Ep. 297 – Preparing for Your Second Child: Interview with Erica Djossa

March 11, 2024

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Laura and Shanna dive into the topic of how to prepare for your second child with Erica Djossa, CEO and founder of Momwell and the author of the upcoming book “Releasing the Mother Load: How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More.” Erica answers listener questions about evening out the mental load before baby arrives, handling concerns about loving your new baby as much as your first, preparing for a second child after having experienced postpartum depression and anxiety the first time around and more. Also, Laura checks in about her family’s rainy week, and Shanna reports on handling her 5-year-old’s anxiety about riding on the softball parade float. Finally, they share their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Shanna’s kids are 5 and 8 years old, and Laura’s kids are 5 years old and 3 years old.

 

Learn more about Erica Djossa!

Visit Erica’s website

Order Erica’s book

Follow Erica’s Instagram

Listen to Erica’s Podcast

 

Topics discussed in this episode:

-Losing items at school

-Handling your child’s anxiety and clingy behavior

-Preparing for a second child

-How to even out the mental load before your second child arrives

-Feeling guilt that you can’t give as much to your second child as you did your first

-Preparing for your second child when you experienced postpartum depression and anxiety the first time around

-How can you show your kids equal love?

-Kids filming dramatic scenes

-Feeling sad that you never had a son

 

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Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey podcast is hosted by Laura Birek and Shanna Micko and produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

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Episode Transcript

[MUSIC]

Shanna: Hi, welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. On this week’s episode, we have our weekly check-ins. We have our special segment, part two of our interview with Erica Djossa, where she answers listener questions. And we wrap it up with our weekly BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get started.

Shanna: Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 297. Hey, Laura. How are you? What’s going on in your world?

Laura: Well, it’s been a pretty chill week. As you know, it’s been a very rainy week here in Los Angeles. We had another atmospheric river come on through and it was super, super rainy, but thankfully not catastrophically so in our area. We just were damp. We weren’t flooded or anything, which is good. I will say that if you recall the umbrella story from a few weeks ago.

Shanna: I do.

Laura: My mom win where I found Sebastian’s lost truck umbrella. Well, lost is being generous to myself. I left it on the top of my car and drove away and a good Samaritan found it and saved it for us. If you recall, I bought a replacement umbrella with the space theme on it in a panic to placate my very sad son. The good news about finding this other umbrella is that I can return the space one, right? Well, I am very glad that didn’t happen.

Shanna: Oh, no.

Laura: I actually posted it to one of my mom’s groups. I was like, does anyone want this? It’s super rainy. You can save me the return and you can have it right away. But no one jumped on it. I was like, I guess I got to do this return. Until on day three of rain, Augie comes back from school and I was like, did you leave your umbrella at school? Like what happened to your umbrella? And Corey was like, we couldn’t find it anywhere. Are your kids like this? That school is like a black hole for water bottles, jackets. This is no like shade on the school. The school does a great job trying to like get all the lost and found stuff together. But if Augie comes home with everything he arrived at school with on a given day, it’s a miracle.

Shanna: Yes. So many water bottles, lost. The lost and found area at our school is enormous. It looks like a rack at TJ Maxx. There are so many things hanging. There are tons of water bottles. We’ve totally found our kids lost stuff there before, but you have to pick through so much stuff.

Laura: Oh yeah, when I finally go visit the lost and found, I’ll like have to make sure I have a bag with me because I have like four jackets, three water bottles. And I’m at the point where I have to like go buy more water bottles because we’re kind of running out, you know?

Shanna: Oh, it’s a problem.

Laura: Anyway, the umbrella got lost at the school. I don’t know where it, I’m sure it’s somewhere. It has his name on it, but we couldn’t find it. And I should mention that this was the second umbrella he had lost in a row because he took both truck umbrellas to school. So the next day raining again and they both wanted umbrellas and we didn’t have either of the truck umbrellas, the ones that had caused all this problem years ago. But I did have the space umbrella. And of course, Augie was like, I want it, I want it. And I was like, no, no, no, no, you lost two umbrellas already this week at school. Sebastian gets his space umbrella. But anyway, here is a picture of Sebastian rocking the space umbrella that I guess is ours now.

Shanna: Oh, that’s nice and big.

Laura: It’s because he’s small.

Shanna: Oh, okay, gotcha, gotcha.

Laura: He’s a petite fellow. It looks big, but it’s really just a little toddler size umbrella.

Shanna: I don’t know what happened, but Cece has developed some kind of a version to bringing her umbrella to school. She used to love it. And as you mentioned, this week was extremely rainy. And she was just like, no, I can’t bring it. Like, I’m not allowed to bring it. And I was like, what? And I didn’t I couldn’t get the story from her if like maybe she opened it in class or like swung it around and whacked someone and got reprimanded. What exactly happened? But she was just like, no, mama, I can’t bring my umbrella. I’m not allowed to bring my umbrella. I’m just like, all right, fine, I guess. Like, go get wet. So that was kind of a weird turn of events.

Laura: I will say kids’ ability to use umbrellas effectively are marginal, right?Like it’s, you know, it’s more like an accessory than it is an actual tool to keep rain off their bodies, in my experience.

Shanna: And they truly are more like weapons when they’re like the big long ones, you know, we’ve got like the long ones, we don’t have the compact that kind of folds up small.

Laura: You bring the sides down and suddenly they have like a bat in their hands.

Shanna: Like, no wonder the teacher doesn’t want them bringing those to school.

Laura: 100 percent. Ours have become pew pews, you know.

Shanna: Too funny.

Laura: But yeah, that’s pretty much my check in for this week. We were pretty much stuck indoors because of the rain and just tried to make the most of it. All right. How about you? What were you up to this week?

Shanna: Well, we managed to make it outside. The rain cleared up by the weekend. And I was so happy because this Saturday we did our softball opening day parade for the girls. Cece has signed up for softball. The season has officially begun. And we decorated that float and rode on into the fields and had a blast.

Laura: So it’s just Cece’s season right now? What about Elle?

Shanna: Elle has decided to take a break from softball. She’s not doing it this season and she’s focusing on tumbling. She’s signed up for like a year of tumbling and she’s really into that. And Cece tried tumbling for a little bit, but didn’t take to it quite as much. And she just kept asking me to sign her up for softball. And I have come to the point where I’m like, I am following their lead on this stuff. If they show interest, that’s what we’re going for. So yeah, I signed her up for 6U softball, the same league we were at last year. I’m happy to report I am still in my season of doing less. I did not volunteer for Team Mom. I am willing to help out where I can, of course.

Laura: Good for you. I am fully supportive of this.

Shanna: Thank you. Thank you. I did volunteer our home to have the entire team come over a week before the parade to get together and think of ideas and do crafts and stuff. But then Cece got sick that day, so we had to cancel.

Laura: Always. This is what always happens.

Shanna: I know. So that was a bit of a bummer. But I mentioned this parade last year when the girls did it for the softball season.

Laura: Is this that really big parade with all the teams and you drive a pretty long distance and people went all out last year, right?

Shanna: Yes. Yes, that’s what it is. So every team in the league from six-year-olds up to 18-year-olds, all these different teams have to create a float for the opening day parade. So we have to get a truck or a trailer, deck it out with a theme, decorations for your team’s theme. There’s a contest for best float for each division. And then we all line up. We’re led by the fire truck, fire department, and there’s police. It’s a whole thing. And we drive maybe two miles through the neighborhood and down to the softball field where we have a whole opening day festivities. So last year you were super involved, if I recall. I was super involved. I was team mom. I didn’t know this was coming. I tried to throw everything together at the last minute. I was extremely sick. I had no voice. I had sinus infection. It was horrible. And we started like six in the morning. So it was just like, ah. But this year was way more relaxed. I knew what to expect. I wasn’t the lead on anything. And it was really a nice way to be involved, just to enjoy and decorate things with the other parents and have fun.

Shanna: But I started sensing Cece being really nervous and scared about going on this float alone without me, you know, because it’s like you can’t have all the parents on there. You have like a coach and a team mom or whatever. And she’s, you know, she gets clingy to me sometimes when she’s nervous. That’s something we are working on together. And I had let the coach know about this tendency of hers, like a couple weeks ago, like that, you know, she might get worried if I’m not on the field and blah, blah, blah. And so when I was sensing that she was not going to go on this float, I asked the coach if maybe I could ride, too, because I’m like a cleared volunteer with the league and everything with my past involvement. And he said yes. So I was like, Oh, my God, yay, like, Cece will be able to participate. So we hopped on and did the ride and she had a blast. It was so fun. Their team color is blue and they’re the blue diamonds. So we were all like decked out in diamonds and blue and bedazzled stuff.

Shanna: It’s so charming. It just reminds me how sweet this league is and how much the parents really put into celebrating the girls and making them feel special. And I really love that.

Laura: So fun.

Shanna: Yeah. But yeah, that’s the highlight of our week. I think maybe we should wrap up the check ins and get to our special segment.

Laura: Yes, we should.

[MUSIC]

Laura: Okay, we are back, and our special segment this week is our second part of our interview with Erica Djossa, founder of Momwell and author of the forthcoming book Releasing the Mother Load, How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More. Hi, Erica.

Erica Djossa: Hi, thanks for having me back. I’m so excited.

Laura: We are so excited. We absolutely loved last week’s interview, and we’re really excited to have you on this episode because we got a lot of listener questions. We put out a call asking if anyone had any questions for you, and we specifically asked for questions about adding a new baby to the family, specifically a second or third or fourth or fifth baby, because we get a lot of questions about how to prepare for subsequent children. So we should probably just dive right in because we have a lot of questions. Shanna, do you want to ask the first question?

Shanna: Yes. So we got a couple questions from listeners that are on the same line. So Margaret and Laura asked this question. I’m pregnant with my first child and I would love advice on how to even out and reduce the mental load when the baby arrives. What recommendations do you have for setting routines with your partner before having a baby and having an equitable and happy partnership while parenting?

Erica Djossa: I just love that they’re even considering this at this stage. Because this was the stage in my new mom journey where I was gearing up to just prove how perfect I could be in my role. So the fact that this is even on your radar is just so exciting and encouraging to me. One of the things that I think is just so simple is not assuming any person owns any task. And that is also the caregiving task. So nighttime wakings and who researches certain milestones and who researches bottles or the formula or who keeps track of appointments and things like that. Being really honest with yourself and with each other about if you’re defaulting into those roles and how to share it out more equitably in the home. So a lot of pushback I get in the early stages is around things like feeding and night wakings. All of the things that the protests and things start to come up like I’m the one who’s breastfeeding.

Erica Djossa: So I’m the only one who can get up at nighttime or I’m the only one that can soothe the baby and things like that. And that might be true. And I am supportive of your breastfeeding journey. I also breastfed all three of my boys. And there is a way to share this load that maybe my partner actually used to bring my son into me. So he would have the monitor. He would monitor for wake ups and things. And then he would bring the baby to me. I would nurse. Then he would take the baby back to the burping, do the diaper change, do the getting back to sleep.

Erica Djossa: And so my sleep was minimally disrupted so that I could protect a chunk of my own sleep for my own mental health. And so there are some really strong role and gender assumptions in the postpartum period that we think moms need to fill and embody. And all of them, they’re all up for questioning and negotiation at this point. And the book that I’ve written, Releasing the Mother Load, has a ways to do this even this early on, or even in the trying to conceive stages when we’re carrying all the load ourselves, it can start so early.

Erica Djossa: But it’s just encouraging that you’re aware that this is something you should work on together as a team. And I’m sure that with open, honest conversations, you can find a groove that works for you.

Erica Djossa: I love this idea of like, trying to find creative places to transfer the load onto your partner. Because like you said, by default, there’s so much that you do kind of have to do. You know, you can’t detach your boobs and put them on your partner. So they have if you’re breastfeeding, you are going to have to do that. But like you said, all the stuff around it, you don’t have to do. And there’s so many places you can try to creatively find those spaces where your partner can step in. But I think the point you make in the book and it’s really an aha moment is like you have to actually look for these things or else they do start defaulting to you, especially if your partner doesn’t have parental leave, especially if you’re the one home all the time with your child. So I love how your book has those load maps so you can actually look through and be like, oh, like you could almost like highlight this one you could do this one you could do.

Erica Djossa: And when we believe hook line and sinker that we should be the person responsible, there is no creative problem solving. All problem solving in our brain gets turned off when we’re like, this is mine, this is mine to own. So it’s like I can’t share feeding because I’m breastfeeding like there are elements of that that are true. And again, as somebody who breastfed three children for you know, this equals years of life that I spent breastfeeding. There are parts of it that are a load unto themselves and I can only go away for certain windows of time and it does feel a little bit smothering at times. But when I’m realizing I don’t have to own every aspect of this, then I’m going to creatively look for places that my partner can take ownership over. And that doesn’t happen when we are just falling into these assumed roles and gender assignment and role assignments.

Erica Djossa: So just opening that up and realizing that there are parts they can’t own, but there are parts that they can having some flexibility in our thinking there. And then, like you said, handing over the things to them that they can. Maybe they are on all the pump and bottle and formula prep or putting the milk bag in the cup to defrost the breast milk that’s frozen. Like all the duties, all the other duties that free you up to be able to feed but also not drown in the load that comes with it.

Laura: And you know, I found that when I had my second son, the happy side effect of not having as much time, you know, because I have this older son, is that my partner did have to jump into some roles that he didn’t really occupy before. I had even kind of hoarded before, right? Like those are my jobs. When you have a second kid, you kind of have no choice but to let go of some of it.But it reminds me of how I felt kind of bad about how I didn’t have as much time for my second kid as I did for my first kid.And we had a listener who has a similar question. Erin asked us, how do you deal with guilt that you cannot give as much to your second child as your first?

Erica Djossa: Yeah, it’s a really legitimate question. I remember having these moments pregnant with my second and then even more so with my third, my poor little guy, my poor little third. Where I’m like, I haven’t even thought about this pregnancy today. I’ve been so detached from my body. I’m chasing two small children around. And, you know, the guilt really creeps in because we think that we are not doing a good job. And to me, this comes back to our beliefs about what it means to be a good mom.

Erica Djossa: Did me sitting there for hours on end with my second or third baby thinking about the pregnancy make me a good mom to them? Did me being able to give every waking undivided moment and attention make me a good mom to them? These are not the things that make us good moms. These are not, according to research, the things that form a strong and secure attachment with our child. And so realizing that and tapping into the things that we are doing that are meaningful and giving ourselves some grace that we are trying our best and that we are still prioritizing our values and our connection with our child so they don’t get your undivided attention all the time. But you’re still building an amazingly beautiful bond and connection with them.

Erica Djossa: You separate out their maybe nighttime tuck-ins and get really good, close time with them reading a book or snuggles or hearing about their day, like depending on how old they are, you know. And it’s okay in order for that child to be secure and healthy and grow and thrive. They don’t have to have 100% of your attention 100% of the time. That’s not at all backed by research. And I think that if we can recognize that and give ourselves grace, we can take a deep breath and realize that it’s okay. We’re not messing them up or we’re not cheating them out of anything. It’s okay.

Shanna: Yes, absolutely. Our next question is from Sammy. Sammy says, I had postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety with my first, and all I remember is how awful that time was. I’m due with my second in April and can’t help but feel dread. How do I mentally prepare for another newborn and the anxiety and sleepless nights that come with it? Do I just have to push through or is there a way to thrive and feel love for a baby during that time?

Erica Djossa: I so know this feeling of dread that you’re describing and I can relate to it in my own experience. And this is actually such a common onboarding time for clients of mine in the maternal mental health space is that they’ve had a very negative experience the first time around. They’re preparing for a second and they want it to be different than the first time was. And one of the things that I will say is you do not just have to grit and bear and push through. And in fact, depression and anxiety can outrun our resilience to try and just bear through. It can persist for three years postpartum sometimes. So I don’t ever recommend just trying to buckle down and ride it out. There are some really practical, tangible things that can be done to plan to do it differently.

Erica Djossa: I don’t know what your support system looks like, but prioritizing maternal sleep, I have like a 15 to 20 page free be on this on momwell.com on ways that you can prioritize maternal sleep because sleep is so linked to postpartum depression and anxiety. And often what we find is we go into hyper vigilance and we’re checking the monitor and we’re waking every couple of hours. You know, baby’s not sleeping and we’re just overly tuned in and our brain doesn’t settle and we don’t get the restorative rest that we need.

Erica Djossa: So one of the first things that you can do that’s super tangible, gather your support system around, come up with a plan that prioritizes your sleep. Whether that looks like a weekend, a grandparents going to come and you’re going to, if you’re pumping, you know, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re going to pump for one of those feeds so that you don’t have to wake up and you get that solid five or six hour stretch and they’re going to take over.

Erica Djossa: Maybe that looks like being flexible with your feeding approach and integrating some combo feeding so that you can prioritize your sleep. In retrospect, having exclusively breastfed all three of my boys at the cost of my mental health sometimes, if I were to do it again, which I definitely will not, but if I were to, I would, I would welcome formula for chunks of sleep for me. And that’s okay. Flexibility around our expectations about feeding and night wakings is a really big piece of us prioritizing our mental wellness. So a sleep plan to me is an absolute must.

Erica Djossa: And then there are other pieces about your own personalized journey here with postpartum depression and anxiety that if I were your therapist, I would be curious about, you know, like, how did you feel connected and supported by your partner? Like, what’s your relationship satisfaction? Like, what is your history with anxiety and depression before this? And have you ever been on medication? If you have, would proactive medication be a good fit for you? If you’ve had success with it in the past, like there’s so many other levers and variables that we could pull on here that could set you up to be more resilient going into this next postpartum. And if you’re unsure about how to take those steps on your own, we have a whole team of maternal mental health therapists who do this all the time. And you can check out momwell.com to learn more about that.

Shanna: Such wonderful advice. I love the idea of wrapping your mind around prioritizing sleep before you have that baby. I mean, that really caught me off guard. My breastfeeding journey was so difficult. I was up hours feeding, then pumping, then the baby was crying. I got to the point where her pediatrician looked at me and was like, you need to get more sleep, lady. He demanded that my husband take over feedings. I could have thought about that ahead of time and planned. So such great advice.

Laura: I feel like this also goes back to the discussion we had in the last episode about values and identifying your values and how it will guide you in parenting, because it will help you determine how important it is that you are the exclusive breastfeeder, right? Is that important or is it important for your child to have a mother who’s not drowning in anxiety and depression? And I’m not saying, as our listeners know, Erica, I have been breastfeeding for five years now nonstop. So I am not a person who is anti-breastfeeding or some kind of like bottle feeding advocate, like quite the opposite. I’m very supportive of people in their breastfeeding journey, but not at the expense of their mental health. Like it’s so important. I also love that you mentioned this in the book there was that study that was done about the inpatient anti-depressant that was recently approved, right, for severe postpartum depression. I can’t remember the name of it.

Erica Djossa: Braxalone or something along those lines.

Laura: Yeah, yeah. And in order to get this treatment, you have to go and be an inpatient, right, for a week or something at least. And they also had a placebo group, right? But what the placebo group did is they also went to be an inpatient just without the medication. And they also got better because they just got some sleep, which I think is so telling.

Erica Djossa: Yeah, it is such an important piece that we don’t think about. And weaving back into this good mom conversation we’ve been having, feeding is often one of the first challenges in our motherhood role that we think, I’m going to stare this head on and take this on and I’m going to exclusively breastfeed.

Erica Djossa: And like mine went to the extreme of I’m going to exclusively breastfeed and I’m not going to use pacifiers and I’m going to be the one to get up for every night waking and be the one to soothe. And in our mothering culture right now, that is very intensive mothering driven, which is a sort of research based term talking about the norms and beliefs of this time of mothering, this era that we’re in. One of the myths or like the beliefs that are so prevalent is that I am the best biologically suited to care for my child. I’m the one, it’s me. And so when we really have internalized that, we think that we’ve got to be the one to feed. We’ve got to be the one to get up that we’ve got to sacrifice our sleep and do everything at a cost of ourselves to center baby.

Erica Djossa: And I’m not talking about centering moms over babies. I’m talking about putting your needs and centering your needs on equal playing field as your baby. So it’s important for your baby to have a bath and to be clean and feel cozy before bed. It’s important for you to have a shower today, mom, to feel good in your body. It’s important for your child to have a nap and to have sleep and to have some sleep routine and some sleep hygiene to settle down for the day. It’s important for you to also have some sleep and get your sleep needs met. And so there’s sometimes there’s a lot of pushback from the exclusive breastfeeding community when we talk about being flexible around feeding. But ultimately, mothering at a cost of ourselves is burning out our most important resource, which is us, right, for these for these kids. And we have to meet our needs and preserve ourself for this marathon that we are running. We can’t burn ourselves out in the first few months. Like, we got a long ways to go here.

Laura: Yes, indeed. It’s important. It’s important to also put our needs on equal playing field of our kids and the rest of our family. I think it’s so interesting how it feels revolutionary to say that you’re putting your own needs on an equal playing field with your child. But it does, you know, and it’s saddens me so much that the narrative around motherhood has gotten to the point where moms consider it a bonus or self care, you know, like a like a spa day just to be able to take a shower or just be able to poop by themselves. You know, things that should be a given.

Erica Djossa: Yeah, I think that often what we hear is or we see is this really self martyring vision of motherhood where it’s everyone comes before us and we take care of everyone’s needs and sometimes it’s even like a pride in doing that, right? Like it’s a badge of honor to wear. And then there’s this other discourse that happens around putting your needs first, putting yourself first. And I think that that actually really grates on our skin and feels like too much of a pendulum swing. And what I advocate for is not putting our needs out in the forefront ahead of our family or ahead of our children. Like that doesn’t that feels counterintuitive to me. Like that doesn’t feel like something I want to do. It starts to feel selfish. It starts to feel self centered.

Erica Djossa: I mean, there are times in life where maybe we do that and there are times in my work life where maybe I put my work life ahead of my family life. So there’s nothing wrong in doing that sometimes. But it’s a big leap to ask of moms often. So putting our needs on equal playing field or giving them a seat at the table, as I describe in the book, is a more common ground that we can find that it’s like, hey, I’m not saying let’s be first here, but I’m saying we can’t be last. We’re burning ourselves out. Let’s just put ourselves, bring a seat to the table. We all have needs here and they’re all important. And it’s healthy for our family to make sure that everyone in the families, all their needs are getting met.

Shanna: Absolutely. Okay, Erica, our next question is from Kelsey, and she asked something that I really felt and worried about when I was pregnant with my second. So I really relate to her question here. She says, I’m due with a baby girl in June and I have a 19 month old son. My brain can’t wrap my head around how I could love another being as much as my son. Everyone says, don’t worry, you will. So I’ve pushed that worry aside. But the bigger question is, how do I show both kids equal love? Especially in the beginning when my attention will have to be on the newborn. I don’t want my son to feel less love. It actually gets me choked up thinking he could feel that way. Any tips on this? And can you even explain what this dual love feels like?

Erica Djossa: It’s such a relatable experience. And I think that I definitely went through this more with my second, like going from my first and adding my second, than I did from my second to my third because I saw how it played out and had that experience, you know, that perspective. But I would just say one, this is like a really natural, understandable, valid feeling to have. And it’s really difficult when we are comparing our 18-month-old or our two-year-old, three, four-year-old, and all of the life we’ve lived and the memories we have and the context and the moments built to a person we haven’t even met yet. And it is okay that the bond with the new baby that is coming does not feel as deep and as rich as does with your first child because you had 18 months or 24 months or whatever to foster that relationship. And that’s why it feels so deep and so colorful and so big, you know.

Erica Djossa: So if we take it from like ground zero where we’re meeting this human and we know by the time they reach 18 months or two years, three years, that that love will have caught up because we’ll have grown through all of those pieces with them. That’s okay. We’re starting from day one. And day one does not have to compare to day whatever with your first child. It’s going to take some time and you’re going to get that in the newborn days. You’re going to get some of that time and the cuddles and get to know each other and get to know each other’s temperaments and personalities. And it will evolve and grow from there.

Erica Djossa: There is a very prevalent sort of myth that we will fall head over heels and have this same level of attachment, you know, upon seeing our child. And I’m just going to burst that one out the gate here. Like, we’re setting ourselves up for some disappointment if we think that’s how we should feel, because that’s just ultimately not usually the reality. Sometimes it is, but sometimes we have traumatic births. And sometimes we see this human and we’re like, who are you? I don’t know. It’s nice to meet you, but I feel like we’re strangers, you know? And it’s okay.

Erica Djossa: It’s like we’re having our first date with this little human in this, like, all the liquids and all the blood and all my legs and strips and people staring up my vagina. Like it’s not really the environment to really start a whole love fest situation. So give yourself some grace and know that the richness will come as you live through those experiences also with your second.

Laura: Absolutely. Shanna, do you have a way to describe what the dual love feels like? I’ve been thinking about this ever since I saw this question. Or Erica, I suppose I should ask our guest as well.

Erica Djossa: Yeah, when it comes to the dual love piece, let me think on that and I’ll expand on that. The ending piece there about the dual love, I think that the fear is or the idea or the belief there underpinning that question might be that we only have room in our hearts for one love that’s all consuming, right? And I’m just not sure that that’s how human connection and relationship works, that one person takes up all the space. I mean, the loves might be different or they have their own flair, they have their own context. And my love with each of my three boys, I would say, is so different from each other and somehow also the same. I don’t know how that makes any sense.

Erica Djossa: But the belief there sounds like it kind of actually sounds like the intensive mothering beliefs we’ve been talking about, that I should give all of who I am and all my time and all my attention and all my resources into my child, because that’s what makes me a good mom and that’s what’s going to make them thrive and flourish. But I don’t think they need all 100% of you 100% of the time. And you have lots of room in that heart to expand for a new child and to get to know them. And that love is actually going to be different in a lot of ways. And your attachment with them is probably going to feel different in a lot of ways. And that’s OK. And that’s totally natural. So I would just question why we feel that way sometimes too. And I mean, not to pathologize it, I also felt that way. It’s natural to wonder what that will feel like, right? Like we’re doing a thought experiment where we’re wondering how we’re going to make that room. But also that it’s OK. And it’ll get there. And it doesn’t need to be 100% of you 100% of the time.

Laura: For sure. And you know what sort of came up as you were talking in my mind is I was thinking about the sort of spheres of love sort of I feel emanating from my body when I, you know, look at my older son or my younger son. But one thing that appeared and really more recently, what didn’t happen the minute my younger son was born, but now as they’re developing a relationship, there’s this additional sort of sphere of love for their sibling relationship. Like the thing that when I think about how they interact and play and wrestle, you always talk about the ninja training camp at your house. We too have a ninja training camp at our house. But just thinking about that, like this sort of warm glow comes out of my body, right? Because I am in love with their relationship with each other too.

Erica Djossa: And it’s this expansive view of love rather than an exclusive. You can only love one person at a time. You can only love one thing at a time. It’s like, no, it’s just it grows.

Laura: Yeah.

Erica Djossa: And it also creates this other attachment person that they get in their lives, right? Like when we’re really in this intensive mother mindset, we’re like, we need to be the main attachment figure and we need to be all the things to all the people. We have a hard time seeing how our home daycare provider, for example, that we had for six or seven years as a part of our family pretty much, was an amazing addition and attachment figure and person for my kids to have in their lives.

Erica Djossa: And as brothers, as much as they want to kill each other sometimes, also they have this secure bond and relationship with this other person that just adds more enrichment to their life, as you’re saying. So we can have many deep-rooted, rich attachments with many people. And like you said, it doesn’t have to be exclusive of the other.

Shanna: So well put. Thank you. All right, Erica, I think that’s about the time we have for this interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer listener questions. But we do always end our interviews with one last question, and it’s the same one every time. Do you have a BFP, otherwise known as a Big Fat Positive, that you would like to share with us and our listeners?

Erica Djossa: I mean, is it so predictable that it’s like a motherhood kid-related thing? But before jumping on our interviews today, my son is at a hockey tournament, his first one ever, and he’s been working so hard at this sport and catching up because we were late to getting started because of COVID and all the things. They won their first game of the tournament and he’s gone out to a team lunch. And I’m sure he feels so proud. And even though I’m home today and I’m working and I’m doing interviews, he’s having a blast with his dad. And I just felt so proud for him and the hard work and dedication that he’s put into his game.

Shanna: Yeah. That is so wonderful. How old is he?

Erica Djossa: He’s turning nine in a few weeks, actually. Can you imagine? That’s how long I’ve had these platforms. I feel like he was like three or four when I started. So he keeps reminding me that this is his last single digit birthday. And I’m like, can you just zip it? I don’t know if you can hear things like that right now. So yeah, but I’m just so proud for him. And it’s just such a proud mummy moment, you know?

Shanna: Oh, 100%. It’s so fun to watch them learn and grow. And especially when they work hard for something that they’re passionate about. Oh my gosh, that just makes my heart swell. Oh, I’m so happy for him and for you.

Erica Djossa: Yeah, thanks.

Laura: So sweet. Well, Erica, it’s been absolutely a delight to have you on the show. A dream come true. I love listening to your podcast. And I’ve loved having you on our podcast. We should definitely do it again. But in the meantime, can you remind our listeners where they can find you?

Erica Djossa: Yeah, thank you so much for having me, for welcoming me into your community and for all of you who are tuning in. I have so much appreciated being here with you. If you’re looking for unlearning these myths and all the good mother stuff we’ve been talking about, that’s really covered in my new book, Releasing the Mother Load. Available wherever books are sold, but also lots of free resources to pair with it at my website, which is ericajossa.com.

Erica Djossa: And if you are more in this, how do I adjust to postpartum? How do I set myself up for success? Or how do I not repeat the traumatic experience that I had the first time around? I have a maternal mental health platform called Momwell. We’ve got content, podcasts, blog posts, but we also have a team of maternal mental health therapists, niched and specialized in this transition to motherhood and all the things that come with it. And we serve across Canada and the US. You can go to momwell.com to see if we serve your location. To make sure that you get the specialized support that you need and set yourself up with the skills and the tools that can help make this adjustment just a little bit easier.

Laura: Thank you so much. And your book comes out in April 2024, yes?

Erica Djossa: Yes, April 9th, two days after my oldest son’s birthday.

Shanna: Aww.

Erica Djossa: Yeah, it’s going to be a big week, birthday week, book week, all the things.

Laura: Amazing. So listeners, please go pre-order the book and support Erica and all the amazing things she does.I listen to your podcast every week, so I will be hearing you very soon in my ears. And listeners, please do the same. But Shanna, I think it’s time for us to move on to our final segment. What do you think?

Shanna: Let’s do it.

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Shanna: We’re back and we wrap up every episode with our weekly Big Fat Positives or Big Fat Negatives and Laura, you’re up first. Let us know what you got.

Laura: All right. Mine starts with a little bit of a BFN, which is, you know how my check-in, I was like, it rained all week and I didn’t mention the perfectly sunny, beautiful weekend we had. And that’s because Augie woke up Saturday morning with a fever.

Shanna: Yes.

Laura: And a sinus infection.

Shanna: Poor buddy.

Laura: So we had to get him on antibiotics. And thankfully he’s doing really great with taking the medicine. That’s like a little bonus BFP is that for whatever reason, something has changed in his brain and he’s not like putting up a huge fight this time around.

Shanna: Oh, good.

Laura: And he even likes the chewable ibuprofen we gave him like the first fever. So thank goodness because I was not really feeling like having that fight this time around. But the very chill week being inside during the rain turned into a very chill weekend, being inside due to illness. But we made the most of it. And one bummer of the whole situation was that he was sick on Super Bowl Sunday.

Shanna: Oh, bummer.

Laura: And we were supposed to go over to a friend’s house and watch the game and have the kids all play. But of course, we chose not to go infect them, even though I think it was bacterial. I think it was just a sinus infection and he wasn’t contagious, but you don’t want to risk it, right? So we ended up just having a quiet Super Bowl at home. And that’s actually kind of my BFP because it ended up being really fun. Like at first, the boys were complaining that football was on TV. Like they wanted to watch whatever they wanted to watch on TV. But we kept telling them like, no, it’s the Super Bowl. It’s a special occasion. Daddy really wants to watch it. Mommy wants to see Taylor Swift. Like priorities.

Shanna: Yeah, totally priorities.

Laura: And they ended up getting interested in the game. And then like the Usher halftime show was very interesting for them. You know, they both love Michael Jackson, especially Sebastian. So I was like, you may see some homages to Michael Jackson in Usher’s music. And at some point, Usher like originally had two gloves on. They were like bedazzled gloves. And I was like, look, he’s wearing gloves like Michael Jackson. And Augie was like, yeah, but he’s wearing two. I was like, all right, mansplainer. But then at some point he took one glove off and he only had one glove on. I was like, look, he only has one glove like Michael Jackson. And Augie got all excited. He was like, you’re right. You’re right. Oh, my gosh.

Laura: But the real BFP was this adorable thing that happened towards the end of the game. They were getting bored and they decided they wanted to start doing parkour. And then at some point they wanted me to start filming them doing a scene. And I just brought out my phone and filmed them. Sebastian had a sword. It was actually, I think, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. And without any prompting or direction from me or Corey, the boys were shooting the same scene over and over. Like they knew they were practicing the same scene. It was so interesting for me to watch. Let me just send you two of the about 20 of these that we have. These are actually the first few. And you can see, like, they have a thing going.

Shanna: Uh-huh. Like lines and stuff?

Laura: Check it out. You’ll see.

[On video]

Laura: And action.

Sebastian: I got him!

Laura: Action.

Sebastian: Yes, I got him!

[End video]

Shanna: I love it. This is a scene where Sebastian and Augie are doing some kind of sword fight. Sebastian whacks Augie. Augie, kind of slow-mo, just melts to the ground in defeat. And Sebastian runs to the camera and says, Yes, got him!

Laura: Yeah.

Shanna: That’s so cute.

Laura: He had the same line. There were variations. He’d be like, got him, yes! Or like… But he was doing the same thing over and over and over again. And I was like, oh my gosh, these little filmmakers of mine, you know?

Shanna: Yeah.

Laura: I was so impressed with their focus and dedication to the scene. Corey, on the other hand, was not impressed with my cinematography. Like at some point I was like, I better go up and start the bath. And Corey’s like, I’m gonna do this right.

Shanna: I wish I had his video. I’m gonna have him send it to me so I can show you.

Laura: But like Corey’s doing all this like zooming in and panning and like framing and stuff. I’m like, okay, okay, show off.

Shanna: So funny, I was gonna say Laura, where are the different angles? Come on, we can like cut this together, you know?

Laura: See, my plan was to cut it together. But then Corey was like, we’re gonna do one shot. And I’ve since moved on. But yes, I should cut it together into an epic, epic scene.

Shanna: Yeah.

Laura: But and Sebastian hitting his marks, you know? Like coming up into his close up and going, yes, got him. It’s too cute.

Shanna: It’s so cute. I love it. It reminds me of when Steve for a while was a filmmaking instructor for kids. He worked at summer camps and day camps and stuff. And these little kids would come up with ideas for movies. And then, you know, they would write them out and shoot them and he would edit them together. And it was so, it was so fun to see what the kids would come up with. And of course, they just loved seeing the end product, you know, when it’s all edited together and stuff like that. So it really is so cute, especially that they’re doing it on their own and taking initiative like that.

Laura: Yeah, absolutely.

Shanna: And they entertain themselves this way, you know. I love anything where they entertain themselves. That’s my jam.

Laura: Yes, 100%. But that’s it for me. Do you have a BFP or BFN for us, Shanna?

Shanna: Good question, Laura.

Laura: Did you not know I was going to ask?

Shanna: I know. I’m so shocked by this. I’m caught off guard. No, I say that because I’m not sure where this falls. I feel like maybe it’s a BFE, Big Fat Emotional or something. I don’t know. But I think it’s somewhat related to what we were talking about with Erica and the topic of having another baby and blah, blah, blah. So I recently finished watching Ted Lasso. I made it all the way through. Have you watched all of it?

Laura: No. I’m pretty sure we watched all the second season and then maybe an episode or two of the third and we dropped off. Sorry.

Shanna: Oh, no, that’s fine. For what it’s worth, I think the third season was really good. I liked it a lot. And I was a Ted Lasso skeptic. It took me like four or five times to get into that show. And I think finally a listener was like, give it a try, Shanna, I really think you’ll like it. And I was like, okay, okay, you know, I’ll put aside my irritation at Ted Lasso’s happy-go-luckiness and just power through. It turns out, like, I just fell in love with all the other characters so much that I was really hooked. So we finished it, and I don’t believe this is going to be a spoiler for you if you end up watching it or for anyone.

Shanna: But there was a scene in season three where Jamie Tartt is in town playing a match where his mom lives. And Jamie goes over and visits his mom. And this scene caught me so off guard. I, oh man, I just like, oh, I loved it so much. Basically, at this point, he’s feeling kind of dejected, like, kind of low about himself, having, you know, relationship problems with his dad and everything, right? And he goes to his mom’s house, and he’s, like, leaned up against his mom, and she’s kind of, like, comforting him and snuggling him, and he’s talking about his dad and his problems with his dad, and she’s listening and, like, comforting him and giving her take on it and giving him words of wisdom, encouragement.

Shanna: And Laura, I was like, I do not get emotional very often when I watch things, but I was on the verge of tears because it just felt so touching, especially as a mom, to watch a scene like that, to watch a grown man be so vulnerable with his mom and have that relationship. I was so moved. And I was overcome with the most intense feeling of sorrow that I don’t have a son. I was just like, oh, my God, I want a son. And that feeling and thought came out of nowhere.

Shanna: I mean, I wanted a son way back in the day, but now I have two girls and I’ve adjusted and I love them and everything. But that thought just came back and came over me. And I don’t know, that scene brought up a lot of feelings and it was sweet and it was sorrow and it was all kinds of things. But yeah, I don’t know.

Laura: That’s so interesting. And you think that something like that would come up seeing like little boys or something, you know, seeing little kids that are boys. But the thing that brings it up is a fictional scene between a grown man and his mom. That is interesting. So how are you processing it? Obviously, that’s probably not going to happen, right?

Shanna: No, I know. It won’t. Well, I’ve rewatched the scene a couple times. So that’s helping. That’s helping. I don’t know. I don’t know how I’m processing. It’s definitely just like a thing you’ve got to let go of. It’s that ship, ghost ship in the night that you’ve talked about before, right? Like, that’s just a storyline of my life that’s never going to be, even though there’s part of me that would love to have had a little boy and a son and just have that kind of different relationship. That’s not what’s for me. So just acknowledge it and let it peacefully go.

Laura: I will say that Erica actually has a really good episode on Momwell about this. It was episode 96 and it’s called Overcoming Gender Disappointment with clinical psychologist Dr. Renee Miller. And I listened to it, I wouldn’t say I had gender disappointment. I tried to really be open to whatever, you know, sex my kids come out as because, you know, gender, we still, you know, are not entirely sure. But, you know, I definitely even listening to that realized that I had some assumptions just because I have a brother, you know, that I was going to have one boy and one girl. And it’s a really good episode to listen to if you’re feeling like you need to sort of explore this stuff because it gives you permission to feel the feelings. And also it gives a lot of other perspectives.

Laura: Like for me, I just kind of always thought that, you know, people who don’t have one boy, one girl will be experiencing gender disappointment because you don’t get to have one of each. But then there were people talking about how like I really wanted two girls. And then when I got a boy, I was disappointed, you know, like that sort of stuff. You know, there’s all this would have, could have stuff, should have, could have stuff in there. So anyway.

Shanna: Yeah, so interesting. Emotions are so interesting where they pop up.

Laura: I feel like Ted Lasso does that to people, though, like brings up emotions they didn’t think they were going to feel during a comedy show about soccer.

Shanna: Yeah, it really is surprisingly sentimental at times. And I think that’s what I really loved about season three, is it kind of brought a lot of humanity to the characters, even more than the first couple seasons, and watching them grow and change. I really understand now why people are so wild about that show. And I really loved it. And I’m curious to see if our listeners know which scene I’m talking about and what they thought about it and what they think about my reaction to it. So if you have any thoughts on that, definitely please write in and let me know.

I feel like you must have picked up Ted Lasso relatively recently, right Shanna? Because I feel like not that long ago I tried to make a Roy Kent joke on the show and you were like, sorry, I don’t get it. I don’t watch Ted Lasso.

Shanna: I know, I thought you were talking about someone from Succession, because everyone’s last name is Roy.

Laura: Yeah, it was.

Shanna: It was shortly after that. I don’t know why it just like came into my life. And once we get hooked on a show, we just blow through it so fast. So yeah, and I’m sad it’s over now. So if anyone also has TV recommendations, let me know.

Laura: We’ve been watching the new Mr. and Mrs. Smith on Amazon.

Shanna: Oh, I do want to check that out. Do you like it?

Laura: Yes, it’s not nearly as sentimental, but it is surprising. Like it is a surprising, it does bring up surprising feelings. I love Donald Glover, like I’d watch him in pretty much anything. And Maya Erskine, I don’t know if that’s how you pronounce her last name, but from Pen15, oh my gosh, she’s amazing. So yeah, it’s so worth watching. It’s on Amazon Prime Video, I believe.

Shanna: Okay, all right on. I will check that out for sure.

Laura: It’ll be a change of pace from Ted Lasso. There’s more guns.

Shanna: All right, well, that’s it for me. And I believe that’s it for our show. Listeners, if you have any thoughts or feedback on today’s show, you know we love hearing from you. Laura, where can everyone reach us?

Laura: We are on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram at BFP Podcast. We have a website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com. And if you want to send us an email, you can always throw a voice memo in there. We love those. Just send them to contact at bigfatpositivepodcast.com. And finally, if you want to join the coolest group of people on the internet and see some exclusive content from me and Shanna, just search Facebook for Big Fat Positive Community, request to join because it’s a private group, and answer those two membership questions so we know you’re not a robot. Once you do that, you’ll be sent straight through to the amazing, wonderful, supportive conversations we’re having in there.

Shanna: Our show is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko, and Steve Yager. Thanks so much for listening, everyone. Have a big fat positive week.

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