Read the first part of my journey here and then below for the final part
December 30, 2018
"Then there are people like the dang lactation consultant at the hospital. I am struggling to nurse baby G. Pretty much since day one she has not nursed well leaving me devastated and driving myself crazy trying to make it work for her body and mine. So when I went to the consultant to talk about what to do she suggested pumping 8-10 times a day to keep my supply up. Uh, what? Who the heck has time to pump 8-10 times a day let alone someone with three other kids at home and one in school? Her response, “you know when those people tell you once you have a baby to let them know if you need anything? Now is the time to take them up on that offer.” Seriously? When people say that, they usually mean a meal or meeting to talk. And, NEWSFLASH, people work! If I need to pump 8-10 times a day, 4-6 of those times will be during 8am-5pm, you know, normal business hours. I don’t have family that stays home all day just waiting for me to ask for them to babysit. Get your head out of your ass lady and don’t assume everyone has a support system that includes free childcare.
But anyway, back to nursing. Do I quit nursing and see if that helps? Can I assume that is the root of the issue since I never struggled to nurse my other four kids so it would make sense that that difference could be fueling this? A few weeks ago I ran into a friend at bible study who had a baby about a month after me. She talked with me about how she tried to nurse for a couple of weeks but chose to switch over to formula and has felt SO much better. That week had been particularly hard as far as nursing so when I talked to Andre about it that night, he agreed that it might have been a sign that it was time to switch to formula. But then the next week G did SO well when nursing that I decided to keep going. It didn’t last, however, and when I saw her doctor a few weeks later, they said to not give up as long as I can. So I have one person telling me she is so much happier switching to formula and someone else saying I need to stick this out as long as possible. That’s not confusing. Or frustrating…cue anger. This doctor doesn’t know my case. They don’t know that I literally start bawling every time we have a particularly bad day and I ended up pumping 4-6 times while she only nurses from me once. They don’t know that trying to find time to pump when you work in a school is not easy. They don’t know that I can feel my heart break as my baby gags when I try to get her to latch. They don’t know me. But they sure do know how to lay on the guilt.
So what do you do? When people want to be supportive but they aren’t. Or you don’t fit into the mold of typical postpartum behaviors. Or people are telling you that you are doing a great job when they don’t know you yelled at your kid this afternoon for wetting the bed after YOU forgot to put their nap time diaper on. I am not supermom. Don’t put that label and associated pressure on me. I love my kids, and my husband and the family we have created and that’s all I should care about."
I've learned a lot about myself and managing these difficult feelings mostly through therapy but also from trying (key word *trying*) to ask for help more. Help is available and the thing I've learned is to look for it when you need it and feel no shame.
Last year around Christmas time I started having a hard time in day to day life. I had not yet started seeing a therapist so writing was what helped me sort through some of my feelings. Below is what I wrote (unedited) and I share my postpartum journey to help others not feel so alone in their own journeys...
December 30, 2018
“Oh yeah, I know your life turns upside down after you have a baby. Especially with the sleep deprivation.”
Okay, listen lady. I appreciate that you think you are helping but you aren’t. First of all, this isn’t my first rodeo. I know how much your life can change with kids because I have five of them. Second of all, why are you assuming that I’m not sleeping? You don’t know my baby. You don’t know our routine. And as much as you want to help, you making these comments makes me feel ridiculous for calling asking to talk to a doctor about postpartum depression.
I don’t have all of the usual signs that come with postpartum depression. This is not my first baby. The first month after baby G was born I was totally fine. I’m not sleep deprived. My life is a lot busier now than it had been prior but I’m mostly used to chaos. I don’t have any problems with my spouse (he came home from work three hours early because he could sense that I was too overwhelmed). I have not lost my appetite (I think my appetite increased for only foods that are super terrible for me – I’m looking at you Culver’s cheese curds).
All I know is something is wrong. I have anxiety. And not my normal anxiety that comes from setting my own expectations way too high for myself. But anxiety that causes me to need to take deep breaths in while saying, “I trust you God” followed by exhaling and saying, “and I give you my worries” multiple times in a few minutes.
I am also angry. A lot. Like about stupid stuff. Kids needing help with shoes, or not going to the bathroom after I ask, or crying because I thought they wanted cinnamon toast crunch but they wanted cheerios and they didn’t tell me until after I poured their cereal, or waiting until we are supposed to leave in 30 seconds before starting to make their lunch. These are frustrating for sure but me yelling is not helping anyone. I’m also angry with my kids’ teachers (which is dumb because I’m a teacher, too) and with the woman I spoke to on the phone from my doctor’s office.
I’ve gone through an “angry phase” before. When I was in high school. I don’t remember much about it but I do remember going to a therapist one time and then never going back because it made me too angry…yeah, as an adult I now realize that I should have tried to maybe stick that out a bit longer.
So now here I am finally feeling like I need some intervention. Apparently you don’t have to meet with a doctor before getting a prescription to treat this which seems super weird. I want to meet with someone but is it better to meet with someone I know or a complete stranger? What do I say? Just tell them how I feel? I feel angry. And tired. And sad. The end. What else is there? I’m terrified that the same thing will happen as when I was in high school. If I am going to try to find someone to watch my kids or have my husband use his PTO for this appointment, I want it to be worth it.
...Part 2 coming soon.
If you have similar feelings of being overwhelmed, tired, anxious, angry or are having troubling thoughts, contact your doctor and know there are treatment plans out there to help you through this.
I feel like delivering a baby is one of those, you don't know what you don't know kind of situations. Here's what I didn't know and the things I learned:
I’ve written a post already about how each birth story is different and G’s is no exception! I think it is worth restating the thing I’ve learned: EVERY birth story is different! Just because I’ve done this five times doesn’t mean I know it all! But here is our most recent birth story when welcoming our beautiful baby girl.
My due date was Sunday, September 16 but I REALLY thought I would deliver the weekend before. I mowed the lawn, pulled some weeds and was pretty active all day. Ha. Yeah, no. I was still pregnant a week later. So the 15th came and went and the 16th came and…almost went. We went to church in the morning, I made special pancakes after church just in case it ended up being a “special day”, we watched the Chiefs game and that was that. Nothing was happening. I wasn’t contracting really at all and it seemed my due date would come and go with no baby. I should admit that we did do some morning, afternoon and evening activities that have been known to induce labor but as of 10:45 that night, I was in bed with no baby in sight.
At 11:10pm I woke up abruptly feeling some cramping. I managed to get to the bathroom but I was feeling really weird. I left the bathroom, went back to my bedroom and wasn’t even able to lay down for fear that I was in labor based on the intensity of the cramping. With M’s labor, my water broke at 11:58pm and I drove myself to the hospital to make sure it was the real deal. When I got the confirmation that I was in labor, Andre called his mom, she came over to be with the kids and he joined me at the hospital. That is NOT what happened this time.
We figured we would keep our same idea of him joining me after we knew I was in labor so I drove myself to labor and delivery. During the 5 minute drive I was contracting pretty much the entire time and thankfully only encountered 1 red light! I pulled into the parking lot, got to the front door, told the front desk I thought I was in labor and they got me in a triage room within a minute. It was there (at 11:23pm) that I sent Andre a text telling him I made it safely to the birth center. I kept contracting and was checked for dilation which showed I was 5 cm.
They kept me on the bed and rolled me into my delivery room while asking for Andre’s phone number so they could call him and tell him it was go time. I mentioned I was hoping for an epidural and they said it was still an option so I worked through the contractions as best as I could. By 11:40pm I had reached 7 cm and contractions were getting increasingly worse. Contractions were only about 45 seconds apart and since Andre wasn’t there, I had no one’s hand to hold (they gave me a towel to hold and that did pretty much squat) and no one, besides the very friendly nurses, to listen to my cries of anxiety and pain.
The nurses always tell you to let them know if you get the urge to push and around 11:50pm I got the urge. However, after telling them I had to push, they told me to not push. They checked me again and I was just about 10 cm but my water still had not broken and there was still cervix in the way. After a few minutes of trying really hard to not push, I couldn’t hold out any longer – remember, Andre was still not there to help and the towel they gave me to squeeze was not doing the trick. The nurse asked if I wanted Andre there and while I so did, I said (okay, yelled), “I do but I can’t do this any longer!” And with that, the next contraction brought out baby’s head which the nurse held while we waited for the doctor to get to the room. A few seconds later I remember hearing another nurse tell her to go ahead and the nurse holding baby G’s head started to grab the rest of her, too. And there she was. Our beautiful fourth baby girl was born at 11:59pm and 56 seconds on her due date.
I was filled with so many emotions at that point. Incredibly happy that my baby girl was here (and gorgeous!), sad that Andre had missed it and overwhelmed that, from start to finish, labor was 50 minutes. About two minutes later though, as I had G on my chest for some skin to skin time, Andre came in and got to meet her and hear all about it. And although he missed all of the action, there was a bit of extra umbilical cord to cut off and they let Andre do it which I really appreciated.
It was a crazy intense hour (officially documented in my medical notes as a "precipitous delivery") but in the end, we got the last member of our family safely into this world and that’s all I ever wanted.
Andre pointed out the other day that I have been pregnant for most of our marriage. 5 times in our 8 years of marriage. So when the day comes – soon! – that I will no longer be pregnant, it is going to be an adjustment for both of us!
I have been incredibly fortunate to have had some pretty good pregnancies. Instead of each one making me sicker, with each one the symptoms subsided a bit more. The only symptom - if you want to call it that - that has been consistent is the ever prominent belly that comes with it. And by this 5th pregnancy, my body knows what’s up. At three months pregnant I looked probably closer to 5 months which made hiding the news from students a bit more challenging – especially when you think about me being pregnant 4 times in 5 years with them! Some of them knew pretty early on since they had seen it so many times before.
I’ve come to realize, though, that there are things I will miss about the belly and other things I’m ready to say Bye, Felicia to asap.
Hello season of yoga pants that look like dress pants and oversized sweaters 🙌.
I’ve been pregnant for the better part of 6 years with two different jobs and during different seasons. I can honestly say that I don’t always hate shopping, but what I do not like is spending money on clothing that I will not wear for very long. Especially since I know baby #5 is it for us, I really didn’t want to spend tons of $$ on clothes I would only wear for a few months…well, potentially next summer too if I can’t lose the baby weight which is a pretty strong reality.
When I was pregnant for the first time it was kind of fun to go to Motherhood Maternity and buy the cute things on Zulilly but that faded quickly as the price, as well as my number of kids, added up. I was also surprised at the LACK of maternity sections in Kohl’s and JCPenny. Target has always been, and will most likely stay, my go-to for anything I could ever want/need. Our bond is deep. About a month ago I walked through the maternity sale section and scored a pair of pants for $6.48! Even when they are not on clearance, Target jeans are a super affordable staple for your maternity wardrobe!
I’ve also recently had really good success with maternity clothes form Old Navy! I took advantage of a 40% off sale they had going on a few weeks ago and scored 7 items for around $80! This included 3 pairs of shorts, 2 t-shirts AND 2 dresses including this one, here. I’ve gotten so much use out of them in the last few weeks and know they will continue to hold up through my transition out of pregnancy!
Lastly, although I haven’t ordered from here during this pregnancy yet, 2 babies ago I ordered a few things from H&M that were instant staples in my maternity wardrobe. Their jeans are super comfortable and the shirts were perfect for my growing belly. These below even come in a two pack for $13! Um, yes please!
What is your go-to shop for maternity clothes??
L was born at 12:53am on a Friday after about 13 hours of labor start to finish. We were thrilled and also exhausted as we adjusted to the responsibility of raising a small human. We watched closely as the nurses gave her a bath, practiced nursing until it felt right and quickly became pros of the diapering we would be doing for years to come.
Friday was the most tiring day, as we hadn’t slept since Wednesday night, but then Saturday came and we were feeling better thinking that we would be going home that evening. Much to our surprise, when we spoke to our evening nurse, she mentioned that protocol was staying two nights after the baby was born. Since L was technically born early in the morning, we would need to stay one more night. As much as we so appreciated all of the help we got from the Labor & Delivery Center – every single nurse and doctor we interacted with was amazing! – we were so ready to get out of our room and back to our home. We asked to get discharged first thing in the morning and were home by about 10:00 on Sunday morning.
R was born at 5:43pm and E was at 11:37pm (down to the wire!!) so those stays did not feel nearly as long. And then there was M. My water broke at 11:58pm the day before her due date and she was born at 8:18am on her due date. Along with the complete joy of welcoming another little girl to our family, we dreaded the fact that we would still be in the hospital for two more nights. So we decided to ask to leave early and, since we had been through this a few times before, the nurses and doctors agreed. We watched the purple crying video, stocked up on the hospital diapers, spent one more night in L&D and were home by 11:30am the next day; just over 27 hours after giving birth.
It was so great to be home but we completely neglected the fact that we already had 3 kids, ages 5, 3 and 1, at home and things were not just “back to normal”. I spent the next week struggling with anxiety and guilt about not giving my other kids as much attention (but Andre to the rescue! He spent time with each kid individually during that week and I don’t know how I got so lucky to have him!!). We, of course, ended up finding a new normal but it wasn’t without its challenges.
The thing I’ve learned: Stay the extra day in the hospital! (and seriously, take all of the diapers).
That extra day may not have ended up making a tremendous difference, but hospital staff is there to help you adjust whether this is your first or seventh baby. All experiences are different so take all of the time they give you so you don’t overwhelm yourself and miss out on the amazingness that is getting to know your new baby.
What is a birth plan? I mean, I kind of know but you tell me what you think it is and I’ll tell you if you’re right…
Honestly, I’m pretty sure Andre and I have never actually had a birth plan. At least not a formal one. We got the free materials from the hospital that talked about all of the options and after just a few we were kind of over it. We agreed that it would only be he and I at the hospital for the birth (no family in the waiting or delivery room) and, when we already had kids at home, his mom would come when we needed her and my parents would take over when they were able to get here. I knew I wanted to see if I could have the baby without an epidural but when I was ready we got that sucker in, and I wanted to have a vaginal delivery if at all possible. We had a hospital bag but it wasn’t packed until the day of and therefore we usually only had one outfit for each of us and one outfit for the baby.
So while I’m pretty sure baby #5’s plan will be exactly the same as our others, here are some things I wish I would have considered a bit more before our delivery day:
· Hospital bag: There seems very little need to pack it a month early, but having a few options for baby and some loose fitting clothes for you (and a nursing bra if you plan to try breastfeeding) is something to make sure to include. Also make sure to pack a phone charger, deodorant and a toothbrush. If a full face of makeup on a daily basis is how you roll pack that too, but also know that your baby is going to love your beautiful, exhausted face no matter if there is makeup on it or not. (Kate from The Small Things Blog has a great post about the top things to put in a hospital bag!)
· Cord clamping/saving the cord blood: We waited a bit to clamp the cord for Mae but I don’t think it had even been mentioned with any other pregnancy! We knew we weren’t going to save the cord blood because of financial reasons, but I do suggest looking into these options before you are in the hospital.
· C-section: I really wanted to have a vaginal delivery with each child and have been able to do that, but I also suggest being prepared by thinking of any requests you may have if an emergency c-section is needed.
· Drugs: I, personally, was always okay with the idea of the epidural. The procedure sounded a bit scary but I also had heard about how much it helped with the pain. Make sure you go in knowing your ideal situation and be sure your partner is well aware and supportive of your wishes!
Things that seemed a bit silly but I suppose you should still consider:
· Do you prefer a certain position to give birth? Uh, yeah, the position where this baby gets out of me safely…I'm thinking this is also referring to the use of a tub or stability ball to help with labor. Definitely ask your OB/Midwife about those options beforehand if you are interested.
· How do you feel about fetal monitoring? I like knowing my baby is still doing okay in there. Although I just presented my opinion, this is something that should have come up in your prenatal appointments so it shouldn’t be thrown at you as soon as you enter labor & delivery.
· Do you want to wear your own clothing? During labor, probably not. Afterwards, definitely yes. It helps you feel like a human being again!
The thing I’ve learned: Hospitals have been doing this for years. Know your options but also be sure you deliver somewhere you can trust the staff to give you the best experience possible. If you are not 100% happy, tell someone!
The fact that this is my 5th pregnancy, I’m often asked if I think I’ll deliver early or late. The answer, I have no idea. All of my pregnancies have been different in terms of when my labor started. Let’s start at the very beginning.
L: This is the one pregnancy that I was still working at Hy-Vee and I distinctly remember customers asking when I was due. Eventually I had to say, oh, 2 days ago to which they would usually look at me with wide eyes. This particular day though was a day off from Hy-Vee when I would go to a local high school to teach voice lessons. I had fewer lessons than usual so I came home around 11:30 and I started to feel some cramping. After about 20 minutes of increasing discomfort, I called Andre and said that I thought it was time! When we got to labor & delivery they confirmed that I was in labor and 13 hours later we had our first beautiful baby girl.
R: Two years later, I was in my first year of teaching choir. I thankfully had a good group of students but often felt like I was in over my head because there was a big senior class and I was terrified they would see my lack of experience and call me on it. We had a good first semester but by February I was over it. It wasn’t the students but I was becoming a terribly moody teacher and with February being a really busy time for our music department, I needed to be done for a while. So I asked to be induced one day before my due date. 8 hours after my induction, we had our sweet little boy.
E: This was my most stressful/anxiety ridden pregnancy ever. I went in for multiple extra heartbeat checks and just overall felt like there was something wrong. Around 30 weeks, we ended up finding out she had a heart arrhythmia. They were premature atrial contractions which required weekly non-stress tests, a fetal echo and no rest for the anxiety. During my 38 week appointment (it was 4:00pm on a Friday) the doctor requested I have an ultrasound to check her out. It was during that ultrasound that we found out she was not doing the necessary practice breaths babies do in the womb so once I got back to the patient room my doctor said, “I’d like to induce you.” “Okay, when?” “Right now, can you go right now or do you need to go home first?” UHHH?! I called Andre, he called his mom to get L and R and then met me at L&D. I ended up going into labor on my own due to the high level of stress and E was born 4 hours later!
M: While E was my most stressful pregnancy, M was the exact opposite. No pregnancy issues, I was due in May - a month of graduation conducting, a family wedding and the end of the school year - and I was cool as a cucumber. Having been pregnant during the school year two other times, the students and I had a great relationship and knew what to expect from me and I them. The last day of choir was Tuesday the 23rd and that night at 11:58, while I was watching Project Runway on Hulu, I felt something pop, looked over at Andre and said, “I think my water might have just broken.” I drove myself to L&D, Andre slept, just in case he had to come in with me later, and about an hour and a half later it was confirmed that my water had broken and it was go time. Start to finish, labor was 8 hours and she was born exactly on her due date.
So, one late, one preferred induction, one necessary induction and one right on time.
The thing I’ve learned: Expect the unexpected :)
This is my last pregnancy. It is also my 5th pregnancy so I feel like I should know everything happening to my body and the possible issues I could have. But I don't. Honestly, I still rely on Google quite a bit. I have with each pregnancy, however, gotten much more comfortable with calling my OB office to speak with a nurse. It's free and professional medical advice that will not lead me to believe I have some rare rash like Google will.
I’ve had pregnancies where I had morning sickness, one with all day sickness and others with absolutely no sickness. I’ve had some pregnancies where my Braxton Hicks contractions didn’t start until 36 weeks and others that started in 30 weeks. Sometimes I’ve gained a lot of weight and then the next pregnancy gained very little weight.
The thing I've learned: Each pregnancy is different.
Having a bit more of a type A personality, I just want to be able to control things. If I can expect something, it is easier for me to control. But just like all kids are different, all pregnancies are different too and also something that will pass. Knowing this was the last time I would get to tell Andre the test was positive, the last time we got to share the news with our kids and loved ones, the last first heartbeat, ultrasound and kick and what will be the last time I go into Labor and Delivery for myself, I want to enjoy every difference in the pregnancy. I am sure the differences with this pregnancy will also reflect a unique personality in our next little one :)
Hi, I'm Rebecca
I’m a wife, mom to 5 kids, former choir teacher, Christian and advice giver? I can honestly say I never expected to be the one giving advice when I so frequently ask for it, but the advice I’ve received is so valuable and must be shared! Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far!