At some point during a prenatal or postpartum yoga class, I often take a moment to have moms consider the ways their babies have changed them from the inside out.
I always thought it was a sweet sentiment and there are so many ways our babies change us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But Little Sister changed me from the inside out a little more literally than the usual thoughts of my heart growing bigger and stretch marks… she gave me eczema!
What the what?!
Never in my life have I ever had any sort of eczema or skin sensitivity (other than my lifelong pasty ass fight with the sun). Little Sister was born and lo and behold we both have eczema. (Not so fun fact: I actually thought I had mastitis because the first spot to develop eczema was the bottom side of my right breast and I was just waiting for the aches and fever to set in, but they never came.) Since then, hers has been controllable with OTC lotions and creams, but mine… mine has traveled, but never fully went away. My dermatologist prescribed a steroid. Nothing. Eczema specific lotions. Nope. My usual shampoo and conditioner? Total breakout.
I decided to do an elimination diet to figure out what was causing this. Pull out almost everything from my diet including the usual suspects (dairy, grains, sugar), but also some lesser known culprits (tomatoes, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, etc.).
And then I was like, “Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right.”
So I decided to try Whole30 instead. I bought the book and the workbook a friend who’s in the middle of her first Whole30 swears by and I bought a shit ton of produce and ghee and totally forgot to buy more waffles for everyone else living in my house and then I was like, “Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right.”
Here’s the deal…
I haven’t been shy about struggling with Postpartum Depression/Postpartum Anxiety after Little Sister was born. (Though now that I’m seeing a little more clearly I think this may have even started while I was pregnant with her.)
For me, PPD/PPA probably didn’t look too bad from the outside. I was back to work. I was exercising. I was making jokes. I was getting places on time. But everything was hard.
I kept telling myself it’ll get better after we move, after we finish painting, after we travel for weddings, after we’re sleeping. (We’re still not sleeping.) Eventually I realized it wasn’t getting better.
I have an incredible therapist and she listened to me week after week just trying to gut through. Most of the time I was just OK. Sometimes I was a total mess. Rarely I was “good.” This went on for EIGHT. MONTHS. before I finally checked enough boxes where she recommended I talk to my OB.
My boxes were:
“I want to want to eat well, but I don’t want to.”
“I know exercise makes me feel better, but I can’t bring myself to do it.”
“I went to class and I felt great while I was there, but by the time I got back home I was already stressed and miserable again.”
“I keep trying to do everything right and I keep failing at it.”
“I’m failing everyone.”
“I’m angry all the time. I’m snapping at the kids for just being kids. It’s not fair to them, but I can’t help it.”
I do this for a living. I study PPD. I listen to podcasts and attend webinars by professionals. I knew in my rational brain that I was not a bad mother or wife or friend, but fuck if it didn’t feel like it.
At my next OB appointment I told the nurse I was struggling, but was hesitant to talk to my doctor about it because I still wasn’t sure how I felt about medication. She smiled and thanked me for bringing it up because at the very least my doctor and I could talk about it and reminded me that I wasn’t required to do anything I didn’t want to do.
My doctor did end up writing me a prescription and I decided it was time to give it a try.
*** I would like to point out that the above interaction was the absolute appropriate response by all healthcare professionals involved. I’m so thankful and lucky to have a wonderful team. Please know this is not the case everywhere and read up on this post below. ***
A week later I finally felt like me again. I wanted to get to my mat and practice. I was actually sleeping (well when the baby wasn’t waking me up). I still feel stressed sometimes. Having two kids is HARD! I still feel like I’m failing them on occasion. (Is this a universal parent thing though? Are we all actually saving for their therapy and not college? Just me?) But I’m finally coping again.
So back to Whole30.
Even after I started to feel like me again, I still couldn’t quite muster up the energy to give up the weekly trips to Chic-Fil-A (or thrice weekly? But seriously… how do they somehow convince me that this is OK? I would never go to McDonalds three times a week and be like “Eh this is fine.”), or meal prep, or grocery shop, or just cook in general.
I wanted to want to, but I didn’t want to.
So going from not cooking and eating zero vegetables to an elimination diet or Whole30 would basically be like going from being sedentary to running an ultramarathon. Just the idea of cutting foods like that made me eat even worse than I was already. Like, Ben & Jerry’s, Funyuns, m&ms, Pringles, ALL the junk food in anticipation of not being able to eat them later.
This is not how I do things. This is exactly what I’ve always coached against.
And to be completely clear, the ONLY reason for these “diets” was to figure out what the hell is happening with my skin. But as much as I want to know what’s happening… it’s just too much right now. And that’s OK.
Like everything right now, I’m starting small. Eating more vegetables and less sugar. Consciously choosing when to snack and when to say no thank you.
I’m hoping that finally having the motivation to eat better will also make my workouts feel better, which helps me sleep better, maybe it will even help Little Sister since we’re still breastfeeding (often).
This isn’t an easy post to share. It’s hard to publicly admit that you don’t have it all together… especially around motherhood when motherhood is your job. But I truly believe in sharing all variations of normal prenatal and postpartum.
It’s important to know you’re not alone. It’s important to know there’s help and resources out there. It’s important to know this does not make you a bad parent. It’s important to know you are so loved.