How are you?
No really. Like “how ARE you?”
It’s quick to throw on that strained smile and quickly respond, “Fine, thanks, how are you?” While you’re really thinking, “Do you really want to know? I’m not even sure where to start.”
But it's okay, we get it. We will wait for the real answer. We will ask again, "How are you really doing?" We will hold space for you when the answer is sad or mad or depressed. We know it's not just the fourth trimester that can be crushing. We will listen.
As a babywearing community, we know what it is to sometimes need to wear your baby so you can be caring for that baby with snuggles while using less of your physical and mental energy.
[Image provided by Melissa Stamer Peterson of a close up of a mom and baby who is three months and a day old. Baby is wrapped in Decadence Glam in a semi front wrap cross carry, and baby is wearing a gray knit hat with rabbit ears.]
Maybe you feel like you haven’t slept in days. Maybe your days and nights are starting to all blend together. Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to go to the bathroom while constantly feeding this tiny human in your arms. Maybe you find yourself crying all the time and you aren’t even sure why. Maybe you’re starting to wonder if you’re the right person to be taking care of this tiny human who is completely relying on you and it’s terrifying. Maybe you’re wondering if there’s something wrong.
Do I have the “baby blues?” Is there something wrong with me? “It is estimated that 14%-23% of pregnant women experience depression during pregnancy, and 5%-25% experience depression postpartum” (ACOG). Postpartum mental illnesses include postpartum depression and anxiety (PPDA), postpartum psychosis (PPP), postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PPTSD), postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (PPOCD). Symptoms may can be mild or severe and show up within days of birth or even a year later.
It is chemical. It is real. It is not your fault.
Talk to your health care provider. Talk to a loved one. Talk to someone. Get help. It’s okay. You will be okay. You are not alone. For those who have the opportunity to care for a family with a new little one, use the opportunity to show them love and support.
How are you?
[Image provided by Emily Joy Hartford of a nine-image collage of a bespectacled white woman with short dark hair babywearing using different patterned and colors of woven wraps. Some images, it’s her and the wearee while other images have additional people in them who are also smiling and wearing little ones.]
“I have struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety for almost a year. I am well on my way to healing, and feeling like myself again, thanks to the support of my wonderful communities like you all. I have done heaps of babywearing this past year, mostly as survival. Most has been back carries, because in a back carry I can still be close and connected while feeling touched out. But tonight, tonight was all about the front snuggles to go to sleep. I can't tell you the last time I felt up to front snuggles for sleep time at home. And, oh, to feel that sweet breath and relaxed body snuggled in soothes my soul. Thank goodness for babywearing, beautiful textiles, wonderful friends in person and online, and people who make you feel special, just for being yourself. Love you, Buzzers.”
American Pregnacy Association: http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/forms-of-postpartum-depression/
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: https://adaa.org/
National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): https://www.acog.org/Womens-Health/Depression-and-Postpartum-Depression
Postpartum Men: http://postpartummen.com/
Postpartum Progress: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/