By Natascha Jaffa
I didn't know I was suffering from postpartum depression.
I'd had my daughter a few weeks before, but while I felt physically healthier, I found myself sinking in every other aspect of my life.
I didn't want people to come over to my house to see the baby. I wouldn't let my husband anywhere near my newborn, and it felt like all I was doing with my four-year-old was screaming.
I spent my days deep cleaning every inch of my house then crumbling into a pile of sobs when the baby woke up. My entire life had turned into a rollercoaster I couldn't stop.
I tried reaching out to my mother-in-law. She ignored me.
I tried talking to my husband. He didn't believe depression was anything more than a cry for attention (at the time--he's since come to a different understanding and I still love him. Lol.).
At my six-week follow-up appointment, I mentioned my feelings to my OB/GYN, and his response? "Why didn't you call me?"
In that moment, it was suddenly my fault I didn't realize what was happening. My fault that I didn't have the right education on postpartum depression so I could self-monitor or have an effective conversation with my husband. It was my fault I was in this mess and that I'd let this happen.
(Not really. Because my brain--and yours--is going to lie to you when you're suffering from depression)
That night, as dejection and hopelessness consumed me, I fantasized about suffocating my newborn with a pillow. For the first time ever, my thoughts scared me.
It was then I realized this wasn't just an adjustment period, and I had to admit that I wasn't managing. But, more importantly, I couldn't rely on my immediate family to help. I wasn't going to get their support because they literally didn't understand what I was going through.
It took months to unravel my feelings of worthlessness and accept that I needed outside help. Of course, I'd done my due diligence in knowing what postpartum depression was before giving birth and weighing the chances I would fall victim to it.
But when you're in it, you can't see anything except that dark hole you want to get out of.
I gradually got better. I got more sleep. I eliminated foods from my diet that made me feel worse. I drank more water and got more exercise. But the best thing I did for myself? I got support from another mom (not my mother-in-law). Just the simple act of us taking our babies on walks after the bus picked up our kindergartners and talking changed everything for me. I felt seen.
If my story resonates with you or if you think it someone you love is experiencing postpartum depression, please don't rely on other people to point it out to you.
👉🏻 Make the call to SAMHSA's hotline.
👉🏻 Make the appointment to see a therapist or a psychiatrist.
👉🏻 Reach out to a trusted friend, your OB/GYN, or talk to your significant other. And if that doesn't work, try someone else.
👉🏻 Advocate for yourself.
Because you are worthy. You are loved. You have value despite what your brain might be trying to tell you. And, no, we are not better off without you. Don't give up.
By Phyllis Moyes
Recently, a Christian friend of mine sent me a TikTok. As I watched it, the truth of its message encircled my heart. It began by asking a simple question: "Do you know how most whales die?" Hmmm, I thought, sharks? Fishermen? Disease? Nope. Nope. Nope. They drown. The TikTokker @russelldafourth is a Christian minister, and he said, "they spend their entire life living in and swimming in a world that eventually kills them...Whales live in a world they are not of; they are in the water, but not of the water. So while other fish can swim around for their entire life, with gills breathing in the water, the whale has to come up out of the water to live. There is a life source that is not in the world that he lives in that he needs access to."
You see, whales are mammals; just like us, they need air to survive.
I am a Christian, and I believe this message applies to all of us. Regardless of religious preference (or lack of one), we need a higher power (God, Yahweh, Jesus, Brahman, The Universe, Allah, etc.), and we must prioritize our spiritual health and mindfulness. For me, it is reading scripture, praying, and meditation. For a friend of mine, it is meditation and yoga. How you choose this connection to God/Higher Power is up to you, and your way may look different from my examples. It doesn't matter; the critical thing is that you do it. Keep reading, and I will tell you why.
I remembered another fact I had read about whales many years ago. It came from a book titled, The Book Of Nurturing: Nine Natural Laws For Enriching Your Family Life, written by Linda and Richard Eyre. In the book, they give parables for raising children; number three is the Law of the Whales. This law pertains to how whales speak within their families, creating phenomenal teamwork. The Eyre’s wrote, "The gentlest, most tender, and touching humpback song seems to be the one a mother sings to guide and encourage their baby calves. Humpback babies are born far below the surface, and the first challenge of the new mother is to lift and nudge her new child (with her nose) to the surface, where it can draw its first breath of air. Those who have witnessed this nurturing act say they will never forget the mother's song that goes with it, a song of love and confidence."
Isn't that a beautiful illustration of love and nurturing? I can envision myself feeling a little panicky shortly after giving birth, doing all I can to ensure my babe makes it to the top of the water so they don't drown in the world they are not of. I am singing my best song, you know, the one that is full of confidence, assurance, and love. And then we both crest the water - my baby breathes, and I breathe.
But here is the rub: Sometimes, I feel my proverbial lungs will burst because it has been too long since my last spiritual/mindful breath; can you relate? It is not because I don't know where to find it, how to do it, or because it isn't lifesaving. Instead, I have over-committed myself with cares of the wrong world, worrying, stress, wasting time, judging and feeling judged. These characteristics are fish traits, not whales. The bad news is numerous “fishes” are vying for my and my child's attention, but they only supply water, which will never save but instead dooms these lungs to death. We need AIR to live -- Quoting @russelldafourth, "YOU are IN this WORLD, but YOU are NOT OF this WORLD."
Mothers, we are irreplaceable examples to our children. Teach your babies what source they can depend on for the Breath of Life; they are watching you.
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom
You have waited and waited AND (have I mentioned?) WAITED for this day! Nine months – give or take – and now, couldn’t you just stare hour after hour, at this little bundle of joy? Can you even believe it? Your thoughts have centered around this little one almost every minute of every day. And – phew! After discovering why it’s called “labor!” the baby has (FINALLY) arrived! Way to go Mom!
Having crossed the finish line, the sheer wonder of a new life placed in your arms fills you with anticipation of what lies ahead. Caressing that sweet downy soft head. Kissing each tender tiny toe and marveling as you trace those little eyes, nose, lips, ears. Those mini-fingers wrap their adorable frailty and dependence around your soul.
Wonder and joy sit side by side with the exact opposite: nagging feelings of exhaustion, inexperience, frustration. The discomforts of pregnancy are now replaced by new ones: Cesarean or episiotomy wounds. Sore nipples. Baby blues. Tired… SO tired. As much as we want to enjoy this experience of Mommyhood, we instantly realize that it isn’t going to be a piece of cake!
So please remember to be kind to yourself.
You are a walking miracle maker and now is the time to take good care of you. A time to heal. A time to take it easy. A time to be good to that number one Mommy.
Survival mode - Just as you finish doing the dishes and laundry, another load is calling your name. How is it possible to keep up with the many demands on your time and energy? Remember that at these times, you and your baby’s needs come first. It is clearly time for Survival mode. We’re talking basics here. The goal is not to have a spotless house, but to “love on” your children. If I can get the dishes tidied up once a day, a batch of laundry running, and maybe even a garbage taken out, I feel accomplished. Or better yet, use paper plates and cups. Save the environment later, when you have more time and energy!
Savor the moment - As with each stage in the life of children, I have found over and over again that with a new baby, there are both really hard things and really beautiful things – things that will never happen again: The sound of the newborn cry, the darling startle reflex, peeling skin, the smell of their neck nestled into yours, their first bath, their tiny toes. You may want to jot down notes about firsts, funny things they do, milestones, and your feelings. Capture the moment with frequent snapshots. There will be plenty of time for scrapbooking later if that’s a priority for you, but for now, just share them with friends and family so you can rejoice together!
Sleep - You know the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Sister, it’s so true! The whole world looks like a friendlier place when you are rested. So toss out all the old important TO DOs on your list. Now is the time for a new list, and loving yourself enough to get some sleep is at the top of that list. If there is a choice between getting something done and getting some sleep, choose sleep. I know that this is not easily accomplished. So, for starters, sleep when the baby sleeps. Yes, this is harder to do once you have more than one child, so don’t be shy in asking for help from a friend or family member. Also, with a little know-how and practice, you can train your child to sleep. They’re going to have to learn how to do it on their own sometime anyway. Don’t be that mom that wished she had learned about sleep sooner, but alas, she was too tired! Two excellent resources on this topic are: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.
Time away - Let’s face it – Sometimes being a mom is just plain lonely. You spend many quiet hours even in the middle of the night, rocking, feeding, cuddling, soothing. All good things, right? But the overall effect can be draining if you don’t get a little time for yourself. Remember that as much as you love your baby, it is good to “baby” yourself sometimes, Mama! What does that look like? A weekly date night! Time with a friend on the phone or in person. An hour or two for personal time to shower, read, relax, or even take a nap. A walk around the block for a little fresh air and movement. Mommy is a person too and someone has to take time to “mother” her. So schedule in a little time for yourself each day. Think of it as a time to rejuvenate rather than a selfish action, because dear, it is anything but selfish. You will come back energized and excited to spread a little love and sunshine in your children’s lives. And besides that, you are worth it!
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