By Martelle Esposito
In our first post on The Launch Pad blog, we talk with Christine Mullan about her mom journey with her two young boys, ages 4 and 18 months. She’s empowered, she’s vulnerable, and we are so glad she took some time to talk with us.
What motivates you? Why?
Praise. That sounds a little juvenile as I say it out loud, but it's the truth. Being told I've done a good job, or that I've inspired someone, or really helped someone—it makes me feel like I could take on the world.
On the flip side, what discourages you? Why?
Criticism. I find it a little too easy to take any criticism to heart and let it discourage me. I could hear 100 good things and 1 bad, and that one bad thing makes me question everything I'm doing and have done.
Can you describe a time when you really felt your mom power?
The birth of my second son! My first child was born 2 weeks late after a 3-day induction in the hospital. I was so disappointed because I had been hoping for a natural birth. My second son, also 2 weeks late, was the exact opposite. He was born at 1:30 a.m. in my tiny pink bathroom after a 1.5 hour labor. I was standing over a toilet, and my husband Pat caught the baby. I remember saying "is he really out?" Then Pat put the baby in my arms, and he latched on to nurse right away. I felt pain, but I felt strong and ready. I knew I could do it, and I did. I felt like I was on the very top of the world for weeks after that. I still feel that way.
What advice do you have for other moms for unlocking their mom power?
Never let fear get in your way. Be unapologetically you. Be the parent you can be and want to be, and don't let anyone make you feel bad about it.
Do you think you have changed since becoming a mom?
I worked with moms and families before becoming a mom myself. I think I did a good job then, and I had some perspective because I raised my younger siblings. But, I don't think I truly understood the exhaustion, the pressure to know the right thing to do, and be able to do it until I became a mother myself.
If you could compare your mom journey to another experience, what would it be, and why?
Being a mom is like taking a long road trip. It's mind-numbing sometimes, and you're tired of driving, but you get to have cool experiences along the way, and you will look back fondly on all those memories. In the moment, you're punching your leg to stay awake, but later you say "wow, that was really great. Let's do it again."
As a social worker who works with moms, especially those considering adoption, would you say there are some experiences that are just universal mom experiences or feelings, good or bad?
I think all moms want the best for their children. They are always doing the best they can with what they have in any given moment.
Because Mothership is focusing on creating positive experiences with health care, we’d like to learn a little more about your own health care experiences. Have you ever had an experience with health care as a parent or otherwise where you were not treated the way you wanted to be treated?
Yes. After the birth of my first son, we went to our first follow-up appointment with his pediatrician. They made us wait for over 3 hours after 4 sleepless days in the hospital and breastfeeding challenges. The doctor came in and decided to give the baby a bottle, saying something about people wanting to feed babies with spoons and droppers like damn goats, and there's nothing wrong with a bottle. I remember I just sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks, feeling like a huge failure. Then, the baby burped and puked it all up, and I thought "see? you killed him!" A gentler approach would have made all the difference to me as a new mom. I'm proud to say we kept trying. We saw a lactation consultant the next day, and I went on to breastfeed for 18 months.
Shifting to positive experiences, have you had an experience with health care where someone exceeded your expectations?
Yes. I once accompanied a pregnant client to her appointment with a high-risk specialist. This woman was quite poor and did not speak English, and I had seen her be treated fairly but not enthusiastically by various other providers. This doctor spoke directly to my client and looked at her while she talked, even while using me or the phone service to translate. He explained carefully what was going on with her baby, and he let her know that everything would be all right. I was very moved by his actions.
Can you describe an experience with health care where someone made you feel like you were on top of the world?
After the accidental home birth of my second son, I went to a follow-up appointment with a different midwife. After hearing the birth story, she said, "wow, great job! That's amazing, good for you. You are so strong." Hearing her say those simple words out loud really made my week.