Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week! We’re back with a new CNSM Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law. As a mom to three young children who also has experience with pregnancy loss, Lauren Ratliff knows first hand how difficult all stages of becoming a mother and longing to be a mother can take on. And even with her real-life experience at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as a social worker on labor/delivery and postpartum units, that alone was not enough to prepare her for her very real-life experiences. “Having a baby was a complete shock to my system,” she recounts. “Shock” turned into action, and Lauren bundled that entrepreneurial pull to help others, along with her background and personal experience into Matrescence Therapy.
Get to know this North Shore born and raised Wilmette mom of 3 littles and the founder of Matrescence Therapy, Lauren Ratliff, LCSW, PMH-C. Welcome, Lauren!
Hi Lauren! We’re excited to meet you. Please introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Lauren Ratliff. I’m a mom of three and the owner of Matrescence Therapy, a mental health therapy practice that specializes in supporting women through fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and motherhood.
I’m originally from Lake Forest, and my husband is from Lake Bluff. We moved from Lincoln Park to Wilmette about two and a half years ago.
I have three little ones: Finley is 4, Blair is 2, and Hudson is 1. Our house is pure chaos and insanity-as you can imagine. Finley is introspective and empathetic, and a true “look before you leap” kid. Blair is our wild child who keeps us laughing all day long. Hudson’s on the move and trying desperately to keep up with his big siblings. The bond that the three of them have started to form is by far my favorite part of parenting.
What are one or two fun facts to know about you?
It’s so hard to come up with fun facts! My great great uncle was the winner of the very first Indy 500, and also invented the rear view mirror!
After my dad passed away five years ago, my brothers and I started a non profit called The Reaumond Foundation to support pancreatic cancer research and families impacted by this disease. It’s raised nearly two million dollars since we started.
What are your favorite North Shore places, spaces and eats to frequent?
We’ve been hitting the beach big time this summer. Growing up here, I didn’t realize how unbelievable it is to live in a place that’s right on the lake. Watching our kids discover and enjoy it has been such a gift.
Honestly, in this phase of life, it’s hard to get out much at all! We’re trying to lean into it knowing that at some point we’ll be more fun 🙂 We’ve been loving all the kid friendly spots on the north shore lately – Fred’s Garage, Valley Lodge Tavern, Guildhall, Napolita… there’s so many around here!
What gets you through a tough day?
Running! Running has been such a staple for my mental health for so long now. It gives me alone time and helps me quiet my mind. I always feel like I have a new perspective on things after a long run.
We love mantras! Do you have a mantra that speaks to you either in your personal life or your professional life?
“It won’t be like this for long.” It gives me perspective when things are both great or really difficult, which often exists at the same time. We tell young parents all the time to enjoy all the moments because they go by so quickly. We also remind them that the exhaustion, overstimulation, and overwhelming everything shifts, too.
You are a mental health professional (LCSW, PMH-C). Please introduce the mental health practice that you founded, Matrescence Therapy.
Matrescence Therapy is a virtual mental health practice that specializes in infertility, pregnancy and loss, postpartum, and the journey into motherhood. Matrescence is such a powerful term – it describes the emotional, hormonal, social, and psychological changes that occur when someone becomes a mother.
I founded Matrescence Therapy after spending much of my career in women’s health as a social worker in the medical setting. When I had kids, my whole perspective shifted and I knew that the reproductive time period was where I wanted to focus my career. I thought I would be so prepared for postpartum because I worked as a postpartum/labor and delivery social worker and I knew so many moms. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Having a baby was a complete shock to my system. I realized quickly that there is so little support specific to women during fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum, and I am so passionate about changing women’s experiences. Women deserve to be validated and supported during one of the most transformative times of their lives.
I have since expanded and have a team of therapists who also specialize in perinatal mental health. They are all moms themselves, and many of them have gone through fertility challenges, miscarriages, pregnancy issues, postpartum and motherhood struggles, so they have first hand experience of what many of the women we work with are going through.
Do you have personal experience with pregnancy loss?
I had an early loss prior to my first child being born. Even though I worked in this field, I didn’t anticipate the impact it would have on me both physically and mentally. After our first was born, I struggled with postpartum anxiety, isolation, and breastfeeding challenges. It was such an adjustment for me in every way possible. Everything about my life felt so foreign to me; my relationships, my body, my marriage, my job, my identity, the list goes on… Medication, therapy, mom friends, and my husband’s support got me through some challenging times.
What exactly is a LCSW, PMH-C?
An LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a PMH-C means that I am specialized in perinatal (pregnancy/postpartum) mental health.
What did you do prior to launching Matresence Therapy?
I worked at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as a social worker. I mostly worked in the women’s health space, first on labor/delivery and postpartum units. I then worked at a program within outpatient OB GYN offices that supported women through fertility, pregnancy and loss, and postpartum issues. After I had my second baby I knew it was the right time to launch my own practice.
What is your process with clients the first time they come to you for prenatal, postnatal and pregnancy loss support?
When a client reaches out for support, I’m typically the first point of contact. I get to know what they are looking for and how they’ve been feeling. Based on that, I connect them with a therapist that would be the best fit for them. I want it to be a comfortable and easy process. Some clients do therapy for a short time to work on coping strategies to feel better, and some are with us for awhile. Some of my clients that I started working with after their first baby now are onto their third. It’s been amazing to watch them thrive!
Do your clients see you in person or virtually?
We are completely virtual! This makes therapy so accessible for moms. People can meet with us during nap times, lunch hours at work, in the evenings, whenever! We love having babies in sessions.
What about insurance?
We are in network with BCBS, United Healthcare, and Cigna.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about yourself or your business?
We also work with dads and couples!
There truly is nothing more spectacular than becoming a parent. We can love our babies and kids but also acknowledge how difficult, clunky, and overwhelming it can be. Therapy can be a great way to hold space for both of those feelings.
And your contact dets?
About our Meet of Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here! Contact Mary directly here: [email protected].