I Am 1 in 5: The Truth Behind Postpartum Depression And Anxiety {Cara’s story}

Cara’s Story

{previously featured on A Purpose Driven Mom}

 

 

I was sitting in my therapist office one day and we were talking about guilt and shame and why I always feel like if something goes wrong, it’s automatically my fault.

“Well, that’s the depression talking”, she said so calmly.

Wow.

We had talked earlier on in our sessions about my anxiety and it was very clear that I was struggling with Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but we had never talked specifically about Postpartum Depression (PPD).

To me PPD felt so much more real, so scary, and it honestly just made me feel so much more broken.

I felt like I could ‘deal’ with having PPA, I mean isn’t everyone just a stressed out mom? But PPD was so foreign to me. I felt fearful that people would think I was a bad mom, that I couldn’t take care of my kids, that there was something wrong with me. I mean I didn’t feel depressed. I wasn’t under the covers crying and unable to get out of bed (which was my previous experience with my depression when I was in high school) and I felt like I was getting better.

But there it was, clear as day and right out of my therapists mouth. I was a woman who had Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

Did you know that 1 in 5 women suffer from either PPA or PPD? And so many moms out there just suffer in silence. They are afraid, just like I was and sometimes still am.

“What will people think of me?”

“Am I really crazy?”

“Why can’t I just get it together?”

For me, my anxiety isn’t always panic attacks or heavy breathing like they show so often on  TV but more of a mental tug and what we refer to in my home as my ‘spiral’.

It starts with the smallest trigger, mostly connected to me feeling like I’ve made a mistake or am inadequate in some way and it turns into spiraling thoughts that I struggle to shut down. Something as simple as getting the wrong thing at the grocery store can become catastrophic.

“Ugh, I don’t have time to go back out”

“I always do this”

“I am so forgetful”

“See this is what happens because you never pay attention”

“Why are you so stupid?”

“Ugh, why are you thinking like this again?”

“See, now no one wants to talk to you because you’re crazy and ruined dinner.”

This spiral is followed by some tears on my part, my family looking confused because they don’t know what to say to me, and me feeling even more guilty because I ‘ruined it again’.

It wasn’t until this pattern had happened for a few months in a row, and a LOT more crying on the middle of my kitchen floor that I realized I needed help. I told my husband I had to do something, I was tired of feeling so tired, and life was just exhausting me. As a life coach, I felt like an even bigger fraud because I felt even less together than I ever had been, and I knew that it was going to have bigger repercussions for my family if I didn’t get help.

So one day, I bravely walked into a therapist office and just said it “I think something is wrong with me”… followed by those ever flowing tears.

After a few sessions, she had diagnosed my PPA (and later my PPD) and we had come up with some coping techniques that have helped me get through my days better. I share them openly with my husband, though honestly I sometimes worry that I am TOO vulnerable with him, and they help him help me with my anxiety when it gets really bad.

In the 5 months since I realized that I needed help, I am proud to say that many of the techniques (from counting, to breathing, to reframing, and more) have really helped me when I am in a spiral. And while I would love to say that my spirals are gone, at least I can say that when I am in the moment, I can self identify what’s happening and bring myself out of it much quicker.

So many of us are afraid to speak our truths because we don’t want to be judged. We don’t want to admit that something is wrong with us. We love our kids and want to be seen as a ‘good mom’. But in keeping our struggles silent, we not only harm ourselves but our family and other women who are suffering in silence.

In that vain, I’ve had a few amazing women be willing to speak out on their struggles and share their personal experiences with PPA/PPD. Because the things is, it affects everyone so differently, which is why it’s also hard to identify right away. We might just think we’re stressed or hormonal or just having a bad day. But mama, if you feel off, if you’re struggle lasts a bit, if you know something just doesn’t feel right, can I encourage you to go and talk to someone, be it another mom, your doctor, or a family member? Because you don’t have to feel stuck, you don’t have to feel alone, and you don’t have to feel lost. Because YOU are not alone!

 

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Mother’s Day: Last Year & Now

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my mom readers!

I wrote up something on my facebook last night and I wanted to share it here:

Happy mother’s day to all the hard-working, sometimes under-appreciated, dedicated and loving momma’s.
Our job isn’t easy. We’re grossly under-paid and can never call in sick.
We fight monsters, kiss boo-boos & try our hardest to keep it together when we feel like falling apart.

Happy mother’s day to all the grandmother’s that give themselves so tirelessly for their family.
Happy mother’s day to all the momma’s that lost a child. I hope you can somehow find comfort today.
Happy mother’s day to all the momma’s that hold their baby in their hearts instead of their arms.
Happy mother’s day to the step-mothers that love their step-children like their own.
Happy mother’s day to the dads that play both roles.
Happy mother’s day to the ones that have to get through today without their own momma here on Earth.

I see you all and I appreciate every one of you.💓 Not just today, but every-day!

 

 


Before I became a mom, I never knew the special connection that I would share with not only my children, but with other mothers. I feel that connection even more-so with strong mothers that have/currently are struggling with their own battles. As mothers, or just humans in general, we can be our own worst critic but we truly are doing the best that we can.

Mother’s Day 2017

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I was just shy over 1 month postpartum and feeling so much inside….

i was overwhelmed. we had two kids under two.

i was lonely. i was with my kids all day every day but i felt such an isolating and lonely feeling. like nobody knew what i was going through.

i had extreme feelings of sadness that i urged myself to forget about.

i lost who i was as a women. who i am besides a wife and mom?

i lost all interest in things that made me happy. i only cared about making it through the day.

i had so much guilt. like i wasn’t enjoying my babies 100%.

i just felt like a failure.

On the outside, I may have looked happy and like I had it all, but on the inside I was deeply depressed and I couldn’t hold it together. Ricky snapped this photo of us on our chair and I remember thinking “I probably look like a busted can of biscuits but I know I need a picture to capture this moment because maybe next year…..It will get better.”

it did get better.

Mother’s Day 2018

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To the mommas that are currently fighting in the storm, hold on. A year from now, your life will be so different. So hold on because it’s worth looking back on that picture and seeing the storm behind you.

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Why I Will Actually Miss the Toddler Years

Toddlers. Tiny rambunctious humans with way too much energy and too many emotions to contain…full of NOs, questions and curiosity…they can be a handful. You may have heard of the terrible 2s, terrible 3s and so-on….but, what if I told you that I will actually miss this phase?

Just wait a sec and hear me out on this.

My oldest will be 3 in September and he’s now entering a really fun phase. He is potty trained, he can communicate more with us and is saying new words every day, he gets VERY excited about his favorite things and his attention span has lengthened so he stays occupied for longer periods. He is understanding the world around him more…what makes him happy & sad and so on. He is learning just what he is capable of doing…even when he thinks that he can’t, he will try it and be amazed at what he really can do. It’s really quite amazing for me, as a mom, to see him progress and learn as much as he is. It’s also so rewarding….because all the days of talking, repeating what things are and so on seem to be paying off.

It’s amazing and yet so incredibly bittersweet. Of course I want my babies to learn, grow and be independent, but it’s always a battle of wanting them to grow and wanting them to stay little forever.

There’s also the affection that my toddler gives us which may be the BEST type of reward for those long and hard mom days. He will randomly give me kisses or hug my leg. He gives us long hugs and squeezes…and then there’s the pats on the back that come with those hugs. It’s when his little hand reaches out for mine that makes my heart melt or how he stays glued by my side when he meets someone new. It’s when I lay down with him at night and he hands me his train book & declares “read”; one by one he will tell me which color each train is and the excitement on his face is priceless. It’s in that moment when a train in a book is enough to light up my son’s face that I know how precious this age truly is.

And how fast it will fade by.

Pretty soon, faster than I would like, my toddler will be heading off to kindergarten. He’ll be off making friends and he won’t want to hold my hand anymore. When I pick him up from school, he will excitedly tell me about his day and what he learned about, and I will sit back and smile. And as much as I long for the days of a little more time to myself, he will also grow a little more away from me.

Pretty soon, he won’t want the extra cuddles or kisses…and the random squeezes around my leg will become less & less. He will also grow out of his love for certain “kid” things and find the world around him less exciting. He won’t want to chat about the simple things and he will probably think I’m not so cool anymore. He will lose his baby face, grow taller & won’t want to be tucked into bed at night. And then will come the dreaded day when he won’t want me to kiss him in front of his friends (although I still will) & instead of picking flowers for his momma, he’ll be picking flowers for a girl. (although I hope he will still think of me from time to time)

So as hard as it can be parenting a toddler, I desperately try to remember that some-day when I have a moody teenager with a crackling voice, I will want these days back. And so I give my toddler one more squeeze and read him his train book one more time.

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To My Wild ONE–Happy Birthday!

My dear friend Emmielley took my little guy’s smash cake photos this weekend and I am in love! 

here are a few….

he DEVOURED that cake!!!

 

 

It’s my BABY’S birthday week– excuse me while I go cry.

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Our first time meeting

 

 

 

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Close up of that sweet little face…couldn’t be more in love!

 

Seriously, where did the first year go?! It sounds pretty corny but it’s true: kids really DO grow too fast and this time around, I feel like I blinked and my chunky little babe is growing into a toddler!

MAKE IT STOP!!

 

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I’m looking back on all the amazing pictures of my Bubba’s first year of life and man, is it sooo bittersweet. I want him to stay that tiny little boy forever…but I also love watching him grow and learn new things!

 

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There are a few things that I want to say to my sweet little fiery baby boy…..

here it goes:

Dear Bernard (or Bubba as we mainly call you),

You are ONE!

Welcome to the world of toddler-hood where you will begin to discover even more amazing things & learn so much. You are already the very curious little guy–always searching for a toy to play with or following your big brother around….or pulling the cabinets opened to see what’s inside of them. Yes, you are a very BUSY little boy! You sure keep mommy on her toes! I’m always chasing you around the house and now that your mainly walking, you’re even harder to keep an eye on. But that’s okay. You’re active and healthy and that’s what I need to focus on when you get into EVERYTHING and I feel like ripping my hair out! Haha! But I love you so much. You have taught me SO MUCH this past year about myself and how to be a better person (and a better mother).

You have given my life so much more purpose…I never knew that I needed you until I held you in my arms and stared at your sweet precious face. You complete me. You and your brother fill my heart with so much love that it’s impossible to describe.

You are my soul.

I think of you & your brother as my heart and soul. Your brother…he’s my heart. He made me a momma first…he put real love in my heart…love that I had no idea even existed.

And you are my soul. You gave me life again. You gave me one more reason why I was put on this Earth and that simple reason is: to be your momma.

I love you so much sweet boy and I want to give you the WORLD….but I also know that you will have no problem taking it on! You are destined for AMAZING things…just never stop believing in yourself. Never stop dreaming…never stop striving for what you want in this life and you will go so far.

I’m so blessed, so lucky to be your momma and to be able to watch you grow; to be able to see you learn so much and to discover something new every day. You are discovering this world around you & it’s the most precious thing to witness. It’s also so fun to watch your personality bloom and did I tell you that your funny? You make us laugh all the time! You also have a bit of a temper and you get MAD when momma doesn’t feed you fast enough! You’re just so fun. I love my days with you & I can’t wait to see what this next year of your life will bring!!!

Love you so much precious boy & Happy 1st Birthday<3

 

 

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15 Things I’ve Learned During My First Year With 2 Kids

My last baby will be turning a whole year-old next month and with that, I would like to reflect on a couple of things.

My boys are 18months apart; so when I found out that I was pregnant with #2 when #1 was just shy of a year old….well, I was kind of scared.

Not scared….more like frightened.

It’s been a bumpy road, my friends; and having “Irish twins” as they call it is certainly not for the faint of heart. However, when it’s all said and done, this past year has been a whirlwind of emotions(happy and sad), filled with joy and laughs. I’ve learned a lot about myself (especially that I’m stronger than I believe) and I’ve been able to function on a lot less sleep than I ever thought possible.

So I wanted to write down some things that I’ve come to learn during this first year of having 2 children.

In case any of of you lovely people are brave enough to venture into it.

 

  1. Going from 1 to 2 kids is a hard adjustment. I heard it before I even got pregnant and I’ll sit here and tell you now: it’s not a lie…adjusting from 1 to 2 kids is really rough. I went through a real emotional period right towards the end of my pregnancy where I felt sad about my oldest not being the only one anymore. It eventually passed but those first couple of weeks adjusting to two little kiddos was hard!
  2. One of them will always need something. In the throws of having a newborn and a toddler, there is a 100% chance that one of them will ALWAYS need something; a midnight feeding, a diaper change, a snack, another feeding, a consoling hug because they are frustrated…SOMETHING.
  3. Poop. Poop every-where. Twice the diaper-duty and twice the amount of poopy diapers. Thankfully, one is potty-trained but it was a real shit show in the beginning. (no pun-intended)
  4. They will never be happy at the same time. My boys are like yin & yang; when one has a good day and is happy, the other has to balance it all out by being pissed off at the world.
  5. They will keep passing colds to one another for pretty much the whole winter. It’s almost a fact that when child catches a cold, it will be spread to the other one. And it will just keep happening until it’s eventually spring-time. Runny noses. Forever.
  6. Hand-me downs are the BEST thing since sliced bread. The best thing about having 2 boys is the fact that my youngest gets to wear all of his big brother’s clothes. ($$$ saved) Let’s face it though; even if I had a girl she would be rocking baseball onesies and dinosaur pants.
  7. Leaving the house to go ANYWHERE will take twice as long. Forever late.
  8. The house will NEVER be clean. When you clean up one child’s mess, there will most likely be a mess from the other child. Embrace it. You have 2 kids now so people sort of get that your house will be a crap show.
  9. They will never sleep at the same time. It will take MONTHS before both of them get their naps in sync and even then, one of them is always bound to wake up earlier than the other.
  10. You will never be caught up on laundry. For some reason, adding an extra kid to the mix means 20x the amount of dirty laundry. You will never get it all done. Laundry. Forever.
  11. You’ll find yourself a lot more “chill” the second time around. Oh, you fell down? Get up, you’re okay. You bumped your head? You’re fine. Food fell on the floor? Just eat it. Way way wayyyy more laid-back with the second baby.
  12.  You’ll find yourself taking less baby pictures of your newborn. I’m so guilty of this….but I just didn’t take *as many* baby pics of my 2nd as I did with my 1st. (Now I know why my parents have more pictures of my older sister than of me). When your juggling two kiddos, life is chaotic! Granted, I still have a lot of him but looking back at his first year, I really wish I took more.
  13. Those car grocery shopping carts at the store are life. And when there’s one available, you know it’s going to be a good day.
  14. The first year (the 2nd time around) it will literally fly by. So enjoy it! Embrace the crazy. It won’t last long.
  15. I’ve learned that my hands are full….but my heart is fuller. There will always be enough love, enough kisses and enough hugs for my 2 boys.

<3

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