Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of childrearing.
With three kids under the age of 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, 5 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 really 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?"
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. Here, she opens up to Yahoo Life's So Mini Ways about her own 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. (Yes, they will continue to schedule sex!)
As someone who dealt with heavy baby blues myself, I know how important it is to destigmatize mental health issues that occur 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 kind of a huge learning curve. She was my first and there were things like cracked nipples, what happens when your milk comes in, you know, just things 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 really did kind of 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 that I went through with my postpartum [experience] after Brooks and try to learn from it. I've really just tried to heal myself. With Reed, it's been such a different experience.
I've gone through a lot and I guess why 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 you can 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 amazing experience and I'm so grateful for it, but I also want people to know that 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 that if they do feel something's wrong, go with your gut and intuition. To know that maybe this is more than just the baby blues and reach out to anybody who they feel comfortable with and to keep advocating for themselves. But I didn't know. I didn't know how to ask for help. I felt like I was screaming on the inside and looking at my husband feeling like he should know how I feel, but I didn't tell him. I really learned just 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?
For me, when I became pregnant with my son Reed, I really 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 to have my son Reed in our home with a planned home birth. I sought out a midwife who really approached me with holistic values. I relied on her. I relied on making sure I had better nutrition this time around, I did a lot of healing like hypnotherapy.
What was that like?
It was actually amazing. It's EMDR [eye movement desensitization and reprocessing] for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. It's so different for everybody, but really 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 when it comes to one's mental health? On one hand, it can be a great way of connecting with other women. On the other, it's an easy place to just feel bad about yourself.
Yeah, I think it's really hard. Social media can be a really amazing place. I have been blessed with finding women through it that 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 really bring you down, so I think you just have to keep that in check. That person is only showing really good parts of their life, which everyone should be able to do, but also know that there's a lot going on behind the scenes.
How do you deal with negative commenters?
It used to get to me a lot more when a "troll" would comment something mean-spirited. Every once in a while it gets to me and the mama bear comes out and I will put them on blast because it is not acceptable behavior. You have to kind of not take it too seriously at times. Sometimes I'll be like, "OK, that person is clearly having a bad day or clearly 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.
You know, 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's something that should be talked about. How do parents find the time to keep their relationship connected? Like, it's obviously an important 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, to 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 people that we rely on has been stripped down.
We've really learned how to communicate. Like, "Hey, I need to like mentally check in with myself." Whether that's [letting] my husband go take a bath for 45 minutes or I go for a walk or whatever. But we've had to really, really work on communicating when we need something.
Will you let your kids watch your and Tanner's love story on your various 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 special sentimental part to us, so someday when they understand more. The other day I was joking with Emmy and was like, "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 little bit older. We might have to fast-forward through a couple 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 be able to hopefully connect with other moms out there and let them know that they're not alone and hopefully we all can relate with some of these topics.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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