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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9 Gift Ideas to Buy for a Mama with PPA

*disclaimer: this post contains Amazon affiliate links; to read our disclaimer, please go here.

We are smack-dab in the middle of December now…have you started your holiday shopping yet? Maybe you are scratching your head on what to gift your BFF, girlfriend, or wife that is struggling with postpartum anxiety. Don’t worry, I have you covered. I reached out to a fellow mama friend that is going through her very own PPA struggle; I wanted to get her input on what she would enjoy getting as a gift this year.

 

The result? She gave me some kick-ass ideas and I just have to share them with you.

 

Read about managing your postpartum anxiety this holiday season.

 

 

The holidays are already stressful. Add in having PPA, and it can be kicked up a few notches. Before I give my gift ideas, personally, I’d suggest skipping any gifts centered around birth and/or motherhood. That person is already living the life of motherhood and you never know what someone’s birth experience was like. So gifts that you may think are funny or well meaning that have those subjects can sometimes be more anxiety provoking, which leads me to saying, keep it fun and relaxing.

 

 

 

1. Light-hearted or funny movies/tv shows

9 Gift Ideas to Buy for a Mama with PPA

Humor is such a powerful stress reliever…laughing is so good for you! Buy your pal a funny movie or tv series off Amazon or be super-awesome and get her a Netflix subscription.

If neither of those options sound like your cup of tea, how about a gift card to the movies? You can purchase movie theater gift cards right through Amazon Regal, AMC, and Fandango are the most popular. (see your area of residence for where you can use certain gift cards)

 

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2. Massages

9 Gift Ideas to Buy for a Mama with PPA

Massages are another tremendous stress reliever and are a great way to help your sore muscles.

Check out Groupon for deals on massage certificates in your area.

 

3. Makeup, perfume, hair products

It’s about being able to pamper yourself at home not just once, but whenever you need to recharge.

Some specific ideas include: dry shampoo, amazing smelling perfume, and a nude lipstick.

 

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4. Audio books

9 Gift Ideas to Buy for a Mama with PPA

Since time is such a restraint when we are mothers, audio books are an excellent way to give someone a book– turn it on in the car, toss on your headphones and listen at the gym or in bed, and so forth.

There are several ways to purchase audio books, some of these include:

iTunes, Audiobooks, Google play books, and Amazon audibles.

 

  5. Journals/diaries

Jazz it up with some pens and cards, toss in an adult coloring book, and you’ve got yourself a nice gift basket of items!

 

 

 

6. Beverage gift basket of coffee, tea, water, or soda

There are many ways you can do this– create your own care basket with purchased beverages or have one personally delivered to that special mama in your life.

Check out these awesome, already made gift baskets for that special mama in your life:

 

Skip the alcohol, although a favorite to give, unless you know the person extremely well, it’s best to skip it for many reasons.

 

Read more about how to eat & drink for a healthy mind and body this holiday season.

 

7. Weighted blanket

Weighted blankets are becoming the hot new trend for reducing anxiety and improving sleep (among many more benefits).

What exactly is a weighted blanket?

A weighted blanket is a very heavy blanket (around 15 pounds or so) that has a calming effect when used. The theory is that a weighted blanket helps to stimulate deep pressure touch that uses firm, hands-on pressure to reduce anxiety.

A weighted blanket can be excellent for a mom with serious PPA that desperately needs to relax.

 

8. Oil diffuser/essential oils

I am now an essential oily mama. It’s true. I totally believe in the magic of oils. And I think that you should, too.

Perhaps my favorite way to use my oils is to diffuse them in my home. Not only is using my diffuser a much safer (and less toxic) way to leave my home smelling nice, but my family and I can benefit from the oils.

There are sooo many oils out there that are excellent for anxiety; a few of those oils are:

lavender, orange, bergamot, chamomile, vetiver, and ylang-ylang.

*Read here for more oils that can be used to calm anxiety.

9. Subscription for meditation

9 Gift Ideas to Buy for a Mama with PPA

Meditation is great for relaxing the mind and managing stress and anxiety and can help a mama who suffers with PPA. There is an app for meditation called Headspace…and it’s amazing. Headspace is a guided program that fits into a busy mama’s lifestyle, with daily reminders to practice and also mindful moments of positive messages throughout the day.

Headspace does offer a free program, however, a subscription is also available for more features.

*Visit here to check out what Headspace subscription has to offer.

Headspace is offering a 40% discount for the year 2019. Great deal!!

 

Those were 9 gift ideas to buy for a mama with postpartum anxiety ~ what did you enjoy most about the list? Would you like to add something? Reply back with a comment. <3

Happy Holidays!

 

This post was co-written by my dear friend, Laura P.

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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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Thrive This Holiday Season: Eat & Drink for a Healthy Mind & Body

 The busiest time of the year is here, yet again! Decorations, shopping, gifts, parties, and food. The month of abundance (overabundance, to some) has arrived and I’m going to share with you my tips for eating and drinking to survive it all with a healthy mind and body.

The holidays stir up a wide range of emotions for many people. Whether you’re happy or sad, excited or anxious, joyful or depressed…food can either help you feel your best or really drag you down. What you eat can, and does, affect how you feel. And with the season tempting us with more sweets and alcohol than we are usually faced with, this time of year becomes the most challenging time of year.

In my 10+ years as a personal trainer and dietitian, I’ve learned quite a bit about eating and drinking during the holidays.

This comes from life experience working with clients and patients as well as personal experience overcoming my personal food struggles. The tips I share here are a collection I’ve gathered from my studies and my experiences. And I know that if you apply one or more then you will walk through this holiday season with a healthy mind and body!

 

 

 

 

 Set limits to your alcohol

Alcohol, although fun and festive, is a depressant. It depresses not only your mood but also your energy, your liver function, and your body’s ability to metabolize fat. If you know you’re going to an event and will be enjoying a few cocktails or glass of wine, set your maximum to three drinks. Make it a priority to begin with a glass of water and then a glass between drinks. This helps with hydration but also slows your intake. Carbonated water with a splash of lime is refreshing and tasty!

 

Enjoy dessert but don’t overdo it

The holidays seem to spike our interest in desserts as if they are exotic treats from far off lands that we’ll never see again. Prepared with magical sugar and made by tiny fairies so, yes, we must enjoy as many and as much as we can. Now. And then they pop up everywhere so we snag more and more until we eventually don’t care that we’ve eaten an entire dessert spread over the course of a few weeks. So as tempting and delicious as so many sweets are, I encourage you to choose and few and savor them.

Excess sugar can take its toll on your mind (hello mood swings!) and body (blood sugar spikes and drops really play a number on your energy) and therefore should be avoided if you want to thrive. It took me years to realize that we are capable of obtaining sweets 365 days a year so there’s no need to shove them all into 30 days. And honestly, many sweets are store-bought and not that special. I say go for the homemade goodies and enjoy a few!

 

 

Hydrate your gorgeous body

Water should be the primary beverage you are drinking all day long. Excess caffeine from sodas and coffee leave our bodies feeling wired yet tired. Not only do they displace our water intake but they give us a burst of energy only to leave us with a crash hours later. Evaluate what your intake is now, and reduce it. Honestly, soda has zero benefits (even diet soda) so it’s in your best interest to wean yourself from it completely. Enjoy a cup or two of coffee and then indulge in water the rest of the day. Your skin, your eyes, your entire body will glow with hydration and you’ll notice your energy will be stabilized throughout the day.

 

 

 Get sleep and stay active

For some reason, December arrives and all of a sudden we are too busy to take care of ourselves because we are so busy doing all things HOLIDAYS! We stay up late, skip workouts, and we disrupt our sleep with alcohol. It’s far easier to go to bed 30 to 60 minutes earlier than it is to add that time in the morning so cut off electronics early and snuggle up to get your rest. I guarantee that a rested body will allow you more energy for staying active and co tell your hunger hormones so you’re not diving into the cookie tray twelve times!

As for staying active—make a commitment to yourself to do something at least five days a week. That allows you room for travel and events that are planned or pop up. And you don’t have to hit the gym for every workout. A quick 20-30 minute high-intensity workout, yoga, or an hour walk are all excellent choices to keep your body moving. If you have time and love the gym, do that! I sure do! Do what you enjoy and will keep you moving.

 

These are just a few major ways you can help yourself sparkle and shine this holiday season. Incorporate them now and with practice, they will become part of your life throughout the year.

 

This was a guest post written by my dear friend, Amanda.

GET TO KNOW AMANDA.

Amanda is a full-time stay-at-home-mother, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and former personal trainer. She loves the outdoors, spending time with her husband and daughter, and living a healthy lifestyle with room for croissants.

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Facing your Family: Managing your Postpartum Anxiety

With the holiday season approaching, I realized how we can get triggered with our postpartum anxiety. Let’s talk about that for a minute now: Imagine that you are in a room full of people (some you may never have even met before…like Aunt Gerty’s BFF) for a family dinner. You have your adorable baby in tow and everyone and their mother wants to gobble her up; they want to hold her, feed her, maybe even kiss her (oh, boy..let’s save that for another post!) how does that make you feel?

Is your heart racing just thinking about that? It’s alright because I get that. Postpartum anxiety is a real (insert female dog word here) and it can make you want to run and hide indoors with your baby. Alone. Preferably with some Netflix and hot chocolate.

 

 

Now to get back to my scenario from before, what would YOU do in that predicament? Would you not say anything (even though your insides are as hot as lava and you are screaming obscenities)? Would you watch over every single person handling your baby like a worried Mother Goose? Would you kindly mention that your babe needs a diaper change and run away with her to the nearest bathroom to escape the infinity of hands laid upon her? Would you escape to the bathroom just to breathe…and cry?

Let’s talk about managing your postpartum anxiety this holiday season.

I want to help you manage your postpartum anxiety with some tips and words of encouragement (because I got you, mama!!!)

 

 

Decide if it’s the time to let it happen

Maybe this will be the first time taking your baby around so many new people and you don’t feel comfortable with it.

Will it be the first time that other people will hold your baby? Will you let it happen?

Setting up a game plan can help you determine what you’re going to do (yes– Aunt Gerty’s BFF can hold my baby or not. I’m going to baby wear the whole evening) knowing your decision can help ease your anxiety.

 

Write your anxieties down

What triggers your PPA? Write it all down so you can (not only) get it off your chest, but to understand your PPA a little bit better. Knowing what triggers you may help you start to overcome your PPA.

 

Establish boundaries

If you don’t like it for other people to change your baby’s diaper or to kiss her on the face, then establishing boundaries is key and it’s okay to let people know this.

You are your baby’s advocate.

 

Bring along a moral support buddy

If you’re unsure whether or not you can make it through the dinners or parties this year, bring along a moral support buddy.

A great moral support buddy can be your significant other or a trusted friend. Ask them to stay by your side throughout the event; even talk about using a code-word in case things get too heavy and you need to leave.

 

Meditate before those big dinner parties

Try to meditate before heading out to a family function– Headspace is a great app for meditation (and even better, it’s free!)

Meditating can calm and relax you… just what you need before facing families and big crowds.

 

Sit this one out

If you’re not feeling ready to face your family this holiday season, consider to sit this one out.

Remember: you know yourself, and your baby, better than anyone else. Choose to put yourself in a healthy and happy environment!

 

 

 

How can I help you face your family this holiday season?

Do you have any…

questions, comments, concerns, or just need to talk? I’m here. Reply back to me or find me on facebook.

I’m wishing you a happy and healthy holiday. Keep smiling~

 

 

 

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