Why Can’t I Breathe?

For the first 3 months postpartum, every morning when I opened my eyes I was consumed by fear and sadness. I was scared that I would have to go through another entirely new day full of the unexpected. Would my son cry a lot today? Would he feed okay? Would he want to be held for most of the day? There were too many unknowns and I had no idea what to expect. It was unfamiliar territory and it made me feel very vulnerable. Waking up in the morning was a challenge, and I hated it. I would wake up and have a panic attack. And if I am completely transparent, I wasn’t a single mom, I had a lot of support, but there was something in my head that kept telling me I wasn’t good enough. That I was somehow going to mess this all up. That my son would need something, and I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to help him. I just wanted him to be okay, and because of this, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I felt I had to be perfect, so that he would happy.

I became a very anxious person. I never understood the power anxiety could have over a person until I experienced it myself, and boy was it an awful feeling.

But when he turned 3 months, its like something changed in our relationship. Its like we started to connect. Perhaps it’s because I started to speak to people about my struggle. But for the first time, I felt like I was actually starting to bond with my son. When we locked eyes, I felt like I could take care of him.

Make no mistake, I was still very very far from feeling confident in my parenting skills, but I was starting to build a support system to help me through some of my concerns.

I also stopped Googling for “help”. Whenever I wanted to understand a behavior my son’s exuded,  or a solution to help him with a struggle like gas, I would Google. I found that Google left me confused and it stressed me out. There were so many solutions, I became overwhelmed. So, with the guidance of a doctor, I decided to stop.    

Best. Decision. Ever.

When I started to slowly trust my own instincts and to reach out to people I knew, instead of a comment wall, I started to feel more confident in my own skills. If a solution didn’t work, I could reach out to the people who initially guided me and say “hey that didn’t work, got another idea?”. The open dialogue helped me work through my anxiety.

I still suffer from anxiety today – but I feel like I have the tools to work through it, and with time, I hope that I can overcome it.

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My Girl Squad

When people think of a group of girls, they often associate them with “cat fights”, “being bitchy” or the movie “mean girls”. But when I hit my lowest point, I found myself being uplifted by some truly exceptional women. The more I opened up about my negative self-reflection, the more determined these women became to rally around me to provide me with the support I didn’t realize I needed.

It was a strange feeling.

When it comes to my emotions, I have a history of being more introverted. I don’t really engage in friendships and I like to keep my circle very small. I have acquaintances, but not friends. Yes there is a difference.

But in this instance, I knew I needed help. I had to expand outside my regular circle. If people reached out to me and asked me how I was doing, I told them the truth. I told them I was struggling. Those who didn’t want to support me brushed over the topic, and those who wanted to help constantly checked in on me. I was okay with either. If you didn’t want to help me, I appreciated the indirect honesty. But, if you did, god bless you, you have no idea how much solace I found in our conversations.

I appreciated the advice and I appreciated the support. I truly felt like they were my pillars when I couldn’t stand on my own. I also appreciated the people who were around me who didn’t necessarily have the life experiences to guide me, but were around to just be around. To step in when I felt like I was going to have a mental breakdown. To fill in the gaps where I felt I was weak.

My girl squad was and has been my greatest blessing throughout this experience. I started to understand the importance of expanding my circle and investing my time and energy in relationships that I may have otherwise overlooked.

PostPartum Depression – Yes I did the Ugly Kim Kardashian Cry?

Sitting in the doctor’s office, I felt nervous. I started to think, why did the CAS lady think I had postpartum depression? I did a quick google search, “symptoms of postpartum depression”.

  1. Depressed mood (subjective or observed); be irritable mood in children and adolescents, most of the day; YES – My husband would agree that I wasn’t a pleasure to be around.
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure, most of the day – YES – I was sad for about 75% of the day.
  3. Change in weight or appetite. – YES – I had lost weight, I just had a baby. But other than that I was eating okay.
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia; – YES – Oh I definitely had hypersomnia. I wanted to sleep every chance I got. Some would argue that this was a side effect of being a new mom. But I didn’t feel physically exhausted. I felt mentally exhausted all of the time.
  5. Psychomotor retardation or agitation (observed); NO?- I wasn’t sure what this point meant, someone else would need to confirm this one for me
  6. Loss of energy or fatigue; – YES – I was very tired.
  7. Worthlessness or guilt; – YES – I had a really bad case of mom guilt. I didn’t get to feed my child, I didn’t want to hold him for too long after he was born.
  8. Impaired concentration or indecisiveness; – YES – I could not make a decision. Normally, I have a very decisive person. I made decisions very quickly. But lately, I would get overwhelmed and confused very quickly.
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation or attempt. – NO – I didn’t have these thoughts, but I did want to run away and hide under a mountain of blankets.

I was surprised at how many times I had checked the “yes” box, but I was relieved to learn that I wasn’t alone.

Perhaps having child protective services called was a blessing in disguise?

When the doctor finally made his way into the examination room, I felt a lot more comfortable in speaking with him. I was very candid about how I was feeling, and for the first time, I had a full-on meltdown. Yes I’ll admit it, I did the ugly Kim Kardashian cry.  

I was a mess, and I needed help.

But I have a great doctor. He assured me that having postpartum depression is more common than people think, and that there are so many people who aren’t diagnosed. Contrary to popular belief, you can be diagnosed with postpartum depression up to 3 years after having a baby. Yes, you read that correctly – THREE YEARS!

I was shocked.

Feeling five or more out of symptoms listed above nearly everyday in the same 2-week period is a flag to get help, and boy did I need the help!

My doctor referred me to a psychiatric and social worker – and just like that I was officially in the system.  

Postpartum Depression – Why Isn’t this Dark Cloud Leaving?

After a couple of days in the hospital it was time to come home. I was looking forward to the familiarity of my home. I had just completed a huge renovation project on the house and it finally looked the way I had envisioned when we first bought the house.

But coming home, I still felt empty.

My mum was staying with me for the first five weeks of being home. In our culture, you either go and stay with your parents for five weeks or your mother comes and stays with you. And those first few weeks were amazing.

But then came five weeks plus a day and I was home alone with just the baby. I was scared. I didn’t feel confident taking care of this little human being. I didn’t even feel confident in taking care of myself. I was a mess and I spent the entire day in tears.

In my time of desperation, I remembered that there was a support line I could call for help, and I called. Little did I realize that they wouldn’t care about my well-being, instead their concern was “if I would harm my child”.

Enter Child Protective Services.

Keep in mind that harming my son had never even crossed my mind. I explained to the nurse on the phone that I just wanted to run away. How that translates into harming my child is beyond me. But that evening I had a visitor from child protective services.  I was scared. Are they going to take my child? What did I do wrong? My son was fed. I changed his diapers. And when my husband came home from work he would bathe him. My son was taken care of. That wasn’t the problem. The issue was my mental state. I was sad. I wasn’t confident. I felt lost. I felt very vulnerable. I felt that I could crumble at any minute.

Nevertheless, the lady from Child Protective Services was coming in the evening, and I had to prepare for the unknown. Its safe to the say the visit from Child Protective Services was a success. The lady asked to see where my son slept, and I showed her the bassinet and then the crib that was already set up in the nursery for when he got older. I showed her his toys, his clean clothes and his changing table. She didn’t understand why she was called to my house. I explained my mental state and she advised me to go see my family doctor to discuss post-partum depression.

PS – My mum also started coming to my house during the day to help me. She’s my superhero!

PostPartum Depression – Where Did You Come From?

I never thought I would be one of those moms.

I had a plan. I was going to get pregnant, and it was going to be the flowers and butterflies’ type of experience.

Wrong…

The experience was a nightmare plagued with gestational diabetes and nausea until the very end. Between popping pills to control the vomiting, pricking myself with needles to check my blood sugars and stabbing myself with insulin needles, it was safe to say I hated the world! As the Brits would say – I was a miserable cow!

My labour would go smoothly.

Wrong again…

33 hours of vomiting and pain. Everyone said “take the Epidural – it will be great! It will disguise the pain”. They didn’t tell me that it would make me throw up! Maybe I was one of the unlucky few. Even having ice chips made me throw up. Labour was a rough experience. After it was all over, I was mentally and physically exhausted. When the nurse finally placed my son in my arms, I wanted to be as far away from him as possible. Skin to skin wasn’t even an option. My husband took over. My husband was also the first one to feed my son,  and although I had only been a mother for about 2 hours – I felt like a failure.

Make no mistake. I loved my son, but I felt as though I had lost who I was. And without even realizing it, I started feeling the pressure of the mom shamers. In my mind, I could hear them saying “You didn’t want to hold your kid? You didn’t feed your kid?”. While the normal me would respond with “No I fucking didn’t – move on with your life”, the current me – that I didn’t even recognize, wanted to crawl into a small black hole and hide.    

I was very sad and I felt alone. I felt like no one understood how I felt. I was supposed to be happy and excited about this gift I had receive, and I was. But something was missing. I felt like an empty shell.


January 21, 2019.

Hello Everyone!

I’m back! After a year and a half long hiatus I finally feel ready to write again.

As many of you know, I had a baby in December of 2018 and its safe to say that the experience didn’t go quite as planned. I joined a group of millions of women who battle a mental condition called post-partum depression.

Much of my future blogs will detail my experiences as a mom.  I intend to share my real life experiences and emotions. I refuse to sugarcoat them to make myself look/feel like the perfect mom. I’m a real mom with real experiences. I am looking for guidance on how to get better – so if you have any tips/tricks. THEY ARE WELCOME!

I’m Pregnant!

Sorry I have been so MIA from posting, but I’M PREGNANT!

Yes that may sound all fine and dandy but one thing I can tell you for certain, the movies and television lie! Being pregnant isn’t fun at all. I just finished my first trimester, and I feel like a deflated soccer ball! Let me tell you what being pregnant is really like!

  1. Morning Sickness! HA! Try all day sickness. Dicletin is supposed to be the hero drug to help with the Nausea, so naturally it doesn’t work for me. I need something stronger. God forbid I forget to take a dose on time, because, that’s right, you guessed it, the toilet becomes my best friend! None of my actual friends had morning sickness. In fact, they felt perfectly normal. So naturally I hate them all! And that leads me to point number two.
  2. Uncontrollable Hormones. I have no control over my emotions, I can be laughing one minute and crying a river the next.
  3. The insane sense of smell. I hate the smell of my car and have to fight the urge to put my head outside the car window while driving. I don’t car if I look like a dog! The smell of anything sweet makes me want to throw up!
  4. Everything freaking hurts! Muscles you didn’t know existed hurt. Your entire body feels tense. Forget sitting comfortably! You know that space above your belly? You probably don’t, but it pains for no reason! So you find yourself stretching in weird directions, hoping the people around you don’t look at you like you’re a freak!
  5. Sleep? What is sleep? I’m lucky if I can find a comfortable position to fall asleep and pray I don’t wake up with bedsores!
  6. Working a full-time job? The jokes on you, you feel awful but you have to act like a sane person around people. God forbid they find out how crazy you really are! And going back to point number two, I have to work extra hard not to have an emotional breakdown. (Yes I’ve already had two)
  7. Your clothes don’t fit! Maybe this is because I popped early, but my pants don’t fit, so its tights and leggings 24/7. But let’s be honest, most of the time I can’t even be bothered to get dressed. I feel so awful that I’m lucky if my outfit even makes sense!

Yes I know what you’re going to say…getting pregnant is a blessing, not everyone is fortunate enough and you are right! It is a blessing but what I didn’t mentally prepare for were all of the changes that my body would go through. The naive part of me thought this would be a walk in the park. After all, women have had babies for hundreds of years. These are my realities of being pregnant! I just have to remind myself this is only for 9 months. 3 done…6 more to go!

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The Little Train That Could….Maybe.

Six months ago, I started a new role at work and to say the role is challenging is an understatement. Every day feels like an uphill battle and up until last week, I felt that I was up for the challenge.

Last week, I was thrust outside my comfort zone as I attended a week of intense training at our company’s headquarters. And boy was the training tough. I felt both mentally exhausted from the amount of information being dumped on me and physically exhausted from the time difference. Having health issues, traveling is very tough for me. But the information overload was tougher. As a flew home at the end of what can only be described as one of the most exhausting week of my life, I made a conscious decision to do my best and become the ‘little train that could’.

That thought quickly evaporated on Monday morning as I sat at my desk. Conquered, yes I mean conquered and not consumed, with fears and insecurities, I did my best to try and tackle the obstacles put in front of me. I was close to the end of the day, when a colleague called me and shouted at me. “What do you want from me?” he shouted down the other end of the receiver. I was shocked. This is my colleague, not a customer. He is someone who is meant to be on my team. I was trying to work on a request for his customer, and needed more information to help fight for his ask. Keep in mind I am new to role, so my ask may have been ‘stupid’, but my mind and effort was in the right place. I was extremely hurt by his reaction, and asked him to adjust his tone, which he did not. Needless to say, I got off that call as quickly as possible.

After collecting my thoughts, I sent him an IM that read:

“I apologize if you feel that my work is inadequate, but I am 6 months in role
and am doing my best. It is not okay for you to shout at me. I am trying my
best to find a resolution for an ask that came through you.
Going forward, it may be best for you to please send all of your asks through the account managers. Thank you.”

I hope I handled the issue correctly. I will be the first person to admit that I am having a hard time in the role, but I also continue to try and push through my insecurities and do my best. I don’t pretend to know more than I do, and am constantly reaching out for help. I want to get better in this role, but it is very hard to when you have colleague shouting at you. It is extremely demotivating and it makes me very sad.

Maybe this role isn’t for me….

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Home Sick Already!

I am currently sitting on an airplane, mentally preparing myself for another adventure. I love the idea of spreading my wings and exploring new lands, but the minute I take my seat on an airplane, I am instantly homesick. I would consider myself an adventurous person, however as I grow older, I am slowly becoming intimidated by thing that are unfamiliar. As you can imagine, I’m finding this new-found personality trait frustrating. I don’t want to become someone who enjoys the comfort of being home and misses out on new experiences.

Ironically, as I sit here typing, ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin has started playing on my playlist. For those of you who know me well, I live for the magic of Disney, and as I hear Aladdin and Jasmine sing their verses, I can feel the feeling of excitement creeping up on me again. It’s as if the universe is helping me suppress this nervous, cautious feeling and replace it with excitement.

Disney has a way of making everything better. I started off this blog post feeling nervous, and vulnerable. After two minutes and thirty seconds of listening to ‘A Whole New World’, I feel ready to take on the world again! I am ready to see unbelievable sights and experience indescribable feelings!

 

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What #InternationalWomensDay Means to Me

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and at the risk of sounding like a nerd, I have a confession. International Women’s Day is my favorite day of the year. I am a feminist, and believe in #girllove , but as I sit and reflect on all of the strong female influences in my life, I also feel enormous amounts of gratitude towards the men in my life.

I have been very fortunate in my life. I grew up in a household where my father treated all of his children the same, irrespective of their gender. He instilled a ‘why not me’ mind set in each of his children, and that led us each to achieve great success in our lives. He worked very hard for us to have the lives we have today. Even when he became severely ill, he pushed himself to provide for our family. It was a difficult time, but my mother was a great source of strength. She stepped in and ensured that we didn’t miss our after-school activities. That there was a meal on the table every single evening. I think I get my work ethic from her. She is a machine. To this day, I am convinced that she’s attached to a rechargeable battery pack. Even at the age of sixty, she can run laps around me. To this day, I have not met anyone with the same stamina as her.

My parents are a great team, and the person I am today is a result of their hard work.

I also have an exceptional partner, who is constantly pushing me to achieve more. He doesn’t believe in glass ceiling, and has a lot of confidence in me. He also doesn’t believe in gender specific roles, which I find annoying, especially when it comes to me having to cut the grass!  I love the smell of freshly cut grass, and apparently that is reason enough for me to have to cut it. But I have no problem with sitting outside and reading a book while he cuts it. We often joke that he is more of a feminist than I am, and deep down, I think we both know it’s true. He is often disappointed in the media because he doesn’t like the way women are portrayed. He has concerns about  the impact the media will have our younger cousins, nieces and nephews, and how they perceive themselves and females. He is definitely vocal about these concerns.

Lastly, I work for an exceptional multi-national corporation that doesn’t believe in glass ceilings. In our company the VP, General Manager and two regional sales managers are females. To see women occupy these roles is very motivating. These are women who have had to manage the work life balance and have made great strides in a male dominated industry.  I also have an exceptional team lead, who I would consider a feminist. He motivates me and has helped me immensely with my career. Even when I feel that I won’t excel, he reminds me to have confidence and do my best. He’s taught me that my best is good enough, but I need to learn to walk before I can run. He’s also taught me that learning is a process, it’s not an end state. These are very valuable lessons that I can apply in both my professional and personal life.

Reflecting on international women’s day, I am reminded that this day is not only about the exceptional women in our lives, but the exceptional men who propel women’s rights forward. I am the person I am today because of the lessons I have learned from both genders.

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