PPD Round Two - For the Joy of Life.

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PPD Round Two


I've been meaning to write this post for some time now but couldn't seem to find the time to write it. #momlife. I've been asked several times if I went through PPD again this time. The short answer is no, not nearly anything like I did after having Oaklyn. But, I did have some form of baby blues and anxiety this time. It was short but it was still heavy. I thought I'd talk about what I did different this time and how it all went down quite a bit differently. This is a really personal topic, but I strongly believe it needs to be talked about more. I talked about this on my blog a few years ago, but I suffered from PPD really badly after having Oaklyn. The whole experience rocked my world and completely caught me off guard. While I had definitely felt upset and had low points before, I had never experienced something so life changing before. I remember feeling almost paralyzed from such intense feelings of failure, sadness, anxiety, anger, and loneliness. I honestly felt like I had no control over my emotions and thoughts which lead to feeling like I had no control over my life. I didn't connect well with my baby, the people around me, even my husband anymore! It completely took over my life and I felt consumed in a really dark cloud that could not be lifted. I knew it was really bad when I woke up from an awful dream and hoped that I would just die. I didn't have it in me to actually take my life, so I had hoped that somehow, it would just be taken from me. I actually remember praying that I would get in a car crash or something and that everyone would be okay except me. To me, it felt like everyone's lives would be better without me in them. Just so you know, I know how awful all that is. I know it's not true. I know how hard that is to read for some people... but I know better now and I hope that talking about the depths of those feelings I had will only help someone else know they aren't alone... Because of pride mostly, I chose to endure this awful time unmedicated. I kept thinking I could do it on my own. So here's my first piece of advice, please don't try to do it alone. There are so many resources out there! Take it from me who suffered through PPD severely for about 10 months... it's not worth it to live a life that you feel is worthless. If it takes medication or a therapist or whatever else, it's worth it. 

Okay back to it... So, when I found out I was pregnant with Cam, one of my first thoughts was PPD. It completely terrified me thinking I had to go through it again. I spent most of my pregnancy hoping this baby would never come out. I was THAT scared. I was honestly dreading the arrival of this baby. I started putting the nursery together extremely late, I put off washing all the newborn clothes, and I packed my hospital bag the night before being induced... You guys, I was seriously sick to my stomach over going through all I went through with Oaklyn. It. Was. Miserable. I did my research this time on ways to prevent it, I invested in a few things I hoped would help ease my anxiety, and I prayed continuously that I would have a different experience this time around. The night before, I felt a weird amount of peace. I laid down for bed, put my hands on my tummy, and started to talk to this baby I was about to meet. I told her I loved her and apologized that I might be a little crazy at first. I told her I would love her like crazy but that I would probably make mistakes... More than anything, I think I was talking to myself trying assure myself that it would all be okay. 

The next morning I woke up with a bundle of nerves. Yes, I was nervous about the labor and delivery part... but I was mainly worried about how I would feel after it was all said and done. I honestly felt like I was just getting myself back before getting pregnant. I didn't want to entirely lose myself again. I will forever be grateful that I decided to deliver at a completely different hospital than I did with Oaklyn because it was a fresh start. I didn't want to be thinking about the way I felt in the hospital the first time around. I didn't want my previous negative experience to affect my second birth. You guys, that was such a great decision! I loved my doctor with Oaklyn, but chose a different one this time because I wanted a different hospital. I delivered at Orem Community and it was all around a wonderful experience but here's what made the biggest differences for me... 1) I insisted on keeping the curtains open. I wanted to let as much light in as possible. Having the sunshine let into my room created a really happy environment for me. 2) Everyone in the room stayed calm. Hunter was encouraging, my nurse and doctor were awesome, and my sister calmly watched and took photos after. It was honestly perfect for me. 3) Family and friends came to visit almost immediately after she was born. Having that company there was so good for me. It made me feel so much less alone and I really felt the love and support I needed. 4) I brought a comfy robe to change into. The day after her birth, I wore a floral robe, took a shower, and put on some mascara. I couldn't believe how much good it did to just take care of myself a little. 5) I took advantage of the nursery. With Oaklyn, I refused it. I felt like I was a bad mom if I had them take her. It was hard to let them take cam because those feelings crept back in, but I got three straight hours of incredibly needed sleep and that helped rejuvenate me to be a better mom for her. 

The first week was mostly wonderful. Cam was the dreamiest little newborn, my mom was there to help with anything I needed, Hunter was home quite a bit, and I was just able to ease into life with two. However, one afternoon the flood gates opened and I was so frightened by it I felt like I was drowning. Mom, don't get mad at me for not telling you about this part... I didn't want to scare you ha. Cam had an appointment to get her bilirubin levels tested. The hospital was right by a cool park so my mom took Oaklyn and I took Cam. The second my mom and Oaks left I had a meltdown. I sobbed on my way to the hospital and could not get myself under control. I missed Oaklyn, I missed my body, I felt frantic about totally random things... suddenly I was so nervous that the awful post partum depression was back. I texted Hunter and let him know how I was feeling so he was aware. He was awesome and supportive and that helped tons. But, I just couldn't convince myself I was okay. I choked back tears the entire time I was at the hospital. Cam was being an angel and really nothing should have been upsetting to me, but I felt the opposite. That is what PPD and PPA is... it's having absolutely no control over your thoughts or emotions and it is completely awful. I picked up my mom and Oaklyn and the rest of the afternoon was going well. My mom had to leave to meet with a client she had in the area and we all tried to nap. Hunter was holding cam, oaks was asleep, and there I was, sobbing about who knows what? Hunter was a champ and just talked me through it. He held me and did everything he could to make sure I was okay. More than anything I just felt so disappointed. I totally thought that this time would be different and there I was feeling helpless and overwhelmed all over again. Hunter and I both thought it was a good idea for me to see my doctor and discuss medication and just knowing that was an option gave me a moment of peace. I was able to get a little sleep and woke up with hope. The next week or so went a million times better. I was so much less emotional and I was getting good amounts of sleep. I started to feel like maybe I was in the clear again. 

After my mother in law left, I was completely on my own. Hunter worked two jobs and went to school full time and was pretty much gone from 7am-11pm every night. I felt SO alone. I was impatient with Oaklyn, I was tired, I was overwhelmed, I felt hopeless and helpless and suddenly it all surfaced again. I was hardly getting sleep because my anxiety was taking complete control of my body and I just wanted to run away from all of this and never look back. If you read my post about PPD after Oaklyn, you might remember something Hunter had told me one night when the depression and anxiety were at an all time high... He told me that I just needed to accept the trial. That I needed to stop trying to push it out of my life and feel sorry for myself, instead I needed to embrace it. Part of embracing it was praying and asking the Lord to help me through it. If it wasn't time for Him to take it away, then I just needed His help to get me through it. In this moment the second time around, of feeling lost and broken, I pleaded with my Heavenly Father that He would get me through it all in one piece. That I would figure out how to gain even a little bit of control over all of this, and that I would feel strong and able. The next few days got gradually better as I truly looked for ways to make my life feel normal again. And I think that's the biggest difference I made this time around. Instead of trying to act like it wasn't there when it clearly was, I chose to recognize it, live with it, and change it. The first time around I bottled up all of the feelings and unwanted emotion which caused an unhealthy amount of pent up sadness, anger, and anxiety that would all release really heavy when I didn't expect it. This time, I decided to keep working on blog stuff because that helps give me feelings of purpose. This is a weird one... but I decided to shower at night again like I used to. I always felt like I didn't have time to at night and I was so tired that I just stopped doing it even though I loved it. So, I made that a priority again. I got ready every morning even if that took sticking oaks in front of the tv and wrapping cam on my chest... I got ready and in turn felt ready for whatever life through my way. I went on a walk every single day. Whether it was short or long, I went. I needed that sunshine and fresh air desperately. I napped when my girls napped. I insisted that once a day, they would nap at the same time so I could nap. I tried not to care about things that needed to get done, and instead tried to care about my personal needs. I tidied up every night. Not any major deep cleaning, I just tidied up. That way I woke up to a clean apartment and felt more motivated to make it a good day. I made my bed everyday, because that meant I at least accomplished one thing on my to-do list haha! I made an effort to have a play date with friends once a week so I got girl talk and Oaklyn got to play with friends. I Facetimed and called my mom whenever I wanted because honestly, I just missed her and felt a lot of support and love from her. She always answered and it helped tons since Hunter worked so much. I started working out and eating healthier at the 6 week mark and was so impressed at how much better my mood was. And lastly, I said yes to help SO much more than I ever did with Oaklyn. People wanted to help, so I let them. You guys, I got meals for two entire weeks after my mother in law left because friends just kept asking if they could bring them. It was a lifesaver! All of these things brought my anxiety levels down which helped me to get things done and when I got things done I was less prone to depression.

 I can't even begin to explain how thankful I am that this whole experience went so much more smooth. I absolutely had hard days, I absolutely still do... but I feel like I have such a better handle on it this time around. I also believe that even though I was able to get through it unmedicated, not everyone is. I think we have modern medicine for a reason. If you just don't feel like yourself after having a baby, if you feel more anxious, angry, sad, unmotivated, easily upset, or just simply put unhappy... there is no shame in seeing a doctor to discuss your options. Because guess what, there are options and that is such a huge blessing. PPD/PPA is so common you would be shocked. What isn't common is people being open and honest about it. It does not define you, it does not make you a bad mom, it is nothing to be ashamed of. I want all of you moms out there to remember you're enough. You are more than enough... because you are absolutely everything to them. To those tiny humans you created. I remember looking at Cambria sleeping one day and I thought to myself; "you are, because of me." You are here, you are alive, you are staying alive, because of me. That thought felt equally as terrifying as it was beautiful but I am trying so hard to remember that I am meant to feel joy. These little people demand a lot from us, but they were also sent to us so we can feel joy. I can promise each of you that there is so much joy to be felt and that the storm of anxiety and depression will pass if you let it. If you need support and love surrounding this topic, let me know! I'll make sure you find it.

All my love,
Aleigh Joy

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