Why Your Mental Health Before and After Baby Is So Important

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Women who are pregnant for the first time will likely spend most of their pregnancy learning how to care for their baby. But what about learning how to care for themselves?

There are three words I wish someone had talked to me about while I was pregnant: maternal mental health. Those three words could’ve made an incredible difference in my life when I became a mom.

I wish someone had said, “Your maternal mental health might suffer pre- and post-pregnancy. This is common, and it’s treatable.” No one told me what signs to look for, risk factors, or where to go for professional help.

I was less than prepared when postpartum depression hit me smack in the face the day after I brought my baby home from the hospital. The lack of education I received during pregnancy led me on a scavenger hunt to get the help I needed to get well. 

Had I known what postpartum depression actually was, how many women it affects, and how to treat it, I would’ve felt less shame. I would’ve started treatment sooner. And I could’ve been more present with my son during that first year. 

Here’s what else I wish I knew about mental health before and after my pregnancy.

Check out the article I wrote for Healthline HERE to read about what I wish I knew about maternal mental health before I had my baby. 

The Lessons I Learned as a New Mom

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When I was pregnant, I dreamed about becoming a certain kind of mother. She gave birth the old-fashioned way and brought her beautiful baby boy home where she magically transformed, Cinderella-style, into a domestic goddess, skilled Pinterest crafter, and champion breastfeeder. 

She constantly cooed at her baby, lied on the floor next to him during tummy time, happily carted him everywhere, and effortlessly floated from place to place. She had a smile practically tattooed on her face, and told all of her friends how amazing it was to be a mother. 

Here’s what really happened. 

Check out the article I wrote for Healthline HERE to read about the lessons I learned as a new mom with postpartum depression. 

Surviving Postpartum Depression After Finally Overcoming Infertility

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Written by Guest Poster, Megan C. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like to struggle with infertility.

For years, my life revolved around pregnancy tests, failed IUI’s, and two unsuccessful IVF cycles which got me no closer to motherhood. It seemed to be an uphill battle with no end in sight. My desperation to have a baby was growing every day.

Thankfully, our dream of becoming parents finally came true after undergoing a successful donor egg IVF. The three years of trial and error to conceive were at last behind us. We were immensely grateful - it felt like we’d finally reached the end of our challenging journey.

I never imagined the worst was yet to come.

When the Baby Blues Don’t Go Away

“You’re going to be an emotional wreck the first couple of weeks, but don’t worry – it’ll go away,” a close friend told me before the birth of my daughter.

I was prepared for the baby blues. My mother warned me, my friends warned me, and - most importantly - my doctor warned me.

The first time I laid eyes on my daughter, I felt such a rush of love and excitement that it took my breath away. I remember thinking, “How on Earth can a woman feel anything but joy right now?”

The child we’d fought so long to have was safely in my arms. It was incredible. There was a buzz inside our hospital room – nurses bustling about, family and friends oohing and awing, and my husband playing “Mr. Security Guard” to our tiny bundle of joy.

But then… it got quiet.

In the early hours of the next morning, the visitors were gone and my husband was home grabbing a quick shower. When our daughter started crying and wouldn’t stop no matter what I did to soothe her, I felt my inner turmoil starting to build.

After we got home, moments like this seemed to come nonstop, but I continuously chalked them up to baby blues. When weeks turned into months and the urgency to cry all day by myself didn’t fade, I knew something wasn’t right.

I was so happy to finally have my baby… but it terrified me to admit that when I looked at our daughter, she felt like a stranger.

Depression After Egg Donation

When we found out my eggs weren’t viable for pregnancy, donor egg IVF was the next logical choice for us.

While I took time to grieve the loss of a genetic connection to my child, I was certain nine months of pregnancy would help us forge a bond stronger than DNA.

However, I think my problems started before the embryo transfer had even taken place.

It’d been three heartbreaking years of constant failures, mental exhaustion, and physical tolls. I don’t care what fertility treatment you decide to undertake, they all have the power to break you down and leave you feeling depressed and anxious.

Our donor egg cycle was just one more period of injectable drugs, never-ending doctor’s appointments, and early morning visits for monitoring.

When our pregnancy test finally came back positive, though, I was ecstatic and forever indebted to the wonderful woman who selflessly gave her eggs to provide this extraordinary opportunity to us.

I loved being pregnant and feeling a little life growing within my belly. Unfortunately, after my daughter was born, the overwhelming emotions that accompany fertility treatments finally seemed to catch up with me.

My days became a blur of general sadness and questions about my ability to connect with my daughter. I would even find myself picking apart her features that didn’t resemble ours.

Her nose was unfamiliar.

Her tiny gestures seemed foreign.

Her hair color didn’t quite match the blonde of my own.

In moments of clarity, I knew this precious creature was every bit mine and that was the only mother she needed. After all, my body sustained her life throughout pregnancy, and my efforts brought her into the world. Sadly, postpartum depression was a dense fog of confusion that had settled thickly in my mind.

No matter how appreciative I was to finally be a mom and have the opportunity to raise my sweet girl, I couldn’t quiet the negative thoughts spinning in my head.

One evening when she was around six months old, my husband came home from work and found me quietly rocking her with tears streaming down my face. He gently took her from my arms and sweetly told me it was time to go and see someone.

Getting Help for My Postpartum Depression and Finding My Happily Ever After

At that moment, six months into my depression, it felt like there were no answers.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I called my OB and she put me in touch with a local psychologist specializing in postpartum depression. This godsend of a doctor put me on medication to help balance me back out and, week after week, we worked through my struggles until I finally began to feel like myself again.

It wasn’t an easy obstacle to overcome, but with time and medical assistance, I was given the chance to experience daily the love and connection to my daughter I’d initially felt the moment I saw her.

I never imagined I could feel such sadness after finally receiving the child we’d been trying to have for so long. In my darkest moments, I felt ashamed of my grief and wondered if we’d struggled all that time because I simply wasn’t supposed to be a mother.

I now realize these thoughts were merely my sickness clouding my better judgement.

Thanks to my counseling sessions, I’ve learned so much about how postpartum depression affects the way you think. The thoughts and feelings I experienced during my daughter’s first six months weren’t reality. They were simply a side effect of my illness and needed treatment like any other health issue.

I know it’s not always easy to talk to someone about dealing with postpartum depression, but I’m forever grateful my husband gave me the push I needed to seek support. It opened my eyes and finally allowed me to have a relationship with my daughter.

There’ll always be a part of me that regrets my state of mind throughout those initial months. However, I’ve come to accept that undergoing such difficult circumstances has not only allowed me to love my child more deeply, but has brought such profound realization as to how blessed we truly are.

Beyond Manicures & Massages: What Self-Care REALLY Means For Moms

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Self-care. It’s a term that’s become part of the mommy zeitgeist to the point where we can’t open our Instagram feeds without being bombarded by memes touting, “Caring for yourself is mandatory” or “Put your oxygen mask on first.” Between us mamas, it’s getting kind of annoying. The first issue is, the current conversation about what self-care means is shallow.

It goes something like this: “Go get a manicure or a quick massage and you’ll come back refreshed and ready to handle motherhood again.” That’s what we’re told. Here’s what we hear: Self-care is as easy as painting my nails and will make me a better mom.

Wait, so, a new coat of nail polish is a mommy miracle that will make us happier about our child having a tantrum in Target? Not buying it.

Issue #2: Making superficial self-care the de-facto norm assumes all moms have access to both the childcare and the cash to spend on it.

They don’t. And now we’ve not only made them feel like they’re bad moms because they don’t do it but we’ve shamed them because they can’t afford it. Not nice.

Third, doing something as superficial as getting her nails done will in no way make a mother suffering from issues like postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression feel better.

It just won’t. Because that kind of self-care doesn’t address or help these moms’ deep emotional needs. In fact, asking some of these mothers to leave their children (or just leave the house in general) in the care of another person, particularly the moms suffering from PPA, can have the opposite effect of self-care; it can actually make their lives worse, not better. No bueno.

Crappy situation all around, right? Pretty much.

Can we make the concept of self-care for moms more personalized and attainable?

We’re not entirely sure but we have some ideas.

For starters, we can stop assuming all moms can use grooming, spa services or gym time as a self-care method. Don’t get us wrong, it’s nice. Doing some cardio or having our feet rubbed feels great and might boost our dopamine levels for a bit. But it isn’t going to solve our bigger issues of maintaining our composure during whining, sibling fighting and making six different meals because none of them are satisfactory to our little food critics. In short, it’s a temporary high.

We need to make self-care more about caring for our souls and less about caring for our appearance.

That means promoting things like venting, empathy and surrounding ourselves with supportive friends, things that will fill up our emotional tanks. We need to position self-care as an internal thing, not just an external thing. And the best news is, we’re primed to do this! Moms were literally MADE for this kind of self-care.

Turns out women are genetically wired to crave community, and we function best when surrounded by those who “get us.” We need a mom tribe to thrive. Encouraging moms to seek other like-minded mamas, either virtually or locally, gives them soul-satisfying, long lasting self-care.

And bonus. It's free!

Lastly, we have to do a better job helping moms identify dangerous mental health issues and provide them with the resources to get better. Self-care for these mamas means getting help, both medically and psychologically, so they can adequately care for their children and not kill themselves. Literally. We know. We’ve actually been there.

Look, we’re not trying to be too critical of today’s self-care narrative. We’re just saying it could use some tweaking.

At its core, self-care is a mommy time out for our insides as much as for our outsides.

We happen to think the former is more effective than the latter. The bottom line is moms today have it rough. And sometimes sloughing off our callouses during a pedicure helps. But for most of us, it’s not really enough.

You feel us? Good. Because we gotta go FaceTime our BFF about our kid smearing poop on his wall. She’ll totally get it.

Written by Brooke Christian and Jen Schwartz for Today's Parenting Team.

#MyDream - MOTHERHOOD | UNDERSTOOD for Mogul, Inc.

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My dream is that with motherhood comes only empathy and connection, not judgment and shame. My dream is that all moms feel empowered to ask for help, receive it and realize that doing so doesn't make them failures. My dream is that all moms realize that taking care of themselves and their needs isn't selfish, but necessary. My dream is that all moms feel safe enough to be honest about their lives, even the scary parts. My dream is that all moms have access to affordable care for mental health issues such as postpartum depression and anxiety. My dream is that no mom ever feels alone as she struggles. My dream is that all moms recognize motherhood is not one-size-fits-all and no two journeys are the same. My dream is that all moms support each other's choices and embrace each other's differenes. My dream is that all moms lift one another up because they understand that we are all in this together.

10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Postpartum Depression

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When I was eight months pregnant, a friend asked me if I was worried at all about postpartum depression. I quickly shot her down. "Oh, that would never happen to me," I said. "I’m so excited to be a mom." As far as I was concerned, I was going to give birth to my son the old-fashioned way, fall deeply in love with him, breastfeed him for months like a champion, transform into the DIY domestic goddess I was always meant to be, and take him with me everywhere I went. Instead, I was in labor for 24 hours, a process that led to two hours of pushing, followed by a C-section. Afterward, I found that I felt nothing toward my healthy new baby boy, became crippled by anxiety, quit breastfeeding after five days, decided I had made a terrible mistake becoming a mom, started taking antidepressants, and barely left the house for six months.

Maybe if I had received more education about postpartum depression, I would have been more aware of what was happening to me, less ashamed, and more prepared to seek help. There are so many things I wish I’d known about postpartum depression before I became a mom, and I want you to know them too.

1. Postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate.

Postpartum depression doesn’t care about your race, ethnicity, how much money or education you have, how excited you are about your baby, or what your support system looks like. I felt like I had lucked out with the ultimate new mom set-up: I have a wonderful husband, a supportive family, and couldn’t wait to be a mom. I even hired a baby nurse to help out the first two months… and I still got postpartum depression.

2. There are real risk factors.

I had so many risk factors and had no idea risk factors for postpartum depression even existed. Some of mine: having 30 family members in town on my due date, moving three months before my due date, an extremely long labor, and having a type-A personality. Although each mom’s risk factors will be different because postpartum depression is not a one-size-fits-all illness, I’d recommend checking out the list.

3. Postpartum depression doesn’t mean you want to harm your baby.

I always thought moms with postpartum depression were the ones I saw on television: the people on the news who hurt their babies and sometimes themselves too. I never had the desire to do either of those things, which left me feeling confused about what was happening to me. Most of those folks are actually suffering from a form of postpartum psychosis, the least common form of postpartum depression. (And although many people with postpartum psychosis have delusions, they’re not always destructive—and those harmful thoughts aren’t exactly brought on because the person wants them, either.)

4. Postpartum depression isn’t like other depressions.

I learned later from my therapist that postpartum depression often presents itself as more of an irritable, anxious depression. At first, I didn’t realize I was depressed because what I really felt was overwhelming anxiety. This also made it more difficult for others to notice that something was wrong. And because women just can’t catch a break (ever, really), postpartum anxiety is its own condition—one that doesn’t get as much attention but is definitely something to watch for.

5. Hundreds of thousands of women get postpartum depression each year.

For a while, I felt like the only one. I didn’t know any moms who had postpartum depression—or if I did, they weren’t talking about it. I just thought I sucked at motherhood and couldn’t understand why everyone else was so much better at it. I also felt ashamed and didn’t want anyone to know about any of the negative thoughts running through my head. If I had known that postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth, affecting 1 in 7 new moms, I might have felt less alone.

6. Having postpartum depression doesn’t make you a bad mom.

When postpartum depression hit, I couldn’t understand why everyone else loved being a mom and had such an easy transition into motherhood. I couldn’t understand why everyone on my social media feeds posted pictures with captions like, "The best thing to ever happen to me," or "so in love" or "life is now complete."

I just thought I was a horrible mother because I couldn’t relate to any of that. The truth was I didn’t cause my depression or ask to get sick. I wasn’t a terrible mom. I had a real mental health issue that required treatment.

7. Taking medication isn't the end of the world.

I never thought I would begin motherhood by taking antidepressants, and I questioned what that said about me as a mom. Was I weak because I needed drugs to help me function? Would I be judged for trading breastfeeding for anti-anxiety pills? Taking medication turned out to be the best decision because it helped me get healthy and happy for my family. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t judged myself so harshly.

8. Not everyone in your life will be supportive.

I could barely leave the house, let alone have the will to return phone calls, texts, and emails, or explain what I was going through. I was too exhausted and often too embarrassed, but many of my friends understood and continued to send messages filled with love and support without expecting anything in return. However, some stopped reaching out when they didn’t hear back from me; they couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort. They aren’t my friends today, and I’ve come to accept that that’s OK.

9. Finding the right therapist is everything.

The first therapist I met with spent our first session asking me to list ways I could be a good mom… which was not helpful at all when I was feeling like I didn’t even want to be a mom in the first place. I didn’t see the light until I met with a therapist who specialized in postpartum depression and knew exactly how to talk to me about this issue. I could have saved myself some time and frustration if I knew seeing someone who specializes in maternal mental health is a must.

10. Motherhood is a team sport.

I now know that motherhood isn’t meant to be done in isolation, but when I became a mom, I thought I had to do it all on my own—and with a big smile on my face. I thought that’s what made someone a good mom. So when I got sick and couldn’t do anything without help, I felt like a failure; I didn’t know that all moms struggle and need help. Now, I openly share my struggles and always ask for help when I need it because motherhood becomes easier and more fun when we all do it together.

If you think you might be suffering from postpartum depression, it’s OK to ask for help. Postpartum Support International is a great place to help you find local resources in your area.

This article originally appeared at Greatist

Words That Are Basically A Mom Hug

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Four years ago, when my son was born, and I battled severe postpartum depression, I felt so alone. I wanted—no—I desperately craved meeting another mom like me. Another mom who would put her hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and say, “I’ve been there. I get it.”

I didn’t find these moms until I got better almost a year later when I started sharing my journey from postpartum depression to healthy, happy mommy. And most of them I met virtually. I was amazed by how many moms would respond to my story with those powerful words, “I’ve been there. I get it.” Where were these moms when I was suffering? Most likely, they were also suffering and too ashamed to come forward just like I was.

It was then I realized the power of those two little sentences and their importance and necessity when it comes to the struggles of motherhood. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, body image, relationship issues or something else, we all struggle as moms and we want to know we aren’t the only ones. We don’t always want advice. We want to feel normal. We want to know there are others out there who get it. Who get us. 

These two sentences are so powerful because they are loaded with empathy. They mean, I know what you’re feeling. They mean, I’ve walked in your shoes. They mean, you’re not alone in your fears. They mean, I see you. They mean, you don’t have to pretend anymore.

Six months ago, I met another mom, Brooke, through Instagram. We connected over the shared experience of surviving postpartum depression. She reached out to me after reading something I wrote for Motherlucker about my own postpartum depression journey. I became that mom for her. The one I had been searching for when I was sick. The one who, with her words, could say, "You're not alone."

As we talked more we wondered about how many moms could benefit from hearing those same words. We decided become two moms on a mission to help other moms feel less alone in their struggles and more empowered to be real as they continue on their journey to raise tiny humans.

Motherhood today comes with the pressure to be perfect. Facebook posts that only show the best pictures. Instagram memes that simply joke about the worst and absurd parts of our days. But these images on social media don’t tell the whole story. What’s missing from them are connection, empathy, support and understanding.

I don’t want any mom to ever feel as alone as I did when I battled postpartum depression. I want to help build a tribe of moms that lift each other up and help each other rise. I want to change the dialogue of motherhood to one grounded in empathy and sisterhood. I want to empower moms to be honest about the messy, scary stuff that no one likes to talk about.

And that's what Brooke and I are doing everyday, over at MOTHERHOOD | UNDERSTOOD. Come hang out with us!

Mom Code

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We all know it’s hard AF to be a mom. Sometimes, it’s even harder to tell the truth as one. In a world filled with opinions and judgments, we don’t always want to wear our truth on our spit-up or yogurt-stained sleeves.

I’ve accepted that not everyone will embrace calling her kid an asshole after multiple tantrums over not being allowed to have a second piece of candy. Or wanting every playdate (post-noon of course) to be accompanied by a glass of Pinot. Motherhood isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Over the past five years as a parent, I have learned that telling the truth makes motherhood easier. Pretending takes so much energy, something we moms are always running out of. Ask me anything about surviving postpartum depression and I will tell you. I’m an open book about having to take medication. I won’t lie and tell you I miss my family so much it hurts when I leave for a girl’s weekend. And I’m going to tell you that what I feel for my child doesn’t resemble appreciation or magic when he shows up at the side of my bed at three in the morning to ask me what he was dreaming about. 

But, there are still times when the truth isn’t the first thing to leave my mouth. Many times, it’s directed at my son (if you’re not lying to your kids, are you really a parent?). Others, towards my husband or friends in passing and usually because I’m just too damn tired to say much at all. Moms can’t be unicorns all the time! That’s why mom language is filled with hidden meanings, even when we consider ourselves to be some of the more real and honest ones.

Here are just a few examples. 

I’ll be there in a minute. Or, I’m coming.

I’m going to try to stretch this out for as long as humanly possible, so I don’t have to actually do what you want me to do and pray you forget. 

Because I Said So

I got nothing. I have no legit explanation or reason for why I am telling you what I am telling you to do. And for me to find the reason, I would have to ask around or do some research and I’m just not going to put that kind of effort in today. Mommy is just TOO tired! Welcome to childhood buddy. My parents said the same thing to me and now I’m saying it to you. I’m the adult. You’re the child. SO JUST DO IT! 

Things are great! Busy but great! 

I’m drowning with how much I have going on – growing a business, keeping up with deadlines, blogging, raising a needy, tiny human, and fighting daily exhaustion and what I’ve labeled as situational depression.

I’m too tired honey.

It’s great that you got to spend all day bossing around other people who actually HAVE to listen to you, followed by lunch with people who don’t throw food on the floor, at each other, or yell at you that they don’t eat foods that are green. And while you were in your office, alone, I got elbowed in the boobs, jumped on top of and kneed in the boobs, and pulled by my clothes as if they were a leash, all by a tiny human who also felt the need to climb on top of my head when we sat down on the couch to watch Boss Baby for the eighty second time. The LAST thing I want is to be touched right now. 

 

This article originally appeared at Motherlucker.

Fighting PPD is A Marathon Not A Sprint

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In the hospital, I thought I loved my baby. I thought I wanted to bring him home and be his mother. Then I got home and my thoughts drastically changed. I wanted nothing to do with my new son. I decided I had made a terrible mistake becoming a mother.

With these new, irrational thoughts came a feeling of heaviness on my chest as if an elephant had all of a sudden taken up residence there. I couldn’t breathe. The feeling creeped into my throat. It woke me up at three am every morning. It exhausted me to the point where all I wanted to do was sleep forever yet I could never fall asleep because the anxiety made my heart feel as if it would leap out of my chest.

What was happening to me? Why do I feel this way? Where did this overwhelming anxiety come from? Why won’t the tears stop? Why don’t I want to get out of my bed when there is a healthy, beautiful baby boy in the next room who needs his mother? How do I make it all stop? 

Tell me exactly what to do. I will do it. Drugs? I will take them. Talk to someone? Okay fine. Just promise me, it will all stop. Promise me I will feel better. Promise me I will feel connected to my son. Promise me motherhood will be filled with all the love and magic and excitement, Pinterest crafts and rainbows and unicorns I had pictured when I was pregnant.

If only it could be that simple. As I write this (and if any mom who is suffering is reading this), I wish I could tell you that there is a magical formula. That if you do X, Y, and Z, you will be better. That there is a set amount of time before you will start to feel like your old self again. But I can’t. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to postpartum depression. The treatment and recovery process should be taken one day at a time and no two are alike.

When I was in the throes of my postpartum depression battle I was lucky to find a therapist who specialized in postpartum mood disorders right away, but every week when I sat on that faded red love seat in her office, all I could focus on was when I would feel like myself again. I wanted to know exactly when I would feel happy again and what I had to do to get there.

Every week, my therapist would tell me the feelings were temporary. She had the proof in hundreds of former patients she treated with the same illness I had. Some took three months. Some six months. Others more than a year. I always thought she was lying. I felt like I would stay in that awful hell forever, so if I was going to get better, it needed to happen in the next five minutes.

All I could do was have patience, (which has never been my strength). The phrase I remember my own mom yelling at me most throughout my childhood was, “JENNIFER, BE PATIENT!” As cliché as it to tell someone to “be patient” and “give it time,” it’s also the truth when it comes to fighting postpartum depression and getting through to the other side. Slowly, the right medication started to work and I began having more good days than bad.

Then after several good days, I would relapse back into that helpless girl overcome by tears and anxiety who couldn’t get out of bed and function like a human, like a mother. Even though my therapist warned me this could happen, I would get frustrated and forget about all the good days that came before. I needed to be better NOW.

But that’s the thing about this mental illness that affects hundreds of thousands of new moms each year. It doesn’t stick to any pattern. It doesn’t follow any rules. The only thing you can do is hang in there while following your treatment plan, because postpartum depression is temporary with treatment. I wish I could tell you how temporary, but all I can honestly say is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’m now included in the proof my therapist uses when a new mom comes to see her for the first time. I got better running the marathon and I’m a stronger, more patient, and one-hell of a badass mother for it. 

This post originally appeared at Motherlucker.

Parenting Horror Stories

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Happy Halloween, also known as the day where my four-year old dresses up in an overpriced costume that he doesn't let me choose for him anymore and collects candy from strangers' houses that his mommy and daddy will eat while he is sleeping. Today, I thought I would share some parenting horror stories from real parents because we all have them. And there is nothing more horrifying than explosive poop and projectile vomit! So get those baby wipes ready!

Ozzy, at two-and-a –half, was in the middle of potty-training. I was in the kitchen making dinner and he was happily playing in the living room when all of a sudden the smell wafted in. I turn around to find he had had the presence of mind to pull his pants and underwear down to do his poo. But instead of going in his potty, mere feet away, he shat on the fancy rug (from Harrods no less) in the middle of the living room. Knowing he'd been naughty, he went and found his toy Dyson vacuum and proceeded to "vacuum" up his poo…all over and into the posh rug. Into the toy Dyson. All over his feet. Poo footprints all over my house. I almost passed out with a heady combination of rage and hysterical laughter. Terrible twos indeed! -Jenn, Mom of Ozzy and Maddy

We always hire a college student to pick up my older daughter from school, do homework, and take her to activities. She's basically like her assistant, which is a demanding job in itself. We had just hired a new girl who is SUPER sweet and was just getting her bearings. On day two, my daughter fell asleep after school (which was odd) but it was week one so we chalked it up to exhaustion/excitement. The nanny woke her up to get her in the bath and I was leaving to do a radio show dressed in full makeup, hair, Spanx, etc. All of a sudden, she sprayed vomit ALL over her bedroom. I'm fucking talking all over. The floor, the TV, the dresser. It was like a deleted scene from The Exorcist. The sweet 23-year-old nanny froze in panic and as I moved into action to clean everything I just kept saying to myself, "Please don't quit, please don't quit, please don't quit!" Thankfully she didn't but I'm sure it was the most eventful first week at a job she's ever had. -Rachel, Mom of Ava and Sienna

One night around midnight, when my daughter was eight weeks old she needed a diaper change. I had her on my bed (which is very high) and was changing her. Luckily, my 21-year-old sister who lived with me was coming in from drinking about that same time and walked into my room. As I was taking the baby’s diaper off she proceeded to projectile poop into my face and hair and mouth and all over me. My sister was crying laughing and thankfully grabbed Ande as I ran to the bathroom, threw up and threw away my clothes. Ande is now 10 and thinks it’s the best story ever. -Amy, Mom of Ande, Mike, Nick and Joe

I'm a germ freak. Always have been. My oldest (Cole who Is now 18…OMG) jumped out of his crib and I caught him walking down the stairs chewing on the bottom of a plunger! I can still throw up at the thought! Wait ..I have another one! With my second (Lilly), I used to duck-tape her diaper shut because she dug in to her poop and painted her whole crib and the walls. No matter what I did she found a way to get poop everywhere. -Heidi, Mom of Cole, Lily, Montana and AJ

Judah had explosive diarrhea in my Ergo while I was checking out at Harris Teeter, then someone stole my groceries while I was cleaning him up in the bathroom. -Tamar, mom of Judah and Elijah

I took my four kids to Panera (ages 9,7,5 and 3). I go to order at the counter and the employee asks me if I would please use the "Quick Kiosks" instead. So, there I am attempting to place my order while trying to keep an eye on my kids. My middle two daughters start to get into a throw down about who is playing on the kiosk next to mine, so I grab my 5-year-old by the collar of her coat to keep her from gauging out her sister's eye. Meanwhile, I see my 3-year-old son about 10 feet away from me by the microwave, but didn't think anything of it as my order was almost complete (hallelujah). Next thing I know, two employees run out from behind the counter, one with a fire extinguisher. I see smoke billowing out of the microwave, smell melted plastic and see my son sheepishly stepping slowly away from the microwave. He had put one of those plastic buzzers into the microwave and turned it on!!! When I realized what he did, I went over to apologize to the Panera employee who promptly put her hand up in my face in annoyance. I got my order to go, put my kids in the car and proceeded to cry. I guess we all have those days. -Andrea, mom of Ellie, Lexie, Emma, JJ

My due date with H was January 19th and the stomach flu was going around so leading up to it I was really nervous someone was going to get it. And of course, after I put the kids to bed on my due date, Zach woke up puking all over his bed. Eric was out getting dinner and I was trying to avoid catching it, so I literally stood outside his room telling him it's okay and Daddy would be home soon to help as he sat covered in his own vomit. Anyway, this went on all night and Eric was a trooper and took care of it all. We essentially quarantined him in his room and Eric stayed home from work the next day and stayed with him so I could avoid contact. Of course, fast forward to two nights later and I start feeling crazy nauseous, realize I'm getting the stomach bug and within a half hour my contractions start. We go into the hospital and I am holding a bag in front of me because I know the vomit is coming at any point. We get to triage and they find out that I am definitely in labor, and surprise, he's breached (which we didn't know) so I would be having a C-section 45 minutes later. They start prepping me for the C-section and I start throwing up and it is the worst! Does not stop! Finally, they give me Zofran and wheel me into the OR as soon as I stop puking. They cut me open, baby is all good, and Eric is holding him in the OR while they stitch me up. All of the sudden, Eric screams, "SOMEONE NEEDS TO TAKE THE BABY" and he runs out of the OR because he suddenly gets sick. I am wheeled into recovery, throw up several times on my chest (I can't move my body since it is numb from chest down from surgery), the nurse wipes my chest with those hospital grade antiseptic wipes, and puts the baby on it. We finally go to my room and Eric gets sick all in my bathroom and then passes out on the couch. He sleeps through everything over the next few hours (it's about 2am), and finally wakes up at 6am and feels okay enough to drive home. He walks through the door at home and my mom is standing there with Levi's sheets in her hands because Levi puked all over his crib. They are both incredibly sick all day and my whole family is pretty much banned from visiting me in the hospital. Thank goodness I had a C-section so I stayed as long as I could to avoid my germy house. Seriously, I thought about checking into a hotel with the baby instead of going home. -Lauren, mom of Zack, Levi and Hank

Hayes had explosive diarrhea and was so awesome running to the bathroom and making it to the toilet before letting it fly. This story would have had a happier ending if only the toilet seat would have been up. -Kirstan, mom of Hayes,

I was a 22-year-old new mom with no baby experience. My husband was in the music biz and had to go on the road for a gig when baby T was five days old. His job booked him into the Clift House hotel when baby was five weeks old so I set off for San Francisco to meet him at his swanky digs with baby in tow. We arrive at his gorgeous room and have a blissful, relaxed evening with Daddy on baby duty. That room was worth the five-week wait and the daddy-daughter time was priceless. I wake up in the morning to my sweet hubby holding baby and I'm feeling refreshed for the first time in weeks. He is sitting on the fancy couch, wearing sweats, shirtless, and our babe on his lap. He knew I loved a bubble bath and hadn't taken one since he left, so he encouraged me to go relax in a bath, he's had things covered. I go prepare my bath with the bubbles and oil I brought with me. The bathroom is luxurious and as I step into the bath, before my tush hits the water,  I hear an odd sound from the room and then  "Oh s#*¢!" from my guy. I grab the plush robe and run to the room. My fab husband's chest, sweatpants and part of that fancy couch are covered in exploded, new baby poop. I'm talking our sweet angel went next level on the poop scale. She had on her diaper and footie jammies too. More poop than either of us had ever seen. There weren't enough towels to clean that up so we ended up with him getting in the shower, clothes, baby and all. Only a hose would have worked better. No bath for momma that day. -Lia, mom of Tasia and Jayla

I don't know about all of you, but we have gone through at least 1 million baby wipes since my son was born. Throw up, poop, pee, the kitchen counters, everything gets wiped up with baby wipes!

Do you have a parenting horror story you want to share? Comment below!

7 Simple but Perfect Ways My Friends Helped Me When I Had Postpartum Depression

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The day after I arrived home with my new baby boy, I was hit with severe postpartum depression. I never thought it could happen to me and it came out of nowhere. I went from filling out all 1’s on the happy scale the hosptial gives you before sending you home to being at home thinking I had made a terrible mistake becoming a mother, and trying to figure out ways I could get sick or hurt so I could return to the hospital where everyone would have to take care of me and I never had to take care of a baby. How do you tell your mom friends you feel this way when you have been led to believe the only normal feelings new moms experience after giving birth are magic, bliss, joy, love, and an intense attachment to your baby? How could I tell them the only thing I felt was paralyzing anxiety that made it difficult to do anything but cry ugly tears and lie in bed pleading for it to all go away so I could love my new baby boy and be a good mother too. How could I tell them I resented them for being so much better at motherhood than me? So much better at breastfeeding. So much better at simply wanting to spend time with their babies and leaving the house with them, something I was terrified to do.

I didn’t have any friends who had postpartum depression before me. I didn’t even know postpartum depression was what I had until I found the right therapist who diagnosed me. Now I didn’t only have postpartum depression. I had to go on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicine to cope with motherhood. Again, what would my friends think? From what I knew of other moms (close friends and the ones on social media I didn’t know personally), motherhood was easy and came naturally. I thought of myself as a horrible mom and a failure. I failed at breastfeeding. I failed at Pinterest. I failed at wanting to be a mother. Would my friends judge me as harshly as I judged myself?

Of course, the answer is no. Even though none of my close friends had experienced postpartum depression and coudn’t fully understand what I was going through, they never abandoned me or made me feel ashamed about my feelings.

Here are 7 ways my friends helped while I battled postpartum depression.

1. They didn’t push.

None of my closest friends experienced postpartum depression, which made it very difficult to understand what I was going through. I was often too consumed by anxiety, tears and exhaustion to have to explain it–the therapy sessions, the procsss of finding the right medications, the not wanting anything to do with my son, the desire to never leave my bed ever again, the overwhelming guilt and so much more. My friends never pushed me. They never forced me to answer questions or explain what postpartum depression was like for me. They let me know they would always be there to talk if I needed to and when I was ready. They took the pressure away of having to explain myself, a huge relief for me.

2. They didn’t judge.

Even though my friends didn’t personally suffer from postpartum depression, they never judged me for having it. They educated themselves about what I was going through and always kept an open mind. If I felt like telling them something shocking such as wanting to run away and never come back or that I wasn’t sure I had any feelings for my new baby, they never made me feel bad about it (I did that enough to myself). Not once, did any of my friends try to insert their opinions or views about formula feeding or medication into my experience. They never pretended to know better. They never made me feel guilty. They supported all my choices and tried to help me understand I was sick with a real illness and not just a horrible mother.

3. They reached out without expecting anything in return. 

During the long months of my postpartum depression battle, my friends regularly called, emailed, and sent text messages. Their messages were filled with encourgement and love. “I love you.” “I’m thinkink about you.” “You got this.” “You’re strong.” “I’m proud of you.” “I’m always here for you.” “Your baby is taken care of and lucky to have you as his mom.” And not once, did any friend expect a response. They all knew that it was dififcult for me to be social and they selflessly kept in touch anyway.

4. They talked behind my back.

After I got better, I found out that my friends would text and email about me behind my back. If anyone had spoken to me, they told the group. If I made progress, they told the group. One friend who usually came over to check on me and take me for walks, regulary updated the others. When I got better, I felt extremely grateful, loved, and flattered to know that I had my own personal cheerleading squad rooting for me to get healthy and happy.

5. They kept me fed.

While the anxiety and sadness made it difficult to eat, my friends always made sure there were meals sent to my house. Not having to worry about who was cooking or where meals were coming from gave me more time to focus on my health and recovery. It also took that responsibility away from my husband who had to take on so much extra with me being sick. And you know my friends are the real deal because they never forgot to include chocolate.

6. They checked in on my husband.

My husband needed support too. With me incapable of taking care of our son, he had to step up and parent for both of us, often after a long day of work and on less sleep. He needed people to vent to. He needed an outlet. He needed breaks. My friends checking in on him allowed him to express his feelings about a situation that was frustrating and difficult because it was unexpected for him too and he felt helpless because he couldn’t snap his fingers, give me extra hugs or buy me a present and make me better. It was important that he wasn’t forgotton about on my postpartum depression journey.

7. The celebrated my recovery.

When I started to turn the corner and finally felt like myself again, an email went out from one mom friend to the rest of the group with the subject heading: “She’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaacaaaack!” The sent email was a result of this mom watching me engage with and love on my baby boy who was now six months old. She could immediately see the change in me and wanted to celebrate it by letting my other friends know too. I still get emotional when I think about all the support, empathy and messages that told me how strong I was, how proud they were of me and how happy they were to have their Jen back. My friends were there every step of the way and it meant everything for them to celebrate with me at the end.

1 in 7 new moms will suffer from postpartum depression. That means, if you know 7 women, you will know one of these moms. She could be you. In addition to the above tips, you can download a free copy of my guide: WTF Are Postpartum Depression and Anxiety? and learn more valuable adivce and tips for how to help, what to do and what to never say

This article originally appeared on Red Tricycle.

21 Questions with Boss Mom Michelle Dempsey, (Like the 50 Cent song, Only More Empowering)

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Meet Michelle Dempsey, my new woman and mompreneur crush. She is the founder of Very-Well Written, where she helps businesses with content and brand marketing. You can also find her wisdom all over the Internet at top sites such as Mind Body Green, Elite Daily, Huffpost, Forbes and Scary Mommy. When she’s not hustling at work, she can be found doing mom things with her adorable two-and-a-half year old daughter, coffee in hand. And during those child-free moments, cardio, binge-watching Netflix, and more coffee keep her sane.

We connected over our shared desire to use our big voices to help women find theirs, to empower them to own their struggles and live their passions, our well-developed ability to say no to people and things that don’t serve us, and the mom struggle that is indeed, very real.

1. Describe yourself in five words.

Dynamic, creative, sincere, inspirational, no holds barred

2. The moment that changed my life was

The moment I learned that my intuition was really onto something, and that it was worth trusting. It was one of those moments where everything came into focus, and finally, everything that came before it made perfect sense.

3. I found my voice when

I realized my words had the power to inspire and influence others, and that sharing my truth meant helping others to heal from theirs.

4. I’m empowered because

I’ve learned to say no and mean it. I’ve learned to walk away from what doesn’t serve me without apologizing for it. I’ve learned the power of my intelligence, my kindness, and my womanhood. I’ve learned that you don’t get what you want in life, you get what you are, so if you want great, be better.

5. I empower others because

I am as authentic as I am transparent. I say what everyone else is thinking. I choose risk over comfort. I go after what I want like it’s the last train of the night. I don’t apologize for being who I am yet I always lead with kindness. 

6. Putting yourself first is

Not selfish. At all. Putting yourself first is the single best thing you can learn to do for yourself in this lifetime yet it’s every woman’s biggest challenge. We’re mothers, we’re daughters, we’re friends, we’re wives, hell, some of us are even ex-wives, and the expectation is that we do for everyone else first, right? And then what? We burn out, lose our sense of self and live with regret and resentment. We get divorced, we hate our jobs, we can’t believe we never told that friend how much she hurt us and now can’t stand the sight of her. It took me 30-plus people-pleasing years to learn that there is no shame in advocating for your own needs before anyone else’s. Even as a mom, a really devoted one at that, I know that I can’t pour from an empty cup, and when Mama’s taken care of, everyone else benefits. We’re not taught to put ourselves on a pedestal and I’m not sure why. But what I do know is, once you get to that place where you value, and I mean really and truly value who you are, putting yourself first becomes a ritual as natural, and necessary as breathing. 

7. I take care of myself by

Taking time for myself at some point, even if it’s just a few moments, every single day. Working out helps me focus and regroup, and in the interest of being authentic, it helps me deal with being a semi-anxious workaholic. I sleep when I need to sleep, and when shit hits the fan I shut off my phone and head for a massage. I surround myself only with people who bring happiness and joy to my life, do my best to keep outside drama to a minimum, and breathe deeply through the moments that aren’t so pretty.

8. Best mom win

When my daughter first started school, at a teeny 18-months old, she came home one day with a bite mark on her arm. Her teacher informed me that another little girl in class had bitten her during a typical toddler battle over some toys. When I asked how my daughter retaliated, thinking she likely resorted to hurting this little girl for biting her, I was told that she hugged and kissed her teeny attacker and gave her the toy she wanted to play with. Sounds simple, maybe, but knowing that my daughter reacted with kindness meant more than I could ever put into words. That was the moment I realized I was doing something right.

9. Worst mom fail

Happens every morning when I lose the battle over what’s for breakfast because someone is running late for work and another someone had to be in school five minutes ago.

10. Motherhood is

The single greatest thing that has ever happened to my life. Sound cliché? Then you must not be a mom.

 11. Moms should

Reread question #6. And then stop what they’re doing, look in the mirror, and repeat after me, “Hello, you gorgeous goddess, you’re slaying this whole mom game. I’m so proud of you and damn that ass looks great.” Then try to be easier on yourself. And maybe have a glass of wine.

12. Before I became a mom, I wish someone told me

All of those little things my Mom did that annoyed and drove me crazy would become exactly my way of mothering. And that your child can and will survive even if they drink formula, and that all the things you swore you wouldn’t do as a mom would become exactly the things you do the most as a mom.

13. Women need each other because

No one knows a woman like a woman. Our needs, our struggles, our emotions and feelings. The support of other women, the powerful feeling of knowing that a group of trusted ladies have your back no matter what – that’s a big part of what I live for. As the co-founder of a professional networking group for women, I am always so intent on opening the doors to amazing women who truly understand what it means to help another woman rise. It’s vital. 

14. My last meal would be

At Il Mulino in Miami and would include calamari with extra lemon, spaghetti carbonara, and a Caesar salad. And a gin and tonic, or two. Oh and dessert, but I don’t discriminate. 

15. Three things I can’t live without are

Love, my laptop, and coffee.

 16. My perfect day is

Spent in the company of those I love, with my laptop, and some coffee.

17. The books I swear by are

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” If that doesn’t describe the turn my life has taken, then nothing ever could.

18. When life gives you lemons

Order more calamari.

19. I don’t wait for doors to open, I

Kick them the f*ck down.

20. I want my daughter to know

It is who she is at her core, how she treats others, what her passions are and what drives her, that will truly define her as a woman. Not what she looks like, who she chooses to love, whether or not she’s the most popular girl in her high school class, or if she avoids broccoli in the same way some of us avoid dental visits for the rest of her life.

21. You can find me at

Target, screaming toddler in cart, grande latte in hand, hoping for a BOGO on the Lysol wipes and veggie sticks.

BIO: Michelle Dempsey MS, CPRW is an entrepreneur, internationally published writer and marketing guru, girl gang leader, radio host, and above all things, a mother. Michelle Dempsey turned a passionate hobby into a thriving career. Internationally published and known for her ability to connect with readers on a deeper level, Michelle launched her own business, Michelle Dempsey: Very Well-Written, offering content marketing and consulting services to businesses of all kinds. Michelle partners with all clients in a collaborative process that allows her to write from the point of view of her client, a winning strategy for success. She speaks to female audiences regularly on topics including empowerment, personal development, and business success, and last year, co-founded one of South Florida's fastest growing networking groups for professional women, ProFemmes.

This article originally appeared at Mogul.

Five Ways To Talk To a Mom Friend You Think Has Postpartum Depression

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After battling and surviving postpartum depression, I have received the following question repeatedly: “Jen, I think my friend might be going through something like what you went through. I want to say something to her about it, but I don’t want to upset her. How do I bring up that she isn’t acting like herself lately?” I wish I had a simple answer to this question, but it’s never simple when it comes to postpartum depression, which is not a one size fits all illness. Every mom’s experience with PPD is unique to her. Her risk factors, symptoms, feelings, and length of illness won’t look like that of any other mom suffering. Just like PPD, every mom is different and motherhood is also not one size fits all.

Before you confront a mom and suggest she might be suffering from PPD, here are some factors I think you should consider: How will she react? How receptive would she be to the idea of needing and asking for help? I think you should also ask yourself, “Am I the best person for this conversation or is there someone else that should be having this conversation?”

While you consider all the above, here are my five suggestions for approaching a friend you believe might be showing signs of postpartum depression.

1. Research and prepare a list of local resources.

Before you do anything else, get informed. Educate yourself about everything postpartum depression. Postpartum Support International is a great place to start. If you are going to tell a mom you think she might have PPD, you better go in prepared. Arm yourself with the facts about how common postpartum depression is and how temporary it can be with proper treatment. Make a list of local resources for your friend such as therapists, hospitals, and women’s centers that specialize in postpartum mood disorders so she immediately knows there are places to go to help her figure out what’s going on. Offer to go with her if you think that would help. Make sure she knows she’s not alone.

2. Consider how close you are to this mom.

Are you someone who has had difficult conversations with this mom before? Is your friendship one where you confide in each other about everything? If the answer is yes, you probably already have the comfort level needed to approach mom. Start with a question. “Mom, are you doing okay? You don’t seem like yourself. I know you just had a baby, but it’s more than that. What’s going on with you?”

3. Think about mom’s personality and how she reacts to difficult situations.

It’s important to think about mom’s reaction before you suggest she could be suffering from PPD. Does she like to do everything by herself? Does she struggle admitting when something is hard? Would she rather fake a smile than admit something is wrong? Ask yourself these questions and craft your approach based on how you predict she will respond. Or based on your answers, maybe you know someone better suited to talk to her.

4. Talk to mom’s partner first.

Mom’s partner is a direct link to how she is behaving. Her partner might have noticed some red flags too but has no idea what they mean or what to do about them. First ask yourself the questions above to determine the best way for clueing mom in to the fact that something isn’t right and she might need help. Her partner is a good place to start.

5. There is strength in numbers.

If you don’t think mom will listen to only one person, will she respond to her tribe? Ask your group of mom’s friends and family if they’ve witnessed anything similar. If you’re going to go with the group approach, make sure each person involved is extremely close with mom and not of the judgmental, opinionated kind because you want her to be able to feel like she can talk freely and honestly.

No matter what you decide when it comes to approaching your mom friend, the most important thing to remember is to always come from a place of empathy and acceptance, never one of judgment. Mom is most likely feeling tremendous confusion, guilt, and shame about feeling anything other than connected to her new baby and overwhelmed with the joy of becoming a mother. You want her to feel supported and understood so she feels comfortable and safe admitting to any struggles and symptoms relating to postpartum depression. If she’s not responsive to your conversation, just let her know you’re here to hold space for her. Be patient and check in regularly with mom, her partner, and other members of her tribe.

At some point, all of us will know a new mom suffering from some form of postpartum depression. It’s up to all of us to educate ourselves so no new mom suffers in silence. Click here to receive your free copy of my WTF are Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: The Friends and Family Guide For How to Help, What to Do and What Not to Say.

The Motherhood Edition of The Jewish Holidays

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By Jen Schwartz (The Medicated Mommy) & Rachel Sobel (Whine & Cheez – its)

Early fall is Jewish holiday season. That means going to temple, eating apples and honey in hopes of a sweet year ahead, family dinners filled with equal parts kvelling & kvetching, and a day of starvation fasting that culminates in the annual carb loading frenzy with bagels, lox, noodle kugel, and cookies. Lots of cookies. You know…a “light” meal.

And if your child attends a Jewish preschool/day school, you are basically screwed and they may as well close for the month of October with the amount of days you have off.

That’s right folks, we are currently living in the space between the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) where we ask forgiveness for our sins and hope to make it into the Book of Life for another year.

Lucky for us, Jews get to make New Years’ resolutions twice. You know, if for some reason you bailed on the ones you made in January for the non-secular New Year, here’s a second chance in October. I don’t know about you, but we’re still eating cake, ice cream and half-consumed bags of goldfish and desperately trying to fit into our skinny jeans because even though we get dressed in workout clothes every day, we don’t actually go work out every day. It’s kind of like our uniform for school drop off and the couple hours following. That is until we can pee and shower without a child opening the door a trillion times asking us to change the channel when the remote control is actually in their little sticky hands.

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Thinking about how you want to live in the Jewish New Year is both a blessing and a curse…because as you start to make promises to yourself about the year ahead, you are also going backwards to relive those times this past year you might not be so proud of. And as moms, there are definitely a few that come to mind. So, rather than focus on personal transgressions this year, we are confessing ours sins of motherhood. Let this be our atonement for:

  • Lying to our children (and maybe even setting the clocks forward) to convince them it’s bedtime so you have enough time to shower and settle in before Bachelor in Paradise.
  • Telling them a store is closed (at 3pm on a Thursday) because you just don’t feel like going to buy another pack of shopkins.
  • Having a salad for dinner but then polishing off the abandoned chicken-nuggets your child left on his or her plate.
  • Forgetting to wash a school uniform and digging a dirty one out of the hamper, spraying it with Febreze and sending them on their way.
  • Being so desperate to finish homework that you may have “led the witness” to arrive at the correct answer.
  • Letting your children watch back-to-back (and by back-to-back we mean 10) episodes of their favorite show just so you could put the finishing touches on your contributed article with the looming deadline.
  • Regifting a target gift card for a birthday party because you spaced and forgot to grab a gift.

In light of these confessions, here are our Jewish New Year’s resolutions– what we hope to do better or more of as moms in the coming year. And if we fail or don’t hit them all, January is right around the corner!

  • Telling the truth, as in when we inform our little ones that ice cream is not a dinner food, we also don’t eat ice cream for dinner or in other words, I will fit into those skinny jeans!
  • Not beating ourselves up when we need just one more hour of sleep so, without making any eye contact, we slip the iPad through the cracked door of our kids’ bedrooms.
  • Losing the guilt when our children watch ten episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in one sitting because binge watching is clearly a skill they will need when they get older.
  • Admitting that our kids are assholes sometimes because when they are lying face down on the floor screaming, kicking their legs, and shouting “NO” on repeat because they’re not ready to go to sleep or do anything you ask them to do, they are being assholes!
  • Not stressing about our kids still sleeping in pullups at night because let’s be real, who wants to start their morning cleaning up shit, changing sheets, and doing even more laundry?
  • Understanding that it’s okay to ask our husbands to do parent things like watch the kids, help with homework, feed them dinner, and handle bath time because they aren’t simply babysitters, they are dads and it’s their job too!
  • Realizing motherhood is effing hard and it’s okay to serve cereal for dinner (hey, it’s good enough for breakfast), put ourselves first, ask for what we want, leave the kids with a babysitter, and drink all the wine…because happy mommy equals happy everyone!

This post originally appeared on Suburban Misfit Mom.

Dating For Mom Friends

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Making new mom friends isn’t always easy. Actually, it’s a lot like dating. You fear rejection. You want to have chemistry with that new mom you meet at mommy and me class. You want her to like you. Will her friends like you? What if she’s not looking for something serious? What if she’s not currently on the market for a new friend?  What if she judges you for feeling bored at mommy and me class?

You might fumble over your words when introducing yourself to a new mom at the at the park for the first time. You hope she looks through Instagram on her iPhone while her kids play, just like you do. You spend hours getting ready for your first playdate. You want everything to be perfect so there will be a second playdate. 

You question and doubt yourself. What will she think of me if the cookies I serve contain gluten? Does she know I sometimes feed my kid too many afternoon snacks when I’m just too exhausted to argue? How soon is too soon to share I had postpartum depression when my son was born? Will she conveniently lose my number if I call my kid an asshole behind his back for not sharing?

You wonder if it will be a match. What if I’m not so crazy about her? What if she’s a card-carrying member of the perfect parents’ parade? Please don’t let her be one of those moms that always smiles. I really can’t handle another afternoon of listening to how magical motherhood is all the time. No more liars. I don’t believe that your child has never bit someone in his three-year existence. Can we please talk about something other than our kids? Can you leave the kids alone so we can talk about adult things that have nothing to do with parenting? They will figure out who gets to play with the firetruck by themselves.    

When dating meeting new moms, I’m not looking for perfect. Perfect is boring. Perfect is exhausting. Perfect doesn’t exist. I don’t care if you have one child or five, how you delivered them, how you chose to feed them, if you work or stay home, or spend hours making Pinterest Valentine’s Day cards for everyone in your child’s class. I just want to meet someone real, who isn’t afraid to be imperfect and admit that being a mom is the hardest job they have ever signed up for—where there are days they feel like mom of the year and others where they think they should be fired. And that while they wouldn’t trade it in for anything, there are days where they have strongly considered it. 

Maybe the best solution would be to walk around with dating profiles stuffed in our diaper bags, attached to our backs, or our kids’ food-stained t-shirts.

Here’s an excerpt from what mine would say:

Perfectly imperfect mom of an adorable, funny, compassionate four-year old boy who thinks he’s the boss of everyone and everything. Postpartum depression survivor, happily medicated, professional TV binge watcher, and definitely not a morning person. While I will never win Pinterest’s mom of the year award, I bake incredible brownies that I sometimes eat for dinner after having told my son, “We don’t eat brownies for dinner.” I believe in self-care, gluten, sugar, drinking responsibly at playdates, hair blow-outs, and hiring babysitters so I can spend time with other adults who don’t want to talk about their children all day long. I can often be found negotiating how many pieces of broccoli my little one has to eat at mealtime or begging him to watch Paw Patrol because I have no more patience to play airport or carwash.

I’m looking for other moms who are also madly in love with their children but aren’t afraid to be real about the rollercoaster of motherhood. If you’re looking for someone who will tell you the truth, make you laugh (and bring the martinis) when you feel like you’re failing or just because you need a martini, always reassure you, you’re not alone, and never judge, I think we could become besties. If you’re a mom-shamer or refuse to admit motherhood is anything but amazing 100 percent of the time, it will never work between us.      

I’m not the only mom who feels the isolation that often accompanies motherhood and the frustration that exists when looking to meet other moms who are your people. Recently, mom and entrepreneur Michelle Kennedy meshed motherhood and dating with the creation of her new app, Peanut, a sort of “Tinder for Moms,” which launched in New York City and is now available nationally. 

Peanut’s mission is one I can easily get behind: We’re on a mission to build a community of women, who happen to be mamas. Because let’s face it, the more women in your life, the better it becomes.

I couldn’t agree more. Women need each other. Moms need other moms. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in doing motherhood by myself. It’s a lot more manageable and fun when you have a tribe of women who have your back and will join you in your closet while you hide from your kids with that martini.

Women need each other. Moms need other moms. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in doing motherhood by myself. It’s a lot more manageable and fun when you have a tribe of women who have your back and will join you in your closet while you hide from your kids with that martini.

This post originally appeared on Motherlucker.

Mindfulness is Fucking Awesome - Guest Post by Jennifer Bronsnick

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August 6, 2017 2:47pm EST Florham Park, NJ I am sitting on a reclining chair in my backyard, my black toy poodle Zoe at my feet.  The temperature is a perfect 78 degrees. The sun peaks out from behind the clouds every so often so that I can feel the warmth amidst a light breeze on my skin. Cars drive by with a wooosh and I hear the siren of an ambulance from the next town over. Not too loud that it bothers me, but just loud enough to make me wonder if the person they were headed to is okay. It rained last night and I can smell moist grass mixed with a bit of mildew from the outdoor furniture. I sit and sip my chai tea feeling the warmth from the spices move down my throat creating a nice sensation in my body. Breathing in sync with the swaying trees as the winds moves through the plush green leaves. Feeling grateful for a few more weeks of summer to enjoy.

2:50pm - Enter my 5 year old daughter Savanna wearing a tutu and tap shoes. “Mom! Watch my show!”

Was I annoyed? Maybe I wasn’t thrilled, but I wasn’t angry. I was just moving into a new moment; a moment with my daughter. This happens 1000’s of times each day. We have good moments, bad moments and everything in between. The beauty of mindfulness is that it can give us peace in our minds and hearts because it teaches us not to only strive for good experiences (sipping my tea alone), but to be open to ALL experience (getting interrupted during my quiet time), without labeling them. It’s this labeling that ultimately causes us to suffer. Without the label, an experience just is. It’s an opportunity to know what being alive is all about.

Those THREE minutes of intentional mindfulness were three minutes without thinking and planning.  Without analyzing, judging, striving OR suffering.  Three minutes of being present, noticing, and BEING.  Three minutes that recharged my soul and sparked my creativity.  Those three minutes set the tone for the rest of my day and enabled me to operate from a full cup.

Mindfulness is f*cking awesome. It is also just one piece of our self-care plan.  It only took me 3 minutes to fill my cup because I make self-care and time for myself a priority every day. I get regular pedicures, move my body in a way that brings me joy, connect with friends, have date nights and make time to write, create and binge -watch Netflix.

Mindfulness is accessible to everyone. It is free. It is simple to learn.  It just takes practice and an intention. It’s the best way to put an end to the stress of being a mom and any other challenging situation in your life. Mindfulness lets you off the hook because as long as you are breathing there is another moment for you to apologize, to make it right, or do it over. EVERY activity can be done mindfully.

Mindfulness is not being emotionless and it’s NOT about being peaceful all the time, It’s NOT about escaping your life and it’s NOT a quick fix for your life’s challenges.  Like getting your body in shape, getting your mind in shape takes time and practice.

You might be thinking, “Who has time for this?” Well if you just read the first part of this blog, then YOU do. Just by reading about my mindful experience you were mindful too. You could feel the breeze, the sun, smell the grass and then the interruption. You did it. It wasn’t hard and it didn’t take much time.  It also lowered your cortisol and allowed you to tap into your resourcefulness and healing abilities.

Can you imagine what your life could be like if you made mindful self-care a daily practice?  On World Mindfulness Day, this is my invitation for you. Take 3 minutes every day for the next 2 weeks to be FULLY present in your life.  Tune into each of your senses-Sight, Taste, Touch, Smell and Sound. Notice your breath and bring gratitude for this healing tool that operates without conscious effort. Bring compassion to your experiences and welcome everything that arrives. You can do it.

BIO: Jennifer Bronsnick, MSW, LCSW is passionate about supporting moms to be resilient. As a mother of three daughters under 8 and a survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety Jennifer knows exactly how challenging motherhood can be. She also knows that there is hope for all of us and with accurate information, support and inspiration that mothers and families can thrive. Jennifer’s years of clinical experience as a social worker and her own personal journey gives her the unique ability to guide other moms on their path to health and wellness. You can also learn more about Jennifer, the services she offers and purchase her books on maternal self-care at www.themindfulfamily.com.

You Heard Me: I Said I Was One and Done...

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I was once getting a manicure next to a woman who asked if I had children. At the time, I told her I had a one-year old boy. She then asked my favorite question most people follow that up with. “When are you having your next one?” I told her I wasn’t–that my husband and I decided one was enough and the right decision for our family–we were one and done. I don't even know why I felt like I had to justify my decision to a complete stranger. I guess I didn't want my response to be met with the usual, "You will change your mind." Or "What do your parents think? Don't they want lots of grandchildren?" "It's so much nicer for kids to have a sibling to play with." But she surprised me. She informed me she only had one son and that sometimes when you create a masterpiece, it doesn’t make any sense to paint over it. Thank you manicure lady for immediately accepting my choice and making me feel good about it! It doesn’t always happen like that.

In fact, most people respond with confusion, sometimes horror when they find out you are “one and done.” I love that phrase. It’s short and sweet and very blunt. It leaves no room for interpretation. Those people do not. Sometimes those people are strangers. Other times they are acquaintances and family members. All I can say, is that at the end of the day, you don’t know what it’s like to walk in my shoes–to live my life–to know what I need and what’s best for me. Only I know that, especially when it comes to motherhood. I also want to say that I am in no way promoting ”one and done” as the best or easiest parenthood choice. If you don’t want any kids or want to have two, three, even five kids, I think that’s incredible. Do it! It’s just not the right choice for me. And I have yet to come across any parenthood choice that is easy.

My closest friends know all the reasons why I’m not having any more children. It comes up in our conversations all the time. They never make me feel guilty. They never judge. They never try to convince me to change my mind. Sometimes, the remind me that one child suits me. Thank you all for that.

So now, three years after meeting the manicure lady,  I’m just going to put it all out there–because I think it’s so important for moms to feel empowered and confident in making the choices that are best for them–regardless of what others think and say–regardless of who the people are that are doing the thinking and saying.

I need more. This might be a controversial statement, but being a mom and a wife aren’t enough for me. I need more–something that is just mine, which I have found through writing and speaking about my experiences. My writing is my currency. It’s part of my identity outside of being a mom and wife. It has transformed me–makes me feel happier–connects me with amazing women and feeds my mind and spirit. Writing has become my second baby. I want to nurture that and give it the time it requires while enjoying, raising and being present for my first baby too.

Happy mom, happy baby. If mommy isn’t happy, there is no way baby is going to be happy. This is the reason I stopped breastfeeding on day 5. It’s the reason I went on and continue to take antidepressants. It’s why I have a part-time nanny, hire babysitters for date nights and girls’ nights and take solo trips occasionally. And it’s most definitely the biggest reason why I’m not having another child. I want to be the best mommy I can be to my son and part of that means taking care of my well-being. Therefore, I choose to give him a happy, healthy mommy rather than a sibling.

I want my marriage to last. I love my son to the moon and back, but he is not the sun in our marriage. My relationship with my husband comes first. We made a pact to live this way before we had Mason. Marriage is hard work and the work grows exponentially when you add kids to the mix. We have weekly date nights and take child-free vacations. I’m not going lie, child care is easier when there is only one tiny human to chase after. For us, we balance parenting and marriage by deciding to be a team of three. It’s just the dynamic that works for us.

I need consistent me time. I take mom breaks and I do so without guilt. I need to for my own sanity and survival. Every now and then I go away. Sometimes it’s for the night, other times for a long weekend. I usually go to New York City where I get to see my best friends, sisters, shop at my favorite stores, eat at my favorite restaurants, and take too many Soul Cycle classes. When I leave, my husband spends quality time with our son, is able to balance work and dad life, and I come back feeling renewed, recharged, and ready to be mommy again.

Airplanes fit us perfectly. Superficial I know, but an airplane row fits three people. In my world, that is mommy, daddy, and son. Mason goes in the middle with mommy and daddy on either side of him. iPads out, headphones on, and we are good to go.

I can’t start over again. When Mason turned one and I finally felt confident and happy as his mommy, I felt like I had come so far. I went through so much in that first year and I just knew I couldn’t go backwards. For me that meant no more pregnancies, no more infant stage, no more sleep training or bottles of formula. I just wanted to keep going forward, growing as Mason’s mommy as he continues to grow into a little person. I love to see and love on my mom friends’ new babies, but after about 30 minutes I’m over it and handing them back. I don’t have that feeling of “my uterus hurts” for more babies. My family feels complete.I still get anxiety when I find myself back at the maternity floor of the hospital visiting a friend who just gave birth. If that’s not a telling sign, I don’t know what is!

I battled postpartum depression. I’m putting this reason last on purpose. Many people assume this to be the number one reason why I choose not to have more children. While yes, I’m at a higher risk for having it again in future pregnancies, it’s a very small part of my decision. I am grateful for my PPD journey and who I am today because of it, but it is not something I want to experience again. It is not something I want to put my husband through again or my son especially now that he would be old enough to understand it more. I already missed so much of the first year of his life. I refuse to miss any more.

I’m sorry to everyone who might disagree with me here, doesn’t approve of my choices, or thinks I’m saying too much on the subject. Actually, thats a lie. It’s more like sorry, I’m not sorry. I can’t please everyone, just the most important one. Me! I’m just being real…and honest…and hoping it gives other moms the courage to do the same…no matter what choices they are making or struggling with.  And my baby who isn’t such a baby anymore isn’t going to just be fine. He’s developed into and independent, brave, strong, compassionate, opinionated, brilliant, and amazing little four-year old. Well duh! Of course he is–because I made him–and he is a masterpiece–and I’m his mommy!

Why Breast Isn't Always Best

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Today wraps up National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. I hope your social media feeds weren't over-flooded with articles and photos about the joy and benefits of breastfeeding. Lactivists telling you why breastmilk is the only way to ensure a healthy, happy baby. Studies claiming that breastmilk will make your baby more intelligent and have less ear infections and allergies. Then there’s my all-time favorite claim: Breastfeeding can reduce a mom’s stress level and risk for postpartum depression. Um, yeah, not so much…have they met me? And let us not forget about the infamous mom-shamers criticizing anyone who chooses the alternative or not to breastfeed for as long as they have ruled acceptable. I mean, can’t we all just get along. I’m here to tell you, breast is not always best. Also, formula is not always best. You know what’s best? What works for you, makes you happy and keeps your baby’s belly full. Moms have all different reasons for how they choose to feed their babies and they are none of your business.

When I had my son, I thought I would be a breastfeeding master. He would latch easily and we would be unbreakably bonded. I would breastfeed at least until the baby weight melted off. (Why shouldn’t I reap the benefits too?) Full disclosure, I had always planned to supplement with formula because I wanted to be able to sleep and let my husband help with feedings, but I never thought I would suck at breastfeeding. And It never occurred to me that I might hate it too.

My son latched like a champ and ate for 45 minutes right after I delivered him. After that, he just couldn’t find the nipple. And when he did, he couldn’t hold on. Latching was just not his thing. Breastfeeding stressed me out very quickly and I didn’t feel anything resembling a bond to this tiny little boy who constantly screamed because he was starving and couldn’t properly get on my boob. I tried to pump, but that just stressed me out even more and it hurt and I was exhausted after an almost 24 hour labor followed by C-section.

I left the hospital determined to win at breastfeeding. What did it say about me as a mother if I couldn’t? Instead, I became a breastfeeding quitter. I only lasted five days. Breastfeeding didn’t reduce this mom’s risk for postpartum depression, which began to make its presence known somewhere in those five days as I lost my sanity and needed someone else to be able to feed my son because I decided I would never be leaving my bed for the rest of my life. I could barely keep my shit together let alone follow a strict pumping and feeding schedule. And in the midst of feeling all those horrible feelings, I still didn’t want to let go of my breastfeeding dream. To this day, I don’t even know why it was so important for me to be a breastfeeding champion.

What became more important than how I fed my son was figuring out how to get healthy and happy for my son. I needed medicine more than he needed breastmilk. I needed sleep. I needed weekly therapy appointments. I needed a village to help take care of my son. I needed to not have to stop every three hours and hook myself up to a milking machine. Spoiler Alert: In my son's four years of life, he knows all his letters, colors, numbers, shapes, Shabbat prayers, has had no allergies and only one ear infection.

Using the phrase “breast is best” robs moms of choice. Moms should be allowed to choose how they feed their little ones without feeling any sort of stigma or judgment when they don’t exclusively breastfeed. They should be able to receive the support they need whether they choose formula or breastmilk. I can’t tell you how many moms I know who were made to feel as if they had to breastfeed by lactation consultants and nurses at the hospitals where they delivered. Professionals who rolled their eyes or dragged their feet when a mom asked for formula. That’s just wrong, insensitive, and does nothing to give a new mom confidence.

Motherhood is not one size fits all. Whoever came up with “breast is best” doesn’t know what’s best for every single mom. Only you know what's best for you. Some moms don’t have the option of breastfeeding. How do you think those moms feel when they hear, “breast is best” and it’s not something they are capable of doing? They are immediately set up to feel guilty from the beginning. And what about the moms who feel the overwhelming pressure of “breast is best” and make themselves crazy trying to breastfeed, only to discover they aren’t producing enough and by then, it’s too late. Yes, these are extreme cases, but even one case is too many, especially when it could have been prevented with some formula.

Breastfeeding is hard. It doesn’t come naturally for all moms. Not all babies latch easily. Nipples get sore and cracked, sometimes even infected. Milk leaks through that new blouse you’re wearing on date night. Date night ends with pumping in the bathroom. Your designer bag has been replaced with a large black canvas one carrying your breast pump, milk bags, and ice packs. A mom who wants to stick with it needs support and to know that it’s normal to struggle. They don’t need your “breast is best” judgments if they decide to stop or supplement.

Social media hasn’t done new moms any favors when it comes to breastfeeding. The reality of breastfeeding is not Gisele holding her naked baby on her boob with one hand while she adorns a white robe, gets her hair blown out, make up done, and free hand manicured. At least Olivia Wilde let us know her baby peed all over her gorgeous sequin gown while staging her breastfeeding photo and Yael Braun keeps it real by showing us her breast pump that accompanies her to The Grammys.

At least Olivia Wilde let us know her baby peed all over her gorgeous sequin gown while staging her breastfeeding photo.

And Yael Braun keeps it real by showing us her breast pump that accompanies her to The Grammys.

 

When a mom sees those Gisele-like images and that’s not her reality, she might wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I breastfeed like that? Why don't I have that look of bliss on my face? Why isn’t this easier for me?” The breast is best culture accompanied with these photos contributes to the idea of the perfect mother. And when a mom fails to reach this level of perfect, which doesn’t exist, she will ultimately feel like a failure. 

To all the new moms out there: Do what’s best for you. If you love breastfeeding, more power to you. If you prefer formula, that’s awesome too. Every mom is different and that should be cause for celebration, not shame. Most days it’s about survival, sanity, and sleep (if you’re one of the lucky ones). There is no wrong way to feed your baby. Fed is best. Choice is best. What works for you is best.

And the next time you are about to criticize a mom’s decision, remember what your own mom taught you when you were young. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Or tell her she’s doing an incredible job and let her know you’re there for her if she needs help. Now repeat after me just so I know you got it: “Fed is best.”

My Second Favorite F-Word

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of the F-word. It’s extremely versatile and can be used in so many different situations. As a writer, I love that it can be a noun, verb, adjective, and more. As a mom, it comes in very handy when I’m frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed or I feel the need to be dramatic about all the above. You step on a Lego and scream, “FUCK!” Your kid wakes up four times in the middle of the night and you quietly pray each time, “Stay the fuck asleep.” You get projectile vomited on and blurt out, “Fuck me!” And when you can’t take it anymore you dramatically declare that if anyone needs you, you can be found hiding in your closet with that pint of Haagen Dazs chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream because you are frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed “As Fuck” (AF). I’ve even recently heard it used to describe the phase my son just entered: “The Fucking Fours.”

When I gave birth to my son almost four years ago (before I made regular use of the F-word in everyday motherhood), I discovered my second favorite F word. Formula. Yes, you heard me correctly. Formula. Let me say now that this is not an anti-breastfeeding, pro-formula-feeding post, nor am I exclusively in support of one food source over the other. I am exclusively for feeding your baby, however that works best for you. Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

During my pregnancy, I had always believed I would breastfeed my son and supplement with formula if necessary. But really, I would just breastfeed him and be a breastfeeding superstar— because breastfeeding would simply be that easy for me… like it was for all the moms I knew (they must have forgot to mention the struggles they experienced while going on about how much they loved it). And it was easy that first time my son latched right after being evicted from my stomach. Then it wasn’t.

After that first feeding, he repeatedly struggled to latch and would cry out in frustration. I just wanted to give him a bottle because I was exhausted. My mind and body shattered from 24 hours of labor, pushing for two of them, and having a C-section after all that. I wanted him to be fed and I wanted to be sleeping. Also at that time, the beginnings of postpartum depression were beginning to slowly creep into my brain. I just didn’t know it yet.

I refused to admit defeat. I did everything you are supposed to do. I saw lactation consultants in the hospital. They tried to fix our latching issues and helped me pump. I made an appointment to see the one at his pediatrician the week after we got home from the hospital. My son continued to struggle with latching so I continued pumping. I started to hate pumping because it took too much effort and I just wanted to go to sleep and never get out of bed. That was the postpartum depression making its entrance.

Even as the postpartum depression symptoms made themselves more visible in those first few days home from the hospital, I still thought I had to breastfeed. Even when I didn’t want to. I remained determined to be that breastfeeding superstar. Yes, I had been supplementing with formula, but what would it say about me as a mother if I couldn’t make breastfeeding in any capacity work? I was already failing at wanting to be a mom and feeling close to my son. At least I could succeed at feeding him the way I believed he needed to be fed.

A few days later at my son’s bris, a group of New York Jewish Grandmothers (mostly friends of my mother-in-law) saw the despair in my eyes when I asked them how their kids chose to feed their babies. And just like Jewish Grandmothers do, they told ordered me to “F**k breastfeeding!” Their kids were formula-fed, and now, most of their grandchildren were too. I needed to do what was best for me and that would be the best way to take care of my new baby. It was then I discovered my second favorite F-word, which also sounded pretty awesome used in conjunction with my other favorite F-word.

The next morning at my appointment with the lactation consultant, I immediately informed her, “I’m not doing this anymore. Tell me how to make the milk go away.” And so, after a week of being a mom, I quit breastfeeding and began exclusively formula feeding my son. My son and I were not destined to share the experience of breastfeeding together and I came to accept that. Today if you ask me if I breastfed my son when he was a baby, I would tell you without any guilt, “I sucked at breastfeeding. I quit after a week.” The reality is I had to take care of my health so I could get to a place where I could love and take care of my baby. My second favorite F-word, formula, allowed me to do that.

Would I have stuck with breastfeeding if I hadn’t been hit with severe postpartum depression one week into motherhood? I don’t know. What I do know is that choosing formula was the best decision for me and allowed me to hold on to some peace of mind while the rest of it surrendered to what would be a year-long battle with postpartum depression.

My new favorite F-word provided me with a way to feed my son so I could take care of myself. Formula also allowed others to feed my son while I focused on my health and fought my illness until I won. Some might call that selfish, but I would argue that a happy, healthy mommy is the best gift we can give to our babies. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the F-club like me or you rock the breastfeeding thing like I could never do. Some moms don’t ever get the luxury of choosing.

Whatever the reason is behind a mom’s decision for how she feeds her baby, we need to remember, fed is fed and we are all on this rollercoaster ride together. And if someone ever tries to shame you for choosing formula, I give you permission to use my other favorite F-word for some extra emphasis when you tell them you don’t remember asking for- nor do you give a f**k about- their opinion.

This post originally appeared at Motherlucker.

Postpartum Depression and Breastfeeding

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I have very strong feelings about breastfeeding. It's not because I'm anti-breastfeeding or anti-formula. In fact, I'm the opposite...I'm pro- women should choose what works best for them and their mental health and sanity during what might be the biggest transition of their lives...motherhood. And no woman should ever be made to feel like she is a failure or a terrible mother because she chooses formula over breastfeeding or even supplements breast milk with formula. Now I know there are the people who believe that becoming a parent is all about sacrifice. We sacrifice for the well-being of our children and therefore moms should breastfeed no matter what. Well I'm here to call bullshit...because at the end of the day, giving your baby a happy, healthy mommy is just as if not more important than giving your baby breastmilk at the expense of your well-being. What about women who don't produce enough milk? What about exclusively breastfed babies who don't gain enough weight? No mom should ever be made to feel bad about how she nourishes her children.

Social media is filled with celebrities promoting breastfeeding. Celebrities not so subtly telling you that breast is best...the only proper way to feed your baby. And it's not just celebrities...regular women like you and me love to judge and shame moms who choose not to breastfeed. Doctors and lactation consultants lay the guilt on thick for new moms who struggle with the decision between breast milk and formula. None of this is fair to new mothers. Plenty of studies show breastfeeding to be the better option and the same number of studies claim that these studies have no merit...which brings me back to my main point...choose what works for you...because your baby will be fine... and fuck the haters and everyone else.

Here is my breastfeeding story: It's not a fairly tale.

When I got pregnant, I decided that I would to try breastfeeding my son when he was born. I had this vision in my head that he would come into this world, perfectly latch onto my boob, we would bond immediately, I would love every minute of breastfeeding, and the baby weight would melt off. Yeah...not so much!

I sort of blame my perfect breastfeeding fantasy on a close friend who was the champion breastfeeder with all of her children. It was never a question for her. She loved it and breastfed her first son for 17 months and her second for a year. This was going to be me too! The funny thing is, if you asked any one of my close friends, they would have told you I was delusional...knowing my me for years and my personality, this fantasy would not become my reality. I was determined to prove them all wrong.

My son was born via C-section late on a Tuesday night. When the nurse asked what I wanted to feed him, I of course said breastmilk. In the recovery room, he latched right away and fed for almost 30 minutes. I knew it! This was going to be easy...my breastfeeding fantasy had come true.

Well my breastfeeding fantasy lasted for those 30 minutes and then poof! It was gone. My son never latched like that again. I tried every position. I tried pumping. I called the lactation consultant every day I was in the hospital. Nothing helped, but I was still determined. I let the nurses supplement with formula when my son was in the nursery. I was okay with this because I was still trying to breastfeed. I was still going to have my breastfeeding fairy tale, even with a little formula mixed in.

Two days after arriving home from the hospital, I would realize I suffered from the beginnings of postpartum depression. I continued to try breastfeeding my son but he always struggled to latch and would just scream and cry. So I switched to pumping because I didn't want to be a failure but the truth was, I hated it. I was miserable and exhausted and anxious all the time. I could barely manage my postpartum depression induced emotions. Breastfeeding was making me feel worse. It didn't make me feel closer to my baby. It didn't bond us at all. In fact, I didn't feel much of anything. I needed others to be able to feed my son because I could barely get out of bed to take care of him or myself.

On my son's fifth day of life, I decided enough was enough. I already suffered from paralyzing depression and anxiety. I didn't need the extra frustration breastfeeding was causing me. I had to give up my perfect breastfeeding fantasy. I had to take care of myself and that meant sleeping, giving in to the anxiety, and letting others give my son a bottle of formula.

On that fifth day, My mom took me to meet with a lactation consultant at my son's pediatrician's office. When she came into the office, I didn't ask for help. I had decided on the car ride over that I was done and my son would be raised on formula. I told her the same thing. "I'm done. tell me how to get rid of my milk." I was scared she would judge and try to convince me to keep breastfeeding. She didn't. She said it was great that I decided to stop on my own terms and told me how to wean away the milk supply. I ended up stopping cold turkey. There was pain and my boobs were hard as rocks for two days, but then the milk stopped coming. I felt relief.

It took some convincing on the part of friends, family, and my therapist that I did the right thing choosing to exclusively formula feed. This would never have even been an issue if I didn't feel so much pressure from outside sources to be super breastfeeding mom. I would have just stopped...no guilt, no shame, no feeling like I failed as a mom and failed my child.

If I decided to have more children, I wouldn't even try to breastfeed them and I don't care what others or the media think of that. I would do what's best for my baby and me and that would be putting my mental health first so I can be there to properly love and care for my child.

I know I already said it, but I'm going to say it again. There is no wrong way to feed your baby. Whether you choose breast milk or formula, you are still a wonderful, capable mother. Don't have too many expectations because there is no way to predict what motherhood will be like for you. Babies don't care about your plans and fantasies. And if people try to tell you differently, screw them! Women need to support women no matter what. Motherhood is hard enough!