Teens: 13-17

How Traveling During Postpartum Depression Brought Me Back to Myself — and My Family

See recent posts by Judy Koutsky

As a travel writer, I was taking 30 trips a year before I had kids. I was traveling almost exclusively to exotic international locales-Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Bali, Palau, New Zealand, Australia, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia and more.

Judy Koutsky standing over Machu Picchu in Peru.

Then I got married, and six months later was pregnant with my first child. I was so excited and ready to alter my life for a baby. I found out my baby was a boy and started wondering what he would be like and what I’d be like as a parent. Would he like to travel? Oh, the trips we’d take together! I was so excited during the pregnancy-I was one of the few crazy moms who loved being pregnant. In fact, I remember telling someone that being pregnant was what I thought it would feel like to be on Prozac — I was happy all the time. I couldn’t wait to meet this little man.

Then I had a very difficult delivery that resulted in an emergency C-section. I’m not sure if it was the delivery (my husband thought he was going to lose me; I thought I was going to lose my baby) or the difficulties post-surgery (my C-section scar wouldn’t close; I got mastitis and thrush from breastfeeding), but the tears started after birth and didn’t stop for a long while. I felt utterly overwhelmed and I literally couldn’t stop crying. I second-guessed every natural instinct I had about my baby and myself. Should I keep breastfeeding, even though it was a nightmare? Should I take on a new freelance project? Then, five weeks after my baby’s birth, my husband lost his job. We couldn’t seem to catch a break.

The Change

A few months later I was offered an assignment to go to California. At first, I turned it down. I had a baby and I couldn’t leave him. But then I had a different thought-could going back to something I love, something that gave me so much inspiration, excitement and optimism, actually help me get back to myself… and my family?

I took that trip (it was only four days), but I felt like a changed person. I actually slept and instead of worrying about all my choices and if they were good ones, I trusted my husband was doing a good job and I tried to be in the moment for a few days.

Judy Koutsky and her kids in the midst of a family adventure.

The Outcome

And that’s really how travel brought me back to myself. While 30 trips a year was no longer feasible with a newborn at home, I slowly started taking on short assignments — mainly domestic — and sometimes I took the baby. I tweaked my old travel life to make it work for my new family. Grandma spent time with my baby, which they both loved, and I got a well-needed break from all the decisions and exhaustions of motherhood. Slowly, my depression started to wane and I began to feel like myself again.

I got the baby a passport at three months and took him (and the husband) to Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos. That first passport stamp felt like a turning point. In the years since, we’ve used that passport many times, taking my baby (now an 8-year-old boy) and his brother to hold alligators in Mexico, swim with sea turtles in Nevis and slide down the heart-pounding slides at Atlantis Resort.

My boys travel with me throughout the year. I also travel solo. My love for travel never dwindled, but my schedule has changed to accommodate all the new things in my career and motherhood. I love sharing with my boys my love and enthusiasm for visiting new places-both domestic and international-and making the most out of each trip.

I can’t imagine travel not being a big part of our lives. I’m glad at a time when I needed it most, I remembered just how life-changing travel can be.

More From Family Vacation Critic:
7 Lessons I Learned From a Road Trip With Teen Girls
8 Ways You Can Actually Relax on Your Next Family Vacation

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.

×