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Real Women. Real Stories - Part 7: Look Within Because Sometimes The Only Way Out Is Through

Intro by Liz Kent: I am thrilled to be able to share this month's 'real women' story from Jessica Miller. I actually met Jessica at infant story time at the library when our oldest kids were babies. We eventually discovered that we were both licensed therapists and had even worked in the same department at Kennedy Krieger (but at different times!). Jessica has been able to use some of her own experiences in motherhood to support other moms through her pediatric sleep consulting business. This is her story.

mother and child hugging face to face
Discover the inspiring journey of Jessica Miller, a mom, therapist, and pediatric sleep consultant who found strength by looking within. Read her powerful story now.

*The only way out is through*

- Robert Frost I am a mom to a 4-year-old, Gwen, and a 2-year-old, Margot. I’m also a wife, friend, daughter, therapist, and pediatric sleep consultant (I own Tiny ZZZ Sleep Consulting). I’ve struggled with lifelong anxiety which really intensified after giving birth to my second child. My daughter Margot was born on 5/5/17. The birth went well but soon after things became pretty rocky for both of us. We discovered that Margot was born with syndactyly (webbed toes) and because of that we were instructed to run numerous tests to see if there were any other genetic abnormalities. On day two of Margot’s life, we discovered she was born with an 8mm (moderately sized ASD- a hole in her ️) meanwhile I had a horrific spinal headache as the result of a misplaced epidural, and three days after her birth was readmitted for postpartum preeclampsia (super scary!!) It was overwhelming, to say the least, and in the days and weeks following her birth, while adjusting to life with a new two-year-old and a newborn, I was struggling to get through each day. I was beyond scared about Margot’s health and my own (physical and mental) and her first year was filled with over 80 (yes, I counted!) doctor appointments between the two of us. Margot had a difficult start with trouble feeding and gaining weight, many illnesses, and was simply not thriving because of her heart defect. I was seeing a therapist, nutritionist, acupuncturist and psychiatrist among others in an attempt to “feel better.” Fast forward to almost a year later, Margot had open heart surgery a week before her first birthday. It was a scary time being in the PICU with our little heart warrior but the surgery went smoothly and 3 days later, we went home. After the hole was repaired, Margot was like a new person! She had so much more energy and went from having no appetite and barely being able to sit on her own to a thriving, crawling happy girl with a ferocious appetite within just a few weeks. To this day I cannot believe the amazing progress she has made from where she was during her first year of life.

I, on the other hand, was (and at times still am) dealing with crippling bouts of anxiety, along with a myriad of other symptoms (dizziness, blurry vision, heart palpitations, headaches, nausea...), and sometimes wonder how and if I could get through the day (sometimes the hour). After many unsuccessful attempts with anti-anxiety meds, diet changes, and many forms of “self-care” and searching for “answers” from professionals, I keep coming back to one person, myself, and the concept: "the only way out is through.” I have come to realize that my intense anxiety (and periods of depression) may very well be a lifelong struggle of mine. I also know that I have two amazing children, a loving and supportive husband, wonderful parents and so many friends and family. Living in my head and in my anxiety is not serving me. So I push on, and I get through the day. And many times, if I stop and take a look- I have great moments and there is laughter and the joy of watching my girls grow and change and play and all of the other amazing things I get to experience as their mom. It’s true what they say- being a parent is the hardest job you’ll ever love. So instead of googling my symptoms, going down the rabbit hole of “what’s wrong with me” to friends and doctors old and new, I’m choosing a new way to live. I’m choosing to work on being present, to focus on what is instead of what if, to enjoy my family, friends, my sleep consulting business- all of the wonderful families I get to help, AND, all of the good and not so good I have in my life. Because that is life. For everyone. Good and not so good. Ups and downs, highs and lows. But I also know that what we choose to focus on, grows. So I want to grow mindfulness, peace, love and joy— I have opened up to many many people about my struggles, and through sharing my own experiences, I find that we all struggle in big and small ways. Whether it’s adjusting to parenthood or yearning to become a parent, difficulties in relationships, illness, loss of a loved one, financial difficulty, or just simply trying to “find yourself”....We all struggle. The only way out is through! So I can and will get through, through to my true self and to whatever else may come my way. Specifically, some things that have helped me are acupuncture, therapy, CBD oil, journaling and exercise. So, if you’re struggling, reach out for help, but look within, too. What you are seeking may be right in front of you️️


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