I’m going to take a rare opportunity to discuss something with less humor than usual. I’m still going to add my flare of comic relief here and there because where I’m at now, it’s easier to look back on these moments and feel lighter. That’s why it’s so important to keep pushing forward no matter how hard of a time you’re having. So that you can take that moment to reflect and see how far you’ve come, how much stronger you’ve become and how much braver you are now. We are all just doing our best. Repeat that to yourself DAILY as a reminder. We are human beings. Fragile, emotional, unsure and confused most of the time. But waking up everyday and trying to achieve something. That ‘something’ is different for all of us. For some it might be making it to that next vacation. For others it might be growing your own business (ok, that’s mine, surprise!) Maybe you want to have a family and cook dinner every night for the ones you love. All of these things are reasons to stay here on this planet until you absolutely cannot anymore at the ripe age of 110. And then I’ll see you all in the land of the dead where it just gets better! (Coco reference. If you haven’t watched that movie yet, RUN DON’T WALK to netflix.)
Mental health is one of my top priorities for myself and my family. I see my therapist every week and I have straight now since I found out I was pregnant. And before that I have been on and off seeing my therapist since I was 15 years old. I don’t ever plan on stopping now more than ever. Life as an entrepreneuring mother, wife, sister, daughter, niece and friend, is something I take seriously. I aim to put all the thought and care into those relationships and myself, as possible. And I admit I need a little help. Like all the time.
As a highly emotional and independent person, talking to friends and family about my “issues” usually brings me more stress than help. I have healthier relationships and boundaries ever since I stopped sharing all the hard things with them. That’s not to say that I don’t fill them in on what’s happening in my life and when I’m having a struggle. The difference is I no longer rely on them to help me solve them. Less judgement, more laughter, support and love.
While I was pregnant with Logan, I did a lot of research on postpartum depression. Knowing how emotional I was/am, how young I was and how unfamiliar with babies and children I was, I thought this would help prepare me. What I didn’t know was nothing could prepare my naivety for how different my life would actually be as a new mom and also, a forever mom.
I literally came home from the hospital after giving birth, which was fine and healthy and normal by the way. No birth horror stories here. I did faint in the shower at the hospital but that is simply because I am crazy. Quick synopsis, I genuinely was just terrified that if I moved the wrong way my entire vagina would rip open and I would die. Like I said, crazy. Ok that will be the last time I use the word “vagina,” promise. In THIS post, promise.
So I get home from the hospital, I’m sore and tired and feeling weird. John and I greet our cats who I haven’t seen in three days. My family came by to help us get settled. And all the while I’m not looking forward to sitting and cuddling my brand new baby. I’m thinking about all the things I want to work on in my studio and wondering when I will be in less pain to comfortably sit in a chair and do so. This, incase you’re unaware, is the wrong behavior and thought process. It’s lovely to be excited to continue working and feeling like yourself again. But it is unhealthy not to give yourself at least 3 weeks of maternity leave to literally sleep, feed yourself and the baby, watch tv and learn how to breastfeed, if you so choose. I could have asked for help from my family. Come over, hold my baby and let me sleep since my entire body just experienced a trauma. But no. I decided I was supposed to do it all myself in order to become a capable mother. Big mistake. One that I have now learned from and was so completely blind to at the time, no one could have convinced me otherwise. It’s okay though. I forgive myself because some people need to learn the hard way. But as long as we learn, that’s all that matters. And as long as we stay here on the planet, trying. I can’t emphasize that enough. If you feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, to any degree at all, find help. It is all around. Someone you know, knows a great therapist and once you take that leap, you will never look back. Except to reflect on how far you’ve come, duh.
Back to post partum. The entire first year with Logan in our lives, I had no childcare and I continued trying to work the same amount of hours as I had before I had a baby. This. Is. Insane. I was feeling, guilty, angry, depressed, anxious, confused and like a failure pretty much everyday. I was resentful of my husband for getting to go and work and be alone and do his thing just like before we had a baby. I was getting sick constantly because I gave myself no grace and allowed myself no time to breathe and rest. It took me an entire year WITH therapy to get my shit together. After Logan turned 1, I told John we needed to create a weekly schedule so that I could have balance. We found a daycare 2 days a week and my grandparents commited to one day a week to watch Logan. I now have 3 full days to just work and be Stephanie. Business Stephanie. Creative Stephanie. Drink coffee while it’s still hot, Stephanie. Frown if I want and no one is looking at me, Stephanie. Put a show on in the background and not worry it’s melting my sons brain, Stephanie. I could go on but I think you get it. Especially if you’re a parent YOU GET IT. I love my son more than anyone and he makes me smile and feel genuine happiness when I’m with him. But I feel those feelings and absorb those moments so much more now that I know every week I can just be me on set days. Recharge my batteries, schedule in my responsibilities, take a nap if I feel I need one (this doesn’t happen often but I should work on it). Eat a ton of cookies for lunch if I fancy. It’s healthy and it’s necessary.
I did not like my life for that first year. I had a lot of happy moments. I bonded with my son and we spent lots of time together, which I cherish. I grew more than I ever knew I would or even needed to. I learned how to make baby food and cook healthy meals. I shopped for adorable baby outfits and shoes and smiled. I made strides in my business. I exhibited at my first big tradeshow and it was a success. But I did not like my life. I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick and it was because I didn’t make the necessary changes for myself that went along with the change that was thrust upon me the second Logan entered the world.
My postpartum depression was not the kind where I didn’t want to be near my baby. It was the kind where I continued to over sacrifice, trying to be “perfect” and “happy” all the time but actually just felt anxious and angry. I have been feeling better, like Stephanie again, since about April of this year. That’s not even very long ago. But all of the memories and feelings from above that I described feel like a lifetime ago. I am sure when I have another baby I’ll make some mistakes and the adjustments will be difficult but thankfully I know better now. I won’t be afraid that my life will never be balanced. I will be prepared to readjust and ask for more help.
If you’re feeling down whether you had a baby or not, reach out to anyone you know who can help you find the right help. And if you know someone who has been down, had a baby, is starting a business, is struggling with some facet of their life at all, be kind. Offer to bring them a meal. Offer an ear to listen and offer the knowledge that we all need a professional from time to time. Or every week forever, like yours truly. We are all doing our best.
Thanks for reading, xx