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Happy as a Mother

Author: Erica Djossa

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How do I cope with the load of motherhood? How do I raise good humans when I'm just trying to survive? How can I take care of my own mental health? And the biggest question of all: how do I redefine myself after going through the metamorphosis of motherhood?

On the Happy as a Mother Podcast, host and psychotherapist Erica Djossa teaches strategies to help you cope with the psychological and emotional load of motherhood, guides you on a journey of self love and acceptance, and answers your tough parenting questions. Erica shares the best kept secrets of the therapy world, bringing you knowledge and education that puts you in the driver's seat of your emotional and psychological well being. Along with sharing her knowledge, she interviews other professionals (psychologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, fertility specialists, lactation consultants, and more!) who provide their expertise to empower you on your motherhood journey.
73 Episodes
Do you ever feel yourself snapping at your kids or partner when you’re not even angry, you’re just overwhelmed. That’s called overstimulation and it happens when your brain has 50 tabs open and trying to move back and forth is both frustrating and overwhelming. I find myself wanting to wear ear plugs around the house just so that I can hear myself think. Noise is one of the many sensory factors that contribute to the sensory overload that many parents experience. Larissa Geleris, an occupational therapist and mother of two with extensive experience and training in Sensory Processing Disorder in children, uses that experience to support parents in understanding their own sensory triggers. And today, she’s going to help us understand our own sensory issues and how to cope with them in parenting. Show Notes:
Did you know that most moms will report experiencing some amount of memory loss during the postpartum period? If you can’t remember what you ate for breakfast, it’s okay! No other mom can either. As a mom of three boys I can totally relate to the forgetfulness and brain fog that sets in during those early postpartum days. Mom brain can be annoying—who wants to forget why they walked into a room—but it doesn’t have to be bad. Dr. Jodi Pawluski is here today to help us understand the physical and chemical changes in our brains and how to better care for our changing brains. Show Notes:
Did you know that the majority of mothers experience scary and intrusive thoughts in the postpartum period, but feel so much shame they hardly talk about it? Even worse, these intrusive thoughts can become debilitating and take control of a mother's life leading to postpartum Obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD).” For a lot of people, a thought like that might trigger extreme shame and guilt, causing PPOCD to be one of the most commonly misdiagnosed perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Because OCD requires evidence-based techniques and postpartum OCD is so unique, licensed counselor Jenna Overbaugh is here to help us unpack what obsessive compulsion is and how to know when we might be experiencing it. Show Notes:
Understanding how your brain works is incredibly empowering. Maybe your go-to emotion is rage when your brain is at capacity or perhaps your brain gets stuck in anxious overdrive.   Or perhaps your child's brain gets flooded with big emotions that appear as frequent tantrums, which leaves you feeling like they are intentionally disobeying. If we understand how the brain influences our emotions, we can discover our best coping skills. Neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor joins us to talk about the differences in the left and right hemispheres of our brain, how they work together, and how we can use this awareness to help regulate our emotions in motherhood. Show Notes:
Motherhood can be an all encompassing journey. It’s hard to know when we’re not doing enough, and when we’re doing too much. The stakes have never been higher—you are protecting and raising a human being. The weight of the responsibility is real. But should motherhood have to cost your identity? Do you truly need to devote every cell of your being to your children? Our guest Dr. Sophie Brock is a sociologist specializing in motherhood studies—her work is so interesting I’ve become a student of hers—and she’s here to help us unpack the myth of the perfect mom. Show Notes:
Regulating our own emotions can be difficult enough. Adding a wonderful little bundle of joy who also wakes up at 3 a.m. and may scream loud enough to alert the whole neighborhood can really complicate matters. And there seems to be anxiety around how our triggered moments might affect our children and what they think of us. Clinical psychologist Dr. Tanya Cotler specializes in infant mental health and attachment is here to help us understand parent/child attachment. And the good news is we’re more than our worst moments, and our children know it. Show Notes:
Parenting during a pandemic has been so hard! And now a swiftly developed vaccine has been rolled out, and members of my community have expressed a lot of anxiety about how safe these new vaccines might be during pregnancy and nursing. Dr. Marta Perez is an OB-GYN and she’s agreed to explain to us the risks of the vaccine versus not being vaccinated for pregnant or nursing people. Show Notes:
Has your relationship with your mother changed since becoming a mother? Author, international speaker, and transformation coach Bethany Webster has been here with us before to talk about the mother wound, and it really resonated with my community. So many people had questions about Bethany’s work, so she’s back today to answer audience-submitted questions. And as a special surprise, we’ll end with how to get a free offering if you feel you need additional resources. Show Notes:
We enter into motherhood with the promise of a village of support, and when we get here it can feel surprisingly lonely. The isolation felt in motherhood is a topic that has come up a lot in sessions with my clients and with the pandemic forcing even more isolation, a season of life that could already be lonely to navigate has become even tougher for some of us. So, I asked Dr. Miriam Kirmayer here to help us navigate maintaining friendships and how to form new ones.  Show Notes:
Codependent habits and behaviours can prevent us from having meaningful relationships with our children and partners. We all want our children to grow up to be independent, but should that really be the goal? And is there ever a point in childhood when codependency is an acceptable norm? Psychotherapist Sian Crossley is here today to help us understand the complexities of codependency and codependent relationships and why we should all be striving for interdependence. Show Notes:
From the outside, everyone saw her as a successful woman and mother. Melissa met her partner when she was 19, had six children, and co-founded a well-known global toy company. But her happiness was far from the truth as she battled depression and kept it hidden for many years. Melissa was feeling smothered and resentment was building as she was sacrificing her own dreams to serve others. Join Melissa and I as we talk about her personal journey with depression, how she was able to become the woman and mother her kids needed, and why finding and accepting her true self was so important. Show Notes:
Nothing tests us more than being a parent. One of those stages is dealing with potty training, bedwetting, and accidents. As parents, we become overwhelmed from information overload and are anxious as we navigate this time with our child. Today, we will look at all things potty training, bedwetting, and accidents from a medical perspective. Join Steve and I as we discuss the time to start potty training, why you need to pay attention to your child’s poop, the impact constipation can have, and when to seek help from a professional. Show Notes:
Screens have become such an integrated part of our lives and are so accessible. We can feel torn between using screens as a tool and feeling like we shouldn't use them because we've been told they're bad for our kids. Then to top it off, we have the pressure and worries of the pandemic as we navigate working from home and distance learning. Instead of approaching screen time as all-or-nothing, it’s best to look at the value and purpose of screen time in different situations. Ultimately, screen time is just another tool for us to use confidently in our parenting toolbox. Join Elizabeth and I on this episode as we break down what research is telling us about screen time and then how to use screen time as a tool, so you can feel equipped to make a decision with little guilt. Show Notes:
It’s time for a replay episode on a topic that raises so many questions for parents. Have you and your partner struggled to find your groove postpartum? Do you find it hard to prioritize each other and sex while juggling all. of. the. roles and responsibilities of being parents? Join the club! So many women I speak with wonder why they have no sex drive or why they struggle with arousal. Sex is a hot topic! Tune in today as Dr. Tracy Dalgleish and I explore the reasons why and help you to better understand your own arousal system! It’s easy for us to think that everyone else is doing better than us, adjusting to being a parent better than us, having more sex than us, and the list goes on. Are people really having as much sex as we think they are? Are other couples struggling to find their sex groove as new parents? I created a short poll to collect the details on what's really going on behind closed doors and would love it if you would take a couple of minutes to fill it out. You can find it at Show Notes:
Our children are looking for and needing a connection with us, and our main job as parents is to foster a secure attachment with our children. Does disciplining our child and "making them unhappy" interfere with our bond? Is there a difference between respectful boundaries and being permissive? How do we handle discipline and still build that relationship positively? This can be done with respectful parenting where the goal is to see the real need behind the behavior and that the behavior is the communication of their need. In this episode, Janet and I discuss what respectful parenting is, the role it plays in discipline, why partners need to work together as a team, and how to respect your partner’s parenting style. Show Notes:
As you welcome your new child into your family, your identity and relationship with your partner instantly change. While navigating your new roles, it takes time to adjust our expectations of parenthood with the reality of our new roles. This can give birth to resentment, especially in new parents. A lot of this resentment comes from our needs being unmet and then how these feelings are communicated. In this episode, Aushurina and I unpack what exactly resentment is, how it shows up, and the importance of healthy communication with a willingness to hear and understand. Show Notes:
As women, the connection with our mother is typically the foundation of our relationship with ourselves. To form our own sense of self, as a young child we internalize deeply, even into our brain chemistry, so much about who our mother is as a person. A lot of this is unconsciously inherited from one generation to the next including pain which is referred to as the Mother Wound. This wound can become particularly noticeable when you become a mother and are constantly reflecting on your own experience while also mothering. It typically shows up as shame, comparison, guilt, and feeling like you must remain small and not rock the boat to be loved. We first have to understand where these feelings come from before we can begin to heal. In this episode, Bethany and I discuss what the mother wound is, ways the mother wound shows up, and how we can find our inner mother. Show Notes:
As women, our bodies are constantly experiencing hormonal changes whether it’s during our menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, and so on. Did you realize there is a correlation between our hormones and how our brain functions? These shifts affect how our neurons work, the actions of our neurotransmitters, and the levels of our hormones which can result in fluctuations in mood for some women. In this episode, Kristin and I discuss the connection between our hormones and brain chemicals from a biological perspective, how hormones play a role in the pregnancy and postpartum periods, and considerations to think about when choosing options for treating anxiety and mood disorders. Show Notes:
Do you experience these thoughts?....I should be a better Mom.  I’m a fraud. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a Mom. What am I going to do when others find out I have no idea what I’m doing? Why can’t I be a perfect Mom like everyone else? Then this episode on Imposter Syndrome is for you! Imposter syndrome loves to creep in when you are trying something new, different, and challenging. It can be especially prevalent in motherhood because motherhood doesn't come with clear guidelines or a manual. When these thoughts creep in, we begin to doubt what we are capable of. In this episode, Kelly and I talk about what imposter syndrome is, the 5 different personas it can take, how we can manage our imposter syndrome, and how this is a common part of many people's human experience. Show Notes:
We know that becoming a parent will bring worry and anxiety. It comes with the territory.  You’ve never been responsible for something more important than this tiny human you are now caring for. But where is the line between normal amounts of worry and paralyzing amounts of anxiety? Do you worry and wonder whether it takes up to much of your focus? Do you get very stuck in over researching what is "right"? The thing is, anxiety shows up in many different ways. The key is to be aware that something isn’t right and seeking help when it’s disrupting your ability to enjoy motherhood. In this episode, Kate and I discuss the differences between normal parenting worry and postpartum anxiety, how anxiety shows up in our lives, and when you should seek help. Show Notes:
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