Postpartum Depression is a BEAR. I experienced it the first three months after giving birth; the first two weeks being the worst. I was in labor for 36 hours & I slept 4 hours in the first seven days of Asher's life, and not just because he did not sleep. In this post, I am going to write 4 things I wish I could have told myself while going through this trial. The paragraphs in bold are the exact words I'd say to myself or anyone feeling the same emotions.
1. Stay Mentally Healthy. We all have our own individual ways of staying in the right mindset. Things we do in order to keep our head on straight, be positive, and have a healthy perspective on life. Before pregnancy, I did this by praying, working out, and taking vitamins.
It is SOO important to understand what your hormones go through during this time. The second you have your baby and pass the placenta, those hormones that have been in your body 8+ months vanish. Your iron and other vital vitamins have been depleted. I knew that there was a significant change in hormones after giving birth but not to this level. Also, lack of sleep can severely effect your mood! As I had mentioned earlier, from the time my water broke until Asher entered the world, it was 36 hours! Then I could not sleep the whole time I was in the hospital, then I was so overtired once I got home, I could not sleep. Everyone always says, sleep when the baby sleeps; but the first two weeks I could not do that because of all the emotions I had going on in my head. My mood was significantly effected.
Even though you cannot workout for a few weeks after birth, you can still get outside and enjoy the fresh air, and intake vitamin D (sunshine). Walk somewhere with beautiful scenery and enjoy being out of the hospital! Pray even when you don't feel like it; there is power in calling on the name of JESUS. Take yo vitamins girl! Replenish those levels and it will help drastically! Try your hardest to rest. Even if you cannot sleep, lie down and do nothing. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. Combat them with any weapon you can!
2. You will find your new normal. My biggest struggle was not knowing what life was anymore (this is a classic indicator of depression if this thought persists). I know- that sounds CRAZY! I was overly hormonal and sleep deprived I did not feel like myself translating into my life and what it was now. I felt like ALL I was, was Asher's food and comfort source- as if all other parts of me were gone. Yes, my/our life had changed, but I was still the same woman, I just gained a new role, MOM. It was super overwhelming and it took me three months to feel like myself again. Do not be disheartened by that statement, every day I felt as if I had gained part of my "old self" back as I got used to my new normal. I remember when Asher was only 5 days old, I cooked dinner (something that I love to do) and I felt a little more like myself.
This feeling is only temporary! You will feel more and more like yourself as each day passes. Those middle of the night feedings when you are stumbling in the dark, hollering at your significant other "your turn", and googling "is this normal" will either pass or become second nature. Do things you did before you has your babe. You will eventually adapt to this new life and you will ROCK it.
3. Accept Help. I was/am so independent. After pregnancy, everyone needs help! Plus, everyone loves to hold a new, yummy smelling babe! It really does take a village to raise a kid, especially in the beginning. I also found great comfort in talking to other moms. 80% of women experience the baby blues. Just knowing that i was not the only one feeling this way helped my state of mind so much!
DON"T BE STUBBORN! Let the people you love help with your transition, it's a big one! Let go of the need to control everything! Lighten your load. Do not be afraid to reach out to other moms, there is great strength in numbers!
4. Do NOT feel Guilty. This one is huge. I vividly remember feeling an insane amount of guilt for feeling all of the emotions I was feeling/not feeling. I had no initial connection with Asher. This is still very hard for me to admit. I did not feel the magic after giving birth like everyone says. I loved Asher with every fiber in me, yet because I was so hormonal and sleep deprived, I had no initial connection. I remember questioning myself, What kind of person are you? How come you did not feel the rainbows and butterflies after giving birth to Asher? You must not have been made to be a mom". I remember seeing how happy my husband Cory was, and wondering why I was not feeling those same feelings. All of that guilt only made it worse. I was letting those lies only further my depression. I was having these doubts because no one really talks about these emotions after childbirth. So I was thinking I was the only one feeling this, so there MUST be something wrong with me. WRONG. Women can have these thoughts & emotions anywhere from one week up to a year after child birth; sometimes even longer.
Do not let this guilt eat you up. You have everything inside you to be an amazing mother. This child's mother specifically. You are not any less of a woman/mom for feeling these emotions. You will be happy and you will form a bond so deep and meaningful with your baby. Everyone is different, it is okay and even normal to feel like this. The feeling will pass. Do not feed into the lies and especially do not dwell on them!
Even though this was a short season in my motherhood journey, I learned so much about myself! I learned that no one can do everything on their own. I learned to keep my mind in a positive head space and to not dwell on the lies in my mind. I began to bond with Asher around two months postpartum and it has only grown stronger these last two years. That little boy has changed my life and I love him more than any words can say! I hope that my struggle and triumph can help someone who may be wrestling with this type of depression. Motherhood is challenging but in the best way! Stay Strong Mamas!!