Home Life ‘One of the darkest periods of my life’

‘One of the darkest periods of my life’

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Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life’s parenting series on the joys and challenges of childrearing. With three kids under four, it’s safe to say Jade Roper has her hands full. Roper, a fan favorite from The Bachelor franchise, shares little ones Emerson “Emmy” Avery, 3, Brooks Easton, 21 months, and Reed Harrison, five months, with husband Tanner Tolbert, whom she wed in 2016 after meeting on Bachelor in Paradise.

“I didn’t even go on Paradise expecting to find somebody in general. So it’s quite the whirlwind,” she laughs to Yahoo Life. “We’ve done things on the fast track, but I wouldn’t change it. We’re very blessed.” Those who follow Roper know she’s an open book on social media — about both the good and the bad — when it comes to this crazy journey of motherhood. Right now, she is focused on bringing awareness to the importance of postpartum care during the “fourth trimester,” calling that “one of my passions.”

“Nobody talks about what we go through after we have a baby,” she explains. “Nobody talks about those things or prepares you. People talk so much about pregnancy and birth, and then what happens?”

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That’s why Roper has partnered with Tommee Tippee for a new series called Spill the Milk, in which she shines a light on topics like postpartum life and mental health. (Yes, they will continue to schedule sex!) here, she opens up to Yahoo Life’s So Mini Ways about her experience with postpartum depression, seeing a hypnotherapist after her “traumatic” delivery with Brooks, and what she and Tolbert have learned about parenting during a global pandemic.

As someone who dealt with heavy baby blues, I know how important it is to destigmatize mental health issues during the fourth trimester. What inspired you to speak out about postpartum depression?

Each of my postpartum journeys has been so different. With my daughter, it was a huge learning curve. She was my first, and there were things like cracked nipples, what happens when your milk comes in, just stuff like that that I had no idea about! I was like, “What is happening to my body?” Then with my son, I had a precipitous birth in our closet at home. I didn’t make it out of there. It was traumatic for me, and it did rock my world. I ended up having postpartum depression.

I can’t describe it as anything else but one of the darkest periods of my life. I felt like I didn’t know how to ask for help. So when I got pregnant with my son Reed, it was kind of this opportunity to take everything I went through with my postpartum [experience] after Brooks and learn from it. I’ve just wanted to heal myself. With Reed, it’s been such a different experience.

I’ve gone through a lot, and I guess I’m excited about stuff like the Spill the Milk series is I can take what I went through and hopefully touch somebody else who may be going through the same thing and just let them know that they’re not alone. You can make it to the other side and enjoy the good with the bad, too. I don’t want people to be intimidated by motherhood, thinking, “Oh my gosh, that sounds terrible.” It’s the most fantastic experience, and I’m so grateful for it, but I also want people to know it’s hard. It’s something that we’re not prepared for.

When did you realize you should ask for help, and how did you?

I want to encourage women with their gut and intuition. If they feel something’s wrong,g know that maybe this is more than just the baby blues and reach out to anybody they feel comfortable with and keep advocating for themselves. But I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I felt like screaming inside and looking at my husband, feeling like he should know how I think, but I didn’t tell him. I learned to advocate for myself. You’re worth it, and you matter. And it’s OK not to be a superwoman. It’s OK to ask for help.

Can you speak to the importance of postpartum self-care? What did you find helpful?

When I became pregnant with my son Reed, I wanted to [have] a redemptive birth process. With Brooks, I felt so out of control. So this time around, I wanted to feel like I could create that almost exact scenario in a safer space. I wanted my son Reed in our home with planned home birth. I sought out a midwife who approached me with holistic values. I relied on her. I relied on ensuring I had better nutrition this time; I did a lot of healing, like hypnotherapy.

What was that like?

It was amazing. It’s EMDR [eye movement desensitization and reprocessing] for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s so different for everybody, but reaching out and finding those things for me made a huge difference.

As a public figure, what do you think about being on social media as a new mom regarding one’s mental health? On the one hand, it can be a great way of connecting with other women. Conversely, it’s an easy place to feel bad about yourself.

Yeah, I think it’s tough. Social media can be a fantastic place. I have been blessed with finding women I’ve connected with that have helped me through certain situations. At the same time, I even find myself comparing my experiences with somebody else’s and feeling bad about it.

You have to know that social media is a highlight reel. I have to remind myself of that. The comparison can bring you down, so you have to keep that in check. That person is only showing perfect parts of their life, which everyone should do, but also know that a lot is happening behind the scenes.

How do you deal with negative commenters?

It used to get to me much more when a “troll” commented something mean-spirited. It gets to me every once in a while, and the mama bear comes out, and I will put them on blast because it is unacceptable behavior. You have to kind of not take it too seriously at times. Sometimes I’ll be like, “OK, that person is having a bad day or doesn’t know what it’s like to be a mom.”

You share a lot on your parenting podcast; Mommies Tell All. Is there anything you’ve said that you were surprised got so much attention? I remember the scheduling sex comment went everywhere. When people hear the word “sex,” their ears perk up. I don’t even think that [scheduling sex] is that big of a deal! I feel like it’s so common, and I feel like it should be talked about. How do parents find the time to keep their relationship connected? Like, it’s an essential part of a relationship, and that’s how it gets done!

What have you and Tanner learned about parenting in a pandemic?

We have learned that when one of us needs a break, let that person have a break because there are no breaks in a pandemic! We’ve been together 24/7 for almost a year and with our children constantly. It’s hard. As much as you’re meant to be with your family, our social circles and the people we rely on have been stripped down.

We’ve learned how to communicate. But we’ve had to really, really work on communicating when we need something. Like, “Hey, I need to mentally check in with myself.” Whether that’s [letting] my husband take a bath for 45 minutes, or I go for a walk or whatever.

Will you let your kids watch your and Tanner’s love stories on your Bachelor iterations? Or at least Bachelor in Paradise?

Yes, especially Bachelor in Paradise. It is where our love story started, and it does have a particular sentimental part to us, so someday when they understand more. The other day I was joking with Emmy and asked, “Did you know that Mommy and Daddy met on TV?” And she was like, “How did you get in there?” It was cute. But yeah, when they get a little bit older. We might have to fast-forward through a couple of parts of the show, but someday we’ll show them.

What do you hope parents will take away from your Spill the Milk series?

I’m just really excited to connect with other moms out there and let them know that they’re not alone, and hopefully, we all can relate to some of these topics. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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