The Questions We Should be Asking New Moms.

Last night, I went to a church activity for the women with our week-old baby in tow. It was so fun to go with one of my besties and to see friends. I almost didn’t go because I was so tired, but since said bestie picked me up, and with urging from the Hubby; I knew it would be good for me and I got on my best Hawaiian dress and we went to the Luau. Haha. While we were there, I had one friend ask, “How are you doing?” I said, “Good! It feels so good not to be throwing up!” And she said, “But how are you doing emotionally?”

I was so grateful to her asking that, because I have been in a place before where had I been asked that, they would have quickly known the truth. And maybe I would have received some encouragement to get help.

I flashed back to right after we had our first daughter. She came 17 months after our first son. You probably wouldn’t have found me at an event like that after having her, but in the off chance that I did go, hearing that question would have put me over the edge. I know that I avoided places where I might have to see people or would have to talk about my feelings. I was an irritated, emotional mess that would stare at the wall for hours and cry for “no reason.” I had anxiety and a heaviness around me for what felt like no reason. {It’s almost hard to think and write about because it really was one of those trials that you are grateful to have gone through but don’t want to re-live.}

Her birth had gone exactly how I wanted {induced, incredibly intense, but unmedicated,} and I had great support in my husband. But, of course looking back, there were reasons. Aside from the adjusting hormones and physical recovery of having a baby, my hubby was about to quit a lucrative job to start a company, and found himself having to deal with the transition and was tying up loose ends on the phone for work even while we were still in the recovery room. My grandpa who was also one of my best friends was sick and didn’t have long after she was born to live. My hormones were in fact in a postpartum rollercoaster. Nursing was a mess and painful. I went in to the ER 5 days after she was born with extreme pain that was more than afterpains. They did an ultrasound {the kind that goes inside,} while stitches were fresh from an episiotomy and they also did a catheter. Then, baby got sick. Starting at two weeks, she was in and out of Primary Children’s Hospital with severe infections. We were unsure if she would have to have surgery to fix the issue, and we spent sleepless nights cuddled up on the small couch in the room while she was taken care of by the kind nurses and doctors. She had IV’s and spinal taps. She was so brave and rarely cried even as they poked, prodded, and changed IV locations countless times.

There were reasons.

I was exhausted. I had two babies and even though I loved her with all my heart and knew she was supposed to be here and to come to our family, I was struggling. I didn’t understand how I could be so happy and love her so much, but also feel so sad. I was afraid it would affect bonding with her. On top of the anxiety, I also had an anxiety that the feelings would never go away and that they would turn from what I thought were “baby blues” into a spiraling, full-blown postpartum depression. I was terrified of that for some reason, but I didn’t want to talk to my doctor; because as scared as I was of depression, I was more scared of medication, which made it a viscious and difficult mental cycle.

My phone was having problems that I didn’t care to fix because that would mean I would have to talk to people. Then one day when she was less than a couple of weeks old, we went out for a drive, the two kids and I. I was overwhelmed. I was praying for relief—or for something or someone who would understand. I drove down the street, and on the way home and my neighbor waved me down. She asked “How are you doing?” And then the waterworks let loose like the freakin’ Beaver Dam had broken. I didn’t know where it was coming from, but I couldn’t stop. She just looked at me and said something along the lines of, “Those hormones will do that,” and went on to say how she felt more messed up after having her girl than her boys. It helped. I was in such a dark place that any light was welcomed and needed, whether I knew it or not. All I could muster up was, “Thank you,” and drove home.

There were still to be several more weeks of it, {7 to be exact, which in reality is short, but in the moment feels like an eternity} and I feel lucky that it started to lift on its own. Although I HAD a support system, I didn’t involve them. I was masking ev-er-y-thing because I was “strong.” I was so strong that I could do it all alone. I was “strong” but I was also numb. I started to feel void. I was the one who would decline meals from well-meaning neighbors because I could handle it. Maybe I was “strong,” but was it smart? Nope.

3 babies after that experience, I have come to embrace the realities of having a new baby. I believe that there is power and beauty in being vulnerable, and although this particular postpartum period has seemed lighter, easier, after such a difficult pregnancy, {more on that later,} I have had the support of a rockstar hubby and so many sweet friends who I have actually “let in.” I have cried in the arms of a dear friend in a crowded room when the weight of the pregnancy was too much that day. The throwing up to the point of IV’s, the testing, the unknown of the way she would be born or what special needs she would have and the extent of them; if any. I was fully prepared to be dealing with intense baby blues or postpartum depression after the effects of a stressful pregnancy, in fact, at 30 something weeks I told my doctor that I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed. She offered the sweetest support and said that it was my decision, and that there was a medication that she could put me on that was safe for pregnancy. My heart and mind were open to it, and I told her I would let her know.

The intense anxiety was a stage, but talking about it and being open to medicine was a big step for me. I was nervous but ready for the emotions after delivery, but by some tender mercy, it almost felt lighter. My burden that I was carrying was lifted when she was born, and not only born but also born as the most perfect little thing. We would have loved her however she came, because we already adored her the first time we took a pregnancy test and it grew when we saw her bouncing and flipping around in the ultrasound. But the fact that she was here and the sickness was over, and not only that; she came in perfect form… somehow made the weight lighter and the overwhelmingness and exhaustion of having a newborn a joy to bear. {Also more on that later!} That may sound crazy to say with 5 kids 5 and under, but my heart is full of gratitude.

Another friend on the way out of the party last night asked me, “Do you ever get Postpartum Depression or anything like that?” I loved the boldness of asking that, because not only does it bring a stigma surrounding something so common to light, but it shows such real and raw concern. I appreciate it {even more now} when others are able to be bold and are vulnerable enough to share their own experiences, and I think there should be more of that all around!

The ones supporting new Moms: Be bold and kind. Be vulnerable. Ask questions. And new moms: Be willing to accept support. Be willing to say, “I’m struggling.” Be open to the fact that sometimes support is what you need and sometimes medication or formal counseling is what may help.

I’m grateful to have my amazing support system, and also this community of such wonderful ladies! I have learned more through starting The Dainty Pear than I could have even imagined, and I’m so thankful for that! Also, I’d love to add that if you feel like you’re experiencing PPD or serious anxiety, please reach out to someone and especially your doctor! There is so much courage that goes into that, and you’re not the only one to have walked the path! We’re all in this stuff together, so we’ve got this, ladies!<3



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