I never want to be a trigger.
As a therapist for Moms, I recognize that my current pregnancy, journey as a mother including the pain of loss can be a trigger for those challenged in their fertility, those longing to mother or mother more, and for some who know all too well the grief that comes with all of the above.
It's this dance, this struggle that we as perinatal providers face can be a complicated one. We know what's frowned upon in private practice or at work. The question is, How much of my own pain or joy do I share when I am not acting as a therapist or provider? I wonder this when I'm just posting a baby bump pic to that my own social media friends and followers.
What is a trigger???
A trigger is simply a cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist, (especially of something read, seen, or heard) distress (someone), typically as a result of arousing feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience. An internal trigger comes from within the person. It can be a memory, a physical sensation, or an emotion. An external triggers can come from the environment. They can be a person, place, or a specific situation. (more about triggers)
I must be completely transparent: I recall my own struggle to be happy for pregnant women after just miscarrying in November 2017. That loss rocked my world in a way that could not have ever imagined. I struggled emotionally and physically. I planned and hosted a baby shower while struggling with depression and anxiety related to that loss. I would hear friends complain about the woes of their own pregnancy and would scoff internally. I wish I could experience that. Before the miscarriage, my coworker and I found out we conceived around the same time and secretly celebrated how close our due dates were. I watched her thrive in pregnancy while I was left so torn and upset with my body. Mad at God. She had an uneventful pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
Later in 2019, I grieved again. I couldn't watch diaper commercials while pregnant with our son diagnosed with Trisomy 13. Due to his prognosis, doctors did not expect him to survive. I cried and prayed that he'd live long enough to even soil a diaper. I was triggered by probing pregnancy questions from coworkers, clients, students, church members, ANYONE who saw our growing baby bump.
After he passed away in 2020, I recall a family member persistently showing me baby shower pictures of a lovely family in their timeline. I was so triggered. There were so many moments like these throughout our years of trying to grow our family. Too many to pen in this time. My hope in sharing a few of these is to simply articulate that I am aware of the trauma and triggers. Because of this awareness and sensitivity, I bear some sense of responsibility for guarding the hearts of all hoping to parent. Realistically though, I can't protect everyone from every triggering moment. Even the ones, unfortunately, brought on by me.
Now, I am in my 36th week of our fifth pregnancy. I recognize how blessed I am to even count this many moments of conception, even with the losses. And Truth is, I still have moments! Part of my continual recovery is leaning on my community of moms, therapists, family and most importantly.... THE LORD.
Even in the hard moments, the jealous moments, the angry moments, the depressing and worrisome moments, God has been there to Comfort.
Whether through a song, a person, a cherished memory or vision of hope... He can walk you through your pain, your questions, and struggle. He's Fit and Mighty to handle your anger and disappointment, even if it's geared towards Him.
Tiffany has years of experience working with families in their reproductive journey whether through maternal mental therapy, breastfeeding education, group counseling and crisis intervention. She is currently the host of Wholly Mamas Podcast and is one of the Volunteer Support Coordinators of Postpartum Support International (PSI) for the State of South Carolina.
She is also a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional, Faculty for PSI Trainings and member of Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for People of Color (PMHA-POC).
Did you know May is Maternal Mental Health Month!
Hi, I am Tiffany Conyers, Therapist to the Moms! And Mommies are My Jam! Integrating my love for God and passion for Moms has been my biggest joys. One of my biggest beliefs is that an emotionally well and whole mom leads to emotionally well and whole children.
In May, we especially highlight the Mental Health of Mother’s all over the World! This whole month long, I, along with Mothers Assisting Mothers (MAM) Ministry of Right Direction Church International, will introduce the 4 C’s of Maternal Mental Health. I discovered these 4 C’s from treating moms in private practice and walking out my own struggles mentally after experiencing a miscarriage. Click here for a little of my story with depression and anxiety.
Breaking Down the 4Cs of Mental Wellness for Moms
It’s Common- In many countries, as many as 1 in 5 new mothers experiences some type of perinatal* mood and anxiety disorder (PMADs). These illnesses frequently go unnoticed and untreated, often with tragic and long-term consequences to both mother and child. Some of these disorders include: depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and even psychosis. Many moms struggle with their new role and adjusting to the various demands on the body, mind, and schedule. You are NOT alone, mom! So many of us have been impacted by a PMAD. There is help available.... (our next C)
*perinatal is the time period that includes pregnancy and one year after birth.
Counseling- Don’t worry, when Mom is not well, there is ALL KINDS OF HELP available. One type of help is through counseling or therapy. Finding a therapist that is trained to work with women within the scope of challenges of motherhood and emotional wellness is key. To find the right maternal mental health trained provider, check out Postpartum Support International’s extensive Provider Directory. There are trained and credentialed providers for all income brackets, ethnicities and languages and spiritual affiliations to support you in your motherhood journey. There motto is “You are Not Alone, You Are Not to Blame and With Help You Will Be Well”
Community- Village. Tribe. Squad... Whatever you call it, one of the best ways to overcome anything is with others. One of the biggest traps of struggling mentally or emotionally in motherhood is isolation. I learned this the hard way. We may withdraw and avoid others for various reasons. Maybe you don’t want to feel like a burden, or want to avoid stigma or judgment. Maybe you just don’t want anybody in “your business”. We weren’t meant to do life alone. So much of our recovery, healing and support can come from a community of mothers who have been through what you are going through. Whether it is a support group, Mothers of Preschoolers Group (MOPs), a group of moms from church like MAM, or a closed Facebook group, having community can mean the world of difference in your emotional wellbeing.
Tiffany is one of the Volunteer Support Coordinators of Postpartum Support International (PSI) for the State of South Carolina. She is also a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional, Faculty for PSI Trainings and member of Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for People of Color (PMHA-POC)
Did you know May is Maternal Mental Health Month!
Even as a therapist, I am not exempt of being affected by Maternal Mental Illness.
In May, we especially highlight the Mental Health of Mother’s all over the World! This whole month long, I, along with Mothers Assisting Mothers (MAM) Ministry of Right Direction Church International, will introduce the 4 C’s of Maternal Mental Health. I discovered these 4 C’s from treating moms in private practice and walking out my own struggles mentally after experiencing a miscarriage. Click here for a full breakdown of the 4Cs.
I’ve always wanted to become a mother and after our 2nd child turned two, I knew that if we were going to have another child, NOW was the time to get to trying! After months of “two-week waits”, I got that feeling that we needed to take a test. We were indeed pregnant! I scheduled my 1st prenatal visit for 10 weeks per my OB’s advice. On November 2017, The day of our 10 week appointment I woke up with some relentless cramping and spotting; all symptoms that I had never had while pregnant. My biggest fear was happening. That morning, I had a miscarriage. I attended the pregnancy confirmation appointment only to confirm that the baby I longed for was no longer in my body. They confirmed that I had just experienced pregnancy loss.
The loss had such a physical and mental impact on me and my walk with Christ. I grieved being pregnant and felt dumb for thinking we could grow our family. I felt guilt for not being satisfied with the two healthy kids we already had. I struggled with fertility and whether we should even try again. I was so angry with God about it. It didn’t help that I had also weaned my daughter from breastfeeding abruptly while pregnant, which is not advised.1 I became depressed and anxious. I struggled with eating and lost a lot of weight. I had poor concentration, rumination, and worry. I wanted to sleep all the time and once I slept, I never felt rested. I remember one morning waking up and saw real relief in not waking up. I had never experienced being in such a dark space. I cried often and isolated myself from friends. The issue was that despite what was happening internally, externally, I still went to work and got my kids off to school; so I nor did anyone else, realized that I was not well. I was still doing it all, just not with my best self. A friend reached out and really asked how I was REALLY doing. It wasn’t but for the grace of God in the form of the 4 C’s of Maternal Mental Health Wellness did the light begin to shine through:
The 4C’s in Action:
If you find yourself struggling with emotional complications, especially during your motherhood journey, please remember:
You are not alone! Mood and anxiety disorders like depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and other conditions are extremely common. Taking the step to seek help, whether it is reaching out to your local support coordinator through Postpartum Support International, or a therapist, is a step worth taking. You will learn healthy coping skills that will support your recovery. The Goal is to be well and connected to a community that supports your mental and emotional wellness.
You can do this Mom... You don't have to this by yourself.
Take a look at www.postpartum.net for more resources.