A couple of months ago, I posted about my struggle with Postpartum Depression. I just wanted to stop by here and say thank you to everyone who has reached out: you guys left messages, privately contacted me, and gave me so many words of encouragement. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Since the last time I posted, I have been extremely proactive in trying to make myself feel better. I’m pretty certain that my PPD hit me hard because of my changing hormones and lack of sleep, so I really tried to see what I could do to work on those things, and I can happily report that I am feeling almost 500% better. Yeah, I still have some bad days, but they aren’t as gut wrenching or full of tears – and to be honest, I don’t really have too many of them anymore. And my good days? There are so many more awesome ones where I can look at my husband and kids and feel utter joy and fulfillment.
Q4 2016 Jody and Q1 2017 Jody are totally different people, and for that, I am so grateful.
In case anyone is curious, the things I’ve added to my life are:
Regular, Strenuous Exercise: Up until my last three weeks of pregnancy, I was a pretty active person. I worked out religiously twice a week and was on my feet with Olive all the time. Obviously, having a newborn really hinders your ability to work out. Be it the time your body takes to heal, to the “my newborn doesn’t sleep anywhere but on me” business – finding time to work out is hard. But if you’re able to carve out a little time to get your heart rate up, the endorphin release you get afterwards really helps lift your mood. I’m currently running with the Couch to 5K app, as well as strength training with my friend Dana McPherson of McPhersonFit. I’ve also recently started to do a beginners hip hop dance class with a few friends. (I am a much better dancer in my head than in real life, sad sad.) All in all, I’m probably working out 4-5 days in a week, and it’s made a huge difference.
Going to See a Therapist: I used to go to therapy once in a while before I was pregnant with Owen, just to check in on my mental wellbeing. However, I was having such an amazing pregnancy that I felt so happy all the time that I just…..stopped going. Making the decision to go back to therapy during this time was a good one – not only did she validate my suspicions (yes, Jody, you do have PPD) but she was able to give me some tools to cope with my stress. I still see her once a week even though I’m feeling better.
Upping my Supplements: Since giving birth to Owen, I’ve been so distracted that I was neglecting to take my pre-natal vitamins, so I was nutrient deficient because I wasn’t eating well. (I’m TIRED! Sleep > Food, any day!) Not only did I start to take my vitamins regularly again, but I also added an Omega 3 supplement which helps with the symptoms of PPD.
Sleep Training the Baby: The biggest game changer in the last few months was that we sleep trained Owen with Natalie Willes of Baby Sleep Trainer. This was something I did with Olive at around the same age, and it has made such a difference to both Owen’s moods, and our quality of life. I was spending 30-60 minutes rocking Owen every time he was going to sleep….only to have him only sleep for 10-30 minutes by himself. At that point he was 16lbs, and my body was hurting from doing that repetitive motion all day. I couldn’t get anything done; the house was a mess, my family was eating rubbish because I wasn’t cooking. Olive was trying to play with me and I couldn’t spend any time with her, because I was always rocking the baby to sleep, and he wouldn’t sleep anywhere else but on me. I felt like a failure in all aspects of my life, because I felt like I couldn’t please anyone. All my time was spent trying to get Owen to sleep. I knew that I had to sleep train, so I waited until he was old enough and cleared by the pediatrician. We proceeded to sleep train him over Christmas, and it took a total of about 3-5 days. It’s now been almost 1.5 months since Owen has learned how to fall asleep independently for naps and bedtime, and he also now sleeps through the night (7pm – 7am) every single day. The biggest positive change that has come out of this are that not only is he getting enough rest (and therefore is a happier baby because of it), but so am I…. this means that I’m a better wife, a better mother, and a better friend. All the time I used to spend rocking Owen is now used for bonding with my daughter, or cooking meals, or writing a blog post. I’m now able to do all the things I needed to do to keep me and my home happy.
However, the most important aspect to me feeling better is that I have a supportive and understanding spouse. No, he doesn’t understand what I’m going through, and no, he’s not an emotional person. But he recognizes when I need help and offers it, and makes it possible for me to work out often by handling the kids. He’s always willing to listen when I need to, and he also knows that this is just a tougher time in our lives that we will soon move past, together. I’m so grateful for him.
There is a lot that went into making myself feel better; and it wasn’t easy to do all at the same time. But from where I stand today, all that hard work is well worth the effort. I know it’s an ongoing effort, but I’m optimistic about the days to come.
I hope you’re all doing well!
PC: Top photo by Sadaf Murad Photography, bottom photo by John See Photography