(At this point in "real life", most people fidget, glance at the floor, rub the tip of their shoe in the sand and look for an easy "escape" button. I'm not exactly sure what the on-line equivalent of that would be, but I apologize in advance if transparency brings a level of discomfort.)
The truth is, with a six-month-old sleeping peacefully at my side, I am six months into postpartum hormones. And for me, that always means the beginning of a downward spiral into baby blues. I begin to feel overwhelmed...overwhelmed with homeschooling...overwhelmed with parenting...overwhelmed with...LIFE.
I was standing in the middle of Walmart today holding a bag of apples when the tears started coming, making me fully aware of my six-month milestone. And so, I write this not as an outlet to air dirty laundry, but in hopes that in my weakness, some other post-partum mommas might not feel so alone.
This is the third time around for me and my "blues". The birth of both my fall/winter babies brought on the drearies. Although the third time hasn't been "the charm," it has brought about a level of awareness that was absent during the other two episodes. I am able to see some of the signs coming on and utilize a few tools that have helped me in the past. I hold them out to you, dear momma with a baby on your hip, in faith that we will both make it through to the other side.
Hold onto the Truth
I have memorized a few pertinent Scriptures that I replay in my mind throughout the day. At times, I write these out and post them in key places around the house...bathroom mirror, fridge door, kitchen sink faucet. One that has been especially helpful this time around is Psalm 121.
Keep Yourself Accountable
I have two wonderful friends that are aware of my tendencies towards baby blues, and continue to speak words of TRUTH into my life. In the past, The Announcer's wife has made emails and phone calls to remind me of her prayers for me and to recount Scripture that will help bolster me through another day. And another sweet friend...for the sake of anonymity, we'll call her the Naturalist's wife...has volunteered to take my kids for the afternoon, pick up this-or-that at the store, or send over a meal, but most importantly, has asked how I am doing and has expected an honest answer. For my last bout with baby blues when I had four kids under the age of five, she came over to my house early in the morning, twice-a-month for nearly a year in order to help me get my children out the door and into the van so that I might be able to make it to a meeting on time.
The key to accountability, however, is transparency. I had to learn to step out of my "capable" comfort zone and admit that I needed help.
Get plenty of Rest
Obviously with a baby and several other little ones, this is more difficult than some of the other remedies. But, on days when the walls seem to be closing in on me, I try to set aside time in the afternoon for a short nap. Sometimes Walt Disney has to be a stand-in babysitter for a few minutes. But, I have learned to be OK with that. For me, sleep brings perspective. If I am drawing from an empty well, everything will seem overwhelming.
Put School on Hold
There are days when I honestly have to set school aside, whether that means for the entire day or just an hour here or there. For the most part, I try to do at least the bare minimum, which for us means language and math. But, let's face it, even traditional school teachers opt for a day off now and again.
I am not always the best example of one who says "no" easily. But, with the help of the Hubs, I am learning to prioritize my "Must do's" and bow out of everything else. In fact, I'm happy to report that I just recently "passed" on two ministry opportunities...not because they were not GOOD things, but because they were not the BEST things for me...for right now. What needs to go in your life?
My baby blues have never required any traditional medical intervention, but have certainly not been something I can just "get over". They are a hormonal imbalance. I have chosen to counter that disparity, with the help of some all-natural herbs and remedies...St. John's Wart, folic acid, and lots and lots of exposure to light. I am in NO WAY a medical expert, so I can not offer any clinical evidence or support for these items. I can, merely, attest to my own personal experience and success while using them.
If you find yourself spiraling down the dark tunnel of baby blues, or even post-partum depression, I urge you to seek help. There is no shame or blame in admitting that your hormones have not fully recovered...and perhaps, that you have not either. There is light at the end of the dark tunnel...for you...for me...for the both of us.