My Postpartum Experience – At Home With Natalie


 

This has been stirring in my heart and I’m about to just unload on you guys. haha. ready?
I wrote this post and hesitated to publish it. mainly because I’m being vulnerable and fear being judged.
(total pride thing. that people will think I’m somehow “not good enough” if I
can’t chug through my days like a happy camper. (not realistic.)
I realize that I was wrong in my thinking… and that if someone
judges me negatively for this, it’s a reflection of their own stuff. right??
We all have that loop that plays in our heads… the “bs committee” as Jen Hatmaker calls it! and mine
has been especially vocal these days! “You aren’t good enough.” “No one cares what you are going through.”
“If you were a good mom you could handle this.”
You know the drill. Maybe you’ve felt this way too.
But I’ve learned and grown a lot these past months and I want to share with you.
So here’s my heart.. and my postpartum experience with our fifth baby.
I know I’m not alone in these seasons that feel overwhelming, and maybe
me sharing this, will help someone else walking it alone.

 

Looking back, after having Hunter…
those first three months rocked me.

 

I didn’t even realize it till Ben gently mentioned it one night when we were at the dinner table alone…
“Natalie I think you have the baby blues.”
My response, “yeah, maybe.”

 

After dinner I googled it. Not that I didn’t know what it was…
but I was looking for more info
on it and to see, from a fresh perspective, what that meant for me…
how was I living that out.

 

tears guys. tears. just realizing that YES. this is something.
I honestly can’t say that it’s postpartum depression or an intense case of the baby blues…
all I know is that I had a baby with colic and the emotions
and struggles didn’t go away after those typical 2 weeks.
I recognized that something was different this time around.
I didn’t realize this until we were two weeks in.

 

I was in a season, that mentally I knew would pass, but
at the same time my heart could not feel that.

And the hardest part is when you know something
logically but you just can’t believe in it
because of how you feel. what you are experiencing.

Sometimes you struggle to see beyond that hard moment.

I think the combination of Hunter being a fussy baby, lack of sleep, feeling isolated from family and friends.
(Not that our community here isn’t great..there are amazing people here…
but we’ve been here two years and even though we have incredible
people in our life, probably only one or two I would feel comfortable confiding in.
And honestly, I chose not to.
Middle child/people pleaser problem…. I didn’t want to burden them or unload.
SO. Internet, haha I choose you to unload on. But also… I just feel stronger now.
It would have been better if I spoke up sooner, and I urge you
to do that if you are here now… but this is where I am.
(Photo from Christmas where Hunter just CRIED and CRIED all Christmas Eve.
It was soo hard but we also made amazing memories.
It’s possible for it to be hard and good at the same time.)

Those first three months…

I was feeling stuck and sad.

I was emotionally eating.

I was feeling unmotivated.

I didn’t want to do anything I used to love to do.

I went through the motions of working and mothering.

I didn’t want to socialize.

I didn’t want to be intimate.
I felt strong emotions… like my empathy felt overwhelming.
(hormones much? –inssert crazy eyes emoji here–lol.)

 

I had horrible anxiety. 

I still do at times which is the HARDEST thing for me to say.

Because I feel like I’ve always been such a confident person.
I mean throw me in front of a crowd and ask me to speak on something and I’ll do it!

But the constant anxiety of a baby is about to cry or be needed, at any second, brought
on this rush of anxiety that poured into all areas of my life. does that make sense?

It’s like the lack of sleep and energy and healthy eating made me entirely anxious–
not just about baby stuff but about things that before I never struggled with.

 

I feel like since hitting 4 months…
This cloud has lifted… and it’s not entirely
gone, but the heaviness of it feels like it’s passing.

And maybe that means I didn’t have it severe??? maybe that means it was more
baby blues than postpartum depression…
I honestly don’t know the diagnosis I would be given.

But with this being the 5th time I’ve experienced postpartum months…
I saw a huge difference compared to the others.

The most “sadness” and “funk” I felt before always lifted around 2 weeks.
and so to me that…was baby blues.
This… felt so much harder.

 

There were a few steps that made me feel like I was moving forward from this…
I’m not on medication… But I feel better.
I feel more capable and this heaviness feels like it’s lifting.
Honestly, Hunter has turned a corner around the 3.5 month mark that was a game changer.
He feels like a NEW BABY.
His colic is easing up and it’s lessening my anxiety and I feel
like I’ve been strategic in working through hard mental moments.

Here are some steps that have helped me walk through this season:

1. Recognize it.
Even though that meant someone else had to do it for me.

Maybe you need to be that friend or spouse that helps someone see it too.

 

2. Seek help.

I had to honestly sit down with ben and say, I need help.
He already was supportive and chipped in – he is totally on the same page as
me in terms of—dads don’t babysit their own kids because they ARE his kids too—

BUT… at the same time I had a lot of it on my shoulders and I was at a breaking point.
And being honest and just not trying to keep my crap together for all of us was the best step to make things better.
It’s ok to ask for help, and most likely, the people around you are wanting to be there for you.
We had a cleaning lady start coming again. I said no to as many work projects.
We planned more husband/wife time to refuel and not feel like all I do is communicate with toddlers.
I traveled to see family. I took breaks that didn’t involve a to-do like grocery shopping.
(unless that’s a break for you…go for it.–I like getting my nails done.)
And most recently I had a weekend away to recharge and
be filled up by other inspiring women! (Rise Conference.)
I slept three solid nights without being woken up–that was magic right there.
We took a spontaneous trip to Disney World and if you want to feel happy- go to the happiest place on earth. 😉
It was incredible and I think a big part of how it helped me was it removed me from the day to day
and I was able to see our life for what it really was… aside from the normal daily grind….I had these people…
these amazing people in my life. And it just made my heart soar
seeing their faces, and even though it’s of course crazy traveling with 5 kids…
it was like a reboot for me.
I know not everyone can afford to do some of those things…
and I know there are plenty of things that other people do that we can’t do.
But even actively looking for ways to make different tasks easier, as you
walk through that hard season… is huge!

 

 

3. Remember your Passion.

I love being creative whether that’s through decorating our
home, planning parties, playing with my kids or gifting.

It’s a passion of mine that has only been fueled more since becoming a mom years ago.

Growing up I always played big. We couldn’t just play with play food at a little plastic play kitchen toy…

we turned the whole playroom into a bustling and well oiled functioning mcdonalds.
(Having a large family allows you to have staff when playing pretend. haha.)

I see the same things happening with my own children and I hope that a part of that they get
from me- that outlook on life where you see the possibility…the what could be’s…

It brings me so much joy seeing them express their creativity too!

 

My passion for being creative has become even stronger with the drive of
loving my children and family with it. I love to make them smile. to feel loved.
But when you feel overwhelmed with the day to day– those creative things get put on the back burner.
Sometimes you don’t even feel like doing them anymore.

 

What are you passionate about?
What do you enjoy doing?

I invite you to take a moment today, and think about your heart.
What makes you smile when you’re doing it or gives you energy?

If you are going through a hard season and wanting to pull yourself out of it…
put effort into doing more of those things you thought of!

Even if you don’t feel like it at the time… or don’t think you have time.

Make time for you.
I’m so glad that I consciously moved forward on certain little projects that sparked
my creativity because it helped so much with my mood.

4. Re-Prioritize.
I’m a do-er. I love to dream and do all the things.
But I was realizing that with where I was at, I needed to focus more on me
and our family and minimize the outside tasks.
Not that I had to stop working… but I had to stop adding ALL the work. haha.
I knew that there were things that I would usually say yes too, but this was not my season for that.
And regardless of if you are struggling with anxiety and depression–
that’s a good practice for anyone to do time to time!
Stop – and check in on what you are doing and see if it’s working– if you can honestly
add more to your plate or if you need to reduce the load.

5. Gratitude.
I’m not saying all of your stuff goes away if you just say you are grateful…
but I will say that some of those moments where I felt so overwhelmed and stuck…
I pulled myself out of by consciously going over in my head all of the things I have to be grateful for.
Bitterness and Gratitude cannot win at the same time.
One gets to take the lead in your mind. And I worked on making gratitude win.
Doesn’t mean I didn’t feel that same sense of overwhelm…
But my gratitude motivated me to keep moving forward.
Motivation isn’t getting you to WANT to do the thing… “yay laundryyyy”…#nope.
but it gets you to DO the thing. mom 1 laundry 0.
So I would say YES. THANK YOU for these clothes. these soft cozy clothes that I get to put on my kids
and see them play in and snuggle them up in. THANK YOU for the mountain of it that I get to fold haha.
It might seem silly… but honestly little tasks like that felt so overwhelming to me.
and then spiraled into all of the other things that overwhelmed me.
So it was huge for me to be mentally feeling capable.
I think that could apply to anything you might struggle with!

6. Jesus. All the Jesus you can get.
He is bigger than all of our hard moments.
He sees us for who we really are… his loved daughters.
He walks with us.
He is the peace giver.


 

I think that a lot of us as moms, go through seasons where
we feel overwhelmed and dried up.
Suffocated and stuck.
I have been there. I feel like I’m just coming out of one of those hard seasons
with Hunter and my Postpartum journey!
Maybe you aren’t struggling with Baby blues or postpartum depression…
maybe you have older kids and feel so burnt out with that level of emotional energy you have to give.
Maybe you are struggling in your marriage and need to remember who you are, separately and
together, and move forward in making your marriage what you desire it to be.
Maybe you have a two year old that legit thinks he runs the show. haha. (raises hand.)

 

But the encouraging things about seasons is they don’t last!!
(unless you live in Pittsburgh and the winter feels like it will never end! 😉
BUT… eventually, the snow does melt… and the sunshine comes out.
and that’s how I have lived through every hard or rough season of my motherhood and life!
You can do this… and you don’t have to do it alone. That’s not a thing.
It’s not like you HAVE to do it alone to be considered good at it.
We need community. we need people around us cheering us on and lifting us up when we can’t.
I hope you have people like that – and if you don’t. I’m here for you.
Just because you say life is hard, doesn’t mean you aren’t in love with your life!

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