Fighting the Postpartum Fog

Fighting the Postpartum Fog

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Dream or Reality?

I’m dreaming.  It’s a dream where I’m responsible for children, and keeping a house clean and tending to the needs of others all day.  But wait, that’s not all, it’s not just children, there’s a baby too.  Yes, a tiny baby who needs me constantly.  He needs me for food, for comfort, for warmth and nurturing.  His needs are monumental compared to the other children.  I must focus on him.

But wait, now the dream takes a turn.  I’m trying to comfort the baby and the other children suddenly need something, and it’s urgent!  I dash off to care for them and leave the baby.  But now the baby is crying.  The baby needs me.  The children need me.  The dream carries on this way–caring for the baby, caring for the children, caring for the man, caring for the house, and on it goes.  Suddenly I realize, this is no dream.  This is life, real life, my life covered by the fog of the postpartum period.

Checked Out of Reality

I’m always amazed that I can be so “checked out” of reality and never know it.  I’ve had four babies.  The most recent is six months old.  The first time I realized I had postpartum depression was with my second baby.  Life was challenging.  We had recently moved to a new town and I knew almost no one.  I had graduated with my bachelor’s degree a month before she was born and so I was experiencing the challenge of changing everything in my life at once.  I had a two year old running around needing constant care and I was So. Very. Tired.

She was almost a year old before I realized something was wrong.  I starting realizing that my behavior hadn’t been normal.  I’m not talking about just the swinging emotions of postpartum hormones, I mean real personality changes.  When she was a few months old I was sitting in the big chair nursing her.  I have no idea what big brother was doing but he was two and constantly up to some kind of shenanigan. I remember yelling at him about it and then looking down at baby girl’s face. She hadn’t even jumped.

Becoming Aware of the Fog

It was honestly like a curtain had been opened over my eyes.  I just broke down in tears.  I realized that this baby wouldn’t recognize my voice if I wasn’t yelling because that’s all she ever heard.  Slightly dramatic?  Maybe.  Somewhat accurate?  Yes.  I vowed in that moment to take the time to give my 2 year old grace and to work harder on practicing patience despite my crazy postpartum hormones.

Closer to a year postpartum I began noticing things.  I didn’t enjoy life like I used to.  Nothing really excited me.  I loved my children, of course, but there wasn’t any spark left in me.  I had no zeal for life, no energy, and no passion.  Every little thing threatened to push me over the edge.  I realized all of these things and began to dwell on them.  When I asked my husband about it, he confessed to noticing the changes.  I asked him why he hadn’t called me out on it or mentioned anything!  He replied that he just figured I was adjusting, experiencing some trouble in the process, but adjusting nonetheless to our new location, our new family, and my new life as a full-time stay-at-home mom.  It took me months to come far enough out of my fog to feel like I was “normal” again.

Lost in the Postpartum Fog Again

Fast forward four years and I’m six months postpartum with baby number 4.  He’s a delightful baby full of smiles and giggles.  He brings joy to us everyday.  I love watching him interact with his three older siblings.  Baby #3 is only 18 months older than he is and it has been a unique and adorable experience watching them form a relationship.  Big sister (#2) is so incredibly sweet and nurturing and big brother (#1) loves to play with him.  And yet it’s still there, the fog.  I’m seeing it earlier this time but I recognize it all the same.  For me it’s nothing like the postpartum depression screening checklists would suggest.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Generally the checklists ask if you’ve felt any of the following in the past two weeks:

  • Sad or low? – Um, not particularly, I’ve felt what I consider “normal” since leaving the hospital.
  • More tired than usual or have less energy? –  Wait, didn’t I just have a baby?  Aren’t they waking multiple times each night to eat?  Aren’t they teething and not napping during the day?  YES, I’M TIRED!
  • Have trouble concentrating or remembering? – See above… (eye roll)
  • Eating too little or too much? – Didn’t we just discover that I’m sleep deprived and have trouble remembering?  I’m sure I’ve eaten, but I don’t know when…
  • Had trouble enjoying things you used to enjoy? – Like, leaving the house in jeans instead of yoga pants?  Eating an uninterrupted meal?  Spontaneous outings without packing a 50 pound bag?  Um, yes I’m having trouble enjoying those things because I don’t do those things anymore…
  • Had headaches, backaches, or stomachaches? – I assume the headache comes from sleeping with an infant wedged into my side and connected to my breast, the backaches from bending over countless times to set down and pick up said infant without any core muscles left and the stomachaches because, when did I eat again?

These checklists typically include some very serious questions.  They usually ask if you’ve felt like you wanted to hurt yourself or your baby or if you’ve had feelings of worthlessness.  I’ve personally never been able to relate to the first question per se, however I have dealt with what I can only describe as nightmare flashes.  That’s when my mind will be ping-ponging around like normal and I suddenly have a very vivid and generally horrifying vision of something awful happening to my baby.  It’s not a wishful thinking situation, it is a sickening vision of an accident that breeds fear and anxiety in my heart.

As for the feeling of worthlessness, that is an unfortunate fixture in American motherhood.  We tend to feel like we’re not good enough or “worthless” from time to time because we are so fixated on comparing our choices with that of others and we fear harsh judgment from our peers.

Obviously the questions have to start somewhere, but I never really noticed any of these things as issues in my postpartum depression experience.  I feel like someone needs to advocate on behalf of new mothers.  New mothers who are up to their eyes in baby advice, baby worries, baby clothes and laundry, and spit up, and on and on and on.

The Ultimate Advocate for Postpartum Mothers

While I do not hold the answer for a program that will help step in and assist all new moms with postpartum issues, I do know that my ability to keep my head (sometimes barely) above the fog is due to my faithful Father and friend.  If I ever find myself completely overwhelmed, God is who I turn to.  Sometimes I can only cry, but He knows the words in my heart.  Sometimes I sing whatever hymns come to mind until I feel a calm wash over me.  But I always, always I know I can count on God.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed in the postpartum period (whether it’s 3 months or 3 years!)? 
Can we pray with you about your postpartum struggles?  Please leave a comment and we will pray with you and for you.  

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Calling in the Village

Calling in the Village

Hi! Born in the great state of Texas and raised in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, this Daughter of the Alamo/Georgia Peach is still adjusting to life in Razorback Nation! My husband and I live just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas with our two toddlers and two crazy pups. I’m a small business owner, chocolate aficionado, and travel lover with a 2pm coffee hour no matter what time zone I’m in!
Latest posts by Lindsay W (see all)

Hey there mamacita. Lindsay here, waving my pink flag from down low in the mommy trenches. Welcome! Gosh, was this anything like what you thought it would be? New motherhood? I know I hadn’t exactly thought that far ahead while pregnant with my daughter! I thought about the words I would speak over her, the love I would show her, the truth I would instill in her. Sure, I thought about breast feeding and diaper changes and milestones and safety precautions, but I didn’t think about what it would really be like down here…

The sleep deprivation.

ALL the laundry.

The complete inability to keep track of time or the day of the week.

The out-of-touchness I now have with the rest of the world.

This feeling that wells up in my heart when I look at my smiling baby that makes me think if it gets any more intense I will surely have to be rushed to the hospital with the diagnosis of “exploded heart due to love overload.”

It’s such a wide range of emotions. If you don’t like roller coasters, it doesn’t matter, you’re on one now in the very front seat! And around and around and around the mommy trenches it rides!

Have you seen the Diane Keaton movie Baby Boom?

My sister and I watched it recently and must have looked at each other half a dozen times and said, “Where has this movie been our whole lives?!” It’s hysterical. Especially if you’re in the mommy trenches. Watch it while you’re nursing or pacing the floor rocking or trying desperately to stay awake during that 6 month sleep regression or three-teeth-teething episode or growth spurt that has awakened your baby from their slumber at 2:30am.

I just adore it. Aside from the cuteness (c’mon, we all love Diane, and that baby girl is presh!) and the scene with the baby thermometer, my favorite part of the movie is…wait for it…wait for it…that she hires a nanny.

Gasp!

(I’m ducking from the things you’re mentally throwing at me right now!)

Yeah, you read that right…that she hires a nanny, and then another nanny, and then another nanny. And by the end of the movie, we see at least four different nannies helping take care of baby Elizabeth.

Y’all, I do not currently have a nanny (yet). BUT, I have finally started taking the advice from wiser women (and my dad), whom I respect, who have trekked through these mommy trenches ahead of me who have said over and over again, “Get help.”

I was at a women’s retreat last weekend and one of the speakers, Karen Abercrombie, a.k.a. Ms. Clara from The War Room, said, “You cannot be all things to all people… You cannot be supermom 24 hours a day 7 days a week… Get help.”

If you’re in the mommy trenches then I really don’t need to explain why you need help. You know you need help and why.

That phrase, “It takes a village,” didn’t come from nowhere. It’s been obvious that childrearing requires more involvement than one set of parents since the creation of the word “village.”

It’s ok to ask for help. In fact, it’s a healthy thing to do. For no more than these following three reasons:

  • Prevents anger/ burnout / nervous breakdown / feelings of overwhelmingness.
  • When people you respect come in and lend a helping hand in your life, they just might know of an easier, better way for you to be doing something! Whether it be cleaning a window, helping your baby fall asleep, or saving money on groceries.
  • Free up energy. When you let someone else help you, it means they are doing something that you do not have to spend energy doing. Therefore, you get to choose where to spend that energy (or maybe, take that time to recoup energy in the form of a nap).

Sometimes the kind of help you need is the kind that needs to be paid for, like housework or lawn maintenance. Or maybe the help you need is the kind that everyone has been offering you since you announced you were expecting: babysitting. Shoot, even just having a friend or family member come over and play with your child while you are still home will provide you the focused attention to get a lot of things done in a short period of time (or the time to take a nap or eat or just step outside and take a few deep breaths). And, like I have mentioned in previous posts, mothers will not offer to help you by watching your child if they do not sincerely want to do it. So, don’t feel guilty asking them. (Pot talking to the kettle over here.)

The truth is these mommy trenches are deep and wide, but only if we let them be. I’m learning with each passing week that digging into the trenches is part of motherhood, but there are a lot of mamas in here with us and people standing on the edges of our trenches offering to swap places with us for a few hours or available for hire to give us a little steadier gait.

So wave your flag, pretty mama. Whether it be pink, or blue, or both! Asking for help isn’t a form of surrender. It’s just calling in the village. You’re in good company. Press on, mamacita. Press on.

I’d love to know, what is the best way someone can help you when you are dug deep into the mommy trenches? And do you ask for help or receive it when it is offered to you? Comment below with your thoughts!

Lindsay

Comparison, You Sneaky Thief

Comparison, You Sneaky Thief

Hi! Born in the great state of Texas and raised in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, this Daughter of the Alamo/Georgia Peach is still adjusting to life in Razorback Nation! My husband and I live just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas with our two toddlers and two crazy pups. I’m a small business owner, chocolate aficionado, and travel lover with a 2pm coffee hour no matter what time zone I’m in!
Latest posts by Lindsay W (see all)

 

When you’re pregnant, you get so much advice from everybody. Advice on breastfeeding versus formula, which sling is best for baby-wearing, whether or not to use a pacifier, crying it out versus not crying it out…It’s endless, and honestly, even if you respect the person and desire to take in some of their wisdom, you’re usually not that interested at the moment because you’re either experiencing heartburn, the all-day morning sickness, caffeine withdrawals, swollen everything, fatigue, or are just plain uncomfortable. And if you happen to be feeling decent (because you’re in your 2nd trimester most likely) when some well-meaning individual decides to impart their wisdom on you, you still kind of have this, “Yeah, yeah, ok,” internal response. You log the good stuff away and hope the preggo brain doesn’t eat it and dismiss the “I don’t know about or agree with that” stuff.

One well-intentioned warning I heard all the time was, “Everything changes with a baby.” I would smile and nod while inside I would roll my eyes and think to myself, “Well, no kidding. Of course everything changes with a baby.”

A good friend gave me her copy of Dr. Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby on the Block. He says over and over again how different a three-month-old baby is from a newborn. Again, I thought to myself, only without the eye-rolling, “Yeah, yeah. Of course a three-month-old baby is completely different than a newborn.”

The truth is, like most of life, you can hear the advice, you can read or listen to expert opinions, you can even watch others go before you, but until you really get in and experience something for yourself, you just don’t really have anymore than, well, an idea.

My daughter is about to hit that three-month milestone, and I’ll tell you, I can’t even begin to recount how many times I’ve gone, “Ah. I get it now.”

I get how everything changes with a baby.

I get how different newborns are from three-month-olds.

I get how kids can come in between marriages.

I get why yoga pants are so popular in the young mom community.

I get why Mom’s Morning Out and playdates exist.

I get why it’s so hard to go back to work after maternity leave.

I get why I have to hit my knees to the ground every morning.

A THRILLING

And I get why Mr. Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Somewhere in my daughter’s first month of out-of-the-womb living, a dear friend of mine came over one afternoon with lunch. I had tried to make it out of the house for my first daytime social outing with baby, but we did not make it past the living room. Spit-up galore. A couple different diaper/clothing changes. Crying. Screaming. Tears. (Oh, how I HATE baby tears.) It just wasn’t happening.

I felt pretty pathetic to be honest with you.

“Why can’t I do this? According to my Instagram and Facebook feed, everyone else (because half of the women I follow on Instagram or Facebook between the ages of 25-30 had babies this summer) has made it out of the house to visit with friends by this point. But not me! Why can’t I do this?”

Not to mention everything else I felt like I was completely falling behind on:

  1. Not just quiet time with the Lord but ANY time with the Lord aside from praying, “Please help her fall asleep,” at 2 am. And then once she was asleep, “Lord, please don’t let her choke or suffocate or stop breathing or get too cold or too hot or let a spider crawl into her crib.” (New mommy paranoia, maybe?)
  2. Giving my husband my undivided attention.
  3. Communicating with my family. (Thank goodness for text messaging.)
  4. Communicating with my friends.
  5. Laundry.
  6. Dishes.
  7. Grocery shopping. (The thought of it just makes me want to laugh out loud.)
  8. My dogs were lucky to get fed. I mean, seriously, I was scrambling for 2 minutes to feed myself.
  9. Sticking to our budget.
  10. Being good at anything aside from producing breastmilk (which I mostly give credit to my mother’s tip to drink grape juice for the ample supply I put forth).

Meanwhile, half of the new mommies on Facebook are already looking incredibly skinny. They’re out having lunch with their husbands during the day. (“Seriously?!?!”) And baby is just sleeping in their little car seat carrier. (“Why does my baby hate her car seat carrier and this baby doesn’t?”) Or they’re exercising. Or taking their first family vacation. Or they were organized enough to schedule a newborn/family photo shoot.

And I can’t even get us out the door for lunch.

My friend arrived with those beautiful paper Panera bags. (Always bring food when you’re going to visit the mommy of a newborn.) I inhaled it while she rocked my baby girl. Once my blood sugar levels were back up to normal, I shared a little bit about how I was feeling regarding a few things on my list above. And I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but I was speaking to the thief. In this beautiful, albeit kind of crazy, season of new motherhood, I was getting so caught up with everyone else’s highlight reel on social media that I wasn’t fully savoring what I had or giving myself enough credit for what I did manage to accomplish each day. As soon as I spoke it out loud, I realized my folly.

I had let comparison steal my joy.

I had let the enemy sneak into a precious place.

Everybody says, “Enjoy this time with your new baby. Before you know it, they’ll be grown up.”

Well, she’s not grown up yet, but man, a three-month-old sure is so much different than a newborn, and that’s about as much grown up as I can handle right now. So, I get it.

And I get why so many people try to impart their wisdom on you…So you won’t be just like they were…A new mommy just trying to figure it out most of the time.

So, sure, maybe there are some new mommies out there who lose all their baby weight faster than I have, or have babies that sleep everywhere and take bottles, or get their fill of quality time with their Maker and their husband. But whether or not their season of motherhood with a newborn looks like mine, one thing is certain, comparing ourselves to each other won’t do any of us much good.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

And three months goes by too fast for any of us to afford to lose one second of the joy that comes from raising and caring for our newborns.

So comparison, you sneaky thief, I’m calling you out.

All us new mommies, we’re good without you. The fact that our motherhood journeys are different is what makes each one so beautiful. It’s ours.

I’d love to know…

When did you have your “Ah, I get it now,” moment while embarking on your motherhood adventure?

What is your first response to comparison and how do you respond to the thief?

Lindsay

5 Best Things About Having Multiples

5 Best Things About Having Multiples

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Latest posts by Elizabeth P (see all)

This is a post for fellow Moms of Multiples, a.k.a “MoM”s, and especially the mothers expecting multiples. It’s kind of like when people say that mom upside down is “wow.” So a mom of multiples must be  “WoW!”

My husband didn’t get my joke. I hope you all do and if not, well, I was a poli-sci major.  We’re not really known for our jokes unless you’re Kenneth Walzer…oh wait, still no jokes.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about having multiples.

I saw a Hunger Games meme  where the main character raises her left hand high with the three-finger salute of admiration and the caption reads, “When I’m out and see another twin mom.”  All I could think was, “Just. Yes.”

When I was pregnant with my twin boys, I read everything I could about being a twin mom. It was worse than the insatiable need for information I had with my first pregnancy. (I read when I’m nervous. Everything. It’s really counterproductive.)

Nonetheless, the unknown was overwhelming to me and I was basically terrified, but in the best way possible.  I found a lot of lists that were supposed to be funny, I think. However, they were more scary than helpful.  So, in an effort to add to the information about what to expect when you are a Mom of Multiples, I would like to share the 5 best things I experienced in the first year of having twins. Yes, you do survive the first year and it is a wonderful year!

5 Best Things I experienced in the First Year of Having Twins

  1. My heart has never been so full.5 Best Things About Having Multiples

I love my daughter more than words can express but I never expected how quickly my heart could expand to be so full of love for both these little boys. I know you love each kid that comes along but having two more at once was just an overwhelming fullness. It is amazing. They are amazing.

  1. They make me a better person.

Kids require selflessness. In some ways, especially as newborns, twins require an extra measure of sacrifice (mostly sleep). These little guys also force me to be more engaged and organized than I was with my first. This is also likely true with adding just one extra kid. My daughter was a relatively easy addition to our lives, although we didn’t necessarily think that at the time, but these guys took it to a new level. The challenge has required much and I know I have grown in many ways from the “fire” of multiples.

  1. I meet new people all the time.

I once read something regarding twins that said “Everyone has a twin story and none of them are interesting.” That made me laugh, but it’s a terrible way to think about the fact that dozens of people will stop you wherever you go to talk about your precious kids. They give you opportunities to meet people you never thought you would and you will have countless opportunities to tell your story. It’s a unique dynamic and I have learned to love it. Well, most days. Ha!

  1. I get to watch an incredible and special bond grow.

Twins are amazing. The bond they develop in utero and as they grow up is simply incredible. I thoroughly enjoyed watching my boys interact with each other so young. The love they share is precious and unique and I’m blessed to be their mom.

  1. I get to dress them up in matching outfits.

Let’s face it, as ridiculous as it might seem, it is so much fun to dress them up in coordinating outfits. It’s just darn adorable.

For moms out there who have multiples or are expecting some soon, just know that God prepares and equips us for what He has called us to and He is faithful. You have an incredible blessing.

What are you most looking forward to being a M.O.M?

What have you most enjoyed during your first year of having multiples?

Mommy Cliques

Mommy Cliques

Born and raised in sunny San Diego, where I reside with my amazing husband, two spunky kids and our two rambunctious dogs. I am a part time occupational therapist and a full time wife and mommy. I love anything and everything outdoors and love my coffee! I enjoy decorating my home through pinterest and am learning to sew.
Latest posts by Jessica D (see all)

IMG_7541Being a mother of two young children, I am realizing there are so many approaches and styles to parenting. I have an undergraduate degree in Child Development and work in the pediatric field. I, of course felt I had a good grasp on all the ins and outs of raising a child based on the books I had read and my experiences at my workplace. I have since realized, there is a lot more to parenting than I had previously thought!

One thing I was not ready for were the “Mommy Cliques.” By mommy cliques, I am referring to the various groups of mommies who I categorize based on their approach or style of parenting. There are the working moms, stay at home moms, homeschooling moms, moms who breastfeed, moms who formula feed, baby wearing mommies, mommies who use strollers, mommies who co-sleep and the list goes on and on.

With today’s resources and social media, there is a plethora of information and knowledge to be gathered by a new mom. I am going to compare this to the first time I registered for baby items before my daughter was born. I was given a list of “must haves” and a bar code scanner. Then, my husband and I were sent to create a list of what we needed for our unborn baby. I was incredibly pregnant, which meant hormones were raging, and neither myself, nor my husband knew what we would really need. To say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement! It can be exhausting to try to decipher through these groups to figure out the “best” way to help my baby.

After subscribing to groups on social media, I saw so much discrimination, disrespect and judgment for varying views of parenting. Not only did I have to sort through all of the information friends, family and colleagues were providing, I also had to sift through Facebook groups, Instagram posts, internet questions, celebrity points of view, etc. It seemed as though everyone had a different opinion. The one thing that held true, was that when a mom didn’t agree with a choice of another mommy, no one held back on telling the other why she was wrong and how her own opinion was the RIGHT one.

I am definitely a proponent for encouraging safety, especially when a new baby is involved. If there is something a mommy is doing that may be unsafe for either her or the baby, by all means, politely and kindly offer suggestions to ensure the safety of everyone. However, if you notice a mommy pull out a bottle of formula rather than breast-feed her baby, please do not judge that mommy. The same goes for the mommy who chooses to breast feed rather than formula feed; please do not judge that mommy.

This is simply one of the “mommy cliques” I have noticed in my very short 3 years of being a mommy myself. Before I make any judgments, I need to first try to put myself in the other parent’s shoes. I do not know all of the facts. I am not aware of the background of the child or the parent. It is so complicated to navigate through life at times. It would be so much easier if we, as moms, could guarantee the support of one another.

New moms have so much going through their minds and should not have to worry about who is judging them for their personal choices on how to raise their most precious blessing. Most of the “mommy cliques” I listed are just that, personal choices the mommy (and daddy) get to make.

Rather than breaking one another down for not having your same views, let’s lift each other up and encourage one another, as Paul discusses in 1 Thessalonians 5. There are many times when a new mommy may need help. Try to show each other love and compassion. Maybe a new mommy has never heard of wearing her baby before, so she chooses to push her baby in a stroller instead. The way the mommy chooses to get her baby around does not change the unconditional love she feels for her child.

Many if not most nights, I wake up to both of my children in our bed. Lets face it, we purchased a king size bed because both my husband and I were falling off both sides of our bed as our children made themselves comfortable. I have heard both discouraging and encouraging remarks regarding how we choose to sleep. Both of our children have their own beds, but they end up in ours at some point during the night. It feels so much better to hear someone encourage me for my choice rather than provide me with negative insight to why it is the incorrect way to raise my children.

I am not saying that I need to constantly be reassured that I am doing something correctly; but sometimes it’s nice to hear a positive response rather than a negative one.

Raising my two babies is turning out to be the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life; but it is also the most rewarding as well. My hope is that everyone can feel comfortable with the choices they make as a parent. I will make mistakes. I make mistakes every day! The important thing is that I am trying to do the best I can to love my children and make the best choices for us. And I believe you are too!

How do you navigate the Mommy Cliques?  

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