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I’m quite honoured to be asked to write a post for Deliberately Here and want to thank you all for taking some time to read what I have to say.
Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Mikayla and I am a 20-year-old wife and mother living in a small town in the interior of British Columbia – The Cariboo – with my amazing and diligent husband, Hunter.
We have recently welcomed our first baby girl into the world this past June. In the first six months of her life we have faced a lot of challenges, from having to evacuate when she was 2 weeks old due to wildfires, being separated during that time as my husband is a firefighter, our sweet angel battling with severe acid reflux, juggling the long distance marriage while my husband attends school and more.
Over this time I have found the days to be filled with so much love and excitement – but also long and testing my patience – that I have found it hard to not feel depressed or stressed from time to time.
It is by the grace of God, the love of my husband, and the constant reminder that I am one of the billions of mothers out there just trying to do the right thing for her little one that I am able to get through my days. I have written this post to share with you a few other things that help me get the most out of my days as a new mama.
At around 28 weeks pregnant, I sat in my midwife’s tiny office as she asked me, “How do you think you will handle postpartum depression?” I thought to myself “I won’t have postpartum depression, how could I when I’ll love my baby sooo much!?”.
But boy, was I wrong.
I’ve never been one to like talking about these topics with professionals so I promptly answered with, “Oh, I am sure I will be fine! No worries there”. I have a hard time admitting to myself when I may need help or may struggle. I think it’s almost impossible not to face some sort of postpartum depression or anxiety as a mom, especially when it’s your first time.
If you think about it, in those first few weeks you are no longer your own. You are one hundred percent that little tiny, helpless bundle of joy’s everything, which is Ahhh-mazing! Until it isn’t.
What about you? Don’t you need to take care of yourself, too? You’re hungry, you have to pee, you smell from days of not showering & just dry shampooing your hair to survive, you have yesterdays mascara on (actually, you most likely didn’t put mascara on yesterday), and you are exhausted. So so exhausted.
How can you possibly not feel different when your whole world has been changed?
That’s exactly where my postpartum anxiety stemmed from; everything was different! My relationship with my husband was suddenly so different, much more deep in some ways, but even so, at times it still felt more distant than ever.
We had just created this tiny human being that we loved so dearly but we were so lost in this new journey of parenthood that our whole relationship was turned upside down.
My eating habits were different as well. I snacked more. Okay, A LOT more, but I only ate when it was convenient for my little newbie. My hormones were haywire. I mean, those hormones hit you right in the feels.
I cried when I was happy. I cried when I was sad. When the baby was just oh so adorable I couldn’t even handle it! And even when I had no idea why I was crying but just knew it was because things were different.
I want to point out that I do not mean different in a bad way.
Even though I have struggled with anxiety and depression after having my sweet baby that does not mean that in any way I do not enjoy my time with her.
The days and weeks after her birth were some of the finest and most delightful days of my life. I’d like to say I’ve gotten an okay handle on myself, but it took me 6 months to get here, and that’s okay. Take as long as you need, after all, you just had a freaking baby.
Here are 9 things that have helped me, and will help you, overcome postpartum depression.
1) Ask for help.
I think this was the biggest and most important one for me. My birth story wasn’t pretty, so I will just sum it up with the fact that it ended in an emergency C-section and I was bedridden for at least a week.
I needed my husband’s help to get in and out of bed, to stand up from sitting on the toilet, even to carry my own baby! If you know me even just a little, you know that I hate asking people for help. I quickly learned that not getting out of bed all day was impossible and my house wasn’t going to clean itself, so I learned to ask for help. As hard as it was for me to do, it was well worth it.
2) Get ready for nobody.
Make it a point to get ready for your day, even if that means putting on the same outfit you had on yesterday and only washing your face. It doesn’t even matter if you aren’t going to see anyone other than your little baby and significant other that day, it will make a difference, I promise!
3) Talk to someone.
I know this one seems overrated. You have a problem? You need to talk to someone. But I don’t necessarily mean a professional (however this can be just as important and effective), but just have a normal adult conversation with a friend, a loved one or your spouse.
After changing diapers, singing lullabies and cooing at your little bundle of joy all day you may find yourself feeling like you are going crazy talking to yourself. It can be really helpful to just enjoy a cup of tea with a friend and talk about anything and everything to make you feel human again.
4) Snuggle up.
In my house, I think it’s important to take time each day to snuggle. Whether it be a quick few seconds in the morning before the hubby heads off to work or holding your baby a little longer before laying them down for their nap. Cuddles can instantly be a mood changer for me and I bet it can be for you, too!
5) Set a goal and accomplish it.
Whether it be going for a walk or doing a load of laundry, the feeling you get when you accomplish a goal can instantly lift anyone’s spirits.
6) Take a break from social media.
This is a big one. When I first had my daughter, I was a member of at least 5 mommy groups on Facebook, I followed many different moms on Instagram and I spent the many hours nursing my little one scrolling through the posts about advice on everything. As helpful as all the advice is, it can be very overwhelming!
I struggled with constantly questioning my every decision as a mom and it consumed me.
“Am I bathing her enough? Is she healthy enough? Did I hold her enough today? Did I let her sit in her swing too long today? Should I have went somewhere today? Should I have stayed home and played with her more today? Is she gaining enough weight? Is she sleeping enough?” and the list goes on.
One of my best choices so far was to stop following those groups and just talk to other moms I knew about their experiences and advice. Of course, I am not saying social media is all bad, it can be very helpful in times of need. However, it sure can be overwhelming and I believe it is important to take a break often.
7) Get lost in a book.
Take advantage of those nap times or snuggle sessions to just lose your thoughts in a good book. This can be important when everything around you seems overwhelming and you just need to relax and get your mind off of things.
If you’re feeling cooped up in your own home this is a great way to escape without actually having to leave the house! -The Bible is a great book to pick up when you’re feeling down. Use your Bible as a lifeline.
I like to grab mine and flip to a random page and read the first verse that sticks out to me. Often times the verses relate more than you would expect and it is such a neat feeling when God works in mysterious ways to brighten your days.
8) Know that it’s okay to not be okay.
You are strong, you are brave, you are doing an amazing job. It is okay to feel down, to cry, to have off days that you do nothing but snuggle your baby, eat ice cream and watch Grey’s Anatomy on repeat.
It’s okay to not get dressed for the day or go out or be honest and tell your friends that you just aren’t up for a visit that day. This time is about you and your new family member and you can spend it however you want.
Never feel bad or wrong for feeling depressed or anxious about motherhood.
Embrace it and seek help, whether it be talking to a doctor or just reminding yourself to drink more water in a day. Accept that what you are feeling is normal and okay and it will go away.
9) Pray, pray, pray.
Without prayer and seeking God, I don’t think I would have gotten through those sleepless nights and hormonal first days.
A bible verse I like to remind myself of when I am feeling down is Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Pray that he will help you when you are feeling helpless. Seek him when you are feeling like you are in over your head and I can assure you that it will make a world of a difference.
Remembering that I am not alone in all of this and God and my spouse are backing me up has been a total game changer.
Mikayla has a newfound passion and has recently started a blog of her own, I urge you to go check it out here, Cariboo Mama.