This episode I was able to interview two warrior moms in the postpartum depression online space. I chatted with Jen Schwartz, blogger at Medicated Mommy, and Brooke Christian, the found of Flirty Girl. They both met online and created empathy gone viral, Motherhood Understood
What is Motherhood Understood?
Is grounded in the concept of empathy gone viral. They’re main mission is to create a social media platform where moms can unmask their lives so they can live more authentically. This was due to a society where the “super mom” was highly exalted and the imperfect mom is unseen. Because of this, we are all struggling, we feel like we’re failing at every moment. What Motherhood Understood does is provide a safe haven for moms to share their lives authentically without judgment, EVEN the scary stuff! Topics that are discussed are:
- hating your postpartum body
- not wanting to have sex
- not liking to play
- suffering with PPD.
- how do you do self-care when you know how important it is.
Their main goal is to change the conversation around motherhood. They cover the big stuff, like no one else does. And above all, it helps moms know that they are NOT alone. Brooke & Jen know the importance of this because they connected based on these issues. And they wanted to be able for other moms to connect and make relationships through their mom journeys as well. Moms just wanted to know that they are understood.
Brooke had unidentified postpartum anxiety with her first child. Somehow she was able to get through that period in her life and decided to go for a second child. It seemed close relatives and even her OB noticed something was off and she was warned she was high risk.
The second she had her son, she recognized her anxiety was back, but it took 6 weeks for the depression to hit. It was gradual and it just kept getting worse and worse. There were thoughts of running away.
One day she dropped her daughter off at school, with her son in the car screaming in the car seat. She could NOT move. She started calling her dad and friends to see if someone could pick her up because she was just throwing up from the anxiety.
Her girlfriend came to help her and fortunately told her she needed to go get help. She called the OB and husband. Her husband had no idea it had gotten to this. He never really thought she would ever harm herself or couldn’t function, so it was a surprise that they’d have to go to the ER.
She was referred to a psychiatrist who specializes in mothering issues and that’s how she slowly climbed out of her PPD. But she still wonders if it’ll ever go away.
Her pregnancy was pretty uneventful and she was excited. She had these expectations of what a mom looked like, and even though she had never been crafty or much of a cook, somehow as you become a mom, it would miraculously happen. There were no plans of going back to work to teach middle school. The labor lasted 24 hours, she pushed for 2, and ended up having a C-section. While she stayed at the hospital she was a happy mom. Breastfeeding was never an issue because she knew she was going to supplement at night to get sleep. There was plenty of help and when she filled out the Edinburgh Scale, everything checked out well. After 2 days of finally being home, she realized something was off. She became withdrawn, she didn’t want anything to do with her son, constantly crying, not wanting to get out of bed, and then thoughts of hurting the baby. Hurting the baby just enough so that she could go back to the hospital so everyone could take care of her again. There was feeling that she should tell her mom, a therapist, what was going on and before she could, her mother confronted her after her husband and said something was off. The next day she saw her OB, and her OB sent her to a therapist that wasn’t trained in PPD. So that went to search for something better and found the one PPD center in Charlotte. From there, she saw a therapist, and they referred her to a psychiatrist. It took 2 rounds before she finally found the right concoction of medication.
By about 6 months, she went to a hot yoga class, took her soon for a walk by herself, gave him a bath, all willingly. And at her son’s first birthday finally felt like “she got this.” She knew she loved him, and had this confidence about herself.
She believes she had depression before she had her son. There’s still bad days but she’s fully aware of her circumstances. Her funks happen when she’s alone, bored, or she just reminiscing about her life before her child. Because who doesn’t want to read a good book instead of playing on the floor with the kids?
Also, what she believes set herself up for failure was having this expectation of what motherhood looked like. She was never crafty or much of a cook but somehow miraculously once she became a mom, that she would start doing those things. And when she didn’t, that guilt tore her up.
Jen’s Risk Factors
- Long labor
- Moving to a new house 3 months prior
- 30 family members in town while she went into labor
How They Found The Positive In Their PPD
It gave them their identity, purpose, and passion. Made them Medicated Mommy and Flirty Girl.
Jen’s positive turnaround was at the beginning of her PPD and her struggles. She found many articles that just focused on the surface of what PPD was about. In her exploration, she was looking for something more raw and real that she could somehow relate to, and she always came up short. All she wanted were answers for:
How long did it take to recover?
How did you feel?
Before motherhood she loved writing. She pursued an English major and went on to teach English. When PPD came, she knew she had all this material to write about now and she went for it. The point was to make people aware, because she felt that she could’ve prepared more during her pregnancy to prevent that extra layer of depression. There are things you can put into place and it was important for her to be that voice for other moms.
Here are some of the pieces she went on to do:
- What medication she took and didn’t work.
- What medication she took and did work.
- How long it took for her to get better.
- Journal entries written while she was sick.
You can check out her Medicated Mommy Blog here.
About a year after her son was born, she was feeling life was more manageable and she was able to get herself more together. She wanted to boost her self confidence and lost some weight. Through this, she wanted to do a boudoir shoot for her husband for their anniversary. During the photo session, she felt like a phoenix rising. Afterwards, she had the best sex ever with her husband.
Then, they started becoming more experimental in the bedroom and sharing with her mom friends. Intrigued, they did some of the things Brooke had recommended with rave reviews. Wink, wink 😉 But the awesome thing is, these moms started reporting that they were happier. They felt better about themselves, and the date nights were much better. But most of all, they were becoming better moms.
She created a platform for this. Some of the topics she discusses are:
- being bored
- being touched out
- putting themselves last
- post-baby body
- c-section scars
- saggy boobs
You can check out Flirty Girl here.
What I love is that each of these women would NOT regret their PPD, because it’s what led them to what they’re doing today.
Jessica Porten’s Story & The Positive Spin
Jessica Porten wrote a post on FB about her treatment from when she tried getting help with her PPD. In short, she was treated like a criminal. The nurse who saw her initially called the police and the police escorted her to the ER.
You can read the post here.
People were encouraging her to sue the practice among other things and she decided to go a different route. Jessica ended up staying with the practice so she could help educate those doctors and make it so that no other mom would have the same experience as she did.
FYI: She did get the proper help she needed. Numerous people reached out to her including a psychiatrist who specializes in maternal mental disorders in Sacramento. So do not be afraid to get help. The tide is turning!
Where You Can Find Motherhood Understood
*Note: If you listened to the episode, we kept referring to their business as #MomsWhoMeToo but since the interview they changed all their social media channels and websites under the new name because of all the confusion we touched based on during the interview.
To share your story, you can email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org