Birth stories are all unique and amazing. I have noticed a trend lately though and I want to call it out right here for you to witness. The real number one complication of childbirth (completely in my own opinion) is depression and anxiety. Frankly, I think it can appear 6-9 months or years down the road, too. Especially in this digital age of question yourself… Ugh I’m sorry but we have all fallen into the toxic cycle of – Not sure about it? Google it, think you’re doing it wrong/but my neighbor said..? Check Google again.
Rinse and repeat, girl.
It is exhausting with your favorite expletive. So how do we help ourselves?
Fulfill your core needs:
– Sleep (I know it is laughable but hang in there)
– Affection via Human Connection
Self love has a bad reputation. We only tend to pull it out when we are in survival mode. We use it like a tool that is replaced on a shelf or in a closet. When the world around us is crashing and burning we are preaching allllll the lovey things… But when things are ‘pretty okay’ it is the first thing on the back burner. Why do we do this to ourselves?
When we come into this world it’s sudden, bright, and cold. But our comforter is there to hold us tight, keep us warm, and feed us. Mother is the ultimate comforter. You are that comforter to your children, spouse, family, and friends. But our innate need to be loved, warmed, cherished, and fed has not changed despite our new titles… “wife”, “mother”, “caregiver” is still there and as valid as ever. We still need those core components and often there is no one better than yourself to acknowledge when and where you need them. I know, it’s always easier said than done so I am personally giving you permission to take care of yourself. Give yourself that permission too. You deserve it.
Here is a simple list of some things you can do for you:
- Aesthetic Safe Space
You need food, there is no argument for this, it is a fact especially if you are nursing or working! I promise you, your baby will not die of starvation or lack of attention from you having a real meal. Cheese sticks and deli meat don’t count babe. You need nutrients not just for your physical body but your emotional well-being as well. What if your baby was on the same diet as you, would you be satisfied or concerned? Does that help put the importance of this category in perspective? I hope it does. That may mean that you need some help with meal prep and that is okay. You are worth it.
Even if it is tiny manifestations caught in moments, God sees our glimpses of discomfort. He hears those tiny prayers of “Help me” and I think those smaller prayers mean the most to Him. The desperate cries of our hearts are the most honest and vulnerable. It’s more than okay to call out in frustration or exhaustion. Whether you have an anxious heart or are crawling in the deep dark recesses of your own depression, He listens and is there to comfort you. You know when you emotionally dump on your husband or friend and you still kind of feel off? That’s means it’s a bigger load and He is ready for you to hand it over to Him instead. Regardless of your relationship with Jesus He is more than willing to hear you out, in fact He wants you to cry out to him, to ease that burden from the depths of your soul and give you the light to guide you. Acknowledge those feels and surrender them the best you can. **If your struggle goes deeper than you consider normal (I once Googled: when you should worry about suicidal thoughts), talk to your primary care physician or therapist. There is nothing wrong with asking questions to save your own life. According to WHO “Depression causes enormous suffering and disability and reduced response to child’s need… After the birth, the mother with depression suffers a lot and may fail to adequately eat, bathe or care for herself in other ways. This may increase the risks of ill health. The risk of suicide is also a consideration…” This is more than a huge deal, we are suffering and at risk, speak out for yourself, your child, and other moms experiencing this, too.
I want to inspire you to practice self love, every day. You’re not always going to be up to it which is why I say to practice. After all practice makes perfect. Allow it to be a regular part of your life and not something to whip out when you’re feeling unworthy or destroyed. Those days do happen, believe me, I know. That is why it’s even more important to let this be a part of your daily balance, find that glow in your heart and build a life of self love that says I am worthy of all great things. Incorporate your kids into the crazy when everything thing feels like it’s exploding, get baby or kids into the stroller or baby carrier and go on a walk. I promise you’ll feel better. The baby will survive ten minutes in their crib so you can do a quick breathing exercise out in the backyard as well if a walk is just too much. If you’re feeling fancy bust out a towel or yoga mat and do some stretches, YouTube has some great channels. (Yoga with Adrienne is my personal favorite).
Create an aesthetic area
This may feel insignificant but studies show that clutter can be a cause of feeling anxious. While a clean house is a feat, it is possible to create your own organized haven to get a break from the sink full of dishes calling your name. I personally keep my nursery organized to a T and it is the only perfect room in my house… Now that I am apartment living and have three boys ALL in one room I had to improvise with something else. My new happy spot is in my room near my window. I have a gorgeous houseplant with a tall mirror in the corner. Something about it is very calming to look at so when mom needs a timeout, that’s my go-to spot. No boys allowed! Create something nice for yourself as a timeout space, whether it’s a room or just a small area where you find comfort in your favorite chair, make it 100% yours.
In the digital age it has never been easier to keep in touch. I am not talking Facebook either. I use the Marco Polo app to send my closest friends video messages, whether we are catching up, venting about how we have no more patience, or having a full blown breakdown and am in need of support. It’s a great way to stay connected to faraway family as well. Writing letters can be a fun way to unwind too, get all the feels out onto a page in the open and let it go. Call someone and schedule time with a friend who won’t care that your hair is on “dirty” day 5 and your house is half trashed with breakfast dishes and toys on every flat surface. Motherhood can be so lonely but you are never alone, there is always someone else who can relate to you. Get involved in a mom’s group, MOPs is a fantastic resource, you get a nice kid free morning a few times a month and a bunch of mentor moms and friends as a bonus. If your friends department is sparse check out the Peanut app! It’s basically a mom-dating app and is a great way to connect with other mom’s riding a similar struggle bus as you.
We’re not always to get our cups completely filled every single day. But implementing these few tactics can help keep you from running on empty and planning your husbands murder because he sleeps 7+ consecutive hours. If you are struggling to keep your head above water remember you are not alone and it is okay to ask for help. Come up with a schedule for you and your spouse. Maybe they can’t jump into parent-mode right after work, but maybe they can give you a full 30-minute break after dinner as arsenic hour begins with your wee ones. Hang in there, you’re the best comforter your kids can ask for, even when you screw up, they don’t want anyone else. Do it for you, too.