September 11, 2015 08:45 PM

The first photos following the birth of Johnathon Schaech and his wife Julie Solomon‘s son showed a smiling, happy family of three.

But now, on the eve of their son’s second birthday, Solomon is reflecting back on the first few months following Camden Quinn‘s birth in September 2013.

According to Solomon — whose husband appeared in HISTORY’s miniseries Texas Rising in May and will soon star on ABC’s new show, Quantico, premiering Sept. 27 — shortly after they left the hospital with their newborn, she began to experience symptoms of baby blues.

“There were times that I would be crying in the shower, as the shower seemed my only place of peace and refuge,” she recalls.

In a guest blog, Solomon, 31, shares her postpartum journey, how she managed to bounce back and her thoughts on having a second child in the future.

Solomon, a publicist, can be found on TwitterInstagram and her website.

Samantha Klose/Klose Up Photography

Many women, including myself, face a spectrum of emotions after having a child. When I look back at my blissful pregnancy, and what I see of those pregnant around me, it goes something like this: For over nine months we are nurtured through prenatal care. Midwives quell our anxieties, doulas are at our every need, doctors try to adhere to our every sickness and questions, friends gift us with massages and showers. Family members are there with advice. Strangers open the doors for us … And then our baby is born. Easy, right? Ha!

Fast forward to month three (or sometimes longer) with a child in your arms: You might feel alienated (I did), scared (I did), and possibly on the verge of either a major crisis — postpartum depression — where you feel like you’ve lost yourself (me again!)

Lack of sleep, hormonal imbalance, breastfeeding struggles, living away from family, and too few ladies’ nights leave us stuck in survival mode.

With my son’s 2nd birthday on Saturday, I have started to look back and remember those difficult months immediately following his birth in the fall of 2013. Maybe you can relate with a stint of postpartum that I experienced after having my son Camden.

I was beyond fortunate enough to not have a full-blown case of postpartum depression (and my heart goes out to those women that have to endure the severity and extreme cases of PPD), but I definitely hit the spectrum after my child was born.

My “baby blues” (as some like to call it) started from day two post-hospital and lasted roughly three months (when he was around 12 weeks old and started sleeping through the night. I am no expert, but I am sure they were related).

There were times that I would be crying in the shower, as the shower seemed my only place of peace and refuge. I would have no idea why I was crying, nor did I even know if I was sad … I was just a flat out hormonal basket case, but more than that, I was sick.

I would find myself staring off into space, nothing eased my anxiety. I would be happy one minute, and super moody and angry the next. I lashed out at my family, trusted no one. I wanted no one around, but yet was super co-dependent at the same time. I loved every ounce of my new child, but yet thought I had ruined my life because I would be the worst mom.

I remember thinking to myself as I was breastfeeding early on, “What the F were you thinking!?! Having a baby was the dumbest idea you have ever had …” As sad as it is to admit out loud, at the time it seemed what I thought was my truth.

Samantha Klose/Klose Up Photography

Looking back at it now, it makes me so grateful because I was fortunate to have a husband, family and other moms around me who took PPD seriously and supported me in what I needed for a healthier, balanced state of being.

Fast forward two years later, we have gotten into the routine of our new life as a family. I am even crazy enough to think about having #2 someday (lol) and I am a much better wife, daughter, sister, friend and overall human being on this earth because my sweet Camden is who God chose me to raise.

Even though I see my experience as a gift, I firsthand realize postpartum depression is no laughing matter. I have friends who are AMAZING women — strong, independent, nurturing, successful — find themselves in the never-ending cycle of baby blues, or even more severe, full-blown postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. Postpartum is serious business, and must be addressed as so.

When I was going through my experience, I came across a woman named Rebecca Egbert, founder of The Mother Love. I started reading her blog and signed up for her Daily Doses of Love emails.

Egbert shares her suggestions for helping postpartum women achieve a holistic balance. Her tips, mixed in with a good sleeping and breastfeeding schedule (don’t even get me started on breastfeeding a.k.a. the hardest thing a woman can ever go through! For me, it was harder than childbirth and labor … and I had a natural childbirth! So give us breastfeeding women a break, okay!), finally helped me overcome my baby blues and get on track to a balanced and healthy new lifestyle as a mom.

HER TIPS:

Pay Attention to Lab Results
Remember how many times you peed into a cup or had blood drawn during prenatal care? Turns out, paying attention to those labs postpartum is also important. For example, your iron, vitamin D, thyroid, or glucose levels can reveal why you might not be feeling well. Four to eight months postpartum is also when baby blues can turn into a more severe cases of depression and the identification of a thyroid function issue can be determined. If you’re feeling off, simply contact your care provider to have your labs drawn.

Physical Therapy for Pelvic Floor and Repairing Ab Muscles
For more enjoyable sex and preventing prolapse and incontinence, you can work with a women’s health physical therapist within the first four months of postpartum. The proper sequence of healing is: Restore diaphragmatic breathing, strengthen the abdominal muscles, and restore pelvic health.

Samantha Klose/Klose Up Photography

Clean Eating
Eating triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, the system in our bodies where all healing happens. Eating clean is an easy action for our bodies, and helps regulate stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Eliminating sugar is key. It helps build good-gut flora, which is necessary for digestion, but it also assists in weight loss.

Also, keep that wine in check. Drinking more than one glass of wine (or alcohol) a day triggers the sympathetic nervous system. This is the system responsible for triggering fight or flight, makes you feel anxious, and where our stress response happens. So, keep your drinks to one or two a week.

Meditation
Meditation is the one standardized medicine Egbert “prescribes.” It can provide focus, productivity, resilience, creativity, and less brain fog. If you are not already familiar with a meditation practice, you can buy the yearly subscription to Headspace as a start.

You Are Still You
As we care for these little babes, a lot of us feel guilty about having passions and ambitions. Babies can change your life, and in many ways, turn it completely upside down, but they don’t change what makes you you. Don’t be afraid to go after the things you want. By doing so, you’ll empower strong little humans that believe in wonder, imagination, and possibility. Check in with yourself often and play your intuition in your favor.

Find Your Peeps
Many times, motherhood can feel alienating. Find the women in your life that make you feel strong and invest in those relationships. By creating a band of strong mothers (and non-mothers) who are willing to foster vulnerability, you can create a system that breeds bright futures. If Mom is healthy and baby is healthy, our communities and futures are healthy.

Samantha Klose/Klose Up Photography

The most important thing I took away from the postpartum experience was that it is NORMAL, OKAY and HEALTHY to take time to (as I like to say) “mourn the loss of the ‘old’ you” in a way. There are so many parts of what you knew to be your life and the makeup of who you were that may be gone in order to make room for the new beginning and new life.

Just like with any loss, you have to give yourself time to mourn, reflect, learn and grow. But with this loss comes so many amazing gains that are far more than I could have ever imagined.

What was your postpartum experience like? If you feel open to share, I would love to hear from you!

— Julie Solomon

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