I have a gazillion pics from the first few months. Each one I am clearly in love. No matter how I was feeling I was in snuggle heaven.
In the hospital my tears were of indescribable JOY! I cried when the other 5 members of the Howell team walked in or out of my room. I felt so loved, thankful, and still in disbelief that we were holding one last baby!
The best part about blogging is hearing how a post encouraged another. After writing this post, the common thread in each story shared since has been the degree of "alone" they felt. Also imbedded in that loneliness was a fear of talking about it. It was out of the flow of those conversations, that this list of helps were born.
Here are a few ways to love the new Mommas in your life. Obviously you know your friend or the baby momma in your life better than I do, so do what meets them where they are. These are just some tips and maybe things we don't think about when desiring to help a mother out.
1. Company & Coffee
If the lonely feelings are intense, she may need you to come be in her home. There is great comfort in having your company.
DO come to hold the baby while she takes 30 min for herself. Offer to wipe down the kitchen or run the vacuum. Bring her coffee or lunch or ice cream. Fill up her water bottles and maybe offer to take any little kids outside. She may ask you to do nothing but sit and relieve the loneliness. Just knowing help is close by does wonders for a sunk spirit!
DON'T make the conversation about your problems. Its hard I get it! But she doesn't need more trouble stirring in her heart. If she asks then share a little of whats going on in your life, she may appreciate a brief update to get outside of her world!
2. Listen & Love
It's tempting to want to fix hurting friends! We have lots of words, past experience, and faith to offer. She needs to cry and be heard.
DO listen really well just to listen... not to fix or relate. Point her to truth and remind her that this is a season and the light is coming even though the tunnel feels long.
DON'T share sermons, pod casts, or give her a reading list of self-help books. She can barely listen to her family asking whats for lunch! Hold off on saying things like, "I know this is hard but just think of how many women you can relate too now!" She isn't thinking ministry in these moments, shes thinking survival.
Remember this is a time sensitive deal full of imbalance and out of control hormones.
3. Prayer & Peace
DO pray for her safety. Safety in her thoughts and in her actions. Pray that she has some breaks in the chaos going on inside her mind to see and feel some peace. She may say it is hard to grab onto hope. This feeling is weird. I knew God was there but I felt a thick fog between us.
DON'T pray for her to have more faith! Like my Doctor told me, you can not pray this depression away. She doesn't need to feel like a spiritual failure because her body is out of whack. Faith is life-giving and healing but postpartum depression is about chemical imbalance, not devotions.
4. Sunlight & Songs
DO open up her blinds and let the sunlight in! I was in such a funk that when sunlight hit my face or body my entire being felt fed. I knew I was sick and exhausted when the light literally filled me up.
Bring a comfy chair outside where she can sit and watch the kids play. If she is healed from delivery, taking a short stroll can do wonders for feeling like a person again. Put on some music. Her thoughts need a distraction from the constant dark cloud!
DON'T force her to exercise. Jogging may have helped her in the past but what she needs is a nap.
Later, when she is better she will be able to share her story. It takes time. Be patient and consistent while she wades through the valley.
Most importantly, encourage her to see her Doctor to talk through where she is at emotionally. Sometimes this depression can be dangerous to both Momma and baby. Stay close and remind her that the fog will lift in time. While she waits and does her best to love the baby cuddled in her arms, comfort can help to heal and speak hope to her heart.