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“Congratulations! Here’s your beautiful little girl!”

I reach out my arms and my cheeks widen to the tips of my ears like a little girl being handed a slice of cake. The nurse gently passes a wiggly bundle of blankets the size of a loaf of bread into the nook of my elbow, and I could have sworn my dreams and hopes for the future flashed before my eyes in that very moment.

From the inside, I became a new person. A mom. A nurturer, a protector. But from the outside, I was a child holding a child. I had no idea what being a mother truly meant.

Hours before, my labor and delivery nurse told my mother and me about how she started out as a teen mom with the dream of becoming an RN while being the best mom she could be. Although she did it, she sacrificed and was tired. But anything worth having takes hard work!

Over the course of the next few years, I swore that I would do the same thing. I put hours of hard work into school and being the best stay-at-home mom around. But the little mom who came alive when she laid eyes on her daughter began to lose her shine. I became so overwhelmed with the idea of being perfect that I forgot what it meant to be me.

I forgot to do what I can while remembering that I’m still young and I have much to learn. I forgot who I was. I never slowed down.

“Just stop worrying! Your daughter is fine!” Some nights I would call the Children’s Hospital nurses line three times before dawn. I would stay awake all night, pacing the floors or waking myself up to ensure my daughter was okay throughout the night. At my worst, I weighed a bare-bones 100 pounds.

It was at Hope House where I found counseling and came to terms with my Postpartum Depression. It’s not something many people like to talk about. There’s a sense of shame we carry when we’re not doing our best, when we’re sick.

It took a lot for me to admit I needed help and that it’s okay to take a break from school for my mental health and that it’s okay to need antidepressants. I’m thankful for the staff members I’ve grown close with at Hope House who never gave up on me and never judged me… who recognized how my personality and my pace may be different than others but they tried their best to support me anyway.

My eyes are still on the prize of being an RN IBCLC, but with curves, stop signs, and bumps along the way.

“~I exist as I am, and that is enough~.”

My advice to anyone who is struggling with depression, addiction, or abuse is to speak up and advocate for yourself. There’s only one you, and you are needed. Don’t give up!

Update on Jada:

Jada recently earned a Medical Assisting Certificate from Emily Griffith Technical College. She is currently working at an externship position at National Jewish Health, which will become a full-time job later this summer. Gabby just turned 4 and will start preschool in Denver this fall.