Practicing Gratitude During a Pandemic… & Postpartum Recovery
The end of March was an uncertain time for me and my family. There was so much changing day to day in the face of this virus while we planned to welcome our first baby. It was often hard for me to stay calm and positive in such a chaotic time with so many unknowns. I’m happy to report that our daughter came into the world safely and is a happy and healthy little baby but my recovery has been a bit of a roller coaster. With May being Maternal Mental Health Month it seemed fitting to share the story of my experience with postpartum recovery (so far) and how practicing gratitude during this crazy time has helped support my mental health.
Along with all of the normal aches and pains that come with childbirth, I have had significant struggles with breastfeeding, delayed healing from an episiotomy, and a horrible case of mastitis. Overwhelmed with the physical and emotional, everything has seemed more complex with the weight of a global pandemic hanging over us. There are so many people out there struggling with the challenges related to this global crisis: physical and social isolation, financial hardships, mental health struggles, schooling children, fear of the unknown. The list goes on. Focusing on things that I am grateful for has helped me overcome some of the challenges that I’ve been facing the past few months.
I am a super family oriented person and I try to spend as much time with my family as possible. While we live in Kelowna and my family lives down in Vancouver, being forced to further distance myself from my family has been hands down the hardest part of this experience. In the final weeks of my pregnancy it was devastating to me knowing that my mom couldn’t be with me in the hospital when my baby was born, that our family couldn’t visit us, and that it might be weeks or months before my parents were potentially able to see and hold their first grandchild.
Breastfeeding has been an uphill battle for me since day one. We’ve worked through a tongue-tie, mastitis, and breast abscesses and after all of that we’ve made the difficult decision to slowly transition to formula sooner than I would have liked. This shouldn’t be a difficult decision but it took a huge emotional toll on me that I did NOT see coming. I hadn’t realized the pressure I had put on myself to breastfeed until I felt I was unable to continue. Breastfeeding is such a complex topic and I am learning that every parent’s experience with it is different, and often difficult in one way or another.
Learning to communicate with Kyle as we work to navigate a brand new world, has been more difficult in our current situation. Tension is often high as we’re in close quarters, and have been for some time now. Things that may normally seem small can trigger a reaction in the other person, or a cycle of anxious thoughts that often becomes overwhelming for one or both of us. With most physical places being closed (parks, stores, gyms etc.) and avoiding spending time in places that are still open in order to protect our family, it’s been hard to get out of the house and get some space unless we decide to go for a walk – something we normally enjoy doing together.
Through all of this, each day I have taken a moment to remind myself of the things that I am grateful for. Being able to look back on my list has helped me refocus myself when I become overwhelmed.
I am grateful for my health.
While I have had a difficult recovery, I am grateful that my body is willing and able to heal itself and I am learning to be more patient and respectful of it’s process. I am grateful for the health of my family and friends both here under our own roof, and those far away.
I am grateful for technology.
I am grateful that those I care about have the curiosity and patience to try and learn new ways to communicate so we can see each other more often. I am grateful that businesses are using technology to find effective ways to provide much needed services, and that I am able to use tools and online resources to work safely from my home.
I am grateful for support.
Over the last few months the support I have received from friends, family and colleagues has been overwhelming. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such an amazing community of people that have been checking in on us. I am super grateful that I have Kyle and that he was able to be with me the past few weeks. I would not have been able to get through this postpartum period without him and his support.
I am grateful for time.
While it feels like we’ve been in isolation forever, I have become grateful for the time we have been able to spend together as a family. I am grateful I have been given time to rest and time to connect with my body, my baby and my partner. I am grateful that through reflection I have been getting better at slowing down and appreciating each day.
I am grateful for the future.
I am grateful to have friends and family to talk with about things to come and make plans for the future. It has kept me sane during this pandemic. Staying home in our little bubble has been challenging, but I am grateful to have been making plans as I now have things to look forward to as the world begins to slowly open up again.
To anyone out there who is struggling, I encourage you to take the time to sit in your discomfort and reflect on your optimism, gratitude, anger or fear in order to strengthen your own resolve.
Wishing you all health & happiness!