Updated: Sep 15, 2021
Hey there! THANK YOU for sticking with us as we revamp, well, EVERYTHING and with helping The Don’t Quit Foundation dream become a reality. WHAT A YEAR! Where do I even begin? The biggest and most wonderful change this year is that my husband Alex and I would like to announce the arrival of new Don’t Quit TEAM member – our daughter Miss Hadley Gray Anthony. She was born four weeks early on May 20, 2021, weighing in at 5 lb. 4 oz. We can’t describe the joy and completeness she brings to our lives.
Like many of you, this past year has been epic! In addition to living through the pandemic, Alex, and I finished renovating our home in the city and decided to buy 31 acres in the country. We have always wanted to live on land with our furbabies and enjoy a simpler life. The decision came after almost two years of trying to start a family of our own, which included a year of doctors and specialists telling us that it may not happen for us. That’s when we decided to put our house up for sale, bought a camper and started plans to build our dream home. Within 5 days of selling our house, we got the surprise of a lifetime – we were expecting! That’s when the real adventure began.
We moved to our new property and lived in a camper with our four dogs when I was 7-8 weeks pregnant. This included living off a generator until we got electricity pulled, using a water barrel to fill up the camper until we got water pulled and, most scary, almost losing our girl due to complications. Oh, and Alex caught COVID and had to recover in a camper! While the first phase of our property was being completed, our little miracle baby decided to arrive early Three and a half months later, we have ditched camper living and moved into our temporary home in the country with a healthy baby girl and stories for days.
How is my mental health after all these changes and after the birth of Hadley?
Motherhood is the newest thing that has ROCKED MY WORLD. In fact, I’d say more mentally than anything else. The past few months have been the most terrifying, emotional, beautiful and unexplainable times of my life.
I was almost 38-years-old when Hadley came into this world. If it wasn’t for my husband and my tribe of family and friends who not only checked on me but REALLY checked on me by asking how I’m doing emotionally/mentally, I would be writing a different story right now. I’ve felt alone, I’ve felt lost and, until recently, I haven’t really felt like myself. This is most definitely a mixture of things – being a new mom, all of life’s changes, hormones and lack of sleep to name a few things.
Honestly, I thought that I would have the baby, start healing physically and bounce back to my old self like I did after my life-changing car accident that happened years ago. At least this time, I could walk after my surgery! However, I didn’t count in the factor of my hormones going crazy and having all my insecurities start showing up. Yes, I was warned, but still, I had this all under control, right? WRONG!
Here’s the thing…I had the baby, have been bouncing back on the outside, but find myself still struggling mentally at times and if I’m truly honest, I am not quite there yet. Having Hadley has been amazing, but also brought up many insecurities. I have looked in the mirror more the past few months and realized quickly I needed more help than I thought.
There have been moments I haven’t cared about much of anything and times I’ve been so overwhelmed by even the smallest things that I literally have wanted to revert in a bubble. Often, I felt like a stranger in my own body. The truth is that over the years I’ve become good at acting like I’m “ok,” I’ve been really good at being “strong.” However, the truth is even though I’ve felt these things, deep down I have all the insecurities and more. There have been times in my life (especially lately) that I feel none of these things. The saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” sums me up in a nutshell.
Here’s my truth now more than ever…. I miss my parents. I have felt alone more often than I would like to admit and sometimes I let my anxiety get the best of me where I can’t even breathe. There are days I don’t feel like getting up. There are days I can’t remember my passion. And there are times when I question my faith and wonder “why me.”
Since becoming a mother, all of these “truths” have been magnified, which is why I started to go therapy a month ago. This time, it’s not even for myself. This time for my daughter. I let those closest to me know I was struggling, and I even reached out to other new moms for support as well as my tribe of mental health advocates and the biggest thing I did was admit “I wasn’t ok.”
I started going to therapy because I want to “feel” again. I started going to therapy because I want to be better for my daughter and I started therapy because I want to practice what I preach! Even after all these years of telling others “It’s ok not to be ok,” it’s still hard for me to admit when I need help at times. Lately, I’ve been able to pull myself together more and more and start reaching for anything to keep me going. Since I’ve been cleared to run, I’ve added that into my weekly routine along with daily movement big or small, journaling when I have time, listening to positive/uplifting podcasts anytime I’m able to and just taking one day at a time. When I get overwhelmed, I practice anxiety tricks I’ve learned over the years. The trick is to do something even when you don’t feel like it and, yes, there are days where I do nothing and I’m realizing lately that this is ok, too.
My wish and advice for new moms is to LEAN on each other, talk to each other and reach out for help, whether something big or small. Also, one thing I tell myself when I’m struggling is “this too shall pass,” even though sometimes I haven’t been sure. When I say it, I always feel better. Also, realize EVERY BABY IS DIFFERENT and don’t GOOGLE! Now, I realize I’m new at this whole mom thing, but I learned Google is dangerous quickly. My husband put me on a Google ban the first month! Also, for some it takes longer to heal emotionally than others and that’s OK. Everyone heals in their own way. Hormones are tricky, emotions are tricky and being tired just adds to it! Also, if you are a new mom, know that no matter where you are mentally, we have all been there at some point - at least that’s the case with the moms I’ve talked to. Also, LESS JUDGING and comparing will get you a long way. Being a new mom is scary enough without comparing your baby to other babies or feeling like you are being judged or judging others on how they do things. It can be hard in today’s world, especially with all the social media showing the perfect things. I promise that at some point that perfect family on Facebook with the perfect baby has had a moment or two or more of a screaming, pooping baby and moments where the parent is asking themselves what they got themselves into! Just live in the moment.
I’m still learning these things as well, so don’t think after 3 ½ months of being a mom I think I know everything because I don’t. I totally count on my other mom friends, professionals and my baby’s pediatrician to help me along the way!
My wish for Hadley as she grows up is this -- to be a kind, caring and humble human that listens to those around her and helps those in need and always looks up. I want her to be strong, confident, and vulnerable in her feelings while standing up for what she believes in and I never, EVER want her to be afraid to ask for help. You see, we get this one life to live and that’s all so why waste it going through the tough times alone. There is help and in the end it can be OK. We must take one step at a time, keep going no matter what and always look up. My promise to you is to be more vulnerable, be more open and keep practicing what I preach. It’s not about doing everything perfect. It’s about trying no matter what and don’t quit-- even on the days we feel like giving up.