What you didn’t know

Hey everyone! Hope your night is going well <3 While I get things ready for tomorrow’s Winter Shape Up excitement, here’s a beautiful and very important guest post from Meagan, who has left many amazing comments here on the blog. I sent her a little email to see if she’d be down with guest posting as I settle into life with our baby girl, and here’s what she wrote:

What I Didn’t Know: I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

    Claire emerged into the world on a triple-digit afternoon in the middle of a Texas August. I had labored for 60 hours, 48 of it without medication and 12 of it with the blessed relief (when the epidural took effect I turned to my best friend and said, “It feels like smiles and sparkles!”). I started labor in a birth center, with all my hopes and dreams of an non-medicated birth.  By the dawning of the third day, though, I whispered to my husband, “I want to transfer.” And so we did, driving to the hospital on dark early-morning highways with my best friend, midwives and parents in tow. Twelve hours later, with the help of an epidural, Pitocin, husband, best friend and amazing nurses I gave birth to Claire.
    Truthfully, I don’t remember much of the first six months of Claire’s life. Most of my memories flicker in and out in a haze of exhaustion, breastfeeding and reruns of The Office. Claire and I struggled with breastfeeding from the start. Month by month her percentiles slipped, and our breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician became concerned. I wanted this to be the happiest time of my life, and, unfortunately, it was one of the loneliest and most isolating experiences I’d ever had. I felt like I couldn’t quite get it. We switched to formula, I still carried 30 extra pregnancy pounds, and, honestly, I was (a lot) lost.
    One January night, fed up with the extra-weight and despondent feelings, I marched my way into a Target and down the diet-aid isle. I knew this pattern before: I had an eating disorder as a teenager. With counseling and years of therapeutic and life-work, I emerged onto the other side. Falling into those patterns is easy though, especially when you’re desperate and seeking control. I stared at the glossy boxes. I walked away. I came back, cheeks burning. Meandered away again.
    After an hour of literal back-and-forth, I looked upon the boxes of Fat Burner! Carb Blocker! Detox! and had a thought that changed my life, forever. It rang through my brain, clear and loud as bell: What if Claire was five, or ten, or fifteen, and she saw this hidden in your purse?  What would she think?
    I didn’t have another thought. I turned away and walked out the door. I still had legitimate weight to lose, but when I went home I no longer looked in the mirror with disgust. I didn’t resent what I perceived to be my failings as a new mom. I just thought:
    Hey. I have work to do.
    And I need help.

    Slowly, I started to do it. For the first time I looked at my daughter with a sense of I have to be better for me, for you, for us.
    I know now that I probably had a good dose of Post-Partum Depression (PPD). I should have sought professional counseling. At the time I told myself that this was normal, that I was the one having problems coping (obviously!) and normal (!) mothers don’t need help. I wanted to be normal. I didn’t want help; I had something to prove. It’s a load of bullshit, especially since I never had qualms pursuing therapy before. It was some weird combination of pride and shame that I’ve found to be unique to motherhood: I’ve got this.
    Well, I didn’t have it. I’m just grateful that one thought pierced through the haze, an amalgam of prior years of counseling, journaling and some intuitive better-self. I’m also grateful that I listened to it, turned out of that aisle and took a hard look at how depression, anxiety and disordered eating behavior had reemerged in my life.
     Motherhood—especially the newborn/infant time period—can make life changes complex. I found the solutions at one time easy, but also  perplexing to initiate. I needed to exercise more—great, when? I needed to adjust my diet to avoid certain triggers—but those foods make dinner so easy! I took it one step at a time, and I also began asking for support. If I needed to exercise, I asked my husband to step in after work. A friend and I coordinated a “baby exchange” during the week, giving each of us a morning off. I shifted my focus from losing weight to becoming more functional—able to keep up with my baby, have energy for the day, etc.—and I sought guidance from resources I trusted.
    It took six months to regain my footing, but by the time Claire turned a year, I loved being a mom. I loved being her mom. More, I loved who I had become (am becoming) and the changes I had made (am making) to my life. I feel stronger than ever. I accomplish more than I did before Claire—but I don’t do it alone.
    I want to be the best mother possible for Claire and any future children we have, and now I know that sometimes—most of the time—all of the time—that requires some help.

Claire at 15 months:

claire

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54 Comments

  1. Krystle {Fierce|Fabulous|Fit} on January 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Wow, what an incredible post!! Thank you for sharing this. It can be so difficult to be honest and transparent about things like this, but isn’t there so much freedom in the truth!? Meagan, thank you for sharing some of your truths today! So courageous of you!!

    Oh, and Claire is adorable!! 🙂

    Keep growing!

    • Meagan on January 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks 🙂 I was so honored Gina asked me.

  2. Mandy on January 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Beautiful story! Being a mom is tough work.

  3. Meagan on January 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you for posting this. What an inspiration that with one step in the right direction huge changes can be made!

  4. Michelle on January 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Loved this!!! We need more honest Mothers out there! I am four months into the journey and I am enjoying all of it but , boy is it hard work! Love when someone lays it all out there like you did 🙂

    • Meagan on January 15, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  5. Vikki Morgan on January 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Although I enjoyed this post,,,don’t be gone long my fitness sister,because you my dear are what makes reading this blog what it is! Big Hugs! Hope you are back soon!

    • Fitnessista on January 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      i should be back in full action tomorrow- just needed a little break <3

      • JessicaE on January 15, 2012 at 11:01 pm

        The blog is understandably NOT your top priority, love. In my opinion, take all the time and breaks that you need and feel NO guilt about it! You just went through something incredibly extraordinary and any posting at all should be admired.

        • Rita @ Healthy Mom, Sexy Wife on January 15, 2012 at 11:45 pm

          I agree, Jessica. The fact that Gina is still posting regularly is amazing. Great job, Gina!!

          • Courtney on January 16, 2012 at 8:38 am

            Agreed! Gina, your first priority right now has to be Livi, Tom, Bella, and of course yourself! Your readers love you, we will be here when you get into your new routine. Don’t rush! Enjoy this time with your new little family 🙂



      • Sara on January 16, 2012 at 11:31 am

        Take your time homegirl! We will all be here when you get back. I didn’t do jack the first few weeks after I had my baby, enjoy her!

  6. Morgan on January 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Awe beautiful post 🙂 That baby is beautiful

  7. Cristin on January 15, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    What an amazing post!

  8. Judy on January 15, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Thanks for shsring your experience and feelings….such a lovely post.

  9. Janine @ThePurpleGiraffe on January 15, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Wow, what a great post. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on being such a role model and inspiration for your little one!

  10. JennyO on January 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing, being a mom is definitely overwhelming!

  11. chelsea on January 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    I never imagined motherhood to be so…idk the word? Daunting on ones emotions. I’ve learned from the blogging community how normal and okay it is to have those emotions though. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  12. Ali on January 15, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I LOVE this! Such honesty. So well written and so so very true and applicable. Thank you thank you.

    • Meagan on January 15, 2012 at 11:34 pm

      Thank you for your kind words!

  13. Ashley B on January 15, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    This is great. I really love reading new mom stories.

    Take as much time as you need Gina. There isn’t anything more important in your life then your little girl right now!

  14. Rita @ Healthy Mom, Sexy Wife on January 15, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    I loved this post because I see myself in it. I also had postpartum depression after the birth of my three year old but didn’t realize it until way afterwards. I gained 70 pounds with each of my pregnancies so I’ve never bounced back like I had planned pre-pregnancy. I did take prescription medication after my first pregnancy (not while breastfeeding, of course) but thankfully I have learned that those pills are more harm than good and not necessary. This past pregnancy (my second son is 14 months) I am doing it slow, steady, and the right way. Congratulations on finding a balance – it can be a challenge. 😉

  15. Stephanie on January 16, 2012 at 12:13 am

    I don’t have any children yet, but I also really liked the honesty of this post and could see myself in it since I have also dealt with an eating disorder and definitely know those aisles with various weight loss products…so I’ve definitely worried how I would deal with pregnancy weight gain etc.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I have enjoyed all the guest posts so far and I am amazed how much Gina still blogs after just having a baby!

  16. Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run on January 16, 2012 at 12:35 am

    This was a fabulous post. I’ll never forget the first time I needed help: a week after my first daughter, Hannah, was born – the first day my husband went back to work. I was sitting on the couch, full of bliss and amazement that I could actually love a human being as much as I did. So much more than anything I had ever experienced. I watched her sleep…and sleep…and sleep…and I got this sudden thought that I was doing something wrong. PPD at its best. I bawled. I thought I wasn’t feeding her enough. I thought that I wasn’t doing it correctly. I called my sister who lived in the same apartment complex at the time. She came over with my one-year-old nephew, brought a bowl of citrus salad, and said, “Mels, go take a shower. Go take a few minutes to yourself, I’ll watch Hannah.” I showered for a good 20 minutes…breathed in the hot, wet air…let me mind ease…cried at the overwhelming feeling of love. Let it out. I emerged with a whole new sense of calm…and watched my beautiful little girl sleep knowing that I’d be up in the middle of the night and sitting in amazement as, even in the pitch black bedroom, her eyes sparkled so bright I could see them clearly. Meagan’s right. I’ll never forget when my sister did that for me and how much even a 20-minute break can really relieve a new mom. Shoot, any mom. Being a mom is hard work, and it’s absolutely, 100% NOT selfish to need some time to yourself. It clears your mind, it soothes your soul, and it makes you a better, more patient mother.

  17. Liana on January 16, 2012 at 1:57 am

    thanks for sharing this post … so honest and true … <3

  18. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on January 16, 2012 at 2:16 am

    God this is such an honest post. No one knows until they are *in it for themselves* what an all-encompassing role new motherhood is and as much as you think you have an idea, you really don’t..til you’re there. Which makes you all of a sudden have the most amazing respect for any other woman who’s walked the planet and been a mother. Thanks for the honest post and sharing.

    Your lil peanut is adorable, too.

  19. ser on January 16, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Meagan, I loved this post. Thanks for sharing this! I also really struggled after the birth of my first, and you are so right, we need to ask for help. That is really hard to do as a mom, I think, especially with the first, because we have such strong instincts to do it all ourselves and keep our little one in our arms. For me, it got easier and easier with each baby, and I never really experienced the PPD again that I did after the birth of the first.

  20. jodie on January 16, 2012 at 7:27 am

    I loved this post. Thanks for sharing. You have an adorable daughter. Oh and Texas heat is no joke.:)

  21. Heather Eats Almond Butter on January 16, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Meagan,
    I’m so glad you shared this as I know so many will benefit from reading it. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for us either, but I put so much pressure on myself and was devastated that it didn’t feel “natural” or “easy”. I was of that attitude “I got this” too, and no, I didn’t have it. Before becoming a mom, I never wanted to ask for help, but I’m quickly learning. Thanks again for your story, and Claire is so cute. Love her smile. 🙂

  22. Jess on January 16, 2012 at 7:38 am

    This brought tears to my eyes. I am nowhere near being a mom, but am in the middle of trying to deal with an eating disorder, and the thing that I hold up to make myself try to get better is that one day, I want to have kids, and I don’t want my kids to be messed up by my problems (at least, if I can help it!). Beautifully written.

    • Meagan on January 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      It’s tough…the ED is something that I’ve felt like I’ve gone round-and-round on at so many points in my life, even after going into treatment for the “big time” (a 1 week in-patient/3 month out-patient/2 year therapy gig). However–I can say–that every time I’ve chosen to be proactive in working with the triggers that it makes each subsequent time less difficult to move past.

      Keep going. It might seem like a long, dark road—but you can make it. You really can.

  23. katie@newmamamac.blogspot.com on January 16, 2012 at 7:59 am

    truly beautiful post meagan! thank you for sharing with us. claire is precious!

  24. Karen on January 16, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Fantastic post. So brave and such an important message. My best friend, a “veteran” Mom had PPD with her second child and the only way she knew was that her very smart, very astute, doc asked at the post partum check up about how she was managing baby, “Oh, fine, great.” and “How is everything else?” and my friend replied (much to her surprise), “Ok, but I hate my husband.” This friend had a happy marriage and good, supportive husband and inexplicably she found herself hating him and resenting him for no particular reason. The doc took her hormone levels slapped and estrogen patch on her and within hours she was back to loving her husband. It isn’t weakness to experience these kinds of issues, it is biochemical and help is available. Supportive help of friends and family, medication if needed etc… there is help out there. When she had baby #3 she told her doc ahead of time that she may need an anti-depressant or something afterward and to be ready. Turned out she didn’t need it.

    Claire is a gorgeous little girl and you are a wonderful Mom.

    • Meagan on January 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Thank you 🙂 She is gorgeous! Love her to pieces.

  25. Ana on January 16, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Beautiful post, love it! Thanks for sharing this with us Meagan!
    Ana

  26. Melissa on January 16, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Wow thank you so much Meagan for sharing your story! I feel like I see a lot of myself in you, it must be really therapeutic to take the time to reflect on such a big change in your life. I’m happy you’re in a good place, your daughter is adorable 🙂

  27. Kristen on January 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

    This is such a great post. I’m sure so many women struggle with this. I’m so glad you had an “awakening” in the store. My baby is due in just a few weeks and its amazing how he is already affecting mine and my husband’s decisions. When a little person is going to be watching your every move and looking to you for guidance, it makes you stop and think.

    P.S. And, of course, any post with a cute little face in it is always a great bonus 🙂

  28. Kathy on January 16, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Beautiful and inspiring Megan. Thank you for reminding me that we all have to rescue ourselves in tough times and that, counterintuitively doing so means seeking the help of others. We can’t wait for someone to magically make it better AND usually it isn’t effective to “lone ranger” through. You beautifully demonstrate that if we can take a step back, consider who we really want to be, take responsibility for creating that and seek help where we need it, we can really produce the changes we need or want. I haven’t thought that through as clearly in a while and so I appreciate you bringing that to us by being so willing to share your experience. One of the reasons I love Gina’s blog so much is that she lives this way too. Thanks to you both!

    And Gina – take as much time as you want and need my dear!

  29. BarbaraLW on January 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Meagan – thanks for keeping it real! I, too, struggled when my daughter was born and felt like a total failure. PPD is no joke, and it’s amazing what a little hormone therapy and the right counselor can do. It’s hard to believe how the time flies – but my little baby is now 15 years old and I couldn’t be more proud of her (and me!) for making our relationship a priority and taking care of ourselves. My best advice for any mom – is to simply enjoy your kid. It’s definitely made the teenage years less of a struggle!

  30. Heather on January 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Love the honesty! It seems that many new moms have a distorted view of what is “normal” and most new moms do go through PPD. Lets be honest with ourselves, this is the biggest change physically and mentally a woman will go through in her entire life! It should not be normal to feel like you did before having a child! While I am not a mom and can’t talk about my own experience I am trying to educate myself so that if I do decide to become a mom someday I won’t feel too blindsided. So glad that women like you open up about this!
    Gina, most new moms I know tell me that they feel lucky to get a shower in and you blogging is just amazing! Keep up the great work both on and off the blog!

  31. April on January 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Beautiful post Meagan. I am “in it” right now with an 11-week old and it isn’t as rosy as I imagined…I have a very fussy baby and there are days I feel like I can’t cope. Like you, I felt like I should “have this” and not need help, but boy do I need it. Thankfully I have an amazing husband, but it still is not easy. I “hear” it gets better so I am doing everything I can to stay positive andcenjoy the days with my son, fussy or not:)
    Thanks again, I needed this today.

  32. Cortney on January 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

    great post. too much pressure put on women to be the perfect bride, perfect wife, perfect mom….
    Gina, take all the time you need to be with your family now. Although your food and fitness blogs inspire a lot of people, I’m sure this post hit much deeper. Bringing comfort to those experiencing PPD and awareness about this issue for us all.

  33. Sara on January 16, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Great post. For the last few months I’ve been struggling with this new mom stuff, finally sought some professional help a few weeks ago and it’s amazing how different I feel. I think it’s one of the most important things new moms need to know. If you don’t feel normal, but have to tell yourself your feelings are normal, talk to your doctor, a friend, your spouse, anybody. No shame in needing help and support!

    • Meagan on January 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      I’m glad you sought help! There is so much freedom in leaning on others and not being afraid to do it.

  34. Emily on January 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  35. Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables on January 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    such a great, inspiring post.

  36. Kimberly on January 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    yes yes yes yes yes!! ditto on everything 🙂 I make sure to tell my expecting/new mom friends of this very normal occurrence after having a bebe. so glad you’re sharing 🙂

  37. mary on January 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Beautiful post! I like the guest posts but the last two have been extra terrific.

    SO true about the epidural relief. I figure I wouldn’t get a root canal (for 40 hours) without novocaine, so I’m not going to hesitate to use medical technology to address my pain in childbirth, either. I know Gina had her own valid reasons, but I just want the un-childed readers here to not feel any less accomplished as a mother and woman for choosing epidurals, formula or whatever suits their lifestyle and beliefs best.

    I actually formula fed from day one because my three older sisters all failed as breastaurants and told me that having a starving baby was torture, on top of all the other unique trials with a newborn.

  38. Melissa on January 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Gina, I have no kids nor do I want any (not a bash to those moms out there… just not happening for me and my husband)…. with that being said, I don’t know if i have cried more reading a blog than I have the last week or so reading yours. You and your guest bloggers have had me bawling my eyes out (read:ugly cry) and I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s own personal tale of their labor. There is so much love in these words. Even when writing about PPD and feeling inadequate, there are words of self love, love for your child, and love for the people they are going to become. Kudos to all you mommies out there!!

  39. Amy on January 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    This guest post is fabulous….there is so much that is NOT talked about regarding motherhood and childbirth. Sure, people share their stories of that instand love and bond, how NATURAL (not always!) breastfeeding is, how their birth was at home or without any dr intervention, etc, etc. You literally can’t predict how ANY part of it will go. If you plan and have a birth experience that is exactly what you hoped for that is AWESOME….but that is just not always the case. My first birth experience was NOT what I had planned. I developed a very rare disorder, HELLP Syndrome. No book I read mentioned this, less than 1% of women get it, but I did. I was faced with being placed in the ICU for 4 days with a failing liver and kidneys while my precious baby girl was home alone with a very scared daddy. My liver and kidneys were failing and for all my husband knew, he was going to be a single dad if I didn’t recover. My little peanut was 6 lbs and I also ended up with over 100 stitches…nobody can prepare you for that. I was healthy, exercised my entire pregnancy, gained 24lbs….this was totally out of my control. Birth and motherhood isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. It is sometimes life or death and you need to expect the unexpected. I’m so glad that Gina got exactly what she wanted out of her birth experience…just a cautionary tale that sometimes things are not in your realm of control.

  40. Shannon on January 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Meagan, Thank-you soo much for writing this post! I too have struggled with an ED in the past and am starting to embark on the path of motherhood and it was so amazing to hear your experience. Sounds like you are finding your way one step at a time.
    Honest posts like this; let women know that no matter what they are experiencing, they are not alone.

    Gina, I have been soo lucky to have found your blog, and I check it daily, Thank you so much for sharing your life and encouraging others along the way.

  41. Kelly @ Vegolosophy on January 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Great post! I have so many fears when I become a mom about being able to handle everything. I know myself and I always want to be PERFECT, but know that isn’t going to be possible when becoming a parent. Definitely a personal story and very inspiring for those of us who want to be moms some day. Thanks 🙂

  42. Brigid on January 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story! You are an inspiration.

  43. Mandy on January 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Meegs,
    I’ll love you til the day I die.
    <3

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