“All it takes is someone saying, you’re OK. I have your back and I won’t let anything happen to you. I’ll take care of you.” Women need to hear these words, according to Katherine Emrick—especially mothers.  

Katherine is the creator of Motherhood Rising, a platform that shares birthing stories of women all over the world. The content is raw and unedited, capturing the moment a woman is at her most vulnerable and her most powerful. It’s assimilating this duality that Katherine so beautifully captures and shares.  

A single mother of four, she’s also a writer and talks openly about living with depression and anxiety. “Over time your mind loses control of keeping things pushed away,” she explained. “Being a single mom is hard but it’s possible and women don’t feel like they can do it. They stay in unhappy relationships or they give up, and it’s because we’re told you can’t do it.”

Yet if anyone is testament to the fact that you can, Katherine is. Married and pregnant by the age of 16, she dropped out of high school. “My family told me if I decided to have the baby it would be my responsibility to raise him, no one was going to do it for me.” So she stayed home and raised her children.

Eight years later she was divorced. “I was 16 when we were married. I was a child with no idea who I wanted to be. You’re kind of confronted with the fact that the years have gone by and you’ve sacrificed everything… you have a lot of catching up to do.”

So Katherine moved to California to pursue her dreams, but immediately fell into another relationship. “I was completely codependent on someone else for my self worth, emotional support, everything. Being alone with myself was terrifying.”

Katherine ran away from home in her early teens and lived on the streets of Detroit. During this time she was raped multiple times—something that haunts her still. “I always felt like people had motives.” Her mom didn’t give up looking for her, eventually finding her, but they never talked about what had happened. “I felt like she didn’t listen or care about me because she was a single mom and didn’t have time to set aside for me. She juggled multiple jobs and struggled with her own mental health.”

Now a single mom herself, Katherine has searched continuously for the support she believed was lacking. This led her into work as a doula. “I saw things that were missing in mother’s care. Everyone just forgets about you after your baby’s born. You go from being the center of love and affection, and then you’re nobody.” At home, alone, exhausted, and depressed.

Cue Motherhood Rising, which has been a source of strength for both Katherine and her followers. “Other moms were like, I feel the same way. It was my support system,” she explained. She was no longer alone, but this didn’t stave off postpartum anxiety and panic attacks. “I’m working on that. A lot of introspection and crying, and figuring it out.” And she is figuring it out.

“My writing helps—I put it down and the thoughts go away, I’m not carrying them anymore. The feedback helps me. Other people can relate. I think I’m just doubtful of myself,” she added. “I just want my mom to say, even though you ran away, it wasn’t your fault. It won’t ever go away until your mom says you’re doing OK,” but maybe it will go away if we find a way to say it to ourselves?

“Be honest with yourself,” Katherine said. “If you feel like something is coming up that’s really hard to deal with, don’t suppress it. Feel it, work through it, talk to somebody if you need to. Do whatever it is that puts you into a safe place.”

We find that place when we allow ourselves to be both vulnerable and powerful—woman and mother. If, like Katherine, a mother can work to protect her own identity, she draws strength from this to protect her children too. “Don’t try to be everything for everyone. Save some of you for yourself. Don’t forget who you are and what you love, and don’t stop trying to be or do what you want for you.”

Featured image by Claire Jantzen

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