I have prayed over this post and asked God to guide my thoughts and words, because I want to offer some encouragement and hope, to anyone that may be dealing with some of the things I want to talk about.
I can only speak from my own personal experiences, so obviously this post won’t be for everyone, I just want to offer hope for those of you that have had or may have similar experiences.
While pregnant I wanted to prepare, as best I could, to become a mom! So much of that preparation was spent on the baby, as it should be! And the “after I have the baby” kind of got put on the back burner. Talking to all kinds of women I’d always hear some variation of a vague statement like “your hormones will be all over the place after you have the baby” which honestly kind of made me roll my eyes (just being honest) because I’d already been experiencing a hormonal rollercoaster during pregnancy, as most women do.
I had no idea the extent to which this would be true.
About 2 days after we brought Samuel home, I started experiencing some anxiety. I am not generally an anxious person, so it caught me off guard, but I chalked it up to my lack of sleep. A few more days went by and the anxiety kept getting worse. I remember one evening, in particular, we had some friends over. I was chatting and laughing with them one minute and the next I felt a physical heaviness come over me. I felt paralyzed and I couldn't seem to form a sentence. Having never dealt with anxiety or panic attacks, I had no idea what was going on. And I was really scared.
I managed to excuse myself and went to my room. I remember laying on the bed and being terrified. I felt anxious and hopeless. And on top of that I felt extreme guilt. Why wasn’t I aboard the “mommy bliss” train? Why was I laying on my bed in tears, feeling hopeless when I have a perfectly healthy baby, a supportive and loving husband and amazing friends, sitting in the next room. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!” I kept thinking.
This anxiety and panic continued building and getting worse each day. It always seemed to creep in and rear it’s ugly head, at night. I remember waking up and dreading bedtime because I knew that meant I’d have to fight off the anxiety and heaviness. I felt utterly TRAPPED. I felt like I was being overly dramatic, and I just needed to put on my big girl panties and suck it up. I felt like I should get my stuff together and put on a happy face.
I suffered in silence for about 3 days, which felt like an eternity. I felt like I was a terrible person for feeling anxious, because “what did I have to be anxious about?” I felt extreme guilt and sadness because I knew I “should be happy.”
I remember feeling sick to my stomach and picking up my phone to google “symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression” because I felt like that could be the only thing that would explain what I was going through. After reading over the symptoms and realizing I had a few (about 3-4 out of the 10-12 symptoms) I called my OBGYN and left them a message. I think I said something along the lines of “Hi, this is Holly Meyer, and I am having a really hard time. I’ve been really anxious and I googled the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety and I feel like I might be experiencing some of them.”
I also decided I would swallow my pride and ask for some help, from my friends. Which was NOT easy, because I’ve always been an “I’ll take care of it” girl. I don’t like asking for help because I feel like I’m inconveniencing you. And I would rather just do it myself because I know what needs to be done and I can just get it done faster. Not a great attitude to have, by the way. ESPECIALLY in this situation.
So, I grabbed my phone and texted a few mama friends that I’m close to, and asked for their help. And I finally came clean to my husband and told him I was not feeling normal. This was honestly the BEST thing I could have done. Everyone I texted encouraged me and told me I WAS NOT ALONE. Each one of them recanted stories of their experiences and told me “what you’re going through is NORMAL!” I can’t tell you how relieved I was to know that I was not crazy, and that other women have dealt with this too. And my precious husband was so supportive! He encouraged me to talk to someone, so I ended up reaching out to a family friend, who is a counselor!
AND THIS IS WHERE I HAD MY BREAKTHROUGH.
We are not meant to do life alone. I truly believe community is key, in walking through life’s trials, no matter how big or small they may seem.
I met with the counselor, who helped me more in an hour than I could have EVER imagined! And my OB’s nurses called me back the next day and I met with my Dr.! She talked things through with me and told me that I did not have postpartum depression/anxiety but that everything I was experiencing was normal and that I needed to be easier on myself. I'd like to insert that most women experience the "Baby Blues" which is a short period of time where you are extra emotional - and this is totally normal.
This has been a journey! And I have only been a new mom for 8 weeks, so I am not a pro. But, I truly believe God has done a work in me and in this situation and I want to use it to bring Him all the glory!
Being a new mama is hard, just like entering into ANY new season is hard. I want you to hear me LOUD AND CLEAR, when I say YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If I could shout this from the rooftops and plaster it onto every billboard, I would do it, so you don’t feel trapped or scared.
Here are 7 PRACTICAL things that helped me get through my anxiety:
I started a night time routine: Like I said, my anxiety was at it’s peak, during the evening. So, I decided to start a routine.
New Wine - Hillsong Worship
How Beautiful - Mosaic Music
Living Hope - Bethel Music
You’re Gonna Be OK - Jenn Johnson
Diffused Essential oils - I truly believe good, quality essential oils are the perfect aide's in supporting your mental and emotional health!
Cedarwood - Sleep Support
Lavender - Super Calming
Gentle Baby - Calming and smells like a baby!
SLEEP DEPRIVATION IS A REAL THING. And it will cause you to have CRAZY THOUGHTS - believe me, I had some crazy thoughts. So, Cliff and I worked out a plan. I would feed Samuel around 8:30/9:00p and go to bed. Then, Cliff would keep Samuel in the living room, with him, until about midnight. He would then bring Samuel in for his next feeding. This allowed me to get a few UNINTERRUPTED hours of sleep.
Sleep when baby sleeps! Honestly, I hated when people told me this…Ha! But a few cat naps throughout the day, really did help those first weeks!
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF & REACH OUT TO YOUR PEOPLE
We all have “our” people. Maybe it’s your family, your friends or the people you go to church with! Text or call them and ask for their help!
Ask for emotional support, ask them to come hold your baby so you can take a shower or do a load of laundry!
DO NOT DO THIS ALONE!
This was/is one of the hardest ones for me, because I don’t like asking for help. But, I PROMISE, it is SO WORTH IT!
I knew from the get go I would NOT be able to stay inside my house all day everyday for the first 4-6 weeks. So, as a family, we went on drives around our neighborhood! A few times we got iced coffee and just drove around looking at our favorite houses!
Go on a walk (if it’s not 1,000 degrees outside)! It’s amazing what a 15 minute stroll will do for you!
I am going to be VERY transparent here. When I was feeling my lowest, the thought of speaking scripture over my situation DID NOT EVEN OCCUR TO ME. What a terrible statement I just made. I love the Lord with all my heart and I didn’t even think to turn to him, in one of my darkest times. But, this is what I’ve learned - THAT IS WHAT THE DEVIL WANTS. He wants you to feel SO HOPELESS that you don’t even think God can rescue you from the pit you’re in. I remember the moment it all clicked for me. I was sitting in the bathroom (REAL TALK HERE) wondering when this heaviness would lift and the thought “popped into my head” What if I spoke the Word over this situation? And right there I prayed a simple prayer, something like “God, I need you! I need your help right now”. So simple, yet God sees us and He knows us!
“I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” - 2 Timothy 1:12
“If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!” - James 1:12
“He removed our reason to fear, because the powers of darkness have no authority over us in Christ.” - Romans 8:38-39
“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” - Psalm 8:3-9
CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK
You’re a NEW MOM. You will not have it all figured out. This is new territory for you and it’s okay of you’re unsure! WE ALL ARE. Allow yourself some breathing room and put your trust in God. AND ASK FOR HELP!
Chances are - you’re doing a better job than you think!
TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL
This is one of the MOST impactful and helpful things I did. You may not have access to a counselor, but call your doctor and be really honest about what you’re going through. They are here to help YOU. So, reach out and seek help!
And if you believe you ARE dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety - please talk to your doctor! THERE IS NO SHAME IN SEEKING HELP! And there is absolutely NO SHAME if you are dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety. That does NOT make you a bad person or a bad mama!
If there is one thing you take away from this post, I want it to be - YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You’re not crazy, either. You are doing a great job! You are a good mom! God sees you, and He knows what you’re going through! He picked you for this - You are more capable than you know! He is faithful to supply ALL that you need in this season. Allow God to strengthen you and allow your community to be the hands and feet of Jesus, helping to hold you up along the way! YOU GOT THIS SISTER!
Do y’all have any tips/tricks that help ease anxiety?