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

Grateful.

 This is an oldie, but goodie. I have several friends who could currently use some prayers and encouragement. I want to share this with them, and you. It’s one of my favorites–from May 2011.

***

Have you ever tried worrying and being grateful at the same time?

Go ahead. Try. I’ll wait.
Did you do it?
Didn’t think so.
The antidote for worry is gratitude and well-being. It’s impossible to worry about something when you’re busy being grateful. Unfortunately, the same is true the other way around. You can’t be grateful for something if you’re too damn busy worrying about a million other things.
Have you ever been stuck smack in the middle lane of the interstate during 7AM traffic? Do you cope by blowing your horn, or huffing and puffing because you’re going to be late to work, only to get yourself so worked up, you actually break a sweat? And what does all that blood, sweat, and tears (I exaggerate. Kinda.) get you? A headache? Maybe two inches of black top, only to be cut off by a punk on a motorcycle? …aaaannnd, now we’re cursing.
Next time, instead of focusing on the negatives, why don’t you try being grateful? Katie, how can I be grateful for morning traffic?! Well, my friends (& I hope we can be friends!) it’s simple. You have to change your way of thinking and count your blessings: I may be sitting in bumper-to-bumper agony, but at least I have a car. There are people who have never even set foot in a car, let alone have paved roads. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful I have the money (at least for now) to fill up my tank. I’m grateful this seat belt is keeping me safe. I’m grateful I don’t have to walk to work. I’m grateful for my air conditioning & music to keep me company. And if, and only if, I’m stopped at a traffic light, I’m grateful for Facebook on my iPhone.
Have we forgotten about that punk on the motorcycle yet?
Good! And trust me, it works in all sorts of situations: Baby screaming? I’m grateful she has working lungs. Shins and calves burning after that two-mile run? I’m grateful I have legs to run on. With practice and determination, you’ll soon be riding the “Grateful Train” first-class to “Calmville.” Scout’s Honor.
Now how did I get to be all expert-y, noble & wise about gratitude?
{Hi, my name is Sarcasm. Nice to meet you.}
I am who I am today because of a nasty thing called Postpartum Depression; or “Hell,” for short. The past six months of my daughter’s life have been a whirlwind for me, to say the least. I, probably like most women, skimmed over the PPD sections in the baby books since ‘yanno… never thought it would happen to me. Ain’t that how the story goes?
Anywho… long story short: I found myself hospitalized for a week at a behavioral center. Most terrifying and astounding life-changing experience of my life! I’d like to share with you my personal testimony after spending an additional month in an outpatient recovery program:
Written on February 15, 2011
I have certainly come a long way in this ever so challenging journey. This has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. My dream has always been to be a mom, so when the foreign and nightmarish thoughts hit me like a brick, it scared the living day lights out of me, to say the least. The anxiety attacks were like nothing I’ve ever experienced or even seen before. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
The best decision I ever made was going to the hospital. Although it was absolutely terrifying at first, it was the right place for me to be. And PHP [the Partial-Hospitalized Program] has continued to help me tremendously. I have learned so much—especially about myself. I never knew I had so much strength and determination.
I learned that in order to gain massive momentum in my recovery, I had to get moving! That became my new mantra. I lacked a lot of motivation when I first stepped foot in here, but I soon realized it didn’t mean I couldn’t still do the things I used to love. I am capable. I am capable of so much. It took a lot of practice, but my mood is finally catching up.
I made a promise to myself to never give up no matter what! I wanted things to change, so with the picture of my husband and daughter in my mind, I knew the only way I was going to make that happen was to JUST DO IT! Even if I didn’t feel like it, I made myself do it because it was the right thing for my recovery. If I didn’t change my thoughts and behavior, then things were going to stay exactly as they were, and I definitely didn’t want that! I took my first step, stayed committed to my recovery, and things started becoming easier day by day.
Seven weeks ago, I was crying and screaming on the bathroom floor, begging to die; and now I’m playing flag football and caring for my daughter like I always knew I could. It’s hard to imagine I once thought about taking my own life, and now I would give it away in a heartbeat if it were to benefit my daughter.
I despised the fact that I got Postpartum Depression. I thought, Why me? Why is God punishing me? But now? Now, I see the beauty of this experience and how it has strengthened me. Every day I’m a little bit more of who I want to be. Every day I become a better person; and for that, I am truly grateful.
***
You can’t have a testimony without a test, right?
A fellow patient—a mom, who lost her twenty-six year-old [former soldier & current police officer] son, to a heinous murder as he was called to a robbery, told me I inspired her. Well if that doesn’t humble your heart, I don’t know what will! If she had the courage to dust herself off, then I surely didn’t have any excuses. I could hold my baby in my arms—she no longer could.
Life isn’t always easy. But it sure is worth the fight.
So that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! I’m Katie. A devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, who strives to be the best I can be, every day, for all the right reasons.
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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Dear Katie — A Letter to Myself

Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve had numerous people ask me if I’m concerned about going through Postpartum Depression again. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t crossed my mind more than several times. I’m not scared, but I do want to take as many precautions as possible.

One thing I wanted to do is write myself a letter ahead of time—just in case the evilness sneaks up again, and I forget that everything will be all right.

:: :: ::
Dear Katie,

I feel hopeful that Postpartum Depression won’t show up for Round Two, but just in case, there are a few things I want you to remember:

YOU ARE CAPABLE
You got through hell once before, and God-forbid you have to do it again, you are highly capable. You’ve already proven just how strong you are.

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
Even if it is just a walk around the block by yourself (or with Indy), get outside for some fresh air and vitamin D. It’s good for your soul.

DO YOGA
This is something that’s also good for your soul, and your well-being just in general. Do at least one yoga position a day. Make it a habit, a lifestyle.

ASK FOR HELP
There’s no shame in asking for help. You know you would jump at the opportunity to help another mom so there’s no reason someone wouldn’t do the same for you.

PHONE A FRIEND
If you’re feeling anxious, sad, overwhelmed, or whatever, pick up the phone and call someone. Keep calling until someone answers. Sometimes all it takes is hearing a friendly voice, validating your feelings.

LET IT GO
Turn on that damn song and sing it with Emmalyn if you want to, but let the phrase be a reminder to not sweat the small stuff! Dirty dishes piling up in the sink? Let it go. Toys all over the house? Let it go. Someone said something rude? Let it go… let it go...

PRAY

Keep an open line of communication with God. Don’t ever forget: The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you. It’s the truth. Give all your concerns, fears, and troubles to God. He will take care of them, and you! Stop and talk to God every!single!day!

SMILE
Stand in front of the mirror and smile at yourself every day, even if it makes you feel silly. Say one thing you like about yourself, or a mantra such as, “You are enough,” or “You are the right mom for your kids.”

JOURNAL IT

Write down how you are feeling. It’ll make you feel better to get it off your chest.

BE GRATEFUL
State at least one thing a day that you’re grateful for. Grateful hearts don’t have room for worries.

GIVE HUGS
Hug your husband and girls every single day. This one’s easy!

WALK AWAY
If you’re feeling like the world is crumbling down on you, put the baby down (and away from Emmy), give Emmy the iPad, and walk away. Close the door and cry if you need to. Take deep breaths and splash water on your face. Read a trashy magazine if you feel like it.

DRINK WATER
Take care of your body. If you are feeling run down, the first thing you should do is drink a large glass of water. Make sure you’re eating fresh fruits and vegetables, too!

IT WILL PASS
Tomorrow is a new day. Heck, twenty minutes from now may seem like a whole new day. “This too shall pass.” I promise it will. Hang in there.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! YOU CAN DO IT!!

loyally,
katie
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Bump, Birth, Baby, & Beyond


51 Tips on Pregnancy, Child Birth, Postpartum, & Being a New Mommy

…only 51 or we could be here for days!


*On Being Pregnant



1.  Let people touch your belly. Sure, every now and again it can be a little awkward, but really, it’s not that big of a deal. People get curious and excited (and sometimes carried away) that you’re bringing a new life into the world. What’s weird is when they touch your belly after you have the baby. Now that’s awkward.

2.  Stay active, but know when to take it easy. I found that if I did too much one day, I was a pile of cement the next. Sore and tired and pretty much miserable and useless.

3.  Take (weekly) belly bump pictures. They’re fun to look back on. And if you want to post them to Facebook or your blog? Do it. It’s your life. I guarantee people secretly (and not so secretly) love to look at them. Same goes for maternity pictures.

4.  However, if you choose to post belly pics to social media, don’t get offended when someone makes the comment, “Oh you look so tiny for eight months–are you sure there’s a baby in there?” or, “You’re huge! Are you sure there’s not two in there?” Because it’s inevitable. Just let it roll off your shoulder and remember their comment for when they’re pregnant so you can make an equally offensive one back. Just kidding. Don’t do that.

5.  Don’t compare yourself to other mommies-to-be. Especially those who are right around your due date. The second you read on Facebook they felt their baby moving, and you haven’t yet, you’ll start freaking out and calling your doctor every five minutes. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Remember that.

6.  To continue along those lines, stay far away from places like BabyCenter[dot]com where women are notorious for comparing themselves to other women. And don’t even get me started on the competition! I was always afraid WWIII would break out on those message boards. Yipes! It’s brutal out there. No need to add that kind of stress to your life.

7.  Consider keeping your unborn child’s name a secret. We did this with our first. We didn’t want anyone ‘hating’ on her name before she was even born. Because guess what? Who is going to say to your face and the face of your new plump bundle of joy that they really dislike his/her name? No one. They’ll save that kind of talk for behind your back… 

8.  There’s no need to buy the fancy, expensive Pottery Barn matchy-matchy nursery bedding set. It’s overpriced and the baby will never use the quilt. In fact, s/he cannot use the quilt in the crib because it’s illegal. Okay, it’s not illegal, but it’s completely not safe.

9.  With the latter being said, I know you’ll still order the fancy PB set because you’re saying to yourself, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” or, “I MUST HAVE IT! It’s soooo perfect!” Yep. I said the same thing. People told me the same thing. I didn’t listen just like you won’t either. & then regretted it. It must be a right-of-passage into motherhood or something. 

10. Don’t take the tags off of anything, and keep your receipts. After my baby shower I got so overly excited that I ripped off the tags and washed everything and put it neatly in the nursery in preparation for the baby. I think that’s called nesting. It turns out Emmalyn didn’t need ALL of those onesies and socks and receiving blankets.

11. Research, but don’t over-research information about childbirth. Personally I felt much more relaxed throughout the whole process because I had read (and watched) about it.

12. Savor all the baby flutters and kicks. You’ll miss them terribly.

13. If this is your second pregnancy and you have a toddler running around at home, please don’t feel bad about the amount of television you let him/her watch–especially in the first trimester. You’re nauseous and tired, and there will not be life-long-lasting side-affects on your toddler because you let them watch seven hours of TV in a row. Just make sure you feed them something edible in between.

*On Child Birth



14. Make a Birth Plan. Review it with your spouse and communicate your concerns and feelings with him.

15. Take that birth plan and THROW IT AWAY. Seriously. I never even took mine out of the bag. There are so many things going on that as long as you talk to your nurse, doctor, and hubby, you’ll be just fine. Honestly, I never gave my birth plan a second thought in the hospital, and laughed when I remembered it was in my bag after I came home from the hospital.

16. Book mark the page in the baby book where you want the baby’s footprints. It’ll make the nurse’s job easier and you won’t forget to have it done either. As an extra ‘happy’ we laid out a scrub shirt to have the baby’s footprints stamped on. My dad did it with me, and since the hubs is a doctor, we wanted to continue the tradition. Super adorable, if you ask me 😉

17. Epidural or no epidural, give yourself a break. I went in determined not to have an epidural, but was paralyzed with pain after a few hours. I made the decision to have an epidural (after talking with my husband) and never looked back. No regrets. Don’t feel guilty! And if you choose to do it au natural, please don’t go all Rosie the Riveter on the rest of us. You make us feel bad about ourselves. I applaud you, really, but guess what?? We both got the same end result–a happy and healthy baby.

18. Your spouse is your advocate. Make sure he can read your mind. Or at least talk, talk, talk about everything and anything. That way, when you’re in mid-contraction and everything seems to be moving a mile a minute and you physically cannot open your mouth to speak, he can do so for you… with confidence and trust.

19. Pack chap-stick.

20. The “Going Home” outfit is pretty pointless because you put the baby in the car seat to go straight home anyway, but with that being said, buy the most ridiculous outfit you want because YOU DESERVE IT! You just had a baby for goodness sake. You can do whatever the hell you want!

*On Postpartum



21. You will bleed. A lot. A lot. A lot. Holy cow! I thought I was going to die of blood loss. Put raggedy old towels on the bathroom floor after taking a shower, or strip the rugs off the floor. Or both.

22. “Tucks” and hydrocortisone are your BFFs. Them, plus newborn diapers in the freezer instead of regular pads. Greatest concoction ever. The nurses will tell you what’s up in the hospital.

23. Take lots of pictures in the hospital. You never get those moments and memories back.

24. Steal–I mean, take everything in the hospital home with you. Even if they tell you to leave them behind, like the thick hospital bed pads. You’ll use them for things like tummy time, stomach viruses, and potty training later on down the road. Take all the baby blankets, too. They won’t miss them.

25. You’re not going crazy. I swear.

26. There will be times you feel like throwing your baby against the wall when s/he won’t stop crying. That’s normal. You are not alone.

27. There will be times your spouse feels like throwing the baby against the wall. That’s normal, too.

28. You won’t throw your baby against the wall. Or down the hall. Or out the window. I promise.

29. Walk away. Your baby will be 100% safe if you put him/her in the crib and shut the door to the bathroom, read a trashy gossip magazine, cry your eyes out, and eat a piece of chocolate. The same technique works when your child is one, and two, and three…

30. If breast-feeding isn’t for you and your family, then it isn’t for you and your family, and don’t let anyone–I repeat, anyone, make you feel bad about that. Sometimes it’s just not in the cards. If mommy’s not happy, baby’s not happy. I know plenty of breast-fed babies who are sick wayyy more often than my little girl who was only breast-fed for two weeks. Everyone survives.

31. Get out of the house as soon as possible. Throw away the old “rule” of waiting a month before taking your baby out in public. The longer you wait, the more anxious you’ll become. In the very beginning, I made a quick and simple trip to Target and refused to let my husband help me so I could get the “complete experience”. Just a quick trip is all you need. Then go home and pat yourself on the back.

32. MOST IMPORTANTLY: If you’re feeling depressed or overly-anxious, please talk to your doctor and seek help immediately! If you are new to my blog and don’t already know, I developed a severe case of postpartum depression after the birth of my first daughter. Worst and best thing to ever happen to me! [You can read more about it here.] 

*On Being a New Mommy



33. The first 3-4 months are hands-down the hardest of your life. Everyone kept telling me to “hang in there” until the baby was three months, and honestly it took me closer to four before I didn’t feel so stressed Every!Single!Day! There was more of a routine established and I had gotten used to the fact that I could run on little-to-no sleep.

34. Drink lots of water! Fill up a tumbler with a straw and drink, drink, drink. Your body will thank me. Oh yeah, eat, too.

35. I have kept a journal (almost) every single day of Emmalyn’s life since Day One. I used this amazing journal. It made it so simple for me to jot down 1-2+ things about what she did during the day. I highly recommend it. I’ve made my own variation of the journal through Microsoft Word and Office Max for each year of Emmalyn’s life. I leave it open on the counter and write something down whenever I can remember to. From first words and foods to play dates to ridiculous temper tantrum scenarios. With that being said, if journaling ain’t yo thang, don’t sweat it! Which leads me to…

36. Every mom has “their thing”. Mine happens to be documenting/journaling my daughter’s life. It’s something I’ve basically done since I was kid anyway, therefore it comes naturally to me. Your “thing” might be making pretty hair bows or bow ties. Or, taking really creative pictures. (I wish that was “my thing” but it’s not.) My point is, don’t feel bad if “your thing” isn’t “her thing” or “this-really-hip-and-cool-mom’s thing”. Cut yourself some slack. If it stresses you out too much to do the latest Pinterest-new-baby-trend, then don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

37. Don’t worry about the appearance of your house. No one truly cares, and everyone totally understands. Because trust me, your house won’t be “back to normal” until… until… well if it ever gets back to normal, someone please tell me when.

38. No matter how many years of babysitting and nannying experience you have, you’ll almost entirely forget everything you know. She just pooped all over me! What the hell do I do? Go to the sink. That’s what you do. Needless to say, you’ll inevitably forget that’s the most practical solution and simply freeze with poop in your hands instead.

39. It will take you at least three days to do one load of laundry. Day one to wash, day two to dry, and day three to fold. Oh wait–make that four days. Day four to put them away. This is just for one load, mind you.

40. Making freezer meals totally saves your butt. Granted, you won’t feel like cooking at all in the beginning (that’s what moms and mother-in-laws are for), but eventually you’ll ease back into it. My life was dramatically easier for the week I made freezer (Crock-pot) meals. Yes. One week. I really should take my own advice.

41. Let them get a little dirty. One of my favorite new-mommy memories was when I let Emmalyn loose at the strawberry patch. It had just rained the night before and she couldn’t walk yet. It was so muddy, but I let her crawl through the fields and she had the most fun ever. I did too. I didn’t even care that I ended up having to throw away the outfit she wore.

42. Always over-prepare. Stock up on wipes, diapers, paper towels, regular towels, and extra clothes. Keep them in your car at all times. You never know when you’ll need them and you’ll always be relieved to have them. On that note, pack an extra pair of clothes for yourself. ‘Ya never know…

43. Don’t ever let anyone convince you to do something you don’t want to do, or convince you to stop doing something you want to do. Case in point, I had many people deter me from cloth diapering Emmalyn before she was born. They told me it was disgusting and I wouldn’t be allowed to use their washing machine. I gave in and didn’t cloth diaper. I completely regret not standing my ground.

44. Never underestimate how long it takes to get out of the house. Your normal fifteen minutes can easily turn into thirty (or more) when you realize Little One has a messy diaper just as you’re putting him/her into the car.

45. You probably won’t feel like you have the whole “motherhood thing” under control until your baby turns a year old. It’s almost as if a light switch goes off and your shoulders become more relaxed and you exhale, ahhh….

46. Embrace your new body and cut yourself some slack! Don’t compare yourself to other moms (especially on Instagram, where there are 50 different filters). You birthed a baby and that is the coolest thing anyone can do on this planet! Love yourself unconditionally and unapologetically. 

47. Get involved in Mom’s groups and outings as quickly as possible. You’ll feel less insane.

48. Don’t be afraid to ask other moms for their phone number. Sure, you’ll feel silly at first, but then you’ll come home to your spouse, jumping up and down, feeling like a giddy teenager who’s crush just circled “Yes”. Trust me when I say the other mom was too scared to do what you had the guts to do. After all, we’re all in the same boat–desperate for other mommy-friends.

49. Ask for help. People really do want to help when they offer. Take it. Trust me.

50. Do something for yourself, and for you and your spouse. Don’t ever forget about the man who helped give you the most beautiful gift you’ve ever been given.

51. Never forget the most important piece of advice I could ever give to any new mommy: No one ever has it all together. If they tell you they do, they’re lying.

loyally,
katie

What tips would you share with mommies-to-be and new mommies out there? 


If you think this post was helpful, please feel free to share with other prego/new mommies!!


Professional pictures by IG: @mpoulter

1st Guest Post!

Mommies, & Musicals, & Blogs, Oh My!
My SIL & I recently attended the performance of The Mommies: A Musical Blog and were blown away with laughter. The show was written and produced by Jeanie Linders, the same woman who wrote and produced Menopause The Musical.
The show touched on everything from postpartum blues, to turning down sex post-baby, to potty training, to snotty teenage years. There was something for every mother, whether new or seasoned. The talented mommy actresses has us laughing, dancing, fist-pumping, and shouting “Mommies Rock!” from start to finish.
I was graciously given the opportunity to share my thoughts and story on the musical’s blog.
You can find that post by clicking here.
After you visit their site, please come back and let me know your thoughts.
I’d really appreciate it.
with THE lovely MOMMIES
A big thank you to The Mommies for allowing me to be a part of something so close to my heart.
loyally,
katie

6 Months! & I Spy Something Shiny!

Emmalyn Grace

You are 6 months old!
{May 17, 2011} 



6-Month Baby Stats
***

Sleep
What did I do to deserve such a great little sleeper?! You are ready to go to bed anywhere between 7 & 8pm, and don’t make a peep until 7 or 8 the next morning. You wake up so happy, too, “talking” and babbling like it’s nobody’s business. It’s my favorite time of the day with you.


Daily Routine
Not much has changed in the routine department. You wake up between 7 & 8, are up for an hour, then go down for a nap that lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. After your first nap, you eat solids, then are up & playing like a fool. In the later afternoon you gobble up some more solids. You start fussing sometimes as early as 6, so it’s bathtime {which you love!} followed by a bottle, book, songs, & prayer.


 Food
So far, you’ve had brown rice, sweet potatoes, peas, and pears. Your favorite is pears, followed by peas. Next, I think we’re going to try carrots. I am making 90% of your food. However, because of the move, and our freezer going kaputz, you had organic peas in a jar. The pediatrician gave us the go-ahead on puff-snacks and meats… yum!

Weight
At birth: 6lbs 14oz
Current: 14lbs 12 oz

 Length
At birth: 20 inches
Current: 25.5 inches



Diaper Size

2


Clothes Size
Anywhere from 3 to 9 months. Ya never know!


Hair Color
At birth: bald
Currently: my MIL thinks dark, hubby thinks blonde… so we’re going with golden brown lol

Eye Color
At birth: dark blue
1 month: slate grayish/blue
2 months: dark brownish/green
3 months: brown with hints of green… debatable 
4 months: looking like they’re going to be brown like your mama, although there’s still a shimmer of green
5 months: Brown!
6 months: still brown, like yours truly



Mommy’s favorite moments

Hands down… when you laugh! It is the most magical sound in the world. I’m also loving that your personality is really coming out. Oh! And it doesn’t hurt either when strangers in stores compliment how well-behaved you are. At Easter Mass, you were awake and quiet the entire time. I base it on the fact that we’ve been taking you in public since you were itty bitty, so you just know.



Milestones

You’re sitting up on your own!!

You are also getting on all fours, & rock back and forth. Any day now, you could be crawling. Let’s not get carried away yet, though. Mama’s not ready for this yet!
Today at the doctor’s office, you said, “DADDY” as clear as day. The pediatrician looked at us like, “Did that really just happen??” It was crazy. Now, we all know that she doesn’t actually know that her daddy is called “daddy,” but we can pretend, right?! Throughout the rest of the well check-up, she kept saying, dadadadada. Love it!

  
Your favorite toy

Anything and everything you can get your hands on. You reach for everything in your sight. Gone are the days of leaving things around the house. But you sure are a reader. You’ve been turning cardboard-book pages for over a month now. 




Firsts

1st Passover with mommy, GG, & Grandpa
1st time you reached for your GG
1st Easter
1st night at the new house
1st time Auntie Shell & Uncle Mike babysat
1st time eating peas & pears
1st Mother’s Day
1st time in the pool at GG & Grandpa’s house

1st time you put your toes in your mouth
1st bath with cousin Lucas at Mimo & Papo’s


and…

drum roll please…

this is a big one….



YOU GOT YOUR EARS PIERCED!!!!!!!!

{today!}
GG pierced mommy’s at 4 months, so when we went to the doctor today, mommy asked the doc if she does it in her office. She said yes, so we did it! You only cried during the piercing, and less than a few minutes after. You were such a champ!
{i know people have their opinions about this, but it was our choice as a family. i’m so glad my mom had mine down as an infant, so i wanted the same for my daughter}

i cannot believe you are six months!! 
emmalyn grace, you bring me so much love and joy every.single.day.


i love you, emmycakes!

forever your mommy!

loyally,
katie

4 Months & Whoopsie Daisies!!

If you stopped by earlier, you may have noticed something out of the ordinary. Perhaps, Emmalyn looked a little different in her pictures? Perhaps, maybe, it was because the pictures were not actually of Emmalyn…?? Perhaps they were of Little Miss Elli over at From Mrs. to Mama…?
Before you think I’m a total crazy person, let me explain…
I copy/pasted Elli’s mommy’s format of her 4 month post on Elli. I deleted Elli’s info/stats/pictures, and replaced them with Emmalyn’s, naturally. Well, I got a super nice e-mail from Elli’s mama letting me know that Elli’s pictures were on my blog. what.the.H?! I previewed and previewed and checked and checked my blog, numerous times… you know, for typos and what-not. Never once did I see pictures of anyone else but Emmalyn. But, sure enough, when I checked my blog from my phone… there was all of my information & pics of my daughter, BUT also pics of Elli.
I immediately apologized to Elli’s mommy–I felt terribly awful! 
Let me just say that I am using my parents’ stone-age computer. This never would have happened on my Mac, back home. (This is also why my pictures are small and grainy.. blech!) I canNOT wait until we move in (April 1st!) to our new house and I can get back to my Mac.
OK! So I hope that cleared things up. 
Now, for the re-post of Emmy’s 4-Month Update:
Emmalyn Grace,
Today you are four months old. & I am having the most fun with you! Your bubbly personality is a constant reminder to me just how wonderful life is. There’s no way I can have a bad day with you around. Sometimes, if I’m expressing a frustrating moment to someone, & I see you flash a big gummy-smile at me, I literally forget what I was talking about. I’ve been told by many people that you’re the best baby they’ve ever seen–and I agree! [no biases here, of course} I love watching you grow everyday, finding new things you can do. I am looking forward to moving in to our new house with Daddy and Indy. There’s a nice porch to shade you from the sun, & a big fenced-in yard for you to run and play in {not anytime soon though!} I could go on and on, and I will in your baby books, but thank you, my sweet angel baby, Emmy, for making me a better person.
Forever Your Mommy…
4-Month Baby Stats
***
Sleep
The angels have blessed me in this department, kid. My darling daughter, you go to bed around 10 or 10:30, and don’t wake up until 8:30 or 9am. You have been doing this since you were six weeks old! You are still sleeping in my room (or shall I say your grandparents’ guest room since we are in between houses and cities). Most nights you wake me up with little mouse-like squeaks and giggles. Yes, you giggle in your sleep. It’s hilarious. Oh, and we can totally make noise around the house, while you’re asleep, and it does.not.phase.you. I’m talking, vacuuming, phone ringing, dog barking, doorbell ringing kind of noise… yipeee!
Daily Routine
 I’ve tried writing down your routine, and it’s just not practical. I can pretty much predict how the day will go until around noon, but that’s about it. Most of the time you wake up around 8:30am, & this is one of my most favorite times of the day with you. When I go in to get you out of bed, you have the biggest smile on your face…always!! I love it! I let you stretch on the bed, & we have a little “chit-chat.” Then, when I change your diaper, I sing you our three “Good morning” songs. You just smile and coo along…
After your first bottle, I’ll set you in the Bumbo while I either eat if I didn’t get a chance earlier, or finish getting ready. You love to watch your mommy beautify herself. Then, within the hour you start rubbing your eyes and I know it’s time for your morning nap. Normally, you’ll nap for another two hours. After that, it’s usually time for another bottle. 

The rest of the day is pretty flexible. If it’s a stay-at-home-kinda-day, we’ll alternate between tummy time on your activity mat, reading books, sitting outside in the shade, and following mommy around the house in your Bumbo. You love to sit on mommy’s lap and “talk.” It’s like we’re having our own secret conversation….
If we venture out, you’re always so well-behaved. You’re either sleeping soundly or lifting your head to look around. {I’m guessing you’re going to save your in-the-middle-of-target-tantrums for a later time?}
Anywhere between 9:30 & 10pm, you get a bath. And baby girl, you L-O-V-E your baths. You’re definitely like your mama in this way. You just lay back (in the sink, still–but not for long), while I pour warm water all over you. You don’t even mind when I let water drip down your face.

 Food
You are eating 5oz of formula, approximately every three hours, unless of course you are snoozing. I used to stop to burp you a couple of times during the feeding, but you started getting a little attitude if I took the bottle out of your mouth =P
Apparently, we are going to start solid foods this month. {will find out more at your next appointment}
Weight
At birth: 6lbs 14oz
A few days ago: 13lbs 2oz
{but this was done with the ‘ole mom-stands-on-the-scale-first-then-subtracts-from-combined-weight-method. totally accurate}
 Length
At birth: 20 inches
Current: No idea. But you have your four-month check-up on the 28th so we’ll find out then!
Diaper Size
You are wearing size 1-2 Costco diapers. These seem to be working the best on you. Sorry Pampers, but you did not hold up well in the blow-out test.
Clothes Size
I do not understand baby clothes sizes! No two of the same sizes are actually alike! {what gives?!?} You are mostly wearing 3-6 months, although you can still fit into some 0-3 and just 6 months. Makes no sense to me… This week, mommy’s going to go through your newborn clothes and pack them away [insert.tears.here]
Hair Color
At birth: bald
Currently: wellll… in pictures it looks like you’re still bald, but up close, it’s light brown in the back and blond on the top. But I’m not holding my breath that you’ll grow more hair anytime soon 😉
Eye Color
At birth: dark blue
1 month: slate grayish/blue
2 months: dark brownish/green
3 months: brown with hints of green… debatable 
4 months: looking like they’re going to be brown like your mama, although there’s still a shimmer of green
Mommy’s favorite moments
I cannot get enough of your smiles and giggles. You do it all.the.time. I love when I catch you looking at me, staring and studying my face so intently. 
BUT I think my most fav.or.ite. moment is when I lay you down in your bed at night, while you’re still awake… I say a little prayer, kiss you goodnight, & you show me the biggest!smile!ever!
{melts mommy’s heart every time}
Milestones
When on your stomach, you are holding your head up for much longer periods of times. …Sometimes you don’t even put your head down!
You are TheDroolingQueen, emmycakes. I should invest in bib stock with how many bibs we go through a day! And you are constantly trying to gnaw on things.
You started laughing out loud. Like, full-on belly laughs!! zomg i love it!
You’re following objects that are at a farther distance. & whenever I walk across the room, you stop what you’re doing to follow me.
You are holding your head up nice and strong when you sit in your Bumbo. 
You started reaching for items and grabbing onto them–although they don’t keep your attention for too long. The other night, I had you in your Bumbo next to a shoebox and you leaned over & grabbed that sucker, pulling it over to you. {Perhaps you’ve inherited your daddy’s love for shoes?}  
You’ve started squealing in delight, especially if you like the song mommy’s singing.
You are continuing to roll over from your stomach-to-back, but have been doing this since you were a month old.
We’re still working on back-to-stomach… you can almost get flat on your stomach, but you haven’t quite figured out how to pull your arm out from under you.
The swaddler has been our best friend since day one {works like a charm every time} but two days ago, I thought we’d see how you did in just a sleeper. My girl, you did great! Still didn’t wake up once 🙂
You make razzberries.

& You try to stand up.

 Your favorite toy
You pretty much know how to entertain yourself. But I must say, you love to read/look at books. One day, I was reading a kid’s first-bible-book-of-sorts… you sat on my lap & let me read eighty pages to you!! {yes, that’s eight-zero…80!} I kept looking down to see if you were really looking, and sure enough–you were following along!
Firsts
First trip to the zoo with mommy, Auntie Re (your godmother) & cousin Lucas. You basically slept in the stroller the whole time, and never once fussed!
Watched mommy play at her flag football game
You’ve started rubbing your eyes when you’re sleepy 
You found your feet!
MET AUNT DANA from NYC (aka mom’s BFF)!!!
let out a REAL.BIG.LAUGH! {courtesy aunt dana}
First picnic by the lake with mommy & daddy
First cold, unfortunately 🙁 But it didn’t seem to bother you the least! Just a very snotty nose and baby coughs. Mommy caught it though, and felt miserable all weekend. boo

First St. Patty’s Day (today!}

 ***
& in just one.short.day…
you will meet your great-grandma from West Virginia.
As well as aunts, uncles, and lots of cuzzies!

!!! WE CAN’T WAIT !!!
<3

loyally,
katie

P.S.
hey y’all!! please let me know if i fixed it. it seemed to have worked when i viewed it from my phone, but let me know! thanks for understanding 🙂

Straight Up

 Your questions answered!

How’s everything going lately?

Things are going well, considering the circumstances. Postpartum Depression is a real drag, let me tell you. But I have surely come a long way, and things are finally looking up and heading in the right direction. It was a very scary time in my life, but through proper care and professional help, I have moved mountains. One of the best things I can be doing right now is activity. I’m glad my family has been supportive in allowing me to take time every day to care for myself. I’ve learned not to feel guilty about asking for help, and having “me” time. {No one’s going to call me “Katie-me-time-[last name]” … Modern Family last night, anyone??} I am doing things I have never done before, and it feels awesome! I’m pumping iron with a trainer two days a week… Buddha Bootcamp Yoga once a week {my fav!}… I got back into a dance class once a week…and get this, y’all! I’m on a co-rec flag football team! saywhat?! Yep. Never played before in my life (well since elementary school). But it’s so much fun and I even catch the ball and pull flags… {plural..!!} Ha! Plus, I try to run a mile on my “days off.” It’s been terrifically therapeutic.

And of course, playing with this little love, is always good for the soul.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I’m almost embarrassed to say that it’s the Kardashian’s. I can’t help it! They’ve hooked and reeled me in like a helpless little flounder. They’re addicting! Although… I miss the original “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” These new spin-offs just aren’t as good. [I miss Bruce ::sigh::]
Anyone else share in my horrid habit?

Do you read any magazines on a monthly basis—if so, which ones?
I read People Magazine. That’s the only subscription I have. I look through all the pictures, then go back and read most of the articles. I really like spotting the 10 differences in the picture, and I must say—I’ve gotten especially fast =) But I definitely flip through all the gossip magz every time I’m at the grocery store or Barnes & Noble. Occasionally, I’ll buy a Cosmo if I really like who’s on the cover.
What are your current favs (and not so fav) baby items?
My FAV.or.ite. baby item thus far is Fisher Price’s Rock ‘n Roll Sleeper. No competition.

This has been a life saver, in my opinion. Miss Em sleeps next to me (at bed level) which I love. But my favorite feature is that it folds up in literally a snap and can easily be taken from room to room, or house to house. We take it everywhere with us. I highly recommend it to any new mom.
{thanks cousin holly for sending it to us!}  

The Bumbo is also a big hit in our home. 

{she’s starting to grab for things–it’s so cute!}

Emmy loves sitting in it, and just like the sleeper, I take it from room to room so I can get things done without holding her.

I currently don’t have a least favorite baby product, but I will say that I am very much a minimalist. There are so many creative products, and no doubt useful and fun, but seeing that we’re in transition of moving, less is more right now. My one advice to new moms though, would be to not buy sooo many clothes. There are some onesies Emmy never even wore because she lived in gowns the first month of her life. It’s smart to wash and prepare a few clothes, but I wish I would have left the tags on most of them. 

Is there anything you absolutely could not live without? 
Besides the obvious “family, friends, water, etc…” answer, I could not live without Burt’s Bees Lip Balm and Olay Daily Facials Cleansing Cloths. It removes all my makeup and leaves my face feeling smooth. {I follow up with Clinque’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel… love that, too!}
Is it hard being away from BJ?
Yes, it is hard being away from my husband, but it’s what we have to do at this time. He has to go to school, and I need help while I recover. We are fortunate that we’re only two hours away and see one another every 2-3 weeks. We are also very blessed that we have both sets of grandparents to help with Emmalyn. Just knowing that we’ll be back together in May, is enough to get me through. Thank goodness for Skype, right?!

So… tell me something boutchaself…  

loyally,
katie 

Recovery

My heart is truly touched by all of your continuous well wishes and prayers. I appreciate all of the texts, e-mails, letters, and phone calls so many of you have given me. I will forever be grateful.
While I really want to express and share a lot more with you, I need a little more time to collect my thoughts and put them into words.
BUT! I will say, I am doing so.much.better. 
 Like 180 better!
Now for the good stuff…. 
I’m sure y’all are really curious to see how much Emmy has grown!
Until next time (and I promise it won’t be so long!) I leave you with this beautiful quote:
“Build on your hope, one day at a time,
Though the road be steep and hard to climb. 
The hurts of the past–they should be dead.
The fears of the future are all in your head.
Just live in the present and refuse to mope.
Your life will sparkle for you’re living in hope.”
God Bless,
Katie