Following the storm, the river rose. Eventually we learned the river had crested at over 16 feet. Our mobile home had taken on quite a bit of water. As you can imagine mostly wood furniture, no electricity, standing water for several days, the damage was severe. River water had come so high that you couldn’t even get in our neighborhood without a boat. When we were finally able to access our home, we found nearly everything left behind destroyed. Mold crept in, taking over the floor, the walls, and the ceiling.
So here we are: destroyed home, closed schools, and my husband had to return to work. Like most families we simply wanted to return to our “normal”. Many local families were working to get back to their “normal”. Yard clean up, laundry and dishes that had piled up during their time without power, keeping children entertained while schools continued to act as shelters for east coast evacuees. Fortunately, the overall destruction was not nearly the scale of once predicted in the Tampa Bay area.
We were awestruck by the outpouring of support from people all over Tampa Bay supporting not only our neighborhood but many others that had been flooded, offering clean clothes, places to stay, hot meals, it was truly amazing to see the way families in Tampa Bay came together for one another.
We had to do massive cleanup of the items we lost, but we pressed on. I lost some of my SISTER Mom training materials too. My signed copy of "I'm Listening". I did find it fitting that my copy of "Life Will Never Be the Same" was near the top of these destroyed materials.
I also have to take time to mention how amazing all of this volunteers and supporters of the Seventh Mom Project are. Volunteers helped with the cleanup, the meal train, and keeping my spirits up. As you know we do not a have a brick and mortar location, and we also lost materials to the storm. During this time I was without a computer, however continued to operate as best as possible from my phone and of course my copilot really stepped up and took on even more of the work she had already been shouldering since the birth of Haddie.
My family moved in to our temporary home. This happened to be a hotel in Tampa. Some amazing moms put together a meal train for us. That was such a life saver! Can you imagine cooking for a family of seven in a hotel room with a crock pot, microwave, and a tiny mini-fridge for weeks? It's not pleasant, but between the meal train and culinary creativity, we made it work.
After several long weeks living in the hotel, we closed on our new home. The love continued to pour as friends helped with the move, replaced lost furniture, and filled our new home with laughter.
Thank you to all the supporters who help us weather storms daily!
When moms contact me, questioning their emotional roller coasters during pregnancy or during their postpartum year, I always start back at the basics. The Steps to Wellness were developed by Jane Honikman, founder of PEP and later Postpartum International. More than thirty years later, they are just as relevant to all people, especially new parents.
Today I am going to review steps 4-6. Here we need to look more closely at who we can build to be our support team!
If you are a new parent, build some time for your into your life. Contact us for some nonjudgmental sharing. We can serve as emotional support, or help you open up to your loved ones for support.
Next week I will review steps 7-9.
We are asking our amazing community of moms to nominate the professional that helped you through maternal mental health issues. This can be the doula that screened and encouraged you to seek treatment, the OB that didn’t dismiss you, but offered you effective treatment, the midwife that prepared you in advance so you knew it was time to seek help, or the therapist or counselor that you received treatment from. Nominations will be accepted until April 29th, 2018.
*Nominations will be kept anonymous after submission unless the nominator requests to be mentioned.
Click here to nominate your Maternal Mental Health Hero! (hint: scroll down below the Raincoat Run Info)
In January, Rebecca traveled to the state capitol to support the Maternal Mental Health Advocacy Day. She could not share what legislation like SB 138 could have meant for her motherhood journey at the event, but below she is sharing her testimony..
To learn more about SB 138 click here.
"My name is Rebecca Hartley-Woods and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, lifetime Floridian and mother to 5 amazing children.
With regards to Senate Bill 138 and the desire for public health information regarding perinatal mood disorders, I would like to share that I was a public health worker while pregnant with my eldest son and even though I networked with multiple community and governmental agencies serving women of childbearing age, no one warned me about or screened me for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
I know "what if" is often a pointless exercise and yet I wonder if this bill had been inplace perhaps my life would've been very different.
During my pregnancy in 2007 and 2008 I lived with what I now know was prenatal anxiety. At the time I didn't know what was wrong with me and I feared reaching out.
By the time my son was two weeks old I had recurring visions of terrifying things such as my baby drowning in the bathtub or dropping him down the stairs. I found traffic horrifying as I often envisioned a terrible crash when my son was in the car.
Working 40 plus hours a weak providing education and services in a public health setting, all the childbirth and newborn classes, not even community programs I participated in prepared me for the maternal mental health crisis I would endure.
I did not speak up about the scary thoughts that I now know where intrusive thoughts, a symptom of my postpartum anxiety because I feared seeking help. I was afraid of my son being taken away.
I dropped the coursework I had been enrolled in, isolated from friends, busied myself in work and spent as little time as possible with my baby thinking he was safer with others and what a terrible mother I was for thinking these terrible things.
I was afraid to speak up because I feared loosing my son. This is important to note because the bill in its current form is lacking language regarding DCF.
While pregnant with my 4th child in 2014 I sought help. I was visited by child protective investigators not once but twice after seeking professional help. Sadly, the investigators had no resources or help to offer other than apologies for erroneous reports and the waste of my time and theirs.
Moving forward to 2017, for the first time in 7 pregnancies over 11 years I was screened at a postpartum check up following the birth of my 5th living child. I cannot recall the number of obstetricians, community agency workers, out of hospital midwives and other maternal health professionals who I have seen over the years. But I can tell you about the 1 time I was screened for a postpartum mood disorder at a postpartum appointment.
Had this bill been in place many years ago, I might have completed school on time, not left my job causing financial strain that ultimately led to filing bankruptcy. Had I found appropriate treatment in a timely manner I might have not missed my only sister's wedding because I couldn't get in a car with my baby without having a panic attack.
Had this bill been in place, I might have happy memories of what was supposed to be the happiest time in my life.
Thanks for letting me share."
Early motherhood is somewhat like the weather. Semi-predictable, but every now and then a storm rolls in. When the rain pours, The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. holds the umbrella. To build awareness and community we are hosting our first 5K and Family Fun Run event on April 22nd at Al Lopez Park. All proceeds will benefit The Seventh Mom Project, Inc.'s work in the Tampa Bay area.
Visit www.raincoatrun.com for details!
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
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the