To say that last year was life changing for us would be silly, but I thought a recap of our big 2018 would be a wonderful way to say hello to the new year. So let’s recap:
First, I had a wonderful baby shower to celebrate Elliott, which I still would like to blog about soon. Jacob and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary with a little weekend trip to Houston. We’ve been together for 15 years now. We had hardwood and new tile installed in our home while I was 32 weeks pregnant, and we moved in with my mom for 2 weeks while the floors were being worked on. Then our sweet baby boy, Elliott, arrived, and life has been a roller coaster ride ever since!
This week marks nine months since Elliott entered our world and I became a mom. It’s so incredibly hard to believe that nine months have already flown by, and so many things have happened that I really wanted to share on my blog, but it feels like there’s never enough time to sit down and write these days. I don’t know how other bloggers do it!
I wanted to write a post when Elliott turned 6 months old… kind of like a parenthood 6 month check-in, but here we are 3 months later, and I’m finally getting to it. I always try to be very real when I write something, so of course, this post is no different. It’s about as real as it gets, so let’s dig in.
Months 1 – 3: The first three months after the baby is born is lovingly referred to as the fourth trimester. I say lovingly because to be honest, it’s downright hard. Adjusting to parenthood life is hard. Like really hard. Of course you are ecstatic to have a new baby and have never felt that kind of love before, but being thrown into a new situation overnight and not knowing what to expect is tough, or thinking you know what to expect (you know because you took all the classes) and then it being completely different than you imagined is even harder. Then postpartum depression sets in and nothing makes sense. More on that later.
We survived the first three months together. I say together because there was absolutely no way we would have survived colic and tummy/gas issues without us working as a team. My mom helped me during the day, and Jacob helped at night. It seemed like Elliott hated everything, and I mean everything. Things that you always hear that babies like, well Elliott didn’t like them at all. Riding in the car? Nope. Every car ride was filled with lots of screaming and tears, etc. Taking long naps? Nope. Never happened. He napped for 30 minutes and that was it. So during nap time, I had to pump. By the time I finished pumping, he was awake, so there was never any time for me to have a few minutes to myself or to rest. He fussed anytime we moved him from one spot to another. He hated diaper changes and getting dressed. I could go on and on. Believe me when I say he hated everything, and I thought he hated me, too.
He cried about everything, and I felt like I had no motherly instincts because I couldn’t get him to stop crying. Often, switching hands (meaning handing him off to someone else) would make him stop crying, and that just made me feel terrible. Why couldn’t I calm him down on my own? I’m his mom. That was hard.
Eventually we figured out that he had silent reflux, and thankfully, medicine really seemed to help him. I really didn’t want to give him medicine, but it helped and it made him cry a little less, so I’m really thankful we had something that helped him feel a little bit better.
I had planned to bring Elliott out and about to stores after he hit 8 weeks, but he was still crying so much, I just couldn’t do it. Then we made it to month 3, and I thought, okay, maybe we can get out now? Nope, still too much crying, but finally… FINALLY at 14 weeks, he seemed so much better! We got off of the reflux medicine. He cried less and less and seemed to be much happier than he was before, and I felt like we had a new baby!
I honestly didn’t know if it would ever get better. I wondered if maybe that was just his personality, but it wasn’t, and since then, he has been so happy and he smiles all the time. And that laugh… oh my goodness. It’s the cutest thing ever! I remember seeing people in the store when I would leave Elliott with Jacob for a bit just so I could get out of my house, and they would always say, “It will get better.” I didn’t believe them because when you are in it, it’s hard to imagine it ever getting better, but thankfully they were right!
Month 4: Something I didn’t really touch on before or mention to many people was that Elliott was a little delayed when it came to hitting certain milestones, and it really, really worried me. He didn’t make a ton of eye contact with us at first, which made me worry about autism. He wasn’t really grabbing at things when he was supposed to. He absolutely hated tummy time, and we struggled to do it every day.
We had our four month check up, and we didn’t really mention any of that to the doctor because to be honest, I really didn’t want to know what any of that meant. But three days after our appointment, I broke down. I couldn’t stop crying because I worried so much that something was wrong with Elliott. I cried literally all day, and finally, Jacob called our doctor and asked some really important questions. The main one was, “Is there a chance Elliott will be delayed because he was born three weeks early?” His answer was yes, and that changed everything. The doctor said he could be delayed up to a month because he was born early. At that moment, I learned that I just needed to trust that everything would be okay, and he would get there eventually, and if he didn’t, then we would just figure it out.
After that phone call, things were remarkably better for all of us, and I started feeling so much more joy and more like my normal self. I felt like maybe Elliott didn’t really hate me. I can’t tell you how many times I googled “why does to my baby hate me?” Seriously, that happened a lot. I also worried that he didn’t know I was his mom and wasn’t connected with me. Silly me, but that’s how it felt during all of those hard times. I stopped googling about Autism and eye contact. I stopped worrying about every little thing, and truthfully, that helped with my postpartum depression as well.
Month 5: Once we hit month five, things have been really wonderful! It took a while to get there, but we made it. He’s happy. I’m happy. He brings us so much joy, and every time he smiles, I just can’t help but fall in love with him more and more. I get tears in my eyes all the time because I just love him so much, and he is the best thing that’s ever happened to us.
At 5.5 months, we sleep trained him (using the Sleep Sense program), and that was the best decision we ever could have made. We’ve been very strict with his 7pm bedtime, and it’s worked out really great for all of us. He gets much needed rest and sleeps 11-12 hours every night, and Jacob and I get a few hours of alone time together.
Months 6-9: I pumped exclusively for 6 months. That was my goal, and through all of our challenges, I’m proud to say that I met my goal and breastfeed for his first 6 months. There were so many times where I thought maybe I should stop… maybe my breastmilk wasn’t good for him, but as time went on, his tummy got better, and we made it! Through all of my own struggles and depression, I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it and meeting my goal.
Overall, everything has been going pretty well, except for Elliott hitting his milestones late as usual. He just now learned to sit on his own at 8.5 months, which is pretty late considering a lot of babies learn to sit at 6 months. We’ve been really worried about him and wondered if there was something wrong with him, but thankfully, he finally figured it out within the last few weeks or so. I’m not really sure why it took him so long, but he finally got it! We really struggled with tummy time for so long, and I kind of think that made him so delayed with sitting, but I’ll never really know for sure I suppose. He’s already doing a bit of an army crawl, so I’m sure we will have an active little one very soon.
Thankfully, I feel so much better about myself now. It just took me longer to get there thanks to postpartum depression. And now on to that…
Postpartum depression is 100% real and can affect anyone. Before I had a baby, I never fully understood what postpartum depression was. All I knew was that a lot of women do not discuss it, but I want to share my story in hopes that it may help someone else.
I had such a wonderful pregnancy, labor and delivery that I never would have imagined I would be writing about this. I suffered from postpartum depression for probably 10-14 weeks. Nine months ago, my entire world was flipped upside down. I went from being a work from home, go-as-you-please boss lady, to a stay at home mom to care for a baby 24-7. It was a huge adjustment, and I honestly thought I would be fine. I mean, why wouldn’t I be?
But then things happened. Elliott was diagnosed with jaundice 5 days after birth and that was tough on this new mama. We ended up in the hospital for 24 hours just days after his birth, and I did not handle any of that very well. While trying to take care of myself and recover from delivery, we were thrown into the hospital not knowing what to expect or how to handle this little one and jaundice. Everything was just so foreign, and I’ve never been in a hospital before, except for giving birth, so I was scared. Plus, add hormones to it, and things are very wacky. Oh, and throw in trying to learn how to breastfeed into the mix as well.
Then we battled silent reflux, which I didn’t even know existed until we figured out that he had it. He never, ever spit up, so we didn’t think he had reflux, but then we learned about silent reflux. We could hear the milk trying to come up, but it never did. I’m sure that had to be so painful for him!
At 6 weeks, we made a special appointment to see our doctor, and he said Elliott had colic. If you’ve never had a baby with colic, you really should count your blessings because it is downright freaking hard. We took all the baby classes we could to help us prepare for a baby, but nothing would have ever prepared us for dealing with a colicky baby. Hours and hours of screaming multiple days a week is seriously one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. Jacob and I often had to tag team it because it was so bad. No one really knows what causes colic, and there’s not really a cure for it. You pretty much just have to wait for it to go away on its own, and it could last for months. Months I said. Plus, it almost always happened late at night. So after a long day with the baby, all you want to do is get to sleep, but then colic kicks in, and he starts crying/screaming for hours late at night. We battled that for probably 2 months… or possibly longer. I honestly couldn’t tell you when it officially went away, but I think it was when Elliott was around 10.5 weeks.
During all of that, I could tell something was off with me. I cried a lot. Pretty much every single day. It was all just so hard. I remember looking at Elliott while rocking him, trying to make him stop crying, and nothing would work. I often remember saying, “Why does this have to be so hard?” or “Can you please stop crying?” My mom came over to our house all day every day Monday through Friday for two months to help me with him and without her, I truly don’t know what kind of state I would be in now. She made me leave the house during the day often just to get out. Whether it was just to get something to eat, drive around for a few minutes, walk around the store for a little bit or to go for a walk at the park… she made me leave, even though I had no desire to do so, and I know getting out, even just for an hour really helped me mentally.
When Elliott was four weeks old was when I first recognized that I might be battling postpartum depression. On a Friday afternoon, I remember vividly wanting to pack up my car and go live in it. I wanted to be anywhere but at home, which made me feel awful. That was the first time I recognized that I didn’t feel like myself.
I had my follow up appointment with my doctor the next week, and I briefly mentioned it to him. But that day of my appointment, I felt better, so I told him I thought I was okay. I did tell him I thought about living in my car, but I thought that I was past it and didn’t feel like I needed help.
I was wrong.
Around 10.5 weeks, Elliott was remarkably better. The colic seemed like it was gone. His tummy and gas issues seemed to be a bit better as well. We were still battling silent reflux, but it was manageable, and slowly, I started to get better too. I could tell that my mood was based on whether or not Elliott had a good day. If he did, then I was okay. If he had a rough day, I did as well.
But I truly wasn’t better. It wasn’t until Elliott was about 4 months old that I really started to feel like my normal self. It took me a while to get there. I talked with Jacob and my mom both a lot about how I was feeling, and I truly think that helped me overcome postpartum depression on my own. Jacob and my mom both urged me to go talk to my doctor just to share my thoughts, but I felt embarrassed. My pride got in the way, so I just kept battling it on my own week after week. I didn’t know anyone else that suffered from postpartum depression, so I didn’t have anyone with experience to talk to, and talking to my doctor (even though I really like him) just didn’t seem like something I wanted to do because it made me feel weak. Some days, I felt so alone and in such a dark place and thought I wasn’t cut out for this motherhood thing. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so terrible and cried so much when it was supposed to be a happy time in my life. I dreaded the nights because I knew I had to get up with Elliott on my own, and I worried I wouldn’t be able to get his swaddle tight enough or I wouldn’t be able to get him to stop crying, and I would have to wake Jacob up to help me with him when I knew he had to go to work in the morning, which just caused me more stress and anxiety.
Some signs of postpartum depression that I experienced were:
- Not wanting to do things I used to enjoy: Something as little as wanting to go to Homegoods or walk around Target for a few minutes or just driving to get Chick fil A (my fave).
- Wanting to run away: I wanted to live in my car, which is so unlike me. I would never do this.
- Wondering if things would be better if I just left: Some days, I just felt like a burden to my husband, and I wondered if I wasn’t around, if things would be easier for him because he wouldn’t be dealing with me too. This is probably when I should have reached out for professional help, so if you get to this point, please tell someone. I battled this part mostly by myself because I didn’t want to tell Jacob I felt this way, and I know I should have talked to someone about it. I wasn’t suicidal, but I did think, “what if I was sick and no longer here?”
- Crying all the time: Motherhood is not easy, so tears are expected, but if you are crying every day, you may be dealing with some depression.
- Anger/Rage: I didn’t really have this often, but I remember “yelling” at Elliott a few times trying to get him to stop crying so much. Honestly, fussing at him didn’t help and just made it worse. I felt so guilty after I yelled, but anger is a common postpartum depression symptom you may not really know about.
Thankfully, I was able to pull myself out of my depression, but it took a really long time, and I know that’s not always the case for everyone, and the sooner you ask for help, the sooner you’ll start to feel better.
Some things I did to help get past my depression:
- I deactivated Facebook and quit following certain moms on Instagram. It probably sounds silly to others that have never been through this, but seeing others happy on FB and IG with their cute, smiling kids really just made me sad. I longed to be in their place where Elliott was happy and smiling and we were able to go places. Seeing others like that just made things so much harder for me, and I realized that not looking at that for a little while would actually help me. I strongly urge anyone that feels the way I did to delete your social media for a little while. It will really help!
- I also started writing down anything positive from the day. If Elliott had a good day, or if he slept more than 30 minutes, or if I was able to change his diaper without him crying, etc… anything that was a good thing was written down on my phone. I felt like I couldn’t see the good things that were happening each day, so writing them down made me see the improvements Elliott was making even if they were really, really small.
If you believe you may be suffering from postpartum depression, please know that you are not alone. Many women suffer from it, and it is okay. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Talk to your spouse/significant other, a family member, close friend or your doctor. If you have suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming your baby, that is not normal, and I urge you to seek professional help immediately. It is so hard to speak about postpartum depression (I know) because it makes you so vulnerable and you fear others will judge you, but talking about it with someone will help you get better.
I know postpartum depression is one of those topics people don’t like to talk about, but I wanted to share my story because it can happen to anyone. I’ve always considered myself to be very emotionally and mentally tough, so I didn’t expect it to happen to me. Luckily, I had a strong support system in my husband and my mom and was able to get through it on my own, but please don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your own feelings if you think you may be struggling. Your baby needs you, and you need to be your best you, so you can be there for your baby. Becoming a mom is such a huge milestone and life changing moment in your life, and sometimes it doesn’t go exactly as you imagined it would, and that is okay.
A couple other things I learned in 2018:
Comparing yourself or your baby to others is really not a good idea. I can’t tell you how many times I would see others in the store with their baby that looked to be Elliott’s age or younger, and their baby wasn’t crying. How were they be able to bring their baby in public and not have to deal with meltdowns? I really struggled with this one the most because all I wanted was to be able to get out of my house for a few minutes without fearing Elliott would start screaming in the middle of a store. After 14 weeks, I finally bit the bullet, and we went to Sam’s. We survived. No major meltdowns, and he’s pretty much been fine anywhere we’ve gone. Sure, he cries sometimes, but what baby doesn’t?
This baby has brought us more joy than I ever could have imagined. I have learned so much about myself in these last nine months. I’ve battled depression. I’ve felt so alone at times or unloved by others, but through it all, this baby has literally changed my life in the best way possible. It took me a while to get there, but now I can honestly say I’ve never been happier than I am right now. These first nine months have been a roller coaster ride, but I’m so thankful we made it through a really hard season. I know there will be many more to come, but with teamwork and much love, I know we can all get through anything together.
One other really important moment in 2018 happened in December. Before I found out I was pregnant, we wanted to get Jacob tested for a genetic disorder that runs through his family. He was never tested for it, and it was something we worried about for many years. Our plan was to get Jacob tested, and then if all was clear, we would start thinking about starting a family, but God had other plans for us, and little E came along.
When I found out I was pregnant, I felt a bit of guilt because this wasn’t how it was supposed to happen, and I felt guilty because what if Jacob was sick and we passed it down to our little one… something we really didn’t want to do. After Elliott arrived, we scheduled an appointment for genetic testing, which was supposed to occur around his first birthday, but luckily, we were able to get Jacob tested towards the end of 2018. In December, we found out that he does not have the genetic disorder. We are so relieved and so thankful Elliott doesn’t have it either!
2018 was such a wonderful year for us. We’ve been through so much and I feel like we are such a better team than ever before. All of the ups and downs throughout the year have definitely made our relationship stronger, and although there were so many hard days, I’m thankful we’ve made it to this place. I know 2019 is going to be one of our best years yet, and I really can’t wait to see what’s next for our family.
Wishing you much health and happiness in 2019 and the years to come!