Once I made the conscious decision to become a mother, I could not stop daydreaming about showing my future child the world. Lucas and I discussed in great length about how instead of giving presents for holidays, we would go on trips. We planned to take full advantage of not having to pay for our child’s plane ticket while s/he was under the age of two. Whenever someone would say to me when I was pregnant, “Are you sad that you will not be able to travel anymore?” I would laugh at their comment and let them know that we would be traveling all of the time — that travel was our #1 priority as a family.
Then Joaquín was born and everything I so fervently believed in changed, because I changed.
I have been attempting to write this post for over six months. Every time I would write it, I would delete it. I have always tried to be as personal as possible with my readers, but this seemed too personal. The truth is: I have postpartum depression and anxiety. It came on unexpectedly after I gave birth to Joaquín. There were so many things that contributed to it, that maybe it should not have been so unexpected? I did not have the pregnancy I had dreamed of due to pre-eclampsia, I had a horrific birthing experience with my emergency c-section, and then I failed miserably at breastfeeding. On top of that, recovering from my c-section prevented me from returning to work as quickly as I had imagined I was going to. I lost a lot of patients and clients, which severely impacted my jobs that I had worked on successfully building for years with blood, sweat, and tears. Instead of thinking about where and when Joaquín’s first trip would be, I was simply thinking about making it through the day (and if I am honest sometimes through the hour). Everyone kept asking me about travel, which made the situation worse. No one could understand why a travel blogger had stopped traveling just because she had a baby. I made excuse after excuse, never telling anyone that the thought of traveling was panic attack inducing for me. Simply going to the store right down the street with Joaquín seemed like an arduous feat. This was not the “baby blues”; this was so much more and having never struggled with mental illness before I did not know what to do. I felt like I was drowning in an ocean from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep, that I could never take a deep breath or I would fall apart completely. I was angry with the world, especially my poor husband. I eventually made the decision to get professional help when my mother said to me, “The only time I ever see you smile anymore is when you are with Joaquín and it is breaking my heart.”
I decided to write this post for a multitude of reasons. I wanted to put a new face to postpartum depression and anxiety. So many people mistake it to mean that a mother has gone crazy and wants to harm her child. This could not be further from the truth. Joaquín is the love of my life and the best thing that has ever happened to me. I never in a million years would do anything to endanger him, nor do I regret his presence for a second. What I am going through has nothing to do with him. In fact, one day in the future I hope to have a second child! It was a combination of out-of-whack hormones, sleep deprivation, unfortunate events before, during and after the pregnancy, and having zero balance in my life that triggered it. I also wanted to let other mothers who are going through something similar know that they are not alone. Which is how I felt for months, until I started discovering that I had friends and knew bloggers that were also going through it. Kym, a fellow travel blogger and new mother of Our Fox Tales, just last week wrote about her struggle with postpartum depression so eloquently. Please, if you are a mother and need someone to talk to, reach out to me. I am here for anyone that seeks a listening ear and a nonjudgemental heart.
While I still think traveling is one of the greatest things about life and it will always be a huge part of my life, in this moment I have zero desire to travel. I am sure this is shocking a lot of you. I am a writer and a photographer, but I am also a healer and I know that I need to heal myself before I can begin to travel again. One of the things that helped me the most was putting Joaquín on a somewhat strict schedule at 8 weeks old (we followed the Babywise book). He and I have both thrived once there was some sort of order to what felt like chaos. I would hate to mess up his schedule with a trip and I would hate to take a step back in my healing process as well. We also lucked out big time, by finding truly the most amazing nanny that helps us out a couple of days a week. My own mother has been my biggest blessing. She treats Joaquín as if he were her own son and has shown me so much grace and compassion when I needed it the most.
Yes, I have sad days and anxious days, but thankfully they are getting less and less. I am learning to let go and embrace the fact that I cannot control everything and that most likely I will never find the balance I so desperately crave. I will never be the best Acupuncturist, the best blogger, the best photographer, but I will be the best mother to Joaquín. He is the person that made me a mother, that taught me true love pours from a bottomless heart, that there are parts of myself that need a little tweaking, and who without a doubt makes me a better person.
I want to be clear, we will travel with Joaquín. We talk about exploring the world with him every single day. His entire nursery is travel themed. It is just that we are encouraging his curiosity at home — we explore our city of Charlotte, North Carolina and the surrounding areas and that is enough for all of us right now. I know a lot of people will disagree or be disappointed with our decision, which is okay. I firmly believe that you have to do what is best for your family. Travel is not best for our family in this moment. I hope my readers who have been following me for over the last five years looking for travel inspiration do not give up on me. I promise you, travel will always be a huge part of My Beautiful Adventures and I cannot begin to express how exited I am for Joaquín’s first trip whether it is domestic or international. For now we are taking. . .baby steps.