Mom 2 Mom is a recurring post that will feature influential Moms who are making strides in their careers and communities while managing the tests and trials of motherhood. We’ll discuss parenting, careers, and work life balance all through the eyes of today’s featured mom, Dr. Caren Cooper. We go back to middle school days, yall. (Purple Pups for life!) She is a mental health counselor by day and the owner of her own private practice by night. She also started the Black Moms Corner on all social media platforms. Caren is a 41-year-old wife and mother to Mia, the high school freshman; Chloe, the toddler, and a sweet baby boy, DC, age 6 months. She is and has always been an encouraging spirit with a gentle soul. Introducing…Caren.
You’ve come a long way from being a ticket seller at Astroworld (RIP). What have you been up to?
Full time gig: Mental health counselor at Texas Southern University
Side hustle gig: Private Practice Owner/Therapist – Cooper Counseling and Wellness; specializing in therapy for women, moms, moms-to-be and survivors of trauma
This is my dream job – being an owner of a mental health private practice providing services to enhance the wellbeing of the clients I serve.
What is the one thing you are truly passionate about?
After going through a traumatic birth experience earlier this year, and with my previous research on infant and maternal mortality rates among african american women/babies in Harris County, I am now passionate about advocating for the health and well-being of black moms and moms-to-be with a focus on mental health of course.
Would you share your son’s birth story?
This past May during a routine prenatal 20-week appointment, an ultrasound of my cervix showed that I had begun to experience the beginning process of preterm labor.
Despite an emergency cerclage being placed (stitch in my cervix), I delivered my micro preemie via an emergency c-section at 23 weeks 2 days gestation. He weighed only 1lbs 8oz at birth. He stayed 110 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
My 2 pregnancies prior to my son’s were easy and uneventful and I carried both full-term. I also had easy vaginal deliveries with both of them. So to experience preterm labor with my son was very unexpected to say the least. I had no health issues or any dietary/physical activity changes prior to his birth.
Doctors could not give me a clear answer as to why it happened. They said I experienced a complete placental abruption. All I kept hearing was “we don’t know why it happens, it just happens unfortunately.”
That did not bring me any comfort. So I have now devoted myself to bring awareness to premature births as well as provide specialized therapy and education services to mothers and moms-to-be. This is our story. A journey I never imagined being a part of but am now grateful for it.
Do you have a personal motto/mantra that you live by?
With all that I have experienced this year, my mantra is now “One Day At A Time”. It is a phrase commonly used in the NICU so that parents don’t get overwhelmed (too much) with worrying about the future of their premature babies. You literally have to take things ONE DAY AT A TIME. I applied that mantra to all areas of my life and it has helped me so much with staying focused on what is front of me and to not worry about unforeseeable things.
Have you ever thought “I can’t do this” and why?
Oh this has crossed my mind so many times. The most recent was at the beginning of 2020-2021 school year when the kids had to start school online. My son was still in the NICU, my teenager was starting her 9th grade year in high school at home and the toddler could not return to daycare because of the pandemic. So I found myself juggling working full-time from home, assisting my teenager as much as possible, going to spend time with my son in the hospital and tending to the needs of my toddler. To say balancing all of that was A LOT is a true understatement and I wanted to wave the white flag several times.
How would you describe your parenting style?
I believe that I am an authoritative parent (my teenager may disagree though). I enforce the rules but don’t run my household like a dictatorship. Some days I am “one of the kids”, dancing, singing and acting silly, while other days I am the enforcer/punisher because they have “tried me” and I have to remind them of the rules of the land lol.
Lastly, what advice would you give to your younger Mom self?
I would tell myself that there is no such thing as a perfect mom, one parenting style does NOT fit all, and do what’s best for you and your family.
Currently, Dr. Caren is accepting new clients. If you would like more information, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-332-3982.