For our #WeAreWeCan campaign, we sat down with Christine Gironella Aque, age 32, to hear her story. After becoming a mom, Christine struggled with postpartum depression and breastfeeding—and the guilt and judgment that came along with them. Read our emotional conversation with Christine below to learn more about her story.
COULD YOU SHARE YOUR STORY WITH US AND TELL US ABOUT SOME OF YOUR STRUGGLES AS A WOMAN?
As a woman, one of the biggest struggles for me was becoming a mom. Growing up you are painted a picture of what motherhood will be like, but after having my daughter, I struggled with postpartum depression and I struggled with breastfeeding. There are so many classes to prepare you for having a child, but there is no prep or discussion about after having the baby. You are in pain after a long labor, and then you have to take care of a newborn—it's a lot on a person. Breastfeeding was the most difficult part for me. Not only was I struggling with my daughter, but I felt like I was being shamed for not feeding my daughter breastmilk and that I wasn't giving her the right nutrition by giving her formula. I felt I needed to put a cover over myself when feeding my daughter a bottle so people would think I was breastfeeding her. I also felt shamed about how I was choosing to raise her by receiving passive-aggressive comments. People may think they are just "trying to help," but in the long run those comments made my situation worse and really affected my PPD.
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND STRENGTH AND SUPPORT THROUGH YOUR EXPERIENCE?
I found strength by speaking openly about my struggles with PPD and breastfeeding. If someone asked me how I was doing, I would tell them them the truth. That I wasn't doing okay, and that I was tired and struggling with PPD. Some moms-to-be would ask me how my labor and delivery went, and how my PP was, and I would tell them the honest truth. I wouldn't sugar-coat anything. I initially was going to seek professional help for my PPD, however, I was in the process of moving, and thought I would seek care in the city we were moving to. We moved back to our hometown, and I found support through my family and friends. I felt more at home and felt genuine care from them. I didn't feel the "alone" or "sad" feeling anymore. Talking to them really helped me overcome my PPD.
DID YOU FIND SUPPORT OR ADVICE FROM OTHER WOMEN?
I did. I found the support/advice from my other mama friends. All had different experiences, and some had similar experiences to mine. When I heard their stories, I realized they had gone through it alone and had never been asked how they were doing or if they needed help or just wanted to talk. When sharing our stories it felt good to know I wasn't alone and other women felt that same way as I did.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER OTHER MOMS WHO MAY BE IN A SIMILAR SITUATION?
My advice is to communicate and ask for help. I was very prideful and never wanted to ask for help, but I learned without asking or getting my voice heard, I won't get the answers I am looking for. You also don't need to always follow what people say because it may not work for you. I appreciated the parenting advice people gave me, but I also listened to what my daughter needed and based my actions off of that. It was, and still is, a learning experience. I learn new things about my daughter everyday.
WHO IS A WOMAN THAT INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?
This is a hard question for me, because I have so many women that inspire me. But there are two that stand out to me. My sister, Roseann, and one of my best friends, Nicole. My sister and I are very close in age, and it was her and I growing up. We were each others rock and headache! My mom got really sick, and ultimately my sister was my "motherly" role model, even though she isn't that much older than me. She had her son at a young age and I admired her strength to take care of him at such a young age. She is my rock! My friend Nicole is the pure definition of GIRL BOSS! Even thought she is younger than me, she has accomplished so much thus far, and I only wish I was as motivated as she is. She not only works and owns her own business, but she is also a mother! She is so busy, yet she still manages to spend time with friends and family. She is definitely someone I look up to and want to follow in her footsteps.
WHY IS SHARING YOUR STORY IMPORTANT?
Sharing my story is important to me because I want other women to know they are not alone. That you might be thinking these thoughts, and you might think, "Am I crazy? Why do I feel this way?" I want other women to know that you are not "crazy" and you are not weak. You are strong, beautiful, and confident. It's okay to stand up for yourself and your child. You are an amazing mother and your child is lucky to have you as a mom. I want other women to know that talking and reaching out really helps!