"I was a dental student when I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I was so happy and excited at the prospect of becoming a mom for the first time, but also nervous and apprehensive of bringing an entire human life into the world. And not just any human life but a black human life in America."
This is an except from a the book pictured above. I am once again a published contributing author! All thanks to my good friend Kenesma John, an author, educator, scholar, and business owner who has compiled "Through Her Eyes: The Untold Stories of Black Motherhood."
It’s rare to get the opportunity to share our stories. We’ve all been through so much and our stories matter. They illuminate to others your personal struggles and triumphs, highs and lows, all to inspire and educate. So when Kenesma invited me to share my story as a black mother, I was so excited.
My motherhood journey began with me getting pregnant as a dental student in a long distance marriage and transitions until present day with two toddlers growing and keeping me busy as I raise them and teach them.
If you turn to my chapter of the book, you’ll read on my determination to teach my daughter just how beautiful and valuable she is and to teach my son to walk into every space with confidence and assurance of who he is.
Here's one except from my chapter in the book:
"Being a black mother means raising my kids to love and appreciate the color of their skin... They’re still so young, but I know that the foundation I have set for them now will influence them in their futures. I’m constantly pouring into them and building them up so that one day they can walk into any space with confidence and grace. I would tell any future black mother to hold her head up high and to teach her children to truly love themselves and others."
Hear more about my story and the stories of so many other black mom’s in Kenesma's new book. This will truly open your eyes to what others have been through and the black experience. 🤎
“With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
- Psalm 91:16
Recently we had the opportunity to celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday together as an family. God is so amazing and has gifted grandma with 90 full years of life. She has raised five children, cared for many grandchildren, and even seen her great grandchildren grow. She’s worked hard, served God, travelled all over the world, and uplifted countless friends and family over the years.
So when a family members brought up this idea of a surprise birthday party, we all loved it and jumped on board. Somehow after months of planning this huge party unbeknownst to grandma, we surprised her with a room full of smiling family and friends.
The beauty of what we were able to do that night is that we truly uplifted and celebrated her life in her midst. In life it’s so rare that we get to truly celebrate a person. It’s only on a milestone birthday or wedding or graduation that a person typically gets a true celebration. And unfortunately, so often, we wait until a person has passed away to truly celebrate them and reflect on their life. So for us to take the time to come together for an event all about grandma was such a beautiful thing.
Let this be your reminder to celebrate all your loved ones and those around you. Uplift them, compliment them, affirm them, and let the know how much you love them. Make everyday a celebration of life.
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
- Isaiah 40: 30, 31
The year 2022 is officially coming to a close. I know I’m stating the obvious, but we’re literally just a day away from the beginning of 2023. Let that sink in. I personally can’t believe it. We blinked and a year came and went.
God has truly done so much this year. Take some time to reflect - What has God done in your life in 2022?
I’ve grown in leaps and bounds personally, spiritually, mentally and more.
I’ve grown closer to old friends and made new ones.
I’ve settled into my career, my role as a mom of two, and my community.
I’ve began to prioritize self-care, time for myself, reading, journaling, and therapy. This was the first year I’ve done any of these things and its done wonders for my mental health.
I’ve spent far more time with my immediate and extended family this year than I have in the past few years. This is significant because distance has kept us apart in past years, whereas this year we were together so often.
Month by month, I can clearly see the hand of God painting the story of my life and chapter 2022 was a great one. As I look back on the challenges, joys, memories, trials, testimonies, milestones, and more, I’m excited to see what 2023 has in store.
In 2022, God’s hand was evident.
My sister Danielle made it back to the great state of Texas safely after living in South Korea for over a year.
My family and I commemorated the 10 year anniversary of my dad passing away and were overwhelmed by how far we’ve come in that time.
My husband Prince graduated from his dream school, Harvard University, with his dream degree in public health. And my kids got to witness the product of hard work and God’s help.
We celebrated one year of life for my son Isaac while also celebrating the end of an era of infancy and post-partum, entering into the toddler years.
We travelled as a family to my husband’s twin brother in California and had an exciting and overdue family reunion for the kids and adults alike.
God’s hand was truly seen throughout the year.
As we look forward to great things in 2023, I am truly so excited for what will happen next. As the new year begins, there are so many unknowns but one thing we know to be true. God will carry us through the entire year successfully with many testimonies to share in the end.
“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
- Proverbs 23:18
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 1: 3-6
Happy New Year and welcome to 2023!
I just got back from the most amazing trip with my sisters to Austin, TX to celebrate my birthday. This was my first girls trip and I would highly recommend taking a trip like this with some friends at least once a year if possible! It’s truly so important to take time away from your busy schedule and rest and enjoy outings with friends. As a busy working mom of two, this trip allowed me to do that.
One of the best parts of our trip was the gorgeous Air Bnb we stayed at, the “Boho Bungalow,” which was also seen on CNBC’s Cash Pad. If you’ve been following my blog for any period of time, you know that I love ultra-aesthetic spaces, especially when they feature neutrals, florals, pinks, and greens. Well lucky for me, this space encompasses all of that.
Located in NW Austin, the Boho Bungalow is truly a beautiful retreat and home away from home. I was absolutely amazed by all the attention to detail in every space. The interior was hand crafted beautifully and every piece was on theme and complimented the other pieces. I especially loved all the bohemian touches and floral patterns.
This space came stocked with all the amenities you would need AND it’s conveniently located in Austin, TX where there are plenty of things to do and places to eat, not far from the location. We had such an amazing time staying here, and I highly recommend planning your next trip here!
Book this space for yourself here!
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- Roman 5: 6-8
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
- 1 John 4:9-10
I officially have two toddlers at home. My daughter just turned three and my son just turned one and took his first steps shortly after. Now he’s ready to tear apart everything he can get his hands on. My furniture and I aren’t ready. Lol. With both of these toddlers around, my house is typically filled with the sounds of Cocomelon songs, toys banging, my son babbling, and my daughter talking about whatever comes to her mind. Every parent can attest to the fact that the toddler stage of childhood development is a fun one but also a HUGE test of patience. Some landmarks of these years are lack of impulse control, tantrums, meltdowns, defiance, struggle for independence, etc. It’s hard out here as a toddler mom.
With all that being said, what could a toddler possibly teach me about the love of God?
The answer is A LOT.
As I reflected on the struggle to parent, discipline, and teach my kids, God very clearly taught me a lesson about his love that I wanted to share.
When my daughter behaves badly at home or school, I get down to her level and explain why she shouldn’t exhibit these type of bad behaviors. Depending on the level of offense, I might then put her in time-out as a form of negative reinforcement for this behavior. She protests, reluctantly does her time, and then comes out humbled. At this point, the message I taught her is fresh in her mind. But it’s sometimes only a few hours or a day later until she seemingly misbehaves again. Then I have to explain all over again and go through the motions of discipline.
This sequence gets tiring after a while because at her age, it seems like we’re dealing with the same issues over and over again. It could be that she raised her voice, wasn’t gentle with her brother, wasn’t obedient, didn’t listen to or respect her teacher at school, and the list goes on and on. One recent week, I became very frustrated and asked myself, “Is she actually learning? Does she actually hear the words we’re saying? Does she want to change?”
In this moment of frustration, I was struck by how much I loved her and how every act of discipline was laced with such deep love for my daughter and a desire for her to live up to her potential and be the best she can be in this life.
Simultaneous to this overwhelming feeling of love for my daughter, God spoke to me and told me – “Beryl you’re also a my daughter and I love you so much. But sometimes you are like a toddler to me, and I have to redirect you, but this is all out of my great love for you.” I had literal chills as I thought about just how much God loved me.
I was struck by the burden of living up to the potential He desires for me. And I was also struck by how He’s put me in time out so many times for various behaviors but I still didn’t learn. Yet He still gets down to my level and parents me out of love. And through this discipline laced with love, He teaches me and helps me to do better and grow personally. Every parent wants the best for their children, and God no different.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
- 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
“We love because he first loved us.”
- John 4:19
God’s love for us is truly amazing.
He looks past what we’ve done to who we are.
He loves us even at our worst.
He doesn’t give up on us.
God teaches us in patience the right way to live, just as a caring parent does for their child.
God is L O V E.
My baby boy is one year old!
I have officially survived one whole year as a mom of two.
I feel like I deserve an award, a pat on the back, a new MK purse, a getaway to Cabo, a fancy dinner out, a massage, a fresh set of nails, a plaque, a girl’s night – anything to commemorate this achievement.
Every mom deserves to be congratulated on her child’s first birthday because this is such a huge milestone. Baby’s first year of life can be the most challenging year in many ways. From the moment your baby enters the world, you deal with nursing or not nursing, postpartum recovery from labor and delivery, a body that has changed dramatically, body image issues, postpartum mental health issues, feeding schedule, diapers with poop explosions, sleepless nights, maternity leave and returning to work, and the list goes on. And it evolves into sleep training, childcare struggles, introducing solids, child proofing, and more. The first year of motherhood is no joke.
If you’ve been following my postpartum journey, then you know that this hasn’t been an easy year at all for me. This is a large part of why I haven’t consistently posted on my blog over the past year. I’ve been trying to keep this human alive! And while I have truly enjoyed watching my baby boy grow over this past year, this has also been the hardest year of my life mentally. I dealt with and overcame postpartum depression, but while I was still in the throes of it, I felt like I had experienced my darkest moments in life. Through God’s help and therapy, I’ve healed and created a new lifestyle for myself where I can cope with my emotional instability.
As I reflect on this past year, it truly is such a happy occasion watching Isaac turn one. His smile and happy, exuberant personality have filled all our lives with so much joy over this past year. He’s taught me more about love and sacrifice than I knew before him. He’s given his sister so much happiness as she now has a built-in playmate and best friend for life. In my immediate family of all girls, void of my dad who passed away years ago, Isaac has become the man of the house when my husband isn’t around. Isaac is a true testament to and symbol of God’s faithfulness.
“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.”
- Genesis 21: 1-3
As we celebrate one year of Isaac’s life, we celebrate all that God has done to prove himself as faithful over this past year.
He sustained me throughout my pregnancy, even while moving across the country months before Isaac was born.
He brought Isaac into the world happy and healthy.
He helped me to navigate the postpartum period and heal.
He gave me the strength to balance raising these two kids with everything else going on in my life.
He allowed Isaac to meet every developmental milestone and to exceed all expectations of him.
He gave my daughter so much love in her heart for her little brother and a desire to enjoy time with him.
He taught me just how strong that I am and that I can overcome anything.
God is so, so, so faithful and He will prove this to you if you if you allow him.
Let Isaac’s life be a reminder that God is good and God is faithful.
The newest member of my family is a handsome 9-month-old baby boy named Isaac. His smile and persistent happy energy have been such a joy to his sister, dad, and I over the course of his little life.
Even with all the joy and laughter Isaac brings, his birth ushered me into one of the darkest periods of my life mentally. From the moment he was born, my mental health has never been the same.
The month of May has been maternal mental health month. I want to join and help spread awareness about a group of conditions that aren’t well understood or discussed enough – perinatal mood disorders. These disorders include prenatal depression, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and postpartum psychosis.
Here are a few of the definitions for the above terminology:
So what causes these conditions? The research says that a combination of factors are at play – life stress, the physical and emotional demand of taking care of a new baby, the changes in hormones that occurs during and after pregnancy, a history of depression or bipolar or postpartum depression, or lack of sufficient support from family/friends after delivery. The list goes on and on.
Let me paint a picture for you.
Imagine that you just gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. He is only one week old. Breastfeeding isn’t going well and you’re still figuring out how to consistently get baby to latch on. Your breasts are sore and swollen, you’re sore down there from just pushing a baby out, you’re limping around trying to heal, you’re sleep deprived, you haven’t taken a shower in two days, AND you have to scramble to feed the baby every 3 hours or so, all while taking care of any other members of your household (husband, other kids, etc). This is the plight of most new moms.
This was me 9 months ago. And I did not realize I had experienced postpartum depression in the midst of all of this. I didn’t name it myself. I just thought I was being more emotional than usual.
Statistically, about 1 in 7 new moms will experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, these conditions can easily go unnoticed or untreated, which could cost a mother even her very life. For me, it came as a shock to be diagnosed with postpartum depression. Having never had any real mental health issues prior to this and not experiencing this with my first pregnancy, I didn’t expect it. Those first few months of Isaac’s life, I woke up many days with a knot in my chest and a lump in my throat, feeling sad, overwhelmed, and hopeless. I would talk to my mom, my sisters, and a few close friends and it didn’t seem like enough.
After my doctor diagnosed me, they gave me options for treatment. The treatment options for perinatal depression include psychotherapy (counseling or talk therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and medication such as antidepressants. I chose counseling, and thus began my healing journey. Counseling has become a place where I discuss everything from my mental health to my emotions to coping to self-care to the challenges of motherhood. It has truly become a safe place for me to say anything and everything and above all, it’s given me the tools to address my postpartum depression.
I want to help end the stigma associated with postpartum depression. To every person reading this, whether you are a future mom, new mom, seasoned mom, or a support person such as a spouse, friend or family member – perinatal mood disorders are real. Please check on new moms and offer them the support that they desperately need. Oftentimes, family members are the first to notice signs of perinatal depression. If you begin to feel any of the symptoms listed above postpartum, please contact your doctor. Don’t be shy or ashamed. Postpartum depression could cost you your life, and your life is so worth living. God created you and has an amazing plan for your life. Your family and friends and baby need you here and alive.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
- Isaiah 41:10
God and therapy are what have gotten me through this postpartum season alive and still thriving. If you or your loved one are struggling with perinatal depression, know that you will make it through too. Please leave a comment down below message me on my social media pages if you would like to share about your own experience or need support yourself.
Happy Black History Month! My name is Beryl Otchere and I am a general dentist, wife, mom of two, and blogger/content creator for my blog “Bloom, Beryl” where I encourage my readers to bloom and grow regardless of where they are planted. My family is from Ghana, West Africa and I grew up in and also attended college in Dallas, TX. I later went to dental school in Houston, TX and graduated in 2019. This piece was written for the newsletter of the San Antonio District Dental Society for black history month and is a glimpse into my journey to dentistry as a black female, one of the most under-represented groups in dentistry.
My journey to dentistry began with the many dental procedures that I needed as a teen, including impacted canine exposure and ortho treatment to bring this canine into alignment. At that time, I became fascinated with the field of dentistry and all that could be done to improve a person’s smile. A large part of my personal confidence today is the smile that my orthodontist achieved for me years ago. As I transitioned into college as a pre-dental student, this is when I finally got to see dentistry firsthand and realized how much I could impact my future patients by relieving pain, creating beautiful smiles, and building confidence. All along my journey to dentistry, many people inspired me, especially fellow African-American female dentists. We comprise less than 3% of practicing dentists, so it’s nice to be able to look up to those of us who have made it.
I had pleasure of shadowing Dr. Kellie Johnson in Arlington, TX for over a year during my undergrad and she inspired me tremendously. Her beautiful practice is overflowing with patients who love and trust her with their smiles. She’s one of those dentists that does a little bit of everything and does it all with excellence. And she truly makes all her patients feel welcome and comfortable. Seeing Dr. Johnson practice helped me to envision myself as a dentist one day, and even as a practice owner. Diversity in dentistry is important because representation matters. There are many young people just waiting for someone to believe in them or waiting to see role models that look like them.
While in dental school, I learned about Ida Gray who was the first African-American dentist. She was born in 1867 and took an interest in dentistry while working in the office of Dr. Jonathan Taft. He was a mentor to her and instrumental in helping her get into dental school. When she graduated, she was the first African-American to practice dentistry in the nation. She set up her practice in Cincinnati, OH and saw patients of various races and ages. Her patient’s raved about how friendly and gentle she was and even kids loved to see her. As an African-American female dentist, she’s been extremely inspirational to me and to many others as well. Her story shows that no matter the odds or the challenges, if you are determined, you will succeed.
Now, in my third year of practicing, I still endeavor to be the kind of dentist Ida Gray was, gentle, kind, and willing to work hard to provide the best care for my patients. I'm so grateful for the privilege to make my patients smile every day, all while constantly exposing them to black excellence.
For all my African-American future dentists out there, just know that it IS possible and you CAN do it. Black history month is a great opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come as a people and how much farther we have to go. As we continue to pursue our dreams and excel, we are creating black history and inspiring the next generation, just like Ida Gray and Dr. Johnson did for me.
It’s been quite the year.
Coming into 2021, many of us were just hoping that this year would feel more “normal” than last year and that it would make up for everything we missed out on in 2020. For some, 2021 was a year full of amazing life events, blessings, and growth. For others, 2021 was a year of challenges and tragedy. For others still, it was somewhere in between.
2021 might not have necessarily been the year we were all expecting it to be but a lot of beautiful things happened this year and God revealed so much through it all.
At this time exactly a year ago, I had just found out that I was pregnant.
And now a year later, my bouncing baby boy is 4 months old and giggling with a face identical to mine. With all that’s happened this year, Isaac’s presence in my life is the highlight.
2021 was a year of new beginnings and new life for me.
Aside from his arrival into this world, there have been many other significant life events and lessons throughout 2021 for me. Here’s what I learned all while blooming through 2021.
January/February – Good news brings with it such joy.
I found out I was pregnant with baby #2. This was such a beautiful time of celebrating the upcoming new addition to my family and all the joy this new baby would one day bring. The excitement was mingled with anticipation as well as the early symptoms of pregnancy such as fatigue and nausea. In this season, I tried to shift my focus from the difficulties of being newly pregnant to the excitement of the bundle of joy to come.
March/April – God is truly in the details.
God began to reveal the details of some the things that would be taking place shortly. We found out that the baby inside me was a boy and where we would be moving later in the year. I was happy to have a healthy baby, but coming from a family of girls and having just had a girl, a baby boy was significant. I became very excited for all the “boy things” to come AND for our mother-son relationship. Also, after months of a tedious, challenging, and at times, discouraging job search, my husband landed his dream position right in the great state of Texas. I could see God’s hand in all the little details of my life.
May/June – Transitions are difficult but needed.
I finished up my time in Ohio and started the process of moving my entire life across the country back to Texas. Packing and moving while pregnant and with a toddler isn’t easy but I guess I’m a professional because I’ve moved across the country while pregnant TWICE now. Lol.
It was very hard to say goodbye to the life that we had made for ourselves in Ohio and the community we had built, but somehow, we said all our goodbye’s and flew/drove down. It was truly the definition of bittersweet, but it was an opportunity to begin again.
July/August – New beginnings are needed.
Now came the part where you unpack everything and settle in. How do I check my mail? Where’s the closest grocery store? Actually, more importantly – where’s the nearest Target? What church should I attend? Where’s a decent Thai place? Who can we hang out with?
Anyone who’s moved lately can identify with the feeling of starting over from scratch. I moved to a city I had visited years ago with only a few contacts there. But over these first few months living in San Antonio, I’ve already begun to love the city, the culture, the vibe and began to build a small community. I soon realized that I would love calling this place home for however long God keeps us here. I could’ve never anticipated the way this place would grow on me.
September/October – New life is a gift.
Isaac came into the world at the very end of August and changed everything. His name means “laughter” and we were all laughing in the delivery room because of how he arrived so quickly and easily. His arrival began an era of poopy diapers, sleepless nights, a unique breastfeeding journey, and everything in between. My two-year-old daughter became a big sister and stepped into this role beautifully. Together, she and her brother have filled our home with so much joy. My journey as a new mom of two has been challenging in so many ways physically and mentally and yet also so beautiful. I’m excited to raise them and all the fun days ahead.
November/December – What’s next?
As we look to a new year, I’m looking forward to the next chapter. My kids are growing older, my career is restarting, and my faith is being tested in many ways and growing.
So what’s next? What does 2022 have to offer? What will be the highlight reel of the year? Month by month, how will we see the hand of God writing our stories?
I know there will be challenges.
There will be hard days and moments and tests.
But there will also be joy, exciting transitions, new beginnings.
There will be growth.
There will be blooming.
If you’re reading this, thank you so much for always coming along for the journey and supporting this blog. It means a lot and I hope that when you come here, you always leave blooming and blessed. So as we start 2022, I wish you all the best and Happy New Year!
One of the most amazing times in a woman’s life is the season of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It’s truly such a beautiful time, carrying your baby and preparing to welcome this little life into the world. But this season also comes with a lot of challenges and difficulties as well.
Having just given birth just three months ago, I was inspired to create this guide of tips for each stage of pregnancy. I’m by no means an expert but these are a few helpful ideas I’ve compiled along the way, with a few that my friends and followers on Instagram shared!
And by the way, if you’re not already following me, you should! Find me @bloom_beryl or here:
Here we go from trimester one all the way to postpartum!
First Trimester (Weeks 0 -13)
You just found out you’re pregnant! So exciting! Congratulations!
What can you expect after this? And how can you navigate this initial period of baby’s development?
At first it feels like nothing is happening then the early symptoms kick in and you become acutely aware that a human being is growing inside you – a truly amazing feeling.
Second Trimester (Weeks 14-26)
You’ve made it a third of the way through! You’re beginning to feel a little better and more energetic. This was always my favorite time in pregnancy. It felt like I was in limbo between the early stages and the end. This is supposedly the best trimester in terms of symptoms so make the most of it.
Third Trimester (Weeks 27-40)
You’re in the home stretch! It’s almost time for baby to arrive, which can be very exciting and very scary at the same time. Enjoy these last few moments with your partner and any kids you might already have because life is about to change!
Fourth TrimesteR (Months 1-3)
Your precious little baby is finally here and you can begin your journey as the mama of a newborn. It’s such a beautiful moment when you first meet your baby. Nothing in the entire nine-month process could prepare you for this… But this begins an era of sleepless nights and MUCH more.
These are a few of my tips for pregnancy and postpartum. I hope that they were helpful in some way. Leave a comment down below letting me know what you think of this guide and anything you would add! And please share with all your pregnant or soon to be pregnant friends.
Author - Beryl
Beryl has a passion for writing pieces that uplift, inspire, and encourage you to bloom. She's been blogging since October 2018.