I sincerely thank all of you who have kept me in your thoughts and prayers since Elizabeth’s birth. For those of you who have wondered, I consider myself to be PPD-free this time around. I did not know that this was possible, especially considering I had a disappointingly challenging pregnancy that did require medication.
So what is different this time around? The number one thing has been preparedness and realistic expectations. A friend told me recently that PPD is a “disease” of unmet expectations. How true that is. In preparation for this pregnancy and postpartum period, I put together a Postpartum Plan. I chose three main areas to focus on—my three main triggers.
My three-pronged approach includes the following:
- Prevent sleep deprivation
- Keep up with a reasonable amount of housework (especially the kitchen and laundry)
- Keep my marriage strong
I am doing a few small things as well, such as going back on my medication when I started to slip during my pregnancy, taking a bajillion vitamins for my moods and energy, in addition to encapsulating my placenta. Birthing and recovering at home was a very significant factor as well. All of these things help tremendously. But I think those three things mentioned above are game changers:
The sleep deprivation thing is obvious, and was perhaps my number one trigger after Becca was born. For the first year of her life, I was unable to determine her food sensitivities and she therefore spent much of her time screaming (another trigger) and not sleeping. I don’t know if I got more than 2 or 3 consecutive hours of sleep from the time she was born until the time I landed in Pine Rest 8 months later. Even after I found the right medications, things didn’t really turn around for me until Becca started sleeping better.
So far, Elizabeth is a ridiculously good sleeper. And I mean ridiculous. She is consistently sleeping 7-9 consecutive hours right now (at 10 weeks old), waking up once to nurse and then going back to sleep for another 3-4 hours. This alone might be the main reason why this transition has been so smooth!
When in counseling after Becca was born, my therapist always asked me what was making me feel most overwhelmed that week, other than the sleep deprivation. Week after week, I always told her I was overwhelmed by the condition of my house. I am not sure why this never clicked for me before then that mess is a huge trigger for me. Chris now jokes that he always knows how I am feeling emotionally by looking at the state of the kitchen.
My house has stayed in great shape this time around. I have had a lot of help, mostly with my older girls, so that I can stay caught up. One woman at church always asks me how I can possibly do it all—have three kids and keep my house so clean. She looks at me like I am supermom, and I know other moms have said the same thing to me when they come over. I assure you, my house is clean for the very opposite reason. I am not supermom; I am a wreck. Keeping my house picked up is one of the only things that keeps me sane!
It came to my attention shortly before baby Lizzy was born that my marriage has taken a huge hit each time our family grew. I realize now that I had postpartum anxiety pretty bad after Hannah (my oldest) was born, but I just passed it off as normal first-time mom angst and the normal marital adjustment of becoming parents. Looking back, my fears were beyond normal. I was terrified that Chris resented me for this baby (Hannah was a surprise). I knew he would never leave me, but I even had dreams at night that we had separated but were hiding it from his parents. I thought I would be doing him a favor if I packed up Hannah, got on a bus, and never came back. And things were much, much worse on the marriage front after Becca…
This time, Chris and I are determined to stay close. I have to say, be careful what you pray for, because sometimes God answers them in ways you never could have imagined. My marriage has been turned upside down in the past few months, but in all sorts of wonderful ways. (More on this in a future post.) I did not know this was possible while caring for a newborn, but Chris and I are definitely in another honeymoon stage of our marriage, and I am loving it.
I feel so tremendously blessed to enjoy this postpartum period this time around. It has not been perfect, but it has been as close to perfect as possible. It makes me want to have more babies… 😉