demeanor after our breakfast date. They were so wrapped up in work and being moms and wives, that they forgot to do those little things that they loved – even the babies bonded and are now BFF’s!  Call a friend over; not only will you get a break, but you’ll have an extra set of hands, and an extra person to laugh with. 

4.    Create visuals of your awesomeness.

Alright, ladies, it’s time to put your Instagramming skills to use! Snap that photo! Record that video! When you’re having a bad day, go back and scroll through them. Those little smiles, and those chuckles are the gold star next to your name. Your awesomeness and bad ass-ism is the reason behind those photos and videos. As an added bonus, take photos of your kitchen ( or maybe it’s just my kitchen that needs this) when it’s clean. Look back on those photos for motivation when you’re feeling down! You are awesome and you can do this! Say it with me! 

5.    Do something new. 

 It’s easy to get stuck in routines. Try something different. Try a new breakfast. Is your hair always in a fun-bun ( mine is )? Try putting it half-up, half-down. Or wear it down completely. You choose! Changing up your hairstyle works for your confidence. Change your wardrobe a bit. Are you usually in an oversized t-shirt and pajama pants? That’s cool. Try some yoga pants and a scoop neck tee. Try some leggings and an oversized tee. What about food? Pinterest, girlfriend, Pinterest! My kids think I learn all my recipes for meals and small snacks by watching Gordon Ramsay on repeat. Nope. Pinterest.  Changing little things here and there will bring out that smile everyone knows and loves. 

6.    Craft your day to create a win. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean bust out the scissors, construction paper, and glue ( unless that’s really your cup of tea, then by all means…).  What is your biggest goal for the end of the day? I’m a writer, so my goal is to have at least half of my current writing assignment complete. Does it always happen- hahahahahahaha. No. But- I still have that as a daily goal and I strive to complete it. Like today, this blog post was my goal, and here I am…bad assing my way to the end! Yassss!  Start with small goals to create your win! At the end of the day, you’re going to feel like you actually got something accomplished. 

Most importantly..don’t ever forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day. These things take time, and so should you. Take time for yourself. You matter so much! Now, close this blog post and go work your inner bad ass! <3 

A Mom's Gotta Do What a Mom's Gotta Do ( Now, Get Out of Our Way) !

I’ve really got to stop mom bashing myself, but it’s so tough! Just when I think I’m doing well, I jump on social media to check out some funny memes. Instead, I’m greeted by the onslaught of the parenting experts (with no children, mind you)! 

Society has taken a dislike to moms who work for a living ( we’re such selfish bitches ) – but wait – they also complain about moms who stay home ( lazy, love to live off their husband’s hard earned dollar). I’m sure you’ve heard them all!  

 What they fail to realize is how damaging their assumptions are, especially for moms dealing with postpartum depression. I know this firsthand. 

 Y’all know I love to tell stories and I’ve got like a million of them! 

 When I was in my 20s, I worked retail. I loved the environment, the people I worked with, and how quick and easy it was to be promoted. I was living the life! However, I failed to realize that my kids were miserable. There were times when I wouldn’t leave work until 10 pm, and they were already asleep. I would only see them in the morning before they went to school. I was a working mom and I was hurting them. Guilt. 

 I finished my degree and was able to pursue a career in education. I worked as a substitute teacher for CCISD, then snagged a full-time position at King High School. The hours were the same as my kids, and we got to spend evenings and weekends together. That should’ve solved my problems, right? Wrong. The pay was crap and I couldn’t afford to give them the luxuries that their friends had. Again, guilt. 

 I decided I needed more money and I sought out a career in teaching. The pay was amazing and the hours were still  the same as my kids. I figured I was on top of the world. I could finally afford better things and still get to spend time with the kids. Could this be the light at the end of the tunnel? Nope. Wrong again. Now, a lot of my free time was spent planning lessons, grading papers, and finding strategies to gain my students’ trust and make them enjoy my class. Basically, I was putting other people’s kids above my own. Guilt. 

 Why can’t I get this right? Am I a horrible mother? Why can’t I work to provide for my family AND be there for them? I was really putting myself down at this point. My husband jumped in and told me I should focus on my writing career, which allowed me to work part time at Del Mar College. I was the happiest I’ve ever been. I was at the top of my game – then the semester was over, and I was back to minimal pay. Guilt. 

 I got a job at a retail store that I won’t name. I was offered a position in management and I thought everything was going to be great. Then, came the abuse. I won’t go into details, but I was berated by my boss. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t take a break, I came home crying every night, my body was in constant agony. All my kids wanted was a hug. Every morning, all they wanted was to talk to me about their previous day. I was so tired. They spoke, but I didn’t hear a word they said. Guilt. Misery. Lots of tears. Self-loathing. 

 Thankfully, I am no longer at this job. No matter what I did, I found myself questioning my ability as a mother. No matter what we do for our children, we’re always going to feel that we don’t do enough. It’s up to us to let the naysayers, the mom shamers, and anyone who has nothing but negative things to say, fall on deaf ears. Only you know what is good for you and your family. You want to work – do your thang! You want to be a stay home mom? Whistle while you work!  Hang in there, moms; I know it’s tough, but our kiddos need us more than anyone else in this world! You’ve got hustle in you- it’s up to you to find it! 

 As always, our peer support groups are available for you. Come talk with us. Vent. Let it all out. 2019 is a year of change! Let’s do this! 

Feeling Broken

Just the other day, my husband and I walked past the baby department at Target, and I asked him if he ever wondered what “Peanut” would be wearing, what he’d play with, how his laugh would sound, and he replied, “ yes, every day; I think about it all the time.”  I had a miscarriage 3 years ago.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the what if’s. What did I do wrong? What if I ate something bad? What if I did something wrong, and now I’m broken? Have I failed as a woman?  I don’t speak much about it, other than with my husband. Miscarriage and pregnancy loss are topics that are too taboo for society to deem worthy of conversation, so we find it easier to shut them out and pretend they don’t exist.    

This evening, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, when it popped up – “ Michelle Obama reveals her miscarriage heartbreak.” Did I just read that correctly? Michelle Obama? But she is so graceful, so beautiful, and so professional – how can she….”   Then it hit me. Just because she exudes so much strength, power, and grace on the outside, doesn’t mean there isn’t an aching heart on the inside.

As I read through the article, I realized that she was expressing a lot of the same emotions and frustrations as I was. She felt hurt and confused. She blamed herself. She felt like she was a failure as a woman. I wanted to share this article with you today, because just like me, there are other women out there that need to know they are not alone in their struggle. We all deal with it differently, but knowing there are others out there experiencing similar struggles makes a smidge of that pain easier to deal with.  We have to start somewhere!

 Break the silence. Shatter the stigma. We’re here for you.

 You can view the article at this link:

 https://nypost.com/2018/11/09/michelle-obama-reveals-her-miscarriage-heartbreak-turning-to-ivf/fbclid=IwAR2E3rO0hp4mn7AXYruuQt8S-sGCtd_RV7OrGed7M0uHqZCmNtZG-qsR8a8

Changing Our Views on Happiness

As we near the end of October, let us be reminded of the babies that were too precious for this earth, and left us far too soon.  Too often, we feel that we should be silenced about our struggles with fertility, miscarriage, or loss of a child, especially when we see others rejoicing in the perfection of their lives. 

Those of us that use social media are often led down a false reality of everyone’s version of happiness. We see the happy couples with their perfect children-with the ability to have children. Your neighbor’s friend with the straight A son, who is an all-around great student. What we don’t see is the stress behind the mom struggling to balance work and keeping her child on task. We don’t see the husband who is away at work for months at a time, missing out on the child’s milestones, leaving the mom to fend for herself and the kids. We fail to acknowledge or to admit the problems we face , our flaws. We think that our inability to have children makes us flawed. I’ve even heard some women say they aren’t “ real women “ because their bodies failed to produce children. We also stay silent about what hurts us. 

The worst part is that we keep these feelings bottled up and refuse to speak about them. We say we’re ok, when we’re dying inside. We fear being touted as the “Debbie downer” of the bunch. Let’s try something. Going forward, let’s take a moment to appreciate ourselves. 

Every day, look in the mirror and say something nice about yourself. It could be something as simple as “you look amazing today,” or something as deep as “ you did great today!”  Changing our approach to happiness could help with our self-esteem and how we handle challenges. 

Speak up. Talk to someone. Vent. You don’t have to handle your problems alone. 

The Journey of Jesikah Gutierrez

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The empty nest.

I didn't really think about it before it happened and it's still a journey everyday.

All of a sudden, there's all this time you didn't have before and you're forced to confront everything, including self, that had been pushed aside for so many years. I didn't recognize the woman in the mirror, but I knew that she was worthy and deserving of love and so much more. It was and still is daunting, but thankfully I've also discovered my life's passion in the process -- helping to lift other women to be the best they can be for themselves and their families.

What I have found is that by working with and lifting other women, I also lift my family - my sons and daughters. Having an empty nest forced me to look at myself and nurture the woman I am and the woman I strive to be.