#15 | Julia's Birth Story: When Bonding Doesn't Happen

March 18, 2020

If you look up Julia Dzafic’s blog, Lemon Stripes, you’ll find a vibrant young mother sharing her tips on fashion, decor, motherhood, and lifestyle. But today on the podcast, Julia shares a part of her the public hasn’t fully seen: a woman with a history of anxiety who struggled with conception and miscarriage, and who finally conceived and birthed the healthy baby she’d dreamed of, only to feel completely disconnected from the moment of birth. 

This is the story of a woman who began motherhood merely going through the motions, hiding her disillusion and belief  that her baby deserved better...until some of her own fans sent her into a deeper spiral than she’d ever experienced. Julia tells us about reaching her breaking point, and the steps she took to face her truth and begin her journey toward healing.

Postpartum Support International
Postpartum Anxiety
Julia Dzafic's Blog: Lemon Stripes

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Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!

View Episode Transcript

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast.
Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

If you look up Julia's blog lemons stripes, you'll find a vibrant young mother sharing her tips on fashion decor, motherhood and lifestyle. But today on the down to her show, Julia shares a part of her the public hasn't fully seen a woman with a history of anxiety who struggled with conception and miscarriage and who finally conceived and birth the healthy baby she dreamed of, only to feel completely disconnected from the moment of birth. This is the story of a woman who began motherhood merely going through the motions, hiding her disillusion and belief that her baby deserved better until some of her own fans sent her into a deeper spiral than she'd ever experienced. Julia tells us today about reaching the breaking point and the steps she finally took to face her truth and begin her journey toward healing.

Hi there. I'm Julia Dzafic. And I am a mom of one toddler Amalia Louise. She is two and a half years old. I live here in Connecticut and have had some really interesting emotions and experiences as a mother like probably every mother out there. And for me it started a little bit earlier than motherhood because I experienced two miscarriages unfortunately, and then had a hard time getting pregnant after that for almost two years. And I wrote about my miscarriages and the emotion and it was something my therapist had me do to get the feelings out. And I shared that story with my husband. And he said, You need to publish this on your blog. This is incredible. This is going to help other women out there. And I hummed and hawed about it and thought about it a lot and eventually decided, Okay, let's just do this. And I hit Publish one day, and it went viral, and to this day, which is, you know, three and a half years later, I'm getting emails almost daily from around the world. Women from London women all over the country are saying, I had a miscarriage and your blog post helped me get through it. You said exactly what I was feeling. And or my friend sent me this and it was so helpful to read and know exactly what you're feeling. And then oftentimes I get emails from women or men saying someone I'm close to went through a miscarriage. And that was the first time I really realized that there needs to be this connection between women who are going through these very difficult emotions. After that, I didn't speak about it for a long time, but got pregnant about 18 months later. And as soon as I got pregnant, I felt excited. I felt like this is not real. I couldn't really believe it was happening, but I did not feel connection to the baby inside my body. And I thought, something's really wrong with me. So I talked to therapists, I talked to my doctor, I talked to friends and family and they said, you know, you had a miscarriage. So you're probably just blocking this out and trying to like protect yourself in case it happens again, and that made a lot of sense to me.

Can you explain what you mean that you didn't feel a connection? How did you know you weren't feeling a connection? What were you expecting to feel?

That's a great question. I think when you see women in movies, or you see Women on TV or even my friends, they talk about how much love they feel for the baby inside their body already and I didn't feel that I felt almost clinical. I was excited. But I wasn't in love with that makes sense.

Yeah, so almost just like this distance.

Yes. Yeah, it didn't feel real. It felt it felt like I was living in a an alternate reality almost it didn't feel like this was my body or my baby.

Were you onto something? Or was it that society had set up your expectations falsely?

I'm not entirely sure. I think there's a little bit of both. I think you're meant to feel a certain way based on or you think you're meant to feel a certain way based on what you see in the media. But I also think that I had this incredible struggle with with what I had gone through and I couldn't mentally wrap my mind around what was happening to me.

You almost don't trust it that this is really happening. Am I really about to be blessed with this? Like, dare I be happy right now? You're afraid to be it was that with us? Was that how you were feeling? That's exactly how I felt so the first time I felt Some sort of connection was when we found out that we were having a girl, we had been very convinced that it was a boy for some reason. And I found out that it was a girl. And then I thought, Okay, this is real. And I felt a little bit of something, I felt a spark. But it still wasn't that connection that I really wanted. I wanted to feel in love. And I still didn't. So throughout my entire pregnancy, that's how I felt. And then, where things got really intense for me without the end. So at the end of my pregnancy, I had been having contractions for two weeks, and I had been preparing for my birth. And I've been manifesting this really beautiful birth and meditating on it and thinking about it every day and was just, you know, nervous and excited, like every mother with their first birth. But I was so focused on that, I still wasn't really thinking about the actual baby that was going to come out, which is so crazy to think about now. That's normal. It's normal for women to think about the birth. That because we have so much anxiety and anticipation around the birth that we really tend to not think about motherhood. I think I had to focus on the giving birth because I was too afraid to focus on what was going to happen after, you know, I took the classes about how to breastfeed and how to change a diaper and all that I was too scared for it in a way.

So I go into labor. And I had this really amazing birth. I had, you know, I did these meditations and I was calm. And my husband was a very big part of the birth and he was very supportive. I had a wonderful doula. The whole thing was just it was beautiful. It was this birth that I had really imagined this whole time because I've been focusing on it for so long. And when the doctor said, it's time to push, ready to meet your little girl, I looked at my husband, I said, I'm not ready. I'm not ready. But she was coming. So I didn't really have a choice at that moment. So I pushed and I pushed and at the last minute, they said her heart rates dropping in my husband said, Julia's are the babies and they said the babies you need to push really hard right now. Don't stop pushing. I got this panic and this adrenaline and I just pushed as hard as I could, and she wouldn't come out so they had to give me an episiotomy, which soft scissors come in slow motion. So as soon as they cut me She just slid right out and everyone was just ecstatic. My husband was crying. His first words was She's so beautiful. And my doula took her from a noun, put her on my chest, and everyone was looking at me and just kind of anticipating this reaction. And my first thought in my head was, What is wrong with this baby, she does not look normal and she was purple. She'd had the cord wrapped around her neck look, to me, terrifying. I thought something was very wrong with her. She didn't look like a baby in my mind. And at that moment, I realized, oh my gosh, or I didn't realize but I thought, Oh my gosh, I'm just gonna be a terrible mother. I can't even love my daughter the way I'm supposed to love my daughter. And as I'm thinking this one of the nurses said, so what's her name? And I could not say it out loud. I had had this picture of what My baby Amalia would look like and it wasn't her. And I couldn't say it out loud. I now had to say it and I wouldn't let anybody call her that. So that was really hard. Sorry. And then I started feeding her, she latched right away. Everything went really smoothly. If she, she didn't cry pretty much at all for those first few days in the hospital, she was a great baby. She was so chill. We had no problems, but that night, I had given birth at eight in the morning and had been in labor all night. So I was ready for a shower by that night and I was so excited to finally take a shower. So I'm waddling around in the in the hospital room. And I told him, I'm going in the shower, that's my husband. I turn on the water. I start to step in and he starts screaming, and he says she's not breathing. She's not breathing. So I go to the bed and press the nurse call button. And it takes them about 10 seconds to answer but in my head it felt like a year. So I was like, This is not fast enough. I ran into the hallway naked, you know with this postpartum body. And the first person I saw was a janitor cleaning up and I said get a doctor in here right now my baby's not breathing and I think he thought it was absolutely bananas. But the nurse came in patted her back. She was fine. She had had amniotic fluid in her lungs. Totally fine. They weren't even fazed by it. But I was shaking just for hours shaking could not stop shaking. And then in my and I didn't say any of this out loud because I was so embarrassed about how I felt but I said, Okay, I obviously love her. I obviously care about her. I have this like protective mama bear feeling. I Nothing can happen to this kid. I know it's my life job to protect this baby.

So that felt good, but I still knew the feeling wasn't right. I didn't feel that deep love. My husband would look at her and say don't you just feel butterflies in your stomach when you look at her and I had no idea what he was talking about. Today, you know, I have a two and a half year old and of course she's the light of my life and I feel that every time I I look at her, but I didn't feel it then. And that was hard. And I had had these conversations with my mom who moved in with us for a month after she was born and with my husband about postpartum depression, because I had struggled with anxiety and depression in the past. So we had a whole list of signs to look for. And I didn't have any of them. You know, I wasn't having thoughts about hurting my baby, I wasn't having thoughts about hurting myself. I wasn't crying all the time. And I wasn't having all these things that I thought were postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. But if I had to get up with her in the night when it was, I mean, obviously I pick it up with her at night all the time. But when it was time to get up with her, I would panic if I were alone with her, just completely panic, sweat, cry, didn't know what to do. I felt like I can't do this. I'm not going to be good mother. And that was one side of it. But the other side was this lack of connection. And that was really the hardest part for me. I just didn't have this feeling that everybody else had and I couldn't say it out loud.

So listening to you talk and say something like I didn't have this feeling that everybody else had therein lies the beginning of the problem, because it's the feeling you assumed everyone else had. And so many women feel exactly this way so many women can ask each other, how long did it take you to bond. And for some women, it's immediate, but we think it's always immediate. And then the other thing is the misinformation around postpartum psychosis, which is having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby is nothing like postpartum anxiety or depression and postpartum psychosis, while very serious, is extremely rare. It's more like one in 1000. But virtually every woman can tell you where they fell on that scale of postpartum anxiety and or postpartum depression, but see the lack of talking about it. The lack of information is the problem because then we have this healthy normal woman like you thinking what's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? It might even go further to say my baby's deserves better than me.

100% I felt that exact feeling my baby deserves better. Maybe I'm just too Selfish to be a mother. And we went for a walk one day it was summer when she was born. She was born in July. And we have we used to live on this closed loop. So we took her for a walk in the stroller and a little bassinet and anytime she'd cry in the stroller, I would panic and sprint home sprint. I could not hear her cry. She didn't cry. So when she did it was like, panic inducing feeling for me and I'd sprint home.

What was the feeling that you weren't? Can you can you identify the feeling you were feeling in that moment? Like was it that you were embarrassed that somebody might see with a crying baby or that you felt safer if you got her home that like it was a safe place for her to cry? Or any?

I think it was a control issue. If I were at home, I knew what to do. If we were walking around I didn't know exactly what to do to calm her down because we've spent so much time at home. And it was a control and a comfort issue at home. I felt comfortable. I knew where to sit. I knew where she liked to nurse. I knew what to do. I was so structured right after she was born, I did a technique for sleep training called baby wise and I was so structured with her sleep schedule, because it was the only thing I felt like I had control over. And in retrospect, it was much too structured. It was great for us. It worked really well. She's still a great sleeper, but it was not healthy for for myself, for my husband, for anyone in our family. Probably not even for her. But I had to do it.

For a lot of women. When we're coming from that place of anxiety. We feel comfort in structure, but then we can take the structure too far. And then we're just, we're the anxiety. We're feeling that anxiety. Exactly.

Is that what you felt that is 1,000% what I did at that time, I didn't realize that but I remember right, we had a, I put a whiteboard in my kitchen wall to write down her nap times. And in the morning, she'd nap from 7am to 10am. One day she didn't fall asleep till 715 and I had a full on panic attack. Now I've struggled with anxiety my whole life. So I knew, I knew what a panic attack was, I knew how to get out of it and you want to do. But my mom was sitting there and saying, it's 15 minutes, it's going to be okay. And I just could not wrap my head around the fact that something had changed so drastically, so drastically in my head. But it was so silly and small in reality. So, back to this walk, I'm taking a walk with my husband, and I'm just crying. And he's so happy. And he's just so in love. He's just such a wonderful father. And I'm just so sad. And I'm just so like, detached and I just don't show my sadness, but I'm not connected to him. I'm not connected to the baby, and it's starting to become more and more obvious. And he just looked at me and said, I feel like you regret having this baby. And I just started sobbing. And I said, Sometimes I feel like I do. And I've never said that to anybody else before because you don't want to say that about your child. You know, she's, she's everything. I cannot imagine a life without her. But at that moment, that's really what I felt. And it was a scary feeling I had spent years trying to get pregnant. That's all I wanted. And I had lost these two other babies. And I thought maybe, maybe because of that loss, I wasn't able to connect with this one. And I just had all these like swirling thoughts and feelings and kept pushing them down because I was really, really too embarrassed to talk about them. So then around six months, I started to feel connection with her. It was slowly but surely, but I started to really feel that maternal love that I had wanted to feel. And I wrote about it. I wrote about it in my blog again and said, it was called the blog post was called a mother's love and I said, I didn't bond with my baby at first, I didn't have postpartum depression, but I didn't bond with my baby. What made you think you didn't have postpartum depression?

No idea of information. Being able to talk about it because what you experience is crazy. It's pretty extreme. Yeah, and but when you're missing factors, we're a history of loss, a history of anxiety or depression. And people tend to think that they don't have postpartum depression or anxiety unless they have those extreme measures the extreme thoughts of wanting to hurt themselves or their baby, which, as Cynthia mentioned, is the major minority.

And even just cry. I wasn't crying all the time I wasn't. So common emotions are detachment, feeling checked out. postpartum rage, postpartum anger, postpartum resentment, stress, using the word overwhelm using the words I don't feel like myself. These are all indications of postpartum depression or under the umbrella of postpartum depression, where postpartum anxiety also sits and the postpartum anxiety piece of it is four times more common and most people don't even know that postpartum anxiety is a thing we all just think is postpartum depression, which means that we're sad and lonely. But what you experienced is the anxiety and event which is far more common, and very rarely talked about.

That's really interesting to hear because in my mind This depression anxiety would exhibit itself in sadness in crying or an anger and I didn't really have any of those feelings. So I wasn't feeling these feelings of sadness. And I was feeling these feelings of anxiety. But I had heard other moms say kind of similar things. So I thought it was just a normal feeling after after childbirth, and it's common, but now I know it's not normal. It doesn't have to feel like that. And at that time, I was in therapy. And I never told my therapist about these feelings, because she was a mom. And she was not judgmental. She is she was wonderful. I no longer see her because we moved but she was an incredible therapist helped me so much with just general anxiety and everything. And I never told her this because I was so embarrassed.

So you were afraid she would judge it or that you'd hurt her feelings? Or because she was a mom. That was Yeah, no, it's that that she was a mom and that I knew in my head. She couldn't have ever had these feelings.

It's almost like she'd stepped out of the therapist's role into the mom role and be like mom to mom.

That judgment when - Exactly. I was terrified at the judgment when I had written about it in that blog post, I had a lot of moms who were supportive, but then a lot of moms were just very, very mean about it. I was scared because I had gotten backlash on that blog post I had written about a mother's love. And I had a lot of support from people saying they felt the same way and they understood but then there were a handful of moms who just said, How dare you How could you feel this way after wanting a child for so long, you can't even bother loving the one you got. And it destroyed me that that really destroyed me I was in a dark place for a long time. So because now you had to have shame on top of shame and sadness, and it was mortifying.

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And then I decided to do something kind of woowoo and strange and different. And it made a big difference. I'm going to tell you that story. Now. What happened was I have a good friend who's an acupuncturist and she had a new woman working in her office who was an energy healer and she He asked me to try her out. So I went in with no real expectations, I thought I would lay there get some Reiki feel really good when I left. So this woman started at my feet and came up my body. My eyes were closed, I had no idea where she was. But all of a sudden, I felt this intense heat throughout my entire body. And I thought I was going to throw up and I opened my eyes and she was right about my uterus. And I told her, I'm gonna throw up, I need to set up I don't feel well, this is not okay. Something just happened. And she said to me, please, please let me work through this. We're getting some, some really negative energy out. I don't know what it is, but please let me work through it. So I said, Okay. Then she said, Just close your eyes and try to relax. So I kept relaxing. I really thought I was gonna throw up. And all of a sudden the heat kind of just went out of my body. The feeling of throwing up went away, and I just started hysterically crying, and I could not stop crying and she said, Can you tell me what you're picturing in your mind right now. And it was an image of me giving birth to my daughter, and me seeing her for the first time and not having that connection. And I had never, ever told anyone about that. And this was six months, maybe even a year later. So I realized for the first time that is not normal, I need to talk about this. So I broke down at my therapists office and told her everything I was feeling I told her about that moment when I gave birth, I told her about the disconnection. And we, for the first time talked about the fact that I had postpartum depression or anxiety and we hadn't really fleshed out yet, but we were trying to figure out what had been going on. And she said, this is very common. You are not the only person this has happened to and we talked about it. So I left that therapy session and felt heard. I felt almost validated in a way for the first time. And after a few more sessions, I decided to write about it the same way I had written about the Connection the same way I had written by miscarriages so I wrote this blog post called not all PPD looks the same and I explained my story just similar to the way I just described it to you. But I left out the part about not feeling that love when I first met her. I didn't talk about it in detail because I was still too scared. So it was it was that story but almost lost. It was it was a little bit more packaged and perfect. But I told the story anyway. And there were so many people who told me that I was faking it, writing about it for engagement on my website that I had been lying about it in the first place. And it if that first post destroyed me this one really took me down. I mean, I cried for days, I was a mess. I had to go to emergency therapy sessions constantly. I was not okay. I couldn't mother my child properly I was not myself and I usually don't let internet trolls get to me cuz I get them every single day but In this case, it was so personal and I probably had, I probably shouldn't have shared it so soon because I was still in the thick of it. But I did and broke my heart. It broke me and broke my heart and I didn't think I'd ever be able to come back from it. I thought about quitting my blog, we've talked about my husband and I talked about me getting another job. It was bad. And I talked it through with my therapist. I talked it through with my family and friends. And we all kind of decided collectively that I had to get better before I could really tackle what was going on in the online world. So I made the decision at that point, to get on an SSRI for anxiety, which was not something I ever wanted to do. I live a very holistic life and thought of medication scared me what's unnecessary. an SSRI is what they use for depression and anxiety and it basically blocks serotonin serotonin uptake in better.

Yeah. And I was terrified of medication. I was embarrassed about the medication. But I went on it and within a month, I felt like myself for the first time since before my miscarriages and I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until it got better. Mm hmm.

interesting comment.

Yeah, I didn't know how bad it was. I really, it had been normalized in my mind these feelings. You know, a good anecdote to describe the feeling was when I first dropped Amalia at daycare she was she was six months. And when I went back to work, I dropped her daycare and everyone said, Oh, it's so hard. You're gonna feel so guilty. You're gonna be so sad all day. No, not everyone feels so I zero. Not everyone feels that way.

Right? And then but after I became myself again, I started to miss her in these ways when I wasn't with her and I started to look at her and really, really appreciate how incredible this child was and how incredible our relationship was. And I just, it was such a beautiful thing. feeling that I again started to feel this feeling of guilt but I didn't have that for so long. And that I missed I almost missed the first six months of her life. We just did a postpartum roundtable and that was a key comment and it like did I'm they talked about their second babies, one of them didn't least. And she said, all I was thinking was did I miss this the first time? It's a it's a common way to feel. And then the guilt comes back. So can you take us back to take us back to what sense you made of those comments. Sometimes when you hear things said that are terrible about you, not just by one person, but on a scale of a lot of people. It just it's hard to block that out. It's always hard.

So what did you do with it? It felt extremely personal you beat you made yourself vulnerable. You shared your story. You were hoping to get love and acceptance in return.

Did you get any? Yeah, of course. I mean, listen, those are never the ones that stand out. Are they never -

Yeah, it's interesting because all read 100 messages or comments that are beautiful and positive and people sharing their stories, and they're wonderful. And the one I hear is the one that tears me down. And that's silly. And I've been working since then I've worked on that a lot. And it doesn't affect me in the same way anymore. But at that time, it really did. Of course it did.

So what what do you do with it, and you didn't even share your whole story. And I think that was part of the problem. I think people tapped into the fact that I wasn't sharing everything. And the fact that people kept calling me a liar. In a sense, I wasn't a liar, but I was withholding some of the truth. When you're when you're sharing your life on in the public eye, it's hard to do that real time sometimes because you're going through real feelings and real intense situations. And I probably would have handled it different differently in retrospect, but at the time, that's how I knew how to deal with it. That's what I could do.

And there's an element of humaneness that's missing when you tell a story, written story or online that way you know if you were telling the stories Sitting face to face with somebody and they could see, it's so much easier to have compassion for somebody when you can see their face. And when you can, you know, feel their feelings. And it's really hard to convey that to the masses. Through a, you know, even being a great writer, it's just it's, it's different. It's just like, lost in translation, right? And it's also edited. So you think about what you're going to say, and you go back and you change it and speaking like this more freely, I'm able to just remember the emotions and it kind of comes out as it comes out. And I think that there's something to be said for that. They are no longer part of my story. I'm sharing this just to share with anybody listening that if you're telling your story or talking about what happened to you, and someone comes back at you with something negative or hateful or makes you feel shame, that you're going to get past that you're going to move on and you feel your feelings, you're living your life and you can't let them get in the way of that because it can destroy you. It's not worth it.

Where do you go from They're, well, I continued in therapy, I worked on my anxiety, I did a lot of meditation. My husband and I went to therapy together. And we just worked through it. I worked hard. You know, getting over something like that isn't isn't easy, and you have to work at it like anything in life. And I worked really hard at it. And I'm very proud of the work I've done because I can live my life now I can travel with my child or like walk around the block with her without having a panic attack. You know, she can cry on an airplane and I'm not gonna start sweating and crying myself and I have these fears and feelings like every mother out there, but they're not extreme. And I want to spend time with my daughter. I want to spend time bonding with her. I miss her when I'm away from her for a few hours and it feels really good. It feels really good to be with her. It feels good to play with her and the connection feels so strong and when we when I think it was right after we moved we moved houses about six months ago. Medication had really kicked in. I'd been on it for about a year. My husband said, It's so beautiful to watch you with a Malia because you are a different person. And you love her so much. And she loves you so much. And the bond you guys have is incredible. And I never had 1 million years that anyone would say that about me and her in those first six months. And it was really good to hear felt like a big turning point.

Can you talk at all about what this experience was like for your husband? What was he feeling in those early months it had, he had to be scared that you weren't yourself. And what was he thinking? Was he isolated? Was he freaked out by the whole thing? What has he shared with you?

I'm really glad you asked that. I feel like he doesn't get enough credit. And he's a wonderful guy and amazing husband and father and he stuck by me through it and it was really hard for him before we realize what the problem was. He would get angry because I wasn't doing the right things or feeling the right way or I'd nitpick at these little things he was doing because I was so anxious and I was annoying to live with. I fully admit And once we realized what was going on with me, we were able to go into couples therapy and the therapist and I were able to explain it to him in a way that he could really understand it. And I remember one session where a light bulb, I could just see it go on over his head. And he realized what was going on. And he just said, I can't believe you've been feeling this way for so long. And I got empathy for him from him on that on those emotions for the first time. And that felt really good. And it brought us so much closer together. And I really think if you can survive miscarriage and postpartum anxiety while having a newborn, if you can survive that in your marriage, you can get through a lot. And I think it's actually brought us closer because he's understood me in a way that no human in the world has ever been able to understand me. I didn't really I was so in my head and out of it that I didn't even really think of him that much. And once we started going to therapy, and I realized he had gone through some crazy stuff to you has been Yeah, I mean, he was dealing with a wife who was not his wife. He was dealing with a newborn, which was hard, he would started his own business that same year, it was just a very crazy time. And I hadn't thought a lot about it because I was so in my head and not okay in general. So that's interesting. And I think, just in general to have a spouse who can now say to me, are you feeling anxious right now? Do you want a hug? Or do you need space? Mm hmm.

That is such a good question, isn't it? Because we usually need one or the other. Right?

Absolutely. And that was something one of my anxiety, like, triggers was touch and he would want to cut only watch TV and he would come near me and I would just I could not do it. And now I look back and when my board was, and I didn't want to be near him, but now he knows to ask and that feels really good.

We really

put a lot of work into our marriage. I think like same with any mental health issue or same with anything you're going through. It's a lot of work and you have to do it.

Can you point out one of the most helpful realizations you had in that period that helped you to get better. Or, if not realization, one of the most helpful practices, what really helped.

One of the main exercises that's helped me the most is it sounds really silly, but I have a list in my phone in the Notes app of my phone with my triggers my biggest anxiety triggers. And if I feel one of them coming on, I have another list. And I have things I can do for it. So for example, one of my biggest triggers is has in the past been traveling with Amalia, we get off of our schedule, she doesn't sleep well. I just get very anxious packing and make all these lists I turn into justice, absolutely crazy, insane person. So what I can do in that moment, is take a step back, go take a walk for 10 minutes, or I look through my list so I have a walk for 10 minutes outside with a dog take a bath if it's not in the middle of a workday. Go listen to a headspace meditation for 10 minutes and I have this list of all these things I can do. I can't even tell you what they all are because I just open the app and say, What can I do right now, even if I'm in the middle of a phone call or a meeting for work, I can stand up and just stretch my arms. Just one little thing, and having those kind of grounding techniques. Again, it sounds so silly and like it wouldn't work. But it really does in the moment, you just have I found that I have to take myself out of those moments of anxiety.

It's like a diffuser exactly eases the situation and brings it down exactly as anxiety just builds on itself. So it's Yeah, it's the diffuser part, but it's also recognizing the trigger. So I'm feeling anxious right now. Why do I feel anxious right? Now I can open that list and say, Oh, well, I'm going on a trip in two days. There we go. That's it, or whatever it may be. It's amazing how sometimes just even naming our emotion diffuses it. There's an acronym that we give women, and the acronym is embody. And if you do any combination of any of these things, This is the path to recovery. And the E stands for exercise. The M stands for meditate. The B stands for brief, the O stands for outdoors. The D stands for dump or journal, whatever it is you're feeling. And the Y stands for yoga. And that's exactly what you found your way to these and you're saying, Look how simple they are. And I'm thinking this is the path to wellness for all of us.

I love that. I'm gonna write that down and use it. That's a wonderful acronym. And I think every person should have it. Whether you have anxiety or not, when you get stressed out, you can use that you should give it to women after they give birth. There's your next one of the things you mentioned is that you would like to have a second child. And I'm curious if you can speak to how you are feeling going into that process, what you're doing to prepare what you might want to share with women out there who have had a similar experience to you and who are fearing feeling fearful of having another child And fearful of going through this process again,

I still have a certain amount of fear, I think I always will just because of what I went through. But I'm going into it this time with a lot more knowledge. And with a lot more resources, and a lot more experience. Obviously, my focus now is to try to grow my family, have a healthy pregnancy, have a beautiful baby and a relationship with that baby from day one that I feel good about. And that to me is the most important thing in the world. If, in looking back on your life, if you were meant to go through this story exactly as you did, because you probably will say the rest of your life. You were meant to get through this story. We say that when we come through things well when we grow and when we learn that usually is how we look back on our lives through the hard times. Why were you meant to go through this and what did you learn?

It's a great question. I think I was meant to go through it because I had these underlying mental health issues that had not been addressed for many years since I was a child. And while they turned into something more extreme, they had to turn it into something more extreme for me to deal with them. And that's one reason Another reason is I feel like I had to share my story because so many other women are going through things like this, and I have a voice and I have people watching me and following me and I'm able to tell them that it's okay and that we're in it together. And that keeps me going on the days when I feel like quitting my blog and Instagram, that keeps me going, the fact that I can share this with them and that they come to me and say, I actually started therapy because of your blog post or I went on medication and I finally feel like myself for the first time in 10 years and I get those emails all the time to still and it feels like it was meant to be for that which is you know, kind of silly, but I think I was meant to share.

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They say the best way to heal ourselves is to share our story.

And by sharing it, you heal yourself and you help heal others. And for every woman you hear from there's so many you don't hear from the people who just don't ever reach out. But people who are sharing with their partners and having them read it. It doesn't feel like it was all in vain. Totally and I thought your your statement about sharing with spouses just reminded me of an email I got a few weeks ago from this man. It was the husband of one of my followers and he emailed me took time out of his day to email me and say thank you for writing your blog post about, about anxiety. You have saved our marriage, you saved my wife, and I believe that but this guy was like emailing a blogger, a mommy blogger, like on this time and that just felt I felt really great.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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