self-care is not self-ish

The last time I was eight weeks postpartum I was crying.

Constantly.

Because Eddie was crying constantly.

My first day home alone with him after Cort went back to work he cried from the moment he woke up until about 15 minutes before Cort walked in the door that afternoon.

I remember sitting in my bed with him trying everything that people had suggested to me to try and soothe my precious newborn.

By the time Cort came home, I had not showered, eaten, or peed all day.

I was in my chair with an infant who had exhausted himself and passed out.  And I was afraid to move for fear he would wake up and it would happen all over again.

Turns out this fear was legit because for the first 3ish months of his life, Eddie screamed.

He had colic.

Something FIERCE.

As a new mom who everyone predicted would rock the mom thing because “you are SO organized!” and “you are so good with tackling issues!” and “it comes so naturally!  DON’T WORRY!”, I was flailing about like a cat in water.

In order to keep the facade of the mom who does it all, I put every single one of my own needs not just on the back burner, but out of the dang kitchen.

Doing anything for myself seemed selfish when I had a husband who was working a full-time job and a baby who couldn’t be soothed.

Shouldn’t it be me who is up every night, all night?

Shouldn’t it be me who gives up showering and leaving the house?

Shouldn’t it be me who gives up time with her friends?

Shouldn’t it be me who gives up cute clothes for frumpy “mom” sweaters?

I was his mother, damnit, I was supposed to make sacrifices.

This was my life now…an endless sacrifice.

And then I got sick.

Giving up who and what I am completely to ONLY be “Eddie’s Mom” contributed to invasive thoughts, anger bursts, and sob fests.

I became mean to everyone other than Eddie.

The Baby Blues turned into the Baby Rages FAST.

After nine months of this I was finally diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety.  And now, almost three years later, it has been suggested that I may have even had a bit of post-traumatic stress syndrome from the emergency c-section and the lack of bonding I had with Eddie in the hospital.

You can imagine I was nervous that all of this would come back when I had Charlie.

But here I am at eight weeks postpartum, and aside from a bad four days of Baby Blues when my milk was coming in (and drying up), I have been amazingly great.

This time I decided to call bullshit on all that “selfless” crap of turning myself into a raving lunatic for the sake of appearing to be a perfect mom.

Right from Charlie’s birth I demanded more self care.

I needed quiet time in the hospital.

I announced I didn’t want at home visits until at LEAST three weeks postpartum.

I allowed my friends to help me even if I felt like I didn’t need them.  They made me laugh and feel like myself.

I asked for help and requested time out of the house alone.

I allowed myself to just take naps and stare at the baby during the day…instead of thinking I had to clean and do a million things while he slept.

If there were days when he needed a buddy, I was that buddy, with no guilty feelings of what didn’t get done.

And I took a long weekend away from “being connected” just so I could get through the Baby Blues and rest my post-op body.

Eight weeks after Charlie’s arrival, I haven’t given up on the self-care.

In fact, the photography class I am taking is a form of self-care.  It gets me out of the house to do my own thing.

May is mental health awareness month, and Sunday is Mother’s Day.

The greatest gift you can give yourself this month is the gift of taking care of yourself.

Every mother deserves daily nourishment and nurturing.

YOU are worth it!

I am happy to share two opportunities you won’t want to miss.

All you have to do to enter is tell me your favorite self-care activity (make sure you click “enter” in the rafflecopter widget to be entered!) and you will be entered for a chance to win a Yummy Mummy Self-Care Package from me and Renee Trudeau.

I’ll draw a name randomly on Mother’s Day and the winner will receive:

That is so not even all…you ALSO have a chance to win the Yummy Mummy Year-of-Self-Care Package (winner also will be announced on Mother’s Day) by following the details here.  (Um, you KNOW I entered this!)

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Legal Beagle Stuff: I received no compensation for this giveaway.  I was contacted by Renee Trudeau & Associates to do this, and because I believe so much in making time for yourself, I agreed.
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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a high school English teacher, college adjunct instructor, freelance writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. The way I take a little time for ME is by getting a pedicure once every two-three weeks. Its an hour of me time. I take my Kindle and relax while getting pampered. Our nail salon even offers a complimentary margarita/glass of wine. I always accept!

    So glad things are going better for you this time. I had it the opposite. When my oldest was born I only had about three days of Baby Blues. With my youngest I was diagnosed with Post partum depression and anxiety. Now Im terrified of having a third.

  2. Long baths with bubbles up to my eyeballs. Or sitting on my front porch with my coffee, notebook, pen and camera….

  3. Finding a quiet place away from the boys to read.

  4. Love this Mama…
    And you.
    My self care involves locking myself in my craft room and scrapbooking the shit out of all the things happy.

  5. TheNextMartha says:

    This is so wonderful. After 9 years of being home I’ve gone from caring, to not caring, back again. I guess it just depends on what else I have going on. Gardening is my therapy. Online is my conversation. Chocolate is my treat. I love that you are having such a great experience this time. It affects everything. Let’s video chat again soon. :)

  6. Tiffany Lloyd says:

    My favorite selfcare activity is to go on a hike in the woods! It is so refreshing to be out in nature without any worries of the home and baby. Even when it’s pouring rain and I get SOAKED, I still love it!

  7. Thank you so much for this post. I struggled with this with newborns twice, and I *still* struggle with feeling like I need to justify things I do for myself.

    My favorite self care is working out. Although sometimes I like to just lock myself in the bedroom and watch Grey’s on the DVR. It does wonders for my emotional health (plus the storylines usually make me really thankful my kids are healthy)..

  8. Good girl!!! We DO learn the 2nd time around, don’t we?! I had never thought about how traumatic the birth of my 1st born was. Emergency C-sect here too. Definitely could have cause PTSD!! Keep on this past. You’re doing fantastic!

  9. My favorite self-care is running! I do it almost every morning and immediately feel better when I do!

  10. I have 3 kids and I am a single mom. I don’t get much “me” time unless it’s night time and then I am too tired to do anything so I guess sleeping is my “me” time lol.

  11. I love to take quiet bubble baths, listen to classical music and read! Nothing screams relaxation to me like those three things. :)

  12. I get drunk on cheap red wine from a box. That numbs the pain for a little bit.
    And although I’m the world’s greatest Mother, I’ll pass on the care package.
    Your Friend, m.

    • My dear, if I had your address, I would send you your very own care package. and by “care package” I mean box of red wine.

  13. My favorite self-care activity is my morning walk/prayer time. Every morning I *drag* my tired self out of bed and walk/pray for 1/2 hour. Without it, I am a crabby, anxious filled mom. :)

  14. Well said, Katie . . . I think we all know mothers who put too much on themselves, and it always just ends up being bad for everybody, but mostly for the mother, in the end.

    I’m glad baby rearing 2.0 is allowing you some smiles. Truly.

  15. Lindsay says:

    You? Are absolutely amazing.

    The rage against all but baby and put myself lasts could have been out of my mouth.

    Great job. I’m grateful to have people like you in the stigma bashing corner.

  16. It has taken me a long time to figure out what self-care means, but I think it does means being a little selfish. It means not feeling guilty for taking care of myself and pursuing the things that fill me up. It means I have to the little voice inside me that tells me the tanks are low and then I have to make arrangements for someone to help me with whatever needs to be shifted so that I can do what I need to achieve balance. There are so many voices telling me what to do and how to do it. But when I am quiet with myself, my little comes rises to the surface and reminds me that I am the person in charge. I am the adult in the room. I don’t have to “ask for permission,” I need to inform my spouse about what I’m feeling and make plans and then follow through.

    What a great giveaway! I wish I was hooked into the blogosphere when I was suffering from PPD.

  17. Thank you so much for this post. I went through horrible PPA after my first and I’m currently pregnant with my second. I’ve tried not to let fear of PPA invade this pregnancy, but the closer I get, the more I think about it. Your post gave me some peace and I’m so grateful to you for sharing. I agree that taking care of you is the most important and I’ll be sure it’s at the top of my list. xo

  18. I’m so, so glad your experience with Charlie is so different, so wonderful. I struggled mightily the first time round too, and am determined that this time, it WILL be different – and yes, because I will self-care.

  19. LOL. I loved this post! On Sunday night, after having both kids (8 years and 5 months) for the previous four hours, I walked in and handed them both to husband. And walked away. I needed a break. I have recently become a stay at home mom, so I have them both all day.

    My favorite actions is getting away to a local winery – (1) free wine tasting for members and glasses are only $5. There’s always great company and manage to meet some great people; (2) spa day at Glen Ivy; (3) Girls Night Out. Most of my “getting away” is physical because it’s easy for the kids to come in and bug me. LOL

  20. This made me tear up. I am so happy that you are making the time for you that you need and deserve. We all need a break, we all need time to stare at our babies and wonder how the heck they got to be so cute (while the dishes sit in the sink). Thank you for posting this for other moms who need to read these words and be assured that taking care of themselves is not being selfish.

  21. I know know know that PPD is not something a person can control and yet I feel like I need to say this to you anyway; because you were and are so honest about it; because you were afraid but you didn’t let PPD win; because you did everything possible to forestall its re-occurrence:

    I am so proud of you.

    There. I said it.

    Now go be a mommy again.

    XO

  22. Amen, sister!

    I get mani/pedis every 2-3 weeks and I go for a lot of walks. Exercise is the way I care for me. And writing , of course.

  23. Andy has started watching Harlow on saturday mornings so that I can go get pedicures, breakfast with a friend: ANYTHING. I’m NOT good at allowing people to do things for me, so this has been a process. + A process of me letting go + learning that I NEED IT.

    xoxo

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