Imagine yourself holding a camera in front of you with your arms extended fully out. If you look at the screen, you see whatever you’re taking a photo of, but if you look beyond the screen, you see the WHOLE scenario. Daily, we see pictures of people living what we think is a picture perfect life, but pictures are only a tiny glimpse into their lives. Hardly do we see what is going on behind the scenes.
Two weeks ago, I admitted to Erik that I thought I had postpartum depression one morning before he left for work. I said, “I don’t think it’s very serious, I think I am just really exhausted, but I think I might be wading in the baby pool of postpartum depression.” He could see it in my face that I was in deep thought about something when he came in the living room after getting ready to leave. I was over it. I was tired of getting up in the middle of the night to nurse Olivia. I was tired of rocking Violet and Olivia to sleep every night. I was over pumping. I didn’t want to do laundry. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t even want to make a sandwich. I was 100% mentally clocked out, and every time either of the girls cried, I cried. I was so exhausted, and I felt like if it wasn’t the girls crying, it was Roman getting into it with our next door neighbor’s dog and me having to stop whatever I was doing to go outside and corral him back in, or Rose barking at the back door to come in two minutes after begging to go outside while jumping up and down like a kangaroo until I got up to let her in. Everything was annoying me. I felt like I was one of those sticky, stretchy toys you get out of the 25 cent machine that had been played with too much. I lost my stick and stretch.
When Erik got home from work later that day, I went in our room to try to take a nap. While I was ‘napping,’ I was weighing the idea of making a doctor’s appointment to talk about this against the fact that I knew in the back of my mind that the symptoms I was recognizing within myself were grounds to prescribe me some kind of medicine and I didn’t want to become dependent on a medication that would change the chemical composition of my brain. What could I change to avoid being given medication at all?
My milk levels had severely plummeted because I had gone three nights in a row without pumping before going to bed, and I read that your milk production improves when you are well rested, and I also know from talking with the IBCLC that we hired to come take a look at Violet that your milk levels increase when you drink a lot of water and eat a healthier diet. The more I thought about how little sleep I was getting, the more I realized how deprived I was of other important nutrients, like water, wholesome food, and even sunshine. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went outside. I couldn’t even remember the last time I drank the recommended 8 glasses of water because my water consumption had been replaced with coffee, and my meals had been replaced with ready-to-eat food straight from the boxes in the pantry. How could I properly take care of Violet and Olivia when I wasn’t properly taking care of my own self? I told Erik the epiphany I had when I woke up. He agreed with me, and said he had been feeling like he could’ve been taking better care of himself, too.
I’ll be the first to admit that with two mobile babies, it is very challenging to get meals prepped and cooked, and sometimes it is a really tough choice between starting another episode of Frasier or going to bed at 9:00 p.m., but you have to make it work. I spend time during morning naps prepping food, and if the nap doesn’t go as planned, I put them in the kitchen with me in their activity seats and prep the food anyway, and I usually cook dinner right after they go to bed. It has only been upwards of a couple of weeks, but with these slight changes, I definitely feel an improvement in my mood and overall attitude in general, and my milk has increased as well.
Mom to mom, if you are at the point where you just want a few hours (or a whole weekend) to yourself, don’t feel guilty because of that. It is so important to make time for yourself because if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we can’t properly care for others. There needs to be balance, and that’s something that has taken me way too long to comprehend. If you think you are dealing with PPD, or if you are experiencing any feelings that concern you, I suggest making an appointment to speak with your doctor. I personally did not feel like I was mentally at the point where I was ready to seek medical help, but if things change, I will absolutely speak with my OB.