Be The Awesome That You AreAllana Harkin
Bravo for YOU!!!! Holy crap you are so super awesome I don’t even know where to start!
Perhaps you are currently pregnant: UNBELIEVABLE. You are creating a human being in your body. Little toes are forming in your body as I write this. It’s almost inconceivable how it’s even possible. But it is. And YOU are doing it. Seriously, people should be stopping you on the street in awe.
Or maybe you’ve just had a baby: YOU JUST HAD A BABY?! It came OUT of your body?! That is INSANE. Isn’t it? Are you holding your baby AND reading this post? Good lord woman. Is there anything you can not do?
Or maybe your kids are growing up and you’re reflecting on your life as a mother: The good parts, the challenging parts and perhaps the darker parts that weighed you down and seemed utterly unfair.
I believe the cute name is “The Baby Blues”. So adorable! Sounds like you could almost give it a hug if if weren’t for the fact that it has the potential to suffocate you and lead to full on Post Partum Depression. I can only assume whoever came up with this term was related to the person who created those jean diapers.
First let’s talk hormones. They are the mood centre of your body. And I think there could be no one more hormonal than a new mother whose increased levels of progesterone and estrogen basically plummet after giving birth. If you’re reading this and sitting in a pool of sweat that is what is happening to you. Grab a towel. Or ten. Don’t worry, one day you will stop sweating. And one day you will stop feeling like someone has placed a large heavy blanket over your head. This may take days or it may take months. PPD doesn’t pick people to happen to but I truly think it happens to more woman than are willing to admit.
Because who wants to admit that they aren’t falling over themselves with constant joy and pleasure that they’ve just given birth and brought home a new baby? Adjusting to a new baby and trying to figure out how to put your boob in its mouth with zero sleep under your belt is extremely trying. And no one wants to hear that you’re not happy.
YOU need to fulfill the promise set out to us by marketing executives and savvy advertisement campaigns: Do not let anyone down! Put a smile on your face and go buy one of those brightly colored dangly things to hang from your stroller. New mothers with colorful baby products are happy people!!! Right?!
Take care of yourself. You are so worth it. There is a reason flight attendants instruct parents to put on their own oxygen masks first. You are the captain of this journey and we need you.
Do not feel defeated because that heaviness will not go away. There are steps you can take to get yourself to a healthy place. You will get to a better place. And I know this because I did. After months of heavy heaviness after having my first child the fog started to clear and the essence of my heart, my joy, my laughter, my soul, my gifts started to peak through and holy man did that ever feel good. And this had nothing to do with not loving my girl because I loved the hell out of her. The truth is there are far more mother’s suffering silently behind closed doors. Maybe you are one of them. Forgive yourself. This uphill battle will soon reveal a grassy field with a softer landing that will enable you to once again to be all the awesome that you were always meant to be: That you already are.
But it requires work. So before the birth of my second child I put a plan in place; a plan I wish I had figured out sooner with my first – but that is the mantra of most mothers. Feel free to steal any of the below as it would bring me immense joy to think that something you read here helped you during your PPD or aided in preventing it:
Go to the gym:
Yes, I’m serious. Adrenaline from good classic cardio can do wonders for your head, not to mention your body. Sweat it out. And no, you can’t get what I’m suggesting from just pushing your stroller to get a coffee (but do this as well). Get some time for YOURSELF. Join a gym with a child care option. Even for those days that you just want to have a shower alone with adult soap. If this isn’t an option financially, try checking out the fitness options at your community centre and ask a friend/husband/aunt/mother to look after your baby for one hour. No one is going to hand you any awards for, never leaving your baby for one second. Even those days where l barely moved in a boxercise class I was at least grateful to hear cheesy upbeat music that I’m too embarrassed to download.
Download that cheesy upbeat song.
Kanye West and I have one serious kinship that he knows nothing about. And it’s not because I have a penchant for white venetian blind glasses. His song “Stronger” still stands as my anthem for overcoming PPD after my first birth. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to that song on the treadmill hiding the tears streaming down my face. But it made me push harder, sweat more and feel a release; however so brief.
“That don’t kill me, Can only make me stronger.”
I still get chills down my spine when I hear it.
If you’re single tell your mother or father. Anyone. You don’t have to wear it as a scarlet PPD and it doesn’t define you. You don’t have to talk about it all the time and if people are looking at you with wide eyes and slowly asking you, “How…are…You? Are…you…okay?” remind them that you’re not hearing impaired. You’ll find more often than not that being with friends and NOT talking about it is a welcome relief. So be with friends but share how you’re truly feeling with those you trust. I also went to see a therapist for the first time (a miracle considering I’m an actor) and it helped me immensely. Her first reaction when I told her my story was that almost 100% of the mothers she talks to feel the same way. This was a great relief to me. A good therapist will also guide you in the direction of speaking to a doctor if it’s felt your PPD requires medical support.
Get some sleep
This is major. I have to be honest with you here, I have never understood why moms feel so strongly that they are the only ones who can get up with the baby in the middle of the night. Maybe the baby is eating so frequently because the hamburger keeps walking into the room? You’re the hamburger, your partner is not. More often then not your baby just needs some extra soothing to fall asleep again. The “well one of us needs to get some sleep” adage is like only bringing half the amount of food on a camping trip so one of you is strong enough to climb the mountain. The first three months the baby is eating a lot. Maybe pump some extra milk or have a bottle of formula available so your partner can do the feeding. Breastfeeding your baby all night long so that they have the advantage of the nipple is not worth you falling down the rabbit hole. I have heard some people say “Well, I don’t think my husband will do it”. Ask him. I think you’ll be surprised what a great partner you actually have.
I without a doubt feel this is the major reason why I didn’t get PPD after my second birth. Sam and I just wrote an entire post about it. People all over the world have been ingesting their placentas for centuries. Having it encapsulated is like taking an iron pill or a vitamin. Sure it’s different and initially seems gross, but so what? It works.
You will get through this and you will feel stronger for it. Because you’re amazing, you really are.
Please free free to add to this list. Sharing what helped you is a gift for other mothers.