How Parenthood Has changed Me part 2

Well if I thought October was a crazy month, the last week out-crazed it all! We had horrible mold problems in our apartment that we had to evacuate and find somewhere new all in a span of four days. And to top it off the computer stopped working. But hey, first world problems!

As a young adult, I never thought much about germs. I was young(er) and invincible! I was in the prime of youth, loving life, anything was possible! I would never grow old never really got sick. Sure, I would be “responsible” and wash my hands when I worked in a kitchen or got dirty. But germs weren’t that big of a deal! If I did ever get sick, it was only for a few days and most of the time I would just sleep through it and be fine. But now when I see someone sick or have….

Germs!!!

A Baby’s worst enemy. I will go hide with my kids in my cave thank you! I’ll see you in the summer.

No joke!

I would rather be in solitary confinement for most of not all winter than have sick babies. When it’s one, it’s not so bad or hard to keep well. But with two, the older sibling is harder to keep from getting and sharing germs and it seems an impossible monumental task to keep the germs away from siblings.

There is nothing worse as a parent than seeing your child so sick in a hospital and feeling helpless. Small germs for adults that are more bothersome and annoying than anything can be life threatening for babies. So this winter, PLEASE! Just keep all snotty noses at home. It might be easier and more convenient for you to send you kid out, they may be just well enough, but that convenience for yourself could cost a family house of sleep, and thousands of dollars. (So here’s your friendly reminder not to kiss or touch babies that aren’t yours without the mothers permission! And if your baby or older child is sick, please keep them home!)

It’s not only sick germs that I seem to have a heightened sense for these days, germs and dirt in general, because apparently OCD Postpartum is a real thing and postpartum anxiety can be easily triggered by clutter and a messy house. So don’t feel bad if you’re having some OCD but always seek help if you feel it is beyond a healthy degree.

I’ve also noticed (in the rare and short moments I am out by myself) of how I carry myself as a mother. I seem to feel like it doesn’t matter as much how I look no matter the occasion if I have kids with me. I have to dress a certain way, faint wear earrings or jewelry of any kind. I know I’m going to get something on me or my outfit is going to get dirty in some way or just not sit the same because babys on the hip. I do t feel as attractive of free to relax and be comfortable in my surrounding like I would otherwise. Without children I feel a sense of empowered freedom, capable of anything in that moment!

Is this how it is for all mothers? No! This is my story, this is how I feel. I tell this so that others who may feel this way won’t feel alone or guilty for feeling this way. Being a mother can be great, but it does not have to be the calling on your life. If it is, great! Do it to the best of your ability. I admire that. There does not need to be any judgment for either side of things. If you are the mother who feels stuck or wants to do more, just know, this will not last long. Enjoy every moment. The years go buy quicker than you think. You’re not missing out on as much as you may feel.

Don’t let fear rob you of the joy in the precious moments like these.

Recognizing​ Postpartum Warnings

This has not been an easy post to write. I have wrestled with how to present this for almost two weeks now. This is such a sensitive topic that so few ever share about, being so raw and honest is hard especially about something so personal and tender. I was not so eager to share my story and struggled to find a way to share about a topic that I find to be SO important for new mothers, and even second or third timers. Most of the focus is on pregnancy and birth (and understandably so, it’s a major transitional event that happens to your body), that we almost never hear people talk about what the transition can actually be like once the excitement and the rush of a new baby is over. All the guests and visitors stop coming and reality sets in; negative feelings, depression, irritability, guilt, hopelessness…You feel like a bad parent like something’s wrong with you. You wonder what is happening, but everyone always tells you “It’s the best thing you’ll ever do!” So, of course, you better not screw it up! Every other new mother has always had smiles and perfect faces, never looking tired or miserable.  It may leave you wondering “What is wrong with me?!” “What am I doing differently?!” (because we all know the mom has complete control over a brand new baby, herself, sleeping perfectly, and everything that could possibly influence her emotions and baby! *Insert eye roll emoji here…)
So here it is! The best I could do to share information about the postpartum traumatic experience without bleeding my guts out… (inhale)

Recognizing the signs of postpartum complications is an important part of preparing for your new baby. We all think that we have to take birthing classes to be prepared and have everything in just the right spot, but the untold truth is that there is So much more to bringing home your new baby than just prepping for birth. Yes, this is a big part of it, and yes, birthing classes can help a great deal, but let’s not forget the importance of recognizing postpartum symptoms.

There are three different categories in the area of Postpartum Depression.
1. Baby Blues
Baby Blues is the most common and recognizable symptom of Post Pardom Depression. People may take this to mean depression is the biggest sign, and yes, that is one of them but, there are many other symptoms.

I think it may be important to state here that the Baby Blues is not a character flaw or a weakness. It can simply be a complication of giving birth. It does not mean you are incapable or failing. It simply means you had a baby and are experiencing side effects and may need some help. 

Other Symptoms of Baby Blues are:
Mood Swings, Anxiety, Sadness, Irritability, Feeling overwhelmed, Crying, Reduced Concentration, Appetite Problems, and Trouble Sleeping.
If you are experiencing these things more than normal, it might be a good idea to mention this to your healthcare provider.

In talking to a postpartum doula, a trained professional who assists new parents with the transition of becoming new parents, she said this about Baby Blues:
“Lots of new mothers experience what is known as the “baby blues” in the first couple of weeks postpartum (key phrase-lots of new mothers experience…).  This is perfectly normal and is caused by the extreme shift in hormones after giving birth, and milk production beginning. Baby blues should subside after a couple of weeks at most. Encapsulating your Placenta and taking it as a multivitamin can greatly assist in this. It may gross you out but if it helps you keep your sanity, it is worth the grossness and the money.” (Amen!)
I did not do this my first time and I actually Really regret this. There are a lot of other benefits to having this saved, it can help with cramps, menopause, and hormonal migraines. I even got my husband to take some. (I’ll talk more about this towards the end.) I lovingly refer to my stash as my “happy pill”, I take it and within 15 minutes I feel great and happy!

2. Post-Partum Depression
Some may think this is the same thing as the Baby Blues, but there are differences. The symptoms that are the same or similar usually are somewhat more severe.
Depression or severe Mood Swings, Excessive Crying, Difficulty Bonding with baby, Withdrawing from family and friends, Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual, Inability to sleep or sleeping too much, Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy, Reduced interest and pleasure in activities once enjoyed, Intense irrealities and anger, Fear that you’re not a good mother, Feelings of worthlessness, Shame, Guilt, or inadequacy, Diminished ability to think clearly or concentrate or make decisions, Severe anxiety and panic attacks, Thoughts of harming self or baby, Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

adult art conceptual dark
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Here is a more extensive list of the Signs of Postpartum Depression:
1. Negative feelings
depression,
irritability
guilt
misery
self-consciousness
hopelessness
long-lasting
worsens over time with new moms
unable to focus on joys and positivity associated with motherhood

2. Anxiousness
linger aspect of PPD
worry about things you have no control over
more noticeable in women who were not that way before
hostility towards your baby
Shunning new baby
feeling trapped by responsibilities

3. Extreme guilt for hostility or sadness
Often leaves new mothers feeling unworthiness of being a mom and unable to care for this new life or the other responsibilities they had beforehand

4. Exhaustion
no surprise moms feel exhausted and irritable. Most are motivated by the joy of being a new mom and bonding with their new babies.
lack motivation and can’t see the Joy in motherhood.

5. Panic attacks
rapid heartbeat
Sweating
nausea
or fainting

6. Appetite changes
constant worry, anxiety, guilt is enough to leave most moms feeling nauseated fatigued, migraine headaches, suffer from loss of appetites or stress eating and severer stomach pains and digestive problems.

7. Lack of Sex drive
due to weight gain, bloating, body image issues. Let’s face it; the extreme fatigue and physical attention required to carry, breastfeed, rock, soothe, and diaper your new baby won’t put you in the mood.  However, if this lasts past a few months of getting used to new motherhood, you may be suffering from PPD.

8. Worsening depression
each case is characterized by feelings and actions that are out of character for that particular woman.
loss of motivation
hostility
Guilt
the extreme hopelessness that remains constant and gets worse over time.

Increase in Omega-3 levels may help lower risk of PPD

Please note that experiencing any of these does not define you or your parenting skills. No one should think you are less than you are by admitting you have had thoughts of harming yourself, baby, or thoughts of suicide. If they do, they are not the right person to talk to and I encourage you to keep searching for the right one until you find someone who will help you. And if someone has thought ill of you, I apologize.

3. Postpartum Psychosis
I had personally never heard or knew some of these were possible. If you or someone you know is suffering from Postpartum Psychosis, please get help as soon as possible.
Confusion and disorientation, Obsessive thoughts about your baby, Hallucinations and Delusions, Sleep disturbances, Paranoia, Attempts to harm self or baby.

When to see a Dr.
It’s important to call your doctor as soon as possible if the signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:
Don’t fade after two weeks
Are getting worse
Make it hard for you to care for your baby
Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

If feelings of depression occur after the birth of your baby, don’t’ feel reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. It does not mean you have failed or are a bad mother. It simply means you had a baby and have a lot of hormonal changes going on in your body right now. Many people suffer from this and never get help. These first few months of your baby’s life should be joyful and enjoyable, experiencing these symptoms make it hard to do so. Please don’t miss out on making beautiful memories.

There is one other type of Postpartum I would like to mention, Postpartum Trauma. I may have made up this category. But I still think it is something worth mentioning. Honestly, there may be a better name for it and it may be a real thing, I just can’t think of it right now! Experiencing Trauma during labor can have a large impact on your postpartum recovery (in my opinion). It can inhibit bonding with your baby and make the thought of ever having a baby again terrifying, or even the thought of having sex seem impossible. When you have a birth plan and it goes awry in any way, the effects can be long lasting even after all symptoms seem to be gone. Processing those emotions with a safe person can help provide healing.

One final thought I would like to leave you with is this; even less talked about is the fact that men can also suffer from postpartum complications the can experience a number of these same complications as the mothers do. They may be traumatized by seeing someone they love in pain, they can feel helpless and like they can’t Do anything, which is a big deal for a man. A man can also experience trauma by seeing a baby come out of a place he associates with pleasure and enjoyment. He may find it difficult to be intimate. It can be hard for a man to body with a baby as it is but they can even have a harder time bonding if they experience trauma in some other form of the process.

And on a happier note! Restoration and healing can be possible for anyone who may have experienced a traumatic birth, or postpartum complications. My first birth and postpartum experience with my daughter was not all sunshine and roses, and now that she is almost three years old, we have been able to slowly build a healthier, happier relationship by building different ways to bond with each other. The process has been slow and there is still healing to take place, but I am continuing to see our relationship grow and become a blessing every day! After the birth of my son, I now have a more positive outlook on birthing and post birth and even hope to become a birthing doula someday because I want to experience the magic of births and help give others positive experiences. If you have experienced any of these, just know there is hope for healing and you are not alone. I speak as one who has been down both roads, I know the pain and the joy of giving life. I have seen my experiences help others avoid pitfalls and provide a person who understands.

(exhale..)fullsizeoutput_1a1

11 ​Natural Labor Tips

“You’re pregnant! Yay, and you want to have it naturally? Home birth or hospital?”
The questions are never more invasive, nonstop, and annoying than when you’re pregnant (perhaps getting married is second).

I wanted to hide from the WORLD towards the end of my last trimester, even more so when I would tell people I was having my baby naturally… at home.

And for some reason, everyone feels the need to tell you their horror stories about their births! WHY would you DO That? Having a baby is scary enough. Having a baby naturally can be terrifying! All the thoughts run through your head; What if that happens to me?  How do I cope with transition? What do I do if its too much? How do I lower the pain level? What if I change my mind? In the Middle of LABOR??

So why would anyone choose to do this? Well, here are my reasons:
I decided to have a natural labor because I wanted to not be in a hospital and the only other option in my area was at home, there were no birthing centers near me at the time.  My biggest concern was for privacy, I didn’t want to hear anyone else, I didn’t want people walking in I didn’t know and trying to talk to me, checking on me, messing with me. I wanted to be alone with my husband and my midwife. My other reason was the paranoia that if they took my baby out of my room, for whatever reason, what if I got the wrong one back?! (realistic, maybe not. But you can’t count those fears out in such a situation, they play a role and can make the experience more stressful.) I also thought I could handle the pain. So my husband and I agreed and went for it (it was also a lot cheaper and would be completely paid for before baby was even born which was a big plus you don’t get with hospitals). I did have my hospital birth plan written out in case of transfer, everything was ready and prepped in case the need should arise. But, my first birth went well and there were no complications and no minor issues for baby or myself. We left the house with our baby later that same night (my midwife had a friend who would let people have babies at her house if they didnt want to have it at their own, so home birth, just not at my own home!). Was it easy? No! It’s pushing another human out of your body! BUT It Is DOABLE! Women have been doing it for Centuries without pain meds or hospitals. For me, these reasons were more important than being in pain for a few hours. And even though I left scarred, I did it again for the second one because those desires outweighed the pain, and I’m so glad I did it again because not only did I have a better experience, I even recommend it!

Now there needs to be something said about having a baby naturally in a hospital as well. This can very much so be done with the right communication and team, some people just feel safer having babies in a hospital and there is nothing wrong with that.
There is nothing wrong with whatever way you actually have your baby. The important thing is that you and your baby are ok.
What you should do is discuss with your partner what you are both comfortable with and make your plans from there.

So what are my tips for having a baby naturally?
When having a baby naturally at home:

  1. Take a birthing class so you and your partner are familiar with what may happen. If you can’t take one, you can find some useful things on youtube. You might even want to do both.
  2. Don’t assume everything will go a certain way based off of your mom’s births.
  3. Learn how to breathe and take it slow. Labor is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t try and make the baby come faster and wear yourself out.
  4. Talk through the birth and what role you want your partner to play before it starts.
  5. Learn to BREATHE! and RELAX in between contractions.
  6. Realize that it may not go according to plan and be prepared mentally and physically for things changing.
  7. Do not get dehydrated. Assign someone to water you. Seriously, you can forget.
  8. Eat Comfort Food! You’ve gotta eat something so you might as well enjoy it!
  9. Have something to look forward to right after! I wanted gluten! (I can’t eat gluten while pregnant so my first thing was bread! In the form of a hamburger! It was So Good! Also note, some hospitals do not allow you to eat during labor so be sure to ask what their policy is.)
  10. Understand how you think and respond to pain.
  11. It Will End. At one point the pain will stop.

These are just some tips and things to think about. Be sure to visit this blog by Liesel, a labor and delivery nurse to find out more useful tips and information. There are a lot of good lists of things to pack and what to expect.

baby birth born care
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Bits and Pieces

Thanks for returning to my sappy blog thus far. If you have read my previous blogs, first of all, thank you! Secondly, I thought I would share some of who I am because it’s pretty hard to have trust with someone you don’t know. And since I hope to build a strong community and dialogue, that might, just might be an important part of the foundation. So here we go…

My name is Ashley. 

I was born and raised in the south. I was brought up in church, in a (Methodist) Non-denominational church (this will be important to know later).  One of my secret prayers was that God would make me able to fly like Peter Pan and when I did my body temperature would regulate to 72F (I was 12. I didn’t know that I would die ok!) I may have even tried to fly a couple times. I am the youngest of three kids, having two older brothers. I always wanted to be a dancer, ride horses, do some form of art, become a famous actress, live in other countries for at least two years each, speak 6-7 different languages and graduate from college. When I was in high school I was officially diagnosed with dyslexia ( I’m actually rather proud I can spell that word!) in reading, writing (why am I Writing a blog again?!) and comprehension. This meant school was not easy at all. I would study twice as long to make average grades. There were some teachers though who were amazing! They knew I understood the material based on the questions I would ask and even answering the students questions in class (Mrs. Graham, you’re the best). The professional who diagnosed my dyslexia informed my mother and myself that I would never be able to learn a second language or survive college. Therein came my determination to prove her and everyone else wrong. With the help of my therapist, Mrs. Helms, and others over the next two years, I was able to graduate on time and was accepted to a liberal arts college. I was ecstatic! I remember I got the acceptance letter the day before my 18th birthday. My college experience was rocky. With bad roommates (all but one), commuter systems not knowing I was even there, classes I didn’t sign up for appearing on my schedule, I had a rough time catching up. Eventually I ran out of money and had to drop out. I was crushed, my dreams seemed to be utterly destroyed. I had no hope of ever becoming anything. Through different events I ended up going to a ministry school where I met a Really cute guy. But he was so immature I decided there were probably better options. I kept one eye on him thought, just in case. By the second year of ministry school, something changed in him and we actually became friends over the game of Life. A few months later we were getting married and moving to England. After 6 months, we returned home and started a family. I decided I couldn’t let someone else raise my kids even if they payed me. So I joined the ranks of stay at home moms and watched my friends continue to live their lives from a distance. It was hard. Very hard. But thats a whole different story for another time. 

Now I am rejoining the ranks of at home working mothers and with your help I will succeed. 

Motivation

Lets be real for a minute. I have no idea what I’m doing. Creating this blog was done in an effort to increase our income while staying home with the kids (maybe that’s something you’re not supposed to say on a blog, but I did, it’s there in the open now). I have not had a “real” job in more years than care to count, so to say my confidence level is low is perhaps being nice! 

But I have a lot of motivation. These two beautiful kids, and my wonderful husband. 

My dreams and hopes for our future as a family. Our desire to travel, to be self supported missionaries.

Ensuring the wellbeing of my children is a great motivation but probably my biggest motivation would be my husband (caution: PDA alert!). Over the past 10 months I have watched my husband work hard. Very hard. Often overworked and exhausted, he continues to get up every morning between 5:00am and 5:30am to drive 45 minutes to a job where he works in the heat, the rain, the wind, the cold and the dirt or mud for 10+ hours Monday through every Friday. He is gone almost 13 hours a day and 10 hours on Saturdays. And yet, he still comes home and plays with the kids and helps me around the house. How could I be more proud of him? I feel so honored to be his wife and stand by his side, having the privilege of watching him grow and mature in some inspiring ways. But I miss him and I want him home. 

And so it is for these reasons I have chosen to embark on this journey blog. So please stay tuned for more posts and thank you for joining me on this journey of learning. 

Trial and Error

How many times have you tried something only to have it fail. I have, I tried several small business endeavors. They all failed. Miserably.

How many times have have you wanted to try something new but did not know where to start or what would work best for you? Beauty products, baby products, workouts, cleaning hacks, recipes. This blog for one!

How many times have you been given advice that did not work, like dating “how to’s”, what job you should have, what you should do with you life? Just small things, nothing major.

How many times do you wish someone had told you something that could have prevented unnecessary pain, stress, loss of time and money? My husband and I could name a few!

I will be addressing some of these topics and more in future posts as a source for practical and informative life skills and tips, stories of my own experiences as well as others to equip you and hopefully give you successful tools in your Life belt to make you successful by learning from trusted, tested individuals such as myself and those who ave influenced my life. I will base my research from a biblical world view and hope to hear from you in this dialogue!