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4 Facts About PMADs That May Surprise You

Perinatal Mental and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) affect at least one million pregnant and new moms every year. They are the #1 complication due to childbirth and the second leading cause of maternal death.

We hear a lot about Postpartum Depression (PPD) and feeling sad, crying a lot, and having a loss of interest. But did you know that PPD isn’t the only mental illness to watch out for? And did you know that PPD doesn’t always mean you’re sad?

Here are 4 facts about PMAD’s that may surprise you:

It’s more than depression

PMADs include: Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Bi-Polar, Psychosis, and Post Traumatic Stress. They can occur at any point 12 months after the birth of your child, as well as after weaning from breastfeeding. Women who have a history of mental illness, have suffered a previous loss, or struggled with infertility have a higher chance of developing a PMAD. You can read a little more about each illness here.

You can develop them during pregnancy

I wish I had known this when I was pregnant with G. I knew I needed to be on the lookout for postpartum depression because of my history with anxiety and depression. But I had never heard of pregnancy anxiety or depression.

Neither my husband nor I felt my level of anxiety was normal during G's pregnancy. My OB constantly waved it off as “normal due to previous miscarriage.” Had I been aware that pregnancy anxiety and depression were real things, I might have been more persistent in getting help before my symptoms got worse at birth.

You’re not always sad

Moms with perinatal depression or anxiety can feel irritated or angry. She may show resentment towards her partner or baby. She’s ragey.

Postpartum rage didn’t really hit me until I tried weaning from my antidepressant for the first time when G was about six months old. I never knew what would set me off, and it’s what made me seek professional help from a therapist after G was born.

You can’t sit still

Moms with postpartum anxiety and/or OCD may feel like they have to be constantly doing something: washing, tidying, checking on the baby. She might feel restless.

I was obsessed with cleaning our kitchen. The floor had to be swept and mopped before heading upstairs for the night. It drove my husband nuts, but these things needed to be done in order for me to feel settled for the night. I had no idea this was part of my postpartum anxiety.

Your brain can’t stay quiet

When I was diagnosed with postpartum depression six weeks after G was born, I started taking Zoloft. After a couple of days I had the odd realization that my brain seemed clearer – and quieter. I had NO idea there was so much noise going on in my head. What I experienced during those first six weeks or so was best described as static. Constant static.

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Only 15% of women suffering from a maternal mental illness seek treatment. This is due in part to the stigmas associated with mental illnesses, but I’ve found through talking with other moms and friends that we're not always fully educated on what to look for.

In an effort to reduce stigma and raise awareness, I’m co-leading Fredericksburg’s Climb Out of the Darkness event. This year, our walk benefits Postpartum Support International, the leading non-profit dedicated to helping families struggling with PMADs. 

Whether you’re a new mom, a seasoned mom, a spouse, a friend, or someone who wants to see more awareness brought to maternal mental health, I hope you’ll join us. We’ll be meeting at the Massad Family YMCA on Saturday, June 24 and taking a one-mile walk to honor our personal journeys and help raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with perinatal mental and anxiety disorders.

Team Fredericksburg Climb Out of the Darkness 2016 resize

Team Fredericksburg - Climb Out of the Darkness 2016

Register for Fredericksburg’s 2017 Climb Out of the Darkness today: https://www.crowdrise.com/virginia-fredericksburg/. (It’s free and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!)

Read about 2016’s Climb.

Read about 2015’s Climb.

Read about the first Climb I (officially) attended in 2014.

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Honoring Loss

Grief is personal, and it is experienced differently for each person. It's processed in stages, and just when you feel you've made it through one stage, you might find yourself back tracking.

I learned this in 2011 when my husband and I were at our 12 week prenatal checkup. We were told our baby had passed away at 8 weeks. I'd had a missed miscarriage.

At first, I was okay with the news. Deep down, I had known the pregnancy wouldn’t make it to term. Later, I learned I was in shock. A few weeks later the shock wore off, and I experienced a roller coaster ride of emotions. Sometimes, when I thought I was done with one stage of grief, I found myself right back at the beginning of it.

About 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage, and each of them will grieve in their own way. Some will find it easy to move on. Some, like me, might have a harder time with that – and that is okay.

I didn’t think I would ever get to a place where I wouldn’t not constantly think of our Angel Baby. I didn’t think I would ever stop crying. I didn’t think I would be able to look at my friends, who were pregnant and had due dates close to mine, without feeling resentment and anger.

I realized just how far I’ve come when a picture of my husband and me popped up on my Facebook memories a few weeks ago. It was taken in Mexico, when I was about 10 weeks pregnant with G. I specifically wanted to be out of town on September 6 – our Angel Baby’s due date.

I still don’t fully understand why I felt the need to leave the country. I was grieving. I was also experiencing undiagnosed perinatal anxiety, which made me a bit irrational. I just knew that I needed to leave, so we did. Even in the years that followed, September 6 was a hard date for me.

But this year Facebook showed me my memory from Mexico and it dawned on me that September 6 came and went. It had been a day, just like the day before and the ones after.

And I realized: I’ve come a long way.

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In 1988, President Regan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I had no idea this was a thing until my husband stumbled across information about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day when he was looking for more information on miscarriages.

I don’t recall any memes or quotes being shared on Facebook that first October after our loss. But in the years following, I’ve seen more and more people share them, raising awareness of Pregnancy and Infant Loss.I know for some, simply sharing a post has been their way of saying, “Me too.” And I know for others, seeing those images helps them see that they are not alone.

On October 15, I’ll be lighting a candle at 7pm for the Wave of Light, as a way to remember our Angel Baby and my journey – and to honor those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. If everyone lights a candle at 7pm and keeps it burning for at least an hour, there will be a continuous wave of light over the entire world on October 15.

I blogged a lot as a way to work through my grief after my miscarriage. Re-reading some of the posts I had written on past Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Days made me see that each year, I was in a better place. If you’re interested, you can follow the links below to each post:

2012: I am 1 in 4

2013: 1 in 4

2014: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

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A Rest After the Climb

Postpartum Progress stresses the importance of self-care. In fact, the first thing they asked Climb leaders to do once their Climb was over was take a break. So after the Climb had taken place here in Fredericksburg… and after I entered last minute donations…and after I sent thank you and volunteer emails to my team… and after I emailed press releases to multiple media outlets, I took one.

It ended up being much longer than I had intended.

I spent a lot of time vegging out in front of the TV during nap time. I colored in my Mandala coloring book. In between doctor and therapy appointments, I took my kids to the Children’s Museum in Richmond so they could use the splash pad (I highly recommend it!). We went for walks and visited Braehead Farm a few times. I also wrote at my personal blog, because it was neglected during the months leading up to Climb Out of the Darkness.

I didn’t write much here, and I’m thankful that a change in guidelines meant I could take a break from this blog for a little bit.

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Climb Out of the Darkness can be very emotional for its participants, and even more so for those of us who have spent months trying to organize the event in our cities. Climb Leaders pour their hearts and souls into their Climbs, even if their walks are nothing more than a small group of women gathering for a walk around the block. For many of us (like me), these events make us step outside our comfort zones.

My emotions were all over the place this year. From frustration when I got turned down for sponsorships, to excitement when people I didn’t know registered, to anxiety the day of the Climb. I was emotionally exhausted when the Climb ended this year. It was nice to be able to take a step back into my comfort zone once it was all over.

I am very pround of how well we did this year. Team Fredericksburg grew (34 registered participants versus about 20 last year) and we raised $2,268 (versus $1,741 last year).

This year, as much as I tried not to, I kept comparing my Climb to what other leaders were doing. But in the end, I was reminded that it’s not how fancy the Climb is or the swag, but the women and families we are reaching out to and helping. I wrote about it in a post on my personal blog if you’d like to give it a read.

Inside NOVA and Fredericksburg Today also wrote articles about our Climb. If you haven’t read them, I hope you do!

The Climb may be over, but we’re still raising money for Postpartum Progress. To do so, visit our fundraising page.

I’d like to thank the organizations that helped make this year’s Climb a success: Fredericksburg Parks and Rec, Wegmans, and BJs.

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Painting it Forward

Earlier this month, I hosted a fundraiser for Postpartum Progress at Wine & Design. I set this up sight unseen. I'd never taken a class there – or anywhere like it for that matter. It was my very first “paint and sip” experience.

I had a blast!

If you haven’t been to something like this before, the concept is pretty simple. Bring a beverage (or purchase one, depending on the organization and where the event is held) to sip, and paint a picture.

Those I know who have done this sort of thing before have had nothing but great things to say about them, so I was really looking forward to my Paint it Forward night so I could create my very own Summershine Tree.

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When I arrived to set up, our instructor was busy sketching our trees onto canvas. I was relieved to see that the main object is drawn for you. She also set out our brushes and paper plates with the paint colors we’d need for our painting.

Painting it Forward

A lot of us were anxious about how well our paintings would turn out, but I think they all turned out great! Our instructor gave us step-by-step instructions on what colors to use, how to mix the paint, and where to apply it. She actually painted her own Summershine Tree right along with us!

Painting it Forward via Mom in Progress

I left feeling relaxed which, if you read my first post about this fundraiser, was kind of my intent. Yes, I organized the event to raise awareness of Fredericksburg’s Climb and Postpartum Progress, but there was a self-care aspect I wanted to share with everyone too.

Painting it Forward

I had a few women tell me they signed up specifically to support the cause, so that more awareness can be brought to maternal mental health. Their words reminded me why I've participated in Climb Out of the Darkness since its start four years ago, and why I volunteered to lead a walk again this year.

I want to give a shout out to Michelle, Wine & Design Fredericksburg’s owner. She worked with me so that the night was a success and I’m extremely appreciative of that. And a huge thanks to everyone who came out to paint, have a few laughs, and help moms in the process! Thanks to all of you, $256.00 is going to Postpartum Progress so they can continue to help mothers win their battles with maternal mental illnesses.

Fredericksburg's Climb Out of the Darkness event is Saturday, June 18 at Old Mill Park. There's still time to register! Whether you walk with us at Old Mill Park or send us happy vibes from your couch, we'd love you on our team. Individuals 18+ must register for this free family-friendly event prior to June 18. To register or support us with a donation of your own, please visit our fundraising page.

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You Are Worthy

Pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders often make moms feel like they aren’t worthy to be loved and they may fear that their babies won’t ever love them.

It's a feeling I knew all too well with my oldest. When my postpartum depression was at its worst, I struggled to understand how he could love me when I was feeling overwhelmed, irritable, and resentful most of the time. I also struggled with guilt because I didn't fall head over heels in love with him at first, as I anticipated I would.

Maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression are the number one complication of childbirth and are treatable with professional help. It was with the help of a therapist, medication, and time itself that I started feeling more confident in my role as a mother. I began to understand that I was worthy of my son's love -- and I began falling in love with him too.

Every year Postpartum Progress asks their Climb Out of the Darkness leaders to send in pictures or videos of themselves with their kids/families for an official Climb video. The video aims to let struggling mothers know that there is light at the end of the darkness and that things do get better.

So this video is dedicated to those of you who are still in the trenches, or know someone who is. You are worthy of love, even though there are days when it will feel like you aren't. 

 

Fredericksburg's Climb Out of the Darkness walk is June 18. It isn't too late to register! The Climb is a free, family-friendly event (registration required). If you would like to join us, or support moms with a donation to Postpartum Progress, please visit our team's fundraising page

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Painting for a Cause

A couple of years before G was born, I fell in love with paint your own pottery places. There was one not far from where I lived and I found myself visiting them when life got too hectic for me (like at Christmastime when my anxiety tends to be through the roof). At first I felt weird being there by myself. If anyone else was there it was parents with their children or a group of friends getting together for something fun.

But then the world around me would melt away while I was dipping a brush into paint and gliding it across a ceramic cup or dish. For two or three hours I forgot about everything that was stressing me out, focused only on what I was creating in front of me. I always left feeling more relaxed and my head was a little clearer.

Without knowing it, I was actually doing a form of self-care.

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When I started looking into a public fundraiser for this year’s Climb Out of the Darkness I had those painting sessions in mind. I wanted to give others a chance to take a little bit of time out for themselves and maybe let the craziness of the world melt away for a little bit while they created something beautiful.

So I’d like to invite you to join me in a little bit of self-care on Tuesday, May 3. Grab a beverage and join me for a Paint-it-Forward event at Wine & Design Fredericksburg. We’ll paint and take home our own Summershine Tree to hang on our walls or give to someone we love. (Personally, I am hoping to add the names of my kids along the branches to make it into a family tree.)

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30% of the proceeds from the tickets sold will be donated to Postpartum Progress. Space is limited, so please make sure you reserve your seat ASAP. I hope to see you there! 

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Recap: Spring Break 2016

I started dreaming up ideas of how to keep myself and the boys occupied during spring break back in early February. I was going to make a play date with one of G's school buddies. I was going to make a play date with friends from back home to get our kids together (but really it was an excuse for me to see my friends). I was going to drop the boys off at Granma's for a day so I could catch up on blogging and Climb Out of the Darkness emails.

We had two months of various doctor and therapy appointments for L planned around G's school schedule. On top of that we had been battling various viruses and sinus infections. Sure, I had moments where I could have sent emails and texts to make plans, but I kept putting it off because I just didn't feel like it.

And then spring break arrived and I realized I had almost an entire week with nothing on the calendar. I embraced the empty space and saw it as an opportunity to take our time doing fun things instead of feeling rushed to get somewhere on time.

But first we had to get through Easter weekend. This was also G's birthday weekend and my first taste of what it is like to have a child whose birthday sometimes falls on a holiday. We spent Saturday at my in-laws playing with the new toys G's grandparents and aunt gave him and ate a yummy Easter dinner. Sunday was spent at home hunting Easter eggs, dying hard boiled eggs, and playing with more toys from both the Easter Bunny and my side of the family for G's birthday.

The weather was beautiful that Monday, so I packed the boys a snack and we went to Old Mill Park to do a little more planning for June's Climb Out of the Darkness. I wanted to see what the pavilions were like and gauge what was around the half-mile mark from the park on the Heritage Trail. I was pleased that this mark has the potential to do a little something special I have planned.

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At Old Mill Park

The good weather stuck around, which meant lots of time in the back yard running around, pulling weeds, and swinging.

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We planted some seeds and watch them grow. (Now I just need it to get warmer so I can plant them outside!)

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My parents came down for a visit. They were sweet enough to gift us family passes to the Children's Museum so as a thank-you I used the two free passes we received with our membership and let them see what it was like. I was thankful to have two more sets of eyes on G and L because neither of them wanted to stay in the same place at the same time.

We went from the Children's Museum to Mason-Dixon Cafe. I've been wanting to try this restaurant for months and it was worth the wait; I had a very delicious black bean/veggie burger. My mom seems to be a sucker for ice cream lately, so we went to Carl's right after.

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G giving L a taste of his frozen custard

I ended the week by getting away for a night completely alone, which was a strange feeling. If the boys aren't with me, my husband is. And if my husband isn't, one of the kids is. This was the first time I didn't run out the door thinking, "YAY! I'm FREE!" I actually felt a little sad not being with any of them for the first time in 4 years.

The feeling mostly stuck with me for the drive to my parent's. After dropping off my overnight bag and visiting with them, I went to dinner with friends before attending the evening show of the Atlantic Pole Championship. It wasn't the most amazing pole championship I've seen before, but it was good enough to re-energize my interest in pole dancing and learning tricks.

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The next morning I made a stop on the way back home to have breakfast with one of my best friends from college. I had the best bacon and egg bagel I'd ever eaten. I'm STILL thinking about it over a week later!

How did you spend your spring break?

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I'm Helping Change the Face of Postpartum Depression

Some exciting news started circling around last week. There’s a new app on the market aimed to help scientists figure out why some women suffer from postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis and others don’t.

The University of North Carolina School of Medicine, together with Postpartum Progress, Apple, the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia, the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, and the National Institute of Mental Health launched what has the potential to be the largest study and largest amount of data gathered of moms with postpartum depression to-date: the PPD ACT.

As someone who has suffered pregnancy & postpartum depression and anxiety, OF COURSE I wanted in.

I downloaded the app (free from iTunes) and when I had about 30 minutes to myself, I answered the questions on consent, took a quiz (they really want to make sure you understand how this study works and what you’re consenting to), and proceeded to answer the questions on my experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety.

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If you are familiar with the Edinburgh Depression Scale, the questions might look familiar. The questions I was asked focused on my mood and anxiety after G was born. I love that it was done in the comfort – and privacy -- of my own home. In bed, even! My answers qualified me to give a DNA sample, if I was willing to.

I’m waiting for my “spit kit” as we speak.

UNC is looking for 100,000 women to be part of this study. If this goal is reached, the PPD ACT will be the largest study on postpartum depression to date.

It doesn’t matter if you were officially diagnosed with postpartum depression, anxiety or psychosis. It doesn't matter if you are currently experiencing these illnesses or if it was 20 years in the past. If you’re a mother with an iPhone/iPad who knows something wasn’t (or isn't) quite right during her postpartum period when her babies were born, YOU can be part of this study. None of this is at cost to you and has the potential to change and improve the way we care and treat pregnant and new moms with these illnesses.

I’ve been part of a clinical study before – for antibacterial soap. It was way back before I was thinking about kids and it was an easy way to earn $250.

But this? This to me is so much more rewarding. If researchers find something substantial it could be a big game changer for mothers everywhere, and knowing I helped bring about that change? Well, that’s worth a lot more than any amount of money someone could offer me to do this.

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Consignment Finds: Spring 2016

I was looking forward to the area’s largest consignment sale – Weecycled Wardrobe -- last weekend. G needed clothes for the warmer weather and somehow L had an abundance of shorts handed down from G, but no shirts.

I found enough clothes to see G through the spring and summer, but finding shirts for L was a bust. Toys were actually the jackpot of this sale for us. On the day consigners could shop early, I took both boys with me, which was a huge deal for me. Crowds + me alone with my kids makes my anxiety spike. The only reason for going on this day was so I could find a double jogging stroller. 

Unfortunately, the ones I wanted were claimed so we headed to the toys. The deal was, if they were good for me as I looked at strollers we could walk around the toy section to look for Legos. I knew we'd be coming back in two days with my parents and the boys would sucker them into buying toys so I tried to get them in and out of that section quickly. We did find a few Lego Duplo items and I decided to snatch those up. I bought a large bag of them and a (what appeared to be new) box of Lego Duplos. These were a huge hit when we got home – especially because the large bag contained a Buzz Lightyear figure and a Percy train. I was disappointed when I realized the Legos in the box were NOT what was pictured or described on the tag, but the boys didn’t notice, nor did they care.

When we went back two days later, I shopped for clothes while the boys looked at toys with their grandparents. Both of them found a toy under $5 they fell in love with. Our best deal was probably this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle race kit that was $20. I was extremely wary of what was in the box, but despite it being banged up, the tape looked original (when I rechecked the Lego box, it was clear it had been re-taped). A quick online search told me the set retailed at $39.99, so $20 wasn't bad – if it had its pieces.

I carefully peeled back the tape to open it up and discovered that everything was still in its original packaging. G, who is a huge TMNT fan at the moment, knew that if I didn't get it RIGHT NOW it would be gone forever. I didn't think it was fair to get him a $20 toy and his brother a $4 one.  His birthday was in a week, so I told him we'd get it but he wouldn't receive it until his birthday this weekend.

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He’s spent the week sitting in our closet (were I'm keeping it for now), telling his little brother, “I can’t have this until my birthday so we can only look at it right now.”

On our way to the check out linet, the boys stopped in their tracks at the Cool Cat Cupcakes table. I was extremely excited to see they are nut-free, especially because L’s peanut allergy level hasn't changed. We went home with their vanilla, chocolate with vanilla frosting, chocolate espresso, and chocolate vanilla cream filled cupcakes. They were my personal favorite purchase at the sale.

Espresso is not a flavor I typically go for, but this cupcake was great. It had mini-chocolate chips in the cake which I wasn't expecting, but was a nice surprise. The boys ate the chocolate with vanilla cupcake before I could take a picture of it -- but they ate it all which means it was good.

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The vanilla cupcake tasted like a sugar cookie, and the chocolate vanilla cream filled one tasted just like the mass produced Hostess cupcakes. At least that’s what I gathered from the one bite I took out of it. L swiped the rest of it off the counter while I was trying to get our last fire of the season going on Monday. I may or may not still be bitter about missing out on the rest of that cupcake. From what I gathered, L would give it an A+.

Did you shop at Weecycled Wardrobe last weekend? Did you come home with any great finds? 

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I'm At it Again: Climb Out of the Darkness 2016

Postpartum Progress’ very first Climb Out of the Darkness event was held in 2013. It raised $42,000 and had 177 participants in 40 states and seven countries around the world. That year I was an unofficial Climber and walked to a stop sign a few houses down from mine and back.

In 2014 the Climb included more than 1,500 participants who raised $165,000. The event also generated news coverage both nationally on outlets like the New York Times, and locally in newspapers such as the Baltimore Sun. That year I joined Team McLean in Northern Virginia at Great Falls National Park. It was amazing to meet other moms who understood the uphill battles of maternal mental illness.

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In 2015, Climb Out of the Darkness had more than 2,500 registered participants on more than 150 teams in 45 states and 5 countries. The event raised $230,000. It was my first year leading a Climb. Team Fredericksburg had 25 registered Climbers and we raised $1,741.

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This event has grown so much over the last three years and I cannot wait to see how big it gets this year.

I want to be part of it all again, so I’m organizing Fredericksburg’s second annual Climb Out of the Darkness event. I’m hoping we have at least 30 Climbers and can raise at least $2,000 this year.

I would love for you to join us and support us!

What exactly is Climb Out of the Darkness?

Climb Out of the Darkness® is the world’s largest event raising awareness of postpartum depression (PPD), anxiety, PTSD, psychosis and pregnancy depression. The event was created by and benefits Postpartum Progress Inc., a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that raises awareness and supports pregnant and new moms with these illnesses.

Women around the world participate in this grassroots event by going on a hike outside on the longest day of the year to shine a light on PPD and related illnesses. The event is open to anyone and everyone who supports our cause. Anyone can participate, as long as they register.

What is Postpartum Progress?

From their website: Postpartum Progress is a peer-to-peer 501c3 organization that works to create an atmosphere in which women can recognize when they need help for maternal mental illness, feel safe reaching out for that help, and know that a community of thousands of other mothers stands beside them and behind them.

But here’s my version: they’re a saving grace. After the loss of my first pregnancy, their blog was the only place on the internet that confirmed my suspicions that postpartum depression CAN happen after a miscarriage. Since then, it’s been a place of valuable, up-to-date information and support, especially since moving away from everything I knew in Northern Virginia to Fredericksburg.

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Fredericksburg’s Climb Out of the Darkness event will be held at Old Mill Park on the morning of Saturday, June 18. Thanks to a wonderful in-kind donation from Fredericksburg Parks and Rec, we've got a covered space this year! After a little bit of mingling, we’ll take a group walk along part of the Heritage Trail. This is a family-friendly event that is free to register for. You can register to walk with us or you can register simply to show your support to all the moms and families who are affected by maternal mental illnesses – no worries if life gets in the way and you find you are unable to attend! Fundraising is also optional.

If you’d like to join or donate to our cause, please do so here: http://bit.ly/COTDFredericksburg2016.

If you have any questions or want to know how you can help make this event a huge success, please feel free to reach out to me. You can email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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5 Things I Did for Me This Month

Self-care.

This comes up in each one of my therapy sessions. It also comes up a lot in the postpartum groups I’m part of.

What are you doing to take care of you today?

Life gets in the way. Being a parent is time consuming. It’s easy to put yourself last, but it’s very important to put yourself first, even if it’s only a couple of minutes each day.

I’m still learning that making the time to do something for myself isn’t selfish; it’s necessary to keep me from getting overwhelmed. When I’m overwhelmed, I’m unhappy. And when I’m unhappy? Well, nobody is happy.

Most days, my self-care is the simple act of taking a shower before bed, but I fit in a bit more when I am able.

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Five ways I’ve given myself self-care this month:

1) Got lost in a good TV series: I spent an entire week watching the first two seasons of Black Sails. Twice. I may have spent a bit of time with my head under the covers because of the violence, but the parts between? AH-MAY-ZING.

2) Got lost in a good book: With no subscription to Starz, I’ve been unable to watch the current season of Black Sails. There’s a void in my life now, so I borrowed Pirate Latitudes from the library.  If I hadn’t done the next point I’d have finished the book in three days.

3) Exercised -- sans-kids: When I go for a walk or a run, I tend to bring a child or two along, but 1-2 evenings a week I head over to Polar Fitness to take a PiYo, flexibility, and/or a pole fitness class. I love getting to hang out and talk with people who are closer to my own age without having to keep an eye on little children. If you’re looking for something different, check them out. They also offer Silks, Barre, and Parkour!

4) Took a hot shower -- before the kids took their bath: Our water heater has been on the fritz lately, so I’ve been taking a lot of lukewarm-to-cold showers because I always end up taking one after someone else has had a bath or shower. This does nothing positive for my mood, so on a few particularly trying days I beat my kids to the hot water and took my shower before they had their baths. The bonus here was that I was ready to slide right into bed once my kids were tucked in.

5) Colored: Adult coloring books still seem to be an In Thing and while I’ve always enjoyed coloring, I don’t think I noticed its calming effect on me until I started using the Mandala Coloring Book last year when I was organizing the Climb Out of the Darkness event. If you haven’t already jumped aboard the Adult Coloring bandwagon, I highly recommend starting with this book.

Self-care doesn’t have to mean getting a massage or meditating -- which is what I always picture at first when I hear the phrase. Self-care is simply taking a moment for yourself, to do whatever it is YOU enjoy.

So, what are you doing to take care of you today?

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Tolerable Children's Songs for Your Playlist

The week before Christmas, I received a call from our insurance company informing me that my car had officially been deemed totaled from the accident I was in before Thanksgiving. It was news I didn’t really want to hear because a totaled car meant getting a newer one, and mostly likely a car payment along with it. My car had problems and we knew we needed to start looking for a larger family car in the near future -- I just wasn’t ready for that future to come so soon.

When I cleaned out my old car, I forgot all about the CD G insisted we listen to every time we were in the car. He called it his “ABC music.” I called it torture. It was actually a CD that came with the Fisher Price Love to Play Puppy he received on his first Christmas. This CD played nearly every song the Laugh and Learn toys play. I hated it, but it kept G calm and entertained during car rides (he doesn’t like being still for too long.)

I wasn’t the least bit upset when I realized I didn’t bother checking the CD player before telling my insurance company they could have my car. (Well, okay, I wasn’t upset once I confirmed that my CDs were accounted for.)

Surprisingly, G wasn’t too fazed either, but I think that’s because Christmas was around the corner and he learned to enjoy listening to the radio station that was playing Christmas music 24/7 at the time. By the time Christmas was over, we were enjoying our winter break, mostly at home. Then we bought a new car.

I love our new car, and even more I love that I’m getting to try SiriusXM for three months. I’ve listened to a few stations, but the one that gets used the most is Kids Place Live.

I’ve been happy with a mix of older songs (like the ones I remember from Sesame Street or The Muppet Show) and newer ones sung by people and bands that aren’t showcased on PBS Kids or Sprout (the two networks we watch most).

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We won’t be continuing our Sirius subscription when the trial is over and I can already tell I will miss this station. In the meantime, I’m using it to my advantage to keep a list of songs to add to a playlist I have on my phone with kid-appropriate songs for the boys to listen to – ones that I don’t mind getting stuck in my head.

If you’re looking for songs to add to your kid-friendly playlist, here are a few I’ve added to mine:

Steven Tyler: I love Trash

Joel Henriques: Lightspeed (for the Star Wars Fan)

Steve Goodie: Harry Sings His Tragedy (for the Harry Potter fan.)

Michael Buble: Spider-Man Theme

Vanilla Ice: Ninja Rap

Annette Funichello: Pineapple Princess (a true oldie)

Jonathan Coulton: The Princess Who Saved Herself

… and if you aren’t grossed out by bodily functions:

Randy Kaplan: Everybody Farts

Randy Kaplan: Follow Your Nose

What children’s songs have you enjoyed listening to with (or without) your kids?

 

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Why I Love My Slow Cooker

When I became a stay-at-home mom, I quickly learned that, although I was less stressed out after leaving my job, trying to Do It All like I boasted I would was near impossible. Those things like play with the baby, clean, do the laundry, and have a nice dinner on the table by 5pm weren’t happening with a toddler demanding my attention or making a new mess after I cleaned one up.

I have one appliance that has helped immensely with the dinner part: my slow cooker.

I learned during maternity leave that the slow cooker is one of the greatest gadgets ever. It has been the biggest reason why we have homemade meals that don’t involve mac and cheese and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets most of the week.

I've started admitting that dinner is the hardest meal of the day for me to make. Witching hour is no joke. My children are hungry despite having just had a snack and tired despite just having had a nap. They want my attention and are a lot more clingy during this time of day. My husband walks through the door and immediately goes upstairs to clean up after work. We don’t see him until dinner is put on the table. I hate to admit that there is lots of yelling and frustration during this part of our day.

Slow cooker nights are great because I can dump all the ingredients into the pot in the morning, turn it on low, and have dinner ready around 5. Meals made with the slow cooker allow me to spend more time with my boys during that crazy 60-120 minutes between waking up from naptime and getting dinner on the table. I’ve found there’s less frustration and less yelling because I’m able to give my kids the attention they want without having to keep an eye on multiple dishes in the oven or on the stove.

Plus, there are less dishes, which also means more family time after dinner. (Or maybe a  chance to sneak away for a few minutes of Me Time before bedtime chaos begins).

If we have leftovers (which we usually do) they get put in a freezer bag for another day. I’ll pull these out if we have a busy day on the calendar or on the weekend when I don’t feel like cooking. Not having to put too much effort into making dinner on those types of days is amazing.

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Did you know that January is National Slow Cooking Month? I didn't. But now I do, so in honor of it I’m sharing my three favorite slow cooker recipes:

Soda Pop Chicken

This recipe from Food.com calls for cola, but I’ve heard that Dr. Pepper also works well. I’ve never tried it with whole chickens; only boneless skinless chicken breasts. Soda Pop Chicken was the first thing I learned how to make using my slow cooker and we had it several times during my maternity leave. It might not be the healthiest thing because of the soda, but it’s good. Originally, I put the chicken over rice, but when I ate the leftovers for lunch I realized that this made a great sandwich when the chicken is shredded up. I love it on a toasted bun with some hot sauce, BBQ sauce, and pickles.

Chicken Taco Chili

If you’ve been on Pinterest looking for recipes, you may have come across this one. Skinny Taste’s Chicken Taco Chili is a staple at our house now. I usually top it over rice in a bowl, but it’s also great on its own or over tortilla chips (or in a tortilla itself).

Chicken Gyros

I recently fell in love with this Halal Guys copy-cat recipe from Frugal Bites. And because the seasoning isn’t too crazy, the leftovers are great in a stir-fry or pot pies later in the week.

Do you do use a slow cooker? What is your favorite recipe?

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About Emma

emma headshot

Emma is married to her high school sweetheart and is a stay at home mom of two boys: G and L. A wanna-be professional writer and photographer, she can often be found following her boys around with a camera. When she isn’t chasing after her kids, Emma writes about her motherhood journey on her personal blog, Muddy Boots and Diamonds.

Pouches' Community Corner

This month Pouches learned about a very important resource for families who have lost loved ones to sudden tragedy, an organization called LLOST.

keepsake box

The foundation has helped 44 hospitals in 22 states through their Treasured Memories program. The program sends nurses to bereavement training, and provides or supplements the $55 memory boxes that include clothes, booties, handknot blankets, pictures, foot prints, hand prints, clipped hair and other mementos.

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