The whole gang and thoughts on Post-Partum

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I don't seem to get my whole family in one picture very easily. Maybe it's because there are 6 of us, or because I'm always the one behind the camera, or maybe it's because life is always so full and someone is always scurrying off somewhere too fast! Probably All three:)

It was so wonderful to get family pictures with Tara B Photography! She and I went to BYU together studying musical theater, and now we each have our own creative businesses at home. I love watching women do what they love from home. It's the harest thing...but so rewarding. Thanks Tara!

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Lately at home, things have been full. Very full. And I'm once again learning to find the balance of work and life with a new baby in the family. Motherhood is #1 in my book, but so is my illustration and design work. It's all so integral to me, as so much of what I'm learning as a mother influences what I want to say as an artist. I'm truly blessed.

This past year, I've had struggles with post-partum depression on and off. And it's something I have taken very seriously. The stress of young children and babies on your body, mind and spirit is very real. No matter how much you LOVE being a mom, and love your kids. Believe me. When it hit me that I was struggling...I mean..I love my kids! I prayed for each one of them! I struggled with infertility...so how could I possibly be suffering from this?

Turns out, stress...good and bad...messes with your body. And the reality of business and work and motherhood and no sleep and 4 very needy and tiny people to care for took it's toll on me.

I don't say this to complain as much as I just want to share the "real" part of what I do and how I do it. I really believe that none of us do what we do professionally with out some kind of personal set back. Or set backs. This one for me, has been very challenging. Albeit not SERIOUS, it's been a challenge that has required a lot of thought, diligence and perserverance.

My Post Partum Depression was kind of mixed with a bit of anxiety and adrenal fatigue too. Hard to say what exactly was what. But they all have similar symptoms, and so I'm just going to call it Post Partum.

How I've managed it so far:

1) Medical Help. First thing I did was to see my Dr and get my hormones checked. I was able to take care of a big bulk of it from managing my hormones, and I'm so grateful for that. I was also able to see that I was low in Vitamin B12 and D3, which are vital in maintaining positive moods and energy.

2) Sleep.  It was so important that I take more off my plate so that I could rest. Naps were key. My body needed to heal and regulate, and sleep was paramount to that.

3) Home Help. One of the hardest things I did was get a nanny a few months after Anders was born. I felt like I was giving up! But sleep was SO important, and I needed someone to watch Ella so I could sleep when my baby slept. So important in those early months. Now that Anders is older, I have help at home so that I can work within a schedule, which has helped tremendously.

4) Diet. I'm not in any way consistent here, but eating a whole foods diet was huge in healing my mind, body and spirit. Cutting the sugar and processed foods...of any kind...worked wonders. Not the easiest for me to maintain, but every effort made a difference. I've been following Deliciously Ella and Sarah Wilson for some time now, and they are my heros.

5) Slow Down. This was a hard one. I am a workaholic (in a lot of ways) and it was really hard for me to admit I needed more time to get illustration and design work done. Allowing myself to be abit slower, put things aside and actually say no to some projects was key.

6) Love Yourself. In all the whirlwind of a first year with new baby and recovering from a bed ridden pregnancy, I realized that some of my depression was from how long it was taking to heal and get back to normal. I was comapring myself to other women, who of course weren't having the same life I was, and was feeling like I was falling short. Bad Form!! Treating myself with love and respect for all that I was doing well took a while to learn. But so key in healing from PPD.

7) Massage Therapy. I found an amazing massouse who I went to in order to help me with all those pent up emiotions that I knew were still inside even after I had "healed." I could just "feel" that things were still stuck in there, and I needed help getting it out. It was amazing! Your body is such an amazing machine, and after a month of getting massages, so many of my symptoms were improving.

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8) Support. I'm super lucky that I have a rock-star husband who "gets it" and is my partner in crime in every way. We pick up eachother's slack. He's never made me feel ashamed for the times I wasn't able to do as much as I usually do. He's the one that's been my therapist through the really dark times and my cheerleader throught the bumpy ones.

9) Simplifying. You don't have to have 4 young children and run a demanding business from home to get yourself out of balance. Life is full for all of us, and is unfortunatly becoming the norm for many of us. Reading ESSENTIALISM was a turning point for me (I'll talk more on this later) and learning how to focus on what's most important,and letting everything else fall to the wayside.

10. Unplug. One of the best things I did this summer was spend it mostly away from technology and out in the great outdoors. (One of the main reasons I blogged less this summer!) It sounds so simple, but really, getting out in the elements and just being surrounded by God's beautiful creations, did wonders. We went back to my home town in Maryland and did a family camp in the forest and I couldn't have been happier. Since then, taking walks, watching the sunset, and being in the sunshine have been wonderful.

Now, I'm going to be really clear and say that I never had PPD to the point where professional help was needed. I'm just mentioning these things in the case that there is someone else out there that needs to read this and can find help through some simple and basic help!

I'm still learning how to make sure that I'm taking care of ME through all this (I tend to be the give-give-give type). And all that takes sensitivity, hard work, and a lot of listening, prayer and love. But it's vital to being successful in all aspects of our lives, and I'm so happy to report that I've made it through the hardest parts, and am now determined to thrive through this next phase as I keep up my quest for happiness and wellness in all areas of my life. I have a few more things that I know will help me more that I haven't done consitently enough to mention like exercize, herbal supplements, and meditation...all of which have helped So much! I just need to make them a more daily part of what I do. I'll report back when I have more of success story there:)

Do you have any thoughts you'd like to share? I know this is a topic that is complicated yet so far reaching. It's not easy for me to share, but so important to! I'd love to hear your experiences as well. Love to you all!!

xoxox

Sarah