Lies Depression & Anxiety Tell Me

Anxiety and depression are thieves. They steal my confidence, my will to keep going. They tell me that no one cares what I have to say, that I’m not enough, that I’m stupid. They tell me my ambitions and goals are unreachable, that I should just stop trying.

Some days I am a confident supermom and wife. I don’t have my shit completely together, but I’m okay with who I am and actually enjoy life.

Other days I fall apart. I’m not as comfortable showing those days, especially on social media. I’ve become an expert at hiding the pain and unreasonable worries, but sometimes they feel like they’re leaking out of a hole deep in my belly. Sometimes I can almost visualize it.

Anxiety and depression are thieves. They steal my confidence, my will to keep going. They tell me that no one cares what I have to say, that I’m not enough, that I’m stupid. They tell me my ambitions and goals are unreachable, that I should just stop trying.

The thing is, I know those things aren’t true, but knowing is only half the battle. It still hurts to think about these things and when they’re repeated in my head over and over again, it’s easy to kind of believe them.

So I started a list to remind myself that they are indeed lies and why they’re not true. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I wanted to share a few that I think might be common, in case it helps someone else feel less alone.

Lies Depression & Anxiety Tell Me

  1. You’re not doing enough for your child. This is probably the most ridiculous lie that I tell myself and mostly a result from playing the comparison game. (“That kid knows more words than Emerson…. she’s already potty-training…I should be spending more quality time helping further his development…”) I’m working 29 hours a week from home while being a full-time mom PLUS trying to keep up with this blog. The other day I took a shower at midnight because that was literally the only time I had a moment to myself. I’m doing the best I can and one day Emerson will understand and appreciate that.
  2. Nobody cares what you have to say. Why do you think you’re so special? Maybe not everybody cares what I have to say, but some people certainly do. I don’t have to be the most insightful or interesting person at all times in order to use my voice. My opinion is valuable.
  3. You’ll never be the cool mom or the cool wife. You kill everyone’s buzz. This is something I started struggling with way before I was a wife or mom. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I don’t have to be the laid-back, spontaneous, and care-free “cool girl” all the time to be deserving of love. I’m allowed to feel nervous or not want to go out all the time. I’m allowed to be angry. Sometimes I’m emotional and that’s okay too.
  4. You sound dumb when you speak up at work. You clearly don’t know what you’re doing and everyone can see that. This thought stems from being an introvert in an extroverted world. In any job I’ve had, I’m always nervous at meetings that are supposed to be brainstorming sessions and less structured professional discussions. I like to have time to think things through and prepare. But I was hired for a reason. I do have important things to contribute and shouldn’t be afraid to speak up.
  5. Your friends don’t actually care about you. They’re just being nice to your face. I know in my heart that this isn’t true, but it creeps into my head from time to time, especially as I’ve gotten older and all my closest friends live far away or have children or careers. It’s natural to drift apart or not talk everyday. Communication works both ways and I shouldn’t feel anxious to reach out on my end.

Anxiety and depression have been a constant battle for me and probably will continue to be. I like to think of this list as a of a quick reference guide for me to look back on when I need to rationalize the irrational thoughts in my head. I’m publishing it because I feel like it’s important to be vulnerable sometimes with the world, especially when social media is full of everyone’s highlight reel. I hope you found this helpful and if you struggle with similar thoughts, I encourage you to make your own list. I found it pretty therapeutic to actually answer myself. xx

My Favorite Ways to Practice Self-Care

I feel like a big fat hypocrite for even writing this. At the moment, I could use about six additional hours of sleep, a hot shower, haircut, pedicure, and maybe just a moment or two to myself without a baby grabbing at my chest, a husband asking me a billion questions I don’t have the answers to, or a dog begging me for my lunch. 

As much as I love being a mom and wife, working from home, and now blogging, it can be overwhelming. There are days where I put 110% of myself into other people. And I’m exhausted. I’m slowly learning how to take time for me, though, so I wanted to share some of the ways I do that with all of you.

Journaling

I have a box of journals that I’ve kept since my childhood stored away. I think I started my first one when I was seven years old. To say that self-reflection is important to me is probably an understatement (it’s the introvert in me). That’s why I started blogging in the first place, to write about my experiences and share them with others. The sharing part can be really scary, but I’m always glad when I do. More often than not, I meet someone who can relate to my experience and my world doesn’t feel so isolated anymore (because if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you know how isolating it can feel).

This post is in collaboration with my new friend, Shiuan Butler, who recently invited me to join her at a Women’s Self-Care Virtual Retreat she’s hosting on December 3rd. Shiuan has 20 years of intensive counseling experience and helps women pause and reflect through customized journaling prompts, guided meditation, and sharing/listening experiences. She also has some really great free journaling prompts that I’m going to try out because there’s something about writing things down in a physical journal that just feeds my soul.

I’m so excited to take some time for myself and create some goals for the coming new year. The best part is that it’s completely virtual so I can do it from my bed, in my Christmas jammies with a hot cup of tea. I would love for you to join me, so we can all have an afternoon to recharge and form a little community of badass journaling women.  Check out her site for all the details and let me know if you sign up!

Self-Care Virtual Retreat

Yoga/long walks 

I’ve been a yoga amateur for about eight years now.  I’ll go on a streak of practicing regularly and going to classes. Then I let life get in the way and stress me out until I need to start again for my own sanity. I actually was doing a weekly yoga class after work at Practice Yoga in East Austin when I conceived Emerson. I have no idea if that had any impact on how fast we conceived, but I like to think it helped my mind and body become the best home possible for our little nugget. After I gave birth and was given the all-clear to start exercising again, I started following along with yoga instructors on YouTube while E napped. We also like to go on long walks. There’s a park not far from our home where we like to stroll along the river. E stares at all the towering pecan trees and I listen to music and inhale some fresh air.

Eating nourishing foods

My instinct when I was stressed before giving birth was to devour all the comfort foods. That’s not the case anymore. I’m still breastfeeding and Emerson has shown signs of being sensitive to dairy, so I’ve completely cut it out of my diet for the past 6 months. On top of that, I’ve been having some issues with my health (I’ll explain in a later post), so I’ve had to focus on eating foods to help my body feel better. I always feel whole when I eat a well-balanced, home-cooked meal so that’s become my way of treating myself, especially in the morning. My favorite mornings are the rare times when Emerson sleeps in a little longer than me and I can make myself some scrambled eggs or an English muffin and have a few moments to myself before I start the day.

Going to bed early

This seems simple enough, but I’m seriously slacking on this one lately, even though I need it now more than ever. There is this constant battle as a mom to either spend the time when your kid is asleep trying to catch up on sleep yourself or enjoying adult, kid-free time. I usually get caught up in trying to do all the things I couldn’t accomplish when he was awake. Emerson has been going through some serious separation anxiety though and started occasionally waking up once or twice a night again. It’s taking a serious toll on my sanity. I am always a better mom, wife, human being when I’ve had enough sleep. Sometimes I have to leave the dishes, the laundry, the dirty floor, and go to bed instead of continuously trying to pour from an empty cup.

Enjoying screen-free time

I hate to admit that this is a hard one for me, but because I now work from home, blog, and do a lot of social media work, it is. I have to make a conscious effort sometimes to turn off the TV, power down the laptop, put the phone down, spend quality time with the people I love, or read a book instead of scrolling on a screen. I wish I was that mom that’s a great multitasker but I’m just not. I want my kid to remember my face, not my iPhone.

Exploring a new place

Dallas and I love discovering new places when he’s home on his days off. It doesn’t have to be traveling far or spending a lot of money. Sometimes it’s nice just to go to a neighboring town and find an antique shop or flea market we haven’t been to before. Emerson gets to enjoy some fresh air and new views and I get a little bit of adult interaction and parenting reinforcement from Dallas. Win-win.

Creating something

This one goes a little beyond just journaling or blogging. Photography is still one of my favorite hobbies. When we do go out exploring I always bring my camera. It helps that I have such a cute muse. I also have a serious obsession with adult coloring books, DIY projects, scrapbooking, etc. Follow me on Pinterest if you want to know what projects I’m currently into. When I’m stressed, it helps me to put that energy into creating something not related to work. And it’s always satisfying to have a finished product I can take pride in.

I always like to hear what other people do when they have time to themselves, so leave a comment telling me what you do to practice self-care. I would love to try a few new things.

xx,

Jordana

Emerson’s Birth Story | Part 1

The whole way there I told him, “They’re going to tell me I peed myself and send me home. Stop freaking out.” Although I was starting to feel light contractions in the car, I was still in denial. Once we got there and registered, I could feel the contractions getting stronger. Dallas was helping me change into a hospital gown when the rest of my water broke all over the bathroom. This time I was sure that I wasn’t peeing myself. I looked at him and the nurse and finally admitted, “okay…maybe I’m in labor.”

I decided to split this up into two parts because this story spans 25 days. In my head though, even now, it’s hard to separate my labor from all that unfolded after he was born, but here goes.

My pregnancy was fairly easy, as far as pregnancies go. (Okay, all pregnancies are hard. Birthing babies is hard.) But I didn’t have any complications. My symptoms were all pretty normal. I was hormonal as hell, and toward the end, I was HUGE but compared to what other women have gone through, I can’t complain too much. At 39 weeks though, I was so over being pregnant and ready to get him OUT.

 

 

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Taken January 3rd, right at 38 weeks.

 

On Sunday, January 15th, Dallas and I headed to see an 11:30 a.m. showing of La La Land and then to his dad’s house for football and family dinner. It was two days before my due date, so I already had the car packed in case I needed to head to the hospital. Sure enough, right about kick-off, my water broke.

My OBGYN told me a million times that my labor wouldn’t happen like it does in the movies, that my water most likely wouldn’t break first, if at all. I’d been having some really small contractions here and there for a few days, but nothing regular or worth timing, so I definitely didn’t see this coming. I’m not going to lie, I thought I peed myself right there on my in-laws’ couch (#thirdtrimesterproblems). I got up to go to the bathroom and more came out, but I still wasn’t convinced that it was my water leaking, so I tried to play it cool and quietly asked Dallas to get me new underwear from my hospital bag in the car. Other important, embarrassing details: I was wearing a maxi skirt and a maternity thong because that’s literally all I could fit at 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. So yeah, it was not pretty.

But because it’s impossible for me not to worry, I decided to call the after-hours number my doctor gave me and let a nurse know something might be happening. Try calling up a total stranger and saying “I’m not sure if I peed myself or what but…” without laughing. She told me to go the hospital to be checked just in case. We live south of Austin (closer to San Antonio really) but when I became pregnant I was working in Austin and had been seeing my doctor there since I was 21, so I decided to stick with her for delivery. It’s about an hour drive to the hospital without traffic. Dallas was so excited, he got us there in 40 minutes!

The whole way there I told him, “They’re going to tell me I peed myself and send me home. Stop freaking out.” Although I was starting to feel light contractions in the car, I was still in denial. Once we got there and registered, I could feel the contractions getting stronger. Dallas was helping me change into a hospital gown when the rest of my water broke all over the bathroom. This time I was sure that I wasn’t peeing myself. I looked at him and the nurse and finally admitted, “okay…maybe I’m in labor.”

At this point, I made Dallas go back to the car to get the hospital bag (I really was convinced that I was going to be sent home) and called my mom so she could meet us there. I was only 1 cm dilated (and had been since my doctor checked me two weeks earlier). Since my water was broken, I was given 12 hours to go into active labor on my own or the doctor was going to put me on Pitocin to speed things up. With my water broken, I was at a greater risk of infection so the goal was to get the baby out within 24 hours.

My birth plan was slowly unraveling. I had planned on an unmedicated birth, ideally laboring at home for as long as possible. I wasn’t completely opposed to an epidural, but my goal was to try to do without. My water had broken at about 3:45 p.m. so I had until 3:00 a.m. to make some significant progress. The doctor suggested trying Cervidil first, a vaginal insert (much like a tampon) with time-released medication that helps to gradually soften, thin, and dilate the cervix. I agreed, they inserted it and set up external fetal monitoring. Fun fact: my belly was so large and Emerson was curled up in a little ball right in the middle of my abdomen, so the monitor kept slipping off. He also kicked and moved away from it, so the nurses had to keep adjusting. He was so not ready to come out yet!

In the beginning, labor was actually kind of fun. The contractions felt more like PMS cramping, and I was just super pumped that it was finally happening. I watched so many birthing videos on YouTube in my third trimester that I was more excited than scared at this point. We listened to music (of course I had a birthing playlist), watched football, and talked about finally meeting Emerson. Eventually, the contractions got stronger and closer together, so we started timing them on our own (even though the hospital’s monitor was also tracking them). At some point, a nurse came to check me again and the fun stopped. I was barely making any progress, even though it sure felt like I was.

Things get a little blurry for me after that. Eventually, I couldn’t talk through the contractions anymore. Dallas and my mom took turns holding my hand and coaching me through them. At some point, I couldn’t stand the football game being on anymore. The sun went down and it started to rain, and that became my focal point. The only way I could get comfortable was laying on my side facing the window. I watched the lightning dance across the sky while the trees swayed to the beat of the thunder. I tried to sing along with my labor playlist. I remember hearing Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon, “Naked As We Came” by Iron & Wine, and of course, “Blue” by the queen herself (Beyonce). I still have this playlist and every time I listen to it, all the emotions come flooding back. (Comment below if you’re interested and I’ll post it sometime.)

Eventually, the playlist ended and I couldn’t focus on it anymore anyway. The contractions kept rolling closer together until it felt like they were crashing into one another. I asked a nurse about it and she said I was having double-peak contractions. Because of the double-peak, they were lasting about 2 minutes long and only about 90 seconds apart.

Now my memory is really a blur. The pain was definitely taking over. I remember Dallas holding my hand and my mom rubbing my head, playing with my hair the way she did when I was young and had a bad dream or when I was a teenager and was broken-hearted over a boy. I kept envisioning the sweet face of a little boy I wanted to meet so desperately.

 

 

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Shoutout to my husband for risking his life to capture this photo without me knowing. Even though I’m glad I have it now, had I known it was being taken, I probably would have broken his hand. 

 

 

Three a.m. crept up on me and it was time to check my progress. At this point, it had been almost 12 hours since my water broke. My hope shattered when they said I was only 3 cm dilated. The doctor wanted to start me on Pitocin no later than 5:00 a.m. Had there not been the looming threat of Pitocin making my labor pain more intense, I probably would have soldiered on at least a little longer without pain medication, but shortly after 4:00 a.m. I asked for an epidural. I hadn’t slept at all since the night before and still had 7 cm to go before I could begin pushing. I’ll spare you the details of having a large needle inserted into my back while I’m shaking from contractions. Oh, and the catheter insertion (fun stuff).

I spent the rest of the night attempting to sleep. I could still feel my abdomen tightening with each contraction and I was shaking, but the sweet relief of no more pain was wonderful. I don’t really know if you could call it sleeping, but I laid still with my eyes closed listening to the storm rage on outside and Dallas’s soft snores next to me.

When I woke, the morning shift nurses came in to introduce themselves. They helped me position myself to guide Emerson to drop a little more. That’s right, that sweet baby boy of mine was still not ready to come out, even after I was fully dilated and effaced. (If you know how much of a stubborn mama’s boy he is now, it makes total sense.) When it came time to push, it was a little before 11:00 a.m. I was exhausted but more than ready. I had Dallas and my mom on one side of me, and the sweetest delivery nurse coaching me on the other side. I heard so many stories of women who said that once they had an epidural they couldn’t figure out how to push, but that wasn’t my experience. I don’t know how to explain it exactly; I didn’t feel pain, but I did feel an enormous amount of pressure. And I could feel the top of my abdomen contract so I knew when to push.

Twenty-five minutes of sweaty groaning and a room full of people cheering me on, and suddenly he was outside of me. I distinctly remember the nurses saying “He just keeps coming!” and “Oh, those feet!” Dallas told me later that he looked like a little baby elephant coming out.

A room full of faces smiling and crying with relief and all I wanted to see was his face. A moment later he was on my chest, crying his sweet newborn cries, his head tucked under my chin, my arms finally wrapped around him. 10 pounds, 5 ounces, 22 and a quarter inches long. A full head of hair. Button nose. Beauty mark on the inside of his ankle. Little potato feet and the chubbiest cheeks I’ve ever seen. He latched onto my breast like a little pro. (He still loves his mama’s milk more than anything.) I looked at Dallas with tears in both of our eyes and said, “Look what we made.”

We were all in shock at his size, including my doctor and all the nurses. At 36 weeks he measured well over 7 pounds. The sonographer checked and double checked, thinking that couldn’t be right. My doctor was not at all concerned and reassured me that those measurements weren’t always accurate. She said she wouldn’t schedule a C-section unless he was measuring over 10 pounds…

Y’ALL. I carried and pushed out a 10-pound 5-ounce baby. And afterward, I ate the greatest cup of tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwich, and brownie I’ve ever had in my life. Honestly, it’s the most badass thing I’ve ever done.

I’m ending this post on a positive note because it’s the ending this story deserves. (It’s the ending I deserved.) Stay tuned for Part 2, when I’ve emotionally recharged enough to recount it.

 

xx,

Jordana