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Apr 16, 2017

Stigma

I had a session with a psychiatrist a few weeks back and she informed me that 1 in 7 women have postpartum depression.
She also said there are women who don't get treated because they don't recognize they are experiencing postpartum depression or they just associate it with the drastic and new changes that have just occurred in bringing a new baby into the world and caring for them.
It has been 12 weeks since our amazing baby boy joined our family. 
My love for him was never in question and I didn't feel like harming myself or those around me.
I did know that something was different right after I came home from the hospital. 
It progressively got worse as the days and weeks went on. 
I didn't know what was wrong. 
I physically ached but when my husband tried to massage my back, neck or head, it didn't seem to help. 
It almost seemed as if I had phantom pains. My left foot felt swollen and sore and I could feel shooting pains up and down my spine.
It hurt to sit up and my pelvic bone felt and continues to feel bruised and sore.
I struggled to get out of bed and most days it took all of my energy to get up and get out of the house. 
For 6 weeks I only left the house to pick the boys up from school. 
I struggled being around big crowds and was really protective over my baby.
The first 4 weeks after baby was born, I had to think of one major task I needed to accomplish and would try to complete it before the end of the day.
I made sure it was just one thing because if it was more than one, I would get overwhelmed and the panic and anxiety would set in.
I would panic and get nervous if I knew I had an upcoming appointment and it would take me days in advance to work myself up to going and leaving the house. 
I hid in my room and would go from one extreme of sleeping way too much only doing the bare minimum to going a couple days with just 2 hours of sleep. 
I cried about nothing all the time and often my boys would find me in the room wiping tears from my eyes asking me what was wrong. 
I would lose my train of thought mid sentence and forget what I was saying and I would forget simple words which frustrated me even more.
My mind felt cloudy.
I would space out and couldn't even do simple tasks such as record a video for my husband, walk without falling or tripping or explain something in layman's terms. 
I suddenly had trouble looking at unorganized things or stacks of papers laying in piles on our dresser and had a strong need to declutter. 
The OCD made me want to rearrange our room so many times and throw things out even important items like our car registration & updated tags on accident. 
I easily forgot where I placed things and often left important items like my wallet or papers I was supposed to mail out when leaving to the post office. 
The list goes on and on. 
I have really good days where I feel productive and somewhat normal and then I'll have one day that will knock me off my feet and I'm back to square one.
I'll tell you what though mental wounds, mental illness can be easily hidden. If you  were to see me, I'm sure you wouldn't know anything was wrong.
So you may be wondering why am I telling you this?
Why be open about such intimate and somewhat embarrassing details of your life?
1: Hardly anyone talks about postpartum depression but I'm finding that as I open up about it, I'm hearing stories from close friends and family members that they have experienced this too. 
All from different spectrums of PPD. 
Some being mild, others experiencing a couple or a handful of symptoms to others just being really overprotective of their babies.
Some getting professional help as well as medication and some just pushing through an awkward and trying time hoping and knowing things will subside and get better.
2: There seems to be this stigma associated with postpartum depression, anxiety and any mental health issues or illnesses especially in the Polynesian community.
I guess my goal and point is to tell people it's okay to talk about it.
It's okay to let people know how you're feeling and know there is support out there for you.
Mental health issues are not something to be ashamed of and can be managed in the correct manner if you can acknowledge that there can be something done instead of brushing it under the rug.
I'm still navigating through postpartum depression, anxiety and postpartum OCD.
I know I'll get through this and will find my footing and get a feel for what feels normal for me again.
I believe I'll be able to find myself and not feel so lost.
But in the meantime, I'll continue to speak about it and feel my way through this new territory.
The good news is, my better days are more frequent.
I know that the one or two days that knock me down are only temporary and I recognize that this is just part of the process.
If you're struggling through postpartum depression please don't be afraid to tell someone and get the help you need.
If you ever need to talk or want to vent or need a virtual hug, you know where to find me and I hope you know you are loved, you are special, you'll get through this and that you.are. enough.  
~All my love!

Mar 9, 2017

The dreaded monster

I had my 6 week postpartum check up last week.
I was dreading it for weeks.
Not only because of the fact that I get anxiety leaving the house lately
and have to talk myself up to leave
but also because I would have to face the fact
that postpartum depression is real.
These symptoms and things I'm feeling aren't just something I used to hear about.
When I went in, they weighed me and checked my blood pressure.
Then they gave me a questionnaire I needed to fill out about postpartum depression.
I started to cry, making it completely
awkward for the poor nurse who had to help me.
I had all of the symptoms minus the feeling of harming myself
or someone else.
I sat in the exam room and waited for my Doctor.
As soon as I saw her,
she asked me how I was feeling.
I started to cry again.
They had me meet with a head nurse to get an appointment
with the mental health department.
The next day I met with a psychiatrist to be evaluated
to determine the type of treatment I will need
whether it be meds, therapy or both.

Having a baby is hard.
Having more than one baby is harder.
Life doesn't stop. School doesn't pause and things
keep going whether or not you want them to.
I think people often forget that just because
you're familiar with the process of having and caring for
a baby, doesn't mean that it's all under control.
I'll forever be grateful to my ward Primary President and her husband
for visiting me in the hospital.

I came home alone from the hospital.
The days following were lonely too.
With all these people around me, why did I feel so lonely?
My mom didn't come visit as soon as I was in labor
like I was hoping she would.
She and my step dad thought it seemed better to give me space to rest and heal.
Come to find out, that was the last thing I needed.
I don't think you'll ever reach an age where you'll never
not need your mom and sometimes yearn for that
motherly comfort.
No one brought dinners or came to see how things were going.
As you read this don't feel bad and don't think I expect everyone to drop their lives for me
but writing this post is therapeutic for me.
This is me writing in complete and utter honesty.
I also don't write this to make anyone feel bad but I felt lonely.
I longed for my sisters because besides my husband, they are my safe place.
Nights were lonely.
I thought that it would be easy to nurse because I had done this before.
But it was hard.
I had sore nipples and a low milk supply which
was such a chore to build up.
I felt like if I wasn't nursing baby, I was pumping to make sure I
had an ample supply.
I was stressing myself out wondering if baby had enough milk.
His two week check up didn't help because
he wasn't back at his birth weight, leaving me the weekend
to make sure he gained a few ounces before
our next weight check up two days later.
That about broke me.
I felt and feel completely drained.
All I had were my thoughts and hormones at night.
I was so upset because I felt like my
hormones and thoughts betrayed me.
I became sad.
I cried all the time.
I was looking to feel in tip top shape and back to my normal self
way too soon. What was I thinking?
When I looked in the mirror, I didn't recognize myself.
I saw a pale, tired, gloomy girl.
Someone who needed something
but couldn't quite figure out what.
I had no one to talk to that understood this monster in PPD
or at least that's what I thought.
I kept it all inside because I didn't want
my husband and his parents to think I was being a baby or that
I was going crazy and I didn't want pity.

After having more than one baby people assume you've got this.
This isn't your first rodeo so you'll be just fine.
Yes this is true, I know I will be, just not today or tomorrow and
I know this is going to be a work in progress.
Some days I feel so many emotions
and then others I feel absolutely nothing.
It's hard to explain to someone who
has never felt this way because they can't see inside your head
and they can't feel what you feel.
But I often wonder to myself, how if ever, can someone
make this stuff up?
I am functional and I know what needs to be done
like laundry, feeding baby, picking up the boys from school,
help with homework, clean around the house
and of course throw in a shower if I can.
I'm good at putting on a smile and saying I'm okay.
But my emotions are out of whack.
I feel like the more open you are about anxiety,
depression or mental health in general
people tend to step back and think you need space.

I feel like people going through this need to know
they're not alone and this is more
common than they think.
I can see it in people, their eyes.
They don't know what to say.
They don't know how to approach you.
Or maybe another symptom of PPD is paranoia.

I appreciate those who have been through this.
They check up on me.
They talk and they listen.
I feel like if I don't talk about it then PPD
continues to be a 'behind closed doors' issue.
I want those to know what to look for after having a baby.
I want you to know you are not alone.
I didn't realize how many women, women that I knew had PPD.
They lived it and they overcame it.
I want you to know, it's okay to ask for help
when you're overwhelmed.
It doesn't make you weak if you feel like something is wrong with you.
No one can tell you how you feel or to just snap out of it.
It can be quite debilitating.
The worst though is that it comes in waves.
I was completely fine yesterday.
I checked off more than one thing on my to do list
which is huge right now because
I have been working up to completing one big task a day.
Seems silly right?
Seems like I should be able to get things done right?
Especially because I felt like superwoman during my pregnancy.
Multitasking at its finest.
So, so wrong!
One day I feel productive and the next it hits me like a ton of bricks
and all I want to do is sleep
then I'll become an insomniac for a couple days completely
wearing me out the days to follow.
It also makes me physically sore like I have
huge boulders just resting on my shoulders.
My back throbs, pain shoots through my spine, the small of my back throbs
and of course the crying spells a couple times a day.
I'm grateful for a husband who doesn't make me feel bad.
Even though he doesn't completely understand
what I'm going through, he lets me deal
and doesn't tell me to buck up and get over it.
I know it won't last and I am seeing a therapist next week
to help me better understand what's going on
with me and to help me navigate
through this all.

I've been in hiding.
I barely leave my room but I'm recognizing that
small steps to progression is all I can give for now.
And while I am trying to cope and heal, I will cut myself some slack and know
that although I have faults,
this mothering thing is and always has been my calling.
Postpartum depression will not become me.



Feb 14, 2017

Navigating My Way

Wow, it's been a few years since I've been on my small space of the world wide web.
I hope all is well with you!
So much has happened and so much to talk about
but for now I'll take some baby steps to get back to writing on a more consistent basis.
The biggest news I have for you is I just had baby number four.
He's beautiful and amazing.
A whopping 9 lbs, 10 oz & 22 1/2 inches long.
I'll post his birth story a little later
but there was one thing I really needed to get off of my chest.

It has been 27 days since I had little Lewis.
I absolutely love and adore him but I'm also experiencing a bit of the baby blues.
I have absolutely no ill feelings of wanting
to hurt him, my other kids or myself but I find myself constantly crying over nothing.
In a room full of people I feel so lonely.
I become ridiculously anxious thinking about going places.
I'm sad most of the time yet I put on a fake smile
and continue life as usual because that's what moms are supposed to do right?
I often feel embarrassed for having such feelings
and it seems hard to fully express myself verbally to
others because I feel shameful and because this is supposed
to be the most amazing time of soaking up the new baby and all their loveliness.
I sit here and wonder when and why has mental illness
been such a hush, hush topic?
Why do people like me feel shameful for feeling depressed?
Just because you can't physically see scars or the pain
doesn't mean that people aren't fighting their own demons
within themselves and doesn't make it wrong in any way.
Some would say that other people have
real problems so get over yourself and be happy.
But that's not how depression works.

I stare at my baby in amazement yet I never want to leave the room.
I am beyond joyful he has joined our family
yet I want to sleep all day because my body physically
hurts from emotional pain and anxiety.
We've been so blessed with another beautiful baby boy
yet in the same breath, I can't seem to find myself
or even get into a rhythm that feels familiar which in turn makes me feel selfish.
The day we came home, I felt so lost.
Like I should be somewhere else.
Like I should be doing something.
Everything seemed to be happening but it
felt more like an outer body experience.
My mind knew what I was supposed to be doing
but it took every ounce of me to actually do it.
I'm still trying to navigate my feelings and
obviously I can't quite explain them.
One minute I'm fine and the next
I'm crying over my spilled breast milk.
I'm helping with homework and then I lose it
over something so small as shoes in the wrong place or backpacks on the floor.
I get irritated and overwhelmed because I feel like
I need to declutter and reorganize yet my body is still
recovering from labor so I end up putting myself in more pain.
I'm feeling so many emotions or nothing at all.
You think that postpartum depression comes
in one size that fits all but it absolutely doesn't.
At baby's two week checkup, while in the waiting room,
I was given this chart I was supposed to mark to answer questions about baby and mom.
One of the questions said something like
How often do you feel like hurting yourself or your baby: always, sometimes or never.
In my mind I wondered where the other questions
and phrases were that I can mark because I'm in between.
No I don't feel anger towards my loved ones and kids
but I know I don't feel like my normal self.
Where are the boxes for anxiety when in public, sadness for no reason,
sleeping to escape or the extreme opposite nights of insomnia?
I tried to figure out if I had the baby blues with Khayleb
and I don't think so yet that time was such a blur.
I was so young and bounced back so quickly.
With Jack, I don't necessarily think it was postpartum
depression but more so due to the custody battle I was facing at the time.
With Kendric, I can only remember a handful of times
where I felt alone and sad but it was
so short lived and within the first couple days of his birth.
Now with baby Lewie, I'm baffled that after baby number four,
here I am and it's hitting me full force.
I often feel like I'm going backwards.
Last night I decided I needed to start writing
because that's usually how I navigate and process things.
Then a dear friend reached out to me on Facebook today
and asked how I was doing.
I expressed to her what I was feeling and
she told me I needed to talk to someone,
read books about PPD or join a mom group.
She even said to blog about it and that it might be therapeutic for me.
So here I am, trying to figure out this monster I'm faced with.

I know I'll come out fine.
I know eventually I'll find myself and
even end up creating a new me with bits and pieces
of the old me in tact and I know this will be another
trial to help strengthen me but while
I am in the thick of it, I will make sure to talk about it
regardless of how awkward it feels.
Regardless of whether I feel like people are judging
me even though that may just be all in my head.
I'll keep talking and working and navigating through
 this unknown path and I hope that if you are going through
 something similar you'll talk about it too no matter
how scary or weird it may seem.
I hope if you've been through this,
you share your experience so I know I'm not alone
because truly it feels like that sometimes.
I'll keep writing and hope you come back to read and share.
Until next time, I hope you stay well
and take care of YOU
because you matter!


May 1, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Today is Thursday which means one more work day and then we play!!
Here's some old photos I came across and so fitting since it's throwback Thursday!




Hope you all have an amazing day!

Apr 15, 2014

Getting older

There's been a lot of talk through social media and between friends about getting old and as I get closer towards the big 3-0, I'm wondering why people are always dreading the fact of getting old.
Trying to reduce the wrinkles, changing the inevitable grey hair and the hopes of reconstructing their body to make things look as they did years ago.
When I was 10, I used to think 21 was old, heck I used to think 18 was old.
In July I'll be 29.
I definitely don't feel old and sometimes I forget I'm not 18 anymore.
I still feel young even though the numbers are not decreasing.
As a child, time almost seems to stand still.
I remember going out to play and hours would pass by.
I wouldn't have a clue or a care in the world about what time it was.
My curfew was when the sun went down.
I remember many times very vividly, laying on our freshly mowed lawn on bright summer days, staring up at the sky.
I would watch the clouds go by and wonder how they could move so swiftly and smoothly across that clear blue sky.
I always used to think that those who had passed away lived in the sky and whenever I saw clouds moving, I thought that the angels were taking their daily stroll in Heaven.
I often wondered where they were going and if my Great Grandma and Aunt liked taking walks in the clouds too.
I laid there for what seemed like an eternity.
Time was never an issue, there was not a care in the world.
As I got older, there were schedules, time limits, deadlines, due dates which in turn caused stress.
Everything and everyone always seemed to be racing against time.
I often yearn for my younger, carefree days but in getting older I take pride and feel as though getting older is a privilege.
Those wrinkles are well deserved.
The knowledge I have and will continue to attain only come with time and age.
I embrace it.
I hope to be able to see my kids grow up and watch our family grow and prosper.
To be able to teach our children all we can and hope that they learn from the knowledge I've acquired.
I can't wait for the day that my children accomplish great milestones.
I savor each and every moment with them because I know these stages of their lives won't last forever.
The great thing I take comfort in is that although these stages won't last forever, our family will.
The eternal perspective for me and my posterity is so great and the desire to rear my children in all things good, wholesome and  Christ-like is my biggest and greatest goal. 
Getting old isn't a bad thing.
It's a wonderful thing.
It is an honor and a privilege we should embrace rather than despise or fear.
I love the thought of growing old with my Lovey.
How do you feel about getting older?
What are your biggest fears and goals you wish to accomplish in life?
Have a great day everyone!


{Photo taken by: Sodapop Photography}

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