I've spoken to my kids about sharing this information, and they are of the same mind as I am - maybe their stories can help someone else - so they've given me permission to share these details here!
In 2006, I was blessed with a beautiful baby who was assigned female at birth. I had a slightly traumatic birthing experience where my medical providers didn't communicate things ahead of time, wouldn't allow me to move, then dismissed my pain and ignored my wishes. Once I delivered, though, I was smitten with my little angel and we went on with our lives together. I raised my child as a single mother before I got married (and now again after my divorce).
In his teenage years, my child told me he preferred they/them pronouns, several months later he told me he is transgender. We talk a LOT about his experiences and life in general, especially given recent political concerns since we live in Texas, and have a very open line of communication about all things. He is in treatment for anxiety, mostly related to school, but also related to communication.
In 2013, I was again blessed with a beautiful baby. I was in prodromal labor for 7 days, which was hell on my mental and physical well-being. Active labor was a breeze until I got to the hospital (for the 3rd time) and they found he was having d-cells. I was then, much like with my older kiddo, strapped into monitors, told to lay only on my left side and not allowed to move around. Once he was born, he spent time in the NICU, but was given a clean bill of health after 2 weeks. I took him home to be with the rest of our family. He had latching issues while breastfeeding, to the extent that my nipples were cracked/bleeding and the lactation consultant said even she wasn't sure how I kept going. I had supply issues with my milk, and the only medication that worked for my supply issues was banned (more to this story too!!!) after a couple of months on it. Having to advocate for what I needed was exhausting. Many people told me that giving up would be easier. I persisted and found a compounding pharmacy that would provide the medication. At this point I was feeling like a failure as a mother, which looking back doesn't seem right and should have been a sign - but you can't see that when you're in the moment!
I was very fortunate to have the OBGYN that I had, because she consistently pressed me on answers like "I'm doing fine" in my post-partum checkups. Without her applying that pressure, I don't think I would have admitted how exhausted and fatigued I was nor how I felt that I wasn't the kind of mother my child needed nor that I was having passively suicidal thoughts. She did, though, and I was honest. She referred me to a specialist who diagnosed post-partum depression and prescribed medication to help. And help it DID. I am forever grateful for the way this happened, because I was NOT going to seek out help on my own.
There are some funny stories about my company helping me ship my breastmilk, and some touching ones of people relating to me having PPD by sharing their own stories. Feel free to ask me to share!
After we got through all of that, we went on with our lives together.
When he was 5 years old, I noticed some odd physical movements/gestures, but my husband dismissed my concerns and punished our son when he wasn't able to stop doing them. After several months, he started having some vocalizations that he didn't seem to be aware of. At this point, I was in the middle of trying to enforce a separation and file for divorce. In 2019, I took him to a neurologist who diagnosed him with Tourette Syndrome. Armed with this, I was able to fight back against my now ex-husband on punishing him. I'm a strong advocate for him with the school and strangers and my own family. We are still working on various strategies to support him at home and at school, but it's an ever-developing process!
In 2022, I moved myself and my kids to be closer to my family both for local support AND to provide more support to my grandmother - this has already turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made! We had financial struggles because the old house took a full year to sell, but we were so much happier that it was worth the wait and the drain to the budget!!!
I parent my kids with very open honesty - if my kids ask a question (or question my decisions) I tell them the truth. That includes FACTS and also EMOTIONS and OPINIONS. They are allowed to disagree with me, but I expect them to be able to express themselves and tell me WHY they disagree - doesn't mean I will change a decision, but it's a conversation and not an edict. When they were little, I would yell if they were about to cross a street (ok fine, I still have to do that with my youngest sometimes), but that's about it. My kids have seen me cry at TV shows, mourn the losses in my life, get mad and be stompy for a bit or have princess-and-the-pea days, and I'm glad they've seen all of that. It means they know they too can express anything they want. They can tell me when they're just in a bad mood, or when they're sad for no reason (or FOR a reason!), or when they just feel like bouncing around like a little goofball b/c they have a lot of energy. All I can do is direct them and encourage them and help them learn from my own life experiences. I'm here to help them grow from their small selves into their adult selves, to help them understand the reasons and know to ask questions, and to find their place in the world along the way.