Parenting during stressful life events:  7 things to remember. 


This week has been a whirlwind.  We planned out our dinners on Sunday, made it through school drop off on Monday and I even got a walk in at the lake with my friend Emily!  It seemed that the week was starting off nicely (aside from an extremely hard drop off at school Monday morning– oh Mondays.)  Then we got a text to come to the hospital an hour away to see a family member.  The week has been an emotional rollercoaster.  I’ve found it extremely hard to parent, get my work done, be there for my husband and also have my own worries and sadness on top of everything.  Thankfully my mom helped us out and things seem to be on the upswing.  Well, aside from the ton of work I need to get done that is not currently getting done because my hospital wifi won’t connect to my work desktop! ahhhhhh!! stress.

I guess since I can’t do my actual work I will share a few thoughts I’ve had on making it through a stressful time.

1- Take it as it comes.  There is no need for speculation in hard times, it is going to be how it is.  Simply making it from one moment to the next is all that is expected of you.  Going with the flow is kind of necessary.

2- Vent.  I don’t know how many friends I’ve vented to this week.  I just needed to tell someone how I felt.  My fears, my sadness, being overwhelmed.  I needed a listening ear, and thankfully, I’ve had quite a few.

3- Kids.  I think it is easy to think in situations like this, ahhhh HOW am I going to possibly handle my children right now?  There is so much expected.  We have to travel and stay up late and not have real meals…but they need routines.  It is especially hard to have a little one with food allergies (that means no pick up McDonalds) and another one with serious anxiety and OCD.  BUT…this week I’ve not focused on these things.  I’ve had help from my mom, offers to help from my friends, and family members that helped calm them and keep them entertained.  Kids are go with the flow, especially when you take the time to appreciate them, comfort them and love them.  Its great for them, and really great for you.  Kids can always make you smile and always make you laugh.  They are such blessings.

4- Keeping the kids entertained.  If you have to take the kids to the hospital… it is important to pack an entertainment bag!  My kids are 4 and 1.  I packed blocks, books, kumon writing books, pencils, toy cars, the ipad, chargers (so necessary), snacks, a baby doll for my little girl, etc.  For the most part, they stayed pretty entertained.  Do not, I repeat, do not go to the hospital without these things haha.  You think you’ll be there for an hour or two but you are there for 6.  It happens.  Be prepared.

5- Ask for help.  If you need help with anything, ask.  It takes a village and your village is there to help you when you need them.  Whether it be with work (which I’ve definitely needed help with– and amazing coworkers have stepped up to help with that), childcare, or running errands.  Sometimes you can’t do it all and you need that helping hand.  Reach for it.

6- Prayer.  Spending time to reflect on the events of the day and pray that all will be taken care of and trusting that, is essential.  God has shown us miracles this week and we are so grateful.  Prayer changes things, and us.

7- Sleep.  Don’t be dumb and stay up late catching up on TV.  (guilty.)  Sleep really is essential.  Sitting in waiting rooms isn’t physically exhausting, but stress is very mentally exhausting.  Your body wants you to sleep… when you get the time, do it.  Seriously… do it.  Your body needs to relax and recharge.

Through a very stressful week I’ve found peace in quiet moments, tickle fights with my kids, sweet embraces from my husband, and the love that is so present in serious times.  Family is so very special.  I am grateful for mine.

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Repost: My postpartum experience

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Stock Photo.  Posed by Model.  Freeimages.com/Anna B.

[This was originally posted on my other blog and was featured on The Mighty .  I decided to share it here to help other mothers in a similar situation.  Postpartum depression, OCD and anxiety are difficult.  You CAN feel better.  I implore you to reach out to a friend, family member or medical professional if you are suffering.  xoxo.]

Night time is here and as I sit here with a soon-to-be 8 month old,  sleeping peacefully in her rocker, I think back on the day’s events.  This is a routine for me.  I get my daughter to sleep, zone out for a bit reading articles/news/social media and before I get started on my work for the night I take a moment to reflect on my day.  Today I got to catch up with an old friend.  We chatted about her work, my work, day to day lives, our husbands and then my kids.  My daughter showed off her new crawling skills and even managed to kick my friend’s coffee cup out of her hand, spilling coffee all over her sweater. (This is why my wardrobe consists of leggings and t-shirts.) I stared at my daughter as I often do, beaming with pride over how fast she’s becoming so mobile, and then thought about how last week she wasn’t crawling at all.  It seemed like yesterday that I was just bringing her home from the hospital.  I shared this with my friend and before I knew it I was telling her all about labor, delivery and the horrible postpartum depression and anxiety I suffered through.  It is not my favorite part of this life I am building with my little one, but it has been an important part.  I’ve learned a lot from my suffering.

I’d been in labor for about 17 hours.  The time was finally here to push and after only two pushes, the doctor was throwing my little girl onto my chest.  I remember feeling the weight of her little body resting on me and being so relieved the pain was finally over.  I kissed my husband, cried, looked at her, cried some more… and then I asked the doctor if I was bleeding too much.  From that moment on, for the next few months — everything would be one giant blur.  The minute my body recognized I was no longer pregnant and the hormones did whatever the hormones do, I was not the same.  I obsessed over my postpartum bleeding.  I convinced myself I was swelling and that my blood pressure would sky rocket.  I called the nurse in every few minutes to examine the swelling in my feet (there was none).  My brain was on a roller coaster that had no end.  I couldn’t stop obsessing.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I didn’t sleep for the next two days at least.

I knew that I shouldn’t have left the hospital without being put on some sort of brain medication but I was so set on breastfeeding.  I had the Solly baby wrap, I had the breast pump.  I had everything I needed to be supermom.  I was going to breastfeed her for a year.  I was going to conquer this crippling anxiety because I had to.  I got home and I collapsed.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t do anything but cry, shake, panic, pace.  I couldn’t see my postpartum bleeding without feeling sick and having a panic attack.  I called the hospital nearly every night after I was discharged.  I called to ask if things I was experiencing were normal.  I called because I had a temperature of 99-something even though the handout I was given said to only call if it was above 100.4 .  I took my temperature exactly 200 times that night.  My husband grew concerned and called my parents.  I was losing my mind.  I was trying so hard to control my thoughts and feelings but they were so far gone at this point.  I was unrecognizable.

Only a week after having my daughter I got a minor infection and had to take antibiotics.  I had to stop nursing temporarily so she wouldn’t be exposed to the medication.  I started my daughter on formula.  This was my breaking point.  I hated myself.  I couldn’t do anything right.  The world was cruel in my eyes.  I’d wanted nothing more than to breastfeed and here I was, only 1 week postpartum and I was already “giving up.”  I told my parents that I was a horrible mother.  I lashed out at my husband…I didn’t want to exist.  I was so ashamed of myself.  I was so sorry for my daughter.  She deserved a mother that was so much better.  She deserved a mother that had her life together.  The hatred for myself surpassed everything.  I couldn’t even look at her.  My husband would take care of her and offer her to me.  I kept telling myself to hold her… take her… cuddle her.  I told myself to like it.  The truth was– she reminded me of what a failure I was.  When I recognized that I “didn’t want to hold her,” I knew something was definitely off.  I needed help.

For 6 straight weeks after delivery I was never alone.  I had an AMAZING support system.  My husband, my family, my friends.  They were all here.  Someone stayed with me constantly.  They helped take care of my babies and they helped take care of me.  My OBGYN called to check on me.  She saw me every time I called my doctor’s office with some new irrational fear.  She talked me through my postpartum depression.  She built me up.  My psychiatrist listened to my fears about medication and relayed to me her own postpartum experiences.  A member of her staff even came to my car to talk to me when I was sobbing too hard to go into the building.  My therapist, a Godsend, has helped me every step of the way.

As I sit here nearly 8 months later I can’t help but feel grateful for my experience.  I know that probably sounds completely crazy– but its true.  I learned from my postpartum depression and anxiety that every mother’s story is different.  This idea of the perfect mother I had in my head was just that, an idea.  It wasn’t reality.  Motherhood is messy.  Life is messy.  It never goes to plan.  I was dealt a hand of crappy cards.  My hormones were out of control.  They were bigger than my obsessive need to control them.  Because I couldn’t do it alone, did not make me a failure.  The important thing was connecting with my daughter.  The important thing was being happy and healthy for myself and for her.  I wasn’t currently the mother she deserved but I could get there.  I worked hard the next few months to get on medication that helped me level out.  I made sure to get some sleep.  I meditated.  I went to therapy.  I prayed.  I survived.

My relationship with my baby is better than I ever could have imagined.  She and her brother are the lights of my life.  They are the joy I feel in my heart every single day.  I am so blessed to be their mother.  All of those days I spent worrying about the bond that would be destroyed between my daughter and I were for nothing.  She loves me.  She smiles when I smile.  She laughs when I laugh… she knows my heart.  She knows I always loved her and will always love her, even when my mental health issues overwhelmed me.  Postpartum depression and anxiety are scary, hard and exhausting.  It is so important to see a doctor, build a support system and ask for help.  They say it “takes a village to raise a child.”  My village saved me.  And because I’ve been through such a dark time, the good times are now just a little bit brighter than they would have been.  I can see how fortunate I am and feel that gratitude on a new level.   I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety.  Something I can now say without shame.  I survived postpartum depression and anxiety.  Something I can now say with pride.