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2016 in Reflection

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.

Comments 25

  1. Thank you for this post, and for being so honest. I’m a new (ish) mum too (my daughter was born December 2015) and I can empathise with a lot of what you’re saying. Being a mum is a wonderful privilege but also terrifying and overwhelming. I’m really glad you’re feeling a lot better now. I’ve only just started to fit back into my pre-baby clothes and I’m amazed how much it’s affected my mood and confidence – I feel like me again, almost! Sorry that’s a very long comment but lots of things struck a chord.

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      Thanks for sharing and for the empathy. I’m so very glad to hear that you’re back to wearing your pre-baby clothes and that it positively affects your mood and confidence! I hope to be there myself in the not too distant future.

  2. Sharing your story is a great accomplishment, and will be so helpful to other women. And those darn brain chemicals, I certainly need to continue to control mine!

    And oh my goodness, your daughter is so beautiful! And looks so healthy! I’d say you accomplished your goals wonderfully well! Have a great new year with your family!

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  3. Thank you for this post, Erin! Post-partum life is hard, hard, hard — for all the reasons you discussed. And, being a tall woman is hard, too. Your frame is big to start with, and when you add a little padding, it’s easy to become extra-large. You are beautiful, Evelyn is beautiful, and I’m honored that you helped me with my website while you were going through all the post-partum s**t!

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  4. I am the mother of two. My first born 12/2012, second 12/2015. I had a really hard time with post partem depression with my first born. I didn’t connect with him for months. I was very depressed and finally made my way through it. With my second born I had no problems what so ever. I don’t know why, maybe because I had done it before and knew what to do? I appreciate you sharing your story and am glad you are coming out of your funk (not to make lite of your depression). I enjoy your blog and hearing all of your stories. Kind wishes to you and yours. Shelly

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      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear that you also had challenges with post-partum depression and I’m very glad to hear that you didn’t have to face it a second time.

  5. Thank you for sharing. Babies bring with them lots of love and joy but they also change everything. Im glad that you have worked your way through some of the hard times. It does get better. Your blog shows that you are a very creative person. I hope this creativity gives you an outlet to keep marching on.

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  6. Motherhood is hard. It is intense grueling work and we don’t get enough credit. I just had my second in November and I’m gonna be talking with my doctor about medication. I feel my anxiety flaring and it’s not fair to me or my family to be feeling and acting like this. The hardest thing about depression and anxiety is that it’s often only clear that that is what was going on after the episode lifts.

    The same thing happened to my hips/butt after my oldest was born. I discovered that our bodies store omega-3s there and the formation of our baby’s brain literally eats our butts. So this time, I took flax seed oil all through it and didn’t flatten out any more.

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      I’m so sorry that your anxiety is feeling out of control right now. Thanks for sharing about your experiences. It’s so true that it becomes much clearer what was happening with depression and anxiety after the fact.

  7. So glad you’re feeling better! I can’t imagine how tough it is but I’m so happy to hear that it’s easier now. Give Evelyn a hug from me!

  8. And now I’m a mom. Best goal ever. To do that is to be you and give of you 100%. No wonder it sometimes takes more.

  9. Hi Erin, I am so happy I found your website, which I love, and signed up for your blog.

    My sons are grown men now, (28 and 26) but I remember the despair I felt post partum. When I tried to talk to my physician about it, he just asked me how many times a day I cried, and then he said “that isn’t so bad”.

    It is so nice to see young mothers have opportunities to talk about their post partum experiences.

    Little Evelyn Rose is a very lucky little girl to have you as her mom.

    Blessings, Lauren

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      Thank you for the very kind words. I’m so sorry that you didn’t get the help and support from your physician that you deserved. I think there’s a lot more understanding of PPMD these days – my midwife talked to me about it at my post-baby visit, but even then it was hard for me to recognize that’s what I was going through until after I was out the other end.

  10. Thank you, beautiful one, for giving voice to these experiences. I am on the other side, and want to say to you and the other moms with postpartum depression; it will get better. I promise. You will never be the same, but a new you will emerge, a stronger, different mama you.

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  11. Wonderful post! It’s been awhile (17 years) since I had my son, but I struggled with the weight gain (40 lbs) afterwards. Now I’m in a different place – thyroid-less, which has it’s own weighty struggles. My son will be headed to college this year, which is causing some early empty nest symptoms. I’m slowly learning to accept that my body is different and I can make the clothes fit this curvy woman I’ve become and not just deal with what the stores have to offer! Here’s to a new year full of fun sewing and wonderful changes!

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      I’m sorry that you’ve had struggles. I appreciate you sharing them. One of the most amazing things about sewing our own clothes is that we get to make the clothes to fit us instead of wish that we fit into clothes!

  12. Thanks for sharing your experiences, I’m not a mother but will hopefully be one at some point. Body image, weight changes, and being “me” after a baby are topics I think about constantly. It’s nice reading stories from those on the other side. I hope you will continue with these updates, on the less “glamorous” aspects of life.

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      I’m glad you find it helpful to hear about struggles from the other side. I do plan on continuing to share such things and it’s nice to hear that they are appreciated.

  13. Thanks for sharing Erin. What we have been through as first time moms is a massive change. I’m glad you’ve come out of the rut and you’re in a better place. You did an amazing job and you’re not done! I think of you so often because I’m trying to finish up my PhD and you’re m inspiration at times. Congratulations on the new baby pattern bundle launch :)

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      Thanks! I really appreciate the sweet words. I wish you all the best in finishing up your Ph.D. You’re working on a HUGE thing and it’s going to be so very exciting (and such a relief) when you’re done! I’m so glad to be a source of inspiration. I’m always here for commiseration while you’re finishing and I’ll be in line to congratulate you when it’s done!

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