“I have a new appreciation for fuller breasts and a padded hip,” says Tanya Tabachnikoff, a 35-year-old media relations director from Brattleboro, Vt. “There’s something about knowing the flesh and warmth of my body is the most secure and comfortable place in the world for my child.”
You’ve touched me deeply with this post while pushing through the anxieties and depression related to PPD. Thank you for giving me a feeling of love and hope while reading your words and the message of Elijah. I have been starting to listen for my own whisper for once, after dwelling in the pain and tears of my own sadness – and things seem to be moving in a brighter direction already. I went to the doctor today and was offered a home health “helper”. And this, I believe, may truly be my own little angel in disguise, coming to pull me out of the deep, dark, and scary cave, like Elijah’s, that I have been hiding in for what seems like forever now.
I’m wondering as I write my blog this morning how many other moms are out there feeling a bit frazzled and overwhelmed like I am. There’s no huge crisis and I am so thankful for that but, some days, like this day, I feel like I am standing in the aftermath of a tornado. Have you ever seen those pictures where a family stands in the midst of what once was their home and strewn all around them are their belongings and broken furniture? I also wonder how they know where to begin. How do they start such a seemingly insurmountable task?
Well, we haven’t faced a tornado of that sort, I am glad to say. But, I do feel like we’ve been facing a whirlwind of activity and changes for a good solid year. Honestly, when I think back on all that has happened in the past twelve months…
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“Eyes that do not cry, do not see.” Swedish proverb
This is only my second post on this blog, but I am going to take a dive in and start off by sharing an article from tinybuddha.com. It is a site that I subscribed to, which started leaving daily positivity in my inbox in the form of articles written by positive people, back when I needed an uplift in my not-so-positive days I was living. I am still having those days where I need that uplift, to reflect on someone else’s positive outlook, because all that is left in my body at times is exhaustion and bad energy, if any energy at all. Since I have given birth, I sometimes feel I even lack the energy to simply click on a site’s link to get there and focus my head on something. But as I speak to you moms out there for only the second time, I ask you to please read the following article written by Joanna Warwick, an energy healer, therapist, and creator of http://www.rediscoverthemagic.com. She teaches women that “love starts with themselves and how to feel confident, look great, and trust in love once again.”
As a new mother like myself, you may be in need of a lift or some reassurance – the reassurance to remind you that the emotions you are feeling due to crashing hormones, lack of sleep, and all else brand new moms feel while diving into motherhood head first, does not warrant a stay at the psych ward or mean you have lost your mind, and definitely does not mean you are a bad mother. Joanna shares some comforting thoughts reminding us that what we are feeling (the hyper sensitivity, the anxiety and overwhelming love we have inside us that sometimes even causes us pain) is OK and beneficial for us and even our own safety to be capable of feeling such emotion.
When I start to feel those dark and haunting clouds of PPD, I try to take a deep breath and tell my inner voice about the newfound and incredible love I have inside me now as well. Fears and anxieties are not the only things that I am filled with or make me who I am – I also have an enormous amount of love for my baby boy. It is a beautiful kind of love that only we are capable of feeling for our children. But I realized one night, during one of those nights of endless worrying and intrusive thoughts, that this kind of love is so powerful that its strength can be painful and hurt us too. Our love can make us feel such things as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, etc. We go into motherhood with a certain fear of the unknown simply because we have not experienced anything quite like it. I believe that mothers who unfortunately find themselves going through something as painful and scary as PPD, are also mothers who have that kind of strong, yet sensitive, undying love within them too. Our pain stems from a place that desires to love totally and have a perfect and profound bond with our little one, while praying for the knowledge of “what to do” in every situation involving babies and that whom we love.
Before helping someone else with their oxygen mask, even when that someone is our own precious child, we must remember to put our mask on first, as hard as it might be to do. Maybe it doesn’t seem selfless or caring enough to not immediately tend to our child’s needs, but what good are we as a person and mother if we don’t have ourselves “in check” beforehand? More than likely, we will not be successful in the task at hand because we ourselves are almost running on empty.
We need to be able to breathe before doing anything. And of course we already know that we need to breathe in order to keep our physical bodies and minds alive, right? And so, our babies continue to rely on us to keep these “oxygen masks” on and our breaths going so that we may be well enough to care and provide for their basic, daily needs, meanwhile doing our best to accomplish the more challenging (and many times dirty and smelly!) tasks that we, as mothers, are faced with each day.
So what happens when we are finding trouble in breathing during all these responsibilities of motherhood? Please understand that the term “breathing” that I use here can also translate to basic self-care, such as eating properly, getting adequate sleep, and finding ways to have at least 15 minutes of alone time each day to gather our minds and “re-position our oxygen mask.”
As mothers who feel the need and responsibility to keep trucking, we somehow still manage to run around and get the thousand and one things crossed off our to-do lists WITHOUT BREATHING. As we keep on running this breathless race, we inevitably become depleted, heading towards that mental or physical shut down, melt down, or whatever many of us may call that moment of complete and unbelievable exhaustion that leaves us feeling helpless or even hopeless as mothers. We break, have panic attacks, and choke from the lack of “oxygen”, because we forgot to help ourselves first.
(Note: Never blame yourself or be too hard on yourself when you do break down. Know that, during the hellish race, your intentions were good. You were only being that selfless and attentive mother who you sometimes think a lot less of while experiencing the exhaustion, the anxiety, and those fears of hopelessness.
During pregnancy, we are often showed how to breathe. We pay a pretty penny for Lamaze classes that teach us different techniques on solely breathing. How many of us moms agree that we should be offered, FREE OF CHARGE, similar kinds of breathing and relaxation techniques for pains experienced AFTER pregnancy, during the post-partum phase where we may be in desperate need of re-balancing ourselves in the midst of erratic hormonal shifts and early motherhood uncertainties.
Please share with us some ways you find time for yourself//the things you do during that time that help make you feel better when the yucky and overwhelming feelings hit.