Browsing Category

Motherhood

Motherhood

How to Deal with Postpartum Depression

Having a baby incites a lot of emotions. And while utter happiness and excitement are the two most apparent ones that rule over this certain milestone in a mother’s life, it can also be enveloped by anxiety and fear. These negative emotions can develop into serious and even life-threatening conditions if left unchecked. So, how do people deal with this long-lasting, serious mood condition? Below are seven tips on how you can protect you and your baby against the signs and symptoms of PPD.

Identify the Signs and Symptoms 

Treatment of signs and symptoms cannot start without proper diagnosis of the underlying condition. Depression after pregnancy can develop suddenly, typically within the first 14 days post delivery. In some cases, symptoms can appear within two days. Common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, severe anxiety and agitation, suicidal thoughts, bizarre behavior, and thoughts of harming the newborn.

Make a Secure Connection With Your Newborn 

The stage wherein a mother and child are bonding on a deep emotional level, also known as emotional attachment, is the most critical stage of infancy. Success in this particular stage allows a child to feel safe enough to grow to the fullest extent. It impacts how he/she will interact and form deep connections throughout his/her life. To create a secure attachment with your newborn, use nonverbal cues including smiling, maintaining eye contact, and creating contact between your’s and your baby’s skin.

Get Some Rest 

One of the most common advice that people who have just had a baby get is “sleep when the baby sleeps”. This might sound overused after awhile, but it’s sound advice that could help you deal with postpartum depression. In a 2009 study, women who had the least amount of rest post pregnancy were also the ones who experienced the worst bouts of depression. This applied to mothers who clocked less than four hours of rest between midnight and 6 AM. If you find yourself staying up late because you need to breast-feed, consider pumping and filling a bottle so that your spouse can handle the overnight feeding.

Maintain a Healthy Diet 

Althought a well-balanced diet won’t immediately or solely cure postpartum depression, adopting a well-balanced diet can help you feel better and more energetic. It helps you avoid one of the most common symptoms of depression, which is severe mood swings. Plan out the week’s meals over the weekend and prepare healthy snacks in advance. You want to bulk up on food that is dense in nutrients including carrots, cheese, apples, peanut butter, and so forth.

Consider Psychotherapy 

Based on a 2013 study, psychotherapy was found to have a substantially lower rate of relapse versus medication. The report also suggested that people who were being treated via psychotherapy had lower risk of dropping out from the regiment as opposed to those who were taking medication. That being said, consult with your attending physician before resorting to psychotherapy treatment.

Avoid Isolation 

The weeks following delivery of your baby are the worst times to be alone. Isolation can increase your risk of developing symptoms of postpartum depression. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry reveals that talking about your emotions with your spouse, a family member, or close friend can help boost your mood. Reports also show that new mothers had lower risk for depression after regularly socializing with experienced moms who also suffered from postpartrum depression during their pregnancies.

Gradually Go Back to Your Exercise Routine 

Tons of studies support the claim that physical exercise can help with depression, particularly those experienced after pregnancy. Although it’s ill-advised to start exercising right away after you give birth, most mothers can safely begin low-impact exercises a few days after pregnancy, particularly if you had a healthy delivery without any vaginal complications. If unsure, speak with your physician for advice on when you should start exercising again. Start with walking for half an hour each day. Other common physical exercises for mothers include spinning, dance, Pilates, and yoga.

Final Thoughts 

One in seven women are affected by postpartum depression, according to a study published by JAMA Psychiatry. While it’s easy to discount it as a mood swing after pregnancy, it should be treated seriously before it worsens. Use the aforementioned tips to properly deal with postpartum depression. Not only does it help protect mothers, but also their precious newborn babies.

Motherhood

Bursting with pride

If you’re a mom I’m sure you would have experienced the feeling before of bursting with pride for your children. It can be for anything, from a little thing to a larger achievement, but being a mom I think we all celebrate them in the same way!

Earlier in the week I watched my three year old daughter perform her first speech and drama show. It was a circus theme, and saw the class assembling the big top while reciting a bit of narrative to go along with the actions. As I watched the show unfold my heart was filling more and more with love and pride and complete amazement at just what my little girl could do.

She was first a clown pretending to juggle one then two balls (complete with her brightly coloured orange wig falling off her head as she took her bow to the audience!), then a tightrope walker pretending to balance high above as she teetered and tottered on the tightrope, and finally a cancan dancer.

The children all did so well, and I just couldn’t wait to envelop her in a big hug to say well done and how very proud of her I was. Granny was there to watch, as was Dad and her little brother, so it was a huge round of hugs and kisses and high-fives. She even got a certificate of excellence for her participation in Speech and Drama this past year.

Later, on the way home she calmly helped soothe her crying brother by sharing her favourite toy, and then even offered to share her chocolate milkshake reward with him too. Both acts of kindness were so selfless and completely unprompted that I was worried my heart would burst all over again. It was a good mom day and my energy reserves and love tank is filled to the brim because of that. Bring on the next week, I’m sure I can handle you now!

Motherhood

On gratitude

My little boy was recently ill, and as any parent of a small child knows the probability of this happening over a weekend is very high. So it was off to the hospital on a Saturday morning to wait and see the pediatrician on call.

It was actually the first time I had been into the children’s ward at the hospital. Although it was cheerily decorated with red and blue sailboat linen while painted fishes and dolphins adorned the hallway walls and a goldfish swam to and fro through the rising bubbles in a tank on the counter, I still could not help feeling my heart sink right down into the soles of my shoes.

In one room the beds had rails to help the kiddies sleep safely, while another room housed a number of cots for the smaller ones visiting. Next to each bed or cot was a chair that converted into a bed for mom or dad to sleep on in order to look over their sick children during their stay. A few of the beds and cots were occupied with little people, while one boy was happy to be going home that day, another little girl ran up the passage singing a tune from Doc McStuffins while a nurse lazily chased her back into her bed. There were of course also plenty of tears as parents tried to reassure or distract.

Looking around and taking this all in, I sucked my breath in really hard and fought back tears of my own. How blessed were we to have a three-year-old little girl and to date we have never had to spend a night with her in the hospital? Yes, we have had hard times with sleepless nights, musical beds, medicine given to an unwilling patient, arms held for examinations, and even x-rays and blood tests. But we have never had to actually admit her to the hospital and see her experience this.

The pediatrician examined our little boy and we were given the all clear, just some medicine required, no need for any time in the hospital. The terror that had been building in my stomach finally settled as we left the ward, happy to be taking our little person home to make him feel better in his own bed.

Even though we had visited the hospital with a sick child that day, it was clear that there were so many children that were much sicker than our two have ever been. Children fighting terrible diseases like cancer, parents facing impossible choices to do whatever it takes to save them, and both parents and children being so brave to walk the path which life has handed to them together.

Hug your child a little closer, give them an extra kiss, and know how truly blessed you are to have healthy children today.

Motherhood

Goodnight sweet boy

As the sun sets on this day, my heart is a little bit sore. I hug you a little tighter before bed, give you an extra kiss, and rock you in my arms for just that much longer. But you’re no longer a little babe, and even though you now stroke my hair gently and squeeze your soft squishy arms around my neck while softly murmuring mama in my ear, my heart still aches for the baby boy that was so much lighter in my arms not too long ago.

Instead of that tiny babe I have a little boy now, happily vrooming his cars around the lounge, loving his sister so fiercely, laughing hard at tummy tickles, and bopping his head to his favourite beat. Tomorrow when dawn breaks I won’t be able to say you’re 11 months anymore, instead I will say you’re one.

Even though your chubby cheeks are slimming down, and your hair is less fuzzy to brush against my lips, you still love your mama so. Your eyes light up, and you reach your arms out to me. And I revel in that love my boy. I always will.

Goodnight sweet boy. A new day awaits us all tomorrow, and I can’t wait to share the excitement of presents and balloons, cake and fun, with you. Even luckier still you have a sister to celebrate with too. So while my heart may be a little sad, it’s also filled with happiness, and most of all gratitude for the blessing that you are to me.

Motherhood

Your child’s inner voice

It’s no secret that both of my pregnancies were tough on me. During both I suffered from complications that made my last few months a challenging time. I was tired from not being able to sleep, I was sick with bronchitis, and just generally feeling somewhat ill-tempered from carrying this really large tummy around. Add a husband’s stressful job and a demanding toddler to the mix and things got even more complicated. To top it off everyone in the family had been ill, and that included the two family Labradors!

Sometimes I would feel overwhelmed when things caught up with me and I would say to my husband “I can’t do this anymore.” It was a moment of weakness, we are all allowed them right, but sadly it was also heard by another pair of little ears, always listening, and seen by another pair of little eyes, always watching.

Amy had been sick with bronchitis too, she had been very ill for a number of weeks and it had been taking its toll on all of us. At the end of a very long day I was sitting by her at bedtime, and she wasn’t going to sleep. I grew impatient as my back ached and my stomach was uncomfortable perched on her bed. She sensed my impatience and started to cry. To my absolute horror she then sobbed “I can’t do this anymore.”

Not only had she been listening, she had also understood the depth of my exhaustion and despondence at how hard life had been for us. When I heard her say those words and mirror my desperation my heart broke and my breath caught in my throat. It was my job to protect her from the harsh realities of life, to keep her safe from sadness, and instead I’d given her an up close glimpse right into it. It seemed like a failure, and the only thing I could think of to do was draw her close into a tight hug and say I love you.

So let this serve as a reminder that our children are always watching and listening, no matter their age. Let’s be aware to make their inner voice one of positivity to protect them for as long as we can.

Motherhood

Leaning into love

Have you ever felt so much love that it’s almost too much? The kind of sit close, preferably on your lap all day, but if not that then have to be at least touching, kind of love?

To be loved so much can be all consuming, to be honest it can also become a little claustrophobic at times. By the end of the day I feel like isolating myself for just a few minutes so that I won’t have a child sitting on me, wanting to be held, or leaning into me. When I’ve pointed out to my daughter that she doesn’t have to actually sit on me all the time, she’s simply said ‘but I love you mom’ in reply. To her mind loving someone and being in close proximity doesn’t make sense, you must be touching!

When I do manage to sneak away for a few moments when husband gets home from work it won’t be long before the bedroom door will open and her smiling face will pop around and her question to me is always ‘what you doing mom?’ Quite hard to be honest and say ‘hiding from too much love.’ And so as she climbs onto the bed and snuggles into my lap I take pause to once again marvel at how much this little girl truly loves me. May I always live up to her expectations and prove to be deserving of her unflinching and deep affection for her mom. It makes me want to be the best mom I can be, so that she will always think of me so highly as she does now.

And when at bedtime the house breathes a sigh of relief as the two children finally drift off to sleep in their beds, this mom settles on the couch to enjoy a hot cup of tea. It’s then that the two Labradors come with wagging tails towards me for their special one on one time too. I guess it’s true what they say, a mom’s job is never done….climb onto my lap for a quick snuggle you two fur babies!

Motherhood

Bittersweet moments

I’ve been doing this parenting gig for close on four years now, and the one thing that I’ve discovered is that being a mom is filled with bittersweet moments for me. Spending each day with your children is an amazing gift, and not a day goes by that I don’t notice the little changes in them. They seem to grow before your very eyes, not only in length and breadth (do they ever stop snacking?!), but in their capabilities too.

Ethan is still small and for him the achievements are smaller, but no less important. I remember celebrating when he could roll over, sit up by himself, clap his hands, and wave. Small things to most, but all big deals to us, his family. It’s been incredible to watch him grow and learn, and to share in the excitement with his biggest fan and encourager, his sister Amy.

And yet with each new thing learned I feel I’ve lost another small piece of him being my little baby boy. I rejoice at his development and at the same time I mourn at how quickly this stage passes us by. I remember shedding tears when his first tooth peeked through, sad to say goodbye to that brilliant gummy smile. I know of course that it will continue to light up my life for years to come, but can’t help feel a bit sad too. Another heart-stopping moment when he turned around to climb down the stairs backwards, pride at him having learnt this but also yet another reminder of how fast this is all happening. His learning to walk was a big milestone, at first his steps were wobbly and slow, but it wasn’t long before those steps became less unsure and more steady, and now he’s already trying to run!

As they grow, learn and become more independent, life does become that much easier. And yet why does my heart wrench at this new freedom, at those words from my daughter “it’s ok Mom, I can do it by myself.” The days may be long, oh so very long, but it’s true that the years are very, very short. And as he wraps his little arms tight around my neck, and she folds her hand into mine, I hold onto them tightly. So tightly. Perhaps if I don’t let go time will slow down just a little and they will stay small for me just a little longer.

Motherhood

Flashforward

You may have experienced a flashback before, sometimes a smell or a song can transport you back in time and the memory can be so vivid in your mind. The other day I had a flashforward.

I was sitting on the couch when a song came on and my little boy of just one ran to me, grabbed me by my hand and pulled me to come and dance with him. As he did and I stood up, allowing myself to be led into the middle of the lounge, I suddenly had a flashforward.

I saw my little man all grown up, I saw him take my hand and lead me onto the dance floor with the same love and enthusiasm that he was doing so now. But it was his wedding day and I was a proud mom who still loved her son with all her heart.

It was just one second, and then the feeling was gone and I was back in the present with my little boy holding onto my hand so tight while we danced together on the carpet at home. I don’t remember this happening to me ever before, but I felt at peace knowing our bond was still so strong and his love for me unchanging, even years from now in the future.

From the day Ethan has been born he has been a blessing in my life. Right from the start he was most comfortable sleeping on my chest, I think it was his favourite thing to do in the world. As he grew he started to hold my hand when he drifted off to sleep, and it’s something he still likes to do now. He also still likes to stroke my hair to soothe himself, and he continues to give me the tightest hugs I have ever had. Such love this little boy has for me that I am still in awe of it every day.

But the days pass quickly, too quickly for my liking. And so I hold his hand as tightly as I can, I dance with him in my arms while he still fits, and I squeeze back just as tightly when we hug. Remember to take the time to dance with your children, to hug them close, and to slow down to enjoy these special times before they become but a memory, a flashback for another day.

Motherhood

Being the perfect mom

It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. But what if you don’t have a village?

Well it’s just as important to have a mom tribe, a group of moms who will be there for you no matter what. I call them my no-matter-what friends.

We often share mom jokes with one another, and when we get the chance we meet for ladies night too. And I can’t tell you how rejuvenating those jokes and that time spent together is. It’s like a breath of fresh air to my tired mom bones, to hear about their challenges of motherhood, to maybe cry a little over daughters’ independence, and yes to laugh over kiddies (and hubbies) antics too. Food for the soul. And no dishes to wash either…it’s a win-win!

Being a mom sometimes leaves me so tired that I wonder how I will push through. I have so many balls in the air to juggle that I wonder what will happen if one falls. And there are always those little eyes watching me that I feel the pressure of wanting to be, and needing to be, the perfect mom.

But is there such a thing as the perfect mom? To my mind no, to my kids minds I think yes. Something I saw shared earlier today spoke to my heart and to the battle fighting raging within me at the moment. “All your kids want is you. Not the fit mom, not the Pinterest mom, not the PTA mom, not every other mom you think you should be. All they want is you, so be the happiest you there ever was.”

Wow. Isn’t that just so true moms?

Is your house ever tidy enough? Do your kids ever eat enough veges? Is the washing basket ever empty? We torture ourselves with trying to be the perfect mom every day. When the truth is we already are.  From the moment that little person was born into this world and made us a mom we have been the perfect mom to them. Chosen so specially to be their mom and with the knowledge that we would try our very best every day to be the best mom for them that we could be. And that’s good enough moms.

So, my advice to you is this. Yes, try to be the best mom you can be, but don’t spend so much time worrying about being that perfect mom that you miss being their mom, already perfect to them. And make sure that you find yourself a bunch of no-matter-what friends, because we all need support from other moms, a shoulder to cry on and a good barrel of laughs every now and then. Plus no dishes, because that’s important too.

Motherhood

Perfect imperfections

If only we could look at ourselves through our children’s eyes. We wouldn’t see the tired eyes that we ourselves see looking back at ourselves every morning, we wouldn’t see the bit of extra weight from Christmas sitting around our hips that we ourselves wish wasn’t there, we wouldn’t see the frustration at yet another drink spilled that had to be cleaned up and wonder how many more times we must mop up today, we wouldn’t see the exhausted tears that we wipe away as we deal with another tantrum over something that seems so trivial to us.

Instead we would see the excitement of seeing a Mom that we love so dearly every morning, her eyes lighting up to get a too early snuggle despite a night filled with many interruptions of little feet padding through in the middle of the night. We would see a Mom who we admire dancing in the lounge to her favourite song as she swings you around even though her arms are so tired from holding you all day. We would see a Mom who we are so grateful for understanding that we are little and make mistakes, and who gives us a chance to learn new things even though we do sometimes make a mess. We would see a Mom who hugs us and understands just how important it is that we have a blue coloured mug even though yesterday our favourite colour wasn’t blue.

We would see less of our imperfections, and more of how perfect we are exactly as we are. That to our children even our imperfections are perfect, and that we are so loved as their precious Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day. On this special day I wish you every happiness and a bit of a spoil, but most importantly I wish that you will see yourself as your children do. The most perfect mom for them, and so very, very loved.