These Mighty Mamas.

Image from littleandmighty.com
Image from littleandmighty.com

“Welcome to Mighty Mamas, an ongoing series where mamas share their candid and raw thoughts on motherhood. Our intention is to create a supportive forum for sharing without judgment. Mamas are so mighty and we are using that strength to build a powerful group of wonderful women who believe in motherhood.”

I’m excited to be a part of this next series of Mighty Mamas!  Head on over to the Little & Mighty blog to read more about myself and the 9 other Mamas in the series.  While you’re there, check out the Little & Mighty apparel too!

signed, dee

To the Mothers Struggling With Depression on Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day in the U.S. is during the month of May which also happens to be Mental Health Awareness month. No matter how you feel, you deserve to be celebrated on this day too.
Mother’s Day in the U.S. is during the month of May which also happens to be Mental Health Awareness month. No matter how you feel, you deserve to be celebrated on this day too.

You might be apprehensive about the upcoming Mother’s Day.  You’re not sure what you’ve done to even deserve to be celebrated on that day.  You make think that you haven’t done much to prove you’re a good mother.  You may not feel like such a great Mama with how you’re feeling.

You may have been lost in a fog more than you liked.   The lows seem to be greater than the high points. You may be finding yourself fighting back tears more often than you like or during moments that don’t make sense.  Or even trying to summon every ounce of strength to just not fall apart in front of the people you love.

You do deserve this day, just as much as any mother/mother figure.

I’m here to remind you that this is just a small moment in the grander scheme of things.  I think it’s easier to pick apart all the lower and bad moments from the good ones and carry them with you.  Those good moments seem so faint when the weight of the bad moments make it hard to move forward.  Those good moments, they are there.

The brief periods where you mentally prepare yourself with a quick prayer or pep talk and can make it out the door to work.  Days where you would rather pull the covers over you but opt for a morning at the park with your kids.  For a brief moment, you have the laughter of your kids and genuine smiles to give you more hope and give you another reason to keep moving forward.  Those sessions with your doctor where you suddenly realize a major jump you’ve made in progress and that YES, you can do this.  Yes, those good moments are there.

Some days are definitely better than others. Some days it’s easier to pull yourself from that fog.  You really do deserve this day Mama.

You are fighting.

You are trying.

You are giving as much love as you can.

You’re trying to figure out how to cope and be present.

You ARE a loving Mama.

Happy Mother’s Day, you deserve this day, regardless if you’re trying to find ways to cope, are in the darkest holds of depression, or seeing positive results from everything you have been doing.  Keep fighting as best as you can. Remember to celebrate the small victories because they begin to add up to bigger ones.

If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

If you are looking for pregnancy or postpartum support and local resources,

please call or email:

Call PSI Warmline (English & Spanish) 1-800-944-4PPD (4773)

Email support@postpartum.net

or visit http://www.postpartum.net/

signed, dee

Mental Health Quote

The Strength I Found in Motherhood.

Becoming a mama has made me realize that I have a lot more strength than I thought.
Becoming a mama has made me realize that I have a lot more strength than I thought.

When you’re pregnant with your first child, many veteran mamas tell you how wonderful it will be. The focus of their excited chatter is mainly about the baby.  You hear about the sleep you’ll lose, the milestones to look forward to, and all the tips and tricks you may or may not want to hear.

They often don’t tell you how it will change YOU as an individual.  Yes, they tell you that motherhood is rewarding but never expand on it.  They also don’t tell you about the beauty you find in yourself nor do they tell you the strength that grows within you.

Motherhood is an ever changing thing. It’s filled with so many different emotions (often in the span of 5 minutes).  Motherhood is something you not only put so much of your heart into but your soul as well.  So much of yourself is put into caring for tiny humans.

We’re often second guessing our decisions.  We worry how every possible action and reaction will effect our children.  Talk about even more pressure when you add having other mamas, parents, in-laws, and just about anyone else in the world being able to comment and scrutinize a mama’s every move into all of this. Trying to navigate motherhood with PPD makes it even more nerve wracking.  It feels like things are intensified by 100.  Often you’re trying to find the strength to have strength.  Add the stereotypes that is often associated with PPD, well, a person needs all the strength they can get.  You feel like you not only need to prove it to yourself that you can make it through but to others as well.

Yes, you do second guess yourself in motherhood.  Whether it’s exclusively breastfeeding, formula feeding, cloth diapers, co-sleeping, teaching your child sign language, or only giving them organic food. You are continually second guessing every decisions and every move through the constant running thoughts in your head, comments from others, or articles you read.  You feel like you need to, or are more than ready, to defend the previous mentioned choices.  When things don’t seem to go as you thought (i.e. crib training early on, switching to formula feeding, etc.), you find yourself second guessing your second guessing!

However, you also realize through the missteps and triumphs that you’re doing the best that you possibly can.  

You see it when your child reaches a milestone.  It’s seen when your child’s laughter is so joyful you have tears in your eyes.  You can also see it when you watch your child’s personality budding before you.  Your child’s progression, whatever the pace, will show you everything.

O and W.

 

Motherhood makes you vulnerable, it makes you protective, and it makes you stronger as a person. 

This is why you become so passionate about every decision you make.  You may have a bad motherhood day but the thing is, you wake up to do it all over again.  Maybe with not as much strength as the day before but you still do it.

I’ve realized that the choices I’ve made so far regarding my children are led with my heart.  I become protective over those decisions because I know in my soul it was the right thing for my child. That I take such criticism and scrutiny so dearly because I’ve put my heart into these children.  I know it can be easy to question the parenting decisions of others but in the end aren’t we all making childrearing decisions that others will question and scrutinize?  It’s then that I realize that while the advice given should be taken under consideration, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to follow each and every tip.

My babies and motherhood have taught me to continue putting my heart and soul into the things I love.  Motherhood has taught me to not apologize for my beliefs.   That it’s okay to be protective when it comes to scrutiny or criticism.  More importantly, it has taught me that there was always this strength in me.  It continues to grow as my children grow.  It continues to grow even when I make missteps as a mama.  It continues to grow as I maneuver my way through PPD.  Motherhood has shown me that my strength was always there, it just need a kick from two handsome little men for me to realize that it was there all along.

signed, dee

Opening up about PPD to Non-Mama Friends

Your friends may just surprise you with their reaction. It may also be what you need
Your friends may just surprise you with their reaction. It may also be what you need

I will be one of the first to tell you how isolating it can feel to be the only mama among a group of friends that are either back at school or conquering their careers.  During this time I felt like all I really needed were other mamas.  Someone to commiserate with about sleepless nights, ways to keep breastmilk supply up, or just someone to understand the overwhelm that comes at times.

I haven’t told many of my close friends about my battle with PPD.  Mostly due to fear of not being understood and just being seen differently. I’ve decided to be more open about it because well, this is who I am right now.  A second time mama trying to find ways to continually shut down the heavy criticism and self doubt that overcomes me.  Someone who is trying to do give her all and best for her kids, husband, and those she holds dearest to her.  For anyone that is dealing with PPD, or anything like it, can attest to how tiresome it is to carry it all so close to you.  Not being able to, or allowing yourself, to confide in friends is exhausting both physically and mentally.

One of my good friends, the godmother to O and someone who has managed to give so much optimism and faith in my life, only recently found out. I hate that I waited so long but it always felt like it wasn’t the right time.  I found myself blurting it out and fumbling over words one afternoon while she was visiting. She had W in her arms while he was bouncing around while I was trying to wrangle in O.  I couldn’t look at her directly after I just spilled it all at once.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really was taken aback with her reaction.

“You’ll get through this.”

She said it so simply and matter of fact.

She acknowledged what I said.  She genuinely understood.  She sympathized.  She was encouraging.  She was optimistic for me.  More importantly, she looked at me no different.  I was taken aback because we’re in different chapters in our lives.  I, the second time mama. Her, conquering her Masters and career.  In my mind I was more than certain only a mama would understand and be so encouraging.  In my mind I thought she would not be able to connect the previous months of isolation I put myself in with my struggle with PPD.  Thank you dearest friend for proving me wrong and sincerely doing your best to understand.  Thank you for not looking at me differently or treating me any different since finding out.  Thank you Lord for allowing such an understanding person be part of my life.

What she gave me was even more strength.  Strength that I can continue to get through this.  She was able to provide me a perspective coming from a someone who is making her way to the chapter in her life that includes children.  Telling her gave me the ease of knowing that I have support from a person I hold close.   Being able to tell her and receiving support and understanding has given me the ability to breathe and continue to push forward.  More importantly, she showed me that I need support from not just my Mama friends but ALL my friends.  It truly does take a village to not only raise a child but maneuver through this motherhood journey.

Mental Health Quote

How becoming a mama has made me feel beautiful.

My kids have shown me to see the beauty within myself.

My transition to mamahood hasn’t been an easy or smooth one but it has given me so much in terms of personal growth.  Mamahood has changed my life in many ways. It has especially made me unapologetic of myself – flaws, quirks, and all.

I was one of those awkward girls growing up.  It seemed to be especially apparent during middle school and high school.  I know a lot of people say this, but I really didn’t feel that I fit in. Thanks to genes I was skinny, very light skinned compared to my peers, and shy.  Add being mixed race in a community where there were a handful of us – it made me feel self conscious.  I didn’t look like anyone else and people made sure to point it out.  When I would receive compliments, I would just have a blank stare or laugh it off.  I never saw myself as beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, or anything closely related.  Probably the hardest things for me was trying to navigate through life and accepting the person I was – quirks, strengths, looks, etc.  Even writing this post has taken some time to be able to verbalize my thoughts.  It’s been sitting in my drafts for almost a month.

Becoming a mother changed that for me.  It was no longer about myself or worrying about how I looked.   It was about this tiny and fragile human that was delicately handed to me.  I see pieces of me in each of my children.  The same pair of lips and skin on my first and the same large eyes and smile in my second.  I see the silly sense of humor I have budding with my first.  Then there is the determination I have that I’m beginning to see with my second.

Tee from: parentees.co
Tee from: parentees.co

 

I’ve had my ups and downs with accepting myself.  The one thing that has been constant through out all of this is God’s presence.  I would find myself feeling so low but managing to pull myself out of it once I poured my heart and thoughts to the Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Placing that trust in Him, with all my heart, has given me the blessing of my beautiful kids.  Being blessed with both my children has only intensified that faith that I have.  Time and time again He has given me tests to show me my worth, my own beauty, the beauty that he has given me.  My children have been able to open my eyes and extend this further. They have shown me that they love me and see the beauty in me.  This is regardless of what I’m going through, what I’m trying to over come, or how I may see myself sometimes.  My children have pushed me – with God’s help.   There will no longer be apologies regarding who I am.  I am moving towards accepting my flaws, embracing what makes me unique, and starting to look at myself as beautiful – as God has made me.

 

Life Lessons I’ve learned in Mamahood (so far).

I haven’t been in a Mama for too long but having two kids fairly close in age has been a real learning experience for me.  So far it has been crazy, humbling, and empowering all at once.  I know I have a lot more to learn and many of this has been said before but they’ve been replaying in my head more often as of late:

You have no one to impress.
With my first, I always felt like my every Mama-move was being watched. It isn’t a competition over who gets to milestones first.  For me, it’s about how can I keep nurturing my child for his benefit.  It’s also about understanding that children are individuals that learn at their own pace and time.  I’ve learned to go with the flow with certain things. Not necessarily give my son full reins in this parent-child relationship but listen and watch him for cues on how to communicate and connect with him.  My focus is my children and not impressing anyone.

Taking a stand is important.
Everyone seems to have the “right way” to swaddle a baby, hold a baby, feed a baby, etc.  Not to say that some of the advice offered doesn’t work but it’s all about taking it under consideration.  It’s one thing to have advice offered and another to be told how you should parent.  I’ve learned to take a stand for what I feel is best for my child.  This has made me appreciate everyone’s motherhood/parenthood journey.  Everyone has something that works for their child.  It may not work for you but that’s okay.  Just because someone insists on a particualr technique does not mean you have to so it.  In this sense, becoming a mama has made me some what of a stronger person.  I know my babies well, and so far have had pretty darn good intuition on what works and won’t for them.

Everyone is going through their OWN mamahood journey.
I think it becomes easy to judge a Mama with the kid having a meltdown at the store.  I’ve had my fair share of meltdown moments already with my toddler at the store.  I have had a mixture of the frowning Mamas to the nod of sympathy.  Everyone’s mamahood journey is different and while it is easy to make assumptions, it’s better to lend an understanding hand.  It’s hard to say what exactly a Mama is going through that very moment a publicized meltdown occurs.  They could have had a teething baby that didn’t sleep the night before,  a partner that is deployed, dealing with PPD, or a combination of so many other things.  Honestly, who has not experienced their child have a meltdown at least once at the store or other public area?

Asking for help is more than okay.
Sometimes you can’t do it all.  As someone that was so accustomed to doing things on her own and in her own terms, this was a large humbling pill to swallow once I became a mama.  This was something I really has to accept during my last pregnancy when complications occurred.  Mamahood can be very lonely, especially when it’s your first child, being surrounded by supportive people often helps. Asking for help does not make you less of a person and there will be people more than happy to help.  It will be a testament to how many people not only love your child dearly but you as well.

Whatever is going on, it will pass.
I’ve had too many nights where for whatever reason one of the kids does not want to sleep.  Nap time seems non-existent, everything I do doesn’t seem to help stop the baby from crying, or sometimes the only way I can get my toddler to do anything is talk like a pirate (the entire freakin’ day).  It’s hard to remember, during the moments of pure exhaustion or helplessness, but it will pass.  Sure you’ll have a new set of things to worry over or become exhausted from but it usually leads to some pretty great moments.  Currently, we have a teething baby and it’s leading to some pretty exhausting days and sleepless nice.  I’m reminding myself that a smile with some cute little baby teeth will be approaching.

Forgiveness is needed and more than once.
Sometimes you just mess up. You forget to buy baby wipes and diapers. You didn’t wash any of the bottles. An extra change of clothes was not packed in the diaper bag.  You spilled 6 oz. of breastmilk you just pumped. Okay, maybe the last one is a little hard to forgive yourself for but things happen. It isn’t always a perfect motherhood journey. You end up googling things and scaring yourself. Doubts creep into your thoughts and can leave you questioning everything.  The thing is, your baby loves you no matter what.  That smile they give you once they see you tells you everything you need to know.  You’re doing a good job and they love you dearly.  Be gentle with yourself because honestly you are doing the best you can.

Unplug and detach.
Sometimes you don’t need to have your phone or camera ready to document things.  Not everything needs to be shared on social media. There are certain things that seem so much sweeter when in the moment.  It’s a nod to being more present and less attached to devices.  As much as I love documenting a lot of moments with photos and videos, the times I remember most and always seem to look back on are ones where my phone or camera is not in my hand.

I’m sure I’m going to add to this list sooner rather than later.  It’s a nice reminder for myself as I type this all out.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned so far in mamahood or parenthood?

You got mail…from the President?

Little mister was able to get a presidential greeting from the POTUS and FLOTUS.
Little mister was able to get a presidential greeting from the POTUS and FLOTUS.

 

When I saw an acquaintance post a photo of a wedding greeting from the President of the United Staes and First Lady of the United States, I decided to see if they did birth greetings.  In addition to wedding greetings, you can request greetings for wedding anniversaries, retirements, birthdays, and oh yes, birth greetings.  Who wouldn’t want to get mail from the President let alone a Presidential greeting?

I remember getting so excited when O received his first piece of mail.  Mind you it was from the Social Security Administration and contained his social security card but I was excited.  I know, I know, babies are so young, they don’t know how to read, why get excited about mail?  I’m a sentimental, I love firsts, almost all kinds.  I also like saving any firsts that I can.  The first outfit for a holiday, the first pair of shoes O walked in, the first drawing O made, well you get the idea.

You can’t just request a card from the POTUS for anything.  There are specific guidelines (as stated on the site):

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen
  • Birth greetings are only available within a year of the baby’s birth date.
  • Birthday greetings are for those that are celebrating a birthday that is 80 years or greater. However for Veterans it starts at 70 years of age.
  • Retirement greetings are for service of 20 years or longer.
  • Wedding greetings should be made at least 6 weeks in advanced of the wedding date.
  • Wedding anniversary greetings are done for 50 years or greater and also must be requested 6 weeks in advance.

I only provided an overview there are other specifics that you can check out here.

I do wish they had a greeting for those adopting because I would assume that is just as much of a joyous event as a birth!  So new moms or soon-to-be parents go and request your presidential greeting.  Bear in mind it does take awhile for you to receive the card.  I requested mine in January and received it a few days ago.

I’ll be keeping W’s in his memory box.  I’m not sure if he’ll appreciate it but I still think it’s pretty darn cool to get mail from the POTUS!