We interviewed Katie Caddell, LCSW, a therapist on our team who specializes in perinatal mental health and early child development. Katie is also the facilitator of Being with Baby workshop series, which we are offering again this fall. Click here to learn more.
What do you love about working with infants and families?
I love watching the nuances that happen between mom and her infant. Their language is a beautiful thing to observe. My passion is helping moms give meaning to their baby’s language. I truly enjoy working with mothers and seeing their confidence grow as they become proficient in their baby’s language.
Why did you decide to create Being with Baby Series?
I wanted to create a space where time stops and life responsibilities are put on hold for one hour, and the focus is completely on the mother, her baby and their relationship. Mothers are great multitaskers. They manage a household, have careers, play with their other children, express love to their partners, and care for their infants. During the Being with Baby Series we cut through all the noise of daily life and create an intimate space for mothers and babies to fall in love with each other. We offer the opportunity for mothers to learn and practice infant massage strokes, create a community of motherly support, and have uninterrupted time to delight in and bond with baby.
Parenting can be so challenging and confusing. What do you find yourself saying a lot to new parents?
During the postpartum period I like to create space to explore with mothers what they doing for self-care. I often start with a simple question of “what are you doing for yourself?” Mothers often reply with, “I don’t have time for myself” or “I feel so guilty when I leave my baby.” Self-care is one of the most important things a parent can do for their baby. Sleeping and eating are essential to our survival. Taking an emotional break to recharge is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. I like to talk to mothers about our internal emotional bank accounts. Our children, careers, friends, and partners are repeatedly making withdrawals from our accounts. Baby cries – withdrawal, boss assigns major project – withdrawal, older children need our attention – withdrawal, and friend needs support during a challenging life moment – withdrawal. We want to be emotionally available to our family and friends but without deposits a mother starts to function on a depleted bank account. Our children continue to make withdrawals even though we are depleted. The result is that we start to feel disconnected, anxious, helpless, and hopeless.
It is up to mothers to replenish their emotional bank account. Taking time to do something pleasurable like taking a walk, getting a massage, manicure or pedicure, meeting up with friends for dinner, having an interrupted cup of coffee are all examples of deposits that can be made into a mother’s emotional bank account. Finding things that recharge a mother will help her to fill up her emotional bank account, allowing for baby and others to continue making withdrawals from them. Often mothers feel guilty about taking time and will sacrifice their own needs because of this feeling. I like to help reframe this for mothers. When a mother takes time for herself to care for herself, she is increasing her emotional availability to her baby, and thus giving the baby a beautiful gift.
Please share a concept/idea that you find particularly helpful to mothers and fathers as they confront the challenges of parenting.
There are really wonderful and beautiful moments about being a parent but there are also challenging moments as well. During these challenging moments we often feel helpless and hopeless. It is important to remember that our children need us to be good enough. It is okay to let go of being the perfect parent. Sometimes during these challenging moments no matter how hard we try to find a solution, there just isn’t one. I worked with a mother once who felt so helpless when at 2:00 in the morning her daughter continued to cry for another hour after already crying for a solid hour. Her diaper had been changed, no pain identified, and she had been fed. This mother felt helpless and hopeless. “Will she cry forever?”, “Why can’t I figure out what is wrong?”, “I am such a bad mother.” These were thoughts that flooded her during these moments. I spent time talking with this mother about the concept of “being with.” Letting go of the need to find a solution and accepting that both she and the baby were upset and that is okay. By being with her baby she was letting her daughter know that she would be with her until both she and baby felt better. In this moment of being with her baby she helped organize her baby’s world by creating a sense of safety and security.
What do you do for fun in your spare time?
I love to read and I am a foodie! One of my favorite ways of spending a Sunday afternoon is going to a bookstore and picking out a new book to get lost in. It becomes a perfect afternoon when I can end it at a new restaurant. I feel blessed to live in such a diverse city where I am constantly exploring new neighborhoods and experiencing amazing foods.