SOCIAL MEDIA

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Postpartum During a Pandemic: 8 Tools that are Helping Me NOT Completely Fall Apart


I don't know about you, but I'm reaching for anything that I can control. I'm currently 9 weeks postpartum. Four-ish days after Baby Jackson made his appearance into the world, Orange County enforced a stay-at-home order. At first, it really didn't impact me too much as long I didn't get caught up in the news & social media. I had already planned on being home with a newborn & our lives significantly slowing down for some time. I was good...until I wasn't. The smallest decisions seemed impossible. Should we go to the grocery store, order things on Amazon, walk outside? I quickly realized how much I took for granted. 

The world I prepared to live in while conquering postpartum no longer existed. 
Later in this post, I am going to share some tools that are helping me live my imperfect best life right now. In no way do I believe these are the tools we should all be using or that they will solve all of our problems. I'm sharing because processing all of this is helpful for me & if even one person is encouraged by my story, then it's worth sharing. So, can we just agree to support one another during these difficult times? I know I'm tempted to focus on who has it worse or better than us & judge how people are living their lives. Honestly though, when it comes down to it, we're all doing our best. Let's give one another grace.

God knew how difficult postpartum was for me the first two times & the world wasn't even navigating a pandemic; I ended up in therapy, worried I was ruining my marriage & life as I knew it. I was so anxious that I was calling out of work. How could He possibly expect me to come out on the other side of this craziness in one piece? 

Here's the thing, He doesn't expect that. However, He does expect me to let Him pick up all the pieces. In order for that to happen, I have to accept that I'm falling apart. I'm breaking into pieces. Life as I knew it no longer exists but I'm not broken. I am whole in Christ. And so are you. We're not completely falling apart because our identity is in Christ & He isn't falling apart even a little bit. 

The other day I was standing at my parents' kitchen sink washing dishes while on the verge of a breakdown (we have seen them for most of this stay-at-home order which is a topic for another day). My toolbox not only felt empty but extremely out of date & useless. A full-on ugly cry that I wouldn't recover from for days was about to happen when all of a sudden a sense of peace washed over me. It hit me that I had no idea what Spring 2020 was going to look like but God did. 

He knew what the state of the world would be when we got pregnant last Spring & when we became foster parents last Autumn. He knew we'd all be under the same roof, with nowhere to go, for months on end. And you know what? My toolbox isn't empty or outdated. All of the tools I've learned how to use over the years are useful in this unknown world. So much of what was good for me three months ago is still good for me now. 

The Tools that Are Helping Me: 
1. Practicing Gratitude
I try to write a gratitude list every day. Sometimes it's in a notebook or on my phone. I've even just said it out loud when I can't access those materials. This practice started when I attended OA (a 12-step program for disordered eating) in my mid-twenties & has been encouraged by my doctor & countless others since. This practice is so good for my soul. It's also a litmus test. When it gets harder to find things to be grateful for, I know it's time to look at some other tools because anxiety and/or depression are creeping in. 

2. Going to Therapy
I'm wired to talk things out. No joke, as soon as I word vomit all the things that are taking up space in my brain & heart, I immediately feel better. It doesn't all go away but it is more orderly. It's kind of like having a headache but not getting the ibuprofen or essential oil or whatever it is that will make it feel better because you know the medicine cabinet is a disaster. Once you take everything out, it's pretty clear how you can put it all back in so you can access the medicine you need when you need it. My emotions, worries, hopes, hurts, etc. work the same way. When I set them all out on the counter, I can return them to the appropriate place in the cabinet.  

3. Sticking to Routine
Routine allows for some order in an unorderly world. When this whole thing happened, my initial reaction was to just throw my hands up in surrender. I wanted to be a victim because it seemed easier at the moment. It didn't work, so with a newborn & all of us at home, we came up with some new routines. They don't happen every day but they do happen most days. This normalcy is refreshing. God has ultimate control but that doesn't mean our choices & actions don't matter. Eating the same thing for breakfast, putting our bed away every morning, Josh working the same hours each week, & prepping Jackson's bottles each night are just a few routines we have in place to create some order where we can. 

4. Exercising
For some reason I see exercise as a way to punish my body instead of a way to take care of it, but I'm trying to change my response to exercise from something negative to something positive. The more I move my body & feel good about it, the easier it is for me to do it the next time. Plus, I am a crying mess so many times while exercising that I am officially a believer in therapeutic exercise. I'm sure the man who has his office set up on his front porch has wondered more than once if I'm OK. I might look crazy wiping tears off my cheeks but it's working. 

5. Organizing
Just like routine, organizing is a way to create order when everything is up in the air. My biggest organizational project during quarantine has been my wardrobe. I got rid of everything that doesn't fit. Yes, I just had a baby but I decided not to wait until I lose the baby weight. I tried that with our first two kiddos & I felt terrible about myself. My wardrobe is now full of clothes that I not only like but that also fit me. It's my own form of a capsule wardrobe. It's full of skinny jeans, yoga pants, & black & white stripes.

6. Limiting social media
I'm sure I'm not the only one who compares herself to other people. Social media is the perfect breeding ground to set unrealistic expectations of myself & my family. I end up thinking if we're not eating all organic foods, if we're not having daily prayer time as a family, if we're not making our own deodorant, if we're not limiting screens, etc. then we're failing at life. I lose sight of what God wants for me & my family. I needed time to figure out our new normal & get grounded in God's peace around the state of the world before letting the opinions of others flood my brain. I'll be back to using social media but not before I have the right armor around me. 

7. Creating Intentional Spaces
This is really tied to the organizing piece. Creating intentional spaces is a way to bring order to our lives & with all of us cooped up in our little duplex, another space was really needed. Thankfully we had the ability to expand our living space by transforming our back patio into a usable, intentional space for eating, cooking, playing, painting, planting, escaping, praying, etc. The patio we used maybe 5 times a year is now fully functional. We had most of the pieces already but we never put the effort in to bring it all together. It is quickly becoming my favorite place to sip some coffee & just sit. I'm actually writing this post from the comfort of our picnic table. 

8. Reading Motivational Books
Without social media, I found a lot of "free time". My Kindle has been great! I'm reading authors who share their experiences relying on God for strength during difficult times, authors who don't throw themselves a pity party but instead continuously get back up, authors whose intent with their work is to build women up. This has been life-giving for my soul. I'm also opening my Bible app more since I can't open Instagram or Facebook or any other social media platform that took so much of my attention. 

These tools are helping me stay grounded- connected when all I really want to do it disconnect until everything goes back to normal. The thing is, I don't think my old normal will ever be normal again. I don't know what the future looks like, no one does, but I do know this toolbox God has helped me build will be just as useful in whatever new normal I end up in.

I challenge you to look at the tools you have & start using them however imperfect it is & to share what's working for you with others. The world might be unfair but I'm finding that it is full of meaning. 

Sending lots of love. 
Sincerely, Lindsey 

6 comments :

  1. I'm so sorry that life took such a drastic turn for you. I can't imagine how challenging that would be postpartum. But it sounds like you really worked hard to find coping mechanisms and other ways to battle through your struggles and find positivity and even joy! Sending lots of love your way.

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    1. Stephanie, you're totally right about it not being easy but honestly, hard things are rarely worthless. Thank you for the love!

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  2. Having a newborn in any circumstance is difficult; I can’t imagine being a new mom during such an uncertain time. I think it’s wonderful that you not only have found tools to help you cope but you’re sharing your story and those tools with others. 💜

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    1. Christa, I think so much meaning comes from sharing our stories. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  3. I can't imagine what it feels to have a baby during this pandemic. These tips sound very helpful because you don't only have to deal with the quarantine, also a newborn!

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  4. It's such a tough time to have a baby right now and I can't even imagine what you're going through. Hugh props to you and love that you're sharing these tips!

    kileen
    cute & little

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