I felt it coming on at the beginning of December and feared what was happening to me. I know I'm not the only mother who has felt this way. In fact, I'm angry that more mothers don't talk about it and our society likes to ignore its existence or even worse portray those who struggle with it as being sick. The "it" I'm talking about is postpartum depression and it is real people! I never imagined that I would be unhappy after such a joyous event. Do I feel guilty for feeling this way? You bet. We planned for Natalie, yet I have days that I ask myself "what the hell have I gotten myself into?". There are days when I want to walk away from my role as mother. There are days that I feel anxious, tearful, unmotivated and angry. There are also good days, even really great "perfect" days in there too. I left my full-time job to stay at home and have had to redefine my days completely. I was hit really hard by this change when I had to clean out my desk and have a going away party. And while I am still working part-time in my private practice it is still the biggest change ever in my life. After my own journey the last 4 months I have a deep respect and interest in postpartum depression and the struggles that are ignored by many mothers and our society. I'm thinking of expanding my private practice to support women in this magical and challenging change. Postpartum depression can affect women for up to a year after childbirth. And while there is a wide spectrum of how severe the issue can be ranging from "baby blues" to full blown depression in need of medical treatment, I believe that all mothers have been touched by the crazy postpartum roller coaster in some way. Hopefully, society can place a little more emphasis on this issue instead of painting an unrealistic image of mom and baby as always smiling, showered and not wearing sweats.
So, how have I managed to keep going as I create my new path in life:
1. Talking to good friends and the loving support of my husband. Never underestimate how much simply venting to a friend can improve how you feel.
2. Exercise. Yes, it sucks to get up at 5:30am to squeeze this in but I find that I'm more recharged from a quick workout than a little extra sleep. Or, try to sneak in some exercise while baby is napping (if you are lucky enough to have some home exercise equipment and a baby that naps well). Better yet, get outside with your baby and go for a jog or walk in the sunshine. A little sun will do you both some good.
3. WishGarden Herbs Baby Blues tincture. Maybe this is just a placebo but I swear that it has helped me feel more at peace on some rough days. I'm thankful my neighbor and mother of 3 gave me some of this to try!
4. Get out and meet other new moms. I have been pretty bad about this but have recently been trying to find more groups and support in my community. I felt so isolated and alone for awhile and only when I really started talking to other moms did I realize that I am not alone in my struggles.
I love my daughter more than I ever imagined I would and her smiles and laughs are now making the journey a little easier. I'm not naive and know that the challenge of being a parent has just begun. However, I'm excited for the road ahead as I watch my little family create "our life"!