My recovery since writing my last Post Partum Depression post has been a roller coaster. I would have a month of feeling good and then Bam! I’d wake up one morning and would feel it all creeping back in. The post partum depression/anxiety I experienced was so … textbook. It was like there was a post partum me and a normal me and I could instantly tell when I woke up how I was going to feel that day. When the obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and despair returned- the hopelessness would set in; that feeling that I would never get out of this.
I coped by letting it all out to my husband or mother or best friend when the anxiety became overwhelming. I attended a support group and met other moms that understood the awfulness. I kept busy!!! I made sure I got out of the house and around people (having a planned activity at least once a week really helped – mine was a dance class I enrolled my two year old in.) Anything I could do to occupy my mind- I did. (Now have a completely redecorated house and a high credit card balance to go with it- thanks PPD!) But I also recognized when I could use some help and would see my therapist during the really rough times. She was fabulous and if I could afford the $150/session I would have been there every week! If you are going through PPD- it makes a world of difference to find a therapist you connect with – she was the third one I met with before really finding that relationship. The tools she gave me were invaluable and really what I feel led me out of the woods. I just recently wrote her a letter just thanking her, because although it was her job and she does this day in and day out, she affected me greatly and maybe even changed the course of my life. I owed her my gratitude.
And last but not least… good ol’ fashioned time. Sometimes the only way out really is through.
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The transition to two was tough but as with any challenge; it also brought new insight. These are the thoughts that have been rolling around my head after having my second daughter.
- I forgot how hard having an infant was.
- I remember during my pregnancy saying I wasn’t worried at all about the newborn phase when people would ask me “are you ready to do this again?”. Of course I am! It’ll be easy – They just sleep all the time right? Yeah- that sleepy newborn phase lasted maybe two weeks. Some things were easier this time around- like breastfeeding- but I forgot how much attention newborns needed and how demanding it was. They need to be close to you at all times (which I fully embrace and really believe is important for so many reasons). And Thank God for babywearing; but boy- between nursing around the clock AND taking care of my toddler- there was no time left for anything else. I remember circling my kitchen, passing the refrigerator a hundred times holding her yet not having a chance to make myself lunch. When that phase was over- we entered the “I want to move and put every choking hazard I can find in to my mouth” phase and I’m already anticipating the “I have no self preservation and this staircase looks like a great place for a suicide mission” phase. The first two years you are basically “on” all the time- which is needless to say; exhausting.
- Every baby really IS different.
- I also remember hearing this from other mom’s of 2+ but naively thinking, they cant be all that different? While their basic necessities are the same (food, love, sleep, cleanliness), my second is very different than my first was as a baby. My first never teethed and I was convinced all of those “teething” symptoms were a myth- my second is a teething nightmare. My first hated the car seat, my second is asleep within minutes. My first was and is still temperamental, and my second is easy going and mild-mannered. Who knew?
- Milestones and “rules” seem way less significant.
- I just fed my 6 month old greasy fries at a brewery we were at the other night. Her first food may have been a Popsicle. I wouldn’t be caught dead feeding my first anything but organic whole foods her whole first two years of life. You loosen up and realize a fry here and there is really not a big deal. As far as milestones, I remember being so paranoid when my first wasn’t babbling at 6 months. I googled for hours thinking she would be speech delayed and believe me- at almost three- that girl can talk. I don’t think I’ve tracked anything with my second (the plight of the subsequent children). Not because I don’t care- but because I know that I will know if something is off that needs evaluation. We know our children, and we know better than anyone if something is amiss. Personally, I want to savor the baby phase- I am in no rush for her to grow up.
- I am way more confident.
- I remember being terrified to take my first out in public when she was an infant. Where will I breastfeed? What if she cries? What if she cries in the car and I can’t pull over? I am so much more confident this time around. I breastfeed anywhere and everywhere with the help of babywearing and when both kids simultaneously have melt downs at the grocery store; I just smile politely and say “Oh I know they are” as sweet old ladies tell me I sure do have my hands full.
- I expect a lot out of my first born.
- When the new baby comes, you will need your first born to be a little more independent than they were pre-sibling- probably before they are ready. All of the sudden I was asking my 2.5 year old if she could please hand me a diaper and to tell me if the baby started crying while I tried to cook dinner. What?! She was 2.5- a BABY by all means and I was practically asking her to babysit. But I needed her help and in comparison to my helpless newborn, she was the one most capable of being self sufficient.
- Building off of number 5, I realized some things about myself.
- I am the eldest of three. I have a brother (20 months younger) and a sister (4 years younger). I am hands-down the first born stereotype. I left home after college and never went back. I started my career early, married early, bought a house in the suburbs and had children early. I’ve always been motivated and (cough cough) somewhat “bossy”. As I started to see how I treated my first born out of necessity (#4), I realized why many of us fit that “first born” stereotype. Independence is learned pretty early on.
- My youngest will always seem more of the baby and my first will always seem wise beyond her years.
- I remember at 6 months old with my first, she seemed so much older than my second appears to me now. Because she was- compared to the primitive creature she was when she was first born. But just how my first seemed way more mature in comparison to my infant, my younger child will most likely always seem more of the “baby” compared to her older sister. All relative I guess
- The love really did multiply, but I was all about my new baby for a little while.
- Our first born’s are our everything for so long without anything else to distract us. We are in awe and mesmerized by everything they do and are still trying to put into words the amount of joy and love and exhaustion we are experiencing by newfound motherhood. I remember my sister in law telling me- well somewhat warning me- that I may be all about the new baby when they arrive. I remember thinking no way- my first is my everything! I’m afraid of the opposite! I wouldn’t say I favored one more than the other and I loved my first born more than I ever did; but just as I did with my first, I fell head over heels in love with my new baby. I remembered how special and sacred the baby phase is and became infatuated and entranced all over again. My instagram feed may have only consisted of pictures of my infant for a little while – but you know what I decided- this was okay– and probably even normal. She was the new little love in my life, and I allowed myself to drown in her- she will be right next to my toddler talking back to me before I know it. I found time when the baby was sleeping to spend some one on one time with my toddler, and we all survived.
- Hot Button parenting issues started to seem trivial.
- Through experience, I realized as mothers we are all out here doing our best and making the best decisions we can based on the information we have. I still am super passionate about breastfeeding and instinctual parenting. I still devote my time helping other mothers navigate the scary and sometimes overwhelming waters of new motherhood; but whereas I may have been judgmental about a mom’s decision to formula feed two years ago, I now have had enough conversations/experience with all types of mom’s to know that most parenting decisions have a reason and a story behind them and everything we do as mothers is well intentioned for the benefit of our children.
- It is worth it all.
- The surge of love that runs through me while my toddler tells me she loves her baby sister “times six” (apparently a VERY large amount) or the butterflies in my stomach I feel when my infant lets out a big belly laugh she only reserves for her older sister assures me the long days, the hard days, and the straight out of the exorcism days; the transition, the adjustment, the tantrums and meltdowns (for all of us) were worth every moment.