an honest look at postpartum depression pt 2

Postpartum depression, for me, has been such a hard thing to experience because it has caused me to be a slave to my thoughts and fears which I normally would not have. This fear, worry, and anxiety keeps me from doing what might bring me joy and often it keeps me from experiencing life that is right in front of me. 

I recently went to a Solly Baby event in San Diego with Leo and had a great time meeting new moms and hearing an inspirational talk on beauty and body image.  Our Solly is our favorite baby carrier and I knew I needed a night out so when they advertised on Instagram they were having a local event with food, wine, a motivational talk, and girl time, I was all about it.

One of my friends from college who was there said something to me that really made in impact on my life with regards to postpartum depression and anxiety. We were catching up and she asked me how I was doing and I vented a little on how hard it is to get out of the house with 3 kids and how it is easy to just want to stay home all the time. She replied (ES), "but, look, you're doing it! You are here and that's what matters!" She didn't know it in that moment but that was exactly what I needed to here. Those few little words gave me validation that taking a night off for myself was okay and not a total failure.

A light bulb went off in my head in that moment. Yes, Leo screamed for half the drive down, yes, I had to pull over to nurse, yes, I was stuck in 30 min of traffic, and yes, I had spit-up down my new J. Crew top the entire night. BUT I was there! I wanted to get out and do something for myself and I did it.  I usually say no to things that take a lot of effort because of the work required to actually make it happen and I am so glad that this time I made it a priority to get out and do something fun and different.

The night was filled with a room full of 100+ moms from all walks of life. Lindsay and Lexi from Beauty Redefined talked to all of us about how we are "more than just a body. See more. Be more." I originally didn't think I would get much out of the talk but I was surprised with how much I took away from the night. 

  I did a lot of people watching, like I usually do and tried to pray for those who looked like me, moms who can put a smile on but inside are battling with their own thoughts. These women were so inspirational to be around because many of them balance blogs, careers, and hobbies while simultaneously being a mom and wife. 

If you or someone you know is struggling from postpartum depression and anxiety please talk to someone. The worst thing you can do is battle this awful illness alone and there is help out there. For me, getting out of the house and doing something for me made such a difference in my life. I felt, for a few hours, like I still had value in purpose in the world besides being a caretaker in my own home. With help from God, my family and medicine I have not been having as bad of symptoms as I did when I had Calvin and is a victory to be celebrated

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10 Mundane Things That Make My Husband the Best Dad!

When Nick and I began courting 8 years ago one thing that really drew me to him was how he was with his family and the future I saw with him as a dad one day. Nick has a great relationship with his sisters, mom, and his whole family and his kindness and love for them and for my own mom and sisters demonstrated to me the love he would show our future kids. 8 years and 3 kids later he has not let me down. So in honor of Father's Day, I wanted to share a few mundane things he does on a daily basis that I might sometimes overlook. All of these tasks have made our family and our kids grow for the better. Thanks be to God for giving me such a great and handsome ;) husband.

1. Nick and the boys always wrestle right when he walks through the door. The boys know that wrestling is for just boys (I don't want them tackling a girl) and Nick and the boys love getting some energy out doing something in the boys club.

2. Every day after dinner Nick bathes the boys and puts them to bed. Since I am a SAHM I often need a few minutes to myself to pick up the house and be in silence so bath and bedtime being his routine with the older boys have been such a help to me. It is also a way Nick gets to spend more time with the kids before bed (7:30 pm bedtime). 

3. He still pursues me and looks at me with love. Raising boys is a big responsibility and I love that Nick demonstrates how to love a woman by showing me such care. I hope our boys always remember how gentle he is with me and that through the good and bad him and I are always on the same team.

4. I love how Nick genuinely loves others. Being a pastor means that you have a heart for others. I am always amazed how quickly he is able to help a friend, a neighbor, and even strangers. I might not tell him enough but this is something that is so attractive to me and a rare trait nowadays.

5. I am so thankful for how Nick pays attention to the little things. Every morning he gets up with the two older boys until me and Leo wake. When I get to the kitchen he always has a cup of coffee waiting for me in my tumbler. It is not something he has to do but it shows me that he cares about the little things. (Thanks, babe!)

6. Nick prays with the boys. Yes, I know he is a pastor and that is something you expect a pastor to do, pray. But I am thankful for the times I see him kneeling beside the boy's bunk beds and leading them in the Lord's Prayer or praying for the sick.

7. Nick goes to work every day and juggles two jobs. This allows me to be a stay-at-home mom and I am thankful that he gets up every single day to support us and then comes home to spend time with his family.

8. Parenting is a lot of work and is such a learning process. I am thankful that Nick and I are able to co-parent well and how he always asks me if we are both disciplining and training the boys the same way. Being on the same page is not only good for us but also for our kids who look up to us for guidance. and assurance. 

9. Nick brings Calvin to school every T/Th (or my mom whom is also a life-saver) before work. He knows how easily I can get overwhelmed in the mornings with my PPA (postpartum anxiety) so his willingness to help me out in this way has taken a huge burden off of my shoulders.

10. This may seem obvious but Nick never shows our kids lack of love. He is always telling them how much he loves them and genuinely enjoys our kids (when they aren't testing our patience).

Most days I do not say thank you enough to him but since I know he will probably read and edit this post for me, I wanted to make sure he know he is LOVED and APPRECIATED. Be sure to tell your significant other how much you appreciate them for the little and the small things. I know it makes a world of a difference to me when I am shown appreciation and the same goes for Nick. 

Happy Father's Day to all the dads and grandparents out there!

3 Generations of Davis men. 

3 Generations of Davis men. 

How to Survive Postpartum Depression: A Husband’s Reflection

By: Nicholas Davis (my better half)

When Gina gave birth to Calvin, I was unhelpful and insensitive. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t just take care of our new baby while I was juggling a list of responsibilities. It was a simple equation for me: she takes care of him, and I take care of us.   

What We Didn’t Expect When Expecting

I have two older sisters who had babies and I never heard anything about postpartum depression from them. So, I naturally assumed that Gina would be totally fine like they were and we’d press on into parenthood like the billions of parents before us.

I had a lot of assumptions about mothers with babies, and they were wrong. I had an old school mentality about it: “Just suck it up and it will be fine.” “Power through it,” I thought.

But I was a jerk, this mentality is wrong-headed, and I’m writing this so that any husbands and wives reading our story would be forewarned and would not make the same mistake. Thank God that he sustained Gina through that first time around even when all of us—her family and friends—failed to notice what was going on. Postpartum depression is a real thing, so be sure to watch for it when you’re expecting.

Preparing For It To Happen Again

When we were pregnant a second time, I resolved not to let my wife go through postpartum depression alone again. Her mother, sisters, and I tag teamed to encourage Gina in every way that we could and to prevent her from having needless stress. 

This time, we encapsulated her placenta (a special thank you and shout out to Trisha for doing this for us!) and stocked up on essential oils and a host of other baby products to make known routines easier for us.

All of us worked together to try to calm her anxiety about managing two young kids, we brightened the home in small ways, we made a plan on who could take the newborn at night in rotation so that Gina could get a little bit of sleep before the long nights of clustered breastfeeding.  

With Max, remarkably, Gina experienced little to no signs of postpartum depression. We thought our efforts worked.

Sometimes Being Prepared Still Isn’t Good Enough

When our third baby boy was born, all of us were pros at this—and yet—all of our preparation wasn’t enough. Gina experienced severe postpartum depression much like after her first pregnancy, only this time the placenta encapsulation, the extra help at home, the oils and baby aids and everything just wasn’t enough.

Gina seemed a little lifeless to me. She would tell me that she was having dark thoughts. When we realized as a couple how serious this was, we decided to give medication a try.

Thankfully, we had success with a low dosage of antidepressants and it prevented her lows from getting too low. Her highs and overall enjoyment of life came back to her, and overall, we’ve been able to support one another in the raising of our now three children.

Helpful Suggestions For Dealing With Postpartum Depression

I’m no expert on how to deal with this, but I can share what we have learned by going through it and talking to others with similar experiences. Honestly, I’m thankful to God that this time around, he has provided us with an abundance of help, support, resources, and wisdom to manage expectations and keep Gina in a healthy state of both body and mind.

For husbands who don’t understand why they can’t just muscle through this, I’d recommend a few things.

1.     Get educated on PPD. There are organizations like Postpartum Support International who can provide resources and help for mom’s with PPD. Watch the Netflix show "When the Bough Breaks" to get a better grip on how your wife is feeling.

2.     Help your wife find a community of women or a group of friends, to talk to. She needs to share what’s going on with others whom she can trust and who aren’t in the home.

3.     Listen to some podcasts with your wife. We didn’t do this, but I wish we had listened together.  A podcast can help with understanding the challenges that parenthood brings to everyone. “Mom and Mind” is one that comes to mind. 

4.     Find ways to give your wife time away from the baby, even if it’s only for as little as 15 minutes a day. Suggest that she take a quick walk in the neighborhood, or binge watch Netflix undistracted, or take an hour to treat herself to the nail salon or out for a cup of coffee (either alone or with another friend). Depending on the degree of PPD, it may be best for her to meet someone at the coffee shop who can give her some encouragement. Coordinate with others to help your wife get through this. She is not alone.

5.     Remind her that this is only a short season. When she just had a rough night with baby, remind her that it’s only for a little while longer. Babies will grow up and she will have time and energy again for other needs and things. 

6.     Support her, even if it sounds silly. I still don’t think that Essential Oils are all that essential, but if your wife wants to buy oils to help with postpartum depression, buy all the oils in the world. Maybe they do help—I really don’t know. The smell can definitely have a calming effect in our household so maybe that can improve overall mood and help with more severe symptoms. The science behind that, or candles, or whatever else your wife might want to try, is worth trying. Support her in everything—be there for her and help her every single way that you can.

7.     Consider medication. As soon as Gina recognized she was in a dark valley again, she immediately asked for my feedback on trying antidepressants. I encouraged her to go for it, and we started out with a low dose to help lift her low points. It’s worked really well for us, as part of a holistic approach to postpartum depression.

Surviving? What About Thriving?

I wish I could promise more than surviving to those who are experiencing postpartum depression, but to me, surviving is thriving. There is nothing easy about PPD—it’s hard. It’s hard to watch your wife in such a state of weakness. It’s hard to try everything that you humanly can and still come out short on what she needs. It’s all hard. But surviving that hard together is thriving because it’s real life—and after a short number of those hard days can come another season of life without that hard. Even if it doesn’t come, we’re in this together—in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.

Editor's Note: This post follows "an honest look at postpartum depression pt 1."