CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It can be difficult for first-time moms adjusting to a new life taking care of a baby, Coco Olinger knows about that.
“I didn’t realize I had real bad postpartum,” Olinger, a mother of now three-year-old twins, said. “I’m a new mom, we have two babies at home, six months old, I don’t know which way is up, which way is down.”
At the time, Olinger was enrolled in the Nurse Family Partnership Program, a free program offered by United Way of the Coastal Bend that helps new mothers adjust to their life as first-time moms.
Olinger said her nurse, Laura Drummond, was a huge help.
“I feel like we forget about moms, and Laura didn’t ever forget about me,” she said. “Laura coming over, and saying to me, ‘are you sure you’re okay?’ and I think as a mom, we’re like, ‘we got it, we got it,’ and it’s okay to say, ‘I need help, I can’t take anymore,’ and Laura was that calm voice in the storm of what’s happening.”
Drummond, now the program director for NFP, has been working in the program for eight years. She has worked with a lot of new moms over the years, and has helped them navigate their issues.
“We see a lot of new moms who just need support. A lot of times they’re not getting support from their family, or the support they are getting is not positive,” Drummond said. “A lot of times, mothers feel alone. Even if they’re surrounded by people, they’re still alone in their world of motherhood, we devote all of our time to our babies, and we don’t take care of ourselves.”
As a mother herself, Drummond wishes she had someone to help her when she was pregnant.
“I remember sitting on my kitchen floor and crying with [my kids], because I had no idea, I didn’t know what else to do,” she said. “I think it’s so important to have someone devoted to you, and we will always be there to check on them.”
Olinger is attempting to open a discourse about being a new mother, and wants more people in the Coastal Bend talking about it.
“If you don’t feel okay, you need to say something, and that’s really hard to do,” she said. “If you’re struggling, and you don’t feel like you’re strong enough, text your girlfriend, your best friend, and just say, ‘I need you, I need help,’ and let them help you.”
Drummond said mental health is a topic a lot of mothers talk about with her, but she thinks she is the only person many of them feel comfortable talking about it with.
“I think women are ashamed, or just embarrassed, they feel like they can’t say anything, because then people will think they’re a bad mom,” she said. “I really think it’s a struggle, they’re afraid to ask for help, because they feel like they’re not a good mom if they ask for help with themselves.”
Olinger has started to open that dialogue, and has spoken to some local mothers.
“The dialogue is that they feel tired, stressed, that there’s no resources, they don’t feel heard, they don’t have money for counseling, they don’t have time for counseling, they don’t have anybody to watch their kids for counseling,” she said. “It’s a lot of extra work for us to get the help, and there’s so many of us that need help, there’s no enough help for us.”
However, aside from NFP and CBMC, there aren’t many resources available for mothers locally.
“We need more counseling, we need a more open conversation about postpartum, we need to meet moms where they’re at,” Olinger said. “We need moms to feel brave, that they are strong, and incredible, wonderful, loving women. Just, something happens when we have kids, and that’s okay. If we don’t continue having honest conversations, we’re going to continue losing incredible, wonderful women.”