Settling in at home from the hospital after having my second baby, I felt different.
The joy and bliss were short-lived.
My hormones felt all over the place—I had highs and lows within seconds. I would easily get frustrated over the small things.
But mainly, I felt sad. I was so happy that it turned into sadness, so I cried. I was so angry that it turned into sadness so, I cried. I was so confused that I became sad that I was confused, so I cried. I basically cried a lot.
I did not know where this sadness came from. I had so many things to be grateful for. A supportive husband, family, friends and community. I knew if I asked for help, I would get it. So why did I still feel this sadness?
My sadness turned into guilt because I felt ungrateful, like I was just creating these stories in my head. I continued like this for two months because I thought it was normal. “This will pass,” I kept telling myself…until I was so overwhelmed with the sadness and guilt that it turned into anxiety.
I decided to visit my family in Toronto for a month to be in a different environment. Out of habit, I messaged the yoga studios I used to teach at requesting to be on the schedule. I was clearly not ready, and my anxiety grew. How could I hold space for people when I couldn’t hold space for myself?
In synchronicity, I saw this quote,
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” ~ Unknown
It was time I lived my yoga and put all the tools I had learned into practice.
I stopped using the children as an excuse and meditated while I was with them. I started meditating every day. It was hard. Trying to sit still with a two-month-old and a two-year-old was…challenging.
At first, my meditation was two minutes long, but it slowly got longer. I stayed consistent, and it became a part of our morning routine. I thought finding the time to meditate was going to be the tough part, but I was wrong. Once the external distractions quieted down and the inner dialogue slowed, I was left with just myself—and not in a happy place.
Sometimes it was so unbearable that I would come out of my meditation and look for a distraction. But I knew running away wasn’t going to help me. So I turned to my asana practice. I used movement and breath to settle my anxiety.
Yoga has helped me heal before and it only continues to heal me when I feel broken.
Through my meditation I discovered I was grieving. I was grieving for my old self. I now have two children, a new body, am away from my own family and friends and have a whole new way of living. It took years of self discovery to love myself—to fall in love with my old self. I had a sense of adventure, wanderlust and freedom. I would backpack from one country to another and take all sorts of yoga trainings. I was open to explore and leave whenever I desired.
Now, as a mom, I was giving so much that I felt guilty for wanting the time to just do what I wanted to do.
Not only was I was grieving because I felt I had lost my sense of self, my body was grieving for my baby’s vanishing twin, which felt like a miscarriage.
When a twin or multiple disappears in the uterus during pregnancy as a result of a miscarriage of one twin or multiple. The fetal tissue is absorbed by the other twin, multiple, placenta or the mother. This gives the appearance of a “vanishing twin.”
For example, a woman may have an ultrasound at six or seven weeks gestation. The doctor identifies two fetuses, and the woman is told she is having twins. When the woman returns for her next visit, only one heartbeat can be heard with a Doppler.
I did not view it as an issue because I was just supposed to “move on” and be grateful that one had made it. But the funny thing about yoga is that we can’t run away from our issues because they will be right there when we practice. I had the intention to “let it go” and not dwell on the past. But in order to let things go, we must accept our situation and process our emotions.
I accepted my situation, my body buried my emotions and my mind continued to tell me that I was okay. But our bodies hold onto emotion. So when I moved it shed light on places I had resolved to keep in the dark.
So I stopped resisting and allowed my emotions to wash over me. I gave myself permission to not be okay. I surrendered to my situation and my body finally relaxed. I continued to meditate and do my yoga practice every day until it got easier to be within. It was challenging, but the only way out of a dark place is through it.
To those who are silently or openly going through something similar: I hear you, I see you and I appreciate you. Learning to love ourselves is not a walk in the park. Continue to move and meditate and trust the process. Change is inevitable and it is constant. It is a lifelong journey.
This is how I applied yoga and meditation as my medicine for the baby blues:
When anxiety arises, meditate.
If it’s too overwhelming, bring yourself to the present moment by using your senses. I touched my baby’s chest to feel his heartbeat and looked into his eyes and said, “I am here.” Not did it calm me down, it also made me feel more deeply connected him.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed, move. Do a couple of poses, pranayama (breath work) or walk.
Feel what is happening.
Feel the physiological effects so you are aware that an emotion is arising. When I was sad I would feel heavy in my chest. When I was happy, I felt light in the hands. When I was angry, I would get hot in the face.
Happy or sad, always meditate.
Meditate when you have good days and when you have bad days. It is okay to be sad, don’t push it away. Just be sad. Process all emotions because those emotions are real and raw.
Talk to someone.
Meditate first to put your feelings into words. It’s okay if you feel it doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes things don’t have to make sense. You don’t have to battle this on your own. You have help. Talk to your partner, family, friends or a healthcare professional.
Author: Kaycelyn Rosales-Knight
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren