June has always been a fun month, and this year – it’ll be extra fun AND extra busy. June symbolizes the end of the school year, the start of the summer, and my birthday.
I decided to take off this summer, after much debate. Amelia is only little once and she is growing so, so fast. I want to soak up every moment I can. I can’t wait to wake up to no alarm, cuddle with her in bed each morning, relax, go on long walks each day, take her on new adventures, swim in our new pool…oh yes that reminds me, this month we will be moving into our very first house! 🙂 exciting times ahead!
I’m very open about my battles with anxiety and depression. I think that this is wildly important, especially in today’s society where mental health often goes unspoken about or pushed to the side. It is a true issue in our country, and one that I hope gets addressed soon. But that’s a whole other matter, maybe I’ll do a future blog post on that…anywaysssss…
I’ve experienced anxiety and depression since about 15 years of age. I suffered from some substantial trauma, but with the help of medication and extensive therapy, pulled myself out of what was a very deep hole that was dug…a hole that I had no part in creating. Was this an easy process? No. Was there any easy fix? No. Did I switch medications and therapists several times? Most certainly. But I was dead set on trying to help myself in whatever way I could…I wasn’t going to settle for the dark gloomy clouds that lurked over my head daily. I set out to find the sunshine again, and no one was going to stop me.
Now this drive and motivation didn’t come overnight. I spent several years battling my inner demons. With the support of my loved ones behind me, I one day realized that I couldn’t live the rest of my life feeling this way. That was the day I decided I was going to make the most of the cards that I was dealt, pick myself up by the boot straps and try to find a new “normal”…a normal that I could be happy and content with. To this day, I give a lot of credit to those loved ones for helping me along the way.
I’m happy to say that today, I am no longer taking medication for my anxiety or depression, and have found ways to maintain my state of happiness and inner peace. I went off my medications prior to getting pregnant, in an effort to clear my body and clean my system out of anything that may interfere with a healthy pregnancy. I was very scared to do this, but thankfully it all went fine and I felt okay without the medication.
When I was pregnant and thinking about the birth of my child, one thing kept crossing my mind…what if I suffer from postpartum depression? I was PETRIFIED of this. Of course, working in the field and previously working as a psychiatric social worker didn’t help. I had seen new mothers on the unit who were suffering from postpartum depression or even worse, postpartum psychosis. I had witnessed first hand the sadness in their eyes; their blank stares, their abnormal behaviors. So many of those mothers had a previous history of anxiety or depression before giving birth. I truly feared that this could be in store for me after I gave birth to my child.
What I think is important to note about this looming fear, is that I openly discussed it with my fiancé and my doctor, and together we decided the best course of preventive action. I went as far as looking into having my placenta encapsulated, in hopes that this would lower my chances of experiencing postpartum depression (as well as the other benefits it brings) but I decided not to. Someone would have had to transport my placenta 45 minutes away shortly after I gave birth, and truly I just wanted the attention to be on my new baby. I was already getting stressed about being stressed about having someone deliver my placenta to the place I had chosen to do the encapsulating. See? This is what an anxious brain does…therefore, I nixed that idea.
My OB/GYN suggested going back on medications immediately following my delivery. But I ultimately nixed this idea too. The final decision was to just wait it out. If I started showing or feeling any signs or symptoms of postpartum depression, than I would go back on medications.
“What’s coming will come, and we’ll meet it when it does” became the quote I lived by. I wasn’t going to let the fear of the unknown keep me from enjoying my pregnancy.
After I gave birth to my daughter everything in my life had changed, but somehow, I felt more like myself than I ever had before. She was like the missing puzzle piece I had been longing for. She gave my life meaning, a new sense of purpose, and filled it with joy. So, my advice to expecting mothers who are preoccupied with the same fear I was, is to take it day by day. Most definitely have a conversation with your doctor and decide what the best plan of action is for you. There is no sense of worrying about what may happen…be prepared if it does, but decide that what’s coming will come, and that you’ll meet it when it does. It’ll all be okay.
…and my advice to those that are experiencing anxiety and depression? Don’t give up. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will be able to find happiness again. You are not alone. Seek help, talk to others, talk to a professional(s), try different therapeutic methods and again, just don’t give up! Keep on keepin’ on! I am always willing to talk others through difficult times so if you need someone to confide in and talk to, I’m here! <3
Disclaimer: I am by no means a medical professional, and this course of action was what worked for my specific case. If you are experiencing any symptoms of anxiety, depression, or postpartum depression talk to your doctor. Also, always make sure to talk to your doctor before going on or going off any medications.
We are loving these products from ashtonbee! Ashtonbee has a variety of products, all of which are affordable.
The silicone bibs are made from a soft, flexible silicone and move easily with baby to catch any food they may drop. They are also adjustable so they can grow with baby. The silicone bibs come in a pack of three and can be easily cleaned and wiped off.
The baby feeder grab and shake rattle toy is perfect for a teething baby. Amelia is cutting four teeth at once so I froze some strawberries and put them in the teether & she couldn’t get enough. It provided instant relief to her gums and she enjoyed the bonus of the juice from the strawberries. Her other favorite in this? Avocados. She’s my daughter, that’s for sure 😊
Ashtonbee products can be found on their website or even on amazon –
Amelia is beginning to enjoy bath time more and more. Now that she can play with toys, it’s become much more fun! When I received these bath links from Nuby, I knew that she would love them. Amelia is very into bright colors right now, and the bath links are quite vibrant. She also loves to put everything in her mouth…(hey, it’s her way of exploring and learning about the world around her) so the different textures of the links are a bonus!
These bath links are BPA free and are appropriate for babies 6 months and older. Linking the bath links together teaches coordination and development. They are available on Amazon! Here is the link to purchase: 15-piece fun bath links toy
* I received this product for a review, but all opinions are my own
As a school social worker, I often encourage my students to engage in these practices. I was also encouraged by a reiki specialist to engage in some of these practices for my own benefit. She also recommended “earthing”, which happens to be my favorite way to ground myself.
Earthing is the process of absorbing earths free flowing electrons from its surface through the soles of ones feet – in other, simpler terms? It’s literally standing or walking around in the grass barefoot hahaha. Call me a hippie, but I love it!
Body: lay on the ground, press your toes into the floor or squeeze something (stress ball, playdough)
5 senses: wear your favorite sweatshirt, use essential oils, make a cup of tea
Self-soothe: take a shower or bath, find a grounding object, light candles
Observe: describe an object in detail (color, texture, shadow, light, shapes)
Breathe: practice 4-7-8 breathing (inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8)
Distract: find all the square or green objects in the room, count by 7’s, say the date
September, the month of my due date. Oh how happy I was to see September. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful, easy pregnancy and for that I’m truly thankful but any momma can relate that at the end of your pregnancy, you’re just done. Done getting up to use the bathroom multiple times a night, done having little feet jab your ribs, done feeling like you could exhale and flames would come out of your mouth due to the heartburn.
My due date came, and it went. And as fast as September came, September went. When you go 9 months thinking you’re going to have a September baby and then the month of October approaches, you get a little impatient. At my weekly doctor appointments, the doctor told me that there was no progress yet and that baby was comfy in there. At our 39 week doctor appointment, the doctor scheduled an induction. I was panicked…as the last thing I wanted was to be induced. Christian reassured me that everything would be okay. However, I wasn’t convinced. I had only heard negative stories about being induced from the people I knew…prolonged labors, that typically resulted in a csection. To me, induction didn’t seem natural…it seemed like it was forcing the woman’s body to begin something it wasn’t ready to do. It seemed like it was forcing the baby to come out when he or she wasn’t ready. I had a lot of faith that my baby and my body would go into labor naturally…that my baby and my body would just “know” when it was time, and when that wasn’t happening for me and indication began to be talked about, I was really unhappy.
I began doing everything I could to go into labor…walking a ton, eating pineapple, eating spicy foods, bouncing on a ball, etc. and nothing. It was difficult to come to terms with but finally I said to myself, “this baby is going to come when this baby wants to come…nothing you do is going to change that”. Well, baby didn’t come….& my induction date was approaching.
So on October 1st, my fiancé and I made sure we had everything packed in our hospital bags, that the car seat base was installed correctly and the car seat was in the car. With our nerves running high, we walked into that hospital knowing that the next time we left we would be parents.
Around 8 pm, they started the induction process. I was given the induction medication cervidil, which is a medication that dilates your cervix. Around 10 pm, the two women in the rooms next to me were giving birth and screaming and crying and shouting “I can’t do this!” Here I am…laying in the bed getting induced, listening to these two women cry out in such agony. Tears filled my eyes and I grabbed Christian’s hand and squeezed tight. “You’re going to do great”, he said. “I’ll be right by your side through the whole thing.” Little did I know not even 24 hours later I’d be holding our sweet baby in my arms after shouting the very same thing.
I tried to get as much sleep as I could, which was difficult given the circumstances. 12 hours later I was checked and told that no progress was made. I was frustrated, ready to come to terms with the fact that it would be a long, long process. Then my water broke, on it’s own. Now in the movies it’s always a gush of fluid, a very monumental moment…but for me it was just a trickle, in fact I thought I was just peeing (there’s so much pressure down there towards the end who knows what goes on). I rang the bell and the nurse came in and said, “nope, that’s actually your amniotic fluid!” Suddenly, things became real.
Around 11:30, I began to have slight contractions. I had every intention of being active during most of my labor. I wanted to walk the halls, I wanted to spend time in the tub, I wanted to bounce on the ball. I only bounced on the ball and walked the halls for about an hour or two. I was in the zone while bouncing on the ball…I listed to Dave Matthews Band and envisioned my baby settling down into the birth canal, getting ready to make its entrance into the world. The pain was there, but bearable. I spent some of my time standing with my arms around Christians neck, swaying or slow dancing. This also helped. All was well until about 2:30 when the pain became intense.
Now, I never ruled out having an epidural but I never said “yes, without a doubt I am having one”. I wanted to feel it out and I wanted to see what my body could do without the help of medicine. However, I made it clear to my labor and delivery team to not let me get to that point where I was too late to get one. I told them to tell me when the last possible chance was to get an epidural, and then I would make my decision. The decision was made for me when it was far too painful for them to even check how dilated I was. This decision was of course okayed by me because at this point my contractions were so intense and I was looking for any relief from the pain.
Let me just state, that I believe every mom is a superhero…no matter HOW you give birth to your baby. You still gave birth, you still gave this child life, and your body is still amazing and incredible. Epidural or no epidural, you are a powerhouse. Moms that have had a csection, you had your body cut open for God’s sake and your organs shifted around to get your baby out into the world safely. Again, all mothers are superhero’s no matter how you give birth to your baby.
I feel as if some moms receive a lot of guilt and grief when they share with others that they used modern medicine to help them through the process. I received an epidural because it was what I needed to do for the betterment of my baby and for myself. Once I had the epidural, I got solid rest. And that solid rest was what I needed to push my baby out. To me, the epidural was a godsend. I believe in my laboring stupor I told the anesthesiologist that if I could kiss him I would. I also thanked him the next day when he came in to check on me because he truly was the calm I needed in that storm. My anesthesiologist even had a soft, calming voice. Truly, he was great!
I was in active labor for about 6 hours and pushed for an hour. At 6:35pm, my sweet baby girl was placed on my chest and I heard the sweet words “it’s a girl!” I waited my whole life to be a mom, and then the moment was here. This is the moment I dreamt of my whole life – meeting my baby for the very first time. I remember sobbing, saying “hi my sweet girl” & telling her that I loved her so much. I looked at Christian and told him repeatedly how much I loved him. WE created this miracle, it’s something I’m truly still not over. It’s such an amazing thing. So….October 2, 2017 at 6:35pm was the moment my life changed, 110% for the better 💕
This is before we left the house to go to the hospital. It was so crazy to leave knowing the next time that we would be back home we would be a family of three!
Carrying our hospital bags in! Ps. How handsome is my man? 🙂 This is right after we got checked in and situated. Look at my big belly!
She was finally here! 6 pounds 9 ounces of pure perfection!
She was more perfect than I could have ever imagined!
I was exhausted – but SO happy and SO in love!
She was so beautiful. I remember just looking at her in awe that she was mine!
Oh, teething. It’s such a joy (said no parent ever). Nuby has great teething products to help your little one (and you) through this difficult time. The Look at Me Mirror Toy has multiple teething surfaces to aid in the eruption of new teeth and gently massages baby’s gums. It is the perfect size and shape for tiny baby hands to hold and is BPA free! It comes in several different colors. It is soft, colorful, appealing and the mirror on the reverse side adds a fun touch! Amelia definitely enjoyed looking at her reflection in the mirror. She is often told how cute she is so maybe it’s starting to go to her head, hahaha 😉
The Look at Me Mirror Toy is suited for babies 3+ months in age. Amelia just turned 7 months old and absolutely loves it! It can be purchased on amazon.
Think about it. Your hormones and emotions are at an all time high. Your excitement to welcome your new little one into the world is immeasurable, but like most mothers to be, there is an aspect of anxiety to all that you are feeling. You then go through the feat of labor and delivery and your new little baby is placed in your arms. Euphoria. Joy. Excitement. Love, pure love.
Family and friends will want to come visit you and the new baby and company may be abundant. The attention that you were receiving when pregnant has now shifted to the new life you brought into the world. Then, just like anything, the novelty of having a new baby will wear off and people will get back to their everyday lives. Then, when you try to get back to your everyday life you realize that nothing is the same. This can be overwhelming.
The pressure to feel extreme happiness and pure bliss after having a baby is oppressive. It is only natural that women feel shame, disappointment or even denial if they feel anything other than joy and contentment. If this is not the case for women, they often feel guilt or shame. However, guilt and shame should not be felt. The levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are at an all time high during pregnancy. Post delivery, they hit an all time low triggering the baby blues.
Knowing the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression is important. First, I would like to note that both are not your fault. Both are a result of hormonal changes within your body that you cannot control. However, it is essential to recognize that the baby blues is normal, somewhat expected, and will pass. Postpartum depression on the other hand is more serious and usually requires professional help. It is difficult to differentiate between the two because on paper, both conditions appear to be so similar. So many symptoms are shared between the two conditions such as irritability, inability to sleep, crying bouts and mood swings.
The baby blues are short term, usually last less than two weeks, and typically resolve on their own. The symptoms and signs of the baby blues are feeling sad, overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, anxious and like you want to escape your new life. However, with encouragement and assurance these symptoms will decrease.
Postpartum depression affects about every 1 in 7 new mothers (Bennett, 2016). The symptoms and signs of postpartum depression are excessive crying, depressed mood or extreme mood swings, difficultly bonding or growing close with your baby, loss of appetite or eating more than you typically would, withdrawal from family and friends, severe anger, feelings that you are an inadequate mother, shame, guilt or feelings of worthlessness, insomnia or excessive sleep, loss of energy, a drastic decline in interest and pleasure in activities that you used to enjoy, severe anxiety or panic attacks, thoughts of death or suicide and/or thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby. Again, I want to reiterate that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms that it is not your fault. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You deserve help. It is also important to recognize that you do not need to have all of the symptoms listed to have postpartum depression. The bottom line is if your thoughts are bothersome and intrusive and if your moods are getting in the way of your ability to care for yourself, your baby, your family and things that you would normally do day to day then get help. It is important to note that new mothers may not recognize that they are experiencing these symptoms or may deny it if asked. If you recognize that a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of postpartum depression, do not be afraid to get them help.
Let it be known that if you experience a traumatic birth, are forced to have a birth experience that did not go as planned such as a c-section or induction or if you’re having difficulty breastfeeding, if your baby has colic, of if you have a personal or family history of depression than your odds of postpartum depression increase. Social support is also a large factor in whether or not postpartum depression is likely for you. The more social support you have, the less likely you are to develop postpartum depression. The less social support you have, than the more likely you are to develop postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression has gotten a strongly negative reputation for several different reasons. Historically, infanticide, which is the killing of an infant at the hands of a parent, has been blamed on postpartum depression in the media. However, it is important to note that postpartum psychosis is the leading cause of infanticide, not postpartum depression. To be clear, postpartum psychosis is a rare psychiatric illness that occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries. The symptoms of postpartum psychosis can include delusions (false, typically strange beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t truly there), irritability, hyperactivity, decreased need for or the inability to sleep, paranoia or suspiciousness, rapid mood swings and difficulty in communicating at times (Post Partum Support International, 2017). Postpartum psychosis is very serious, yet is treatable with professional help. If you are experiencing any of the listed symptoms, please receive immediate help.
The general rule of thumb is that if two weeks pass and you are still feeling the symptoms of anxiety and depression than a woman should proceed in scheduling an appointment with her ob-gyn for an evaluation. The treatment for postpartum depression most commonly includes medication therapy and psychotherapy. There are support groups available for new mothers in most areas. The support groups are typically free and occur weekly. Support groups are most certainly beneficial and something worth looking into. It is so helpful to form connections and a network of support from new mothers experiencing similar symptoms and circumstances. A trained professional who specializes in postpartum support often leads these support groups. If you are not sure if your area has a postpartum support group, contact your OBGYN or local hospital for information.
Postpartum support international is a wonderful resource for those who are struggling with symptoms of postpartum depression or for loved ones of those who are struggling with postpartum depression. On the postpartum support international website (www.postpartum.net), you can find local resources, chat with an expert, join an online support group, call the telephone support line or simply look up information on postpartum depression which may help you decide what your next step should be in terms of treatment and recovery.
There is so much stigma surrounding new moms and the baby blues/postpartum depression. The bottom line is there should be no embarrassment, guilt or shame in talking about your feelings and emotions and asking for help. Actually, the strongest and smartest mothers are those who take the step to get help as soon as possible, to best better themselves and their family. Postpartum depression is like any other potentially serious condition. If the proper help is received, than a complete recovery can be expected.
Bennett, S. (2016, August 31). Do I Have the Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? Retrieved November 15, 2017, from http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/baby-blues-or-postpartum-depression/
Postpartum Psychosis. (2017). Retrieved November 15, 2017, from http://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/postpartum-psychosis/
My sweet little 6 pound 9 ounce girl, is now 6 months old. She’s rolling over nonstop, sitting by herself, laughing and smiling like crazy, loves jumping in her exersaucer & loves to eat. She is still mostly breastfed but we did try cereal, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, apples, green beans, and a spinach, kiwi and apple blend! She truly is the light of my life and is so fun! Here are her 6 month pictures. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 💕
I’m sharing this in hopes that it will help other new moms and raise awareness/educate. When Amelia turned 3 months old, I began losing my hair in clumps. Postpartum hair loss, right? That happens. I also began to lose weight. Due to breastfeeding and being so busy maybe? I was fatigued, I was weak, and I had heart palpitations. My family noticed that I was “spacey” and zoned out a lot. I would forget what I was saying at times and would literally lose my train of thought. I thought that this was simply “pregnancy brain” that had continued on post pregnancy.
In February, matters got much worse. I found myself at urgent care twice in one week. I spiked a fever of 104, my body was incredibly weak and achy, I had hot and cold flashes like no other, i had tremors and I was disoriented. Every time I went to stand up, I almost passed out. At urgent care, I was told I had mastitis, despite not having any symptoms of it. I followed up with my regular doctor the next week, and they did blood work. I was referred to an endocrinologist because they discovered I had hyperthyroidism.
When I went to the endocrinologist she explained to me that my levels were through the roof and dangerously high. The sickness I experienced the week before was most likely a condition called “thyroid storm”, which is unusual yet can be life threatening. I was urged that if I ever experience any of those symptoms again, to go to the emergency room immediately. The diagnosis based on my blood work results was postpartum thyroiditis, something I had never even heard of. Postpartum thyroiditis is rare and affects around 5% of women after birth. I will have to get routine blood work and be watched closely. It is likely that my levels will return to normal on their own after about 12-18 months.
The moral of the story, is to listen to your body. Listen to your family, they know you best. My symptoms mimicked regular postpartum events, which is why I dismissed it at first. If you don’t feel just right, get checked out. There could be something very serious going on within your body. When in doubt, get checked out!