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Updated: January 23, 2023 The Hustle is Real

When postpartum depression hits a working mom

Renee Diaz
Read Renee Diaz' other The Hustle is Real and The Struggle is Real columns through the links at the bottom of this article.
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I can officially say I have been a working mom now for an entire year. My daughter turned 1 year old on Jan. 8, and even though at times it seemed the days went by slowly, the year feels like it went by in an instant. What I have learned over the past 365+ days are the things you’ve heard before: Being a working mom is one of the most challenging things we can ask of ourselves. Mom guilt is a real thing. Twenty-four hours in a day is just not enough.

I was so lucky to be able to stay home for the first three months of my daughter’s life. Looking back now on that time, I was just basically waiting for her to eat, need a diaper change, and take a nap. She was so little. That was our time together, especially with her dad at work. We had our own little routine. Meanwhile, when she would take her naps, I got work done from home when I needed to. The only request I had each day was to be able to take a shower and go to bed with a clean kitchen. Those were the two things that made me feel human. It was the only time since I was teenager when I had consecutive time off. I cannot stress enough how grateful I am for that.

When I went back to work, I was only working three days per week. This was manageable. I would get to work in the morning after having time with her in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon. We would get home, take her sister Mott for a walk, and wait to see her dad. During that time, I don’t remember it being difficult on me to be back at work. I enjoyed having a piece of myself back. I loved being on my feet, seeing customers, and being creative again. After a while, working three days a week just was not enough to get everything done around the shop. I had an essential employee give their notice, and losing her was a huge loss for the business. With her leaving, I had to start working more and take on some of the many things she did for the day to day. My three-day work schedule turned into a four-day work schedule, before turning into a five- or six-day schedule during the holidays.

It was not until the past few months where I have really struggled being a working mom. The guilt of being away from her all day, sometimes six days a week, can be overwhelming. I am married to the love of my life, and we need to make time for each other; but there does not always seem to be enough hours, since we both work and have different schedules. When she turned six months old, a light bulb went off, and I realized I wanted to be the best version of myself for her and her dad, so I completely changed the way I eat and take care of myself. This may seem cliché since I sell pastries for a living, but it is all about moderation.

Owning a business, working, being married, having a dog, taking care of a house, being responsible for a lot of people and their livelihoods has weighed more heavily on me lately than ever. I’m easily overwhelmed and overstimulated, and my brain has changed since giving birth. I seem to struggle the most at night before bed. I have irrational thoughts, anxiety about things completely out of my control, and bouts of compulsiveness. I have had more nightmares and bizarre dreams than I can ever remember. It is hard for me to retain information when people tell me something, almost as if I am in a daze. Most people talk about these struggles when they experience postpartum depression, but none of these things really hit me until now, almost a year after giving birth. I cannot be alone in this. So, if you’re reading this and it resonates with you, please know you are not the only one.

I do not have an immediate solution for what I have been going through. I am learning new techniques to calm myself down, going to acupuncture at Rooted Acupuncture & Wholebeing right here in Worcester, and am over 190 days free of alcohol. I am so happy I finally expressed these feelings to those around me. No matter what, I know I will always be okay, and I have my best little friend in the world by my side and her dad, my biggest fans.

Renee Diaz is the owner of Worcester bakery The Queen's Cups.

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