When It’s Mother’s Day During A Pandemic

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When it’s Mother’s Day during a pandemic and you are sheltering in place in Oakland, you will find yourself on the brink of tears at any given moment for no reason at all and for so many reasons.

A good friend will tell you that it is difficult to process trauma when you are still experiencing it.

When you are sheltering in place during a pandemic on Mother’s Day you will feel incredibly guilty for the words that you could not keep from your lips. You will tell your kids to leave you alone and you will be angry with your mouth for not being restrained by your heart.

You will start to fear the world that you are preparing them for. You will think about the days of school missed because of wildfires and now this. Will school ever be the same?

You will note that racism literally does not shelter in place.

You will wonder how crime seems to be down all over the world and yet people are getting shot on 580.

You will listen to Cranes in the Sky and Mamas Gun on repeat when DNice isn’t enough.

You will have to mentally prepare yourself for the grocery store but appreciate it for the welcomed break from your family.

You will mourn the lives lost. Some from the virus, some not. Some of people you know and some of people you do not know; but somehow you miss them.

You will begin to long for the between times. The drives to work. Prep periods. The moments before picking the kids up from school. You realize though short, those times were invaluable.

When it’s Mother’s Day during a pandemic and you are sheltering in place your husband will do whatever he can to cheer you up. He will grow frustrated when your mood doesn’t change.

You know that the only thing that would grant you solace is to have a break. The problem is, the only person who can help you needs a break too.

You feel stuck.

Your family is healthy. You have a roof over your head. You are able to work from home. You have a million things to be grateful for…

You feel guilty.

When it is Mother’s Day during a pandemic and you are sheltering in place. You will Facetime your mother. You will breath. You will enjoy a break from homeschooling. You will enjoy a break from work. You will sleep in a little bit. Maybe drink some wine.

You will survive.

Don’t Ask None Won’t Be None

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The other day I was talking to a close friend and she, being a single woman, voiced annoyance about being asked when she is going to have a baby at a baby shower she was attending. Not only did it feel like a gross invasion of her privacy by acquaintances that should know, if you don’t know the answer to that question, then we obviously aren’t close enough for you to be asking that question, (Okrrrrr) BUT it brought some uninvited feelings up in her that she wasn’t trying to feel as she was just trying to live her best life at this baby shower. We all have these moments and for my friend the baby question was particularly triggering. Y’all already know I can’t stand it when people ask me if I am pregnant even when I am sometimes (get off my ovaries!). For some people it’s, have you found someone to settle down with? Have you set a date for your wedding? Are you thinking about having children? Or, when are you going to give your mama a grandbaby?

On the surface, these questions seem harmless and just people’s casual attempt of creating small talk with you to create some kind of connection since they haven’t seen you in awhile, but what they really are are microaggressions. They serve as small little reminders of the societal expectations of how we should be living our lives as women. And the moment we step out of those norms, Oh, you don’t want to have children? Oooh, you are in a romantic relationship with a woman? O, you are taking time to seek guidance and work on your own shit before getting involved in a romantic relationship? We basically get asked questions that the people who asked unknowingly can’t handle the responses to.  

As we move into a new decade, we know better and should do better. There are so many factors that contribute to how people live their lives. Intimacy and companionship has evolved which is made evident by the Facebook relationship status “it’s complicated”. Miscarriages are real and an estimated 25% of women who get pregnant will experience having one. People have fertility issues, people have  mental health struggles, people are taking time to figure shit out, and well a lot of people out here simply discontinued their subscription to Patriarchy Daily so questions around relationship status, baby status, housing status just don’t even make sense for their non-conformist, “I’m going to do me, so I suggest you do you” fabulous selves.  

So while it is not likely that we are going to shift the habits of our Boomer aunts and uncles at family events, let’s at least start shifting things for our generation and the next. Of course we are still going to be curious but we need to just trust that the answers to our questions will reveal themselves in time if we are meant to know them. Let’s give our second cousins, nieces, play brother’s next door neighbors and friends of friends space to just be. Let’s get to know them by asking them the last movie they watched, the last book they read, where they like to go for some really good cheesy Mexican food (sidebar: Almost all of my favorite Mexican food restaurants have closed and I am on a quest to find a replacement so if you have any suggestions please feel free to comment below however, this question should work for you too, food is something that bonds people :), or where they would be interested in traveling if they had the resources to. 

Let’s proceed with caution this holiday season and try to be mindful of questions that we have that are rooted in our expectations of the type of lives we think people should desire. Let’s think about the potential for our questions to be triggering for people. I am nosey by nature and really like to study people so I know this approach will be a bit of a challenge for me but it will be worth it if it means that I can avoid making someone feel like my friend felt at that baby shower or if I could avoid the guilt I felt after asking a question at a social event that unearthed some pain for the person I was speaking with. It is simply a matter of showing respect to our loved ones, “Which was what love was: unmotivated respect” ~ Toni Morrision.    

Postpartum Depression: There is a Treatment

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Cordelia Gaffar is an author, speaker and mother of 6. This is her postpartum depression story.

It all started 16 years ago when I went to my six week appointment after my son was born.  feelI complained to my OB/GYN that I was feeling out of sorts. She readily prepared a prescription for antidepressants. 

That was my wake up call. “Did I really need antidepressants to cope with life?” I knew that I had some remaining grief from losing my parents in consecutive years just four years previous. I had also back to back miscarriages. Maybe that is why I gained so much weight during my pregnancy. Then it gripped me…

“I am 30 years old and will be fat forever!!!”

Oh the dread that overcame me. Then all at once, I remembered that I am the “I Can Do It Kid!” I can get through this. I need to find a way. I started to research how to deal with depression naturally and  found studies about the importance of niacin when growing a male child to accommodate the excessive testosterone in the mother’s body. I found foods like cashews, avocado and others with natural good fats could combat depression and later discovered also help with weight loss. I did further research for stress reduction and found exercise. Now I grew up with a dad who was an avid walker so I was not a gym rat. My idea of a good workout was a 5 mile walk. In my search, I found Pilates which I loved and weight training. Both of these options, gave me short targeted workouts to accommodate my new mom schedule.

So between exercise and diet change to support my mood, the hormonal changes in my body of having a boy and nursing, I was able to release all 63 pounds and overcome depression before he was walking. My son was an early walker at about 9 or 10  months.

My biggest issue was not being able to connect with my son. I became very mindful in each moment so that I could slow down and breathe. Then, I would recite prayers to him over and over again as I nursed or walked him. I made the walking and rocking into a dance. It became a healing for me and calmed him down. He wasn’t a good sleeper and loved being held constantly. There was also much reframing my perspective with sweet talk. No matter what was waiting, laundry dishes, my older child, who was 2 or getting to work on time, I created a time warp just for us. Eventually I stopped working for a several months and created more routines to connect while nursing.

People were impressed with my results and asked my advice. Some took it, some laughed at it, some said it is too much write a book. In all cases, that was the beginning of my journey and I did not do any of those things until about nine years later when I was expecting my fifth child.

In 2010, I started a blog to help me cope and give me a real mental reset to prepare for having five children after having established a great system of self-nurturing having four. What I was developing at that point was a journal and record of a duplicatable path…and ultimately the beginnings of my first and second books.

Even then I did not realize that this could be a viable coaching business for me until I had my sixth child and achieved the same results. When she was almost one, I decided to start coaching other moms, complete writing and publish my first book. In 2016, I started promoting my book by creating workshops and seeking speaking opportunities and finally live streaming. I continued to coach women also and refine my one on one coaching, developed group coaching and online courses, beta tested them.

Who knew that the pain of my postpartum depression would give me so much inspiration and life?

My coping mechanism became Workout Around My Day. Now, I am a Holistic Life Coach helping women to heal by building a system of self-nurturing nourishing with wholesome food, energizing with movement and reframing her perspective with sweet talk ultimately eliminating the cause of her health conditions and detox her body. I am also a speaker and travel to conferences.

Don’t let your depression swallow you whole. Live in each moment and look for the light. One day you could inspire someone too.

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Thank you Cordelia, so much for sharing your inspiring story about hope and recovery.