Motherhood is tough. Motherhood is messy. Motherhood has kicked my booty. The first few years are some of the hardest. So much crying (both me and the babies!) and the never ending cycle of feed, burp, change diaper, rock to sleep, over and over and over and over. Then there’s the whining, the tantrums, the constant questions, the potty training, the messes…it’s enough to drive a person completely crazy or send them into a dark depression!
So what gets us through it? (Besides lots of coffee and wine.) What is the light, the breath of fresh air, the hope for all the lonely, tired, lost mamas out there?
It’s our village – the group of women and men surrounding us, lifting us up, encouraging us, and helping out during some of the most difficult years of our life. Every mom needs her village, and I’ve been so blessed with mine. There have been so many people over the years who’ve been a rock, a shoulder to cry on, an inspiration, a light.
Postpartum depression is something that isn’t talked about enough in our society and something that a lot of people still don’t understand. It’s not just feeling sad and crying all the time. It’s a medical condition, usually caused by a combination of imbalanced hormones, lack of sleep, stress, and lack of support. A mom suffering with postpartum can’t just “cheer up” or “get over it.” Something is wrong in her mind, and being judgmental about the condition will only make things worse.
If you feel like you might be suffering with postpartum depression, please please please reach out for help. Reaching out for help is the hardest part. Once you’ve asked for help (from someone who will take you seriously) everything gets easier from there. It’s scary to admit that something is wrong because of the attitude our culture has regarding depression and mental illness. But for your sake, and for your family’s sake, please get help.
That being said, I wanted to share 10 things I’ve found helpful in my battle with postpartum depression.
He was 4 weeks early and I never made enough milk after trying countless strategies to increase my supply. I wanted to breastfeed so badly and although I knew how blessed I was to have a beautiful, healthy son, I couldn’t get over the emotional aspect of not being able to exclusively breastfeed. He was supplemented from the beginning in the NICU and eventually quit breastfeeding at 5 months after he realized the bottle was faster and easier.
Looking back, I really believe now that my low supply was the entire reason I ended up with postpartum depression. I felt like such a failure – my body let me down. I also felt judged by others and felt like I had to defend myself every time I pulled out a bottle for Graham. (In hindsight, no one cared how I fed my son. During Graham’s entire first year of life, I only had one instance of someone judging me and making me feel guilty about not breastfeeding.)
After I came to terms with the fact that I was never going to produce enough milk for Graham, I started thinking about what I would do differently when I had a second baby. I was SO determined to make breastfeeding work the second time around and dreamed about sharing my success story of exclusively breastfeeding a second baby. Breastfeeding was one of the things I most looked forward to when thinking about having another child. After my failure with Graham, my heart just couldn’t heal – every time I saw someone else breastfeeding, I was sad. As my friends had babies and were able to breastfeed, I was happy for them. I truly was. But my heart still ached. Why wasn’t I able to produce enough milk? Was it because Graham was early? Was it because I wasn’t able to hold or feed him for 12 hours? Does my body not respond well to the pump? Do I have insufficient glandular tissue? Was it because I was on birth control for so long? Is it a genetic issue? Hell, was it the type of deodorant I was using during pregnancy?!
Well, the second time around I had a beautiful, term, perfect baby girl. And…I was STILL not able to produce enough milk.
But even with a low milk supply, Maddie nursed until she was 17 months old. And I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished.
This is a personal birth story of a successful natural breech birth. I am not a doctor, so please follow your doctor or midwife’s advice during labor for a safe and successful birth. I am also NOT judging moms who have c-sections. The goal of labor is to bring a baby into the world the safest way for both mother and child.
Our little Madeline made her “grand entrance” into this world on September 27th, 2014. I say “grand” because my sweet little girl was breech and came out butt first!
From the beginning, I knew I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth this time around. With my first baby, my son Graham, I had low milk supply and wasn’t able to breastfeed like I wanted. So this time, I didn’t want any drugs in my system to make sure that breastfeeding would (hopefully) get off to a better start.