Before I ever got pregnant, I was convinced that I would suffer from postpartum depression because of my history with anxiety and depression. In high school, I was severely depressed and anorexic and dropped to 80 pounds. In college, I self medicated my extreme anxiety with drugs and alcohol. Post college I finally started seeing a psychologist. After I had two miscarriages, I started seeing a cognitive behavorial therapist and taking antidepressants. Unfortunately depression, anxiety and I are intimate acquaintances and probably will be for the rest of my life. But over the years I’ve educated myself extensively on the topic and have become much better at managing it.
Being a new mom can be very lonely, isolating, frustrating, overwhelming, guilt-inducing, and exhausting, and it’s easy to see why so many moms experience post baby blues. I was no exception. While I was lucky enough not to go through full on postpartum depression, I definitely experienced some pretty serious bouts of sadness and lots of anxiety after having Charlie. Things started to get better after the first 6 months when Charlie was sleeping well, he was becoming a lot more fun, and I finally accepted that I didn’t have to be a perfect supermom.
Fast forward to Olive. Since I’m a second time mom, I didn’t really prepare myself for the baby blues, but they hit me hard a couple of weeks ago. It’s been really tough juggling a 2 year old toddler, a newborn, and a new website. Lately I’m exhausted no matter how much I sleep — all I want to do is lay in bed, watch tv, and sleep. I feel overwhelmed by the smallest tasks and have been procrastinating on things big (hiring a nanny) and small (mailing a package). But worst of all, I’m in a creative drought. Blogging usually comes pretty easily to me, but I’ve been having trouble writing even the simplest of posts. I need to get out of this funk, and recognizing that I’m in one is the first step. Blogging about it is my public commitment to making changes in my life. This is what I plan to do:
– Socialize more. Friends often leave you alone after you have a baby thinking that you’re too busy to come out and play. But sometimes hanging out with friends and taking a break from being mom is exactly what you need. I’ve had a lot of social events lately with the holidays, and even though it’s easier to stay home, I force myself to go… and I end up having a great time!
– Hang out with other moms. After having Charlie, I met with a local mom group with babies the same age as Charlie once or twice a week. It was really helpful because we were all going through the exact same thing at the exact same time, and I didn’t feel so alone. I’m very lucky that we have three friends within a three block radius that have a child Charlie’s age, and a child Olive’s age. It’s a little crazy for all of us with a newborn and the holidays, but I’m going to make a much bigger effort to have regular playdates in the new year.
– Exercise. I always feel better when I exercise regularly. As a new mom it can definitely be tough to find the time (and energy!) to exercise. Going to the gym is way too ambitious for me at this point, but even a simple daily walk with your baby can make a big difference in your mood. Because I work from home, there are days that I don’t even leave the house or see the sun. But I think it’s important to spend at least 30 minutes in the sun every day, and I’m going to make it a point to schedule a daily walk. Some of my best post ideas come from my walks!
– Eat healthier. I have a horrible diet and usually eat whatever is fastest and easiest at my desk. That can’t be doing very much for my health and energy level. But I’m looking into hiring someone to come once a month to cook up a bunch of food that I can freeze. That way I always have healthy meals I just need to heat up, and it’s even more cost effective than ordering in or eating my usual junk.
– Pamper myself. With all the demands of being a new mom, pampering myself is the absolute last thing on my mind. But sometimes you have to do a little something just for yourself, whether it’s a manicure, a massage, or just reading a good book. Being a mom is hard and you deserve it!
– Let go. There is always laundry to be done, floors to be mopped, and toys to be put away. But I don’t think anyone cares that my house is a little (or even a lot) messy. I’m the only one who cares, and I’m definitely my own toughest critic. I need to cut myself some slack.
– Enjoy my children. Ultimately what keeps me going is Charlie and Olive. They really do bring me so much joy and make everything worth it. Charlie cracks me up every single day, and even at his age he changes almost daily. I love how Olive can just fall asleep in my arms, and I constantly try to remind myself to appreciate this fleeting newborn stage. If your baby is going through a difficult stage, just remind yourself that everything is a phase, and this too shall pass. That really helped me keep things in perspective, and get through some of my toughest times.
I feel very fortunate that I have a lot of support systems in place. I have friends that are moms of children older than my own that I can turn to for advice. I know lots of parents in my neighborhood. I have a very supportive husband. And of course I have Hellobee. It’s still not going to be easy implementing all these changes, but a happier mom means a happier family, so I’m committed.
Did you experience any post baby blues? How did you deal with it?
Postpartum Depression part 7 of 81. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . ." More on Sleep by Mrs. Checkers
2. When the Lights Went Out: Postpartum Depression by Mrs. Checkers
3. Day by Day, Moment to Moment: Coping with PPD by Mrs. Checkers
4. Overcoming Postpartum Depression: A New Normal by Mrs. Checkers
5. I take meds for post-partum depression by Mrs. Llama
6. Post partum, sleep deprivation and the baby blues by Mrs. Pencil
7. Baby Blues by Mrs. Bee
8. Baby Blues or Post Adoption Depression? by Mrs. Polish