(I understand this is not my typical posts that I have on here but I felt the need to connect with some other moms out there and just be real!)
As many of you already know, I have two precious babies that I love from the deepest part of me and would do anything for! My first pregnancy was a complete surprise and I remember thinking “my life is over”. Actually, I didn’t just think it, I said it! We had been married only 6 months when I found out I was pregnant and so my “2 year plan” was out the window. Once I heard my daughter’s heartbeat, I melted though and for the first time I felt true excitement about being pregnant! As time went on throughout the pregnancy I fell madly in love with the little lady that was growing inside me and could not even sleep at night because I was so anxious for her arrival!
My second pregnancy was slightly different. We had planned to get pregnant and actually expected it to happen quickly. Life doesn’t always work how you want it to though and so after trying for a year, we finally saw the words “pregnant” on the test! We showed up to our first doc appointment and I was beaming as I heard the heartbeat but I was slightly uneasy at the fact our nurse wasn’t saying anything! She spoke with the doctor, came back in and said we needed to have another ultrasound within a week. After explaining our baby wasn’t developing she led us to believe we would miscarry within the week. As expected, we were devastated. We didn’t have a clue what to do but pray and wait for that week to be over. We went back for our next appointment to find he had developed dramatically and was bigger than the standard baby at that stage in the pregnancy! He continued to grow rapidly and was born a 9 lb 7 oz baby!
Although I was blessed with both children and they are my world, after each pregnancy I had postpartum depression. There I was holding my beautiful healthy baby and yet I didn’t feel like I could connect with my baby or anyone around me. “I should be happy. Many people would give anything to have a child!” I used to tell myself. I struggled to find other moms to connect with about it because let’s be honest, we all want to look like we have it together. That made it worse. I sunk deeper into depression because I felt alone. The doctor recommended medicine after my first child was born but it was not helping but more or less making me worse off. After medicine failed I went searching online for tips on how to eliminate postpartum depression. I found many things but these are tips I applied in my own life and it dramatically changed my situation. Actually eliminated postpartum in my case!
1. Keep a journal. I was always one that was just too cool to be caught writing in a journal but this was actually the most effective tool I used! I didn’t write out all my day because that was overwhelming to me but instead I would just write these three questions out before bed and answer them: 1) What was the high point of my day? 2) What was the low point of my day? 3) What am I looking forward to tomorrow? I eventually started added a verse as well that I found encouraging. This worked for me because I saw how shallow the lowest point of my day was. You know, the thing that was supposedly ruining my life? Yeah, when I looked at it on paper it didn’t seem so bad. Here’s an actual page of mine…
2. Daily devotions. I know this one may be controversial but for me it is faith based which encourages hope and good into my life. I set the “Word” app on my phone and each day a snippet of a verse will show up on my phone and it’s a reminder of all things positive. I enjoy taking a moment to read a couple verses on my phone and then saying a short prayer to get my day started. Here is an example of one of them…
3. Eat healthy. This one is tough for me because naturally I’m a picky eater and a snacker. Oh AND a stress eater! I do find that I am more emotionally stable and feel better all the way around when I eat more nutritious foods. Studies show the more caffeine and alcohol we intake the worse we feel. (Find more here: livestrong.com) It seems to increase anxiety, panic attacks and extreme highs and lows. Foods that help fight depression are: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, peaches, pumpkin, sweet potato, blueberries, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, nuts and seeds.
4. Allow others to help. This is another toughy for me. I’m hard-headed and independent and think I can do everything alone. Postpartum knocked me flat enough though for me to see it was time to ask for help. Luckily we have an excellent family that is willing to lend a hand when needed. They would come watch the baby for me to just take a nap or for hubs and I to take a date night. It’s okay to be open and honest enough to admit you need help. You’ll be glad you did!
5. Get rest. This one is huge! I know you’re probably thinking “how am I supposed to rest with a new baby?!” This ties in with #4. Allow others to help so you can rest. Even if you ask your husband to help out with the baby in the night, your mom or mother-in-law to watch the baby so you can take a nap or if you don’t have a lot of people you trust, nap when the baby naps. Your house and all the chores can wait. Your sleep however, cannot.
6. Do something for someone else. I found this to be incredibly rewarding! I was so caught up in feeling depressed and having a pity party for myself that I realized I was using the word “I” a lot. Too much in fact. I wasn’t thinking about anyone around me. I found it was time to do something for someone else. Whether you take someone out for lunch and pay for their meal, send a card, an encouraging text, buy flowers for someone or volunteer your time, they will appreciate the gesture and it will get your mind off of your own problems.
7. Be silly. I know this sounds so basic but it works! I would be almost obsessed day and night with my own struggles that I realized it had been days I had gone without laughing or just being silly. Laughter is the bodies naturally anti-depressant. Laughter does the body good! At some point I chose to just act silly throughout the day whether it was dancing crazy to my favorite song, giving my oldest child a piggy-back ride or just sharing a hug or tickle with someone.
I know this isn’t a cure-all but it does improve your situation if you truly apply each of these to your life. It put things in such a perspective that in my case it nearly eliminated it completely from my life and that’s without anti-depressant drugs! I pray this helps someone else as well and makes you find the beauty in the simple things around you. What did you find that helped you in postpartum?
Love your guts,
Side Note: If you have applied these to your life and you are finding you are not improving I suggest you consult your doctor and see what other options they may give.