My Road Map Home
Written by Laura Hitchon
A warm hello to everyone taking a minute to read this. I hope this blog post finds you with a warm cup of something and a cozy spot to curl up in. Maybe even a hint of sunshine (or chocolate). To begin, my name is Laura. My fingers freeze on the keyboard as I think of the best way to introduce myself. Four years ago, I would have said I am a creative, driven, career-woman with a passion for travel, good books, yoga and a side of love and laughter. But today. Who am I today? How would I describe the woman sitting at the keyboard? The very real truth: I don’t really know. Most days, I feel like I am meeting myself for the first time.
The thing is, in the past four years I have had the amazing honour of having six pregnancies, and bringing three beautiful, healthy, balls of absolute sunshine earth-side. My body and heart has stretched double it’s size, over and over again. I have met myself in the saddest, darkest depths in the times of loss, and have seen myself at my very best, birthing my babies and admiring the pure strength and glory of my body and spirit. I am grateful. Make no mistake. Every single day I am grateful: not only for my beautiful children and the opportunity to raise them, but for this body; once toned and hard, now soft and supple: a home for my babies to feel safe in.
So how, can someone so grateful, so- happy, be suffering from postpartum depression? The answer - I don’t know. There is so much I don’t understand. I love my children. My life is incredibly happy. They are healthy. I am healthy. We have a beautiful home. I have an incredible family. So why, then, did I spend almost every single day since the birth of my third babe, crying in the shower when I thought nobody could hear. Why, then, did my happy home turn into a place full of colourful and strong language punctuated with anger, rage, and exhaustion. Why, then, did nothing bring me joy in the way that it used to. It seemed the things that made me, me, no longer mattered, and at the very root of it all, I was just no longer me.
I remember one day, after a particularly emotional argument with my husband, him saying to me: “I am worried the woman I fell in love with is going to disappear”. I broke down. In my heart I knew he was calling me out on my biggest fear. The woman he fell in love with is gone. And I am not sure who is showing up in her place. So what do you do when you no longer recognize yourself when you look in the mirror? My sincere hope, is that you have the courage to seek help, and take time to get to know the new person staring back at you.
And that is what I did. But let me add - it took time… and a lot of encouragement from my family. The thing is, the stubborn person that existed before having kids, she was still there postpartum, trying to convince me that I got this, that I don’t need help, that asking for help is akin to failing. And I will make one thing very clear - I ONLY ever do things I am good at. Failing is defeat - and it is not an option in my world. But, there I landed in the doctor’s office: tears streaming down my face begging for help.
For me, help has arrived in many ways. Yes, I am now taking medication to help my hormones organize themselves. I am not ashamed. I am also seeing a counsellor who talks me through my darkest times. I am not ashamed of that either. And here are the things that I have learned about myself since having babies. I call it my ‘roadmap home’ as I come back to these things anytime I feel lost or confused about who I am.
Journaling and taking pictures brings me more joy than I can imagine. Taking 20 seconds to capture an otherwise ordinary moment reminds me of the little joys that can easily be overlooked throughout the day.
Hot coffee made with cream. Forgetting about what fad diet suggests cream and caffeine are the devil and enjoying that simple pleasure first thing in the morning.
Music. A playlist that not only reminds me of revelry of days gone by, but songs that bring joy into this exact moment.
Fresh air. Sometimes it is literally just standing outside on my deck, yelling loudly in exasperation, taking a deep breath and walking back in.
Exercise. I am not talking about a 5km run and a 90 minute yoga practice - those are the things that the old Laura needed to feel joy. Maybe one day those activities will be within my reach again. For now exercise is running around or having a dance party with the littles. Kicking a ball or putting on 3 kids coats and 3 kids shoes. Anything to make my body move and sweat and remind me that I am still alive and breathing.
Connecting with other humans. Especially like-minded humans that GET IT. That see me, support me, know that I am not doing it right all the time and don’t care. And by the way - most of the time, connecting for me doesn’t really look like leaving my house. I am super, super introverted and the more I stay in the more that part of me thrives. So my favourite form of connection is a text I can choose when I want to or am able to respond to.
Setting Boundaries. To me, this means protecting my energy by surrounding myself with people who support me. Saying no, and prioritizing what matters. Letting the rest go during this season of my life.
And this list is not inclusive. I am still learning about what brings me joy now. And I am not always happy, either. There are days where I wake up and have to peel myself out of bed. Where I yell, and complain, and cry. I am not always the best version of myself. But on the darkest of the days, I go back to my roadmap. I remind myself that it is okay not to be okay and that my best is good enough.
I hope if you are in the depth of darkness, you find comfort knowing you are not alone. And if you feel alone, reach out. To me, to anyone and I will help you find yourself again.
And for the mamas: I will end this blog with a quote that has brought a lot of light to my life:
“Because the truth is this - the first few years of postpartum are going to pull you so far away from who you used to be - and then they’re going to put you back together as the person you are meant to become.” - Mama J (@takebackpostpartum)
Sending love and comfort,