A Final Farewell to Postpartum Depression

Today I took off my last bandages from my surgery and breathed both a sigh of relief and of saddness. This decision took me a few months to finalize and knowing that I am forever done holding a newborn of my own was not an easy pill to swallow. I have heard so many opinions over the years as to why this decision should not be made or taken lightly, but the alternative was far more frightening to me.

Postpartum depression is something I never thought I would struggle with (having never dealt with depression prior to my childbearing years). The thoughts that consumed my mind bring me to tears and the possibility of ever going through it again was too hard to bear for me. 

I am a year away from my thirties and have had three healthy pregnancies and babies. From a medical prespective I am an ideal candidate to give birth to healthy babies due to never having any complications. And as much as this makes me happy, I also feel guilty that unlike myself I have so many friends struggling with infertility, loss of an infant, or miscarriages. My hope is that although my season of childbearing is over I can now have the time, energy, and emotional capacity to better come alongside my friends (old and new) to love on them and pray for them in ways I was unable to before. 

I know at this point what some of you may be thinking: Why didn't your husband just get a vasechtomy? We tried. He wasn't a candidate. End of story. 

In fact my husband came home from going on a walk with our youngest the other day and told me how he was getting teary-eyed thinking about the fact that this is our last biological child together. It was a reminder to soak up the good and the bad, the sleepless nights and the endless teething, becuase one day our kids will be out and about on a skateboard rather than begging to be sitting on our laps. 

This decision was really a decision to put an end to my postpartum depression. I have been off meds for a few months now and besides the emotional changes I go through when the seasons change, (See post Here) I've been feeling great. I am not going to be naive and say depression cannot ever effect me again in the future, but I am more hopeful. In the years to come I hope that we can bring the joy of life into our house again in the form of adoption or foster care, but for now I am thankful for the three little boys God has entrusted us with. My three tiny marks are now a reminder on my body of the remarkable gift of life and how each child brought me down a road that brought me to where I am today and has helped shape me into who I am today. 

If you are struggling with any form of depression and anxiety know you don't have to get your tubes removed like I did. I am not saying this is for everyone, it was a decision for me. But know that you do not have to go through your journey alone.

Ask for help. Find a friend who can listen to you. Go outside. Practice self-care. What you are going through is harder to overcome when you are alone. Message me if you want to talk.

Thanks for letting me open up and be vulnerbable with this decision I made. It may or may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but for me it marked a closing of one door and an opening of many others. 

Farewell Postpartum depression, you sucked!

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 Instead of a “push present” I got a “sterilization present.” 

Instead of a “push present” I got a “sterilization present.” 

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the truth behind a smile.

Recently, this POST has been all over my Facebook and I knew I had to comment on it. Please go and read that post and watch the news clip, and then meet me back here. My prayers are with Allison's family, especially her sweet baby girl and husband as they grieve over awful loss. 

The American Psychological Association states that 1-in-7 women will experience postpartum depression after having a baby. When a healthy new baby is brought into the world, there's so much smiling going on. I remember all too well smiling for the camera and pretending like I finally had more joy in my life than I ever thought imaginable. Sadly, for myself and for so many other new moms the smiles do not tell the whole story. Off camera, something else is going on.

There's nothing in life to prepare a new mom for the amount of change she will face once baby arrives. There are the ever-fluctuating hormones, there's breastfeeding, the exhaustion that comes from sleepless nights, physical pain recovering from birthing a child, and the fact that you now have a little human to keep alive. For many moms, this leads to postpartum depression; something not to be taken lightly.

Allison, this new mom, suffered from postpartum depression and she sadly lost her life to it. On the outside though, she seemed to be doing just fine. Her friends and family even repetitively asked her if she was doing okay. This could lead someone to think, Well, what else is there to do in order to find out if someone is silently suffering alone?? How do you know the truth behind that white smile? Although I don't have a clear answer for it, I do know what helped me. 

Each day brings it's own set of challenges and like the wind you never know which way it will blow. There were some days where I desperately needed someone to talk to and then other days when I just needed time alone without a care in the world. What I appreciated the most is when my family and friends checked in specifically with me and not just on my baby.

Questions that can help are simple:

"How are you healing?" 

"Do you need to get out of the house while I stay here with the baby?"

"What time of the day is the most difficult for you?"

"Want to get out of the house and come over?"

"Hey, it's okay if you aren't feeling yourself yet. Do you want to talk about it?"

Allison in one of her emails to her family said she did not know how to explain the emotional pain she was experiencing and this is something that really resonated with me. I clearly recall sitting outside on the curb trying to find reasons why I could not experience any joy and nothing would come to mind. I simply did not feel myself. As an extrovert, the hardest thing for me was feeling trapped. I felt guilty telling people that I did not want to spend all day cleaning up and nursing my baby and instead wanted some socialization and freedom from it all. Any mom who deals with postpartum depression will experience it in different ways. Some like to talk about it (like I needed to), some keep it in, some are ashamed, some do not know they are experiencing it. 

If you are going to be a new mom or if you know someone who is having a baby soon, please learn to know the signs. Know that it is okay and common to experience postpartum depression and that there is help available. Some may need medical help or just some medicine, others social help, etc. Whatever the remedy, this is not something that needs to be gone through alone. It was not until I voiced and cried my heart out to my mom that I realized what I was suffering from PPD and that a lot of other women around me were going through something similar. The smiles in our newborn photo shoots, my happy Facebook posts, and happy demeanor did not tell the whole story. I cannot speak for Allison and do not know the severity of what she went through, but if there is a way we can make postpartum a more talked about topic then maybe we can help more women walk together in this. No one should have to be alone. We are not alone.

Did you or does someone you know suffer from postpartum depression? Did you experience PPD with any of your other children? What helped you the most to talk about what you were going through? What was the most unhelpful?

 Smiling in this picture but silently suffering. Ironically, the picture below with me holding Max I am not smiling but was filled with nothing but joy.

Smiling in this picture but silently suffering. Ironically, the picture below with me holding Max I am not smiling but was filled with nothing but joy.

eat your veggies.

Dice, Chop. Sautee. Grill. Raw. Dip. Steam. Boil. Bake. There are so many ways to prepare vegetables for your family and yet many kids, like mine, will put up a fight to eat all (or any) of their vegetables. Give a child a piece of chocolate or something sugary and they will have no problem eating more than their fill. 

As parents it's our job to ensure that our kids are eating nutritious meals and are being exposed to a variety of foods. I remember when Calvin was first exploring foods he would eat anything I put inside of scrambled eggs. It didn't matter what color, texture, or temperature the food was, he would simply eat it. Now that he's a toddler who thinks he knows better than his parents, eating vegetables is more of a challenge. It's almost Mission Impossible. 

Here's how we try to get Calvin to eat his veggies:

1. I love it when Calvin helps me prepare dinner or lunch. (Although this is not always possible to pull off.) Often he'll help me put our groceries in the cart at the grocery store or watch me cook dinner so he can see from start to finish what he will be eating.

2. He has to try TWO bites of the vegetable. The reason why I choose two is because it takes more than one bite to realize you actually like something. The first bite is usually an unfamiliar and disgusting look. We always tell him that he does not have to like it, but he always has to try it. More often then not he actually ends up liking it. Parents for the win!

3. If he is not pleased with the vegetable, we ask him what he doesn't like about it. The color, texture, how it looks etc. This helps me decide if it is taste or some superficial reason. 

4. I try to prepare all our vegetables the same way, taste-wise. All of our veggies have Olive Oil, salt, pepper, and/or garlic powder. The boys love lots of other flavors on their other foods, but keeping their veggies consistent ensures they are not shocked or overwhelmed by the seasoning.

5. Consistency. If Calvin does not like a certain vegetable I do not throw it to the back burner but will make it again soon. Sometimes familiarity helps the case to make sure he eats more vegetables.

6. We like to remind them that vegetables are so good for our bodies. Almost every time after Calvin eats his veggies he asks us to measure him on the wall on our make shift growth chart (pencil markings on the wall). He also will tell us he will try his vegetables so he can grow as tall as a friend at church or my mom, or his daddy. The truth is vegetables do help kids grow so if it helps him eat more of them, so be it.

7. We also keep our veggies separate on their plates rather than sneaking them into their meals. This may sound contradictory to what you have read (it was for me), but Calvin likes to see what he is eating. He trusts us when we tell him something so by not hiding the fact he is eating a veggie and simply having it out for him to see keeps that trust alive. When he asks us if he will like it I am always honest with him. (For example, "Yes, you do like this salad, it has olives in it which are your favorite and it tastes vinegary, which you do like.")

Now don't get me wrong here: there are plenty of days when Calvin doesn't get a vegetable and that is due to my laziness. Nick and I will always eat a veggie (or two or three), but there are days where my patience is running low and I'd simply rather sit and eat in peace with the family rather than explain why vegetables are so important. Those days where I don't give him a veggie I make sure he is loaded up on berries and other nutritious foods. 

Also, you may notice I only mentioned Calvin here. Max is the world's best eater. He literally will not say no to food, ever. The only thing Max does not like is milk, which is totally fine since he gets plenty of calcium elsewhere. But Max would easily down a plate of green beans or peas before eating anything else on his plate. 

Calvin's favorite veggies:

  • KALE CHIPS,
  • roasted broccoli
  • roasted asparagus

Max's favorite veggies:

  • PEAS
  • green beans
  • zucchini
  • carrots
  • and any other vegetable (Minus broccoli. He isn't in love with the tops of them but will eat the stems...weird, I know.)

Gina's favorite vegetable:

  • STUFFED ARTICHOKES

And to close...

I also wanted to give a shout out to my mom on here. My sisters and I have always LOVED eating vegetables. As kids we would pile our veggies on our plates and I can't remember a time when we didn't love to eat them. She gives me the motivation I need to make my kids well-rounded eaters. Props to you mom, and thank you for always introducing us to so many delicious flavors and foods.

What are your tips to getting your kids to eat their vegetables? How do you prepare them? Did your child love vegetables as a baby but is pickier as a toddler? What is your favorite veggie?

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