Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Easy Meal Time: 2 fast finger foods

When my little one started feeding herself, she had a hard time picking up slippery foods. She loved bananas but unfortunately most of the "nan-nas" ended up smooshed all over her jammies and highchair tray, slippery little suckers. Cheerios to the rescue! I pondered, she can pick up Cheerios no problem? Cheerios...bananas...Cheerios...bana... I got it! 

Step 1: Put Cheerios in a plastic baggy and use the bottom of a glass to smash into crumbs.

Step 2: Poor into a bowl and add bite-sized banana pieces.

Step 3: Roll the bites around to coat in Cheerio crumbs and bada bing bada boom!

Bananas she can pick up and won't slip out of her little fingers! You're welcome :)

Now for oatmeal, another favorite! Certainly not a finger food and all she really wanted was the spoon to feed herself; you can imagine how that was going. I made too much for breakfast one morning so I popped the rest in the fridge. The next day I noticed it was breaking up into chunks, in fact I could pick it up with my hands. Chunks, I thought?...easy to pick up...finger food! So I gave her a few samples. She gobbled it up and didn't mind it cold at all!

Oatmeal chunks
Step 1: Make oatmeal per instructions on the box, extra thickPut in a plastic container 
and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2: Break into bite sized chunks.

Step 3: Very happy baby!

I would love to hear any tips or tricks you have for meal time!

Love, Allison

Saturday, October 15, 2016

City Living: Closet Babies

City living! "Location, location, location" often means sacrificing space. A few teal accents and man-chair replacement turned a bachelor's San Francisco industrial loft into a cozy space for two. It sometimes felt like a game of Tetris organizing our apartment, making use of every nook and cranny. When we learned our duo was soon to be a party-of-3, we started getting creative i.e. I started nesting! Where to put a baby?...

Well, we had closet. It was a unique space, just wide enough to move around in with a little nook off to one side. We removed all the clothes which ended up in an armoire in our living room (you make do). After we pulled the shelving out, I painted the closet a soft-white using FrogTape to outline stripes which I painted pink of course! Then my husband took a picture of me in front of it that we used for our baby announcement :)

I spent a lot of time researching mini-cribs and changing tables, I had to find ones that would fit. Finally I found the Bloom Alma Mini Crib
It's the perfect city livin' crib and folds down to the size of a small radiator. I'm not going to lie, it ain't cheap especially after you add a mattress but it was the only thing on the market that would work in the space. So to Craigslist I went! I eventually found one, ordered some sample paint from the manufacture, touched up a few teeth marks and voilĂ , good as new! As for the changing table, I wanted something simple, functional and inexpensive. I chose the South Shore Angel Changing Table. I used black tape to mark the dimensions to ensure a proper fit and spacing before making a final decision.

After some complimenting accessories and new rug, we had ourselves a baby nook! 

I had one final space to complete. I needed a small swivel chair to fit into a small corner. After an exhausting search, I found the Babyletto Madison Swivel Glider, again not cheap but worth every penny! It was perfect for nursing and rocking my little one to sleep, she is now 1 year old and it's still our favorite place to read books and cuddle before bedtime. Now, for the DIY bargain find of the day: Ikea spice rack book shelves! Just a few bucks each and you could totally paint them to match your nursery.

So there you have it, closet turned baby nook! 

Even if you don't live in a city loft, you could still utilize a closet in a nursery to create more living space. Check out what my good friend, Lauren did by putting their crib in a small closet. She created a custom backdrop made with a wood-flooring-kit from Home Depot, stained and nailed together, finished off with her little boy's name in letters from Pottery Barn. Love, love her style and DIY ideas!

Airplane shelf : Restoration Hardware

Best of luck on your baby nursery and nook adventures! 

Love, Allison

Monday, October 10, 2016

The F-Word

We have a rule in our home, no F-word. No, not the 4-letter word...

Lent, a time of repentance, fasting and reflection; or a second shot at that New Year's resolution. I pondered: Is there anything I'd be willing to give up for 6 weeks? Reaching for a snack above the refrigerator, the thought crossed my mind, "ugh, you're so fat". How rude
! In that moment I knew what I needed to give up and it wasn't the salt water taffy; I'm giving up the F-word: F-A-T

In the beginning I would accidentally let it slip out and immediately cover my mouth. I came up with alternative offensive things to say; It was amazing how hard my brain tried to find synonyms for "fat"! I
 became painfully conscious how many times a day I negatively thought of myself, and not just about my physical characteristicsIt made me sad. Then, I noticed just how nonchalantly I spoke of other women. Every time I looked in the mirror, walked down the street, opened a magazine or turned on the TV, I was acutely aware of how mean I was being to myself and my judgement of others. 

Midway through Lent, I had stopped shaming myself out loud and by the end I observed that my thinking started to change. In just 6 weeks I discovered compassion and confidence. I wasn't so focused on my "flaws" in the mirror anymore. I learned beauty really does start on the inside and that true beauty is kindness towards yourself and to others. I once saw a quote embroidered on a pillow that stuck with me, "Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions". In my case I had to create a better habit with my words first. 

A year later I found out I was pregnant. When I learned I was having a daughter, I knew my 40 day commitment needed to be a lifelong vow. It breaks my heart to imagine my baby girl one day staring in a mirror, feeling disgusted with her thighs, thinking her belly isn't flat enough or her arm looks fat from the side; or even worse, less-than or inadequate. Daughters look up to their mommas and they think we're beautiful, despite how we feel about it. Imagine their confusion when they learn that's not good enough for us; imagine the bar that sets for them? My daughter is only 1 year old but I refuse to step on a scale in front of her, even if she might not understand what I'm doing. I try really hard not to shame my body or intelligence in front of her. I want her to learn from me what confidence looks like and how beautiful feels.

So I challenge you too, to give up the F-word and see if that one little action might shift your thinking...and if for no other reason than, it's just rude!

Love, Allison

Saturday, October 1, 2016

PPD Triggers: Coming back to reality

I didn't know there were "triggers" with Postpartum Depression until I saw a video online that sent me into a sudden emotional downward spiral. I later read, "trigger warning" in the comments on the post. In the beginning, I found abstinence from tragic postpartum stories and articles was helpful. Sometimes I couldn't help myself. Perhaps it was curiosity or some deep down desire to feel bad; or to put it very bluntly, my brain trying to kill me. I even took a break from the news and social media; I felt too sensitive and impressionable. It's at times recommended to confront troubling issues and discuss them, for me it caused more harm. My thoughts were irrational and my feelings were based on situations that weren't real; trying to make sense of it and re-living them felt more traumatic. I now pay attention to trigger warnings. It's been a year since I had my daughter and while my Postpartum Depression and OCD has gotten better, I don't feel completely out of the woods. If something feels triggering, I just don't go there.

The tricky triggers are actual events I'm participating in that stir up a fear. When my daughter was 9 months old we were invited to a pool party. Her first swimming experience! Since her first bath, I've had a fear of her drowning. I tried to dismiss the growing anxiety as the date approached. The day arrived and there I was, holding her in the kiddie pool when the thought popped in my head, "I could just let go". The terror started growing in my belly but I couldn't afford to get lost in an emotional daymare. I had to stay present with her. 
I felt absolutely no desire to let go, the thought was horrifying! I took a deep breath and felt my feet on the bottom of the pool, the way the water felt as it splashed on my face; the feel of her soft, slippery skin where I securely held her under her armpits. I didn't entertain the frightening thoughts. I kept repeating to myself, "they aren't real, they aren't real." We were okay.

Yesterday we had our 1-year doctor visit. I knew vaccines were coming at the end of the appointment. I thought, "procrastinate, just keep asking the doctor questions!".
I tried justifying in my head, "she won't remember"... or will she? My heart raced as I held her and sang her a lullaby. It was over in less than 15 seconds. The nurse left the room giving me space to console her. I wiped her tears and held her closely through her sobbing and little breathing spasms. As I paced the room with her crying in my arms, the uninvited thoughts started. I began imagining her being hurt or in pain and not being able to save her. My eyes started to well up, but I took a deep breath. I noticed the white walls with thermometers and otoscopes hanging from them. I observed the brightness of the florescent lighting; I heard the paper crunch when I placed the diaper bag on the examination table. I was in a doctor's office. This is what was really happening. I had to stay present for my daughter. And I did. 

My ability to not succumb to the daymares and disturbing thoughts has been a process. I've learned what my triggers are and I avoid them when I can. 
I've discovered when I am able to make it through an episode, it gives me the confidence to fight through the next; my faith strengthens and those experiences have added up over time. Sometimes I'm not afraid at all.

It's been a year since my daughter was born. Childbirth while amazing, is traumatic physically and emotionally. It takes time to heal– sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly. When I feel anxious or begin having intrusive thoughts, I check in with my senses: Where are my feet? What do I see? What can I smell? What sounds are happening around me? I take a deep breath and bring it back to present where reality is.

Love, Allison

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Eczema: 7 Mom-tested remedies

Eczema is a skin condition caused by inflammation affecting an estimated 1 in 10 children. There are many different types of eczema, the most common being atopic dermatitis. Doctors don't know exactly what causes eczema but continued research is beginning to link it to diet, genetics, environment and activities. More importantly, it is treatable, preventable and not contagious.
Telltale signs your little one might have eczema:
  • Dry spots
  • Rough or scaly patches 
  • Itching 
  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Cracking of the skin
Most commonly found on hands, neck, face and legs, but it can occur anywhere on the body. Check those creases under knees or elbows, it likes to hide there! My baby has reoccurring patches on the tops of her shoulders and upper back. It seems to flareup in the same spots.
What you can do:
I've put together a list of remedies I've collected from my pediatrician, personal experience and fellow mommas. *Of course before trying any remedy–over the counter or natural–it's important to consult with your doctor to determine if eczema is the culprit, which type your little one is suffering from and the best course of action.*
1. Handsocks: Most of the damage done to the skin is the result of scratching. Handsocks are a non-medical way to prevent little fingers from scratching while allowing the skin to heal by covering patches commonly found on hands and elbows.
2. Cetaphil *Cream* (for dry, sensitive skin): I highlight *cream* because it's different than lotion. Lotions are mostly water which is not well absorbed into the skin and quickly evaporates, but the richer-oil content in cream creates a layer on the skin that locks in moisture. Apply often, especially after baths. You can get into the routine of a nightly baby massage before bed.
3. Babyganics Eczema Care Skin Protectant Cream: 100% natural plant-based ingredients. (They also make fantastic sunscreen and bug repellent)

4. Odylique: This UK based company makes wonderful natural and organic remedies with soothing herbs and oils. They also recently published an interesting article: 7 New Ways To Treat Adult And Baby Eczema From The Inside I found to be very informative and I'm always looking for natural and homeopathic alternatives!

5. Aquaphor Healing Ointment: This is a great all-in-one ointment to have around. I regularly apply it to eczema patches, as a diaper rash cream, and can be used to protect minor cuts, scrapes and burns. A must have for me!
6. Laundry detergent free of perfumes or dyes: You want to remove anything that could cause extra irritation or an allergic reaction. This goes for soaps/lotions as well. Tip: If you're giving your little one baths every evening, skip the soap some nights. Soap can often dry out the skin. 
7Cortizone-10 Hydrocortisone Cream: Steroid cream (this should be used sparingly and if your child is under 2 years of age, it is suggested to speak with your doctor first). My pediatrician recommended using for those especially dry, irritated, itchy spots. I have found this to heal flareups quickly.
I hope you find this list helpful and would love to hear any recommendations you have in the comments!
Love, Allison

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Baby Proofing: The good, the bad and the ugly

When to baby proof? For me it was when my 11 month old turned into a monkey–contortionist–escape artist–high speed crawler (over night). Want to know what you need to baby proof? Just follow your little one around the house and take notes. So to Amazon I went. Here’s what I bought, what worked and kind-of worked:

Outlet and Cord Safety– 
Twin Door Outlet Cover
. Prepare yourself for the BEST baby-proofing thing on the market! It just can’t get any easier. Unscrew the faceplate of your current outlet cover, replace it with this, then close the doors and vuala! It's roomie enough to fit larger plugs and extra cord. I have absolutely no complaints about this product; it works and looks great!

If you want to take it up a notch, add these: Wiremold C110 1-channel CordMate Kit. Measure, cut, pull off a strip of plastic and stick to the wall! It suggests using a little saw to cut, I used a serrated bread knife. You know that popular saying: “measure twice, cut once”? In this case, measure twice, stick once. If you stick wrong, use a putty knife to remove. DO NOT pull it off or this will happen…

After I finished eating my feelings about it, I put my big-girl carpenter hat on and got out the spackling paste and putty knife I should have used in the first place. After re-routing the covers around the plaster I tore off and a little paint job, it's redeemable! 

(despite my OCD and perfectionism telling me to re-do the whole thing so the cord is in a straight line–and to my husband's relief–I've left it alone.)

Dreambaby Blind Cord Wraps. These work great for my blind cords. Two screws to secure and they accomplish exactly what they're supposed to.

Furniture Tipping Safety–
Tip Resistant Furniture Safety Brackets. They’re as easy to use as a zip tie because they are (heavy duty) zip ties! These are great and don’t require you to screw anything into your furniture. So easy and secure!

TV Anti-Tip Straps. Who knew there were already holes in the back of your TV to screw these straps in?! Screw the other end into the wall and pull the straps to tighten. They keep our TV from wobbling when the little monkey escapes my peripheral vision and climbs up our TV stand (now secured to the wall with zip ties).

Cabinet and Drawer Safety–
Sliding Cabinet Locks. They aren’t particularly inconspicuous but they do the trick! Easy to open, close and adjust to whatever size you need them. I can’t imagine a knob or handle they wouldn’t work on. They fall to the side a bit, but again these are more about function than looks.

(Here are two different cabinet knobs/handles styles I was able to use them on and a full-shot of my armoire to reference their size.)

Originally I got these SmartMe Safety Adhesive Locks for my cabinets. After trying to figure out how they open for a solid 10 minutes–growing more confident by the second in their security–I finally figured it out (it helps to look at the picture demonstration on the package). They worked but I couldn’t help feeling paranoid they’d deface the finish of my cabinets when I eventually took them off, so I carefully and slowly removed them and replaced them with the sliding locks above.

...determined to use them somehow, I tried to recycle them for toilet safety (unsuccessfully)

However, they came in super handy for attaching an ipad to the wall! (judgement free zone here) I mean how else was I supposed to get any baby proofing done? She can't know my secrets!

Sharp Corners–
Corner & Edge Guards peel, stick, good to go. I swear the day after I put these on, my wild child pulled herself up on this bench and stumbled, grazing her head on what would have been a very sharp corner FOUR times. Clutch timing for these bad boys! 

There you have it! I've remained very satisfied with all these products and they've continued to keep my little monkey safe. What more could I ask for?!

Happy baby-proofing!

Love, Allison

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mom Must-Haves: 10 things I couldn't live without

Being a mom is challenging enough and then tack on all the "stuff" that comes along with it! As a first time mom-to-be, I was overwhelmed with suggestions, Amazon reviews and baby registries. After lots of online research and consulting with veteran moms on the basics, I decided on Graco for my car seat, Pack n’play & highchair; the Ergobaby 360 carrier, Dr. Brown's bottles, and I rely on Pampers to keep my baby's bottom dry. But as for the I-couldn't-survive-without items, here are my top 10 must-haves:
1.  Medela Nipple Shield– (to preface: breastfeeding is hard even when everything is going right. For a lot of moms, they either aren’t able to or it’s just too painful to continue trying, and THAT’S OKAY. If this is your experience, stop beating yourself up; you’re not alone and you’re not a failure.) I was fortunate my baby latched right away and my milk came in early, however it was still difficult and painful! These were a life saver until breastfeeding stopped hurting, and I promise eventually it will. 
2.  Mixie Baby Bottle– This may be one of the most genius inventions ever. Perfect for meals on-the-go, traveling, flights and midnight feedings. Fill it up and leave it on the counter, when you’re ready to mix you’ll have a comfortable room temp bottle in a jiffy!
3.  Fisher-Price Auto Rock 'n Play Sleeper– Okay, this might be my biggest life saver. My child WOULD NOT sleep in a crib or anywhere other than with me in bed until I discovered this. Life changing. It rocks on its own! 
4.  Terry Zip-Up PJ’s from Carters– Zippers will be your best friend for squirmy babies and the multiple night changes. I find the terry cloth material doesn’t shrink in the wash. 
5.  Summer Infant SwaddlePod– For the swaddling impaired and the baby who can always ninja their way out. My daughter really seemed comfortable and secure while sleeping in this and I found it so much easier! I wish I had discovered these sooner.
6.  Infant Optics DXR-5 Baby Monitor– It may look like a Fisher-Price walkie-talkie but don’t let that fool you, this thing has navy seal night vision! 
7.  Safety 1st Sleepy Baby Nail Clipper– Has a built in light. My child is 11 months old and I’ve never accidentally clipped her skin. 
8.  Handsocks– And I'm not just saying this because I work with them! We spent Thanksgiving at Tahoe in the snow and I'm so glad I packed a pair. They provided extra warmth and stayed put under my baby's snowsuit. My best friend's little boy was in the NICU after he was born; he had multiple scratches on his face from the IV ports and tubes. They used Handsocks to cover up his arms to keep the cords in place and protect his delicate skin. 
9.  Cetaphil *Cream*– I highlight "cream" because it's different than lotion. Lotions are mostly water which is not well absorbed into the skin and quickly evaporates, but the richer-oil content in cream creates a layer on the skin that locks in moisture. Long story short, creams are better for preventing and healing dry skin. My baby has eczema so we apply this often and regularly. It was recommended by our pediatrician and really does help! 
10.  Baby Jogger City Mini stroller– You can truly pull a strap and it will fold down in an instant with one hand, brilliant! We actually bought ours used for $75, a total steal so check out craigslist. The fabric can be detached and washed in the washing machine AND it fits through the security x-ray machine at the airport! (I used this Baby Jogger Car Seat Adapter until my little one was big enough to sit facing out in the seat)
There you have it! You’re welcome for the unsolicited advice as I’m sure you’re getting plenty already :P But if you’re like me, I find it super helpful when someone else has done the research for me. If you have any must-haves you'd recommend, share them in the comments!
Love, Allison

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Suffering in Silence: Family shares story to help others with postpartum depression

Today during lunch with my 10 month old, she stretched out her arm and offered me a soggy Cheerio. I delightfully accepted her gift and pretended it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted! Pleased with my reaction, she giggled, revealing two little front teeth. My eyes welled up. It’s gut-wrenching to imagine I could have missed this moment.
We have the same name, we grew up in Virginia just an hour apart, were pregnant at the same age, and both first time moms to baby girls. On the outside we look very similar, in fact there’s an eerie resemblance. There’s actually no major difference between the two of us except one significant thing, I’m alive and she isn’t. Allison Goldstein, after silently suffering from postpartum depression, took her own life on June 28, 2016. Suffering in silence: family shares story to help others with postpartum depression
I have felt her pain, her shame and hopelessness. I don't know why I escaped from the hell we were both living in and she didn’t. One sleepless night when my daughter was 4 months old—the age Allison’s daughter, Ainsley was—I googled “new mom depression”. I believe this article saved my life: The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety. I learned I wasn’t different, that there was a clinical name for what I was feeling, and most importantly I wasn’t alone. The next day I was honest with my husband and began my path toward recovery.
If you’re suffering, I promise whatever you're feeling or thinking—no matter how twisted and crazy—is not only common, it's normal and completely treatable. The reason you don't feel like yourself is because you're not. You are not alone in this. This world is a better place with you in it, your baby needs you. If you're scared to talk to your family or doctor, then email me. I survived it and I'm here for you.
Postpartum depression affects 1 in 5 women during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth. This cunning and scary illness tells a new mom terrible lies about herself and her life—that it will always be this way, and that there’s no way out; that her family is better off without her. Mothers of sweet babies are suffering and dying in silence. We have to start talking about this and de-stigmatize the shame that seems to be attached to the diagnosis. Postpartum depression has no red flags, hiding it is part of the disease. If you think you don't know anyone suffering, you're wrong. Share this with every new mom you know, even if you don't think you need to.  
Love, Allison (mamaallisonsf@gmail.com)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What I Do All Day When I'm Home With The Baby

The clock strikes 8:45 AM and the 10 hour countdown begins! Desperate, I Google: "what to do with 10 month old baby all day?" and come across this fellow momma's hilarious blog. I had to laugh out loud and immediately felt better as I read the story of my life, especially between 11:01-11:06. I mean I guess it's good to have goals? Oh man, the struggle is real lol.
4:35 Baby hits daily witching hour.
4:36 Put on Bee Movie, immediately feel guilty that I've resorted to Jerry Seinfeld as an animated bee for relief (again) and worry I'm giving my child ADD.
5:37 Text husband, "How's it goin?" aka "when are you coming home please help me".
6:18 Stare out bedroom window with baby on hip counting cars driving by, anxiously waiting for husband to come home, debating whether I should change my clothes.
6:42 Husband arrives home to find me in the same clothes he left me in.
Some days you just can't win'em all! 
Love, Allison

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Postpartum Depression: Why I have to Fight

My blissful pregnancy set the stage for happily-ever-after and then Postpartum Depression hit me like a bat into a million fragments (My Secret: Surviving Postpartum Depression). Some days I feel like a pile on the floor and broken. In my darkest hour I believe: I’m certainly going to feel like this forever; it’s just too hard. How I can continue living like this? My daughter will wonder why mommy’s lying in a dark room by herself. My husband can’t be happy, this isn’t what he signed up for. My family deserves better… And then, the clouds part and the moment of despair passes. I pull the covers off, I put my feet on the floor. The hopeless feelings lift and I’m okay. My Postpartum Depression comes in waves; I sometimes feel like I’m riding a rollercoaster blindfolded.
After my daughter was born, it annoyed me when people would recommend doing anything to care for myself. Did they actually think I was that selfish? And why isn’t anyone as concerned about my baby’s wellbeing as I am?! I didn’t sleep when my daughter slept. My breastmilk dried up after 4 months because I wasn’t consuming enough calories to keep me alive and her fed. Putting any basic needs of my own before my child felt so counterintuitive when my instincts told me to protect her with my life.
My daughter without fail smiles every time she sees her reflection, most of the time she flaps her arms like a little turkey with glee. I can’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror and thought, “Oh Yippee, it’s you again! I love you!”. She doesn’t judge herself. I will be my daughter’s very first role-model; she’s going to mimic me and learn from what I do. I want her to love herself and feel worthy of caring for. The only chance she has to learn these things is if I show her.
I reluctantly admit I’ve never felt worse after taking time for myself, having a night out with girlfriends, a date with my husband, or indulging in a massage; in fact it unexpectedly builds my confidence as a mother. When I practice taking care of me, the better I feel and the better mom and partner I am. While it feels selfish to think of myself at all, I’ve discovered an ironic twist: how much thinking about myself it requires to obsessively feel guilty and like a failure as a mother. When I do feel disheartened, I try to take a quick mental inventory of what I’ve done well. One thing I can say with certainty is my baby girl is happy. She smiles so hard sometimes I can’t even see her eyes because her little chubby cheeks are pushed up so high; I must be doing something right.
I admit I still sometimes lose track of days between showers or forget to eat. I stay up for hours after she’s gone to sleep and too drained some days to leave the house. I compare myself to what other moms are able to accomplish in a day (I’ll save my thoughts on the dangers of comparing for another time). Sometimes I just feel like an antisocial, exhausted, ravenous, stinky mom that desperately needs a pedicure. And then I remember, I’m teaching my daughter self-love and compassion.
During an especially hard morning, I lay crying in bed feeling discouraged and defeated questioning whether I had the strength to continue fighting. My husband looked at me and said, “You have to fight”. He’s right, but I certainly can’t lie in bed and think my way out of feeling hopeless. I have to get up even if I don't want to. Since sharing my struggle with PPD and receiving help, it has gotten better for me; not over night but with time and faith. The episodes have gotten further apart, my appetite has returned, and I actually end some days feeling like I was a really great mom!
If you feel like you want to stay in bed forever and can’t imagine ever feeling better, I’ve felt that way too. My suggestion: Get up, even if you don't want to. Take a shower and as you pass by the mirror consider saying to yourself, “Oh Yippee, it’s you again! I love you!” (even if you don't mean it). You just have to fight.
Love, Allison

Monday, July 18, 2016

My Secret: Surviving Postpartum Depression

There are things that moms just don't say out loud. Well, I'll stick to my own experience...

I had a beautiful pregnancy. I was never sick, I slept peacefully and deep even until the end. I was rarely uncomfortable physically or emotionally. I didn’t struggle with weight gain. I felt more beautiful than I’ve ever felt and all my body image issues vanished. I loved being pregnant; I loved feeling her move around and kick me. I loved going on walks with “my little passenger” as I called her. I never felt alone. I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life.
In the final moments at the hospital before I delivered her, my body began shaking almost convulsively. I wasn’t cold. I heard the doctor tell my husband not to worry, “it’s a sign of the hormones leaving her body”—of the baby leaving my body (I cried as I typed that). I think it was actually her spirit leaving me. As I held this tiny beautiful being in my arms, I was in awe. In that very moment I knew with certainty my purpose in life. I thought, “Oh there you are!”. I already knew her. As I held her, I missed her.
I cried in the hospital bathroom when I took a shower for the first time and felt my soft, squishy, empty belly. She was gone. Even though I kept reminding myself over and over that she was safe and sound right outside the door, I couldn’t shake the feeling. The truth is, I was mourning a loss. My relationship with her had changed. The spiritual connection I had with her while I was pregnant was now physical, and it was hard for me to comprehend that it was the same baby. I felt separation anxiety as I held her in my arms. I couldn’t rationally talk myself out of feeling like I had lost a baby. I felt like someone had cut off my arm, a piece of me was gone. My little passenger had left. It was 3 weeks before I stopped crying in the shower.
As I looked around me, I had a loving and supportive husband, and a perfect and healthy little girl. I was surrounded with all of these wonderful things that should have made me happy, yet my whole world was crashing down around me. I felt so guilty that I felt so depressed; I felt undeserving of all the gifts in my life. I felt unworthy and eventually unfit to be a mother. I thought my husband and baby would be better off without me. I was ashamed and disappointed in myself. I hid these thoughts with smiles and Instagram filters. I portrayed myself as the mother I thought I should be. People would say to me, “You look great, how’d you lose all the baby weight!?” and I’d think, “Oh I just don’t eat because I’m so stressed out and got an ulcer as the result of taking 600mg Ibuprofen four times a day on an empty stomach, and every time I do eat I get a stomach ache so bad that only lying on the floor in the fetal position feels comfortable”. My actual response: “Aww thanks, just good genetics I guess!”
I began having horrific thoughts of bad things happening to my daughter. They would consume me, and in the moment I’d go through the emotions as though it was actually happening. Sometimes I’d end up on the floor in tears, other times I’d stop breathing until I involuntarily gasped for air. I’d imagine every terrifying, gruesome detail. That’s not the worst part; sometimes it would be me hurting her in my nightmare. I didn’t want to hurt her, the thought was sickening and repulsive. But why would I even imagine such a revolting, thing? I wasn’t even frustrated in the moment or overwhelmed. I was convinced that if anyone found out my secret they’d take my child away from me; at any moment Child Protective Services would be banging down my door and I’d be locked away. I wasn’t honest about what was going on and as the result I suffered alone for 7 months. I would die with this secret if it didn’t kill me first. I began isolating and obsessively protecting my child. The outside world and everyone in it became a threat to her; a threat to me. I knew if anything tragic happened to her, I couldn't go on living. I kept her alive to keep me alive. I was consumed with fear and agony. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t feel worthy of self care, love, or compassion.
On the outside I smiled and replied, “I’m great!” when someone asked me how I was doing. Truthfully, I couldn't articulate how I was doing and frankly I didn’t care. All I cared about was keeping my little baby alive. Feeding her, not me. Bathing her, not me. Hell, I’d go hours before I’d use the bathroom. The only voice in my head other than the one saying I was an awful mom, was the one reminding me that being a mom means your baby's needs come before your own and it would be selfish to think otherwise (I’ll expand later on how this is actually completely backwards).
I’ll finish for now with this…I’m scared you’re judging me right now as you read this. I fear everyone will believe what I’m really afraid of, that I’m a terrible mother; that my child would be better off without me. I don't feel brave for being honest, I feel vulnerable and terrified. Honestly, I still feel ashamed. The words in my head I try to listen to are, “what if?”. What if all this self-shaming, self deprecation and fear is a bunch of B.S. What if I’m just a new mom battling Postpartum Depression and adjusting to a new reality, a new normal. What if I’m actually a good mom? What if I’m not alone? What if I’m really okay? If someone reading this, suffering too, can feel a little peace knowing they aren’t the only one struggling as a new mom, then maybe my experience was worth something. I still have bad days but as time passes they become further apart. It does get better. Our situations may look different but the feelings remain the same; it’s real and it's scary. Most importantly, we’re not alone.
Love, Allison