Post Partum sucks but, self-care helps
I was having a chat with my cousin the other day and we were talking about the struggles of first year parenting. The first year is a huge milestone. Surviving the first year of parenting is something that you should celebrate. Especially if you had postpartum depression or anxiety.
Whether you are doing this alone, or with a partner, there are many lessons to be learned. Your child is growing and this forces us to change in order to take on parenting. Adults fear change. I fear change. Parenting comes with daily changes as your child grows and develops.
If you’re still in the early stages of parenting, and feeling overwhelmed, it is going to sound corny as ever but, it gets better. Postpartum Depression does go away if you accept it for what it is and treat it correctly. I am not a doctor, I can only speak from a place of experience.
I have been there, if you follow my blog, you have heard me say this before. I have learned to cherish moments of solitude. They are a necessity for successful parenting, especially that first year. I always had a fear of losing myself and being sucked into the mom world. I am not even sure what I mean by mom world but, I was afraid of the changes that were happening.
As a parent, we spend our days giving, and giving. Teaching, and listening. Hugging and loving. Feeding and nurturing. I heard a women tell me at the doctors office one day “The first forty years are the hardest.” I laughed when she told me because, its true. I think about myself and I still go to my parents for help at 22 years old. Parent stands for life time guardian. Key word is lifetime. This is why you deserve time to yourself. You can not fill someone else’s bucket if yours is empty.
Whether you think you need a break or not, give yourself a break. I promise you will not regret it. I aim to give myself and hour of “me” time per day. This may sound long to some of you, but after experimenting, an hour is a perfect amount of time for me to feel my best. My self-care routine is flexible, I adapt it based on how I am feeling and use my hour to adhere to those needs. Some days I will split the hour up, into smaller “mommy moments”, and give myself the opportunity to reconnect if I have a busy day.
Mama, don’t forget that your health is just as important as your child’s.
You need to love you, so that you can love them.
Take a nap, enjoy a bath, Netflix and snack, meditate, cook, read, dance, sing, create, do whatever it is you got to do sis.
Create your happy.
Motherhood taught me the importance of nurturing. We must always continue to nurture our mind, body and spirit or we risk the chance of becoming lost. It is easy to become lost because nurturing someone else takes consistent effort. This is why parenting, true parenting, is difficult. We must remain consistent. Give yourself the love and consistency that you give to your child.
You deserve to be happy.
You deserve free time.
Love yourself First: Develop a Self Care Routine.
To be the best version of yourself you are going to want a connection with your mind, body and spirit. Connection with yourself can be achieved in a varitey of ways, and is unique for everybody. We all want love and success, but they look different for everybody. I am still on a quest for answers about my life. Self-care is as crucial as my morning cup of coffee. I just don’t function the same without it.
Every 3 months or so I like to do a self-checkup. I’ll grab my favorite crystals and sage, grab my journal and take myself to a quiet and safe space. Then, I ask myself all of the things I want to know. I like to do this on a semi-regular bases to make sure that I remain aligned with my vision.
I will ask myself questions like:
- What makes me happy ?
- What makes me feel sexy ?
- What makes me feel free?
- What do I miss doing before becoming a mom?
- Is there anything new I want to explore?
- What do I like to do for fun ?
- What makes me feel loved?
- What do I enjoy doing for others?
- How can I help someone ?
By knowing the answers to these questions, it helps me solidify where I want to be, and who I want to be. This is the beginning of my self care. By knowing the answers to these questions I can make the right choices to achieve what I want.
My Self-Care Routine:
Loving yourself is not a one time thing. It is a choice we make, each day, to give ourselves what we deserve. My self-care routine changes but there are a few things that I do regularly to keep my head on my shoulders.
- Drink a cup of coffee (or tea)
- Stretch (a nice full yoga session is preferred)
- Connect with loved ones
- Have quiet alone time
- Listen to some “self-help” and positive words.
- Face Masks and Bath Time
My self care routine seems to morph and change depending on my needs at the time. Yours probably will too. Be like water when it comes to take care of yourself, be diligent and always keep flowing. What kind of things make you happy ? I’d love to hear what is in your self-care routine.
I want to brag for a minute and say, I have survived the first year of parenting ! I have survived over 365 days of sleep deprivation without it affecting my ability to cook, clean, work, and nurture my child without killing anyone or completely giving up on life. Believe me when I say, there were many times when I said, “Man, I can’t do this.”
But, I did it !
I don’t care how foolish I may seem to some, being a parent is an accomplishment and I always celebrate my accomplishments.
This first year of motherhood has already transformed me, like a catepillar into a butterfly. I am reborn. It has been one crazy roller coaster and I never would have made it without a self-care plan. Yes, I have to plan how to love myself, I am still learning so don’t judge me.
I shared with you guys recently on my instagram how I felt during the early post partum years. My depression made the days nearly unbearable. I could never muster up the energy to do anything other than the necessary. Eat, sleep, change diapers. Everyone always asking me, “How does it feel to be a mother?” the words gripping around my neck leaving me unable to speak and uttering empty sounds.
Motherhood taught me a lot of things, my son taught me a lot of things. I am a brand new being. A freshly birthed butterfly that is ready to soar.
There is one thing I learned during this first year of motherhood, well two things I guess. The first thing being I am apparently some type of super human being that can live off nothing but coffee. The second thing being that self care is the most important part of being a mother.
Did she just say that taking care of yourself is more important than taking care of your child ?
Yes, I did. Let me explain why.
I fly a lot, Im a traveller. Before taking off they always go over the required emergency information. If you have been on an airplane before then you probably know what Im getting at. The flight attendants always tell you
“In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Be sure to secure your mask first before helping anyone else. Including children.”
I remember before having my son thinking that was insane, how could a parent put themselves before their child? I always pictured myself helping the child first.
I don’t anymore.
Think about it this way. If you help the child before you help yourself, you may run out of oxygen before you get the chance to put your own mask on thus, leaving the child to deal with things on their own accord.
If you don’t ensure that you are stable mentally, physically and spiritually how can you even begin to give back the way you need to.
We often put ourselves on the back burner when it comes to our children because we want to do what is best for them, so we give them every single piece of us. It seems to be the instinct, If I give them everything I have I am doing what is best for them. Unfortunately this often leaves us feeling exhausted, unappreciated and lost.
When we don’t focus on us, we lose sight of what is truly important. We owe it to our children to be the best versions of ourselves. Not only for us, but for them. We are their role models. What they see in us, will shape the way they view the world. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. It is okay to focus on yourself, and chase your dreams. It is okay to leave your child at home with your co-parent and go get your nails done, get a massage or go for a wine tour with the girls. It is okay to go watch the game, hit the bar, or do whatever it is that makes you happy.
You deserve everything your heart desires. Isn’t that what we try to teach our children? We owe it to them to show them that it is possible.
Never forget that you are more than just a parent. You are you, and you are important.
Now, go ahead and do something for you for once, you deserve it!
Guys, parenting is hard.
Every stage of the game is hard.
Right now, I am about to enter the toddler world and I am terrified.
Baby life was exhausting and stressful but, I embraced the challenge despite the fears I had about motherhood because cuddling him all day long felt so blissful.
Things are changing muy rapido, he’s moving, he’s talking and he is finally becoming a little human. He is no longer my little baby boy.
Every day I feel like I’m playing a guessing game and praying to the powers above that I am making the right choices.
For a while, I wanted to be the perfect parent, that didn’t make any mistakes, always has a happy, easy-going, loving child and I am not trying to brag here, but my son has literally been an angel for me thus far. He is exactly what I wanted. A happy, easy going, loving baby. But, he is still a baby his personality has just begun to peak out. I can’t deny that I am nervous for what is in store.
I am an observer by nature, I am always observing parents to see how they handle certain situations so I can learn and get ideas on what I would like to do with Elijah and what I would not do.
I reached out to one of Elijah’s aunts recently, “I have no idea what I am doing”, I said to her. I wanted some advice, I’m always wondering how she does it, she reminded me of my mother. Super dedicated to motherhood, yet unlike my mother did, she manages to maintain her own life outside of her children. How does she do it ? I kept asking myself. How does she know what to do? She is a super mom, I needed her to share the secret !
And she did.
“The truth is I don’t think any of us have a clue what we’re doing… just know you are a wonderful mother! Do what works best for you and your family.”
It hit me right then and there.
Just like most of my life, I was putting way too much pressure on myself to be “something”. I had to be the perfect the mother, I had to reach some kind of super mom status. The fact is, I am a super mom. We are all super moms. Whether you birthed natural, via c-section, or adopted, if you survived a full year with a screaming, pooping, babbling infant, you have reached super hero status. Only super beings can function on no sleep and still manage to make it through the day.
We need to relax on the pressure we put on ourselves, and enjoy the moments with our children. None of us know what we are doing, that’s a fact. It is all trial and error. Forget those parenting books, they are just giant books full of suggestions, read them, take what you think you need from them and then “do what is best for YOU and your family”
We always forget about ourselves. We must learn to focus on ourself just as much as we do our children. Be your child’s biggest role model.
You are a super human!
“Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.”
I kept worrying about making the right choices on how to raise Elijah, what values and morals I wanted to instil in him, I kept thinking about what kind of person I wanted him to be. How do I raise him to be clean, happy, compassionate, dedicated, strong, free-spirited.
I have to be those things.
I love my baby boy, he is making me step up to the plate and be the person I was meant to be.
I have to grow, I have to become the best version of myself, for both of us.
As his Aunty always says,
“Make good choices”
It is time for me to make good choices and keep pushing forward for our family.
I remember the first time that I didn’t want to be black anymore.
I must have been about 6 years old. I was at a friends house for a sleepover, yes my white friend–I was the only black girl in my kindergarden class. Her mom had just taken her hair out of a braid and it was long and flowing liked in the commercials I saw on TV and it look beautiful as she was running around. I remember feeling, I wish I had hair like that. My hair was always in braids. Always. When you’re hair is down to your ass, it is just easier to manage that way, so thats the way my mom kept it. I asked my friends mom to take my hair out of braids too. I just wanted to be like her. I wanted to be free. She asked me if i normally take my braids out, and i lied replying with a yes. After she took my hair out, and it came out puffy and fabulous as most old braid outs do when you don’t take them out properly. But, it didn’t make me feel beautiful. My friends mother laughed at how “big and fluffy” it was and they– my friend, her mom and her little sister–proceeded to pet my head until they were satisfied.
When I got home, my mom braided my hair again, and I never asked to have my hair out again. I didn’t like feeling different. When I was 9 years old and we went to go visit my mothers side of the family in Florida, my aunt snuck me off and took me to a hair salon.
“Hey Gabby, do you want to get your hair straightened?”
This was the day I discovered relaxer. The magical cream that made my hair long and silky like everyone else. My mother was pretty mad, because she had no idea we were going but she has always been lenient when it comes to me and making my own choices so she didn’t make a big deal of it. I wish she did. I wish she told me what it was going to do to my curls, I wish someone told me I was beautiful just the way I was. I wanted it because then, with relaxed hair, I could have my hair out and flowing in the wind just like my friend and I would fit in.
When I walked the streets, with my long flowing hair, I would get stares and asked “Is that her real hair?” people would ask. “Yes, it is.” my mother would say. “Wow, it’s beautiful!” they would reply. my mother would reply. I never understood why people would always ask that. Why was it impossible for my hair to be beautiful? Why were they always so shocked?
As I got into middle school, and I started developing sexual attraction to humans, I really began focusing on beauty. So, I looked to the magazines, and TV for inspirations. Which, I also wish someone told me not to do. Even though the 90’s had many black icons, and the 00’s had their share of inspirational people of colour. I still found myself drawn to the european look. Even though I LOVED Scary spice, I always said that baby spice was my favourite. The hatred for my skin tone grew and grew as I got older. By the time I was in high school, I would literally hide from the sun out of fear of getting too dark. All my friends would be laying on the beach, trying to get a tan and I would be under and umbrella. They wanted to be “black like me”. I wanted to be white like them, so I never left the house without my green contacts (well, not always cause I sucked at putting those bitches in) my hair straightened with my extensions in and some cover up that did not match my skin tone at all.
I had a boy friend in high school and I realize now, what I thought was love, was simply attachment. He was just one of the first guys to give me the attention I was fighting so hard to get. He made me feel special and beautiful and that is what I loved, how he made me feel because before that, I didn’t feel special, or beautiful. So when he broke up with me, my entire existence crumpled beneath my feet and I begged for him to stay with me. He left me because he was going through changes and I was too “co-dependant”. I didn’t understand it at the time all I knew was that “I needed him”. He did me an amazing favour by leaving me. It forced me to get back to myself and what I really needed.
What I really needed, was to find myself. My black, beautiful, magical self.
I’m not sure I ever would have changed had my best friend aka sister Ray didn’t tell me one day in class “you should just wear your hair natural”. She probably told me a 100 times but that summer, I did it.
I did it and I felt fucking fabulous.
I didn’t have the courage back then to do a big chop, so I chose to transition. So no, my hair looked nothing like it did now. And, I still questioned my beauty consistently.
BUT, I felt lighter. Suddenly the pressure to fit in and look like my friends was fading.
I was happy. I was happy with what I was given for the first time in 17 years.
SO, what does all of this have to do with Lil Kim?
As stated in an article on Daily Beast:
We are witnessing Kim’s transformation into someone less-black and more desirable. She’s admitted to not feeling “pretty enough.” She’s reflected on having lovers cheat on her with women who were more “European looking.” We’re literally watching her attempt to create a new reality for herself.
I understand her pain. I understand why she changed her appearance. I probably would have continued down the same path had I not been blessed with an angel of a best friend telling me that it was time to embrace who I was. I understand her and I know I am not the only one who has felt the pressures of white america. To all the people shaming her for her choices, you are part of the problem. Her whole life she has struggled to see herself as beautiful and so she did what she felt she needed to do with HER body to feel beautiful. Was she beautiful before she made all her changes? Yes, she was gorgeous. Is she still beautiful now? YES. She is a human being and an artist, that alone makes her beautiful.
Instead of giving her shit and telling her she is ugly, and continuing to try and destroy her self esteem wake up and realize that she is just another black woman trying to feel beautiful in a world that is constantly telling us we are the opposite. She is just trying to love herself and that is a battle I understand far too well.
There are a whole bunch of prenatal classes that are created to prepare you for the birthing process. To help your mind and body get ready for the intense pain that is coming but, not what follows. No, I’m not talking about mommy and baby yoga classes that I’m excited to start next week. I’m talking about the classes and support groups to help the new mothers going through postpartum mood disorders. It somehow gets swept under the rug. If you look up postpartum you will see a plethora of posts about how to get your body back, how to make padsicles and fast track the healing process but, almost nothing is found on how to fast track the mental healing process. Leaving us new mothers with to grin and bare the anxiety when we are too scared to speak up. I was given all kinds of tips, tricks and advice for the birthing process and taking care of my new born, but no one came with advice on how to take care of myself and my mind. No one prepared me for the mental after math, no one warned me that I might suffer from depression, body dysmorphia, anxiety and intense mood swings.
Postpartum depression and anxiety are beyond a doubt a real issue. An issue I didn’t realize was actually affecting me. Until recently when I looked in the mirror and didn’t hate what I saw and how I felt about mothering stopped feeling like a task and more of a choice. Depression and other mental illnesses are still a taboo in our society. Only once things have reached an extreme level does the severity of the issue get vocalized. Most people don’t want to deal with the person who is showing symptoms of depression because it’s uncomfortable. When I first tried to speak out about how I was feeling I would be told “It will get better, just stay positive”. I heard it so often that I stopped vocalizing my emotions. Instead, I kept it in because that was my problem, I didn’t see any positives.
I can’t speak for all mothers, but I can speak on my own experience. Damn, is it ever hard to take care of your child when you’re not having that whimsical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Instead, everything annoys you. You feel resentment, disconnection, confusion and uncontrollable sadness. You feel that you should be handling new motherhood better than this and worst of all that your baby deserves better. Its challenging because you don’t actually know how long it will last. Studies say that 1 in 10 women suffer from a postpartum mood disorder. I am not ashamed to say I was one of them. I am 7 months postpartum and finally starting to feel like myself again. I am exercising, eating well, taking my vitamins and I am feeling like a queen again. I am trying to find my passions and balance everything out. I want that whimsical mommy bliss, and I question if it is even real or, just like romantic relationships motherhood is dramatized on television for our entertainment.
Freelance writer, Dara Mathis worded it beautifully on one of my favourite blogs Baby&Blog when she said:
I also believe that motherhood is wrestling. The state of motherhood is centered on the child in the womb; but the raw, sloughing work of *mothering* is an evolving effort made over time. Children are born. But mothers must make and remake and remake themselves. The shifting of women into mothers rarely happens without constant internal dialogue about who we are to ourselves once we become “mommy” to others. It’s a fallacy to believe that mothers of (young) children should slide seamlessly into the role when we have lived with our bodies and minds longer than we have lived with our children.
Why should we be expected to automatically transform into these perfect, baking, craft making, mini van driving mothers? When not too long ago you were living for just yourself and embracing the spontaneity of childlessness. I still struggle accepting that my life is no longer able to be as it once was before. There are so many misconceptions to postpartum that it is bizarre that this postpartum mental struggle isn’t spoken about more openly. If i feel this way, and I have read about other women feeling this way, there has to be a whole community of us questioning and wondering how the f#$* we are going to manage this new lifestyle.
So, to all expecting mothers and new mothers reading this, please know you are not alone.
Know that you are powerful beyond belief.
You are a super human being that just brought new life into this world and that what you you feel is normal for new mothers.
Please know that the questions you have, we have all had them.
Please know that you are not alone and the fear you feel will fade.
There are people that can help you.
There are people who are willing to listen.
You will get better at this, and most importantly YOU ARE NOT A HORRIBLE MOTHER.
Disclaimer: ANY new mothers, mothers to be who need someone to speak to, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am an open book and I would love to talk and share my experiences.
Life in Antigua:
I can’t believe I have been living in Antigua for 2 months now. The time has gone by so quickly.
Like, really quickly…maybe even too quickly?
It is probably because its been an eventful roller coaster trying to settle in and get used to my new unique living situation. As of right now, I could not be happier with the environment I am in. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Which is crazy because I haven’t even seen a 1/4 of what Guatemala has to offer yet. These two months have just been about getting grounded, developing a routine that works for my family as we try to figure out how to master co-parenting and trying to wrap my head around some basic Spanish.
Antigua has a lovely radiating energy. This historic Spanish colonial city should be on your list of places to see if it isn’t already. The ruins and restored buildings have a story, a story I can feel as I walk past them. The views are impeccable. Two months in and I’m still overwhelmed at the site of the volcanoes and mountains surrounding me. From almost every spot in town you can see one, or all three of the major volcanoes. I can’t get enough of the scenery, I guess thats the benefit of living in a valley.
Recently I’ve been getting asked a lot, why Guatemala? To tell you the truth, I came here simply because I could. The opportunity was presented to me and I said yes, even though I was scared as hell. I cried at least three times over the who, what, where, why and when questions I had racing through my head.
I have never lived abroad, I don’t speak the native language, I had no idea how was going to make money, how my cat would handle the flight (because, obviously I brought her. A good mommy never abandon her babies.) Despite all those thoughts, I wasn’t going to let the fear of the unknown stop me from entering the door that had just opened. Life is full of chaotic adventures with a child no matter where you are, so why not enjoy the adventures under the sun?
I’ve always enjoyed travelling. Every aspect of it, including the packing! Being in a new city gives opportunities to learn, discover and grow. This is a perfect opportunity for my baby to develop and absorb this wonderful energy around us.
Everyday has been brand new for both of us.
As he is learning, I am learning .
As he is growing, I am growing
We get to discover together.
The day to day hustle and bustle of our lives is slowly becoming easier. Routines are developing and I finally feel like I’m getting sleep again (YAASS!!) which has allowed me to put some focus on me again. Reading, writing, hitting the gym and weekly yoga classes are bringing my sanity back.
Even though I miss my family back home, I’m so grateful to have the people around me that love and care for my family. In this little gated community, we have Elijah’s padrinos (god parents) as neighbours which is fantastic to have trusted baby sitters on hand.
As they say, “It takes a village to raise a child” and here we have a big happy family all looking out for Elijah.