Surviving the Holidays After you Lost a Child

Growing up, Christmas time was always my favorite time of year. I always looked forward to the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday shortly after). I always looked forward to spending time with my family. When my husband and I got pregnant with our first son Nathan, Christmas time was perfect. The first time I felt Nathan kick was on Christmas Eve. I was so excited and said it was an early Christmas present from my sweet baby boy.

What made the holiday even more special that year was that my brother and sister-in-law were also expecting their first child and due a couple months before us. Everyone in our family was excited as we imagined what it would be like the next year having two boys close in age celebrating their first Christmas together. They were going to be best friends. My nephew was born a few months later. Ten weeks after, Nathan was born. He aspirated meconium when he was born and passed away three days later. Our family and friends were all blindsided by the news that our sweet baby boy would not be coming home with us. My family was having a hard time balancing grief and joy. We were all thankful to have my nephew Earthside but heartbroken that Nathan was gone.

We buried Nathan in my hometown a few states away so it was hard being away from him physically but also hard to go home and visit so we didn’t for a while. Even though I did my best to be strong, Halloween came along and my grief hit me hard. My son wasn’t dressed up as anything for his first Halloween. I watched my family celebrate as my nephew experienced his first holidays. I watched all the moms in my due date group plan the holidays and talk about gift ideas for their children. It was a wake-up call that the life that I had imagined for years wasn’t going to happen the way I had expected. I wanted nothing to do with my favorite time of year. I couldn’t listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies. Commercials with family get-togethers broke my heart. My heart hurt to go shopping in the store and see families shopping with their living children. My husband and I decided to stay home that year. It was what our hearts needed at the time.

We are approaching our 4th Christmas without Nathan. My grief still exists. It will never go away. We have been blessed with two children since Nathan passed away so we are celebrating the holidays and remembering Nathan at the same time. It’s a bittersweet journey. They help heal my heart in so many ways but I will always wonder what life would be like if Nathan was here with us too. We are going to spend the holidays with family this year and will be spending time with my nephew. We may not get to see him interact with Nathan but he talks about him often. It also warms my heart to see all of the cousins play with each other.

I know there are so many families that are struggling this holiday season. If you are new to this journey and find yourself struggling, you are not alone. I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas that helped me, especially that first year.

 

1. Acknowledge that the upcoming holidays may be hard emotionally.

Everyone grieves differently. Some people find the days leading up to the holidays are harder than the actual day itself. I am usually one of these people.

 

2. Set realistic expectations for yourself and be gentle with your heart.

If you don’t feel like attending certain celebrations that’s ok. Maybe you don’t feel like sending cards or decorating a tree. It’s understandable if you don’t feel like it but it’s also ok if you do. Just make sure you are doing what YOU want to do.

 

3. Find ways to remember your baby.

There are so many things you can do to help make memories that still include them. Some suggestions are:

* Buy an ornament for your tree with your babies name on it or something else that reminds you of them. 

*Buy a Christmas gift for a child from the angel tree.

*Hang a stocking and invite friends and family to send your baby cards or letters.

*Put the cards in their stocking and open them on Christmas.

* Take a framed picture or a stuffed animal and have Santa pose for a picture.

* Do random acts of kindness.

* Donate to a charity in your child’s memory.

* Light a remembrance candle.

 

 

4. Talk about your child.

Share memories you have of them. Talking about them helps keep their memory alive.

 

5. Surround yourself with people that love and support you.

Sometimes people can get uncomfortable with your grief and can say things that hinder your progress, even if it’s well-meaning on their end. If there are people that are pushing you to “move on” or “get over it”, remember there is nothing wrong with the way you are grieving. This journey is yours and yours alone. There are people out there who will love and support you. Those people are amazing.

 

6. Take care of yourself.

Not only is grief hard on you emotionally but it’s hard physically and spiritually as well. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest and eating properly. Try to exercise. It helps relieve stress. I took A LOT of walks to help clear my head. In fact, I set a goal to walk the distance it would take to reach my son by Christmas since we didn’t go home to visit. I walked over 750 miles over a few months. I was able to walk and gather my thoughts and I felt like it helped me relieve my stress.

 

7. It’s ok to ask for help. 

If you find yourself struggling with daily tasks it’s ok to ask someone to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. A friend or family member may help you out around the house. It’s also ok to meet with a grief counselor.

 

 

Remember that most people eventually enjoy the holidays again. That may seem like an impossible thought, especially if this is your first year. You will never get over it, but things do get better with time.

 

 

 

This was a guest post written by a strong warrior mama, Megan.

GET TO KNOW MEGAN.

 

Megan is currently a stay at home mom with three children (a son who would be 3 1/2 but is forever 3 days old, a 2 year old daughter, and a 5 month old son) and two yorkies. After her first born son passed away in 2015 she is passionate about sharing his story and reaching out to other bereaved parents. She loves walking and spending time outdoors with her family. She also loves watching hockey and is a huge Chicago Blackhawks fan.

 

 

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I Hope I Don’t Crush Their Spirit

I never thought I would be the angry mom.

I never thought I would become annoyed at the tiny things. Or impatient.

But I am. And it eats me up inside.

When I silently wish for them to hurry up with a task; when I unknowingly hurry them along with a story; when my voice sounds irrated because it’s the seventh-million time I heard “mom” in one day. I’m tired, I’m spent, I’m mentally, emotionally, physcially DRAINED. But it’s not their fault.

It’s not their fault and that makes it even worse.

I know I do it– I’m portraying annoyance and frustration. It’s all over my face. You can hear it in my voice. And as soon as it’s over, I pray to god that I don’t crush their spirit. I pray to god they walk away from my imperfections unscathed.

It’s so hard. It’s so SO hard. Mothering. Motherhood. Keeping these children alive, fed, busy, and all the in-between and behind-the-scene stuff that nobody, besides you, gets to see. The shit that people pretend doesn’t happen and nobody wants to deal with. The baby has a dirty diaper, the toddler is melting down over a candybar, the teen is having an attitude over nothing.

I often replay things that I say to my children and I want to cry. I realize how harsh I can come off or how I shouldn’t have lost my cool so easily. How can I do it differently next time? And I just hope I don’t crush their spirit…

Perhaps I’m being hard on myself; most of the time, as mothers, we are our own worse enemies. It’s true. I can never be the perfect mother or the calmest mother and I yell more than I should but, you know what?

I love them like nobody in this world can love them. Because I’m their mother. Despite imperfections, I try like hell to be the mother that they deserve.

Do I fall short? Hell yes. Most days, actually.

Is that normal? Hell yes. We are only human. Even mothers. As strong as we are, we are so imperfect. Which makes us perfect in our own way.

<3

 

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How to Manage the Mom Guilt from Postpartum Depression

Okay mamas, let’s admit it: we all have suffered from mom guilt from one time or another. Maybe it’s because we bottle fed instead of breastfeed or let our kids eat Fruity Pebbles for dinner– whatever the case, the mom-guilt just happens. We are all human.

Mom-guilt hit me full-force when I was struggling with my postpartum depression.

 

How to Manage the Mom Guilt from Postpartum Depression

 

As moms, we not only want the absolute best for our babies, but we want to BE the best FOR our babies. Let me tell you right now, mama: that is NOT always going to be possible (or realistic!) If you’re struggling with postpartum depression right now, you already know what I mean by feeling the mom-guilt— it can be so debilitating and exhausting! But, I can promise you one thing: it will not last forever.

I’ve managed to learn a few things along my journey with PPD and I want to share them with you.

 

How to Manage the Mom Guilt from Postpartum Depression

 

Admit that you need help sooner than later

If you believe that you have PPD, let me tell you something mama– it’s way better to seek help now than later.

I will admit that I waited too long to seek help and it was a lot harder for me to get back to being my old-self.

I also learned that it’s perfectly fine to admit that you need help! It doesn’t make you a bad mom!

 

How to Manage the Mom Guilt from Postpartum Depression

 

Stop falling into the traps

There are so many traps of motherhood– believing that we need to always be physically and emotionally present for our children may be ranked number one on that list. It’s very easy to get caught-up in these feelings, it’s even easier to guilt ourselves into thinking that we are a “bad mom.”

When we struggle with PPD, it’s incredibly difficult to feel like we are doing “our best” as a mom. The truth is, many days, we don’t even feel like getting out of bed and getting dressed, let alone plaster on a happy face to take care of tiny humans.

It took me over two years to realize something: I will never be the perfect mom. I will never be totally available for my kids 24/7– things may happen completely out of my control. I won’t always be able to make my kids happy. And all of that is perfectly okay.

You are struggling with PPD and in this moment of your life, it’s okay to not be totally available, it’s okay to not be happy all of the time. Remember: you are still human, and it’s okay to not be okay.

How to Manage the Mom Guilt from Postpartum Depression

Find your tribe

Postpartum depression can feel like you are the only one in the world going through it. I want to reassure you, that is the furthest from the truth.

It is possible to get through this, and finding your tribe makes postpartum depression so much more bearable to get through.

 

How to Manage the Mom Guilt from Postpartum Depression

When you find your tribe, other women that you can connect and relate with, you will find so much support with your PPD– you will know that you are not alone. It’s also essential to get out and talk with other moms and to vent about how shitty motherhood can sometimes be (I won’t sugarcoat that, honey.)

I think it’s critical to have at least one mom-friend that you can call whenever the proverbial shit hits the fan. We need to know that we’re not the only mamas struggling in the trenches of motherhood.

 

Do it for your babies

You need to get into the mind-set that your babies need you and they need you to be a healthy mama.

Perhaps you feel guilty whenever you practice self-care (again, another pesky mom-trap) but you need to know that taking time for yourself isn’t only beneficial for you, but for your babies.

How to Manage the Mom Guilt from Postpartum Depression

The same goes with reaching out for help– it’s all part of that self-care love that you, as a mama, need to practice.

Remember: you need to be the best mama that you can be for your babies. They need you. They love you.

 

Know your worth

Mama, you have to know your worth in this world, and that is this– you’re an awesome, bad-ass mama that can get through anything. Now is the time to say, screw those people that want to judge you, they don’t know you.

How to Manage the Mom Guilt from Postpartum Depression

I want you to start to focus on you. I want you to start to eliminate all of the garbage from your life– whether it’s a toxic relationship, social media, or self-loathing, I want you to eliminate all of that and focus on yourself.

You are so much more than you give yourself credit for, and it’s time for you to start to acknowledge that!

 

Those are some of the ways that I stumbled through my mom-guilt while I was struggling with PPD. I have to say, that I’ve really come a long way– the mom-guilt is no where near as strong as it used to be. Maybe I needed to grow more as a women, or maybe I needed to grow more as a mother, but whatever the case may be, I know I was able to push through it thanks to close support and of course, this blog. <3 so thank you, my trusted readers! You have given me the outlet I needed.

Now, I want to hear from you– have you experience the mom-guilt? What was it, and how did you deal with it? Leave me a comment or message me.

 

 

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5 Essential Oils That Moms Use to Battle Stress

I love essential oils. I know, it’s crazy—  I never expected to be so into the whole oily thing but once I tried them, I wonder why I was always so against them. Really. They can do wonders, ESPECIALLY to help fight off the moodies and the stress life. Aka Mom Life.

*disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links which, when you purchase an item, can help me continue to run my blog (yes, it cost money to keep this thing going!)

 

I’m always on the hunt for (natural) ways to help reduce my stress…. and essential oils may be the best tool for that. I found 5 oily moms and I asked them which essential oils that they recommend to help battle off stress.

But first….

 let’s get to the very basics.

What are essential oils?

An essential oil is a natural product extracted from a single plant species. Not all plants produce essential oils but the plants that do, the essential oil may be found in the roots, stems and leaves. Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they are combined with a carrier oil to create a product that’s ready for use. *healthline.com

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor, or “essence,” of their source.

 

How to use essential oils.

There are quite a few ways that you can use essential oils (contrary to what I used to believe, it does not include slapping some oil onto your body).

 

On your body.

When applying essential oils on your body, use a carrier oil.

It’s always a good idea to avoid putting an essential oil straight on your body– using a carrier oil will help avoid skin sensitivities because an essential oil alone is too strong to use straight.

I choose coconut oil as my carrier oil when applying essential oils on my kids or myself.

 

Diffuse them.

Buying an essential oil diffuser  was the best decision I made last winter. My kids went through bouts of the ickies, and diffusing oils like orange and oregano helped shorten the duration of their colds by so much.

Diffusing oils is a great way to have your home smelling amazing– without all of the yucky chemicals that candles or scented wax have.

Here is my favorite oil diffuser that is under $20! I use this in the our bedrooms.

 

Clean with them.

Ditch those yucky chemicals, because you can also clean with essential oils.

I use lemon essential oil in my steam mop, orange to polish wood surfaces and oregano to disinfect.

Okay, now let’s get to the good stuff.

 

 

5 Essential Oils That Moms Use to Battle Stress

 

 

 

 

1. Ylang-ylang/  YL ‘Peace and Calming’

5 Essential Oils That Moms Use to Battle Stress

Andrea says:

“ylang ylang is one of the key ingredients in Young Living’s “peace and calming” which is one of my favorite anti-stress oils.. when i have sleep problems it usually zonks me right out when diffused. So i pulled YY out of it because studies have shown it’s a great anxiety reducer and started using it specifically for stress/anxiety mixed with other complementing oils like Lavender or Tangerine”

you can purchase YL’s Peace and Calming below:

 

 

2.Peppermint/eucalyptus mix

5 Essential Oils That Moms Use to Battle Stress

Jamie says:

“This mix also takes my migraines away!”

you can purchase peppermint essential here here:

you can purchase eucalyptus essential oil here:

 

 

3. Orange

5 Essential Oils That Moms Use to Battle Stress

Molly says:

“Smelling orange essential oils gives me an instant boost of happiness. Orange smells cheery and clean and vibrant to me. I associate it with good memories of eating oranges fresh from trees in Florida as a child.”

you can purchase orange essential oil here:

 

 

4. Rose

5 Essential Oils That Moms Use to Battle Stress

Genni says:

“Rose essential oil is another fav. It’s feminine smell is known to elevate the mind and create a sense of well-being!”

you can purchase rose essential oil below:

 

5. Citrus mix {bergamot, orange, lime, grapefruit and lemon oil}

5 Essential Oils That Moms Use to Battle Stress

Jennifer says:

“I use a blend called Cheer up Buttercup with bergamot, orange, lime, grapefruit and lemon essential oils. It’s the combo of stopping to apply, then breathing in the sent to focus on positive thoughts.”

you can purchase the CHEER UP BUTTERCUP blend here:

 

So there you have it– 5 essential oils that moms use to battle stress. Will you try any of these? Let me know in the comments!

 

*Resource:
Healthline.com- What Are Essential Oils and Do They Work? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-are-essential-oils#section1

 

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20 Reasons why Moms Don’t Speak up About Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 women the first year following birth.

For many moms that struggle with postpartum depression, there are many reasons why we don’t speak up about our postpartum depression– I say “we” because I know all too well about hiding my postpartum depression.

 

My postpartum depression story.

After my second son was born, my experience was completely different. I felt very depressed and not myself– but why? I Googled postpartum depression so many times and read a ton about it…yet, I still couldn’t bring myself to reach out for help.

 

In this article that was featured in Scary Mommy, I open up for the very first time about my battle with PPD.

We all have our reasons

We all have our own reasons why we don’t speak up about postpartum depression. Below I listed 20 reasons why moms don’t speak up about postpartum depression.

 

 

 

1. We feel like bad mothers.

2. We have so much guilt.

I know all about the mom-guilt. I talk about it here in Scary Mommy.

3. People will think that we don’t love our baby.

4. We think that it will go away.

5. We listen to our family or friends say that it’s just the baby blues.

There’s a huge difference, mama.

 

6. We feel like nobody will understand.

You are certainly not alone in your postpartum depression.

 

7. We don’t want to burden anyone with our problems.

8. We feel like we can handle it all.

We are the mother and we feel like we are supposed to keep it together for our family.

 

9. We fear that our children will be taken away.

10. We don’t want to be labeled as crazy.

11. We believe that these feelings are our new normal.

We hear other mamas talk about how motherhood is an emotional and over-whelming experience, so when these feelings surface, we think that this is our new normal.

 

12. We don’t know how to reach out.

Most of the time, we simply do not know how to make that first step in asking for help.

Here are some great online resources that can help:

13. We don’t want to be loved any less.

14. We want acceptance.

In a society where mental illness is a stigma, we just want to be accepted.

 

15. We’re in denial.

16. We just want to be that picture-perfect mom that does every-thing right.

17. This was what we wanted, so we’re not supposed to feel depressed.

We wanted to be a mama. We wanted to have babies. So, we’re not supposed to feel depressed. Why should we?

 

18. Everyone keeps telling us that we’re so blessed…making us feel even worse for our depression.

 

19. You don’t want your partner to love you any less.

You’re afraid of what your partner will think of you– what if he/she stops loving you because of your postpartum depression?

 

20. You didn’t have it with a previous child and you feel absolutely guilty.

I know this all too well because I didn’t have PPD with my first son…but I did have PPD with my second.

 

There can be many reasons why moms don’t speak up about postpartum depression. If you have postpartum depression and you can relate to a few or even all of these reasons, I want to tell you– you’re not alone!

Can you relate to me, mama? I would love to hear what your reason for not speaking up about postpartum depression is… leave it in the comments below or shoot me a message.

There are resources. There is help out there. We can battle this, together.

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