Fill Your Cup!

Being a mom means putting the needs of others before myself. From the moment Josie wakes up my whole world revolves around her. I find when I do have “breaks” I spend them frantically trying to accomplish something. Dishes, laundry, brush my teeth! Before I know it the nap is over or my husband has to get back to work. Last month I was chatting with my therapist and discussing1597700944.840689-E47ABAB3-81E4-4E67-8A38-BA4C43F7F8DF how quarantine has felt like those first days (months) of motherhood. The isolation, the slowed down pace, and the time to think. She asked me what I do for myself during the day. As I thought of my answer I realized how little I actually do for myself and how easy it is to forget about your own needs. 

As we chatted she started giving me suggestions on how to ensure that every day I get to take a step back from motherhood and do something I want to do, not something I need to do. As any mom knows, finding that time is difficult, but it is possible. You just have to make yourself a priority.

  1. Find the right time of day.

I know by the end of the day I have nothing left. It isn’t fair for me to dedicate my time to after bedtime because I know I have no energy. The best time of day for me is before everyone wakes up. Waking up an hour plus before everyone else in the house gives me peace. It allows me to start on some work for the day, get a workout in, enjoy a cup of coffee, and actually get myself ready without a toddler wanting to get into everything in my bathroom. 

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Early morning workouts are tough, but I always feel better.

2. Don’t use breaks in the day to complete housework.

Josie will nap about an average of two hours. I was finding that I was putting her down and jumping right into housework and then before I knew it she was awake. I may have accomplished folding laundry, vacuuming, or emptying the dishwasher but I never took the time to focus on me. I have made that first hour of her nap me time. Whether it is napping myself, doing a face mask, exercising, or reading, I am at least spending part of her nap time doing something that makes me feel good, and if her nap is cut short I sacrificed the house work, not the me time.

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3. Find the things you like to do versus what you need to do!

I like to write (hence the blog), I also enjoy reading and knitting. I try to use the “me” time to do one of those three things. I try to not go down the rabbit hole of scrolling social media because before I know it I have wasted too much time.

4. Focus on (and invest in) your health!

In addition to incorporating daily yoga and some pre-natal workouts, my therapist suggested I try the headspace app (a wellness and mediation app) and commit to using it once a day. I will admit, I have tried meditation in the past and I never stick with it. Like any skill, you need to be consistently using it in order for it to become habitual and for you to master it. I started the free two-week trial and was certain I would cancel before the $70 a year bill kicked in, because *gasp* how could I spend that much money on it. But I ended up loving it. The thing I love the most about headspace is how small you can start. I am still doing the three minute meditations every day over a month in, but this is what is working for me. I am working on consistency and quality. I am working on making meditation a habit. And the cost? What is funny to me is that I have no problem spending that money on a meal out or even a round of drinks (pre-covid, pre-pregnancy) but when it comes time to invest in something that may help me I was hesitant and resistant to pay the money (can anyone else relate?) Yes in terms of an app, it certainly is pricey, however I am finding it is the coaching I need to become someone who can start to master meditation, and it is working!

5. Be kind to yourself.

Maybe you missed the workout because you slept in (you needed it), maybe the laundry is piling up (you’ll get to it). Be easy on you! You will have superhero days where you get it all done and you will have human days where something has to be sacrificed. What I have learned through motherhood is that you can’t give if you don’t give to yourself. You are more important then some clean clothes sitting in the dryer and your health and well being should always be prioritized (easier said than done, I know). We cannot pour from an empty cup. Find times daily to fill that cup.


Postpartum Depression. Leaving the Guilt Behind.

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It seems fitting for me that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. At 36 years old I had always been healthy mentally. Some anxiety here and there but always in control, and certainly never depressed. I cannot believe it has been a year. A year since I was in deep with postpartum depression. A year since my world changed and my mental health was a daily battle. May of 2018 when I became a mom. During pregnancy I knew it was possible, I knew people who battled it, and I never once thought “it won’t happen to me”. I knew it could, and I knew right away that it did. Even knowing there was a chance this was the common “baby blues”, I still had an instinct that what I was feeling was deep sadness.  Sadness overwhelmed me. Here I was, a new mom with this perfect baby girl and all I felt was deep sadness. I knew I loved her and I knew my role as a mom was to care for her, but I grieved my pre-baby life more than I could have imagined. I didn’t have this euphoric overwhelming feeling that everything was complete now that she was here. I was tired, scared, doubtful, panicky, anxious, and sad.

I am one of the lucky ones. In therapy, which I started almost immediately, I was told I had my feet on the ground. That even though I felt this way I was able to do everything. I was able to feed my baby, get out of bed, eat, shower…although these may seem like small tasks, for some battling depression the get out of bed part is impossible. Every day I would feel a little bit better. Every day it felt like a little less of a struggle. Cautiously I started to even think I was better. But as soon as I even thought that, depression would do what it always does…come out of nowhere and remind you that you actually aren’t in control. Although comparatively I was suffering from mild PPD, I had never experienced anything like this so even mild symptoms felt overwhelming.

And now here we are. A year later and I cannot believe how much better I feel. I feel like I am starting to really love motherhood. I feel like I still miss my pre-baby life but I really love where I am right now. I feel like myself again even in this new role as mom. But even though I feel better, I am still filled with guilt. Guilt for ever feeling the way that I did. Guilt for not possibly enjoying every moment in a way that I think I should have. Guilt that I somehow missed out on something or did something wrong because of how I was feeling. The guilt is now my battle. Telling myself I don’t have to feel this way. That this was our journey. That I cannot go back. Even having to tell myself it wasn’t as bad as I perceive it be.

One thing that got me through this year was this online community. Knowing I was not alone in how I was feeling. There can be a stigma attached to even admitting that you aren’t just over the moon happy when you bring that baby home. Should I feel different? Is there something wrong with me? I hope we can foster a place where talking about the hardships doesn’t mean we have to feel guilt or shame. I have postpartum depression and saying it out loud is hard, but we should still say it. We should be able to talk about it so we feel less alone. That what we are feeling is part of this journey. So to the new mom who is sad, anxious, tired and filled with doubt. I see you…IMG_2562