Supermom Strong

Seeing the positive and sunny side of things has never been difficult for me… until now.  Oh those blasted postpartum hormones…  Kick me when I’m down, why don’t you?

The crying…  Waking up and feeling completely overwhelmed…  The guilt…

It’s all too often commonplace for new moms recovering from a pregnancy, and it hits at the worst possible time.  You’re not feeling 100% yet.  You’re recovering physically.  You’re taking care of a brand new life (and getting very little sleep because of it).  And now there’s a cloud of depression hanging over your head, trying to block out the sunlight.

I’ve had to give myself a lot of pep talks lately.  Like yesterday for example…  I woke up and was filled with a sense of dread.  I immediately thought, “I don’t know if I can have victory over today.”  I already felt like I was drowning and failing.

Overcoming feelings like that is foreign to me.  I don’t think that way.  I’m very rarely negative, depressed, or defeated.  But then again, this is only the second time that I’ve lived the postpartum life.  And honestly, the first couple of months after baby arrives can throw even the most positive of moms for a loop.

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Trust me, I’m proof of that.

Yesterday, after waking up and feeling such anxiety, I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that we had nowhere to be…  No one coming over.  I literally just had to make sure my kids were loved, fed, and clothed.  The house might be chaos, the meals might be from the freezer section, and there was a very good chance that I wouldn’t be showered.  BUT my family would be okay.

Somehow realizing that made me feel a little better.  But really, it’s hard to be rational when those hormones are throwing darts of doubt into your mind.

In addition to those pep talks to myself, I’ve had to apologize to Nate a lot as of late.  I’m not as patient.  I snap sometimes.  I cry a lot, because I feel overwhelmed.  I just don’t feel like myself, because – some days – I’ve poured so much into my babies that I don’t feel as though there’s anything left to give.  There’s never time to recharge, so I’m running on empty.

And I’m fairly certain that Nate was starting to think that his wife had been replaced with an emotional, irrational alien from another planet.  So having an open conversation about my feelings (and how sorry I was for acting the way I had) was nothing short of a relief for him.

Granted, a lot of this heaviness stems from just how difficult this past week was.  Kaitlyn had to be rushed to the ER last Sunday, because she was struggling to breathe.  Long story short, after a terrifying night, it turns out that she has bad acid reflux like her brother did.  We’re still not entirely sure what’s causing it or what the best game plan is to help ease her suffering, so we’re trying a few things.

It’s hearing her scream from pain and discomfort that kills me.  I would do anything to help her feel better, but I don’t know what needs to be done.  So I usually end up biting my lip to keep from bursting into tears… again.  And I cradle her and walk around the house, gently singing to her and hoping that she’ll find relief soon.

And then Brady pretends to cry or get hurt, because he is aching for attention too.  He just wants his mommy, but mommy is tending to a baby girl who just vomited again.  Or who is screaming at the top of her lungs.  And realizing that I can’t hold him in that moment breaks my heart even more.

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It’s been a rough week.  A really rough week.  And those postpartum emotions are just making it harder for me to be strong, and confident, and level headed.

So want to know how I’ve fought through all of this?

I’ve admitted that I’m human.

I’ve admitted to people I’m close to (and, okay, now to all of you in the hopes that I might help someone else) that I’m struggling.  I’ve had open and honest conversations with my husband about how I’m feeling, rather than hoping he might be able to guess what’s going on in my overworked brain.  I’ve taken deep breaths and realized that I need to cut myself some slack.  I had a baby only three and a half weeks ago, and I’m still healing.  We’re in survival mode, so it’s okay if Brady watches more TV these days.  (It’s a great time to cuddle).  It’s okay that our meals aren’t gourmet.  It’s okay that my house is trashed most days.  And it’s certainly okay that I’m not always feeling presentable (because always being showered as a new mom is overrated).

It’s even okay sometimes if I snap a bit and have to go back and apologize.  I hate that I do it.  I especially hate when I’m not as patient with Brady, because he’s so little and doesn’t understand.

But it’s okay.  It’s all going to be okay.

Little by little, things will get easier.  Life will find a comfortable routine.  I’ll feel better physically and mentally.  We will feel normal again.

So deep breaths.  Deep breaths and prayer are my best friends right now.  Deep breaths, prayer, and staring into the precious faces of my toddler and baby girl.   They remind me that this is all worth it and that each day can be beautiful amidst the chaos.  (That and dairy-free, coconut icecream.  The coconut icecream helps too).

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One day at a time.  That’s all a new mom can focus on and conquer!  But even amidst the hard moments like this, it doesn’t mean failure.  Quite the opposite.  When you’re going through a rough patch and still doing your best (even if your best is less than usual and sprinkled with mistakes), you’re still supermom.

Moms aren’t perfect after all. They’re just loving enough to keep fighting, even when anyone else (probably anyone in their right mind) would lift the white flag of surrender.  We are incredible warriors even when the battle seems to be too much!  Because even with so much pulling us down, we not only rise up; but we also rise up carrying our families on our shoulders.

Our love is that strong.  And a love that strong can carry a woman through anything.  It just takes time.

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Have you ever struggled with postpartum depression or blues?  If so, what did you do to help get out of it?  


Just a Mom

The first week of motherhood wasn’t all that difficult…  Actually, it was shockingly easy.  Brady slept most of the time, occasionally waking up to make adorable faces at us or to stare mesmerized at the Christmas tree.  (Gosh, he loves Christmas lights)!  Then I’d feed him, he’d sleepily blink his eyes a few times, and he’d fall asleep for a couple of hours.  Life was good… and practically perfect.

Then week 2 hit…

The acid reflux and gas issues seemed to hit him the moment day 14 arrived but progressively got worse throughout the week. My ever-happy baby was soon screaming in pain, his little face reddened and scrunched up in discomfort.  His cries could not be comforted, no matter how gently I rocked him.  The cramping in his belly and burning in his throat were just too much.

I cried. It broke my heart that my little baby was in so much pain, and I couldn’t make him feel better. Even though I knew it wasn’t the case, it made me feel like a failure as a mom.  I should be able to soothe him with my healing touch and to help him feel all better.

No matter how long I burped him, I couldn’t seem to get him to release the gas bubbles in his belly. And there was no instant-relief medicine in my bathroom cabinet that would help him feel better. Even a trip to the doctors didn’t give us any answers, other than the suggestion to give him gripe water and to begin a food journal (in case something that I was eating might be bothering him when I breastfeed).

There was no quick fix. Nothing to release the sharp pains that made him cry.  Finding a reason for his unhappiness (and therefore finding him relief) was all about the process of elimination.  Oh, how I wish he could talk and tell me what hurts and what I could do to make him feel better!

That’s the thing about being a mom… You want nothing more than to be able to kiss away your child’s pain. To chase away the bullies that make him cry. To scare away the nightmares and to replace them with happy dreams.

What you wouldn’t do to change places and to feel that pain instead, because nothing hurts more than to see your little one suffer.

But at the end of the day, you are ‘just’ a mom. And while – to your child – you might be superwomen and a safe place of comfort, you are also human. And as much as you long to, you can’t shield your child from the hurt and pain that he will experience along with all the joy and happiness throughout his life.  You can only raise him to be prepared for it…

You can, however, be a constant source of love in an uncertain world. You can always be there, when he needs you. Always a hand to hold, always a warm hug on a cold day, always a source of encouragement when others might not believe.

Always there.

Even now, when I can’t take away my Brady’s pain, I will let him know that his mama is here when he cries. Always.  Because sometimes, ‘just a mom’ is what a little baby needs.

“So sleep easy, my little one.  Mama will be here when you wake.  And hopefully, tomorrow will be an easier day, and you will feel better.  I love you… always.”