Anti Shame Mommy Campaign 

Hi there! My name is Lindsey Cosentino and I am the owner/photographer of OohSnap Photography. I am a mother of two, Hudson (5) and Penelope (3); to say they keep me on my toes is an understatement! I am also a fireman's wife of 7.5 years, my amazing husband Andy. Growing up I always felt that God had put on my heart to be a mom. When class mates wanted to be doctors, princesses, or police officers, I wanted to be a mom. Fast forward 20+ years later and a few years of marriage under our belt, Andy and I found out we were expecting. Saying I was excited didn't even scratch the surface of my emotions! I felt like God had taken me out of the dugout and I was ready to hit a home run in the mom department. I mean after all, it was my calling. This is what I was destined to do!

 

March 13th 2013 ready or not, here comes Hudson! 19 hours of labor bliss later, and the scariest, most painful (epidural DID NOT WORK) most beautiful day of my life. My heart was full, my prayers were answered, Thank you God for this precious gift!

a few days later it was discharge time and I was ready to go home and start our life with this beautiful little blessing.

 

Night #1 the crying...ooh the crying...you know the scariest, high pitch cry that will send you into a full blown anxiety attack in .2 seconds...just me? As the nights went on the anxiety got stronger and stronger. One night, when Hudson started to cry, I was completely paralyzed and could not move. FEAR. It was so real and man did it have its claws in me! I could not tend to my baby. Thank God I have an amazing husband who would take care of the mommy and daddy duties when I just simply couldn't...not wouldn't or didn't want too; because trust me, I wanted to. I simply couldn't! the anxiety completely ran my life the next few nights to where when Hudson would cry, at this point any time day or night, I would get physically ill...I was scared of my baby to the point I was scared to touch him. Insert guilt, Insert depression. I felt like a complete failure. The one thing that I thought I was 100% destined to do, that I thought would come so very easy to me, I was miserably failing at. I felt like I was in a pool doing summersault, after summersault, after summersault so turned upside down I couldn't tell up from down. I was drowning in fear, anxiety, guilt and depression. It even got to the point where I was questioning God and his timing. As I would look into the eyes of my precious little boy I almost felt myself getting mad at God for entrusting this amazing miracle to me when I was such a mess.

One day as I was going through the big stack of papers the hospital gave me when I was being discharged, I ran across a flyer that was titled "Post Partum Know the Signs".

Little did I know this paper would change my life. I read further at the signs of post partum depression. My body went numb. I was the face of post partum depression.

 

I immediately reached out for help. My ObGYN put me in contact with an amazing counselor that specialized in dealing with new mamas experiencing post partum depression. As the weeks went by, I felt stronger, more comfortable in my skills of being a mama but still felt an immense amount of anxiety and fear. One day at a session with my counselor she decided to refer me to a psychiatrist. She said she truly believed I could benefit from an anti-depressant paired with an anti-anxiety med. I went along with it. After all, I was feeling better but far from healed. I was desperate to feel "normal" again and I just wanted to do anything to be the best mommy to my little boy I could be. It took a while for the doctor to find the right combination of meds that worked with my body. A lot of ups and downs came along with this journey but I just wanted to get better so I stuck it out. I confided in a few "friends" I had met through mommy groups for some support through this very tough journey I was going through. I was completely judged, shamed and felt to be abnormal. What have I done?? Was I truly the bad mom failing at motherhood? I mean, I felt like I was, but these mother's just confirmed my feelings to be valid. It was then I decided to never talk about my post partum with anyone. It was a hush-hush kind of subject.

 

Two years later and I was feeling better. I felt like I was getting a handle on this whole mommy thing and I could finally maintain. Then we found out we were expecting baby #2. BOOM! The old fear and anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks. I immediately sought counseling even before I delivered. I wanted to be prepared this time around since I learned the hard time last pregnancy. With Lots of prayers, counseling and an action plan on board for after delivery I felt ready. scared out of my mind, but ready..ish….

 

Five weeks early and One emergency c-section later, Penelope was here! I immediately started breast feeding because I heard it helped with post partum. I gave it a full 6 months and come to find out Penelope was not thriving on my milk. Another feeling of failure and Mom guilt hit me. I couldn't provide the nutrients my baby needed.

 

I knew I couldn't be the only one that was dealing with post partum depression. I couldn't be the only mother being shamed for not being the "perfect mom" what is that anyway?? It was then that I said "no more!" I found my voice. I wanted to be that support to the new mom who was on the same boat I was sailing on. To let her know she was not alone. To guide her in the right direction for resources that helped me get back on my feet.

 

No mother should ever be shamed, bullied or silenced for the things they do and choices they made/make in their journey of mother hood. it doesn't feel good let me tell you! God put us on this crazy rollercoaster of a blessing called motherhood together it's time we start working together and supporting each other. Being a Mom is hard! Most days we are all just in survival mode trying to raise these little humans God entrusted us with. No pressure right? calls, you answer, and so I did. The anti-shame Mommy campaign was born. I wanted to give these brave ladies a platform to tell their stories. I asked them to write me a bio of instances of when they were shamed. I then set up a date for them to come over to my studio and meet one another and mingle while I took pictures of them and their amazing children.  Connections were made and my heart was full.

 

Ladies, my challenge to you is this, take a deep look inside yourself. Have you judged someone for their past or present mothering choices? Yes, I am guilty of this! I am FAR from perfect! but lets recognize it and stop! just because someone's parenting choices are different from yours or just don't match up with something you would do, guess what...that's ok! God created us each so unique and different and that is such a beautiful thing! As long as a mother is doing right by their child and being the best mommy they can be then lets support that! Lets spread love and support each other along the way. We're in this together. Lets do this.

 

Lindsey Cosentino

I am Jenna and I am a wife to a firefighter who is gone half the year and a mama to two sweet boys who are 5 and 3! I work a sales job where I travel but I am home every night with my babies. It’s flexible enough that I get to spend time with them too. I also teach high fitness as an outlet and way to stay healthy after having my babies. It’s good for us mamas to take time for ourselves too. I have absolutely loved being a mother and growing on this journey experiencing so many FIRSTS with my kids. I wish there was a manual for motherhood, but we are all just doing the best we can! I have felt. A lot of support from other moms but I have also been shamed from other moms because of my personal choices. I committed with my husband to continue to work my sales job because we were able to pay off all of our debts and provide a better future for my children. I did want to stay home but after my discussing if was the best option for our family financially at this present time. Although my job provides a lot of flexibility it has required me to use daycare during the week. I have been guilt tripped by other moms for “allowing someone else to raise my children” which is a comment I hear often. As if I don’t want to be the one raising them. I also hear comments “I don’t know how you could work and be away from your babies-isn’t it hard for them to not have their mom?” “I would never be able to leave my baby with a stranger” “aren’t you sad you’re missing out on time with them” “your babies are only little once, why do you have to work?” I’ve also gotten comments about going to the gym or teaching classes, that I’m taking “time” away from my kids for taking time for myself. As someone who struggled with postpartum depression, exercise has been an outlet that has helped improve my mood, helped me to be a better wife and mother and has built an amazing community of women who support you through everything!! I just can’t understand why anyone would be shamed for finding an outlet outside of being a wife and mom-moms deserve time for themselves, too! These comments have been like a floodgate of criticism and questioning your own ability to make a decision as a parent. As if I didn’t carry enough guilt already, these comments were like a dagger to my heart. That has been my biggest area of insecurity and feeling bullied by other moms, when I’m truly trying to do the best I can for our family. It has gotten a little better as my boys have gotten older but I still hear these Comments from time to time. Parenthood has been such a humbling journey and I am learning every day how to be a better wife and mother. We are all in this together-we should be lifting each other up and not tearing each other down. We are doing the best we can.

 

Jenna Mcgill

When Kailey's father went to Jail in 2013, after being convicted for almost killing me in 2012- my daughters + I ended up at The Marjoree Mason center.

I always wanted to be a mother.

I suppose our passions, dreams + desires start before we can even speak. At least that's what I believe. I believe we choose who we will be in this life- we choose our parents, our siblings, our upbringing, our journey in all its totality, + thus we choose OURSELVES to be in this life, KNOWING we are CAPABLE of learning, transmuting + achieving all we've set out to do while we are here.

When I look at life from that perspective, forgiveness comes easier. Acceptance becomes a friend, + I take my power back from anyone I may have blamed or hold responsible for ALL the many losses, turmoil, + soul shattering moments my heart has lived through.

So, here it is-

I am a proud Mother of three incredibly beautiful daughters, my angels, Makayla Belle 9, Cassidy Jane 8, + Kailey Anne 6.

I filed for divorce when I was pregnant with my second daughter Cassidy. Their father was my first experience with domestic violence in an intimate relationship.

God has a beautiful way of taking what was intended for evil, + using it for good.

I was abused in everyway during my time being married.

It wasn't until I gave birth to Makayla that I started fighting back- started fighting for life, + something more, something better.

You'll hear me often say I BECAME A WARRIOR THE DAY I BECAME A MOTHER.

These words will ring forever true until I take my last breath.

I know with NO doubt in my mind, I am a live today BECAUSE I became a mother.

When life was tough, when I came home from work, pregnant with Cassidy, with little 1 year old Makayla by my side, + unlocked my home, to discover it emptied by their father in 2010, God gave me peace to leave.

I had nothing except for my daughters, + the eternal love a mother endlessly feels for her children.

So, I built us a life.

Single mom, on welfare, from Clovis, this was nowhere I thought my life would ever be.

I was judged immensely for getting a divorce, + more than anything, felt SO unworthy as a single mom.

I felt shame. I felt like I had failed to keep my family together, to make that toxic marriage work. It took many, many, many years to finally see how God saved me + my daughters. How I DID do EVERYTHING I could + then some to make it work.

2010 is when I was going through the divorce, which is when I met Kailey's father.

Love at first sight per say, I had never fallen so hard in love with someone ever before + it seems like a fairytale.

By 2012 I didn't recognize the shell of a person I had become.

It was the second + LAST domestic violence relationship I had found myself in.

I think what I regret the most, even though I believe one should never have regrets, is if I knew what it would cost me, to attempt to love that man, I would have ran so far, until his memory withered.

You see, I lost myself.

I lost myself, in the name of love,

Oh love, all for you.

I was not the woman, or mother I had always been.

It was hard to wake up- it was hard to function- it was hard to breath, + eat + just be. It was hard to be me at that time.

I had no car, no help, walking to the grocery store pushing my double stroller, buying only enough groceries that would be able to fit underneath. With Makayla by my side, + Cassidy + Kailey in the stroller.

In 2012, I was a mother of 3 beautiful daughters- 3 years old, 2 years old + 1 year old.

When Kaileys father went to Jail in 2013, after being convicted for almost killing me in 2012- my daughters + I ended up at The Marjoree Mason Center.

Wow- I've really failed in everyway was what I believed about myself during that time. I couldn't maintain a job because daycare was more than what I could make + I had no car to get to work, nor my children to daycare.

I had no help.

So, when family called from Ohio + offered to help take care of my daughters until I got back up on my feet, I felt it was a miracle. I believed it was an answer to all my prayers for God to rescue me + my children.

Fast forward to April 2014, I flew back from Ohio without Makayla + Cassidy. A decision that still makes its presence known everyday, in the absence of where my daughters should be in my life- in the emptiness of the memories that we should be creating together, that we cannot because of another Mother- Melissa.

I can write a list of mothers, friends, family, community etc..who have judged me for being divorced, being a single mom, being on government assistance, coming back to California without my two oldest daughters- which I was told I would still be able to skype them, + that when I got a steady job + place, I'd be bringing them back to California- the one Mother whose continual judgement sticks out more than the rest is Melissa's.

Melissa is the woman my daughters, Makayla + Cassidy now call mother.

As I signed over my parental rights in 2016 when the man I was once married to pursued gaining custody + I felt my hands were tied.

Melissa, is the woman who took my daughters in, in 2014 + has loved them ever since- in her own way. Her + her husband + three biological children are now a family of 7.

On February 5th, 2018, their adoption was finalized.

I will never forget being in Ohio, the last time I saw her + her husband, I asked again, as it is still a questions years later I still ponder, I still wonder, " When can I talk to + see my daughters?" "Why?" was her response. Straight face, eyebrows down, I laughed a little because I thought she was joking then I realized she was serious. I stood up straighter, looked her deep in the eyes + stated, "because they're my daughters + I love them."

"Love, ha! You don't know what love is! Love is action, love is a choice!" "Come on Todd, get in the car." As she turned her back to me + starting walking away- I have never been stung so deeply by words in my life + I have been in INTENSE emotionally/ physically/ spiritually abusive relationships. I will remember the tone in her voice + those words echoing until my last day.

It ripped my heart out of my chest, + laid on the concrete right in front of her, as she walked away with some sort of pride believing she was right- how can she even START to believe I don't love my daughters?!!?

How does the MOTHER MY DAUGHTERS now call Mother, believe I don't love them????

I still don't have an answer for that question.

...because I gave them up for adoption?

She knows I raised them for five years + tried my HARDEST + did EVERYTHING I COULD, + I still couldn't provide for my children.

You don't picture yourself EVER saying goodbye to your babies, when you birth them into this life.

Yet I have- I have kissed two tiny foreheads goodbye. Two souls my own calls out for EVERY SINGLE DAY. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

She could change her mind tomorrow + allow me to see them, to speak with them- she doesn't give them the cards I send or presents- she says shes "saving them."

I wonder every day, how many more days, or years must pass before I'll get to be in their presence once more.

I wonder every day, what they're doing, how big they are now, what their favorite things are..if they think of me too- if they can feel my love when I send it to them. Do they still remember me?

My womb mourns their loss like none I have ever known.

It just wants to hold its babies, + I have to soothe it everyday, that it will all be okay, + ONE DAY I will. ONE DAY they'll be back in my life. ONE DAY God will answer the prayers of my heart + restore what has been stolen.

For now, I just ended a two year battle fighting for custody of my youngest daughter Kailey. She now goes back + forth between her father + myself 50/50.

I've done the work.

I have healed my wounds. I have transmuted the deepest pain + loss, into acceptance + light. I have picked out the blessings in all my experiences + allowed the rest to fade away.

I have been the phoenix rising since 2012- rebuilt from the ashes that I was left in. Refined by the fire that was meant to kill me.

I am WORTHY. I am LOVED. I am WHOLE. I am ENOUGH.

I try to spread these universal truths wherever I go, + pray daily y presence is a blessing to all who cross my path.

I work with children. I teach yoga. I guide healing meditation. Crystal healings, Reiki, sound healing + much more.

My relationship with my daughter Kailey is SO enriched. She blesses my life EVERYDAY! I feel SO immensely blessed to be her mother.

I cherish every moment we have together because I know how quickly we can lose the best things in life.

I am a Mother of three beautiful daughters.

Two of them live in Florida, one lives here in my home in Cali, + all three are the sweet melody my heart beats to, my reason to live fully, joyously + intentionally.

Blessings.

Warmly,

 

Jocelyn Amber Barker

“You are going to be breast feeding right?” “You know breast is best, it’s all your baby needs.” “Formula causes so many problems.” As a first time mom I read all the blogs online, late night scrolling Pinterest, ordered all the gear for pumping, and breastfeeding, made a grocery list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding, (girlfriends I’m here to tell you go ahead and eat the broccoli and cauliflower) shoot I could write reviews on all the nipple creams out there, I joined a group of over 11,000 women on social media strictly for all things breastfeeding. 5 weeks, we made it 5 weeks. Was it an easy decision, absolutely not. Did I cry because I felt I was depriving my newborn of all things holy, you bet, big ugly tears day and night. When my son latched like a champ the day he was born I never smiled so big knowing our journey began and my body was doing what it should. The lactation consultants made their rounds the 48 hours we were at the hospital and we got 2 thumbs up. Then we got home. Was it me? Was it my son’s tongue tie? Is he eating enough? Tongue tie clipped; nope nipples still hurt and I cringed at every latch. The worrying kicked in, I took him in for a weight check, he’s fine mamma. 3 weeks of seeing a lactation consultant; and here’s what I took away, “great job come back next week, I’m not sure why your nipple looks so swollen.” “Oh he didn’t eat as much as last week we need to keep an eye on your supply.” “Let me have my colleague look at your nipples to better fit you for your flanges when you pump.” Without hesitation her exact words to me “your nipples look like they have road rage.” I don’t even think at that time I had any more emotions left to give her any expression of care. I would love to come again next week and tote my babe out in the 100+ heat for you to shove my nipple into my sons mouth and purposely unlatch him to check his latch and motivation, don’t worry these tears and pain are only real. I had had enough. I rallied my closest mom friends; the labor and delivery nurse, nicu nurse, lactation consultant, burn nurse, mom of a special needs boy, momma due to have baby number 2 soon. (I’m set guys I got some amazing women in my tribe) I sat and made my shopping list, my mind was made up that it was time I stopped worrying whether I was worthy to provide my son with nourishment, to start healing my cracked, dry and newly named “road rage” nipples. Cabbage leaves, tea, peppermint oil, Epsom salt, Tylenol, Sudafed, cold compress packs. Chocolate, don’t forget the chocolate. Little did my son know the last time I would nurse him was coming. The last time I would cry in pain, the last time he would get my liquid gold, the last time I would look down in awe of this journey that we roughed through for 5 weeks. I held him crying and apologizing to him, feelings of immense guilt, and failure. How could I have failed at something that was suppose to come natural and was a beautiful bond. But wait, there’s more! Hello mastitis, thank you for coming over the weekend when my dr’s office is not open, I’ll wait until Monday for my antibiotics. Oh and thrush, fancy meeting you here on my sons tongue. Cradle cap, join the freaking party! Diaper rash, alright seriously no more curve balls! It was time to start focusing on me physically and mentally because how can I be the best for my son when I’m not functioning at my best. I’ve lived with an autoimmune blood disease for 14 years, that’s over 1/2 my life. I’ve conquered chemotherapy, I’ve been on and off prednisone more times than I can count. According to my hematologist 4 weeks postpartum was enough time for my body to regulate and clearly the prednisone wasn’t working its charm this time. It was time to start IV infusions. Alone at the doctors office, breastfeeding in public for the 1st time, cue the biggest blowout this mamma has ever seen and the crushing news you need medical attention ASAP. I bawled like a baby, and not sure how I made it home that day except by the grace of god. Receiving IV treatments have been a blessing thus far. Is it the fact I get to sit for 5 hours every 3 weeks laughing and talking with my husband who is my best friend and biggest supporter, my sons grandparents getting quality time watching my little one, or the fact my body is responding well and I’m on the road to remission. All, all of the above. My son is healthy, happy and thriving perfectly fine on formula. This momma no longer carries guilt and pain. If I’m bawling like a baby it’s because I have gotten 4 hours continuous sleep at night or I have come to realize I have been blessed with life’s greatest blessing, my son and wouldn’t change this wild adventure for anything. I’m embracing the good, the messy and the vulnerable. Just remember mamma, you are never alone and know that fed is best, always

“You are going to be breast feeding right?” “You know breast is best, it’s all your baby needs.” “Formula causes so many problems.” As a first time mom I read all the blogs online, late night scrolling Pinterest, ordered all the gear for pumping, and breastfeeding, made a grocery list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding, (girlfriends I’m here to tell you go ahead and eat the broccoli and cauliflower) shoot i could write reviews on all the nipple creams out there, i joined a group of over 11,000 women on social media strictly for all things breastfeeding. 5 weeks, we made it 5 weeks. Was it an easy decision, absolutely not. Did i cry because i felt i was depriving my newborn of all things holy, you bet, big ugly tears day and night. When my son latched like a champ the day he was born i never smiled so big knowing our journey began and my body was doing what it should. The lactation consultants made their rounds the 48 hours we were at the hospital and we got 2 thumbs up. Then we got home. Was it me? Was it my son’s tongue tie? Is he eating enough? Tongue tie clipped; nope nipples still hurt and I cringed at every latch. The worrying kicked in, I took him in for a weight check, he’s fine mamma. 3 weeks of seeing a lactation consultant; and here’s what I took away, “great job come back next week, I’m not sure why your nipple looks so swollen.” “Oh he didn’t eat as much as last week we need to keep an eye on your supply.” “Let me have my colleague look at your nipples to better fit you for your flanges when you pump.” Without hesitation her exact words to me “your nipples look like they have road rage.” I don’t even think at that time I had any more emotions left to give her any expression of care. I would love to come again next week and tote my babe out in the 100+ heat for you to shove my nipple into my sons mouth and purposely unlatch him to check his latch and motivation, don’t worry these tears and pain are only real. I had had enough. I rallied my closest mom friends; the labor and delivery nurse, nicu nurse, lactation consultant, burn nurse, mom of a special needs boy, momma due to have baby number 2 soon. (I’m set guys I got some amazing women in my tribe) I sat and made my shopping list, my mind was made up that it was time I stopped worrying whether I was worthy to provide my son with nourishment, to start healing my cracked, dry and newly named “road rage” nipples. Cabbage leaves, tea, peppermint oil, Epsom salt, Tylenol, Sudafed, cold compress packs. Chocolate, don’t forget the chocolate. Little did my son know the last time I would nurse him was coming. The last time I would cry in pain, the last time he would get my liquid gold, the last time I would look down in awe of this journey that we roughed through for 5 weeks. I held him crying and apologizing to him, feelings of immense guilt, and failure. How could I have failed at something that was suppose to come natural and was a beautiful bond. But wait, there’s more! Hello mastitis, thank you for coming over the weekend when my dr’s office is not open, I’ll wait until Monday for my antibiotics. Oh and thrush, fancy meeting you here on my sons tongue. Cradle cap, join the freaking party! Diaper rash, alright seriously no more curve balls! It was time to start focusing on me physically and mentally because how can I be the best for my son when I’m not functioning at my best. I’ve lived with an autoimmune blood disease for 14 years, that’s over 1/2 my life. I’ve conquered chemotherapy, I’ve been on and off prednisone more times than I can count. According to my hematologist 4 weeks postpartum was enough time for my body to regulate and clearly the prednisone wasn’t working its charm this time. It was time to start IV infusions. Alone at the doctors office, breastfeeding in public for the 1st time, cue the biggest blowout this mamma has ever seen and the crushing news you need medical attention ASAP. I bawled like a baby, and not sure how i made it home that day except by the grace of god. Receiving IV treatments have been a blessing thus far. Is it the fact I get to sit for 5 hours every 3 weeks laughing and talking with my husband who is my best friend and biggest supporter, my sons grandparents getting quality time watching my little one, or the fact my body is responding well and I’m on the road to remission. All, all of the above. My son is healthy, happy and thriving perfectly fine on formula. This momma no longer carries guilt and pain. If I’m bawling like a baby it’s because I have gotten 4 hours continuous sleep at night or I have come to realize I have been blessed with life’s greatest blessing, my son and wouldn’t change this wild adventure for anything. I’m embracing the good, the messy and the vulnerable. Just remember mamma, you are never alone and know that fed is best, always

 

Jessica Garcia

I can remember the day we received our son’s diagnosis like it was yesterday. The thought of the phone call we received in June of 2012 still gives me a pit in my stomach. I had absolutely no clue what our future would hold for him, but I was certain our new “normal” would be far different than we had envisioned. So many thoughts crossed my mind then, and continue to consume me at times. ‘Will kids want to play with Ethan?’ ‘Will our friends include us in play dates because Ethan can’t talk?’ ‘Will my friends still want to include us in events?’ ‘Will kids & strangers call him retarded?’ ‘Am I being judged because my child can’t answer a question that is being asked of him in line at the grocery store by a complete stranger?’ ‘Do people look at our son and wonder what’s wrong with him?’ I’ve often asked myself many of these questions, sometimes on a daily basis. It hurts me to my core to know that we live in a world that I have to ask myself these questions and wonder if I am being judged on how I navigate this “special needs” world. I’ve had complete strangers tell me “that’s too bad” when they ask how old Ethan was when he started wearing glasses. When in all actuality, it’s far from too bad. What is too bad is that we live in a world that seems to look at those with “special needs” as if they are a burden or a hinderance to others. While this journey isn’t exactly what we had envisioned for ourselves when my husband and I got married, not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for the incredible gift he has given us with our son. How blessed we are that God trusted us to raise a child with special needs in today’s world.

 

Ashley Patterson

Going to Target or Costco with triplets and a bonus baby 15 months later brings a little attention to our crazy crew. We get A LOT of comments when we are out...most of them are nice - “Your kids are gorgeous” or “Way to go mama” but some of them are a little rude. I remember pushing my 18 month old triplets in a stroller with my 3 month old baby strapped to me in a baby carrier and this lady came up to me and said “Oh man...I’d kill myself if I was in your situation.” WHAT?! I was so blown away. My face must have shown utter shock because she came back and said she’d never be able to handle what I do everyday. Another lady said...”Oh man, I’m glad it’s you and not me.” Just yesterday this lady at Costco asked if I was on anti-anxiety meds to handle them all? I literally laughed out loud. Another time at the park I had a lady ask if I was the nanny. She said...”These can’t be all your kids. Why would you do that????” It’s funny how we view our situation as such a blessing - an answer to our prayers - the jackpot at the end of a LONG struggle of infertility. Our life is crazy and hard at times, but we wouldn’t change a thing.

 

Kim Brown

Adoption was laid upon my heart at an early age, I always knew someday I would Adopt. In fact, I even knew that my 1st Child or Children would bless me with the title of Mother through Adoption. When my Husband and I were just dating, we began to talk about our future plans and desires. Adoption was something that we both had a passion for! Around our 4th Anniversary we decided it was time to get the paperwork started to become a Licensed Adoptive Family. After Classes, Home Inspections, hours of Interviews, mounds of Paperwork, and countless phone calls; after a year of completing all the requirements the waiting began. We knew that God had the perfect Child waiting for us, a child who needed us as much as we needed him or her. I found a Scripture in the Bible that my Husband and I would quote and lean on; "When the time is right, I, the Lord will make it happen." Isaiah 60:22 About Four Months later, we got the THE CALL that we had been praying for the past year. We had been Matched with our Beautiful Baby Girl shortly her Brother our Son was born, and both were Adopted within a year of one another. Finally, together and a forever family! Adoption was not an easy road to travel. There have been several times during and after our process that judgments and assumptions have been made. Comments like; "Oh, can you not have your own children?" "Can't you just try extra hormones or In Vitro so you can experience it for yourself?" " You, defiantly took the easy way, not having to go through all the pregnancy or labor and still got kids." the worst and most hurtful I've heard is " I hate to tell you, but you won't love these as much as you would your "REAL" Children." Let me make it clear, these children are in every way apart of me. They are my hopes, dreams, and passion. Perfectly made for our family, they were prayed for, wanted, adored, and a blessing. Let me assure you Adoption is NOT easy. Yes, there were times during the process that made us pray more than ever before, laugh, worry, cry, loose sleep, and rejoice...I'm also told the same thing about Pregnancy and Child Birth. This was the most amazing and humbling journey for all of us, and I would never change the fact that Adoption is what makes our family.

 

Heather Buchanan

My name is Kristie Andersen and I’m 39 years old due to turn 40 two days after my second baby is born. I will be a mom to two little boys that are a year apart.

As a little girl I always anticipated getting married and starting a family when I was in my 20s but God had different plans for me. I ended up getting married at the age of 37 and having my first son at the age of 38. Now I am due to have my second son at the age of 39.

As an older first time mom I constantly feel like society is judging me. I have people say since you’re having children older hopefully your kids won’t have any defects; hopefully your kids won’t have any health issues. Other people say hopefully you’ll be able to keep up with your kids since you’re older and you won’t have the same level of energy as they will. I constantly feel like people have something to add to the fact that I started my family in my late 30s. Another jab that I hear often as well is I guess it’s a good thing your sons are only one year apart. You didn’t necessarily have time to have a second child if you waited a couple of years. I just feel that people judge me based on my circumstances and being an older mom. I actually feel that I am blessed being an older mom. I was able to finish college and start my career. Before getting married I was able to establish myself and purchased my first home. Being older parents my husband and I are more financially secure then we would’ve been if we were in our 20s. I also feel now that I’m older I have more patience and I am wiser. I believe I am extremely blessed no matter what age I am.

My name is Elisa. I'm a single mom of 3. Yes single and 2 different father's. I get asked a lot if I'm Married or been divorced. And many are surprised when I say "no". Or shocked that I would ever be a single mom. Well life never goes as we plan it to sometimes. And I've had to learn that That's A.O.K I've come across a lot of other mothers and women who I know judge me in silence for not having the same father to my kids. You learn to catch the "RED FLAGS" when you've been through ugly relationships. Non one's goal in life is to be a SINGLE PARENT. Definitely wasn't mine. But I'd be lying if I have never felt uncomfortable or jealous of others who have their one family and husband and their kids have daddy to come home to. But I also stop and think...."why am I letting these woman who judge me make me feel any less than the strong amazing mom I am"!? Hello!! I'm raising 3 kids! I am Mommy & Daddy. And of course woman judging me for my tattoos. Never judge a book by its cover. My tattoos don't change who I am. My tattoos DON'T change how much my kids love me. It DOES change who doesn't need to be a part of my life if my tattoos offend you... or you see me as a single tatted mom". Other moms have looked down on me for my appearance, for being a single mom of 3, for being a stay at home mom. They look past the this woman who has been a domestic violence survivor, a woman who has struggled to give her kids everything they need, a woman who has raised 3 kids to be respectful kind & loving and educate them... without the help of a MAN by her side. I've been called many names.... and MOM is my favorite one and the ONLY one that matters.

I am a working mom to three beautiful children. My two youngest are mixed raced babies who are 2 and a half and 5 months old. And my oldest is my bonus child who is 9 years old. From day one I have had mothers shaming me for keeping my bonus child accountable to our high standards because it is different than how he is raised by his real mom. And now with the little ones I hear a lot of judgement for cloth diapering and breastfeeding.

I work full time so I can enjoy my kids when I am with them instead of feeling like I’m punishing them for staying home with them because I have to. I love my family and I love my job and I have found a way to balance and appreciate both.

My bonus child’s mother would make the words “mixed raced” sound like a bad word. Not only belittling me but teaching my child that his siblings are less because of it. Other women in our family treat them differently and sometimes I’m not sure if it’s because they are mixed raced babies or because they have a different mother (neither of which are acceptable).

I have had so many parents who are quick to judge for the cloth diapering. I don’t hide it and I tell everyone, because it has so many benefits. I rarely worry about diaper rash and I don’t waste money on diapers every week. Plus when I’m done there is a resale market for cloth diapers that are in great reusable condition so it’s not a huge loss. And they look so cute on the babies so always a plus.

Then there is breastfeeding. I breastfeed my son for a year and I plan on doing it a little longer with my daughter. I also am lucky that I am able to overproduce, so I am also donating my excess milk to be used in NICU’s for micropremies. The strangers who snicker “quietly” and people who walk by murmuring how inappropriate and disgusting it is, I can ignore. Because when it is necessary I make it clear that my child will eat with everyone else. It is the healthiest and most natural thing in the world. Society has a very misconstrued perception of what breastfeeding should be. So unfortunately I have to push back on those who’s ignorance on the subject is unappreciated.

Just like so many other moms out there I protect my babies from all of it so they can keep their innocence as long as possible. They don’t stay little forever and I’m going to enjoy the time that they are.

 

Tiffany Jones

My name is Nichole and I am a hardworking Mom of three blessings. I am happily married to my high school sweetheart, Chris. We both work full time outside the home. Being a scientist, it is my nature to research things, especially when it comes to raising my babies. We have made a lot of counter culture decisions in our parenting style, such as limited/delayed vaccinations, full term breastfeeding, using cloth diapers, babywearing, and co-sleeping. I have found these decisions work best for our family. And while most things don’t bother me if someone disagrees or parents differently, I have been given a really hard time about co-sleeping of all things. Working closely with law enforcement, I have seen the absolute worst outcome of co-sleeping. I know the risks if done improperly. But I also know the many benefits, if practiced safely, besides just the ease of being close to baby when nursing throughout the night. I appreciate the extra closeness I get when snuggling my baby to sleep at night, especially after being gone for a good portion of the day. While I love being a forensic scientist, it is hard being away from my babies for large parts of the day. So I relish in the extra closeness these parenting decisions like nursing, babywearing, and co-sleeping add our relationship. I take comfort in knowing I am making the best decisions for my family, regardless of what anyone else thinks or how they parent.

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