As many as 85% of women experience some form of blues or depression in the year following the birth of a baby.
We are two of those women.
We have a lot in common, and a lot in common with many of you- we craft, we sew, we cook, we clean, we cherish our families. How many of you have shared the other component with us, too?
When we found out we were about to share our third pregnancies, we felt excited and blessed. Then we realized that we may very well be sharing another round of postpartum depression. Near:far is a part of what we are doing to support ourselves and one another through this process as we journey towards wellness, towards contentment, towards happiness. Our sincere hope is that we can create a community of hope and health here, and share that with all of you.
We will be posting every Tuesday and Friday for 52 weeks, each with one photograph and three things we have on our minds, keeping the subject matter to our current pregnancies (and subsequent babies!). We’re so glad to have you join us.
More about us:
near: I’m Grace, mama to Elisabeth and James (as well as the new baby arriving this year), a classically-trained cellist, and crafter.
Motherhood has changed my life profoundly and in ways I never would have expected. It gave me focus in a way I had never experienced, even in the competitive world of classical music.
Mothering my daughter, who reflects my best and worst right back at me every day, has taught me self-discipline, courage, and compassion. She has motivated every decision in my life since her birth.
When her brother arrived four years later, after a peaceful birth at home, I was introduced to a person who has taught me in completely new ways; falling in love all over again. He has the ability to make me happy in a way that no other person has ever been able to.
However, it was after his birth that I inexplicably (in my mind) spiraled into severe depression. When I reached the lowest point, my baby was six months old and I was no longer able to get out of bed or bathe. I felt very distant from my everyday life, as though there were a veil before my eyes that I couldn’t see through clearly. Many of my friends and family were surprised to learn that it had gotten so bad because I had been “holding it together” so well.
Ultimately, it was the suggestion from a therapist that I begin to work on a practice of mindfulness that allowed me to make the connection with the direction I needed to follow. At the same time, I had stumbled onto the community of craft/photography blogs, and saw a whole group of women who were making the decision to live their lives consciously, make small and beautiful choices with their days, and most importantly, to be content.
After a little while, I decided that I could use this medium to help me in my recovery. Photography was never something I had pursued, but I researched cameras and ended up buying a DSLR. And I began to take pictures. Photography became a way for me to draw myself back into my real life, to train myself to see things as they were in that moment. It was not an easy process, and it took many months of focused attention. But it worked. I began to see my life in a new light, and I worked through the depression.
By the time my baby was 18 months old, I considered myself to be healed.
Postpartum depression and the process of healing from it has become an influential part of who I am now. I wouldn’t be taking pictures or even focusing so much on daily creativity had I not battled depression.
far: I’m Kyrie, mama to three little girls- Bunny, Birdie, and Bee, due this April. Marriage and motherhood have been the two biggest gifts in my life.
I have a history of manic depression, something I struggled with throughout my twenties. When I got married (at 29) and pregnant (that same year) I couldn’t believe the way my life was transformed. The person I had known for so long, the person that I battled with for so many years, was gone- replaced by someone who was hopeful, happy, focused, alive! I was grateful in ways I could not measure, and so full of love I thought my heart would burst.
I wanted so much to keep sharing, to keep creating that joy, that I was hoping for another child within months of having my first. Being pregnant with Birdie was such a joyful time. I was giddy with the prospect of making our family bigger, and stopped taking care of myself, thinking how easy it all was, thinking that all of my problems were behind me now. As the pregnancy progressed I let myself be carried by it, without thinking of what might come next.
Because what came next still surprised me. I felt so much pressure- from myself, from family and friends- for Birdie’s babyhood to be as blissful and as simple as Bunny’s. And yet it wasn’t. I tried to ignore it, and it got worse. We moved when Birdie was six months old, and it got worse. It felt like I had no control, that the demon was back. I was full of ugliness, and it started to rear its head even in the way I dealt with my husband, my children.
I don’t think my family and friends know even now how hard it was. I tried my best to never let anyone else see. I was entrenched in the dailyness of my depression, the ugliness that had seeped its way into every thought and action. I couldn’t find distance from it, or a way out.
Slowly, I began to use my camera to take a step back. To see again. To appreciate the beauty around me, even when I felt there was no beauty inside of me. To see how amazing my daughters were, what a gift my life still was. It was very slow. It was such hard work. But I did it, and now I can see again. It took 18 long months before I really felt that I had shaken it. I still have my days. But so many, many more are now full of joy and beauty.
Focusing so much on photography led to some other interesting things- I started to photograph other people’s families, other people’s babies, other people’s weddings (all on hiatus now so I can put my energy into the new baby). But by far the greatest thing it led to was my own wholeness, something I will always be thankful for.