Postpartum Voice of the Week: Life as we knew it


 

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“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Winston Churchill

If ever there were a post to embody the sentiment expressed by Sir Winston Churchill, this would be the one.

Seemingly trapped in a fox hole with guilt bombs convening on her very position, this author gets honest and raw about her experience. She begins to dream of death just to get some rest from all the guilt swirling around her. To make matters worse, her fox hole begins to crumble around her.

“I had heard whisperings of “Mothers Guilt”. I never knew what it meant. I thought it went along the lines of “my kid will need therapy because of me!” – but I never thought of Mothers Guilt being a 24 hours a day 7 days a week guilt thing.”

For many, many, many Postpartum mothers, guilt IS a persistent factor in our experience. We are sometimes swallowed whole by guilt even beyond the already difficult symptoms of Anxiety, OCD, Depression, or Psychosis. Guilt exacerbates the pain we carry inside our heart. We have an adorable child. A healthy child. A child who is very much wanted and loved. And yet… yet.. here we are. Trapped. In hell. With guilt bombs firing at us from every direction. It’s our Normandy beach.

Now go. Read this week’s Postpartum Voice of the Week.

Don’t forget to submit your own posts for consideration. You have until Tuesday night!

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Just Talking Tuesday: Wrangling the Guilt Monster Postpartum built


“I’m a bad mom because I have Postpartum.”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that since I started reaching out to other new moms struggling with Postpartum, I swear I would be richer than Donald Trump.

Thing is, we are NOT bad moms because we have Postpartum.

Postpartum is not like a breakfast cereal. It’s not like we woke up one day, went to the cabinet and chose the Postpartum Flakes with Insomnia nuggets sprinkled with a bit of Anxiety for good measure.

HELL NO.

It chose us.

That bastard came trouncing into our homes, jumped into our beds with glee and announced it had no immediate plans for departure, grinning all the while, daring us to do something about it’s very presence.

Some may spring into action immediately. Others wait to see if it will disappear on it’s own. Still others wait to see if things will get worse before seeking out help.

We may hold our babies closer. We may push them away. We may yell. We may crawl into bed with Postpartum and cuddle close.

Rest assured though that Postpartum mamas are NOT BAD MOMS.

In fact, Postpartum Mamas are some of the most ferociously protective and strong mothers on the face of this planet.

Before our children are one, we have fought to protect them, to keep them safe. We beat ourselves up for yelling at them at 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, whenever it was we lost our minds and could not tolerate another second of motherhood because we were literally unable to do so. We defend our relationship with them, redefine our relationship with them – our bond with them, however fragile or deconstructed has truly been born of fire and forged iron strong. We may not see it that first year. In fact, it may be the second, third, or fourth year before we realize just how strong our bond is with our Postpartum child.

More than anything, the lingering monster with which we wrangle on a daily basis is the Guilt Monster. He’s a slippery little devil.

We wrestle with him when our children cry. We wrestle with him when we leave our children, when our children misbehave and we discipline them. We wonder if our Postpartum affected our ability to parent. Are we bad parents because we had Postpartum? Are we harming our children because we can’t “snap out of it”? Guilt asks these questions. Guilt makes us second guess every decision. Guilt is the last monster to leave the nest. Frankly, guilt stays around in some aspect or another as long as we are parents. What changes is how we cope with the questions guilt attempts to force in our direction.

Spill your confessions here. Has Guilt sabotaged your recovery? Your parenting? Your relationship with others? Your job? Your decision to stay home as a parent?

Let’s get to just talkin!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: How do you Mother yourself?


When I was little and something didn’t go my way, nothing cured my sadness faster than a good ol’ fashioned Mommy hug. At nearly 34 years old, I still have days when nothing short of a Mommy hug will make things better. But that Mommy hug is nearly 400 miles away now so I can’t pop on over or run to her in the kitchen to snatch up a hug. So instead I call her. Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. I’m trying to scale back but it has been hard! Research has shown though, that talking with your mom on the phone is just as good as getting a hug from her in person. Pretty amazing, huh?

Mothers are expected to take care of everyone around them. It’s just what we do. But we forget so very often to Mother the most important person in our lives – ourselves. If we are not caring for ourselves, we are then not able to care for those around us. We are only able to care for those around us as well as we care for ourselves. It is especially important to remember to take care of ourselves when a Postpartum Mood Disorder is slinking about the house. Self-care is a very important aspect of recovery.

While hospitalized, the same nurse who so kindly told me I did not have to tell anyone where I was that weekend also emphasized to me how important taking time for myself was to my recovery. Go for a walk, go for coffee, breathe. Find your space and make it all yours at least once or twice a week to begin with. I started walking the first full day I was home. That lasted for all of a few weeks because I let life get in the way again. But while I was walking, I felt so much better. I loved being alone, listening to the birds, watching the squirrels, side stepping the bird poo, yanno, the back to nature stuff.

I also started making myself loose tea. There’s a ritual there – some cultures are pretty particular about it but really it can be whatever you want it to be. I also got out the good china and crystal even if just chowing down on microwave pizza and a coke. Dressing it up made it special. It made ME feel special.

So … let’s get to just talking. Share some tips with everyone. How do YOU Mother yourself? Are you Mothering yourself? If not, I challenge you to do at least one special thing just for you – and not feel guilty about it – this week. Go for ice cream, coffee, go people watch at the mall, go for a walk or to the bookstore or the library. Pick something that interests you, pick a day and just GO. You’re worth it and your family will thank you for the recharged Mama!

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 05.11.10: Postpartum invoke guilt? You are not alone


I know some of you are sucking air past your teeth through pursed lips right now, nodding your heads in agreement, rolling your eyes and possibly even muttering.

Really? She’s dragging THAT ghost up?

Yup. I sure am.

But why?

Because it’s important to face every facet of Postpartum head on – even the ugly parts.

Why is it so important? So those who are currently struggling KNOW that they’re not alone. So they KNOW that the emotions they’re feeling – while alien to them – are actually quite common among those of us who have struggled before them. The more we talk about our experience, the less victorious the stigma, fear, and guilt will be!

And let’s face it, GUILT is one of the uglier parts of Postpartum. It makes decisions we’re faced with during our Postpartum Mood Disorder even harder. No decision we make is a guilt-free decision.

Breastfeeding and having to medicate? Guilty. What is this doing to my baby? Should I be medicating and breastfeeding?

I had a c-section. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that done. Maybe that’s why I have postpartum. There’s that guilt again, sliding in through the door.

I had a vaginal birth but my c/s friends think I’m holier than thou now (even if I’m not) and won’t talk to me. HELLLLOOOOOO guilt.

I’m bottlefeeding because I can’t breastfeed or breastfeeding grosses me out or I was told to stop by my doc. Oh guilt? Won’t you PLEASE come in? Please?

My daughter/husband/others are judging me for my lack of parenting skills. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Fishbowl Guilt: The feeling of judgment from everyone!

I’m thinking about having another baby/I don’t want another baby. Guilty over lack/desire to become/not become a mom again. Especially when pressured by others to become a mom!

I struggled with Fishbowl guilt with my first daughter. I sucked as a mom. My husband told me all the time what a great mom I was and how amazing I was at taking care of our precious daughter. But I never believed him. Even my 7 day old daughter judged me. I had no idea how to relate to a newborn. I’d never done this and just like her, I was brand new at this relationship. I kept the blinds in our house closed all the time. I used the excuse of nursing but it was really to keep all the people outside from peering inside to witness my daily failures as a woman, a mother, and a wife. I had fallen and there was no way I was sharing THAT with the world.

With our second daughter, I pumped exclusively for 7 months so she could get breastmilk as she was born with a cleft palate. It finally came down to my mental health and my relationship with my first daughter and husband or breastmilk for my second daughter. I bought formula. Cried all the way there and all the way home. Managed to keep the tears down in the store but heaven help anyone who had decided to give me a speech about the superiority of breastmilk. I had a whole tirade planned. I even had to fight with WIC to provide Enfamil instead of Similac because they were under contract with Similac but my daughter couldn’t tolerate the stuff. I had to get a doctor’s prescription for plain old Enfamil in order to win that battle. And that meant I had to fight with my then idiot pediatrician because he couldn’t understand what the difference was between the two and almost refused to write the script. Thank goodness for a local IBCLC who gave me the free Enfamil sample she had in her office. She saved them just for me and that meant the world to me.

Our son was a champ nurser from the start. And then we had issues with a bad latch habit. Then there were the back to back to back cases of thrush. I even had to go on an anti-candida diet to finally kick it because our ped and the OB couldn’t get their treatment schedules lined up. I nursed my son for 6 months. During that time, I had some severe emotional trauma unrelated to PPD. It killed my supply. My son was diagnosed as Failure to Thrive at 6 months old. The NEW pediatrician wanted me to pump. HAH! I was so not going back down that road. After a very emotional day of contemplation, we opted for formula. Everyone in the family dove in and donated bottles, a warmer, and we were on our way. Cameron switched completely within the next day and we never looked back.

I did not have Postpartum with my son. Sure, I had issues crop up, but they were not related to the birth of my son. And I weathered them just fine.

I had finally learned to put my guilt up on a shelf and leave it there. I still get it down to dust it off occasionally but it’s never stayed down for very long.

The biggest lesson I learned from my Postpartum was to let go of my guilt. How did I do this? My angel of a therapist once said something to me in relation to a situation with which I was struggling. She told me that how others react to you is THEIR gig, not yours. Wow. HUGE. It really hit home with me and I practice it each and every day. I’m also a huge proponent of believing that as moms, we have to make the decision that’s the best for ourselves and our families. I respect that in others and in myself.

So let’s get to just talking.

Do you deal with guilt? What’s your biggest source of guilt as a mom who’s struggled with Postpartum? Have you put the guilt behind you? How’d you do that? Share your tips for guilt-free living as a mom. Are you still dealing with the guilt and think you shouldn’t be? Try giving yourself permission to be ok with your decision. It’s amazing how far permission will go if you give it a chance.

What if we…


stopped glaring at mothers who choose to breastfeed in public?

stopped glaring at mothers who choose to bottlefeed in public?

stopped judging mothers who had cesarean sections?

stopped judging mothers who gave birth vaginally?

stopped judging mothers who had VBACS?

stopped making mothers feel guilty for the choices we made in childbirth?

stopped making mothers feel guilty and ashamed for struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder?

stopped making mothers feel guilty for the choices we’re making in childcare?

and instead

began to offer support and compassion to mothers who

breastfeed in public?

bottlefeed in public?

gave birth via cesarean section?

gave birth vaginally?

gave birth via VBAC?

make childbirth choices out of love and respect for their family’s chosen lifestyle?

choose to seek help for our Postpartum Mood Disorder experiences in a way that also fits our lifestyle?

make childcare choices out of love and respect for their family’s chosen lifestyle?

What if, indeed?

What if……..