Memoirs Of A Modern Housewife

My life is nothing like the Bravo Housewives!

Archive for the tag “Health”

Sleep Issues And An Overlooked Cause – Post-Operation Update


Today is day five for Beaner’s recovery from his surgery. It has been a long week as you can imagine and I thought I would show in picture how the day went.

The night before his surgery he couldn’t eat after 10pm and couldn’t nurse after 3am. If you have been following this story you know that he was still waking up several times a night to nurse. Not being able to nurse him meant a long night for all of us. Beaner woke up at 3:30am as usual and became a little hysterical because he was exhausted (like he usually is) and didn’t understand why I wouldn’t nurse him. Mr. Incredible very patiently packed him up and drove him around town for about 45 minutes. Driving a kid around to get them to sleep was a first for us. Although he did not cry during the drive (Mr. Incredible could hear him babbling and talking in the back) it did take that long for him to fall asleep. When they returned home he woke up as soon as he was placed in the bed. This cycle went on for hours. So Mr. Incredible stayed up with him allowing me to catch some sleep before the big day.

Blood-shot eyed and exhausted we made the hour-long trip (because of traffic) to the Children’s Hospital. Beaner was in good spirits in spite of the lack of sleep and was very calm during all the pre-op procedures.

Beaner and Papa (and Clifford) reading before the surgery

Beaner not sure

Beaner getting Prepped for surgery

The surgery center had everything covered as far as trying to make us feel less anxious. We had the opportunity to speak with everyone who would be involved in the surgery. They were all very patient as I continued to ask the same questions in different ways (just looking for consistency ; ). The surgery center and staff were incredibly kid-friendly. There was a lady who came and tried to show Eli what would happen to help him sleep and then let him play with a mask, etc. There was also a sweet volunteer who brings her dog in for the kids daily. The little details really made a difference in our experience.

Who is controlling this thing?

Beaner trying to make a break for it

Beaner and Maggie the dog

Facebook Post:

“Our sweet little boy is in surgery now, thank you all for your prayers. We’ve had quite a little journey to here and believe that God has been leading and guiding us throughout.”

We waited in the family room as we tried to distract ourselves with nervous jokes and people watching. The surgeon came out, told us everything went fine, except that Beaner had some bronchial and vocal chord spasms. He didn’t go into detail about the spasms and we were just happy it was over and couldn’t wait to see our boy. He was still resting and a nurse would come to take one of us to see him.

An hour went by and just as we both noticed how long it’d been a nurse came out. She acknowledged that it was taking a little while for him to wake up (it usually averages around 30 minutes), but not to worry because his vitals were fine and that he was resting peacefully.

Another half an hour went by (making it 1.5 hrs post surgery) and just when I was about to go and find out what was going on another nurse came out and asked for “Beaner’s mother”. Before he finished that short statement I was practically on his back trying to get to the recovery room.

In the recovery room Beaner was still sleeping with a nurse at his bed-side observing his vitals. He was propped up to help him with his breathing but was looking great. She said she was having the hardest time waking him up and was hoping I could help. I began to stroke and kiss his cheeks in a way that he knows. No budge. I scratched his head and called his name a few times, still no movement. The nurse suggested wiping him with a cool cloth and grabbed one as I continued my efforts.

As I wiped his face and called his name he began to squirm and as soon as he locked eyes with me he almost jumped up (he didn’t know he had monitors hooked up to him). She asked if I wanted to nurse him and I said yes and got comfortable. She brought him to me, still hooked up and he nursed like usual. I am not sure he was aware of what had taken place but I know he found great comfort in having me there when he woke up. That was one of the things I kept asking about. “Could I be there before he wakes up.” The answer was always no, in case they had a hard time pulling him out of the anesthesia or in our case, the spasms.

I totally see God’s hand in that situation. It was something that was really on my heart to do, to be there when he woke up. Even though it was against protocol, the situation allowed for me to be there. I’d requested the same thing with Poots over a month ago when she had her surgery and wasn’t able to do so. Having to comfort and reassure her after the surgery took hours. She was distraut and heartbroken and I didn’t think I could handle that again.

Facebook Post:

“Surgery went well, he had some unexpected reactions to the anethesia, but they got it under control. Doctors said he had unusually large adenoids like Maya. Ear tubes were inserted, and not a moment too soon because he was on his sixth ear infection in six months. Lip tie was clipped also (the least invasive of them all). Overall, he’s doing well and snuggling with mama and daddy.”

Post-Op, beaner snuggling with mama

Beaner and I spent the night at the hospital because he was so young they wanted to monitor him for 24 hours. We snuggled a lot. By the evening his pain was being controlled well and he even ate a soft meal. By morning I think we both were going stir-crazy and couldn’t wait to get home.

Facebook Post:

“<—this lady is excited about the new possibility of sleeping more than 3-4 hours a night…(it’s been like this for about 15 months) – the thought of it makes me a little giddy ; )”

The next few weeks will let us know if the surgery was beneficial. It is still hard to tell now because he is still in a bit of pain that is waking him up at night and he may be teething on top of that. I am glad to have gone on this journey, to listen to my instincts and trust God to guide us. Deciding to have surgery on your kids is never easy, you’re always questioning if it’s the right thing to do. I do believe now it was.

Has any of your children had to have any major surgeries? What helped you before, during and after?

A Woman’s Design Update


A Woman’s Design

I stepped away from actively taking on new doula clients during my pregnancy with Beaner and during the first year to allow my body to recover and adjust to all the changes that were taking place.

Mr. Incredible and I were discussing plans for after Beaner (our last babe) start school full-time. I feel strongly in my heart that I need to be available to my kids even when they are in school. I am just as busy with my high-schooler as I am with my preschooler and expect the same when Beaner starts school. I would like to be able to contribute during that time financially with my new free time and still be accessible/flexible with the kid’s needs.

After praying and talking I decided that I would start to take on new clients (which I was planning on doing once I felt comfortable with leaving Beaner for an extended period of time), and also start my certification for being a Post-Partum Doula. This is also a passion of mine, helping new mothers during the first few weeks after having a baby and I plan on taking on more of these clients once Beaner starts school. I have also been working on a book, a survival guide during the postpartum period and will be teaching a class starting in April based on it.Image

*Stay tune for details of the book’s completion and how you can get a copy.

I still need to complete my Birth Doula Certification through DONA, which was also put on hold when I couldn’t take on any clients during my pregnancy. I would love to have this completed by July 1st, and just need to attend three more births between now and then. If you know anyone who is due in the next few months, please feel free to pass my info along and I would love to see if I may be able to meet her birthing needs.*** I will be offering a discount because of my time restraints.***

MOMH Weekly Update February 26- March 3, 2012


I am trying something new. Instead of several different postings throughout the week I am going to (attempt) to create a weekly digest of posts. From there, readers will be able to select a topic that interests them specifically and skip over the rest. I will also start to include updates on A Woman’s Design as I am beginning to take on more clients and make plans for the future in regards to my business. With everything going on (you’ll see below), this is the most efficient (and probably consistent) way to blog for me right now. Let me know what you think. Blessings, NOH

(Update) Sleep Issues And An Overlooked Cause Part 3

The last time I posted about Beaner and his sleep issues we had an appointment scheduled to see a pediatric ENT. Since then we have had two consultations. The first guy’s bedside manner was awful and he just said, “Yes, he has a lip-tie and enlarged adenoids, not sure about the tongue-tie but I guess I can check for it while he is under.” Didn’t think twice about surgery for our one year old and also clearly did not respect the opinion of the lactation consultants and the pediatrician. We immediately knew that if we decided to have the surgery that he would not be anywhere near our baby. Read More…

Not One, But Two Kids Needing Surgery!!!

Can’t sleep…thinking about how blessed I am. Poots had to have her adenoids and tonsils removed. After we were consulting with different pediatricians and specialists for Beaner we started to realize that she had the same symptoms (minus the nursing issues). She would sleep 10 hours at night and wake up exhausted. She would be moody and irrational throughout the day. She has had bags under her eyes for years and has began snoring like a drunk person passed out on the floor. Over the years we’ve adjusted her diet in case it was a food allergies or ADD/ADHD causing her behavior issues but nothing work for long. When we had her seen by the ENT we were told that her adenoids were bigger than he expected, her left tonsil was also unusually large and her uvula was split like a pair of jeans. The uvula issue was the beginning of a cleft palate that never fully developed. He believed that this combination may be stopping her from getting quality sleep therefore the cause of some of her behavior issues. After discussing it with Mr. Incredible we thought it was the best thing to do and had her surgery scheduled within two weeks. Read more…

A Woman’s Design- Plans For The Future

I stepped away from actively taking on new doula clients during my pregnancy with Beaner and during the first year to allow my body to recover and adjust to all the changes that were taking place. Read more…

(Update) Sleep Issues And An Overlooked Cause Part 3


English: A pediatric patient prepared for a po...

Image via Wikipedia

The last time I posted about Beaner and his sleep issues we had an appointment scheduled to see a pediatric ENT. Since then we have had two consultations. The first guy’s bedside manner was awful and he just said, “Yes, he has a lip-tie and enlarged adenoids, not sure about the tongue-tie but I guess I can check for it while he is under.” Didn’t think twice about surgery for our one year old and also clearly did not respect the opinion of the lactation consultants and the pediatrician. We immediately knew that if we decided to have the surgery that he would not be anywhere near our baby.

We scheduled an appointment for Beaner to see the same pediatric ENT Poots saw and we really like him. He was patient, considerate when he explained the pros and cons of doing anything. He agreed his adenoids were indeed enlarged, he had a lip-tie and wasn’t 100% sure about the tongue-tie but wasn’t dismissive about it. His suggestion was to wait on the surgery because he felt like something was being overlooked with Beaner’s tongue coordination. He recommended we see a speech/voice therapist first to make sure we aren’t overlooking anything so that he doesn’t end up needing more than one surgery.

Mr. Incredible and I agreed. We are patient and do not want to rush anything, he is so little and at this point I seem to be suffering the most from lack of sleep not him. We are taking care of Poots now and when she is fully recovered will continue to devote time to getting Beaner sleeping better.

Finally Accepting My Limitations


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Have you had something, a change of sorts, in your life that you resisted like the plague. You think that the less you acknowledge it the less real it is? I’m not talking about denial but more of a lack of willingness to accept what is.

It feels like you’re swimming upstream, or constantly struggling against something intangible?

That is how I have felt the last six months…

When I was pregnant with my son I was surprisingly diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I say surprisingly because I never showed any hint of GD in my previous pregnancies and I was barely eating during this one. You can read the birth story if you are interested in the details. I was immediately placed on insulin four times a day and had to strictly monitor my carb and sugar intake.

During my three-day labor and after delivery my blood sugar was being monitored periodically. When you have gestational diabetes the condition is supposed to correct itself after 15-20 minutes following delivery of the placenta. My blood sugar was still very high hours after delivery of our son but they chalked it up to the long and hard labor and delivery.

The next morning I was tested upon waking and had a fasting blood sugar of 40. If you are not aware of what blood sugar numbers mean, anything under 70 is a cause for concern, a number of 40 meant I was close to going into a hypoglycemic seizure. I was quickly surrounded by nurses who had me rapidly consume orange juice and graham crackers and who kept checking my blood sugar every few minutes.

We finally got it at an acceptable number and after a consult with my endocrinologist during my discharge we agreed for me to check my levels every morning for a few weeks to make sure they were returning to normal and then to follow-up with my regular doctor in six months for a a1c test (an A1C test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months).

Months had gone by and I had continued to eat the diet that was recommended during my pregnancy but not as strict. I was incredibly tired, more tired than my previous postpartum periods but I assumed it was because of the c-section recovery, rough postpartum period, and a baby who couldn’t sleep. These are all things I am explaining to my primary doctor during my six month check up. I was also experiencing blurry vision and the inability to shake any cold. In fact, I was always fighting something. She had labs ran and told me she would call me with the results, if there was nothing to worry about she would just send them in the mail. This was a Wednesday.

Friday evening I received a call from my clinic. It was after business hours and my heart sank immediately. I took the call in the bathroom as the children were all clammering for my attention right at that moment. My doctor, in an almost apologetic tone told me that my A1C levels were at a 10%. (For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c test is between 4% and 6%. The higher the hemoglobin A1c, the higher the risks of developing complications related to diabetes. )

She went on to tell me that I had an average of 275 eAG (estimated average glucose) and that I needed to be put on insulin immediately. I was silent for a while and I remember she called my name a few times. With a large lump in my throat I reiterated what she said and confirmed her diagnoses. “Yes, you have diabetes now and it needs to be treated right away. I’m sorry.” she said.

I swallowed my tears, thanked her for calling me so late on a Friday and promised to call first thing in the morning to get an appointment with the endocrinologist.

I knew that after gestational diabetes that I had a 50/50 chance of developing full-blown diabetes but that was supposed to be later in life. After the hard pregnancy, labor and delivery I felt cheated like I didn’t have a chance to try to avoid it and that I couldn’t catch a break.

I went into the bedroom where Mr. Incredible was rocking Beaner and laid on the bed and sobbed quietly. He put Beaner down in the crib and softly stroked my hair and apologized for what was happening in my body. He agreed that it wasn’t fair and that he would do what ever to help me deal with it. Riggity came in and was very concerned when I took a call in the bathroom followed by soft crying. Mr. Incredible explained what was going on because she was old enough to understand and I was okay with her knowing.

I met with the endocrinologist and was put on an insulin regime very similar to when I was pregnant. This time the meeting was more serious as this disease was no longer temporary and had many more risks and complications than gestational diabetes. We picked up two bags of supplies from the pharmacy and my heart ached as I considered what was to become the rest of my life.

Months had gone by and I religiously monitored my blood sugar four or more times a day, took my insulin and watched what I ate. I’d purchased a stack of books as it is my nature to study up on any challenge I face and tackle them with as much knowledge as was available. This time the books stayed in the same spot, untouched. Every time I tried to read them an overwhelming sense of confusion and mental exhaustion would overtake me.

I was managing things fine for a while but soon I began to have more and more hypoglycemic episodes. Blurry visions, headaches, my tongue would go numb and I would stutter and slur when I talked. I was afraid to drive, afraid to be home alone with my kids and just plain afraid. I noticed that with my diet I was able to keep my blood sugar stable so on a trial I stopped taking my insulin for a week (but continued to monitor my numbers). My hypoglycemic episodes began to spread out and I was starting to feel a little normal again. Every once in a while, if I had pizza or Chinese food, my levels would be high but I knew it was because of those things I ate.

I showed Mr. Incredible my numbers and explained my concerns about being on the insulin. We both thought that maybe the insulin was unnecessary or still too much. (The doctor had already lowered the dosage prior). When I called and explained to the doctor he encouraged me to continue taking the insulin but to schedule an appointment so that we can discuss my numbers in person.

I went back and forth with his advice. He wasn’t there when I was about to black out while holding my baby or while driving. I decided to continue to stay off of the insulin until my appointment which was a week away.

When I met with the doctor he looked at my numbers (after I told him I went against his orders and stopped the insulin) and said I was wise to stop taking the insulin. It looks (at this time) to be unnecessary and that it was causing more harm than good. We agreed to have me continue to monitor my levels in the morning and before bed and to see him again in six months for another A1C test. He also wanted to check to see what my A1C was since being on the insulin, to see if it helped at all.

I left feeling pretty optimistic. Maybe my body had a delayed reaction to the gestational diabetes and was recovering slower than usual.

A few days later I received a letter from his office with the results of a few tests he’d run. I called and asked him to explain them to me. One test was another A1c test which showed I was at a level of 6.5%. That was great news, a huge improvement from the 10% I was just a few months prior. He also ran a test to check on the function of my pancreas.

What the results found was that I was not Type 2 diabetic like he originally thought, but that my body was producing antibodies for Type 1. In short, I have an autoimmune disease which is attacking my pancreas making my body think that any insulin I produce is harmful and needs to be stopped and not processed correctly.

We asked him why was I able to manage the symptoms with my new lifestyle and he thought that perhaps I was going through a “honeymoon phase”. It is a term that endocrinologists use when a diabetic’s blood sugar levels stabilize without medication for an unknown reason. He suspects that in 6 months my pancreas will “poop out” (as he put it), or stop producing insulin and eventually I will be 100% insulin dependent.

After I had time to digest the new information I received I decided that I wasn’t going to sit back and wait for my “pancreas to poop out”. I am going to do whatever I have the ability to do to slow down this runaway train of a diagnosis.

I am still no longer on insulin for the time being and I have been working (in conjunction with my endocrinologist) with a naturopathic doctor who has been helping me treat the disease and not just the symptoms. We have been able to keep my blood sugar stabilized and limit those hypoglycemic episodes, slow down and treat neuropathic pain (nerve pain associated with diabetes), and hopefully other diabetes complications (vision and heart damage).

Accepting My Limitations doesn’t mean that I will roll over and let diabetes take over me. The mindset of “whatever happens happens” is not an option for me.

Accepting my limitations is adjusting my expectations as a mom, specifically a stay-at-home-mom. I am more tired than not, and I confess that I am hyper-sensitive to not being able to do all that I use to. It’s not beating myself up when every meal that week wasn’t prepared from scratch (my choice to do), or the house isn’t up to my standard of cleanliness, or the list of things I would like to accomplish now is put on the back burner.

It’s being more purposeful in the things I take on, knowing I have so much energy in a day. It’s being more purposeful as I am educating my children about eating to live and not living to eat, making wise choices and developing a different palate than the typical “American diet”. It’s seeing exercise not as a cute trend but as a necessity just as important as medication. It’s excepting help from friends and family when needed and not feeling guilty if I can’t do everything and be everywhere.

Most importantly I believe that my diagnoses was not a surprise by God and that there are silver linings, although it took me a while to see them.

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

In the event that I become completely insulin dependent I will at least know that I have tried everything that I could have done and will be okay with the next necessary treatments.

What about you? Do you have something that makes life a little more challenging? How are you overcoming?

Our Family Is “Complete” and How We Came To That Decision


I’m sitting in the coffee shop, browsing through my favorite Facebook pages and blogs and I come across a random picture of a mom nursing her very new baby. I feel a lump in my throat, my stomach starts churning and my nose starts running. I choke back the tears that are accumulating.

The coffee shop is very crowded with the sounds of a live Irish band. Every one is wrapped into their own world, their own conversations, so I subtly take a napkin and softly dab the tears that escape from my efforts. All I can do is sigh within myself. When there are no words for your sadness only a deep sigh will do.

I never thought that I would be grieving a decision that Mr. Incredible and I prayerfully and thoroughly discussed. There would be no more children physically born through me.

It wasn’t a rash decision based solely on my hard pregnancy with Beaner, but it certainly was one factor.

I am one of the two percent of women who suffer from hyperemisis graviduram during pregnancy. It is a chronic, debilitating condition that strikes within weeks of a pregnancy and can last until the very end. That was my experience with all three kids. I was told by doctors and midwives alike (as well as by my own research and experience) that it gets worse with each pregnancy. There is no cure for this condition, just medication and medical support to keep the symptoms as tolerable as possible.

The good thing is babies born through mothers who have to endure HG do surprisingly well as they take absolutely everything from mom and thrive (like most pregnancies). The problem is a mom with HG is usually depleted of vital nutrients, deficient in everything afterwards.

This was a very rough pregnancy and it not only effected me but the family as a whole. The heart of the home was out of commission for the majority of the pregnancy, our finances took a hit as Mr. Incredible had to take time off to take care of the girls and I, and a year later my health is still recovering.

During my pregnancy I was asked by relatives and close friends to please not get pregnant again. Seems like a very personal and harsh request, and it wasn’t put in exactly those words, but I knew what they meant. Their hearts are in the right place as it is hard to see your loved one suffer, even if it is for a good reason.

Three Great Reasons

Our sweet children that we are absolutely crazy about bring us such great joy. We love teaching them about life, relationships, Jesus and how the world works. And they just love us unconditionally. You can’t beat that!

Eating daddy's hair

It’s not a burden to raise them. It’s challenging and exhausting sometimes but we grow as they are growing. We really are grateful to be able to have them in our lives so naturally we would want to keep adding them to our life. Plus we just love, love, love babies.

Mr. Incredible and Baby Beaner

It’s a tough decision to decide to be done with growing our family, especially when the decision is based on things beyond our control.

In short, our final decision came down to:

  • My ability to endure another pregnancy (including the long recovery),
  • Financially; because of the cost of medication and home health care that is required,
  • and the guilt I felt while my other children had to sit on the sidelines and wait for their mother to be well enough to continue to parent them.

Poots is still having a hard time adjusting and has gotten more and more clingy even though Beaner is a year old now. When I think about the fact that she basically lost me for 7-8 months (while I was pregnant) it just doesn’t seem fair to do that to her, Riggity and now Beaner again.

We have made the decision and taken the necessary steps. I believe the reality of it hit us both surprisingly harder than we expected.

We will grieve the end of everything that goes along with a new member of the family and gather our sweet family of five and move forward.

Anticipating this decision, we have embraced and soaked up every baby milestone that Beaner has taken. It’s been bitter-sweet of course; knowing it will be the last time we will experience “the firsts”, but very sweet because it has been as if we are experiencing everything for the first time.

What about you? How did you come to a decision that your family was complete? Was it outside factors?

I Don’t “Love” Nursing, But I Do It Anyway.


Breastfeeding is a hot topic that is trending right now; Facebook is banning nursing pictures, there are nurse-ins at Target and brutal mommy wars on blogs and pages. How can something so natural cause such ignorant rants and raves, such intolerance?

Beaner is my third baby that I am breastfeeding and it hasn’t been going as well as the others. I have had fleeting moments of weaning during; the marathon nursing sessions in the beginning, being used as a pacifier, a teething ring, and having to eliminate some of my favorite foods (chocolate, dairy and eggs) or pay the price of a screaming, irritable little boy who ironically wants to be consoled by the very thing that caused his pain (the boob!).

This is all normal behavior in a nursing relationship so it’s really not a complaint just an acknowledgment. My biggest obstacle has been the tongue-tie that could make the toughest lady holler “uncle”.

Yet, I have vowed to stick with it as long as he and I both want to (and he isn’t stopping anytime soon). If it’s so hard this time around why do I stick with it?

There are many health benefits for baby which alone should be reason enough and to be quite honest they are the main reasons I am committed to breastfeeding.  I also have reasons that aren’t beneficial to just my baby.

 All rights reserved by @Doug88888There are many health benefits to moms who breastfeed, one being

  • Reduced risk of breast, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers

My mother passed away a few years ago from an aggressive breast cancer.  I have been advised to have yearly mammograms since I was 30. I stay away from artificial hormones and have changed my diet and habits, and I check myself often.

Breastfeeding alone doesn’t exempt me from breast cancer in the future but using it doesn’t hurt (in my case is does hurt but hopefully that will be resolved soon ; )

Some may think that it’s selfish to have that be a motivating factor but in reality I would like to live as long as God sees possible and if nursing my baby can help me then I see it as a win-win choice.

Is there something you are determined to stick with even though it is hard?

Sleep Issues And An Overlooked Cause


Breastfeeding Callus

Image by diathesis via Flickr

I have a hunch as to what may be going on with Eli a.k.a Beaner. He has never been a “good sleeper”, and for the last few months he has been waking up every hour on the hour, screaming and only wanting to come to mama.  It may be something we should have pursued months ago and for that I am frustrated at myself for not advocating for him harder.

I am convinced he has a mild posterior tongue tie. In hindsight; in spite of several visits with a lactation consultant, a few pediatricians, checking with my peers, referring to the online community and many books, I was told that my breastfeeding “technique” (as far as how he was being held and his latch) was fine. However, in the beginning the pain from nursing was worse than my c-section recovery and eventually I was taking pain relief for my sore nipples not my abdominal pain.

His painful latch caused trauma to my nipples (and emotions as I dreaded when he cried to nurse) and led my ob to believe that I had thrust. In spite of no physical signs on Eli or myself we still treated me with a very strong dose of antibiotics. It did not help the pain even after being on it (and a doctor prescribed pain relief regime) for two weeks. I tried alternative methods, creams etc. and eventually just got used to the pain.

The problem with getting used to “pain” while breastfeeding is that pain inhibits the release of the oxytocin hormone which is mother nature’s gift to a nursing mom (sleep and relaxation inducing). So I was nursing a baby through pain, without rest and totally tense and trying not to be resentful.

The long extended and painful nursing sessions were a first for me as I did not experience them with my other two babies. I was use to feeding my babies and watching them peacefully drift off into a deep sleep, “milk-drunk” we called it.

Eli never peacefully drifted off as I had and still have to pry him off of the breast. If he doses off during nursing it is short-lived, fifteen-twenty minutes tops. He still does not sleep longer than that during the day and at night (since he has been on solids) he will sleep for an hour and wake to nurse…every..hour…until…morning.

On a good night he may sleep for 3-4 hours but after that he is attached until morning to make up for sleeping so “long”. Normally having a nursing baby attached while I slept wasn’t an issue. I did it for my other babies and I often would sleep right through their feedings with the only signs that they nursed being a lack of engorgement and a happy baby in the morning.

With Eli, I always know when he is nursing and I have never been able to sleep through it. My toes are curled up, body is tense and I can’t wait to unlatch him, add the fact that I haven’t benefited from the beloved sleep inducing oxytocin and you have a very exhausted, zombie like mother. For the most part he does not wake up a happy baby, he is always instantly upset the second he wakes and only nursing calms him down.

As far as his weight gain it was always on the bottom percentile suggesting that the nursing possibly wasn’t sufficient for this little guy in spite of the every hour on the hour, 30-45 minute nursing sessions (this seriously lasted to about 7 months with the length, shortening to about 15 minutes and stretching to 2 hours in between, sometimes).

So I began eating different foods, taking herbs and supplements, and drinking different teas to try to increase my milk production (which I never had a problem with before).  By the way, do you know what is the best way to increase supply? Sleep….sleep helps increase milk supply, which I have not been getting a lot of.

Obviously my efforts did work as he began plumping up and rose from the 10% to 95%. This was before solids were introduced. My pediatrician was so surprised that she asked me what I was doing differently for him to be growing so fast.

I’d brought him in and called our clinic’s nurse-line on several occasions only to be told that “he must be hungry” or “sounds like a bad habit, you need to sleep train”.

Breastfed babies tend to wake up a few times a night but his unusual sleeping behavior has been going on for months and mama is getting burned out. I don’t expect him to sleep 10 hours, or even 8 hours (although it’d be nice).  I am not a CIO fan and wouldn’t be comfortable doing that with my kids. We do have him on a bedtime ritual that gets thrown off by teething, a cold or a long day.

When he was an infant I asked about the possibility of a tongue tie and his doctor did a finger swipe and said she didn’t think so. Hmm. That’s funny because I thought that may explain a lot and could give us some answers. I didn’t push the issue and tried other suggestions. After doing some research on the issue I’ve learned that there is more than one tongue tie and that mild ones are often overlooked.

My mother’s instinct tells me that; he has a mild posterior tongue tie and a lip tie that did not get diagnosed and treated. Because of that he has never been able to fully “drain” or get a full meal out of my breast. Because he had to work so hard to nurse he would go to sleep from the efforts. He will then wake up after a very short nap only to resume his nursing session…because he never got full. In hind-sight, I don’t believe it was a supply issue, although I was happy to do whatever to help him. I believe the nursing tea helped because it caused me to become fuller and he didn’t have to try so hard to get milk, it just flowed out.

I also believe (in spite of the tongue and lip tie) that the only reason he is thriving (from nursing), the reason we are still nursing this far and why I didn’t have to supplement with formula is because I am home with him full-time and was able to dedicate the time and effort, e.g letting him nurse every hour during the day and all night long. It still didn’t make the situation easy, but I didn’t feel the pressure from my husband or the demand of an outside job to end the nursing relationship abruptly. I know that in our culture this is rare and not always an option for every mom, so I do count my blessings.

Could the night behavior be a habit now and not a necessity? Maybe, maybe not. I tell you this, I recently cut back on the nursing tea because I needed a break and he has increased his nursing and the waking up at night.

Could this be the reason why he won’t let my husband comfort him only at night (he doesn’t have the food)? Could be the reason why he couldn’t hold on to a pacifier as they always fell out (we tried 5 different brands and textures).

We are headed out to an appointment with his pediatrician and this time everything needs to be carefully considered. If we rule out any other physical causes for the night wakings and screaming I really think this is it

What do you think? Have you experienced tongue tie with your child and how did it affect your nursing? Also, did you decide to have it clipped? Did that help?

Meeting My Kids Where They Are


My 8 month old is teething and possibly experiencing separation anxiety. I am physically and emotionally exhausted because I am “the one” who he seeks for comfort. The days and nights start to run together.

My four-year old has twenty notebooks that she uses to doodle in all day, every day. Notebooks all over the house, random sheets of paper with what appears to be scribbles cluttering her room. I am tempted to dispose of them when she is not around.

My fourteen year old comes home on the third day of school. We chat about her day as I prepare dinner and out of the blue she asks, “What do you do if you don’t get asked to the prom.” This is her third day of high-school and she is worried about being asked to the prom.

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These are a few examples of the daily interactions with my children. I can often catch myself getting annoyed, not thoroughly engaging in a conversation or thinking that their activities and requests are petty compared to the big things that my husband and I have to deal with. Health, financial, relationship, and other issues that on our level the kids wouldn’t understand if we tried to explain it to them. I know they wouldn’t because some things we can barely get a grasp on.

It had become easy to break a promise of a story or a walk when something “bigger” came along. It had become easy to feign listening to a story about teenage drama. Drama that I was so glad to have survived during my own high-school years. It had become so easy to become frustrated and almost resentful because of a lack of sleep and to have someone need you constantly without a break in sight.

Hard to admit, but true. Then one evening I watched Poots (four-year old) laying on the floor, feet swinging in the air, humming a tune while she drew and it dawned on me. That is her world. For a moment, I imagined what it must be like to be four. What are your concerns, your delights, what hurts you, scares you and why. My heart began to ache because I realized that all she can see and know is what she has learned this far. I am living life as a thirty-two year old. I’ve experienced life, all that she will come across eventually but she hasn’t experienced all that I have. Everything is new and exciting to her. Every emotion exhilarating and bigger than her sometimes.

In her little eyes drawing her pictures is pretty cool and takes up a large part of her day because it is so much a part of her world. Her drawings are creative and shows her bubbly sense of humor. She wants us to look through every book, help illustrate a story for each page and then read them all. Over and over again. This is how she is experiencing life. It is up to me to meet her where she is and escort her through life. Prepare her for life; relationships, work, hurts and laughter.

I then thought about my little guy. He’s only been here for eight months. Eight months. I expect him to have it figured out. To know that there are other ways to be comforted. Some adults haven’t figured out the proper way to comfort themselves. We sometimes use food, drugs or other self destructive behavior. What’s wrong with relying on your primary caregiver when you are a baby. The one who nurtured and held you tightly for nine months previously. He loves to be around me, on me, touching me in any way. I joke with my husband about how I think sometimes he wishes he was “back in”. My frustration, when I think about it is not with his needs. It really points out that I am not taking care of myself. I am trying to be super mom. When really my kids just need a loving mom.

I often coin the phrase, “you couldn’t pay me to go back to high-school.” I mean it. It wasn’t awful. Just hard and hurtful as you navigate relationships, school and preparing to leave the nest all while finding yourself. What my fourteen year old daughter is dealing with is hands down more difficult a time than I grew up in. I think about what it was like to be her age, in high-school and I remember, this is her world. This is her life right now. A big part of her life. I am lucky that she feels she can share her day and concerns with me and I would be wise to respect it by actually listening. Turn the running water off and look her in her eyes. No more talking to the back of my head.

A friend whose daughter just started college told me something a few years back (she has a similar relationship with her daughter). She said there would be nights when she was exhausted, ready to lay her head down and would hear the soft voice of her daughter asking if they could talk. She initially thought about how tired she was and all she had to do the next day but realized that those things would always be there. The opportunity for her to walk her daughter back to her room, lay across her bed and hear about what was troubling her wouldn’t always be there.

I think of this today as I (once again) reset my priorities. I must meet my kids where they are. In the age and stage of life that they are experiencing. Not the stage of life I am experiencing.

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Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression: Personal Stories


David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It really grieves me to the core to think about the taboo that is surrounded around postpartum depression. Even the name weighs heavy when compared to the cutesy reference of baby blues. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services depression is a common problem during and after pregnancy. About 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers have depression.

That may not seem like a large number but when you are battling it yourself knowing that even one other mother is or has experienced PPD can mean the difference of another woman acknowledging it and seeking help. I have a sneaking suspicion that the number may be larger but this is a subject that women are secretly ashamed. Whether it is the fear or being seen as weak, not appreciating the gift of a new child, or afraid that there may be some other mental illness that hasn’t been uncovered it remains hidden. I can tell you from experience that things that are hidden usually appear worse than they are and seldom go away on their own.

A dear friend of mine asked me about the difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues. I could (and will) post a link that lists things to look out for but I hoped a real-life example would be of use. I am also hoping to remove the  unnecessary shame and loneliness that goes along with PPD. Here was my response:

I can tell you from experience. I had PPD with Riggity and Poots and the baby blues with Beaner. They are very different. I will underline the symptoms:

After I had Riggity I had to go back to work 6 weeks postpartum. I was a walking zombie and it wasn’t because of lack of sleep. Riggity was one of those rare babies that slept through the night early on. I wept on and off, I was clearly so unhappy that every one would mention it. I was not interested in any of the things I used to be, including friends. I started isolating myself (not wanting to see anyone because it was too much work or caused anxiety. I was not my self and it wasn’t getting better as the months went on. Her father worked evenings and I would have Riggity every night after work. I was exhausted and would come home, feed her (she was bottle fed) and I would sleep on the couch until morning. She would be in a playpen next to me (even though she had her own nursery…I didn’t feel like taking her there and I wasn’t so quick to attending to her). I truly loved her and felt so blessed to have her but I was disconnected from her because of how I was feeling. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what to look for at the time and it took my mom at about 6 months postpartum to plead with me to talk with my doctor.

When I was pregnant with Poots my doctor was aware of my previous PPD and we developed a plan; to look for the signs, be accountable (she came to see me before I went home after having Poots and she sat down and talked with Hubs and I about what to look for) and also we discussed what were some options if I were to have it again; counseling, prescription, diet, combo of all.
When PPD appeared with Poots, hubs was the one who pointed it out to me. Sometimes when you are experiencing PPD you start to think it is normal because you are living in it everyday. I  stopped returning phone calls, declining visits and invitations (after the postpartum period). I stopped sleeping (I would stay up almost every night watching television). I was disconnected from hubs and the kids. I would be holding Poots but not engaging with her (zombie like). My oldest and hubs shared their observation with me; I always had this blank stare and they would be talking to me and I would look right through them. I would go from not eating to eating too much.  I was exhausted, completely exhausted. I had overwhelming fears and anxiety about myself, the kids, hubs.

I’d seen my doctor for my yearly check up and she asked me how it was going and I cried my eyes out. She said that my appearance looked different, my eyes were distant and I was not the same happy person I was a year previous. She’d said exactly what hubs had just told me (which led me to schedule the appointment) and I knew she was right.

I believe I waited too long to be treated. I had just lost my mother and thought I was heavily grieving and that was the reasons for my symptoms. I also thought it was something that could be reasoned and prayed away, a positive attitude and strong-will would help me overcome it. I eventually agreed to try some medication and after two weeks or more started I started to see more clearly and not walk around with my head in the cloud. I also started to see a counselor to process some things. Both helped. Again, I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long.

With Beaner, I had the baby blues. We were on alert and looking for PPD because of the hard pregnancy, traumatic labor/delivery I’d had. The baby blues felt like an emotional roller coaster that came and went around the second week. It was intense when it peaked and I had one melt down when I was feeling overwhelmed with healing, nursing, lack of sleep and my hormones had tanked but after that things settled and started to feel normal.

The difference with Beaner. I had been seeing my counselor the last few weeks of my pregnancy and started to see her once I was out and about (about 6 weeks postpartum). I discussed my disappointments and fears candidly and didn’t hold anything in. Also, with  my doctor we tested my blood levels and made sure my iron and vitamin d levels were good. I immediately started taking supplements postpartum, started lowering my expectations with what the house should look like, accepted help when offered, slept when hubs was home (that meant earlier bed times) and when my mother in-law came over. I allowed my body the time to heal without having a time-table as to when I should be doing things and I cried when I felt like crying and I talked about things that bothered me instead of holding them in. I, hubs, my doctor and my counselor (haven’t seen her since June) have all been keeping an eye out for any symptoms and so far so good. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had days when I’ve felt like I am the worse mom, or wife, or not doing everything right or woke up feeling overwhelmed with everything. The difference is that feeling comes and goes, it doesn’t linger like it did in the past.

 

The best way I can describe PPD is: I felt like I was on an island that was once a part of the shore. I could see myself drifting farther and farther away from the shore and no one could reach me and I couldn’t reach them.
Another description: I was falling deeper and deeper in a black hole. I had my arms and legs stretched out to try to keep from falling but I was still falling, some days super fast and some days I was trying to stop the falling with my finger nails, barely holding on.

Either way, I felt alone even though people were around me, and scared, anxious and unhappy.

By the way, all of this was going on and I loved my kids and hubby so much I could hardly stand it. The good news, kids are sooooo forgiving and resilient. They love their mama’s so much that any mistakes along the way are forgiven. In spite of my rocky start with Riggity is really unbelievable how much she loves me. Poots thinks I am a rock star. I have to lock myself in the bathroom sometimes because they all want to hang out with me (this is even after spending all day with them). I am not saying this to brag about myself because like I said, I am not perfect. I still make mistakes and lose my patience and have challenging days but kids are pretty forgiving and resilient if your heart is in the right place.

 

A few things:
  When you are pregnant or have just had a child you are exhausted for very normal reasons, the weepys can come from being exhausted. And you are right to feel overwhelmed. It is a lot to take on and a lot to learn.
Be patient with your self friend. Patience with yourself as a mom and with your body. Don’t expect to know exactly what to do right away and all of the times.

Don’t feel guilty  if you find that you do have PPD. It is nothing you did wrong, nothing you can control with will power and like any other illness if there were treatments available no one would judge you for using them.

Practical notes: Have someone to take babes while you sneak a nap, take a soak, have some quiet time. It will make you a better mama if you get as much rest as you can, stay hydrated and nourished. Stay connected to your partner and be honest about how you are feeling. Even if it is continuing to communicate about how all of the changes are affecting you both, snuggling up to a comedy or doing more if you feel up to it (don’t feel bad if you don’t).

Accept help when it is available; food, cleaning, errands ran. Breathe and when you are feeling overwhelmed acknowledge it and stop and think what do I *need* to be doing right now, or today? It may be just getting back in the bed with baby and counting her little fingers, smelling her hair, listening to her breath or eating a soulful meal, taking a stroll or a nap. Pace yourself, there is no pressure. You are the perfect mom for child(ren) even if you are dealing with PPD.

 

P.S. Not saying you do, but If you suspect that PPD may be creeping up see your doc asap, they have a test you can take. There are many options and the sooner it is dealt with the sooner you can experience this first year in all the beauty and clarity it was meant to be experienced in. Not through a cloud and tears.
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How about you? Have you or someone you know dealt with Postpartum depression? Do you find that it is something women have a hard time sharing or getting help for?

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