hello my tribe,
May is Postpartum Depression Awareness Month. At Tribe, we have great understanding of what woman go through when transitioning to motherhood. Through this journey, we have met so many wonderful women who have shared their story with us, or who have shared their talents with us.
Meet Kristy S. Rodriguez, pre- and postnatal wellness expert and advocate, and the owner and founder of Pure Nurture. Pure Nurture is a business devoted to educating and inspiring women to nurture and nourish themselves through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. As a Holistic Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher specializing in pre- and postnatal wellness, Kristy works with individual clients, as well as teaching classes and workshops, both in person and online
We are so lucky to have Kristy share her own personal PPD story, and to provide us with great guidance and inspiration.
What inspired you to start Pure Nurture?
I had been working as a holistic health coach for several years and had my own private practice. It was during my first pregnancy that my interest in prenatal wellness began. I enjoyed the pregnancy, but found many aspects of it challenging and overwhelming. I also saw many of my friends experiencing various difficulties and challenges during their pregnancies—physical, mental, and emotional. When my first daughter was ten months old, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, something I thought only happened in the first few weeks or months after birth. During my second pregnancy, I closed my practice to focus on motherhood and daydreamed about what would come next in terms of creating and teaching. For a little over two years, my interest in prenatal health was bubbling up, until I decided it was time to go back to school and specialize in prenatal health coaching and yoga. I began writing Pure Nurture in order to support women during this unique and special time in their lives, to help them feel their best and inspire them to be gentle, kind, and loving with themselves, knowing that the better care they take of themselves, the better care they are taking of their growing baby. There is so much fear-based information out there related to pregnancy. I wanted to write a book and create a community where women are supported, inspired, and empowered in a loving, affirmative, and non-judgmental way.
How have you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone with your business and writing a book?
Writing my book and creating my business provide me with constant opportunities to get out of my comfort zone. I’m pushed out of that comfortable place on a weekly basis! I am naturally introverted, so putting myself out there can be uncomfortable and scary. Luckily, my desire to support women and follow my passions are much stronger than my introverted tendencies. It takes a lot of reprogramming my self-talk, connecting with friends, getting a pep talk from my husband and then just doing it. Whatever “it” is. I also hired a business coach, which was really helpful. I don’t think my book would have ever been published if it weren’t for the work I did with her. I was waiting for the book to be just right before publishing it. Editing it. Editing it again. Changing this. Changing that. Eventually coming to the realization that it will never be “perfect.” And sometimes you just have to take the leap. So that’s what I did.
What surprised you most about motherhood?
First, how much love one can have for another and how that love seems endless, no matter how many times it is divided. Second, how difficult it is to manage my time. I often wonder what I did with all of my time before I became a mom. Seriously, what did I do with all my time?!
What has been your biggest challenge with motherhood?
I have two, but they go hand in hand: 1) letting go of guilt and 2) time management. I feel guilty very easily and for many reasons. It’s been very hard for me to manage those emotions and find a working balance between time with my girls, time for myself, time with my husband, time for work, keeping up with housework, and the list goes on. It’s about finding a way to manage my time so that all of these important people and things in my life feel cared for, supported, and loved. Including myself. The guilt comes when I feel that someone or something is not getting the attention or care that I’d like to give.
What were the postpartum symptoms you experienced with your first child?
I don’t remember when it started. I was diagnosed when my daughter was ten months old. We had just begun the process of weaning from breastfeeding. I had been seeing a therapist, not for any particular issue or difficulty, only because I wanted to be the best mom I could be and not pass down too much of my own baggage to my kids. It was in one of my sessions that my therapist told me she thought I had PPD. She recommended I go see a specialist. I really didn’t think it was an issue; however, after seeing the specialist and answering a detailed multiple choice questionnaire, it was very clear that I was suffering, and not just mildly. It was pretty severe. It reminds me of that analogy of the frog in hot water. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out immediately. However, it won’t jump out if it is in a pot full of cool water that is slowly brought to a boil. It doesn’t sense the gradual change. And that was me with postpartum depression. I didn’t notice the gradual changes, even suffering as I was. I also think I suffered from postpartum anxiety. I would have fear-based thoughts daily. I would run from my room, past the staircase to my daughter’s nursery, holding her tightly. I would imagine how easily I could drop her over the railing. I never thought or believed I’d actually do it, but the thoughts were there. I would walk past the knives on the kitchen counter and imagine how easily I could pick one up and stab someone. Again, knowing I would never do it, but these terrifying thoughts continued to manifest. The thoughts were infrequent and happened for just a second or two. For those reasons, I never felt it was a “real” problem or that I needed help. Hindsight is always 20/20, of course. So even as I write this, I realize how interesting it is that I never felt I needed help because today, looking back, it seems so obvious.
One of the clearest examples was when my daughter was nine months old. We traveled to Colombia and the day we got there I felt immense distress. I laid on the bed for hours, sobbing that I just wanted to go home. My emotions felt uncontrollable at times, and my husband didn’t know what to do. His main concern was taking our daughter somewhere so that she wouldn’t see mommy in so much distress. I was put on Zoloft and stayed on antidepressants for a little over a year. The funny thing is, if you look at pictures of me during that time, you would never know I was suffering. That’s why it’s so important to get support if you feel you might be suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety. Be sure to talk to a loved one or your doctor or midwife.
How did you better prepare yourself for baby number two?
I was a little concerned about going off anti-depressants, but I didn’t want to take any medication while pregnant. A few months before trying to get pregnant again, I slowly weaned myself off the Zoloft. I knew I had to do everything I could in order to prevent the depression and anxiety from affecting me. I ate nutrient-dense foods, took specific supplements, continued to see my therapist, practiced yoga and meditation, and took a hypnobirthing course—which helped me to relax and stay calm during the pregnancy as well as the birth. The biggest factor that I attribute to my increased well-being the second time around was hiring a postpartum doula. I had a doula at both of my births, which was an incredible support. Having a postpartum doula come to my home after my second daughter was born was the best thing I could have done for myself. It was having someone mother me as I was mothering and caring for my new baby.
What is your first piece of advice to new and expectant moms?
Kristy: You will hear stories, ideas, opinions, and suggestions from all of your well-intentioned friends and family members. Listen respectfully, and with grace and ease, but only keep what feels best for you and your baby, and leave the rest. Build your intuitive muscle. Learn how to listen to your gut, your “mama bear wisdom,” and do what you feel is right, despite differing or contradictory information and suggestions. This will serve you well in every aspect of your life. Also, if a friend wants to share her birth story, first ask if it’s a positive story. If it’s not, let them know you care about them and want to hear about their experience, but to please share the story with you AFTER you give birth. There is no reason to build any anxiety over what could go wrong. No need to give yourself something to worry about that’s ultimately out of your control!
What does your morning routine look like?
Kristy: Before I had kids, I had a very relaxing morning routine that included yoga, meditation, hot water with lemon, green juice and breakfast. Nowadays, my mornings look very different. If I woke up earlier, I could probably have a similar routine to the one I described here, however, I don’t. Sleep is too important lately, and I do best with eight to nine hours of sleep. I wake up around 6:30 or 6:45 a.m., grab a shower, get ready as quickly as I can, then get the girls up. I help them get ready, then we all head downstairs for breakfast. Sometimes I eat with them, others times I eat their leftovers as I clean up the kitchen. My husband usually takes them to school around 8 a.m. and that’s when my workday begins. As you can see, very different from before.
What does your wellness routine look like?
Kristy: My wellness routine changes depending on the season, how much work I have and how much the girls are doing. However, the few constants are yoga, supplements, water, dry skin brushing, coconut or sesame oil, massage once a month, and chiropractic when needed. Other practices I like to add in, but don’t do as often as I’d like are mediation, infrared sauna, and going for walks in nature.
What are your secrets to balancing your personal life, motherhood, and work?
It’s not easy, that’s for sure. I’ve learned that finding and maintaining a perfect balance is a myth. Life is constantly changing, especially when kids are involved. Usually when I have a big deadline or meeting, one of my girls gets sick and has to stay home from school. Unexpected surprises like that make it challenging to keep everything balanced. It seems more like juggling to me. For the longest time, I sought out that perfect balance. Then one day I realized it’s impossible. Once I relaxed into that realization and into what is, I found more ease in my life.
With all of that said, I do have a few tricks to help me give all of the priorities in my life the attention they need. The first is to use my calendar and block out time for each part of my life. Putting things into the calendar helps me to allot the necessary time needed for different things. I will add in special dates with my girls and family time. The other trick is to be in communication with my husband about our schedules, family time, work time, self-care time, etc. When we are both on the same page and talk through our week’s schedule ahead of time, there are fewer hiccups or frustrations. It helps us both to get our needs met.
The last thing that I do that helps a lot is to practice mindfulness. By this I mean being present in each moment. When I’m working, I try to focus on my work. When I’m with my daughters, I focus on them, leaving work and my phone aside. When I’m with my husband on our date night, I try to be present with him. It’s easier said than done; however, this practice helps me to release guilt and enjoy my time more with each aspect of my life.
If you could share one thing about postpartum depression, what would it be?
Postpartum depression snuck up on me. I didn’t realize that I was dealing with PPD for several months. For one, I thought it was something that happened right after birth. I didn’t know that one could be diagnosed ten months after birth. It also came on slowly, which allowed me to ease into the symptoms as my new norm, not realizing how much I was suffering. It was all below the surface, so very few people, including my husband, knew. I share all of that to help women and their loved ones be aware of the potential subtleness of PPD and to know that they are not alone—and to ask for help if they feel they may be suffering. The one-page questionnaire at the OBGYN’s office that women are asked to fill out several weeks after birth isn’t always helpful in determining if a woman is dealing with PPD or postpartum anxiety.