Stacey Porter is this Monday’s #MightyMama. She is the Ambassador Program Lead and Training Manager for 2020 Mom, a national non-profit organization that seeks to close gaps in maternal mental healthcare. Stacey’s strength is to provide compassion and empathy that is sometimes missing from our society. Stacey inspires others in both her professional and personal life. Stacey experienced the loss of her 25-week-old daughter, Delilah. Talking to other mothers who had experienced trauma and loss helped Stacey to heal and find strength. Stacey tries not to hold herself to the impossible perfect standards that the media sets up for mothers, which helps her keep the balance. She has two happy and healthy children, which also keep her going. Stacey’s message to other moms is to feel free to be themselves, to laugh at #epicfails, to stop striving for perfection and to give yourself a little break sometimes. For moms who are suffering from a loss of any kind, whether it’s the loss of a child or the loss of yourself, Stacey reminds you that there is a way back.
Keep reading for Stacey's full interview.
What is 2020 mom and how did you get involved?
"2020 Mom is a national non-profit organization that seeks to close gaps in maternal mental health care (MMH) by advocating for awareness and systems change for MMH. 2020 Mom provides collaboration with Postpartum Support International (PSI) in training clinical professionals in recognizing and treating maternal mental health conditions, such as prenatal or postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis, etc. We also offer toolkits and educational materials for communities.
I first got involved with 2020 Mom when I joined a maternal mental health coalition. The more I learned about maternal mental health, given my traumatic birth/ NICU experience and subsequent loss of my 25-week old daughter Delilah, and experiences that were shared with me from other mothers who had experienced trauma and loss, the more I saw maternal mental health as a central issue with tangents to all realms of pregnancy, motherhood, loss, and livelihood/ resilience. I was brought on as a contract staff member for 2020 Mom and my knowledge and passion on the subject and its complexities continue to grow deeper every day. I am part of a wide variety of things for 2020 Mom, including leading their Volunteer Ambassador Program, assisting the facilitation of the joint Maternal Mental Health Certification Training for Clinical Professionals that we do with PSI, and managing our MMH Innovation Awards Program."
What is your strength as a mom?
"My strength as a mom......hmmm, that's a difficult one. Honestly, there are many times where I don't feel as strong as I would like to be. Though I never suffered from a Perinatal Mood Disorder associated with any of my pregnancies, I certainly experienced maternal depression and anxiety issues that seemed to appear from nowhere a few years after the loss of my daughter. I continue to get help for these.
I believe that my strength is to provide the compassion and empathy that society needs; whether that is with my own children or within the community and the moms I work with who are suffering. I want to instill that in everyone I meet. I find strength is being open and honest about the topics that no one wants to talk about, because stigma is a major part of how we are interacting with each other. I also find strength in accepting the reality of life - I try very hard not to hold myself to the impossible perfect standards that the media set for motherhood, and that helps me to keep the balance. My children are happy and relatively healthy, and I am doing the best I can. That HAS to be ok. Things don't always work out the way you planned, and that has to be Ok because we are strong enough to adapt and still be a "good enough" mother. "Good enough" is not bad; it's the new Fabulous."
What do you hope to inspire in other moms out there?
"I hope to inspire moms with the validation to be themselves. Instead of comparing to others, find those that accept your "messy" house, and laugh with you when you have an #epicfail, and love you for nothing else than your endearing self, and I'm hoping that all of you who strive to operate at perfection levels like me can learn to give yourself a little break sometimes. It’s harder in practice than in words, but we are doing our best.
If you are suffering from loss of any kind, whether that's the loss of a child, the loss of yourself, know that there is a way back. When you're in crisis, it doesn't feel like it, but eventually you'll get a little room to breathe, and then a little more, and you'll find that you've made it from little steps to bigger ones, and then you'll have figured out how to navigate in your new normal (with help from others). The path we're on isn't always clear, but its there is meaning in it.
I also hope that moms will make conscious efforts to reach out to the new mom (whether first time parent or not) who looks like she may be struggling. Sometimes it just takes that one outreach to turn someone's life around, and we sometimes hide it so well you may not know what it means to him or her. Be kind to each other, and to yourself."
Ambassador Program Lead & Training Manager