Being Weak: Postpartum Depression

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I love my husband. I love my children. I love being a mother. I love drinking too much coffee and singing way too loud. I love funny movies and trash television. I love a good bubble bath and mint chocolate chip ice cream (sometimes together).

I do not love postpartum depression. 

I have had seasonal depression and generalized anxiety for my whole life, through lots of therapy and training I have learned how to manage it most of the time - but postpartum depression is something completely different. I had my first run-in with PPD after having our daughter. I was so worried about how to be a good mom, compounded with the pediatrician telling me that my "milk wasn't cutting it" at only two days after birth; I was a mess. I woke Bonnie up every hour and a half to feed her for the first month, and rarely ever put her down because I was scared that she would somehow implode if I did. Most nights I slept in our recliner with her because I was too tired to keep going back and forth between the bedrooms. At my postpartum checkups, they asked me "do you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby?" and "can you still laugh at things?" - and my answers where "no, I would never!" and "of course I can!" But they never asked me the questions that I needed to hear; "do you have an all-consuming fear of killing your child accidentally?" or "do you feel like you are slowly drowning because you'll never be good enough?" 

I didn't say anything to anyone because I just thought that it was normal to be overwhelmed at first, but that I would figure it out soon enough. I continued to "be strong" and take care of our baby, finish my degree, and be a source of solace for my husband who hated his job; coming home everyday completely drained and devoid of the ability to commiserate. He needed me to support him emotionally. She needed me to do everything for her - literally. And I was suffering through nights of literally almost no sleep, increasingly frequent panic attacks, and terrifying bouts of anxiety-driven paranoia about my abilities as a mother to keep my child alive, much less happy. 

What I needed was someone to tell me that it was going to be okay. To take my burdens from me and let me breathe without the self-made weight upon my shoulders. I eventually sought counseling for Christopher and I, where I told him for the first time how much I was truly struggling. Through that process we thankfully worked on ourselves both separately and together - and now we are better for it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I birthed the most beautiful baby boy in the world - it's a fact, don't fight me on it. My pregnancy had been long and hard, his delivery was traumatic while going through it - both physically and emotionally, and now I had this (beautiful) little baby who depended on me for everything; just like his much more demanding older sister. During the first couple of weeks I felt great! We had family here, then my church family came and dropped off food the next week; I was taken care of! 

And then one Monday it was just me and two kids - I was ALONE. Very alone. 

I found that the energy I had when there was someone else here with me was gone, and I was lonely; I fantasized about just going to the grocery store, or church! I had no drive to cook real meals, so Bonnie often had some toddler meal pouches, Cheerios, and fruit for her meals; this fueled my self-hate and thoughts that I am indeed a bad mom. I resented the fact that I was contained to my home and that my body wasn't just mine but instead belonged to my newborn who nursed 24/7; or his sister who NEEDED my lap. I cried over anything and everything.

I could feel the darkness creeping back into my life; taking my joy and replacing it with doubt and self hate. I knew that this time I couldn't do it alone - I couldn't be strong and save face.

So I became weak. I cried my eyes out on my husband's shoulder because I wasn't "okay." I made an appointment with a doctor because I NEED professional help. I reached out to my family members because I can't do it alone. I gave myself grace for my transformed body, my crying, my lack of real pants, and my need to go run errands by myself when Christopher comes home at night. 

I gave it to God to carry, because I cannot carry it alone. 

I wrote this post because this blog is my catharsis; my place to unload my hurts and happiness alike. I'm writing to y'all and to myself, so we all know that I am not okay - but that's okay because I'm allowed to be weak sometimes.

Thanks for reading my rants and rambles... And if you are also feeling down these days, please let me pray for you! Please speak your pain and let people know. Please be weak with me.

Stay sweet,

Augustus: A Birth Story

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Augustus' birthday had been long awaited and desired by me and my family - he was a big boy already and I could feel his weight with every movement I made - I was ready to have him on the outside. I had started to lose my mental fortitude, and worried that this baby was never going to come out on his/her own! Thankfully, my salvation came at 39 weeks and one day.

I knew that the day had finally come on July 11th, 2016. I woke up at 7:30am to my bloody show and contractions no more than six minutes apart. I was still a little hesitant to declare that I was in labor  as I had been experiencing early labor symptoms for the last two weeks and didn't want to get everyone excited again. I had an appointment with my midwife that day at noon, so I decided to just text her to let her know what was going on, but that I would see her at noon for my appointment. All morning I tidied up the house, packed and repacked our bag, did my makeup to distract myself, and ate a big lunch just in case I lost my appetite later (I later regretted said lunch when I had to give it all back to the porcelain god); the whole time I was breathing through increasingly strong contractions and back laboring pains. Once we got into the car to go to the birth center for my appointment, my contractions were steadily about five and half minutes apart and growing strong enough that I had to focus to breathe through them on my own. I had been hovering at a 1.5cm dilated for the last two weeks, so I was looking for any kind of progress or encouragement from this visit - and validation that I was NOT crazy and was actually in labor. When she checked me at my appointment, I was at a four, rounding the corner to five; praise the Lord! 

She sent me home to labor in the comfort of my own environment, and told me to come back when things started to get more real and intense. I called Christopher to come home from work on the way home from the birth center, and texted my doula to let her know that today was finally the day! Once I got home the contractions picked up and began to get more intense, so I labored in my bathroom by myself until Christopher got there. After about an hour or so of us laboring together alone, I called my doula, Regina, to come and meet us at the house to help with my support. Regina came at around 1:30pm and greeted me as if I wasn't ninety-percent naked and making cow noises; bless that woman. She complimented us on our teamwork and our use of the pain management techniques that we had learned in her birthing classes; and she took the first commemorative photo of us during this labor.

All smiles at the beginning of active labor.
Once Regina got there, I stopped timing my contractions and watching the clock in general, but I know that I labored with Regina and Christopher in my bathroom for another two-ish hours before I started to scare Bonnie from the noises that I was making every four minutes. I asked Regina to please alert my midwife, Kelly, that we would be heading to the birth center soon...

The car ride to the birth center was AWFUL. I was bent over our car seats in the back seat of our car as Christopher tried to drive carefully down the highway, and then very bumpy streets to the center. It seemed like an eternity, but I am fairly certain that it was only about fifteen minutes.

We arrived at the birth center at about 4:00pm (we probably arrived there sooner but it took me almost twenty minutes to walk from the car to the door), and got settled into my favorite of the birthing suites. My midwife was finishing up with her last client of the day, so her student midwife, Beth, took my vitals and listened to the baby's heart tones. When my midwife came to check me, I was having contractions every three minutes for about a minute long - and my back labor had intensified. I was so excited  when Kelly told me that I was already at 9cm dilated! Everyone in the room was so excited that my labor was going so well and so quickly - we assumed that there would be a baby here by 8:00pm!

We felt so close together, bringing this baby into the world.
Christopher was an amazing support partner.
We were wrong.

8:00pm came and went, my contractions were getting stronger and my back was really starting to hurt; but no progression. My cervical lip was puffy on one side because of the position and size of the baby's head; meaning that I couldn't dilate to a full 10cm that would allow the baby's head to pass through into transition. After begging Kelly to do something to help me progress, she broke my water at 8:30pm and gave me Arnica oil both orally and rubbed on my cervix - OWW! 

The birthing pool helped alot with pain management during the first several hours of my labor.

After my waters were broken my contractions became so intense that I began to lose it. I remembered the quote about the difference between pain and suffering; that you choose to suffer. I was suffering. All semblance of my magic natural birthing experience was disappearing before my eyes. I told my birth team that I wanted to quit, and that I wanted to go to the hospital. Kelly told me that she supported me but asked to wait just thirty minutes to see if anything changed - I begrudgingly agreed. I told my doula that I couldn't do it, and she reminded me that I WAS doing it. I said I wanted a c-section, and I was told that it would take at least two hours JUST for an epidural. I wanted to punch everyone in the face. I started getting hysterical and Kelly reminded me that it would get me nowhere, and that I needed to calm myself down. 

Mad that I couldn't get any relief for at least two hours, I decided to try and refocus myself and remember why I was doing this. I changed up my laboring and went and laid down on the bed on my side (I had been laboring in the birth pool and then in the bathroom as well), and tried to be as still and quiet as possible (I had been rocking back and forth and making noises that sounded like a cow/lion/bear). I clenched all of my muscles together and closed my eyes just trying to make the waves of pain calm down, even if just for a second. I prayed to God for the hundredth time that night, asking Him to forgive me for trying to do it on my own and for fighting the process. I prayed that God would give me the strength and endurance to bring this baby earthside safely. I prayed that He would end my suffering, and let me accept the pain as a part of bringing this baby into the world. Christopher says that he didn't know what was going on with me at this point because I was acting completely different than I had been before - he thought I might've been dying or maybe labor has just stopped. After about forty-five minutes of refocusing and clenching all of my muscles, I realized that I was probably preventing the baby from moving down at all because I was closing off my pelvis... So I stopped clenching for just a second and BAM! I felt a head hit my birth canal like a cannonball. 

Regina told me that my leg started to rise and she knew that something was happening. When I felt the baby's head strut descending, I let out a scream (and scared the bejeebies out of everyone in the room because I had been quiet like death for almost an hour). Kelly asked "was that a push?! Are you pushing?!" and I said that I wasn't sure. She checked me and told me the best thing I had heard all day long - the baby's head was through! My cervix had FINALLY moved out of the way!

My birth team helped me move from the bed to a birthing stool and I felt the urge to PUSH. I pulled up on that birthing stool so hard that the next day I had bruises on my chest from straining so much. Kelly put a mirror under the stool so Christopher and I could see the baby's head making its way down the birth canal (both really cool and kinda disturbing at the same time). Once the head was crowning, Kelly told me that I needed to get off of the birth stool to help prevent excessive tearing - so they helped me onto my knees on the side of the bed. Christopher was behind me pushing on my back and cheering me on - telling me about our baby's hair and how close he/she was. Regina was on the bed, lending me her hands (which I probably almost broke, I am so sorry girl!). 

People describe what it is like when you're crowning - but they can't really do it justice. It was the single most painful thing that I have ever experienced, and yet I was SO excited to be going through it because it meant that I was almost done - my baby was almost here! When the head emerged fully, it was only two pushes before my baby was shot into this world (actually felt so fast that I was worried that no one caught him). I was so overwhelmed when Kelly passed the baby between my legs so I could pull it up to my chest - I was so relieved and exhausted. The umbilical cord was so thick that I couldn't see whether I had a son or a daughter at first - but once I re-positioned slightly, I saw that we had a son!

Praise the Lord!
I am so deliriously happy and exhausted at this moment.
First latch was a success!
Augustus Phillip Ross was born at 11:47pm on July 11th, 2016, after an eighteen hour labor full of surprises and trials. He weighed 9lbs 10oz, was 21.5 inches long, and had a head circumference of 15.2 inches (that's the 99.99% in case you were curious). He was perfect. He took his sweet time to cry, but once he did I could hear how strong he was. I cried. 

Daddy weighing his little (big) boy.
Looking back on this experience, I can say that it is both the hardest and most humbling thing that I have ever done. The pain and fear that I felt, God used to bring me closer to Him; because I couldn't have done it alone. I also couldn't have done it without my amazing birth team, and my incredibly supportive hubby; they carried me through the valleys so I could get to the top of the mountain. 

To my son, Augustus...
God used your birth to bring me to my knees - literally, and trust in Him alone because I knew that I could not do it by myself. I would still do every single second over again to bring you earthside; I love you.

Stay sweet,

Bumpdate: 36ish Weeks

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hello my long-lost loves, please excuse my recent hiatus! My life has been all kinds of crazy lately with Bonnie cutting her canines (teething is the Devil), briefly freaking out that I thought that I might have pre-eclampsia (thank the Lord above I didn't, I just have a bunch of crappy symptoms that I have been dealing with), and just last week on Friday I went in to be checked by my midwife because I could tell that something had changed, and I was worried about going into preterm labor (since I wasn't even officially 36 weeks yet); and I was already over half-way effaced and fully anterior. Eek!

So, I am now finally slowing down and penning my thoughts and updates for y'all, from my couch on bed-rest! I am so thankful for my little village that has been helping me through everything the last couple of weeks; it truly makes life better and easier when you have a community of people that you can rely on in times of need, and can celebrate with in times of joy! Also, shout out to my mom for coming this week and doing ALL of the heavy lifting that makes our world turn - Grammy is the best!

Baby Dos is feeling very heavy, and is sitting quite low - right on my cervix. He or she has also decided to break their month long streak of being in the perfect LOA position and switched it up to turn OP - which I am NOT happy about and am considering grounding him or her.

On Sunday I will be 37 weeks and will be considered far enough along that if I go into labor I can go to my birthing center instead of going to the hospital in a state of emergency... So I will be able to get off of bed rest and start trying to get this big ol' baby out! I'm ready!

Please keep us in your prayers for the next couple of weeks - and send positive vibes that Baby Dos will turn! 

Stay sweet,

What's in My Birth Bag: Baby Dos Edition

Thursday, May 26, 2016

This post also contains affiliate links. If you shop from my blog, I may be compensated for clicks or purchases that you make. Read my disclaimer page for more information.

When I gave birth to Bonnie, it was at our local hospital (a very nice hospital with a wonderful nursing staff by the way). When you deliver in a hospital, you normally have to stay for at least twenty-four hours after the baby is born; we ended up staying closer to thirty-six because she was born at seven o'clock at night on the day of my admittance. With this baby, I will be delivering at a birth center, then going home that same day/night to my own home, and my midwife will come a couple of times over the course of the first couple of days to check on how Baby Dos and I are doing. I am SUPER excited about getting to go home and sleep in my own bed, stuff my face with non-hospital food, and NOT have nurses come wake me up every four hours to push on my deflated uterus (seriously, I almost throat-punched this poor girl after I had B).

So, this time around my bag will be slightly different (I won't be so prone to over-pack) in its contents! Also, having gone through labor before and being a doula now,  feel like I am more aware of things that I will actually want to have versus things the internet might tell me to bring.

Here is what I have gathered up to pack in my birth go-bag so far...
48oz Bubba Jug
Earth Mama Angel Baby Birth Plan
Earth Mama Angel Baby Postpartum Bundle
2 comfy t-shirts (one for Hubbs if he comes from work)
pajama shorts
1 nursing bra
Trail Mix
SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Body Butter (love this smell)
2 Tennis Balls
Burt's Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm
nursing pads
hair brush & hair ties
Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara (because I am slightly vain)
YumEarth Organic Lollipops (these are DELICIOUS)
notebook & pen
maxi pads
a couple of magazines
Little Wife Power House - Serape Baby Blanket & Knotted Beanie (so so so cute)
plain onesie
baby socks
baby mittens
a few pairs of cotton undies that I'm willing to sacrifice
iPhone charger
my tablet & it's charger (in case I want to watch a movie, etc.)
Tylenol Extra Strength
yoga pants for heading home

I will also have...
my iPhone
my wallet with my insurance card, ID, etc. (in case I have an emergency)
my favorite blanket (shout out to Parris) in case I get cold

That is everything that I think that I could possibly need, especially since we will be going home the same day/night that Baby Dos is born - yay! If we have to be transferred to the hospital due to an emergency, almost all of my bases are covered; someone can bring me shampoo or my toiletries if I needed them. I feel like with Bonnie's birth I over-packed A LOT because I had no idea what to expect; with this birth I am more prepared and have more support; and don't feel the need to look glamorous going home - ha!

What did you pack in your birth bag? Got any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay sweet,

Bumpdate: 31 Weeks.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hello friends! So sorry for my recent hiatus - it has been a busy last couple of weeks, and once again we were dealing with yet ANOTHER stomach flu. I ended up straining my abdominal ligaments and being in some pain for a few days afterwards; but I am feeling much better now!

Baby Dos has definitely been packing on the pounds and is still measuring about two weeks ahead of schedule (so closer to 33 weeks than 31 in development and measurements). His or her movements have become increasingly uncomfortable due to the lack of space, and I can feel my cervix start to thin out; so I am hoping that on Wednesday at my midwife appointment she can reassure me that I have at least six more weeks left! 

Symptoms wise I am experiencing some fatigue and some Braxton Hicks contraction; but otherwise very good! I have gained about three pounds now over my starting weight of this pregnancy - but I feel like it has been closer to ninety. The baby has been hanging out pretty low, but still haven't felt him or her "drop" per-say. Hoping to keep up my energy and hydration up for the next couple of months, and for s good checkup on Wednesday!

Check back later this week on what I am putting in my birth bag!

Stay sweet,

Keep Your Comments & Hands to Yourself.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

One of the the biggest complaints I have about being pregnant is when people feel the need to comment on my pregnant body. I know that pregnancy is an exciting time (hello I AM the pregnant one here), but the number of people that I get commenting on MY body (or trying to touch me!) on a daily basis is ASTOUNDING. 

This weekend I was at a family friend's crawfish boil, and several people asked to touch my belly throughout the day. A few of the people who asked were my close family friends and I had no problem letting them rub up on Baby Dos, but some of them were strangers who were friends of my friends; that is a hard pass, folks. One woman, after *complimenting* me about how I was "all baby" and didn't look "that far along", was visibly upset that I wouldn't allow her to touch MY body and told me "you're just like my daughter-in-law! She wouldn't let me rub on my grandbaby either!"

Well, then. 

I wanted to launch into a full tirade about how another person's body is theirs and theirs alone, and that she was in no way entitled to touch her daughter-in-law's body any more than mine; but I didn't. I simply said "I'm sorry that you feel that way", and walked away. This woman was just like so many others that I have met during my last pregnancy and this one as well; people feel like their comments are complimentary, or that wanting to touch my baby bump is some how a universally accepted custom that I should be okay with. 

What people don't seem to understand is that every woman is different; and their journeys to baby are all different as well. Some women may love for you to tell them that they look "little" or "all baby" because they have struggled with their weight before and are worried about it now during their pregnancy especially; or some might take that "compliment" and hear that they aren't as big as they should be - causing them to worry about the growth of their baby. Some women might like to hear how big their belly looks because they have struggled to put on any weight for the baby; while others might start worrying about their weight gain. I have even been told (by both family members and some less-than-friends) that the baby "must have eaten some of my fat because my face looked thinner" or that I "look so pretty - my face looks thinner." The moral of this rant is that if you don't know these pregnant mothers well, please don't feel like you are entitled to touch their bodies. Better yet, go with this motto; "If you didn't put it in there, don't touch!" 

I know that pregnant bellies are hand-magnets, and that everyone thinks that their compliments come from the heart, but it is not always so. 

Next time you feel the need to comment on a pregnant mother's appearance, try something like "you look very nice today", or simply "you look radiant!" And as far as touching someone's belly is concerned - wait until SHE offers or brings it up before you go reaching for that bump! 

Do any of these comments give you dej√° vu? Got any funny stories about it? Let me know in the comment below!

Stay sweet, 

Mother's Day Gift Guide.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mother's Day is less than two weeks away, folks! And whether you make her something from the heart - or buy her something new; your mom just wants to know how much you love and appreciate her! Here are some of my suggestions for great gifts you could give her for less than $55!

1. Mikas Pond Bee Wristlet - Kate Spade $78 (on sale this week for $52)!
Super cute wristlet wallet for when you're on the go. Comes in multiple colors and has the classic gold finishings of Kate Spade! I love this because it will fit in whatever bad you might carry, but can also just be worn as the wristlet - so juggling kids and your wallet isn't so much of a hassle!

2. Dainty Sparklers Bow Reversible Earring - Kate Spade $38
Every lady needs a pair of pearl earrings, and these have a cute little twist! They're reversible so it's almost like getting two pairs of earrings for one! If you have little ones, dangle earrings can prove to be dangerous, so these studs are the perfect way to stay stylish & tear-free!

3. Women's Tote Bag with Zipfront Pocket - Merona $39 (at Target)
I am a sucker for a great bag. This bag is affordable, fashionable, and can hold all of my mama-junk that I have to carry around with me every day! It comes in three different colors and has two carrying options; on the arm, or on the shoulder (for when your hands are full of munchkins)!

4. Pink Innocencia Bath & Body Collection - Sonia Kashuk $6.99 - $19.99 (at Target)
All moms like spa days; it's just a fact of life. Might I suggest getting her a gift card to your local spa or this lovely bundle from Sonia Kashuk - available at Target! She will love feeling pampered like the queen that she is!

5. Multi-Use Nursing Shirt Milky Stripe - Milk Snob $42
If you have a nursing mama in your life - this shirt would be an AWESOME gift! It is a loungey shirt, nursing cover, AND car seat cover; all in one! It is made out o super soft and breathable cotton, and is very roomy for easy access for breastfeeding anywhere - I am DEFINITELY getting myself one.

6. Personalized Gold Bar Necklace - Love / Edor $39
Moms love personalized gifts, and this delicate gold bar necklace with her child's name on it is a perfect example! Got more than one baby? Try adding their initials to it, instead of one long name!

I hope that these suggestions have given you some great ideas, and that all the mamas out there have a happy and wonderful Mother's Day! Moms are often the unsung heroes of our lives, and they deserve to feel extra special for their big day... so be sure to tell her that you love her!
Got any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay sweet,