As you’re reading this, I am in Cancun on my first vacation in years. Like, actual vacation that wasn’t a staycation 30 minutes from home for a night. An ACTUAL, REAL DEAL vacation. We have a private pool for our room… WHAT? I can’t believe it. We saved for this and waited for the right time, and here we are. To say this was a much needed vacation is an understatement, and I am going to share just a teensy bit of that today. And don’t worry, I am writing this ahead of time, and not working while on said vacation.
It’s actually insane to think my son, Knox, is coming up on his first birthday in just 2 months. I have a ten month old. SAY WHAT?! He looks more like a little human and acts like a little boy more by the day. We have a first tooth cutting (finally!)… I was legit Googling if babies can have issues that make their teeth not grow… LOL. But nah, they’re coming… in case you were concerned. I also found nothing on being born without teeth. 😉 He is so close to first steps that it makes me a little sad, because it means he is not my little bitty baby anymore. He is saying words like “mamamamama” and “dadadadada”, and carrying on babble conversations with himself all day long. And we love to point at everything now. It’s the most fun, life-giving adventure I have ever been on. I didn’t even know I could love being a mom this much. I knew I would love it… but I didn’t understand the level of love that grows deeper than you even knew possible for your kid.
In the midst of all this fun, life has been crazy. I mean, to be expected right? First baby, first time homeowners, small business owner, and a packed summer… Truly, despite it being some of the happiest, most adventurous, most amazing time of our life, and I mean that genuinely… A little bit of insanity has paired closely with this season. No matter how much I write in my planner and schedule life, I am still a human. If it weren’t for an amazing group of friends I have, I don’t think I would have made it out quite so in tact over the last 6 months.
Friends who outdo each other in showing honor, who encourage one another, who sharpen each other like iron. These are the kinds of friends I get to do life with.
Romans 12:10-11 | Philippians 2:4 | Proverbs 27:17
People I can text honestly or call up about absolutely anything going on in my life. I cannot encourage you enough, if you don’t have friends who walk closely with you, love you, and even call you out on things, then you aren’t living as full of a life as God has intended for you. Community is what you were made for. Being known is a deep desire of everybody, no matter what your personality type. (Seriously, we all know I am an introvert!) I am so grateful for the friends Anchor Church has brought me over the last 3 years. Like… WOW. More than I could have ever asked for or imagined. (Ephesians 3:20)
More than ever, these last 6 months I have needed friends who see me often and know me well enough to see when I am off. Who can come sit with me on my living room floor to talk so I can be an adult for a little bit, but my baby can also stay on schedule and sleep in his crib. People I can text and say I am losing my mind, and they can say “Actually, did you know that can be a sign of postpartum depression?” Yep. 6 months postpartum, I realized I was experiencing postpartum OCD and anxiety.
I have waited 3 months to talk about it for a few reasons. And, sometimes when you choose to live your life on social media for your job, when you decide to keep something for yourself… it almost feels like you are living a lie. HA. But, I knew I wanted to work this one out with people close to me, and then talk about it on here after the fact. Or, at least when I felt confident to do so. First of all, I am choosing to talk about this because I feel like not a lot of people do. My flesh says, “Ugh this sucks. I don’t want to talk about this.” But my heart who cares for you and the part of me who shares honestly every bit of my life in order to help others know they’re not alone in what they face says, “Share it! Talk about it! Somebody has to.”
I want to help you new mamas with things to look for so you don’t have to get to the point I found myself at after thinking for months I was just tired and that everybody had the kinds of thoughts I was having. As a first time mom, you just have no clue what is normal. And, let’s be real, when your priorities are to make sure a tiny human is fed and alive all day long and that you have pants on when you answer the door… everything just seems crazy. For me, my postpartum anxiety and OCD was circumstantial and flared up from the chaos of our summer. It comes to everybody who experiences it differently, but this is how it happened for me. I didn’t even know that you could experience postpartum side effects 6 months out… so I really didn’t think anything of it other than “This makes sense, it’s been a crazy few months.”
May, June, and July were insane. In May, we were sick in our household more than we were well. It started with Knox, then I got sick for TWO WEEKS with fever and couldn’t touch Knox. Thank God for a mom who could come stay with me and help. Then, two days after I finally got better… Paul got the exact same sickness I had. We literally were sick almost the entire month of May collectively. Also, as I mentioned, I had to go DAYS without touching my baby. *Spark #1*
Then, in June, I had about a week and a half with Paul of us not being sick before he left for almost 2 weeks in Africa where I had no contact with him. We are talking remote village, the farthest from civilization you can be in Kenya, and I only got updates a couple of times from other people about the group and that they heard they are doing okay. So, I decided to drive to San Antonio so that I wasn’t alone, could spend time with family for my birthday, and get help with Knox as I was still exhausted from the month before. I ended up having a panic attack on my 6 hour drive with my baby and dog alone. It was horrible. *Spark #2*
Then, Paul made it home safe from Africa, PRAISE GOD, but was home for one day and then gone again for a week. We just kept saying to ourselves “If we can make it through the month of June, we can do anything.” *Spark #3*
In the middle of the almost month I wasn’t with Paul, I started having paranoia, insanely vivid and obscure thoughts about things happening to Knox, and OCD cleaning. I would find myself on my hands and knees cleaning the floors every day for hours while Knox slept or played. I started taking on all the house projects I have wanted done since moving in that just haven’t been priority. And I began caulking our shower and bath tubs. The thing is, I am a clean person and I do clean the house daily. But, all of a sudden my tendencies were escalated to ungodly heights. I would try to force myself not to clean, but would start to panic if I didn’t. If I saw some lent on the floor I HAD to clean it or I would stare at it and be upset.
I would have images I couldn’t shake of terrible things happening to Knox, and I couldn’t save him. I would panic while driving, thinking somebody was going to hit us. It was things I had never experienced before, and they were all-consuming types of thoughts. I couldn’t make them go away, no matter how much I prayed for them to disappear or how hard I tried. If I closed my eyes, they would pop up.
I clung to scripture that says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8)
And, “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, cast your cares on the Lord.” Philippians 4:6
I also experienced forgetfulness like never before. One week, I completely blanked about a baby shower I desperately wanted to be at, I forgot about a meeting, I completely spaced a Sunday I was on worship team… It was so out of character for me. And the more I forgot stuff, the more upset I would get and the more crazy I felt. Then, it felt like the more I focused on how frustrated I was with being forgetful… the more forgetful I became.
These were my telling signs something was more off than just “oh it’s been a crazy few weeks.” Sure, it had been. But, the crazy few weeks, rather months, were a catalyst for what was actually going on. I finally scheduled an appointment with my midwife, and sure enough, I was most certainly having Postpartum OCD and Anxiety. This is a type of postpartum depression. I wasn’t sad or blue as I had always pictured postpartum depression would be like, which is why I just really didn’t think anything of it. But, it most certainly is! This is why I wanted to talk about what I went through! I feel like when we hear or read about postpartum side effects, it’s often about the type where we can’t get out of bed or have ill feelings toward our babies. That’s a very really type of postpartum depression, too! But that’s not at all what I experienced. It wasn’t anything to do with my baby or feelings toward Knox. It was all inward for me. It was solely things I felt were out of control or things I needed to fix. I think, at its core, because life felt so out of routine and out of control, I felt if I could control my surroundings then maybe I would feel slightly better.
Phew, that feels good to talk about! I hope my experience can help you. I hope if you are a new mom experiencing anything like I did that this gives you answers and freedom from what you’re dealing with. As soon as I knew WHAT was going on with me, I feel like almost immediately it started to go away. That won’t be the case for everybody, but since I truly believe mine was onset from circumstances out of my ordinary routine, it was easier to reel back in by getting back into normalcy. I grew more and more in my head about it all until there was a name for it. After talking to my midwife, I chilled out, life began to get back to normal, I got my hubby back, and we had our routine back once our summer came to a close. I didn’t get on any medicine, though I was prescribed some. I wanted to see if I could figure out something that helped me before taking it. READ: I am NOT against meds, but I want to be off of them if at all possible. I was using some oils, though not consistently. Bergamot, Progessence Plus, and Endoflex apparently help with hormones so I gave them a shot. I just would rub them on my belly and diffused them during the day when I would remember to, if we are honest haha. I do think they helped, though.
The greatest help was my amazing group of girls who I do life with. Being able to talk about it was freeing. I am cheering you on, ladies. New mamas, YOU GOT THIS. We are in this together.
I am wearing the Spread Kindness Tee from The Cake Shop in Mauve, and Knox is rocking his Dino Suit COMING OCTOBER 17th to the full fall launch of The Bundt Cake. WOOHOOO! I cannot wait for you to see the full new line of baby, toddler, and kids items.
Photos for The Cake by Hannah by Cottonwood Road Photography