As a first-time mom of a 16-month-old daughter, this past year has been the most rewarding, challenging and exhausting of my life. From the time my precious R was born, we have struggled with sleep issues. First, she woke every hour letting us know that being put down was overrated. The next few months she could only sleep while breastfeeding which usually resulted in my being pinned to a chair (or bed) with my breast in R’s mouth. By month 7 we saw a sleep specialist, made some changes and things improved with occasional setbacks.
But this post isn’t about sleep training or my complaints, it’s about how I’ve taken care of myself during this year plus of sleep deprivation. The answer is two-fold: First, I created a network of support for myself that I rely on when I feel like I can’t go on and second, I think positively.
I cannot stress the importance of having a network of other moms. Whether it’s to say aloud, “I am so tired and I just don’t think I can go on like this” or “What did you do when your baby didn’t sleep?”- the support I have gotten from other women- some I know well and others I don’t- has been invaluable. It makes me feel stronger knowing that these women are there for me. What a treasure!
Thinking positively has also helped. When my friend’s babies started sleeping through the night at eight weeks and I was up 3-4 times a night and R wouldn’t nap anywhere but on me, I reminded myself to savor our cuddles and time together. Now when she wakes at 6 am, I think how lucky I am to take a walk with her before I go to work. Refocusing my attention on our “precious moments” gives me the energy to face the day.
Taking care of myself is good for my precious R because it makes me a better mommy.
Jessica is a first-time mom, LCSW and creator of the moms’ community on Facebook mamaSpace where you can to connect with other mamas. Reach Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This morning I learned that Stacey’s mom was having some health issues. Last week it was my mom. When she asked if I’d fill in for her, I immediately said “Yes! You go take care of your mom.” Once again reminded of the fragility of life and how all we have is now.
Then while traveling today, I sat next to a 72 year-old man on the airplane who described to me his health challenges and triumphs. Despite his current diagnosis of prostate cancer, he was in good spirits and good health. He spoke about how he couldn’t have survived without the support of his wife and family. A testimony to the power of connection and feeling loved.
Although medicine has made many technical advancements, there is much research which demonstrates the healing power of connection through prayer, acts of kindness, friendship and social support. For women, the effects may be particularly strong.
In meditation, there is a practice called “lovingkindness” which is a way of extending unconditional love and acceptance to others. It goes like this:
“May you be at peace. May your heart remain open. May you know the beauty of your own true nature. May you be healed. May you be a source of healing to others.”
Let’s keep each other in our hearts and prayers for the next few days and maybe longer. Please join with me to send an extra dose of lovingkindness to Stacey and her mom.
[OK, please don’t smack me!] Wow! It’s already more than half way through
January, 2012! Can you even believe it? One of the things that I have never truly
been able to do successfully is to set aside a normal “regular” day to be more of
a “really important” one here and there. If you look at every day as a gift, true “lesser important” days can’t even occur.
Every day is as significant as the last; however, it may just not appear that way because a lot of “normal ol’ stuff” and “regular” days do have a lot of overlap. Yes, we get up, go to work, perhaps go to the gym, rinse and repeat. That’s one of the reasons health and fitness professionals suggest that a varied routine is one that you will stick to over the weeks, months and years – well, that, and getting a workout buddy! There’s just something nice about knowing that another person is trying to do the exact same thing you are and is probably experiencing the exact same obstacles, too. Put your two heads together and perhaps you’ll be able to surmount the same challenges in half the time!
If working out isn’t your thing, buddying up with someone pursuing the same goal still improves your chances for success. In fact, social support is key in making change stick. Join us in encouraging each other to keep livingselfcare one day at a time. Together, let’s create the changes and lives we desire.
Sometimes all a mom needs is hope. When buried under the despair of postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety, it’s hard to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel. The doctor might tell you it’s there, but you don’t see it.
You need proof.
Since there’s no crystal ball to show you the happiness you’ll regain, you have
to get the proof another way. You have to talk to moms who have been there,
living examples of a full recovery from PPD. They exist. In fact, they are
I love connecting moms to others who have been down the same road. Nearly one million women suffer from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like PPD, and I want them to know they are not alone and that they will get better. I’ve seen many times that all it takes is a few words from a mom who has been there to a mom with PPD, who’s feeling isolated and lost, to realize help is available and that she is worth it.
To offer women with postpartum depression and anxiety hope and support, I founded Postpartum Progress and Daily Hope, the nation’s first daily support service featuring emails to moms with postpartum depression and anxiety. Both provide encouragement from survivors, the country’s top perinatal mental health specialists and others who care. If you or someone you love has PPD, help is only a click away.
Today’s author is Katherine Stone, PPD survivor and spokesperson.