Monday, January 27, 2014

Learning How To Dive In....Again (Getting Your Sparkle Back After Postpartum Depression)

by Sarah

Life requires effort. It really does.  Yes, sometimes it requires little effort to find happiness in your day.  And yes, sometimes it requires a lot of effort. There certainly are quite a few trials and tribulations we must all go through, but there are so many beautiful moments. There are many, many more to come, too. 
No matter where you are in your life right now, finding happiness always requires one thing: diving into everything life is requiring of you in the current moment.

Life requires you to invest time in taking care of your body, your surroundings, your relationships, and most importantly, your thoughts. Life requires you to show up.  And lastly, the happiness  you need out of life requires you to do the things that make you uncomfortable, like problem solve, face your fears, and to be one of the souls who lives on this earth who never gives up (even when feeling depressed and miserable seems like the only option you have).  

I almost feel uncomfortable talking about postpartum depression, but with the hope that it will maybe touch someone else's life, I feel that I have to.  After giving birth to the most beautiful baby I could have ever asked for, I was hit with the “baby blues.” 

I had a very painful recovery after giving birth, as I’m sure all women do, and I couldn’t get myself to eat, drink, or sleep. I had a long labor that lasted well over 24 hours and I was awake for most of the day before that.  Immediately after giving birth, I realized I wouldn’t get a good night’s sleep for weeks.  On top of all of that, I have to admit that I hated breastfeeding at first.  I had taken classes on the subject, read books, and felt like it was what my body, as a woman, was designed to do, so I felt so empowered in my choice to breastfeed.  When it came down to it, however, it felt like torture and I felt awful that I hated it so much.  My baby wanted to nurse constantly.  He didn’t even waste time with the “breast crawl.” It hurt to feed him. It hurt to wear nursing bras. It hurt to shower...the water hitting me felt like knives on my sore nipples. I just didn't know who I was since life had changed so much and all I wanted to do was sleep so my body could heal.

But, even though all of those factors were probably leading to my "baby blues", I was still so obsessed with my little man. I loved dressing him in all of his new outfits. I even loved just staring at him. And, I still felt empty. Drained. More emotional than usual. I felt like I had lived through the best day of my life and nothing else could ever live up to it (I now know that is completely false! haha). I couldn’t stop crying. I was a hot mess-- I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t pee without swearing, I wanted to cry all day long, and I felt SO guilty for not being happy. I felt even more guilty for wanted to give up on breastfeeding right away.  (New moms: don’t be scared, I now love it and it is a part of my life, and the pain of breastfeeding peaks during the first week and then you get used to it!)

I now know that after you give birth, your hormones take a nose dive and it is completely normal to feel the “baby blues.” Plus, sleep deprivation would make anyone lose it.

However, the baby blues only last for two weeks.  After that, you’re in postpartum depression territory.  I had such a beautiful pregnancy and felt so powerful that I made it through giving birth that the two weeks of postpartum recovery really saddened me.  I felt like I had failed in some way.  I have the most beautiful, healthy, happy baby so when the failing and guilt feelings never went away after two weeks, I knew that I, unfortunately, had postpartum depression.  I couldn't shake the feeling of being a failure. I couldn't keep the house clean. It hit me that I didn't have a beautiful baby bump anymore--I had a chubby belly with dark stretch marks. The thought of losing the extra baby weight made me feel so overwhelmed. I went back to work immediately after six weeks only to have a hard time focusing on both a new baby and work.

After a lot of research, I decided to begin taking Zoloft and continue breastfeeding. (Studies show that Zoloft leaves almost no trace in breast milk.) When it came down to it, I knew that I had nothing to feel depressed about and that it was a true imbalance (which is a little scary) so I decided to treat it right away, even though I had previously been against taking medication for depression. I realized that my baby needing a healthy and happy mother was more important than the trace amount of Zoloft that might show up in my breast milk. My doctor was very compassionate and gave me the smallest dose available.  I caught it early enough that it never got out of hand.  

It has gone away for the most part now and I have been able to stop taking medication, almost five months later, but I still wish that I could have been happier during such a happy time.  It still lingers, though, and some days, I have to really push myself. As new mothers, it can seem like everything we do is judged by all of society and it can be discouraging. You think you're doing everything the best way you've researched only to hear another mom did it in some other, more expensive, more organic, way.

But, I do it. I dive into everything that pops up. I force myself every day to be the “posh mama” that I am capable of being, that any mother is capable of being, because I know that my little man needs a strong mama.  I try to work out as much as possible, which to be honest, hasn’t been a whole lot because I feel like I am always breastfeeding because it really is the best medicine.

I suffered from depression in college and I really worked hard to overcome it, so it really felt like a setback to deal with it again, this time completely out of my hands.  It did make me realize what I was dealing with sooner and treat it right away. I think it’s important to realize that it is an imbalance and that it really isn’t your fault if you, perhaps, are dealing or have dealt with this, too.  Women seem to share every detail of their pregnancy and new baby’s life, but postpartum recovery seems to be something that everyone forgot about.  I felt like recovering was a thousand times worse than giving birth and I had put so much planning and effort into the act of giving birth.  I felt like a failure that I couldn’t breeze through the recovery with grace.  I wish someone would have told me that it is a nightmare to recover but that  is normal! Being a brand new mother is a brand new experience and it isn't going to be a comfortable, smooth-sailing time.

Our bodies are amazing to create little human beings and it is OKAY if you don’t have a perfect pregnancy, labor, birth, or postpartum recovery.  It’s hard work! Yes, it is okay.  As long as you are making sure your baby has everything he/she needs, you are being the perfect guardian for that little baby.  And, that should be it.  No mother should ever have to feel anything negative, especially like they have failed,  about their birth experience. Regardless of what happened, it’s all okay.  Motherhood has softened me in so many ways.  I have so much more respect for other mothers & my own mother.  I see life as a more precious thing.  I have so much love in my heart for my baby that if I had to deal with postpartum depression for a few months after his birth, I’m okay with it, because I know my love for him cancels it out.

If you are or think you might be suffering from postpartum depression, know that it is perfectly okay to go get help so you can get back to living your beautiful new life! There is no need to feel like a failure for asking for help or talking about it with someone who can help.  Being a new mother is a beautiful thing!

**I know that I have been slacking on my “Posh Mama, Zen Baby” series, but I needed a few months to myself to spend time with my little guy and give him the attention he deserves.  I also just didn’t have it in me to write for a while. But, now you are going to get sick of my new mama blogs because I have a lot to share! Hehe.  

“When you cop to your shortcomings...
-you become accessible. Humanity is charming.  What, you’re not superhuman? Well then lets’ be friends.
-you make space for other people to perform, shine, and operate from their true strengths- a living inspiration.  
-you foster teamwork and collaboration.
-you get the benefit of other people’s greatness.
-you create a genuine connection.
-you get help.  People support you.
-you actually don’t have to do it all.  Go figure.

-you give yourself permission to pursue your genius.”

--excerpt from Danielle Laporte's The Fire Starter Sessions

Image Credit: Pinterest

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