Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression

I’ve been wanting to blog for a while now, but haven’t had the energy. I was going to say “haven’t had the time,” but I’ve spent too many nights zoned out in front of the television, watching Netflix for hours on end, to honestly say “I haven’t had the time.” So, we’ll say energy.

Truth bomb: postpartum depression is not fun.

Another truth bomb: I let it get to a pretty scary point before I sought help.

There’s this taboo when it comes to talking about depression or postpartum depression or any sort of mental illness. But I refuse to follow the rules, because the more people who are open and honest about it, the more people will feel safe and comfortable reaching out to friends, family, or their doctor for help. So, there it is. I have PPD. And it hit me like a ton of bricks.

At first, I was just tired all the time, no energy, and given that I was still adjusting from having just one child to having two, that’s to be expected. Then came the brain fog…I was missing appointments and having to reschedule things because I just couldn’t remember anything. I ran two stop signs in the same day (luckily there were no other cars) and didn’t even realize it until someone pointed it out to me.

There was the numbness…I was going through the motions, doing what everyone expected me to do, saying everything everyone expected me to say, and not feeling a darn thing. I mean, I knew I loved my girls, and that I should be happy to have another baby, and I smiled whenever anyone asked me and said everything was amazing. But the truth was (and still is some days) that I wasn’t feeling any of it. I felt like a robot. And then I would look at my beautiful girls and ask myself what the hell was wrong with me, that I couldn’t appreciate what I had and ENJOY being home with my girls, something I’ve always wanted to do.

The insomnia. Oh LORD, the insomnia. I am blessed with perfect sleepers, both my girls have slept very well from 6 weeks on…but I’m regularly awake until 4:30A.M. I just can’t sleep. Nothing I try helps. I either lay awake in bed, annoyed that I can’t sleep, or I lay on the couch watching shows on Netflix, knowing that trying to sleep will be useless. Here I am, blogging at 2:30 in the morning, because I am WIDE AWAKE, and nothing I do will change that. I didn’t even realize insomnia could be a symptom of PPD until I looked it up the other day. Insomnia is a jerk, and the struggle is real.

The anxiety is a given. Panic attacks. Feelings of worthlessness. I told my husband I felt like everyone would just get along better and be happier if I left. I wasn’t being dramatic, either, I really did feel that way, 100% honestly. I was sobbing, and just completely and absolutely convinced that my girls would be happier if I wasn’t there, because I am so depressed and not handling life well. I have literally never felt so worthless in my entire life as I have been feeling these last few weeks.

There’s the “what if” thoughts. They come out of nowhere and won’t leave you alone. “What if there’s an earthquake and we don’t have anywhere safe to take the kids?” “What if we get in a car accident and one of us is badly hurt?” “What if Briana got away from us in the parking lot and got hit by a car?” There were several days where David would get home from work and I would immediately bombard him with demands that we buy this safety kit, move that furniture, do this or that or the other thing to keep this random event from happening. He listened patiently and nodded a lot, and then promptly ignored my demands. I felt like I was going crazy. I was obsessive. But I couldn’t stop. The thoughts are intrusive and unwanted and horrible, and you can’t make them stop.

The biggest thing is the anger. It’s so…pervasive. I literally feel as if I am trapped in a cage in my head, watching this crazy person yell at everyone and say the most hateful things, treat the people I love the most horribly, make my toddler cry, scare the baby, and test the limits of my husbands patience and understanding. Several times I have stopped in the middle of a tirade and desperately told my husband, “I don’t want to yell, I don’t. I don’t know why I’m yelling.” And then I’ll try to calmly discuss whatever had set me off, and five seconds later I’m in full blown monster mode again. It’s…terrifying. To me, I mean. I hate feeling like I’m not in control of myself. I hate scaring my kids. I hate hurting people’s feelings. I have spent a lot of time apologizing to people around me in the last few weeks.

Briana will say “Mommy, you’re freaking out. I love you so much. Are you okay?” It breaks my heart. David says Bri still loves me, and that everything is going to be okay. I try really hard to believe him.

I have spoken with my midwife and emailed my doctor, and we have a plan of action to tackle this head on and get me feeling better. Truthfully, I would have spoken up sooner, because I could TELL what was happening, but I was a) irrationally afraid that someone would take my baby away because I “couldn’t take care of her” like I should be, b) I didn’t want to be put on medication that would prevent me from breastfeeding my daughter and c) I had convinced myself that I just needed to “snap out of it.” If I just acted like everything was okay and kept a smile on and posted happy things on Facebook, everything would be fine.

I was wrong.

I’m sharing this, my experience with PPD, because I want people to know they aren’t alone. I want other mothers going through it to know that it’s okay to ask for help. I want their family and friends to know what to look for. I want people to be aware that sometimes, it isn’t just the baby blues, and the mom is going to need help and support to get through it.

I want people to know they’re not crazy, they’re not horrible mothers, they’re not robots. I want them to know that even though they feel like everyone’s life would be better if they left, they’re wrong. You’re going through a rough time right now, but reach out for help. You’re going to be okay.

I’m posting some links with some information about postpartum depression. If you think you have it, call your doctor right away, so you can get the help you need. Life will get better. You’re a good mom. Breathe. Everything is going to be okay.

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml

Please note:

“Only a health care provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women, a health care provider can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum depression or something else. A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should see a health care provider right away.”

(As stated on the National Institute of Health’s website.)

Choices

Choices

Parenting is difficult at times. Especially when it comes to discipline. Trying to find the right balance between letting your child be a child and teaching them acceptable behavior, that’s difficult. That’s really difficult. It can be even more difficult if you have someone standing off to the side telling you that you are wrong, whether that person is a friend, family member, or stranger.

Here’s my thought process on discipline. You have to be clear about the rules. You have to be consistent. And you have to, HAVE TO, no matter how much it sucks, follow through. Otherwise, the child learns that you’re just spouting empty threats and there are no consequences to their actions.

A few weeks back, I was very excited to take my daughter out for her first ice cream cone. But she misbehaved all day long and wouldn’t “put on her listening ears” as we call it, and was being defiant and acting out. So David and I decided that taking her out to ice cream after a day of behavior like that was not only a bad idea, but a terrible one. What would that teach her? It would teach her that misbehaving led to sweet treats. And that’s not a message we wanted to send, so we told her we would have to go out for ice cream on a day that she felt like using her listening ears. I honestly think that David and I were much more disappointed than she was. Being an adult can suck sometimes. Being a parent can suck sometimes.

We got that ice cream cone the following weekend, and she had a blast. Delaying it because of bad behavior didn’t scar her, or hurt her, or cause anything other than a few minutes of sad tears.

Sometimes, following through means leaving an event or get-together early, whether you want to or not, and no matter who gets upset about the early departure. Sometimes, this means missing out on something you were really looking forward to.

Yesterday, my daughter didn’t get to go to the park because she chose not to listen to me after repeated warnings and a final “you have one more chance to behave.” We also missed out on a family dinner. I was upset, but I had to follow through. I could also see that she was tired, and trying to take her to a restaurant and then to a park would only result in more misbehavior and tears. The parent has to make that call, right? Right. But someone got upset with me, and it ended up making me feel defensive, when I had nothing to be defensive about. As the parent, I needed to make the call. And I did, and it was the right one. My daughter was asleep almost before we left the driveway, and when we got home 45 minutes later, she woke up long enough to eat and get changed into her pajamas, and then she went to bed half an hour early and slept straight through the night.

But because someone questioned my decision, I spent the entire drive home rehashing the situation in my mind, going over it again and again, wondering if I had made the wrong decision. Wondering if I should have done it differently. Had I overreacted? Was I too harsh? Did I not let my little girl have any fun?

In the end, I knew I had made the right choice, and I was glad I stuck to my decision. Before I had backed the car out of the driveway, I had asked my daughter “Do you understand why we are leaving early?” She answered “Yes, mommy. I didn’t listen and I was not being nice.” And I said “I’m glad you understand.” And then we moved on to music selection, and then she fell asleep. She wasn’t traumatized. She wasn’t hurt. She didn’t even cry.

She understood. Which is what tells me I am doing something right.

No More Momster

No More Momster

I had planned on writing another blog much sooner than this, but having two kids really does take some getting used to.

Briana is slowly starting to adjust to not being the only child in the house. She never acted out towards the baby, but she sure as heck let me know she wasn’t happy. There were many days and nights where I ended up in tears, she was acting so angry, and only toward me (not so much toward her daddy). There were at least two “I HATE YOU” statements thrown my way, and both times I had to walk away so she wouldn’t see me cry. But that was a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like she’s getting a lot more affectionate toward me again, especially in the last two weeks. I’m getting hugs and kisses again, hearing “I love you mommy” at least once an hour, and loving every single second of it. I missed her so much. For a while there, I felt like (excuse the drama) I had lost her forever. She was here at home, but so emotionally closed off to me that I felt like my daughter had been taken from me.

But, setting aside the melodramatic statements about lost children, she’s opening up again, and her temper tantrums are slowly losing their intensity and going back to normal not-getting-her-way tantrums instead of her-world-is-falling-apart tantrums. She is showing true affection for her sister and loves to help out in any way she can…which is sometimes not actually particularly helpful. Like two days ago when Chelsea was peacefully sleeping in her Rock n Play Sleeper and Briana decided to “help” by shoving the pacifier into the baby’s mouth despite her very vocal protests. Her heart was in the right place, anyway. Or today when she kept coming over to wipe the baby’s face even though, after the first time, there were no bubbles or spit up to be seen. And Miss Briana is always watching to see if Chelsea has thrown up so she can let me know, “Mommy, she got sick!”

I know that seems like a random thing to say, but Chelsea has acid reflux, which is a new thing as a parent for me to deal with. You’d think that the second time around with a newborn I would feel more at ease, but it turns out not all newborns are alike, and some of them have medical problems that your other child didn’t. Who knew, right? Babies as individuals! What a concept! (Sarcasm…)

This reflux thing is actually sort of scary for me. She doesn’t just do baby “spit-up” that just sort of dribbles out of her mouth and down her front. It’s explosive. It comes out of her mouth with force, and it comes out of her nose, and it blocks her airway and she can’t breathe. We can’t lay her down flat to sleep. I was really bummed about that at first, because I had wanted to co-sleep with her, was really looking forward to having her in the little by-your-side co-sleeper we bought to go in between us on the bed.

But the reality is, you lay this kid flat and you’re inviting disaster. She chokes, and it sounds absolutely terrifying. And when she’s laying flat she can’t clear her airway on her own. I have to sit her up and sometimes hold her on my arm, parallel to the floor, facing down, so she can cough it out. Even in her Rock n Play (which she’s sleeping in because it keeps her on an incline, which we were instructed to do by her pediatrician), I have been woken up many times by the sound of her choking. Sunday morning, I heard her start to choke, rolled out of bed and took two quick steps, sat her up, and watched what looked like an entire feeds worth of milk pour out of her like a faucet. Then I had to listen to her heartbreaking little wail of pain. That’s the worst part, knowing that it’s hurting them.

Sunday night, I literally did not sleep. She was choking and gasping for air every couple of minutes, throwing up and coughing while she slept. I was afraid I would sleep too deeply and not hear her choke, so I stayed up, listening for her. Several times I considered taking her to Children’s Hospital, just putting her in the car seat and going. But she never turned blue, she was getting air, she just sounded awful. So I waited it out and called the doctor as soon as the office opened and took her in today.

She has been on medication for her reflux for a couple of weeks now, and it hadn’t done much for her. The first day or so it seemed like a miracle drug, and then it just stopped doing anything. If anything, it almost seemed worse. After last night, I was scared. Getting her into her car seat, she threw up three times. On the fifteen minute drive to the doctor, she threw up twice more. I knew she was okay, because she was screaming bloody murder, so I kept driving. I just wanted the doctor to tell me she was okay.

It turns out, my little baby Chelsea caught the cold her sister and I had over the last few days. It didn’t even occur to me she might be sick, because she throws up so often anyway. The doc said that her reflux was being exacerbated by the extra mucous and stuff created by the little cold. Briana pretty much only had a runny nose. I had a runny nose and sore throat. I’m mostly over my cold after two days, and Bri is mostly over hers as well. So I’m hoping Chelsea gets over it quickly. When I told the doctor that Chelsea’s reflux hadn’t improved on the meds even before the cold, she upped her dose to three times a day instead of two and said we’d check back in four weeks. She is concerned about the slow weight gain caused by the reflux, so we have to go back for a weight check next week.

Before the reflux started up, Chelsea was in the 81st percentile for weight. Now she’s in the 58th. She is still gaining, but it’s much slower than they want her to be gaining. It’s frustrating and scary, because I know she’s getting enough to eat. They sent me to a lactation consultant to be sure the weight loss wasn’t a feeding issue (I’m breastfeeding). They did a before-eating and after-eating weight check for Chelsea while we were there, and my gorgeous girl ate 3.5ozs in less than ten minutes. The acid reflux is definitely the culprit of the slow weight gain, and it makes me sad.

I know there are children out there who have it so much worse than Chelsea, and I’m not talking about all this to get attention or anything. It’s just new to me. I’m still figuring it all out and learning what helps and what doesn’t. I’ve cut dairy from my diet in an effort to make my breast milk easier for her to digest. If her acid reflux hasn’t significantly improved in the next two or three weeks I’m going to cut soy from my diet as well. (Goodbye Starbucks!) Cutting dairy was rough, as I love cheese and sour cream and milk and…dairy. Cutting soy will be difficult if it comes to that because soy is in A LOT of food. It’s even in some brands of canned tuna! (Who knew, right?) But anyway, moving on to the next subject…

Other than the reflux, Chelsea is a smiling, giggling, happy little baby. She thinks it’s funny when I sing nonsense words and bob my head around in front of her. She loves watching her sister, and loves being in her bouncy seat. Before the reflux got bad, she liked laying on her playmat and had even rolled from her front to her back starting at six weeks…I’m still not convinced she did it on purpose, but it was still cool to see. 🙂 She’s always so alert and looks like she’s just doing her very best to have the world figured out before she turns 3 months old. When she’s not smiling she gets this really serious expression on her face with one raised eyebrow, like “Are you sure about that, mom? ‘Cause I’m not.” It’s cute.

She fits right into our little family. She looks just like her daddy, except for the dimple in her chin. Her smile lights up her whole face. Briana loves her to pieces. So do I, and so does her daddy. Adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn has been every bit as difficult as I thought it would be, and in some ways more difficult, but now that we’re starting to adjust, I love it. I need about ten more hands, but I still love it. I love how Briana giggles when her sister smiles, and I love that she wants so much to help me with the baby. I love that she likes sitting on the floor next to Chelsea’s bouncy seat and share her toys with the baby, or tell her everything is going to be alright, or tell me “Mommy, Chelsea needs you, she got sick.” (I don’t love that she gets sick, but I love that Briana tells me and cares about her sister.)

I love breastfeeding Chelsea. I love how she settles in and eats with this death grip on my shirt (or sometimes my skin) as if she’s afraid I’ll take the food source away. I love it when she stops nursing to smile up at me. This part of being a mom is new. I pumped and put my milk in a bottle for Briana. She was never able to latch properly, even after having her tongue tie corrected. But Chelsea and I figured it out (after fixing her tongue tie), and now it’s just so…not easy. We aren’t to “easy” yet. But…it’s so comfortable, feels so natural. It is getting easier every day, though, and I’m growing more confident every day. I am really enjoying this part of being a mom. It’s fun to have a new experience even as  a second time mom. 🙂

Speaking of experience, some things are definitely easier as a second time mom. I deciphered her cries much sooner. And when she is seemingly crying for no reason, it’s almost always because she’s tired, and a few rocks from mama, holding her just the way she likes, and this kids eyes are half closed in seconds. I know how to soothe her if she was startled, I know how to settle her in to eat if she has worked herself up, and, sadly, I know what to do when she’s hurting (because of the reflux). It feels good to know what I’m doing this time around. It is always nice not to feel lost.

After those first few chaotic weeks where I was constantly on the verge of (or actually crying) hysterical tears, wanting to pull my hair out, and getting virtually no sleep…I feel like we’re settling in. We’re getting into a routine. I feel like a mom instead of an angry and sleep deprived momster. I am working on not yelling so much (fell off that not-yelling wagon for a while), and watching my tone, since I live with a two and a half year old copy-cat. (I have a…colorful…vocabulary. It isn’t pretty hearing that vocabulary come out of my little one’s mouth.)

Another thing I’ve learned the second time around is to allow others to help me. When I was sick and David had plans on Sunday, I let my aunt and uncle take the girls for the afternoon. I don’t think I would have done that with Bri, I would have felt too guilty and not been able to rest. This time I felt no guilt at all, except for forgetting to kiss Bri goodbye before she got into the car. I can’t be perfect and let go of all guilt, but at least I let them help me, right? 🙂

Figuring out how to juggle two little ones with two very different sets of needs (toddler vs newborn – very very different!), has been an interesting journey these past few weeks. But I’m hanging in there.

I am still learning.

I am still here.

I am enough.

I am Mommy.

And “Mommy” is a pretty awesome thing to be.

Chelsea’s Birth Story

Chelsea’s Birth Story

This blog is Chelsea’s birth story, and the day or so leading up to her birth. If you have no interest in details, please feel free to skip it. I’ll post an update on home life with two kids soon. 🙂

Miss Chelsea Rose finally decided to make her appearance on June 5, 2015, and she had a bit of help when it came to deciding to appear.

I was due May 28th, and up until about five days after my estimated due date, I was feeling pretty zen about waiting for labor to happen naturally. I was impatient, of course, but Briana was born five days after her due date, so I was sure that Chelsea would be born around the same time. David’s birthday is June 1st, and mine is the 10th, so I was hoping she wasn’t born on either one of those days. I was also hoping that she wouldn’t be born on the 8th, because that is when our lost baby, Riley, was due. Once I passed the five-day mark, I was at the point of “Get her out of here!”

My midwife had told me at my forty week appointment (on a Wednesday) that if I hadn’t had my baby by 41 weeks, they would call me to schedule another appointment for a non-stress test and a possible ultrasound to make sure the baby was okay. They had also told me that at 12 days past due, they would try to jump-start labor so they could have a chance to give me the birth center birth I wanted, since at 2 weeks past due, they have to send people to the hospital if they haven’t gone into labor already.

By Monday, I was beyond ready to deliver, and had had a false alarm thinking I was going into labor the previous Friday. On Tuesday I had an appointment and they told me that I was 2 cm dilated and that I seemed very ready to have a baby. I told them I was ready to go. My appointment that day was with the head midwife at the birth center, and she told me they had a couple other inductions scheduled already that week, but if I hadn’t gone into labor on my own by Friday, they would call me about having a baby over the weekend.

So imagine how absolutely positively thrilled I was to get a call the next day from the midwife I had seen the most at the center, asking “Hey, do you want to have a baby tomorrow?” I practically cut her off with my resounding “YES!”

She told me about the castor oil and how they wanted me to take it (blend it in a blender with three eggs, and then cook it in a frying pan with whatever I wanted to improve/mask the flavor, and then eat it) and what time she wanted me to take it. Then she said she’d see me soon.

I was ecstatic but didn’t tell many people. I didn’t want to be getting constant text messages or phone calls from a million people wondering what was going on. I also knew there would be a load of skepticism from people thinking castor oil was an old wives tale or something, and I didn’t need to deal with that negativity right then.

The next day, right as I was preparing to start my “delicious” meal, I got a phone call asking me to delay for two hours because they had someone who was already in labor there and needed a little more time. I was completely bummed, but at the same time, glad. I was surprisingly nervous about taking this stuff and actually going into labor. I was keyed up and anxious, and the two-hour delay gave me a bit more time to collect myself.

We loaded Briana up into the car and drove to my in-laws house, since she was going to be staying with them when we headed to the birth center. My mother-in-law was nice enough to make my eggs for me when it was time, and I choked them down. The eggs would have been delicious without the oil, but man alive that stuff is gross.

I waited and waited and nothing was happening, and when they called me three hours later, I had just started having some contractions. So they told me to take one more dose, the same way, and that she was sure that would do it. She said she would call me in a couple of hours and check in with me, then have me come in to the birth center. She told me I should take a short walk and try to relax and rest up for labor.

I’m not going to lie. I am not a huge fan of eggs anyway, so when she told me to take that second dose, just the thought of it was enough to make me nauseous. But I tried. I think I ate about three-quarters of it before I literally started gagging and just couldn’t eat any more. My mother-in-law and David both pointed out that the castor oil wouldn’t be able to do its work if I threw it all back up. Yuck!

It wasn’t long after the second dose that I started feeling stronger contractions. They weren’t painful, but they were definitely noticeable and close together. My midwife had warned me they would start out close together because of the castor oil, but not to freak out. I’d know it was time to go if they got really strong.

We put Briana to bed, and soon after that David and I went back to our apartment. I wanted to shower and change clothes, and just get a couple of last-minute things done and be in our own home.

Both sooner than I liked and not soon enough, we got the call and were told to head on down to the birth center so that they could see if I’d dilated any more and if we were going to have a baby that night. They told us to get there at about 11:30, which gave us just a bit before we needed to leave.

I was really nervous at this point. I think I was driving David crazy, but he never showed it. He stayed calm, and that helped me stay calm..er. Calmer. But not completely calm. Ha!

When we arrived, there was another woman in one of the labor suites in labor, and they told us we could wait in the other suite, but they needed just a minute. I felt bad for the lady. She was a first time mom and had been in hard labor for like 24 hours and pushing for an insane amount of hours. She needed to be transferred to the hospital because she was just too tired to keep pushing. Poor mama.

They checked me at about midnight, and I was dilated to a 4. My midwife told me that I felt really “labory” and that if they didn’t break my water now, she had the feeling I would be back in a few hours anyway. She said “I leave it up to you, we can do this now or in the morning, or we can wait for you to go into labor…but personally, you’re here, you have childcare…I say we do it.” I said “Let’s do it. I’m ready.”

I was really nervous about her breaking my water, but she promised it didn’t hurt, and it didn’t. I was a little concerned when she broke it though, because it wasn’t clear, it had a slight green tinge, and I knew that meant the baby had passed some meconium and that it could be dangerous for the baby. I asked about it, and she explained that the amount we were seeing wasn’t worrisome at all, but they would keep an eye out for any changes that would indicate danger for the baby.

I had texted my friends, Chelsea (my daughter is named after her…we will call her “C” to avoid confusion) and Victoria to let them know I may be having a baby and they should be ready to come down. C has been my friend since fifth grade, and Victoria was going to take pictures for us. They arrived right after the midwife broke my water, so David went out to greet them and also to bring in our bag and food and such.

Almost immediately after they broke my water, my contractions gained a lot of intensity. This made me feel a little bit scared, but also excited, because it was finally almost time to meet this baby!

My friends came in, and I was told by my midwife to go take a walk, either around the center or outside. It was really late, but with David and my two friends, I chose to go walk outside. I wanted to get things going, and I felt like some fresh air would be nice. I wasn’t timing the contractions, because they had started so close together, but at first I felt like I was walking a fair distance in between contractions, maybe half a block, and then they started getting closer together, and getting more intense. I was still laughing and joking in between contractions, but pretty soon I wasn’t talking through contractions anymore, not even to swear (which I had been doing quite loudly at first, because a. it helped me focus and b. it was making everybody laugh).

I made it twice around the block and decided I wanted to go inside. I changed into my sports bra because my shirt felt too tight and uncomfortable. After we got inside, the laughing and joking between contractions stopped pretty quickly. The contractions were very painful, and I was concentrating on moaning through them, and later kind of roaring. The vocalizing helped, and I didn’t give a damn at the time how loud I was, because dammit, it was helping. I held onto David for dear life through each contraction, and he was super supportive, even after I told him to stop talking. 🙂

After a while, someone (I don’t remember who, but I think it was one of the two birthing assistants who were there, or possibly it was Victoria) suggested getting in the tub. I hesitated at first because sitting down at all had always caused an insane increase in my level of pain, but I decided to try it. They ran the water and I got in. At first I hated it because I couldn’t hold onto David the way I wanted to through each contraction, but eventually I got into a position that worked for me, and David applied pressure on my back through each contraction, which was actually surprisingly helpful.

I have no idea what time it was when I, very panicked, said “I need to push,” but my midwife very calmly said okay and had me switch positions so she could see how dilated I was. She said I was at a 9 and needed to wait through two contractions before I could push.

That was, by far, the most difficult moment of labor aside from actually pushing the baby out. When your body is saying “push” and your midwife is saying “wait!” Ugh. No fun.

But I survived, and then I was pushing.

With Briana, when I first started pushing, I had an epidural and couldn’t feel her moving down the birth canal. So this was weird. A completely different experience.

All I remember from this time is that every time I was pushing, a chorus of women (and David) were encouraging me, telling me how awesome I was doing, how great and amazing I was, how I was doing everything perfectly right. If I complained I was hot, they put cool cloths on my head. They gave me sips of juice. They talked in low and soothing voices. If I had a question, they answered it as if I was a competent human being, without any condescending tones. They were amazing. It was such a different experience than my hospital birth, with an I.V. in my arm, no drinking or eating allowed, and being told I wasn’t trying hard enough.

After a few pushes, my midwife asked if I could go over to the bed, because she was pretty sure Chelsea’s arm was up by her face and that her arm might get stuck on the way out. I asked if it was dangerous, and she said that it wasn’t dangerous, she just might need me in a different position to get her out. So I said no, because laying down or sitting had hurt me so bad before. (I asked David later if she seemed annoyed when I said no, and he said “not at all.”)

When the baby crowned, I completely panicked for a moment, but David and my midwife and everyone else had me back in my zone in seconds. After the baby crowned, I think I pushed once more before my midwife was suddenly telling me I had to stand up. I was like “how in the hell am I gonna stand up?” She said “we’re going to help you” and suddenly four sets of hands were hauling me up onto my feet, and my midwife was telling me to hold onto the edge of the tub.

She was right. The baby had her arm up and her shoulder was stuck. I held onto the tub, yelling at them to get the baby out, and then swearing and screaming “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Well, she was pulling the baby out, because she was stuck.

I felt the baby come out, and I didn’t hear her cry, and I couldn’t see what was happening. “Is she okay? Is the baby okay?” I was frantic, and even after they told me she was fine, I didn’t relax until I heard her start to cry.

Her cord was abnormally short, so they very carefully passed her to me between my legs and helped me hold her until I was sitting down again. I couldn’t lift her to my chest, so she was sitting in my lap with her face on my tummy. She was beautiful. And all that pain that I had been experiencing fell away, and everything in the room sort of fell away, and all my worries of not being able to love a second baby as much as I had loved my first seemed ridiculous, and my heart…I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, and I just fell in love with her. Just like that. My rainbow baby.

They waited a few minutes and then clamped the cord so David could cut it. Then my midwife said “okay, we’re going to deliver the placenta.” I expected her to tell me to push, like they had at the hospital, but she just sort of put pressure on my belly and moved her hands down while maintaining that pressure and whoosh, there it was. I looked at her and said “That’s it? Wow!” And then, because I’m weird, I asked if I could touch it. She said “sure!” It was sort of odd to see this organ that had supported life in my uterus for ten months, but cool, too. And, because I’m an oddball, I think it’s cool I got to touch it. 😛

My midwife had me hand the baby off to David so they could get me cleaned up and onto the bed. They helped me strip off my wet sports bra and wrapped me in some towels and got me into bed. David brought the baby to me and I just stared at her. I couldn’t get enough. I asked for help with breastfeeding as I had no idea how to latch her on. I had pumped for Briana, but she had such issues latching that after the first couple weeks I never put her to the breast. I felt like a complete novice. She latched on, and it was amazing, and I understood why people say breastfeeding helps you bond.

I told Victoria and C, who had been amazing through the whole thing, that they should go home and get some sleep. They both had places to be that morning!

Eventually the birth assistant had David bring the baby over to the scale, and they measured her and checked her out and gave her the vitamin k shot and put that goopy stuff on her eyes.

Miss Chelsea Rose was born at 4:13AM on June 5, 2015, after 20-30 minutes of pushing, weighing 8 pounds and 8 ounces (exactly a pound heavier than her older sister was at birth) and measuring 21 inches long.

We got her footprints in the baby book, they gave me some paperwork and after care instructions. They took my vitals and made me eat because my blood pressure was too low, and then they took my vitals again. And then, at 6:15, they said we were free to go! They would be by the next day for the 24 hour newborn screening. So different from the hospital, where they made us stay overnight and then almost a second night before they would discharge us!

We went home and crashed for a couple of hours, and then we showered and headed to my in-laws house so that Briana could meet her little sister. And that was that. We had a new little person to get to know!

I’ll write another blog as soon as I can about life with a toddler and a newborn. It’s been interesting to say the least.

But I’ll end this blog by saying that Chelsea is already a month old, and we love her to pieces, as does her sister. Time is flying by even faster now that there are two Little Loves in the house. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to keep up!

Happy Mama of Two

Calm

Calm

I went down to the beach this morning. It was 5AM when I eased my pregnant bulk out of bed, dressed, and quietly left the apartment. I told David last night I was going to be doing this, that I needed some me time desperately. He asked why I didn’t just go after we put Bri to bed, and I said “I think they close the beach after dark. I don’t want time limits.”

I put on an Enya c.d. I haven’t listened to in years before I started out, and I let my mind wander where it wanted as I drove. I wasn’t sure which beach I wanted to go to, but my car kept following familiar roads on its own, and I ended up in Edmonds. I didn’t go over by the marina, but to the little diving area near the ferry docks. As early as it was, I wasn’t the first to arrive, but that was okay. There were few enough people that I could pretend I was alone.

I put on a sweatshirt and grabbed my journal and my keys and walked along until I found a good rock to sit on. I closed my eyes and listened to the water, the seagulls, and oddly, a bunch of ducks that were hanging out near me. I smelled the saltwater on the wind. I took a deep breath and held it for a minute, and then I let it go.

I let go of the frustration and stress. I let go of my impatience. I let go of the rage that has been hovering just beneath the surface the last couple of weeks, the rage I haven’t been able to find the source of. The rage that’s freaked me out and made me snap at my two year old baby girl for no good reason. The rage that prompted this uncharacteristic early morning jaunt to the beach.

I came to find my calm.

I sat there on that rock for a long time. I wrote in my journal, and I prayed, and then I just watched the water and the birds and the sky. I tried to remember the last time I had done something just for me and I couldn’t. It had been too long.

Eventually the cold wind drove me back to my van. More people were showing up as well, making the illusion of solitude harder to maintain. I sat for a bit longer, writing in my car, listening to my music, watching the early morning joggers and walkers and elderly couples. I saw the first ferry of the morning arrive. I waited for all the ferry traffic to disappear, and then decided I was ready to leave.

I drove the winding road back up the hill and stopped at  Starbucks and spoiled myself with a cheese Danish and decaf white mocha. I listened to my music and smiled as I sang along. I felt human again. I felt calm. I felt ready to be a mom and a wife and just be myself again, instead of that crazy, raging, hormonal lunatic I left behind at the beach. 

I got home about three hours after I left, and everyone was still asleep. I finished my coffee and crawled back into bed. I didn’t wake up until 1PM, bless my husband, and when I did, it was to a beautiful smiling little girl with curly blonde hair an infectious smile. “Mommy! I miss you. You get up now, okay?”

And then she disappeared again, laughing and shouting about Lady and the Tramp and playing with her dolls and would I please color with her? And for the first time in what felt like a long time, I laughed and said yes, and hurried to play with her, not to make her stop whining or because I felt obligated, but because I wanted to.

I need to remember to do stuff like this more often. I need to remember to take care of me, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, too. Because when I do, I’m a better mom, a better wife, and a happier me.

Relaxed Mama

This is Really Happening

This is Really Happening

Today, I had a midwife appointment. It was my 39 week appointment, even though I am technically not 39 weeks until about an hour from now. Technicalities. Not a big deal. Just being specific, I suppose. Anyway…I’m distracted already and I haven’t even gotten started! Everything went absolutely fine with the appointment. Baby is still head-down, her heartbeat is strong, my blood pressure is perfect, etc., etc.

I had noticed before I parked that there were no parking signs up everywhere around the birth center for a specific date (I want to say it was the 24th and 25th), so I asked about those and found out that there is a “Cruzin’ to Colby” event and they close off parking for the whole street and surrounding streets for it. Oy! How am I supposed to get to you guys if I happen to go into labor in the middle of the event?! So my midwife showed me the back door, the alleyway behind the birth center, and the parking garage that David can park in, all in the unlikely event that I go into labor on one of those two days. And I realized, all of a sudden, that I could go into labor any day now.

I’ve known this for a couple weeks. I mean, obviously! I’ve been counting the weeks and days and hours and minutes until my due date. I have joked about going into labor many times. I’ve felt that impatient feeling every mom gets at this point during her pregnancy, and cried over my clumsy, waddling, out-of-breath, uncomfortable state. I want to meet my baby. Even with all of that, however, it hadn’t really hit me that this baby could be born any day now.

Once it did, I had a mild panic attack. I sat in the drivers seat for a couple minutes before turning on the engine, and I just…panicked. I thought of how impatient I’ve felt with Briana lately, between my lack of energy and her being two and testing the limits. I thought of trying to keep up with the apartment and keeping everything tidy and how impossible that is with a small child running around.

I remembered those first few weeks after we brought Briana home as a newborn, and the crushing, frustrating, painful, horribleness that was my first attempt at breastfeeding. I remembered the postpartum depression, how isolated I felt, how I worried every second about what a horrible mother I was going to be, how I had no idea what I was doing. I remembered how much I cried those first few weeks, how, surrounded by people who loved me and wanted to help, I felt completely and utterly alone. I remember yelling at David for not doing enough, and him yelling back that every time he tried to help me I told him I could do it, and if I wanted help, I had to let him help.

I remember feeling this enormous pressure to be Supermom and do EVERYTHING myself, and when I did let people help, it was because I was literally so tired I couldn’t tell them no.

I remember the crushing guilt the time Briana was screaming for food, just before she turned three weeks old, and I felt like I was such a failure because I mixed her some formula instead of putting her to my breast.

And then, following that memory, was the memory of the look in my sleepy baby’s eyes when she finally felt full. Watching her fall asleep in my arms while I whispered to David that I was going to pump and give her my milk in a bottle from then on. The triumph of still giving her my milk even though putting her to my breast hadn’t worked out for us. Watching David’s face as he marveled in our new baby. Seeing him fall in love with this little pink bundle, and feeling my heart grow and grow and grow to make room for this new kind of love that only a parent can understand.

I remembered the morning newborn cuddles, and the first smiles, and her first belly laugh. I remembered the first time I successfully took her out by myself, and how proud and how absolutely terrified I felt every single time she learned something new. (That hasn’t changed.) I remembered crying and laughing at the same time the first time she rolled over, and bawling my eyes out and hating myself the first time she toppled over, even though she wasn’t hurt.

I sat in my car and played over my daughter’s first two and a half years of life in my mind, and I shook my head and laughed at myself.

I took a deep breath.

I’m going to have a baby any day now.

It’s going to be hard sometimes.

There will be days I will question my own sanity, and days I think I’m a terrible parent.

There will be moments when I don’t know which child needs me more in that moment, and moments when I make the wrong decision.

There will be times when I cry because I feel like there’s not enough of me to go around, and times when I feel guilty because my new baby isn’t getting the kind of one-on-one time that Briana got when she was brand new.

There will be messy rooms and dishes left undone and chicken nuggets for dinner three nights in a row.

But there is one big difference between the Jessica Mom of 2012 and the Jessica Mom of 2015.

Jessica Mom of 2015 knows how to ask for, accept, and be grateful for help.

I know now that I don’t have to be supermom, and accepting help doesn’t make me weak or make people see me as incapable. Accepting help means I will be better-rested, more focused, and less overwhelmed. Accepting help makes me nothing more or less than a human being who can’t do everything alone.

I’d say “I’ve got this.” But that would be inaccurate. “WE’ve got this.” David and I, and his parents, and my family, and our friends, and whoever else offers to help. Yes, there will be times when it’s all on me. But I’m the mom, and that’s okay. Knowing I have help? Knowing I can call my mother-in-law at 9 AM and say “I know it’s only 9, but dear Lord, I’m going crazy can we come over?” Knowing she’ll say “yes” in a heartbeat. Knowing I have a team of people, a family, right here on this train to Crazy Town with me?

Who needs to panic?

Let’s get this ball rollin’.

I’m going to have another baby.

It could happen any day.

And everything is going to be okay.

~A Very Human Mommy~

I’m ready.

I’m ready.

I am ready to bring you home little girl, in my arms instead of this gigantic baby belly that makes me so tired. I am ready to see your face and count your fingers and toes, to see whether you have as much hair as your older sister did, to kiss your little nose. I am ready to see your pretty eyes and introduce myself to you. I am ready to hold your hands in mine, to sing you a song, to hold you close.

I am ready to introduce you to your sister. I can’t wait to see her reaction to you. She loves babies, you know. I’ll try to make her give you some room, but you should expect lots of kisses and hugs. She will call you “baby sister” for a while until we can get her to say your name. I hope that’s okay. She’s very excited about you.

I’m a little nervous about having two babies to take care of, so I hope you’ll be patient with me. (Your sister isn’t really a baby anymore, but you are both my babies, and that’s just how it will always be.) Sometimes I may do the wrong thing, or cry because I’m tired and overwhelmed, or take too long to figure out what you are trying to tell me. I promise I will do my best to be a good mommy to you, and to your sister, too.

I hope you don’t mind that a lot of your stuff used to belong to your sister. We got you some new stuff, too! Your sister likes your zebra bedding. She asked if she could have it, but we told her it was for her sister. She was okay with that, but she still likes to come into our room to look at it. We decided you deserved to have some stuff that was just yours, brand new. We hope you like it, too!

Are you ready to greet the world, baby girl? It’s a big place, but don’t worry. I’m here, and so is your daddy, and your sister. We will watch out for you and keep you safe, and we already love you more than you can possibly know! (You’ve got grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends eagerly awaiting your arrival as well!)

I am trying to enjoy these last couple weeks when I know that you are as safe as you will ever be, all mine for just a little longer, not having to share you with anyone, well-nourished and content in there. But it’s so hard when I am feeling so impatient to meet you, officially, as it were. When we can both see each other instead of just feeling movements and wondering what in the world the other is doing.

Please let me meet you soon, baby girl. I’m so ready for you!

Ready Mama