Fierce

Confessions of a Buena Madre: ‘I Should Have Listened When My Son Kept Telling Me His Stomach Hurt’

“Mamá my stomach hurts.”

Growing up I had a lot of unexplained stomachaches and headaches.

“Maybe you just have to go to the bathroom,” my mom would reply to me every time. I was a scrappy, smart, sensitive child, and I could tell that there was something about the way she said it that felt as if she was repeating someone else’s words. As if, someone had said the same thing to her when she was growing up, maybe her dad, or her grandma Lupe. Maybe it was the far-off tone, the way she avoided eye-contact, or maybe it was the the tinge of worry in her voice. It was the way she always sounded when she thought there might be something wrong with me that she could do nothing about.

Still, she did take me to see a doctor at one point who told me that there was nothing wrong. That “it could just be stress.”

Back in those days, in a small town, and growing up on welfare, there was little my mother, or I could do about stress. Kids were not going to stop bullying me at school for being Mexican, “shabby,” or poor. And they would not stop saying things about the color of my skin. Adults were not going to stop asking me “what are you?” We were not suddenly going to have more money or not be living below the poverty level. My mom wasn’t going to stop being sad about how her mom had left their family when she was five, or about having to leave the rest of her family in Los Angeles to escape my dad who beat her and kidnapped me.

Just stress.

We went home from the doctor’s appointment without any practical advice about what to do about the stress.

images need credit here.

The doctor had given it a name, and now I was expected to move on.

I continued having stomachaches and headaches, what we now know can be somatic symptoms of stress or anxiety, but back then because the doctor had said there was nothing wrong with me, my mom thought I might just be a hypochondriac.

But according to a Harvard Health Publishing article from 2010, the relationship between stress or anxiety and stomach pains is easily explained:

“The brain interacts with the rest of the body through the nervous system, which has several major components. One of them is the enteric nervous system, which helps regulate digestion. In life-or-death situations, the brain triggers the “fight or flight” response. It slows digestion, or even stops it completely, so the body can focus all of its internal energy to facing the threat. But less severe types of stress, such as an argument, public speaking, or driving in traffic, also can slow or disrupt the digestive process, causing abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms.”

Still, despite my own experiences, when I first started hearing, from my son I  copy/pasted my mother’s reaction.

You might think that I would have kept my own experiences of dealing with my own health and anxiety would have prepared me for when my own child began complaining of the same, but it didn’t at first. “Mama, my stomach hurts,” became a common complaint I heard from my son over the years, and somehow, even though I’d experienced such aches and had known them to be very real, didn’t totally or always react the way that I should have. I did encourage him to talk about his feelings and helped him role-play how to handle difficult situations at school, but I often felt or reacted in the same way about my son’s stomach pains in the way that my own mother did to mine: worry, avoid and sometimes dismiss.

As a parent, I made fun of myself for asking my own child if maybe he had to go to the bathroom when he complained of stomach pains, but I also knew that the feelings of nausea that he had those first days of kindergarten and first grade were indeed stress. The kind of stress, as a former pre-school teacher that I knew how to deal. So, when I dropped him off for school on those days that caused him anxiety, I drew on my training as a childcare worker. I spoke with the teacher. I worked hard not to allow him to feel like his anxious feelings about school were bad or wrong, and I let him talk about his feelings until it was time to make a clean break and leave him for the day. I reassured him that I’d be back, and I come back on time.

And yet, my eagerness to be attentive was not always applied or pursue so thoroughly or possibly with enough vigor.

Often when I heard complaints from my son about his stomachaches, I neglected hunting for answers. On occasions when the words “Mama, my stomach hurts” came out of his mouth, I didn’t ask him why? Or question him on whether or not he was feeling anxious or fearful about something. And while I did bring up his recurring stomach pains in the context of doctor’s visits, I did not take him to medical visits for these pains specifically. Mostly because I attributed his pains to his stranger anxiety and complications with making transitions.

What I did not realize at the time, was that stomach pains, or other somatic symptoms of stress, can lead to anxiety disorders and/or depression if left untreated. I also was not aware that there are ways, some that don’t cost money, that are capable of reducing stress and minimizing its effects. And simply knowing that the stomach pains could very well-be stress could minimize the stress and re-direct a family to take steps to reduce or treat stress.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are several psychological interventions that can be enacted to reduce stress and ease gastrointestinal pain. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy in order to “recognize and change stress-inducing thinking, relaxation techniques to calm the body, and gut-directed hypnosis, which combines deep relaxation with positive suggestions focused on gastrointestinal function.”

Recently, an article by Awareness Act titled “Children Won’t Say I Have Anxiety, They Say My Stomach Hurts,” caught my eye and motivated me to reach out to my circle of friends about their experiences of dealing with anxiety as parents. Many of my friends commented about how accurately the article described them as children and quite a few pointed out that oftentimes children will complain of being tired or having a headache.

As parents we often find ourselves wishing for a chance to pry open our children’s heads and see just what’s going on inside of their thoughts.

For parents of teenagers, this thought process can be especially true when our children become more quiet and insular and often even withdrawn.  Still, now I realize that sometimes as parents we’d do better to listen and watch. After all, how often do we as adults become withdrawn, tired or evens so filled with nerves in our stomachs that we become irritable and withdrawn ourselves? Over the years I’ve learned que mi hi’jo was trying to tell me how he was feeling all along: anxious and in need of my help.

If he were little again, I’d listen and take him to talk to a professional about his anxieties sooner. I’d also sit with him every day and tell him to close his eyes, take some deep breaths. Then I’d rub his tummy and say quietly, “Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Studies Say Women Are Struggling To Breastfeed For As Long As They Should, Fortunately, Latinas Are Sharing Their Best Tips

Fierce

Studies Say Women Are Struggling To Breastfeed For As Long As They Should, Fortunately, Latinas Are Sharing Their Best Tips

Jeff Topping / Getty

If there’s one thing mothers know to be true it’s that the difficulty of motherhood doesn’t end with childbirth. When it comes to motherhood, breastfeeding in particular often proves to be one of the most difficult early steps. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 57 percent of women who breastfeed continue to do so six months after giving birth. It’s a surprising number considering the fact that the CDC also recommends that women pursue the act of breastfeeding for six months at least and that the benefits of breastfeeding are extensive. Breastfeeding has long proven to aid in the prevention of diabetes in both mothers and children, as well as the prevention of childhood obesity, allergies, SIDS, and serious infections.

Still, the process can be trying and hard.

Fortunately, Latinas are sharing their tips and techniques for keeping up with breastfeeding.

If you’re at the start of your early breastfeeding days, check out some of the tips to help you make it through below.

“Don’t give up! It gets better! Seek out help from a lactation consultant at your OB/GYN’s office or hospital — some insurance plans cover the visit at no cost. Or contact your local La Leche League for free support from other nursing moms.” –mami.guevara

“Breastfed 5 babies…best advice is relax…and every baby is different…it’s okay to ask for help…” –mommy_dee55

“Breastfed for 2 1/2 years; first 5 months were the hardest! Take your time and be patient but MOST OF ALL do what’s best for you and your baby!!” –vida_de_maddrre

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, you are a great mom. No matter how your breastfeeding journey goes, your child will be loved. That is the best you can do for your child.” –noramia1

“I say just relax it takes time for some babies to latch on. But do what’s best for you, if you can’t breastfeed DON’T be ashamed, (and others need to stop the Mommy shaming!) you can use formula, it’s not the end of the world. I have two daughters the first one breastfeed til 19 months and my 9 month old is still breastfeeding. It’s not easy but all you new mom’s out there, just know you are great.” –angie17_lo

“Keep pumping and try milkmakers lactation cookies. They are delicious and helped me so much along with fenugreek vitamins. Be patient use formula when you need to. Do what works for you mama you know best for your baby, if it’s boob great if it’s formula great. Good luck.” –rosebuds00

“One👏🏽Day👏🏽At👏🏽A👏🏽Time… Breastfeeding is NOT easy! Do what best works for you.. Even if you can only pump….but don’t give up!”nursesandy_83

“Bruh yes I’m barely on 3 WEEKS and wondering how I’m going to make it to atleast my birthday (May).” –gabrielagnunez

“Don’t hesitate to switch to formula. I was unable to produce enough to feed my baby. Formula is a safe and nutritious alternative.” –partunicorn

“If you and your baby are not thriving, switch feeding tactics. You’re not a bad mom if breastfeeding doesn’t work for you.” –alexandriatrece

“Pump when needed. The bottle and formula are fine too. As long as your baby is getting nourishment. My kid was too lazy to take the boob. I ended up pumping and giving her a bottle. She got breast milk and I had so much milk for back up. It all works out. She ended up being weened of the bottle quickly. Sipping cups were her fave. She’s 28 and very healthy!” –mrsclny

“Patience is everything. If you plan on breastfeeding you must know it won’t be easy (or it will) but every baby is different. You’ll be nursing around the clock sometimes for hours on the couch or bed. But it’s doable and for me the best decision for my kids. Sometimes I wanted to stop, but I saw their little faces and bodies growing. It was empowering that I was nourishing them. Hang in their moms, again every journey is different. Some have to go back to work, pump.. other are at home. Whatever you decided is your choice. I nursed both my kids until 3 1/2.” –glendamurakami

“Hang in there mamis! It is so worth it. The pain, scabs, and unexpected let downs go away over a few weeks/months. It’s will be the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done.” –chicadel77

“this is why i pumped for a year, instead of direct nursing. there was a lot going on in my life and latching a baby to the breast at all hours of the day just seemed like too much. i’m still super happy that i was able to provide breastmilk for a year.” –damarysocana

“Every mom & every baby is different. Do what works for you & your baby. Ignore any & all negativity that goes your way. You brought a little human to this world; that’s your priority. Focus on your precious baby & enjoy your time with him/her, the time goes by so fast!” –glass.of.oj

“It’s hard. I tried and tried. My baby wouldn’t latch on and would not stop crying. Eventually I tried pumping but my supply gave out. My son is now 17 and he is a healthy, strong, kind young man. I’ll say this, try as hard as you can but if it doesn’t work, you know you did your best. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Normalize trying but finding a solution that works.” –adris_world220

“Value your own mental health too and switch to formula if you want to. It’s a safe, nutritious alternative.” –vivrami

“Seek a lactation consultant! Also, keep at it! More challenging than giving birth, according to my SO.” –sints.slrzno

“One day at a time. I breastfed all of my three children so I know how difficult and anxiety provoking it can sometimes be. No shame in fórmula at all. Do what works for you and be good to yourself.” –belkise.elena

“Just don’t give up! Keep offering it to baby and pump so you don’t get clogs. It takes a while to get into a rhythm but it will happen just have faith!5d1 likeReply

“Do whatever works for you. If it isn’t working that’s fine. No shame in formula and no shame in whipping your tittys out in public. Do whatever the fuck is best for you and your baby.” – stuffonstuff

“If you have the resources, seeing a lactation consultant is helpful. Pumping so you don’t become engorged if the baby is skipping feedings. I would say it took about three months to get a rhythm with my babies. Good luck.”- clarissava


“Nipple shield! Turns boob into bottle! Also pump the milk if they don’t latch and just bottle feed the breast milk. But mostly… Don’t sweat it! Sometimes babies just ween themselves off the booby, it’s natural!”- queen_of_my_castle_xx

“Keep pumping and try milkmakers lactation cookies. They are delicious and helped me so much along with fenugreek vitamins. Be patient use formula when you need to. Do what works for you mama you know best for your baby, if it’s boob great if it’s formula great. Good luck.”-rosebuds00

“Be patient and enjoy the moment. It seems like a long time but, time flies and you’ll miss it.” –galvanizestem


“Nursed each of my 4 kids for 2 years. Patience and perseverance are key. Listen to your body and your baby. There is no right or wing way to do it, only your way. What works for your family is it. Be open minded and flexible. Best of luck.” –dianapatricia_66


“I’ve breastfed 4 babies. One Set of Twins, one baby exclusively breastfed until 2yo and my last baby until 3.5yo. Each baby is different. They latch differently and your body will respond differently to each one. Best advice is to relax. I know it’s hard to hear, especially if you have so many other things to tend to. They feel it when you are tense. and find their favorite nursing position …try them all. You’ll find a sweet spot eventually. And feel free to allow yourself the option to supplement when needed.”-crdguzman

“I breastfeed exclusively for 2 years (no bottle, no formula, no pacifier)! Breastfeeding is the best you can do for yourself and your baby! There are so many resources out there and honestly misinformation is what causes a lot of women to never breastfeed or give up. If anyone needs help let me know!”- niraarin

“Yes, as many moms have said before don’t give up. I am currently breastfeeding exclusively to my 10month old son. I have breastfed my 2 children prior. He has definitely been the hardest! The first 5 months was filled with feelings of self doubt, guilt and pain. Now that he is 10 months, I can say i am more than glad to still be breastfeeding. It is so much easier to not worry about formula, bottles or anything. All I do is whip out my breast and that’s it. He is a happy happy baby! First few months you do have to be next to baby all day because of constant feedings and keep in mind your baby has been used to being in your womb for 9 months, it takes time lose that attachment. But keep going and you won’t regret it! Take time for yourself every once in a while and remember you created a little human who you have the ability to nourish. Our bodies have been blessed with that ability.”- vivalayumyums

“Pump when needed. The bottle and formula are fine too. As long as your baby is getting nourishment. My kid was too lazy to take the boob. I ended up pumping and giving her a bottle. She got breast milk and I had so much milk for back up. It all works out. She ended up being weened of the bottle quickly. Sipping cups were her fave. She’s 28 and very healthy!”- mrsclny



Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Bad Bunny Talks Depression And Says Sometimes He Still Feels Like The Boy Who Bagged Groceries Back Home

Entertainment

Bad Bunny Talks Depression And Says Sometimes He Still Feels Like The Boy Who Bagged Groceries Back Home

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Bad Bunny is on top of the world. Or, at least, that’s how it appears to all of us on the outside enjoying his record-breaking year. Not only did he release three albums in 2020 but he also landed his debut acting role in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico and from his Instagram stories, he seems to be in a happy, contentful relationship.

But like so many others, Bad Bunny has his experience with mental health issues, of which he recently opened up about in an interview with El País.

Bad Bunny recently spoke up about his struggle with depression.

Despite his immense success that’s catapulted him to, arguably, the world’s biggest superstar, Bad Bunny admits that sometimes he still feels like the young man who bagged groceries in a supermarket.

The reggaetonero revealed in an interview with El País that right as his career really started to take off, he was not happy. “You asked me before how I hadn’t gone crazy. Well, I think that was the moment that was going to determine if I was going to go crazy or not. From 2016 to 2018 I disappeared, I was stuck in a capsule, without knowing anything. The world saw me, but I was missing,” he said.

Although no doctor diagnosed him, he is sure of what was happening. it only did he feel lost and empty but he had stopped doing many of the things that brought him joy, like watching movies and boxing. Without realizing it, he had also fallen out of contact with much of his family, with whom he was typically very close.

“And that’s when I said: who am I? What’s going on?” he told El País. When he returned home to Puerto Rico from spending time in Argentina, he was able to get back into the right state of mind and remember who he was.

Despite his success, Bad Bunny still worries he’s in financial trouble.

Although today, he is the number one Latin artist on Spotify and the awards for his music keep coming, there are times when Bad Bunny still thinks that he has financial problems.

“Not long ago, I was 100% clear in my head what I have achieved, maybe a year or six months ago; but until then, many times I forgot, I felt that I was the kid from the supermarket. He would happen something and say: “Hell!” And then: “Ah, no, wait, if I have here,” he said, touching his pocket.

Much like Bad Bunny, J Balvin has also been candid about his own mental health struggles.

Bad Bunny is just the most recent to speak to the emotional havoc he experiences despite being a global superstar. And, thankfully, like many other celebrities, he’s been able to find refuge in a reality that allows him to keep his feet on the ground so that he too can enjoy the achievements of his career.

Much like El Conejo, J Balvin is known for the brightness of his style and mentality. But he’s long addressed the importance of caring for one’s mental health. During his Arcoíris Tour, he encouraged people to not be ashamed of seeking professional help, and let the audience know they are not alone.   

“Las enfermedades de salud mental son una realidad. Yo he sufrido de depresión y he sufrido de ansiedad, así que tengo que aceptarlo. Y eso me hace más humano, me hace entender que la vida tiene pruebas,” Balvin said. “Pero si alguien está pasando una situación difícil, no están solos, siempre llega la luz. Tarde o temprano llega la luz.”  

“Mental health illnesses are a reality. I have suffered from depression and anxiety, so I have to accept it. And this makes me more human. It makes me understand that life has challenges,” Balvin said in Spanish. “But if someone is going through a difficult time, they are not alone, light always comes. Sooner or later, the light comes.”  

We need more men like Benito and J Balvin to speak up about their mental health struggles, to help destroy the stigma that exists within our community.

And in the same interview, he also spoke about why he works to elevate the Spanish language.

As for the possibility of singing in English, the answer remains the same: a resounding no.

“You have to break this view that the gringos are Gods…No, papi,” he told El País. And, although he’s collaborated with artists like Drake, Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez, he has always sang in Spanish and with his famous accent.

“I am very proud to reach the level where we are speaking in Spanish, and not only in Spanish, but in the Spanish that we speak in Puerto Rico. Without changing the accent,” he said.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com