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As a new mom, Sonia dealt with postpartum depression and the struggle to find her way back to herself after having children and changing careers. What the teacher turned beauty expert didn’t know, however, was that the hardest battle for her family was still ahead. Learning how to fight for herself as a mom in those early postpartum days would prove to be crucial as she navigated the unthinkable, and learning to prioritize self care would be a saving grace in her darkest days.
Sonia, tell us a little about you:
I’ve been married to my hubby Leo for 15 years. He worked in a steel mill and I was a teacher, and once our careers were in motion we decided to have children. When I had my daughter, I did have what I thought was the baby blues, but in hindsight it was likely a mild case of postpartum depression. I never understood how new moms would be in the mall with their new babies in their strollers when just leaving the house was a challenge for me.
A few years later I had my son and realized: THIS is what it’s supposed to feel like. Yes it was busy, but at first, mentally I had it all under control. Then, at the four month mark, my “light” went out.
I fell into postpartum depression HARD. As well as postpartum anxiety. It all came out of me as anger. I was angry at the world. And yet so numb at the same time.
I barely have any memories of that time.
As difficult as it was, I did seek help. 11 years ago, postpartum mental health was not talked about publicly. And resources were not as accessible (although society still has a LONG way to go). Once I received the help I needed with therapy, medication and the constant love and support of my husband, slowly I came out of it all.
But it left me as a broken woman. My confidence was completely shaken. I was so afraid of depression coming over me again. I walked away from a career that I had been working so hard to move forward in, and began working as a dental receptionist.
It was during that time that I felt that I needed something more. I had a passion for teaching, and helping others. I had an interest in makeup and so I looked for something where I could combine it all. Which led me towards my career in the beauty industry.
I used my platform to create a community where women felt seen and heard, taking all the negativity that I had put out in the world and repurposing it with positivity. I didn’t want the postpartum depression period to have happened without purpose. So I made it my purpose to help woman feel more confident in their own skin through makeup tutorials and being vulnerable about my own struggles.
I had no idea what the future was about to hold, and how the impact of all that happened in those early years as a mother would play into my life.
What has been the hardest part of your mama journey?
I mean I could tell you the exact date. May 3, 2020.
It was a Sunday evening, 8 weeks into the pandemic and the world was still frozen in time. The hubby and I were tucking our kids into bed, and “The Call” happened. A call I will forever replay in my head over and over. Our family doctor on the other end of the line.
“Your son’s blood work shows blast cells, which indicate cancer unless proven otherwise”
Cancer unless proven otherwise.
It was the moment our entire world flipped upside down.
That night, my son and I were airlifted 9 hours away to a children’s hospital, where in the coming days we would learn that he had leukaemia cancer, and we were about to begin the battle to save his life.
For nine months, we lived 9 hours away from home, away from my husband and daughter. In the height of the pandemic. Some of that time the four of us were together, most of it we were not. After my son and I moved back home, he was still doing chemotherapy treatment and we still had to travel out of town. His total treatment was 28 months long.
In September 2022, he rang the bell, and is currently in remission.
My kids are superheroes in my eyes. One is a child battling cancer. One is a child who witnessed her brother fighting cancer and sacrificed all the attention for two years while her parents had to give it to him. I can’t imagine how hard that was in their eyes. As children.
The trauma that each of us went through, separately, and together. I’m so proud of each of us, of how far we’ve come TOGETHER since that call.
I am so so grateful every day for my hubby and two kiddos who are now 13 and 11. And although it’s not easy, they both handle life with so much grace.
After our battle, it seemed like I was back in that same postpartum place. I felt like I lost my identity again. I went from being “cancer mom” to “just Sonia” again. But I didn’t know who I was without being cancer mom.
And so I’m working on that. I have been so blessed with an online community of people that wrapped their arms around our family at our worst times, as well as allowed me to use my platform to help women build their confidence up after going through their own “hard.”
What does self care look like to you?
Doing things that bring me calm. Sleeping, driving, reading a book, watching a chick flick, doing my makeup. Massage and facials are my added bonuses!
How does Matrescence’s Mission to “mother the mother” resonate with you as a mom? In your career?
I wish “mother the mother” had been around for me 10 years ago. Instead of feeling loved and nurtured, I felt alone and forgotten about. It’s like we were supposed to just have it all figured out. After having the baby, no one asked how we were doing as moms anymore. When I was pregnant, everyone was empathetic towards me. Complete strangers even. Holding the door open for the pregnant lady. Then after the baby came, no one held the door open anymore. Just let that thing crash into the stroller. Ha.
I love the idea of taking care of the mamas of this world. We NEED the mamas.
Do you have any daily/weekly rituals that you stick to?
I would love to say that I do. But I don’t. It’s something that I really want to work on. I’m a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of woman, but I do know that a morning ritual would do wonders for me.
One thing that I do, and will continue to do no matter how old they get (as long as they allow me to!) is take a few minutes every night to chat with my kids separately before saying goodnight. I strive to make sure they go to bed at night knowing and feeling that they are seen and loved. They have both been through so much. They are each separately the strongest people I know.
What’s one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a mom?
Oh there is so much. Where does one even begin?
I wish I had known that everything that I knew about being a mom was so wrong. Ha! I was the perfect mother. Until I became a mom and that ALL went out the window. I wish I had known that any decision I made was the right decision, because it was mine, and I will always know what’s best for my kids, because it all comes from love.
I wish I had known that it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to not be perfect. It’s ok to not please anyone.
And I wish I had known how hard hubby and I would have to work on our relationship so life doesn’t turn into the “amazing race”. I would have started date nights way sooner.
I wish I had known to give myself time, but to hold on to the things you love that make you YOU. You are more than just their mom.
And I wish I had known how strong I was. Or that I was about to become. Because it was going to be a very hard road ahead.
I really look forward to this next chapter of motherhood.
But please send me all the positive vibes as we enter into the teen years! Ha!
Follow Sonia on Instagram