As many may know, MOMS Orange County provides plenty of resources, free to the public. My beloved programs have been the prenatal education, home visits, and the Mommy and Me courses. These programs were important to me as I grew as an individual and a mother.
In our first prenatal class, I had a biased expectation of the instructor to be a woman. To my surprise, the one who lead the class is the great Juan Diego. He had a way of connecting with the soon-to-be fathers by telling them, “guys, your wives are going through a lot! While they’re busy making an arm and growing an eyeball, make sure to tackle the dishes!” In class, we were educated on what to do during labor leading to birth.
As first-time parents, we had a birthing plan and I felt it was perfect. The reality was, a week-and-a-half before my due date, my water broke slowly. My husband and I went to the hospital to make sure I was ok. Once the nurse said I was being admitted, our birthing plan went out the window. We were devastated and felt helpless, but thanks to the class and Juan Diego — who encouraged us to ask all the questions possible — we were able to feel some control in what was going on and comfort that we were asking all the right questions. If we didn’t understand something, we made sure we had the nurses repeat themselves again and again.
In the breastfeeding course at MOMS, Martha educated me in the countless ways our bodies are amazing. For example, did you know that when a baby is coming down with a cold, the mother’s body produces the antibodies they’ll need? Breastfeeding was challenging with my son who was born with a mild cleft lip. Thankfully, the three of us survived my son’s two lip surgeries and we are one year and five months strong breastfeeding. Thanks to the information and guidance from the beautiful Martha, who helps new mothers with nursing, I definitely feel like superwoman, with breastmilk being my superpower.
Another program I enjoyed were the home visits. I was grateful to have Griselda as my home visitor. She was always so kind and made sure I had any concerns addressed. Through the home visits, I was able to understand my son better. Everything changes once you’re a mom and the transition was something I was not prepared for. One thing I definitely didn’t expected was to feel a disconnection with my child. Everyone says, “Oh, once your baby is born, you will feel what unconditional love is,” or “I fell in love with my baby as soon as I locked eyes with theirs.” For me it wasn’t like that and I felt horrible. I knew my son was my baby, but he was still a stranger to me. It wasn’t until two months later that it hit me. I changed my son’s diaper and he smiled for the first time. It was that moment when my heart filled up and I understood…this is what they meant.
Looking back now, I should have paid more attention to myself. I had trouble pinpointing my feelings and almost felt embarrassed that I wasn’t enjoying motherhood. For almost a year, I was battling postpartum depression and I had no idea. That explained the disconnection with my son, my husband and the world. Since the majority of my time with MOMS was spent in the Mommy and Me classes, the beautiful Gabby was there to hug me while tears ran down my face, without even knowing what my personal life entailed. As she hugged me, she asked what was going on. Her, along with a few other moms from the class, stayed behind to make sure I was ok, to vent what troubles I was going through and to show me support. It was during the Mommy and Me classes that I learned the most. Support doesn’t come just from family and friends, it can come from your neighbors, strangers or even an organization like MOMS.
Thank you MOMS for giving new mothers like me the support and resources we need to thrive. You were there for me when I was struggling the most. MOMS was there to give me love and support even when I couldn’t communicate my troubles. My husband and I are the perfect examples of the impact you have on families in this community.