PostPartum Rage Is A Real Thing.

A couple of weeks ago, an article came across my newsfeed that stopped me dead in my tracks. We have discussed postpartum depression and anxiety here on the blog to help normalize the conversations about those two particular, and VERY prevalent, states of motherhood. But, what about those of us who have had both of those things manifest differently? What about those of us that cannot pinpoint what it is that we are feeling, leaving us confused, feeling isolated, and abnormal? What if our symptoms are not only sadness, stress, or anxiety? (as if that isn’t enough…sheesh)

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Photo Credit to Actify Neurotherapies

Commonly known symptoms of PPD and PPA are mentioned above, but with one caveat. The Anger/Rage category that is seemingly brushed over for the other symptoms listed here. My own postpartum manic anxiety turned into something I had never even knew existed until a couple of weeks ago…….it was FULL. BLOWN. RAGE.

Have you ever just been having a normal conversation, and something triggers you and you have this overwhelming anger that makes your ears turn bright red, your blood boil, and before you know it, your whole family is crying because you’ve screamed for the last five minutes without knowing what you’ve said or even why?

Have you found yourself trying like hell to not throw something across the room when the toilet seat is peed on and you forget to check before you sit, and end up throwing said object anyway?

I have.

Hi, my name is Kristy, and I am just realizing that I have suffered from PostPartum Rage for 7 years.

People don’t often talk about this ugly symptom of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, because it describes a state of mind that is downright hard to talk about. To watch someone from the outside go through such uncontrollable anger must just look wrong. We have images within us that create this patient, loving, and kind image of a person that we hope to be as mothers.  I know that was my intention upon having children.  However, the “inner monster” that would come out of me during moments where I could not control my environmental triggers had other plans. It would create a panic that would lead to confusion, then frustration. Then, the trigger event happens and then boom….pop goes the mommy.

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Photo Credit New Scientist

I try to think back on all the times that I could feel my friends and family’s eyes on me, as I was triggered by the kids, dog, losing my keys or cell phone, or whatever. It was almost as if, in an instant, I would watch myself from outside my body. Normalcy would give way to rage, rage ended always in guilt, and all throughout this cycle, my inner voice is begging me,

200“Stop it this ISN’T a big deal! Breathe. Just please Breath.”

 

After my episode was over, I would go immediately into the depression cycle over the way I had “behaved” because I should have control over it. I would be so embarrassed for my family, that I’d regularly cry by myself or with my husband for significant periods of time over the next day or so. I’d then chalk it up to a bad day, pick myself up, and tell myself I’d never let it happen again.

But it always did.

The things is, I could not control it. It had its raging claws stuck in my brain, puppeteering me through episodes that could last seemingly for hours.

Thanks to Carolyn Wagner and her post on Motherly on a particularly bad day, I read what seem like a perfect description for what my postpartum symptoms were. I could never solidly say I was depressed or anxious all the time, but one thing I could always rely on, was having an anger button with a hair trigger.

When broken down though, Wagner explains it most perfectly by saying,

“In overwhelmed,  guilt 

I mean, Ding friggin’ ding. In one paragraph, I was given the gift I had always needed…… to feel UNDERSTOOD.

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She goes on to say that it “  

But how can this be? I am a strong woman. I have a support system. I have a great life, with GREAT kids. BUT, none of my friends or family had ever mentioned this type of symptom before. I hadn’t really even seen it as a doula!  I allowed that feeling of abnormality assist in isolating my rage, as I saw myself separate from my peers.  This is what created room for false perception to take over within me. AKA, self- judgement.

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After I peeled myself off the floor in a fit of tears, I immediately shared it on social media with Carolyn’s words still echoing in my head. The feedback was almost instant.

I really am not alone.

This symptom doesn’t go unnoticed, but it does seemingly get brushed under the rug in conversation. I believe it is more taboo because it is ugly, uncomfortable, and well……..angry.  Until now, I had felt that I had part monster inside of me. I even called it “Monster Mommy” while

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Photo from Readers Digest

apologizing to my family after calming down from an episode. Since I have been gifted a jumping off point towards being more informed about Postpartum Rage, I can now start creating awareness of its episodes within myself and with my support system. With this mindful awareness, I can understand what sets me off at it’s core, and avoid getting myself into those situations.

 

In cases where triggers are unavoidable, I have enlisted the help of my husband. As per the article, I would track when and what would set me off. We came up with a code phrase, “you are spinning” to alert my brain to what is about to happen. And, I dare say, it has been a powerful helper. We worked together to find one that wouldn’t cause the trigger to go off more immediately such as “calm down” or “you’re getting upset”   <shutter….jaw clench……okay just breath>

No matter what it is you do, there are a few things I want you to know:

  1. It’s okay. And it is okay to talk about it.  Please know that others need to know that this is a SYMPTOM, which means it can be treated.  You can ask your care provider to help you through this time. But please, have a true discussion about it.
  2. There is help. If you are a partner, friend, or family member of someone and you read this, please know that your partner doesn’t want to have this symptom anymore than you or your kids want her to. So don’t be afraid to ask whoever you can for help with it.
  3. You are loved. Self care is extremely important as parents. So, I am letting you know that  shifting into a self-care routine is vital to managing this. Your loved ones will thank your newfound self-care awareness when you learn how to tell when you need a break before you explode.
  4. A recurring theme of mine is that you’re never alone. Ever. And this is no exception.

                              ….It takes a village.

 

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Kristy is a doula, self-care advocate, struggle-bus rider, and mom of 2 in Virginia

 

Retreat Yourself! Wild and Bright Women’s Retreat Wrap-Up

In case you need a refresher or are new to our blog (welcome lovelies!), I wrote a post a while ago about my amazing friend, Dr. Sara Smith and her work as a life coach, yoga instructor, and overall supporter of the great thinkers and inspirational leaders of this world. This weekend, I attended her Wild and Bright Women’s Retreat and wanted to give you all a recap.

While spiritual workshops may vary depending on religious affiliation, this one was all-encompassing, forgoing denomination, and welcoming your individual belief system as a source of empowerment, guidance, and healing.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In a world that is the most stressed, depressed, anxious, least empathetic, and most disconnected than it has ever been, unplugged retreats such as this one, that inspire community-based learning and self connectedness, are absolutely vital to shift the collective consciousness this world is currently embodying.

Through two days of yoga, guided meditation, and specific Life Coaching exercises, we were led to find one positive personal truth to feel within our bodies. We learned that no matter what, we have a choice to become aware, and to choose to feel peace within each moment.

The most profound lesson I took away from Sara, was that everything within me is perfectly made and is living my life in perfect timing.

I have spoken here so much of “brokenness”. I have spent SUCH a long time wondering, “what can I do to fix ________ aspect of my life?”  Sara reminds us that, we are perfectly made, and each moment we are going through, is a moment that can remind us that we are simply learning. We have been given a gift and can choose love in every move we make, instead of choosing anything that makes us feel imperfect.

For example, many of us are struggling with debt.

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I know I personally spend too much brain power and way too many minutes staring in terror at an overdrawn bank account with no hopes of reconciliation until next payday. During these wasted moments of anxiety, I would tell myself so many things.

“How could you let this happen AGAIN?”

“You’re so bad at managing money. Great, now we can’t afford anything”

“We will never be out of debt. We are so poor and we’ll be poor forever.”

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Sound familiar to anyone? This self talk comes into play in many aspects of our lives. Turns out, the way we do one thing translates into the way we do everything. Let me continue the example above, and translate it to other scenarios.

If I don’t do as well as I expected of myself in a workout:

“You could have done more. Why did you wimp out? Now everyone will be disappointed in you.”

Move into motherhood. Let’s talk about when I have a bad parenting moment, which is, until this week, I all too often labeled my moments parenting:

“You’re going to ruin your kids. They’ll never be kind and stable. You’re the reason they’ll need therapy.”

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I have wasted so many moments of my life choosing wrongly.  While these moments still happen, I must remind myself to tell the critical part of my brain to, for lack of a better way to say it, shut the hell up.

Internal dialogue has a profound effect on our outward reactions and emotions. According to an ASTONISHING article quoted here referencing research done by the National Science Foundation , “regarding research about human thoughts per day. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80%  are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before and about 80% are negative.”

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Holy…..Bananas.

So, not only is our brain thinking mostly negative things, but we are also thinking negatively like a BROKEN RECORD! That thinking is powerful within our bodies, and has power to make us feel like CRAP about ourselves in every aspect of our lives.

When we say things like, “I hate my body” or “I wish I had her hair.” or “I’m a horrible mother” we are committing into our brain a false truth of negativity. When you are on “loop” in a negative self-talk spiral, ask yourself, is all that mind-chatter really true? If you reset to a mindset that we are created perfectly and there is nothing to fix, now are those thoughts REALLY TRUE?

I know I am glad to be breaking this awful cycle.

We must tell those repetitive thoughts to take a hike, and replace them with CHOICE. In the case of bank account chaos, instead of the swirling negativity, I can choose in the moment to break the cycle, forgive, and release it.

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Turning, “We are broke and we’ll never pay off debt”, into “We have delicious food on the table, all our true needs are met, and we come home to a warm and safe home every night” can make all the difference in the world. It can turn a sense of lack and fear, into gratitude and the feeling of abundance. And the power of that choice is ours.

Is this mindset going to be easy to maintain? Probably not.  Of course it’ll take constant reminders and integration into my routines. But! I am committed to choose LOVE instead of anxiety, worry, and negativity, or anything that does not serve me in my life that will not lead to peace. For it is from that peaceful and mindful state that we can create true and meaningful Action.

Example from Today: “I yelled at the kids today. I was feeling negative and anxious about money. I choose to let the anxiety go because it does not serve myself and or my children anymore. I am learning better habits every day.” <Breath. Pause. Release. Smile> “Hey kids!! I sure love you guys! Who wants to play freezetag???”

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Photo Cred: Eva Centeno

Have any of you attended a retreat? We want to hear about it! Commend below!

 

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Kristy is a peace-seeker, wife, mother of 2, and constant student of spiritual uplifting in Virginia.

Bringing Home Baby: How to Manage Visitors

As an enthusiast for women advocating for themselves, the time I spend talking to couples about the postpartum period in my doula practice is vital. Whether a couple is just starting their journey as a new family of three, or they are adding more siblings into their mix, this family transitional period is precious and sensitive. I strive to teach some very hard and fast boundaries for the family to consider when introducing their newest family member to the world.

I have found that most research points are geared towards correcting the etiquette of the visitor (my favorite being THIS ONE,) but what I outline below are the simple reminders that I wish I had known within the first few weeks of being a new mom.

1) Be Selfish, Please.

In many cultural traditions, there is a two-week to two-month period of isolated bonding between mother and infant. I recently came across an interesting article from the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecology, and Neonatal Nursing, that astoundingly stated the modern shift away from “Lying-in” with your baby postpartum was mainly due to understaffing during WWII!

During World War 2, physician-researchers challenged the long-held practice of keeping postpartum women confined to bed for 10 to 14 days after a vaginal birth. Economic realities brought about change in the length of postpartum stays. Hospitals could not maintain their personnel because of labor shortages created by the war. Maternity units became crowded with more new mothers and were understaffed. Sending women home in 3 to 5 days after birth could alleviate staffing problems.

Ideally, you’d spend that time in bed or couch with your baby learning your nursing relationship (if you choose to breastfeed) and recovering your strength. This can help with your milk production by feeding on demand and with your overall rest. That sweet little one will want to nurse or have a bottle very often, so having them near you is a wise choice. 

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Photo Cred: Baby of Mine Lifestyle Photography

2) Ask for help.

Believe it or not, you CAN ask for help. I daresay you MUST. No matter what your home life looked like before the new baby, it’s going to look different now. Delegating simple responsibilities to other members of the family/community can be a huge relief to you during this time. Laundry, dishes, other kid drop off and pick up, even vacuuming? Yeah, girl. You are allowed, especially if you have limited maternity leave, to snuggle your baby as long as you want while others take care of the other tasks. Take this chance to ask, because folks will be MORE than willing to help you, even if they don’t get to hold the baby yet.

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I’ll have more of this, please.

Have trouble asking for help? We see you do-it-all-myself mamas! Make yourself a list of what would be helpful ahead of time. Consider having someone else – your sister, your doula, your ballsy no-filter bestie – be the one to ask people for specific helpful tasks if you really can’t bring yourself to do it. Literally practice with someone you trust role-playing the “Can I do anything to help?”, “Yes, thank you! We could really use some more diapers and paper plates when you come by” so you don’t blurt out your usual “No, we’re doing fine, thanks!”. You know what’s amazing?? People actually WANT to help – it makes THEM feel good. So really, it’s selfish not to give out tasks!

3) You Can Say “No Thank You” to Visitors, but “Yes” to Food.

A lot of folks find it most comforting to not have to prepare meals during this time. You don’t have to rely on someone to do this for you or panic if you haven’t filled your freezer with easy to make meals. You can designate a person, or start a TakeThemAMeal.com account yourself, where people who want to help can sign up to bring you a meal.  You can personalize it to your specific dietary requirements, and even specify days/times you’ll need a meal.  If you don’t want a visitor at the time they bring the meal, you can set two coolers out on your porch for them to drop off at anytime. One cooler can be for hot items, and one for cold. I repeat, you do NOT have to visit with them at this time.

4) Doorbell Signage for the surprise”Drop In”

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There can always be that ONE person in your life, whether its a nosy neighbor, a loud talking sibling, or an oblivious friend who can just “pop-by to see the baby” without calling because they were “in the neighborhood”. If you are not wanting random visitors, it is okay for you to make a sign taped over a doorbell, or a high traffic door that states “No visitors today, please. We are resting” or “Please leave any deliveries or goodies on the porch because we are bonding as a family now”. I love this Scary Mommy Article about waiting to see visitors until your family was ready. Again, it is OKAY to ask people to wait.

5) Get used to saying “Wash your hands first!”.

Everyone who enters into your home environment brings the rest of the world’s germs with them. While it is impossible to keep your little one away from 100% of the little nasty cooties that come along, being a clean-hands ninja warrior on proper hand-washing and sanitizing is important for your sanity. It can keep big-kid and adult sized germs away from your newest little one, who hasn’t had the chance to build his/her immunity against them. You also have permission to deny entry to older kids who are not part of the family. No kids, no sick adults, no touching baby. Did grandpa wash his hands and then scratch his nose? Back to the sink with him! Practice saying this. If it helps, say “My [doctor/midwife] made me promise to be really on top of this!”. Stop sign

6) Look, but Don’t Touch.

We’ve all gone through this as new moms. You’re in Target picking out cute baby onesies your first time out with little one and you feel it happen. Out of the corner of your eye, the lady across the aisle is making googley eyes at you and the new baby and she approaches, seemingly to the theme music of jaws, and reaches her hand to touch the new baby.  Before you can say, “Don’t touch my baby, please”, she’s got a little foot in her mouth pretending to gobble it up it because, duh, it’s the cutest foot anyone in the whole world has ever seen.

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I’m gonna eat those sweet toes!!!!

In the first few postpartum outings, you may notice that the grocery store, department store, brisk walk in the park, and maybe even a public bathroom stop will be the “oh look at the new baby” show.  Strangers LOVE seeing new babies, and will reach out to touch any little squishy cute part they can manage to see. If this feels as uncomfortable to you as it did to me on my first outings, you now have my permission to tell people not to touch your baby’s face, hands, well…ANYTHING. Some options that can help deter this behavior are baby-wearing, or putting a sign such as this one on the car seat/stroller handle.

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Baby wearing for the win

Alternately, keep baby in the carseat/stroller with a cover or blanket covering it completely and pretend baby is asleep whether they are or not. Again, this would be a good thing to practice ahead of time if you’re timid…

7) Be Both Mindful and Gentle with Your State of Mind

One of the biggest things I ask new parents to do, is to become sensitive to the changes in mood that can be experienced. While mood changes are normal, I ask that partners especially become aware of any out of the normal postpartum blues. This article from PostPartum Progress describes my point wonderfully by stating,

There are mamas out there who are really, truly struggling more than we might expect them to in a healthy adjustment to motherhood but who don’t necessarily fit the criteria for a major depressive illness or an anxiety disorder. I’ve mentioned these moms before; they are the mamas who hold it all together for those around them but, behind closed doors, fall into a heap on the bathroom floor, or in bed at night, or any place where no one is looking. It’s these moms who I worry most about because they aren’t likely to reach out for the support that they need to thrive.

In the case of the mom who won’t reach out, please refer back to this post about finding your village through a doula.

Although symptoms of PostPartum Depression or Anxiety can be mild, they still can be addressed with your Primary Care Provider for monitoring and treatment. It is important to know you are NOT alone, and that you CAN talk about all you’re experiencing with someone.

In essence, use this time to empower your new family dynamic by voicing what you do/don’t need or want when you have a new baby. This will help you to not only learn your new baby as a family, but it will also help to establish those who are willing to be part of this new tribe that has your best interest at heart. It is a time of transition, and it is ok to navigate that within your own powerful boundaries. And if you ever feel alone, reach out to us here at Real As A M*ther, because we are here to bring your village to you, and we fiercely have your back, mama.

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What is the most helpful thing someone did for you post-partum?? Comment below!
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Kristy is a certified massage therapist, wife, doula, and mother to 2 kids in Virginia.

5 Reasons I Went Back To Work

When my son was born, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to be a stay at home mother. My husband and I placed a lot of value in the tradition of at-home parenting that we knew from our own upbringing, and very fortunately (trust me, I don’t undervalue this!) I had the job flexibility as a Massage Therapist that allowed me to take on this new role, full force.

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The nature of my work allowed me to still practice my craft when and if I wanted to, on weekends or an evening here and there, while still being at home with my wondrous new baby full-time during the week. It was both liberating and challenging but seemed to give me the “balance” we all so deeply crave in this season of motherhood. Perfect, right!?

So, upon the arrival of our second beautiful baby, I naturally assumed I would do the same. But, as anyone who’s had multiple children knows, each time you add an additional human to your family, it’s a game-changer. And it’s DIFFERENT. Every. Time.

We are different, our bodies are different, each child is different, feelings are different, and our family make-up is different. It’s a whole new world. Forreal. Thanks, Princess Jasmine. And for me, the second-go-around, full-time at-homing was no longer the best fit for our family.

Ok, a flying carpet actually would have helped tons. Just saying.

In a previous post, Margo calculated the value of a stay at home mother  at a whopping $162,581 per year. I mean, Yea! The work ain’t easy. The constant at-home workload became too much for me, annnd since my check for $162,581 never did come in (ahem) we started to find ourselves more and more in debt. So, for this and many other personal and emotional reasons, the time felt right for me to go back to work.  And you know what? So far, it rocks. I have found the place that works for ME in motherhood, and I am thrilled that I made the move to go back to work.IMG_1209.jpg

Now, I know this is a VERY personal and important decision so let me stop here to say,
these are all MY PERSONAL FEELINGS. My personal experience. My life. My family. There is absolutely NO judgment here. Nor is it to be taken as such. Every single one of us is rocking motherhood how WE need to. In that context, here’s a list of five reasons why I am thrilled I decided to go back at work. I decided to share this list because I wrangled with a lot of big emotions in making this choice, and hope that by sharing my experiences, I can inspire anyone out there that may be feeling guilt, doubt or fear about making this decision. If I can, you CAN!

5 Reasons I Went Back to Work

  1. Personal Fulfillment Goals: If you’re like me, struggling financially can spin your control issues, well, out of control.  The financial strain I felt as a SAHM became an ongoing internal debate between #yolo and practical spending where nobody won. And it was IN-TOL-ER-ABLE. Contributing financially to our family is a big personal fulfillment goal of mine, and reaching this has given me peace of mind and helped me kick my “lack-of-retirement-fund” anxiety.

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    Yay! We can save now!
  2. Work Day Changes: Brutal honesty here. Staying at home for me, IS more than a full-time job. An often thankless one at that.  I often felt like a constant emotional breakdown/sibling-battle referee that was trying to be positive while not breakdown myself from “hanger” and multi-task about 100 other things simultaneously. I have found that a little change of scenery and change in workload allows me to better appreciate the beautiful chaos that is my home in a way that I couldn’t when I felt like I was drowning in it. And, coming at those sibling rivalries with somewhat fresh eyes has allowed me to have a calmer approach to my refereeing duties, too. Win.

    Yep, we got this.
  3. Enjoying my Family’s Company: I work four part-time days a week now, and because I have great schooling and daycare options (I feel so blessed for this) I am able to pick up smiling and happy children after work. When we get home I’m legitimately EXCITED to be around my kids, which is something I definitely took for granted when I was home with them all-day, every-day. Being out of the home provides me with a “break” from my children that I need to stay balanced, a “break” that I so often sought from my husband when he came home. These days, I can’t wait to spend time with them and him because they feel like “home” to me.

    Yep, sorry kid.
  4. Sharing our life lessons: Since my son is now in school, he shares more with me now than he ever has before. I feel, after the workday, that I am refreshed by his goofy behavior, his ability to pop-and-lock at the drop of a hat, and I LOVE that I get to take them to their respective after-school activities while sharing stories about my day as well. As a full-time at-home parent, shuttling the kids to and from their various activities had become to feel like an act of obligation to me, but it has now become a true source of joy, bonding, and sharing life lessons.grayscale photography of boy holding hand of man
  5. Working Makes Me Feel Human: Deciding to be a SAHM for 7 years was my choice, a choice that I was very, very lucky to have, and I know that. But, struggling with identity was huge for me. I let motherhood take over, and lost myself in the mix. I struggled with postpartum depression, body image issues, and an overwhelming sense of solitude. Sure, I went to mothering groups, I did the gym, and I did all the venting to others, but what I was missing was that part of me that enjoyed working. I can now, be confident in my decision to resume reworking with no guilt what-so-ever because it makes me a better version of myself. And that is priceless. For me, and for my kids.

“At the end of the day, I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life.”  -Janice Wolsey Baasgaard

So, when you feel the “Mom Guilt” kick in about daycare expenses, or spending the time away and not witnessing first steps or words, just know that you’re not alone. Each individual has their place, their time, and their way to feel fulfilled. We’ve got this, ladies.

Much love always…..

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Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, energy worker, and mom of 2 awesome kids in Virginia.

 

Chipstarter: Building a Village For You

We find ourselves in a world where new technologies, social media, and digital personas have led to increased disconnectedness, mental health challenges, unrealistic personal standards and competitiveness, particularly for women and mothers. Modern day adulting, parenting and just life in general is hard. Our entire motivation behind this blog, behind each of our 100 previous posts is to make it just that tiny bit easier. 

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Not a day goes by that the 4 of us aren’t checking in with each other – venting, rejoicing, or just sharing a great meme. Ideally, we would stroll out to our communal backyard where we all share a glass of wine and hash out the day’s trials and tribulations, but that’s just not an option living in 4 separate states currently. We have realized we can use technology to our advantage to have that kind of support rather than letting it wear us down.

This blog has been the start of our collective call to share that kind of support in a bigger way. We want it to be FILLED with useful information, real life experiences and all the love for you wherever you are. But we also want to make this support even bigger.

When we share what we were brought here to give, we are in alignment with our highest, most powerful selves – Jen Sincero, You Are A Badass

We are planning a book – the encyclopedia of adulthood of sorts. A resource on all these topics we’re addressing now and more. Yeah, yeah, books are so old school now, we know. But hang in there – how many of you still picked up a copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting (and probably completely freaked yourselves out because – woah, TMI)?? How many of you are reading Girl, Wash Your Face right now? Books are still a great way to have handy resources available.

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We’re also going to start a podcast to literally sit down and have a chat, woman to woman, mom to mom (maybe we’ll let a dude on sometimes too) and really get into the topics in a verbal format. Next up, an app with information and a platform to connect us all to our own mobile villages.

We have BIG DREAMS (because Rachel Hollis told us so and she’s everything)!!!!

Nobody gets to tell you how big your dreams can be. -Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face

To jumpstart this expansion, or “Chipstart” as it were, we entered the Chipstarter 2018 contest. Chip Gaines – yes THE Chip Gaines, of Chip and Joanna Gaines, of Fixer Upper is giving out “Launch Your Dreams” grants. We all find them undeniably inspiring, from their extraordinary design work flipping houses to their commitment to family and community to their realness with each other on camera and beyond. When this showed up, we knew we were meant to go for it. Check out our video:

What we currently lack in videographic and technical skills, we make up for in passion and a drive to serve YOU! So tell us, what are the hottest topics that we can get you more information about? What do you want to know about us? This is, after all, all about you.

xoxo, Annie, Christiana, Kristy and Margo

A Modern Day Village: The Birth Worker’s Inspiration

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I recently had a conversation with a client who is about to be a first time Grandmother. As I listened to her speak about her worries about her daughter’s upcoming birth, her struggles during pregnancies with depression and Hyperemesis Gravidarium, I was completely struck by the feeling of isolation that she was describing in her daughter. She is the only one of her friends pregnant, and although she does have a Fiance, he is  not operating on the helpful wavelength that she needs.

Immediately, my head swirled with questions to find out more.

“Who did this new soon-to-be-mama have to ask questions to other than the doctor she sees once a month?

Why is no one there for her other than her mother? Is the doctor leading her to support groups, mothering circles, moms with prenatal or postpartum depression? What will she do when she actually HAS the baby? If she’s struggling with depression now, who will watch out for the signs/symptoms of it in the postpartum months? Who will help this woman!!!!!!!??????”

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A little voice in my heart spoke up right then.

You, silly. You’re a birth doula. You have all she needs. Help her.

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Almost moved to tears, the words fell out of my mouth reflexively. “I remember those feelings all too well in both of my pregnancies,” I said sympathetically. “It sounds like she could use a birth and postpartum doula.”

The only difference between this mama and me when I was going through those same terrible feelings while pregnant was, I wasn’t actually alone. I had my doula there one phone call away at any moment. I had the cohesion of care between my amazing midwives, my doulas, myself, and my team. I had created my village.

After explaining what a doula is and does to her, (if you still want to know what that is, reference my Demystifying Doulas post here) it occurred to me that in some cases, women have no idea of the need for a village.

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Photo Cred Doulamatch.net

Back in the day, we lived in literal villages that would commune together for the birth of a new village member, and either call the midwife or have one on hand. 9 times out of 10, the birthing mother had a sister, mother, friend, neighbor, SOMEONE, with her until the midwife could arrive to her. Thus, the doula is born. Even female elephants know the importance of gathering around to form an impenetrable barrier of support for the birthing mother. I frickin’ love elephants.

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While modern-day women and birthing communities are certainly bringing doulas back, there is still too large a proportion of women who go unsupported during the pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum process. Why, you ask? Mostly because, they do not know we exist. It is the lack of conversation, or the lack of clarity on our exact role, that I sadly have to believe is one of the main reasons that birth has the potential to be such a traumatic experience for some women.  Having the guidance of your doula to shepherd you into the parenting life with grace, provide you with materials to support you every step of the way, can provide you with your lifeline if when you need it.

A glorious benefit in making the choice to hire a doula is that he/she may in turn lead you to your permanent, modern village.

Truth is, the years of preconception, pregnancy, transitioning to becoming a mother of one, two, three, multiples, etc., can come with many mixed emotions. No matter what your situation turns out to be when you find out you are pregnant, the feeling of isolation can be sudden and agonizing. When hiring a doula, you’re not only receiving the personal care of a hands-on teammate in your birthing journey, you are also DSC01327choosing an expert in community, local resources, birth education, knowledge of primary care givers specific work, and access to birth related evidence, articles, and, yes, even a postpartum sounding board. The doula will, in essence, be your trail guide for navigating the rough and unknown waters of this new chapter.

It is time, now, that we stop isolating ourselves as mothers. Let’s remind our world that we have been supporting each other proudly and strongly for…well…since the dawn of humankind. We do not need to do it alone. It may feel too daunting a task going to these mothering circles full of strangers, organizing birth class dinners at your house, or even seeing a therapist to get the necessary prescriptions to aid you. What if, in lieu of uncertainty of the support you need, you could Call. Your. Doula.

We can support this adventure every step of the way. We are here, so that you can be here and present through the whole process.

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Now that I have you convinced of the awesomeness of unconditional education and no-judgement support during your birthing years, let me illuminate the steps necessary to finding your perfect doula.

  1. Ask a friend: Ask around for a connection or connect with the doulas in your area by using the ultimate doula search engine: Doula Match  
  2. Interview a few: Find the right candidate by sitting in the energy of several different people.  Remember, you are hiring for a job, so the right fit is important. Birth is a vulnerable experience, so pick someone who will make you feel completely safe, who makes you feel confident, and someone by whom you and your birth partner feel empowered.
  3. Ask all the questions: Make sure you understand their vision of care, fees, and schedule and those align with what you had in mind for your birth vision. After all, it is your birth, the team you hire should complement it in every way with encouragement and advice that makes you feel informed. Do you want a doula just for prenatal education and birth? Do you know you’ll need postpartum care? Do you even know what that means? Does this person have the resources for all of that?
  4. Contract: You should always enter into a contract with your doula. That way there is an expectation of care that is agreed upon by all parties. This agreement is key, as mentioned above, it will be the catalyst for your new life as a mother.
  5. Get excited: Your doula should help you feel connected to birth classes, books, and other materials to prepare you for your upcoming experiences and all outcomes!

We all need the help. It is up to us to choose, in this modern world, just what our helping hand will look like. Most of us consider this calling a service to womankind alike. I am here to let you know it’s out there. I am writing to speak aloud that we are everywhere. We are your friends, neighbors, sisters, mothers, co-workers and colleagues, gym members, professionals, and tradeswomen.nature.jpg

We are your village, and we are here for you.

Kristy is a doula, massage therapist, energy worker and mom of 2 in Virginia.

 

Strong Women Series: Introducing Dr. Sara Smith Wellness.

We all hopefully have someone in our life that inspires us regularly. That inspiration can lead to anything. Slowing down and focusing, reaching out, emboldening dreams, or recognizing the need for change.
In this series, we at Real As a M*ther hope to lift these strongly and fiercely motivated women up by featuring them specifically on our blog. Today, I am delighted and honored to call to the world’s attention to my friend, Dr. Sara Smith. 
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I met this caring and soulful practitioner back in the day when we worked together at a chiropractic clinic. In that year of commiserating about life and work, we discovered that we have a bond that goes beyond the workplace. We share a common love of mind-body work and spiritual empowerment. I observed her actively seeking positivity which I find truly admirable – especially in this modern world of so much negativity.  I have since found her insight to be invaluable in the many seasons of my life since.
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So, enough about our relationship! Let me gush, now, about her expertise and experience.

She is a Certified Wellness & Life Coach with a professional background as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (PT) and Certified Yoga Instructor. She is a working mother of two, and a super badass wife to her husband and a prominent member of her community in the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

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Professionally, with her “multifaceted knowledge base, intensely caring attitude, intuition, and light touch of humor she guides her clients to find simple solutions to their most stressful and seemingly habitual problems so they can finally move forward with confidence and ease.” She is described as having “a gift to help her clients reconnect with their own core confidence so that they can tap into their innate wisdom, courage, and strength to find balance amidst very demanding professional and/or parental obligations.”

In her PT practice, Sara focused her studies in women/men’s pelvic health as well as chronic pain management. She has found that when we are not connected physically and mentally to our pelvis and core, when we lack physical strength and healthy “core” habits, we also tend to falter emotionally and spiritually. Woah – that’s deep. Literally. Her beautifully designed programs and gentle intuition remove the layers of resistance to help uncover those core weaknesses and transform them into core confidence and strength. True healing from the inside out.
She has lead numerous mind, body, and spirit conscious workshops. She combines these modalities in ways that create EASY habit change.  In these retreats, Sara mentions that she has been witness to “sacred sharing amongst other women that creates a level of profound awakening and healing and atunement to the people they are around.”
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When I asked her what her general energy was around starting healing retreats, she said “I want people to know that the frustrations they’ve had, the real life anger, anxiety sadness, the BIG EMOTIONS that make us feel ‘less than’…. within those things… it’s ok. And those can be very helpful to us.” Her upcoming retreat this November, for example, is focused around a blend of acknowledging the REAL emotions we feel as women, and the dreams and “crazy” yearnings that keep tapping us on the shoulder that we feel we need to push away cause it isn’t “practical”. This is a safe place to release the energetic gunk that holds us back.
It can be a quiet, sacred place to hear and deeply KNOW the next step to creating an action plan. This is for women, like me, who are hardwired to help others..so much they seem to keep putting themselves on the back burner BUT they know, truly know, something must change. I can show them how, and I am so honored to do so. A sacred small group has specifically been chosen in order to generate great power of group healing.
Ummmmmmmm, Sign a sister up! And thats exactly what I did after interviewing her. I am so excited to get my rejuvenation on.
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I have to say that one of the inspirations for featuring Sara today is my experience with her being her birth doula.  I had the honor of being with her for the birth of her eldest son, who has since been diagnosed with a very severe form of Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Her strength showed through from those first moments and through each hurdle along that path since. She has become an active advocate for her son, and has been celebrating the milestones along with him in his speech development journey.  If you are not familiar with Apraxia, here is some information about it.
Sara’s blog is dedicated to the emotions that come with being surprised with a special needs child in the family.
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It has rocked so much of our life and through education, awareness, and love, I hope to teach other adults and children that unforeseen differences can be the greatest gifts.
Right on, Sara. Right the freak on.  In a world of differences, it is my hope today that we can find a commonality in pursuing self reflection, and the gratitude with finding peace within our personal growth.
Please give it up for Sara Smith, personal life coach to this blogger, and general badass mama, lover of healing, and one amazing woman.
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Thank you for showing the world your insides, so that we all may have a better perspective on life.
I love you, girl
—Kristy and the Real As a M*ther crew.
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