It’s pretty easy to reflect upon the garments I made this year and I’ve already put together my Top 5 Sewing Hits and Top 5 Sewing Flops of 2016. But life is more than just clothes, and I wanted to reflect on and share about my year as a whole. This blog is kind of the story of my life, as told through clothes. There are two big, hard parts of my year that I want to share as I think that we, as a community of (mostly) women, can help each other by sharing openly about them: body image issues and post-partum depression.
I’ve always struggled with being comfortable in my body. I’ve always been tall and a bit of a klutz and got into sewing memorable clothing so that I was standing out on my own terms, not because I couldn’t blend in if I tried. (For more backstory, I’ve shared more about the relationship between my height and sewing before). It’s taken me a long time and a lot of work, but I felt like I finally reached a good place in loving my body. And then I got pregnant and had a baby and it’s turned everything on it’s head. I gained 50 pounds and, even though I’ve lost the majority of that, I still feel really uncomfortable and foreign in my body because my shape is different now. I’ve never been busty before and I’m up several cup sizes right now. I’ve never had a belly before and I certainly do now. I’ve always been pretty pear shaped and, though my hips are the same size, my butt has totally disappeared. I know that in the spectrum of women’s body shapes and sizes, what I was before is pretty dang close to what I am now, but it’s not facts that I’m struggling with right now, it’s feelings. My body feels foreign again and that has been hard for me.
Something that is making it even harder for me to feel comfortable in my body is the fact that I don’t fit in most of my clothes so I can’t play dress up every day to make myself feel self-confident. I’m working on slowly sewing myself a wardrobe that fits and flatters the body I have now. I’m really hoping that in the coming year I’ll get back to fitting into more of my old wardrobe and working on accepting that I’ll probably never fit back into everything. I’m working (yet again) on loving myself. It’s hard and I know I’m not alone in this struggle. If you have these same struggles, know that you’re also not alone.
Another big part of what has colored my year is post-partum depression. I’ve had mental health struggles in the past and knew that I was at risk for a post-partum mood disorder (PPMD). But, as is often the case in the middle of depression, I didn’t realize quite how bad things were until I made it out to the other side. In the months following Evelyn’s birth, I was mentally in a not good place. I loved her, but I didn’t see much joy in the world and I had a hard time believing that I’d ever be really happy in the same way again. Thank goodness, that’s behind me now. I am so very fortunate to have a loving and supportive partner who did everything he could to support me and get outside help so that I could get through it. Sleep has been a huge positive factor in my return to myself and I feel like in the last month, since Evelyn has slept through the night, I’ve returned to me again.
There’s so much stigma in our culture about mental health issues and stigma against women’s health issues. I wanted to share what I’ve been through so that anyone else that has struggled or is struggling with PPMD can know she’s not alone. You can and will get through it. You don’t need to get through it alone – reach out to a partner, a loved one, or a medical professional for help. Share what you’re going through with a friend. It’s okay. It’s not your fault. You can and will get through it.
Between being sick my whole pregnancy and then having a baby and then struggling through PPMD, it feels like this whole year was lost. I have a tendency to be pretty hard on myself and a need to always be getting things done. But if I look back to the goals for 2016 that I set for myself at the end of 2015, I did pretty dang good. My goals were “Q1 – Grow a baby. Q2 – Finishing growing a baby. Q3 – Adjust to life as a mom. Q4 – Be a mom.” I did them. I grew the most amazing baby girl. And now I’m a mom.