Women Empowerment Stories
with Emilia Ortega-Jara, LCSW, Rosalia RIvera, Pam Covarrubias, Angie Rojo, and Dr. Lydiana Garcia
My Personal Journey
As most of you know, my name is Dr. Lydiana Garcia. I'm a licensed psychologist and I'm the host of The Beyond Resilience Life Podcast. I'm also a mentor, and a coach for therapists in their own journey.
What's been one of the hardest challenges you've overcome as a woman? And how do you do it?
I'm going to talk about one situation I had recently. My daughter was born in the beginning of the pandemic. I was not concerned of any issues specifically with breastfeeding because I did it with my firstborn without any major issue for two years. To tell the super long story short, it wasn’t the same, it actually was quite challenging. I started worrying around week six because she would latch and unlatch for a month or so. I then called a friend who is a lactation consultant and she was our guest on the episode about lactation and breastfeeding, her name is Jacqueline Kincer. She’s the owner of Holistic Lactation and now she even has a supplement she formulated, which is awesome. I called Jacqueline and expressed my concerns, and that Luna was also having a lot of colic, lots of gases that you would even see her complain about her belly. I sent Jacqueline a picture of Luna’s lack and she said it was fine, but then she also asked all the questions about my daughter’s tongue position or if there was any drooling, because one of her hypotheses was that she may have a tongue tie. To continue to tell the super long story short, it was confirmed that my daughter had a tongue tie, and the recommendation of Jacqueline and the others was to do the frenectomy. Because that would help not only with the breastfeeding, but with a lot of other health concerns.
My son most likely had some issues with the tongue tie but he was an avid breastfeeder, so I didn't necessarily notice significant issues then. But just three months prior to my daughter's birth, he had tonsillectomy because he developed sleep apnea in late 2019. Part of the hypothesis is that he does have a tongue tie which probably got in the way of his breathing, and he also had asthma as a baby. I don’t want it to go the same route with my daughter so doing the procedure would be better. The professionals also recommend that you do them when they’re baby because you have to do this horrendous tongue exercises.
I honestly wish I would have gone back and research a little bit more about how sustainable it would be and my level of ability to do all of that. After the surgery, about every four to six hours, you have to literally get there and push her tongue back so that way, you’re trying to prevent it to adhere back. You can imagine during the day with a baby that just had that procedure, and to do the flexing of her tongue every four to six hours. Also, the place that I went didn't give me any pain management. I'm so thankful for Jacqueline that even though she works in Arizona, she was able to provide me the pain management protocol that she uses with her clients, and that helped a lot. But still, that was very intense. There were times when the tongue exercises would not match with when she would wake up. Just imagine waking up in the middle of the night and a baby who’s in deep sleep, but you have to wake them up too, that was so hard. It was also because during those four weeks, my sleep was impaired because I also have an older kiddo and with very limited help, so that was so challenging.
The thing is that I had this idea that as soon as I did that frenectomy that my daughter would just come and nurse magically. But that did not happen, it actually made it worse because now she's not latching at all. I not only had to do the tongue exercises but then I started to turn into a pumping mom basically. I tried all these different exercises as taking her to craniosacral, to many different experts and chiropractors, and just put in consideration in the midst of COVID. There’s that worry that you're exposing your baby, but at the same time you're like, well, I need to get this treatment. But everybody kept saying that they honestly don't have any idea what to do with her. She would get very agitated in any of those treatments and will start to cry and scream and really hard to soothe, perhaps because she was in pain. She had like a lot of tension in her neck because the tongue tie can also be related to attention in other areas of your body.
Eventually, I got tired of all the money, time, and sacrifices, and to keep hearing the experts that they have no idea what to do with my daughter. It was that moment that I let go of trying for her to latch. I continued to pump even though she’s not feeding my milk at the beginning because she had so much colic, and it was like stomach ache. I thought it was something that I was eating and all the different diets that breastfeeding moms go through. I was freezing this milk and I was giving her formula. This is also something that really concerns me because my son did not taste even one bottle of formula, but here’s my daughter who is still a baby and already drinking formula milk. Then there were nights that she would wake up at midnight and will not go back to sleep unless she would sleep on you on the sofa and this happened for a month, so me and my husband would alternate because again, we did not have any other family member with us at that time. And then having to attend an older child. So I was spent, I was fried, I was so tired.
But then there was one day when my daughter refused formula, and I thought of giving her my milk. And then it switched that I would pump and give her my milk. But then I don't know if I can sustain being a pumping mom, because of all the stressors, so I just released it and thought I might just do this until I get tired. And magically, the day that we moved to our new place back in August, I forgot to pack some parts of the pump and I don't think I even had the formula with me. So I was like, you know what, let me try and I put her and she latched magically. And from that day on, I'm breastfeeding until now that she's nine months.
That whole experience of going through completely releasing, and being almost six weeks without her latching at all, and then for her to relax on her own without any expert at that moment, it was like something that I never thought would have been possible. And I'm sharing this story because this story has taught me so much about that whole aspect of releasing, just letting it go, and then let whatever needs to happen, will happen.
What's a message or recommendation for other women that are going through adversity?
For other women that are going through adversities, here’s what I would say, it is transient. I remember wanting to share this story before but holding because it was still a bit raw for me and it was so much traumatizing, everything that happened when she was a newborn up to around four months that I was still in the midst of processing it all and trying to integrate and work through it. When I was at that point in my life, I remember how the nights were so dark and got to thinking if I will ever feel different again. If I will ever feel balanced or if I can do it with two kids while also distance learning. There’s those kind of aspects and fears, and I couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel.
The only thing that kept me going without going insane, besides using coping skills and my husband’s support, was remembering that my son grew up. I realized that he did not stay in that not-sleeping-stage forever, and I realize that it too shall change, it too shall become something else, my daughter won't stay two months or nine months forever. That idea of things will change provided me a sense of comfort. And that's what I want to let you all with, to have that idea that things do change.
And the other thing is finding, even if it's just one person that can remind that things do change, someone who can bring that light, even if you only see a faint light. Find that person who can remind you of that because that is so helpful.
Share any upcoming project and where people can find you.
In terms of the events, I created a six-month mentorship program for psychotherapist who are looking to untap their inner power and intuition, and to release internalized patterns that probably were learned not only via collective trauma, but also by completing graduate school and having supervisors that were not attuned to their needs, and to the cultural differences or to systemic oppression. The aim of this program is for them to be able to let go of all of that, and to tap into their own intuition and voice, and create the practice that is aligned to themselves. The last day I'll be conducting the discovery calls for the Mentorship Program is on March 26th. You can click HERE to learn more about it.
Here are some of the struggles and lessons that our amazing guests shared:
- Honoring the feminine energy. This includes resting, using your own cycles, Moon cycles, menstrual cycles, to plan ahead and not always be on a go-go.
- Listening to themselves, to their bodies, the body before business, the health before anything else, and the importance of it.
- The importance of finding and connecting to a community and the connection to our ancestors, our inner spiritual beliefs and where we come from.
- Decolonizing yourself and letting those patterns away of oppression.
- Healing and working not only on your own body healing, but also mind and spirit.
- Speaking up when you need to and how often we don't speak up as women.
- And the last thing that I heard from all this amazing women, is asking for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is actually a sign of strength because cannot do everything on our own.
My hope is that you were able to identify with at least one person, one narrative, one story, and to know that you're not alone. I wish you that this month, you have to take some time to rest, to speak up, to ask for help, and to get the support that you need.