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.

How parenthood has changed me

Can I just say this month has been crazy! From two hurricanes, to water pouring through the ceiling, to starting a new job, to mold, being sick, to mice and experiencing postpartum issues for the first time since giving birth to my son just over a year ago. It’s been….. busybody day the least.

The last couple posts have been somber ones and I wanted to something more lighthearted. I have been trying to find a balance between sharing difficult information and light reading, but… maybe your should read another blogger for that! I am not always so serious and intense. I actually really enjoy hearing people laugh and helping them have a good time. But the reality is, pregnancy and the aftermath can be a very serious thing. If you’re caught unprepared and don’t understand what is going on, it can be very scary and leave you feeling out of control, lost and confused. So, I guess I would rather you read a serious post that can be of help than to hide the reality of the situation and to tell you everything will be fine! Because the truth is, it may not be fine on it’s own, and honestly, it’s not usually fine on it’s own, we as mothers need a community, we need that help, support, fellowship, trusted environment to share the crap and the laughter all in one and everyone come out the better for it.

Motherhood may be one of the hardest things you ever do. It may be the most self sacrificing, depleting, loneliest, frustrating thing, but it can also provide you with some beautiful memories of precious moments, hilarious stories, great laughs and personal growth. There have been may signification events that have changed me and grown me but there is something about parenthood that seems to change you in a way that nothing else can. Perhaps because it’s stuck in your face and there’s no escape from it, every day all day. And you can make the choice to either grow and be a good parent or get away with as little as you can and still have your kids alright. I have been reflecting on what I was like in college and just after getting married a lot the last few weeks and I have definitely seen some areas of growth for sure. I reflected back to the depth of change brought on by other circumstances and I would say parent hood has by far brought about some of the biggest changes by far not just in myself but the way I live my life.

Ways parenthood has changed me.

I used to think it was so gross when I would see a parent eat behind their child, like eating the rest of the ice cream from the spoon before dipping it again. It wasn’t the double dipping, it was putting the left overs on the spoon in your own mouth! Now I find myself doing the same thing!

My sweat now has a sweet odor to it from breast milk. It makes me happy.

I now remind other people to “say thank you”….. 🙄

My friends think I’m a minimalist, and I am but, I’m not. I just don’t want my nicer things to get broken, chewed up, peed on, destroyed, or disappear!

I have SO many more reasons to hate carpet!!!

I’ve always been able to eat more than my husband; people never believed me and thought I was a pig for taking so much food. Now I take three plates at a time and use the excuse “I have kids!” But still usually end up eating most of it myself anyway!

I used to sit alone in my car for forty-five minutes or more after coming back from wherever especially when the weather was nice and just sit there thinking with the windows rolled down. It was bliss!! My car was my safe space. All my space that no one would come in without my saying so. (I had a pretty beat up car, no one would feel it worth breaking into. I loved that old beat up thing though! We went through so much together!) Now I think about how I can spend as little time in the car as possible!

I have put off a lot of my dreams and hobbies, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten them or left them. In fact, I’ve had time to really think about focusing them so that when I am actually able to put them into motion, I have more of a clear vision and line of direction than before. (When you can’t do Anything you really figure out what is the one thing you really want to do when the rare opportunity allows you to.)

I can shower, get two kids ready, and grocery shop in record time!

Winter is a whole new ball game. I used to love winter and the changing of seasons. Now…Winter is a nightmare; from the coats and extra things to carry, to germs and “don’t touch!” Looking forward to social gatherings with excitement and dread. Yay people!!! Oh no, people!

Sometimes I wonder if the “old me” will ever creep it’s way back out. Will I ever get to live feeling like that individual who was confident, bold, strong and sometimes a little reckless? I can feel it there waiting patiently and quietly at times for the right time to come back. Sometimes it will scream and bang against its cage begging to be freed. But I know deep down, even that side of me will never be the same. There is a maturity that comes from parenting. A solidity that establishes itself deep within the center of your being that can rise higher and deeper when called upon. A stronger determination to do what is right and be the best version of myself, hoping to leave a legacy worth following. There is a better understanding of the richness of a single moment and the importance of soaking it in as much as physically possible; forgetting the bad ones and holding on to the smiles, the silly made up words, the sleepy faces, the firsts, and the lasts. There is a great shift in priorities; somehow the importance of a neat freak gets over turned by the playful moments of a self entertained child. And then on top of it all there is a deeper understanding and greater respect and appreciation for my own mother and grandmother. Memories of frustration towards my mother turn into “I understand now!” I get some things better, understand certain actions or calls made about things I wouldn’t understand until becoming a mother myself.

Overall, I would say motherhood has changed me for the better and is continually forcing me to evaluate parts of myself I don’t like, causing me to consider just how much I am willing to sacrifice and change. And no, it does not make you a bad mother for debating if you Really want to sacrifice or not. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person for wanting to get away with certain things. It means you’re human! You have limits and it’s okay to accept them and admit them. Asking for help from a community of others who understand helps fill the gaps and give you a break, the encouragement you need to know you’re doing a good job and not alone.

To My Subscribers…

This is an unconventional post. I am trying to find a way to email you because I would Love to hear more from you but as of right now I have not figured out a way to do so successfully!

I am learning a lot about blogging still. And hey, this is me doing what I can as a beginner, stay at home mom, working two jobs! (I count blogging at a job.)

If you have thoughts or would like to hear about something specifically, please feel free to email me your suggestions! I would greatly value hearing from you, or if you think you have something that my readers would like to hear I would be more than happy to share them if I feel they fit.

Please contact me here: shurter.co@gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from you and hope to have a more sophisticated way to contact you!

Blessings!

D-MER, or Dysphoric Milk Eject Reflex

     If you are like me, you have NEVER heard of D-MER. D-MER is a condition that can affect breastfeeding mothers causing them to have what has been defined as uncomfortable and unpleasant mood swings such as sadness, depression, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness. This is controlled by… you guessed it… Hormones… and is uncontrollable by the mother.  What happens when a woman has a letdown of breastmilk is a release of both oxytocin and dopamine. You need both to make breastmilk, but in women who experience D-MER, the dopamine falls to an inappropriate level causing sometimes extreme negative reactions. Milk release itself is not caused by dopamine dropping, it’s caused by oxytocin rising. Dopamine inhibits prolactin, stopping the production of milk. Dopamine levels need to drop for prolactin levels to rise in order to make more milk. Normally, dopamine drops properly and breastfeeding mothers never know it even happened. In D-MER mothers, it doesn’t drop properly and causes an instant wave of negative emotions.

     How do women find this information if they don’t know what it is?? Google. They google it. This irritates me! It makes me angry that women do not have the human resources and knowledge they need and have to use a computer because their health care provider does not even mention the possibility of this condition. Or because the community around us doesn’t offer the Real support new mothers need! If you have been a mother for any length of time, you know it is hard and scary, and you feel like you have NO Clue what you’re doing. Why is it that we leave new mothers in the dark? Why do we not share what we have learned and pass it on or even just say “I don’t know what/why, but I’ve been there!” Why are we too afraid to be vulnerable about our experiences leaving generation after generation in the dark, letting them fall farther into loneliness and lack of education.

In all fairness, there has not been a lot of awareness about this subject until recently; it has started to expand through increased online content. There is now preliminary anecdotal evidence that D-MER is treatable.
I have personally not experienced this, so there is no personal connection story, however, if there are so many women out there suffering from D-MER and would not otherwise hear about it, it deserves to be brought to light as part of my mission to help bring healing and health to all mothers everywhere.
So how did I hear about it if I didnt have it? I had it brought to my attention by listening to the story of my friend’s journey through parenthood. One of my favorite things to do is talk to new mothers about their experiences. I have been a mother for almost three years come January 2019. I always find that I can learn new things almost every time or gain a new perspective. It was during one of these conversations that I first heard about D-MER and after learning more about it and how little it is talked about, I decided to share it with you.

Let’s take a minute and talk about what D-MER ISN’T.

It is not classified as a mood disorder or Postpartum Depression. (See my recent post  Recognizing Postpartum Warnings for more information about that.)

It is not nausea with letdown, or any other isolated physical symptom because it is emotionally based.

It is not a psychological response to breastfeeding but a response to milk release.

It is not a general dislike, or impatience with the baby while breastfeeding.

It is not  “breastfeeding aversion” that can happen to some mothers when nursing while pregnant or nursing older toddlers.

     There are slight variations but it all has one common characteristic, negative or even devastating emotion just prior to a letdown. THIS is the key element of D-MER. The mother will feel a surge of negative emotions about 30-90 seconds before the release of milk and by the time the baby is actually swallowing, the feelings have dissolved but will return just before another letdown.
There is a three-level spectrum:
1. despondency
2. anxiety
3. agitation
If you find yourself describing your experience as hollow feeling in the stomach, anxiety, sadness, dread, introspective, nervous, emotionally upset, angst, irritable, hopeless and a general negative emotion, you may be experiencing D-MER and should bring this up to your healthcare provider.

D-MER is defined on something like a color spectrum due to the variable experiences a mother may have; example, red does not look like blue, but they are both colors. Like this, D-MER can present with different “colors” of emotion for different mothers; despondency, anxiety or anger. Each of the three spectrums has three intensities of D-MER that include mild, moderate and severe. These are determined by the mother’s description of intensity, length of time the D-MER takes to correct itself, how many letdowns per feeding she feels the dysphoria and other specifications. Mild cases often can correct themselves in the first 3 months. Moderate can take up to 9 months while severe cases can take up to the first year or longer.

This may feel like a bit of a hopeless situation even for the mild cases, yet, there is hope for helping even the more severe cases. Often once a woman knows that it is not just her but an actual medical condition and not just an emotional problem, she can manage her symptoms more easily. Even educating the moderate cases can often be the helping edge they need to continue breastfeeding. And if this is not enough, mothers with D-MER are encouraged to keep a log so they can become more aware of things that intensify the reactions, things like stress, dehydration, caffeine; and things that might help them feel better, such as plenty of sleep and exercise. Certain lifestyle changes and natural remedies can also help control the symptoms of D-MER in the mild to moderate cases.
Mothers experiencing more severe cases may need a prescription to help them control their symptoms better if they are feeling like they may quit breastfeeding. So far, it seems that simply taking a prescription that increases her levels of dopamine are effective in reducing D-MER symptoms to a more manageable way of living.

And THIS, ladies (and any gentlemen) is why I want to share this with you; because education is often what helps mothers manage their D-MER. It is a simple solution, share your stories, share your experience and help others who are going through the same thing so they don’t have to suffer alone! Share your story with me so we can change the culture in which we live; no one should have to go through parenting alone. Let’s be a community that helps one another because as they say…

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD. 

six boys standing near trees and houses photo taken
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