As an unexpecting new mother who would face a challenging pregnancy and become a single parent, Kathleen sought help from Thrive Reno’s It Takes A Village perinatal program. In honor of National Single Parent Day, she shares her perinatal mental health story and reminds us that it truly does take a village to heal.
Can you share an overview of your perinatal journey?
My perinatal story, in short, was a surprise like many pregnancies. One fleeting night turned into a lifetime of motherhood, which in turn changed my life in the most amazing way. My pregnancy, however, was quite stressful. I dealt with a great deal of verbal abuse from a former partner and had to lean on my family for emotional support throughout the pregnancy.
At 39 weeks and one day into my pregnancy, I hadn’t felt my daughter move all day. At the doctor, I found out that my daughter’s oxygen levels were very low. My medical provider said that she needed to be delivered right away, as the placenta was not supporting her in the way it should. I was induced into labor that night. I believe my labor lasted around 16 hours.
A few hours after being admitted into labor and delivery, nurses entered my room dressed in full COVID-19 personal protective equipment. They informed me that I had tested positive for the illness. Guilt overwhelmed me as I thought of all my loved ones that had been exposed. But I pushed the fear away believing that if I took all the necessary precautions, my daughter would be safe, healthy, and in my arms. When my water broke that afternoon, I went from five centimeters dilated to holding her within an hour.
How did your perinatal experience affect your mental and emotional health?
I felt so much anxiety about having my first child. I feared failing as a parent. Additionally, difficult experiences from my childhood came to the surface. Although I wish I could have healed my inner child before having my own, because of the birth of my daughter, I sought healing so that I could be a better mother for her.
What led you to seek therapeutic support for your struggles? What did this decision process entail?
I wanted to be better than the parents in my past had been, but that also meant that I had a lot to live up to. After my pregnancy, my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms heightened, but at the time, I didn’t know that OCD was at the root of my struggle. I kept thinking, “Something is going on with me, and I want and need to feel better and be whole again.” I had to be for my daughter, so I sought therapeutic support.
What did this support look like? Can you overview your experience?
I was blessed to get help and support from Thrive Reno’s It Takes A Village perinatal program where I received in-depth, multi-faceted care that expanded beyond mental health to include nutritional and physical health guidance. The program worked to heal me from the inside out. Additionally, having many other mothers attending the program alongside me and supporting me throughout my journey was the best thing I could’ve asked for.
Can you detail any strategies, motivations, daily practices, etc. that helped or are helping you heal?
My favorite strategies that I learned involved mindfulness practices and meditations. I do them every night now. They keep me balanced.
How has the state of your mental and emotional health changed since coming to Thrive?
I’m coping with the symptoms of OCD much more effectively and I feel so much better. After the It Takes A Village perinatal program, I felt like a whole new mom, improving emotionally in a matter of weeks. Never did I believe that my healing would happen so quickly, but it was the perfect timing and allowed me to confidently face parenthood by myself. Although I struggle every day, I have a newfound strength.
Do you have any advice for individuals who may be facing perinatal circumstances that are similar to your own?
I just want moms out there to remember that a happy mama makes for a happy baby. Your children feel what you feel, so keep yourself happy and seek help for your peace of mind. I know firsthand that being a single mom is hard. Whether it was planned or not, parenthood is a journey that can make putting food on the table a struggle, conflict with life outside of being a parent, and make finances tight. But, single mothers stick together because parenting really does take a village. Happy National Single Parent Day!
A Note From Thrive
Thrive Reno’s It Takes A Village perinatal program and additional perinatal outpatient services cater to parents struggling with their physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health throughout pregnancy and postpartum. The program provides integrated perinatal health care involving primary care, psychiatry, therapy, and nutritional support as well as a vibrant healing community. Through compassionate care, parents can learn effective coping skills, find healing, and confidently embrace parenthood. Reach out to us to learn more.