I wanted to share a bit of my postpartum journey with you. I am officially 2 years postpartum from my first and only baby as of right now. She is the light of my life and makes my world go round. Now with that being said, it does not mean that everything is always peachy with sunshine and rainbows. We are told from day 1 of announcing our pregnancy or even just stating that we want to be pregnant that
“Babies are hard work. It isn’t always dressing up, playing house, this is a human and it will not be easy.”
While we know this and understand it, it does not make it any less true, but it does take entering parenthood to truly understand it though. We always discuss what it will be like for new parents and how difficult each baby can be for even current parents,
When I found out I was pregnant, I was beyond excited. We told all our family and friends, made our social media posts, and planned everything out to a “T.” We had big plans where we imagined what life would be like and felt as though we were not ready, but also somehow ready at the same time.
Little did we realize how truly unready we really were!
I am not talking about just the fact we were adding another person to our duo… I am talking about how no one discussed what the 4th trimester, also known as the postpartum journey, would be like for me.
No one told me about a class to prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster or about postpartum doulas that will always be on call when you feel like you are dying inside..
In other words, no one told me anything about how I would truly feel or how to prepare for it.
When I had my daughter, I was fully prepared for that instantaneous connection that everyone talks about. I was ready for the joy of motherhood to make me glow with pride and happiness. I was ready to endure all the wonderful things I was constantly reminded of when I was pregnant and what I saw in shows, movies, or even on social media. There was always this front put up that
“Everything will feel complete, perfect, and right in the world when you have this baby.”
While yes, that is true, you will feel those things, you will also feel a lot more. When I had my daughter, it was dead of winter, the end of December into January – so I spent a lot of my time isolated from others due to flu season. I felt so alone a lot of the time. I missed out on all the excitement of people visiting and holding baby. I was not showered with flowers, balloons, cards, any welcome home food of sorts. So while I did not have to endure the COVID season of pregnancy and birth, do know that I understand what it is like to feel that isolation and loneliness due to illness.
Some of the feelings I went through include:
the feel darkness creeping in when everything and everyone is bright, loneliness when you’re not alone,
like I am drowning while on dry land,
feeling misunderstood when everything seems perfectly fine outside,
crying over everything and nothing all at once without a single understanding as to why,
I felt like I could just up and walk away from everything and everyone I love without a second thought,
I would feel nothing at all while surrounded by love.
I felt each of those emotions and moments, at least once if not more. I remember once the shock wore off from having my daughter,
I struggled for 2+ weeks to feel that connection that everyone always talked about having with their babies.
Let me tell you; none of that is true. Looking back now, I realize what I was going through, and how I was not broken.
For many, it’s normal. So many moms go through these thoughts but are afraid to speak up, like me, in fear of judgement by those perfect social media moms and older parents who believe they did everything right and never felt that way.
if you have ever felt broken, ready to walk away and feel nothing, or just overall struggling with motherhood.
There are so many of us who deal with this, or have dealt with it, and we are here to discuss it and normalize it. There are so many women out there who deserve to know the truth about the postpartum journey and to hear about it just as often as we do about birth plans, baby clothes, etc.
While talking about a postpartum journey may seem like a downer or a grey cloud, as in something we do not want to discuss so we do not instill fear in pregnant mothers – I urge you to look past that, to think of the soon to be moms out there like me who instead of learning about it before I had my baby, I had to suffer through those emotions after having the baby and stay quiet about it instead.
It was the fact that we keep the topic so taboo that I suffered more than I probably should have.
It took my mom, my husband, and a couple of my friends encouraging and pushing me to meet with someone that I finally took action for myself.
I finally gave in and went to others for help after one morning when I came home with my daughter, only 9 weeks old, still clipped in her infant bucket seat, I had set her down, ran into another room and screamed until I could not anymore and then I just cried.
My hormones were all over the place and I could not keep everything bottled up anymore. I have seen some women do it so perfectly, you would never know they were struggling, but that was not me.
Ultimately, I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety with a bit of postpartum depression after 12 weeks. I choose to not let it define me and take me over, but I do acknowledge it and take care of it properly.
I spoke with a postpartum counselor and started medication.
Once summer rolled around and everything was warmer and we could go outside, it got to be a lot easier. I weaned off the medications and learned new ways to keep myself from being so depressed.
I still struggle with anxiety to the point I am unable to function, and it came back with force during this COVID season, so I sought out help again to help manage it.
I am someone who hates asking for help and most definitely does not want to, but sometimes it is necessary.
Beyond medication, I was taught proper breathing techniques through my counseling, along with recognizing my emotions as they came and making others aware of how I was feeling so we could help avoid an entire breakdown.
Sometimes that meant going to the grocery store for a little bit alone so I could just breathe and feel normal. Other times that meant that everyone needed to leave, and I needed to be alone with just my baby so I could breathe her all in and just calm down. I had to find what worked best for me at each time and it took a lot of communication with my husband and mom to figure it out.
Those of you going to these appointments alone, giving birth with only 1 other person with you, and not being able to see your loved ones in person, you are all so strong, never forget that.
You are constantly reminded of this by others but that does not mean you have to keep a strong front all the time. We know how amazing you are, but these are different times and those regular postpartum hormones mixing with this seasonal depression is going to be something unimaginable.
Ask for help, reach out to others, do not be afraid because I promise, there are so many of us who understand.
Now that I look back on my postpartum period, there is so much I wish I would have had or done.
Next time around when I have another baby someday, I will most definitely be hiring a postpartum doula. Not only for the emotions and exhaustion I will be facing but because I will have my daughter as well and going from 1 child to 2 children is a huge leap as well, so I know I will need that extra hand and outlet to go to when my husband is working especially.
For my breastfeeding mamas, I really do attribute a lot of my emotional issues with navigating the breastfeeding journey. Luckily, I was able to make it to 15 months, but I also quit multiple times.
I want to recommend a lactation consultant to start you off, I wish I would have hired one as well to help me navigate something so new and confusing.
You think it would come easy, but I was wrong! There is so much bleeding, cracking, right diet, stress about how much your making, it is most definitely a lot. I found relief and strength within using lanolin-free nipple cream, nipple shield so I could heal, and laying down for majority of feeds so we both were comfortable. I had a wonderful support system with my husband and mom when it came to breastfeeding, they really pushed me to keep going because they knew this was my goal. I appreciated that love and support and it is so huge to have that, and if you do not have someone close by for that,
I would truly recommend a postpartum doula or lactation consultant.
Birth and parenthood are the most beautiful things we have ever been blessed with, but those hormonal changes are something else that need to be discussed as well.
You can enjoy motherhood in any way, shape, or form it comes in without feeling guilty like you are doing something wrong, because I promise you are not. You are going through so many changes in life right now, especially if you already have children.
This time does go fast, but I know you will enjoy it, even on the hard days. You will look back on it all one day and remember all those good moments even when it felt like the world was ending.
You are amazing mama, keep on keeping on, never give up, we are here for you!
I want to add some resources as well, because I know how hard it can be to not only recognize that you are not okay but deciding when to ask for help:
· Mental Health Helpline Number: 800-662-4357
(Spanish & English, 24 hours, free, confidential, resources)
· Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
(Spanish & English, 24 hours, free, confidential)
· Postpartum Question & Answer:
· Differing Baby Blues from Postpartum Depression:
· Adjusting to the 4th Trimester:
· Postpartum Depression Support:
· How to Find a Support Group:
· Postpartum Doula Information:
I am here for moms & their families in Noblesville, Westfield, Carmel, Fishers and surrounding areas.