I had my son 3 yrs and 3 months ago and my life has forever changed. He is an absolute joy and I love him with all my heart, but I have to tell you that the first few years of his life were the loneliest and hardest of my life. I want to preface this blog by stating that I am not a counselor, I am a mother and a perinatal nurse. This blog is not intended to help someone diagnose themselves or someone they know (I will post links for PPD at the end of my blog), it is meant to help women understand why they might be feeling the way they are, and what they can do to help themselves. This is my story, about my struggles with being a new mom, finding other mom friends and finding my new normal.
As a Perinatal nurse I have dealt with many women that have had “Post Mommy Blues” (PMB) (we call it Post Partum Blues at work). I would describe it as a feeling of absolute exhaustion, fear of never sleeping again and realization that your life will never be the same again. These feelings are experienced all at once in conjunction with feelings of euphoria for your new little angel. PMB is very normal and I wish that more women would talk about it. It is very normal but can make you feel like there is something wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you!!! This is normal!!! You are tired; you are hormonal; you are trying to learn how to breastfeed your baby; you are trying to adjust to being this person’s everything and most importantly you are trying to adjust to being a mom. Give yourself a break. To those moms that say they never felt that way, great, glad you didn’t feel overwhelmed. Honestly though, those women are not being honest with themselves. Of course you feel overwhelmed. How can you not be?? Your life has forever changed.
From my personal experience here are reasons why we experience “Post Mommy Blues”:
1. Your birthing experience was not what you expected. Things happened that you did not expect like you had an emergency c-section, baby went to the NICU, you developed HELPP, had a premature baby, had a traumatic delivery and/or had problems with breastfeeding. I believe one of the reasons why I felt so depressed initially was because of my delivery. I never expected to have a c-section after I started pushing and that is exactly what happened. It was of course no ones fault, but I felt like I had been cheated out of a vaginal birth. I know in the end what mattered was that Aiden and I were both healthy, but I couldn’t help the way I felt and no one around me understood. So if you feel this way, its normal. You need to make peace with whatever happened during and after your delivery in your own time.
2. You feel overwhelmed trying to balance caring for your newborn and juggling the household. I totally felt that way and still do. What helped me was letting my husband know what I needed and that I couldn’t do everything. If friends ask you what they can do to help, ask them to bring over something to eat or to pick something up from the grocery store, or ask them for gift cards to Molly Maids.
3. You feel lonely. I felt incredibly lonely at first and it took me a while to find other moms that I could relate to. But I did and I felt much better, like my sanity was restored. It is amazing what a simple date with other moms can do for you. It is an opportunity to swap stories and to feel like you are not alone, because you are not alone, other moms feel the same way.
4. Your body is not your own. Isn’t that the truth!!! If you choose to breastfeed you quickly realize that your breasts are no longer yours. I remember pumping in the hospital and my doctor coming in and I feeling like a cow. We both had a good chuckle. What helped me was working out again, to get some control back of my body. Losing the weight can be incredibly hard and discouraging, so my advice is no matter where you are in your weight loss, go out and buy yourself something that makes you feel pretty and/or sexy. It doesn’t have to be expensive (EI doesn’t pay all that well), it just has to make you feel good about yourself. I remember feeling amazing when I was pregnant, and then after having my son, feeling like I didn’t know “this” body. Buying something that makes you feel pretty will make you feel good about yourself again and you deserve it. You just did the most selfless, amazing thing and you deserve to feel good about it. Also be patient with yourself and give yourself some time to lose the weight.
5. You are hormonal. The honest truth is that this could be PMS at its worst. So be patient, let yourself cry, let yourself feel emotional and don’t judge yourself or let someone else judge you. It is very normal to feel emotional and it will pass. Give yourself some time.
6. Your expectations of how you should feel and how things should be also play a part in PMB. Remember that your mother and mother-in-law may not remember how hard it was. I know that’s how I felt and still do. Both my mother and mother-in-law said that they never felt lonely or overwhelmed. Imagine how good I felt after hearing that. But I know that it is normal, and you need to know that it is normal too. You need to realize that having a baby is not going to be text book and that things are not always going to go smoothly. Raising a baby is very much trial and error and about doing your best. At the end of the day if you can say that you did your best then that’s all that matters and even if you didn’t do your best, that’s okay too. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. We will all fall and stumble during our child’s childhood. No one is perfect. That’s what a good therapist is for!!! (just kidding :))
Since I am a perinatal nurse, I was aware that I could experience PMB. What I didn’t realize was how long I’d feel lonely and overwhelmed for. I had my son via c-section after pushing for 3 hrs, then discovered that he was born with bilateral club feet. On top of recovering from a c-section and dealing with my son’s club feet, I had breastfeeding issues. I didn’t have any family that lived here, and while they were visiting, neither mothers could relate to me having a c-section or breastfeeding. After everyone left I felt very alone. Everyone went back to their lives and I was left to figure out how to take care of this little baby and maintain our household.
Things started to get a little easier once I signed up for a mommy and baby hiking group. There, I met other moms with kids who were about Aiden’s age. Soon the hiking group was done and then I started working out at a mommy and baby bootcamp. It was great, until Aiden started napping right when the class would be. Again I was back to feeling lonely and isolated. My saving grace happened when I joined a mommy group on line called “Mama in the Tri-Cities” and found other moms that I could really relate to. Through this amazing group I found a book club, which I’m now organizing. I also met some other parents at Strongstart. It was at this Strongstart, by my son’s teacher, that I heard for the first time how lonely the first 3 years of parenthood can be. She brought tears to my eyes. She was the first person out of everyone I knew that actually acknowledged how I felt. For me having my son was the loneliest time of my life. I didn’t have any family to help or many friends who had kids of their own. Some of my friends weren’t all that sympathetic to how I was feeling. So if you have a friend who just had a baby, please keep in mind how lonely and overwhelmed they must feel. Instead of ignoring them or judging them, offer them help, offer to listen to them, because we just need to be heard and our feelings to be validated.
So what can you do to help yourself or your friend or family member? My suggestions are geared towards living in the lower mainland, but get onto your computer and do some research. I’ll include links to anything that I have referred to and try and find something like that in your community because it is out there and if it isn’t create it yourself.
- Find mom meetup groups on the internet. Its a great way to connect with other mom’s with kids the same age as yours.
- Join a mom and baby workout group: Bodies by London, Runners and Booties Fitness (this one is free and located at your nearest mall), try your local rec centers.
- Talk to your partner and let them know you need some time to yourself. Whether that’s a bath, or a long walk, or to get your hair done, or to get yourself something nice, take some time for yourself. Let your partner know that you need some time for your sanity. I made the mistake of not giving myself some “me” time and I almost went insane. My husband was very supportive and gave me the time I needed. I know I am a better mother, wife and person when I have some time for just me. So ladies stop complaining you don’t have time for yourself and make some time, ask your partner to help. They did help make this baby after all!!!!
- Find yourself a good sitter and have date nights out with your partner. It doesn’t have to be big, even just a coffee or a walk around the neighborhood. You will both feel better and you won’t feel like you are neglecting each other.
- Register at your local Strongstart. This program is free and it follows the school year. I met some of our closest friends through Strongstart.
- Register your baby in some baby classes at your local rec center. Its a good way to meet other moms.
- Take your kids to places like Kinder Cafe. Its located in Port Coquitlam and its an indoor play area where the kids can play and the moms and dads can have their coffee.
- Get out of the house each and every day even if its only for a coffee.
- Establish a routine. Know what your options are every day. This way you have something to look forward to.
So if you are a new mom, I hope you realize that you are not alone. If you or someone you know may be experiencing Post Partum Depression here are 2 links you can go to: Pacific Post Partum Support Society and Health Canada’s site. Please take a look at these sites and also contact your doctor for more help and information.
To end this blog here is my fashion tip. The latest fashion craze is embellished necklines. The idea is that the neckline is bedazzled with jewels or fabric therefore no need for a necklace. Below is a picture of an embellished tank top and I have shown 2 different ways of wearing it: one casual and one more dressed up.
This is the casual look. I wore it yesterday to the park with my son.
The bottom look is a more dressy one.
Top (Jacob). Pants (Gap). Bracelet and earrings (Stella and Dot). Watch (Michael Kors). Wedges (Aldo).
May this blog inspire you to realize you are not alone and to help you overcome “Post Mommy Blues”. May you treat yourself to a beautifully embellished top that makes you feel pretty.
Happy Hump Day everyone!!! 🙂