“The fourth trimester meant recovering and understanding more than the physical labour of birth and focusing on the emotional labour which is the ebb and flow of a new maternal life.” My words, from an article I wrote for the Irish Times in July. “Parenthood will change you. It’s almost an affliction that rewires the internal mechanisms of your body and brain. Like a sometimes-instant switch, automatically flicked, when your baby takes their first breath.
My recovery was a long eighteen months combining so many actions on a daily basis to keep my head flying higher than the flamingo. What did I do?
I was once asked, on the radio no less to thousands of listeners, to describe what anxiety feels like. Where do you start? Anxiety isn’t simply a nervousness that makes you indecisive. I’m sure I’ll list off how I was feeling and any woman who has suffered will nod in agreement. It’s painful, physically painful. There is nausea, headaches and dizzy spells aside from the mental overload. It feels hopeless and it can pass before it hits you hard again. The lull and low of anxiety didn’t affect me all the time but it sure did like to linger and attack quickly.
Something transpired out of motherhood, rising from the ashes like a giant pink flamingo. It probably began earlier than I care to admit, but a few weeks after Devin was born, my focus was gone, my routine and schedule, all fragmented and I suddenly felt this overwhelming urge to blow up. It was less to do with the fact that we had a five-week-old baby and more to do with the extreme possibility I was suffering from intense postnatal anxiety and depression.
It’s been hanging around a few weeks lately which is why, a few days ago, I wrote the post Anxiety: The Flamingo Does Not Define Me. I’ve been trying to climb out of a rut that has seen me stuck for three weeks or so. I have to be honest, because that’s who I am and what I do. I consider myself a self care idiot. I should know better by now. I should know how to look after my physical needs and the needs of my ever spinning mind. I really should but I’m feeling the pinch of being overwhelmed lately and it has swallowed up any opportunity I’ve had to care for myself. Overhelmed with balancing working from home and being the Momma Bear I want to be, but feeling as though I’m failing in the process because I want to hide in the kitchen. Overwhelmed with my relationships with friends, family and Papa Bear. Even overwhelmed with how the furniture is positioned and how Un-Marie Kondo’d the house is.
I’d absolutely love it if this was some inspirational post about being the sickest and coolest and most epic Momma Bear – which I realise makes me sound so incredibly uncool – but it’s all about when Momma Bear is sick and boy do I know what that’s like.
It’s January. We’re all a little fed up. But we’re also jumping pretty damn hard and fast on the rejuvenating band wagon. One thing I’ve learned over this winter, is how self-care is vital for Momma and Papa Bear. Over January I plan on posting a few blogs about putting yourself first. We all know, if Momma Bear is weary, the house gets weary.
It’s been almost two months since my anxiety “blip” which left me floored for two weeks with intense frustration, anger and anxiety that I lost control of. I wrote a letter to my Fricking Flamingo and kicked it out of the door. Before this blip I thought I was ok, in the safe zone, and had let life jump back on board making me forget about the ways I manage my anxiety.