I am a postpartum depression survivor

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My middle name is Joy.

I embodied Joy my entire life and everyone knew me as the loud comedian. I loved that about myself, it felt like no one or no thing could ever take away my joy.

Then I had postpartum depression. It was with my second born and it came out of nowhere. I had gotten my birth story I wanted and nothing wrong happened with me or my baby. Since the delivery was my biggest concern, I assumed I was in the clear of “baby blues”. My midwife would check up on me a couple of times and I just told her no, and that I was still in awe of my awesome delivery and my happy, healthy new baby girl… there were no signs of postpartum depression in my mind.

Four months went by and my mom was told she had stage four breast cancer. Our world changed and everything shifted. I knew I was sad, but I always justified my sadness as I was mourning the news of my mom’s cancer. But it was more than mourning or just a sadness. I was lonely. I was trapped.

Sleep deprived, baggy eyes, hurting breasts, crying baby, and jealous toddler adjusting to big sister life… it all came crashing down on me.

Before I knew it, I was hiding away from the girls and going into my closet to self-harm. It felt like the only thing I could do. This was a new feeling for me – I had thought about it before when I went through a hard childhood but this was different. I wasn’t doing it for attention or even an escape. I was doing it because I felt physically trapped inside my skin. It felt like my brain was going 180mph and my body was at a halt. I had to move, I had to run, I had to feel something other than despair. I did this for about a month before I told anyone. My husband had no idea and I worked very hard to keep it that way. I was ashamed, I had major mom guilt, and I was irate with myself for not enjoying my new perfect healthy baby girl. Telling someone meant I was showing them how awful of a mother I was.

Finally, in a moment of weakness that I can’t explain, I described the trapped feeling to my sister, who had yet to be a mother at the time. Of course she was immediately concerned for my well being… and I didn’t even tell her the whole truth. She told me I had postpartum depression and I needed to call my midwife immediately….

Postpartum depression…. me?? No way… I am always the happy one. Could it be depression? What else could it be?

I let that sit for a couple of days before I spoke to my husband or my midwife about it. I didn’t want to alarm anyone (… so irrational and I should have shouted it from the mountaintop). It wasn’t until my first panic attack that I had a glimpse of my reality.

I was trapped. Like I needed to escape my skin again. I couldn’t breath. My heart was beating out of my chest. I was in pain. I thought I was going to die and my biggest fear was that my dying would be an inconvenience to the strangers around me.  Wow… there it is. The moment of clarity. I’m not okay. Something is wrong. This isn’t me.

It would be another six hours before my heart felt normal again. I should have gone to a facility that night but I didn’t want to burden anyone.

The next morning I finally made the phone call, made the appointment, got the meds. I was put on a low dose of Celexa to help with the depression and anxiety… it was a whole new world for me that I had so much to learn about. I did the research, spoke to the midwife and the doctors… it saved my life.

Once I was transparent and told everyone about the anguish I was in, no one was mad at me. Crazy, right? No one was angry that I had to spend the money on the doctor or the medication. No one took my children away from me. My husband didn’t leave me. My family still loved me… I only received amazing support  from every person I told.

I stayed on my medication for two years before I was given the green light to ween myself off of them. It should also be noted that I could not have done this without the help and guidance of my therapist.

I still have anxiety and moments of slight panic… I still have a rare urgency to hide in my closest from time to time… but I am happy to report that I have found natural ways to pull myself out of those high anxiety moments. This is extremely difficult and something that took me years to learn with weekly therapy sessions… and not for everyone! But it worked (and still does) for me if I am consistent with it.

I am telling my story for you, momma. Don’t sit in this. Don’t assume you’re this huge burden on society… the stress of momming is SO REAL and lonely. Get out there and get some help. Talk to someone, anyone. Message me! I’ll understand!

I’m also telling my story for you, friend or family member. You just saw the strongest person you know give birth and own motherhood in a beautiful way… don’t assume she is okay. Check on her! Don’t just show up with a meal and leave. Talk, ask questions, get nosy! You could literally save her life and never know it.

You’re not alone, momma.

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Survival Tips for Motherhood

Photo May 22, 12 09 20 PMThe following tips are for any moms in any walk of motherhood. Newbies, toddlers, tweens and all the in between… I’ve got you covered. However you should know… this is just if you want to survive. Like for real tho – surviving is all you’ll be doing here. These tips are for the days where you just can’t anymore. Survival is all that is gonna come out of this day. There will be days like this… a lot of them. And when they come, just embrace it and be proud that everyone survived the day. They may be gross and your kitchen is a wreck but there is a glass of wine waiting for after bedtime and that’s all yours, girl. Congrats on survival.

  1. Mac and Cheese… you’ll need a lot of that.
  2. Parks – I know it sounds like a lot but once you’re there they’ll most likely leave you alone long enough for you to sit and scroll on your phone in silence and if you’re lucky they’ll tire out and go to bed early!
  3. Either a garage you can go into and scream where no one will hear you, or a good pillow will do. We don’t want to scar the children but sometimes we need to let out a lil scream or two.
  4. Diaper Genie. This is God’s gift to new moms. Get that. Make the man take it out tho cuz ew.
  5. Wine. I mean duh. Hopefully you’re already on your second glass by the time you get to this one.
  6. Wipies – these are universal cleaning wonders. Poop? Wipies. Peanut butter? Wipies. Dropped the paci? Wipies. Last night’s makeup still on? W I P I E S.
  7. Netflix. This is an $8/month babysitter. INVEST INTO THIS.
  8. Laundry baskets – I’m assuming you already have at least one for the dirty clothes but think ahead… where you gonna put the clean clothes, girl? Get another basket for those to sit in until you can get your shit together long enough to fold it and (dare I say…) put it away in the dressers that you spent money on. 
  9. Delivery. Thank god for those little zit-faced hormonal teenagers whose only job is to bring pizza to your door. Not all heroes wear capes, right? Tip them well, momma. They’ve got moms out there wondering where college funds are coming from, too.
  10. Paper plates – we don’t use them enough as a society. As moms, we should only function on disposable items for everything. They’re going to ruin it anyway? Might as well feel okay with just throwing it in the trash. Also – less cleaning. We can recycle and take care of the planet in all sorts of ways. This isn’t one of them, yet. Mother Earth gets it…

 

It’s a mess out there, momma. I hope this helps. If I need to add anything, feel free to add it in the comments. It takes a village! 

10 Things Mom DOESN’T Want for Mother’s Day

 

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  1. Change any diapers whatsoever. This includes potty training and wiping the butts of the newly potty trained. 

  2. To be awake. Like at all. Let the poor woman sleep as long as she wants.

  3. A crowded restaurant. You need to go pick it up or make a reservation so she isn’t waiting.

  4. To rally the kids together for a family outing. This is a nightmare and not special. Wrangling all the kids, finding the shoes, brushing the tangles out, packing toys… we do not want this. If you’re taking us out then YOU are getting the tiny hellions ready. 

  5. Responsibilities. Just take care of it, dude.

  6. To cook. No. Do not make your mother/mother of your children prepare her own meals. Stop that. Go pick it up or dare to cook it yourself.

  7. To clean. If you have made a mess after cooking that meal for her then you are also the one who is cleaning it up. If she goes in there and starts cleaning, kick her out of the kitchen. Seriously. Don’t allow it.

  8. Breaking up sibling rivalry. Today is not the day. Everyone needs to be happy and clean. If the kids are fighting to the death, you better clean it up and send them to the garage to fight it out. She cannot hear it. End of story.

  9. Complaining. If you don’t like it, fake it. We hear complaints all day every day. Shut it off. For 24 hours. KTHX

  10. A normal day. Everyday is chaos for the poor woman. Give her a break. Make this day different from the rest. Pamper her, spoil her, don’t let her lift a finger. Today is special!

Dear Netflix

First off… on behalf of mothers everywhere – thank you for giving us at least one episode’s worth of extra sleep. We sincerely appreciate your ability to retain the toddler’s attention on our phones while we get just a sweet 21 more minutes before the day really begins.

But… we need to talk.

I think you’ve heard us by now… and you have ignored it for long enough. Stop judging us, Netflix. Stop asking if we’re still watching after 3 episodes automatically play. The kid freaks out when that screen pops up and we have to stop the cleaning/folding/sanity composing/coffee reheating/wine guzzling to push “continue watching”. Also… of course I’m still binge watching my garbage TV show with cuss words after bedtime. I’m only on my third glass of wine. I’m not a quitter!

Besides all of this, Netflix, why on earth do you have random nonkid’s shows on my kid’s profile? Seriously. My daughters share a “kids” profile. At first I selected the option “little kids only” and that caused literal riots in my home as that option does not contain Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell, Netflix… my six year old daughter needs Tinkerbell. Come on. So I upgraded her account to “for older kids and below” and wow, Netflix. Chill. Once Upon a Time is hardly kid appropriate. As is Hater’s Back Off and Star Trek Voyager just to name a few that are way above her level. What gives? I’ve gone to the website and tried to figure out how to change this but to no avail. The only “Parental Controls” you have is for me to add a pin for their profile… my two year old also needs to be able to work Netflix on her own, guys. I mean that’s literally why I own you. For the two-year-old. We all know toddlers run this place, anyway.

With all of these frustrations, it’s important for you to know that no matter what happens, I’ll always have and appreciate you. You could literally jump your prices through the roof and I’ll still be loyal. Like I said, the toddler runs this place and she needs her Netflix… sooooo it looks like we’re in this together. Just hoping you could get more on my mommy level and stop catering to the millennials who really are just using you to Netflix and Chill… I promise you, more moms are using you than you will ever know.

I’ll leave you to fix this. I trust you will. But I mean either way you’re still getting my money so this isn’t a threat or anything… just a tired mom.

Love always,

the world’s okayest mom.

It’s just not possible to keep them away from the sick kids…

BearandNebfinal.JPGHer baby almost died, and it’s all the germs, asthma, parents, schools – the world’s fault. Keep them away!

I came upon a picture of a very sick asthmatic girl this morning while browsing social media. She was in the hospital connected to an IV and oxygen mask, suffering from a severe respiratory infection and asthma. I was well acquainted with the stress, terror, grief, anger, and helplessness that the family was experiencing. My heart wept for them as I read through the article, written by the mom about how parents should keep their sick kids home.

If only it were that easy.

Being a seasoned school nurse and a mom, I have experienced and seen all sides of this conundrum. Allergies, excessive school absences, no sick days, no babysitter, hypochondriacs, take time off and the rent doesn’t get paid… these are just some of the reasons.  It’s not always clear-cut and never an easy decision. For example, specimen one: my daughter – she has a runny nose, sneezes, and coughs fifty percent of the year. She was diagnosed early on with allergies. The problem with allergies is you never really know when it’s the actual allergies causing the symptoms, and not a virus or bacteria. The only way to know for sure is to have her mucous or blood tested every single time her nose runs. This is not feasible for anyone.

Specimen two is my son. He has had Reactive Airway Disease (RAD) then Asthma ever since he came down with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) at seven months old. He contracted this from specimen one. She had her typical symptoms and he ended up with a respiratory infection. She obviously was contagious. Unfortunately the natural order of being a sibling cooped up in a small space for most of the day, is sharing germs. It’s inevitable that they both will get sick. Specimen two has been in the same situation as that little girl; very sick and in the hospital.

The problem is I can’t keep him away from sick kids. Specimen one is THE sick kid among many others. I know other households have this problem. So how do we prevent living in the hospital? Certainly not by relying on others to keep their kids home and a human bubble just wouldn’t fit in the car.

I have answers!

  1. Teach him to protect himself by HAND WASHING, practicing good personal space, touch only what you need to, no licking communal toys, no sharing snacks, keep your mouth off the water fountain, staying clear of other kids with symptoms, not going to enclosed places heavily trafficked by children on a school-free day in the winter. Whatever your kid does to germ swap, try to stop the behavior. This is the first line of defense!
  2.  If your kid does have Reactive Airway Disease (RAD) or Asthma, during flu and cold season keep him on a small running dose of a mild steroid. I also start this in off-seasons the second I see even a drip from his nose. The medication (budesonide) takes 2-3 days of administration just to start working but can take up to 3 weeks for therapeutic levels to be reached. This regimen was prescribed by his asthma specialist and agreed upon by his pediatrician. Most people do not want their children on a maintenance dose of medication. I don’t want my kid on it. But in his case, it could save his life especially during flu season. It’s a scary thing watching your kid struggling to breathe. If you need further convincing, one burst dose of prednisone for severe respiratory distress is equal to 1000 doses of your inhaled maintenance steroid. Yes, ONE THOUSAND. Check it out. This is what you want to prevent.
  3. Teach your kids, practice prevention and talk to your doctor about a maintenance medication.  We cannot rely on others to keep their sick kids home and we certainly can’t keep the world away from our asthmatic children. The world is a petri dish and this is not going to change.

 

Fellow Okay Mom Jennifer Holston is an avid gardener, mommy of two, cook, crafter, writer, wife, nurse and improv tradeswoman aimlessly roaming the ranges of Texas.

Woman! What are you doing???

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Are you doing anything for yourself? Besides sitting on the couch scrolling thru this with your thumb on your phone while holding coffee in the other hand with the sound of fighting children or a mind numbing kid’s show on the TV in the background….

Are you actively pouring time into your goals and dreams?

Do you know what your goals and dreams are? Or have you not had enough sleep to dream?

Who were you before you had kids? Were you a daughter? A student? A wife? … those things are all given to you by other people. You didn’t chose to be the daughter to your parents, you ended up with them. Sometimes that’s super shitty. And we have to grow up way too early and then we realize when we’re parenting our own little ones that we in fact were never really parented ourselves. That is a hard day. Or a student, a good one or a bad one… but you went to school for something, right? Are you doing what you had in mind while you were this young wide-eyed twenty-something with ambition? Did you marry your dream partner or are you stuck with a complete stranger? Are you taking to time to love your partner and date your partner, not just live with them like the two of you are roommates?

Who are you, really? Was your end all, be all to be a mother? Is being someone’s mother your goal? Girl… that’s a lot of pressure to put on a tiny human. How can they possibly be the entire source of your joy and completion when they don’t even know how to tie their shoes yet? Honestly, I fear that making motherhood your ultimate goal is more dangerous than living without goals. Kids grow up. They get married, they move, they have their own kids… they leave. Then what? Is your entire purpose in life gone? This is why most Empty Nester’s end up divorcing. They spent their entire adult lives focused on this one thing that leaves. When it leaves – they don’t know who they are. They don’t know who they married. It’s lonely, it’s sad… and frankly I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

So where are you, girl? What do you want? When was the last time you sat down and asked yourself what it is that you want out of your life? What are some goals?

Write a book?

Run a marathon?

Get a job outside of the home?

Go back to school?

Whatever it is – it’s going to take work. Work, time, and a commitment to yourself to just do it. It’s going to take daily work – even if it’s just five minutes to set your intentions and break old habits. It’s going to be exhausting. It might be the hardest thing you have ever done… but oh the feeling you will have once it is complete. Girl I promise you. If you take this time for yourself – think of the lessons you will be teaching your children. Do you want you children to grow up knowing their mom never reached her full potential and believe that it’s just not that big of a deal to take care of themselves or have any goals of their own? I have two girls. I want them to be taught how to set intentions, goals, create healthy habits, S O A R … who better to teach them than me? Can I be the one to give my daughters the fuel they need to become whatever it is they want to be? I tell them to chase their dreams constantly. Am I no different? How hypocritical is that?

When was the last time you got a pedicure? One hour. I’m saying one hour a week can you vanish? It can even be during nap time so that whoever is with the kid has it easy. And girl… your husband is NOT their babysitter. He does not babysit his children. You aren’t a babysitter. He isn’t a babysitter. The only thing you have to ask him is if he will be home… you are a grown ass woman. Tell your partner that you are leaving the house for one hour. Remind him where the diapers are and then G.O. Just go. If you are married to a man child who you do not trust to watch your children… then you need a whole different blog post. He is just as much of their parent as  you are and he has his part just as much as you do. He is not your babysitter.

If we are at our lowest of lows, lonely, depressed, missing what we love, lost our identity… how can we be parent our children the way they deserve? When they are old enough, they will thank you for following your dreams.

We are women. Who aren’t we? Who aren’t we to run after our dreams? Who aren’t we to have opinions that matter? It’s 2018… what do you want?? Tell us! Tell us what you want. Write it down! Put a timeline on it! GET IT. Get what you want and what you deserve, my love. You are a fierce woman who brought precious life into this world …. what can you not do?? Nothing! There is nothing you can’t do. Stop limiting yourself. Tell your family! Tell them what your plan is. Don’t ask. Tell them. This is not up for discussion. You have given up so much for the other people in your life to follow their dreams… they can do the same for you.

Get out there, girl. What are waiting for? It‘s never going to get easier. Now is the easiest moment. Now is the time to make the decision and LEAP.

Now.

Today.

Get it, girl.

“Don’t You Regret It?”

This one here needs a little introduction. My good friend from high school wrote the following words. I have known her for well over a decade and remember watching her have her baby girl, marry her high school sweetheart, and have a few of her ups and downs – y’all… Liz is one of the strongest people I know. If you ever get the chance, have a conversation with this woman. I have always valued my time with her. That being said:: I think this is such an important post right here. There are so many expectations society puts on a woman, and we can use all the encouragement we can take. Get some encouragement from my dear friend, here. There is so much value in these words.

“Are you having any more kids?”
“No, my husband got a vasectomy.”
“Oh my gosh y’all are so young aren’t you afraid you will regret it?”
“Im good either way, he really didn’t want kids so I respected his wishes.”
“But what about you? Didn’t you want more kids?”
“I’m okay either way.”
“I think you will regret it when you’re older, maybe you can talk him into reversing it.”

Fast forward 7 years later….
Do we regret it?
No. We. Do. Not.
Do I regret it?
NO!

Having a kid is hard but I am constantly pressured about having another one. How could I not want another one, they say. Aside from the whole other issue I would have to write about on respecting my husband’s wishes, this one is for mom’s who only have one kid and are okay with it. Even when we are constantly made to feel guilty about it, even if it’s unintentional. You are not weird for only wanting one. When people asked me in the beginning if I was upset he got a vasectomy the only reason I ever said yes was because that is what I felt I had to say. From the way I was asked, I felt like if I said no I would be a bad person or judged. Internally I was okay with not having another baby, and now that my daughter is older and I have had motherhood experience, I am so happy I don’t
have another kiddo. I am not a kid person. I have never really been a kid person.

I am constantly fighting an internal battle about how I am not a good mom because I don’t like to play with my kid, or how I don’t do enough stuff with her, or how she is late to bed again because I am just not paying attention.

We recently found out that she has ADD and to be honest I was so relieved I wasn’t crazy! I thought I was doing something wrong because she couldn’t focus, she couldn’t sit still, and she could never finish anything. She literally has 6 alarms in the morning to keep her on task and 4 in the evening. Not being a kid person, this is very hard on me. I lose patience fast, I get annoyed fast, I can’t understand why she can’t just put her dang shoes on the first time I ask, or brush her teeth the fifth time I ask.

I am an okay mom.

The question is, am I okay with this? Yes and no. Do I want to just be an okay mom? Actually, no. I want to be an amazing mom. I want to constantly work on the habits I have towards my kid, such as not snapping at her and having more patience. But in the mean time I am an okay mom. The fact that I WANT to improve myself for her is great, and I give myself credit for that. I want to raise an amazing human being.

The deal is, my mom feels like she was an okay mom. She was overworked and stressed.
Constantly under financial pressure as a single parent. She had two kids, my brother and me, and yet I feel like she was amazing. I could not have a more amazing mom in my opinion. I feel like she did a great job. I am a good and kind person. I have a career, dreams, goals, and an amazing kid. I have to remember that as long as I’m present and doing the best I can, my kid will feel the same way about me.

With all that said, did you just read what I wrote?

OMG I could not imagine all these thoughts, insecurities, and pep talks with more than one child! It’s hard enough going through all of this with one kid. I applaud all moms who have more than one. You are freaking amazing and I honestly don’t know how you do it. Just thinking about raising two decent human beings stresses me out. I only have one kid and I am at peace with that. No regrets here. I love being able to give all of my focus to my daughter and honestly she needs it.

Never let anyones opinion affect your peace.

Written by our fellow Okay Mom – Liz Edmond