If you knew me 5 years ago you are probably just as shocked as I am that I’ve had 2 little ones. When people would ask about kids I would just laugh and tell them that I’ll be the fun Aunt Jessica forever. I never thought I was mother material. I love kids but I also loved spoiling them and sending them home to their parents. In my past life I tried for a couple years to conceive but always saw the words “not pregnant” on the tests. I let this consume me and it pulled me down into a low spot in life. On the outside I’d just tell everyone that I was okay being the aunt to all my friend’s kids but on the inside I was sad. I so wanted to see two pink lines and have my own bundle of minions to herd around. I finally accepted the fact that my pets would be my kids. Of course it wasn’t medically confirmed that I wasn’t able to bare children but what else could it be? Fast forward to when J and I reconnected. He has 2 kiddos so it was the perfect way to get to have a shot at being a (bonus) mama. I told him my past struggles of trying to conceive and we were both content with the current situation. Well, a few months later and a missed period I FINALLY saw the words “pregnant” on that little test. I took them all because there was just no way. How?! I almost passed out. I immediately texted my best friend because I was in shock. J was down south hunting and I really wanted to see his reaction in person. I had to wait a whole 24 hours with this secret before he came home. As soon as he walked through the door I told him I had a surprise for him. My mom had made her famous green sauce that he loves so I brought a quart home for him. He jokingly said, “what, are you pregnant?” That shocked me that he went straight to that so I started laughing and couldn’t hold it in any longer. I showed him the test and I legit saw the man’s legs wobble. That was one of the few times in life that I’ve felt so much happiness that I cried literal tears. I never thought I’d get this chance. It took all of our strength to keep this tiny little nugget a secret until we got to the doctor’s office to see that little heart flicker. My parents didn’t believe us. My husband jokes 99% of the time so it took lots of reassuring that it was in fact for real. Good thing we brought the ultrasound picture for proof. Of course they were shocked but after the shock wore off they were so happy. They immediately went into grandparent mode and started spoiling our newest family addition before he was even here. I write this as our oldest son is laying across my stomach and our daughter is snuggled up against me. This morning was the dreaded time change so today is all about loose schedules and staying in jammies. I looked down at this as I was drinking my second cup of coffee and just smiled. How on earth did I get so lucky to be their mama. Their safe place in this crazy world. They have no idea how loved they are. That their dad works so hard so they can have the best. That we do all that we do for them. Out of all of the things I’ve been called in life, Mama has got to be my favorite. Seeing little man reach up for me or seeing baby girl smile as soon as her little eyes open beings so much joy to my heart. I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m learning daily what it means to be mom. I am so thankful to have J by my side to help raise these little humans. It’s a tough job but lucky for these kids, we are tougher.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about things that are helpful to moms with newborns. I’ve only been through it twice so I’m by no means an expert but I’d like to say I’m considered a veteran mom at this point. Both my kiddos were born during Covid times so baby showers were iffy. For my first baby I had 2 showers, one from my best friends and one from family. I got on Pinterest and added everything but the kitchen sink to my registry. I mean I got all the “baby essentials” that were highly recommended by mom bloggers. I took great pride in my registry and used Babylist so it was all in one spot for all to see. I ended up getting a lot of stuff from it which was awesome! The only thing was.. I didn’t use half the stuff. The fancy cream applicators, the pacifier holders, and even some of the developmental toys were short lived. With my first one everyone said not to buy too many newborn items because of how fast they grow. They truly grow like weeds BUT if your doctor is anticipating them being small then DO buy the newborn diapers and onesies. Jackson was in newborn clothes and diapers for a few months so that was unexpected. Thank goodness for Amazon 2-day shipping! For my second I made sure to have newborn diapers and clothes at the house this time.
Here are some ideas if you have a friend or family member having a shower soon. These are all things that are helpful to the new mama and her growing family. Some of these gifts might seem a bit odd so if you’re not comfortable then definitely stick to the registry. Or get one thing from the mom’s list AND one of these ideas. She might look at you kind of crazy but I promise when she uses the item she will think of you and smile. Gift cards are always nice so they can pick things out or order online. In the first few weeks no mama wants to have to go to the grocery store for 1 item that she ran out of because she accidentally ran out. Loading up the baby and going to the store for toilet paper will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when you’re exhausted in those newly postpartum days. Laundry detergent (baby friendly detergent or regular) for sure. You don’t realize how many loads of laundry you’ll be doing just because a tiny 8 pound human is added to the mix. Between the spit ups, blowouts, and normal daily clothes you’ll be doing laundry 24/7. Good ol’ Dawn dish soap for washing bottles or soaking pump parts. If it’s gentle enough for baby ducks then it’s definitely good enough for the babes. WIPES. ALL THE WIPES. You will use them for everything (literally). I have a package or box of wipes in almost every room of the house and in the truck. I use them for diaper changes, make up remover, cleaning up spills, the dogs. You name it, a wipe can clean it! I’m partial to the Huggies Natural Care but honestly any wipe can clean up the messes. Puppy pads. This one might seem a bit weird but necessary for those newborn days. That amazing changing pad you got with those cute covers will become a mess as that cute little newborn sprays you with pee (or worse) right after you get done cleaning them. Lay down a puppy pad and BOOM 💥 that changing pad is still nice and clean underneath. You can also use them for crib liners, public changing table covers (stick a few in the diaper bag), even in the bouncer or swing if you’ve got a spitter-upper like me. Cloth diapers make great burp rags! These are going to be a diaper bag must have for sure. Any of the Earth Mama products (for baby or mom). I have the baby soap, diaper balm, and nipple cream. Side note: the nipple cream makes great lip balm. The Windi (by Fridababy) is another highly recommended gift. It helps pass those stubborn gas bubbles that happen at 3am when everyone is exhausted. It’s a little awkward at first but I promise she will be thanking you when she sees the relief on the little one’s face. Another Fridababy product that’s super helpful is the NoseFrida. While the old school booger suckers are good, the NoseFrida is GREAT. If the thought of sucking the boogers out yourself is a little gross you can use your pump instead (YouTube it!). Speaking of Frida products.. the Labor and Delivery + Postpartum Recovery Kit is a MUST for any type of birth. There are so many helpful things and their products are amazing. Definitely take what you can from the hospital but once those run out be sure to have this box ready to go. A small diaper caddy that you can move around the house with you will become your new purse. I have one for each kiddo with all of their diaper changing needs. I have them stocked with diapers, creams, wipes, nail clippers, and a change of clothes for the blowouts. I usually keep them in whatever room we are hanging out in that day or in the living room for easy access. Speaking of easy access. Something I found super helpful (for anyone really) is getting the behind the seat vehicle organizers. I have one for each kiddo stocked with stuff you need for changing, toys, snacks, shoes, change of clothes, and whatever else is helpful for your babe. You could add a clean bottle/sippy cup, formula holder, diaper trash bags, and of course extra wipes. I use this to help reduce what I have to carry in my diaper bag. Now that I have 2 munchkins to pack for that diaper bag weighs as much as my toddler. Footed ZIPPER pajamas are what mine live/lived in for basically the first year no matter what season. Do not get anything with snaps. I repeat, NO SNAPS. No parent wants to try to match snaps at midnight or in the middle of a Target bathroom. Sure they are cute but that outfit will be short lived. The one stuffed animal/noise maker I’ve bought multiple of is the Fischer Price Calming Vibes Hedgehog. My sister bought it for Jackson as a random gift and it’s become a part of our daily life. We have 5 (I think) between my house and their Gigi’s house. The hedgehog is so popular that Target only lets you buy 2 at a time online. Now little Josie has one of her own too. They are fantastic for those colicky nights that never end. Of course all these things are what are/were helpful for me and my hubby. Each parent is different and someone else might have better ideas but I’d like to think that these might be helpful suggestions if you’re wondering what to get (or what to ask for) for a new bundle of joy.
Oh, and another thing. Don’t forget about that mama. Yes babies are super cute and super fun to spoil but that mama needs spoiling too. Her whole world is about to be changed and she will need extra love and grace as she enters this new journey. You can add in gift cards so they can order the next necessary item they think about during that 3am feed. Some ideas would be Target, Amazon, Walmart/H-E-B, nail salons (for some relaxing mom time) and definitely STARBUCKS! Fuzzy non-slip socks, chapsticks, dry shampoo, hand cream (so much hand washing), FAST drying nail polish. Think about things that would be easy to do in a timely manner but also be a little pampering for the mom. Bath salts are great but let’s be honest, Mom won’t have time for a full soak for YEARS. Another idea would be a subscription box of any type. There are so many options for mom & baby and they are always super fun to receive and go through. A cute personalized drink container will be used often and cherished forever. I literally have a water bottle in each room of the house in different states of fullness. Not last and definitely not least, FOOD. Grab something from the freezer section that anyone can pop into the oven or microwave for a quick/easy meal. Whether you make it homemade for them to freeze or if you grab a bag of dino chicken nuggets for the big kiddos it will be much appreciated. Frozen juices will also come in handy and are easy to store. Snacks foods will help tie mama over in the middle of the night when the breastfeeding hunger kicks in. If you’ve made it this far thank you for reading! This has been in my head for months and I sure hope it helps if you’ve got a shower to go to or a mama/baby to buy for.
I’m not even sure where to start this or where we will end with this one. The past 2 years have been some of the most trying times I’ve ever gone through. Just last night hubby and I were saying how marriages normally don’t survive what we’ve been through. I won’t start at the very beginning because that’s for another post for sure. When we found out our first little bundle of joy, Jackson, was on his way we had to make a few decisions about where we were going to live. Hubby’s job had him traveling for majority of the year so we knew we wanted to stay close to home so I could have family help with the baby. We were currently living in an RV that his parents (my in-laws) lent to us and when he would go out of town I’d go stay with parents on my days off shift. In January of 2020 we decided look into mobile homes since we couldn’t decide on a slab house location. We found one that was perfect and started signing paperwork that same day. Of course these things take time to process so now began the game of “send me every document all the way to your birth certificate”. While the paperwork was starting to be processed there were rumors of a pretty severe sickness starting to spread. I worked EMS so of course I just blew it off and didn’t think much would happen to us here in the US. Things were still truckin’ along with the paperwork and things seemed to be going smoothly. Then BAM. The rug was ripped out from under us. Things started to happen all at once and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. Covid-19 started sweeping through the US and companies of all industries started to shut down. Our call volume started to sky rocket and hospitals were putting beds in hallways. Slowly hubby’s jobs started to get postponed and then before we knew it he was in the office just waiting for work. Then it happened. The first week in April 2020 he was laid off. This was the first sucker punch. Literally 5 days later I had a very minor accident on shift and was terminated (that’s a whole different discussion). Here we were, both unemployed (I was 4 months pregnant) and searching for the next option. The job market was trash due to the shutdown/lockdown of 2020. This was probably our lowest of all lows. We lost the financing approval for our house (obviously) since we no longer could support the mortgage we were JUST approved for. Luckily we were able to get the down payment back. Hubby immediately started looking and found a job within a week. He worked his tail off doing whatever he could find so we could make ends meet. I tried every avenue you could think of but no one wanted to hire a person who was 4 months pregnant during a global pandemic. I was still able to get a few hours for the gym I coach at helping with the back office admin work but they were also shut down due to covid so it wasn’t much. We accepted the fact that the RV was no longer short-term but more than likely a long-term living situation. Luckily we had moved it to my parent’s property and set up a more permanent residence in March 2020. We started prepping the RV to be more kid/baby friendly. Luckily hubby’s parents were okay with us making small changes so we could have a bit more space. We took out the driver/passenger seats to give us more room for storage and so I could bring a glider chair in to rock little man. In the bedroom we took out the closet and built in shelves. Those were on my side of the bed so that’s where we put a full size dresser and Jackson’s bassinet. There were other small renovations and projects that we did to make it feel more homey. I would decorate for every holiday. My parents let us basically go back and forth between the RV and their house as needed. We used their kitchen and washer/dryer almost daily. When Jackson was born he and I spent most of our days over there so my mom could help while Joseph went to work (praise little baby Jesus he found a stable industry). I also started working about a month after Jackson was born. My boss had acquired another company so I was “hired” to help manage the office side of things while he and the crews ran the daily activities. It seemed like things were starting to look up for us. Having a newborn in the RV wasn’t totally terrible but it was definitely not easy. As a first time mom I was naive to think he’d actually use the bassinet (let’s all laugh together). We (all) co-slept on our queen size bed for almost 6 months before transitioning him to sleep in a pack and play. We got a mattress topper for it so it was more comfortable for him. He was still in our room so he would wake constantly. I didn’t think it was possible to get a full nights sleep again. I forget when we started the house process again. I actually think it was around January 2021 when we went to a place out of town and fell in love with a house. We paid our earnest money that day and started the process all over again. Things were not moving in a very fast pace so we randomly went and looked at houses at a local company’s lot. This is when we hit yet again another road block. One that we thought would crush us for real. The local company knew of some country regulations that the other company did not warn us about. Hubby and I started making phone calls to beg and plead to let us go through with the plan. Luckily after some more research and lots of emails later we found out we were grandfathered in with the old country rules so it was game on. And not soon enough because we found out Baby #2 was due January 2022! Holy shit. 2 under 2 in a camper along with 2 bonus kids (and 3 dogs) was just enough to make my head spin. The pressure was on to get the house process finished ASAP now. I called the finance company almost daily to see if they needed anything and what else I could do to speed up the process. Of course this went about as fast as a turtle walking through peanut butter. Luckily the ladies we were working with knew the urgency we were feeling and helped us every step of the way. The timeline gets a little blurry but I think we were FINALLY cleared for closing October 2021. Right during the rainy yucky season for where we live. It was fingers crossed at this point if we would be in the house before Little Josie made her debut. The house was delivered mid-November 2021 and the land improvements were going on. We had a few weather delays and had to wait for the property to dry out a bit. This whole time each day off the hubby had from his shifts he was out there sun up to sun down working on clearing the property and replacing the perimeter fence. He knows my life long dream of having a few goats so we picked to install field fence so the goats, dogs, and kids wouldn’t get out. I helped as much as I could but being 7 months pregnant I couldn’t do much. I would take water and snacks and offer my unnecessary advice a little too often (haha). It was mid-December and everything was hooked up, drilled, and installed. It was literally a livable house that we had to drive past daily as we went back home to the RV. We were just waiting on paperwork to be finalized and sent off. Then came the Christmas holidays and the paperwork still wasn’t done. Luckily it didn’t seem like I was going to have the baby early so I just kept asking the universe to just give us a break for once. And then FINALLY!! We got the keys on December 28, 2021! Watching Jackson be able to run (toddler run of course) up and down the hallway warmed my mama heart so much that I thought it was going to melt. The dogs got their big backyard and the kids (and us) finally were not all on top of each other. The big kids have their own rooms for when they come over and Jackson has claimed almost every square inch of the house as his. After getting the keys it was a mad dash to get everything packed up and moved over (luckily it was a short distance) and unpacked. The main focus was our master bedroom and the kid’s rooms. I figured everything else would just take time to find its home in our new home. Move in day was almost perfect timing because little sister made her grand entrance a week later. We’ve been in for less than a month still but my goodness it’s the best feeling ever. Our relationship has less tension and stress, the kids have space to play and hide out, and my parents can be empty nesters again. I will forever be thankful for them and all that they did/helped us with while we were waiting on the house process to go through. Opening their home/kitchen/laundry room to us without ever expecting anything in return. On the days the hubby was at work the kid, pups, and I would usually be found at their house where I would work from their dining room table while my kid tormented everyone (in the cutest way possible). We had family dinner almost every night which meant mom or I would be cooking for 4 (sometimes 6) instead of 2 like we were used to. The poor washer and dryer never got a break. We often made jokes that dad should install a quarter slot for replacement parts that might be necessary from the constant washing of tiny toddler clothes and sheets. Speaking of which, how does such a tiny human produce so much dirty laundry?! The move has also helped reduce the stepping on toes of all the adults. When you put 4 adults in the same “household” there is tension and everyone knows everything more than the next. We were all battling for control which ended up in some mini explosions at times. Luckily my family forces communication so after some door slams and huffs and puffs we had to “talk it out” so that it didn’t make for an awkward dinner later (😬). As hubby and I sit down at night we sometimes reminisce on the RV days and all the sand we had to trudge through to get where we are today. The house may not be fully decorated and there are still boxes to unpack but we don’t care. We are finally home. A home where we make messes and get to clean them. I get to bake cookies after we put the kids down because we can’t sleep and who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?! A home where the kids can run around the yard and then splash in the bathtub afterwards. A home where hubby gets to come home from a long shift and nap while the kids and I play (without waking him). Words will never explain the relief and happiness this move has given us. The RV will always be our first home. Where we had our first round of holidays together. Where we brought home our first bundle of joy. I’ll definitely miss how fast I could clean it but won’t miss how fast we outgrew it. Our “theme song” used to be Little Houses by Doug Stone and now we get to write our own. I can’t wait to see all the things that this new chapter has to offer us (and all the goats I get to bring home).
In our household when you don’t want to elaborate about your day you just say, “fine. nothing. fine.” And that’s code for, I’m fine, nothing happened, everything’s fine. We probably default to this too much and by we, I mean me. The truth is, I’m not fine. I’m barely even okay. I’m struggling daily and I feel like a loose cannon of emotions. Jackson just turned 1 and I can’t believe it! My little baby is turning into a toddler and there is nothing I can do to slow this down. Recently he had a stomach virus that lingered for 9 days. Yes, I said 9. Throughout those days he had vomit and diarrhea constantly and all of us were covered in lord knows what. I lost count on how many loads of laundry and how many outfit changes happened. We were in the doctor’s office multiple times and even went to the hospital after a bad evening of constant vomiting. Finally a pediatrician listened to me and didn’t blow it off as “a virus just running its course”. She asked questions and finally we decided to stop formula since he was at the “right time” to transition to regular milk. The tricky part was, she also suggested no dairy as the lactose was not settling in his stripped stomach. I started him on oatmilk and within ½ a day his symptoms had drastically diminished. We had no more vomiting and the diaper situation was slowing. Hallelujah! After a few days we started to introduce solids again and this is where my mom heart is just crushed. We started to notice that he would randomly gag himself into vomiting while eating. It didn’t matter the texture, the food, or even the size of the bites. He vomited with mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets (cut into pincher pieces), even applesauce. It’s not every time and it there is no stopping it. As soon as he starts gagging his empties his entire stomach. Then it’s straight to the bath and he refuses to eat again. I thought it was just some lingering side effects of the virus but it’s been too long. My main worry is his nutrition. He is no longer on formula so we need him to be eating foods to get the nutrients needed to grow big and strong. His pediatrician has recommended a speech therapist to help with the eating issue we are facing. This is all so new to all of us and it might seem minor to some but I’m lost. Meal times literally drive me insane. My anxiety is off the charts during mealtime. “Don’t feed him too much. Those bites are too big. That food makes him gag. He doesn’t like that texture.” These are constantly coming out of my mouth as his dad and grandparents try to help. I try so hard to not pressure him to eat but he NEEDS to eat something. The only thing we can really get him to eat are blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Each meal I hold my breath and just wait for the eruption. He comes home from daycare in different clothes than I sent so I know it’s happening there too. His teachers are always so kind when they have to tell me that my child puked again. I promise them it’s just “how he is” and that he’s not sick. Looking at him most would probably just shh me and tell me he looks like a healthy growing boy. But I can see that his wrist rolls aren’t as big and his chunky legs are starting to slender. Maybe it’s because he is moving around more or maybe it’s because his stomach gets emptied multiple times a day. And of course, he’s only 1 so he can’t tell me if something hurts or doesn’t feel right. No one prepares you for this. For the hard stuff. And even if they did I probably would have thought “that won’t be us”. Well, never think that. Since having Jackson we have been thrown many curve balls and this is another one. Time to start pushing for more answers and for people to start listening to my concerns. I knew something wasn’t right and I let doctors and others tell me everything was fine. Always trust your mom gut. I’m so thankful we picked a random pediatrician to be seen ASAP and that I finally feel heard. Although I still very emotional about all this new stuff I feel a bit better knowing we have referrals in for speech therapy and will be setting an evaluation soon. I hope little man starts to enjoy exploring new foods and maybe we can get some chunky little legs back ♥️
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
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.
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
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).
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