Sick Babies & Scared Mamas

Today broke me. I am not proud of the way I handled things at all. Bubs has Croup and I have the crud. We were in the ER last night because despite my medical knowledge and training I am a complete freak when Jackson is sick. I panic and jump to the worst possible scenario. I think the real reason is because life is fragile and I’ve witnessed that first hand. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve to have him and I’m petrified that something bad is going to happen. So when he is sick I lose all rational thinking and panic. Anyways, back to last night. He was a little congested at dinner but nothing too abnormal since he just got over an ear infection. He went to bed just fine but about an hour into sleeping he woke up with the worst cough I’ve ever heard. My heart sank and I just knew I had to get him checked out. A few hours later we were discharged and back on our way home. The doc said it was Croup and the awesome ER nurse staff took great care of us! We didn’t sleep much since he was coming off his steroid high and his coughing would wake us both up. This morning I woke up dog tired and sick. Like I just want to lay in bed all day sick. Hubby is on shift and the grandparents are out of town so it’s me, the kiddo, the pups, cats, and the horse. Taking care of a sick little one is not an easy task, adding your own sickness is just torture. It’s true, moms never get a sick day. We have to be “on” even when we feel like shit. I put on my best customer service voice for work and tried to make calls in between Jackson’s fits. Thanks to 2020 most customers understand a little more that working from home is the new thing to do. My breaking point today was trying to get Jackson to take a nap. The roids had him “all jacked up on Mountain Dew” and he had been awake from 7:30am – 3:00 with only one 20 minute nap after breakfast. He was exhausted. I tried every trick in the book and even put him in the carrier and walked the driveway holding an umbrella (it was obviously raining). Nothing was working. I went upstairs and turned on the TV and tried to get him to fall asleep drinking his bottle. No such luck. I picked him up and carefully carried him down the stairs (another irrational fear). I was on solid ground when my foot caught something and I tripped. Like in a movie tripped. I somehow regained my balance still holding Jackson who was completely oblivious to what just happened. That’s when I lose it. I sat there on the floor holding my baby and cried. Ugly cried. My face was black from mascara left over from the day before and my shirt was soaked with tears. I sat there for what felt like ever holding him and just thanking everyone and everything that he never left my arms. Jackson and the dogs probably thought I was insane. Ugh I could feel my heart stop and couldn’t feel myself breathing as I scrambled for my footing. That has got to be the worst feeling in my life. After I pulled myself together we laid in bed and I soaked up all the sick baby snuggles. He finally fell asleep in my lap and I stayed there for his whole nap. I was NOT moving and risking waking the tiny human. The rest of the evening went on like normal and then we settled in on the couch to watch “mommy’s show” (Heartland) while he drank his bottle. It took some convincing but he finally gave into the sleep time routine and drifted on to dreamland. Now I lay here thinking about the day and how disappointed I am in myself. I was so frustrated with him this morning for not napping and for fighting me on everything. Well of course he did! (Face palm myself). If he feels as bad as I do then I can’t blame him. I’m sure being sick and that small is weird. You have no idea why you feel bad but you just do. And these big humans are clueless and try and give you stuff when really all you want is to be held. I know there is no road map for this parenting gig but I do know that I failed today. I failed him and myself. But that’s okay because tomorrow is a new day and I will do better. I will do better at watching his cues and try to soothe and comfort him. I will bounce him, walk him, drive him around, or do whatever he needs me to do. Because that’s my job. I am mom. And moms do whatever they have to so the tiny humans are safe and healthy. As I drift off into my Benadryl assisted sleep I’ll remind myself to wake up with a little more grace and a lot more patience. Because just like Jackson, we are all just figuring this out day by day. It’s just a bad day, not a bad

Slightly Medicated (and that’s OKAY).

Hello my name is Jessica and I have postpartum depression and anxiety (PPD/PPA). Phew, sometimes that is hard to admit. I kind of had a feeling this would be something that I face at some point. I have prior history with depression/anxiety and live with PTSD. I was medicated during college due to extreme stress with performance and the doctor thought it would help with my ADHD (it didn’t). After college I was able to get off medication by working out and eating healthy. Since I’m technically still recovering I haven’t been able to get back into working out like I used to. Although, I just got semi-cleared to add more movements back into my routine (yaaay!). My husband and I had a very open and honest discussion while I was pregnant about postpartum depression. I told him my worries and that I was nervous about how I would feel. He assured me that we would get through it and he would be there to support me. I remember reaching out to my mom friends (3 of us were pregnant at the same time) and telling them I think I had some anxiety starting to set in. I would be sitting quietly minding my own business and then BOOM! A wild off the wall thought would pop into my head. Ex: what if I trip while I’m holding my baby and we both hit the ground and I break my legs. Some of them were so surreal that I could picture it happening. I like to think I have a logical brain and thought process. I would get so mad at myself for allowing those images and thoughts to pop into my head. It’s wild what the “what ifs” will do to you. I’m lucky that my little one, dogs, family, and work keep my busy so I don’t have too much time to sit and make up scenarios. I started to notice my fuse was rather short (explosively short) around 3 months postpartum. I would lose my shit when the dogs would bark or get irritated when loved ones tried to help too much. I tried to keep it in check and kept denying that it was an issue. There were times I would literally have to walk away and count to 10 (or whatever number I needed) so that I wouldn’t lash out at those closest to me. The craziest part is, Jackson never worked my nerves. Somehow I am able to stay cool, calm, and collected with him.  Even as he is protesting getting dressed after bath time I just let him wiggle and “tell me all about it”. Most of the time I feel anxious when he is loud because I don’t want to upset those around us. Whether it’s his grandparents, people on the phones or even strangers in the grocery store. If he starts fussing I’m on level 100 inside because I don’t want to him to disrupt other people. But here’s what I’ve learned. Babies cry, the fuss, and sometimes they scream for no reason. As long as they are not hurting then it can be solved. Bottle, back pats, and sometimes a car ride are necessary to calm little man. I distinctly remember the day that the hubby and I had “the talk”. We were sitting in the backyard playing ball with the pups while Jackson napped. He asked me if I felt depressed. That’s such a loaded question. I just kind of shrugged my shoulders (I’ve never been good at talking about feelings). For some reason I felt sort of defeated admitting it. Like I had failed. He knew the answer was yes and so did I. He in a very gentle way asked that I make an appointment so I could have help dealing with this. I procrastinated in making the appointment but finally went a few weeks later. I sat in a cold doctors office filling out check boxes of: do you feel xyz, so on and so forth. The doc finally came in and read over the sheets with me. Based on what she read and what I told her she said I definitely had some anxiety and depression going on (uh, yeah). Mine would surface as anger and rage because I bottle it all up until I just bust. Like a coke bottle that’s been shaken ready to spew. She prescribed me a low dose antidepressant and told me to follow up if that didn’t help. She said it would take time for the medication to help level everything out so give it time. So now I have one more thing to add to my daily routine and hope that it doesn’t get skipped like everything else. I think it had been about a month since my appointment when my husband pointed out that I seemed happier. That is when I realized that maybe it was a bit more obvious than I thought. It’s so hard to pinpoint it, when depression starts and stops. It’s not like you wake up one day and magically feel better. It kind of seeps in over a few days, acts like a black rain cloud for a time period and then one day you look around and the sun is shining. You never know how long the sunshine will last so you make the most of it. I’ve now been on medication for 3 months and am finally starting to feel semi normal. Although, I do notice that by the evening it starts to wear off (I take it in the AM) so I’m a little more snappy. I’m hoping now that I’m able to be more active that I can work off some steam on my “off days”. A good sweaty workout is always good for the body and brain! I thank my lucky stars to have such a supportive husband and family. This journey has made us talk about uncomfortable topics but topics that needed to be discussed. Mental health is a topic that is usually talked about in whispers. Why? It doesn’t make you a “bad” person if you live with mental health ups and downs. It makes you human. And talking about it is good for you. Holding it in is just as bad as holding in a fart. Let that shit out. My husband knows that when I’m venting that I don’t want solutions. I just want to get it all out so I don’t have to hold onto it. I have many tattoos but one of them has a deeper meaning than it seems. It reads “let it go”. No I didn’t get it because of Frozen (it was actually well before the movie came out). It’s a reminder to “let that shit go” as my dad always says. Regardless of what “it” is, if it’s causing you mental harm then let it go. Now I know that’s so much easier said than done, hence the permanent reminder. I have no idea how long it will take me to feel “normal” again, or if I will at all. But I think I’m okay with that. I am a good mom for Jackson and a good wife for my husband, and that is all that matters. There will be bumps along the way but I wouldn’t want to do life with anyone else. 

My ray of sunshine that brightens any day. Image captured by Feel Good Photography.

Mom Guilt

There are many things that make me feel guilty as a new mom. These are a few that I have really struggled with. I usually am not one to give into social pressures and I usually feel confidence in my decisions but being a mom changes your brain and thought process. My little one is 6 months old. These months feel like they are flying by so fast (even though those first couple months almost did me in). Anyways, back to what the point of this post.

My little one is 6 months old and I googled how to relactate. Yes, you read that right. I had too much time on my hands one late night feeding and started to feel guilty for not sticking with breastfeeding. We made it 6 weeks and I had enough saved up that he had breastmilk for 2 weeks after that. There was one morning where we (me and baby) were both in tears trying to get him to eat and he just wouldn’t latch. My mom very gently asked me why it was so important to me that he breastfed. The only logical answer I could come up with was “breast was best” because that is what you read everywhere. I couldn’t stand the shame that I couldn’t feed my baby. I had been taking supplements to keep my milk production up, drinking water like a fish, and had to take other supplements to avoid clogged ducts (holy smokes OUCH). Later that day we introduced formula and he has been a formula baby ever since. Everytime I made a formula bottle I couldn’t help but feel sad and shameful. There were multiple times where I would feed him a bottle with tears streaming down my face. But he was happy. And as a mom that is all that matters to me. He is happy, healthy, and growing. Formula feeds were less stressful on little man. No more fighting me to latch. No more wondering if he was getting enough. Not to mention, now his dad and grandparents (or anyone) can feed him and give me a break. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t feel shame. Because I do. Everyday. 

“Just give that baby some tylenol”. When Jackson was 3 months there was a 3 day stent where I had to give him tylenol every 4 hours for teething. He was in so much discomfort from teething that by the 3.5 hour mark he was biting anything he could get to his mouth and just a fussbucket. I felt like I was poisoning him and taking the “easy way out” by giving him medicine. Why the HECK did my brain immediately go to that thought process?! Do you remember the scene in The Aristocats when Edgar is adding sleeping pills to the kitten’s milk? That is exactly how I feel when I give Jackson his Tylenol when his teething is causing him to be fussy. I told his pediatrician how I was feeling and she assured me that the infant tylenol is not harmful and that I was a good mama for giving it to him. It was easing his discomfort instead of making him figure out why his mouth was hurting. I mean, at 3 months I’m sure he had no clue why his gums were itching. I tried every natural remedy I could find, teething oils, and gels. I spent over $100 on teething toys (sorry hubby lol) and that little stinker would rather chew on his silicone spoon than the toys. 

Sleeping arrangements. I just have to laugh at this one. I think I said (way before having kids) that my kids would sleep in their own beds. Well here we are 6 months in and Jackson has been sleeping in our bed basically since day 1. When we first brought him home it was a “whatever it takes” for him to sleep. We would rock him, bounce him in the bouncer, contact sleep, you name it, we tried it. I was terrified of SIDS that there were nights I would literally “stay awake just to hear you breathing” (cue Aerosmith song). The hubby and I have fully accepted that we will have a pillow stealer and cover monster with us for a while. I follow many mom pages and it’s split down the middle. I have some that are strict about sleep training AKA making them sleep in their own bed or the other half co-sleeps. I see both sides and each have valid points. But, I honestly sleep better when I have my hubby next to me. So, it would make sense that baby just wants to feel close at night. That thought process makes me feel real poopy for trying to make him sleep alone at such a young age. I mean, he felt the comfort of my body for 10 months and then BAM welcome to the world, here is a cold bed (alone). It is the best feeling in the world to feel him snuggle up against me or I wake up to him “petting” me while he is off in dream land. Yes my sleep is interrupted BUT this is the most peaceful sleep I’ve gotten in a long time. In the mornings I wake up to him smiling right in my face and give him thousands of smooches. I know one day he will be a big boy and be in his own bed so for now we are going to take all the snuggles we can get. When he is a moody teenager we can look back on these days and smile. 

Schedules. Ugh… this exhausts me on. the. daily. I try so hard to keep a consistent schedule for Jackson but I myself don’t follow a schedule so how can I expect him to? We wake up at different times depending on my work schedule which means his nap “schedule” fluctuates. I read many articles about wake times and nap times and all that entails. That shit is exhausting. Counting how many minutes he is awake vs asleep will drive you batty. I started to just follow his cues and that made life so much easier. I was able to go places and do things and not have to worry about when his next nap window would happen. He would either go to sleep where we were at or wait and fall asleep in the truck. I’m hoping that he will learn to sleep wherever we are instead of in a certain spot at home with me balancing on my head and the sound machine on 100% (definitely exaggerating here). I coach CrossFit and there are times when he comes to class with me. That means volume full blast of 2000s hip-hop (my absolute fav), barbells hitting the floor, and at times loud yelling from yours truly to keep everyone going. He heard that for all the months in my belly and oddly enough, he is calm and relaxed during class. I guess coaching while pregnant had its benefits well after giving birth! 

There are so many ways to raise babies. Why does one way have to be “the right way” and the other is “the wrong way”? Just because one mama chooses something different doesn’t make it wrong and/or bad. Maybe they’ve exhausted everything they could to try and do it your way? You never truly know what moms go through to care for their babies and how hard we try to be “the perfect mom”. For me being “perfect” looks a lot different than I thought it would in the beginning. Which now that I think about it, that was probably self inflicted stress. I had never had babies so why did I already have planned what was going to happen? Chunk those hard set lines in the sand away and give yourself some grace. Give yourself room to mess up (because it happens), to get it wrong (that’s how we learn), and to grow into the mom you’re supposed to be. If your mom friends (or family members) give you baby advice that doesn’t follow what you want, just smile and say thank you for the suggestions. You don’t have to follow them and honestly you don’t ever have to think about them again. You keep doing what works best for you, your baby, and your family. My sister has been saying this for years, “you do you”. That has been the best mom advice that I’ve received and given. You do what ever you have to do to stay happy, healthy, and sane (that’s a definitely a separate blog post coming up). The take away from this long drawn out post is: give yourself grace as a mom and know that you’re doing your best for your baby. ❤️

-Mama Bear Out

Mom Brain

I remember thinking that “pregnancy brain” was just an excuse until I experienced it. It made the simplest of tasks somehow feel like I was performing rocket science. I kind of thought that it would go away once the baby was here and I would get my brain back. Boy was I wrong! If anything my brain power feels like it has diminished. Or that I am living each day in a fog. I wake up with full intentions of completing tasks but by the time I get out of bed I have already forgotten what needed to be done. That just made a light bulb go off! I’ll now make a list each morning before I forget. I think the most frustrating part is I KNOW what I want to say and/or do but there is a disconnect between my brain and my mouth. I forget words mid sentence. I say the wrong words in the wrong context and look like a fool. I lose track of the time and what day it is. I promise I graduated high school and somehow obtained a college degree. Sometimes when I am coaching my classes I will fully read the board to the class and then go to tell them the first task and just stand there. Silently racking my brain trying to remember what I just said. I will call a customer and they at times probably think they are talking with a third grader. Some of the ladies totally understand when I giggle and blame it on the mom brain. There have been times when I (try) and get out of the truck with my seatbelt still attached. I’ve put the milk in the cabinet and the cereal in the fridge, insert facepalm emoji. I have sat at a stop sign waiting for it to turn green (sorry to those behind me). It seems like the small little everyday tasks are suddenly level 10 out of 10 but somehow I have managed to keep a tiny human alive. It’s really wild when you think about it. Not once have I skipped a beat with Jackson and/or his needs. I guess all the brain power is focused on him and keeping him learning and growing. Maybe one day he will return the favor and care for me just as we have done for him. So if you see a mama bear out there staring into space offer her a smile. She is probably trying to remember the 1 thing she needed from the grocery store (even though her cart is full). 

Postpartum Life So Far…

I’ve been inspired by fellow moms to talk about my postpartum journey (so far). There are a few different things that I have experienced that might help another person not feel so alone. CAUTION if you’re a man and don’t want to read about postpartum stuff then I would definitely skip this post. These are my raw emotions and experiences and a little of what I feel on the inside on a day to day basis. There are many rants I might go on in here and might even turn this into a blog on each topic. Still toying with that idea.

I’ll start off by stating it bluntly. I am not having the postpartum experience I pictured when I first found out I was pregnant. I was in the best shape physically and mentally when I found out I was pregnant. I was lifting heavy (for me) and living life to the fullest. I stayed active throughout my pregnancy and even coached a class the day I went into labor. Everyone kept telling me that I should have an easy recovery and “bounce back” quickly because of how active I was. Can we all just laugh for a moment at the term “bouncing back”? I can tell you the only thing bouncing for me is the baby weight I still have. Why is that even something we tell moms? I was told multiple times fresh out of the hospital “how great I looked” or “you don’t even look like you just had a baby”. Are those supposed to be comforting to a new mom? We are exhausted, still swollen from fluid retention, and the last thing we want is for someone (usually strangers) to comment on our appearance. How about asking us how we are doing, how are we feeling, do you need anything. Talk about anything except for our appearance or asking if we are getting sleep (because the answer is NO). I am currently 22ish weeks postpartum (about 5 months) and things are not at all what I pictured. I still am limited to what I can do. Like EXTREMELY limited. I can stretch, walk, and do some body weight only movements because my body is still healing. Yes, I said still healing. My (our) bodies can take up to two years to fully heal and sometimes even longer. I grew a human for 10 months. My organs were squished and misplaced to make room for my little bundle of joy and they are still not in their respective spots. Now I have to give my body time to re-learn what it’s like to not get kicked and punched from the inside. This takes time and patience. If you know me I am not a very patient person. I like to get things done quickly. When we got home from the hospital I was miserable. For some reason I couldn’t walk correctly (my legs wouldn’t bend), I couldn’t sit down without excruciating pain in my tailbone area, and needed help getting in and out of bed. I had anxiety about going #2 because I didn’t want to rip any stitches. I took stool softeners for probably the first two months because of this anxiety. I remember talking to my mom about something and she was shocked that I bought Depends. I told her that was the easiest thing since I basically had zero control and couldn’t move fast enough. I now know why (keep reading). (Thank you to my husband and parents for all the help. Literally they had to do everything for the first couple weeks.) I had to stay within walking distance of a toilet because holding anything for even a short time period would end in epic fails. I passed clots the size of baseballs and enough blood to question if I had any left. I of course was in constant contact with my doctor to be sure I did not need immediate medical attention. He assured me while all of these things were new to me they were sometimes part of the recovery process. Cool (but not really). At my 6 week PP appointment I was given the all clear to resume activities and coaching and to just listen to my body as my “should I or shouldn’t I”. There was an issue though. Actually a couple issues. My pelvic floor needed some assistance to help pull my organs back up and my tailbone was jacked (not a medical term lol). I was referred to a pelvic floor physical therapist and literally called her on the way out of my appointment. I was lost, felt defeated, and slightly helpless. I met with my PT lady that week and had reassurance that I was not alone in this journey. She encouraged me to let go of my “I should be doing x, y, & z” thoughts and reminded me that I was VERY early in my recovery process. She stated that these things take time and cannot be rushed. My first set of exercises were learning how to breathe properly again. Yes, I said breathing was my EXERCISE. I was mad, defeated once again, and discouraged. How did I go from doing CrossFit 4-5 days a week to BREATHING for my exercises?! Ugh. Fast forward to today, I have now been seeing my PT for the last 16 weeks and I just now got cleared to do body weight exercises. I want to do more but my body keeps telling me no. I push myself further than what I should because I feel like I should be further along in my recovery process. All that does is knock me back and I have to go back to my basics. I walked every day in January sometimes pushing Jackson and then sometimes I was solo. On the last day I tried to jog a bit because I miss running (I know how crazy that sounds). I was immediately reminded why jogging was not a good thing just yet. Like Ricky Bobby, I want to go fast again. But I can’t and probably shouldn’t. I got mad and in my head about comparing myself to others who had babies at similar times. They seem to be life as usual and out running around and back in the gym. That’s where this term of “bouncing back” irritates the piss out of me. What am I bouncing back to? My body will never be the same as my pre-baby body. My hips have moved, my skin has stretched, and I literally popped a child out of my nether regions. Things definitely will not be the same. And why should they? I don’t have the answer to that. But I do know society puts a HUGE emphasis on getting the “pre-baby body” back, getting back to life as it was before, and getting back to work (different rant). I am in the fitness industry and have been a coach for the last year and half almost. For the first time I have re-evaluated my coaching technique, the way I word things, and the movements I ask our athletes to do. Through my on-going recovery I have learned new ways to work muscle groups safely for postpartum individuals and I now understand the importance. Each person is different and sometimes you have to modify a movement 5 different ways to achieve the same outcome. But that’s okay. Modifying is part of life. You have to adapt not only in the fitness world but also in everyday life. It’s okay to not be where you thought you should be. I am learning this and learning to accept this. I know one day I will be running again but it just won’t be tomorrow. I know one day I will be back squatting with my gym peeps but I am now okay with that not being tomorrow. Instead of “bouncing back” I am now bouncing forward. Forward into motherhood and learning new things each day about myself and what I can overcome. I know that I am still very new in this process and I am learning to have patience with myself. I am learning that comparing my journey to others is not fair. It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to them. Sometimes we only post about the happy times and the good things that are going on. Those same individuals that seem to have it all together could very well be feeling the same way I am. If I have learned one thing in this journey is us moms need each other. We need to talk to people who have gone through similar things so we know we are not alone (as we have a baby attached to our hip). I have been inspired to get certified in pre/post partum athleticism and plan to do that this year. I currently coach a ladies only CrossFit class. Having this extra training will not only benefit me as a postpartum athlete but I will benefit as a coach as well. I hope any mamas out there read this and have some pressure taken off about “where you should be” in your journey. There are no road maps for this so we are literally flying by the seat of our pants. I learn things daily and refuse to let society tell me how I should look or feel (another rant). Side note: if you tinkle when your up and moving around, have tailbone pain, weird sensations down below, diastasis recti, or anything else that you think “isn’t right” please reach out to a pelvic floor PT! It’s never too late (my lady sees patients in their 70s/80s). I would be lost in my journey without her. Oh, and the best part is, she comes to the house! No getting ready and having to find a babysitter. She is located in Houston but services the Brenham area. She can be found at Well Women Physical Therapy on FB and Instagram. **I am in no way compensated for this** I just truly believe she can help everyone just like she has helped me.

Mama Bear OUT