Christina’s story is amazing for so many reasons. A mother of two, a licensed mental health therapist, and the owner of a super awesome site. Christina doesn’t stop at helping others and finding her happiness. Her journey to get to where she is now, was a difficult one. She however, was able to recognize her challenges and overcome PPD, speak up about it, and now seeks to help others experiencing the same troubles.
PPD/PPA is a serious condition for many Mamas. Many women feel ashamed or “less than” for having some of these emotions and thoughts. Christina not only found a way to help herself recover and heal, but she is also educating and helping others as a teletherapist, and with the information she shares on her site. It gives me great pleasure and honor in introducing this Warrior Mama, Christina!
1- Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, how many children do you have, and how old are they?
My name is Christina and I am a stay-at-home Mom, licensed mental health therapist (LPCC), and founder of the motherhood blog with a therapists twist, Real Life Mama.
I am a born-and-raised San Diegan. Even though I am from the southwest US, I am married to a wonderful man who is from across the world in the northeast of Scotland! We are raising our two young kiddos in the neighborhood I grew up in.
Our sweet and spunky daughter just turned four, and even though she had a quarantine celebration it may have been the best one yet. Our loving and adventurous son is just shy of two and a half, and he is so funny. Both kids amaze us with the way their little minds work. It’s so special to see their bond growing.
2- What do you love the most about being a stay at home home/work from home mom?
I always wanted to be a mom and was excited to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s not all been rainbows and butterflies like I’d hoped but I do really love it. I love getting to see all the milestones, spending so much time with them, and really getting to know their blossoming personalities, and helping to teach and guide them through the ups and downs of the day.
I also work from home, both running my blog, and as a telehealth therapist. I love using my degree and license in a way that enables me to continue to stay home with my kids. The flow I feel when I am writing and in a session is amazing. I love helping others achieve progress and find happiness within themselves.
3- Tell us about PPD and PPA? When did you know you had it, and how did you overcome PPD?
I knew right away that something wasn’t right. But I wasn’t sure how much of what I was feeling was ‘just motherhood’, especially motherhood of a newborn getting close to zero sleep. I waited out the baby blues and my body’s hormone regulation to see if what I was experiencing was down to those shifts, but it wasn’t. I felt like I’d lost myself. I was a mom which was something I’d always dreamed of and yearned for, but I couldn’t find the Christina I was before. My brain didn’t work the same. I didn’t feel like me and I regretted having a child.
4- What is the most difficult part about overcoming PPD and PPA?
The hardest part was not knowing if I’d ever feel good again. It’s so easy to get swallowed in the darkness and to feel like it will be forever.
5- What tips can you give to other Moms working to overcome PPD and PPA?
Notice how you’re feeling. If you feel like something’s wrong, that’s your gut speaking, and you need to listen. Motherhood is life-changing, but it should not be earth-shattering. You may not have the words to describe exactly what you’re feeling but if you feel bad, speak up. Tell your partner, speak to your doctor. You will get better, and you’ll get better faster with help.
6- What were your pregnancies like?
My pregnancies were wonderful overall, which is part of why I didn’t expect to be hit with PPD/PPA.
They were considered high risk due to a pre-existing condition (I have a bicornuate uterus). We were highly monitored with my first pregnancy. Aside from the anxiety surrounding my condition, and what that would mean for the viability of my pregnancy, my actual experience as a pregnant woman was lovely. I carried well and with only minor aches and pains. I loved feeling the babies move.
For my second pregnancy, we decided that even though I was high risk, to go the traditional care route. Since my first pregnancy had no hiccups, I trusted that the second one would go smoothly as well.
7- How did you conquer your pregnancies and overcome PPD/PPA, fear, and anxiety?
I had more anxiety my first pregnancy because of the unknown of, if my body could even carry a child.
My condition has the risks of not being able to conceive, higher risk of miscarriage, very premature birth, and higher risk of needing a C-section.
To get me through the anxiety and fear, I took mental baby steps and used milestones to encourage me. Once I conceived I was so relieved. However, I was super nervous about miscarrying, so I looked forward to hitting 12 weeks. Once I was out of the early window for miscarriage, I looked forward to feeling the baby move, so that I could feel internal reassurance of baby’s health. Then I looked forward to being 24 weeks along when. If I happened to go into labor early, the baby would have a chance of survival. From there I was thrilled to hit weeks 28 and 32, and then set my sites on making it to full-term.
I had wrapped my head around having a baby who needed the NICU. As we neared my due date I was able to let myself be hopeful that our child wouldn’t need extra medical care. Amazingly my water broke at 40 weeks on the dot and I delivered our daughter vaginally.
8- When did you become a mental health therapist?
I have been working in mental health for a decade. In addition, I have worked in a domestic violence shelter, an outpatient clinic, a large non-profit offering parenting support and teaching classes, a hospital program with youth and their families, and most recently as a telehealth therapist with MDLive. I am licensed in California as an LPCC #2719.
9- What was the biggest life lesson you learned from your experience?
Everything is grey — nothing is black and white. We all have “stuff” and a lifetime of experiences that feed into who we are, how we think about things, and what we do about it all.
10- What advice would you give to other Moms encountering challenges?
Our intuition is pretty amazing, and if you feel like you could use help, reach out for it. Motherhood is hard for many reasons, and we aren’t meant to do it alone. If something is going on for you and you aren’t sure what to do, you can message me and I will help you figure out your next steps.
11- What is your favorite thing about motherhood?
The indescribable joy and soul fulfillment of watching your little dependent babies grow and develop into capable, funny, creative, intelligent people who think for themselves, go after what they want, and love fiercely.
A Journey to heal, recover, and conquer
What I love most about Christina, is she was quick to identify that something was not right, and to immediately work to overcome PPD and PPA. So many woman go on with their days feeling “off”, and thinking that this is normal, or not wanting to speak up about their true emotions. The most admirable and courageous thing we can do, is speak up when we have feelings we can’t identify. If we are able to talk to someone and express ourselves, this is the first step to getting ourselves back to normal. Our feelings and emotions are always valid, no matter what. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Not only was Christina able to identify these feelings in herself and heal, but she found a way to help others heal with her knowledge and expertise. I love that she found a way to use her education to help others. It’s absolutely amazing when other Mamas find a way to stay home with their little ones, but also excel at something they are so passionate about.
Christina is helping so many women, doing something she loves, and most importantly spending her most valuable time with her children and family. Christina inspires me to truly recognize my emotions, to be passionate about life, and to prioritze what truly matters. Our families.
Thank you Christina for sharing your journey with us!