Home Is Where the Support Is

Now that I am finally back to momming, wifing and blogging like I used to, I thought I would give a little update on my mental, emotional and location status. Six months ago, I wrote News Flash: We’re Moving!! My family was making a huge move to South Carolina and preparing for a crazy transition. While I was nervous about the move, I was excited for the change of surrounding. Well we made the move, but we moved right back to DC.

South Carolina was beautiful to be honest. I loved being able to walk outdoors with no shoes on, hearing all of the birds chirping and simply experiencing all of what nature had for me. There weren’t any loud bangs or drilling from construction… no loud horns from traffic… and I repeat… NATURE! While dangerous, we saw several alligators in the neighborhood, some turtles, blue jays, red robins and more. I was able to connect with some amazing moms down there also. They were stay-at-home moms who also homeschooled and I instantly clicked with them in-person. With them around, I didn’t feel as alone. However, they weren’t “home.”

Taniya began to like the new area, but quickly grew to miss DC where my mother and her friends were because she wasn’t doing well with making new friends in South Carolina. She was able to make a few, but it wasn’t enough to keep her from dreaming about when she’d be able to make another visit home. I checked in with her bi-weekly to see how she was coping with the transition, and her answer remained the same. I like it here, but it’s not home. I miss my family and friends back home.

Jayla was NOT doing well at all. During the day she was her normal self, but at night?! It was the newborn stage all over again! She had just turned one before we moved and began to sleep longer during the night, as well as drinking almond milk. When we made the move, Jayla struggled falling asleep, woke up every 1-2 hours, and heavily depending on breastfeeding. I knew that it would take some time because it was a different environment, but three months later there was no progress.

I continued to lose sleep rather than gain. I was homeschooling, unpacking, tending to a sensitive and teething toddler, tending to an excited but timid 7-year-old, missing my husband while he was away on the road while also trying to cope with the transition as well. It got so hard and so dark very quick. I couldn’t handle it emotionally or mentally. That’s when postpartum depression (I Am Not A Burden) hit me hard and I felt like I was slowly dying in the inside. I was not happy at all.

Because it was a new location, and I was just getting familiar with my new mom friends in person,  I didn’t feel comfortable with leaving my children with anyone. This resulted in me having both of my daughters 24/7 with no breaks. I had no alone time and I was breaking down. My support system was back in DC. Those who knew when I needed an hour to myself… Those who would call and ask if they could stop by. They weren’t near. We arrived in late November. By mid February I new South Carolina wasn’t our home. Home was where my support was. I was ok with that.

The great part about moving away was learning that I don’t have to mother alone. Taking care of my children is not up just to me, it’s up to my village, James and I. It truly does take a village to raise children. For so long I had it in my mind that because I decided to become a mother, that it was my duty to do and be everything. I was so wrong. That statement doesn’t mean that my village is supposed to take care of my children all the time. It means taking care of my husband and I also. Taking the girls for a little so that we can have some time to pour into each other as husband and wife. Giving me some time to myself and allowing me to come back to my children refreshed. In order for this to happen, I had to become comfortable with knowing that I needed help and asking for it with confidence.

The hard part was making accommodations to move all of our things back to DC. It took a lot, but it happened. We’re back home with my mom for the time being and I’m in no rush to move. I want us to take this time to get a game plan in place and build ourselves financially. Moving back and forth in a 4-month span took a toll on our bank accounts so we don’t want to make any sudden moves.

All in all, I’ve learned that “You live and you learn.” I felt so dumb for how everything played out, but I wouldn’t have grown the way that I did had we not made that move. Moving away put so many things in perspective for me and has truly forced me to create boundaries in order to protect my family and I.

Through this experience, God truly forced me to evaluate myself and how I operate. I need to have people around me who I can ask for help and not feel like I am burdening them. I’m always a listening ear and supporter emotionally for others. I need to make sure I have people around me who can do the same for me. And most importantly… self care! I am so important! I have to remember that. One of my biggest fears is my children losing me at a young age. If I keep up with the lack of self-care shenanigans, that will become a reality.

I didn’t plan on writing about our moving back home because I was embarrassed about our plans not going well after making such a big hoopla about it. But I began to feel more confident and gain more clarity. I also kept running into people who kept saying, “what are you doing here? I thought you were in South Carolina?!”

 

Quick Facts: Postpartum Depression

When speaking to my family and friends about postpartum depression (PPD) I realized that not only did I put on a great facade, but many of them had no idea how to truly recognize something wasn’t quite right with me. I’ve decided to share what I’ve found on Mayo Clinic regarding the matter so that it can help all who are interested. In my own experience, it is very scary and embarrassing admitting to having postpartum depression. Especially if it’s not your first baby. I personally felt that people may have felt like I was being dramatic and claiming depression simply because I was a little stressed.

If you are a mother or the loved one of a mother who has had a baby within 0-2 years, I advise you to take her symptoms and cries serious. She may not experience each symptom so you have to be aware of them all. Support her, love her, listen to her, help her. Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 12.41.48 AM

There are many factors that play into a mother experiencing postpartum depression, but the most common are the physical changes that take place after the birth of her child and emotional issues. On the physical spectrum, when a mother gives birth, there is an extreme drop in her hormones that can lead to PPD. Emotionally; “sleep deprivation, feeling overwhelmed, less attractive, struggling with sense of identity or feeling like she’s lost control of her life can all contribute to postpartum depression.”

Per Mayo Clinic:

“Any new mom can experience postpartum depression and it can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first. Her risk increases if:

  • She has a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times.
  • She has bipolar disorder.
  • She had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy.
  • She has family members who’ve had depression or other mood disorders.
  • She’s experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss.
  • Her baby has health problems or other special needs.
  • She has twins, triplets or other multiple births.
  • She has difficulty breast-feeding.
  • She’s having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other.
  • She has a weak support system.
  • She has financial problems.
  • The pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted.

I Am Not A Burden

When I think of the meaning of burden, I find it to be a very heavy and powerful word. According to the dictionary, its definition is “load, usually a heavy one.” It’s also described as a problem or trouble. I’ve of course heard the word burden used in a context where it refers to a person. For example, the longer someone stays in an unhealthy relationship, they become a burden. Having to care for someone who is addicted to a substance can be a burden. However, I hadn’t heard it used in first person much until it was one of the superior thoughts lingering in my mind… I don’t want to be a burden.

I started this blog when I was two months postpartum after giving birth to Jayla. I remember one of my first posts being Postpartum Depression or Bad Week? and I was fresh off of a hard week of emotions and motherhood. I was so confused with what I had experienced and what I was feeling. I didn’t understand how everything was getting on top of me as a mother when it wasn’t my first time being a mother. Postpartum depression crossed my mind, but I erased it as an option because I believed I was only having a rough week and suffering from sleep deprivation.

Time went on and then again, I began to feel like an emotional wreck. I felt like I was getting a good beating from life. My life was getting the best of me. I ended up writing Emotional Trip when I finally began to approach the end of that emotional wave. I was constantly worrying if my daughter was growing properly, and I spent a week continuously crying and not able to speak. I didn’t want to be alone. I tried to see if there was a way my baby and I could ride in my husband’s truck with him while he worked. When he reminded me how that wouldn’t work, I would go to my daughter’s school early and wait until it was time to pick her up. Every time I tried to utter a word to express what I was feeling, my eyes would fill with tears and my throat would seize. I couldn’t get the words out. I ended up saying something minor to my family and friends to reassure them I was ok and to move past it all. It was at that point where I knew things weren’t right, but I felt like things would eventually be ok. It was just hormones… Nothing more, nothing less. I believed there was no room to focus on how I was really feeling at that time. I foolishly told myself I needed to focus on my husband and children’s well-being instead of mine.

For months I would blame my irritability, feelings of anxiety, feelings of loneliness, feelings of just wanting to run away from life on lack of sleep, lack of time to myself, and hormones. I believed it to be true because I didn’t feel sad every day, all day. It would come in waves. I remember several times my mother would be over to relieve me of my girls. I would get a rush of emotions and feel extremely lonely, sad and uneasy. I would immediately tell my mother because I would be on the verge of crying and didn’t understand why since nothing happened to trigger those feelings. As a mother, she could always sense when something was wrong, and still does. However, I figured since my daughter had finally turned one, I was in the safe zone and clear of postpartum depression. My baby was now a toddler and I was free of infancy emotions… Boy was I wrong.

Right after her birthday, I began packing up my entire household to prepare for our move to South Carolina. It was in the mist of me homeschooling my high-energy, attention seeking 7-year-old, and caring for a new mobile toddler who still heavily breastfed. I was busy all day, and hardly slept at night. As you can see, I’m not one who does well with asking for help. I was able to coast through the days. In my mind, I was being dramatic. There were people out there who was experiencing real trauma. After the move, there was the adjustment phase. Trying to figure out my next steps. I knew things were getting bad when my hair began to thin… Then of course, the thinning turned into hair loss. Unfortunately, I’m very skilled with covering things up. I can quickly turn the attention off of me and put it onto someone else. I’m excellent with smiling while I’m losing it inside. I was a pro at focusing on helping others while throwing my problems to the back of my mind so that I wouldn’t have to deal with them. Even if I slipped a little, my clean up game was top-notch. I would reassure those close to me that it was just a weak moment.

January hit… That month hit me hard. And now February… I’m truly struggling. Struggling to write, struggling to be excited about things I normally would be jumping for joy about. I’ll get a few good laughs in here and there. Holding back tears often, crying to myself and hiding the tears from my daughters. I have some good days, but as usual it’s all in waves. I finally told my family and close friends that I wasn’t okay. I didn’t feel okay and I needed help. My thoughts weren’t okay and the feelings I felt on a regular were not me. Not Tiana at all. I was so embarrassed. The embarrassment made me cry more. I didn’t want people to question my ability to be a good mother to my children. I wanted someone to come and get them all while still wanting them close to me. Sleep became even harder to acquire. My insomnia peaked. When I finally fell asleep, I would jump reaching for my daughter believing she was hurt or had fallen out of bed. I feared that if my children hurt themselves, would I be questioned because I finally came clean about what I was experiencing. I just didn’t feel good. I’m holding back tears while writing this.

I know this isn’t the most exciting or incredible blog post to read, but I needed to write this. It’s been a month since I last blogged, and it’s because I couldn’t write about anything else. While I’m working daily to get to back to my normal self, it definitely feels better going through these emotions with my loved ones being aware. Before I didn’t want to be a burden to people, but I realized that I am not one. I’m not a burden, and I’ve never been one. I’ll eventually seek professional help, but that’s costly at this time. For now, I have daily check-ins with friends, and my mother calls me on FaceTime me every single day to actually see my face (to see if I’m lying to her or not).  I’m trying to be more intentional about expressing how I’m feeling instead of holding it all in. I’ve connected more with the new moms I’ve met here in South Carolina as well. They have been amazing and supportive. Sometimes all of the support is a little difficult to receive when I just want to be to myself and not speak to anyone at all. There are moments where I want people to be around but no conversation. Just their presence.

Honestly, I wrote all of this to simply get it off my chest. In the mist of my struggle, I hope it encourages another mom to seek help if she has an inkling that she may have postpartum depression. I also hope it helps someone who is close to a new mom who may be showing signs of it. Every time I say it… that I have postpartum depression… I’m still very embarrassed. Not because I think it makes women weak or incapable of surviving motherhood. But because it forces me to talk about things I would normally keep to myself.

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that I post my honest thoughts each time. I’m pretty sure I over-share, but oh well! This post is a reminder that motherhood is one of the most beautiful things in this world, but it is not for the weak.