Month: April 2018

3 smiles pmad

Three Smiles


These three pictures were taken at very different times.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1219″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d” css_animation=”slideInLeft”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1214″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d” css_animation=”slideInDown”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”1218″ img_size=”medium” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d” css_animation=”slideInRight”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]True, they are only a few years apart, but the person in them is different. The first was taken in December  2012, the second in May 2017, and the last in April 2018. It’s the same person on the outside, but a very different person on the inside.

The girl in the first picture is scared, haunted by obsessive thoughts and feeling like a bad mother for wanting nothing to do with the baby she can’t believe is hers. This girl would be put on medication for the short term, but then suffered with crippling anxiety and rage long after. This girl was a one and done with children. This girl thinks she just made the biggest mistake of her life. She hates the baby, her husband, and herself. She overcompensates by keeping her house obsessively clean and working out for hours on end. She cooks months worth of homemade organic meals and keeps herself up at night making homemade graham crackers. She is not me anymore.

The girl in the second picture can’t believe she did this again. She can’t believe she’s feeling this way again. She had it right this time: exercised and ate healthy all through pregnancy, switched from her  OB to a more natural minded midwife, had a natural birth, encapsulated her placenta, took magnesium supplements and had read every book out there. Yet, once again, she’s plagued by sleepless nights, panic attacks, and a crippling depression. She’s heartbroken to see a safe haven sign and learn that she can only drop off a baby 30 days old, and her son is 33 days old. She has visions of dropping her newborn down the stairs. However, she’s  acting as if nothing has changed, and she can totally handle life. She repeats to herself: This is normal. It will pass. She is not me anymore.

Then that girl got the help she needed. That girl started therapy, found the right medication, and met her people. She made it her job to go to every possible event at the Center for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety disorder. She learned she has struggled with anxiety her entire life. She learned that therapy, meditation, mindfulness, writing, exercise in moderation, medication and acupuncture could help her thrive.

The woman in the third picture is not without her battles. The difference now is that smile is genuine. Sure, her kids drive her nuts sometimes and she still struggles with anxiety and not having a constant sense of order. But, she knows how to handle it. She laughs more and stresses less. She’s found a sisterhood of amazing women who accept her for who she is. It’s hard work changing her mindset, but she’s committed. She loves her boys fiercely and knows that she was brought to this place for a reason. This woman is me.

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders are the most common complication of childbirth, and affect one in five women. There is help out there. It’s work, but it can change your life. At almost thirty-five, I’ve finally found myself. I’m a work in progress and that’s alright. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

open letter to my son jenn Mullen

An Open Letter To My Baby On His First Birthday

One year ago today, you came into a family that loved you so much from the moment we found out about you. One year ago today, you taught me that a mother’s heart has no limits. One year ago today, I fell so deep, so hard, and so fast in love with you. Your birthday is a day to celebrate you, but it’s a day to celebrate Mommy, too.

I know babies are supposed to learn from their mommies, but here’s the thing, my little angel, Jake, you taught me so much about myself as a mother, wife, friend, and person.  My love for you was so fierce from the start that I was overcome with extreme obsessive behaviors, worries, anxiety, and fear- but those feelings stemmed from my love for you. All my life, I’ve always wanted to be a mom to a bunch of beautiful babies. I was so extremely blessed to become pregnant with ease. I felt as if my life truly began when I became a mother, so why is this first birthday so hard for me? Why do I feel like my heart is so heavy?

It’s because my PMAD stole my early moments of you.

I was always so worried about you- worried that you weren’t eating enough, worried your belly hurt from reflux, worried about creating the perfect schedule for you… non-stop racing, worrying all day, every day.  The distress and anxiety manifested in this manic version of myself. I was obsessed with making everything perfect for everyone- your dad, your brother, and most importantly you. I held the panic attacks inside, only saying what I was really feeling through my PMAD treatment. Sometimes I don’t think I was even completely honest with myself and my feelings. I cried as I held you, wondering why you were entrusted to a mom would felt fanatical, panicked, and fretful. Suffering with Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder wasn’t something that I wanted to focus on during the first year of your life, but it happened. It was beyond my control. I fought so hard to manage it for many months.

Now at the one year mark, this is what I’ve learned, I can hold onto the guilt, sadness, and shame or I can honor it as a learning experience and release it into the universe because it no longer serves me. I keep asking myself ‘Why did this happen to me?’ I think there was a reason that I can now see. It was to teach me that life with a baby is imperfectly perfect. Even moms make mistakes. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom, it means I’m learning and you’re my teacher. I thank my lucky stars that I was blessed with you and please know that besides my mixed emotions, your birthday is one of my favorite days ever. The moment I saw you, it was pure, organic, phenomenal love.  I want you to know how sorry I am that I spent the first part of your life living as a “mind-full” mom, rather than a “mindful” mom living and treasuring the present moment of your beautiful infancy. I know I can’t get those moments back, but I promise you going forward, I will stay in the now.

This was a hard year for mommy, but know baby boy, it was all for you. I just wanted everything to be perfect for YOU. My sweet Jake, you make my heart smile and all I want for you is happiness, health, laughter & love.  I choose to view your birth as my rebirth as your mom.

I promise to practice mindfulness, patience, and flexibility.

I promise to be your imperfectly perfect mom…the perfect mom for you and your brother, James.

You have my heart always & forever. Happy First Birthday to my beautiful, blue eyed angel.

Love always, Mommy

Jennifer Mullen
Preschool Teacher Room 208
Piner Elementary School

jenn mullen shares her PMAD survivor story

My PMAD Journey Led Me to Mindfulness

Have you ever wondered how you became the person you are? This question haunted me for awhile because I had realized that the person I once was, has left the building—ok, ok, she left the building but it was for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Even typing that makes me wonder, “What?! How did I get there?” Thinking back to my pre-baby life, I can remember myself as fun, carefree, and maybe at times a little stubborn and bitchy. But never anxious- never manic- never this distorted version of myself. So this recollection always led me back to, how did I get here because I followed the path I had always envisioned for myself- college, teaching young children, home by the beach, happy marriage, & beautiful, healthy babies. I had literally managed to get everything I’ve ever wanted for myself, so what changed? Well on my road to recovery, I realized- I changed, I evolved, I bloomed. Becoming a mother is beautiful and amazing but oh my stars, it’s mostly terrifying and filled with doubt and worries. The constant anxiety and obsessive behavior over •every. little. thing.• took over my life. I could’ve gone down a dark, slippery slope and just accepted this version as the new, crazy, manic me, but I fought and clawed my way up that hill. Once I reached the top, the view was so clear, so obvious. The new me is an improved version of me. I’m still fun (within limits because, you know, adulting is tiring). I can be carefree in the sense that I’ve accepted to live each moment in the present and stop obsessing over the past and future. I can still be moody at times, but as soon as that mood or emotion enters my mind, I choose to release it as it no longer serves me in a positive way.

Through this crazy journey, I have learned that becoming mindful is my greatest asset because it has allowed me the gift of time- the present. I’ve often asked myself this question, do I want to be a Mindful Mom or a Mind-full Mom? To answer, I want to enjoy the little moments and celebrate the milestones with peace. Life tends to speed by, and it’s easy to fixate on the little shitty things, but that’s when we miss out on those big, beautiful moments. I turned my lemons into a refreshing lemonade- with a splash of vodka on the side…see, i can still be fun.

So here’s the deal…It does get better- I’m living proof and for those days that might seem harder than others, I remind myself- a bad moment doesn’t make a bad day and a bad day doesn’t make a bad life. Stay strong, trust the journey, and lean on your tribe.

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