Friday, October 13, 2017

Giving your highly sensitive child a sibling

When my son was around 1 1/2 I started thinking of having a second child. I knew for highly sensitive people having one child might just be enough for their energy, nerves and need of alone time but I always wanted to have two kids.

So i went ahead and became pregnant.
At the same time i started to study do-in yoga which became my mental and physical life saver for the next months and years to come. My second pregnancy was very smooth mainly also due to the fact that i did daily do-in yoga and meditation practice. No breech baby again. Everything was running very smoothly.

Only that my highly sensitive child noticed very early on in my pregnancy that something will change soon. And he didn't like that. His behaviour became rather hard to handle. It didn't help that he also was in the face of a 2 year old toddler who only knows "no - i want to do it my way".
The bigger my belly grew the more aggressive my toddler became. He started to hit me, my husband, other kids. He had tantrums. Bad tantrums. There were days were I feared to go anywhere with him because of his emotional aggressive outbreaks.
Only months later I realised that he was upset and suffering. He felt the change coming and was scared. He had been my one and only. We were so close. Day and night together. Slept together. And now there was someone in my belly. I had to say no to carrying him, I was tired, sometimes cranky with him or just exhausted. He felt rejected and maybe not loved enough. He had big emotions and I had to learn myself how to teach him to handle those emotions. I had never learned myself how to handle my big emotions. It was, is, still a learning curve for both of us.

Jump forward, I had the perfect home birth I always wanted and recovered very quickly.

But the day my second son was born was also the day I partially lost my oldest. It was the day he started to sleep at night with his father and became very attached to his father.

The first year with both kids was a whirlwind. My baby was luckily a very easy baby. But my toddler was incredible jealous, aggressive and emotional. I was also emotional. Some days we only survived. Some days were good. I had to learn to handle two kids, to find a new routine.
I realised that two kids is not 1 + a bit more work, its 2. It's no more alone time, it's both parents being always busy with one child. It's no more couple time. It's 2 (3 with the husband) people that constantly want your energy and attention. It was often simply too much for me. I had too little or no time to myself.

After one year it got better. We found our routine. My oldest became less jealous.
Looking back is was a tough but also nice year. We spent most of our time outside (easiest way for me to handle two kids). My baby couldn't walk yet and was still easy to handle. I learned a lot. About myself, about my kids. I learned a lot about my emotional triggers, my limits.

Only after that year I really realised how much my oldest suffered from partially loosing me. And also I had grief from loosing my bond with him.
By now that my youngest is almost 2 I did a lot of work to repair the bond to my oldest. He's still very much a daddies boy but I am trying to dedicate time to him, time just for the two of us.

Do I regret having another child? No. Could i have done it smoother? Maybe.
If I had my first child at a younger age I would have chosen for a larger age gap between the kids.

I love my two boys so much. They are both very different. They teach me different things. They show me other parts of myself. It was also good that our second took attention away from our first born. So our first born had more room to breath and develop who he is. They now started to play together. They hate and love each other. They always ask about the other. They share, they fight, they form a bond for lifetime. I am happy they have each other.

My tips for highly sensitive parents that go from one child to multiple:

- account for big feelings from your oldest child, prepare him, make special time just with him, reassure your love for him, teach him to express his emotions with words
- account for your big feelings (being overwhelmed, being stressed, being tired/exhausted) - look after your health well, eat well, do gentle exercise such as yoga, do meditation (whatever works for you), breath
- get enough sleep
- try to get everyday some alone time (even if only at the toilet)
- get help with the household/kids
- get the kids and yourself outside (makes all the difference to a mood)
- think about what the right age gap between your kids is best for you (most people just think of their kids "oh it would be nice that they are close together so that they can play with each other". But what would work best for you?)
- accept that some days are just about survival
- remember that everything is passing (the hard times but also the beautiful time when your kids will be so small).

Only when they are small you can kiss them, cuddle them and hug them as much as you like. Soon they will be out of the house and don't care about a cuddle from you. Enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Balancing work and kids

I have been absent from this blog for a long time. I was too busy to write. In the meanwhile I had another boy (now almost 2), I studied to become a do-in yoga teacher and recently i returned to the corporate world meaning I started to work again. I thought being a stay home mum with 2 small kids was hard but honestly being a working mum sucks! Big time, especially if you are highly sensitive. I feel i am never enough. I have too little time with my kids, too little time at work and too little time left for myself (and according to my husband, too little time being a wife). I realised being highly sensitive and juggling work stress and home stress with small kids is super draining. I feel often so frustrated and get annoyed or angry. Especially since I realised that my office job is not fulfilling at all. I feel I am waisting all my time being behind a computer with problems that are not important. Highly sensitive people have a much stronger need to work in a field they believe matter. I guess for many other people an office job that pays the bills is ok. But for a highly sensitive  person it's not enough. I want to use my special gifts professionally and do a job that really matters to others and this world. Luckily because of my do-in yoga study I know what i want to do with my professional life. But it means giving up a semi well paying office job to become self employed in a total different field with no certainty of income. I am scared. I am scared to say goodby forever to an office job, a stable income, a certain lifestyle. Being a stay home mum has told me that this is also not fulfilling. That I need to do something professionally that fulfils me. I know what. But I need time to study more and I feel i never have time next to the kids and my office job. I am doing yoga everyday and still I get easily overwhelmed. The stress at work is killing me and when I come home to two crying and needy kids my threshold for stimuli and emotions is totally reached. What have i tried to survive:
- yoga (I developed a special series for highly sensitive people with many grounding and emotion releasing exercises)
- getting enough sleep (hard to achieve with long to-do lists)
- making a plan how to stop my office job and work in a more fulfilling profession
- realising what my ideal balance is of work hours and hours with my kids (meaning i need to work less hours. Still have to talk to my manager to ask for less hours)
- sometimes putting hubby before kids (if he's happy he's much more likely to help with kids and household and luckily he's been very helpful since i started working)
- moving to a calmer, greener and more kid friendly neighbourhood outside the city (has done wonders on me and the highly sensitive kids - need to post about this separately)
- accepting life can't be perfect all the time (sometimes I shout, sometimes we eat pizza and no self cooked meal, the kids clothes are never ironed and my hair is never nicely made)
- organising help: babysitter, cleaning lady, grocery delivery and grandparents that fly in from other countries to help out
- trying to accept that its a journey to find my balance. I am not there yet. I might loose it again.
- trying to feel and realise what my outside living and work situation do to my mood (next step is to make changes to life to feel better).

Let me know how you are handling working and small kids? I was 4 years at home. In retrospective it was great but i was also often overwhelmed with being alone with two kids. Is being a stay home mother also not ideal for highly sensitive people? Where's the correct balance of time at work/time at home for a highly sensitive mother. Love to get some comments from you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Managing HSC toddler meltdowns

The most stressful part of the day with my 20 month old is leaving or coming back home. Stressful for me and him. We live in an apartment block and generally my son cries all the way from our flat door to the building door. When we leave because he wants to stay home, when we return because he does not want to go back inside. No matter what tricks and strategies I tried he cries on top of his lungs. My neighbor even mentioned the other day that she can hear him being home during the day. Aehmm....
Frequent toddler meltdowns are normal. If you have a highly sensitive toddler who cries about a variety of reasons on top of the general toddler tantrums you might feel like you live in a house of tears. Lego blocks that don't fit on top of each other, a jumper that scratches, a noisy environment - all reasons for highly sensitive children to have a meltdown.

To keep my own sanity i developed a couple of strategies to deal with those meltdown. I hope you find them useful too.

1. Adjust your expectations
What are your expectations toward your toddler?
Toddlers are not mini adults. Tantrums and saying no to everything are normal and important for their development. They easily get overwhelmed with emotions and need an adult to help them calm down. If you have a highly sensitive child he/she is especially easily overstimulated and emotions go wild.
At the same time we should also ask ourselves if our expectations not influence the reality. If you constantly talk about how bad your child is sleeping, chances are high he/she is a bad sleeper. If we expect that our child is helpful, most likely he/she will be.

2. Control your own emotions
When emotions go wild they can easily spill over to us and we can get frustrated and angry. Especially if we are highly sensitive as well. Always remember you are the adult. For me it helps to breath in deeply a couple of times in those moments, to not think about what onlookers might think and to try to talk and act as calm as possible.

3. Foster autonomy and give choices
A lot of toddler tantrums happen because they feel they don't have any control. In fact a toddler day, from the time they leave the house, to what they eat or with whom they play, is highly controlled by their parents. Giving my child more autonomy and choices has helped to reduce his meltdowns. For instance I let him help me when I cook and we created a self service area for him in the kitchen where he can take snacks and a drink whenever he wants. Let's say you are dressing your child, ask her what she wants to wear first, jacket or shoes. Or when changing diapers you can give your toddler the option to stand or lie. 

4. Respectful communication
Children deserve respect just as any adult. I often lower myself on my child's height to tell him something. Empathy has been really key to me to make meltdowns less stressful. I never ignore my child tantrums. I don't leave him alone. When he has a tantrum I try to name his feelings and offer my shoulder to cry on. E.g. I say "I see that you are upset because we had to leave the playground. You wanted to continue playing but we are late for dinner and we had to go now. If you want I can give you a hug." For us empathy really works. Usually he stops crying then, gets a hug and life continues. I also feel my HSC needs some warnings of what is going to happen next. For instance if I bring him to bed I tell him. "In 5 minutes I bring you to bed. Do you want to look at one more book?" After looking at the book I tell him. "Now it's time for bed. Let's say goodnight to the book etc."

5. Avoiding stressful situations
This is key to me for my life with a HSC. Especially because I am highly sensitive as well and I know if I am anxious it's  likely my son will get anxious too. I try to not go shopping with my child in rush hour, I avoid crowded playgroups, I try to not take him out when he's hungry or tired. I always carry a snack for him knowing that a low blood sugar level makes a HSP moody.
And let's not forget us parents. I try to look after myself, get enough rest and relaxation time, so that my emotions don't go wild.

Going slow helps a lot. At the moment I am reading a book about mindfulness and meditation for children to help them control their emotions. I think this could be a great tool for HSCs. My son is still a bit too young for it but once we get started I will post if the experience.

Still, some meltdowns can't be avoided. Like the ones when I leave the house. This face will also pass. I have to suck it up or move to a house that doesn't have direct neighbors who can complain.

Maybe one of you has the ultimate tip for me? How do you deal with your HSC toddler meltdowns? 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Staying at home or working - finding balance as a mother

Being a housewife seems to be a state of our parents generation. Something we abolished with the women's movement, at least for highly educated women. In all honesty, for most women this is not even a choice anymore. Who can still afford our preferred lifestyle with a single income? For long I hated the term housewife or stay-at-home mum. I couldn't identify with it. But at some point I had to face that this was what I chose. Yes I chose. Still to the disbelieve of many of my friends and some relatives.

Being highly sensitive has been one of the main driving forces behind the decision to stay home while my children are very young. As many HSPs I am longing for a work that fulfills me. For a job that is meaningful, that makes a difference in this world.
While I have already tried many different jobs I just haven't found that meaningful space yet in the professional world. Even before my son was born I knew that I would find it much more meaningful to be there for him than going back to the office, doing one project after the other that never made any real difference.
When I was pregnant I decided that I will stay at least a year home with my baby. It was a decision of the heart. Given Dutch maternity law that meant giving up my job and income with no real prospect of returning.
I never regretted that decision. I still sometimes face envy and lack of understanding for this choice (How can a highly educated woman choose kitchen and diapers over a career?).  I have to say I am lucky that my husbands income is enough for us and that I had this choice.

After my son was born I was so overwhelmed that for many months the thought of going back to work was anyway totally strange for me (I posted in another article about my baby blues). Since his birth I have never missed my job or the office. Being a stay home mum is sometimes very lonely and I miss my family who lives abroad but I never missed the corporate life. I like being there for my son. I like being able to structure the day how I want. I love the fact that I can be outside a lot. I love that I have time for the things that are important for me, like being creative with my child, cooking healthy meals, doing extended stays with my family in Germany.
For the first time in many years I went to all birthdays of my family in Germany. I have time to go slow with my child. I can structure our day HSP friendly. I know if I would work I would be under much more stress. Stress is killing for me as a HSP. I know my family would be the one suffering for my stress load. I love that I don't have to rush everywhere. I love that I have the energy and time for attachment parenting. If I would work I don't think I could manage to get up a couple of times a night to breastfeed my child. I find it important that my child spends more time with his parents/mother than with otheir caretakers.
While I hate the label housewife, being one has enabled me to life my values.

A year passed and I am still at home. Is it fulfilling? Yes and no. I don't miss my old job but I also know that this is not my calling. I know that another meaning to my life is waiting for me.
Is it forever? No. It's sometimes a very tough job. Spending all day with my toddler brings me often to my limits. Now after 20 months I feel I need to slowly focus on something different. Quitting my job to be with my son was only the first decision of the hearth. It's a bit as if this period opened me to my inner self. I realized that I don't want to go back to my professional career. If I spend time away from my family I want to do it for something I really believe in. Something meaningful. Will this earn money? I don't know. Not for now. But I believe if you do what you love you will be successful.

I haven't regretted my decision to be a stay-at-home mum for a while. I know other times will come again and then I will be thankful for the luxury to see my little kids growing up.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sleep baby sleep - Getting and keeping your highly sensitive child asleep

Before I had a baby I never imagined that sleep would be the largest issue in our newly found family. Sleep for us and for our son. Our little highly sensitive son only really slept well the first week after birth. After that it was and is incredible hard to get him to sleep and keep him asleep. An osteopath, we visited, said once about him: "It's as if someone put the light on and forgot to install a switch off button."
Since he's born he's incredible alert. His eyes constantly look around and take in everything. I remember when he was just a couple of weeks old. I would see his eyes following everything in a room while other babies would just stare at the ceiling. He takes in so much of his surroundings that it's incredible hard for him to switch off.
Until this day (19 months) he never fall asleep without our assistance and he never slept through the night. The best he ever slept was waking up two times in a twelve hour stretch. This happened twice since he's born. Generally he wakes up every two to three hours a night and needs rocking or breastfeeding to go back to sleep. When he was around three months he went through a period of waking up every hour at night. This lasted a couple of months. 
Contrary to other babies my son would never fall asleep in his pram or in the car. He rather cried hysterically in both.
In his first weeks he would only sleep at my breast during the day. Sometimes when I was lucky I could detach him and hold him in my arms. The moment I would put him down in his bed his eyes would fly open. It felt like I was constantly trapped on the couch with him.
He was also a short sleeper. A nap hardly ever lasted longer than 30 minutes. After he became 14 months and switched to one nap a day that luckily changed and he's sleeping now around 90 minutes in one go.

Here are a couple of things that helped us to get him to sleep. We are not comfortable to sleep-train him, which means most of the time letting him cry to sleep. So these are very gentle, natural methods.

1. Movement
Our son needed movement to fall asleep. Not just a little rocking. No, me walking up and down the room while rocking him quite hard.
Luckily soon after his birth we discovered that he would sleep incredible well in a carrier, strapped to my body. I often had a walk with him, fresh air and nature for me, while he slept in the carrier.
It never worked though to make him sleep in the carrier and then put him into a bed. He would immediately recognise the difference and wake up. If i didn't feel like walking around with him in the carrier, I would rock him to sleep and he would sleep on my body. Most of the times I would also sleep. This was a great way for me to recover from the many night wakings.
Until the age of one it was impossible to put him into a bed for his day naps. He would wake up immediately. So he always slept on me.
When he was six months we discovered that he would sleep in a baby hammock during the day. It swings and because of the shape he felt very cozy in this. We had a Nonomo, this product really saved my life. Finally I could use his nap time to do other things.

2. Blocking out stimulation

HSPs are very sensitive to any stimulation. In order to help our son fall asleep we try to block out all stimuli. We bought very dark curtains for our bedroom. No music, no TV before bedtime.
A carrier is great when you are out and about. It provides a save space without stimuli close to mama or papa. When we rock him to sleep during the day we cover him with a blanket with a hood that blocks his eyesight (we used Trendy Wrapping by Snoozebaby). We took this item everywhere with us.

3. Bed-sharing
Bed-sharing is not for everyone but for me it was just the most obvious way I should sleep with my baby. It makes breastfeeding at night much easier and it allows me to drift back the sleep almost
instantly after my son wakes up and starts to feed at night. Initially we had bought a co-sleeper but somehow our son knew the difference between lying in the co-sleeper and lying directly next to me very well. So he didn't settle in the co-slepper and he ended up in our bed. In the first four weeks he was sleeping on my belly, after that he slept snuggled up next to me. No he's claiming his own space but still touching me with his hands. As a result of bed-sharing our sleep became totally synchronised. Sometimes I wake up minutes before he wakes up. I love to sleep next to him, knowing he's all cozy and save. I feel though bed-sharing is not a short term activity. We try from time to time to have him sleep in his own bed but usually by the middle of the night he makes his way into ours. It might take some years before he voluntarily wants to move to his own bed.

4. Sleep routine
Now, we are not strict routine followers but we have a nap and night sleep routine and I believe that helps him to settle into sleep time. For his naps we always sing the same song to him. For his night time our routine has changed. When he was a small baby I would give him a bath, do baby massage and then breastfeed him to sleep. After some time I realised that a bath rather excited him, so I dropped that. At some point he was also to active for baby massage. These days I spend some time with him in the bathroom before sleep time, changing him, singing a night song, burning lavender essential oil, just quiet time to come down from the day. After that I breastfeed him in the dark bedroom and wait until he's asleep.
He's usually going at a similar time to bed and down for his nap. There's a window though depending on summer and winter and his tiredness. I don't believe you have to put your child to bed at the exact same time each day.

5. Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding makes babies sleepy and it's a great tool to get a baby to sleep. When I breastfeed him at night he's back to sleep in two minutes, when I rock him it takes much longer. At the same time though breastfed babies tend to wake up more often at night as they are used to drink at night. So it's a double sword. For me breastfeeding has been a great tool to bond with my HSC and to give him a save space. I don't really mind the downside of frequent night wakings.

Still with all our efforts our son wakes up very frequently at night. At times I was tired myself, I didn't know how I will manage during the day.
Here are some things that helped me as a mother through the tough periods of sleep deprivation:

1. Making sleep a priority
At some point I prioritised my sleep over everything else (but my babies wellbeing). So I slept whenever I could. I slept during the day with my baby. I still do actually. I went early to bed. I took any opportunity to get a nap.

2. Sharing responsibilities 
It seems hard to share if you are breastfeeding and that's the best way to get your baby back to sleep at night. You can't just say to your husband "Now, you give your breasts." But if I had no energy I would give our son to my husband and he would carry him to sleep.

2. Eating healthy
If you don't get enough sleep, you especially need to make sure that you have enough healthy meals and snacks to keep your energy running.

3. Going outside  
For me it always helped to get a bit of fresh air and sunlight when I was really tired.

5. Avoiding parent guilt
When my son was little I paid too much attention to general baby advise and stories of others. Why were all other babies sleeping well but mine not? Was it my own fault that my baby didn't sleep well? Is it because I never taught him to self-settle? Am I creating bad habits by rocking or breastfeeding him to sleep? Everyone else seemed to find it normal to let their child cry to sleep, while I find it cruel. Luckily my husband is from Turkey, a country where rocking babies to sleep is normal and letting them cry to sleep is not that common. And (contrary to popular western advise) they all learn to sleep by themselves and sleep through the night. It just takes longer than in western cultures. So I ditched all advise, accepted that I had a difficult sleeper and just followed my instinct.

At 19 months my son is still far away from sleeping without assistance but I am positive that he will one day. Until then I am cherishing the moments we have together, there's nothing more beautiful than holding a sleeping child. I know, him sleeping next to me will be the most beautiful memories of my time with him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The ego and the mind

I always wondered what people meant when they say a person is not authentic. Can it be that a person is not authentic when ones ego governs over your heart?

Lately I am observing how my ego is battling with my heart. I see them fighting, throwing arguments against feelings. I almost enjoy to watch this battle as I am happy that for once I can distinguish my hearts' wishes from my ego.

I believe that following your heart is the way to living a fulfilling life and following your destiny. Ideally ego and heart are at balance and one is aware which one is speaking. To me it's essential to anyone to follow their heart but it's very important to HSPs as we are longing for a meaningful life. The happiest and most well balanced HSPs I have met are those who at some point in their life followed their heart, dismissed what everyone else said, went on usual paths to follow their dream. When it comes to work that often means for HSPs to step away from the typical corporate career ladder, take pay cuts but do something they experience as very meaningful.

Currently my ego and heart are battling over the question if I should resume my career in the corporate world or stay longer home with my son and slowly over time find or create more meaningful work. My ego brings to the table that having a job in a well known company sounds so much better than being a housewife. It's much more appreciated to work than to stay home with the kids. My ego longs for the high income that would enable me again to buy anything I want while now I have to say very often no. It might be a good example for my child to see his mother making a career. "Really?" asks my heart. "Isn't it a better example to be authentic, to be happy, to devote yourself to what you love?" My heart tells me that I love being home with my son. I love having time for him, seeing him grow up. I love that I don't have to rush all the time like those who have a career. I find it important that I am there for him. That he doesn't go all week to a creche. It's important to me that I am the one raising him and giving him my values and that I don't leave this to someone else. If I could choose between playing with my son and sitting behind a desk I choose playing with him. And so on they battle ...

Lately whenever I take a big decision I ask myself if I would do the same if I were to die in two years. After all, our time on this earth is limited and I don't want to have too many regrets at the end of my life. So far I am very happy with the decisions I took under this background. Those usually follow my heart.
I wish that one day my ego and heart can be complementing each other, that they don't fight. That my ego would speak my hearts wishes. I would like that my children see me as a balanced person who found her meaning in life.
Still a long way to go but I feel I started on this path and that there's fulfilment ahead if I can stay truth to myself.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Overcoming a long baby blues

A couple of months after the birth of my son I saw a flyer at the consultatiebureau (dutch child doctor) titled: "Are you not seeing the pink clouds with your new baby?".
By that time I saw the pink clouds but they had been grey for many weeks.

Before I had even been pregnant a lot of my friends thought I will be a great natural mother. Now I am, but after my son was born I didn't think so.
His entrance to our family came with a so many changes to my life that I felt miserable for many weeks. I recall that I cried night after night. That I would have no energy, that I was sleep deprived, that I didn't want to have any visitors, that I felt helpless at understanding my son's signals and that I didn't feel right in my new role.
I admired other mothers who were out and about with their baby six weeks after birth, shopping, looking fabulous. I was happy if I had a shower in the morning.
It took me two weeks to leave the house for the first time (for a short walk), five months before I went with my son grocery shopping; six months before I had the time and energy to cook for our family or take care of any other household duties.
Was it a long lasting baby blues or even postnatal depression?

Now in retrospective there are some factors that contributed to me feeling miserable after birth:

1) Heavy birth
As proud as I am to have given birth to a breech baby naturally without pain mediation, I have to admit it was a heavy birth for my body. It took all my energies and it took a long time to recover.
While I tried to rest as much as possible after the birth, I just didn't do enough resting. Luckily I had all the help I could need in my household but only a couple of weeks after his birth I started to sleep with him during the day. Also, I considered my diet to be healthy but some months after birth I found a different diet that was working much better for me as a HSP and gave me more energy for the day. All in all I feel only ten months after the birth my body had regained its full energy level.

2) Hormonal changes
During pregnancy I felt amazing. When my estrogen and progesterone hormone levels took a big drop after childbirth, I felt like the sun in my life just went down and a heavy grey sky appeared instead.

3) Lack of sleep
This was the one thing that hit me hardest after giving birth. As any other HSP I need a lot of sleep. I was used to 9-10 hours sleep at night. Now with breastfeeding my baby every two hours at night I was simply getting far too little sleep. Only after some weeks I made sleep my biggest priority and went early to bed and slept with my son during the day.

3) Lack of personal space
Out of a sudden there was this little bundle that needed me 24 hours. That was constantly crying for my attention. That needed to be close to me at all times. I struggled hard with this one. No more time just for me, to unwind, to centre myself. Very hard for HSPs. My son always wanted to be close. He would cry like murder whenever we put him down. He didn't want to be in his bed, his pram, on a mat. He had to be in our arms. Nonstop. He was crying a lot the first weeks. I think also due to me and him not finding our balance. As a HSP his cries touched me deeply. They felt like needles in my body. I could not let him cry. So he was sleeping on my body, we held him constantly, we carried him around in a carrier. He was with me 24/7. Even though I missed my previous freedom, I also felt I had to be close to him. It was a paradox. I missed my personal space but every time I would leave him my heart would cry out for him and I would miss him.

4) Lack of privacy
Looking back I feel after the birth was very little space for me to bond with my child. The first couple of days we had to stay in the hospital, in a shared room with another mother. When we came home a lady from the kraamzorg came for a week every day, then my mother stayed with us for a week and after that my mother-in-law stayed with us for three weeks. While all these people helped me greatly in the household and with my son, they also came with opinions and recommendations about baby care and intrusion in my privacy.
While some mothers wouldn't mind the additional people in the house and just be glad for the help, for me as a HSP, they represented an invasion in my privacy and I didn't feel comfortable in my own home.
There was no space for us to just be alone, to snuggle up in bed skin to skin, to rest during the day. There was no space for me to follow my instincts and develop my own parenting style with all these opinions in my own house.
When they all had gone, I finally had space and time to bond with my child and things went much better.

5) Too much information
When you have a child out of a sudden everyone around you feels like they own the right to give you advice on child upbringing. Not even your family: the neighbour, the doctor, your friends, countless books on the right baby care, google etc. I bought a lot of books on the topic, from attachment parenting to Gina Ford. Total extremes. I would google everything. Which parenting style should I follow? As a HSP I wanted to do it right, I had high expectations on me as a mother. I felt lost. Luckily in the end I trashed most of these books, stopped googling everything and followed my own instinct.

6) Breastfeeding problems
Already during pregnancy I had set my mind on the fact that I wanted to breastfeed. Basta. Well after birth I found out that it isn't so easy. I encountered numerous problems, had horrible injuries on my nipples and was in pain for weeks. I remember especially the nights when I woke up just feeling in pain. I was fearing the next time that my son wanted to breastfeed. There were times when I had horrible feelings towards him because his feeding brought me pain. Now I feel so ashamed thinking back of my emotions in those moments. Nonetheless, being very stubborn,  I just didn't want to give up. I had set my mind on breastfeeding. Luckily I got amazing help from La Leche League. After ten weeks the problems were gone and breastfeeding became the easiest and most convenient thing on earth.

Roughly after three months the sky started to change, the clouds turned pink. They even turned extremely bright pink filled with love for my son and my new role as a mother. These days I sometimes think I am the happiest mother on earth. I even decided to not return to work just so that I can spend my time with my son. 

What got me out of my postnatal misery?

A) A supportive husband 
My husband was an incredible support during those months. Not only did he do everything in our household after he came from work from cooking to doing the washing, he also listened to me crying every night and had words of support. When I felt pain breastfeeding but didn't want to give up he told me "Don't worry about the future. Just think of tomorrow. If you can do it one more day, you can carry one." Somehow this advice helped me a lot. 

B) Going outside and gentle exercise 
For many weeks I hardly went out with my child. He was crying so much, that I feared the looks of the neighbors. It was stupid really, as once I took him into the baby carrier and started walking outside he would calm down. When I discovered that, we both started to go for walks in the nature. It did us both good. I also did a mother and baby yoga course which gave me a lot of good energy. 

C) Meeting like minded mothers 
With that I don't mean other mothers who were depressed, no other mothers who followed a similar parenting style and just had similar experiences with breastfeeding, sleeping issues or finding their place.

D) Following my instinct 
My baby wanted to be carried around, he wanted to breastfeed often, he wanted to sleep with me and I let him. We were one unit. After the initial difficulties with this close contact I let it be and I experienced a love and joy I have never felt before. I read that breastfeeding and close contact to your baby releases endorphins and oxytocin which makes you happy and calm. It was true, I went from low to a high. From baby blues to baby heaven. 

E) Time
After all I needed time to get comfortable in my new role as a mother. Time to get to know my baby. Time to adjust to the change. Time to find our rhythm. HSPs have a harder time with change and need longer to adjust. So it was. Time heals everything. 

Looking back it was a hard couple of months but I found my place as a mother. Today I am surrounded by smiling pink clouds. 

If you had a similar experience I would love to hear your comments and what helped you to overcome the baby blues.