How a Japanese concept is helping me become a better mother and human.Read More
Today was a tough day at our house. I wasn't feeling great, we were all recovering from a weekend trip so everyone was off their game, and we were all feeling a little grumpy. You know those days, where you're wishing for bedtime at 2pm and feel like you could have a meltdown at any moment. I know I'm not alone in feeling like this! I dealt with similar emotions a lot when dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression. Here are five things I did to help us get through the day:
Even if it's just the backyard or front yard for 10 minutes, get out there. A change of scene and hopefully some sunshine did me a lot of good. The kids get to run around and get rid of some energy, too. Feeling the sunshine and breeze on my skin helps calm me down.
Whether it's a mama friend, your mom, or someone you haven't spoken to in a while, reach out and call them. No texts or no emails. This works the best if it's actual talking. There's something about hearing the voice of someone you've been thinking about that is so satisfying. Plus, I bet you'll make their day if you reach out to them.
Move Your Body
We all know you can head outside when the weather's nice, but what can we do if it's raining, cold, or snowing? Dance parties are one of my favorite ways to shake up an ordinary afternoon. You'll often see snippets of them on my Instagram story. Not only does it get me up and moving, but it helps my kids go wild. I have so much fun being silly with my boys. Yoga is another great way to move around. We are big fans of Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube, which is easy for my kindergartner to do and my toddler to follow. There are even themed sessions for your little Jedi or Frozen enthusiast. The best part is that the videos are free!
Eat or Drink Something
We're often so busy taking care of everyone else that we don't take very good care of ourselves. I don't mean massages and pedicures as a form of self care, I am referring to fulfilling the basic need of food and water. I've gone many a day where 4pm hits and I realize that my splitting headache is from a lack of food. Pop in a Hershey kiss or piece of dark chocolate, eat an apple, or make yourself a smoothie. Remember that you can't nurture with an empty tank!
Take a Mommy Break
Make sure the kids are in a safe area and let them play while you go to another room of the house. I've been known to escape to our master bedroom while the kids play in our mostly safe living room. I'm not gone for long, only 5 minutes or so, and I keep an ear out for screams or squabbles. Even if it's using the bathroom in peace (hey, we've all peed with an audience), a little alone time can be a great quick fix.
When I feel like I'm going going to have a meltdown, I notice that it helps to lower my standards of mothering until the moment passes. Sometimes all I have the ability to do is the bare minimum. This was never more true than when I was dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety. While we watched more TV than I would've liked, my kids were fed and they were safe. Sometimes just enough is the best we can do and that's okay. We are enough.
How do you cope when you've reached the end of your rope? Let me know in the comments!
Pin this post
After 27 months of breastfeeding, R weaned a few weeks ago. We began the weaning process just after his second birthday in May, but I wanted to move slowly. He is my last baby; since I won't be breastfeeding ever again, I really wanted to make sure it was something we were both ready for.
Over the course of a week, we moved from a few times a day down to just nap/bed time. That slowly transitioned to once every few days. After about 5 days of not nursing, I started to notice a change in my mood: I went from feeling normal to feeling really angry, I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, I didn't want to leave the house, I was exhausted despite doing next to nothing all day. I recognized these symptoms as matching up with my postpartum depression and anxiety. After speaking to my husband, he acknowledged that my behavior seemed to have changed drastically.
I bet you can guess what I did next. I put that toddler back to the breast for two reasons: I was starting to feel full/uncomfortable, and I didn't want to go down that road again. Depression during or after weaning is not unusual (read more here and here), but it is not studied very often. Many moms report feeling sadness or grief, especially if they weaned before they were ready to do it. If you notice symptoms of depression in yourself during or after weaning, please reach out to your health care provider ASAP. You're not alone in your emotions!
Over the next few days, I made sure to nurse once a day (usually bed time) while doing the things my therapist suggested I do to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. I noticed my mood stayed more normal (whatever that means) and I felt better emotionally. One night, R didn't want to nurse. He said, "no, Mommy," and cuddled up to me instead. That was that, he was done. I haven't offered since that night and it has been about 2 weeks since he last showed an interest in breastfeeding. We had made it 27 and a half months. Now when I ask him if he wants milk, he runs to the fridge in the kitchen. Yup, definitely done.
I'm sad to see this chapter in my life end. It helped me reduce my risk of certain types of cancer, helped my sons reduce their risk for diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and it made them healthy and strong. Breastfeeding not only helped me nourish my sons, it helped give me a focus and direction in my life. My journey with my oldest helped me realize that I wanted to support and advocate for breastfeeding mothers. To say it played a big role in my life would be an understatement. You wouldn't be reading this blog post without it!
While there is sadness, there is also joy. Joy in the next chapter of my life as a mother, in wearing shift dresses, in sharing my experience with others in hopes of helping them. Now I will have to parent without my breasts, which is both thrilling and scary. I'll still be discussing breastfeeding and #bfingstyle on the blog, that is one thing that won't change. With that, I raise this large glass of wine or cup of coffee, depending on what time it is as you read this, to my breasts. Thank you for nourishing my babies, for helping define me in such a big way, and for not completely disappearing now that breastfeeding is over.
Pin this post
Trigger warning: anxiety attack
In honor of National Breastfeeding Month in the US, I reached out to mom friends and asked them to share their breastfeeding stories. Women can have a plethora of emotions associated with breastfeeding - it's not all butterflies and rainbows. Sometimes the negative emotions can be a sign of a perinatal mood disorder. Amy sent me her story of breastfeeding her oldest son through postpartum depression and anxiety.
My breastfeeding story includes such a wide range of emotions. I loved it. And I absolutely hated it. I breastfed my two babies (now 5 and 3) for 14 months each. It’s been two of the greatest accomplishments of my life. It was definitely easier the second time around having more confidence and wisdom, but I really struggled with my first baby.
I had a Caesarian birth with my first, and was in the hospital for 5 days since my baby had jaundice. My milk did not come in until day 6 postpartum. It was a long, tearful, and scary 6 days not being able to feed my crying, screaming baby. I was so lucky that he latched on right away. It felt like winning a gold medal! He was always ready to eat, but I had nothing to give him. I used an SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) tube to help feed a small amount to formula to him while he was latched onto my breast. This ‘hamster feeding tube’ as I quickly nicknamed it was a life saver. It helped satisfy my baby without pulling him away from my breast. It felt like a huge victory!
On day 6 postpartum when my milk finally came in, I felt a wave of burning energy, heat, and anxiety flow through my body. It was very intense, scary, and I did not know what was happening. I felt like the ceiling was crashing down on me, and that there was not enough air in the room to properly breathe. I was literally gasping for air. I tried to take a shower to relax, but I felt like I was drowning standing up in the water. I had to open every window in my house, even though it was December and very cold outside. My body temperature was burning hot. I could not sleep, could not drink water, could not swallow any food, and I constantly felt like my heart was going to explode. I would feed my baby, and would feel so claustrophobic I would have to put him down the second he was done eating. It felt like I was constantly suffocating. And I was in so much pain from my c-section, that I wanted to claw the skin off my body. Now that it’s been 5 years, and I can look back at that time with 20/20 vision, I now know it was the start of my postpartum anxiety and depression.
I had so many triggers that would cause postpartum panic attacks, and unfortunately breastfeeding was one of them. However, I was so determined to breastfeed my baby, like it was the greatest mission of my life, that I silently struggled through these feelings, and learned how to pretend like everything was ok. I would breastfeed my baby and look at his face and love everything about those special moments. He was my miracle baby and I loved him so much. But then 10 seconds later, I would put him down and not want to hold him again, and felt the urge to run away. I would constantly ask myself what kind of mother am I to feel this way? How could I want this baby for so long, and then feel like I had to run away all the time? The guilt was tremendous and all consuming. I felt like I was truly an unfit mother. Then the freight train of emotions and thoughts truly began. I doubted my ability to care for my newborn, I doubted my marriage, I doubted every decision I made.
These panic attacks were consistent during the first 6 months postpartum, and I continued to breastfeed through them all. I then started to feel more joy breastfeeding, and less claustrophobic. I felt more connected to my baby, and the urge to run way was less. But my feelings shifted to more anger, rage and frustration. I was so mad that no one was helping me. That I asked for help from my OB, and I was completely overlooked and forgotten. I was mad at the moms that seemed to have it all figured out. I was mad at the sight of my breast pump. I was mad at my husband for not making me feel better, and for not understanding what I was going through. I was so alone, and so sad. Around 9 months postpartum I was convinced my husband and I were going to get a divorce. I could not stand to even look at him. And this was so unsettling because I truly loved (and still love today) my husband, and thought he was the greatest man alive. We were able to work through it, and after my son’s first birthday, I started to see a sliver of hope for myself, and my marriage.
I decided to wean my son when he was 14 months, and luckily we both had a smooth transition. My anger began to subside, and I gained more confidence in my ability to care for a small human. I felt like I was finally able to enjoy the small things I used to enjoy before, like simply going outside for a long walk. I was able to look at my son and see that he was thriving. He was a happy, outgoing, loving kid, and it was the reassurance that I needed that everything was going to be ok.
Today my son is 5 years old, and just started kindergarten. I look back over these past years, and it truly feels like the longest, shortest time. I am thankful that I was able to breastfeed him, and I feel so proud for finding a deep strength from within to overcome all the obstacles along the way. It ignited a deep love and understanding within me for all women, in all situations. We are all so different, and everyone has a story of struggle and triumph. And everyone’s story matters. The beautiful gift about being a woman, and now being a mom, is that I can hopefully help other moms with unconditional love and support. We all need each other.
Amy's experience (and huge challenges) having her own two children ignited her passion for supporting moms during the vulnerable postpartum transition. She suffered severe postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of her first child. It was this difficult experience that shifted her path from working in the corporate world to helping moms throughout their postpartum recovery. She is a certified Placenta Encapsulator, Postpartum Doula, and owner of Mama Peace. She specializes in helping moms struggling with Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs). Amy volunteers with The Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas (PPHA) on the Board of Directors, and as a Postpartum Doula. Amy lives in Austin, Texas.
Pin this post
I used to be a working mom. I went back to work full time when my oldest was 12 weeks old. I dutifully pumped my breastmilk three times a day, spent every moment not at work snuggling this ever changing little boy, and dreamt of the day I could quit my 9-5 and stay home with him. I worked from the time he was 3 months old until he was just over 3 years old. My high risk pregnancy gave me a taste of SAHM life, but I became official after resigning from my job following the birth of my youngest.
The transition to staying home wasn't a smooth one for me. I had a real sense of pride from earning paychecks and getting praise for a job well done. When you're at home, there are no paychecks and praise can be sparse. Perhaps it was the move to a new city or my PPD and anxiety, but I had a difficult adjustment period. I was finally living my dream, but found myself wishing for the life I once had. Here are a few things no one told me about being a SAHM.
Being at home can be lonely
The only interaction I got during the day was from my children. Unless we went to a grocery store, I wouldn't speak to another adult until my husband got home from work. It didn't change until I found a mom-centric exercise group. Working out outdoors and being around other mothers made it less lonely. There were occasional playdates and the dance of making a new mom friend. I am glad to have Facebook to keep in touch with old friends, but for me, it isn't a good substitute for face to face interaction. Finding a local moms group through Meetup, Facebook, or a religious organization can help ease the loneliness.
Deadlines are now nap time and lunch time
Rather than deadlines for large and expensive projects, I was dealing with sleepy or hungry (usually both) kids. Both are challenging in their own way. It helped me greatly to figure out a routine, even if nap time was a ballpark rather than an exact point. Just as I'd stop my work to go to a meeting, I'd make sure I was close to home when it got close to nap time. If that wasn't an option for me, I'd make sure I had my baby carrier to help him fall asleep. Routine helped a lot, but it was important to be flexible.
Multitasking is still the name of the game
Making sandwiches while on the phone with the pediatrician, breastfeeding on the couch while reading my oldest a story, folding laundry while doing a puzzle, and even more. As mothers we never stop doing more than one thing at once. Despite the juggling act, I tried hard to set aside a little bit of time to focus on just my oldest child. We would do something just for him and he would have my undivided attention - no laundry, no phone, no little brother (this was only accomplished during nap time).
Make time for yourself
This was a big one for me. My therapist told me that we as mothers tend to pour from our cup for everyone else. By the time we get to us, our cup is empty. When our cup is empty, that's when we lose our cool with loved ones and can start to feel down. Self care is vital for me: it helps me focus on myself instead of everyone else. It doesn't have to be a day at the spa, little things can make a big difference in the long term. A glass of wine and my favorite mindless TV show after the kids go to bed, a solo grocery store trip (two birds with one stone!), or even a few extra minutes to put on makeup help me fill my cup. Cultivate a hobby, join an athletic league, pray or meditate, or take a hot bath. Do whatever you need to honor yourself and your current place in life.
Now that I've been a stay at home mom for about 18 months, I have found my groove. We have a good routine, I'm able to meet up with mom friends, and I can take a few minutes for myself every day. While the initial period wasn't easy, I am grateful for the opportunity to watch my youngest grow. Rather than miss out on his milestones, I am present to see them. I call him my BBF - best baby friend. Even though there are some not so great days, I love my new role. If you're adjusting to life as a new stay at home mom, remember to give yourself some grace. It is an adjustment and will take some time.
Pin this post
A few days ago, the US Preventative Services Task Force announced a recommendation for healthcare providers to screen pregnant women and new mothers for depression. The Task Force shared the following statistics: 9% of pregnant women and 10% of new moms will go through a major depressive episode. The recommendation also stated that women who were diagnosed with perinatal access be given access to resources and effective care.
A well-known author took to social media and claimed that the recommendation above was nothing more than a plot to sell more drugs. Rather than take medication, she suggested that women diagnosed with postpartum depression meditate, pray, and eat better. She said that these are normal hormonal changes and mood changes postpartum. Telling a woman who is trying to make sense of her feelings, "oh honey, it's nothing. Just try to eat better," is patronizing and dangerous. She will be less likely to seek help for fear of judgement and shame.
Meditation, exercise, diet, fresh air, therapy, and prayer are great ways to treat PPD, but sometimes they don't work. No matter how much we meditate or work out or pray or eat clean or go outside, we still feel like hollow shells. The rage still boils over. The sadness and anxiety don't stop. Sometimes we need medication in addition. Medication is not failure. Medication is not the easy way out, selling out to big pharma, or anything in that nonsensical line of thinking.
To suggest that the recent recommendation to screen for perinatal depression is a way to sell more drugs is ludicrous. My children deserve a mother who isn't always angry. They deserve a mother who can leave the house. Backwards thinking does like the comments above do nothing to help mothers who are just trying to get through the day. We need to end the stigma surrounding perinatal mood disorders, not make women feel ashamed for choosing to medicate. No woman should suffer in silence. We need to support a woman's decision to treat her perinatal mood disorder in the way that works best for her.
So here's my story: I had postpartum anxiety and depression after the birth of my youngest son. I actually suspect my issues began during pregnancy - it literally went from low risk to high risk overnight. Postpartum I wasn't always sad, but I was very angry. I would go from normal to white hot anger. The ,people I loved the most were walking on eggshells. I was so lonely, but couldn't bring myself to leave the house because of the what ifs. I was struggling and I felt like I was drowning. With the help of my loving family, a good group of friends, and a phenomenal therapist, I'm on the other side and out of the fog.
To any woman reading this who thinks she may be 1 in 7, there is help out there. There are wonderful and supportive professionals who will listen and not judge. There are other women going through the fog and surrounded by darkness. You are not alone.
A year ago I was starting down the path of healing from postpartum depression and anxiety. I had started seeing an amazing therapist and with her encouragement, had begun to take little steps towards feeling like myself. She really recommended self care, but specified that it didn't have to be monumental, it could be incremental. The first and easiest step for me was taking care of my outside when I felt up to it.
What started a year ago is still very much alive and well most days of the week. It is 3 extra minutes after a shower while the baby is still asleep so I can put on a swipe of mascara and eyeliner. Some days I get lucky and have enough time to put thought into what I will wear that isn't a pair of yoga pants. It's spending a few extra minutes on myself before I spend the rest of the day caring for everyone else.
It can seem like such a trivial thing and may make me seem superficial to those that don't know what I've been dealing with. This is why I wear makeup. This is why I purposefully pick out my clothes. Because if I am wearing bright pink lipstick, then I'll feel bright and happy. Because for a few minutes a day, I can feel like my normal self and not the angry shell of the person I used to be. This is not to make a statement, or make myself seem like some kind of mom who has it all (HA!). This is to simply feel like me. This is my instant pick-me-up. This is worth it. I am worth it.
As I've started shadowing my IBCLC mentors, I've found a recurring theme among the women I've seen. It's something I've forgotten in the months since my son's birth, even though it was just last year. It is how vulnerable a postpartum mother is.
We prepare ourselves for birth and breastfeeding by taking classes and reading books, yet there is little to no instruction given to women about the tumultuous postpartum period. In addition to recovering from a major life event, new mothers are often hormonal, sleep deprived, and hurting. There can be sore nipples, sore bottoms, and some are recovering from Caesarian birth. They've just started taking care of a tiny screaming always hungry being, but may be doubting their body or feeding choice. They're at once consumed with a powerful supernatural love and sheer terror. Their whole world has been flipped upside down and many do not feel comfortable voicing insecurities and concerns.
It saddens me that many new mothers don't have a tribe of experienced female family members and friends to surround her and help her navigate the first several weeks. I do not have family in state, but was very fortunate to have family members fly in to help me take care of myself and my boys after they were born. Dinner was taken care of, my sink never had a dirty dish in it for more than 10 minutes, and someone was available to snuggle with the baby so I could nap. I relied on my relatives and close friends helping as my family adjusted.
I feel that support should be like a bullseye. In the middle is the mother, new baby, and their immediate family. The next ring out consists of close relatives and friends. The ring beyond that would be a larger group of friends and relatives, and so on and so on. The support system would work fluidly: an outer ring could step in to assist the center ring as needed.
Thankfully I am noticing more and more that people are bringing back the village. Mothers are supporting each other postpartum and far beyond. Lifelong friendships are being made, sisterhoods are being forged. Motherhood can be very isolating, but it does not have to be. More and more women are noticing the vulnerability and stepping in to make a world of difference. Even if there's a significant amount of distance between friends, technology helps us stay in touch. We are finding our tribes once again, only this time we have FaceTime.
I've been struggling a bit as I get settled into this new groove involving lecture videos, babysitters, reading, and clinical hours. I realize this will take some time to get used to, but I am ready to be in a routine. Where's the fast forward button? This week has been especially stressful, and it's only Wednesday. To be completely frank, I've been second guessing my decision to take this class at this time. Yesterday I decided that I was done feeling sorry for myself and wanted to get rid of this funk. Here's what helped me:
- Just Dance. I had some kid-free time alone while my oldest was at school and my youngest was at the sitter's. I turned on some good tunes (Ryan Adam's album of Taylor Swift covers) and danced like no one was watching. It was fun, I was silly, and it lifted my mood.
- Hug It Out. Psychotherapist Virginia Satir said, "We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth." Hugging increases levels of oxytocin (oh haaaai love hormone!), just like milk letdown with breastfeeding. Even a 10 second hug can improve your mood. I saw a friend today while at Target and she gave me a big hug after I talked to her about my tough few days. I felt so much better afterwards. Hug your dog, hug your kid, hug your partner, hug somebody.
- Pray or meditate. Breathe deeply. Focus on yourself, on your thoughts and then let go of them. Clear your mind and feel like a brand new person. By silencing outside distractions, you can really focus on what's bothering you. Tuning in to your sadness, guilt, or anxiety can help you figure out if a specific action needs to happen in order for you to move on.
- Gratitude. I recently began documenting one thing I am thankful for at the end of each day. I write it in my planner and it helps me remember that things aren't so bad. I can go back a few weeks to a particularly good day and remember what made it so good. While I like to keep mine to myself, you may prefer to share your gratitude on social media. Whatever works.
How do you break out of a funk? Leave a comment with your best ideas
|Image from Flickr/Otama|
- Motherhood, Wifedom, and Family: After a very difficult year adjusting to my new role as a stay at home mom, I'm starting to enjoy my new role. I am thankful to be home to watch Rohan grow. I'm still working on being a gentle and patient parent, but aren't we all? I'm very thankful for my husband's unflinching support and his uncanny ability to know me better than I know myself.
- Body acceptance: I lost a lot of weight while pregnant on bed rest, but I lost most of my muscle as well. I've been building it back slowly. The mirror and I still aren't friends on some days, but I feel stronger than I have in a long time. This body has grown and nurtured two strong little boys and it is amazing.
- Self acceptance: This is where I feel like I have made a lot of progress, thanks to therapy. Postpartum depression and anxiety turned me into someone I didn't know. I yelled all the time and felt angry and sad all at once. Everyone around me walked on eggshells, afraid I would snap if they did something I didn't like. I didn't want my children to remember me as the mother who yelled a lot. I've come to realize that I am not a super hero. I'm a mom trying to make it from one day to the next while doing what's best for her family. Self care has helped me recharge my batteries and I am a better wife and mom for it.
- IBCLC: I'm still on track to sit for the exam in 2016. I'll find out soon whether I got into the pathway 2 class I still need.
33 was one of the hardest years of my life. I've come a long way from where I was less than a year ago. While there are some days when I don't want to get out of bed, I enjoy being home with my children. We are laying down roots in our new city. I am making friends. I am finally feeling like myself for the first time in ages. I'm thankful for a new year and a fresh start. I sincerely hope the next year brings me more happiness, more friends, and a greater sense of self.
This is how it felt. Sunshine and lightness seemed far away and barely there. The heavy, cold, and dark obscuring the warmth. I don't remember when it started. I just remember sadness and anger. The people I love walking on egg shells because the slightest thing could trigger the Rage. It is uncontrollable with a hair trigger. I'm not proud of it. The hurt I caused to my loved ones by yelling and saying things I did not mean.
I have spotty memories of the first few months of my last baby's life. All I remember is being angry and crying and hating. I can never get them back. I have photos that I'm not in. I have a preschooler that still seems afraid of me. I have a marriage I am still trying to fix. But I have an almost 1 year old that still lights up when he sees me. He has been my everything through this. I need that baby as much as he needs me.
I feel like I have a year or more to make up to my family. But I made it out of the fog and the darkness. The rage is under control. The heaviness has dissipated, but I know it can envelop me again. I work extra hard to make sure it doesn't - precious time alone, exercise, therapy, reaching out and admitting I need help. I don't want to go back there. I don't want us to go back there.
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine."I would sing this to him while he was in my belly, before I knew he was a he. Rocking and rolling, hiccuping and kicking. The months of bed rest when it would just be he and I, all day long. Again and again, I would sing to him. In whispers, through tears, a wide range of emotions, but always rubbing my belly. Feeling his jabs while rubbed some unseen part of him. I still sing it now and he calms down instantly. Does he remember?
"You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you."The last year has been difficult. I felt a lot of anger and resentment towards nearly everyone in my life. Except for him. He was the bright spot in a seemingly bleak existence. My constant companion, he goes with me almost everywhere. A part of me was thrilled that he didn't take to solids until nearly 9 months old. It was the perfect reason to have my littlest love with me. I was his sole source of nutrition. I am his primary source of comfort. In my arms, strapped to my chest in a carrier, on my hip. A continuation of the closeness we had during the pregnancy. Someone to love me unconditionally when I felt unlovable. Innocent and pure, without conditions.
"Please don't take my sunshine away."I still feel a certain level of anxiety when someone else is watching him, even if it's his dad. No one can take care of him like I take care of him. I've said that out loud more than once. My hesitance to hire a babysitter is because of my anxiety. I don't want anything to happen to him. I worked so hard to stay pregnant that I'm scared of him getting hurt now that he's earth side. I feel like I'm sacrificing my sanity and my cup runs empty because of these worries. But I'm working on it. I'm trusting others more. I'm leaving the house for a few hours at a time, by myself. I'm taking time out for self care. I've been seeing a therapist. It will get better, I'll have less anxiety and intruding thoughts. But you, my little love. You will always be my sunshine.
I lost trust in my body over a year ago. From the day I found out my cervix was failing me, whatever self love I had stopped dead. I didn't know if I would carry the pregnancy to term or even close to term. A half dozen trips to Labor and Delivery because I thought I was in labor didn't help either. Laying in bed for nearly 4 months made me lose weight in the form of muscle. For once I was loving the numbers on the scale, but I was hating why they were so low. The thought of a long labor was nerve wracking. How would I handle those contractions?? I would get winded walking from the bedroom to the kitchen.
After R was born, I was thrilled to be a size smaller than I was pre-pregnancy. Everyone kept telling me how great and tiny I looked. Round the clock breastfeeding and an insatiable appetite made it hard to keep the weight off, but I knew that nourishing my tiny baby was more important than the label in my pants. The move to a new city, the PPD, and anxiety caused me to use food as a crutch and I gained weight. The poor food choices and lack of exercise caught up with me. I hated the way I looked in the mirror. I didn't bother to get dressed most days, staying in pajamas and ordering online so I wouldn't have to go to the store.
I was unhappy with so much and it was leaking into all aspects of my life: motherhood, being a wife, sister, friend, and daughter. Thankfully therapy has helped me come out of the fog of PPD and (most of the) anxiety. I'm at a point now where I joined a mom's fitness group and go at least twice a week for an hour. I can bring the baby, if I need to stop and nurse, it's no big deal. We all try to calm each others kids down when they're cranky from being in a stroller.
My body feels stronger. I feel stronger. I feel good. I am still not 100% where I want to be, but I know I'm getting there. I have more energy, I'm eating better. I'm making friends, including that mama tribe I (we) so desperately need. We are friends now, my body and I. Certainly not best friends, but we are getting there. I'm proud of the new muscles I'm building. I love being able to carry my 24 pound chunky baby, and it not hurt my arm or back.
I don't think I'll ever be 120 pounds, but that's okay. My job to be strong enough to keep up with my boys. I will not let anyone make me feel bad for the way I look. To all you mamas who are angry with your body, to those who've lost trust in it, know it gets better. To those who feel they need to come up with rules about who wears what and when, focus on yourself and your life. And kiss my ass.
Edit: Trigger warning The video "Body Love" by Mary Lambert made me cry hard. It's very powerful, but could be incredibly triggering for some.
I recently posted on my Facebook page that I'm feeling more like myself than I have in ages. Thankfully it's still true. I believe a large part of that is forcing myself to get dressed and get us out of the house. Since I'm trying to make things as easy as possible, I've noticed that I have a mom uniform: skinny jeans and a t-shirt. It's certainly more functional than fancy, but it's a small step towards coming out of the fog.
Most days, my mom uniform consists of a plain t-shirt. I've been changing it up very slightly by wearing graphic tees. The tees are easy enough to wear grocery shopping, to pick up the kids from school, or you can dress them up with booties and accessories for a lady date. I add a boyfriend cardigan when it's cold outside. They play well with yoga pants, too. Just saying.
My love of graphic tees goes back to college. I shopped at a chain store that sold shirts that were double entendres... things like "Morton's Electric... We'll Turn You On!" Thankfully I got rid of all of them when I graduated college. These days, my graphic choices are decidedly less embarrassing and more family friendly. Check out a few of my favorites below. Click on the image for source.
Now that I am a SAHM, I'm not quite sure who I am or what my interests are. I'm still passionate about breastfeeding and continuing to take classes for the IBCLC exam, but I'm not sure if that same fire is still there (or maybe it is not burning as hot for now). I still love clothes and shoes and makeup and jewelry, but barely wear any of my fun clothes/shoes/makeup/jewelry these days. I'm wearing a t-shirt with a giant avocado stain on it at this very moment.
Forging this new identity as mom to two little boys, who stays at home in a new city is tough. I didn't think I would fall into my old routine, but I certainly didn't anticipate feeling this lost. That's why posts on this blog have been so sporadic. How do I fix it? I have no idea. I'll keep doing the things I loved and try new things until I find what works.