#itscharlie

So my blog has been all about how this magnificent little girl has come in and turned my life upside down. It has been about the struggles I’ve faced since her birth. It has been about the importance of remaining true to myself and doing what works for me.

Well, here she is. These pictures are so amazing.

The thing is, I remember every single picture. Every single moment. I remember the emotions I felt when I gave birth to this incredibly wonderful, frustrating, hilarious little person. I didn’t know how to love her. It took time, and I had to realize that was okay.

When I was rocking her to sleep, I just looked at her. She was looking at me with the same intense look, almost like she was looking into my soul. Then it hit me.

She trusts me. She completely trusts me. Without doubt, she knows who I am. She feels my love, and I feel hers. What’s so amazing is that the same way I had to get used to her, she had to get used to me too. What an incredible feeling to have someone love you raw. They don’t know your past. They don’t know the things you’ve done. It’s like you get a clean slate. Like, you get to do things right.

So here she is, my heart. My Charlie.

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Nice…sorta.

Being a new mom sucks.

Of course not because of the beautiful life that you’ve brought into this crazy world, but because of the endless, kinda mean advice you get from other people. They give, what I like to call, “nice-nasty” advice. What is “nice-nasty” you ask? Well, it’s just that. They give you their opinion in a nice, acceptable tone. However, it tends to be the things you just shouldn’t say. The comments that are borderline rude.

I’ve gotten this kind of advice about everything from breastfeeding (which I no longer do, so why am I still getting this one?) to television watching to solid food.

So now my girl is a mover and a shaker to the nth power. She is a powerhouse who moves at her own pace, which happens to be fast. It’s so hard to keep up with her! So, the books are not quite going her speed or for other moms with “sound” advice. She started baby food and that was a big deal to a mom a know. Our style of parenting is totally different, which is fine, it’s just not for me. My girl hit another month, so of course I had to post it. In the post I mentioned she liked carrots. Let me give you an example or “nice-nasy”…

“She’s 6 months already?! Time flies!”

Now. I clearly stated how old she was in the post. So, she knows that my baby isn’t 6 months. She basically said ” It’s too early to start solids” without saying it. See? Nice-nasty…and totally uncalled for.

Even in the tone of their voice, people can be “nice-nasty”.

Apparently you are the mother who eats her young if you let your kid watch television. I guess my Charlie is served with my favorite glass of wine because I let her watch Elmo and the gang.

Look, if I am trying to put a load of clothes on put some chicken in the oven, then on comes Elmo! As sick as I a of hearing the Elmo’s World theme song, it helps me out tremendously! It keeps her distracted for a bit while I manage the rest of my home. It’s multi-tasking at its finest.

“You let her watch TV??” “She’s too young.” “That’s not a good for her.”

I can’t and I won’t apologize for how I get things done. Being a full-time student, a full-time wife, and a full-time mom is perhaps the hardest thing I have ever had to do simultaneously. The mommy shamming is real, and what’s worst, some people don’t even realize they are being rude.

Don’t let anyone tell you your way is wrong.  Like the old saying goes, ” If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it”.

Life Doesn’t Stop

Having a kid is something I am honestly still trying to get used to. Its been almost six months since I brought my girl home from the hospital. So many changes since that day we walked in the door with our new baby.

Being a new momma is scary. You have no idea what to do; you get iffy advice from people whether you want it or not. What you do know however is that your life is changed forever. I can’t tell you how many time I have heard “Your life is never going to be the same”. That simple statement put a fear in me that was up there with the fear of God. How was it going to change? For the better? For the worst? Would me and my husband still like each other? Will I start wearing mom jeans and sneakers as my OOTD? Will my life as Erica come to a screeching halt? Let everyone tell you…yes. What I found out for myself…hell no.

I went zip lining the other day with one of my dearest friends and we had the time of our lives! I told my mother that I was going zipping and she was not so happy to say the least. “You have a baby now. You shouldn’t do those dangerous things anymore.” As much as I “understood” where she was coming from, I decided to do it anyway and I’m so happy I did. That first leap was the best. I was nervous, shaking so bad people could see it. My initial thought was “What the hell am I doing here”. Then, I thought of my girl. I want her to be proud to have a mom who isn’t afraid to do uncomfortable things. I want to show her how to be fearless. I want her to go for whatever she wants to do in life.

I can’t let the fact that I have a baby stop me from living the life I want. If anything, I want the fact that I have a baby push me even harder to live!

Yes, my life did change, but not the way everyone said. You have to make up in your mind to define your story; define your life. Being a mother doesn’t mean you don’t exist as a person anymore. It’s okay to thrown on those 4-inch heels, the most fabulous lip you can get your hands on, and your best pair of skinnies to show off those baby curves. If that what you did before, keep on keepin’ on!

So many moms are shamed because they want to stay true to themselves. “It’s selfish” they say. “It’s not about you anymore”. Well, that’s bull because it is about you. If you can’t thrive at being you, how can you possibly expect to thrive as a mother?

Think about it..

No Longer Quiet: Postpartum Depression, a Silent Killer

Everything changed May 15, 2015 at 8:14 pm. My delivery was quick and challenging at the same time. Quick because I pushed five times and challenging because I had never been in such agonizing pain. For most brand new moms, the minute they lay eyes on their new baby, the overwhelming sense of love takes over. As for me, not so much. I held her and she looked at me with such intent. I stared back at her with the same intent. At that very moment I noticed I didn’t have that “over the moon” feeling towards her. I really didn’t have time to really ponder much because there were many distractions while I was in the hospital.

However, when I got home, I had time and fewer distractions around me. I’ve yet to share pictures on the big world of Facebook of my new baby girl. I was tired and sleep deprived. I cried every day. I tortured myself by looking in the mirror. My body was different. It was gross and I didn’t recognize it. I felt unattractive. I felt useless. I was afraid to say anything to my husband. I didn’t know what to tell him because I didn’t know what was going on. I just knew I wasn’t…me.

Postpartum depression. Just saying it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It is a condition that is often ignored or belittled by society; however it is extremely common amongst new moms. I myself went through it after I gave birth to the most incredible little girl. I felt alone, sad, angry, scared, stupid, and fat all at once. I felt trapped, like I was suffocating. This brand new responsibility hit me like a severe blow to the stomach. I had no idea what was wrong but I did realize something wasn’t right.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is somewhat taboo. Why is that? Why are these feelings not taken seriously by most, even by new moms? Could it be lack of education? Moms don’t discuss it because they don’t realize what is happening. Uninformed mommas simply chalked up to “I’m just tired” or “My hormones are just trying to get back in order”. BabyCenter surveyed over 1,400 mothers and the number one reason PPD is unspeakable is because of embarrassment, which comes to no surprise. Find me a momma who wants to come out and say, “I’m crying. I’m anxious. I think I’m failing.” Go on…I’ll wait.

What is postpartum depression anyways?

Simply put, postpartum depression is a depression that occurs after childbirth. (Mayo Clinic) In fact, 1 in 7 women are affected by PPD . Symptoms include:

  • Overwhelming feeling
  • Irritated and/or angry
  • Dark thoughts
  • Hard to concentrate
  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Confused
  • Can’t seem to bond with your baby/ disconnected
  • Can’t sleep and/or eat
  • Embarrassment/ guilt
  • Trapped

Most do not realize that there are stages when talking about postpartum depression after giving birth.

Baby Blues” causes mommies to experience mild depression and mood swings, which is extremely common. The vast majority of new mothers experience at least some symptoms of the baby blues, including moodiness, sadness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, appetite changes, and concentration problems. Symptoms of the baby blues typically show up within a few days of giving birth and last from several days to a couple of weeks. As you can probably tell, “baby blues” can be kind of hard to distinguish from actual PPD.

PPD lasts much longer than a few weeks, and share the same symptoms as baby blues. The difference is that with postpartum depression, the symptoms are more severe (such as suicidal thoughts or an inability to care for your baby) and longer lasting.

Then there is postpartum psychosis.

Postpartum psychosis is a rare, but extremely serious disorder that can develop after childbirth, characterized by loss of contact with reality. Postpartum psychosis should be considered a medical emergency because risk of harming yourself or your baby is heightened. Symptoms included:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation and anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Bizarre mood swings

The cause of these stages of depression is unclear; however stress, hormonal changes, and physical changes are certainly factors that are taken into consideration.

When I decided I needed to talk to my doctor, I was a nervous wreck. I just knew he was going to look at me with pity and he was going to deem me weak. As silly as that sounds, all logic goes out of the window. Of course my doctor has heard this complaint I don’t know how many times, but I was letting my emotions get the best of me.

He wrote me a prescription for depression medicine and it confirmed, in my fragile mind, what I thought. How could he possibly think I needed a pill to feel any emotion towards my baby? Wasn’t I supposed to bond with her naturally? I felt lower than low. That was just one more reason to cry.

I didn’t fill the prescription; doing that would only confirm my spiraling thoughts. I did, however, talk. I talked with tears in my fatigued eyes, begging for a way out. My family made me fight. They made me remember who I was. They made me do the things that make me happy.

The most important thing to remember is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. More and more people are becoming educated about this sensitive subject. More mommas know what to look out for and more and more mommas are seeking help, trying to nip it in the bud.

Here are some tips that helped me cope:

  1. I got some sun. What a feeling! The warmth of the sun made me feel better and energized. I wasn’t running laps or anything, but it did put a smile on my face.
  2. I listened to my favorite playlist. And I mean I blasted it! I even sang a bit. It’s even better if you listen to your tunes outside!
  3. I cried. I’m a water head anyways, but I didn’t deny myself some tears. Understanding why you are crying is even better. It puts things into perspective.
  4. I wrote in a journal. Sometimes you don’t want to talk, but you have to get your emotions out somehow. I found it to be therapeutic.
  5. Take a drive. You don’t have to fill up your tank. Just let the windows down and feel the breeze.
  6. Give yourself time. Be realistic and be fair to yourself. You did just give life you know.
  7. Let family and friends take care of you. I’m sure I couldn’t have gotten through it without them.

Fortunately I came out unscathed. I did however come out of it more knowledgeable about what I was facing and what so many others are up against. I’m so in love with my girl but it took time, and that’s okay. The only way to get educate people about PPD is to talk about it. Mommas, do your research. Recognize the signs. Friends and family reach out to new moms and offer a shoulder, an ear, even a casserole. Believe me, it helps.

Fill in the Blank(s)

Let’s face it. Being a new mom is tough. Babies are time consuming, inconvenient, and down right tiresome. An interesting situation occurred this week. I called my kid a jerk. Not to her face, but as I was rushing to get to class on time. My Monday morning was hijacked by my cranky girl and I didn’t get it. She usually wakes up very happy with a huge smile on her face, so it threw me off that she was anything but. All of my attempts to calm her down wasn’t working, my husband was gone to work already, and the sitter was running a bit late. My morning ritual was doomed that day, however it got me to thinking. I called my baby a jerk..and I laughed at myself. Most mothers would not approve of this at all, but hey, that’s how I was feeling at the time. I wasn’t thinking ‘Hey, she’s just a baby, she doesn’t know better’. I was thinking ‘I haven’t had my coffee, my face isn’t done, and I’m gonna be late to class’.

Society makes mothers feel like they can’t have a negative thought towards their children. That’s unfortunate. Basically, I’m supposed to be a robot when it comes to my girl. Well, not me.I don’t want to have to start lying to myself about anything, especially when it comes to her. I’m not saying to be a meanie to your kids. I’m just saying…it happens. We get flustered. Frustrated. Irritable. It doesn’t make you a bad mother. It doesn’t even make you a bad person. It just makes you human. I’m still working on the patience thing, so it’s bound to happen from time to time. It’s okay not to like your kid sometimes and it’s okay to say it. If anything, your mommy friends will understand you completely. They may even give you kudos for being real with them.

When I got back from class, I came home to the biggest smile from my girl and I laughed again. If anyone was the jerk, it was me. Sometimes, even most times, things don’t go according to plan when there is a baby involved. I’m learning that, still; and that’s okay.

Just, Do You!

As little girls, it is instilled in us to be mothers. We played with baby dolls that pooped; Barbie and Ken had a dream house and we baked cakes in an oven with a light bulb. We chanted “first comes love, then comes marriage, here comes baby in the baby carriage!” to our friends who had a crush on a cute boy. We are pressured to pursue a husband with a good-paying job so that we can possibly stay at home with the children. When you do find that special guy, you get married and it’s only right that you guys have a kid in your first year of wedded bliss. Once you do get pregnant, it’s all about baby. What about the alternative?

I must say, I did those things. My husband makes great money and I have the luxury of staying home with our new baby. However, I tweaked some things. We were married for five years before our daughter graced us with her awesome presence. You better believe we heard it all within those five years. “What are you guys waiting on?” “Don’t wait too long, your clock is ticking.” “You’re married so you can have a baby now!” My favorite has to be “You need to have a baby now so it can have brothers and sisters.” Terrible. My husband and I love to spend time with each other, laughing and joking or just being in each other’s company. We knew a baby would disrupt that so we took time to enjoy each other; to enjoy our marriage. We felt it very important to nurture our union before we try to nurture a human being. I’m so glad we did because we are able to share our love with her. We are able to give her a piece of what we share as husband and wife.

My life changed on May 15 of this year. So many emotions since that day. I felt guilty for not feeling that overwhelming love for her the minute I saw her. I did not understand why I wasn’t feeling the way the women in movies felt. I felt like something was wrong with me because I didn’t post pictures of her with baby goo all on her or of her taking her first breath. First off, there is so much that people do not tell you about postpartum depression. It’s a subject that is swept under the rug, but having gone through it, I believe it needs to be addressed constantly. And breastfeeding, don’t even get me started on the “mommy shamming” behind that. Once I stopped listening to everyone, stopped reading material that did not pertain to me, things became easier. I decided that I didn’t want to be a milk machine anymore. I decided to say with confidence that I only breastfed her for 7 weeks.

Now we are four months in, and life is good and hard. Between being a wife, a full-time student, and a mom I had to find a rhythm that worked for my family, and honestly, still trying to get it down to a science! She growing so fast and changing so much that it’s hard to keep up! But believe me when I say this, trust yourself. Out of the many voices you’ll hear, yours should be the loudest!