Lindsey interviews Nicole, a full time working mom, survivor and peer support mentor with PPSM.
Content warning. This episode describes postpartum anxiety and may be triggering to some. Please listen with care.
Nicole has shared a brief introduction to her journey to recovery. Please see Nicoles words below.
I have struggled with anxiety since my early college days, after the birth of my first daughter my postpartum anxiety hit an entirely different level - everyday tasks were impossible and I was in complete OVERDRIVE mentally, worrying about things completely out of my control. I obsessed over being a "good mom", creating an unrealistic checklist in my head of what that meant. I was constantly trying to prove to those around me that this transition to motherhood had been "easy", to those around me I had painted that picture, but on the inside I was mentally and physically drained.
I’m happy to say I’m in a much better space now, and had a much different postpartum experience with my second born. Coming out on the other side of this difficult time, I wanted to find a way to help other moms who were going through the same thing. I want them to know there is help, they are not alone and that they will feel like
themselves again. This is what brought me to become a PPSM peer support volunteer.
It took a lot of courage to share my story, but all I can hope is that my vulnerability will help at least one other mom.
To all the moms out there, you GOT this!
Hi, this is Lindsay and I am here with Nicole, uh, Nicole and I work together on the PSM hotline and I am so excited to have Nicole with us today. Hi Nicole.Speaker 2:
Hi Lindsay. Thanks for having me.Speaker 1:
Yeah, absolutely. So something just to share out for those that are listening, Nicole and I have something in common, which is that we have both recovered from our own, uh, postpartum mental health journey, if you will, and now take time to connect with other people and mentor. And so Nicole has graciously given up some of her time here today to just chat with us a little bit about your story and thank you so much for doing so, Nicole.Speaker 2:
Yeah. Well, thanks again for having me and I'm excited to talk, um, and share my story and hope that I can help other people or have other people relate to what they may be going through or have been going through in the past.Speaker 1:
Yeah, that's great. So right out of the gates, um, can you share a little bit about your family? You've got two daughters, right?Speaker 2:
Yeah. So I have two daughters. They're still little, so I have a two and a four year old, so they're pretty close in age and they definitely keep us on our toes at all times. And we just started pre-K this week. So that's been a, another transition, uh, you'll find in motherhood that life is full of lots of transitions, both partum being one of them, but the transitions, I would love to say stop, but they're constantly evolving as the kiddos are getting bigger and they're going through different changes in life and you're experiencing those things alongside of them.Speaker 1:
Yeah,<laugh> for sure. Congratulations on Freek that's exciting. We, we have a second grader in a kindergarten, uh, kindergartener in, in my house right now and it is definitely exciting. Big milestones.Speaker 2:
It is, it is big milestones. It's exciting for sure.Speaker 1:
And so how was the pregnancy and birth experience, uh, and postpartum with your daughters? Were they similar? Were they different? What, how, how were those?Speaker 2:
Yeah, so I would say for me, um, I'm kind of one of those non-traditional people, if you will, related to pregnancy, you'll hear a lot of people say I didn't like being pregnant pregnancy was super hard for me. And I was actually really the opposite of that with both daughters. Um, not saying there's gonna be a third, but I still feel as though, um, I, I was just really lucky in that sense. I, pregnancy came easy to me. I just, you know, I didn't have the typical, like lots of weight gain carrying the babies was super easy for me. Um, I kind of actually really felt like I always had that pregnancy glow. Uh, one thing I'll add though to that is that I've learned on the other side of having two babies, is that, um, you know, I had kind of struggled with hormones my whole life, and I've learned now after having babies that I have a very significant hormonal imbalance in my body, uh, where I have a large pro gen deficiency. And so for me, the reason that pregnancy felt great is that my progesterone levels skyrocket when you're pregnant. And for me, that was just getting me to a normal level of progesterone to balance out my estrogen and for a lot of people that big spike and progesterone is what makes them not feel as well. Um, but for me, it was just helping me actually feel more balanced. Um, so that's been something that I've been working on since having kids and didn't really know that at the time. Um, but pregnancy, you know, was, was easier for that, for that reason. I didn't have, you know, some of the, the common sicknesses and things like that, that a lot of people do besides kind of that first 12 weeks. So I would say for both of the babies, they were really similar pregnancies. Um, but with my first I've struggled with anxiety really, really, since my late teens, when I started college, I had a rough, rough go on a few things that transitioned to college for me and kind of young adulthood was really hard. And that's kind of when I finally realized that I'd been struggling with anxiety for probably a while, uh, but just had never really, you know, named that and, you know, kind of thinking about some of the stigma things I maybe just never wanted to admit that wasn't something that we talked about that much in my house household, you know, growing up and it kind of finally became a point where I needed to address it. And at that time I went on medication and I was kind of have been up and down, you know, all through my twenties. I had my first daughter when I was 30 and prior to getting pregnant, had a lot of conversations with my, um, healthcare team to decide what was the best course of action for me, you know, going into pregnancy, should I stay on my medication? Should I go off? And ultimately decided that at that time it was best for me to go off the medication that I was on, the medication I was on, wasn't necessarily one of the best ones to be on while being pregnant. And I felt really confident in myself that, you know, if I took the proper steps to, you know, self care and, you know, weaned off the medication, that I would be fine. So I did that over the course of four to five months before I got pregnant and went off the medication. So that by the time I got pregnant, you know, I was handling my anxiety in other ways while pregnant. Um, but I also think that there was a part of me that felt a little better when I was pregnant and less anxious, because again, back to the hormonal imbalance, I didn't have some of those things going on that can be big triggers for anxiety. So went into that pregnancy, you know, medication free. Wow. Yeah. And yeah, so it was a big decision, right? Mm-hmm<affirmative> um, but I felt great. All three pregnancy, you know, I was excited about it was, you know, really excited to welcome and grow our family from just me and my husband to, you know, adding another baby to the mix, or I should say our first baby to the mix. And from there, uh, you know, pregnancy went well and the, the delivery was maybe a little bit different. I know everyone comes with different delivery stories. Um, for me it became, it was a fast and furious kind of thing. Everyone always kind of told me, oh, you're gonna have all this long time that you're gonna be in labor. And with your first it's going to be hours. And here's all of these exercises. And, you know, I did all the traditional birthing classes and the breastfeeding classes to really prepare me for what all of that was gonna be like. And I'll tell you, it wasn't anything like any of those things that I thought it was going to be. Uh, for me, it turned into this, uh, I had of a slight back ache to maybe this is something more than a back pain. I don't know if people have ever heard it referred to as back labor, but that was really what I was going through. Mm-hmm<affirmative>. And I really ended up going into the, into the hospital and went from a four to a 10 and 45 minutes. Wow. And, um, my daughter wanted to be here now. Um, and, and that's kind of what happened. So it was a fast and furious delivery. Um, you know, I was still able to have a vaginal birth, which was great. That was kind of part of my, you know, birth plan, if you will. But a lot of people think that having a baby fast and furious is like the dream, right. And you're not in labor for hours, but I'll say on the other side of it having a baby really fast, doesn't always, isn't always best either. Um, she had a lot of kind of post complications cause she doesn't have like the typical birthing squeezing, you know, to get fluid and things out of her lungs and out of her body. So she, you know, she had a lot of spit ups and cough up for the first, you know, two, three days to get all of that out of her. Um, you know, I tore probably more than I would've if I had labored for longer cause my body, you know, hadn't quite ramped up all of its hormones yet and kind of relaxed the way it should have. So, um, it seemed great in the moment, but it also made for a little bit, um, bigger recovery than maybe a, a slower labor would have.Speaker 1:
Yeah, absolutely. There's so much that has to go on, uh, for the body to be able to, to give birth and to do that in such a short period of time. I imagine that was also a lot to process, not just physically, but uh, mentally too. Cause that's a huge transition in 45 minutes.Speaker 2:
Yes. It was a lot of, you know, I know the N the nurse kind of looked at me when I said she's coming out<laugh> she was like, no, she's not like, this is your first baby. We, you know, just checked you, you were a four. And I was like, no, I don't know. I know this is my first. I'm not exactly sure what this feels like, but I'm like, she's coming out right now.<laugh> and I wasn't wrong. So, yeah. Um, I guess as when they say your motherly instinct, um, kicks in, or you'll just kind of know what to do, it's, it is, there's a lot of truth to that. Yeah. Um, so my, and my second birth wasn't really much different from that. Um, in fact, on my second I was induced cuz they were kind of afraid that the second was gonna come just as fast and furious. And if I, you know, wasn't actually to the hospital in times that, you know, I may not be delivering it in the traditional setting. And so with my second one, I was induced and mm-hmm<affirmative>, she showed up just as fast as the first. So we were thankful that we had made that decision, um, to just be a bit more prepared and have it be a little bit more controlled as best as we could at least.Speaker 1:
Yeah. I mean, I, I, that makes, that makes sense. Um, yeah. To try and just have some kind of a grasp on the timing of things and make sure, yeah. You're not having your baby in a place that you're not intending to.Speaker 2:
Yes, exactly. I actually had a friend that had had that a few weeks before, so I was, uh, definitely didn't want that<laugh> um, so I, maybe I was a little bit scared of, uh, her particular story, so yeah. But yeah, I mean then it went great, right? I was there the fast and serious delivery wasn't there in the hospital for very long. And then, you know, headed home with this new bundle that we had waited, you know, so long for, um, I'd say I, I only spent one night in the hospital and the nurse had warned me before we left that there was going to be the second night is what they refer to as wo withdrawal, which being a first time mom, I had never heard of that. And I will tell you, it is a real, real thing. And I had it with both my first and my second. I feel like when I got home with my first, I was like, whoa, is this what it's going to be? Like every night there was just a lot of tears, a lot of holding, you know, kind of a full on sleepless night. And they kind of, I think referred to it as wound withdrawal cause the baby, you know, kind of 24, 48 hours into being out into the world realizes that they're no longer in their mom, you know, cozy womb where it's nice and warm and you know, they can constantly hear your heartbeat and it's a, it's a bit shocking to them.Speaker 1:
Yeah. So your daughter was just up all night and not necessarily getting the sleep that you need, especially after a really fast labor. Is that kind of how it went that first night home?Speaker 2:
Yes. The first night is between, you know, my mom and my husband and me, we literally stayed up, we kind of full all night and held her and kind of passed her from person to person of like, okay, who's next on shift to take, you know, the hour or the two hour break, but I I'm sure many moms out there can relate, you know, I was breastfeeding and that was a whole new challenge and something new to learn. Um, thankfully for me it was both daughters. It came, you know, pretty naturally and pretty easy. I had my issues more so with like, um, you know, especially in the beginning and Gorman and your milk coming in, like that whole process is not fun for anybody. Um, on my first day I almost actually made too much milk, which mm-hmm<affirmative> I know might sound like a dream, but actually wasn't because it kind of meant that I was always full and then made it really hard for my daughter to eat mm-hmm<affirmative> because it was too much for her to consume in, you know, how fast it was coming out. And I think back to that first night of, you know, being on duty and you had, we, you know, we had the help, you know, coming back from the hospital, but at the same time as being that breastfeeding mom, it puts a lot of pressure on you because you're always on duty. So yes, you can go and take that hour and a half break. Maybe mm-hmm<affirmative>. But as soon as the baby's back hungry again, you're the one that has to, you know, get back up and, you know, you're kind of always on, on call for, you know, it did create a, I would say a portion of jealousy for me at some point in time. And I've talked to a lot of my friends about that. Um, you know, where your partner kind of gets to bask in a lot of the glory in the first couple weeks and months of life, where you carried the baby, you delivered the baby and now you're breastfeeding the baby and they get to do all of the fun things of hold the baby when the baby's not eating and engage with the baby. When, you know, you're not trying to get them to go down to sleep and different things like that, where, you know, that whole, they really depend on at everybody, you know, to live like they need, um, you know, they're fully reliant on you to care for them, but there's a lot more pressure on the mom than there is the other partner, I think just because you're kind of their full source of food and nourishment at that point, if you choose to breastfeed and that can, that can feel like a lot at times for sure.Speaker 1:
Yeah, absolutely. I, you know, you, you mentioned the word a few times pressure and it just brought me back to my, my own experience and I just remember feeling such a heavy weight of responsibility and, and it, it, yeah, it felt like pressure, um, pressure to do all of these different things and needing to do all of these different things that I had never done before and everything felt different and everything felt like it carried such significant weight. And that was a huge part of, I think, the start of my own, um, postpartum anxiety. And I'm just curious, how did yours start, uh, when you, when you were at home with your daughter, like when did you feel like the anxiety really kicked in for you?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I think that's a great, that's a great question. I felt like besides that first night of the like wo withdrawal, when she first came home, it, the first two weeks honestly felt too easy and that maybe should have been my warning sign that this isn't, this isn't gonna be the norm. Right. Because they sleep a lot the first two weeks and feeding was going well. So I didn't have that like typical hiccup that a lot of people, you know, go through fortunately. And so it just was like, this seems kind of simple. I was healing. I didn't feel overly, you know, terrible besides, you know, the few surprises of a lot of swelling coming home and still having a baby belly, even though there's no baby inside of there, no one tells you about that. Tell you have your first, um, and just kind of those typical, you know, hormonal and you know, more crying and things like that. But overall it was going really well. And then I feel like after the first two weeks, she really kind of woke up, I would say, and I feel like that's when my anxiety really started to hit. And that was really about this like life change of back to the pressure of, I was raising this, this child and this child was relying on me fully for everything. But in addition to that, I felt a lot of pressure of all the eyes watching me become a mom. Yeah. Becoming a mom is a huge transition. And if you look at society and you look at the media, everybody makes it seem like it should just be so natural. Like we are women, we are born to, you know, carry and birth babies and everything's just gonna come naturally to you that, so people always say, use your mom instinct mm-hmm<affirmative> well, I was using my mom instinct, but for me that became a worry, a constant worry of the judgment of what other people felt like I was doing in terms of how I was raising my kid. Especially for me, a trigger became crying and just public feeding. Those two things were very daunting to me. I felt like if my, you know, child cried that there was this instant judgment, which is just looking back silly, right? Like of course babies cry. That's their only form of communication. And that's their way of telling you that they need something else from their mom, but to go to target and then have my baby cry was literally polarizing for me. I couldn't even think about a worse thing cuz all I felt like was judgment. And then leaving that scene thinking, you know, I just failed as a mom and just basically showed to everybody that I wasn't doing well at this. And yeah, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know how to calm my baby down. Um, you know, feeding for me in public was very uncomfortable and then I would get worried about, about that. And then if I couldn't be relaxed, the baby couldn't be relaxed. And so kind of just was this like spiraling right where I just always felt judgment. And I joined an AHMA mama group group and um, it's an AHMA mama parenting group for, you know, first time moms. I had a wonderful group of women that honestly, as my daughter's four, I still talk to them. We still check in with each other. Yeah. Because again, back to that transition in milestones, they're constantly going through milestones. And so we, you know, talk to each other about tips and tricks and there's different tips and tricks for a four year old than there are for a newborn, but we've been there through that evolution mm-hmm<affirmative><affirmative> and that group was like such a blessing to me. But looking back was also probably something that made some of my anxiety worse because not only was I worried about judgment of other people, I was judging myself against other first time moms. Yeah. And coming to that group, I always felt like I had the baby to this day. My, you know, four year old is a ball of energy. She's very fiercely independent. And she showed some of those signs even as a baby where she wanted to be sitting upright, she didn't wanna be laying down. She wanted to be carried instead of pushed in a stroller mm-hmm<affirmative> cause she could see more. And I always felt like in those mom groups, you brought your baby. I, I always left feeling like, oh, my kid was the difficult one today. And then again, comparing back to how am I as a mom, then those, you know, brought on additional feelings to me that I'm not doing this right. And the worry and just all of those things kind of kept spiraling. And that gave me a platform for another source of judgment against myself, um, to say, well, these moms seem like they're doing great. Their baby didn't cry the full hour. You know, what am I doing wrong? Or you know, you know, their baby slept through the night mine didn't right. And just those constant points of comparison that just made my anxiety that much, that much worse.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's amazing. The ways in which sometimes the things that we're using to lift us up can also be the things that are triggering for our anxiety. Right. Um, even though you, you built these great relationships with these other people and it was a huge, uh, source of community for you. It was also another, it sounds like it was another opportunity for a trigger to ultimately, uh, kick that in anxiety into, into high gearSpeaker 2:
Did absolutely was yes, that's exactly it. Great relationships, but yes, another trigger and you know, I would say the same thing for any new mom that's, you know, like for me, I figure found out that social media was a really big trigger for me. I think a lot of moms spend a lot of time on social media, you know, right after they have a baby, uh, because you're sitting there, you're spending a lot of time alone. You're spending a lot of time breastfeeding or feeding. And I think there's probably nothing more I did. I pretty much stayed off of social media exclusively with my second, knowing that I think it was another trigger for me with my first and I was bound and determined not to go down the same rabbit hole that I had gone down with my first, when I had my second that I stayed off of it because I don't think there's a more isolating experience than when you're sitting at home going through a complete life change. You're not going out and having, you know, as much fun and all of these things to be sitting on social media as another platform to be comparing yourself or even to be comparing yourself against other people that just had a baby and you know, are posting these adorable photos. I always think to myself, did that photo take you 75 tries to get everybody? Yeah. Smiling. Cute. Perfect. Ready. Um, because it just feels like that's kind of the opposite of sometimes of what motherhood feels like, where it feels, you know, chaotic and, and it's great, but it's a different, you know, that's just not the reality of, you know, small toddlers or even newborns, you know, to be honest.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Oh, you know, you talking about social media, that just kind of reminded me of one of the things that I I think is so interesting about social media, especially when you're going through the, your, you know, a postpartum mood disorder is that even though social media can be a great place for connection, it's often a one sided story and it creates an opportunity for the peripartum mood disorder to be the other part of the conversation. So like you see this image, you see this, you know, great family and you don't necessarily see the tantrum that just took place and the bribery with the lollipop to be able to stand still, to take the photo. Um, and the person that's waving a bunny behind the camera, making the child laugh. Like you don't see any of that component of it. And so the other side of the story then becomes just really good fuel for the anxiety or the depression or whatever. Uh, the mood disorder someone is experiencing. I mean, that was, that was how it occurred for me, not, not specifically social media with my first, but I had O C D with my first and a huge part of it was expressing milk. I was exclusively, um, pumping and I measured my worth as a mother in ounces of breast milk pumped. And so looking at all these different tips and tricks to manage your supply and things like that. And the more I read into that, the more fuel it gave to the conversation of my mood disorder. And so I, I, I think that's a really great point of being mindful of your triggers so that you can ultimately protect them. And maybe it means that you can't be on social media. Maybe it means that you can't do research into managing milk supply, or maybe it means that you have to look at it with an added filter of knowing that it's your trigger. And so you can kind of prepare yourself in a different way. Um, but I think it's great that you were able to see that that wasn't something that you needed in your postpartum experience with your second daughter.Speaker 2:
Yeah, that's absolutely right. And I think even to this day, you know, I would say my anxiety's managed, but it's still there every day. And I still have to be mindful of triggers. My triggers have changed and evolved over time. But knowing what those triggers are helps you understand, you know, what are different things about that need to be limited or, you know, when you start to feel that heightened stress or that worry that it's, you know, too much of, of that you need to back away from it. And I think if anything that is taught me is self care is so important. I think when I first had my first daughter, I feel like that's probably one of the biggest things of how I ended up in such a spiraled dark place of anxiety is I never took time for self care. And I, the biggest thing I would say is self-care, isn't selfish, it's important. It's important for you. And it actually affects everybody around you. If you're not taking care of yourself, how can you be taking care of, you know, your body, your husband, your baby in the best way possible. If you're not taking those moments for yourself to really recharge and do the things that you need, whether that's exercising every day or reading a book or going on a walk alone, those are things that you need to figure out of what those self care moments are, but then figure out how to incorporate them on a regular schedule to keep your self care tank full and looking back, I wasn't doing any self care. I was literally an overdrive at all times in overdrive, based on few, a few factors, like you mentioned OCD. And I probably had borderline OCD with my first and mine was more about cleaning my house mm-hmm<affirmative> and that comes back to perception. It was all about perception for me of that this was coming easy and that the transitions in motherhood was life a textbook, right? Like so easy. This is so glamorous. And part of that for me was honestly kind of being a little bit showy for when people would come and visit her and see her is that my health had to be stick and span. I couldn't have things laying around or look like it had been a, you know, disheveled day of hard feeding or crying because those were all things that were what I felt like check marks against me in the fact that I wasn't, you know, I wasn't this transition to motherhood, wasn't going as easy for me as it should have been. And for me that felt like outward judgment that heightened the worry of I'm not a good mom. Right. And so I found certain things that for out outside perceived judgment, just I, I fixated on and I fixated on them so much that, um, this should never be something that is, you know, good for you. But I mean, I was nine weeks out from having my baby and I was 15 pounds less than I was when I got pregnant with her. Yeah. And I don't think there can be any more of a sign that I wasn't taking care of myself. I was, I was pumping, I was feeding and I clearly wasn't eating, I wasn't eating enough to nourish the, my body for what I was, you know, expelling out mm-hmm<affirmative> and I wasn't taking time for self care and I was on so overdrive that I wasn't even taking the time to just stop and enjoy the moments because I was so worried about everything. Even the smallest tasks were difficult for me like to think about making dinner. I had to like, really think about it. And I, you know, I went through spells of dizziness and eyesight problems and to the point where it was just, yeah, it wasn't, it wasn't good. I was unhealthy. And I think the people around me recognized that, I mean, my husband certainly did, but I also think it's a fragile space when somebody's a new mom, because you know how, it's hard to tell a new mom that like, are you, are you okay? But I think that's such an important question to ask everyone, always, you know, says how's the baby, how's the baby. It's sometimes the conversation really needs to be the opposite of how are you mom? Like you just went through a huge life change. You just had a baby, you're trying to figure this out. Are you okay? But that's not often the question that people ask. And I think, you know, looking back on, you know, when you go to the appointments, your own appointments as a follow up and then appointments for the baby, they give you the, you know, postpartum dis depression screening. And they do that at all those appointments as a milestone, you know, postpartum anxiety and depression is super common. You know, this is their mechanism for checking in. And I think we're the system in a way, you know, just doesn't really cater to anxiety. It caters more to depression. And I'm saying this only for, for other moms to be aware of what they're, you know, feeling and what's normal. And what's not, is that the questions that they're asking are all focused on depression. And so I would take those every time and I would sit there and I'd read the question and then I would tell them myself, I should really answer this negatively so that they, so that I spark the conversation that I'm actually not feeling well. Yeah. Because I knew deep down like this isn't normal. Like this isn't how I should be feeling after having a baby, like things are kind of spiraling, you know, I'm not, I'm, I'm barely hanging on and, but the questions were all, you know, are you crying all day? You know, do you feel like you have self harm? Do you not wanna do the things you used to do? And those weren't those weren't my symptoms. You know, my symptoms were constant worry, you know, worrying about things that were well out of my control, some of those OCD things that we talked about. So I always answered the questions, honestly, and I quote unquote, pass the depression screening. So, you know, to the practitioner's eyes, it didn't look like I had any sort of postpartum disorder, but I was struggling so, so much that I, I, I needed to find it in myself to finally like speak up and say, no, I'm actually not all right, but that's hard. It's hard to ask for help.Speaker 1:
It really is. Yeah. You hit such an important note about, you know, the encounters that you can have with, with professionals. And that was a big thing for me too, was I, I wasn't depressed and I've, I've had depression, anxiety, uh, throughout my life. I know, I know how I feel when I'm depressed. And I certainly wasn't that. And so I just thought this is normal. This is what all new moms go through, because if it wasn't, wouldn't it be on a form like this? Like I remember using that form almost as justification of like, see, I'm totally good. It's normal to have intrusive thoughts. Like I, I had this, um, this idea that everything must be fine. Otherwise someone would be asking me different questions and it didn't occur to me until my second that I needed to ask myself different questions and I then needed to present those answers to those around me. And that was a really hard thing to do was to advocate for myself. And it sounds like that's something that you found as well, was that it was important for you to say, Hey, I'm not okay.Speaker 2:
Exactly. Right. And I, and you know, we can talk about in a minute here about like the transition back to work, but I kept, I always kept pushing. I always kept pushing things further down the road. Right. It was always like, you know, I'm so excited to be a mom, but I always knew that I, or thought I knew that I wanted to go back to work. So then, you know, I was, I was out for 16 weeks with my first. And so it was like at the 12 week mark, I was like, maybe I'm just ready to, you know, get back to work and have a routine. And, and then I'll feel better then mm-hmm<affirmative> or, you know, maybe once the weather's nicer had a winter baby, then I'll feel better then. So just always putting up these like false barriers that it was like a milestone that once I hit that, then you know, I'm gonna be fine and I'm fine. You know, this is just normal. And well, I'll tell you the milestones came and when, and I still felt the same, it wasn't any of those milestones that were really gonna make me feel any different. But I think you really, you know, nailed the point of they weren't asking the right questions. So of course I must be, this must be normal. Whoa, this is a life change, but, and maybe I wasn't prepared for this life change. Like I thought I was. And I think a side note is, I don't think you ever can fully prepare yourself for becoming a mom yeah. To, you know, until you are one, but it was always that same thing of, but then also you're kind of back into that same circle right. Of, well, I must just be feeling negative about this then I must be a bad mom. Yeah. You know, so you're just kind of keep coming back to that same trigger point, no matter kind of whatever angle I looked at it at, I couldn't see the happy path of it. Yeah. And it wasn't until I think my husband, um, I will never forget this moment. We, we had, you know, planned this drive to our friend's house was kind of a long drive. We live in Chicago, we live in Minneapolis. So it was kind of like an undertaking, but, you know, I had time off. So he took time off and we're like, let's do this. It'll be like a fun getaway. And the day before we, the day we left, I went to my doctor that morning and I had scheduled another appointment just knowing that I wasn't feeling well and finally broke down to her and just said, like, I don't think that I'm doing well and had a long chat about it. And, you know, we sent back to like, should I go back on medication, which then turned into a whole nother spiral for me of, I can't be on medication and breastfeeding and I don't wanna wanna give up breastfeeding so that I'm not gonna go on medication and this whole back and forth. And this whole circle, that was very daunting for me to the point that we, you know, she even looked at me and said, if you were in my office right now and told me that you were depressed, you would go get the pills tomorrow or today. You're telling me you're anxious. You're going to prolong getting the pills because now I just gave you one more thing to be anxious about<laugh> and trust me, she was so right. And I was like, there's no way I'm going back on medication. Like I'm I had told myself also mentally that when I went off medication before I was pregnant, that it was just like, kind of another, like a milestone in my that I was like, I, I'm not, I'm I'm gonna do this on medicated for, you know, I'm gonna handle my anxiety in different ways going forward. I'm never going back on medication. I think a lot of that was because, um, truthfully I didn't wean off of the medication like I should have. And so I kind of had some, you know, signs of withdrawal initially. So it was a lot harder than it needed to be. Had I followed the proper instructions of going down off of it. Um, and so what really became of that was she basically was like, I'm filling the prescription. And if I don't see that you've picked it up by Monday, I'm gonna be calling you again. So that weekend we went, uh, on this road trip and I remember coming home on Monday and my husband was like, that was so fun that, you know, we had, you know, really spent really good quality time. You know, he was like, our daughter was so good the entire time. And I looked at him and I was like fun. He was like, yeah, it was so fun. And I was like, that was awful. I was like, I think I just spent four days worrying about my baby crying. Yeah. With friends that didn't have children and not yet, you know, and worrying the entire time about her crying judgment of me becoming a mom, all these same things. I'm like, I don't even, I didn't enjoy a moment of it because I think the entire time, every time my daughter made Aqua, I was like, please don't cry, please. Don't cry, please. Don't cry to the point that I don't know what to do with you, or that we can't do what we had scheduled because, you know, we need to instead rock or bounce or do what we need to do to calm you down. I wouldn't say my baby was colicky. I learned after having my second, that my first was a bit more needy than my second and, you know, in the baby phase. But mm-hmm,<affirmative>, I, you know, I just spent those four days. That's all I worried about was, and I was, and so I think it was at that moment that I was like, okay, I think this isn't isn't normal. I'm not really living, I'm living out of complete worry. And that was when I finally made the decision to, um, go back on anxiety medication. But I will tell you that was after I think nine or between nine and 11 phone calls to various different, um, pregnancy professionals about getting the okay. That I could, you know, continue to breastfeed on the medication, on the medication that I was going on. And every single one of them said the same thing. Like, you need to be the best version of you. And right now you're not. And you know, being on medication is okay. And I needed that validation that it, that it was okay.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Oh, I'm so part of you. Yeah. I'm it, it's, it's so challenging. And you know, I think someone once told me and it's really stuck with me is that when you're in those moments of thinking like self care, taking a medication, whatever it might be, that's like getting you to the place where you're taking care of yourself. If, if you are hesitant of doing that, ask yourself the question, am I modeling the behavior that I want for my kids? And that has gotten me through sometimes of being really stubborn with my own selfcare and with my own journey with, uh, being on different medications is if, if my children were in this position, would I want them to do what I'm doing right now? And the answer is always no, mm-hmm<affirmative>. And so I need to make sure if I'm I, so I'm trying to take care of them. I have to be modeling the behaviors of taking care of myself so that they know what it looks like. And it sounds like you got yourself there. Um, I'm so proud of you.Speaker 2:
Yeah. Thank you. I mean, it was very trying and I think the whole thing then is you start taking medication. You think you're instantly gonna feel better. Right.<laugh> it's gonna be like, oh, tomorrow. And I think you're in such a longing to find yourself again, because in the moment, you know, you don't feel anything like yourself that thinking back to that time, I always was like, am I ever gonna feel like what I did before I had a baby? Am I ever just gonna feel like myself again? And it felt like that was so far from a reality of ever happening. Um, I hadn't mentioned it, but I also was in this whole time going through a lot of actual recovery issues too, which I, you know, I didn't have a C-section or anything like that, but I was having a lot of issues with, um, healing of like my incisions mm-hmm<affirmative> they had gotten something called called tissue granulation, which is pretty uncommon. I had never heard of it. And again, being the first time mom thought, when I went into my six week appointment, I was like, I'm kind of still a bit uncomfortable, but Hey, I just had a baby. So this must be just the way it is and kind of found out that no, it really wasn't. Um, and I had to have three rounds of treatment on them, which lasted over a course of nine months. And so it just really made, you know, all of that recovery, a lot harder. And again, feeling of this, I don't feel normal. I couldn't really exercise cause it was really painful. And so just all of these, you know, check marks against, I just don't know that I'm ever going to be able to unbury myself from this spot that I'm in and ever kind of come out of this kind of dark tunnel. Um, cause, cause it felt like every time I felt like I was making a step forward, I felt like the medication had started to help. And then I went back to work mm-hmm<affirmative> and I mentioned before that, going back to work, I thought was gonna be this great milestone. Right. I was gonna figure out a routine and I was gonna go back to not just being a mom, but also having, you know, a challenge during my day to, you know, be a working mom and use my brain again. And you know, all of these things that you think are gonna be exciting and I'll tell you I'm to work was not anything, any better, if anything, it just made it worse because now you were separated from your baby and you were used to working and having all this free time to put in as many hours as you really wanted to at work. And you no longer had that. You were on a strict schedule of, you know, baby's gotta be dropped off, baby's gotta be picked up. Baby's gotta be fed and trying to figure out how to pump at work and all of those. And, and also I, you know, I, in some of the other podcasts that we've had, I, I, it's interesting about O other people's, um, you know, back to work experience and you definitely have like two camps of people. And I always try to give all the new moms back to work now so much grace. Yeah. I'll say that when I was young in my career, I used to probably be the judger of moms and be like, I don't feel like they hardly even put in their 40 hours every week or, you know, she just got back her maternity leave. Like, let's go, we need you. Yeah. And now that I've been a mom, it's like, there's two very different camps of people. There's the, like, let's get you up to speed, you know, very slowly let's figure out how to, you know, help you with this transition. And the other people were on day one. They're like, here's your laptop. Here's all you miss. I need you in a meeting at nine and let's go. And you're like, I just dropped my baby off at daycare.<laugh> and I have to in 30 minutes and excuse me, what is this place?Speaker 1:
I know.Speaker 2:
Yeah. So it's, it's hard. It's hard. So that was another setback where again, I thought that was gonna be easy<laugh> yeah. Make it easier. But it really wasn't.Speaker 1:
Yeah. I mean, and it's all of those learns and then coming out on the other end of it. Um, I don't know if you share this, um, this feeling, uh, with me, but those, those learns those milestones, those realizations. As, as I think the word I I'm trying to find of realizing that work for me, when I went back to work, I, I had a similar feeling like everything was just gonna be better once I got back to work and I got into a routine, well, my routine was completely different. It was not comforting. And it was so much longer<laugh> and there was, yeah, it was, it was really challenging and it was not this cure. In fact, it was another layer. It was another opportunity for triggers to present themselves and having these different realizations really was what inspired me to go into mentorship was just the idea of being able to explore in a safe place with someone else, letting them know that like, Hey, we could have completely different experiences, but I have gotten through it. I have gone like from onto the other side, if you will. Uh, and I really enjoy being a mom and I really enjoy working and I really enjoy my family and going on vacations. I don't love the eight hour drive to Chicago, but I<laugh>, I certainly love family vacations and being able to help someone in a safe space work through that is, has been a really healing thing for me, as well as, uh, something that makes me feel like I'm able to give back for all of the people that helped me through my hard time. I don't know if that's something that brought you to mentorship if you share a similar feeling.Speaker 2:
Yeah. Somewhat similar. I think for me, I, the reason I think that I ended up in mentorship is, is 1000% to give back and to help other moms realize that they're not in this alone mm-hmm<affirmative>, but I think also for them to realize how many different resources that there are and are available. And that's in hindsight, one of the things that I, you know, I regrets the heart is a strong word, but in that moment I was so overwhelmed by, you know, we don't have a lot of family here and the, the phrase of like, it truly takes a village. It really does. Yeah. But we had, I had so much going on that I should have, I really should have sought out a therapist and I didn't do that because I, I was like, I, I don't, I don't know where I'm gonna fit that into my, into my schedule. And I need somebody to watch my baby during that time. And who is that person gonna be? And my husband was back to work. And then I also was dealing with a lot of physical therapy things to deal with some of the recovery issues that I was having. And my, um, pelvic bone had moved out of place. I had to kind of deal with some of that. And so that was taking, you know, kind of those appointment schedules. And I wish I had realized that there were more forms online and different places that I could have reached out and been involved with different things that maybe weren't as time consuming as driving to a therapist mm-hmm,<affirmative>, you know, and spending an hour and a half or two hours in my day to try to, you know, fit that appointment. And then there were so many other things, but I just, I never took the time or nobody really told me about all these other things I could have been utilizing to get through this time. And instead I used medication and I think that's great and I probably would've still needed medication, but the medication plus those things would've been even better. Yeah. But I didn't, I just, I didn't know about them. And I didn't. And again, kind of back to that mom circle that I was with, and I'm still so thankful for them, but I, nobody else in my group, at least nobody outwardly was experiencing the same things as I was. So the, I, I needed a group of people that were in this similar boat to me. And if I had known about PSM at that time, I think that it would've been such a, you know, beacon of light for me. Yeah. I learned about it. Um, probably about nine or 10 months, um, postpartum and I had gotten referred to it and then realized that there was this mentorship program. And once, you know, I had kind of gotten my anxiety under control. I just felt a huge longing kind of no different than why I'm, you know, willing to sit down and do a podcast of sharing my story with other moms and helping them realize that you will feel back better and back to yourself. And you're not in this alone. And if you are feeling these feelings, even though you pass the depression screening at the doctor's office, this isn't normal to feel like this. And there's so many people that are similar to you going through the same thing as you, even if they maybe don't outwardly admit it. I mean, a lot of people don't even wanna talk about it and that that's hard, but there's also so many resources available for you to get through this point and to utilize those. And you, you do have a village behind you, even if you don't realize it, you just need to take that first step of asking for help and then, you know, figuring out and diving into some of these things to, to really, you know, get you out of that, out of that anxiety phase.Speaker 1:
Yeah. That's so powerful, Nicole. Um, and I'm so glad, I'm so glad that our, our paths have crossed. I I'm so grateful for you and for the work that you've been doing with PSM. And I, I share very similar sentiments of like, I wish that I had a community that allowed me to just not be okay. And to allow me to explore the different things that would help me get there. Um, and being able to be a part of a community that's providing that for others is, is everything. It's, it's, it's the way in which I wanna give back. It's the way in which we do give back. And, um, yeah, I, I thank you so much, um, for sharing, for sharing everything.<laugh> thank you so much. Yeah, yeah.Speaker 2:
Yes. Yeah. I'm so glad that I was able to, you know, come on and yeah, thanks for having me. And yeah, I think just that any new mom, you know, just ask for help and it's hard, it's hard, it's hard without anxiety and depression or OTD or any of these other, you know, mood disorders going on. It's hard to become a new mom. So add those on top of it. And it makes it way harder, but just know that there's people out there supporting you and, and it's okay to ask for help. And it's okay to have self care. I think even now you, you, you have to remind yourself like, yes, those, I deserve these 30 minutes. Mm-hmm<affirmative> I deserve these 30 minutes. Yeah. But it's hard. It's hard. So I think, yes, thanks for having me. Thanks for having me be a part of this community. And I kinda echo the same as you, I'm grateful to met you and grateful to have met this group and just hope that we can help more moms through this, this time of transition post.Speaker 1:
Yes, absolutely. Oh, wonderful. Well, thank you so much. And yeah, I'm, uh, I'm looking forward to continuing, to, to grow our, our mentorship program.Speaker 2:
Me too. Thank you.Speaker 1: