Larken is a name meaning fierce and was chosen out of the recognition that motherhood is beautiful, but it isn’t always easy. Larken presents #fiercemama, a series dedicated to spotlighting the many fierce mamas out there and shining an honest light on both the beautiful and challenging motherhood moments.
We had the opportunity to connect with an amazing mama, Marisa Kimmel. Marisa was diagnosed with Alopecia, an auto-immune disorder that causes her hair to fall out, at the age of 9. She uses social media as a platform to raise awareness around Alopecia and empower others to feel confident. Now a first-time mom to 3 month old Abraham, she shares with us what her motherhood and breastfeeding journey has been like and how life with Alopecia has changed her outlook and impacted her as a mother.
Tell us more about your Alopecia diagnosis and how it’s impacted you.
I’ve had Alopecia, an auto immune disease that causes my hair to fall out, since I was 9 years old. As a teenage girl, I was convinced that once all my hair fell out, my life would be over. I would lose my friends, never have a career, a marriage, a baby. That is how much my disease controlled my brain. As I got older, I took control of my disease, turned something that could have been traumatic and life altering, into something beautiful, something that has helped me become the strong, confident, brave woman that I am today.
Now, as a mother to a little baby boy (who has this beautiful head of hair), I will remind him over and over again that appearance isn’t everything, that who he is as a person, his heart, his mind, is what makes him that beautiful person that he is. There isn’t a lot of research done on Alopecia, but if it is genetic and Abraham also has Alopecia like I do, I will be there to remind him again, that he is perfect just the way that he is.
What has your nursing and pumping journey been like?
From the beginning I knew I wanted to breastfeed. My mom breastfed my siblings and I so that just felt like a “normal” thing to do. My mom didn’t have an electric pump (she had to hand pump) or have the internet to lean on so she could only help me so much with my thousands of questions. Honestly, I wasn’t aware of the hard parts of nursing and how much time and energy breastfeeding would need. There were many days I spent crying just from pure exhaustion. I was able to reach out to social media and my newly found community of other mothers who were all for giving me their honest opinions and answers. 3 months in, I now have some kind of a schedule that works for my baby and I. There are still those difficult days but I’m surrounded by such beautiful people who really help me get through it day by day.
What advice do you wish someone told you about becoming a mom?
That it’s okay to not know what you are doing. That that doesn’t make you a bad parent whatsoever. I put so much pressure on myself to be “perfect” but my baby isn’t looking for perfect, he’s just looking for his mama. You’re trying your best and that’s something to be so, so proud of yourself for.
Tell us about a time when motherhood was particularly challenging for you.
That first long night that my husband and I could not figure out what Abraham needed and he just cried and cried and cried. We tried everything and finally turned on the vacuum... and that was it! Put him right to sleep and I cried. I really focus on trying my best to stay calm during those moments that I feel like I can’t comfort my baby. I know the time will pass and all will be okay.
What are you most proud of as a mother, and how has motherhood changed you?
I am most proud when Abraham looks up at me and gets that big, gummy, happy smile on his face. I know I’m doing right and I feel his love for me. That pure love. I’m proud that everyday I try my best to show Abraham all my love I have for him.
Motherhood makes me feel like my heart is so big and it might just explode from emotions, good and bad. I’m now looking at the world so differently. Looking at it through my baby boys eyes. I can’t wait to show him the world and what it has to offer. But I also can wait.. time is going by so fast and that also makes me start to cry.