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The postpartum anxiety struggle is real

My postpartum anxiety follows me everywhere.

postpartum anxiety

I'm at the two-month postpartum mark and I already feel disillusioned by my attempts at motherhood. I absolutely adore my baby—I can't stop the constant smooches and my heart still jumps when I get that scrunchy-nosed grin—but then my anxiety begins to creep in and I find myself sad or fearful of the strangest things.

Anxiety looms over my head as I think about tomorrow's endless diaper changes, the crying, the constant motion— when all I want to do is sit still and enjoy a warm cup of coffee. Anxiety finds a way to sneak in somehow, even in ways that make no sense. I feel consumed by thoughts about how to make the baby happy and how to get through another day at home.

My anxiety is with me in the nursery when I'm organizing baby clothes realizing my perfectly wonderful and thriving baby has outgrown clothes she never even got to wear. How could I not have made sure we wore the 56th onesie from a family friend in size 0-3 during that two-week period that she was between newborn and three months? How could I be so careless, so wasteful, so inconsiderate?

Anxiety, there again, in talking with friends. Should I be putting my infant on a schedule? Should I co-sleep? Am I missing out? Am I sabotaging my baby's emotional growth by allowing her (for now) to dictate the rhythm of our days?

Why can't I ever focus on anything other than my baby? Is something wrong with me?

Is she sleeping enough? Is my milk good enough for her? Am I cooking enough meals for my husband? Is my house clean enough? Have I lost the baby weight yet? Am I still desirable to my husband? Do the other moms think I'm incompetent? Why is she crying? Am I not doing something right? Is she hungry? Is she tired? Is she wet? Why is she crying? Why is she crying? What am I doing wrong?

Nothing. I'm doing nothing wrong. I have to continuously tell myself. Everything is okay. Hormones play some ridiculous games on us. Every day we get up, get dressed (usually at some point), change diapers, make (and reheat) coffee, snuggle and have a wonderful, peaceful day.

We get the work done that is absolutely necessary and we leave the rest. We fight back the worries and anxious thoughts with the help we need, whether that be in counseling, keeping abreast of self-care or reaching out to other mothers who have been through it all.

As a first-time mom, I wanted to be an expert at this whole mom thing before leaving the hospital with my tiny bundle of love. But much like our babies, we cannot run before we can walk.

This time is so crucial in embracing the absolute dependency that our babies have on us. Maybe we feel all-consumed by thoughts and anxious worries concerning our babies and motherhood because of an instinctual need to bond our very thoughts to the protection and care of our children—and even ourselves, too.

Someday I won't feel like I'm in this constant cloud of worry and those attempts at achieving the perfect image of motherhood will be long gone. My baby loves me and someday they will understand how much love is put into every thought and decision I make for them.

I've realized anxious thoughts come and go—but they do not make or break my motherhood. One day, the fog will clear.

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Is the Belly Bandit helpful for postpartum recovery?

I personally found myself wanting more core support in my early postpartum months.

My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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