Colic & Reflux In A Pandemic

Courtney, 33 yrs old, Indiana

# Of Children: 2

How would you describe your pregnancy experience?

  • My pregnancy with my daughter was as easy as it could be. I wasn’t sick, I really didn’t have very many food aversions, and I didn’t get terribly uncomfortable until the end. 

Did you have a birth plan? If so, how closely did your actual birth experience align with your plan?

  • My only birth plan was to deliver her and both of us be safe and healthy, so everything went according to plan.

How did you feel emotionally in the days and weeks following childbirth?

  • I was very emotional and felt like I was always on the edge of tears (and frequently cried). My anxiety was very high, and I was afraid to be alone with my baby, constantly afraid that something would happen to her, and felt very overwhelmed and unable to cope. 

Did you experience any postpartum mood disorders such as postpartum depression or anxiety? If comfortable, please share your experience.

  • I was officially diagnosed with postpartum depression, but I believe I had postpartum anxiety as well. I had intrusive thoughts, I felt that I was completely incapable of parenting, that I had made a mistake becoming a mom, and I thought about running away a lot, because I believed that my husband and daughter would be better off I wasn’t in the house (I was not suicidal, I just wanted to be away from everything).

How did your body feel after giving birth, and how did it change over time?

  • My body felt like I’d been hit by a truck, and I felt like it did take the full 6 weeks to heal. I also didn’t realize that it would be permanently changed - even if I had lost every pound I gained during pregnancy, I still wouldn’t fit in my old clothes because I now had hips and curves for the first time.

Were there any specific challenges you faced during the postpartum period?

  • My daughter was born 3 weeks before pandemic lockdowns in early spring 2020. That would be hard enough for first-time parents, but she also developed colic and reflux, which made my PPD and PPA so much worse. If I couldn’t console my own baby, which is literally the only thing I was supposed to be doing, what good was I?

What kind of support did you receive from your partner, family, or friends during the postpartum period?

  • My husband was (and still is) amazing. He knew something was wrong before I could even admit it to myself. Even on my turn to do the nighttime feedings, he would come into the nursery with me and sleep on the daybed because I was so thoroughly convinced, I couldn’t console our daughter back to sleep. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, our family and friends could only provide emotional support, although they also sent groceries and our brand of formula when we couldn’t get out. We have a very large village, but none of them could come over and help us or give us a break because of the lockdown situation.

Did you seek professional support, such as therapy or counseling? How was your experience?

  • I had a therapist before I got pregnant, so I was able to get back on her schedule. She helped me process a lot of the dark feelings I was having and helped me realize that I was doing a great job in a very hard situation. We also did EMDR sessions on the colic episodes because they were traumatic for me. I also was prescribed an antidepressant, which I still take due to my history of anxiety and mood disorders. It helped immensely and I can remember the day it kicked into therapeutic levels - it literally felt like someone turned the lights on and my world was full of color again.

Were there any support resources or communities that you found particularly helpful?

  • I honestly didn’t know of any that were in my community, and many of them weren’t available because of the pandemic.

What self-care practices or coping strategies helped you navigate the challenges of postpartum?

  • Taking time for myself to decompress and unwind, journaling my thoughts so they weren’t rattling around in my head, talking about my feelings and thoughts so I didn’t feel so crushed by them.

Did you engage in any specific activities or hobbies to relax and unwind?

  • I love to read, write, and taking a long soak in the bath is super helpful for unwinding as well.

What lessons did you learn during your postpartum experience?

  • Don’t hide what you’re experiencing - you’re not meant to feel like a complete failure as a parent or cry the whole time. There is strength in being vulnerable and admitting that you need help, because you CAN get better and feel like yourself again.

Do you have any advice or tips for new parents or parents-to-be based on your own experiences?

  • Don’t be ashamed of asking for help! You’re not meant to do this alone (believe me, as someone who HAD to do it alone because of the pandemic), and there is help and support out there. Asking for help remains the bravest thing I have ever done for myself and for my family. You are not alone, and asking for help is the first step on the road to getting better.

Looking back, how has your postpartum experience shaped your perspective on motherhood and self-care?

  • I am more open to accepting help, I share the full experience of motherhood (the good and the bad), and I have realized that if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of my family.