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I went into motherhood with my fair share of
arrogance. I knew I had it nailed, and was completely blindsided when I found
myself struggling to get through every single day . After writing about it last
month I was overwhelmed by the amount of women thanking me for speaking up, and
blindsided once more by a mom who asked me a simple little question: "Do you
think you'll have another baby?"
Throughout everything, I hadn't really stopped to think
about the possibility that I could go through it again, and while I know it may
not be the same and that I may not have the wits to know what I need, I spent
some time brainstorming what I would do differently the next time around. Here's what I came up
I would read less
about symptoms, more about people.
For me, postpartum depression seemed to settle deep in my
bones, and being wide awake pumping at all hours, I had plenty of time to
Google any alternative that would prevent me from having to admit I was
depressed and felt like I was failing. Last week, I decided to search other
moms who had suffered, and found myself in great company: Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew
Barrymore, Courtney Cox and more. These women not only shared their pain, but
put words to things I was just figuring out how to express, and immediately I
felt connected and relieved. Knowing that other moms have overcome all the
negative thoughts and anxiety can be a powerful reminder to hang in there one
I would sleep.
I was so fixated on doing everything right—from pumping to
creating memorable mobiles that would stimulate my son's two-week-old brain—and
I drove myself crazy in the process. While I don't think sleep would have
prevented my depression or cured it, it's scientifically proven that lack of
sleep wreaks havoc on both body and mind. If necessary, I would even consider
pumping and dumping if I had to take sleep medicine, although my herbalist
advised that Valerian is safe to use while nursing.
Next time, I would ask for help getting things done much earlier...
I would ask for help.
I sought out help from professionals to deal with my
feelings, but when I returned home, I still felt overwhelmed at the thought of trying to do everything . Next time, I would ask for help getting things done much
earlier—including bringing over my mother-in-law who I'd naively planned to
come help out only when I went back to work.
I would put myself
The first time I went to the chiropractor at four months postpartum
felt like the ultimate betrayal to my son. I was leaving him at home, with
nothing more than his dad and two bottles of pumped milk, to selfishly get my
hip put back into place so that I could nurse without that sharp, pinching pain. In retrospect, I want to roll my eyes at my old self, but I do remember how
hard it was back then, and how I had to force myself to walk out the door. They
say it's easier with Baby #2, but next time, I will make sure that my
body is well—even if it means crying through each appointment.
I was so obsessed with breastfeeding that stopping in order
to take meds was completely out of the question. I was so dogged in my belief that
I put my nose down and kept on trudging through every single day. In hindsight,
I might have been a happier mom, wife and daughter if I'd made the jump to meds
(even homeopathic or herbal ones, which I wouldn't touch because I didn't know
if they'd mess my kid up), which could have made up for the fact that we weren't exclusively breastfeeding. Luckily, I had enough support to make it through, but so many moms told me
that meds made them feel whole again.