On Friday, I had the opportunity to sit in a panel with other survivors as we told our stories. I spoke about my mental health being affected just as I was grappling with a premature baby and a preeclampsia diagnosis.
It's been 5 years but I still remember the feelings of doubt, shame, and guilt.
I did make progress - no crying! But even by listening to someone share their story, it was a lot. An invisible wound that didn't quite heal.
I also walked away with encouragement that I can do this. I can sit in a panel. I can share my story. And someone will listen. Someone will make changes to their hospital policy because of me. And that thought will carry me for a bit. If I can help a mama by changing how a provider approaches them.... that's a legacy and a story I'd like to leave behind.
Saturday, 5/22, is World Preeclampsia Day.
Will you commit to saving mothers and babies across the globe by donating or registering to your local Promise Walk?
Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is a 5 day media awareness campaign hosted by TheBlueDotProject.
Each year, moms are invited to share the 'faces of motherhood,' whatever that looks like to you. It can be lighthearted and fun! It can be serious and as real as you want it to be.
I've participated in the past - and a part of me always thinks....maybe this is the year, I've finally made it over the hill and NOT cry about my motherhood story or the thoughts I have had in the past about my son and I.
And every time I think I'm there, I am still filled with remorse and regret.
I do own my story.
I sometimes wish I didn't have it.
And that's a huge part of the reason I do participate.
To continue my healing journey,
to continue to make the climb,
and to continue to spread awareness that this conversation
- real faces/fears/thoughts of motherhood -
is important and needs to be said and heard.
If you're a mama and would love to participate, please do:
(Use the campaign hashtags #MMHWeek2021 and #MakingOverMotherhood when posting your images during #MMHWeek2021)
Come find me on Instagram:
Black Maternal Health Week takes place every year from April 11 –17. To learn more, donate and or register for the Black Maternal Health Virtual Conference, please visit their site here.
I know I'm the type that feeds off energy, which can be terrible. I make a point to surround myself with positive, grateful, affirming people, and in turn, I feel positive, grateful and give affirmations.
Negativity brings me down - doesn't it do that to everyone though?
As much as we'd all like to be in person, feeding energy from people's movements, their radiant light exuding out and feel their pain and strength....COVID SUCKS and things are still just as virtual as before. Last year at the MoMMa's Summit, I still felt the energy, the passion and the remembering of my why. Why do I do this? Why do I think its' important to advocate, to speak up and to listen in on people's ideas, the policies that they changed?
I don't know. Perhaps, to rid myself of the guilt that I didn't do ENOUGH.
Perhaps, my anger and adrenaline of our health care system and how it fails mothers fuels me.
What fills my cup more than anything though is the future I want my daughter (and daughter in law) to have. My nieces to not have to worry about their postpartum journeys. To be a change even if it affects no one else but the people I love.
So if you're able, won't you join me?
Click here to find out more and how you can register: https://www.2020mom.org/2021-annual-forum
This was such an honor and I still feel so unworthy of it when all I've done to advocate for maternal mental health is to share my struggles and my story. I'm honored and so humbled to be in amazing company with these incredible women.
I am grateful to anyone who listened to us moms - the doctors, the nurses, friends, families and strangers - who saw past the cuteness of our newborns and really tuned in to our internal battles and struggles.
**did you know 1 in 7 moms suffer from postpartum depression?**
I am grateful for those that fought in the trenches of postpartum depression and anxiety with me, and those who joined in on advocacy efforts, and those who encouraged me to keep sharing, keep speaking, keep championing. Organizations like 2020 Mom, Momma's Voices, Postpartum Support International (PSI), my peer support efforts with International Association of Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD) have fueled this mama's cup and have been such incredible lifesaving resources.....think of them this December 1st (Giving Tuesday) or find an organization that supports your passion *also, find what fills you up and find a way to give back*
I recently did an interview with Dr. Kat from Mom and Mind. I'm always so thankful for every opportunity given to share my story.
Please have a listen here:
So I got some exciting news a few days ago.... and of course, once the excitement died down, anxiety came in to settle.
“What have I done that was worthy of this?” Kept popping in my head.
I’ve been sitting with that thought when I got some things I had to go over.
And then I read other people’s accomplishments.
And the cloak of uselessness, of pity, of not enough weighed heavy on me.
What have I done that was worthy of this?!
This morning, I woke up. Did a workout to get some clarity. And looked down at the cup I was drinking from.
Clarity: I share my story because I wanted other mamas who feel the same way, feel less alone.
All I managed to accomplish in this covid pandemic nightmare, doing pandemic homeschooling, in between doctor and lab visits, in the midst of #pmdd hell week, in living with #anxiety is telling my story.
In a few weeks, I will be telling my birth story, my #pregnancyanxiety story, my #preeclampsia story, my #postpartumdepression story for the THIRD time this year.
I get to sit and share what other mamas before me (and those after) won’t get to do.
And that alone is more than enough.
I am incredibly thankful for every opportunity that I get to share my story.
I'm doing a 30 day grateful November post on my Instagram and Facebook. Yesterday was the 12th, and I posted that I am grateful for moms.
Moms who champion for change.
Moms who show the messy and beautiful and awe inspiring stories of motherhood.
Moms who continue after a loss.
I put my mom leaf on the bottom because it starts with us.
Moms, our “work” may be “unseen.”
We teach, we nurse, we play, we pray,
we do. But what a privilege.
And it’s an honor that is not lost on me.
Our babies are watching what we do. Listening to what we say.
Advocacy, passion, the want for change starts with us moms.
I will probably circle back to this later for affirmations.
But for now, I will dry my tears, swallow my thoughts on not being enough and practice saying my story aloud.
And just in case you need to hear this too:
“the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you.
- 2020 Champions for Change summit.
A few months ago, I came across a 'patient stories' call from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologist (ACOG). They were looking for patient stories that dealt with birth, birth complications or trauma, mental health (postpartum and pregnancy), etc. I signed up to tell my story. A few weeks later, I got a call for an interview where I tried hard not to cry to the sweet lady on the other end of the line. Covid happened somewhere between our "thank yous" and "we'll get in touch."
And to be honest, I forgot about that day and what I shared because I was too busy dealing with life in the pandemic homeschool trenches. The other day, I got an email that my story was up on their website. So thank you for reading this far and for allowing me to share my story.
I recently did my first podcast interview ever with Mom&Mind. We talked about my birth story, my preeclampsia diagnosis, subsequent Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) stays for my premature babies. My eventual postpartum depression story in 2016, a small tidbit of my book, and the advocacy efforts I'm engaged in now.
The thing is.....I feel overwhelmed. There are so many things I want to do, I wish I could do for mamas and babies, and especially women of color, like me. But where do I start?
Some days, I feel like I am truly just shouting from the rooftops and screaming into the void, only to hear just echoes of myself.
Some days, I do absolutely nothing.
And I wonder if my volunteer in peer support is doing anything at all. I almost feel like I'm letting my peers down but simultaneously sharing my lived experience and not.
Mental Health advocacy is exhausting. It truly is never ending and I have to wonder if I'm making any difference at all.
So today was supposed to be the second day of Champions of Change Summit. I loved the energy from last year and I wanted so much to refuel and remember "my why."
Covid took us online. It wasn't the energy that mirrored last year but let me tell you, if I could capture the passion emitting from the screen, I would bottle it up, hold on to it and remember the reasons for why I always leave my inbox open for mamas, why I keep speaking up, even if no one is listening.
There will always be that one. The one who needed to hear my message.
So even if I have been lacking on social media - some of it intentional, some of it...well homeschooling has kept me busy - I will continue to advocate in any way I can.
So this is YET ANOTHER "website under construction" notice. But I won't be changing too much around. I'll be adding resources for maternal mental health and premenstrual dysphoric disorder tabs.
What do you normally want to see on a lived experience advocacy page?
In 2012, my daughter was born at 31 weeks due to Preeclampsia and spent 43 days in the NICU. When I found out I was pregnant again, I became anxious about history repeating itself. He was born at 34 weeks in 2016. I had another premature baby, another NICU stay, another preeclampsia diagnosis. This time, I added postpartum depression to my history.