This is currently one of my favorite pictures of myself. No, I’m not smiling but the outside isn’t always what truly counts.
In this picture it’s the first time in a very long time that I feel like myself. I love being an average mom. I’m content drinking my favorite coffee, letting my kid run around at the playground, and my hair looks fab (let’s be real!). But I’ve always struggled with post partum depression for about 6 months ( give or take) after giving birth.
And it got bad with the boys. I had a hard time handling post partum hormones and grief (and the guilt and love and deep sadness and overwhelming joy). So I actually threw away (or maybe gave away, I don’t remember) most of our towels, all of our eating utensils (ya know forks, spoons, knives), my kitchen scissors, and more… I went to Adam sobbing my eyes out and begging him to let me get rid of it all. I couldn’t deal. Twice he talked me out of it. But the third time he said fine, let’s do it. And as my sister likes to say, he’s a saint.
Food. Another part of my ppd struggles. I am an emotional eater. I like coffee and chocolate. Those are my go-to comfort foods.
And since I wasn’t handling any other part of life well I didn’t handle this part well either.
I ate chocolate cake almost every night for about 4 months. Adam was still working 10+ hour days and after finally getting all of the kids in bed, having a few moments to myself to drink coffee and eat cake was heavenly. I lived for those moments of quiet. It was short lived because the boys were still getting up every 3-4 hours to drink a bottle. But I couldn’t wait for 9pm to roll around because it meant a moment to myself.
Trust me, I had all of these grand plans to lose the pregnancy weight. I joined a gym but I went like 6 or 7 times. My body wasn’t healed enough for the gym though. Mid-January was the first time since my 2nd trimester with the boys that I was able to sleep in a bed. I spent almost an entire year sleeping on my couch sitting upright. Even now at times my back kills me when I get up in the mornings from sleeping elevated in my bed.
Just in the last month I’ve been able to lay flat on my back so that I can do the diastis rectis exercises my core desperately needs. Prior to this new development I would lay flat on the floor and I couldn’t move my legs because my lower back hurt so much. I could barely get up without screaming in pain. And for a long time I was scared to lay on my back for fear I wouldn’t be able to get back up.
My pregnancy with the boys was so hard on my body. I’m still healing. A ripped core, an out of alignment pelvic, and an emotionally wrecked mind. Not the greatest combination. It’s taken 10 months and a clearer mind to see that I wasn’t a failure. I literally couldn’t do what I needed to do in order to heal.
Did y’all know it’s possible to be depressed while pregnant? I think this is discussed way less often than post partum depression but it happens. I know because it happened to me.
I love being a mom. I love my kids more than anything in this world. And I will do whatever is needed to love and care for them. I love spending time with them. I don’t want to miss out on any of the amazing things they say or do.
Yes, at times they drive me crazy. Four kids crying (sometimes screaming) at once is a lot for one person. And due to Adam’s work schedule I was by myself with the kids a lot.
I think every parent has a natural fear of losing a child. I’m sure you’ve felt it at the park for that brief moment you couldn’t find your kid in the sea of giggling, running children. It takes your breath away.
Losing Phoenix made my natural fear a little greater. Once shortly after bringing Thea home I couldn’t find Nova and I began to feel panicked. We lived on a corner lot and all my brain could think was that she had gotten outside and she had been hit by a car. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case but it was a terrifying moment.
As my pregnancy with the boys went on the bigger my fear of losing another child grew.
I couldn’t control what might happened to the children in my womb. I knew that. I had just experienced that with Thea and Phoenix. And deep down I knew I had no control over whether or not something happened to Nova and Thea but keeping them with me all the time felt like the perfect solution. Especially after someone “joked” about kidnapping my kids if they ever felt like they weren’t being taken care of. Yes, that really did happen and yes, it scared the crap out of me. This person was supposed to a “safe” person. But kidnapping children no matter what context is not a joking matter.
As my womb grew so did my fear. It turned into feeling anxious all the time about the well being of my girls. And I found I couldn’t bond with the boys because I couldn’t believe that I would bring both of them home.
My anxiety grew to having panic attacks if Adam suggested someone watch the girls. I remember one particular conversation where he suggested a babysitter and I suddenly couldn’t breath. I could hear myself saying, “No, no, no, no, no. No. NO ONE CAN WATCH THEM.” I was on the verge of passing out so I threw my phone on the ground, sat down, and focused on my breathing. I knew I couldn’t pass out because I was the only one home with the girls.
I was so depressed and so anxious and so on edge all the time that I did not enjoy my pregnancy at all. I was too scared.
I’m thankful the Lord has brought me through all of the above, and relieved me of the the crushing fear and anxiety I had for so long. I’m thankful for the places of refuge He provided during those dark days. Our church was the one place I had total peace about our girls going without me.
Pregnancy is hard. Post partum is hard. It forever wrecks our hearts, minds, and bodies in ways we can’t understand and through it we are given the most beautiful gifts: our children, and whether they live long lives or die far too soon they are worth it all.
I’m so thankful my pregnancy and post partum depression and anxiety has lifted. I’m myself again. Life is clearer, and while I now laugh at it, I also can’t believe I threw out all of those things.
I did talk to my OB and my family practitioner about my anxiety and while they never suggested medication I know if they had recommended it I would have taken it. Because being of sound mind for our kids is so important. I think perhaps because I didn’t see either of them during the worst of it that is why it wasn’t given to me. But there is no shame in needing and taking medication in order to help yourself and your family.
I don’t think ppd is as taboo as it’s been, and I see women discussing it more and more, and I love that. It helps to know we aren’t alone in these struggles.
Here are some “happy” pictures of me in the midst of ppd struggles after each birth.
1) Nova just a few months old. 2) Tiny Thea, a few months old as well. 3) Few months after finding out I was pregnant – this was the night Adam played at the Bluebird. We actually had a sitter for the girls that night. I wasn’t terribly anxious at that point; more scared and guilty for having twins again. 4) The middle of March so about a month and a half before the boys were born – my anxiety was out of control at this point. 5) A few months after having the boys and in the middle of my worst post partum depression experience yet.