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Motherhood and COVID

It’s officially been 9 months since I have given birth to my second child Grayson. To say this postpartum has been more stressful would be a huge understatement. Between having a challenging new baby, a toddler, all the things postpartum brings and then of course COVID, let’s just say I have been the most stressed I have ever been and my mental and physical health has taken a hit from it all.

I knew Gray was going to be a different kind of baby from the beginning of my pregnancy. Everything was harder with him and he is very different than Ava my 2 ½ year old! It was my mistake thinking that I already did this once, so I would know how to do it again. Well, Gray made sure that wasn’t the case. In the first month I was lucky if I got more than a 45-minute stretch of sleep at night because the poor guy had awful reflux that just kept him from sleeping well. Luckily, right around 4 weeks he magically started sleeping a lot longer through the night for a couple months until around 3 ½ months he started getting his first two teeth. This was just the beginning of constant teething till about 8 months.

He is now 9 months and working on tooth number 9. He is teething better now; it is not as painful for him till we hit those molars. From about 3-7 months he just did not sleep well because of the teething, plus he has a small eczema patch on his check that he kept cutting open, and once it was cut open everything irritated it. Therefore, I was at his beck and call for any cry day or night because I didn’t want him to make his cheek worse, throw in the constant teething needless to say neither of us were sleeping for months. I was exhausted.

With Ava, when she hit 5 months she went through a sleep regression we sleep trained and she has slept like a champ ever since. We also never knew when that girl was getting one tooth. She did take a pacifier which I think made a huge difference in a lot of ways. Gray would never take one, and trust me we tried every pacifier ever made.

Gray has been difficult in very many ways, but is also different in some great ways. He is very expressive with his noises and facial expressions, he pretty much started crawling, pulling himself and try to hold onto things and walk all within two weeks! And even though this will drive me crazy he is definitely going to be more of a tornado than Ava. He is very messy, throws things, falls over a lot and is uncoordinated. Think of the Tasmanian devil; that is what Gray will be like as he gets older. While Ava will be following behind him telling him to stop and picking up after him because that is just the big sister she is turning out to be : ).

I made the decision to stop breastfeeding around 7 months because Gray was getting teeth left and right and was a biter! The thought of my nipple getting bit and possibly needing stitches was something I didn’t want to deal with. There are plenty of moms that breastfeed their kids with teeth, but I just didn’t want to deal with the possible injury. Trust me, this was a very hard decision for me and it made me feel depressed and guilty that I wasn’t going to nurse Gray for a year like I did Ava.

During the midst of all the new curve balls Gray threw at us, COVID hit and obviously this was terrifying because all I heard was about the sick, the dying and really no one knowing what exactly this virus was. Having a new baby when all of this was coming out was extremely stressful, constantly waiting for symptoms to start on any of us was driving me crazy.

March came and we went into lockdown the day I was supposed to go back to work. Luckily, I have always pretty much worked from home so this wasn’t anything new for me except now the non-profit I worked for was on the rocks because of the pandemic and I was now juggling both kids being home.

Also, in March my husband got sick (which looking back I think was COVID) so he was quarantined in the basement for a week and then my mother in law got COVID from the nursing home she works at. My in-laws are a huge chunk of my babysitting for the week and because of my mother in law getting sick we did not see them for over a month. This is when I gained even more respect for stay at home moms, more than I already did! You women are super heroes.

Thankfully the kids and myself never got sick and my husband got better within a week and after about a month my in laws were able to start seeing the kids again and babysit, which was good because then it was go time trying to save my job. My boss and I tried to find any grant possible to keep the nonprofit afloat for about 4 months. It was stressful never knowing if I was going to have a job the following week. However, when August hit, we decided to call it quits. There was just too much stress trying to keep the non-profit going and it didn’t look good.

During these past 9 months all of these things took a toll on my mental health, plus I was and am still dealing with postpartum body issues which just contributed to my mental health. Just like the mistake I made thinking Gray would be like Ava as a baby, I also thought this postpartum would be the same as my first time.

I do think I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety and I think it is still affecting me. A lot of things contributed to this. Hormones from being either pregnant or breastfeeding for 3 years, dealing with a pandemic and all that has to bring along with everything else going on in the world right now. My body feeling like it was falling apart from the umbilical hernia (which I finally got fixed in August), the hemorrhoids I got from pregnancy that I am still struggling with, stomach problems from the stress, the depression around having to stop breastfeeding suddenly, postpartum hair loss, and the difficulty of just having a baby and a toddler and that adjustment. All of these issues made it hard for me to be consistent in working out, specifically weightlifting. Without my outlet of being active I feel weak and unhealthy both mentally and physically. Needless to say I felt like this person on the left.

The point of this blog was to give an update on Gray, but to also show moms that being a mom is hard and being a mom during a pandemic is even harder. This goes for all moms, whether you are a new mom and going through postpartum, have one child or multiple and/or dealing with older kids and home schooling.

All of it is hard but just breathe, hug your kids, be grateful for the good things and hang in there.

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