Childbirth, Graves' disease, Motherhood, Postpartum

Always Trust Your Instincts

Only a couple months after I had my second baby I started to notice some inexplicable changes in my body and mind. It started with a shameful amount of rage mainly directed at my first daughter. I thought it was probably in the realm of normal for postpartum exhaustion. I wasn’t sleeping due to the new baby and my patience ran very thin and she was a typical button pushing 3 year old, but it still felt extremely uncharacteristic. One day I yelled at her so loudly and angrily it felt like an out of body experience. I decided then that I was likely suffering from postpartum anxiety. I called my OB and explained that I did not feel like myself and needed help. They didn’t even see me or discuss with me what was going on they only sent in a prescription for Zoloft. I decided to hold off because just about the time I made the call to my OB, I began to have a myriad of other strange symptoms. I noticed that even half caffeinated coffee made me tremor. I could barely build a gingerbread house with my daughter because I was shaking uncontrollably. Then came the heat intolerance, I couldn’t live without sweating. I woke up at night drenched in sweat and wearing a sweater in December left me feeling like I was going to pass out from feeling so hot all the time. Every morning I would wake up with joint pain in my hips, knees and ankles. Lastly, I began to hear a strong whooshing sound in my ears. All day and night I heard this sound and it near drove me to tears several times. It wouldn’t stop. It was then I called an ENT to have my ears checked.

At my appointment my ENT checked my hearing and everything came back normal. He ordered an MRI for me to check for potential tumors (that was a fun word for me to marinate on) but just as I was about to leave I asked him if he would mind ordering some Thyroid labs just to be sure. I will never know what urged me to randomly ask an ENT to order thyroid labs but the hunch was eerie and I tend to listen to my gut. Thankfully my ENT listened to me fully and even said to me “If you think this is something that could be an issue we need to investigate it, trust your instinct. I’m looking at your thyroid now and it seems it is a little enlarged.” He also ordered an ultrasound on my thyroid. I will forever be thankful to this ENT because after my two horrible birth experiences, it was a huge difference that a doctor was listening to me and trusting me to know my body.

After my ultrasound and MRI, my thyroid grew even larger and I had a very large goiter protruding from my neck (apparently iodine will do this to people with hyperthyroidism). The ENT called me as soon as my labs and MRI came back but would only discuss with me in person. Naturally, I assumed the very worst. That day I was shaking so much. I stupidly wore a sweater and I was blistering hot sitting in the waiting room. Sweating, tremoring and anxious I walked back to the room.

My ENT discussed my MRI, I do have a bit of a pinched cartilage near my ears where the blood is flowing near my ear drum causing the whooshing sound. However, the reason my blood was flowing so fast was because my blood pressure was very elevated due to my thyroid levels. He told me that my suggestion to check my thyroid probably saved me from having a life-threatening, heart damaging thyroid storm and that I needed to immediately get on thyroid medication to tame my levels. My ENT was not “suppose” to prescribe me thyroid medication but in this case he was going to do anything to make sure I did not land in the hospital with a storm.

It took about 3 days on methimazole for me to notice the difference I felt. The heat intolerance disappeared first, thank goodness. Though I did have symptoms that lasted a bit longer and even stick around today some of those being the tremors, anxiety and joint pain. I had to cut caffeine completely from my diet and I also tried to eliminate food high in salt for a while. Once I saw an endocrinologist I was properly diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Graves’ is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid and causes extreme hyperthyroidism. Thankfully as of right now my thyroid levels are in the normal range, but I will always have Graves’ disease.

If it weren’t for me listening to my body and speaking up to a doctor I felt would listen to my concerns, I could have ended up in the hospital with potential permanent heart damage. It is so important to note when things feel off and if no one will listen to you, you should absolutely seek out a professional who will. Make sure you advocate for yourself, especially during the postpartum period. It is so easy for doctors to write off symptoms as being normal postpartum but listen to your gut, mamas. Make sure you are also looking out for yourselves.

Me Time, Motherhood

Making My Own Rules

My whole life I’ve lived it in regards to how other people would perceive me.

I was sitting around looking at my life a few months ago. I had an overwhelming feeling about my house that wasn’t farm-style or organized enough, the children who weren’t scheduled or challenged enough, my body which wasn’t thin enough, smooth enough or bulging in the right places, our clothes not expensive or trendy enough, my yard not perfectly manicured. I asked myself, why I am putting so much pressure on myself to fit a mold? Are these things for me or are these things for other people? I sat with that for a long time and even now I’m still weighing everything out. “Comparison is a thief of joy”, I’ve heard this more times than I can count. I understand it, I know it – so why should I still worry about what my life is or isn’t compared to other people?

Ever since I can remember, I hid things about myself, my life, my emotions that might seem odd to “normal people” growing up. I wasn’t loud, quirky, challenging, messy, or eccentric. I was agreeable maybe with a little bit of a temper but for the most part I rarely questioned authority. I did what people expected me to do, I questioned very little and lived in a bubble of predictability. I wanted to get married and raise kids in the same town where I grew up. Then my ex-fiancé and I broke up and life came up and smacked me right in the fairytale.

My ex-Fiancé’s world didn’t help at all. Full of perfectly architected women who regularly looked like they were about to walk down a runway. I was always trying to fit myself into this narrative. I learned the proper way to put on make up, bought the right clothes and shoes. I worked my unruly curly hair into updo’s of sorts for events and learned to smile and nod with the best of them. I was only a moldable fresh 18 at the time. Quiet, agreeable, predictable, organized, “together”.

It was a theme, this is what I had always been taught to do. I think I first noticed that I’d been playing a part instead of being myself about 10 years ago. Slowly I’ve been peeling back the layers one by one to get to my true core. Though, this year at the age of 33 I’ve really started to see my progress and really latched on to the fact that I am not anyone else but myself, and that should be good enough. I’ve put so much pressure on myself for years to fit myself into “normal” – into a box that looks like everyone else’s. I realized that this has only really ever left me feeling like I am not enough. I still have days when I harp on my messy non-Marie Kondo house, my kids who run a muck and eat cheese sticks for breakfast, my body that has stretch marks, extra skin, and wrinkles, but in the scheme is any of this really that important? Maybe I’m not like everyone else and maybe that’s ok.

Lately I’ve committed myself to making my own rules and living in my own truth. It’s been really hard to make sure I’m evaluating things through a lens not cultivated by someone else. That I am living for me and my family and no one else. That I make the decisions on what is important in my life not what was expected of me in the past or what is expected of me by other people. I’m reintroducing myself to myself. It’s messy but exciting work. It’s also much more fulfilling to live unfiltered.

Motherhood, SAHM

This Past Year

This last year, prior to completing my second Covid vaccine round in April, I spent the majority of it in a constant state of unknowing. I felt a heavy weight of endless monotony. We made the tough decision to attempt virtual/homeschool for my 4 year old. That in itself was a struggle. My child didn’t understand why some of her friends were in the classroom while she had to sit at home. Thankfully our preschool teachers sent packets of fun activities and learning aids. They also did a great job of including the virtual children in their discussions and circle time. Though, no matter what I did I felt like I was failing my children. Some days we would sit and watch TV all day and at the end of the day I couldn’t help but beat myself up about how little I’d accomplished and how I had basically rotted my children’s brains away. I couldn’t appreciate the fact that I had dedicated a lot of the year to just keeping us as entertained as possible while at home. When we did go out I felt anxious about potential illness and I couldn’t enjoy myself at all. Some days I spent yelling at my kids instead of connecting to my kids. I couldn’t see the light, any light. I felt like I was stuck in an endless darkness that didn’t ever seem to let up, I had a particularly rough time in the winter. In February, my grandfather fell and broke his hip. Right around the same time I hit a breaking point. My husband told me to pack and he hauled us all to Florida for a week to escape the winter chill. He still had to work, but I was able to take the girls to the beach every day. It was a light in a dark time to feel the sand between my toes and finally, truly ground myself. I’m not sure what it is about the waves, sand and salt water but it is one of the most healing places for my soul. I took time to mediate and focus on the good happening around me. I watched my children play in the sand, discover colorful shells and experience the waves take them over. I watched my oldest, wise beyond her years stare off into the horizon the same way I do when I am reconnecting with myself. I felt like I was home again. Home in my body home in my mind finally aligning themselves. When I got back home my grandfather was put in hospice care and grief began to set in. My grandfather was previously suffering dementia, we had watched him for the last few years slowly withering away. Pieces of himself leaving ever so quietly, diminishing the man that we all knew and loved. It was a heartbreaking relief when he passed. We all slowly mourned his loss over the last few years but it was still a knife to the heart to lose his presence especially after a year spent apart. Even while grieving the loss of my Pop, I held on tightly to the positivity the beach brought me in the previous week. My Pop loved the beach, in my last conversation with him he asked me which beach I was visiting. He loved the beach, I got that from him. So, I carried that positivity with me through mourning his loss.

When spring time hit I felt a wave of relief. The sun was shining again and I went for my first Covid vaccine. Finally. I felt free from the darkness that had surrounded me for so long. I seemed a bit more perky and positive. We started slowly and carefully returning to our previous lives, my oldest returned to school in person and I found some time to spend with my youngest. It was uplifting to have come so far and stayed healthy and also to return to a mostly normal world in the wake of such a devastating year. This summer we have relished in time with family and friends. We have visited our past in St. Louis and reconnected with the world around us. It feels good to be back. It feels good to be writing again. Something I always enjoyed but felt too heavy to do publicly last year. I hope this post finds you well and maybe hopefully better understand where I’ll be coming from in my posts to come. If you’re following along, welcome I’m glad to have you here.

Motherhood

Reintroduction

Many things have changed since I have written last. I became a new mother of two, recovered from my second birth, parented through a pandemic with a baby and a 3 year old, homeschooled pre-k, and my husband and I made the tough but necessary decision to permanently complete our family at two children. I started going to therapy and I have learned a lot about myself this past year. I have struggled with mommy rage, my body image, finding time to be alone, reprocessing my first birth, defining my core life values, and tapping back into myself.

The biggest one has been defining my core values and really looking deep into who I have been, who I am, and what I want to be. I cannot wait to share with you my thoughts, my hopes, my struggles, my defeats, and my triumphs in this beautiful life I continue to build. Stay tuned…

Childbirth, Labor, Motherhood

We have to talk about it

My first birth and recovery is one of those stories that newly pregnant moms ask you not to tell so that you don’t scare them. My first birth resulted in a 4th degree tear. I tore all the way down my pelvic region leaving a gaping wound from one hole through the other. Later, those stitches got infected resulting in a high fever and an enormous amount of pain. I ended up having to go under for surgery to have it drained so that I could return to recovery. You can imagine the mental and physical pain and issues it caused and continues to cause for me even as the birth itself becomes a distant memory.

It started at the beginning of this pregnancy, my second pregnancy. Feelings that I thought I had worked through suddenly resurfaced as I stared at the screen in the doctors office of another being that my body had to bring into the world. When I saw that little bean up on that screen I shocked myself as the first thing in my mind was fear and dread. The fear of another birth and the dread of the unknown recovery in my future consumed my mind. I felt trapped. The rest of my appointment my blood pressure was extremely extremely high. I teared up and choked back sobs in the consultation with my midwife. Leaving the hospital that day I felt like a zombie, completely empty inside but so full all at the same time. Before I split ways with my mom that day I let it all go in the parking deck while she held me. It was really hard to explain in the moment. This beautiful second daughter of mine was very much planned and wanted but I felt empty, I felt scared, I felt a raging anger that I had apparently tucked far back into my mind long ago. Visions of my previous birth haunted my dreams and weighed heavily on my mind throughout the first trimester. The second trimester left me agonizing over the decision between attempting to deliver vaginally again or to go the route of the C-Section. I spoke with friends about their C-Sections. I weighed the risks of trying for another vaginal delivery. I dug up details from my last birth to try to understand why I had gone through such a traumatic experience. I think that has been the most difficult part. Speaking with midwives about my first birth makes me question everything that happened in the room that day. Let me just tell you, I want nothing more than a beautifully perfect second vaginal birth. While my dreams were mostly haunted by my previous birth, I also dreamed of a birth that was calm, a birth that healed my anxiety and cured my emptiness. I wanted this for myself so very much. I needed the redemption, a redo with the right knowledge and superior caregivers. I thought that I could do it, that everything would be perfect this time. The truth is, that healing redemptive birth is not a guaranteed reality. In fact, after discussing my current anatomy with my midwife it became very clear what I might be risking. I just can’t do it even though I want it more than anything for myself. I feel completely cheated out of a second chance.

I scheduled an appointment with an OBGYN who specialized in pelvic floor and urogynecology. We discussed my options, we discussed the surgery, and we picked the few days that he would be available to deliver my second daughter. He was swift in his responses but observant as he looked me in the eyes and said to me matter of factly “You have a bit of P-PTSD from this.” I was slightly dumbfounded. It never really occurred to me, even being one who graduated college with a BS in Psychology, that I had suffered a trauma and that trauma was effecting me during this pregnancy. I mulled over our conversation in the car, I thought about the days that were chosen for me to deliver my daughter. I thought about the first time I’ll get to hold her in my arms. I felt more confident in my decision to choose a C-Section than I had this whole pregnancy. The next morning I woke up but I felt like I couldn’t move. I sat up and it felt like an elephant was on my shoulders and I started to cry. I don’t even know why, I was feeling pretty positive after discussing my options with the doctor. I did not feel like myself at all, like there was an imposter in my mind controlling my body. My toddler was getting on my nerves and she wasn’t even being specifically difficult and I didn’t want to be touched by anyone. A few more times that day I burst into sobs. I argued with my husband and I shut myself down from everyone that day. It was time for me to seek some kind of help. I had put it off for way too long. I had tucked the feelings from my first birth into the back of my mind and ignored it until my second pregnancy triggered those feelings again. Now here I am, 30 weeks pregnant and realizing that I needed something and someone this entire time. The midwife asked me yesterday why I had waited so long to ask for help and I really don’t have an answer other than ignorance. I didn’t realize it. Someone had to recognize it for me.

The scars of birth and recovery are so commonly disregarded and kept quiet. For some, it is really hard to talk about and it’s very personal. It’s not only really hard to talk about but it’s something that many people don’t want to hear about. If we don’t share our stories though, how will we recover? How will we prepare future generations? How will we ever improve for our future generations if we don’t talk about it? How will anyone ever understand the importance of pre- and post- partum mental and physical care? As many things are changing in this country I feel as though the important things are being completely ignored. This is THE important thing. This is what will help women and children. The stories of our scars can give us power if we speak out about them.

Gentle Parenting, Mom, Motherhood, Parenting, Respectful Parenting, SAHM

Finding “Me” Time

Often times I speak with other moms who feel burnt out, who feel like they are disconnected with themselves. We discuss times when we lose our patience with our children because we are honestly just so exhausted. I feel like this is so common for mothers these days. Whether you are staying at home or working, “having it all and being the perfect mom” is such a huge societal pressure no matter what parenting style you choose. Everyone is watching Millennial moms raise their children, and everyone has an opinion about it. Between the pressure from the outside, the internal pressures, and the actual pressures of motherhood we burn ourselves out over doing “all the things” and often forget to take care of ourselves.

“How do I reign myself in so that I’m a more patient, understanding mom?”

It starts with you. The way we choose to parent is exhausting, no doubt. As a stay at home mom who uses attachment and gentle parenting it takes a lot of physical and mental power for me to get through the day with a toddler. I’m not complaining, it is just simply a fact. This is why finding some time for myself during the day is extremely important. Finding “me time” means I can reconnect with myself, have a mental break and take some deep breaths. I usually have some free time after my daughter goes to bed, but I always need a little break in between the time she opens her eyes and then closes them again for bedtime. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I make some time to put my daughter in the jogging stroller and hit the trail for a run. This gives my kiddo some quality outside time and I get some time to think or listen to my own music for half an hour. Right now, she’s thankfully still taking naps (I have no idea what I’ll do when those end), so during nap time on the days I don’t run, I seek a little bit of peace in some yoga practice. I actually just started adding yoga into my regular weekly routine and I have noticed that it has made all the difference in my parenting and my patience. On days that I do yoga, I notice that I am a calmer more understanding version of myself which feeds in to my parenting style so well. How do you make time for yourself? What do you do to relax and reconnect with yourself?

 

Gentle Parenting, Motherhood, Parenting, Respectful Parenting, SAHM, Toddler Behavior

Parenting with Thought: The Why

Once you find out you’re pregnant, you have a myriad of different opinions and choices being thrown at you in regards to how you will parent your new family. In the beginning it starts as breast or bottle, sleep training or co-sleeping, cloth diapering or disposables, stroller or baby wear, baby led weaning or purees, etc. These ideas I formed about how I would handle motherhood didn’t turn out to be the way I actually handled motherhood at all. I ended up letting go of all the noise from everyone else and focused on what I needed to do for my child specifically. I also always had ideas about how I would parent, what I would and wouldn’t do but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. A few months after my sweet little baby turned one she walked right up to me and smacked me in the face, she threw tantrums at the playground for having to leave, she wiggled free from my arms as I attempted to strap her into grocery carts or strollers, she refused to hold my hand and literally ran away from me. I have stormed out of a Target with a screaming toddler on my hip before. One day I found myself crying in middle of a locked bathroom floor because “I had failed” it was then that I realized I needed to turn to the books. I was exhausted, I have a human that needs me for literally everything in her life and she can’t tell me what she needs or why she acts certain ways. It was time to do my research in the parenting department. I always thought about myself as someone who would parent with more gentle, respectful methods but I didn’t have a deep understanding of it and I’m still learning as I go. As I began to research, I found myself engrossed in the gentle/conscious/respectful parenting books, pages, and podcasts even. More specifically, Janet Lansbury’s approach to parenting toddlers is my absolute favorite however I tend to combine a few approaches. After about two weeks of implementing her ideas, my daughter stopped randomly hitting me, we had more pleasant trips to the park and the grocery store. I started treating her as a human, I began to speak with her as though she could understand everything I was asking of her, I began to respect her and try to relate to her when she was having big feelings. It was almost like a lightbulb went off in my head and parenting my toddler finally made sense to me. These books and ideas spoke to me in a way that past parenting practices did not. I only knew gentle parenting as being mocked by past generations. “Coddling” they warn, “Entitlement” they scoff, “Sometimes they just need a good spanking” they grunt. What they don’t know is that this respectful, gentle type of parenting saved me and strengthened my relationship [even more] with my daughter. What they don’t know is that now, I understand her probably more than any other human on the planet because I put thought towards her actions and simply treat her with respect and understanding.

Parenting can be hard, especially as a stay at home mom, I am not perfect and I have my moments. I began to notice that when I do yell or lose my patience it isn’t my daughters behavior that was poor, it was simply that I was having a bad day and a hard time dealing with everything in that moment. It wasn’t her, it was me. This is one of the biggest realizations for me. Once I realized this, I even started apologizing to my daughter for not handling my own feelings very well. Apologizing for having my own hard time was a huge step in the right direction for our relationship. It made me realize that we all have big feelings, wants and needs and when those aren’t met we have bad moods or even adult tantrums (I’ve worked in HR long enough to know that yes, those exist). That is why parenting in a way to help children navigate, regulate, and appropriately express those feeling is so important in my opinion, because they’ll have the same feelings and struggles later in life and teaching them how to appropriately navigate them now will only help them later. In my experience children understand a lot more than we think they do. In our house, we use a lot of feeling labeling, redirection, unruffled direction, conversations, natural consequences, hugs, choices, and I’m sure I’m leaving a few others out. This is how we are getting through the toddler years. Since applying these practices to every day life, I have noticed that I think more critically about what is going on with my daughter and also myself. If I solved our struggles with a swat on the rear/hand then, in my opinion (don’t forget, just an opinion piece here), I don’t believe I’d be giving the same respect to my child that I’d be asking her to give to me. I don’t believe I would think through my mind “Ok, she’s really being tough to deal with right now but why? and how do we fix it together.” I ended up taking my psychology degree to Human Resources prior to becoming a stay at home mom and I think I use my psychology degree more as a SAHM than I did when I was in HR, but there was one thing from my career that stuck with me as I started on my SAHM endeavor. The VP of HR always said to us “We aren’t asking ‘why’ enough, always ask ‘why.’” So, when I began to study the idea of gentle, respectful, conscious parenting a vision of my VP popped in my head because I think this type of parenting encourages me to explore what my daughter is going through and why she acts out in certain situations. For example: she’s tired, she didn’t have a long enough nap, she’s overstimulated, she could simply just be having a bad day, she’s made a mistake and now we need to work together to fix it and show her how to fix it, she’s navigating feelings that are new to her and needs help labeling them and needs help with proper ways to express those feelings, she’s testing boundaries, has she had enough outside time lately, given the chance to explore something new or create lately, has she had too much screen time, does she just simply need a hug for reassurance? etc. I am not saying I’m perfect but I try hard every single day to make sure I’m looking at her perspective when she’s acting out or being tough. After all she is a human with complex feelings even more fragile than adult human feelings because she’s trying to learn how to navigate those feelings and in my opinion it’s our job as parents to show them how to properly express them. I think parents understanding the why behind what our children do is just as important as how we respond to them. A little bit of empathy and compassion can go a long way and I think that is a major key to parenting through tough toddler situations. This may or may not be true for every child and every parent, but I believe starting as early as 15 months with my daughter helped mold our relationship to what it is now. I can tell she trusts me to guide her in the right direction, she listens to me (most of the time, I mean, come on she is a toddler), we have a strong connection built off security, love, and understanding. Maybe I won the lottery and have a “mild” toddler (whatever that is), maybe our worst days are still on the horizon, but I have to say this connection we have with each other is strong and I am proud of the tiny human she is today and the bond we share as parent and child.

If you would like more information here are some pages I follow and books I have read and books on my list to read.

Janet Lansbury

Books by Janet Lansbury

Books Recommended by Janet Lansbury

L.R. Knost and Gentle Parenting

LR

Mom, Motherhood, SAHM

Not Enough, but Not too Much

It’s never enough, but it also always seems like too much.

I think this sentance 100% describes a mothers take on motherhood. Which is why it has become so difficult. Which is why I think women specifically have shied away from becoming parents. There is a constant list in my brain. The list can sometimes include groceries that have run its course and need replenishing, it includes the clothing my child (and husband) has worn and when she’ll(he’ll) need to wear it again, it includes little snippets throughout the day – a new workout or recipe I want to try, the most updated information on how to raise your children well rounded, the negative effects of screen time (that I research when I should be cooking while she watches her Flavor of the month show or movie), how to wean your toddler, then switches to inner thoughts like “have we taken the trash out lately? how long is too long before I vacuum, mop, dust, again? whats for dinner and when should I start cooking, have I taken down the nursery trash…. how full is the dishwasher, omg toys, toys everywhere.”

This is why I am defensive of Gilmore Girls, the fast talking commentary is made fun of (thanks, family guy), yet somehow the commentary is a reflection of my own constant inner voice, which is why maybe a lot of women can relate to it so SO much. And yet, society loves to smash it.

Ladies, Mothers – this is how life really is for us — an ongoing commentary (in our minds) that men cannot keep up with. Why aren’t the feelings we hold, the worries we have, the constant care we exhibit, thrown to the wayside by society. Why is something like ‘sitting around eating bon bons’ all we seemingly do. However, when we choose to stay home Why. are. we. so. over. whelmed.? And not only that but we are SHOCKED by being overwhelmed.

Trust me when my pregnant self chose to be a stay at home mom I thought “This is going to be fun, everything I have ever wanted”

Listen, I’ve never been more compliant towards a boss than I am with my own daughter.

I am a personal chef,

manager of the pees and poos

kisser of all boo boos

entertainer of the year, but every day of my life

an animated reader

Childrens emotion and education specialist

a Mac n Cheese connoisseur

Master schedule manager

Events coordinator

Uber driver

Needless to say I wear a lot of hats. When I wear a lot of hats I have a lot on my mind. When I have a lot on my mind I have a lot of impatience and when I have impatience, while I love my baby girl, I need a solid half day of no one to care for but myself. Sometimes I need a night when I honest to god, forget that I am a parent. I literally don’t want to think of anyone but myself during that time. Sometimes, when that time comes to an end I am really sad about it. Sometimes when that time comes, I cry in the middle of a 20-somethings bar screaming “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 32!” at the tops of my lungs (to the tune of Tswifts 22) with friends I only have the ability to hang out with on rare occasions. This is the ugly, because I am in a rough spot. I am in a spot that I didn’t think I’d be in a year ago because I was so in love with my baby at that point that none of this seemed even remotely exciting. I guess this is why people have babies so close together because they get a small taste of freedom every now and then and thats almost worse than being fully submersed in the new baby phase. Haha I don’t know maybe I’m just rambling at this point or overtired and feeling this glass of Charddonay but just know, that if you feel like I do, you aren’t alone. We’re all in this together.

Bedsharing, Cosleeping, Motherhood, SAHM

The Truth About Bedsharing

Today I’m going to share about a little topic that will make people judge me, applaud me, hate me, thank me etc. Let’s take it back to pregnant me, because pregnant me knew everything. Pregnant me would have well behaved kids, pregnant me would have my husband do night feedings, pregnant me would still have a life outside of my baby. (I know right, who did I think I was?) Pregnant me thought I would NEVER bedshare because it was “dangerous”, because I’m going to suffocate my baby, I’m going to roll over on her, I’m going to kill my baby if I sleep with her.

Enter the 4 month sleep regression. Enter waking up literally every hour. Enter the most exhausted I think I have ever been (so far).

“Just this once” I thought. “I am so tired. I just need her to sleep.”

Everyone will warn you “oh yes, the 4 month sleep regression, don’t start bad habits!” Maybe I ignored their advice. Maybe I don’t even care that I ignored their advice because I did what was best for us in a time of crisis.

The first time I brought my baby in bed with me I put my baby at risk. I was not educated on bedsharing because “I would NEVER bedshare” health professionals simply told you “just don’t do it” but where does that leave a new breastfeeding mother in the time of a severe sleep crisis? It leaves these women putting their baby at risk because we simply say “don’t do it” instead of “here are some safe ways to do it if for some reason your baby won’t sleep unless she’s next to you.” I felt shameful, I felt wrong. I felt like I was going to kill my baby. I kept it quiet so I wouldn’t be judged by others.

My child slept 4 hours straight that night and so did mama. I woke up that morning and looked and my sweet baby smiling up at me. I reached out to friends who have safely coslept and read about ways to do it as safely as possible. I’ve kept pretty silent about my experience because there is always articles about a drugged out  mother putting her baby in bed with her  and killing it making me feel shameful that I sleep with my baby. Shared articles always have a warning like…

“And this is why you should never bedshare.”

“I don’t know why anyone would put their baby in that danger!”

“I just worry about suffocation”

It is awful when a baby passes, but most of the articles I have read show clear risk factors that contributed to the death of those children. Why? Because instead of educating these mothers on safe bedsharing practices we just tell them “don’t do it” and expect that their instincts won’t take over in a moment of pure exhaustion.

We put our children at risk with anything we do. We don’t put our babies in a car without first strapping them in their car seat, we don’t let them ride bikes without a helmet or swim in a pool without supervision. So I’m going to post some safe bedsharing practices in hopes that I will help one person, one new mother who’s at the brink of an exhaustion meltdown.

*Please note that bedsharing is not for everyone. Heavy sleepers and those who thrash wildly in their sleep should probably avoid it at all costs. Follow your instincts mamas!

Cosleeping, Motherhood, SAHM

When your baby doesn’t sleep…

You were sitting down on the floor of the local library, your bouncing baby boy perched in your lap cooing and smiling at me as my toddler and I strolled up to the door.

“Oh wow! I thought it would be busy since it is spring break! Aw, he’s so precious!” I exclaimed as I plopped my diaper bag and pulled out some raisins for Raleigh to snack on before story time. The other mom gave me a glance and smiled “She’s cute.”

“Thanks! I usually come to the 10:30 am class but we had some things to do today.” I was really just talking out loud to myself, I usually narrate everything out loud these days so Raleigh hears as many words as possible.

“Yeah, I don’t think I’d be awake at 10:30, we don’t sleep through the night yet.” Almost as if she was begging at me to tell her what to do. At this point I really looked at her and noticed how tired she seemed and I remembered myself in the first year of no sleep. Desperate for someone to tell me that waiting it out was the right thing for me to do for my baby, but alas I was always met with sleep training advice. “Cry it out” they say. “Do the Ferber Method” they suggest. “I just can’t and I won’t” I always stubbornly said in my head as I smiled and nodded throughout their advice.

I gave her a knowing nod. “Yeah, we don’t either but it is better now sometimes she wakes more than other times but overall she is doing better.” I shrugged. We didn’t really talk too much after that. I did overhear her talking to another mom about how he was 8 months… In my mind I thought “Ah, the 8 month sleep regression was awful for us.”

What I wish I had told her, but was a little too scared to sound like a crazy lady with advice that isn’t going to actually help her because my advice is so different from most…

It’s not the norm for babies to sleep through the night. They wake for many reasons but it’s really hard to deal with them when you’re exhausted. I know, Almost 20 months in and she still wakes up a couple times for cuddles and milk (we bedshare for half of the night). It really use to bother me. It use to make me feel like a failure because Suzie’s kid slept through the night from 4 weeks onward and mine has been waking 2-5 times at least for the last year and a half. You are not doing anything wrong though, every kid is different and mine just needs me more at night and I just choose to parent through it. What I wish I had told her is that she is doing a great job, that she is answering her baby’s needs, that she is giving love to someone so small and that the standards we hold for a little person to sleep through the night are completely bogus. To not feel pressure if it doesn’t feel right to you, to not cry on the outside of your kids door as they scream for you on the other side, to answer before it gets so bad that they throw up, to not feel pressure to put your $300+ baby monitor on mute while your kid screams for you. Yes, I’ve seen these stories many times in my moms groups and I try not to because every parent does things differently but every time I hear those stories I feel a little pang of sorrow for the child. “You have to be strong, it’s worth it.” when moms are struggling with doing it. I scroll past these posts as quickly and as silently as possible. That is just not what I do and if that is not what you want to do, then don’t. Follow what your mom voice tells you to do, and screw the society that puts large expectations on tiny humans and their moms.