How I Thrived While My Husband Worked Nights

My husband’s job of being a physician in Residency is very demanding. This month, he had to work two weeks of “nights”. He would go in for his shift around 5pm and get home around 7am. He has worked nights numerous times and each time I felt like I was going to lose my dang mind! Therefore, when I saw “Nights” listed in his future schedule, I thought, What can I do to not just SURVIVE, but actually THRIVE?

Based on personal experience (both good and bad) I constructed the following tips, tricks, and habits:

Wake up early for “me” time

I set my alarm for 5:15am. I mediated for nine minutes (that’s the length of my snooze button) then got dressed. I went downstairs and drank warm lemon water with honey to gently wake my body, and started a pot of coffee. Meanwhile, I read a chapter in the Bible and prayed/journaled. Next I cooked and ate breakfast with… get this–HOT coffee. Like, actual HOT coffee. I didn’t even know that existed in real life?! All of this took about an hour–just in time for my kids to wake up at 6:30. By getting myself entirely ready before my kids woke up, I felt armored to conquer the day.

{I plan on writing a post on this topic more thoroughly because it really has been life changing.}

Pre-made meals

Cooking for someone who wasn’t living my same “normal” hours was really difficult. By purchasing pre-made meals (from Costco), my husband could eat what he felt like when he felt like it, and I didn’t feel obligated to constantly have something prepared for him.

Paper plates

You may be saying, But this is such a waste! Yes, I know. I struggle with this tip, because while it’s super helpful and easy, it’s also bad for the environment. However! Did you know you can compost paper products? By eliminating the chore of constant dishes for the past two weeks, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Do laundry every day

I had the kids put their dirty clothes in the washing machine the night before (I actually do this all the time as our normal routine) and in the morning I added mine and started the wash. As They say, “A load a day keeps the mountain away.” I switched the load from the washer to the dryer before I took the kids to school and by the time I got back… Ta Da!… I had clean clothes! During our nighttime routine I helped the kids put their clothes away.

Stick to a predictable/tight schedule (that includes doing nothing)

At the start of the week I wrote things down in my calendar that were absolute MUSTS (i.e. school pick-up/drop-off, after school activities, appointments, etc.). Then I looked at our “free time”. It was important to me that I had no obligations to other people. It just seemed too stressful to try and make commitments when I wasn’t sure what my state of sanity was going to be. I’m glad I left free time for my children to play outside in the afternoons and burn some energy. It made for a *smoother* bed time.

Breakfast for dinner

Trying to keep my normal cooking routine was too much pressure in the past, especially since my husband wasn’t eating dinner with us. I didn’t want the stress of trying to get my kids to eat things they weren’t thrilled to eat; and since my husband doesn’t particularly care for breakfast for dinner, I figured these past two weeks were the perfect time to do it.

Get a babysitter

Handing over parental responsibilities to another qualified human being for a few hours a week allowed me to take a break and recharge.

Have a Fun Day!

My husband had one day in between his two-week night rotation so we took advantage of our time together and went away to the beach for one night/day. It was a last-minute decision and I’m glad we did it because it gave us all the much needed quality time we were yearning for as a family.

“Season of Sacrifice”

There were times where even though I was doing all of the above, I still felt overwhelmed. (Obviously completely normal!) If I felt those feelings rising, I stopped, took a deep breath, and remembered that it was just a “Season of Sacrifice” and “This Too Shall Pass”. I thought, It’ll be over before I know it and will be a distant memory.

I DID IT!

* * *

If your spouse is going to be away for a period of time, or is working an opposite schedule, I hope these tips will help ease that exhausting time. You can do it!

 

Loyally,

Katie

PPD: 7 Years Later


It has been seven years since I was hospitalized for Postpartum Depression. There are so many thoughts swirling in my head about that time in my life. It still boggles my mind that I was ever admitted to a psychiatric inpatient hospital. I said it then, and it has stayed true seven years later: Postpartum Depression was paradoxically the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. It was certainly the scariest time in my life, but it has also taught me more Truths about myself than I ever dared to know. Going through PPD has opened doors to my soul I never deemed possible.


Postpartum depression taught me how to manage my stress and anxiety. I wasn’t even aware I had childhood anxiety until I dove into numerous hours of therapy. I sometimes imagine what my life would be like now had I not gone through what I did, and I cringe at the thought. I cringe because I envision myself utterly uptight. I know I would still be sweating the small stuff and suffering from panic attacks. But mostly, I know I would be missing out on LIFE. I would be stuck in “playing it safe” and always reaching for the Easy Button. Now, let me not be mistaken… it’s not that I don’t experience insecurities and difficulties like everyone else, but I’m not paralyzed or plagued by them anymore. 


Postpartum depression has guided me towards a more grateful heart. It has helped me see the gratitude in any situation. Is it hard to do this all the time? Yes, of course; I’m only human (with three kids!) But the amount of therapy I’ve experienced has helped me implement this practice into my daily life. I believe this will always be a work in progress, but “practice makes progress” not perfection. 

Most importantly, PPD led me to Catholicism. I haven’t shared with many people the story of my “Awakening”, but it happened during my stay in the hospital. The priest who married my husband and me, visited and performed the sacrament of “Anointing of the Sick” (something most people receive on their death bed). It was in that moment that I felt The Holy Spirit envelop me with His love and say, “It’s okay. I am here. I will never leave you.” It is bringing me to tears just writing these words and revisiting that precious moment. I used to repeatedly ask myself, “Why me?” Why did I *get* PPD? But going through what I did was suppose to happen to me. It was GOD’S WILL, and I believe that with my whole heart.

Even though life is seriously crazy, demanding, messy, and chaotic with an elementary school-aged child, preschooler, and infant at home, I’m much happier and confident with who I am NOW, than I ever was before. 

And I have Postpartum Depression to thank for that.

loyally (& always learning),
katie

31 in 31

On December 20th, I turn 31. Here are my “Life Resolutions” for my thirty-first year:


1. Watch less TV

2. Rekindle an old friendship

3. Leave the kids behind and “get away” with my husband

4. Read literature at least four days a week

5. Fail and be okay with it 

6. Go to confession

7. Learn Mindfulness and practice solitude

8. Say “yes” more to my kids

9. Say “yes” more to my husband

10. Adopt a “do it now” mentality, instead of leaving it for later and letting “things” pile up

11. Purge often. Whether it be stuff, ideas, or toxic relationships

12. Re-learn how to do a handstand. And hold it!

13. Let my hair grow long again

14. Get a piece of writing published

15. Go to therapy

16. Move forward with my children’s book

17. Yell less.

18. Pray the Rosary once a week

19. Treat other people the way I want to be treated

20. Be more active outside

21. Step out of my comfort zone more often

22. Stop comparing myself to others

23. Create and stick to a budget

24. Take advantage of sight-seeing on the West Coast

25. Make more art

26. “Unplug” one day each month

27. Take a class and learn something new

28. Hit “snooze” less

29. Smile and acknowledge strangers

30. Be more informed about current events

31. Love myself unconditionally. No excuses

loyally,
katie

Clear, Smooth, & Moisturized

I often get asked what my daily face regimen is like so I thought I’d write a little post about it. I am nearly obsessed with keeping my face as clear, smooth, and moisturized as possible. It’s a pet peeve of mine for anyone to touch my face. And while the thought of wrinkles does pester in the back of my mind like any other 30-something-year-old, I am more concerned about sun damage, cleanliness, and whether or not a product contains harmful toxins and chemicals. 


*Please note, this is not a sponsored post. (But wouldn’t that have been nice?!)

A product I have used for a few years now is the Makeup Removal Cloth by Norwex.  I refuse to use anything else, as this cloth does not contain soap or other harsh cleansers. Since using this cloth, my face does not break out. You just wet the cloth and wipe your face. I swear to you it removes even eyeliner and mascara. Then, just wash the cloth in your washing machine as often as you want (I do it every week) and reuse! Incredible, right?

(I even had a random bout of eczema on my hand, but after using the Body Cloth for three days it disappeared and never returned!)

Next, I use a toner. Honestly, I have been skipping this step for the past few years because I haven’t found a toner I like, as most of them leave my skin feeling filmy. That was until I was recently introduced to Modere’s toner. Why use a toner? Because it helps remove any traces of dirt or grim your regular makeup remover may have missed. I believe it’s a vital part of skin care.

But what’s best about it is that I’m not using harsh chemicals on my face. I know this is true because Modere is an EWG Verified Member. EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that “empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment”. To be “verified” the products must score in the “green” zone, they cannot contain any ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns, they must disclose all ingredients used on the label, they must follow the European Union’s labeling requirements/guidelines, among other standards.

Basically, they use all their smartness to do the research, and people like me get to reap the benefits. It takes the guesswork out of knowing which products are good or bad for me. I downloaded the app onto my phone and while I’m shopping I can scan almost anything to see how it scores by their standard. I used to research products I brought into my home and it can be so daunting and confusing! Now, I just look it up on EWG.

I am currently still using Rodan and Field’s Hydration Serum, night cream, and eye cream, and I like it, but I’d love to try Modere’s Dual Action Eye Gel and Wrinkle Guard next!
For years I have been using TRESemme shampoo and conditioner, but a hair stylist said it was leaving my hair with a waxy film. I gave Modere’s hair products a try, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. I was actually thoroughly impressed and surprised with how great my hair felt immediately after showering, and also after styling: smooth and silky, without a waxy or greasy feeling! I was gifted a Body Bar and can tell you I’m just as equally satisfied. It has a very gentle exfoliant and my skin is so smooth; I rarely use lotion after showering. 

Two other products I own are the Hand Wash and Fresh Space (air freshening spray). I like using them in my home because they don’t contain controversial chemicals!

However, my MOST FAVORITE product I use every single day is Modere’s Antioxidant Gel. I cannot rave about it enough, actually. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is wipe my face with Norwex’s Makeup Removal Cloth, then apply the Antioxidant Gel. From the moment I put it on my face for the first time, I fell in love! It was like running a silk scarf across my face. I kid you not.

Some other products I hope to try soon are Modere’s Skin Veil, and Body Butter. I bet my kids would like the Body Butter because it has a sweet fragrance of caramel, cotton candy, and sugary fig. Yum!

Oh! I almost forgot! I use Modere’s toothpaste, too. The first time I tried it I thought, “I don’t know about this–it doesn’t seem strong enough.” But I don’t have any complaints. I actually accidentally used Crest the other day and thought it was way too sweet tasting! I’m sticking with Modere. 

To top off my daily routine, I always floss! 😉

So there you have it. A pretty simple routine, I’d say.

And just in case anyone is interested in the Modere products I mentioned above, you can use my Referral Code: 597875 and receive $10 off your first purchase. 

I’d love to hear what your routine is like, and what products you love!

loyally,
katie

Today is a New Day

Thanking God this morning for literally a breath of fresh air. 

Yesterday was a shit day. Adelaide couldn’t go to school because she was sick the day before, but I had a hair appointment. My amazing cleaning lady insisted she watch Adelaide so I could get my hair done before we go out of town. I bring Alexander to the salon with me and he is a pretty good sport. Here’s when things go downhill: The new girl cuts my hair two inches TOO SHORT and screws up the color! It was so blotchy, but I didn’t realize this until I got home and played around with it. I cried! This is my worst nightmare! I call the owner and she says she will fix it that evening. So I scramble around to find childcare since Blake was suppose to be taking a night flight. No such luck. She says she can come in early the next day, too, but I realize Adelaide has her school pictures and I don’t want her to miss them because when you’re a military kid those things are important.

Meanwhile, I get the two littles dressed to see the Easter Bunny and in the car to pick up Emmalyn from school. We get to the mall, only to be told we have to wait thirty minutes for The Bunny to come back. The girls are hungry, but there’s no food court in our mall because: small town. I get them Chex Mix from Michael’s Crafts, but we have to wait in the longest line! By this time, the bunny is back. 

As I was taking Alexander out of the car seat, he scratches his face and is bleeding. He’s never done this, but of course it happens seconds before the picture. I also realize he has a poop and is hungry (notice his searching-for-the-boob-face below). Also, Adelaide all the sudden decides she is afraid of The Bunny and refuses to get in the picture. No amount of chocolate bribery will work. I choose not to force the situation because I don’t want to traumatize my daughter. After all, I would punch someone in the face if they forced me to have my picture taken with a bird. So I focus on the other two kids, but Alexander is fixated on finding milk from The Bunny and will not turn his head towards the camera. I am sweating at this point. We get the best picture we can and call it a day. Then The Bunny hands Emmalyn a candy and Adelaide goes to get one, but I tell her no because she did not get her picture taken. The Bunny does a back-and-forth dance with the candy, not sure what to do, and ultimately gives Adelaide the candy. I take it away and she has a full-blown meltdown all the way across the parking lot. 

I vow never to do Easter Bunny pics again. It’s not worth it! Did we even interact with the bunny? NOPE. Did we get a picture with all three kids? NOPE. Did anyone have fun? NOPE. What was the effing point?! 

As I put Alexander’s car seat in the car, the stroller rolls away across the parking lot and I have no clue until a random man shouts out to inform me. Adelaide puts up a mean fight to get in her car seat, but I don’t back down. I have to use every muscle in my body, but I finally get her in. I collapse into the driver’s seat and cry. (And this is hard to do when you’re on antidepressants!) 

“Mommy is having a bad day,” I tell the girls. Apparently this is code for: Let’s Fight All The Way Home. One shining beacon of light is Blake calls and says he will cancel his flight so I can get my hair fixed. I feel terribly guilty about that, but tell myself sometimes I need to put myself first! 

I somehow manage to throw two frozen pizzas in the oven and the girls in the tub. As soon as Blake gets home, I grab the baby and hightail it out of the house, back to the salon. The owner was super apologetic and sweet, and thankfully Alexander slept the whole time. I got home after 9pm, nursed the baby, pumped, ate a snack while watching trashy reality TV (The Twins), and crashed as soon as my head hit my pillow. 

The whole day I kept repeating the first line from The Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

The nice thing about days are: they must come to an end. And tomorrow will always be a new day. I woke up this morning, reciting a Hail Mary and The Lord’s Prayer, and vowed to have a positive outlook on the day. After all, our sweet little boy is getting baptized this weekend, and there’s no sacrament more exciting!

God is good!

loyally,
katie


Here’s the full Serenity Prayer in case you need it today:

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 

Amen.
(Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971)

Better When We’re Together

There’s a reason this little blog of mine has been neglected lately… Because for the last six-and-a-half months, we experienced (and survived!) Our First Deployment. My better half has been on the other side of the world since the beginning of August and for safety reasons (both on his side and mine) I didn’t want to talk about it in real-time. It was hard not shouting it from the rooftops, because after all, those who read my blog have offered me so much support in the past, and have continued to do so for years now.

BUT now that B is safely home, I can shout it as loud as I want: HE’S HOME!!!!!!

And the girls and I couldn’t be happier! 

Homecoming was a whirlwind, and waiting for him to land felt longer than the last 6+ months. I’d love to share more about how we didn’t just survive, but actually THRIVED during deployment, but for now I’ll leave you with these priceless pics.



loyally,
katie


*All pictures by the amazingly talented Candice Avery Photography

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Ballet & The Boobie Barre

If you would have told me five months ago I would be nursing my baby in the middle of ballet class, I would have thought you were a crazy person!

Five months ago I was struggling so much with breastfeeding. Every other day I wanted to quit. Practically every other day I was visiting my lactation nurse. I was constantly text messaging friends for support. I was telling my husband, “Don’t let me give up!”

And look at me now:

It brings a whole new meaning to “The Boobie Barre”!

I also didn’t think I would be getting back into dance at three months postpartum. But I did it! I was determined to stick to my mantra of “just get moving!” I’m so thankful that my ballet class allows me to wear Adelaide, and bring Emmalyn. This class is something I look forward to each and every week. Sometimes I am super stressed leading up to it (…Emmalyn doesn’t want to get her shoes on, I accidentally take a wrong turn and end up on the interstate, Adelaide’s crying, etc., etc.) BUT I leave it all on the dance floor!

I couldn’t do the class without the amazing women and teacher who help and support me each week. They help me schlep my entire house baby stuff into the studio, and hold Adelaide while I do pirouettes across the floor.

Oh! I could easily make excuses for not going. I could easily say: “It’s just too much work… It’s too far of a drive… I’m too tired…” because let’s face it–all the latter are completely true.

But it’s so worth it. 

The hour-and-a-half my feet glide across the dance floor is therapy to me. It’s hot and sweaty therapy! For that hour-and-a-half I get to be me.

I never foresaw nursing my baby at the ballet barre in my future. But looking down at her sweet cherub face, catching her smiling at me mid-plies, is quite magical. Sharing my passion with my littlest one is special and unique, and well–just magical.

Five months ago I would have thought you were crazy for saying this was in my future.

And now? I’m the crazy person.

And I love it!

loyally,

katie 

P.S. Do you think So You Think You Can Dance will add another genre of dance next season called Boobie Ballet? 😉

*TELL ME: What do you like to do for exercise post-babies? What *excuses* are holding you back? I encourage you do go after what you want–and make it happen! You are way more capable than you think!

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We are human

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how far I’ve come as a mother. Most people know about my battle with Post-partum depression, and how horrendous it was. It may get deep here for a quick moment, so bear with me. Shortly after Emmalyn was born, I was convinced I was going to die–that something was terminally wrong with me. As time went on and I wasn’t feeling any better, I wanted to disappear. I wanted to float away on a cloud, have my mom take care of my daughter, and return when I felt like myself again. Flash forward (to almost) four years, and I haven’t returned to myself again. I’ve returned as a much better person.
 
Cognitive behavioral therapy helped me immensely. It aided me in becoming a better “me”. I was at the lowest of lows. You can’t get any lower than being brought to the emergency room, stating you’re suicidal, then being admitted to a behavioral hospital. On the ambulance ride from the ER to the behavioral health hospital I kept demanding answers from God, “Why? Why is this happening to me? I’m a good person, so why? Why?! Why?!!”
 
I now know why. God challenged me in ways I never knew were possible. He was stripping down my insecurities and building up my strengths. He was doing this so I could be the best mother possible to my daughter, and future children.
 
My spit-fire of a (almost) four year-old (!??!!) challenges me nearly every day. She can sometimes make me question if I’m doing a good job as a mother. She can overwhelm me and get my blood boiling with her gold medal temper tantrums. But she’s also tangible proof of my triumphs. She was put on this Earth by God to make me a better person.
 
I needed help. I couldn’t do it on my own. Life isn’t easy. It’s hard! No one should have to carry all the burden and do it alone. Sometimes reaching out for help is the kick-start we need to becoming our better selves. I know it was for me.
 
The other day when we were putting Emmalyn in the car, my husband called her a “doll baby.” Emmalyn shouted back, “I’m not a doll baby–I’m a human!” We laughed because it was so cute and innocent coming out of a three year-old’s mouth, but it stuck with me on a deeper level–because it’s true: We are human.
 
First and foremost, we are human. There are going to be days where we question if we’re doing the right thing. That’s “only human,” as the saying goes. If you and your baby are fed, bathed, and clothed, you are doing the right thing.
 
We cannot be so hard on ourselves. I know I am doing the right thing. YOU are doing the right thing, my friend. Because after all, we are human.
 
loyally,
katie
 
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How to Make Friends: Building Your Community Wherever You Go

I’ve been fairly shy my entire life. The whole “putting myself out there thing” has always caused me quite a bit of anxiety. I used to get butterflies in my stomach whenever my dad would have me call someone on the phone to thank them for a gift. I’d silently wish for the answering machine to pick up instead. Just thinking about it now brings back those all-too familiar flutters.

When my husband joined the military, we knew moving around frequently was something our family would have to get used to doing. In just the past four years alone, we have lived in three different cities. I was born and raised in the same house for eighteen years, and only ventured forty-five minutes down the road to “go off to” college. To say I like being in my “comfort zone” is an understatement.

Living in a new town requires you to put yourself out there and make new friends. This is something that has never been easy for me. I get so nervous approaching people. I feel as if I’m bothering them, or interrupting whatever it is they’re doing.

However, over the years, I’ve come to realize that people are usually just as nervous as I am when it comes to making new friends. Just like me, they’re waiting for someone to make the first move.

I admit, it’s definitely less intimidating to meet new people when you have a child. It’s a lot easier–in my opinion–to open up a conversation with “How old is your son?” rather than “How old are you?” But my problem wasn’t necessarily starting the conversation, per say, it was building upon it. I would be at various children’s play places and make small-talk with other moms, but that was the extent of it. I might bump into them again at another event and smile politely, or I might never see them again. I’d come home and my husband would ask, “Did you meet anyone new today?”

I’d tell him about so-and-so, to which he’d ask, “Well did you get her number?”

Umm, no… We would joke that making new mommy-friends was like dating all over again. My husband challenged me numerous times, “Why not? Why didn’t you ask her if she works or stays at home? Why didn’t you ask her where she’s from?” and other various “get-to-know-you” questions.

Repeatedly my response was, “Well, I don’t know. I guess I was too nervous.”

My husband’s response was, “Don’t you think she may have been just as nervous as you?”

He made a valid point. I pondered a lot about it: If I was nervous and shy about striking up a conversation that lasted more than thirty seconds, maybe other moms felt this way too?

“Make the first move,” my husband would say, “I think you’ll surprise yourself.”

So I decided to put on my Big Girl Pants, step out of my comfort zone and make the first move. And when I did, the results were amazing.

One of my first instances of “putting myself out there” led to some life-changing and memorable events. I used to take my oldest daughter, Emmalyn, to a weekly music class. There was another little girl there, the same age as Emmalyn, named Whitney, who usually came with her nanny. One day her mom brought her. I heard my husband’s voice in the back of my mind say, “Just talk. Ask for her number. Just do it.” When the class was over, I found myself conversing with this mom, who was super pleasant and equally engaging. She told me she recently quit her job to be a stay-at-home-mom and was looking to meet new moms. Ding! Ding! Ding! Hello, Opportunity.

I took a deep breathe. “We should exchange numbers and get the girls together for a playdate sometime,” I spoke up.

And thus became the start of a beautiful friendship.

On our first playdate, we learned that not only did we attend the same college, but were a part of the same sorority–just a few years a part! Our friendship quickly grew over the next few months, as did our daughters’. They were soon calling each other “Ems” and “Whit” and telling everyone they were “best friends.” Somewhere along the way, I too, found a best friend.

As our friendship was developing, I knew a move with the military was inevitable. It would have been easy to not let myself get involved, knowing we would be moving in just a few short months. Yes, it would have been easy, but it wouldn’t have been fair. Friendships don’t have to be One-Size-Fits-All. I can’t imagine my life without Meri and her sweet daughter Whitney, and I know my daughter feels the same way.

My relationship with Meri is just one example of how putting yourself out there can have such rewarding results. When we moved seven hours away last year, I had to make new friends all over again. It still didn’t feel “normal” for me to make the first move and ask for another mom’s phone number, but I knew the importance of building a community. I didn’t want my only friend to be my three year-old. It took some time and a few missed opportunities for me to realize how silly I was being. “Just do it,” I could hear my husband say.

So I did. I began interacting with other moms at play places, eagerly exchanging contact information. It felt a little foreign and quite random at times, but it was so worth it. I’ve exchanged numbers with moms at parks, in department stores in the baby section, and at Story Times. When I would come home with a new mom’s number, I’d be all giddy–like I was fifteen years-old again, sometimes even throwing in a happy-dance for good measure.

Building a community with other moms is vital. I’ve learned a lot from them, and I’ve learned a lot about me through them. It’s fun watching our children develop friendships, but it’s even more fun when we leave the kids at home and meet for breakfast after dropping them off at school, or grab a glass of wine for Girls’ Night, or meet once a month for Book Club.

I’m so thankful I decided to abandon my inhibitions and anxiety over meeting new people.

Imagine all I would have missed out on if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone and introduced myself? A whole heck of a lot–that’s what!

loyally,
katie

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Hang in There!

So it’s been just over two weeks now since we brought home our newest little girl. I knew things were going to be tough, and I have dreaded the sleep deprivation, but I think I underestimated just how hard things would be. Fortunately, we have a little love who is (knock-on-wood) a very easy baby. She basically only cries when she’s hungry; otherwise she is quite content sleeping or looking around. The hardest part on me is feeling like a zombie, and the breast feeding. If the B word makes you queasy or if you’re my Dad, feel free to skip this post.

With Emmalyn, I only breast fed for two weeks before basically calling it quits. I was crying to her pediatrician about how painful and exhausting it was. She told me I needed to do what was best for me so that I could be happy and my baby could be happy. Ultimately, I felt like that was to switch over to formula. We’ll never know if it was the “right” decision, but it is what it is. We moved forward.

Throughout most of my pregnancy I had basically decided I was just going to formula-feed again; after all, I had done it once before, why not do it again? However, towards the last couple of months of my pregnancy, I felt a strong sense of urgency to breast feed. I didn’t really even have to talk myself into it—I just felt like it was something my body wanted to do for my baby.

When I delivered Adelaide, the nurse was impressed by how much colostrum I was already producing (see, I told you to skip this post, Dad) and was happy with her latch. Things are already such a blur, but in the hospital, I don’t remember it being painful. Fast forward to coming home from the hospital…. OUCH!

I visited the lactation nurse back at the hospital and she attributed my pain to a poor latch, mostly due to the placement of Adelaide’s lower lip. She showed me how to do a better latch and said that if it hurt, to take her off and repeat twenty times if I needed to. I went home a practiced best I could, taking her off and back on again. I was pleasantly surprised by how calm I was about it all. Before feeding, I’d kiss my baby’s soft little cherub cheek and say, “Let’s do this!”

I thought things were going well until one morning when I was feeding Adelaide and Emmalyn was standing right next to me. I felt that the latch was completely wrong and painful so I took Adelaide off and that’s when I saw blood all over her mouth. Poor Emmalyn, witnessing the whole thing, ran to her room crying. She told my mom she was worried about her little sister. I felt awful. I knew the blood wasn’t harmful to the baby—it was just a major pain to me, but I felt so sad for my Big Girl.

I immediately texted the lactation nurse to see if she could squeeze me in. I went later that day and she recommended using a shield to let my body heal. There were many tears over that first weekend. I was extremely emotional.

Every other feeding I wanted to quit. Every other feeding I felt like I could actually make this work. Back and forth. Back and forth. There were so many cluster-feedings. I would nurse for fifteen to thirty minutes, burp, swaddle, get comfy in bed, and then wham! She was back to sucking, so I had to start the whole process over again. I can’t wait until I don’t have to wake her to feed at night anymore. One night, I didn’t have my phone by my bed so I didn’t hear my alarm go off. She slept for five glorious hours!

This whole thing is so much harder than I could imagine. I began reaching out to other women, some old friends, some new, some nearby, others far from home. They all released stories to me about their pain and frustrations, complete with blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. They all said give it 2-4 weeks. HANG IN THERE! they’ve cheered. I’m so grateful for friends who want to reach out and support me.

Breast feeding has left me feeling depleted most of the time. Just entirely drained, trying to stay on top of things. Most of the time I have to force myself to eat because I don’t have an appetite even though I’m hungry. While Emmalyn has been so receptive of her little sister, there are times when she’s been super clingy to me and has thrown several big tantrums. It’s tough to watch when I have a baby literally stuck to my skin.

I’m immensely blessed to have a husband who plays a huge role in helping me feel better. He’s my biggest motivator. For that first week I think we were both scared of walking down the same scary path that plagued us three-and-a-half years ago. I hate to say I was waiting for the pin to drop, because I didn’t want to think that way, but a little part of me would wonder if today is the day things fall apart? I don’t feel that way any longer. I’m being completely proactive: back on anti-anxiety medication as a precaution, and even “checked-in” with my therapist yesterday.

It’s a total 180 from how I felt after the birth of Emmalyn. I’m not carrying around any irrational fears or anxiety. I have the normal “nervousness” of nursing in public for the first time, and preparing to take my first outing with both girls, but that’s what it is: Normal.

The best I can do is keep moving forward. Interacting and trying to keep a normalcy with Emmalyn helps a lot: giving her a bath, reading to her, talking her through her tantrums, etc. From the very beginning I’ve gotten out of the house for fresh air. For the first week I was scared I wouldn’t have the inner motivation to “just do it” by myself, but I am feeling much more confident. I have already been out of the house numerous times with Adelaide. My next feat is taking both girls to Adelaide’s 2-week well-baby checkup tomorrow. But hey—if anything goes wrong, at least we’re already at the hospital… and my husband works there!

Wish us luck! 😉

loyally,
katie
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