My Facebook feed is flooded with adorable pictures of children dressed in their new school clothes, smiling in front of their homes, or perhaps their schools. Ready and excited for their first day.
I have no such picture. This milestone did not go that way for me. And I bet it didn't go as great as all the photos suggest either.. But hey, a milestone is a milestone.
Here is my rundown on Logan's first day of Kindergarten:
1. I wake Logan up and he goes down stairs. I get in the shower, Allison wakes up and screams as James comes and takes her back to bed.
2. I get out of the shower, go down stairs to find that Logan did not get his clothes on.
3. I get dressed in the living room, as Logan cries on the couch about not wanting to go to school.
He hates it.
4. I try to bribe him with donuts.
5. I physically remove his pjs and put on his uniform as he fights it halfheartedly.
6. He begs for a smaller shirt.
7. I show him that ALL his uniform shirts are the same size.
8. I promise him I will buy him a smaller shirt today.
9. He again says he never wants to go to school. I tell him fine, buts it's part of his agreement to live here, so if he doesn't want to go to school he can live outside. He cries some more.
10. I tell him to get in the car or daddy will have to take him. I laugh about something and he tells me to stop laughing.
11. In the car I try to hand him a pop tart, he does sad eyes and brings up the donut bribe. I give in to avoid another round of tears.
12. I grab plastic chocolate donuts from the gas station on the way. He eats them in the car with tears still running down his face.
13. At the school I accidentally end up in car line, while I am supposed to be parking and walking him in for the first day only.
14. the car line teachers help me get to a parking spot. In the car Logan wipes the chocolate off his face and hands and puts his lunchbox in his book bag.
15. We get out of the car. He cries quietly and hold my hand tight. In the hallway, we stop and he gets water.
16. At the classroom, I help him get his lunchbox out of his book bag and he places it where it goes. He hangs his bag on his hook.
17. He looks at me and his eyes well up. I ask if he wants a hug. Tears leak and he says no. I tell him "I love you, go sit in your seat."
And then to his teacher--"he's all yours now."
18. She says "you're used this, huh?" 😢 I tell her "he's not great with transitions, but he'll be fine" as I walk down to hall.
No pictures, tons of tears. My eyes welled a few times.
And I didn't realize until typing this that he didn't brush his teeth.
Happy First Day of Kindergarten.
Though it's been a busy summer, I could not let July pass without touching Minority Mental Health Month. Yes that is a thing, a very important thing, especially when you consider numerous studies reveal minority women are more likely to experience postpartum depression. Many go untreated for their symptoms. In Florida, nearly 60% of mothers reported feeling symptoms of Postpartum Depression, and less than 10% actually sought treatment following diagnosis. Non-Hispanic Black women are at the highest risk for experiencing these symptoms (PRAMS 2010).
This is simply not okay. Tampa Bay, we can do better. Florida, we definitely can do better.
However, this isn't going to be another post where we demonstrate our knowledge of appalling statistics.
Break the Silence for #MinorityMentalHealth
July is minority mental health month and as a minority and the daughter of an adult living with bipolar disorder, this topic hits so close to home. I know too well the seriousness of mental health. However, this is not the case with all minorities. Do you know that for the general population, 15-20% of women will suffer from Postpartum Depression? Do you know that for non-white, low-income women, the numbers are nearly doubled?
More often than I’d care to admit, I’ve witnessed minorities neglect to recognize or acknowledge the symptoms of mental health disorders. This lack of support is so damaging to the person living with the disorder; it can be difficult to recover and the results can be deadly. Even though the likelihood of mental illness is higher in minority populations, detection and treatment rates are less than half that of non-minority women. If you know someone whom you suspect may be suffering from a mental illness, it is essential that you break the silence. Urge them to get help, and even go with them to get it if they need that support. Enough of the “it’s not my business” or “they just need a life change” or “we’ve never needed help before” or even “that’s not a problem we have” talk because if you care and you don’t act with timeliness, you could be a not-so-innocent bystander to great tragedy.
Also, no one should ever make the mistake of thinking that children and teenagers are immune to mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate. Many of the stressors that minorities and low-income families experience are the very same triggers for depression; and children go through the stress of challenges and disparities in their environment. My own journey with mental illness began at the age of 13; my mom was wise enough to recognize the issue and took me to get counseling immediately. I am so grateful because that counsel saved my life and gave me excellent coping skills that I use to this day. Please, never turn a blind eye to anyone living with mental illness.
For those of us living with mental illness:
Getting help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of wisdom and courage.
Mental illness is nothing to be shrugged at, and people suffering from it need the support of loved ones. There is no question about it. If you are a minority, and you aren’t living with it yourself, you almost certainly know someone who is. Please be that beacon of hope for them and lead them to good counsel
 Sampson, PhD, Duron, PhD, Maldonado Torres, M., et al. A Disease You Just Caught: Low-Income African American Mothers’ Cultural Beliefs About Postpartum Depression. Women’s Healthcare. Nov, 2014.
This summer, the Good family of five will embark on our first ever two week vacation. I am nervous. Having a list-loving, over-planning, type-A personality, I am trying hard to simultaneously not to over think things or forget essentials. So I am writing lists AND engaging in positive self talk to remind myself that it will be a blast.
Here are my 5 vacation preparing tips!
1. Pack light
It is my MO to have enough clothes to have options since I never know what I will feel like wearing. So I want to pack a full outfit for every day of the trip, for every person. For a family of five, on a two week trip, this type of planning would result in excess baggage, costing us a few hundred dollars in baggage fees. However, we are staying with family. We will have access to laundry. Thus, we don't NEED to have an entire closet full of clothes. So THIS trip, I am limiting each person to 3-4 shirts, 2-3 bottoms, swim clothes, 4 pairs underwear & socks and two pairs of shoes. Okay I am also adding ONE running outfit and shoes so I can get some exercise in...
2. Plan some downtime
Speaking of exercise, it is important, especially on such a long trip, to not over schedule each day. Remember kids will need to rest at some time during the day. It is important to maintain some parts of normal routine to avoid melt downs from all parties. Plan for days in, whether your staying with family or in a hotel or resort, don't plan a full outing every day. Enjoy your home away from home in as normal of routing as you can muster at least once per week away from home.
3. Plastic Baggies
You may remember Rebecca talking about the use of plastic baggies during hurricane prep. Well really, they are useful for all sorts of adventures with children. This is the first time I will be packing with plastic baggies for dividing individual outfits, but I think it will do two things for me. 1) make sure I plan evenly and that one kid doesn't end up with 7 shirts and 2 pairs of socks because I get irritated and start throwing things into bags. 2) keep the clothes somewhat organized in our much smaller home away from home (aka room at the grandparents). This should keep socks from wondering during our trip. I will also be putting kid activities in baggies for easy storage as well as packing all toiletries (as required by TSA) into a clear plastic baggie for easy pass through at airport security. All baggies will go into personal backpacks. Photos to come when I get around to packing!
4. Remember your prescriptions
Prescriptions need to be packed with the other vital traveling documents, ID, passport, birth certificate, credit cards etc. I urge you to carry any prescription medication in its original packaging in your personal carry on bag. Just in case, have a copy of your script in case your actual bottle disappears in transit. Check with your provider if you need to adjust for the timing of the medications due to time differences, and make sure you have plenty to provide adequate dosing for the duration of your trip, even if you hit a delay in travel arrangements.
5. Discuss the plans with your children in advance
Talk with your children about your travel arrangements. Use vague language if plans are not set in stone, but provide enough detail that they have and idea of what to expect. It will help to alleviate any fears they may be harboring. It can also help your anxiety as they may ask questions that help you plan for things you hadn't really thought of. For instance, my son asked where he would sleep at Grandma's house, and I realized I needed to clarify with my mother what the sleeping arrangements would be. Talking about the trip will build excitement and reduce anxiety on all parts. Just be careful not to make any finite promises that you can't be sure will be kept. Your children will remember all your promises and will not let you forget!
What tips do you have for family travel? Share in the comments below!
Packing up a storm!
Father's Day is this coming Sunday. I personally am very lucky to have a wonderful husband who is also a fantastic Dad to our children. I have no idea what to get him in honor of the day! I do, however, know that In the world of Maternal Mental Health, Dads are often overlooked.
Thankfully, society has caught on, and this generation is really changing how we look at Dads. In light of these thoughts. I want to quickly highlight some of the lesser known, important information about Fatherhood, Parenting, and Mental Health.
1. Dads are super important for childhood development. Check out these statistics at the National Fatherhood Initiative. It is easy to get the impression that Fathers are a bonus, but in reality, they are an essential part of a child's life and regardless of the relationship between the parents, if a healthy father/child relationship can be fostered, it should be.
2. Dads are more involved than ever before. This is great for kids, but can be hard on Dads. Check out this blog that highlights how conflicts between the role models Dads had from previous generations and the expectations set today can increase distress for today's fathers.
3. June 19, 2017 marks the 2nd International Father's Mental Health Day. To learn more, visit here. Dads get postpartum depression. In fact it is estimated that 10% of dads will experience this. And if a woman has PPD, her partner's has a 50% risk of developing depression.
While we don't have the peer support resources to provide Dads, we will never turn away a Dad seeking help! So if you are a Dad or you know a Dad exhibiting symptoms of perinatal distress, we will do our best to connect them with the appropriate resources through our referral system.
Additionally, here are two local resources that we know are helping Dads in their parenting journey.
Champions for Children, Inc. offers FRANC and REACHUP, INC. offers 24/7 Dads. REACHUP, INC. is planning their 6th Annual Affirming Fatherhood Conference for September 21-22. Watch their website for details!
We hope you and/or the fathers in you life have a wonderful Father's Day!
The SISTER Mom Program is a New Mother Mentorship Program. SISTER stands for Self-Image Support Team and Emotional Resource. Developed by Postpartum Society of Florida, Inc., SISTER Mom trains an elite team of women to confidently connect women with vetted resources, triage perinatal crisis, and most importantly, mentor and encourage new mothers one-to-one through their perinatal year.
The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. is excited to bring this program to Tampa Bay. We are looking for interested participants for our pilot launch.
SISTER Mom Mentors will be required to:
Read the following:
This Isn’t What I Expected
"Life Will Never Be the Same”: The Real Moms’ Postpartum Survival Guide
(books can be purchased via amazon through our store link!)
Create a Tampa Bay "Lighten the Darkness Resource Guide" as a team
Introduction session: Will be held June 22nd at 7 pm. location to be determined.
4 - 2 hour training sessions (virtual or in person)
July, August, Sept, Oct, Dates TBD
Attend our SISTER Mom Saturday Retreat: Saturday, November 4, 8 am to 4 pm.
Complete Writing Assignments:
Listed in training syllabus you will receive at the introductory session.
Graduates will be matched with moms for ongoing mentoring in January of 2018.
In case you are new to Florida or perhaps you are oblivious to weather news, June 1st kicked off hurricane season 2017. That means from June 1st through November we will be in what is called storm season or hurricane season or as my family calls it the near daily rain season. The State of Florida is pretty good about hurricane education and information.
It seemed like a really good topic to write about mom-to-mom, because I have noticed myself that how I prepare for hurricanes or potential rough weather has totally changed as a mom versus pre-motherhood. Pre-motherhood I stocked up on coffee and adult vices, now I need to have everything necessary for a family of seven in one place. Children really do change things! For those of you who are currently expecting here are some special tips for hurricane preparedness during pregnancy.
Now if you just want a lot more information on what to expect or how to be prepared for hurricane season check out the survival mom .
I want to specifically touch on today are the 5 must haves in your hurricane weather kit as a mom.
Depending on your living situation factors like your relation to a flood zone, type of house, special needs are things you must consider when deciding if you're going to stay to ride out the storm or evacuate your home. Either way it helps to be prepared ahead of time Which brings me to the 1st item on our list;
1. Large plastic storage totes with lids.
Now I know it's customary to see people recommend backpacks for evacuations however you're a mom whether you've got one, two, or five kids, you're likely going to need to pack a bunch of stuff. Plastic can get wet, should something such as bottled water or formula inside get a leak it will be a contained leak, and a sturdy tote with a lid on top can become an instant game, picnic, or changing table when necessary. And you can even find large ones with wheels and handles for maximum portability. You can easily fit emergency supplies clothing and diapers for a family of 5 in one of the laundry basket sized storage tote.
2. Plastic zipper bags of various sizes
You've got this big ole plastic tote you're going to store all the supplies in, how are you going to keep it organized so that you're not going crazy digging through this tote when junior has a diaper blow-out? You are going to have a stash of plastic zipper bags in many sizes. Next time they're on sale go ahead and grab snack, sandwich, quart, gallon, and might as well get a box of the big 3-gallon bags while you're at it. In a pinch, a 3-gallon zipper baggie can become an excellent emergency diaper pail, dirty clothes bag, or ice bag, should you have to get ice from a public ice machine. No matter how green conscious or frugal you normally are, when it comes to survival and preparedness this is at time it is worth you and your family's safety, sanity, and survival. Plan ahead and spring for the zipper bags. As a bonus if you really want to be that super organized mom take the gallon zip-lock bags in a bag throw in a complete change of clothes including diaper or underwear and socks for each member of the family (including yourself). Easy to grab changes of clothes when needed can be one of those small steps to saving big stress later.
3. Fans and Blankets
Speaking of stress, for me personally when I am not comfortable temperature wise I tend to feel stressed out a lot faster which is why I feel a portable battery-operated fan is a must have for me. Whether you're at home and the power has gone out thus the air conditioning with-it, or you're in a crowded storm shelter and the air is a bit stale, a small fan will feel like a great luxury. I recommend checking out the baby stores for those clip-on stroller or car seat fans. They're small they only take a couple of batteries and you can clip it onto the side of that plastic tote you've turned into a table.
If you tend to go in the opposite direction and know that you are often cold, inexpensive travel blankets are a game changer. A large comforter will take up too much space, but if you can find a blanket you swiped from your last flight, the hospital blanket you brought home from a trip to the ER, or even an old flannel sheet, it will roll up small and not take a lot of space in your tote. When needed, it will keep you cozy.
While we're on the topic of staying cozy, you know how much we love Babywearing here at The Seventh Mom Project, we obviously think it is a good idea to have a baby carrier ready for emergencies. Especially if you need to evacuate, a carrier can make it easier while standing in lines at public shelters. Whether sheltering in or at evacuating, keeping little ones close to you will help keep them calm and feeling safe in a precarious situation. Knowing exactly where they are at all times will give you a sense of safety and comfort.
5. Family and MOM activities
If you have ever had to spend an afternoon with your kids sans electronics, you know you need to include small toys, coloring books, stickers, storybooks, and anything that can break up the monotony of hunkering down in a storm. However, the most important part of number 5 is that you must include something for you in the tote. Self-care important it is in a high stress situation. Whether you are cooped up in a storm shelter or stuck in your house with boarded-up windows and no power for a week, you're going to need that self-care for survival. Throw in a paperback and a clip-on light or maybe a small manicure set and a fun color nail polish, a puzzle/brain teaser/coloring book you enjoy, a favorite no melt candy or treat. Whatever it is it should be just for you to enjoy. It is not necessary but makes you feel good and will help you stay focused.
These are just 5 things that came to mind quickly related to surviving a tropical storm as a mother. There are more items you will need that will easily pack in your storage tote.
Click here for a more complete list of storm preparedness supplies.
If you or anybody in your home are currently taking medication it is important to make sure that you have a copy of your prescription in the tote. Should a storm warning come about please ensure prescriptions are filled as early as possible prior to the storms landfall and that you have a week's worth of medications in case of emergency. Additionally, include a list of emergency numbers and addresses. This includes your contact information as well as any of your children's care providers.
Florida residents this weekend June 2nd, 3rd & 4th happens to be our sales tax holiday on hurricane supplies. Click here for the detailed list of what is and is not tax exempt this weekend .
What other things do we prepare for differently now as moms? Let us know in the comments.
Lost my poncho, but I can #holdtheumbrella,
Greetings Tampa Bay! Boy has it been a while!
Don't worry, I'll be sure to fill you in on the sunny days and squalls since my last post, but first I have to let you know about Give Day Tampa Bay 2017.
If you've been following us since last year you may remember Give Day Tampa Bay 2016. We got in a little late in the game but our awesome VP had this great idea to use the adage "April Showers Bring May Flowers" since after all we're all about riding out the storms of motherhood here at The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. and we're kind of crazy about umbrellas and well you get the idea.
So, the #holdtheumbrella campaign was born and we're so happy and thankful that you took it and ran with it. I am still excited every time I see a notification that we've been tagged and there is another great picture of a survivor mom and her umbrella.
We are participating in Give Day Tampa Bay again as we want to continue rolling with the clouds and to #holdtheumbrella for families in Tampa Bay.
We've added a few fun things to this year's campaign.
Have I mentioned how much I love our VP and her super brain? Noticing the popularity of rock painting and hiding/finding rocks in the community, another great idea was born.
Volunteers have already begun painting and placing rocks out in the community but what is special about these painted rocks is they all feature the umbrella and our signature #holdtheumbrella.
We invite you to join us. Get the kids involved, hold a mom's night rock painting party, make it a youth group or classroom project, there's no limit. We simply ask you to show us your painted umbrella rock and tag us on your social media.
We'll be entering each tagged post using #GiveDayTB2017 #holdtheumbrella #7thmomproject #momsrock into chance drawing between now Give Day, May 2nd.
You can share your umbrella selfie for another entry and earn additional entries when you post your hides and finds.
If you're interested in making a group or individual project (say, who needs volunteer service hours) send us an email, we're more than glad to help you secure your service hours and provide you with necessary the documentation. Just write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, the whole purpose is to raise funds for our organization. In 2016 we trained 24 perinatal professionals, hosted two ongoing monthly peer-support groups, launched Doulas of Tampa Bay, and provided linkage support for over twenty moms.
We want thank you in advance for donating online, May 2, 2017. Need a reminder, no worries you can pledge now and we'll be glad to get in touch closer to the date. Feel free to share with a friend who may just rather write us a check!
Because Mothers Rock,
We recognize the importance for our community in expanding our Board. We are taking the steps necessary to increase visibility and provide quality services for all sufferers of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Next week we are hosting a Board Member Interest Meeting. We would like to invite all interested parties to come. We are looking to build a dedicated, diverse, enthusiastic team.
If this describes you, please come to our meeting or contact us for more details!
More information can be found here.
Read the form below for more information on what the general requirements of The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. Board Members.
Come Hold the Umbrella with us,
The Seventh Mom Project, Inc Board
Megan Thomas follows up her heart wrenching birth story with what I am calling a love story. The dedication of her husband during her postpartum period is unwavering. She is right though, dads need support. If you know a dad that needs support, encourage him to visit Postpartum International for more resources for dads.
Thank you again for sharing your story Megan.
Holding the umbrella,
My long physical and emotional recovery after Ella’s traumatic birth didn't happen alone. My husband has had a journey all his own! The discussion around the physical and mental health of postpartum moms is a necessary one but it's also important to remember that having a baby is a life changing experience for dads too, especially when that birth doesn't go as planned. Josh knew he'd be my coach during labor but I don't think anything could have prepared him for just how much I'd need from him during my birth experience.
I had several complications with my delivery. My baby was stuck in the birth canal and I had to have a C-section. During the C-section, my uterus ruptured and when they were controlling the bleeding they injured my ureter, something that would cause me to have a total of 6 surgeries in 4 months!
So right away my husband was faced with a scary medical situation that we were not prepared for. During my daughter's birth, he was trying to help me stay calm while at the same time dealing with his own fears that he was loosing me. Because of my complications, I was unable to do kangaroo care with my daughter so my husband had to step up and take over that role! He gave her her first bottle (the first of many) and rocked her when I couldn't.
The day after she was born I had to be life-flighted to a different hospital because of the injury to my ureter. Because my baby had just been born and wasn't discharged yet, my husband had to make a choice...stay with your daughter who was born last night or follow your wife who could die. He chose to drive to meet me at the hospital, but that meant signing away temporary custody of our daughter to his parents. When he left the hospital, he was stopped at a red light by the launch pad where he watched them load me on the helicopter. If you've never left your day old baby to watch your dying wife get loaded into a helicopter...he doesn't recommend it. It was so horrific we don’t talk about it very often. He's never wanted to be in 2 places at once more than that day.
Since my daughter was born, I've had 6 surgeries and during the weeks and months of my recovery, my husband took on a new role...nurse! He had to help me with everything, getting up, lying down, walking, showering, going to the bathroom, emptying drains and catheters, changing my dressings, you name it! I tried to breastfeed and he was trying to help with that too, which he admitted he didn't really know anything about! He would sit there and stroke the baby's hand while she nursed trying to stimulate her sucking reflex. Eventually I had to give up breastfeeding and because I couldn't get up to make bottles, that was all Josh's responsibility at first.
Dealing with all the medical complications was really hard for my husband. Josh is a total businessman. He's a doer, a fixer, and does not like anything medical (or the sight of blood)! The hardest part for him was watching me go through so much physical and emotional pain all while knowing there was nothing he could do to help the pain. He was with me every single day during my 3 hospital stays and was such a help at home. After my bladder surgery, I was at a real low point and felt absolutely horrible! I was in pain, had a drain coming out of my stomach and a catheter. I remember my husband helping me to get dressed and I just started crying because I felt so disgusting and he just looked up and said "it will be ok, we will get through this."
Throughout this whole journey, every day Josh would look at me or see me struggling to complete some simple task and all he'd say was "how can I help?" I leaned on him in more ways than one. He was the one getting up with Ella when she cried, making her bottles, changing her diapers, cooking me food, helping me remember my medications, draining my tubes and drains, checking incisions, taking me to my appointments, taking care of our dog and house. We even joked that he changed my dressings better than the home health nurse! He definitely learned more about my uterus and cervix than he ever expected! All of this while trying to adjust to a new tiny human that was suddenly our responsibility. All those fears of a a new parent were magnified by everything else going on with me.
Thankfully he was able to take a couple weeks off of work but eventually he had to return so that he could go back to another role...breadwinner! It was hard for my husband because for him, he thought the birth would be the hard part and then life would go on! He didn't have the constant physical reminder of her birth but he had his own visual ones. Certain sounds and sights he says he will never forget...as much as he'd like to. Ella's birth was every bit as traumatic for him as it was for me. He didn't know how and couldn't fix this for me.
When I needed to talk through things it was hard for him because it was like ripping the scab off a wound. And that scab was ripped off many times. He was scared too. Scared for me and that I wouldn't be ok. Scared that we didn't know the extent of my injuries and that I'd never be the same. We have been advised to not have any more children and that adds a whole new dynamic...he is still completely terrified that I'll get accidentally pregnant some day. But again, talking has helped. Dads need help too after a baby and we need to make sure they are doing ok, just as much as moms. No one will ever know what I've gone through but at the same time no one will ever know what my husband went through being on the other end of things. We can be sure of one thing though, situations like this either tear you apart or bring you together and thankfully it has brought us closer together. And equally important, it has showed me and my daughter just how much Daddy loves us.
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the