I came across this quote and couldn’t help but share it. Hopefully it will inspire you today!
I came across this quote and couldn’t help but share it. Hopefully it will inspire you today!
Having a special needs baby is a whole different ball game. Some things are more difficult, some things are easier 🙂 But what is the first year of having a special needs baby like? Let me tell you about it!
Now, I know all babies still have their regular well baby checkups. But with special needs babies, there are regular therapy appointments and various other medical visits depending on their condition. For Emm and I, the first 6 months we had appointments about an average of once a week. After she was old enough to focus more on motor skill, she had (and still has) an average of 3 appointments a week. These include physical therapies, feeding therapies, doctor visits, specialist visits, etc. Consequently, number 2:
Now luckily we have some darn good insurance so we haven’t been sunk in medical bills, but it is still costing our insurance a lot. As far as our actual out of pocket expenses, it has been a little bit more expensive than the average baby because Emm’s therapists like her to have special kinds of toys/activities suited to her ability. Now, yes, I’m sure we could have saved a lot getting most of them second hand, but we wanted to get things that would last through all of our children so we purchased new. Most of the things we purchased would benefit any kiddo 🙂
Making mom friends as a special needs mom can be difficult. As it stands, today I have many acquaintances, but not too many closer friends. Because in conversations with other moms, the topics usually go like this:
Quite honestly it can be a little bit difficult to try and explain Emm’s difficulties in a 5 minute conversation. I just prefer to have “normal” conversations 🙂 Ones where each mom is commenting back and forth, offering different observations. I’m just as interested in learning about your baby as you are mine! If you don’t talk about your baby too it feels more like a monologue on my part, less like a conversation. (Stay tuned for blog post on this!)
It takes careful observance to independently notice that Emm is special needs, so I don’t get this as a rule, but I do get it as soon as people discover that she is. Normally the different treatment is in the form of encouragement or condolences, like my life must be so hard. I’ve kind of come to accept these as normal and react to them neutrally, but they are kind of annoying. My baby is AWESOME! No condolences or encouragement needed! I really do believe that I am the luckiest mom in the world to have her!
There’s also the classic stares and glances out of the corner of the eye. I don’t really blame people for this one, because I know I used to do it (and sometimes still do–yikes!). And I’ve gotten used to these as well. People are wary of what they don’t understand, and special needs are difficult to understand. So people sometimes stare at Emm, probably without realizing it.
Once Emm started to get tall and heavy, but still couldn’t support her neck enough for a bigger carseat, we had to get creative. We bought a large infant seat and angled it back safely. It’s still hard to get her out of the car, haha, but once again, you get used to it.
Washing her in the bathtub is about to become more difficult too, as she’s almost sliding off her baby bath. When that happens, we’re planning on putting a very small layer of water in the bottom of the tub and washing her on her back. Wish us luck!
Am I spending enough time with my baby? Is she getting enough/too much stimulation? Is that little girl going to drop her if I let her hold her? What will she be like when she’s older?
All those things, completely normal. Now, there are different worries sometimes, like wondering how old she’ll be when she learns how to read, but most of the time the worries are just normal mom worries! (And heck- who really knows when their kid will read, regardless of their needs? Right?)
In the end, as a special needs mom, I still do most of the same things that other moms do. My daily routine is pretty similar, with only a few exceptions. I worry about lots of the same things. I feed my baby the same things. It’s the few exceptions that make it a different journey, but it really is a great one!
Are you a special needs mom? Tell us about your journey in the comments!
During pregnancy, most of us ladies tend to focus on preparing for labor and baby.
Which is great!
It just means that sometimes caring for ourselves postpartum can be shocking. There’s all sorts of crazy things that most people don’t mention! Here’s a few to realities to help prepare you for postpartum surprises, at least a little bit better.
I remember hearing that the postpartum period should last 8 weeks. Ehem. I feel like that’s similar to telling women their period can be around 3-8 days long. Who’s the lucky one who gets only 3 days a month?
10 weeks in, I was still bleeding hard and was getting worried. Luckily my friends who had recently had kids reassured me. “8 weeks is a joke!” They said, “Plan for 10 and expect longer than that.”
And sure enough, the postpartum period dragged on forever. I stopped counting after 10 weeks to avoid depressing myself further!
1. Load up on pad sales during pregnancy. Find your favorite brand (mine are these) and wait for them to go on sale at any of the stores you frequent. I know it’s hard to imagine ever facing periods again when you’re pregnant, but preparing now will save you time and money later!
2. Purchase a good feminine wash. You’ll need to clean up frequently down there, and you will probably be desperate to feel and smell clean at least a few times across your period. So use these to aid both!
3. Use plain, unimportant underwear. This is not the time to be sporting a pretty thong, ladies. Go to Wal-Mart, get a 10 or 15 pack of their generic white undies, and plan on using and abusing those for a few months.
(Lots of times women will tell you to wear these to the hospital so you don’t ruin your favorite ones after labor — but they don’t tell you about the postpartum mess that lasts for months! Prepare ahead!)
Pregnant lady hormones got nothing on the postpartum period. I think we could all be clinically diagnosed as bipolar just for the postpartum period (let alone having a new little one to care for!). One day you’ll be gleefully snapping selfies with your cute new one and the next you’ll feel like a bloated, aching couch potato. And that’s okay!
1. Meal prep ahead of time. I did 2 weeks worth of meals and absolutely loved them, but once I ran out, I resorted to fast food. Not a good idea! Junk food messes with hormones even worse! Meal plan ahead or try using relatively healthy (purchaseable) freezer meals.
2. Save up $$$ during pregnancy. You will probably anticipate baby expenses, but make sure to add mom expenses in there too! There will be days you just can’t eat another freezer meal and will want something new. So save up for that occasional restaurant trip!
3. Try to take up a relaxing practice such as meditation or prayer. You will be mommy monster some days, but this will help keep your negative reactions to a minimum. I also enjoyed reading and watching ASMR YouTube videos to help with this!
I had NO IDEA that this happened. I was just showering a few weeks after delivering Em and realized, I was rubbing handfuls of hair off my head just by shampooing! Horrified, I once again called my friend who had kids a few months before me. “Oh yeah, that’s completely normal.” She responded, “you didn’t shed much when you were pregnant and now your body is compensating for that.”
And I lost hair for months. Even longer than I had the postpartum period. In those big handfuls, every shower. I’m not exactly sure how I still have hair on my head today, but somehow I do, and you will too!
All that hair loss itches. Massage your head with a gentle hairbrush every night to help get rid of the loose hairs and clean your scalp thoroughly when you bathe. Other than that, you just gotta deal with it :/
I know we moms all have this mental image of ourselves as super moms looking amazing and having a happy baby, but frankly, that’s not really realistic.
A good rule of thumb I have heard, is that you should’t expect yourself to return to consistent “pre-baby” self care until 6 months after you’ve had baby.
Now yes, there are a few goddesses out there that look like they came off the runway instead of just having had a baby. Their makeup will be perfect, their clothes flattering, and they’ll go out in public smiling. You will probably be jealous/intimidated/depressed watching them, because you’ll be in some comfy loose clothes, hair in mess or ponytail, and with a little bit of jiggle tummy.
I want to encourage you NOT to be jealous of those goddesses. Don’t try to mimic them. Their appearance reflects what’s important to them, which is looking good. It’s okay if it’s more important to you to relax and enjoy your day. It’s okay if it’s more important to you to have given extra time to your baby. It’s okay for looks to take a sideline right after you’ve had a baby. If people aren’t satisfied that you just had a kid and lived to tell the tale, they’re not worth dressing up for anyway.
If you still aren’t feeling like taking the time to get ready in the morning after six months (and you did before delivery), you might want to take an inventory of your interests and make sure you haven’t just gotten stuck in a mom slump. If you have, get out! Try a new workout video, new hairdo, new makeup look. Something to re-excite your interest in taking special care of yourself.
So overall, postpartum recovery is rough. You’ll feel gross bleeding all the time, lose hair like crazy, and enjoy a few other recovery side effects. But you will make it! None of us moms have a guidebook on how to do it and somehow we make it, you will too 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Clogged ducts are no fun. AT ALL.
And when you first have one (or many) your impulse will probably be to look for some painkiller and try to endure it. Which is okay! But if that’s all you do, it can turn into mastitis. And trust me, that is far worse than a clogged duct.
So! Solve the clogged duct as quickly as you can to end the pain and avoid further complications!
But how do you do that? Here’s the solution given to me by one stellar lactation consultant!
***As always, ladies, save this BEFORE you encounter clogged ducts (I’m talking to you, pregnant mommas)! It’s easier to prevent than repair!***
That’s right. Grab two to four baby diapers (depending on the size of the diapers and the size of your breasts) and wet them down with hot water. As hot as you can stand!
Then sit and hold the heat on your breasts until they’re cool, 15 minutes tops. You’ll want to have them on as long as possible, so wrapping your chest in a towel after putting the diapers on will help hold heat in for longer.
This can be a little tricky if you’re not pumping, but you want your breasts half empty. Try to estimate how long baby spends on one side and switch them to the other side halfway through.
THIS PART IS VERY IMPORTANT!! You will understand when you try it!
Now, firmly massage your half-empty breast with the muscle between your thumb and your wrist. And when I say firmly, I mean excruciatingly. You have to be really tough with this one, and have a lot of willpower. Massage down and away from your breast, toward the nipple. If you don’t use enough force, all this is going to do is hurt. My lactation consultant told me that some ladies are so clogged their breasts feel like rocks, but they’re so scared to really push those ducts hard that they end up with infections. YOU DO NOT WANT TO END UP WITH AN INFECTION. So you’ve got to be really aggressive with the amount of pressure you apply.
It is going to hurt. Probably nigh unto unbearably so. But you can do it! 🙂
After you’ve done massaging on the one side, finish pumping/breastfeeding that side for the remainder of your usual time. Switch to the other side and repeat the process.
At this point you will probably understand why you only pumped/fed halfway. If you broke the clog loose, at this point you might be able to feel it scraping down toward your nipple (most of the time you won’t feel it, but it’s weird when you do). Massaging at the halfway point was important, because now baby/pump can remove all of the clogs you just loosened.
(Don’t worry, it won’t hurt your baby to drink the hardened milk that clogged your duct. It’s a tiny little milk ball that will just pass through their digestive system and into the diaper.)
Now put some cabbage leaves inside your bra. To be honest, I’ve never seen research that says this really works, but somehow it helps. Plus, with a clogged duct, you’ll want to try just about anything. So load that bra up!
If you aren’t already feeling relieved, it’s okay. Especially with initial engorgement, it can take a couple days to really start feeling better. Just remember to repeat the process at every feeding and it will shorten the time significantly!
Please remember too, it’s much easier to PREVENT than to REPAIR! Here’s some ways to help prevent clogged ducts:
These tips have worked great for me, I’ve only had clogged ducts twice and both times were for no longer than three days! Just remember, be diligent about it and you will be more comfortable in the future!
Tried some of these things? Tell us what worked for you in the comments below!
Wish Momma Told Me
I just want to establish upfront, I’m not getting compensation from Belabumbum in any way for this post. Thanks for reading!
I have run the gauntlet on nursing bras.
I have tried cheap Wal-Mart ones that snap in the front, I’ve tried expensive lacey ones, and even the odd JCPenney ones in between.
I’ve slept in them, swam in them, and dropped stuff down them (don’t we all?).
Hands down, Belabumbum nursing bras.
#1: These bras have the perfect amount of support without *ahem*… leaving things hanging. Unfortunately a lot of nursing bras are either A) way too tight, or B) way too loose. Too tight is uncomfortable for obvious reasons, but too loose is also a big NO NO! If you are just leaving things hanging, the ducts on the underside of your breasts can get extra pressure and clog. And clogged ducts are miserable. You want something that is in between, not too tight, not too loose. Enter Belabumbum.
#2: They clasp open and close easily (no velcro…eww).
#3: They have a wide variety of adjustments for changing milk levels. Whether engorged in the morning or empty in the evening they hold things up.
#4: They don’t make you look matronly. Seriously, so many nursing bras just lump your boobs together like a sack of potatoes. I’m talking the $10 Wal-Mart ones here. Not good. But Belabumbum still keeps a traditional bra “shape” and so things feel more independent.
#5: They’re pretty! I know this shouldn’t theoretically matter so much, but a cute lace trim goes a long way. Plus your man will most likely appreciate the femininity of it 🙂
#6: They don’t squeeze your boobs at night. Some nursing bras have thick fabric that forces your boobs to lay a certain way, Belabumbum doesn’t. I was even able to get used to wearing these at night after having gone bra-free nightly my whole life!
#7: They don’t cause or contribute to clogged ducts. I was so confused why I was getting frequent clogged ducts on the inside cleavage until I realized my old crappy nursing bras were squeezing things together and that’s where the pressure was strongest. I got Belabumbum nursing bras and Voila! No more clogged ducts.
These nursing bras are expensive. There’s no getting around that. I didn’t even invest in them until I thought I absolutely had to.
But when I did, they made a world of difference. Less clogged ducts alone is worth it!
So if you have to, save up for a few months before buying them. Do your research and make sure they’re a good fit for you. And once you actually purchase them, make sure to get correct sizing (you’ll probably have to go back and forth a few times– that’s okay!).
And good luck in your endeavor!
Thanks for reading!
What’s your favorite nursing bra? Tell us in the comments below!
~Rachel M @ Wish Momma Told Me
It can be hard to not lose yourself in motherhood. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our new baby and lose ourselves in the process. As a mom of a toddler and preschooler, I would like to share some tips I’ve learned along the way for making sure that you don’t lose yourself in motherhood because it is so easy to do. And often, we don’t even realize it until it’s too late, and we look in the mirror, and wonder who we are and how we got where we are.
I know this sounds perhaps a little bit obvious, but it is easy to neglect showering, washing our hair, and other basic things that we probably wouldn’t have let go as long prior to having a baby. As hard as it might be, make time to shower and get dressed or put on some lipstick, or whatever makes you feel good, and makes you feel like a human and an adult again.
Another part of taking care of yourself is making sure that you get some sort of movement in each day. So, put Baby in a stroller and go for a walk. If you can’t get out for a walk, walk around your house, do yoga, go to an indoor mall or other shopping center and walk, lift some weights or whatever floats your boat. But, do something to just move. Ideally, outside so you get some vitamin D and fresh air. It’s not about getting your pre-baby body back (there’s plenty of time for that, if that’s your goal!). It’s about being a healthier and stronger, taking care of YOU, and getting good endorphins flowing.
Feel free to tell people, “no.” You don’t have to accept every hand-me-down someone gives you, and you don’t need to take all the advice well-meaning people offer. You don’t have to go to every birthday party or play date. If you don’t feel like it, or it’s not the best time of day for you or your baby, feel free to decline the invitation and say, “no.”
As women, we are often people pleasers, which tends to lead us to saying, “yes,” even when we don’t want to do things. So, do yourself a favor and start practicing saying “no.” Not being overwhelmed, overworked, and more tired than you already are will benefit your baby.
Continue to do fun things or go out on dates with your husband or significant other. As moms, especially first-time moms, it’s really easy to get caught up in motherhood and neglect not only ourselves, but our relationship with our husband or partner. In the long run, that is not good for you or your baby. Your baby doesn’t need to have parents that have lost sight of their relationship. Your baby deserves to have happy, loving parents who enjoy one another’s company, so make it a priority to spend time with your partner, doing things that you both enjoy.
Maybe you don’t feel like you can get away from Baby and leave Baby with a family member, friend, or a babysitter, so do dates at home. Instead of just watching TV after baby is sleeping, play a game, put on some music and dance, do with themed movie and dinner night, cook a new dessert recipe… just DO something together that you both enjoy. There are tons of ideas for at home dates, but some of my favorites come from The Dating Divas.*
Along with saving time for fun, make sure you maintain your relationships with your friends. As Baby gets older, going out for coffee or lunch will become a little bit more work than it was when Baby was a newborn, but it’s still worth it. Or, instead of meeting up and sitting down somewhere, go for walks or window-shopping. Baby will be entertained by the sights and snacks or toys you provide and you’ll still have time to talk and catch up with your friend. Of course, if you can swing it, going out without Baby is great too!
This goes for so many things, but I’ll stick to baby-related stuff. You know you best and you know your baby best. Trust that when in doubt. Do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you don’t agree with a doctor or are unsure about something.
Remember that you are enough. You are more than capable of teaching your baby everything he/she needs to know. When they’re newborns and infants, this is as simple as talking to Baby, playing with Baby, and including Baby in things you’re doing. Reading to your baby and talking about what you’re doing exposes your baby to a lot of new words and sounds, which is great for development. The more you include your baby into your day, the more your baby will be interested in what you’re doing and will be able to help you as he/she gets older. And, when they’re young, play is learning.
Another excellent way to set your baby up for success is to play with him or her. It helps your baby learn language and new concepts. Using open-ended toys instead of electronics is best because it allows for creativity, problem-solving, greater discussions, etc. Plus, the toys are open-ended, so they usually last longer. You’ll also learn more about what your baby likes, doesn’t like, and your little one’s capabilities.
Refraining from using electronic devices is great for Baby’s development (See, “11 Dangers of Screentime and What you can do Instead”), but it also makes life easier for you as your baby gets older. Why?
*Affiliate link for Imperfect Mom.
Feeling stressed lately, momma? Laughter makes a world of difference when you’re having a rough day. So whether you’re cleaning dishes or working, take some time to listen to these hilarious videos!
Here are X Ideas on how to lighten up a bit! Enjoy!
Jeanne Robertson is THE BEST CLEAN COMEDY, hands down. Her jokes are about real life stories that have happened to her, and her Southern accent is the perfect narration for them! You will love how easily she carries the narrative and makes you laugh 🙂
Ted talks are inspiring and educating. But did you know that sometimes there are talks that are just plain hilarious, AS WELL as sharing a good message? Check these out!
James Veitch videos are hilarious. He has a couple more that will be in the sidebar when you get to YouTube– make sure to listen to those, too!
I love story-telling comedy. You can never go wrong with the hilarity of real life! Shawn Achor does a great job narrating a powerful story about brain performance with comedy! There are many more hilarious TED Talks to view, just do a search for hilarious TED Talks on YouTube or follow this link to see them right now. I love learning and laughing at the same time, and I’m sure you will too!
Yes, Jim Gaffigan is on this list too! He has some hilarious stories about parenting. Check out a few a of them in this video!
Moms need to laugh more. Share this with the ladies in your life to help them lighten up a bit!
Thanks for reading!
Rachel M ~ Wish Momma Told Me
What did you think of these videos? Tell us in the comments below!
#Bonustip: Share Kid History with your kiddos, these dads got together to tell stories from their childhood and it’s great clean comedy for kids!
And it is not fun. At all.
When I had my baby, I had three very large cuts to prevent me from tearing. And I’m not talking little slices, these were several inches long. There was nothing I could have done more to prevent them, I did the exercises and everything to prepare for labor, but my body just would not open wide enough on its’ own.
Your case probably won’t be quite as extreme as mine. But stitches are no fun, no matter how many you’ve got. Here’s how I survived mine, and tips to help you survive yours!
(P.S. Save this even if you haven’t had your baby yet! It is better to prepare for the worst while expecting the best 🙂
This is my NUMBER ONE topical pain reliever. I used witch hazel pads like these. Layer two or three of those on top of your pad or icepack every time you go to the bathroom. They burn at first but the marvelous cooling that follows afterward is so worth it! Trust me on this!
Same thing here. Dermoplast is essential. It will burn at first, but the numbing afterward helps A TON. I went through a couple of cans of this. Do not cheap skate with this, apply as much as you can! (Also make sure to get the blue lid Dermoplast, not the red lid. Very important!)
Hospitals truly give out the best ice pack diapers, so stock up on as many as they will give you. Once you’ve run out of those, I’d suggest trying this kind. I had to use regular ice packs and it was not fun at all (in fact I just gave up after a day or two). But ice packs will help the swelling down there and also ease the pain of sitting down. Use them!
Do not skip one pill. Ever. The times I was in agonizing pain were the times I’d forgotten my meds. Seriously set 6 different timers for all the pain meds you need to take that day. After my first agonizing episode I did this and I was so grateful for it afterward!
This one is tricky, especially being weak after labor. Do not attempt to squat onto chairs or your bed. It hurts, and you will quickly find this out if you try it. Lower yourself onto surfaces using almost entirely your arm muscles, and be especially gentle when sitting onto soft surfaces that will ride up in between your legs. Sit on the back of your butt like you’re slouching. It’s okay to slouch for a week when you hurt that badly.
The first time you pee is going to hurt badly. Just accept that and plan for it. Give yourself plenty of time to go to the bathroom, and get as comfortable as you can on the seat. It’s okay if you can’t sit on both cheeks at first, I was only able to lean on one for the first couple days. Then take deep breaths, focus on breathing in and out very slowly, and relax. Let yourself relax into going to the bathroom. This will be the same case for going #2. Do not rush it, do not force it. Relax and let it happen. Your bladder will get full enough that it will come out if you relax.
Do not try to scoot on your bum with stitches. Ever. Take your time and sit onto your hip on the hospital bed. Then rolling and scooting will be your friend. But don’t sit directly onto your bum!
Now I know it’s hard to sit down, especially to the ground. Have someone help you sit into a bath with epsom salt and alternate hot and cold water. This helps the swelling immensely and is also very relaxing.
It is so helpful to have someone to hand you the baby so that you don’t have to get up. If you can’t do this, have both you and baby camp out in bed with a stash of food close by. Don’t get up or down anymore than you have to!
My baby was in the NICU the first couple weeks after she was born, so I had to be mobile. If you have to be mobile, get a wheelchair. It will make your pain down there so much more manageable.
Don’t be in a rush! Take your time! The only thing worse than stitches are split stitches.
No fast movements for at least three weeks! I’m serious! You could split a stitch and that hurts extremely, extremely bad. Please don’t do it.
Remember, you need the swelling to go down to feel better. So do everything you can to make that happen! You can do this, you will survive the stitches and you will be able to move normally again!
Thanks for reading!
How did you survive stitches? Tell us in the comments below!
Have a friend or a relative with a baby in the NICU?
Deciding what to get them a gift can be difficult. Here are some suggestions on things to gift your friend/relative, that they will actually find helpful!
While in the NICU, most mommas aren’t so much concerned about what they’re eating. They’re trying to worry about the health and livelihood of their baby. They are probably just eating hospital food or takeout in order to stay alive. Which is just fine! But there’s nothing wrong with trying to help them make yummier food choices.
It made a huge difference for me when people would bring me food gifts. I was so glad to get away from hospital food for a meal, or even just have a treat!
Here are some food gift ideas for the NICU Momma:
This is another way to help persuade a distraught mother to take care of herself. If you give her a bubble bath kit, she will feel like she at least has to try it. I received lots of yummy smelling lotions, and I can’t explain the effect it has to smell something besides hospital. It’s like a refreshing reminder that there’s life beyond the IVs and white walls.
Just think, that NICU Momma went through child-birth too. She’s hurting physically, though most people are more worried about her kiddo than her. Which is okay, but it’s never good to neglect the momma.
Send her self-care pampering items to help her feel like she needs to remember to treat herself. A few minute soak in the bathtub or a yummy smelling lotion can make a world of difference. Here are a few of my suggestions for things to help her out:
NICU visits are expensive. EXTREMELY expensive. And while the expense is most definitely worth it, the hole it creates in your wallet can be a real problem.
Especially if they are far from home to be near the NICU (which they probably are). They have food expenses, cars to refill, bills to pay back home, all of this while juggling towering medical expenses.
Worried that they’ll spend it on something other than bills?
This is one of the few situations where I’d say, it’s still okay to give them cash. NICU mommas are again, worried about their kid. If they don’t spend it on bills, they will spend it on something that is even more important to them at the time. My husband and I spent some of our gift money on mementos for our baby, and that was very comforting to us. We also needed toothbrushes, deodorant, and other staples, because we weren’t anticipating being gone as long as we were.
NICU parents know what they need better than you do, so this is one of the best gifts that you can give them.
Those were a few things that could tremendously help the NICU Momma to feel a little better, whether physically, emotionally, or financially. And when you go visit them, make sure you know the 6 things you should never mention to them by For Every Mom!
#Bonustip: If you don’t have the cash to spend on the NICU Momma, at least send her a card with a note telling her that you’re thinking about her. She needs to know that she’s not alone and people are mindful of her.
Thanks for reading!
Have you been to the NICU? What’s something you wish you had? Tell us in the comments below!
Many women struggle with postpartum depression after labor. I had a pretty severe case of postpartum depression the first month or two after Emm was born, a lot because of the circumstances of her birth and a lot because I deal with anxiety anyways.
But how do you know if you have postpartum depression?
It starts small. One day you might just be worried that you’ll trip when you’re carrying your baby and the next you may wonder if you’d ever do it on purpose. Other times, women just feel downright awful and can’t explain why. Maybe you’re getting into a lot more fights with your partner, maybe you’re sleeping even worse, it could be anything. But if you feel worried that you may hurt yourself or your baby, you should see a specialist.
For me, postpartum depression came in the form of fear. I rarely worried that I’d hurt my baby, but I was deathly afraid that someone else would hurt her. And to an extent, that is a normal new mother response. But I was taking it to the extreme, to where I had to do some deep breathing and meditation whenever I handed Emm to someone else. I was soo stressed out about it that I could barely handle that.
I was getting so stressed out, all the time, worrying about the things that could happen to her.
Of course not. Nobody wants to see a counselor, it insinuates that there’s something wrong with them. You have to take a big slice of humble pie to go.
And besides, I justified, ‘I’m sure my response was normal’. My baby had suffocated inside me and there was nothing I could do to help her. That’s a big recipe for an overprotective mom. But eventually I got up my gumption, shelled out $150, and went to the counselor. I was sure it was going to be a waste of money, but I was desperate to try anything.
She didn’t sit there, digging up the past trying to decide why I had postpartum depression. In the movies the counselors always say something like, “Now what does this have to do with your mother’s penchant for silver earrings?” (Or something else that is comically and totally unrelated)
She just asked me to talk. Honestly I talked about 90% of the time I was there. She was an amazing listener, and asked constructive questions that would prompt me to talk for another five minutes straight. I told her about all the details of what happened to Emm and I, how it killed me to be helpless for my baby, how I loved the NICU nurses, everything. We talked about my habits as a mother now and the things I liked and disliked about it.
At the end of the hour I was sad I had to go. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders that I had been carrying for months. And do you know what it was?
Yes, I had lots of relatives who helped me. It was great! But relatives and friends are a little too close to really help you (unless they’re a counselor, in which case, you’re lucky!). Most people don’t want to sit down with you and let you unload the details of your circumstances. Why?
And it’s only natural for people to think like that. But a counselor doesn’t, thank goodness!
**And I should note– my husband was an amazing listener too. But he couldn’t help me too much, because he was hurting too, and he’s a guy. You know?**
The counselor listened constructively. The weight off of my shoulders was that I had told someone all my deepest darkest fears, and she had responded with comfort and confirmation. She let me know that she heard me, and that it was natural that I had thought that. One thing she said that helped me a ton was,
“Most women don’t understand that birth really is traumatic. Even without tragic circumstances, it really is. Most ladies think that because most women do it, it must be commonly simple. But it is not! It is one of the scariest and most difficult things anyone can do. Even just for how your hormones and stress changes after the baby is born, let alone how labor is!”
After that she explained to me that it was totally understandable how I felt. My feelings were natural and normal.
And for some reason, hearing that made a world of difference for me. She had sat and listened to me tell her things that I thought were terrible thoughts for a mother to have, and she said it was natural. Normal. I was reacting to my experience in the only way I knew how, and that was normal.
But she wanted to help me be extraordinary. Feel better than most women do after birth. Because everyone deserves to feel better than postpartum depression!
And she proceeded to teach me how I could help my postpartum depression. Things I could actively do every day. And honestly, a lot were things you can find on the internet. I was familiar with her ideas. But she tailored them to me. “If you do this one, you will see this result.” And that helped motivate me.
However, the biggest thing I took away from my counselling, was the opportunity to unload my feelings on someone and them not think badly of me afterward. That made me feel so, so much better. She gave me the opportunity to cry and tell my scariest thoughts and then turned around and praised and lifted me. It was awesome!
Because they really know how to help you, even if all you need is someone to listen.
Thanks for reading!
Have you had postpartum depression? Did you see a counselor? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!