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My path to healing from postpartum depression required grace, not persistence

I learned persistence from my mother.

Like some children learn to fold a fitted sheet or bake a perfectly flaky pie crust, I learned how to put my head down and persist.


My third-grade vernacular included the words “effective effort” and, before every spelling test or group presentation, my mother would say, “Good effort.”

She never wished me, “Good luck” because my mother doesn’t believe in luck, she believes in EFFORT. Her life’s motto is a Marian Wright Edelman quote: “Whoever said anyone has a right to give up?”

My mother taught me about grit, endurance, commitment, and fortitude. I learned to set goals, make lists, and cross off accomplishments. I believed that, with enough will-power and sheer determination, I could achieve anything.

Persistence paid off for me in substantial ways: I earned a major and two minors in 3.5 years, I obtained a Master’s degree before age 30, I trained for and ran two half-marathons, I had a drug-free home birth. Each accomplishment affirmed for me that I was strong, capable, and powerful.

Which is why it devastated me to find myself in the depths of postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my third baby.

I tried everything I knew to climb out of the deep, dark hole on my own.

I popped placenta pills, I found a therapist, I became a vegan, I drank green smoothies, I took iron supplements, Vitamin D, and a supplement to support my “adrenals.”

I tried massage, “energetic unwindings,” chiropractic care, and acupuncture.

I tried going to bed at 8:30 p.m., taking more naps, and squeezing in a walk around the block before work.

I tried prayer, meditation, and yoga.

Everything I tried made small improvements but I was still drowning; underwater life was heavy and cloudy and there wasn’t enough air.

Why couldn’t I make this better?

What was I doing wrong?

What did I need to do differently?

Why was I such a failure?

I could not “effectively effort” myself to wellness.

Deficient, depleted, defeated, and depressed, I showed up for my monthly appointment with my massage therapist, Gillian. (Gillian is my personal hero in yoga pants, and I will write more about her, but the short story is she is a magical healer.)

My time with Gillian is usually relaxing and enjoyable, but this time I was restless and irritable. She rubbed an oil on my feet and the scent wafted up to my nose, filling my lungs with citrus and woodiness.

“What is that?” I asked.

She paused.

“Humility,” she finally responded.

I immediately bristled and stiffened.

Humility?

Humility is for people who don’t put forth enough EFFORT!

Humility is powerlessness.

Humility is victimhood.

Humility is failure.

Humility is the OPPOSITE of persistence.

Sensing my thoughts without my speaking them, Gillian retorted, “There’s strength in softness and surrender.”

In that moment, a small voice inside me whispered: You don’t have to live like this.

You don’t have to persist.

I told my therapist at my next appointment that I wanted to pursue medication. I had resisted medication for 13 months because medication felt like weakness.

But I was tired.

I was ready to surrender.

Every morning at 7 a.m., an alarm in my phone reminds me to take my medication, and it feels like God loving me.

It feels like when the doctor places your first pair of perfectly prescribed eyeglasses and you look around, blinking, and wonder, “Is this what the world really looks like??”

It feels like tuning the radio and finally hearing sharply and without static.

It feels like exhaling.

Life as a working mom with three young kids is still hard, but I’m swimming, not drowning.

I’m not a medical professional or qualified therapist; I don’t know if medicine is right for you. This post both is and is not about taking medication.

What I DO know, is that you will encounter The Thing Which is Bigger Than You.

Perhaps infertility, miscarriage, a birth plan that doesn’t pan out, or breastfeeding struggles you didn’t expect.

Perhaps it will be a strong-willed child, a marriage you can’t fix, or a diagnosis you can’t escape.

You WILL receive an invitation to practice humility, not because you are too big, but because you aren’t the biggest thing in the universe.

There WILL be a moment in which you must discern whether it is time to persist or time to surrender. Because, sometimes, persistence doesn’t pay.

Is it time for persistence?

Or is it time for humility?

Only you can know, but here is what I know for sure. Strength is valuable, and so is softness.

Also, grace is more likely to meet us in our humility. In our softness. In our surrender.

Grace is what happens the minute we wave our white flag.

Like blood that rushes to the point of trauma in the body, Grace rushes in, rolls up its sleeves, and says, “Let’s get to work.”

And then Grace does what Grace does best. It heals.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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