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A UNIQUE VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT FOR A UNIQUE PERSON

February 3, 2018

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…

My husband and I have been married for almost four years. For so long, we were that annoying couple that never fought and seemed to be in the honeymoon phase forever. This last year has been life-changing for the both of us. We recently had our first child, baby boy Axel, and it has been wonderful and also a lot of change.

I wrote a post a few months ago about how having a child impacted our marriage. I am happy to say that we have come a long way since then and we are starting to become a really great team. Before we had a child, we had stereotypical gender roles going on in our house and separate checking accounts – and it worked just fine. When you have a child, every aspect of your life changes so we had to reset the expectations and get on the same page. Communication is KEY!

Then Comes Baby…

Having a child has been life changing. It has helped us become better communicators and even stronger in our relationship. I was experiencing some signs of postpartum depression and anxiety and finally admitted I needed some help. I didn’t want to admit that – I wanted to be the super mom that my mom was and still is. Invincible, always going way above and beyond, making sure everyone was taken care of, just “Mamazing”. But I didn’t feel like that person. I felt very tired and anxious. I felt like I had this new never-ending to do list and when was I supposed to have time to just relax and enjoy some playtime with baby boy? I finally got the help I needed from my doctor and I was honest with my husband. I finally asked for more help and he was very receptive. He didn’t mind at all and it felt like I should have just asked him for more help sooner – so silly!

Today, all the baby responsibilities are shared. We divvy up bath time, washing bottles, changing diapers – all that good stuff. We play with baby Axel TOGETHER. For weeks we were doing almost a baton hand-off style of parenting. One of us would watch the baby and the other would scurry around trying to get chores done and then we would switch off. It was just not enjoyable and even though we live/commute/work together – I felt like I hardly spent any time with my husband. I missed him and he missed me – which made us argue, again – so silly. He felt more like my roommate then my husband. We have come to a point where we prioritize relaxing and playing with the baby together. This way, we can visit with each other, talk about our work day and laugh at all the silly new things Axel is doing! I know we will need to adapt once again if we add another baby to the mix, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it 😊

A Little Extra Effort Goes a Long Way…

I always heard people talk about how marriage and relationships can be hard and “take work”. My first few married years with Andrew felt so easy – almost too good to be true. I never knew what people meant by that until we had a child. It does take some “work” or extra effort to be intentional about showing your spouse you care. When I am so exhausted from working full time and my new 24/7 Mama gig, when do I have time to give my husband some much-needed affection?

I do a lot of the night shift stuff with the baby because it’s easier for me to just conviently nurse him. One night as I was crawling back into bed after I laid the baby back in the crib, my husband rolled over and put his hand on my back and said, “Good job Mama.” Such a simple thing but it meant the world to me. And I told him that the next day! I told him how good those simple words made me feel.

After we agreed that we were starting to feel more like roommates, I knew that I needed to change things otherwise we were going to be one of those couples that just lived separate lives in the same house. I started thinking of small ways of showing Andrew I cared for him. My list consisted of packing him good snacks and lunches for work, making him a hot breakfast every once in a while, rubbing his shoulders, and simply giving him a hug. Those little things make a huge difference. Once your spouse sees that even though you are tired, you are still putting forth effort – they want to reciprocate! I was also brainstorming of thoughtful gift ideas. Something that really showed him I was thinking of him. Keep reading and I’ll tell you what I came up with!

The Things That Make My Husband Unique Are The Things I Appreciate Most

One thing that my husband and I love to do together is watch a good show or movie when baby goes to bed. It is a great way to wind down for the evening and we can usually find something good that we both want to watch. We recently watched the Netflix series, Atypical. It’s a great comedy about a young man with autism who is trying to make his way through life. He is high functioning (has a good tech job, does well in school and has a girlfriend). As I was watching the show, I couldn’t help but notice so many similarities between the main character and my husband. What gave me more goosebumps is when he gets a girlfriend who is bubbly, talkative and a bit quirky – just like me!

I never intended to bring it up but my husband turned to me during one of the episodes and said, “oh my gosh, do I have autism?!” He said it with a slight chuckle and I just chuckled back because I didn’t know enough about it to answer. Days after we finished the series I couldn’t stop thinking about it and started researching. I ended up finding a credible quiz online to help diagnose these traits in adults. He agreed to take it and scored within the range of strong signs of autistic traits or asperbergers. Here are some of the signs or traits that my husband shows from the autism spectrum:

  • OCD – very detailed and meticulous about maintenance/cleaning
  • Gifted – very smart! Can fix or solve most issues in such a creative way!
  • Fascinated by facts more so than people/feelings
  • Mild sensory issues with noise
  • Avoids social settings
  • VERY HONEST 😊

So, what does this mean for us? Not much because, in my opinion, there is nothing to “fix”. I view it more as something to be aware of and understand. Sure, there are times where my husband’s honesty can come across as rude to people that don’t know him but as far as our relationship goes – we’re going strong and we make a good team! It’s true – opposites attract! If anything, learning this about him has helped me to better understand how he operates and what I can do to be the best support for him.

My husband sometimes feels discouraged by these traits and his behavior. His OCD when it comes to cleaning and details sometimes even annoys him. He sometimes feels like most people don’t understand him or want to listen to him. He is smart ways of doing things and offers advice but people sometimes mistake this for being arrogant or condescending, even when he has the best intentions. There are times when he will make comments when I am cleaning something a certain way. His comments are honest advice but I explain to him how it can hurt my feelings at times. He has come a long way and I have told him that if he isn’t sure how somebody is going to take his comment or advice to just consider keeping it to himself.

These traits have impacted our relationship in many ways. I am spontaneous and easy-going. I can “go-with-the-flow” and make the best out of situations. Andrew needs to have a plan and know all the details. And when I say have a plan, I mean like – if we are going to go out to dinner, he wants to know about a week in advance, make a reservation (when it’s the least busy), look up where to park and the best route to get there. So with the two of us being so different in that regard, it has taken some compromising on both ends.

The only thing that bugs me about his traits are that he sometimes feels discouraged and like an outcast. It makes me sad when he asks, “is there something wrong with me? or when he says, “I hope our son is more like you.” I don’t want him to think that way. I want to live himself for who he is as much as I love him. If you are reading this and you know someone with similar traits, please share anything you know that can help! This is new territory for us and we are learning by research and meeting with a specialist. My ultimate goal is that Andrew accepts himself for who he is and is happy.

A Unique Gift for a Unique Person

So, of course, this Valentine’s day I needed to get something as unique as my unique, lumberjack husband. I got him this stunning, luxury watch (pictured below). This came in a beautiful wooden box that smelled like cedar. We also received oil and cloth with our box so that we can keep the watch looking nice! Andrew loves maintenance so that’s perfect! They had all kinds of different styles and woods to choose from. I wanted to make sure my husband LOVED it so I let him help pick it out before I ordered. Usually he is quick to make decisions like this but he had such a fun time browsing Jord’s variety. As I was helping him browse I realized that they also make gorgeous watches for women and I feel like Mama deserves one too! I might have to pick one out and treat myself. I have been eyeing up this Purpleheart beauty. 😊

As new parents, it is so nice to enjoy an accessory other than baby spitup and boogers! There was something about Andrew putting on the watch that made me go back to our dating days where we were so enamored with each other and always wanted to look nice for each other. This has inspired us to plan an upcoming date night and I requested that Andrew wear his new Jord watch and a splash of beard oil!

If you are tired parents or have been married for so long that you don’t “do Valentine’s day” anymore…well stop it because that’s lame! Keep the flame alive and invest in each other! Yes, it’s true that orchestrating a date night once you have kids takes extra work, but it is so important to continuously work on your relationship. Get your special someone a beautiful watch from Jord. They even do customized engraving, so you can make it extra special. Engravable watches make a perfect, thoughtful gift for any occasion.

Jord Watches – The Perfect Gift!

As I mentioned before, Jord has an enormous variety of personalized watches for both men and women. They have exotic woods to choose from such as purpleheart, bamboo, zebrawood and more! When you browse their website, you can chat with REAL humans who will help you with your shopping! They can help guide you to what you are looking for and what you need to decide before placing your order. How great is that kind of service? They also offer free shipping worldwide and they make it easy to get help with exchanges or repairs. Some companies make it SO hard to contact them for help, but they have a help tab right on their website and it is super user friendly! So, if you are browsing for unique men’s watches, look no further because Jord has you covered.

GIVEAWAY

Check out my giveaway where you could win $100 credit to Jord Watches! All entries will receive a special discount code.

I always love to learn a little more about how a company got started and what they are all about. I will leave you with this inspiring quote from their About page:

TELLING MORE THAN TIME

“The value of a watch is not in being able to tell how much time has passed, but in being aware of the need to make that time count. Moments are bigger than minutes and your watch should tell more than time.”

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you love birds!

Wooden Wrist Watch

Baby Compassion Family Health & Wellness Motherhood

EVEN THE HAPPIEST OF MOMS CAN STRUGGLE WITH POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION & ANXIETY

December 17, 2017

I wanted to write this post while I was at my lowest point and feeling all the weight of symptoms of postpartum depression weighing heavy on my heart. I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it at that time because I didn’t want to do anything. Not even the things I loved.

I am not writing this post as a cry for help. I am now taking the steps to get myself help. I am writing this post for two reasons:

  1. To remind myself to not be stubborn and know when to seek help.
  2. To show others that it is okay if you need help. You are not weak and you are not alone. If I can help even one mom be brave and admit they need help then I’ve done my job.

As I write this post now, I am back to my happy, normal self. Thinking back to the days I was struggling still makes me cringe. I didn’t know what was wrong with me at the time. I felt out of control. The best way I can describe it is…I didn’t feel like me. For those that know me well, I am a very positive and happy person. I am quick to make friends and get along with all types of personalities. For me to think I may have been struggling with postpartum depression was hard to swallow. I still haven’t said it out loud to anyone and it even feels hard to type the words.

“…I didn’t feel like me.”

Once I started looking up the symptoms I was feeling and it pointed to postpartum depression I felt ashamed. I felt like a weak person and a weak mom. I had so much to be happy about and thankful for so why am I feeling like this? I started to pray to God for help because I didn’t know who to talk to or who would understand. My first thoughts were my husband or my mom but I couldn’t bring myself to have the conversation. I will have that conversation before I post this. It’s not that they wouldn’t support me or try to help me because they definitely would. It’s more that I felt embarrassed and scared about it.

As I continued to research, I found that this can be caused by a hormone imbalance. There were streaks were I was getting little to no sleep caring for sick baby Axel. I was worried about his health and I wasn’t taking care of myself in a lot of ways. I think the combination of that and other factors is what caused me to not feel like me.

I have learned there is postpartum depression and baby blues. The two get confused quite often. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was dealing so I could figure out how to help myself. I found this helpful chart from a maternal mental health specialist, Rachel Rabinor. After reading the article and reviewing the symptoms from the chart, I realized I had experienced every single symptom on the postpartum depression side.

The worst symptoms are the insomnia and excessive worrying. I have thoughts throughout the day and bad dreams at night about baby Axel’s safety and well-being. My heart hurts in my chest as I separate from him when I go to work. I want to enjoy these milestones and moments with Axel not waste them with constant worry! I try to re-focus my thoughts and train my brain but I keep reverting back to the worry and anxiousness.

So You Think You Have PPD, Now What?

The breaking point where I knew something was wrong was when I was feeling very thin and decided to weigh myself. I thought maybe I was thin from being sick and power pumping to get a good milky stockpile for Axel. When I saw the scale I felt scared. I had lost 13 pounds from my already pre-pregnancy weight. I realized I weighed less than I did in high school. Again, I didn’t tell anyone (except my mom) because nobody wants to hear a skinny girl’s problems. I was also so exhausted to the point where I couldn’t think straight or sleep which sounds silly. I couldn’t sleep because I was so anxious and worried about Axel. He had been to the doctor three times in a week for a number of things such as ear infection, thrush, pink eye, etc. How could I sleep when my baby is miserable?

I vaguely remember calling my mom with a shaky voice and trying to talk through tears. I just felt out of control and like I couldn’t even make a decision for myself. I have never felt like that before. Part of the problem may be related to comparing myself to the amazing moms in my life. My own mom raised four kids and just – did it all. My younger sister has two kids and always seems calm and together. I have one sweet, easy baby so why do I feel like I am falling apart at times?! Comparing yourself to others is never a good thing because what you may perceive might not be reality. I mean, yes, these moms are awesome but they had their struggles too! After the pep talk with my mom, I finally got some much needed sleep and by the next day I was feeling well rested and like myself again.

My mom said: “take advice from someone who was tired for 30 years. I wish someone would have told me it was okay to take time for myself.” 

The days following that I had ups and downs. Some days I feel on top of the world. I feel like super mom like I can conquer anything and so happy. Other days I begin to feel down and overwhelmed. Axel’s smile gets me through the hard times. Luckily, the good days outweigh the bad. I have only had a small handful of bad days.

The moment I realized I may need some professional help was when the girls at work told me I looked very thin and my pants were baggy. My response probably sounded flustered and defensive because I didn’t want to admit there might be anything wrong. These girls know me too well and finally flat out asked if I was okay. I admitted I was struggling and they encouraged me to make an appointment with my doctor and I did. Sometimes it just takes talking out loud with someone who cares about you for you to realize you need some help.

I have my appointment coming up tomorrow and I feel comfortable telling my doctor everything. She was with me throughout my whole pregnancy and delivery so she knows me well. One of my friends at work also told me our employer provides free counseling sessions for dealing with stuff like this which I plan on taking advantage of.

Even the happiest of moms can struggle with postpartum depression. I consider myself a positive and happy person. I have great, supportive people in my life and so much to be thankful for. Despite that, I am feeling these symptoms and now I know I need some help. I now understand that I’m not a weak person and I’m not a bad mom. I’m going to get the help I need so I can be the best mom I can be. I finally had the conversation with my husband and it went much better than I thought. I showed him the chart and let him read my symptoms. He is glad I am going to talk to my doctor and get the help I need. He also stepped up tremendously and helped me out with some of my chores which makes me feel less overwhelmed. I should have told him how I felt sooner! I just didn’t want him to think I felt this way because of him because that’s not the case at all.

One good thing this has taught me is that I am never going to pretend like I have it all together. When I first became a mom I wanted to maintain a spotless house, homemade dinner every night and always be positive and on top of everything. This may be reality for some, but it definitely is not my reality and I have come to terms with that. I take each day at a time and try not to get frustrated with my to-do list that I can never seem to tackle. My family comes first and my chores and need for achievement can wait.

Depression was an unknown territory to me. Sadly, I have had people I know end their lives because of this and it was something I could never fathom. I have never had suicidal thoughts but I feel I understand this at a level I never did before. If you feel you are struggling with baby blues, postpartum depression or any form of depression please talk to someone. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed like I did. Seek the help you need. You are not a weak person for seeking help.

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