POSTPARTUM RESOURCES

Motherhood Unfiltered: Shari’s Journey From Pregnancy To Postpartum Recovery

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Shari Fox | Postpartum Recovery

 

Imagine navigating the thrilling highs and unexpected lows of pregnancy and childbirth, only to face a postpartum journey that challenges everything you thought you knew. Join us as Shari Fox takes us on an emotional rollercoaster through her pregnancy journey, from high-energy surf sessions to navigating intense nausea and the immense changes of motherhood. In this candid episode, she shares the raw realities of her 40-hour labor, the unexpected physical challenges that followed, and how she found resilience and strength amid overwhelming physical and emotional pain. Discover how Shari redefined her understanding of support, found her way back to joy, and the profound lessons she learned about trusting her own instincts and building her village. Shari’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of finding your own rhythm in the chaos of life. Tune in to hear how she turned from surviving to thriving and what she wishes she had known along the way.

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Motherhood Unfiltered: Shari’s Journey From Pregnancy To Postpartum Recovery

Hi there, Shari. Thank you so much for joining Kelly and me here. We’re so happy you’re here.

Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Let’s jump right in. Tell us about your pregnancy. What was it like and what was your experience?

Pregnancy

The first thing that comes to mind is it happened fast. I thought that I’d have a whole lot more time to prepare for getting pregnant. I went from being active to being immobilized quickly. That was a shock to my body. One week I was leading a retreat in El Salvador and trekking all over and doing surf lessons, and then about three weeks later, all I could eat was crackers and I was nauseous. That was about the first three months of my being pregnant. It was a big change to my body.

The rest of the pregnancy, from what I recall now, was pretty pleasant. I enjoyed the second trimester. As the third trimester was coming, I was under a lot of stress. My nesting instinct kicked in and I had my husband disassemble the light fixtures in our rented apartment and clean them. We were trying to build a house. It was delayed and delayed. I had a lot of anxiety during that third trimester. I also ran my own business. I was looking at how to take maternity leave. Where are we going to live? Where is this baby going to live? I lived far away from my family. We had no family and we had just moved to Charleston. We had no friends.

 

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Shari Fox | Postpartum Recovery

 

I think that third trimester, the warmth, the glow and joy of feeling the baby’s first kicks in the second trimester, funny there was a kick, faded in the third trimester. I remember telling my baby at the time, I couldn’t imagine what he was going to look like, but I remember telling him, “This is what anxiety feels like and you’re going to feel this after you’re born,” or “This is what joy feels like, or this is what anger feels like.” It was the only way that I could make peace with the amount of emotions that I was feeling.

How did you process all that change from going from being very active to moving to everything? How did you handle that while you were pregnant?

I offloaded a lot of what I was going through to everything else in my life. I didn’t realize how much strain that was for me emotionally, psychologically, and physically. It was like I want to have this baby as naturally as possible. I try to live my life in a way that is holistic and organic. How can I take care of the baby? How can I take care of other people in my family that had a lot of needs?

At that point in time, we had a big medical crisis with someone we were close to. I wasn’t aware that I was offloading my experience onto other parts of my life. I was pregnant with a huge belly. I gained 50 pounds. I was sweeping the house that we were building, trying to get water off of it to finish the roof. Everything was put on the outside world. I had so little awareness of what I was going through.

Do you think at this point was trying to be present with where you were, had you given much thought to what your postpartum experience could be like or was going to be like?

I remember, and I laugh about this, that as I was approaching my due date, my husband and I were like, “There are two of us and I’ll be one of them. No problem.” I thought of the innocence and insanity in which we entered into parenthood. I figured the hard part was giving birth, and after I gave birth, it would be smooth sailing.

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Shari Fox | Postpartum Recovery

Postpartum Recovery: I figured the hard part was giving birth. And after I gave birth, it would be smooth sailing.

 

That’s a common thought among so many women. That’s something Kelly and I hear and have talked about a lot ourselves as well.

Childbirth

That’s a perfect segue to how was childbirth. What was that experience like for you?

It was everything. All of the highs and all of the lows. I gave birth at a midwife center and I was in labor for about 40 hours. I went into labor at Lowe’s looking at paint samples. The last four hours were active pushing. I can easily say I was completely empty at that point but I wasn’t medicated. I received no assistance from the Tosin. In the eight hours of laboring before that, I was in and out of a birthing pool, in a shower, standing, sitting in every position possible. I went into a trance. I had done a lot of hypnobirthing practice before that and listening to recordings.

I don’t remember those eight hours. I was pretty in a trance. I remember someone trying to take my vitals and me swatting them away. I kept my eyes closed and my headphones in. At one point, I was laboring and I was by myself, which is something I realized should never happen to a mother in labor. I have no idea where the rest of the support crew was. I had a doula and I had midwives, but I was squatting and I heard a loud pop and intense pain. I later came to realize that I had torn a ligament. That ligament destabilized my pelvic floor around my sacrum and my coccyx.

It changed the rest of my labor. I couldn’t labor in the pool anymore. I couldn’t have full contractions, but no one else knew that it happened and I was in such an altered state I couldn’t communicate it. I continued laboring and continued pushing through an experience where I probably should have had medical attention. I was very lucid for the last few hours and I directed the room. I remember everything from nipple stimulation to making out with my husband to get those contractions stronger, to rubbing sage oil on my belly.

On the 40th hour, I was like, “The hell with this. I don’t know what to do anymore.” A new midwife came in and she’s like, “Do lunges.” I remember thinking, “With what?” I did four lunges and I sat down on a little squatting chair. All of a sudden, I felt the head of my baby and an intense pain, and then I realized, we still had to get the shoulders out. One more push on empty, his shoulders came out, and I pulled him out of my body. I remember delivering his feet. I brought him up and I held him against my chest. I often joke that it’s the only useful thing my doula did.

Adam says she did a lot of useful things, but I wasn’t present for those during labor. She took a photo of the three of us with me and the baby covered in blood and my husband wrapped around me and this gorgeous light in the room. I went home four hours later. I was released or sent home. That’s when I started to realize that I couldn’t walk. I watched him the whole first night.

I didn’t sleep, I couldn’t. I was enthralled by him and also terrified of anything happening to him. At that point, I started to realize what my body had gone through, to go back to your first question, throughout pregnancy, the laboring experience, and the delivery experience. Something so strong came in and it was almost stronger than my body. It wasn’t until he was breathing next to me that I realized my body was not okay.

Postpartum

Though it sounds like it was pretty soon after you gave birth and you guys went home that something you were noticing something is not feeling right.

I went back and did all of my regular follow-ups for me. I took him to all of his appointments. I was essentially told by my medical practitioners that everything was normal. I was told that same line that everything was normal, that the pelvic floor dysfunction I was feeling and all of the pain and the weakness were normal, that it would resolve itself, and I should just do some Kegels.

That was essentially the first year and a half of medical advice that I received from a variety of practitioners. It became a process I realized slowly over time, this applies to motherhood in many ways, that the “experts” outside of myself did not know more than I knew. It was becoming a very gradual and deep process of trusting my own instinct and intelligence as a mother and as a woman.

That’s such a powerful lesson. It’s sad that we’ve all learned that the hard way, but realize you do know yourself better, even if they say it’s not okay. That comes physically and mentally as well. How are you feeling? What is that reaction you’re having? What does it mean to you, whether you can express it or not especially on the mental side?

It’s so important as a woman and as a mother. That whole internal conversation of do you know yourself and do you trust yourself is so important but often overlooked. It’s not until we become mothers that we realize we know ourselves and sometimes we know our babies and all of those changes more deeply than people on the outside do.

 

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Shari Fox | Postpartum Recovery

 

Some people have a harder time advocating and knowing what to say. I know that that was my experience. I don’t know what to say because you’re supposed to be the expert. You’re supposed to be telling me what to do. What did that look like for you, Shari, like moving through and figuring out this isn’t working and I don’t think this is right. How did you decide what you need for yourself?

I want to preface this statement by saying that I was in such a mode of survival that I wasn’t thinking clearly. That’s the number one thing that I would go back and tell my recently postpartum and for ongoing years postpartum self. It is that whenever I was handling so much, it was impossible for me to have an accurate perception of what was going on and of my own needs. In that mode of survival, I was prioritizing my baby sleeping and got anxious if he wouldn’t sleep because that was my downtime.

I sought out all kinds of different medical care and tried all kinds of different things. I did a lot of research too, and I found that a lot of the traditional books that I was reading about feeding schedules and sleeping schedules didn’t work for us. It was only through the pain of my heart of hearing my baby cry that I realized something was not right here. I was so exhausted and I was under so much physical pain and distress, and my nervous system had shut at this point that I didn’t know how to respond with innate intelligence around it.

I became aware of how much I didn’t know. I had an accidental angel come into me and she was a massage therapist that I had seen before having my baby. She came back one day to do a massage in my apartment and she heard my baby crying in the other room. I said, “It’s okay, it’s not time for him to eat yet. His dad’s got him.” She says, “Nursing is not about eating.” I was like, “What?” That’s not what the doctors told me. That’s not what any of the books say. She brought him out and she laid him down and she helped me get a good latch while she was doing the massage.

It showed me that there are women who know a way that I didn’t know because it was my first child, that my family hadn’t taught me, that the experts I looked to hadn’t taught me. At that moment of realizing how much I didn’t know was the first time I was able to become available to help. That help did look like seeking out a bunch of different medical practitioners, but it took me four years until I found ones that were able to give me the understanding and the exercises I needed for my body to get strong enough that I could be functional.

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Shari Fox | Postpartum Recovery

Postpartum Recovery: That moment of realizing how much I didn’t know was the first time I was able to become available to help.

 

In that part, while you’re going through those four years, your child is growing, you’re learning things during this, and your body doesn’t sound like it’s operating in a way that you’re used to or should be operating. Outside of the mental thoughts of him sleeping and being anxious around that, how were you coping and feeling mentally during all the physical challenges you’re having?

I distinctly remember telling my husband, “You guys would be better off without me.” That is exactly how I felt. I don’t know the order of what I experienced. It seemed like a lot of physical pain and then extreme depression over my physical pain, then a lot of anxiety about how to manage that and how to get on in life. I saw the rest of my life moving on. I saw my son starting to walk and then starting to run and I couldn’t keep up to him. We developed something called wheeze where we had to get from the top of the stairs to the bottom of the stairs. I didn’t have the physical strength to lift him.

I would put him on my lap and we would scoot down on my bum and he would bounce. I would call it, “We’re going to do wheeze now.” He still wants to do a wheeze because he thinks it’s a great game. I tried to bring my best to him so that he didn’t know that mom was suffering because I didn’t want him to feel that I was suffering because of him because I wasn’t. That’s important to me in breaking the stigma of the child taking on the responsibility of the adult’s pain, psychologically and emotionally, in any way.

I experienced a lot of anxiety around the time of the pandemic. I had to make a lot of choices for my business. I recently found an old journal where I was writing, “What do I do financially? What do I do to take care of all these people that I’m committed to? What do I do for my baby and my husband?” Looking back, there’s no doubt that the depression and the anxiety led to the insomnia. At the time, I just remember writing, “Why can’t I sleep?” I didn’t have the perspective because I was in such a state of overwhelm.

What did insomnia look like for you? How long did that last and affect your life?

It was about 6 to 12 months. There were nights where I would sleep for maybe 2 or 3 hours. I would have trouble falling asleep or I’d be awake for hours. I’d move around every part of the house. I come from a background of yoga, meditation, bodywork, and psychology. That in a way didn’t help me because I was able to talk circles around myself psychologically. I tried every technique that I knew and I knew ten years worth of them. In the end, I gave up and I was like, “What can I take in a pill that’s going to put me to sleep?”

I went to the pharmacy and I tried every different thing that was available over the counter at Earth Fair. Most of that just made me feel crazy. I went to a sleep clinic and I was sent to an expert in insomnia and she put me on a regimen of sleep depression. Sleep depression, that’s a good Freudian slip. That’s exactly what it was. Sleep deprivation. Her methodology was to track your sleep, no matter what time you wake up, go to bed at the same time, and make sure that you get up at the same time.

If I’m going to bed at 10:00 PM and getting up at 6:00 AM, even if I only sleep two hours, when 6:00 AM rolls around, don’t sleep in, get up and go. I did that for about four days and I literally broke down. I couldn’t move and my body was so exhausted. I was so miserable and I was still trying to parent. I was still teaching online. I look back now and my face is big and swollen and I can feel how much my body is suffering. After I stopped doing that protocol, some of the things that got me through insomnia were listening to boring stories about Lavender Fields and Provence, and telling myself that I could offload some responsibilities the next day.

I started doing a worry journal every night before I went to bed every time, everything I was worried about. I tried to only be in my bedroom when I had planned to sleep and then I let this grace come in that if I was tired, I took a nap. If it was 6:00 and I was still sleeping, I thought someone else was going to make the coffee. It was this sense of trusting a softer and more feminine way of approaching what I had been told was this problem that had to be solved through a regimen and strictness.

That parallels the experience you had with your son too with letting go of the schedules and using more of that intuitiveness. It’s interesting that you were able to use that with yourself as well.

I’ve been reaching for that forever in my work and I asked for that whenever I asked to have a child, but what it did was bring up all my inner blocks to it. I ended up finding a yoga nidra practitioner and I credit him with saving me. I’ve told him that many times and I’ve said that publicly on Instagram to hopefully send people to him, that he was wonderful. He told me two things that changed my life with insomnia. He said, “If you don’t deal with your stress during the day and train your nervous system how to relax in small increments, it won’t know how to do it when you lay down at night.”

If you don't deal with your stress during the day and train your nervous system how to relax in small increments, it won't know how to do it when you lay down at night. Share on X

He had me do like 2 or 3 15-minute relaxations throughout the day. That was huge. I was thinking I could switch a light, like I could turn it on and off. He also led me through some dream work to confront some of the nightmares that were coming up and some of the anxieties and going to my body. He showed me with a companion that it was safe to explore why wasn’t I sleeping and what wanted to be birthed or come forth in my life that I was trying to push back because I was already so overwhelmed. When I stopped trying to hold it back, I started to sleep.

Where Shari Is Now

Where are things today, Shari? Where do you feel like you’re on the postpartum journey? Kelly and I are both big believers that the postpartum journey is not just the first twelve months after you give birth. We don’t know when it ends. I think all of us here have youngish children and I’m pretty sure it’s not quite come to an end yet. Where do you feel like you are at this point? What’s been helpful and restorative?

Where I feel like I am at this point is the end of a cycle. I don’t think I’m in permanent wholeness that it’s not going to continue to change, but I’m at the end of the cycle of when I was in my deepest suffering and my deepest overwhelm. I’m feeling strong in my body. I’ve been doing Pilates about 2 or 3 times a week for 6 months, and that was the ticket, along with changing my shoes. I started to learn from some amazing bodyworkers and fascia experts about how important the feet are to the pelvic dome and how if our pelvis is destabilized, working with our feet can change that.

I recently walked 10 miles. I’ve been going on hikes. I started dancing again, and sex felt good. All of the things that if I could go back to myself a few years ago and I was thinking, how is this ever going to be solved? They came slowly, but now I’m at a place where maintenance is important, and taking care of myself is important. Was there anything else that you want me to answer in that question that I didn’t?

How about the mental part? It’s amazing that you finally feel almost to yourself again and you’re back to enjoying things physically. How do you feel when it comes to your anxiety and the depression that you had that went along with the physical pain?

I’m so glad you asked that. The grace of all of this was at one point, I realized I could not do this alone. I had been in therapy previously, but I struggled to find a match. I contacted an old therapist and my husband and I decided to go together and it was the best thing for our marriage. This morning, we had couples therapy on Zoom. That not only brought me out of the anxiety and depression but it helped me birth a whole new life and a whole new relationship with him and within our family. That was the big gift. It was getting to the place where I could seek what was supportive for me.

Relationships are such an important piece in the work with postpartum women in helping them try to identify what’s going well in the network of relationships that they have during that period, what’s not going well, and what could be improved. A lot of times you hear people say, “It takes a village,” but a lot of women are like, “I’m not quite sure where that village is.” How do you feel building that relationship with your husband as a support person? How did that help?

I realized at the beginning that I was expecting him to be everything to me because I didn’t have that village. I didn’t know how to relate to other moms. They were either too hippie granola for me or it was too conventional. I struggled to find what was useful for me. I now see those communities in place. It’s important to have communities of all types of women. One of the amazing things about what you’re both doing right now is providing communities. If I could do anything going back in time, it would be to help myself find other moms who are going through the same experience or similar experiences.

It's really important to have communities of all types of women. Share on X

Do you think you wish or would it have been helpful if you had found some of those people during pregnancy or after everyone’s babies were here?

I was looking for that during pregnancy and I think it would have been useful. I also didn’t realize the crisis that I was having until the crisis happened, and then it was more like triage. Resources on both sides are helpful.

Normalize The Shame

Shari, is there anything else looking back? I think you said at the very beginning, you thought the hardest part was going to be giving birth. It sounds like while that was hard, it was a lot of challenges afterward that lasted for a long time. Is there anything you wish you would have known outside of having a village and finding those other connections? Is there anything that would have been helpful to you in that postpartum recovery phase?

It would be the normalizing of shame. Many of my experiences and the reasons I didn’t seek help were because I was feeling shame for not being a better mother, shame for what was happening with my body, and thinking that other people weren’t experiencing it. That shame held me back from reaching out. I saw so many examples of what I thought were people who had it together. I knew I was a strong person who had it together previously. Why couldn’t I be now? It feels good now to sit down with other mothers and to hear what they’ve been through or someone to say, “Zero drop shoes can save my pelvis?” It’s like, “Yeah.” They’re like, “I’ve been suffering with this.”

I remember after I came back to work because I worked for the first two years after I had a baby, and then I took two years off because it took me two full years to realize that I needed that sabbatical to recover. During those two years I was working, I stomped my foot when I was teaching something. I said, “I cannot do that anymore.” Five of the women in the front erupted and laughed. They were like, “Tell me about it.” At that moment, I realized that I did have a village, but it took me to speak up to say what I was going through.

From the normalizing shame, I know for myself, I had a lot of that as well. I want to say thank you for sharing your story today and thank you on behalf of all the moms listening because this is the way that we normalize shame that it shouldn’t be shameful. Many of us are going through this and you having the courage and the vulnerability to share your story and to talk about it is going to help so many people listening. Thank you for helping them normalize their shame and me as well because I know I dealt with it a lot during the first two years.

 

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Shari Fox | Postpartum Recovery

 

A lot of times, not the opposite of shame, but thinking about it as just hearing affirmations from other people that they’ve experienced the same thing. That helps dissolve some of that shame a little bit because you know that it’s not just you. I know that that’s our hope here in hearing stories like yours and sharing them with all the other mamas out there who might be having a hard time for them to know that they’re not alone. Maybe this is that push to reach out and connect. You might find support in unlikely places.

Thank you to both of you.

Before we wrap up, what are zero-drop shoes?

It’s where your heel is not elevated. It’s where it has a flat footbed. Meaning your heels and your toes are in the same line. Most heels or shoes that we wear have heels, even if they’re high heels, like tennis shoes. That destabilizes the pelvis. For women, I’ve found it’s important if they have any pelvic dysfunction. Actually for men too, they just talk about having a lot of shame around discussing it, that if they can walk barefoot and strengthen their feet and have a flat footbed, it resets pelvic stability and strength.

That is so great. Before having a child, I was a runner and now I have to wear the flat sandal running shoes because I didn’t know why, but that’s the only thing that doesn’t hurt me. Makes a lot of sense. There’s a reason behind it that supports you.

My husband has just run his first marathon. He got into running last year. We did say after we had a child, we were going to get in the best shape of our lives. I think now we’re almost there, which is pretty incredible. He was meeting with the CEO of New Balance at a social event. She was interested in zero drop shoes. Hopefully, there are going to be a lot more of them available.

That would be amazing. Tell him congratulations. That is on my bucket list but I haven’t gotten there yet. One day. Shari, is there anything else that we have not asked you about this phase in your life that you’d want to address or you’d want to share with anyone?

I said to myself a few years ago that it gets better and that there is someone available to listen, but it takes turning to that someone to start the process.

 

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Shari Fox | Postpartum Recovery

 

That’s beautiful. Well said.

Shari, I hate that this was your experience and that you went through all the challenges, good and bad, but I also appreciate you sharing it with us and letting us go on that journey. You told a very beautiful story where I feel like I was there with you. I appreciate you taking your time and sharing with us. As you continue to go forward, it’s going to be great to continue to see you thrive after you’ve had a child. Thank you.

Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story because in it, I discovered my strength and it feels healing to do that.

That’s wonderful. Thank you so much.

Outro

Big thanks to Shari for sharing her story with us. There are so many things there that are going to resonate with so many moms out there, everything from insomnia and shame, working through anxiety and depression, mobility, and how that impacts your emotional and physical well-being. Finding your support system and community and learning how to trust and advocate for yourself are some of the biggest takeaways that we can talk about and see, if any part of Shari’s story resonates with moms out there, different ways of finding a support system in a community and learning how to trust yourself, listening to your own body and your own experience is so incredibly important on that journey to recovery.

Shari, so well said. I feel like all of us felt like we were there with you, the way you walked us through even the challenges of birth and ability issues. I think you’re right, Ashley. One of the things Shari said was she was moving during that time, and she had no family and no friends. If you’re in a similar situation, that support system is something that can be so key while you’re pregnant, but also should you struggle afterward.

I think that having any ways that pregnant women can find some kind of support network, get some of those, it doesn’t even have to be friendships. I remember finding on Facebook a mom who had given birth two days either before or after I did. We got together with our babies when they were a week old to go for a walk.

It was so exciting to have somebody with a baby my age to walk outside in the snow in December in the DC area. Seeing if there are any ways to get connected and find the community, people that you trust, people that you know, you can talk to or at least relate to gives you those touch points so that once you’ve given birth if you find that you’re struggling with something, you’re not having to start from scratch in terms of who to reach out to.

If you are a mom who’s already given birth and you feel alone and maybe you don’t have that network nearby, there are quite a few things you can do. If you need that social support, it’s very hard if you’re going through depression and anxiety to then say, “I need help. Let me go try to make a friend when I don’t know anybody nearby.” It is something I mentally didn’t have the capacity to do. As you said, Ashley, there are things that if you’re a mom in this situation, you could look for. For instance, come check out Thrive Postpartum.

It’s a community of moms who are going through the exact same thing. It’s there. It’s a way to meet and chat with people and find people in your area. If you go to Postpartum Support International, there are different postpartum groups throughout different cities that meet up who have virtual groups. That is a way to meet other moms. Also, check out through your friend group. Even for me, I found a very similar.

It was during COVID. I found a Facebook group. It was a group of moms who were going through IVF in the same month I was. I was a lurker in the group. I’m not a huge share on Facebook, but I got to lurk and see other moms going through those same challenges, which made me feel I’m not alone. Even though I wasn’t actively communicating every day, it was just nice to know there were other people there and what were they faced with.

Two, you touched on this, finding somebody in that same phase. There’s a huge difference between a one-week-old and a three-month-old. It’s crazy. It’s just a different world. Sometimes, as you said, find other moms who also have a one-week-old baby, who have a one-month-old baby, who were in that same phase of life. You’re in it together and it brings that sense of community and support. That’s harder if you’re talking with somebody who is in a different phase. The other thing too that’s so important is talking about trusting yourself, knowing your body, knowing your emotions and feelings, and how that can impact your journey.

There are so many ways to go about working on that and thinking about that and having conversations while you’re pregnant and afterward, but when you know your body, you know when something doesn’t feel right. How do you do that? First moms, there are different ways, meditation, practicing mindfulness, doing different things that are paying attention to how you feel, having an internal conversation too of what your experience is, and then being able to give that and relate that to somebody else in your support network.

It’s important that nobody else is in our brains. Nobody else knows what we’re thinking. Nobody knows what we’re feeling. To all the moms out there, if you feel like something is not right, whether it’s physically, or in terms of your emotions and feelings and that kind of thing, it is okay to reach out for help and to say, “I don’t know what it is, but there’s something that doesn’t seem right.” When you have that place, it feels good. It gives you a little bit of your power back to say, “I know myself.”

Shari did such a great job in her story of explaining to us that a year and a half in, she had been to experts and they kept saying this was normal for her recovery and she knew it wasn’t. I think she’s the quote, “I finally realized an expert will not know myself better than I will.” That resonated with me so much because it’s saying, “I’m going to advocate for myself.” In every practice there are, nobody is created equal. It’s looking for the provider, whatever that is, that’s going to help you in the way you need help.

If your OBGYN says, “No, you’re fine,” maybe that’s not your person. She looked until she found the person who could help her heal her. That’s a great lesson for all of us to know you are your best expert regardless that you might not be a medical professional. You know yourself best. How do you fight for yourself? It’s empowering.

It’s so empowering and impacts the way that I think sometimes we then go in through motherhood of being able to trust ourselves and trust our babies and trust our kids. That deep trust and knowing is impactful on relationships moving forward. It was wonderful to hear.

I hate that she went through that, and she had a year and a half to get to that point. That’s what we’re saying but I think it was a great takeaway for us to all remember that you are your best advocate. She made it through the depression from pain, which she said led to anxiety, which led to long-term insomnia going down that entire route, and how she found the right person to help her heal and to help move through that where she’s now what she considers herself in maintenance mode. I think you and I have talked about this multiple times, at least for my journey.

You don’t wake up one day and the switch is turned off and postpartum depression and anxiety are gone. It is very much an up and down. I took two steps forward, but yesterday I took three steps back. Long-term journey and all the research that I’ve done going through Thrive is 25% of moms who get this. It will last over a year even with treatment. It is a long-term process. Getting to that maintenance mode is so important. Ashley, what do you think as far as recommendations for mom as they’re trying to get to this recovery mode and/or maintaining the current state when they make those steps ahead?

A lot of it goes back to what we were talking about earlier with as you’re going through taking medication, when you’re going through therapy, a lot of the skills we’re building is recognizing in yourself how to self soothe, how to calm your nervous system when it feels like it’s going haywire. Those are applicable for the rest of our lives. Learning how to self-monitor any mental health condition for anyone, a lot of it is learning, how do I know when things are trending down? How do I know when things are trending up? What changes in my life? What am I doing? What am I not doing so that I know, do I need to lean into my support now, probably a little bit down the road, I can back off of this.

That in the maintenance mode is knowing yourself and knowing how you feel, knowing when to lean into the support system and network that you’ve built, no matter what that looks like, and knowing when things are feeling pretty good. It doesn’t mean that you stop doing whatever has been helpful. Sometimes getting to that point means you’ve maybe developed a new lifestyle. You’ve maybe made some changes that are incorporated now as part of your daily life because it feels good and helps you feel your best.

There’s also that part of saying, “I’m going to give myself grace when I take a step back,” when it sneaks back up and I thought I was over this and it can feel earth shattering when suddenly you’re in it again and you thought you were over it, and saying this happens. Maintenance mode is about saying, “Tomorrow is going to be better. Let’s keep going and moving forward.” Shari, thank you so much for sharing your story and walking us through your journey. I feel like many of us listening can see ourselves in part of your story.

You mentioned one of the things. You wanted to help reduce the shame around this. That’s why we keep wanting to share mom’s stories and walk through these because there isn’t shame around this. There shouldn’t be. This happens to so many of us and I think the more we hear other moms share their stories. Not only you do get these key takeaways that you can use, but knowing you’re not alone in this journey. Other moms have made it to the maintenance side where they feel better. Life is happy again. That you’re going to make it there too. There’s no shame. You are a great mom. Thank you for joining us and we’ll see you next episode.

 

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About Shari Fox

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Shari Fox | Postpartum RecoveryAs a mother, meditation teacher and group leader I’m passionate about creating spaces that serve as sanctuaries for the soul. Rest, connection and relaxation are my love languages.

My motherhood journey has been marked by shock and resilience. Drawing from a well of experience navigating postpartum pelvic organ prolapses, chronic pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia—I believe in the healing power of our stories. I saw more specialists than I could count. I slowly learned how to walk again. I celebrate wildly the ability to lift my little one into my arms.

With a background in mindfulness, therapeutic inquiry, holistic psychology, yoga and somatic care, I favor a compassionate polyvagal approach to stress release in my work. Since the birth of my son, I’ve been exploring how we as parents can experience more peace in ourselves and our homes by getting support for our nervous systems.

After 20 years of teaching experience and a decade of founding and leading a celebrated international retreat company, I am constantly rekindling my own practice. My favorite way to unwind is stargazing from our rooftop in Charleston, SC.
 

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