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Posts Tagged ‘postpartum’

A short article called “Hope: The Misunderstood Sister” by Larry Hiller has recently helped me put into words what hope is not as well as what it is.

It may be the way it’s commonly used: ‘I hope the car passes inspection.’ Or, ‘I hope the weather will be nice for the wedding.’  Used this way, the word hope is the verbal equivalent of keeping your fingers crossed.  Consequently, many seem to think Hope is unsure, even fickle — she may or may not grace you with her companionship.

[But] hope is anything but wishful.  It is expectation based on experience.  Hope is serene.  Her eyes have the deep, knowing look of someone well acquainted with sorrow, the luminosity of recently being wet with tears. Hope has the confidence of one who clearly sees a bright future even when the next hours seem fog shrouded.  Hope is steady and strong, a friend I am glad to have beside me during my own trials.

Throughout all of the years of dealing with the adversity of Jason’s health, his car accident, and anything else that life has thrown our way, I have never struggled with having hope — until two months ago when postpartum hit.  I have never taken my ability to hope for granted but after this recent experience, I have a greater appreciation for the understanding and belief I have in the power of hope.  Luckily for me my lack of hope only lasted a couple of weeks but it was enough for me to realize that I do not ever want to go there again.

I love how Hiller capitalizes the word “Hope” and calls it “she,” creating a sense that hope is more than just a wish but an actual companion that we can travel life’s journey with.

I like Hope.  I like believing that life is good and even during trials, it will get better.  I like the sense of purpose and joy that comes from knowing, without seeing, that we can make it and be happy in the meantime.  I have come to understand that Hope is truly my soul’s companion, my partner for overcoming, and my dear friend.

What has Hope done for you lately?

The eyes of hope that look at me each day

The eyes of hope that look at me each day

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My neighbor offered to pick some things up at the store for me - a small gesture in her mind but an enormous one in mine

My neighbor offered to pick some things up at the store for me - a small gesture in her mind but an enormous one in mine

I admit that I haven’t kept up with the journaling part of my Project 365 of Gratitude album during my postpartum issues – I’ll get to it (see #2 on my last post).  But I have tried really hard to take photos of things I am grateful for, print them and insert them into my album.  It’s interesting to see how the things I am grateful for have reflected my thoughts and feelings of going through this experience of postpartum.  That’s the point of the project, I suppose.  Capturing the moment – day by day no matter what is happening.  I have taken photos of things that I never would have thought to preserve before and I’m grateful for the chance it gives me to store the little memories that happen as we journey through the ups and downs of daily life.

But the real reason I kept up with my daily photos is because I know how healthy it is to have to remember to be grateful – even when I haven’t felt 100%.  Having to find something…anything…to be grateful for is part of the healing process.  Not only does it help us to maneuver through the twists and turns of life but it is the balm we need to overcome the obstacles we face.  Gratitude is the secret weapon for happiness.

In my last post I shared some of the mundane things I have been grateful for over the last couple of months and here are a few more.  Gratitude is truly all in your perspective.

I actually weeded the yard myself - with Cole's company, of course

I actually weeded the yard myself - with Cole's company, of course

Nausea from the medication made me feel like I was having morning sickness again.  G2 is my beverage of choice in that situation.

Nausea from the medication made me feel like I was having morning sickness again. G2 is my beverage of choice in that situation.

This was the first time I felt like I could tackle going to the store - it just seemed like such a big place it overwhelmed me

This was the first time I felt like I could tackle going to the store - it just seemed like such a big place it overwhelmed me. Coleman is doing a good job holding the cake Jason bought.

Jason taught my church lesson for me so I wouldn't have to worry about it

Jason taught my church lesson for me so I wouldn't have to worry about it

I actually finished the content for another month of our BPS workshop - that was a hard one for me

I actually finished the content for another month of our BPS workshop - that was a hard one for me

I could have taken a photo every day of these two - they saved me

I could have taken a photo every day of these two - they saved me

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As I wrote this title, my first thought was that I could have left the “Postpartum” part off and this post would still apply.  Whether we are dealing with depression, financial difficulties, physical health issues, problems at work or with family members or anything in between, there are strategies for overcoming our challenges.  I firmly believe this.  We have a part to play in our own happiness and ability to persevere.  This post is all about the nuts and bolts of what I did to get through my postpartum blues.

Project 365 of Gratitude photo: the day I had my doctor's appointment

Project 365 of Gratitude photo: the day I had my doctor's appointment

1.  Get help. I don’t think I can stress this enough and so I put it first.  It’s vital that we understand ourselves enough to recognize when something is wrong and then get the help we need.  So often (as women, especially) we brush our problems under the proverbial rug and “soldier on.”  Although it’s true that we need to do a certain amount of soldiering on in life, we don’t have to do it alone.  I went to the doctor and was firm in my communication with him about how I was really doing.  I also talked to Jason about it often and when we could see that I needed help, we called in our support system – whether that is friends or family or neighbors.  We put key people in the loop so that I was getting help from different areas of my life. – including all of you.  I let you know what was happening and by doing so I was able to not worry about my blog for a while.  That is the power of a support system.

2.  Lower your expectations. Of all the other things I did, this one was probably the most important for me to personally tackle.  I have always been a list-maker and a “get-it-done” girl so the thought that I couldn’t do everything that I was used to doing (let me rephrase that, I couldn’t do ANYTHING I was used to doing) was quite guilt producing.  I hate guilt.  I think it does more harm than good in most situations.  But it was difficult to not feel guilty when all it seemed like I was doing was alternating between taking naps and crying and staring into space.

Once we figured out what was going on I had to immediately lower my expectations of myself.  I tossed my list.  I only did what was vital and tried to get help for the rest.  I realized that many of the things that we think we have to do is in our own mind anyway.  No one cares if I clean off my desk.  No one cares if I start another project.  No one cares if I hire a neighbor girl to weed for me.  We add so many things to our lists that they can overwhelm us.

I decided to have extremely low expectations of myself.  I took care of Coleman and gave myself one thing to do each day such as fold the laundry or clean out the dishwasher or pay the bills.  That’s it.  The rest of the time I spent napping when I needed to and sitting in a chair while Cole played on the floor.  That’s it.  As time passed and I felt strong enough to add something to my day, then I would.  But if not, then I didn’t and gradually that sense of being completely overwhelmed started to fade.

Project 365 of Gratitude: the day I walked farther than the mailbox (talk about low expectations!)

Project 365 of Gratitude: the day I walked farther than the mailbox (talk about low expectations!)

3.  Surround yourself with positives. I found that when I was alone with my own thoughts, I got extremely overwhelmed and discouraged.  Jason kept saying, “You have to stop thinking.”  That’s hard to do so I decided I needed some help with it.  I started turning on positive, uplifting music throughout the house from the time I got up till when I went to bed.  By having something to listen to other than my own thoughts, I did better.  Jason probably got sick of the same things playing all the time but he never complained.  Blocking out the negatives and surrounding ourselves with positives is necessary in normal life so it makes sense that it would be vital when we are feeling less than normal.

4.  Laugh. Jason and I learned early on in our relationship that how quick we are to laugh is directly proportional to how well we work through a challenge.  He helped me to remember this during the most difficult weeks and although we are not daytime television watchers, he would turn on Ellen or something funny in the afternoons to make me laugh.  We were careful about what shows and movies we watched in the evenings as well, making sure that they weren’t depressing or too heavy.  Laughter is a tool.  Give yourself a chance to laugh as often as possible.

5.  Routine. I probably wouldn’t have realized the importance of the need for a routine or schedule before this experience but I recognize it now.  When I hit rock bottom I had my mother-in-law take Cole for a couple of days so I could regroup.  She is wonderful and I’m so grateful that he got to spend that time with his grandparents.  My mom had offered to take him a few days later but I told her no.  What I had realized was that while he was gone I wandered.  I had no purpose that I could face tackling and so I ended up sleeping all day and wandering the house.  I decided that if I could do nothing else, I needed to have Cole home.  His schedule gave me structure.  Maybe I needed to nap when he napped but I still had to get up and feed him and change him and play with him in between.  If I didn’t do anything else, at least I did that.  His schedule kept me on a routine and that provided the framework to my days that I needed to help me move forward.

swimming

Plus, I was always happier when he was around.  Who wouldn’t be?  My mother-in-law said, “Maybe she needs him as much as he needs her right now.”  I believe that to be true.  I needed his touch.  I needed his squeals and laughs and growls.  When I looked into those soul-searching eyes of his I felt like he was saying, “It’s ok Mom.  It will all be ok.”

And it was.

Perhaps that is the best strategy of all.  Remembering that it will be ok. We may have to work at it and it might take a while but it will be ok.  I am grateful for this experience.  I always believed that postpartum depression was real but I never understood its impact until now.  I am grateful we caught it quickly and acted early.  I know that it is the reason why I was doing fabulously just six weeks later instead of still muddling through for months on end.

But I’m still using my strategies.  I have a to-do list now but it’s not very long and when I start to feel overwhelmed I pull back and take a break.  I still surround myself with positives and laughter but now I can generate that laughter on my own again.  I still get help and keep my support system updated on what I need so that I am not alone.  And most importantly, I have yet another thing to add to my list of experiences so that when others go through the same thing, I know what they are talking about.  I am better for this understanding.

Thanks for your encouragement.  For those of you going through challenges of your own – have hope.  Have faith.  You can do this and know that you have a friend in your corner cheering you on.

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First of all, Happy Father’s Day to Jason – the first-time dad at our house!  He’s a natural in every sense of the word and Coleman is a lucky little munchkin to have him as his father (including his ability to think up crazy stunts and tricks involving children – like only a dad can do).  Thanks for all you do and are, Jas.  XOXO

carseat

I had a great week last week.  I feel fabulous and totally like my old self again – wait, maybe not like my old self because I have learned a lot of things having to deal with a month of postpartum issues.  So, I would say that I’m better than my old self.  I appreciate the encouragement – that makes such a difference when we are going through challenges in our lives.  Thank you.

With this in mind, I decided to pat myself on my back for getting through my postpartum fairly unscathed.  We all need to remember to celebrate our victories – no matter their size or scope of impact.  Consider putting this quote from our Big Picture Scrapbooking workshop “A Life Well Crafted” in a place that will remind you to pay attention to each triumph in your life, even if that means simply making it through another day.  And remember: when you print – unmark the “fit to page” setting to get the actual size of the image instead of a full-page version.

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

I’m back.  Healed, more aware of who I am and what I can do but all in all, better than ever before.  I can’t explain the gratitude I feel for being able to spot the signs of postpartum so quickly – within days, in fact.  By doing so I was able to change direction almost immediately and head back to the real me much faster than if I had let things linger.  I’m so grateful for that.

Thanks everyone!  Enjoy the download and take a minute to pat yourself on your back with me – and celebrate you!

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Things are looking up at the Hall house.  This week was MUCH better than the last few weeks – I feel almost “normal.”  Still not pushing it or expecting too much from myself – just taking it easy and doing what I want to do each day.   I think that has helped a lot.

Thanks so much for your encouragement and kindness.

Cole's been helping to hold the bottle these days

Cole's been "helping" hold the bottle these days

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I’m sure you have been wondering why I have been strangely silent over the last few weeks.  Well, here’s the deal.  I am having postpartum issues.  True story.  A few weeks ago I had the flu and never seemed to really recover from it.  Instead, I felt like I was spiraling downward rapidly.

In all of our challenges over the years, I have never had this kind of experience before.  I am amazed at the reality of postpartum depression and how it feels to wonder if this person that you have become will be like this forever.  I was shocked by how quickly it snuck up on me – but grateful that I was able to recognize it quickly and get some help.

Jason has been wonderful.  I am so grateful he works at home as well so that I don’t feel quite so alone.  I am doing much better over the last few days but it’s been tricky for a few weeks.  I haven’t been able to accomplish much and that includes my blog.  But we’re moving forward.  I have strategies of how I have been doing that and will write about those later.  Today I mostly just wanted to give you a heads up as to what is going on and why there isn’t a download again this week.

But don’t worry!  Moving forward is what life is all about and so I’ll be back on track soon.  I really am doing better than I was a few weeks ago so I have hope that all will be well.  Little Cole has been my saving grace – but again, I’ll write about how later.  Thanks for all of your support, love, encouragement and care via cyberspace.

I’ll be back soon – you can count on it.  Here’s a photo for your viewing pleasure of Jason playing with the Cole-meister in the Bumbo.  (And for those of you wondering – we only have him up on the counter when we are right there hanging on to him so he is safe and sound – never fear!  It’s a great way for Jason to get on his level – face to face and grin to grin.)

bumbo

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