Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Post Partum Moodiness: Depression? Anxiety? Being a New Mom? The Answer That I Discovered.

I'm just a couple weeks shy of one year post partum.

I'm putting together a pretty awesome party for my little guy...and of course, I'm reflecting.

It's kinda my thing.

So, I want to start and say that I was never diagnosed with Post Partum Anxiety or Depression.

I'm not sure if I should have or not, but, based on my experience, if I had pushed it, been more diligent in talking to my doctor I think it could have gone that route.

I don't currently practice, but I'm a counselor by trade, so, I have this knack for being able to see other people's issue, but struggle when looking at my own.  I'm typically pretty hard on myself, and I also seem to think that I can just handle it, I really don't need help.  Such an oxymoron, right?

If you haven't read my story, please feel free to read snippets of it Here.

So, in dealing with three rounds of IVF, a pregnancy that also included my husband going on a 6 month deployment, and then a pretty intense labor experience....after ALL of that...I was tired.

I don't think that's anything special about being tired after having a baby, fact it's pretty common.

But this was all a FIRST for me.

I had never experienced PAIN in that way.
I had never experienced true EXHAUSTION.
I had never experienced that another person was 100% relying on ME.

ONE of these things would have been a challenge....when you put them all on a plate...I was kind of a mess.

So, here's what happened to me in the first few weeks:

I everyday...all the time.  I remember looking at my son and crying...not because I didn't love him, but because I was so filled with worry and dread that I was going to do something wrong...and also because I loved him so was a strange feeling, but I could not stop those tears from flowing no matter how hard I tried.

I was so tired...this really got me.  I was having a really hard time with my breast milk supply so every two hours, I was feeding Magnus, then pumping.  And the two hours starts at the TOP of this time, not when you're finished.  So, I had about a half hour(ish) to I don't know....go to the bathroom, get a quick nap, shower, or something that was a basic need.  And, I was doing all of this while recovering from a c-section.

If you're a mom, you know, this is nothing extraordinary or crazy that I was doing.  This is pretty normal.

But gosh, it was not normal to me at the time.  And I struggled.  And I felt like I was going a little bit nuts.

ALSO, although the crying thing doesn't happen to everyone, in chatting with many friends, I found that this was very've got a LOT of hormones that are leaving your body, and they leave in a literal storm of emotion.  It's hard and weird because (atleast for me), I felt like I couldn't control the tears, so, I did find solace in speaking with my friends that were moms.  Also, my sister came to visit in the midst of when I would say it was at its worst, and she kept reassuring me, which was so nice and so needed.

But here's what happened....

By month 3, the worry and dread that I couldn't care for my son, this I mean, I was still googling everything like a maniac, but I was confident in MY ability to meet his needs.

Also by by month 3 my sporadic crying had stopped.  I couldn't tell you why or when exactly but it did stop.  But I remember one day thinking, 'hey, I haven't cried in like, two days!  Go Me!'.

And EACH MONTH after month 3 the clouds began to part in my brain a little more.  And that's the best way that I can describe it.

I felt more capable.

I felt like I could think about other things that I cared a LOT about (relationships with friends, my business, the fact that I liked to read books, was like I remembered that I was still a person outside of being a mom).

I felt better physically. (I started going for walks, then I started up with my Beachbody programs, it felt so GOOD to move...I still couldn't go all out, but I was getting my strength back).

I started seeing a counselor.  I gotta tell you, that woman has empowered me.  I think it's so important to find someone that you connect with and encourages you, but also challenges you.  I am so thankful for her.  And even though I continue to feel better and better, I still see her about every two weeks, because she's a very important part of me taking care of myself.

I also started being more purposeful in doing activities that filled me up.  Some moms can be with their kiddos all the time, and that's amazing and awesome.  But my reality is one that it is often just me and him for weeks on end...and as we enter in another deployment, it will be months on end.  That is tiring to me.  We don't live near family, and my friends have their own kids that they need to care for.  So, I hired a sitter to come to my house about 8 hours a week.  And I am VERY purposeful with this fact, that's how I'm writing this blog post right now.  I head to a coffee shop, and I take a book with me, I get some work done, if I have an appointment I need to get that time frame is when I try to book it...basically, it's a time for me to fill up, to focus in, and to breathe.  I realize that this is an expense, but I make sure that it's worked into our budget, because it's not just important, it's very necessary for me.

And, you know, I'm still learning....those clouds continue to still part.  I don't really anticipate that I'll be 'like I was before', because that's impossible in my opinion.  I'm a mom now, which changes so much, but I think it is rather large lesson in learning a new role, while also remembering your previous roles.  And when that happens, it's not going to be smooth, but it also doesn't mean that it's bad.  In fact, even in my most moodiest of days I would have shouted from the rooftops how happy I am that my son is here, and then rambled on about a million details, then showed you 357 pictures of him sleeping.

Momming.  The best, most challenging thing.

If you are new to this incredible tribe of women, and you find yourself in just a pit of worry, tears, and exhaustion....I hope that you have solace in reading this.  That you are NOT alone.


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