It’s no secret that my family loves to travel. We traveled a lot before our kids were born and continued throughout my first pregnancy. We had our babies in 2013 and 2015 and we brought them along on road trips across the US and a few domestic flights as well, before our family moved overseas and we got more adventurous with them. At first, I was nervous to travel in the “new mom” sort of way, over-packing and worrying about the babies adjusting to new locations and routines. But this worry didn’t overtake me. This worry didn’t keep me from going. This worry didn’t cripple me.
For the many women suffering from Postpartum Anxiety (PPA), a trip to the grocery store or library is panic inducing. Forget about taking an airplane on vacation! The worries and “what if’s” overtake them and the fear of the worst consumes them. Adjusting to normal life (or as normal as it can be with an infant joining to family) is a difficult task when even the smallest outings cause your heart to race and catastrophic thinking to take over the logical side of your brain.
Social media and the curse of comparison sometimes makes me feel like I’m inadequate as a travel blogger because we do more road trips than flights, we haven’t take the kids to a developing nation yet, and I don’t have many followers or affiliate links. This same comparison to a mom with PPA makes her feel inadequate that she can’t take her kids to play in her own backyard, let alone an airport or a beach.
I have a close friend who has been very transparent and open with her struggles with PPA. With two rambunctious boys just a year apart, with one still in diapers and one in the midst of potty training, outings are intimidating, to put it mildly. With the help of medication and pushing herself out of her comfort zone, I’ve seen her grow from not being able to take the boys down the back steps and into the yard on her own to taking a 5 hour roadtrips to see a family member, alone. This is huge! She’s come so far in the past year I thought that others might be inspired by her success.
For me, packing my kids into the car and driving 5 hours (in the USA) without my husband would be a bit annoying but I could likely get them packed and out the door in an hour and head out without much worry. For her, this trip was an equivalent of me flying with mine to Paris solo and taking public transportation to the hotel. Except I don’t have diagnosed anxiety to deal with. I was scared. Intimidated. Worried about what would happen if I was stranded at be airport for bad weather or other random reasons. But I did it. That was a huge first for me and made me feel like a superwoman. Things weren’t perfect, but I did it.
She felt the same- scared, intimidated, overwhelmed... but she was determined. Her kids haven’t been perfect on the trip (what kids are?). Her 2 year old is pushing every “emotional button” possible and really testing boundaries. It’s frustrating. But he’s 2. And she did it. She took those kids on her own and drove farther than she ever has. She stayed in a new place with them. She took them for ice cream with their great aunt. She attended an outdoor festival. She brought them to see more cousins and family they rarely get to see. She made memories. She had an adventure.
When it comes to her road trip or my Paris trip, no trip is better than the other. We are different women. We are different parents. We have our own challenges. If anything, I don’t think anybody had reason to be proud of me for deciding to take a vacation while my husband had to work. On the other hand, seeing my friend overcome her PPA by continually push herself out of her comfort zone makes me so proud to be her friend.
Its hard to find a new normal after having kids. For those with PPA it’s even harder. Whether you’re limited by anxiety, finances, or physical disabilities, I hope you take pride in your own little trips. Be it to the backyard, the grocery store, the children’s museum, or even Paris. Make it an adventure.