Head of Content
Babies, Um, Change Things
In my life, when something good is born, something bad has to die. Let me unpack that a bit.
I always planned on having children, but my husband and I put it off because I was afraid of being a bad mother. Instead, we spent ten years pursuing other things like education, career growth, and experiences abroad. But when I hit my 30th birthday, we agreed to quit stalling and begin a family. You know what I mean: eventually, you’ve got to rip the Band-Aid off.
We had no trouble getting pregnant, and I had an amazing pregnancy. No morning sickness. Healthy weight gain. Glowing skin. It felt like cheating, really. Of course, towards the end I was sick of feeling like a walking fish bowl, but all things considered it was as if I’d dodged a bullet. My delivery was unremarkable--except that I broke a ton of blood vessels in my face–which wasn’t a good look. But my daughter Elaine was healthy, and now I was a mom. Cue the confetti, right?
Wrong. The insomnia immediately hit. And the panic attacks came in waves, like a rising tide. I was unable to enjoy my baby’s achingly supple skin, her angelic face. And I felt guilty about it, so terribly guilty. But also completely helpless. I was imploding inside, and after several months it became clear that this wasn’t going to just go away. So I sought help of all kinds: people to cry with, drugs to stay sane with, and therapy to make sense of it all. And eventually, I emerged from the darkness. For two years we took it day by day: me, Rob, and baby Elaine, and the me that I knew from before returned.
Yay, Let's Do It Again!
And then I got pregnant again. Cue the same scenario, the same postpartum sickness. Except that the second time it was worse. It felt like going to hell twice.
After Olivia was born, I came across an anxiety workbook that recommended, among many other things, mindfulness meditation and deep breathing. Compared to nuclear-strength sedatives, it seemed silly. But, I went ahead and added it to the list of about ten other things I was doing just to make it through the day. At first, it was a struggle to grant myself the extra time I needed to practice. But that very act of taking time for myself was significant. Yes, my kids needed me, but they could live without me for 20 minutes while I filled my lungs with deep belly breaths. To my surprise, I started feeling a bit better. It was something to build hope on. So I continued.
Mindfulness meditation alone would not have helped me survive postpartum anxiety. But it gave me the opportunity to slow down, and in slowing down, I learned to step back from thoughts that were toxic and untrue. In practicing mindfulness and gratitude and in receiving daily grace, those thoughts of self-harm and despair shriveled up and died. When they threaten to resurrect–which they still do, to this day–I have a way to gain perspective and choose what will grow in my life.
Join Me On The Journey
Oats Overnight is a company and a community of people that embrace what’s Real. Life throws each of us significant challenges that we can’t totally prepare for. But we can choose how to respond in the midst of adversity, and in doing so, move towards a deeper version of ourselves. Mindfulness meditation can facilitate that process and free us to be more present to each other. We hope you’ll join us on our journey toward greater health, success, and joy.
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