When I had my first son I imagined life would look a lot like what I saw when I looked at all the babies and kids in my life thus far.
That he'd sleep and coo and smile and generally be quite content.
No one prepared me for what our life was actually going to look like. Nor did anyone prepare me for the fact that babies could scream as loudly and as often as ours did.
I have a degree in Psychology and a masters degree in Occupational Therapy. As well as additional post-graduate training in CBT, DBT, Emotion Focused Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, Perinatal Mental Health, Mindful Self-Compassion.
In the trenches parenting my two little humans, while trying to find time to do this meaningful work I love so much.
Small talk, short Instagram posts (IYKYK), and missing my morning coffee - it gives me life my friends.
Helping others better understand their experiences, their stories, their nervous systems, their families, children & relationships, their dreams & passions.
We’d never heard the terms highly sensitive, or spirited, or orchid for that matter. We'd never been told that there were some babies who needed A LOT more help falling asleep. And staying asleep. Or that all those mainstream sleep strategies WOULD NEVER WORK.
We’d never been warned that our baby’s panic filled cries would trigger our own nervous systems in ways that would make it so hard to enjoy those early days.
Nor were we prepared for how much our relationship would change, how the toll of parenting a highly sensitive baby would wear on us and test our relationship in ways we’d never imagined. Or how hard we’d have to work to find our way back to one another.
Or that it would sometimes be painful to look at those “easier” babies, wondering what life would feel like without a little human fire alarm ready to go off at any moment.
No one told me that the world would feel so intrusive and overwhelming for him. No one told me how much bouncing and holding and feeding he’d need in order to fall asleep. In order to feel safe. Or that he’d just generally need so much of me all of the time. No one told me that he’d scream through all of the mom & baby groups we eventually stopped going to.
I know you don’t feel like a rebel — are rebels this tired all the time? But you’re here, and you are. We’re all silently fighting against the stories of what parenting is supposed look like, how babies are supposed to sleep, how toddlers are supposed to act, nevermind all the modern expectations for us to “do it all” and the systems that make it so very hard to get it all "right".
I’m talking about the barely there postpartum and mental health support, the loss of the village that was meant to hold us up on our hardest of days, the expectations and messages that make it impossible for us to not feel like we're failing.
Not to mention the myriad of stressors and traumas that can come up along our journey, starting from infertility, to miscarriage and infant loss, to traumatic and stressful pregnancies and births, to equally traumatic postpartum experiences. The inevitable changes to our bodies, our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with our partner. And so much in between.
And if we happen to have any history of childhood trauma or emotional neglect, or just happen to be more highly sensitive than most, with nervous systems that are more attuned, that feel things more deeply, and are more prone to getting overwhelmed, it can make an already stressful transition feel that much more overwhelming.
As a therapist, I went into motherhood prepared with a massive toolkit of coping skills and years and years of mental health training and research at my fingertips - and motherhood still knocked me sideways!
And I had the benefit of all of my training and education, as an occupational therapist and a psychotherapist, plus fifteen years of doing my own healing work prior to becoming a parent. I was actually very well prepared. As prepared as anyone could be.
But the truth is, this gig is rigged. I think like so many of us, I came into parenthood with this idea of what it would all look like. And, well, short story - it looked nothing at all like what I imagined!
Even after my son was born, and those early ideals had long been shattered.
When we accepted that this little human fire alarm could go off at any moment and that we’d likely never sleep again, it was still hard.
Until it wasn’t anymore.
I can’t quite remember when that ache started to dissipate. When my longing for a child that slept 12 hour nights and could put himself to sleep, shifted to gratitude for a child who has allowed me to unpack all my baggage, a child that has necessitated I slow down and learn the true meaning of connection, love, safety.
Yes me, someone with my own sensitive nervous system and traumas rife for being triggered by my firecracker of a little person.
But oh how I wish I’d had someone there at the beginning.
Someone to whisper in my ear and tell me that one day it would get easier.
And most importantly, to remind me that I wasn't all alone.
Because you aren't.
There are millions of us out there walking alongside you as you make your way along this journey.
Don't you ever forget that.
Nor how strong and resilient you really are.
So thank you for being here and for helping to spark what I hope will be a revolution of resilient, connected, inspired and embodied parents working to create the healing, nurturing and loving spaces they desire and deserve for themselves & their families.
So here I am, reminding you that you're not alone.