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From one to two: Balancing parenthood

I welcomed my second child, Charlotte, at the end of July and we officially became a family of four. My biggest concerns about having baby number two were how well my son would adjust to his little sister and the recurrence of postpartum depression.

After the birth of my son three years ago, I experienced postpartum depression. This time, I connected with a counselor during my pregnancy and continued to get support after my delivery. From these discussions, I knew that sun exposure and exercise would be helpful to keep me mentally-balanced and strong.

Finding time and ways to be active after bringing Charlotte home was difficult but doable with some help from my husband and by setting goals. For the first few weeks after delivery, I gave myself time to rest and recover from my C-section, limiting activity to caring for myself, baby Charlotte and my family. Once I felt strong enough to get some exercise, I would put my daughter in her stroller and go for a walk outdoors—getting sunlight and exercise all at once. Initially, we would just go around the block. As I became more confident and stronger, I set a goal to walk 14-minute-miles and used the MapMyRun app for motivation. After the six-week mark, I started adding short running intervals. I didn't let poor weather deter me from my goals; on those days, I would walk at the local shopping mall or at our community indoor walking track.

I had mommy-amnesia about sleepless nights with a newborn. My husband was very supportive and we split baby-duty during the nights. This way we could get longer stretches of sleep and avoid being too exhausted to function during our days. Getting quality sleep was important to have the energy I needed to reach my goals, care for my family and manage postpartum depression.

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The next month will offer their own challenges as I try to balance family, exercise and my return to work. To me, balance means allowing myself to let life's mishaps happen and not trying to control what I can't. This summer, I was packing up the van for an outing and left the doors open while I went to get the kids. I had forgotten that the sprinklers automatically turn on in the morning, and the inside was soaked by the time I was ready to load up the kids. I was able to laugh about the mishap but maybe wouldn't have after my first child was born. It's important to be forgiving of yourself; I find myself being more forgiving to myself this time around, and now can laugh at some tough moments. 

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