Dealing with Postpartum Anxiety

I have a confession to make. It’s a bit hard for me to talk about.  Not that I’m necessarily ashamed, but it seems like it’s always harder talking about the tough stuff.  It’s much easier to show pictures of happy kids, a happy family, a cute project.  The truth is, I’ve been dealing with postpartum anxiety.

I first noticed it one week after my little one was born.  My husband and I were getting ready to take her to her one week doctor appointment.  I suddenly felt like my insides were shaking or buzzing.  I felt overwhelmed, like there were a ton of things that needed to get done, but I couldn’t organize my body to do any one of those things.  My husband could tell something was wrong.

When he asked what was wrong, the floodgates opened.

What if we forget something?
What if she cries the whole way there?
What if there’s something wrong with her?
What if we get in a car accident?
What if we don’t like the doctor?

Ryan put his arms around me. His solid, calming presence what I needed.  Can you control any of that? he asked.  Of course I knew the answer.  There it was, the root of my anxiety. Control.  I wanted to control everything around me to keep my baby and my family safe.

But I know it’s impossible to do.  When my nephew Declan died of SIDS on Valentine’s Day in 2012, it became apparent to us all that no matter how much control we think we have, bad things can and do happen.  I know his death is also a major cause of my anxiety.  The reason I periodically shake my baby’s arm while she sleeps, or tickle her feet while she’s in the carrier.  And the reason I will probably sleep on the couch next to her in the swing until she is 6 months old.  But, even then, I know it is really out of my control.

Dealing with postpartum anxiety.  Do not fear, for God is with you.

For the rest of the day Ryan stayed close.  He held my hand the whole way to the doctor, squeezing tighter as the tears streamed down my cheeks.  He rubbed my back as I broke down in the doctor’s office.  And he knew better than to protest when I told him to drive through Starbucks on our way home.

There are still moments when my body feels unsettled, like my heart is beating out of my chest.  But, with the help of Ryan’s quiet reassurance and support,  many, many calls to my mom, and the strength of His word I am starting to feel much better.  I know that postpartum anxiety is only temporary, and that it IS something I can control.

P.S.  The Ugly Truth: Depression  +  Declan

Tips for a DIY Family Photo Session

I love family pictures.  If I could, I would have them taken three times a year.  Maybe four.  Unfortunately, I’m not in the position to hand out that kind of money.  I know it’s an investment.  But I still can’t justify investing in something that captures our likeness for only a moment in time.  I mean these kids are changing so fast, the first day and last day of school pictures hardly look like the same kid.  So, if you’re like me and want a professional looking family picture without the professional price, you might want to consider recruiting a friend or family member to snap some ‘semi-professional’ pics.

Tips for a DIY family photo session

This past weekend, we did just that.  We had Ryan’s cousin Michelle take some family pictures of the four of us, and they turned out great.  Here are my tips for a DIY family photo session.

Tips for a DIY Family Photo Session

Find a family member or friend with a good camera.
The camera makes all the difference in this case.  I have a decent camera, but it’s still a point and shoot that doesn’t give you that blurry background that most people want in their pictures.  My husband’s cousin Michelle has a very nice DSLR with multiple lenses.  For this recent photo session, Michelle used only one lens.

Do some research beforehand.
Pinterest is a great place to seek out inspiration.  Look for poses you like, locations that are similar to where you will be shooting, and ideas for props.  Check out my Pinterest inspiration boards here and here.  Michelle printed out several pages of Pinterest images and brought them along to reference throughout the day.

Look for an interesting location.
While you could definitely get some good pictures in the neighborhood park or next to a beautiful tree in your yard, you will have more options for different shots and set ups if you look for a unique location.  We chose to visit a nature reserve in Ryan’s aunt’s neighborhood.  This gave us plenty of built in background options from trees and bushes to lakes and bridges.  Near a lake typically has worked well for us.

Choose some fun props (but don’t go overboard).
While your family is going to be the focus of your pictures, it’s always fun to incorporate fun and unique items.  For this particular shoot we brought along a bench, a chair, an antique fishing net, a rustic frame, and a wooden Dr. Pepper crate, among other things.  It ended up being a lot to carry, and we didn’t need everything, so we definitely could have paired back quite a bit.  I also brought along changes of clothing for all of us but really didn’t need to because Peanut was the only one to change.

Take a lot of pictures.
The more the better.  Be sure to get different angles, close ups and shots from further away.  Michelle took 144 pictures in under 1 hour.  I’m sure she could have taken more if we hadn’t had to stop for a nursing break.  You will have a lot to go through and will need to weed out the keepers, but it is definitely worth it to make sure you get the pictures you want. I use PicMonkey to edit my photos online.  And remember, sometimes the most simple set ups turn out the most beautiful.

Bring your own SD card.
This is how wonderful Michelle is – when we are done taking the pictures, she pops the SD card out of her camera and hands it over.  That way, we don’t have to wait for her to send them to us or to get us the pictures on a disk.  We walk away with all of the proofs.  You could easily pay your friend or relative for the SD card ahead of time or bring one you are sure will work in their camera.

Thank them.
Of course, be sure to thank your friend or family member for their time and effort.  A gift card or money (if they are willing to accept it) will usually cost a fraction of what you would spend on a professional photo session.  We took Michelle out for lunch after and enjoyed spending some more time together.

Tips for a DIY family photo session

Tips for a DIY family photo session

I’m super excited about how our new family pictures turned out and am so grateful for Michelle.  I hope these tips for a DIY family photo session will encourage you to get out there and capture your own memories.

What tips do you have for taking your own ‘semi-professional’ family photos?

Tips for a DIY family photo session

In The Garden

DIY Raised Bed Planter - Squishy Cheeks & Cupcakes
DIY Raised Bed Planter - Squishy Cheeks & Cupcakes
DIY Raised Bed Planter - Squishy Cheeks & Cupcakes
DIY Raised Bed Planter - Squishy Cheeks & Cupcakes
Our first garden.  Built by Daddy and Uncle Mike in an just a few hours time.  We were all pretty excited to get our hands dirty. Peanut was a natural with her pink princess work gloves, which she quickly abandoned for the feel of fresh soil between her fingers.  With each seed packet, a surprise at the shape and size.  “I wonder what these will look like Mama”  as she waited for me to tear the corner off of the beat envelope.  Such magic in a tiny package.  We packed that little garden bed full of seeds and wiped our hands – a job well done.  Now we water, and watch, and wait. Checking every day to see the first signs of our crop.  A perfect little garden for our little family.