PPD: The Hardest Part of Being a New Mom (for me)

by - 2/19/2018

I feel like this post is a long time coming because I have been meaning to write about this for such a long time but haven't had the time to actually do it nor the courage to talk about my experience with postpartum anxiety/depression. I'm not sure when or if I will even post this but that's okay! Warning: it WILL be long.

Here we go!

Being a mom and a wife is ALL I have ever wanted to do. Okay not really all but you know what I mean! Being a mom has been the crowning goal of my life since I was a little girl. I loved baby dolls, I loved babysitting and I loved acting like a 'mom' (which in hindsight probably drove my own mom, and brothers nuts). I can distinctly remember being 10 or 11 or so, reading an American Girl book about growing up (ha, classic book) and being SO SAD that I had to wait YEARS until I could be a mom.

Obviously, I had tons of fun being a kid and then a teenager (and now I actually miss it) but I always looked forward to the day when I could have my very own little baby.

Needless to say, I was ECSTATIC when I got that first pregnancy test. Surprised? Uh, yes. Scared? Yes. Unprepared? Yes. But still, the most excited I had ever been about anything in my entire life (besides marrying Kody). Until the morning sickness hit, I was walking on air 24/7. I spent so much of my time praying to my Heavenly Father, THANKING Him with my entire soul that I had the opportunity to be a mom and pleading with Him to help me be a good one.

My pregnancy wasn't very hard at all- in fact it was great 90% of the time. There weren't any complications, my morning sickness eventually went away and I felt like my usual self for most of it. I was in school full-time and working a ton so I kept very busy. Towards the end I started to feel suuuuper huge and uncomfortable (which looking back makes sense considering how big Jack was) and that certainly took its toll on my body but other than that, I couldn't have asked for a better pregnancy.

The delivery was scary at times and even though I ended up having a c-section I honestly thought it went pretty smoothly. I had a healthy boy and I healed up pretty quickly.

I feel like when you think of being pregnant and having a baby, you usually think about going to the hospital and all of the magic/fear that comes with pushing out a baby (or at least I did). It is what the movies show, it is what all the baby apps and websites seem to focus on and it is what I thought about when I was planning things out. But for me, the pregnancy and the hospital experience was a breeze compared to what was next.

Nobody really talks about after the baby comes, after you leave the hospital and after your family goes back home.

I remember feeling SO excited those few days after I had Jack. I remember waking up in the morning before Kody or Jack and sitting in the hospital bed with the summer sun coming through the windows and feeling so, so happy! Things could not be more perfect. Then one night, as Kody and I were walking down the hospital halls slowing pushing Jack around the nursery, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was like a huge, dark cloud appeared right over my head and I was sad. Like, really, really sad. I remember trying as hard as I could to hold back tears but I just began bawling right there in the hall in front of the security guard. I tried to explain to Kody how I was feeling but I couldn't! We went back to the room and turned on Family Feud (which I usually love, I mean- Steve Harvey!) but even that made me feel sad. It was a feeling I just couldn't shake.

The day after getting home from the hospital my mom and I went to Target just to get out of the house. I mean, there is nothing that time with your mom at Target can't help, right? My eyes were SO beyond swollen, and I was a complete disaster inside and out, but we just walked (very, very slowly because that's all I could do) and talked and I let it all out. She was so sweet and understanding and because she had been there (she's had 3 c-sections), she knew how I was feeling. I remember telling her that I just felt like there were sunglasses I had on that made EVERYTHING around me appear dark and eerie and sad and I just couldn't get them off!

I quickly tried to push those feelings aside and told myself it was just the 'baby blues' and that they'd go away as soon as I got back into my routine. 5 days after my c-section I forced myself to go walk around the track at the Provo Rec Center because I wanted to get back into shape as soon as possible (*eyeroll*). It literally took me over an hour to get around the track ONCE and I was hurting but I just thought it was so important to pretend like I was fine.

Comparing yourself to others on social media seriously is the stupidest thing you can do, but it is even more stupid when you've just had a baby. I wish I hadn't looked at Instagram for at least a good 2 months after having Jack. I remember looking at all of these happy, young couples we knew that were so 'in love' and I started freaking out that Kody and I would never be cute and flirty and spontaneous like that again (*another eyeroll*). I saw one blogger who had a baby a few days before me and was on a beach vacation in a string bikini literally one week after having a baby. I started planning a romantic getaways for Kody and I in my head and tried to wear my old jeans and look hot and do everything that I thought would help me feel as though I didn't just have my body cut wide open.

Let's just say that all of this comparing and pretending-like-everything-is-fine did NOT help things.

I also felt unbelievably worried about everything (which I later learned was a taste of 'anxiety' which I wish I still I could still be clueless about because it is awful) and I mean every. possible. thing. Especially when it came to Jack. I think this was honestly the hardest part about that period in my life. I found it so unbelievably difficult to relax. When we would go on walks I would get so, so afraid that a bee was going to sting Jack and it made me so angry...(I literally remember wanting to punch one particular bee that wouldn't leave us alone. Like, what?). I also remember not being able to sleep because I thought (for no real, logical reason) that Jack's bassinet might break and fall over. It was so unnecessary but in my mind it was such a real fear for some reason! I hated taking him outside because I didn't want him to get sunburned or overheated. I hated going out in public and seeing little kids because I was convinced that every single little kid I saw was going to get him seriously sick.(I definitely got over this and like little kids again, don't worry :) ). I could honestly go on and on and list all of my worries but I'll stop there. I was an emotional wreck and I felt like I had to be on red-alert 24/7. I panicked and felt like a bad mom whenever Jack cried because I felt like he needed/wanted something from me and I was neglecting him or something. It was so hard!

I had everything, EVERYTHING I could ever want in life. A sweet, healthy baby, a supportive family and the sweetest, most caring husband in the entire world. I felt like this was supposed to be the best, happiest time in my life and I felt so guilty for not feeling happy all the time. It was a feeling that I wouldn't wish on my very worst enemy. Obviously it was 100% worth getting to be a mom to Jack and I would gladly do it again if I had to but....ya, it sucked.

Anyways, I don't really know what the point of this post was other than to just document it and let other new moms and moms-to-be know that it DOES GET BETTER. People told me that in the beginning and I didn't believe them for one second. But it really, really does. You get the hang of it and you start to see things again as they really are. Here are a few things that really helped me during this time:

-Going places. Everyday when I needed to get out of the house (I get so stir-crazy when I am stuck at home for too long) we'd go to Sodalicious for a Dr.Pepper and then to the car wash. It is CRAZY how much those little trips helped me out! Sometimes I needed to get out again later and we would go to the car wash again (we had a membership). Let's just say our car was VERY clean this past summer.

-Getting outside. I was very blessed to have a June baby in Utah which meant the weather in the evenings was perfect for going on walks. When Kody came home we would put Jack in his stroller and walk to a cute little park a few blocks from our apartment. Once we got to the park we would just sit and people-watch, enjoy the weather and talk. It was so nice of Kody to just sit with me, talk with me and sometmes just listen to me try and explain how I was feeling (if you were in Provo and saw me walking around super slowly and crying, I apologize :) ).

-Staying off the internet. It is a hard thing to do in our day and age but when I was on my phone googling things that worried me and looking at models + 'perfect' bloggers on Instagram I was SO MUCH more miserable than when I wasn't looking at my phone. This advice is honestly probably great for anyone, new-mom or not. It can really make things more difficult than they need to be sometimes.

-Ask for help. I haaaaaaate asking people for help. Hate. It. But at this time in my life, I really, really needed it and I had to put aside my pride and ask for it. I had a couple of sweet girls bring us dinner and it was so helpful and nice not to have to worry about making anything. I also called my mom about a million times and asked her for help, advice, humor, anything to help me feel better. At my 6 week post-partum appointment my doctor asked if I was feeling fine. I was so close to giving my usual 'nope, it's all good!' line, but instead I decided to tell him that I actually was having a hard time and was feeling way more on-edge and down than I remembered feeling before. To my surprise (and relief) he didn't think it was that huge and life-altering of a deal like I did. He assured me that post-partum depression is very common and that there WERE things I could do about it. He put me on a super teeny dose of anti-anxiety medicine (which honestly totally freaked me out at first. i didn't like the idea of being 'on' anything. BUT it totally helped me feel more like myself and enjoy my newborn a lot more. And I was able to go off of within just a few months) and prescribed me exercise and daily me-time! I followed his suggestions and. I truly think that doctors (usually) can be huge blessings from God and I am so grateful I had a good one.

-Exercise. Working out helped me so much! No, not working out to get skinny and sexy and loose the baby weight and blah blah blah. But working out for my MIND! Getting my heartbeat up and blood flowing and cranking good music helped me so much! I definitely noticed a difference on days that I didn't get to the gym (and so did Kody). It made me feel so much more in control of my feelings. It is something I continue to do now and will continue to do until I can't anymore! 

-Laugh! I know it may sound silly, but watching funny shows on TV helped me soooooo much. Laughing at Michael Scott, Leslie Knope, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfield, Hank Hill and the Bluth Family were all AMAZING at helping me feel better., haha I am pretty sure I had Netflix just on constantly even when I wasn't watching TV. It put things in perspective and helped me see that life is good out there and it doesn't have to be dark and gloomy and scary. Humor is honestly SUCH a wonderful blessing. 

-Turn it over to Christ. Although this time in my life was so hard, it was also a great thing for my relationship with my Savior because I knew HE was the only one who knew exactly how I felt. I felt like probably once a day I felt the need to just 'give up' trying to keep it together and hand over all of my worries and fears over to Him. Every morning when Jack woke up I would feed him and rock him in his rocking chair while reading the scriptures or conference talks that were about Christ. I also prayed my heart out during this time and it was the most comforting thing to feel like I was being listened to and guided along by someone who knew exactly what I was going through. I was mentally and physically exhausted so my scripture-reading was often only a few short minutes. My prayers were also often very short (and at times I fell asleep during them), but they were real and they were sincere. You don't have to feel like some kind of spiritual, churchly giant in order to feel your Saviors love and what a huge, wonderful blessing that was for me. 

I guess one of the biggest things I learned through all this is that it's okay. We are so blessed to live in a time where post-partum depression is recognized and talked about and where there are lots of resources and people to talk to about it. You do NOT have to accept those feelings as your permanent reality.

It's also okay if you don't breastfeed for very long or even if you never do. It's okay if your body doesn't 'bounce back' to what it once was within a month, or two months, or six months or EVER. It's okay to talk to your husband, your mom, your doctor, anyone you are close to for help. It's okay to feel overwhelmed. It's okay if your baby cries. It's okay if you cry! It is okay to feel like you don't know what you're doing. It's okay to

I could go on and on but you get the point.

ALL that matters is that you and your baby are happy and healthy. That's it! Focus on that before you worry about anything else. 

Anyways, I think this concludes my novel! If anyone actually gets this far in my post than you deserve a big pat on the back! AND if you are going through this and need any extra support, give me a holler because I would love to help.

Hope you all have a happy rest of your Monday :)


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1 sweet note{s}

  1. Ivy, you are so right about all this! And thank you for putting it out there. I’m glad you were able to find help and conciously choose to help yourself. I love you and I’m very proud of you! Love, Aunt Rachel