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Want to know the truth about being a parent? It is not cupcakes, unicorns, and puppies all the time. 

In this episode, Carolina and Postpartum Doula Patricia Grensemen get vulnerable about sharing their journey with parenthood. 

If you are ready to be validated and know it is ok to dislike parts of your parenting journey, then this episode is for you! 

What you’ll learn:
1:10 Patricia Grensemen’s story about parenting and the reality of it
6:28 Carolina’s experience with her son Ollie
11:21 “Your best will look different than it did before you had children” – Carolina
14:15 The way Patricia shows her love to her child
18:25 The truth about postpartum anxiety
24:05 Carolina’s anxiety about her son going to kindergarten
31:25 Patricia’s take on setting boundaries
40:26 The importance of having emotional safety 
44:40 How to know and express what a parent needs and wants

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Professional bio
The Carolina Sotomayor Podcast is brought to you by Carolina Sotomayor and the Fertility Foundation.

Carolina Sotomayor is an Expert Womb Healer who helps women conceive by removing physiological blockages with Reiki. She is the host of the Carolina Sotomayor Podcast, a show that covers everything from fertility to postpartum to motherhood, and the creator of Fertility Foundation Collective, an online membership that helps women heal at their own pace to boost their fertility.

Carolina has served over 500 women from around the world to heal. She is passionate about helping women create their families. As a result, there are over 60 reiki babies in the world.

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Full episode transcript:

Hi, I am Carolina, your podcast host, an expert, wound healer. Thank you for being with me today. Today I have a special guest. Her name is Patricia Greensman, and today we’re talking about why I didn’t love parenting my first baby. And Patricia, how are you today?

Thank you for being here with me. I’m just fine. Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure. Can you tell us a little bit about your story, because that is quite the headline. Most people, society says, oh, you’re pregnant, great joy, let’s have the baby shower. Baby comes and everything’s gonna be perfect, uh, with cupcakes and glitter and it’s gonna be so whimsical.

It’s usually, that’s not always how it goes. Most of the time it’s not how it. . Yeah. And I have not really felt brave enough to say that out loud until this year, uh, that I didn’t love parenting my first baby. So, , I applaud you for being honest and like sharing that because I know from friends and also in clients that this is a very common actual occurrence.

Mm-hmm. , but it’s taboo to talk about because how dare you. Mm-hmm. not love parenting. That’s a little, don’t you want this baby? Don’t you love your family? Be grateful for what you have. Right? Yeah. The dismissal of a complete disregard of a mom’s postpartum feelings in the unpacking of that, in also like then, you know, they think it’s, oh, it’ll just pass, or just hold your baby more and you’ll be fine.

But the actual like thought of. You know, there’s may not be an instant connection. There may not be an instant like want to hold them. Or I had a client who was, she wanted to get back to work as quick as possible, and then people were like, what’s wrong with you? So there’s just a lot of judgment as to.

Like, why aren’t you just instantly falling in love and why aren’t you just full of joy? Why are you having any trouble? Like the The society’s, oh, okay, have baby. And then also jump back into being a size too. Yeah. So much pressure. Yeah, there’s a lot. It’s a lot. And if it’s not going well, then you think it must be your fault.

You know? Common. So, so comment. So tell me about your story. So you had your first born, what year was this? So this was way back in 2015. We discovered my husband and I, he had received news of a great big promotion that was gonna allow him. Us as a family to move abroad to Japan in the summer. And it was that same week that we got that news that I discovered that I was pregnant.

And when, wow, like before I got pregnant, I was working as an E S L teacher. I taught incoming international college students. English as a second language so that they could move on into regular university classes. And, and so I thought, oh my gosh, Japan, what an adventure. I’ve never had a chance to teach in Asia before.

I had been to Latin America. Uh, I taught in Canada and in America, and so I thought Japan would be great fun. Uh, , what a great place to go. even just to have a baby, right? And I thought we would be fine, but my first year of motherhood was really difficult and I had my, like we flew my mom out to stay with.

for the first six weeks. And when we were trying to decide how long she should stay, my husband thought, you know, six weeks is a really long, a really long time for a house guest and you know, maybe we should bring that down to like three or four weeks maybe. And I thought, well, I don’t, I don’t know , I don’t really know.

Let’s, let’s just go for six weeks. And of course when it was time for her to go home, I was like, please don’t leave me . I can’t do this on my own. Cuz my husband had long since returned to work and. , you know, it was just me and the baby in the months after that cuz my husband was working full-time and we had an American like expat community all around us cuz we went over there with the Navy.

And so there were other Americans and, and lots of other young families that I could connect with too. But it still felt like. Like parenting my child, . He was, he was a very tense and alert and awake baby, and I poured all of my love and affection into him. But he was just really, like, he wasn’t easily soothed.

He really didn’t sleep a lot, so there wasn’t a lot of time for me to sort of like, like regather my resources and like I, I burned through all of my backups of energy in those first three or four months, and I was completely overwhelmed by how relentlessly needy he was. And the whole time I was pounding on myself cuz like I should have known, I should have, I, of course babies are needy like, am I stupid?

And so it was this feeling that I didn’t really know what I was doing because if I knew what I was doing, he would relax. He like, he would sleep better. I could figure out this sleep mystery, right? I would figure out how to enjoy his company because he was healthy, I was healthy, I should be happy. And plus this guilt.

What’s wrong with me? , why can’t I figure this out? You’re getting hit from all sides. The question that comes up for me that’s often asked, is he a good baby? And I would respond super like , super like. Postpartum warrior that I was. It’s like all babies are God babies. Babies are good babies. Of course, , he like, is he saying as if there was something broken or something about them?

Like if they’re not good, I can relate as to our son Ali. He was a very high touch baby. He would be soothed, but he would only sleep. on my chest and uh, it was very hard for me to let other people hold him. Mm-hmm. . So I, I was my own worst enemy. Like I just, cuz of, we had a NICU day and mm-hmm long hospital stay because of prolonged labor and infection in both of us.

I just had this need to like hold him all the time, but it. To my detriment where I wasn’t sleeping, it was not healthy. So it was very difficult to navigate your needs and postpartum. It’s very difficult as a first time mother to navigate all of those things. Like it wasn’t where at the time my behavior was unhealthy, that it was like I was actually causing more harm to my body, to myself, to my mind, and making the situation worse than actually like, than if I had just let my husband probably put him.

a few, you know, a few times. That way I could rest. But how did you cope with all of that? So if you’re the primary caregiver and you’re in a foreign country, your mom has gone back. So now you’re like three to four months and you’re all your resources. So what did you do then? So at four months old, you’re like, you’re frazzled and you’re thinking that it’s your fault, but like what did you do next?

Like how did the next year. Well, I, I read a lot. I asked for help online. Surely somebody had a secret , you know, like there was, there was some nugget of wisdom that I could find and apply to my situation that would help. So I did that for a long time. We hired a sleep consultant to help teach me how to help my baby sleep better, and that made naps a little bit better, but not necessarily overnights, not for a long time, but you know, it didn’t help.

I did all the reading. I did all the research. I tried to find answers because I didn’t trust myself. You know, I didn’t realize that my baby was within a range of normal. I didn’t accept that at the time. I thought if I had the answer, if I had the magic, the secret, a secret, you know, some trick, then he would turn into a better baby and that would validate.

Skills as a mom. And so I, I went down that path for quite a while and it wasn’t until he was, was it before his first birthday? I think so. We made some changes. He started going to like a drop in daycare a few days a week. Yeah. No, it was after, it was after a year. I, I persisted for quite a while before I started to sort of say, look, I am not okay and I really don’t like, This life that we have.

I kind of hate it every time. Like in the night, especially overnight, when he would wake up again and again. I was like, I, I hate, hate this part of my life right now. And so I used to dread nights too. Yeah. The days were fast and the nights were slow. Yeah, yeah. And so I was like, something’s gotta change because I cannot, I don’t wanna live like this.

And so we did, we made some changes. And, uh, who’s your husband support? He was, yeah, because he could see, you know, how much I was struggling emotionally and, you know, all the time. I, I was working hard to be a good mom. I would sit with my, my very chatty and happy and lively, boisterous, and energetic boy, even though I was exhausted and weary and I felt oppressed.

Like, you know, I, I basically felt like eor, like a cloud. Rain was just following me around, but I didn’t want that to affect his, like, you know, this is a crucial time of development for babies and you must, you know, speak your, whatever it is, , you have to say so many words in your child’s presence to, you know, boost their verbal, you know, um, their language acquisition.

Uh, you have to get them outside and among people, he has to be allowed to explore in the dirt. So like, we would go to the park, we would spend hours at the, at the playground. Oh my gosh, you knew so much. I didn’t know any of these things. I had to because otherwise I would damage my child. Right. It was a lot of pressure and there was no, I missed a lot then I missed a lot of the dirt

I baby wore him a lot. Yeah. And at one point I got really bored and I, I had to figure out how to put, assemble things so I baby wore him and I read him instruction manuals, . Yeah. We do what we can. Right? We do what we can. We know the very. Yeah, I just assume it just, I think it’s. Role in postpartum is that your best will look different than it did before you had children, before you were pregnant, and certainly in a big time.

I learned that from my therapist actually when I was going through postpartum. She said this to my husband, you can’t expect Carolina. To perform and function the same way she was before she had your son. She’s learning to breastfeed. She’s recovering from a C-section. She’s recovering from birth trauma, like a lot of wounds Also came out during my birth unhealed wounds, and because we got a warning from the rental office of our apartment that Ryan’s like, have you paid the rent?

I said, no. Um, I haven’t opened the mail. Where’s the mail? And , and that’s when he goes, I think we need to go to therapy. We need to like book a session with your therapist. And I was like, you need to take care of all of that. I, I am not doing that. I’m barely like producing enough milk and I’m like, you basically better it in here.

So I think I tell that story in hopes that understand that it’s okay. To explore who you are now in postpartum and make changes in your relationship and your lifestyle to suit what your needs are. You very well might become a nervous person and you may not have been nervous person before. I learned to, actually, I was still an anxious person, but I actually somehow in postpartum became very patient.

That I wasn’t before. And I think that’s because I scaled back on what I allowed myself to do. I just saw everything else that I was doing cuz I did everything. I also didn’t realize I was mothering my husband because I thought as a wife, I had to take care of everything for him and be like 1950s Betty Crocker, and that’s not how it is now.

So in our postpartum we switched to equal. and the key point is like understand that your best is gonna look different now when you’re parenting a baby than your best before. Your best is gonna go up and down and that’s okay cuz you’re going through a transitional period. That’s the point I wanted to say

Yeah, it just takes a long time to settle into like a new version of you. , it requires so much flexibility and, and just because you don’t like certain parts of parenting or even dread them or even hate them, does not mean wanted to hear this for the people in the back. Mm-hmm. does not mean that you don’t treasure cherish or love your child any less than if you didn’t.

There are certain things about our makeup and our experiences that we love, and then certain things that we don’t, and as. We have to be safe enough to say it, that that’s okay. Yeah. Yeah. Obviously I loved my baby because obviously the, the things that I was doing for him were my way of loving him. , like wearing him all the time, going for long walks, reading like the nose book or the flip book, or , like all those little Dr.

Seuss, you know, goodnight Moon. I read to him constantly. Those things, like even though in my head I was like, I frigging. Being a mom still, I loved him like with everything that I had, and, but I was not able to see that when I was in the thick of it. And I think I was not formally diagnosed with postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety or anything like that because I did not feel sad.

And so I was like, I, I’m not depressed. I’m fine. It’s just a hard stage. I’m gonna get through this, but I was angry a lot, you know? And I was exhausted and I was burnt out. And it wasn’t until like a year and a half later, I had wanted to explore becoming a birth doula so that I could help new moms and.

It was in an information session for how to become a birth doula that I learned there was such a thing as a postpartum doula, which is the work that I’m in now. So I jumped on postpartum doula training, and while I was doing that training, I had to learn about perinatal mental health, about postpartum mood and anxiety disorders so that I can like walk families through that, not as a therapist, but as you know, like as a support system.

Because as a postpartum doula, you can actually give a heads. on day three, five, whatever, there’s gonna be a spike. Typically, this is the signs you’ll see on these days as the hormones drop off or do whatever. That’s what our postpartum doula did. She was very helpful to know those signs and how to move around it and support the mom.

Yeah. Yeah. So that’s where I learned about what the symptoms might look like, and I realized I probably did have maybe some postpartum. Depression, almost certainly some anxiety and postpartum burnout with, but like, those are not diagnoses that you can get or that were so common, so commonly given to new parents because we feel like it’s just hard and I need to get over it.

I need to get on with it. And I don’t know if I would’ve even accepted that diagnosis at the time, but in hindsight, like I, I was just not okay. I had both of those, but the anxiety was. Riddled me more than the depression. The depression came when I didn’t sleep enough and it was heavy, but the anxiety that just sometimes it’s irrational.

Mm-hmm. , I had a big fear of, I watched way too much twilight when I was pregnant and postpartum, and I’m Team Edward, so . I thought it was a great idea to. Planned my son’s baptism when he was like two months old. We are members of the Episcopalian church and, and so I planned the baptism and all of this, but I was super fearful.

Of taking him to the church because they had like marble floors. And I was afraid that like his head would crack open if like, and I was afraid that I would drop him and he would turn into that scene from like one of the movies where they’re fighting and I was like, So I actually had to go with my postpartum doula.

We met with the priest and like the area where the baptism’s gonna be, it’s all carpet. So I had to actually go there and I was like so short, like this was like a fear that I had. So like postpartum anxiety is sometimes like, Like the thoughts or what you’re actually scared of, it doesn’t matter. Like, and that’s where like, I think as, as a society, we, we don’t really know how to support moms because there’s ways that you can work through it, but that’s definitely why people need, uh, I highly suggest like always having a therapist on hand and having a selfish relationship cuz you just, especially if you’re pregnant and going to postpartum, so you don’t have to establish that Also in addition to crisis, so like the postpartum anxiety, it could.

Anything and it could be rational or irrational. And most of the time it’s like irrational. I had, uh, a client, she was afraid that the airplane was gonna come crash out of the sky and land directly on her car. It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. That’s her fear. Yes. Cuz for anxiety, it’s heavy. And I’m so glad you’re bringing this to light.

I have a story. It wasn’t necessarily a newborn phase. It was actually the past year for me, most of this year. It was very difficult for me. We didn’t get along a lot of screaming fits, so he’s five and the more I worked, I’m an entrepreneur, so the more I worked, the less capacity I had for the emotional needs that he required of me.

Mm-hmm. and. Had thought, well, I’m in this entrepreneur space so I could have more time with him, but I was working more than I ever had in any corporate job. And then what he was getting of me was the tiniest, broken down pieces of the days, and then I was so exhausted. So I ended up actually telling my husband, I was like, I miss being single like us, like newly married.

I. the days that I could just get up and do whatever I want, I miss if it’s not in a calendar, if it’s not. I don’t like regiments so much. I don’t like so much structure. I’m a very fluid person, so I like to like free spirit. That’s not how our lives are and, and I say I just feel like. I feel choked. I feel like I can’t do anything for myself.

That’s if in a free time it was going to the business. There was no, like, there was no honoring of emotional capacity, even for myself. Okay. And I literally just hit a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. Like I literally got super sick. I had c o multiple times, and I just said no more. And I hired a parenting coach.

Hmm. And I said to the parenting coach, I don’t like my kid. I think I don’t like myself and I don’t like my life, but I know that I can’t see where I’m failing. Mm-hmm. . But I got really honest. I said like, and we had to change some priorities. I changed priorities for myself. The hours that I work, how much I work, the offers I had in my business.

And I literally took off. It was a little bit more than two weeks before all I went to kindergarten. and it started before then. We started at the beginning of the summer with the parenting coach and we literally have pieces of paper with, with like phrases that I am supposed to say. I was like, I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.

I come from a welfare kid that grew up in a trailer with a, my mom was broken and she was severely abused, so I need to change these generational patterns. So, what do I say? Literally she came up with phrases and they’re. Tape to the walls and I was like, I don’t care. I need ’em in every room. So no matter where I look, I can have a spot.

So I know like how I’m supposed to say, if I wanna make this change, I need to have it readily available. I started, and this is gonna sound super weird, I started to date my son. I started to take him on dates. I started to date myself. I started to do like, I had to create space and eventually I had a really honest conversation of, I was like, I really don’t like how we’re getting along.

I love you and I want to be closer to you. And he is like, yeah, but we fight all the time. And he goes, you don’t really like me. And I said, I don’t want you to feel that way. So how can I do to? And I asked him, he’s old enough now, like what can I do to make you feel loved? And then we discovered love buckets and he like literally will tell me I need love or my bucket’s empty, or You didn’t love enough on me.

Today, again, very high touch. So I also have to take time for me. I didn’t realize how depleted I. So in turn, I was super unhappy with myself. and then I didn’t have, and then of course I didn’t like him. I liked my husband, but my husband was doing everything he could to take care of the house and take care of me and brought me food, which there not to like with that, but like there was nothing else of me to give to him.

Mm-hmm. my, who is developmentally like going so fast reading already and writing and graduating from preschool and. All these things stop , and I, I was like, and I know some people are like, what? I waited so long to have my son, but it was a good part of half of this year that it was really rough. There was moments of happiness, but I really disliked being a parent.

I didn’t know how to meet him where he was at. Also, not just being emotionally drained because of the lifestyle we were, I was living, but I didn’t know how to handle. Separation too, but also how much he needed. So like he’s separating and he’s learning to be independent and developing. It’s really hard to understand.

All of that just lacked a lot of education and child development. So the parenting coach actually helped me realize all the things in the books I needed to, and gave me resources. But it was really helpful to have somebody like, make me feel like I wasn’t crazy. Mm-hmm. like, because, I’m not, well technically what your postpartum two years after, but like I also had anxiety leading up for him going into kindergarten.

Not that he was growing up too fast, but it was like, okay, these are a new set of people that are gonna be around him all the time. What? How do I know they’re not predators? How do I, I immediately am like, how do I know that they’re safe? How do I know all of these people? What about the kids? What about bullying?

This is vastly different. He went from a daycare. Eight kids in his room and one dedicated teacher, like just a phenomenal program that that is connected to my husband’s job and run by their foundation. It just a superb place to. Now there’s 16 kids in his class, and I know that’s still very small and that’s really wonderful, but, and then I took two weeks off right before he started, and literally we sat and I said, all right, it’s just you and me.

Let’s get real. We need to get along. I want to know you. I want to love you. I wanted do all these things and it fixed so much, but I did nothing. Did nothing else. Yeah, and I told other friends, I was like, yeah, he’s great. He’s super nice, he’s super well behaved for everyone else, but he is sometimes a holy terror for me and he is perva for my husband.

So it was just a lot to not consider myself a failure and all of these fronts and just openly admit, yeah, I really don’t like my son. He is like almost perfect, but, and I don’t know what to do with him. So if I hadn’t hired the parenting coach, I don’t know where he would be if it wasn’t for. Guiding me and validating like, it’s okay that you feel this way, so now what are you gonna do with it?

Okay, let it out. What is an exercise for you to do? And she goes, letting you know this is probably gonna happen again, but you have to like, but now these are your resources. And I haven’t established relationship with her. And I also went back to therapy. So, I did hypnosis. It doesn’t have to just be with a baby.

Mm-hmm. . It can be like other parts of parenting. It’s different. So what did you discover about your needs since you’ve become a parent? That I did a really great job of masking. That I was okay for so many years and I wasn’t as trauma formed as I am now. Mm-hmm. and that I had not healed. I’ve spent a great deal of amount of time since Ali was born, healing past traumas, physical assaults, childhood abuse, generational trauma, a great deal because I have chosen to say then.

Incentive in doing all of that hard work in a short amount of time is that the sooner that I can get rid of that heaviness, the more space I have for joy to experience with my family and the less risk it is to. Have him inherit those traits or characteristics that I do not like or that are influenced that drive that, that come from those traumas.

Cuz I wanna be a generational breaker. I’ve learned that I was not prioritizing my needs at all, and my husband will say, he’ll say, okay, be honest with me. Don’t take one for the team anymore. Just because I’m strong doesn’t mean I have to be strong anymore. Mm-hmm. . So just because I’ve endured so much in my life does not mean that I have to endure anymore.

Just because I’m have a high capacity of taking on a lot doesn’t mean that I should, and I don’t have to. Mm-hmm. ? Mm-hmm. . I learned in my marriage that I can say no. So I’m actively saying no to a lot, and sleeping. I used to like not sleep enough, so I work less. I stop working usually, most days at three, I go pick him up at 3 0 6.

We live really close to the school, so odd schools are so funny, and I take care of him in the afternoon. He’s not in the afterschool program. They were all full by the time I figured that part out. They said they were full, so I was like, oh, I believe them. My friends did. So I didn’t try. I was like, well, I’ll be the afterschool care mom and I’ll adjust my working hours.

So I’m enjoying that time with all eights our special time, and I’m cooking more. I’m being more. , I’m slowing down. So that, and I, it’s brought into a lot more joy. This is all new since August, so afternoons and evenings, , we’re all in bed by eight. Mm-hmm. , we’re asleep by eight, but we’re all in bed by eight.

and we eat two dinners. We eat as soon as Ollie comes home. My husband works from home, so we , we eat right when we, he comes home and then we’ll eat again a little bit lighter right before bed, but I noticed that I have. Laughed more in the past two months. It’s been kind of hard juggling all the work projects and finishing up things and just learning how that’s all gonna shake out and everything has to go into a calendar or has to be, I use click up to organize, which some people use Trio or whatever your project management system is or however you this out, but I write everything down so that it doesn’t get lost, so that I feel my mind is free.

So I wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I needed to, and in turn, everyone’s as much happier because I have created space for me to actually rest and do nothing. I needed spaces to do nothing, not be on my phone, not researching, not learning a new skill. I’m an avid learner, but like in just like not watching tv.

Literally laying in the grass, looking at the clouds. And we do that a lot until it gets too cold. And then we’ll do something else. But that’s some of the activities we do in the afternoon. Like I want to remember those things. Uh, I did as a kid that. I want to do those things with him, and I necessarily didn’t have the financial ability to have this free afternoons that I do now.

That’s created a lot more joy. So, I mean, you can go from, and it’s still okay. There’s certain things that I don’t like to do. I don’t really love bath time and I don’t really like, Bedtime, like getting him to sleep. I hate, I’ve always hated, it’s like he does not like sleep once he’s asleep. He is okay.

He’s sleep. We’ve had a family bed. We have a family bedroom. He has his own bed. He always seems to come back to our bed. Even if I do rest, he is like a stage five player. And, uh, I . Yeah. Yeah. We’re, we’re still working with the painting coach on the sleeping thing. So, I mean, I get it. One battle at a time.

Yeah. Yeah. So yeah. I don’t love sleep . So price racing’s still there, but no more rage. So yeah. Amazing how much our, our kids can teach us about boundaries. Oh my gosh, yes. I didn’t have any boundaries growing up. Like that’s still something I’m actively learning, like, yeah. So, do you struggle with boundaries or are you really good with them?

I feel I have quite some proficiency with boundaries now after my, after my second baby. So it, it took me a long time to agree that it was acceptable for us to have a second child just like you. It took a long time to recover from that first year. Motherhood. And you know, I’ve been thinking about which parts of parenting I like the least.

And for me it’s the overnights when babies are waking. That was always the hardest part. Getting up three or four times a night and just feeling like it’s all on me. It’s all me all the time, and there’s no room for me in my life because the baby needs me. You know, that didn’t happen. That feeling of like resentment, the cynicism, uh, that didn’t happen so much with my second baby.

And I think that’s because I learned so much about what I needed to feel competent and secure in myself to feel well rested. I learned a lot about that from my first experience as a mother. And so when I had my second baby who granted was a different baby, she was like soft and squishy and affect. And just more relaxed overall.

But I was a different mom. And so our whole parenting experience was different. And because I wanted to avoid the, like, the postpartum anxiety and depression, the se, when I had my second baby, I was much more firm about my boundaries with my husband and with visitors and boundaries that I put around the things that I would read or research about.

Uh, I didn’t spend quite so much time, like I, I hardly ever ask online What should I do if my baby. You know, spitting up a lot or does any, does anybody any good recommendations for sleep sacs to help my baby sleep better? the Merlin sleep sac. Like you get, you get so much advice. Yes. When you ask an open-ended question like that on the internet, and some of it can be good.

Uh, some of it is incorrect or unsafe. Some of it is, uh, you know, gently tinged with judgment. Like if you would only. Try this simple thing that I did with my family, then your problems would be solved. Why haven’t you yet you dummy, you know, like, and, and that some of that I was reading into comments when my, with my first child.

Uh, but I didn’t, I did not make that mistake with my second because I was more clear about what I needed and what I would open myself up to the second time around. Do you, do you feel like, oh, well, I have a quick question. With your second child, were you still in. No, no, we were back. You were back in the States?

Yeah. Did you have support, did you have connection with people or did your mom, was she nearby? Did you more help? My mom came again for, I think it was five weeks this time. Five or six weeks. My husband was off for longer. He took, he took eight weeks instead of two weeks for our second meeting. Um, partly because we wanted to make sure that our.

Our alert and curious and, and chatty four year old would have a good experience as a first time brother and not feel, you know, neglected or shunted aside or whatever, um, that he would be an active participant as an older brother. Um, we have a set of neighbors that’s like our third set of grandparents who are very, very helpful.

Oh my gosh, I would. To adopt a set of grandparents. That would be lovely. Nobody else, like none of our family is local. None of ours are either. Uh, Ryan’s parents moved away. My mom lives in Pennsylvania. Yeah. So in my dad’s past. So, um, yeah, more support. I should put that on a Facebook group. I should do that.

Looking to adopt some Yes. Grandparents. We need some local grandparents. Yeah, and like this neighbor just walked to school with us this morning because she said she has missed the outdoor time that we had in the summer. We have an alleyway back. She missed the alley time hanging out with my kids and listening to them chat, and she, she says she’s sad that she doesn’t understand some of the things that my three-year-old says because she’s three and she just doesn’t get enough time with her.

And I was like, well, we definitely need to get together more. But just knowing that they’re there. I’m ready to call. I miss that. I miss having like all of my, all of my close people, all of my. That people who, there’s something, something so soothing about someone wanting to spend time with you, but also knows you.

All of my people that have known me, like before I was even here and um, Nebraska, like that knew me from when I was a teenager and whatnot, even knew my dad, their own Miami. Tampa and Orlando. They’re not here in Nebraska, but I’m taking some of your advice and I’m gonna implement it. So do you feel like building connection with someone is important?

Yeah, for sure. Or postpartum or just in general? When you are a parent, could be first time or seasoned, or on number three or five or number one. What’s your key point be That you need to have someone you can safely confide. And with your thoughts? Yeah, definitely the second time around. The reason, one of the reasons for sure that I had a better experience is because I felt like it was, I was no longer afraid to say that things were difficult and I didn’t like them.

So, I didn’t feel quite as much like I had to, you know, project a happy image, but I had this figured out that we were fine. It’s fine. Um, you know, just smile and nod. How’s the baby? She’s fine. You know, she’s learning, she’s learning to sleep and she’s growing well, and yeah, everything’s fine. Fine, fine, fine.

I didn’t feel that urge quite so much with my second. I did with my first for sure, because. I don’t know. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I felt guilty, , and I was worried what people would say, even though, and, and now I realize, you know, those, um, there’s always a fear if you say that you are struggling, that people will think that you’re doing a bad job and they will take your baby.

and that is very common and not entirely irrational. Um, but I, I felt it felt safer to say those words. You know, I, I just, I don’t like it. I’m really struggling. It’s been a hard week, you know, and but being able to say that means that you have to. Have a safe space that you can do that. And sometimes you can find that in mom groups, in new mom groups, new parenting groups, um, in your church and with loving neighbors or your in-laws.

Or like friends you’ve had since high school, but you’ve got to have those connections because otherwise you’re gonna end up telling everyone you’re fine and then get really angry because you know you’re lying. I remember that makes me think of it. I would, so when Ollie was born, I, I had a job that I had at that point for five years and it was like my dream job, but I stayed home with him for four months.

Um, I had a good maternity leave. Um, and uh, I would pump the hour each way. Uh, we lived an hour away from the plant and I would call my best friend Melissa, and we’ve been best friends since I was 15, and I was like, and she had at that point, She, she just had her second baby right before oie, so she must, and the baby was like, probably like six months old or something.

Yeah. And, and I said, this is too hard. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. W my heart is broken. , his eye dropped off OIE and he screamed. I was convinced he was happier when he was with me and he was unhappy at daycare, so she would just listen to me sob and I would be pumping , and I was like, this is so hard.

I lasted at that job. Probab. I think I was there six weeks after I returned and I got another job closer to my house. The physical distance, I hated so much and I also was not, I did not allow myself to do drop-offs anymore. I only did pickups because leaving him was too hard. So I think communicating is so important and you need to.

You mentioned something, emotional safety, emotional safety. can look different to other people, but essentially the definition would be that you can confide in someone and they’re going to actively listen to you. They’re not gonna try to fix it. They’re gonna validate your emotions. They’re gonna hold space for you without responding with, well, when I was pregnant or when I like, they’re.

Listening to you, and they’re holding space for what you’re having to say. And they’re gonna say, okay, so what you’re saying is this, and they’re gonna repeat back to you what you said. And they’re gonna say, well, that sounds really scary. You know what? That does suck. Mm-hmm. , I’m so proud of you. They’re going to affirm what you’re saying.

They’re not gonna try to talk you out of what you’re saying or dismiss what you’re saying. That is a, I believe that every personable person is capable of doing that. Mm-hmm. . But it’s also something that is a skill. People need to learn what to say. More often than not, they have the best intentions, but they can invalidate what you say easily.

So emotional safety doesn’t not always have to be with a therapist, and even therapist can invalidate you. Mm-hmm. . But emotional safety should make sure that you’re feeling. Seen and heard, but also you’re not leaving the conversation worse. Mm-hmm. than when you entered it. That’s essentially a good way to like check in with your body and say, well, I don’t know if I have emotional safety with this person.

Well, do you feel kind of crappy when you. Done talking to that person, or do you feel a little bit lighter? Do you feel like, oh man, that was a weight after my chest. So like that’s the difference. I found emotional safety in close friends like I did with my friend Melissa, who was actively also going through a season of life and just let me cry.

Literally she was in a different state and like that’s all she could do, but it was everything I needed. And she’s like, I promise you it will get better. I promise you that. I hear you. And I sobbed in the parking lot as I deed my pumping parts and I was able to wipe my face and going to work and I was able to mask that.

Everything was fine. But those talks I always remember. . Mm-hmm. , they stay with you. What do you feel like emotional safety is? So we talked about where you can have support and things like that. You mentioned you’re a postpartum doula. I always advocate. If you can afford it or also check in your communities.

There actually is grants and things like that. We have here in Omaha called The Better Birth Project, where they actually have grants. It’s a nonprofit that supplies women with actually birth doulas. I don’t think they have reached postpartum doulas, but I know that they. Try to provide doula services with people who may not be able to afford them.

Mm-hmm. . So there might be organizations in your area. Another great organization that I really love that was super helpful for me was Lache League. Yes, of course. and they have like meetups. And I had my son in 2016, so that was pre covid, but I, and I don’t breastfeed anymore, so I don’t know what their meetups are like, but they’re a nationwide organization.

Maybe in global, I’m not sure. But checking, so checking your organization. Another organization that I had seen other moms have great success with is mops. Mm-hmm. . And those are, it’s church-based. I don’t know much about it. I just knew a lot of my friends had made great friends there and found really great community and they felt less lonely.

Yeah. So Mo MOPS groups meet weekly, right? I think they do meet weekly and they have like semi-structured gatherings for mothers of preschoolers to chat about their experience. Yeah. Yep. So one key point that you had mentioned with me was families with default. Parents need to know themselves well enough to feel safe enough to know what their needs are and express what those needs are.

Mm-hmm. , how can they do that? So you need to. Someone that you can like, unload your feelings to, right? Firstly. So the having that emotional safety and knowing that your feelings are accepted as they are without having to hear an explanation for your feelings and what those feelings might mean. So that’s, uh, really important.

And then from those feelings, from understanding your feelings and being able to articulate your feelings, you’ll hopefully get a better sense of what you need. But being able to express those needs to someone who can satisfy them. Like if you have a partner who you feel is not pulling their weight, you need to be able to express a need for help, like, Please don’t make me responsible for paying the rent, like you said with your husband.

Please don’t make me responsible for chasing down the landlord so that we can pay our late rent when I have all this other stuff going on without hearing that, you know, I, I’m working full-time and you are home all day. Maybe you could look after that and that that would make you feel. Guilty for being needy.

Right. Um, so it’s important to have a soft cushion of a relationship that you can express those needs in without being made to feel that your requests, that the things that you need to have a full cup, a full bucket, are too much. And for a person, if they don’t have a safe person, are there some activities that they could do or some things that they might be able to do for a few minutes a day, or as needed to help them move into transition from trigger to calm?

Hmm. Yeah, for sure. If you can’t talk through what your needs might be. Your partner or even like with a friend or a therapist, but if you know what those needs are, make sure that you’re taking. To fill your own cup first. So for me, often that means journaling when I’m feeling very, very, uh, when my head is full and there’s no one to talk to because I don’t yet feel safe.

Maybe I, I’m an internal processor. Um, oh, my husband is too. A lot. I feel like a lot of podcast hosts are verbal processors. That is, I. , I feel I have to think through things a lot before I can express, before I can bring them to the table. And so that’s my spouse. Me a lot. Being able to go for a long walk to think through my thoughts before I share the vulnerability of my needs helps a lot.

Um, maybe for you that might be walking your dog, being able to go grocery shopping, having a clean house so that you can. Like an an environment around you to think and organize your thoughts and your needs. It’s true. A clean house can actually help so much. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . I learned in my parenting coach that a clean house actually helps a child feel safe.

Isn’t that something? Yeah. She said it’s because usually, um, she said a clean, organized house, so that if everything has its own place, it helps the child know predictability. Predictability also sets boundaries and the consistency of those, that cleanliness, it helps ’em feel safe because they know what to expect.

Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , but also is that they have. , it’s not overstimulating. So safety can like, so cleaning your house is definitely, can actually do a lot for, for your emotional safety for yourself too. If it helps you feel that your life is not a mess, that your life is not chaotic when your house is organized, it’s okay to say, I need this house to be more organized.

That can be a valid need. Yeah, we actually hired someone to help us organize because I am digitally really organized and systemically, like very great digitally, but like the linen closet, I had to like watch a million YouTube videos to like copy someone. It’s not an innate natural talent of mine. But luckily there are experts that you can yeah, meet.

There was a lady locally and she, she came and I, I actually had a little bit of extra money and I was like, can you help us create systems in our house? And it actually reduced stress and uh, made things more cuz my husband doesn’t have that. If it’s Bill, he’ll follow it. Mm-hmm. , but like to invent a system that’s not his skillset.

I think our last tip that you gave was if you are postpartum or if you are in any phase of motherhood, actually this would apply. The question is, how do you recognize when things are going really well versus really bad if you’re on autopilot? Mm-hmm. . So do you wanna read the last tip? Yeah, for sure. If you’re not sure what you need, yes.

If you’re not unsure of what you need, Uhhuh, , or what your triggers are, or how you’re actually feeling, it’s important to keep track of days that feel easy and light and that flow well compared to days that feel heavy and like you’re constantly fighting against the stream. And then notice which patterns are happening in your day that make it feel like a good day so that you.

Incorporate them into every morning when you start out. So if it’s really important to you to have five minutes to meditate, or really important to you to sit down and have your coffee while it’s hot, that you must eat a sit down breakfast before your day gets going, or that you must have a shower in the morning to start the day off right?

Then make that a priority. And the same way you can watch what happens when your day is thrown off course. What are things that are missing from that day? Did you not get to sit down with your coffee and the whole day got rushed and felt like chaos and you didn’t get to eat and so you felt sluggish and moody all day.

You didn’t get to go for a walk with your pup. And so like you’re constantly playing catch up for the rest of the day. You’ve got to find out what. Small habits are in your day that make a day great or that kind of throw the whole thing off your rhythm so that you can set yourself up for success.

because hard days will come. But if you can make sure those little things that make you feel great, like you’re on your way, are set up, then you’re good to go. I learned that I’m quite spiritual, but I also learned in my faith journey is that no matter what you believe, life’s still gonna throw you hard knocks.

Yeah. Life is still going to happen. So the good and the gonna happen and and waves ebbs and flows, but as long as you have a way of honoring your being or your wellness, Or rituals, whatever it may be. So the walks and everything you just spoke of. Mm-hmm. , it’s a way of keeping your inner stillness and your spirit.

Okay. You can withstand anything. Those are actual ways of coping. So some people may not actively think that a walk is a way of coping with stress or that they’re just going to clear their head, but your clearing your head is actually reducing your stress. Mm-hmm. . So those are actually. Healthy ways of coping with whatever may be happening to you.

Mm-hmm. , or it’s also a preventative, so either way, both sides of the coin go for the walk or have the cup of coffee. Whatever’s gonna make you feel whole. Yeah. That day. I saw a really great infographic. Just laugh, just, no, maybe two weeks ago, , that kind of was like punch. Um, and it was talking about how we’re all, like those of us who are striving for emotional wellness and balance in our lives, we’re all hoping to get to a point where, where our day feels like this nice and even keeled.

Like we’ve got it under control and it’s smooth sailing, right? And if we, if we only like meditated and breathed and set our affirmations on, our day would be like this. But what we don’t realize. We are, we are not a robot. . I am not a robot. And my day is always going to be like this because I am a human and, and this is never going to stop.

This is the condition of life, right? But what I can control is how do I find my way back to, to an even keel feeling when life will continue to do this Because the goal should not be this still. In our life because that’s not real life. But we can like reregulate ourselves more quickly when our, like, when our bucket is full, right?

Finding that evenness within ourselves is much easier when we’ve had a shower, a cup of coffee and a walk, for example. And then when life does this, because it does every day. We don’t like get the spikes quite so much. We can bring ourselves back to evenness better. I agree. We covered so much in our chat.

We did. Has it been an hour? My goodness. Yes. I wanna wrap this up with saying thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being so brave to share your story with so many, and I know it’s gonna be impactful. So I want the listeners to take away is that when you have your baby, you don’t know what kind of baby’s gonna come out of you or however your baby is being created into your family.

You don’t know the personality or the needs of this child. , but go with however they’re going to go in need from you, and then adjust and adapt in a way with taking time for yourself that you need to make sure that you are expressing and communicating. Even if you don’t understand what it is that you’re communicating, make sure that you have a safe person to communi.

That with mm-hmm. , it’s important that you’re not going through your journey alone, and if you have any questions, feel free to slide into our dms. Patricia, where can people reach you? On the worldwide web? I’m on Instagram stories almost every day. I’m at. Pp, that’s for postpartum doula, Patricia pp, doula, Patricia, and my website’s just my name, patricia greensman.com.

And there you can find out about like postpartum doula care. Talk a lot about prenatal prep for the postpartum period. So, so if you are pregnant and you’re starting to think about. Like, what will life with my baby be like, , or maybe I talked to someone this summer who said, you know, for a long time during her pregnancy, she was really worried about the birth and like focused on preparing for a, a good and safe birth experience.

But she got to a point where she suddenly realized, I don’t know anything about what life will be like with my baby on the other side. That’s when you talk to me, the postpartum doula. I’ll help you get ready. Do you offer virtual services in addition to in person? Yeah, I own, I’m a hundred percent virtual right now.

Got you. Only a hundred percent virtual. That means you can serve anyone anywhere. Yeah. I love you so much for sharing your day and your time with me and impacting so many. I am so, so grateful for you. Thanks for having me and letting me, letting me talk through my story again, I appreciate you so much. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Why I Didn’t Love Parenting My First Baby with Guest Speaker Patricia Grensemen

Birth, Postpartum, Self Development

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