Pageantry is a relatively new part of my life. I did not grow up competing in pageants – I didn’t compete in my first pageant until I was 31 years old. Pageants were something I had always wanted to try for many years, but never had the self confidence to do.
Today I am serving as Mrs. New York USA Ambassador 2020. I will be competing for the title of Mrs. USA Ambassador in July 2020.
In addition to holding the title of Mrs. New York USA Ambassador, I also hold one of the best and most important titles of all: mom and wife. I have been married to my amazing husband, Beau, for nearly eleven years and together we have two daughters, Natalie and Chloe.
I decided to begin competing in pageants in 2015 following my second experience with a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD). I suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of my oldest daughter and postpartum anxiety after my second daughter. This time of my life was incredibly difficult. I felt alone, inadequate and guilty, and suffered from anxiety attacks. I didn’t feel much hope of feeling like “myself” again until attending a family night at a support group. A mom shared her experience with postpartum depression and how she got through it, going on to eventually volunteer with the Postpartum Resource Center of New York. That night I made a promise to myself to help other mothers once I was better because I was so happy to have been given hope. And I decided that pageantry would be an amazing platform upon which to raise awareness for postpartum depression.
Being a “pageant queen” is lots of fun, with all the glitz and glam you could probably imagine – a beautiful sash, sparkly crown, attending amazing events and sharing a sisterhood with other contestants.
But being a pageant titleholder is so much more that. As a queen, I also work incredibly hard volunteering and serving my community. I have been volunteering with the Postpartum Resource Center of New York (postpartumny.org) for nearly five years. I speak at events, trainings, support groups and seminars, assist with fundraising events and participate in the advocacy committee. I also volunteer for various fundraisers and community events held by other organizations, including charity fashion shows, zumba-thons, 5ks, community clean-up events and more.
Balancing two children, a family and a pageant title is definitely a challenge at times. It’s not always east managing everyone’s schedules, homework, activities and family time. My family, of course, is always my number one priority. But have learned to ask for help when I need it. My volunteer and advocacy work is incredibly important to me, so I am very blessed to have the support of my husband, family and an amazing babysitter to help me when needed. I could not be a the pageant queen I am without them!
I am also fortunate to volunteer for the PRCNY, who has welcomed my two children to the organization and understand the delicate balancing act that mothers and fathers have. I love to include my daughters in volunteering and community activities whenever possible. One of our favorite things to do is shop together for toys and food for children and families in need around the holidays.
I had no idea how much pageantry would give back to me when I began competing. Pageants have helped me to grow as a person, learn so much about myself and gave me the courage to write my own book, Me, Again: How Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Transformed My Life. I am so grateful for the experiences my family and I have had on this journey and look forward to what lies ahead for us.
If you or someone you know is in need of help with postpartum depression in New York State, the Postpartum Resource Center of New York is an amazing resource – they have a directory, information, a state-wide help line and more. Visit online at postpartumny.org or call the statewide Helpline at 855-631-0001.
Outside of New York, Postpartum Support International is full of information, a Helpline, online and telephone support groups and more. Visit their website at them at postpartum.net.
Bridget Croteau lives in Suffolk County, New York with her husband, Beau, their two children, Natalie and Chloe and labradoodle, Jake. She is the author of Me, Again: How Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Transformed My Life. Bridget is also serving as Mrs. New York USA Ambassador 2020 to raise awareness for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and to help moms, dads and families feel less alone. Follow her on Facebook @MrsSuffolkCounty2015, on Instagram @mrsnewyorkusaambassador_2020 or check our her website at bridgetcroteau.wixsite.com/bridget.