an honest look at postpartum depression pt 2

Postpartum depression, for me, has been such a hard thing to experience because it has caused me to be a slave to my thoughts and fears which I normally would not have. This fear, worry, and anxiety keeps me from doing what might bring me joy and often it keeps me from experiencing life that is right in front of me. 

I recently went to a Solly Baby event in San Diego with Leo and had a great time meeting new moms and hearing an inspirational talk on beauty and body image.  Our Solly is our favorite baby carrier and I knew I needed a night out so when they advertised on Instagram they were having a local event with food, wine, a motivational talk, and girl time, I was all about it.

One of my friends from college who was there said something to me that really made in impact on my life with regards to postpartum depression and anxiety. We were catching up and she asked me how I was doing and I vented a little on how hard it is to get out of the house with 3 kids and how it is easy to just want to stay home all the time. She replied (ES), "but, look, you're doing it! You are here and that's what matters!" She didn't know it in that moment but that was exactly what I needed to here. Those few little words gave me validation that taking a night off for myself was okay and not a total failure.

A light bulb went off in my head in that moment. Yes, Leo screamed for half the drive down, yes, I had to pull over to nurse, yes, I was stuck in 30 min of traffic, and yes, I had spit-up down my new J. Crew top the entire night. BUT I was there! I wanted to get out and do something for myself and I did it.  I usually say no to things that take a lot of effort because of the work required to actually make it happen and I am so glad that this time I made it a priority to get out and do something fun and different.

The night was filled with a room full of 100+ moms from all walks of life. Lindsay and Lexi from Beauty Redefined talked to all of us about how we are "more than just a body. See more. Be more." I originally didn't think I would get much out of the talk but I was surprised with how much I took away from the night. 

  I did a lot of people watching, like I usually do and tried to pray for those who looked like me, moms who can put a smile on but inside are battling with their own thoughts. These women were so inspirational to be around because many of them balance blogs, careers, and hobbies while simultaneously being a mom and wife. 

If you or someone you know is struggling from postpartum depression and anxiety please talk to someone. The worst thing you can do is battle this awful illness alone and there is help out there. For me, getting out of the house and doing something for me made such a difference in my life. I felt, for a few hours, like I still had value in purpose in the world besides being a caretaker in my own home. With help from God, my family and medicine I have not been having as bad of symptoms as I did when I had Calvin and is a victory to be celebrated

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an honest look at postpartum depression pt 1

"When the Bough Breaks" is a new Netflix movie  documenting the lives of mothers who have battled postpartum depression. Although I have only watched one small part pf it so far, I thought it would be a good idea to give an honest look at what PPD has looked like in my life. Healing takes on many forms and one form for me is expressing myself. My hope is that by sharing some parts of my story will in turn help another mom who might have gone through something similar.

With this being my second time experiencing postpartum depression I thought originally that I would be going through the same journey as I did with Calvin, but this has not been the case. This time around I realized right away there was a problem. As soon as Leo was born the anxiety hit my body like a train.

I remember my mom bringing Calvin and Max to my delivery room to meet Leo and the fear rising inside of me that germs were going to overwhelm my newborn. I was nervous about where Calvin and Max would touch the baby, I was nervous about my home and how my clothes would be folded, nervous about when I would sleep next, and the list goes on.

The thing with PPD is that for someone who has not experienced it, these types of thoughts seem outrageous and maybe even pitiful but for the mom going through it these are sometimes thoughts we cannot just turn off. 

No amount of help or encouragement at home could help ease the anxiety and depression going on inside of me. The only benefit this time around is that I knew the signs and so did my husband. I am going to be really honest here now so please read this without judgment and instead see how serious postpartum depression can be, especially if it goes undiagnosed and untreated (with or without medicine):

Each morning following Leo's birth I woke up not really wanting to live or get up. My morning thoughts were often dark and the anxiety I felt was overwhelming. I remember hearing Nick's alarm go off at 7 AM and me crying into my pillow that I did not know how I would be able to handle a day of caring and loving my 3 beautiful boys and my husband.

There was nothing expected from me besides keeping the kids alive and yet at the same time I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I would sit and nurse for hours on end and would become so bitter at all the moms I would see on Instagram who had put on makeup, wore trendy clothes, and had a perfectly calm baby sleeping in their wraps. How could they do it and I was unable to? How did other moms do it without family around and still manage to get out of the house with all of their kids?

Even the days where I thought I had the energy to get out of the house I quickly became consumed with laundry from the non-stop acid reflux, way too many blow outs, shirts getting dirty outside from the older boys and the list of things I needed to complete due to my obsession with order and cleanliness.  To top everything off I was neglecting to take care of myself. I showered every day and even had something clean to put on but I kept wondering if I would ever have the time or energy to do my hair or makeup again. When would I not be pregnant or nursing so that I could wear a normal bra? When would I fit back into my jeans that I purchased before finding out I was pregnant?

A doctor in the documentary said something profound that "most moms think in order to be a good mom we have to take care of baby first and we forget to also take care of ourselves." 

I am starting to slowly make sure I am putting myself into the equation. The little things like going for a daily walk after dinner (sans kids), doing a home workout, a cup of coffee in my room while the kids watch a show, a pedicure, etc. all these things are helping me slowly but surely take care of myself. I may never be "Gina before kids" ever again but I can work on who I have become.

This Netflix series has also shown me that women who prior to giving birth have already dealt with mental disorders (for me OCD) that these women are way more susceptible to experiencing postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.  Postpartum depression NEEDS to be talked about. Let's have the conversations no one is having.

Part 2 of this honest look at postpartum depression will be coming at you whenever I have time to type again ;) My husband will soon be writing on a guys perspective of taking care of and noticing the signs of a wife who is suffering from PPD/PPA.

Please feel free to share your story with us too, anonymously or not. Email me through the contact page if you are interested. Thank you for letting me open up about what I have experienced. 

outtakes aka real life

outtakes aka real life

we need to be cheerleaders.

By: Sarah Dudley 

 When I had my first child, son James, on October 7, 2011, I was blown away by the entire experience, from labor and delivery, to nursing, to late-night feedings--everything. I loved it all. And without even knowing it, developed a HUGE sense of pride and accomplishment in myself. I had this Mom thing down. How could other mothers complain, give up nursing so easily, face depression and anxiety?


Thankfully, that attitude and idol were completely stripped from me when I had my second baby, my sweet daughter Evelyn. Before I even left the hospital, something was terribly wrong. I was anxious and fearful, couldn't sleep, wasn't making milk, had very weird physical symptoms that left me unable to pee or walk, and I was deeply, deeply depressed.

Without going into all the dark details--all of these symptoms were actually due to a rare syndrome called Guillain-Barré, which was triggered by childbirth, and made worse because I already have auto-immune diseases. I wasn't diagnosed with it until four months after Evie was born. But before that diagnosis came down, I had made 8 trips to the ER, 2 hospital stays (one under a 51/50 hold), took a variety of anti-depressants and antibiotics, and had to stop breastfeeding after only two devastating weeks.

I don't share this to invite pity--I'm okay! And God has graciously brought me through all of it. I share it because it's SO EASY as a mom to believe that you must have it all together. You must be perfect and strong and able to balance a home, and a husband, and (sometimes) a job, and a kid(s), all without any trouble or complaint. And we see this often enough just in the way moms talk to each other. There's so much pressure to breastfeed for this long, or be back in your pre-preggo jeans by this time, or follow these health-food blogs for amazing home-cooked meals, or have your kid writing his name and counting to 20 by age two!

Obviously, none of those things are wrong. At all! BUT, they easily become idols. And we can start to judge ourselves or others for making decisions as moms that may look different from our own choices, or what society, our fellow friends and family, or church community might be saying is "best."

I've been forced into learning that in order to be the best mom to my kids--I have to be honest. I had to admit that I needed an anti-depressant to help me cope with the symptoms of Guillain-Barre. I needed to seek counseling from our wonderful women's counselor at church. I had to give up the idol of breastfeeding my daughter because I couldn't make milk (and she's perfectly healthy!). I have had to say no to doing every activity I could be doing because I need to rest and focus on being there for my kids. I have had to be okay with myself when I drive-through Chick-Fil-A for some of the kids' lunches, instead of making healthier ones from scratch.

And most of all, I needed to realize that it is NOT my job to judge other moms, or their decisions for their families. I was so struck by how prideful I had been in raising James, and how I'd looked down on friends who'd struggled in areas that I thought were so easy. Shame on me. In that way, I'm so thankful for God stripping away my idols through this past year, even though it's been so, so hard.

We need to be each other's cheerleaders. No one knows the struggles of life better than a mom who is giving herself for her children. In that way, God's equipped us with an empathy like no other--and we need to be extending that to our fellow mommies. The love and grace I received from my fellow moms during the lowest point of my life humbles me every day. I want to be that for someone else. And I want all of you Moms to know that you are the very best for your children, even on the worst of days. God intended you just for them, and vice versa.