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My Postpartum Journey

It really is a miracle…what a woman’s body can do. To think that my body held and sustained life within it for 9 months, my body pushed a tiny human into the world, my body fed and nourished this tiny human for 5 months. MY body rose to the occasion and it is a miracle. A miracle some woman get easily, some struggle to achieve, some are unable to obtain, and some chose not to experience. Everyone has a story…so, here is a little bit of mine.

Getting pregnant came easily this time around. Sometimes I feel I'm not allowed to feel sadness because of this. I feel guilty for my feelings. I hear stories of hardship, loss, determination and perseverance. My heart breaks for these women and families. It is never lost on me how blessed I am. Feeling anxiety, or dare I say depression, doesn’t mean I am any less thankful and I think that is an important piece to the puzzle I’m working to put together.

I don’t really do pregnancy well. I’ve been plagued with all-day nausea well into the second trimester both times. My babies stole all of my iron so I become quite anemic. I’m 5’3″ tall and about 120 lbs and somehow birthed large babies… an 8 lbs, 11 oz daughter and a 9 lbs, 4.5 oz son! These babes don’t want to come out so I was induced with loooong labors both times. I ended up with diastasis recti and a bruised tailbone after Ellie and an even worse case of DR post Will. But, I have 2 healthy babies! That is the end goal and I marinate in this thought often. My body did THIS, made THESE children, CREATED life. I mean, how could anything possibly disrupt such a perfectly amazing fact!?

Enter in postpartum “issues” – as I lovingly call it. And, for me it has been no joke. I’ve always leaned towards anxiety, well as long as I can remember. I worry and worry, and then worry some more. Bring teeny, tiny babies that you love more than life itself into the equation…whew, that’s a lot for someone like me! The responsibility of becoming a parent is immense. It’s the biggest gift and hardest job there is. So, it’s only natural that my worries and anxiety crept back in ten fold.

With my first child, I felt anxiety and worry but a “normal” amount, or normal for me. This time around, it has been a bit of a different story. The first month home with Will was what I longingly look back on as the “honeymoon stage” of my postpartum journey. I was in a euphoric state. I nursed all day long, fed all night, vegged out, binged netflix shows with my husband, had lots of visitors bringing us food and desserts. It was okay to wear pjs, nursing bras, huge underwear, have a belly and not shower. I could drink a little wine again, Bobby was home from work, and someone was always around to watch my toddler. Ah, those were the days!

I went to my 6 week postpartum appointment and was greeted with THE questionaire. You know the one. Are you crying more than normal? Are you able to see the bright side of life? Do you laugh and find humor in things? I whizzed through that thing! Nope not crying more than normal, life is so bright, I can laugh, I’m good! Doc checked me out and said, you look great. Go home and enjoy your baby.

So, I went home and slowly things changed. They weren’t so great, life wasn’t as bright and laughter? Not so much laughing anymore…

I can’t quite pinpoint when the shift was. I just know it was a shift. Something just…changed. I remember being out to dinner and drinks with one of my best friends and her husband…a fun double date, right? After a few sips of wine my head just started spinning. I HAD to get out of there…and fast! The feeling overtook me. So, I excused myself to the “bathroom” but instead went to my car and waited patiently for my husband to finish dinner. My body went into immediate fight or flight mode.

This is the first moment I remember feeling different. Not myself, out-of-body, dizzy and scared. It was awful. Suddenly, I never felt safe anymore. That has been the best way to describe this feeling…unsafe. I cling to anything that makes me feel safe. My home, my mom, my kids, my husband, my routines, my vulnerable friends and places that help me feel calm. I felt like the world was closing in on me and all I could do to make it through a day was to find ways to cope, and pray it would pass.

Will was around 3-4 months at this point. I was nursing him. I loved it. That’s what hurts the most. I LOVED the special bond we had. I loved that I was giving him nourishment that was specifically made for HIM. I loved that I had more than enough milk and it all came so easy.

The moment the nurse put him on my chest, he latched and my heart was full. But something told me it just wasn’t helping me be the best me. I could feel it. So, I decided to end this chapter. The guilt that comes with this choice is heart-wrenching. Especially because I was CHOOSING to end it, it wasn’t because of any struggles or going back to work…I just needed my hormonal levels to regulate and nursing was hard on me.

I never realized how hormonal changes can create real chaos for the mind and body. My mood and body and happiness shifts when my hormones shift. Through a lot of reading and research the past few months, I’ve learned that hormonal changes postpartum are not taken seriously enough. I encourage you to look up postpartum depletion. A woman’s body (especially bodies prone to stress issues) goes through intense changes during and after pregnancy. So, I stopped nursing at 5 months. It took about 2 months to feel the effects, but for me, it made a huge difference.

Ending my nursing journey was necessary for me but the guilt is killer. I feel this pit in my stomach every single time I scoop formula into his bottle. I feel tears well up in my eyes. I envy my mommy friends who are nursing without the side effects I experienced. I’m trying to learn that it’s okay. Will is happy, healthy and loved. And that really is enough.

That was the first step in working towards healing. This is where I feel like I should share that I have yet to take pharmaceutical drugs. I’ve been trying to do what I can naturally, before turning to drugs. I have them in my cabinet. I look at the bottle daily. I may even try them, but for now, I’m giving my body time.

It’s been a lot of work focusing on self love, and being a little selfish in order to be the best me. My list of things “to-do” is lengthy…and I’m still working on it. From seeing a chiropractor, physical therapist, general doctor, therapist, naturopathic doctor, eye doctor, my ob/gyn…to focusing on finding time for myself which sometimes includes sitting in my car alone. I spend a lot of time reading articles, listening to podcasts and books on tape that enrich me.

I’ve been practicing gratitude and reevaluating my faith which needs to be more present in my life. I’ve started Pure Barre (my favorite exercise practice), done the Whole 30 program, learned about ayurveda, adaptogens and more natural ways to alleviate stress and hormonal shifts. I’ve been utilizing all the help I can get with family. It truly takes a village!

I would not survive without my husband who takes on SO much, my parents, step parents, in laws, siblings, aunts, cousins, friends who help out, ask how I am, and most importantly are patient with me while I dig myself out of this tunnel. A support system is crucial. Even if it is only one person. The best advice from an appointment with my therapist was, “make your world small right now, it won’t be forever.” And I’m doing just that.

My instinct is to be everything for everyone. I feel the need to do it all, be everywhere, go to all events, and keep up with my regular scheduled programming. But, my body and mind just can’t take it right now. And I’m learning that it is OKAY to slow down. I think we can all benefit from that at times.

Another area that I’ve been trying to cut down in is social media and always being on-call. I haven’t been the best at replying to texts and emails lately. Usually I feel the need to be on top of it all, at all times. I’ve allowed myself the grace to care LESS. Wow, has that been hard for me.

I care a lot. I care what people think of me, I care if I’m not being the best mom I can, I care if my friends get together and I can’t make it, I care if I’m saying thank you enough to everyone for helping me, I care if my house is clean and the dishes are washed, I care if my kids have cute outfits and lots of activities or playdates, I care if my marriage feels strained…I care if the barista at Starbucks seems mad at me, someone honks at me in the parking lot, or I don’t make it somewhere on time. I just care. And caring a little less has really been a blessing.

My sincere hope is that I will come out of this on the other end as a much more enlightened person, mom, friend, wife, neighbor…each day is a new chance to be a better me. Some days are great, and some are not. I still struggle to think clearly, some days I struggle to feel happy, I struggle to have energy and motivation. I struggle because I want to be back to MYSELF. I often feel lost, alone and frankly scared. Will this feeling ever go away? Is this just how I am now? But slowly I am feeling better…and I know it takes time.

Lately, more days than not, I feel proud. All mamas MUST feel that, no matter your journey as a mother. It’s quite a remarkable thing, what we do. Something I try to remind myself on a daily basis is that we are all different, but all so similar. Our journey’s look different, but we are all striving for the same goal. To be the best mom, woman, wife, friend, coworker, boss…whatever…that we can be. I guess that is why I’m sharing this. It feels better to share and feel connected than to hide and feel alone.

So, welcome to a bit of my story…my miraculous, difficult, wonderful, loving, hard but absolutely perfect story…there is still so much to come.


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