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Getting Real about Postpartum Depression

Did you think that your first weeks with your new born baby would be blissfully spent kissing strawberry scented baby toes only to find yourself in a pit of despair?…. I did

Don’t get me wrong, I had the same reaction as most mothers to my adorable baby boy! He was and still is the apple of my eye, but something was off. Not only was I experiencing the normal shock of being a new mom including the sleep deprivation, anxiety, and doubt. But there was also alot of self loathing, an inordinate amount of crying as well as distance between my son and I.

My mom warned me about those evil little thoughts that come upon women in Postpartum, thoughts of hating your kids or even worse. I took it with a gain of salt but I don’t think I truly grasped the concept until I was there.

I remember taking a nightly walk with my husband and baby, it was a Tuesday, and I could not conceive how I would possibly make it to Friday. The very idea of my own personal survival was faint at best.

I did all the things I was supposed to do, I fed him, I kissed him, I rocked him, I changed him and I truly loved him. But I was not doing it with a kind and gracious heart. I was not serving him with joy, rather with bitterness. I remember singing to him when I couldn’t get him to stop crying even after doing ever single thing they tell you to do. Slowly but surely my song turned into tears and we sorta just held each other and had a temper tantrum.

What perplexed me the most is how other mother’s seemed to delight in baby care. On the weekends I would see post from moms on Facebook talking about they couldn’t wait to wake up to their babies and care for them all day. I thought they were crazy.

On many occasions I would call my husband and tell him that I just couldn’t take another second of it. He would assure me that he would take over everything when he got home from work. I would count the hours until I heard his keys in the door.

I was soaked in vomit and breast milk and things were not normal.

I had a dear friend, who has suffered with depression for some time now, encourage me to get help. I didn’t think anything was wrong with me, I just assumed it was taking me a while to adjust. I started by talking with my doctor about it. I went to a couple of counseling sessions and that didn’t help much.

I spoke with trusted friends and family about possibly going on anti-depressants and their responses ranged from go for it, to just pray about it, to you don’t really need it.

I struggled, I prayed.

I think there is a fine line between what people call the “baby blues” and Postpartum Depression. Even more so I am willing to say that in a completely healthy state a mother, like myself, can not be enamored with the things that baby care requires. These things include being pooped on, vomited on, no sleep, noise, bleeding nipples and so on. I am not really sure who would love these things unless they are a gluten for punishment. Its possible to not really enjoy the newborn stage and its ok. You enjoy your child and these are byproducts of their care.

But when the darkness is consuming you, its not normal and you need help.

So I spoke with my doc and she gave me the meds. The safest antidepressant for nursing mothers they had. I read, I researched, I scrutinized, and I double guessed myself. I think I even called and badgered my doctor some more.

I had the medication in my bathroom and I would stare at it, I didn’t want it. It made me feel weak. It made me feel nonspiritual.

I finally took the meds and OH HAPPY DAY! It was the best decision I could have made!

This was my journey, maybe it is not yours. Medication is not for everyone, but it is an option and for me it helped.

Shortly after a cloud seem to be lifted from me. I still had to do the same things, and get no sleep but my attitude was endearing.

Going back to work was a big part of my journey as well! I know this is not the norm for most moms but even after addressing my postpartum, I could not wait to return to work! I remember driving to work my first day back it was the crack of dawn I had one million things to do but I had never been so happy to be in the daily commute. People asked me if it was hard for me to leave my son, again this was not about depression, it was about me. It wasn’t very hard. I had a trusted family friend loving on my child, he was safe and taken care of and he was loved.

Little by little I realized that work actually energized me to be a better mom for him. I was given the opportunity to miss my son and to value our nights and weekends together which made them all the more sweet.

Please do not hear what I am not saying, I do value stay at home mom, I do realize that meds are not always the answer, this was my story I think other woman can relate. 11150669_10100725832477910_4102300406201662869_n

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I have a secret, I have low self esteem

I recently heard a Woman of God I look up to disparage herself when she saw her picture she said “Who’s that ugly woman?”  I was shocked and unsettled at her assessment of herself not only because she truly is beautiful but mostly because it was unexpected.  When we hold someone in esteem we tend to think they are perfect. We think, “oh she doesn’t deal with the mess I deal with, that is beneath her.”

One would think that I found this interchange to be freeing. I too, like many woman, deal with body image issues and self esteem, based on my looks and size.  So if this woman who seems to be a grand master of all things spiritual, deals with this crap than man I’m ok….. Instead of feeling thebody image freedom of knowing I am not alone. I felt, well, kind of hopeless.

If this lady, with all the life she has lived, all the good she has done, all the faith she has cannot push pass the urge to speak cruelly about herself than what chance do I stand?

I know there are people who esteem me the way I esteem her. I was once told by a peer that I was the “holiest woman they know.” A comment that baffles me to no end, yet I am glad they see the light in me. With all of that being said some people think I am perfect. That my understanding of God should somehow wipe away the pain of not thinking you are good enough. But I am here to say it’s a struggle.

Now don’t get me wrong I know I’m kinda cute :-)! But when I stare at myself in the mirror I pick myself apart. My pores are too big, my nose is large, my mouth does this strange thing. My boobs are far far too big (yes that is a thing), since two babies my stomach appears to have been run over by a tractor trailer lol! I have trouble with clothes fitting my body. And even the clothes I do have I am always thinking they are not trendy enough. I see those well polished girls with all the right accessories and I am like man….HOW DO I DO THAT??? I always ask my husband, “Babe do you want me to be more fancy? Like one of those fancy girls?” I chuckle because he looks at me crazy every time, to him I am his lovely bride so he doesn’t get it.

If you are like me you try to repeat to yourself “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” You try to avoid talking down about yourself in front of others, you try reassuring yourself and resting in the affirmation of your loved ones but the way you truly feel about yourself tends to fall flat. That’s where it really gets difficult. At that moment after trying all the tricks in the bag you start to believe the lie, that maybe your self esteem problem is not the product of sin or a social/cultural system that idolizes their false ideas about beauty. Maybe the little voice is right? Maybe you look terrible, Maybe people see you as a big girl with large pores lol.

Something recently happened to stop this cycle of thought. Going through some old pictures I found a pic of me stepping out in college. Mini dress and heals, my waist was smaller than I ever remember it being. Talk about thigh gap! The famous space between your thighs where they do not touch, it is supposed to serve a litmus test of beauty, I actually had one!  Yet I have a very distinct memory of wearing that dress and taking that picture, even though that picture was taken 10 years and 2 kids ago, at that time I really was not happy with my body either!  So let me get this straight I probably weigh two times more now than I did then and yet I still believed that I was fat! Now this sheds some light on things. I am not a gigantic ugly lady I am just crazy! 🙂 Body dismorphic disorder is a real thing, now maybe I have not been diagnosed with a psychological disorder, but the truth remains the same for those struggling with body image and self esteem issues. No amount of weight loss, no thigh gap measurements, no amount of make up or just the right clothes will ever make you truly affirm yourself.  You see, self affirmation, self love, cannot be managed by external things it truly comes from the inside.

Now before this turns into the sappy part of “Full House” where they play the soft music and Danny explains the lesson learned. I am going to tell you right now, I know the cure is found in Jesus Christ but I am not sure how to access it. You can repeat affirmations about your body until you are blue in the face and not feel any differently. So my advice to you and myself is that values affect ones beliefs and beliefs affect ones actions. Working backwards I have to consistently change my actions until it settles into my belief system and then becomes a permanent value. That I am beautiful, that I am loved. That I am perfect the way that I am.

The reason why I want to fight this fight is for my daughter. How can she know that she is holistically beautiful if I flippantly say of myself, “oh look at that ugly lady in the picture.” She will know that even her imperfections are beautiful, by my demonstration of this value.

One more thing! I do not typically get so feisty when blogging but this is very important! Although I appreciate all of the wonderful affirmation that will most likely come of this post  they really are not helpful. I truly truly am flattered and honored that others think I am beautiful but what counts is what I believe about myself. The problem is, when someone exposes themselves by sharing that they have self esteem issues and you say “Silly rabbit you are beautiful how can you possibly struggle with this?” it simply makes me and others like me feel even worse about myself. We think what is wrong with me silly rabbit! I am so stupid to deal with this. Instead pray that I will consistently surrender this struggle to the Lord so that he can refine me and that I find freedom.

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8 Things you should NOT say to a C section mom

After my emergency C section I have been the target of many seemingly helpful moms who were lucky enough to give birth naturally, or even men sometimes who apparently received a crash course in midwifery or hospital management within the two seconds in which they were speaking with me. So I decided to create this list of 8 things you should Not say to a c-section mom…

1. “Oh I am so sorry… what happened.”

First of all there is nothing to be sorry about… I have a beautiful bouncing baby boy and I couldn’t be happier the fact that I didn’t push him out naturally is not the end of the world!

2. ” Did they give you pitocin? (medicine that induces labor)… Well that’s why your baby was in distress.”

Ohhh really? Thank you so much for your time you put in getting a medical degree and researching all of the available studies via google.. Here’s the thing research is inconclusive it is biased by the purpose of researching and most all on the longest and scariest days of my life when the doctor whom I trust suggest an intervention that will produce the goal of healthy baby healthy mom, I take it.

3. Did you get an epidural cus that’s what did it! 

Again the research on this topic actually leans in the other direction. Also it was my decision to get one, what would you say if you went to get a tooth extracted and they told you no anesthesia? And most of all be careful how you implicate that it is the mother’s fault she had a c-section whatever your personal views are be sensitive to the fact that she actually wanted a natural birth and has probably blamed herself for every incident concerning the birth. 

4. Do you plan to have more children? You know so many women are having successful V-BACs these days (Vaginal Births after C-sections).

Again…. This is kinda my choice along with my husband. I would prefer not to receive a lecture about C-section when any one woman facing a V-BAC has to consider that your chance of a ruptured uterus can result in your own death and death of your child. While it is a rare occurrence who wants to be the number 1 in a million. I have to put a lot of personal thought into what I will do next. 

5. Don’t worry you can try again!

-__- So you are implying that I failed?….. enough said

6. You know you wont be able to have more than 3 children.

Yes thank you I have considered that, as a matter of fact it grieves me to think about my body’s limitations for child bearing due to emergency c-section so let me deal with that grief…

7. Next time you should try home birth, birthing center, water birth etc

If you are a mom you know that the amount of advice one gets about birth is never ending the real truth is you have to find your own path. Find what you are comfortable doing and don’t pressure others. 

8. You know 1/3 births is a c-section because of impatient doctors and hospital administration wants to save money and cover their butts due to insurance liability.

This one is my favorite! Whether this is true or not telling me that myself and my precious son are all apart of a big insurance plot does not help me feel better. And by the way thank you for your extensive knowledge on insurance and hospital admin. One thing I do know is that when mothers used to birth for 3 days straight we ended up with a higher infant and mother mortality rate.

The honest truth is most of these things are said by friends because they are either truly passionate about their birthing experience, they are legitimately trying to make you feel better, or they just don’t know what to say. 

The fact is any mother, whose birthing experience did not go as planed is left confused and disillusioned and showing compassion and excitement at the end result, which is a beautiful baby is much more helpful then spouting off internet statistics. Image