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As a Registered Nurse who operates a mental health hotline, Jamie Spence is passionate about the wellbeing of mothers all over, and works to protect their mental health. As a mom of three boys herself, Jamie experienced postpartum depression after the birth of her twins and beautifully shares her insight on how to navigate mental health, grow into the new version of yourself in motherhood, and prioritize you, not just as a mom, but as a woman.
Jamie, tell us about you:
I’m a Texan at heart, currently living in the midwest. My three boys are the "jewels in my crown," my pride and joy (and the occasional source of a gray hair)! I have five year-old fraternal twin boys and my youngest son is 2 ½. I am a full-time mom and also work from home full time as a Registered Nurse on a mental health hotline (I am not allowed to say which one, specifically) that supports moms and their support persons. When I am not working or child-rearing, I regularly do self-care via therapy, the gym, going for walks around the lake, or biking and listening to my favorite audio book simultaneously.
What was the most unexpected part of your own motherhood journey?
Hands-down the most unexpected part of my motherhood journey was being blindsided by postpartum depression after the birth of my twins. I also did not know that my anemia post-cesarean section contributed to a lot of my depressive symptoms.
I thank God for putting people in my path to help validate and normalize a lot of my experience, as well as the compassionate OB who helped get me treatment via therapy. It took me about a year to recover once I broke down and asked for help, but it felt like vocalizing I wasn't okay to someone I trusted really released a pressure valve and I felt a huge sense of relief. With motherhood also came the new experience of learning to vocalize my needs, knowing it was okay to take up the space I needed to feel well and maintain that pursuit of health. Postpartum depression didn’t stop me from round 2, and my second pregnancy was a dream from start to 4th trimester, breastfeeding included. Both experiences were such a gift and learning to advocate for my needs really helped the second time around.
How does Matrescence’s Mission to “mother the mother” resonate with you as a mom?
"Mother the mother" is a beautiful reminder not to forget mom in the mix of all things newborn and/or raising a family. Moms often sacrifice so much of themselves to keep the family unit afloat, and it is easy to forget her among the societal pressure saying she can do all the things. It’s important to remember that "all the things" come at a price of overwhelm and burnout, poor physical & mental health, relationship tension and isolation. A mother is demonstrative of love, as she is tender, supportive, nurturing, kind, patient, gentle, a cheerleader, and fluid to meet the needs of her family, and she needs this reflected back to her within her community and family ecosystem.
In what ways do you feel your path to motherhood was different or unique?
This is an excellent question because I think so much of my experience, if expressed in candid conversation, is the stuff of many other motherhood journeys, too. I always believed carrying the torch of twin mom to be unique with my family lineage. I have a set of twins, I am a twin, and so is my mother. I loved this invitation to creation that is so unique to a woman.
What is the best thing you learned about parenting?
The best thing I learned was to trust your own instincts as mom. While you may not feel this is a sharp instinct in the beginning, a mother's intuition is quite accurate! I learned to trust my gut rather than research concerns to death or accept others' opinions on how to parent. I learned it's okay to raise my children in ways I desire rather than "shoulding all over myself" with pressures from others to do things a certain way. I learned from supportive, nonjudgmental friends and family.
What has been the most challenging part of being a mom and how do you manage it?
The most challenging aspect of being a mom is learning to regulate my emotions when I'm flooded with the emotions of three other people in my home. Depending on how the day has gone, when fights break out, screaming ensues and I am failing to get my kids' attention in the midst of the chaos, I can feel dysregulation coming on and I want to scream too. I manage, sometimes unsuccessfully - but it helps me to step into another room once I get them separated and deep breathe or call my mom. I have to consciously tell myself in those moments that I have to model emotional regulation to raise healthy, emotionally maturing children. I tell myself "I can do this" and make a conscious effort to not be reactive.
When someone looks at you as a mama, what do you hope they take away?
When someone looks at me as a mom, I hope they take away that "your good enough is good enough," and that mental health and healing are not always linear, but once set upon that trajectory, you do get better. And, as you go along that path to wellness, you learn to love different parts of you more or differently, grieve the parts that are gone, polish others areas that became rusty, and uncover new pieces you didn't know existed.
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Photography credit @imago_dei_photography
*If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis, please call your local emergency number, text or call 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, or text HOME to 741741.