My name is Lauren Harvey, a group facilitator and founder of Empowered Postpartum. I am in a loving and supportive relationship with my husband, Matt. We are raising our daughter as consciously as we can considering the current world circumstances. We’re not perfect and we try our best daily. Luckily, we are not alone in our parenting journey in a pandemic, and I hope that after reading this story, you recognize that accessible support does exist. I’m so grateful to Hope & Plum for the opportunity to share my story and what Empowered Postpartum has to offer new and growing families.
We found out I was pregnant three weeks after my husband Matt took a giant leap and quit his job to start his own company. Shocked yet excited, we took all the prep classes, hired a birth doula and had a fortunate, uneventful pregnancy. We rationalized “hey, lots of people have kids - how hard can it be?!”
A rude awakening: it was (and is!) SO HARD. Arriving at postpartum for me can best be described as boarding a train that never stops, except you aren’t wearing shoes, there are no toothbrushes, you’re always cold and you have to keep a baby alive with a chest that was mere aesthetics just days ago. It took me weeks to realize that I wasn’t alone on this train. There were passengers: parents who looked like me (and smelled like me...what are showers?) and experienced the same insecurities, shortcomings, successes and joy. Planning for the challenges of postpartum was never on my radar and definitely not on that moving target of “success.”
My husband also experienced his own version of postpartum anxiety (which I didn’t realize at the time). After living in a constant state of emotions, tears and confusion, I built up the courage to attend a support group for new parents who were overcome with emotions beyond “baby blues.” Because at 5 weeks postpartum, I hated it. It was a painful realization, and it was the truth. I loved my new baby but felt like an awful mother. I felt like I could do nothing right with my baby or my husband. We had our first big fight and it was scary. No one was sleeping. Breastfeeding was painful. Babywearing was the only solution that seemed to soothe my newborn so my husband and I took turns and wore her around the house, on walks, at the grocery store, at appointments, during work calls - you name it. I also found that I just needed to talk to someone else that was going through some of what I was enduring as a new mom.
Through my experience in a postpartum support group, I was able to release any shame I felt about my clumsiness as a new mom. No one judged me for my choices and I was able to grow into my matrescence with real, tangible support. This group gave me the confidence to make the extremely tough and personal decision to quit my job and move our life from Silicon Valley to Southern California to raise my daughter closer to my family. I don’t know what kind of parent I’d be today if it wasn’t for this group.
Empowered Postpartum exists because we recognize that this story is not unique to just my family. We recognize that everyone, regardless of gender identity, financial circumstance, race and ethnicity, deserves a more nourished, nurtured and supported postpartum experience. Our support groups offer a brave space for postpartum people to be in community with their peers, actively listen, share freely and show up as they are.
As we approach a year and a half into the global pandemic, families need to be seen, held and centered. We began offering drop-in peer support groups in Southern California in 2019 and have expanded our offerings in the virtual space to include support groups for pregnant people, toddler parents, parents with multiple children, and dads. We have a diverse set of facilitators: peers and birth work professionals who are passionate about working with postpartum people and their families. Accessibility is a core value and no one will be turned away.
Working with postpartum people for nearly two years has reinforced the need for community: a ring of trust, support and inclusion, especially during these times. Postpartum people deserve accessible peer support.
We’d love for you to join us. You can sign up for any of our offerings at our website and connect with us on Instagram. You belong. xx, Lauren