Every Friday, I am the volunteer on duty for Postpartum Support International’s warmline. (That’s right – you can call for them for help and I’ll actually call you back on Fridays! It’s staffed every day of the week by amazing volunteers though!) A few months ago, right after I started volunteering, a woman named Joan phoned the warmline. We talked and she used the term “Warrior Mom.” If you read Katherine Stone’s blog, you know that’s how she refers to Postpartum mamas. I asked Joan if she read Katherine’s blog. She said she did. Somehow we ended up talking about my blog as well. Turns out she reads mine as well. By now, we were both practically in tears. I had never spoken to someone who actively read my blog before. To hear the emotion in her voice as she talked about how much it meant to her truly blew me away. Joan and I have kept in touch via email since then. It is with her permission I share her story with you.
Joan emailed me today to ask a question of me. As soon as I read it, I asked her for permission to post her words to my blog. She agreed and I hope y’all will provide some good feedback for her current concern. Without further ado, here’s Joan’s email:
I hope all is well with you. I have contacted you in the past, and I hate to be a burden, but was wondering if you could shed some light or your perspective on something I have been thinking a lot about lately. During the recovery process, how does a mom know if she is getting “better” versus the normal adjustment period to motherhood. PPD/PPA throws you all off and it’s hard to remember what “normal” is, especially when nothing is normal anyway after the birth of a baby. I have started a new med (2 weeks in – gradually increasing and so far – knock on wood- no weird side effects) and I know I need to be patient with it for sometime still, but I’m stuck in that conundrum. Is this PPD/PPA or is this a normal feeling? I think when you become a mother you give up so much naturally of yourself and you become someone else (for example I will forever be Joan plus J’s mom plus working Joan plus friend Joan, etc. etc. ) and need to merge all of those identities together. It’s hard when PPD (and the darn anxiety that about kills me at times) makes life so unbearable at times. It would be hard without the evil beast mixed in to straighten that all out in my head.
If I can ask, what were signs for you that things were returning to “normal”? Or, is there a common theme amongst survivors about when they knew that they were beginning to get well? I have read a lot of blogs, but am looking for any kind of advice if you are willing to share with me (if you don’t mind).
Any words of encouragement/advice/insight you can provide are always appreciated! Thanks for everything you do!
My husband and I cajoled each other about our “new normal” after the birth of our second daughter. NICU, Cleft Palate, crash course in at home neo-natal care, both of us on antidepressants before it was all said and done, yeah, there was no going back to our own normal life. Hell, I think Normal may have even sprouted wings and flown to Jamaica. Not that I blame it at all, just wish it had offered a ride or at least one last romp before bailing.
I know my new normal settled in slowly. At first there was a routine of what I did when I first got up in the morning. Then I would add a new thing the following week. I stopped obsessing about how much milk I pumped because instead I was munching on chocolate. I began to think of pumping as me time instead of “I have to do this” time. I had more days of happiness versus irritability. I began to realize slowly that a bad day did not mean a downward spiral. I knew my signs and triggers and more importantly, I knew how to stop them. The world around me seemed to brighten. For me, recognizing my arrival at better involved my ability to take better care of myself WITHOUT guilt or anxiety about those around me not being able to function if I did take time away from them to do so.
What did “better” look like for you? Do you still struggle with adjustment to motherhood? What’s the most challenging for you as you journey/journeyed to better? Let’s get to Just Talkin’ and help a mama out in the process!