Bump, Baby & More June 2021

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Bringing Home Baby Questions to ask your pediatrician

Self-care for new parents Water safety tips

Meet our y b a b t s e t cu contest winners! JUNE 2021. A PUBLICATION BY METROFAMILY MAGAZINE AND BABIESOK



Oklahoma’s PREMIER Learn-to-Swim Facility At Goldfish Swim School we offer specially designed swim lessons for infants and toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for all children starting around age 1. At Goldfish, we start teaching children as young as 4 months old to help get them comfortable in the water, while teaching water safety survival skills and encouraging parent-child bonding.

• Life-Saving Skills Taught Through Play • Deepen the Vital Parent-Child Bond • Help Increase Baby’s Motor Skills • Climate-Controlled Indoor Facility

EDMOND | 405.696.7500 10 NW 146th | Edmond, OK 73013 goldfishswimschool.com |

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14 6 Get the Most from MetroFamily

22 Building Family

10 Authentic Parenting

28 Equity in Healthcare?

14 What’s Up, Doc?

32 Postpartum Anxiety and Depression Explained

Discover all the ways new parents can connect Authentic conversations and reallife issues from local moms and dads 7 questions parents should ask when choosing a pediatrician

16 Self-Care Strategies

Quick tips to refresh busy parents

18 Making a Splash

The beauty of adoption, surrogacy and single parenthood Addressing pre- and postnatal disparities faced by Black mothers

5 common symptoms + how to heal

38 Oh Baby!

Cutest photo contest winners

Water safety questions answered

20 Newborn Must-Haves

The items you really need on your baby registry

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2020

2020

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Publisher

Sarah Taylor

Managing Editor Erin Page

Assistant Editor Lindsay Cuomo

Contributing Writers Jillian Bray Thai-An Truong, LPC

Contributing Photographer Bridget Pipkin

Art Director Stacy Noakes

Senior Project Manager Kirsten Holder

Director of Events Casey Shupe

Sales

Dana Price Laura Beam

Office Manager Andrea Shanks

Contact us

NEW MAILING ADDRESS: 6608 N. Western Ave., #458 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 Phone: 405-601-2081 tips@metrofamilymagazine.com www.metrofamilymagazine.com

MetroFamily Magazine is published monthly. Copyright 2021 by Inprint Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Articles and advertisements in MetroFamily do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Inprint Publishing, Inc. We do not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by MetroFamily does not constitute an endorsement of the products, services, or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service which is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Proud member of

I

’ve been a mom for more than nine years, but I’m here to tell you, most days I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. The skills I honed in four years of having three kids, like becoming a master swaddler, soothing a colicky baby and finding a missing pacifier in the dark, would probably all feel foreign to me now since my youngest is heading to kindergarten. I entered motherhood a little like a newborn foal, wobbly and unsure, despite reading lots of books and even taking several classes. I can assure you, if I’d had the opportunity to attend an event like Bump, Baby & More when I was pregnant or my babies were still babies, I would have been first in line. The three things I most wish I’d had access to, which we’re thrilled to be able to present to you in these pages, are:

3. Built-in parent tribe. The key to surviving motherhood with (some of) my sanity intact has been my parent friends. Whether it’s been late-night texts about baby symptoms or a listening ear to commiserate about how hard it is to raise tiny humans, when other moms or dads have rallied around me, I’ve felt less alone, more sure of my instincts and seen for all the little things I do every day. Make new friends on our virtual community boards or through our social media pages, where you’re able to create conversations with those in the same stage of life as you. Welcome to the best gig you’ll ever have in parenthood and to our MetroFamily!

1. Insight from local experts. We all have those questions about childbirth or caring for a newborn that we’re just not sure who to ask. Or perhaps a friend or relative has given advice ad nauseum but you’d rather talk with someone with some general knowledge about the subject. Re-watch presentations by local healthcare experts and find their valuable insight in these pages, on everything from questions to ask your baby’s pediatrician to helpful insight into postpartum depression and anxiety. 2. Local shopping for baby products. Do I really need a baby swing? What is a Nosefrida? (if you don’t know, please Google for a giggle!). I assure you the products I never thought I’d use were the most likely to become my constant companions, and those I spent big bucks on I probably used sparingly. Gain perspective from local vendors (and parents!) about which products you need and which you don’t. (P.S. the Nosefrida WAS a necessity in my household).

Erin Page Managing Editor

Also a member of Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Edmond Chamber of Commerce & Moore Chamber of Commerce

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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Get the Most from

Our primary goal at MetroFamily is to make life easier for local parents. We strive to provide connection through community and to offer the most relevant, reliable information to have fun as a family, as well as the services, information and inspiration for you to best parent your children. We know parents have varied preferences when it comes to receiving and seeking information, so we work to meet those needs across many platforms. Join us in the ways that best suit you!

Magazine For more than 20 years, our awardwinning magazine has been the staple for parents to find local family fun, places to travel and parenting resources. Inside the pages, you’ll find reporting on timely parenting topics, tips on family mental wellness, inspiring stories highlighting local parents and more. Don’t miss our annual Everything Guide, released June 30, featuring the winners of our parent-voted Family Favorites Awards, celebrating the best in family-friendly restaurants, healthcare professionals, places to have fun, schools, birthday party resources and much more. Find a full list of public places to pick up the magazine near you at metrofamilymagazine.com/ find-a-copy, plus read our latest digital editions in an easy-toread-and-connect format at metrofamilymagazine.com/all-digitalissue.

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Website Rely on our website to keep you up to speed about all that is happening in the metro area. Popular sections include: • Our seasonal lists – Find lists of frugal family fun recommendations, ideas to celebrate holidays, family festivals, our monthly list of the best in toddler-friendly events and so much more! • Resources – From picking a birthing center and parent-vetted medical professionals to finding the right preschool and planning birthday parties, we’ve got you covered. Check out directory listings and resources at metrofamilymagazine.com/family-resources. • Contests – Enter often for opportunities win weekend trips, event tickets and packages of products and services! • Ways to save – Find coupons from our advertising partners, plus lists of local restaurant discounts and free family events and attractions. • Calendar – Check out our online calendar for a full list of family-friendly events in the metro.

E-newsletters Make MetroFamily part of your weekday morning routine, with the latest in family fun, timely news and real-life parenting tips from other metro moms and dads delivered straight to your inbox. Every Thursday, get our top ideas or events for weekend family fun for planning made easy. Plus enjoy special offers from our advertising partners.

Social Media Interact with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where we’re serving up everything from daily doses of parenting humor, at-home family fun activities, seasonal lists of statewide adventures and community with local parents.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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Hashtag Parenting Connect with other local moms and dads through MetroFamily’s blog, featuring the voices of local parents who will make you laugh, cry and feel affirmed. Topics span tips on fun things to do as well as parenting hacks, hilarious authenticity and sobering revelations from a variety of metro parents. Follow along at metrofamilymagazine.com/category/ hashtag-parenting.

Raising OKC Kids Our podcast features conversations with local experts and parents, helping families connect, learn from each other and grow community. Visit metrofamilymagazine.com/raising-okc-kids for chats on topics like family mental health, tips from metro medical professionals, dialogue with city and state officials on topics that concern you and the latest in local family news, or download wherever you get your podcasts.

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Events Mark your calendars because Kids Fest is back! On July 24, Kids Fest will be happening across the community in the form of a special adventure tour of many of OKC’s top family fun attractions. Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., begin your day of fun by visiting one of several “starting point” locations across the metro to pick up your Kids Fest Adventure Map and swag bag and enjoy FREE family fun activities such as art projects, bounce houses and petting zoos! Then choose to visit any number of participating attractions on your map to enjoy more family fun, receive special discounts and participate in great giveaways. Visit metrofamilymagazine.com/kids-fest for more info! Our virtual Cover Kids Search gives local kids a chance to star on our magazine cover! Enter photos of kids ages 2 through 12 and/ or sibling groups beginning in August. All entries will receive a virtual swag bag with coupons and activities. Visit metrofamilymagazine.com/coverkidssearch for more information. Bump, Baby & More connects parents of young kids and parents-to-be with local service providers, expert healthcare professionals, metro vendors and shopping and informative workshops. The 2022 event will be announced at metrofamilymagazine. com/bump-baby-more-expo.

Insiders Parents need support and convenience now more than ever. That’s why we launched MetroFamily Insiders! Become a member to receive our magazines delivered straight to your door, plus get early bird tickets to events like Cover Kids and Kids Fest, FREE admission to virtual workshops on topics perfect for parents, special discounts and other insider-only deals! A subscription is also a fabulous gift idea for a parent or grandparent in your life. Join today at metrofamilymagazine.com/insider.

No matter how (or how many ways) you get your information from MetroFamily, we hope the information we provide serves to delight, inform and affirm your family life. Let us know how we’re doing and how we can better serve you by emailing tips@metrofamilymagazine.com. METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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Authentic Parenting Through our blogs Hashtag Parenting and Weekend Warrior, local parents share their favorite things to do and discuss the everyday issues closest to their hearts. Check out some of our favorite blogs by our parent community here, and find all blogs at metrofamilymagazine.com/hashtag-parenting.

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“We organized an intimate birthday party that was fun and sweet. However small your celebrations may be, have fun and enjoy the moment.”

Local mom and nurse practitioner Le Tran details how her family safely and creatively celebrated her daughter’s first birthday during the pandemic.

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“Having an educational dialogue about a topic like breastfeeding can be life-changing. Literally.” Jillian Bray of @betterblacknews gives 5 tips for breastfeeding moms.

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Kirsten Holder has discovered the cure-all for the past year: alpacas! This metro mom shares the magic of her family’s socially-distant visit to Magnolia Blossom Ranch, plus 3 reasons it’s a perfect adventure for toddlers.


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With Raising OKC podcast guest @ staceyjlife, LPC, we talk mom guilt, the top threats to moms’ mental health, self-care strategies, the importance of affirming ourselves as moms and the number one thing moms can do to strengthen their families’ mental health.

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Metro mom Rebekah Wilson-Williams chronicles she and wife Kris’ path to building a family, working through past trauma, managing their fear and choosing to be brave for the long-term benefit of their baby boy.

>“Even > for families that do not have

a child with a disability, having availability to dolls with differences is extremely beneficial. It teaches children that differences are OK and should be embraced.”

Local mom @mrsneelygay writes about the power in her son Everett having a doll who looks like him.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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Did someone say date night?! Whether you’re seeking delicious carry out, safe dine-in or cozy patios, @heavenlyskyes has you covered with her four fave local restaurants for date or girls’ night.

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Alyssa King-Higgins @ thenormannanny lets us in on her top 3 tips for packing kid lunches that are healthy, easy and that they will actually eat.

How does your Enneagram type impact your parenting approach and work style? Marcy McConnell, owner of The Reclaimed Soul, explains how general self-awareness helps us experience healing in relationships and live with passion and courage. Listen here.


Hey Mama! How’s your sleep? How’s your mood? Need hormone or immune support? Pure, safe, lovely solutions. Choose only the best for you & your babies!

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YOUNG LIVING ESSENTIAL OILS &PRODUCTS order here: myyl.com/jeanna Essential Families provides ongoing support & education online and inperson to empower you to be the gatekeeper of your home. Owner, Jeanna Lichtenberger is the

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mother of 5 & an aromatherapy wellness coach at her local wellness

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collaborative, WellOk. She is passionate about equipping Mamas to trust their intuition & care for their families. jeanna@efwellness.com

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Choosing a Pediatrician 7 questions parents should ask

The task of to-dos for welcoming a new baby can feel endless for new and experienced parents alike. As you are preparing a nursery and adding items to your baby registry, consider what’s most important to you in choosing your child’s pediatrician as well. DR. KYLE WOODSON WITH SSM HEALTH MEDICAL GROUP

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We asked Dr. Kyle Woodson with SSM Health Medical Group for tips on interviewing potential pediatricians before baby arrives. Do I need to choose a pediatrician before my baby is born? While you don’t have to have a pediatrician selected before your baby is born, making this decision ahead of time can help greatly in mitigating the stresses that come with having a new child. Questions often come up quickly, and having to search for the answer on the internet will only increase your stress. Having a pediatrician chosen prior to your new baby’s arrival will allow you to access quick, helpful and educated answers to your parenting and child’s health questions as well as have someone who will care for your child at a moment’s notice.

What questions should I ask in interviewing potential pediatricians? Many new parents might not know they are allowed to meet with potential pediatricians prior to having a child, and that it is OK to meet with multiple doctors to find the best fit. Choosing a pediatrician is a huge job for parents to get filled. It is important to be on the same page as your pediatrician on topics that are important to you. At SSM, our pediatricians love the opportunity to meet with parents and get to know them prior to their child being born. We know not every parent has the same view on every subject, so it is OK to ask hard or difficult questions. Parenting is hard, stressful and amazing all at the same time. Pediatricians are here to try to help with the tough parts so you can focus on the amazing parts.

SPONSORED BY SSM HEALTH MEDICAL GROUP

Make a list of questions prior to meeting potential pediatricians for your child, and consider these topics to get you started: are their office hours and will those work for 1 What you? they in a group or solo practice? How often will 2 Are you see other providers at appointments? they have an after-hours number you can call? 3 Do Find out what to do in an emergency, as well as what constitutes an emergency.

4 Do they have same-day appointments available? long are appointments? What is their schedule 5 How for well checks? any additional questions that are personal to 6 Consider you. Do you want to know more about their thoughts on and support provided for breastfeeding, baby’s sleep or vaccinations?

can ask about their family and children as well, 7 You in addition to professional experience.

What do I do if I have questions for my pediatrician after hours? Most pediatricians will provide after-hours support. Making sure with your doctor that there is a plan for after-hours calls is important. You will typically speak with a nurse who will pass you on to the doctor if there are further concerns the nurse could not answer. Kyle Woodson, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician serving north Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. He graduated with a degree in biochemistry from the University of Arkansas before pursuing medical school at the same university. He completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center before going into practice. In addition to giving numerous academic presentations on a variety of medical topics, he has also donated his skills to extensive volunteer and mission work. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. When not caring for patients, he can be found enjoying traveling, water skiing, hiking and all kinds of sports.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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Simple Self-Care Tips for Busy Parents Parenting is hard. The daily demands, both physical and mental, can weigh heavily. Taking time for self-care can positively impact your health and well-being and help you be a better parent, too! Boost your mental and physical wellness with these easy self-care strategies for busy parents. BY LINDSAY CUOMO

1 Breathe. Take a moment

to calm the mind with some deep breathing exercises from This Land Yoga.

2 Write a note to a

family member or friend. Taking time to reflect on positive relationships is a great way to reset your day.

3 Drink more water!

H20 cures more than we give credit for.

4 Journal. Whether you’re

writing about what’s bothering you, things you are grateful for or just your current state of mind, journaling is a great way to debrief and hone in on areas that are adding stress.

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5 Go for a walk.

Physical activity, especially when paired with fresh air and nature, is not only good for your body but also your soul.

6 Check in with your emotions. Reserve some

time to recognize how you are feeling and name the emotion. Validating where you are can help get you where you want to be.

9 Get crafty. You don’t

have to be a master artist to benefit from the reward of creating.

10 Unplug. Set your device aside and give yourself a few minutes to do nothing.

11 Schedule a Zoom date with a friend. Connect with other adults with no babysitter required!

7 Read (or listen) to a book.

12 Stretch. A quick

8 Get your nails done. A little bit of

13 Bake a tasty treat.

Give yourself an escape with a literary adventure or delve into a subject that interests you.

pampering goes a long way.

stretching session can relieve muscle fatigue and increase blood flow.

Making something savory or sweet is a great outlet for


nervous energy and gives the whole family something to look forward to.

14 Netflix & chill. Carve out some adult time to watch something other than kiddie shows. Here are a few bingeworthy shows to watch after the kids go to bed.

15 Help someone.

Helping others feels great and its contagious, too! The next time you feel down find a simple way to give back.

16 Rock out to your

favorite tunes. Take a break from whatever noise your kids are making to enjoy an old classic or something new from your favorite artist.

17 Take a long shower or bath to enjoy

20 Treat yourself to a

18 Get fancy! Even if you

21 Prioritize your own health and

some solitude.

have nowhere specific to go, put on your favorite outfit. You just feel better when you like how you look.

19 Listen to an uplifting

podcast. From self-help to the silly, engage your mind in some productive listening. MetroFamily has started our own podcast series, Raising OKC Kids, to provide OKC parents the content and resources they need.

hot beverage and actually drink it before it gets cold.

schedule annual check-ups. Grownups need to check in with their doctors, too.

22 If you find yourself stuck, reach out to a counselor or therapist. When you take steps to take care of yourself, you will have more of you to give to those you love.

Looking for more articles focused on self-care and mental health and wellness? Check out our content focused on family mental wellness.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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Making a splash

WITH WATER SAFETY

BY ERIN PAGE. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Drowning is the number one cause of injuryrelated death in children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause for kids 5 to 14, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. With the swimming season here, neighborhood pools open and water-centric vacations underway, water safety is likely to be at the top of parents’ minds. We talked with Natasha Neumann and Kristy Blew of Goldfish Swim School—Edmond about water safety and their protocols to keep families safe during the pandemic.

For a child who does not yet know how to swim, do you recommend life jackets or puddle jumpers? It’s important for kids who are learning to swim to have time swimming without flotation devices, and they should always be within arms’ reach of an adult and working on swimming skills. There are also scenarios when life jackets or puddle jumpers need to be worn for safety. For example, when you’re with a big group, all kids who are not yet great swimmers should wear one. Even adults need to wear life jackets in open waters like lakes or oceans. When choosing a life jacket or puddle jumper for your child, find one that is the right size and fits well — it should be snug. It should also be something your child is comfortable in, and that will depend on their body shape and how their weight is distributed.

What are the most important water safety rules to stress with kids each summer? When it comes to water safety, it’s important to have layers of protection. Formal swim lessons reduce the risk of childhood drowning by up to 88 percent! Discussing water safety frequently is another essential step. In a developmentally appropriate way, explain

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what drowning is (when you go underwater and can’t breathe) so kids understand the danger and the need for safety rules. Reinforce the message: Act, Throw, Don’t go! If a child sees someone in trouble in the water, throw them something that floats and get an adult. Emphasize that kids should never try to rescue someone themselves. This can be hard because their inclination is to help, but remind them if they fall in, too, there won’t be anyone to go for help, and that’s most important. Brainstorm with kids about what kinds of floating items they could throw in (pick something that won’t pop!) and choose an item together to place near the pool in case of emergency. Go over rules with kids before entering the water EACH time as they will be different at grandma’s pool versus a neighborhood pool versus open water. Point out where the shallow end is, whether jumping or diving is allowed depending on water depth and reminders on rules about rough play.

When my child is visiting a friend or relative with a pool, what questions should I ask about their water safety rules? If your child is not yet swimming independently, visit the pool with your child if possible. Consider (or ask if you don’t know) whether the home opens directly to the pool area or if it is fenced or secured. Ask the rules of their pool regarding adult supervision (not even adults should swim alone!) and rough play in or around the water. Don’t get a false sense of security if the pool isn’t “that deep” as drownings can happen in very shallow water. Water safety is important even when it’s not swimming season; in fact, the majority of drownings happen when kids aren’t expected to be swimming. Stress with your child and the homeowner that they should not be outdoors around the water without an adult. Beware of water hazards other than pools, like ponds, low-lying areas that fill with water only when it rains heavily and even wading pools, buckets and bathtubs filled with water. By opening the conversation up with the pool owner and talking about water safety, you can get a good feel for whether you feel safe sending your kids to swim at their pool.


Your Water Guardian program is really innovative — how is it helping parents keep kids safe? The Water Guardian program ensures when kids are in the water they have a dedicated adult to monitor their safety without any other distractions, cell phones or talking to others. It can take as little as 10 seconds for a water crisis to occur. The program was launched by a mother whose son tragically drowned while the family was on vacation. She realized if it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone. Parents or grandparents can come to our facility, read and take the Water Guardian pledge and receive free Water Guardian lanyards. Whether you are swimming as a family or hosting a party, the adult in charge wears the lanyard and commits to watch children in the water without distractions. Think about it like serving as the lifeguard. You should switch grownups on duty every 30 minutes, with each staying on guard until their replacement is ready.

What new protocols have you put in place during the pandemic to keep families safe during swim lessons? We err on the side of caution, always. Everyone gets their temperature taken before entering the building. Everyone over age 11 must wear a mask, and our instructors wear masks. In our viewing area, the chairs are socially distanced and we’re cleaning everything between lessons. We have closed every other changing room to provide distancing. In our pool, we’ve made our lanes for lessons wider so we can space kids out. In our little kid classes, where they are often seated on the side of the pool, we space the children out and have clear dividers between them. We sanitize the pool deck between each lesson block, our air filtration system provides fresh air exchange every 10 to 12 minutes and the combination of chlorine and 90 degree, 50 percent humidity environment enhances safety.

with incredible results and techniquefocused classes for serious swimmers, plus how to schedule a free W.A.T.E.R. Safety Presentation for your group or learn more about the free Water Guardian program, at goldfishswimschool.com. Get tips for helping your child acclimate to the water — from a small child who doesn’t like getting his head or face wet to a child who needs a quick swim skill refresher before a vacation or visit to a pool — at metrofamilymagazine.com/water-safety. Check out Goldfish At Home’s FREE swiminspired exercise videos families can do from their living room at youtube.com/user/ swimgoldfish/playlists. SPONSORED BY GOLDFISH SWIM SCHOOL

Find out more about swim lessons for children of all abilities, from baby and parent classes and introductory lessons to one-week Jump Start Clinics to brush up on swim basics

ONE MONTH OF PROGRESS IN JUST ONE WEEK! Our Jump Start Clinics are a quick and easy way to get your kids swim ready or to advance to the next level, while learning how to be safer in and around the water.

WHAT? 5 consecutive 30-minute lessons, same time, same instructor, Monday - Friday WHEN? June 1 - August 6 | 9am - 12pm

COST? $111.25/members, $138.35/non-members

Safer Summer Starts NOW!

Get 25% off when you purchase 2 or more Jump Start Clinics! Offer expires 6/30

EDMOND | 405.696.7500 | goldfishswimschool.com |

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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Baby Registry Must-Haves Wondering what you really need as you’re building your baby’s registry? Overwhelmed by all the choices? Local baby boutique Green

Bambino to the rescue! As you’re starting your list, check out the top recommendations from Green Bambino owner Morgan Harris.

Baby Care • Pacifiers

• Nail clipper or file

• Swaddle

• Brush or comb

• Pajamas and clothing

• Thermometer

• Diapers

• Bibs and burp cloths

• Diaper rash cream

• Shampoo and lotion

• Wipes

• Bottles

Transportation • Car seat system

• Baby sling or carrier • Car sun shades and/or mirror • Stroller

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Around the House • High chair

• Play mat or activity center • Crib and crib sheets • Bassinet • Baby feeding set (plates, cups, cutlery) • Humidifier • Boppy • Bouncer and/or swing • Baby books and toys • Baby lovey and/or blanket

Mama Care • Nursing pads

• Postpartum pads • Nipple butter or cream • Breast pump

Visit greenbambino.com to learn more about starting a registry with this locally-owned baby boutique and to get more product recommendations. METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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PHOTO BY LG PHOTOGRAPHY

Building BY ERIN PAGE

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Society’s norms about having a baby are in fact not typical for many families. From the 10 percent of women in the United States who have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, to samesex couples and single would-be parents who seek children, the struggle and misunderstanding that surround their desire for children can feel defeating and heartbreaking. In an effort to educate about, normalize and celebrate the many options for building a family, three metro parents share their inspirational stories.


Fathering through foster care

Brett and Heath Holt Hayes have always wanted a family but couldn’t agree about when, or how, to have to children. Early in their relationship, the two cared for Heath’s nephew and sister fleeing domestic violence, keeping the 5-year-old out of the foster care system and helping raise him until the two were back on their feet. That was their first taste of fatherhood as a couple, but it wasn’t until a few years later that they began to explore their options in earnest. They initially considered surrogacy and private adoption but kept being drawn back to foster care. With Brett’s background as a child welfare specialist and now director of behavioral health integration for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and Heath’s as senior director of communications and strategic engagement for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, caring for vulnerable populations is a family priority and lifelong value for them both. “How could we go any other route when we know there are so many kids who need love and support, and we’re asking so much of others who are serving as foster parents?” said Heath. “We decided to become foster parents as an entryway into fatherhood.” Heath and Brett were intent upon bridging with a biological family with the ultimate goal of the child reuniting with that family, seeing themselves as the “cool uncles” who could remain in various families’ lives to support and care for them throughout their parenthood journeys. “A lot of people say, ‘I don’t know how you do it’ because your heart is broken when you give them back,” said Heath. “You have to think of it as an opportunity to change the trajectory of another person’s life. That is always worth it, and you can help a lot more people that way.” The dads fostered through the Choctaw Nation. Brett is a tribal member and while he wasn’t raised traditionally Native, the couple were compelled to give back to a tribe that has supported them in various ways. In addition to their required training hours to become foster parents, they were grateful for the opportunity to complete an additional 10 hours in tribal knowledge, getting to attend healing circles and learn about tribal traditions. “In Brett’s experience, there is a lack of tribal foster homes, and we saw this as our contribution to the recruitment of tribal homes,” said Heath. While the two carefully prepared for their

foster care journey, not much of it went according to plan. Heath and Brett initially received a placement call for twins. They had agreed to foster a maximum of two children but were also asked to provide temporary respite care for the twins’ baby brother. The baby ended up staying when his other foster placement fell through and Brett voiced the compelling research about the benefits for siblings who stay together in foster care. Heath says the dads tried to achieve the gold standard in bridging, inviting the kids’ mom to come to their home to help with dinner and bedtime and remain a regular fixture in their lives.

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“It was magical for awhile, but addiction is a beast and she wasn’t ready,” remembers Heath. “I was so certain that if anyone could help her it would be me, given my career, but it’s not about me, it’s about her and her readiness to engage in services. It just wasn’t the right time.” The case eventually moved to default termination for the mom, and Heath and Brett began to move toward unexpected, but incredibly welcome, adoption of their first set of foster children. While the twins’ father was unknown, the baby’s father was in prison and wanted to fight the adoption process. In quite an unconventional move, Brett and Heath requested a meeting with the dad so the toddler could see him and they could talk face-to-face.

Instagram & Facebook: @bumpokc

“He hugged his child, acknowledged we were doing a great job and said he wouldn’t fight the adoption,” said Heath. “He asked if we could send photos once in awhile.” The dads are very intentional about staying connected with all three of their kids’ immediate and extended families, sharing photos through social media, FaceTiming with an older brother in Texas and inviting an uncle for the holidays. While their home is closed for foster children now, Heath and Brett have ramped up efforts in recruiting friends to become foster parents. And their three beautiful kids, with whom they share an even deeper connection through shared Choctaw heritage, are flourishing. The dads are in the throes of potty training their 3-year-old and navigating school during a pandemic with their 5-yearold twins. Though the Hayes’ journey to fatherhood wasn’t what they would have predicted, Heath knows it unfolded exactly as it was supposed to. “I 100 percent feel they are my own kids; they are the family we choose,” said Heath. “And there are so many kids out there waiting to be chosen, waiting to be part of someone’s family.”

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Milestones of pregnancy Tips to overcome Safe diet & exercise

Signs of labor Recovery after delivery Q&A with an OB/GYN


Choosing single motherhood

As college students, Kay Robinson and her friend Kurt joked that if they were single at age 30, they’d marry each other. When they hit that milestone, they knew marriage to each other wasn’t in the cards, but Kay vocalized that she wanted to have a baby and Kurt offered to be the sperm donor. Kay was intrigued by the idea but took some time to think about it. “I prayed for a husband and wanted to get married, but even more than that, I’ve wanted to be a mom my whole life,” said Kay. “At age 10, I created a babysitter’s club and made business cards out of notebook paper.”

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Childbirth Education

Kay decided at 35 she’d start the process to have a baby on her own. She met with a local reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, who at the time was one of two doctors in Oklahoma who would perform artificial insemination by sperm other than that of a woman’s husband. Oklahoma law only provides for artificial insemination of married couples. Kay’s doctor had never performed AI with donor sperm from a friend of the mom-to-be, typically using sperm from anonymous sperm bank donors, but it just so happened one of the two banks in the country the doctor accepts donations from was located in the same town as Kurt. As required by the AI process, Kay attended several counseling sessions, and she also saved money even more intentionally than before and met with her boss to request a raise. “I didn’t make enough money to have a baby,” said Kay. “I made a spreadsheet of potential costs and my salary and asked for more responsibilities and a raise. I did good work and knew there was room [for a raise] but I was willing to leave if I had to to get financially stable.” She earned a promotion at the University of Central Oklahoma and a raise from her supportive boss. Kurt had made his donation two years previously, waiting for when Kay was ready. The two employed professionals to draw up contracts detailing their agreement, ensuring all parties were legally protected. Kay wanted Kurt listed as the father on the birth certificate, but the two agreed he would have no rights or responsibilities as a father. “We were very black and white about it,” said Kay. “It was just like if he was a

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surrogate. He is the donor, not the dad.” Kay’s dreams of becoming a mom were solidified when her pregnancy was confirmed and fully came to fruition when her son Rex was born six years ago. As she planned to become a single mom, she knew she had a supportive village surrounding her, but she has been caught off guard by how many people have invested in their lives. “I say Rex is the people’s kid because so many have invested in him, prayed for him and cared for him,” said Kay. That village became even more important as she and Rex became a foster family more than a year ago. Though Kurt offered to donate again if Kay wanted to have more biological children, she didn’t want to chance a potential high-risk pregnancy. “There are other ways to become a parent, and thanks to my village and flexible job, I knew we could be successful with foster care,” said Kay, who has cherished opportunities to develop relationships with biological parents and become a support system as her foster kids have been able to return home. Kay shares her story often, including in the classes she teaches at UCO, where she has witnessed female students in particular feel reassured that they could explore the same path when they’re ready to become moms. “There’s a stigma, but showing that women or men can support a child by ourselves and that kids can be successful from single-parent households is important and helps society evolve,” said Kay. “I feel the pressure and I have high expectations for Rex because I refuse for him to be a statistic being raised by a single Black mom. There will always be those residual things in the back of my mind, but I also know that Rex will be who he is going to be.” At the end of the day, Kay sticks to the greatest truth she’s learned in motherhood and as a foster mom: what a child needs most is to know he is loved. She and Rex experience that exponentially from family and friends, including from the donor who made her dreams of becoming a mom possible. “We see Kurt and his husband when we go to Ohio, and his parents send Rex Christmas and birthday gifts, but he has no more relationship with Rex than any of my other friends,” said Kay. “We have agreed that Rex will know Kurt was the donor when it’s appropriate.”


Kay is grateful for the support and positivity that have surrounded her journey to becoming a mom and wishes the same for other single would-be parents, too. “I have never regretted becoming a mom, even in the hardest moments,” said Kay. “This is a role that I was meant to play; this is my calling. If you are financially and mentally prepared to raise a child on your own, you can do it.” KAY AND REX ROBINSON. PHOTO BY JAMIE COBB WITH PHOTOVILLE.

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using their frozen embryos. At the time surrogacy was not legal in Oklahoma and Texas was a more surrogate-friendly state in regards to supportive legislation, so Stephanie researched several Texas agencies and before she knew it was receiving surrogate profiles to review. “It was the strangest thing to go through,” laughs Stephanie, equating it to online dating. When Stephanie came across Tiffany’s profile, she had a feeling she’d found their surrogate. The mom who had previously served as a surrogate had much in common with Stephanie, and upon meeting in person, Stephanie felt that though surrogates are compensated, Tiffany had a true passion for helping others. After 18 months of contractual agreements, insurance investigations, fertility treatments for Tiffany and doctor’s appointments, Tiffany gave birth to the O’Haras’ miracle twins. While the long and complicated journey was worth the end result, it was not without extensive pain and heartbreak. Stephanie employed a counselor for several years to help her cope with feelings of despair, failure, depression and isolation. She dealt with feelings of jealousy and disappointment, and then shame, when women around her became pregnant. Stephanie placed significant pressure on herself to get pregnant and yet every time she did she lived in extreme fear of losing the baby, all of which she says wreaked havoc on her marriage. Stephanie relied heavily on her faith, friends, online support groups and eventually a life coach to change her perspective from failure to feeling worthy as a woman and mom. STEPHANIE O’HARA

Understanding secondary infertility

Stephanie and Dirk O’Hara always dreamed of having a big family. Almost 13 years ago Stephanie joyfully gave birth to their son Aidan but not long after began her nearly 6-year battle with secondary infertility. The inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy after previously delivering a child affects approximately 3 million women in the United States, according to The University of Wisconsin Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. Stephanie traveled to the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine to undergo IVF treatments, and it was after her seventh miscarriage that she was stopped in her tracks while watching her young son jumping in puddles on a rainy day. “I had put my body through so much, each pregnancy getting more and more dangerous, and I was already a mommy to Aidan, so I knew I needed to hang up the dream of ever being pregnant again,” said Stephanie. “But my husband and I have found through the years to look for loopholes.” Stephanie’s best friend offered to become their gestational carrier with their frozen embryos. “We had never thought about that option,” said Stephanie. “It wasn’t our plan B or even plan F.” Their friend traveled to the center in Colorado and for months took fertility medicines, but her body did not progress as doctors had hoped. That experience became a stepping stone, though, broadening the O’Haras’ perspective to what alternatives were available. They decided to explore hiring a gestational carrier, or surrogate,

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Now Stephanie spends time talking with and encouraging other moms dealing with infertility, imploring them to hang on to hope and explore all the options science and medicine have made available. She wrote a book about her experience, Angel Wings, to spread awareness about the need for advocacy for reproductive assistance. “If you look at surrogacy laws across the nation, legislation has not caught up with technology,” said Stephanie. “House Bill 2468 just made surrogacy in Oklahoma legal in 2019, allowing courts to approve surrogacy contracts. But there is so much work to be done. Whether infertile couples or single people or same-sex couples, if you wish to be a parent, you should be allowed that opportunity.” In addition to the need for legislation for assisted reproductive technology, Stephanie hopes to lobby for insurance companies to pay for fertility treatments and surrogacy in Oklahoma. She also wants to bring to light the very real and often misunderstood plight surrounding secondary infertility. “People around me would say ‘sorry you had a miscarriage but at least you have Aidan,’” said Stephanie. “I was deeply grateful for Aidan but that did not make my desire for more kids any less valid. We often find ourselves unable to talk about secondary infertility because we’re supposed to just be thankful for the child we have.” Stephanie and surrogate Tiffany remain close friends, and together they started a nonprofit for those struggling with miscarriage, infertility and difficult pregnancies. A portion of her book proceeds supports the organization, and she and her husband have also raised funds to provide five $5,000 scholarships to families or individuals who need financial assistance to bring their dreams of a family to fruition. “There are so many paths to parenthood and we need to support the infertile in every way,” said Stephanie. “It’s such a taboo subject, and it’s been that way for far too long.”


THE O’HARA KIDS

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Pre- and postnatal

Healthcare Disparities faced by Black mothers

Learning you are pregnant comes with a roller coaster of emotions. Worrying whether you will live or die during or after childbirth should not be a concern at the forefront of your mind. But for the Black community, this is the reality. Black women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Even more shocking: these deaths are almost entirely preventable. BY JILLIAN BRAY

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Why the discrepancies?

There is not a clear reason or concrete answer as to why Black women are dying at a higher rate from pregnancy-related causes, but research on a national level suggests that institutional racism among society and Black women’s increased susceptibility to certain health conditions, like obesity and hypertension, are contributing factors. Also, quality prenatal care is not easily accessible for many Black women. Locally, the statistics for Black mothers in Oklahoma are even more alarming. Local pediatrician, mom and owner of Peace of Mind Pediatrics Dr. Noor Jihan Abdul-Haqq says in Oklahoma, Black women make up more than 22 percent of pregnancy-related deaths, despite being responsible for only 10 percent of births. While there are varied approaches to decrease disparities, unfortunately there are many obstacles as well. Medicaid expansion plays a huge role in giving women access to

healthcare before, during and after giving birth. Dr. Abdul-Haqq says improving access to quality care is another issue, especially in rural areas. “As a pediatrician, I often am diagnosing postpartum depression and have even discovered mothers on the brink of selfharm,” said Abdul-Haqq. “Mothers need more support.” Local doula and mom Raniesha Franklin says there is a lack of education from, access to and diversity in healthcare professionals who will listen to Black moms and support them in making informed decisions about their bodies and their babies’ bodies. “So many Black women I encounter are not aware of the agency they have when it comes to their birthing process,” said Franklin. “I am most passionate about pre- and postnatal support, care and advocacy so that these new moms can feel empowered as they journey through spaces that are historically laced with systematic racism and biases.”


The impact of racial biases Racial bias in the medical community could be contributing to Black women dying at a more alarming rate. It is vital for Black moms to steadily advocate for themselves or have someone advocate for them, like a doula. When Black moms’ concerns are not taken seriously, it could be a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, that was the reality for famed Judge Glenda Hatchett’s daughter-in-law Kyira Dixon Johnson. She died from blood loss 12 hours after giving birth. After her scheduled cesarean section, nurses allegedly first noticed blood in her urine catheter. According to the lawsuit Johnson’s family filed, follow-up care was not adequately handled. A doctor ordered CT scans of her abdomen and pelvis due to her abdominal pain and blood loss, but the lawsuit states the scans were never carried out. A study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found nearly half of first and second year medical students believe Black people have thicker skin than white people

and perceived Black people experience less pain than white people. This ingrained and systemic idea stems from 19th century experiments that were performed by a doctor named Thomas Hamilton, a plantation owner who regularly tortured an enslaved Black man, creating blisters all over his body, in an attempt to prove Black skin was thicker than white skin. Another study published by The American Journal of Emergency Medicine found Black patients were 40 percent less likely to be prescribed medication for pain compared to their white counterparts, also underlining the racial bias that Black men and women do not feel pain as much as white people. This same bias, unfortunately, carries over in the preand postpartum world. Local mom Courtney Peyketewa said for her second pregnancy she noticed she had to be more adamant in speaking up for herself and being unwavering about her concerns during her pregnancy and after delivery. “I feel somewhat slighted because if I didn’t advocate or speak up, I would have been bullied into something I didn’t want,” said Peyketewa.

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While Black moms and moms-to-be may be more comfortable seeking medical care from Black healthcare professionals, there are nonBlack professionals who are also very much aware of and actively working against racial biases. Metro mom Taryn Sledge is expecting baby number three, and she says her medical care during her first two pregnancies was “horrible.” With her third pregnancy, she found a white doctor who has been vocal about her awareness of the statistics and biases Black women face. Her doctor wants to make sure she is taken care of throughout the entirety of her current pregnancy and after delivery.

Finding support

Every mother should have her own coach and cheerleader during pregnancy, delivery and upon arriving home. Pre- and postnatal doula care has been shown to improve health outcomes in women who utilize this service. A prenatal doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before,

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during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. A postpartum doula provides evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother–baby bonding, infant soothing and basic newborn care. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, studies have found labor support from someone like a doula can help improve labor and delivery. A doula can also provide education and support with breastfeeding. In addition to high mortality rates, Black women have the lowest initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Those statistics can again be attributed to racial biases. Research from the CDC shows hospitals that serve Black populations are less likely to assist Black women with initiating breastfeeding after birth or to offer lactation support. Black women also are more likely to go back to work earlier than 12 weeks and have to navigate dealing with an employer who is not accommodating to mom’s pumping schedule or expressing milk needs. Local mom, doula and breastfeeding specialist Bethany Erby says women, but more specifically Black women, are often not able to find the support needed to reach their breastfeeding goals. Breastfeeding benefits go beyond nutrition, including lowering the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) for babies and the amount of postpartum bleeding, reducing the risk of hemorrhaging in mom. And the risk of hemorrhaging is more common than many might think. Local new mom Norchelle Hamilton completely understands how Black women die at a disturbing and disproportionate rate after her own experience. After Hamilton had given birth to her son, healthcare professionals casually told her she had lost more blood after the delivery than during. Nurses were not eager to offer help or assist her when she wanted to take a shower. After Hamilton’s discharge from the hospital, she was not sent home with any special instructions on how to care for the continuous bleeding or informed on what to expect. She wasn’t given any proper sanitary napkins, underwear or gowns to deal with the excess bleeding. Luckily for Hamilton, she had her own personal healthcare professional contacts she reached out to once she was home to inquire about how to tend to excess bleeding.

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Next steps

Healthcare professionals acknowledging these statistics and stereotypes is a first step in eliminating disparities for Black moms. First and foremost, examining why these biases exist, and the history of those biases, is critical, as is listening to Black moms who have experienced disparities firsthand. Policy and legislation change in Oklahoma could make a widespread impact, like California’s Senate Bill 464, requiring hospitals to train maternity care staff about implicit bias. In Oklahoma, legislation was filed in January 2020 requiring complete, detailed documentation of maternal mortality. Senate Bill 1238 would require that if a woman dies in the hospital, the chief medical examiner would have to report the death to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) after delivery or within 42 days after delivery from any cause related to the pregnancy. The medical examiner would also be required to indicate if the death was related to maternal mortality on the death certificate. The bill also directs the OSDH to maintain and report data on maternal mortality, including the number of deaths reported by county and race, which author Sen. George Young says is a first step in addressing and reversing maternal mortality.

According to a study by Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, expanding Medicaid coverage has been significantly associated with lower maternal mortality in participating states compared to nonexpansion states. Extending Medicaid coverage for at least one year in every state would also help with postpartum care. The epidemic of Black maternal mortality and healthcare disparities is one the community and nation must rally together to overcome because addressing them only improves care for all of us. Editor’s note: Jillian Bray is a news reporter for Better Black News, a media outlet highlighting positive African American news and bringing awareness about issues within the African American community. She is also an advocate for mothers and their well-being, prenatal and postpartum. Most importantly, Jillian is wife to Michael and mama to son Janori. Follow Jillian and her news team on all social media platforms @betterblacknews or visit BetterBlackNews.com. Find Better Black News’ healthcare directory listing local Black nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals at betterblacknews. com/directory.


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FAMILY MENTAL WELLNESS

POSTPARTUM ANXIETY 5 common symptoms + practical ways to begin to heal BY THAI-AN TRUONG, LPC, LADC

Thai-An Truong, LPC, LADC is a postpartum therapist and mother of two who is passionate about helping pregnant and postpartum women overcome depression and anxiety. She has overcome her own battle with postpartum depression and anxiety and loves helping moms feel like themselves again so they can enjoy life with their baby and family. To learn more about her, visit lastingchangetherapy.com.

32 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

We often hear about postpartum depression, but did you know anxiety is actually the most common symptom in postpartum women? Symptoms of postpartum anxiety include:

1

Anxiety. My clients talk about struggling with feeling anxious throughout the day and overwhelmed about everyday life after having their baby. Things that used to be easy often start to feel suffocating and exhausting, including getting dinner ready, doing chores, managing finances, etc. Add the many layers and challenges of caring for a baby, and it can start to feel like too much.


TREATING POSTPARTUM ANXIETY

2

Fear. The women I’ve treated often have intrusive thoughts about their baby being harmed. According to postpartum expert Karen Kleinman in her book Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts, 91 percent of postpartum women struggle with these kinds of thoughts. Intrusive thoughts often include baby dying from suffocation, accidents, contamination, thoughts of intentional harm, unacceptable sexual thoughts, etc. These thoughts often bring on high anxiety and panic but actually pose no true danger to the baby, even though they feel really scary.

3

Worry and nervousness. Women with postpartum anxiety share that they worry about every little thing, including baby’s health, balancing work, time with older children and their spouse, etc. They worry about not being good enough and sometimes worry they have made a big mistake in bringing a baby into the world.

4

Tension. Women often talk about physically feeling tense. It’s hard for them to relax and enjoy the present moment with their baby and other loved ones. They are on edge, often hyper-vigilant about something bad happening.

5

Irritation and anger. When you’re anxious, overwhelmed and tired, it doesn’t take much to trigger anger. Every little thing can start to annoy and irritate – baby’s cries, toddler’s demands, partner’s needs and desire to keep up the home and life in general all may start to grate on nerves.

The good news is while these symptoms are really hard and often feel unbearable, they are all completely treatable. My treatment approach for postpartum anxiety includes four models, based on TEAM-CBT, created by Dr. David Burns. Rate your anxiety from 0-100 (with 100 being most intense) before and after each exercise to see if it was effective in helping you feel better.

1

Consider the positives. Before we use tools to get rid of anxious symptoms, it is helpful to see why the anxiety is there first and what motivates it to stay around. It is counterintuitive, but the more we try to suppress anxiety, the louder it gets. Instead, we can honor it and see that it’s here for a reason. Write down 1) the benefits of your anxiety and 2) what your anxiety shows about you and your values that’s positive. For example, anxiety shows I really care about my baby’s wellbeing. It drives me to do research and seek advice so I can give my baby the best care possible. It shows I care about balancing time between my children and partner. I really care about doing a good job with this most important work. Even the intrusive thoughts drive me to see the worst case scenario so I can really prevent harm from happening to my child.

2

The double standard. Write out your thoughts in a moment when you’re feeling anxious (for example, others are judging me and think I’m a bad mom). Then imagine you have a dear friend who is sharing with you her current struggles and her negative anxious thoughts and asking you if you think her negative thoughts are true. Write down what you’d say back to her. We’re often more likely to give grace, affirmation and validation to others than ourselves.

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FAMILY MENTAL WELLNESS

It is important to remember to not use the cognitive model to seek certainty with intrusive thoughts, since 100 percent certainty is often not attainable regarding anything in life. Continuing to engage or argue with the content of the intrusive thoughts often keeps it around longer and makes the anxiety worse.

3

etc. You notice these sensations as if you’re observing your body from outside of yourself, you let time pass and then proceed with life.

4

Face the anxiety head on. Avoidance is the food that continues to feed the anxiety monster. Ask yourself what it is that you’re avoiding and begin to face it. Exposure and facing your fears will take some courage but will allow you to see that anxiety can be defeated. If you’re afraid of contamination, exposure may include refraining from washing your hands; if you’ve been avoiding the baby, you would start interacting with your baby alone starting at 30 minutes then increasing the length of time. If you’re having intrusive thoughts, instead of pushing them away or seeking reassurance from others, you’d sit with the thoughts and just let them be there. You could even write out a script of the worst case scenario and read it twice a day. While you’re facing your fears, it is important to sit with the anxiety instead of trying to suppress it. This may include facing sensations of anxiety where you allow your body to feel symptoms like your heart racing, sweating, discomfort,

Examine underlying emotions. When you’re anxious, there may actually be something that’s bothering you in the here-and-now that you’re sweeping under the rug. You’re often not dealing with it because you want to be nice or not rock the boat. There are two steps to this method: First, figure out what is bothering you. Look for patterns of increasing anxiety (for example, you have panic attacks or over-worry at night when you’re actually upset with your spouse for not helping out more with the bedtime routine). Second, you have to take action before the anxiety can get better (like having a healthy and open conversation with your partner and coming to a balanced solution that feels fair for both of you).

If you or someone you love is dealing with postpartum anxiety, identifying symptoms and considering these methods to move toward healing are great starting points. Seek the help of a professional if you find yourself needing additional guidance and support.

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FAMILY MENTAL WELLNESS

Symptoms of 5 Common POSTPARTUM

DEPRESSION

+ resources to help you feel like yourself again BY THAI-AN TRUONG, LPC, LADC

It was the middle of March. Flowers were blooming, my favorite season was around the corner and I just had my first baby girl. I expected it to be the happiest time of my life. Instead, I found myself pacing the bedroom, wringing my hands, wanting to crawl out of my own skin and praying to not wake up.

I was completely blind-sided by postpartum depression. I was excited to be a mom. I always loved kids and looked forward to the novel and fulfilling experience of raising my own baby girl. I even had a friend prophetically tell me to watch out for postpartum depression, but I laughed her off. I thought postpartum depression happened to other moms, definitely not me. But there I was, several days after bringing my daughter home, finding myself unrecognizable. I felt like I had completely lost myself. I felt an additional layer of shame because I am a therapist. Shouldn’t I be immune to being stuck in such a dark, hollow space in my mental health? Apparently not. Being aware of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression can help you recognize them in yourself, or others, and realize you aren’t alone. These are symptoms I’ve experienced and also seen in almost all the moms I’ve had the privilege to work with over the past three years. The sooner you or your loved ones can recognize the symptoms, the faster you can get the right help to get better.

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1

thoughts. Moms often don’t have an active plan to end their life, but when you’re suffering, it could seem like a relief to not wake up or exist another day. Moms may feel like a burden to their loved ones, believing their family would be better off without them. Please seek immediate professional help if you’re finding yourself having passive or active suicidal thoughts, and remember, they are also completely treatable.

Anxiety. We hear so much about depression in postpartum women. We expect moms struggling with postpartum depression to be sad and disengaged. However, anxiety is actually the most common symptom in postpartum women. You may find yourself feeling restless, tense and on edge, frightened about your new motherhood role and frequently worried about your baby’s well-being. You may also struggle with sleeping when your baby sleeps because you are consumed with worry about your baby. Anxiety in postpartum women can often come with intrusive thoughts, which are scary thoughts or images of bad things happening to your baby. While these images can be terrifying, they are completely treatable.

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4 Irritability and anger.

and loss of 2 Sadness pleasure. Many moms find themselves feeling sad, down and tearful after having their baby. Women I work with say “I don’t feel like myself” or “I don’t know who I am anymore.” They may not have realized how lonely motherhood can feel, and life can become bleak and gray in the midst of their exhaustion. Moms can also be surprised by the grief they feel: grief over their old life, when things were easier, when they had sleep, when they could get up and go when they wanted to, when they could just go to the bathroom when they needed to. Those simple actions become a luxury after having your baby. Then moms often end up feeling guilty for not being joyful at all times, as society tells us we should feel after having our baby.

LauraitAragon Laura Aragon When you’re already overwhelmed Exeirritable cutive Insurance Agent doesn’t take much to make you Laura Aragon and angry. This seems to be the Executive Insurance Agent laura.aragon@aaaok.org forbidden emotion for women. 13“Good 225 N Pennsylvania Ave moms” and women “shouldn’t” Oklfeel ahoma City, OK 73405-717-8282 11230 225 N Pennsylvania Ave angry or resentful toward their Oklahoma City, OK 73120 ( 4 0baby, 5) 717-8282 For a personalized (405) 717-8282 partner or other loved ones. Moms ( 4 0 5 ) 7may 53-9780 insurance ( 4 0 5 ) 7 5 3 - 9 7policy 80 feel angry at themselves for not lauralways a.aragon@aaaok.org talk to an actual l a u r a . a r a g o n @ aaaok.org being calm, kind and gentle with clubaloved lliance.aaa.com/agent/lauraaragon cluballiance.aaa.com/agent/lauraaragon person. ones. The truth is, I haven’t worked with a mom yet who didn’t find herself having moments of irritability! Anger is often trying to clue us in to a desperate need for relief and support during this challenging transition.

Spencer’s Oils

of self-esteem or 5 Loss feeling worthless.

and 3 Discouragement hopelessness. Moms can get to the point of feeling discouraged about their ability to “make it” and hopeless about the future. Every little thing feels overwhelming and moms may fear they’ll never feel like themselves again. The danger of this symptom is that it can lead to suicidal

It is painfully devastating when you care so much about being the best mom you can be but end up feeling like the worst. They may feel inferior to other moms and like their baby would be better off with someone else. It’s hard for them to recognize their own hard work, and labels like “bad mom” or “failure” overtake their identity. If you have two or more of these symptoms and it’s been more than two weeks since you’ve had your baby, you may be experiencing postpartum depression and/or anxiety and could benefit from getting help. It can be hard to believe in the middle of your struggle, but you will get better by taking active steps forward, either selfhelp work or seeking professional help. Find resources at metrofamilymagazine. com/mental-wellness.

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Cutest Baby Contest winners! We asked for pics of cute babies and you delivered! These top 10 photos were selected as finalists, and each will receive a $50 gift card from Commonplace Books, photo packages from J. Holland Photography and a MetroFamily Insiders subscription. Thank you to J. Holland Photography for sponsoring this contest and to everyone who entered!

Winner Adalese 15 months

Favorite things: being outside, wearing dresses and having fun at farmers markets

THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS

38 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021


Jarod Jr.

Alaeya

Jaxon

Favorite things: pears, sweet potatoes, Cocomelon and his favorite fuzzy blanket

Favorite things: watching Cocomelon, mandarin oranges and applesauce, crawling, being outside and her two doggies

Favorite things: reading books, ALL kinds of food, being outside and playing with his toy lawnmower

Palmer

Bellamy

Peony

Favorite things: Elvis dance parties, playing with her Noggin’ Stick, and reading (and chewing!) on books

Favorite things: playing with her wooden puzzle, dancing with Bluey, peekaboo and French fries and scrambled eggs

Favorite things: bananas, playing peekaboo and climbing on her big brother

Lola

Nadia

Avery

Favorite things: looking at herself in the mirror, books and laughing

Favorite things: snuggling with mama, sitting up and eating sweet potato puree

Favorite things: clapping, grinning and laughing at his fur brothers

7 months

6 months

13 months

8 months

12 months

7 months

19 months

9 months

8 months

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / JUNE 2021

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