If Postpartum Mamas Banned Bossy


“Shhhhhhh. Don’t talk too loudly and don’t let anyone hear you.” the woman whispered as they chatted in the vestibule at church. Her companion had just expressed concern about a young new mother in the congregation who looked a bit exhausted that morning as she wrestled with her six week old and two year old toddler.

She patted her grey curls and adjusted her purse as she glanced around and leaned in to speak. “Don’t say anything but I heard from Ethel that she’s struggling with…” she lowered her voice to barely a whisper “that postpartum depression stuff.”

Her companion gasped and put her gloved hand over her mouth.

“No… not that. Why, in our day, we didn’t have that sort of thing. We just made do. These new age mamas and their excuses not to do the work mothering requires of them. Why it just makes me so angr…” Susan wagged her finger in front of her mouth as the bedraggled topic of their gossip approached.

“Well, hello there, Beth! Just how are things with you these days? And ohhhh… look at the new little one! Isn’t she just precious?” Beth sighed, glanced at the baby then back at Susan. She forced a smile and said “Just fine, come on, Ethan. Let’s go find Daddy.” As they started to walk off, Susan made a knowing eye contact with Joan, motioning after Beth, as if to say “I told you so.”

They stood there for a few more minutes, dissecting every aspect of Beth’s behaviour, dress, and choice of clothing for her children but not once did they discuss how they could help Beth as she learned how to navigate her way through this brand new motherhood of two children. Instead, they simply stood aghast and whispering at her apparent failure, ignoring all the signs that something was amiss.

Sadly, this still happens to many mothers. We are judged. Discussed. Analyzed. Dismissed. All because so many fail to discuss what is actually going on inside our heads. Because not enough of us get BOSSY about it.

What if, when Beth finally heals, she grabs the bull by the horns and starts a support group at her church? What if she dares to get up in front of the congregation and admits to her experience and educates those sitting there? What if she dares them to do more for new mothers and therefore changes the lives of new mothers touched by this church? But if we ban bossy, the Beths of the world won’t do this because well, they’ll be sitting down and not doing anything to blaze a path because SHHHHHHH. We dare not be bossy.

If I had not been bossy with my maternal medical care, things would have gone unnoticed. Hell, even though I was bossy the first time, I still went untreated because I was seen as “wrong” even though I knew myself better than anyone else. My “bossy” hormones should have slid magically back into place at four weeks postpartum so it wasn’t possible for me to have PPD. Shame on me for daring to say anything about not feeling well and daring to expect the doctor to actually, oh, I don’t know, DO SOMETHING. I slinked away, disappointed at not receiving help and resolving to stand up for myself down the road if necessary even if it hadn’t gotten me anywhere the first time around.

I got bossy the second time around too after my docs scheduled me for an induction WITHOUT MY CONSENT after noting that my first baby had been “big” at birth (she was 8lbs 3oz, thank you very much.)

What would happen to women, to all the progress we have made in the birthing world – hell, in the postpartum world, if we banned bossy?

There would be no Katherine Stone.

There would be no #PPDChat.

There would be no ample supply of kick ass doulas.

There wouldn’t be a chorus of PPD advocates or breastfeeding or formula feeding advocates. Or Attachment Parenting advocates. Or…. do I really need to go on?

What about NICU Parents? Where the hell would they AND THEIR CHILDREN be without the bossy trait?

Bossy is necessary.

Bossy saves lives.

Banning bossy is akin to telling someone to sit down, shut the eff up, and take whatever life shoves their way. Maybe that’s not what this campaign is about, maybe it’s about taking charge and finding a more positive way to spin it but dammit, no one gets to tell me what word to use to describe myself.

Words are powerful things. They incite strength, they spark revolutions, they can make us cower or they can give us power. But the beauty of words is that WE get to decide what they mean to us, not those who are spewing them at us. We define them. We can take them and twist them into the most beautiful and amazing things ever seen by mankind. It is up to us to choose how to process that which is spoken to us, about us, by us, and for us.

No one should ever put bossy in the corner.

No one.

Instead, we should grab it by the hand, drag it out to the dance floor, and flaunt that baby like there’s no tomorrow. Own it as if we are in the spotlight with Patrick Swayze himself, getting ready to dive off the stage into his arms.

The idea that we are to ban this word to encourage young girls not to be afraid of being “leaders” scares me.

Are we really empowering girls by doing so or are we further protecting them from the big bad world out there waiting to swallow them whole? Bossy gets you places. Bossy starts inside, it drives us forward, and it ENABLES us to be leaders. Not the other way around. If we ban bossy instead of embracing bossy, we are further shaming the word and the attitude. Hell, motherhood alone requires a certain level of bossy, does it not? As does fatherhood.

I am bossy.

I am not afraid to say no.

I am not afraid to stand up for my beliefs. I am not afraid to stand up for others and the rights they have. I am not afraid to tell someone “No, that’s not right. This is the truth, and you need to listen to it.” I am not afraid to protect and defend mothers who suffer from Perinatal Mood Disorders.

I will be bossy about Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders until the day I die.

No social media campaign (or anything else for that matter) will ever change that.

Let’s not ban bossy.

Let’s make some noise…and make some history while we’re at it.

Because “well-behaved women seldom make history” yanno.

Here’s to all of us bossy women – rocking the world, taking names, and kicking ass.

Stay bossy forever.

#PPDChat Topic 02.25.13: Outta Steam – Coping on the Hard Days


ppdchat-02-25-13Motherhood, heck, parenthood period, doesn’t come loaded with sick days or days off when the going gets tough. No, we have to steel ourselves to push through it. Sometimes we soar right on through whatever is flung in our direction and then there are times when we feel we fail miserably.

It’s not easy.

With a Postpartum Mood Disorder on board, it gets even muckier. We barely have the energy to fight that in addition to taking care of our children, let alone tossing anything else on top of the flames. So how do you handle it when a tough day (or days) hits when you’re struggling? What if you get sick? What if everyone is sick? Or there’s an emergency family situation? Or..the list could go on.

Today’s chat will focus on these situations. Feel free to join us to vent, share tips, or just hang out. We don’t promise to instantly cheer you up or fix all the tough in your life, but after today’s chats over on Twitter, you’ll know you aren’t alone.

See you there!

 

 

#PPDChat Topic 02.11.13: Ostracized – Internal or External?


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As a mom struggling with a postpartum mood disorder, we often take a step back into our own world because we have to in order to heal. We protect ourselves from harms way by placing ourselves in a bubble, whatever size bubble that may be. As a result, we feel ostracized, isolated, shunned. The isolation is part of postpartum depression, we tell ourselves. Motherhood is isolating enough, without postpartum depression.

After we’ve healed enough to come out of our caves, we look around the landscape for anything familiar. Sometimes, it’s just as we left it. Other times, it’s completely changed because those around us don’t know how to relate to us now. They aren’t sure how to be themselves with us or if they’re *gasp* safe with us. We’ve all felt this at some time or another. This part, it’s not us. It’s them. It’s not what we’ve done, it’s how those around us deal with mental health issues. Maybe they’ve never had to deal with them before, maybe they’re not educated enough to deal with them. But there we all are, in a room, with an elephant.

That’s what today’s chat is about -that elephant- and whether it’s created by us or them. Join us and let’s get to talking about how to deal with that huge elephant in the room – brainstorm how we can get it to pull up to the table and drink tea with ALL of us.

Daly Response: Breastfeeding, Family Dynamics, and Communication


Starting a family is no small decision. Expected or unexpected pregnancy involve major decisions and choices. How will you parent? How will you care for the child? Who will be the primary caregiver? Will you share responsibility equally? Attachment parenting? Extended breastfeeding? No breastfeeding? There are so many decisions to be made once a child enters your relationship. These decisions affect family dynamics and should not be made independently of your partner. They should be thoroughly discussed and mutually agreed upon. One of you may end up having to compromise but ultimately, you must do what is best for your child within your personal parenting philosophy, hopefully with a partner who sees along the same lines.

Parents these days have a bevy of knowledgeable resources available to help with their decisions regarding parenting. Pediatricians, lactation consultants, other parents, and just about everyone on the planet.

We all love to chime in on how others parent, don’t we? Especially with the explosion of social media. Judgment runs amok when a parent asks even the most innocent of questions.

Today, the NY Times posted a piece by James Daly which explores the effect of extended breastfeeding on a couple’s sex life. Daly states:

“Other men — me, for example — might be driven to engage in something even worse: sexless fidelity. Mine crystallized in Central Park one evening, while watching my wife sit under a tree with my older son, a five-and-a-half-year-old young man with a full set of teeth and chores, stretched out to roughly the size of a foal, suckling. By the time they strolled back to me and my already-nursed toddler son on the picnic blanket, I had lost my appetite — and not just for the smoked salmon. There are some things in life most men cannot share with first-graders, and two of them used to be called breasts. Now, my first grader called them boobalies, and history is written by the victors.”

Breastfeeding is recommended for at least two years or beyond by WHO, exclusive nursing for the first 6 months with complementary foods added until two years. Now, the WHO code implies “beyond” is solely between the mother and child. While I don’t think Daly’s threat of infidelity based upon his wife’s choice of extended breastfeeding is kosher, I understand where he’s coming from.

A family, when a father is present, is not just a mother and child. All too often, the father’s needs and desires are often thrown out the window. He doesn’t matter and should shut up if he so much as voices any disagreement to how his wife chooses to raise their children, run the household, or anything else.

It’s not about who wears the pants in the relationship. Feminism doesn’t mean we get to make decisions without our partner. it means we are equal to them, not above them. Isn’t that what we fought for? Not to be beneath men? So why should they be beneath us and suddenly not matter? Where’s the victory in that?

Granted, women HAVE run things in the home and the childcare realm for quite some time. But more and more, men are involving themselves in these situations. Stay at home dads are increasing in number.

Sex is also an important aspect of a relationship. It’s how we’re intimate with our partners. It’s nurturing, releases hormones, stress, and brings us closer. Yes, intimacy IS possible without sex. However; intimacy is NOT possible without communication.

That’s where I believe this issue with Daly and his wife has broken down – at the communication level.

Clearly he’s not happy about his wife’s extended breastfeeding to the point of losing his appetite. Whether he’s actually considering infidelity or not is up in the air – he may just be using that as an example. I know that when I was breastfeeding, I was not terribly keen on my husband playing with my breasts. When I’m breastfeeding, my breasts are functional, not sexual.

What many men miss is that breasts are primarily designed to be functional, not sexual. Yes, breasts are visually appealing and nipple stimulation does provide sexual pleasure for many women, but ultimately, the breast is phenomenally designed to create and make milk to feed infants, a process which starts during pregnancy.

At the end of his piece, Daly states:

“I say that the foundation of the parent-child bond is the parent-parent bond. Unlike the baby chicken or the fertilized egg conundrum, partnership precedes parenthood. That’s how you got into this position to begin with: by attracting a man who liked what he saw, and wanted to see more of what even the scientists researching extended breast-feeding call mammaries, not Mommaries.”

Daly is right but he’s also wrong. The parent-parent bond IS important to the development of a child. But many successful children are raised by single parents. We’re specifically discussing a partnership here though so we’ll address this aspect. This goes back to what I stated earlier – when you decide to have a child, how that child is fed should be a mutually agreed upon decision. Granted, that doesn’t always happen as life does not occur in a vacuum. But Daly himself states that he SUPPORTS his wife’s choice to breastfeed their sons, thereby accepting the flashing of “mommaries” instead of the “mammaries” which allegedly attracted him to his wife in the first place.

Attraction should be comprised of several things –not just appearance and physical attributes– it should include intellectual capability, sense of humor, communication skills, compassion, etc. There’s a reason eHarmony is so successful –they don’t just toss the physical at you. (not a sponsored mention.)

Physical fades. It changes. Your spouse/partner may have medical conditions (mental or physical) which impede sexual interaction. What then? If you don’t have any other basis for attraction to your spouse/partner, you’re screwed, and not in the way you desire. But is that justification for infidelity?

No.

Daly and his wife need to have a discussion about the state of their relationship because for now, I have a feeling he’s going to see a lot more of the “mommaries” than the “mammaries” if he fails to vocalize his feelings about his wife’s extended breastfeeding of their sons.

You could argue that extended breastfeeding has amazing benefits – nurturing, intellectual, etc. But you could also argue, as Daly does, extended breastfeeding impinges on the sexual relationship and therefore the intimacy of the parent-parent bond.

Here’s the thing – if your parent-parent bond relies solely on sexual interaction and seeing her “mammaries” instead of her “mommaries”? Your relationship may not have the best foundation.

Communication. THAT’S where intimacy starts. Daly should give it a shot.

A Father’s Insight


What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That’s what little boys are made of !”
What are little girls made of?
“Sugar and spice and all things nice
That’s what little girls are made of!

Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails grow up to be stoic and fearless, handymen expected to fix everything. At least that’s the hole into which society attempts to place men and has for some time now. Men are our rocks. Our shelter in the midst of the storm. Our protectors. As such, emotions are off the table for them. No tears. No anxiety. No fear. Fixers of all.

Men are human too. Capable of emotion. Sure, they may not process it out loud as we women so often do but they are capable of emotion in the face of life’s events. Men love. Men suffer heartbreak. Men hurt. Many may be silent about their loss or their pain. But every so often a man exposes his heart and offers invaluable insight into a man’s emotional world. When this happens, it’s important to pay attention.

I recently met Jeremy on Twitter. He blogs over at 2 Baby Dad about life as “An Expectant, Already Dad’s Blog.” His wife suffered a miscarriage. As we chatted, I asked if he would be willing to write about his view of his wife’s miscarriage. He agreed and posted his insight today after emailing it to me so I could read it over.

Jeremy’s account is raw, insightful, powerful, and honest. As I read through it, I felt the emotion building. By the time I finished, there were tears and my heart felt full as I exhaled. His words, the rhythm, the way he opens and then closes his experience embraces so vibrantly the experience of a father when it comes to fatherhood. There are emotions, even if “concealed by a wall” as Jeremy says.

I strongly urge you to go read Jeremy’s piece entitled “A Father, His Wife’s Miscarriage, and a Lost Unborn Child.” Share it with the men in your life. With the women in your life. Communication is key between husband and wife in the midst of any crisis. The better we understand where the other party is coming from, the better our communication with them will be when crisis hits. Please read this and pass it on to as many as you can.

Joel Schwartzberg talks with Postpartum Dads Project about Paternal Postnatal Depression


40YROLD.COVER2An interview with Joel Schwartzberg, author of The 40 Year old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad, is featured today over at the Postprtum Dads Project. Joel opens up about his depression after the birth of his son, divorce, and how coming to terms with the dad he is helped him feel comfortable in his “dadhood.”

While male depression after the birth of a child may not have the same underlying causes as a woman’s depression, it remains an important topic to discuss. In fact, if mom is depressed, there’s a 50% chance Dad is depressed as well. Even with the increase in depression rates for new dads, they are still expected to “man up,” as Joel puts it. But this can be hard for Dad to do if he’s struggling with depression. Trying to function while depressed is much like trying to escape from quicksand. The harder you try on your own, the deeper you fall. It’s not until someone holds out a branch of hope that you start to make progress. Emotional health really is a whole family issue. The healthier a family is emotionally, the better they will do in life.

Click here to check out Joel’s story!

Sharing the Journey with Ben Murphy


GQ or Maxim just not cutting it for you now that Junior’s arrived?

Then you may want to check out thefatherlife.com where Ben Murphy is one of the founding fathers. Yeah, I said it – FATHER. This totally hip online magazine is rockin’ to it’s own beat and marching along for modern dads daring to stay hip and balancing fatherhood. The Father Life is a mixture of fatherhood advice, life advice, and everything in between (including a couple of awesome articles by Shoshana Bennett on PPD just because folks in the forums were talking about it)

Ben Murphy, Ben Martin, Ben Loux, and Ryan Marshall are the brains behind this wonderful site and I came across it while searching for worthy and intelligent content on the web for fathers. So very impressed with what I saw, I emailed Ben (Murphy) for an interivew and here we are! I know, I know, June is over. It’s July. Trust me, you’ll be glad you read about this and I guarantee you’ll be emailing your husbands to tell them to check out this awesome site!

Tell me about The Father Life. What would a dad walk away with after reading your magazine?

Well, TheFatherLife.com is a men’s magazine created with dads in mind. When I became a father I noticed pretty quickly that all the men’s magazines on the market were for the bachelor set, while the parenting magazines were largely geared towards mothers. It blew my mind that there were no men’s magazines out there geared towards dads… so I got a couple of friends together and we created one!

Our magazine is all online (www.thefatherlife.com), all free, and updated with new articles every week. It’s designed for today’s modern dads who are every bit as involved with their families as they are with their careers and hobbies. A lot of these guys are family men who are also executives. They are also at-home-dads who’ve left the career ladder to spend time with their kids… So, our content is pretty well-rounded. Obviously, there’s a lot of fathering content, but it’s balanced by everything from sports, cars, and investing, to food, fashion, and music.

I want our readers to walk away from TheFatherLife.com encouraged to press on in this new ‘Fatherhood 2.0′ life that’s becoming the norm now for a lot of guys. It used to be that fathers brought home a paycheck and that was it… today’s fathers are turning that model on its head. As one of our readers put it to us a while back, “The Father Life is for guys who work hard, play hard, and father hard.”
How did The Father Life come to fruition?

It was really just seeing a huge void in the marketplace for good fathering media content — and thinking that we could in some way address it. We really started out to create the magazine that we wish was out there on the newsstands. And that is still our aim.  We figure that there are millions of other dads out there as well experiencing the same thing — and they’d probably be interested in a magazine like this!

The whole process has really evolved. I have a background in design and media, including some online magazine experience. So, I knew it was easy to do this in concept. I brought along my friend Ryan Marshall who has an extensive background in web design and my friend Ben Loux who has a background in Finance and Corporate Compliance. It helped that all three of us saw this need for fathering media. We’re all around 30 years old with careers and young families, so we have a lot in common. And we all knew each other from back in college so it was a really good fit.

The three of us started TheFatherLife.com as a quarterly publication so that we could fit it into our schedules. But it’s grown from there to where we’re currently publishing a number of new articles every week. That’s due in large part to how well-received the magazine has been as well as to bringing on Ben Martin, our Editor-In-Chief, last fall. He’s been able to focus solely on developing content and has done an absolutely tremendous job!

The newly updated version of our site is rolling out this August and will have a similar feel, but will allow us to really expand the reach of what we’re doing exponentially. I’m really excited about it! We’ll be posting new content almost daily when that site rolls out.

The success of the magazine has really been from our readership and from the writers who contribute content. The magazine exists on reader-generated content and it’s really been amazing! And our readers are incredible providing their feedback and ideas to help the magazine evolve…
Share with us how you approach fatherhood with your own family.

My wife and I have two young daughters and I’m really just focused on enjoying it. That’s easy to say in a vacuum – harder to execute in the whirlwind of every day life, but I just love my family and love the family life. Having kids puts everything else in perspective… It really is what sparked TheFatherLife.com.
In an interview at www.fatherville.com, you were asked to come up with one word to describe parenting and you responded “Marvelous Chaos.” Share with us what Marvelous Chaos means!

Things are crazy and never quite what you expect — and yet somehow everything falls in place and it’s more wondrous than you could have anticipated… it’s a joy of the unexpected that comes from having kids around.

I want to commend you on your Postpartum Depression articles by Shoshana Bennett as it is important for fathers to understand how they can help their partners during such a difficult time. Have you had any personal experience with Postpartum Depression or known anyone who has? If so, what were your feelings about the situation and what advice would you give to a father currently facing a similar situation?

I’ll be up front that I haven’t personally had interaction with postpartum, but the advice I would give is to be as supportive as you can… and get advice from other guys who have been in the same situation.

The thing I love about the Postpartum articles is that they’re one of the best examples of our readers shaping the content of the magazine. During a 6 month period we were seeing forum posts and receiving emails from guys who were saying, “this postpartum thing is crazy and I want to be supportive of my wife, but I don’t know where to start!” And so those articles emerged entirely from that dialogue.

If you could tell us about one of the most joyous moments you’ve experienced as a father, what would it be?

I think it’s when my kids are just lost in the moment and truly happy… the satisfaction of knowing that you somehow created a context in which they are just loving life and you are privileged to be there and enjoy that moment with them. I guess that’s a pretty abstract answer, but I hope it makes sense…

On the flip side, share with us one of the most challenging moments as a father.

I’m the type of guy who wants to do a lot of things and do them all well… I’m very ambitious and take pride in how I execute things. So, with a family, I don’t have time for everything and I have to set limits. Prioritizing my time for family and limiting my other interests is challenging. I assume all fathers go through this, and I think it’s just a time in one’s life when you start to finally figure out who you are and what’s worthwhile to you. My family comes first.

We all know we need to take some time for ourselves to keep our sanity and sense of self hanging around. What are some of the things you do to keep your sense of self and not lose yourself in your roles as a father and husband?

I’m an artist and I still work on my artwork whenever I make the time (www.benmurphyonline.com – be warned, it’s edgy). I also love outdoor sports and do as much trail running and mountain biking as I can. I like naps too; naps are wonderful!

But you’re right – as great as being a dad is, you can’t give yourself over to it entirely or you lose your sense of self. The same can be said for a career or anything else really. In the end, taking care of yourself helps you take care of those around you. And we try to encourage guys to still be themselves along with being great dads. We say, “Yes, It is possible to be a great guy AND a great dad!” And I hope that our content helps dads accomplish that…
Do you feel fathers are largely ignored by the media at large?

I don’t know – I wouldn’t say ignored. The media is driven by “what’s hot right now” and I’m not sure if fathering has been as hip until now… I feel that TheFatherLife.com is hitting at a time when the whole idea of a “dad demographic” is just starting to gain traction. And in a lot of ways TheFatherLife.com is and will be in the midst of shaping the new (and improved, I hope) perception of dads in popular culture. There are a lot of wonderful emerging dad blogs out there now as well as baby products for fathers (www.diaperdude.com is a good example) — that wasn’t true just a decade ago. A lot has really changed with the internet, and perhaps that’s driven some of this shift. I’m certainly noticing a lot more fathering content now in the media and I think it will continue to grow and improve.

Last but not least, if you had a chance to give an expecting father (new or experienced) just one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

To enjoy it. Just enjoy it. You only get to do it once, so make the most of it.