Let’s face it – parenting is rough. I mean, I’d almost rather play full contact football with the NY Giants on the really hard days. I certainly feel like I have at the end of the day. It’s at the end of those days especially that I force myself to sit back and nurture my soul. I’ve nurtured everyone else’s by then and doggone it, I deserve some lovin’ too.
As moms with PPD, we are in a unique class indeed. We marvel at moms in public who seem so put together, at moms in playgroup who calmly soothe their babies. We wonder what is wrong with us and why we are not like that. We need an entirely different set of skills and yet there is no one nearby to share these skills with us and sadly many of us are left to fend for ourselves as families find more and more distance between what used to be right next door or down the street.
Thankfully PPD is becoming more and more recognized and more information is available to us today than ever before. Slowly the stigma is being removed and women and even lawmakers are talking about PPD and coming up with solutions. In the meantime, all we can do is keep the communication lines open, learning to ask for help as well as accept help when it is offered.
I will start by sharing a few methods I’ve used to get through what I call “High Stress Moments.” You know, the moments when the baby is screaming (and has been for hours), the dogs are barking, the mailman is banging on the door, the phone starts to ring, the dishes need to be done, your toddler is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the floor because Cookie Monster didn’t pick the right letter for the day and all you want to do is for Calgon to take you away. Now. Actually, five minutes ago would have been perfect.
Tip #1: Prioritize. The baby will be just fine in his or her crib if you need a few moments to yourself, even if you just step outside or go to your room and scream or sob into your pillow. Or write it down and then tear it up if you don’t want anyone to read it. This accomplishes two things – gets it off your chest and soothes the frustration with tearing. (You could also keep bubble wrap around!) And the mailman? Well he can just leave a note. The phone? Thank goodness for voice mail. Leave a message with updates about the baby and informing callers that mom and baby are resting. Visitors? A mom I know created a letter stating what visitors would be expected to do if they came by. She had her midwife sign it to make it official. Another mom I know had a list of stuff to be done on the refrigerator and yet another mom kept her bathrobe at the door so that she could appear to have been napping if anyone happened by.
Tip#2: Take time for you. And yes, that even means just grocery trips by yourself. Never before has a grocery trip been such a luxurious indulgence and I usually treat myself to something special and it does not have to be high in calories or fat. (Although chocolate ice cream is a favorite of mine!)
Tip#3: Make time for you & your significant other. Does not have to be sexual, just a coffee or even a nice dinner at home once baby has gone to bed or nap. Go to the following website: www.postpartumstress.com and click on their Family Support Link. They have a Postpartum Pact for you and your partner to complete. This will help your partner better understand how they can help you. They also have cards you can print out and hand out to loved ones.
Tip#4: Try to educate those around you about PPD. If you are unable to do this on your own, recruit your physician to get handouts and maybe even make an appointment for both you and your loved one to talk with your doctor about PPD.
And last but not least, please remember that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and you will be well with help.