Just 3 days ago, I was floating on my back in the warm waters of Shuswap Lake. Bobbing in the gentle wake of a motorboat passing in the distance, I waited for the stillness that I knew would come shortly. And it did. As the sound of the motor faded away, the waters slowed their movement, and once again, there was calm.
My life for the past 6 months has felt like this.
I have been riding the post-partum ups and downs as I did with the other two babies. I think in terms of intensity, this time around falls somewhere between the first time and the second time.
Please speak with a healthcare professional if you have had a baby in the last year and aren’t sure of what you are experiencing. I want to make it clear that I am not a medical professional with any kind of credentials in the area of post-partum blues or depression. I’m a mom who has experienced it three times, to varying degrees, and credit much of my growth as a human being to what I have gone through after having my babies. It hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been as bad as others have had it either. It can be a very serious condition and I want you to seek support from appropriate healthcare professionals if you believe you may be affected.
I think when we hear the word ‘blues’ or ‘depression’ we think it means feeling really sad. While sometimes that’s true, it’s not always. Did you know that unexplained anger or the inability to control your emotions is also related to this condition? Just a little something I’ve learned along the way. Anxiety BC for Mothers is a great educational resource. Your doctor or midwife can help you further.
Having said that, my journey was different. With my first baby, I didn’t open up to my midwife or my doctor about how I was feeling. I was confused about why I was angry all the time. And embarrassed that I wasn’t handling motherhood the way I thought I would. I was sad, yes, but I assumed it was my mother’s terminal illness and my father-in-law’s sudden passing that contributed to that. Of course, those were huge factors, but in hindsight, I was totally in the throes of a terrible post-partum period.
I was also at the start of an incredible angel-led journey back to my authentic Self. In my chapter in Heartmind Wisdom Collection 2, I write more about the tools that crossed my path to help me dig my way out of the black hole. Like bobbing in the lake, I had times of stillness and times of unrest. But once I began asking myself questions like “Who am I missing?” and then later, “Who am I??” these beautiful flotation devices started appearing, both from within me and from the people who came into or returned to my life.
As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I worried about falling back into the hole. Would I have time to follow my dreams of being a writer – something I hadn’t remembered until my first daughter was born – or would that all smolder? After my son’s birth, I not only launched this blog, I also got even more involved in the writing community as a volunteer fundraiser, a performing poet and a published author. It was work and I had my off-balance, crying-on-the-floor moments. But I also had a taste of how awesome it felt to truly be ME. I wasn’t going to let it go.
And now with baby #3, I am learning again how to juggle an infant and these great, big dreams. I’ve strapped on the lifejacket called “This time next year…” (which my friends and family think is funny!). It means, for me, things get easier past the baby stage. And this time next year, I’ll have a toddler 🙂 So, when I can’t put the baby down and complete a task with ease, I juggle her on my hip and say, “This time next year…!” When my colleagues or girlfriends are attending events or hanging out in the evenings when my baby needs me the most, I say, “This time next year!” and maybe grumble a bit, but then get excited about the freedom I have experienced before. People try to tell me as the kids grow there is more work to do. Of course there is, but it’s different and it’s easier for me than this. Today is easier than yesterday. And that’s my reality.
If your lake feels more like a stormy ocean, please, I can’t say it enough…get help. There is no shame. It takes an incredibly strong person to make a move like that. And if you know someone you suspect could use help, it is worth risking whatever it is you think you’re risking (hurt feelings, rejection, whatever) to kindly partner with them in their search for calmer waters.
In my experience, there is much to be said for sitting in the quiet, alone with your thoughts, seeking help from whatever it is you are comfortable calling It. In fact, I credit this exercise with every exciting change I have made, every soul-satisfying idea I have received. And that all started when I was “forced” to sit still as a new, breastfeeding mother.
I welcome your thoughts in the comments or feel free to contact me privately.