Mommy’s Corner is a weekly series exploring our journey in becoming parents, our love for our ShuGar baby, and general topics related to mommyhood.
Sweet ShuGar Loves,
Hi! I’ve missed you these past few months. I needed time away to gather my thoughts and process all that has been going on in my life since becoming a mommy. If you follow me on instagram (my fave social media platform), you most likely saw my post explaining where I’ve been. There is so much to unpack in that post and I will be doing so in subsequent blog posts. For now, I will share what has plagued me for almost two years: Postpartum depression.
It’s not the fairy tale side of motherhood by far, but it is the raw and authentic side that I have lived. I share to not say all mothers go through this – in fact, I would hope most don’t. Yet, it has been my truth and on my blog this is what I do – I share my heart. Allow me to open up about how postpartum depression (PPD) has affected me.
First, I’d like to say that hormonal shifts during pregnancy and in the following months after giving birth is perfectly normal. The terminology used for short term hormonal changes is “Baby blues” and this may last weeks after labor and delivery.
This is not what I have had. Postpartum depression lasts much longer and, in my case, has lasted almost two years. It’s very scary and vulnerable to unveil this side of motherhood. After all, mothers are portrayed as being invincible and naturally loving their new found mommy identity. It’s not that I don’t love and appreciate being a mom – quite the contrary, I adore my son with every fiber in my body. He is everything. Nonetheless, I’ve struggled to find the new “me” while having very little time to dedicate to myself.
Imagine going through one of the most traumatic experiences of your life (hello, 22-hour labor!), to then be thrust into a new role where you have a demanding person who relies on you 100%, while you attempt to breastfeed through the pain, still grasping at maintaining a healthy marriage, and all while trying to manage working full time. This was my life in the first year. I powered through because, after all, that is what us moms are programmed to do.
After the first year, I heard from other mommies it would get easier. I now understand that the postpartum depression was exacerbated by the reality that parenting did not feel like a piece of cake for Mr. ShuGar and I after ShuGar Boy turned one.
Disclosure: ShuGar Baby is a high-needs baby. He wasn’t colicky, but he had generally fussy tendencies except when being held. You may say, “All babies are this way” and there is truth to that. However, some babies are more sensitive that others. My sweet boy is just that: Very bright, attentive, loving, and sensitive.
Because of this, after his first birthday, we struggled because we thought he’d want to be more independent and, for example, sleep on his own or want to explore individual play. This has yet to happen for us. Because of this, it has put a huge strain on our marriage because we have had minimal time with each other.
Another disclosure: I am a perfectionist. I have prided myself on being ambitious and achieving my goals. I have reached a point in my career that I am proud of. I succeeded in receiving my Master’s degree. Clearly, I could master being a new mom, right? Well, apparently not so much. I haven’t even been able to lose my baby weight. Any of it.
During the darkest times, I would stay up and cry. Just cry. And cry some more. I rarely shared these sentiments with anyone because I felt that I would be seen as a failure. Why am I not feeling constant bursts of happiness as a new mom? Why are we always feeling like we’re struggling? Why did I have to give up everything of mine to become a mom? Is there no balance in the first years of motherhood?
These questions would circle around my head for months. I was embarrassed and ashamed. A few beautiful and strong mommy friends eventually reached out with open arms and shared similar experiences as my own. They are my angels; they saved me.
One of the feelings that can overtake you as a new mom is a sense of isolation. Lucky for me, I had my full-time job that allowed me to hold onto my own identity in a way. It has given me a vacation from the really tough times. For some moms, they need this escape; for others, they find it by staying home with their babies. We all need to find our own paths.
For mommies out there who have postpartum depression, my advice to you is simple: Seek help from those whom you can trust, preferably other mommy friends or a therapist who is also a mom. I did both. Also, let go of control. This was a huge lesson for myself since I can be seen as Little Mrs. Perfect. I began to forego the goal of having my house clean daily or being this crafty goddess that would finish my son’s one year keepsake book before he turned two! Finally, I would encourage mommies to find an outlet where they can breathe and do something they are passionate about. Exercise can help increase those endorphins so you can insert more positive energy inside you. For me, it’s blogging and Zumba. Whatever it is, you need to reclaim your life in baby steps (pun intended). If these methods fail, you may need to seek other avenues as medicinal help or seeking others to intervene and help you take care of baby.
These days, I can now see through the fog – some days better than others. Yet, my good days now outnumber the bad ones, which a definite positive.
Lastly, I would like to end this post by thanking all those indviduals out there who showed compassion towards me in my darkest times.
- To the mommy who hugged me after my Zumba class because she saw how tired I was – Thank you.
- To the mommy who was my doctor and allowed me to cry in her office and who then said it’s okay to cry because it’s really hard – Thank you.
- To the mommy who let’s me email her at work when I am struggling – Thank you.
- To the mommies who allow me to share our high needs baby stories so that I can feel not so alone – Thank you.
- To my step class friend who noticed I stopped attending class and decided upon herself to pick me up and drive me to class so that I could get a break – Thank you.
- To the mommy in the elevator of Ross who saw that I had been crying and reached out and told me,”You will get through it.” – Thank you.
- To my best mommy friend who allowed me to call her late night after feeling so down about breastfeeding and wanting so badly to give up but was given words of encouragement – Thank you.
- To the many mommies who emailed, called, and visited all with intentions of love and support and feelings of empathy – Thank you.
- Finally, to my dearest husband. I don’t even know what to thank you for because how do you thank someone for everything? Thank you for being the light in my darkness. Thank you for never letting go of my hand. Thank you for modeling to me what unconditional love looks like. I love you.
How do you manage the challenges of parenting? How do you maintain balance and sanity through the tough times?