Enter the Beast – Postpartum Depression/Anxiety

I was dealing with a lot of un-diagnosed physical issues after Little Monkey was born so his first few months of life were a bit of blur. However, the one thing that remains crystal clear was hitting a point halfway between 6 weeks and 7 weeks postpartum and feeling like I had walked into a brick wall. A fog descended, I felt emotionally and mentally detached in a really disturbing way. Thankfully I was seeing a therapist weekly so I was able to get the help I needed. I do remember calling my therapist at one point and telling her that I was beginning to have a need to hurt myself just to feel something. She got me in for an appointment that very afternoon and we talked through everything running through my head. I think part of the reason for how bad things got was because Little Monkey’s birth was pretty traumatic for me, and I didn’t realize that until months afterwards. Because of a very clear onset of my postpartum depression after Little Monkey, I started preparing for ppd this time around 6 weeks pp (postpartum), and sure enough, I hit 7 weeks and enter the beast.

The past 8 months have been nothing but buckle down and fight forward with all of my might and then keep going when I have nothing left to fight with. I thought I would have an extra month between when finishing my lists to when Little Bear was going to arrive. I had planned to take those last four weeks to really take care of myself and make sure I had some energy and mental rest stored up. Even though that’s what I told myself, I knew even then that I wasn’t going to get a full last month. I just hadn’t expected to not get any of that time. As things are in a calm spot right now, the craziness of the past 8 months is catching up to me. Two weeks ago, Phil had a breakdown and I realized that we both have been barely holding it together. We’re holding each other up and giving each other safe spaces to process everything, but we’re both falling and I’ve known that unless we both got individual care and help, we weren’t going to make it much longer. The very next day I found a therapist’s name from our insurance company’s list and I called and set up a first appointment a few days later. Phil’s going to do the same. While our relationship is continuing to gain strength and is actually stronger than it was a year ago, everything with Little Bear is enough to wear anyone down. We both need individual care and that’s what we’re going to do.

I have learned, mainly a self-preservation technique, to shut my mind down and let my body relax and to let go any guilt that I’m not doing “enough” around the house. I know I am functioning the best that I can, and even if that means that I spend a few hours a day on the couch with Little Bear mindlessly binge watching a movie, then that’s okay. Letting my body relax is the only way that I am functioning still despite the lack of sleep at night. But even this small hold on functionality is slipping.

Four years ago today I walked into a therapist’s office for the first time ever in my 22 years of life. When asked why I was there, I simply responded, “I just need help.” I spent two years with that therapist and since moving halfway across the country two years ago, I have remained in contact with my now mentor/friend. Those two years taught me how to cope with my constant up and down depression, but the past 8 months since finding out something was wrong with my baby have brought up things that I know I can’t do on my own. The pain of having a child needing extra care is more than I think I can safely carry. That being said, I am going to be asking my new therapist tomorrow her advice about going on meds. I am not okay with not feeling okay and I need to be fully functioning if I’m going to be fighting with doctors to make sure Little Bear gets the best care possible.

I promised at the beginning of this blog that I would be honest, so here’s me being honest.

I. Am. Not. Okay.

And that is okay. I do not feel guilty for not feeling okay. I know the things that have occurred over the past 8 months since that October day when I was told “something is wrong with your baby” have been more than any person can bear and still be mentally intact. I know postpartum depression is a bitch of a beast and it’s taken out some amazing people. I have watched other moms around me struggle with PPD and some of them have almost lost the fight. I have watched this culture become more aware of the battle torn fields of PPD and PPA (postpartum anxiety). I, myself, broke chains surrounding my own depression a few years ago and started speaking up about it; trying to bring it in to the open and make it a more normal topic of conversation.

I have never taken meds for my depression, but this time I am willing to take that step. I am afraid of being “out of control” of my mind, but here’s the thing; I already am out of control. I know most of what I’m feeling (or not feeling) is because of chemical imbalances and hormones still out of whack.

If you’re struggling with depression, specifically postpartum depression, please get yourself help? Heck, if you just can’t pick up the phone and make a phone call, ask your partner to do it for you, or a friend. Simply having someone to talk to is a safe place to start when managing your postpartum depression/anxiety. The next step is determining whether you need meds or not. And please know there is no shame or guilt in that! We live in a culture where the needing of medicine to function is not looked kindly upon. But I think that mindset is slowly changing as more and more people are talking about how things like anxiety medicines are helping them feel more like themselves and like they can function.

So here’s to facing the beast and killing the beast. I am struggling to stay afloat and not completely shut down. I am pulling out my weapons and preparing to fight tooth and nail if I have to. My boys need me, I need me, and I am going to get the help I need.

Postpartum Essentials

My Little Bear will be a month old tomorrow and that’s a little crazy to me! It feels like his first month of life earth-side has alternately flown by and taken forever. While I’m now a month into postpartum healing and adjusting, I figured it is time to write about the things that I have found increasingly helpful during this first month.

Okay, first off, let’s talk about c-section recovery and the things that helped me the most with that. I’m grateful that Children’s gave me something call an “ON-Q” pump which administered pain/numbing agents directly into my incision for the first 48 hours. That little pump that clipped to whatever I was wearing was the most amazing little device ever. I even had a little difficulty letting my nurse take the pump out even though it was empty at the end of those first 48 hours! I am convinced because of that little pump, my first 48 hours were not as bad as I thought they’d be pain wise. Beyond the pain pump, my next course of action to maintain comfort was clothing. I hadn’t been really sure what to pack clothing wise so I picked things that I usually found comfortable and didn’t place much if any pressure on my lower abdomen.

I did pack two pairs of yoga pants, but those were a little difficult to wear the first few days as they kept falling and sitting right where the pressure was uncomfortable. I brought two of these night gowns (I have slowly collected about 6 pairs from Target over the past 3 years).

Nursing Chemise

(Just a note: the nightgowns I have aren’t nursing, but they’re identical to these in length and top design…I’d highly recommend the nursing ones or even the longer ones Target now has in stock. The ones I own have been all I need at night and I haven’t need a night time nursing bra)

I had done some research prior to packing my hospital bag about postpartum clothes/pants and discovered three different pairs of leggings. Two are specifically designed for postpartum wear and the third pair is merely highwaisted. The first pair I got is from Blanqi. These leggings are marketed as highwaisted + nursing leggings. The reason for “nursing” is the idea that you can lift your shirt up to nurse and still be covered and have your belly supported. I got these leggings during their 50% off sale around Black Friday. When they arrived, I was unsure if they were actually going to fit me, but was pleasantly surprised that even while still pregnant, I could comfortably pull them on. They were a little snug around my pregnant belly, but I felt comfortable hanging on to them for postpartum wear.

Blanqi Highwaist Postpartum + Nursing Support leggings

Now that I am not pregnant, am now nursing and am dealing with postpartum recovery, I have a slightly different opinion about these leggings. They still fit comfortably, however, they are really long. Being only 5′ 1″ myself, I found the excess material bunching up around my thighs or knees to be a bit annoying. I am also quite short waisted, so pulling these leggings up as high as they’re supposed to go means they go all the way past the very bottom of my rib cage. I would definitely recommend them for someone a lot taller!

The second pair of leggings I have are from Navel.

The Navel Pant

I actually wore these while still pregnant and absolutely loved them. The material they’re made from is thick but not too thick. They’re warm in colder weather, but I haven’t felt overheated in them yet. Granted, I have yet to experience Spring/Summer temps yet, so I can’t give a good opinion on that quite yet. These leggings do come with an additional insert that adds extra support beyond the top of the leggings themselves. These were in my hospital bag and I found them to be extremely uncomfortable during those first 4 days postpartum. They were a little too “snug” around my belly, and I found I still needed loose clothing for a little while longer. However, once I got home, and got a little more active, especially with driving back and forth to the NICU every day during that second week postpartum, I found these leggings to be exactly what I needed. There is still a tiny issue of them being made for someone slightly taller than myself, but I don’t even notice the extra material anymore and I wear these leggings several times a week.

Okay the third pair was a random guess at a special deal the company was having for pre-ordering their leggings. I’m talking about the Girlfriend Collective leggings. They are no longer available until the whole line releases in a few more months. But, I will say these were and still are my total go-to leggings. They’re just as well made as the Navel pants and I’m excited about having good quality leggings that will last me for along time!

As far as tops and such, I had gotten several nursing camisoles and wore those non-stop during the first two weeks once I had been released from the hospital. While I was still in the hospital, I used this night time nursing bra the entire time because it was the most comfortable around my shrinking yet very sore rib cage.

Mirity Womens Seamless nursing bra

This bra is extremely soft and comfortable! I wore this with my nightgowns and a few tunic tops I had brought with me to the hospital. I have only worn it a few times since getting home, but it’s hanging out in the back of my drawer when I need some plain old comfort.

Okay, let’s talk about underwear for a minute. I had heard from several people that highwaisted underwear was 100% the way to go with underwear choices after a c-section. I hemmed and hawed about getting highwaisted underwear and finally decided on these instead. I tried a few pairs of highwaisted underwear and oh my, NOT for me.

Intimate Portal Women Under the Bump Maternity Panties Pregnancy Underwear

I got these several months ago and found them so comfortable especially while pregnant. I brought a few pairs to the hospital to wear once the bleeding had slowed (and I wasn’t wearing the mesh panties), and I am so glad I did. These hit perfectly just below my incision and not once rubbed against it or caught on the steri-strips or scabs. In fact, I loved these so much, I ordered a second set once I got home! (Sooo, I now have 10 pairs – I got both sets of 5 pairs) I highly highly highly recommend them for c-section recovery. Especially for those who can’t stand highwaisted underwear (like me).

Alright, so, moving on. I had an idea of what I would like or what worked for me when dealing with night time feedings with Little Monkey, so I was able to plan accordingly for Little Bear. I had relied on my cell phone flashlight for those middle of the night feedings. While that had worked with Little Monkey, I remember feeling frustrated and blinded by the flashlight several times. I did some research and found this light on Amazon and am so so glad I kept it on my registry!

Tumbler LED night light

However, I just discovered this light is now unavailable! If it does ever come back in stock, definitely grab it. It has been so incredibly helpful getting up with Little Bear in the middle of the night. It gives off just enough light to comfortably see but not enough to feel blinded and it’s a very soft yellow light.

Those are my recommendations for postpartum necessities! I’ll create an additional post later if I think of other things. Right now, Little Bear is crying for his food and I have Little Monkey anxiously telling me that Little Bear is crying.

Bringing Little Bear Home

“Expect him to be here for 6 weeks,” they told me when he was first born. It was 6 weeks till his original due date, exactly 4 weeks till his scheduled c-section date. Knowing my Little Bear as I do, I expected maybe 4 weeks in the NICU instead of the full 6 weeks.

However, I walked in one day a week and a half after his birth and his nurses told me that they wanted to switch him to something called ad lib feeding. This meant that instead of having him on a strict feeding schedule, they would let him wake up on his own. He would have a minimum of how much milk he had to take, but he could eat as much as he wanted. I told one of my favorite nurses that when she stopped by to say hi. Her response suddenly brought the reality of getting to bring him a lot closer. She was happy yet upset that they were switching him to ad lib feedings. She said that this meant that we probably wouldn’t be there when she came back to work next week! In other words, if he could gain weight and wake himself up to eat at reasonable intervals, then that was a HUGE step towards going home. I already know that otherwise, they were pretty happy with his progress, especially considering he was only a week and a half old.

Two days later, they told me that he was starting to lose weight. This merely meant that they could up the amount of caloric supplement they were putting in his bottles and see if that would make a difference. As that potential discharge day drew closer, I scrambled around at home when I was there, trying to make sure we had everything ready. Little Bear had started developing and had developed an awful diaper rash. Because of the nerve damage, he (I guess, thankfully…for my nerves’ sake) couldn’t feel the rash very much. But, it was getting to the point of broken and badly chapped skin. I wanted to make sure we had a game plan for things to use at home to help protect his butt. The next day (now, February 9th) I was told he had gained back not only everything he had lost but had doubled that! My little chubby bear was suddenly putting on weight and sucking down bottles like there was no tomorrow.

I began checking items off the discharge list. I learned how to cath Little Bear, I took over diaper changes when I was at the NICU, I took over feeding and general care whenever I was with him in person. The next day, Phil’s birthday, we were told that Little Bear had passed his car seat test with flying colors. My Little Bear was flying towards discharge and he wasn’t even two weeks old yet. And they had warned me to expect him to be in the NICU for 6 weeks.

I’m going to dive into the whole emotional side of things in another post, but for now, it was hard preparing for him to come home. Now that I knew he would be coming home, I wanted him home so badly. The exhaustion of driving 30 minutes each way every day to see him was starting to push me down. I wasn’t going to be able to handle making that drive for much longer. Even though I wanted him home, fear of being sent home without a shunt, him being on oxygen still, and just general teeny tiny baby fears started popping up to hover just behind me. The nurses have to tell you what to look forward if your baby starts not being able to breathe. They have to tell you what to look for when your baby’s head suddenly can’t handle the amount of fluid building up. Here’s my champion of a baby, getting ready to head home, but still with so many things I’ll have to watch for, so many things that could go wrong.

Oh, and then add in normal baby things. I’m grateful Little Bear is my second child. AND he is a lot like his older brother was as a baby. Which helps a lot with not freaking out about things that would have concerned me as a first time mom. But still. I felt at times like I was bringing home a ticking time bomb.

Little Bear was discharged with Neurology’s blessing on February 13th, 2017. He was 13 days old, weighing in at 5lbs 5oz and while he was still on oxygen, I knew that he would be okay if he was off oxygen for a little while. Thanks to a test his nurse and I had done the day before, I now knew exactly when he really needed the oxygen and that he did well all other times. That drive home was a little rough. My teeny tiny infant looked like a miniature baby doll in his huge car seat. I sat in the back seat and worried the entire time at every jostle of his head. I wondered if we had everything ready at home and then laughed because I knew whether we did or not, we would know for sure by that evening. We pulled in to home, Little Monkey being at a friend’s house, and walked in the door, the first time Little Bear was home and not in my belly. I sensed an immediate relaxing from Little Bear as I pulled him out of his car seat. He seemed at ease in a way he hadn’t been at the NICU. It would definitely take a few days before things would settle into a sort of new normal routine. But he was home, and in a few short hours, my little family of four was home, in the same place and all together.

The Arrival of Little Bear – Part 3

(Parts One & Two)

The day of my discharge had arrived. Saturday morning began with me heading over to the NICU again at 4:30am. I needed to see Little Bear and know he was still doing good. I discovered this scene when I walked into his room. img_4225

Because he had a little bit of jaundice they had him under lights. Now that he no longer had to be on his tummy, he slept so much more comfortably and was so happy to sleep on his side. His contentment made me feel a little bit more at ease knowing he was happy and well taken care of.

I headed back to my room an hour later, I was ready to be discharged. I needed to be in my own bed at night, but as I had stood there watching my baby peacefully sleeping, I started to feel an inkling of what it was going to be like later that day to leave him behind as I went home. I had had difficulty the night before trying to get a letdown with my pump. I tried three times over three hours, and was finally able to get a letdown and got a ton of milk. But I was stressing out, worrying that I wouldn’t able to make pumping work and I wouldn’t be able to give Little Bear my milk. I can now say that since getting home and getting my Freemie cups set up, I haven’t had a single issue since about getting a letdown and have been producing more than enough milk. According to the milk lab at the NICU, I currently have just over 100 ounces of milk stored in the freezer. And that doesn’t include what I’ve brought in the past two days!

Phil showed up with Little Monkey around lunch time. I slowly and carefully pulled my wagon (Children’s has red Radio Flyer wagons all over the place to use for transporting things to and from rooms in the hospital) down to the main lobby to meet them. I started feel a panic creeping towards me. I was leaving my baby upstairs. I was tired, achy, and my heart was splitting. Not breaking, just splitting. I was leaving half of myself in that little room. We drove away from the hospital and somehow I managed to keep from breaking down entirely.

Getting home was an interesting adventure. It was then I realized what I had caught glimpses of back at the hospital. I had been waiting for some part of me to have a breakdown especially with how honestly traumatic it was to go into labor and four hours later hear my son be born from the other side of a curtain. I knew it would catch up with me at some point. And when I got home after being discharged, it did. I had been coping through a need to have everything in order, carefully put in its place. And getting home, things weren’t. Things weren’t a big mess, but I didn’t have my normal comfortable space. I had left rather hurriedly that night, and came home to evidence still from our dash out the door. I shut myself in the bathroom and turned the shower as hot as I could stand, climbed in, and just sobbed and let the water wash away the feelings I needed to release. I had left my tiny baby at the hospital, I had had no more than three hours to prepare for his arrival barely 5 days before, I had had no more than three hours to prepare for my belly to be cut into to safely remove my child. I suppose in hindsight, the lack of time we were given has mostly played to our advantage. We didn’t have time to stress or worry over the scheduled c-section. We were just shaken up and thrown across the board, left to play with whatever chance gave us.

I was eager to go back to the hospital the next morning. My baby shower was the following afternoon, but I knew the morning was going to be the only time I would have to go to the hospital on Sunday. I felt an instant release of tension as soon as I walked into Little Bear’s room once I got to the hospital. My recovery prevented me from running down the halls to his room, otherwise I just tried to hurriedly shuffle. It did my mama’s heart good to see him. Phil and Little Monkey came to pick me up from the hospital to drop me off at the baby shower. As I was leaving, I asked the gal at the front desk in the NICU about having Little Monkey cleared so he could go meet his brother. She said she would call the charge nurse right then and he could get cleared right then and there. I was a little shocked at how quickly and easily it was done! Little Monkey was cleared in less than five minutes, and we were on our way back to Little Bear’s room so the brothers could meet. Because of the flu/cold season restrictions, kids under the age of 13 aren’t even allowed on the same floor as the NICU. But Little Monkey was cleared and he got to meet his brother. It wasn’t how I expected the first meeting to be, but I’m glad Little Monkey got to at least see his brother and Little Bear didn’t have as many wires or tubes attached to him. It will be interesting when Little Bear gets to come home for sure.

As I had stopped taking narcotics on Saturday morning, I drove myself to the hospital on Monday this past week. I did a test drive to the Target 5 minutes up the road on Sunday night to pick up my insurance breast pump. I felt achy in my hips when I got home, but no pain or pulling around my incision. I had asked my surgeon before I got discharged what her perimeters were for when I could drive again. Her only things were I had to be off narcotics and didn’t feel any discomfort while driving. So I did it. I drove to the hospital by myself, felt good when I got there (wiped out when I got home later that day) and I felt like I was getting a chance to mentally recover with the almost hour I was spending in the car driving back and forth. Tuesday the nurses told me that they wanted to start switching Little Bear to something called Ad Lib feedings. Basically, this meant that he was gaining enough weight and showing enough interest in eating that they wanted to see if he could wake himself up to eat instead of having his feedings scheduled.

Little Bear has been taking to nursing so much better than I expected him to. Granted, it’s such a comfort thing for him that he ends up falling asleep a lot faster than if he was chowing down on a bottle. But still, I laid him on my lap yesterday to nurse and he immediately started crying and rooting around with him mouth and latched right away. I realized that he knew what was coming and wanted it. When I walked in to his room on Wednesday, I was met with a happy nurse waiting to tell me that he was doing extremely well with ad lib feedings! He wasn’t having any issues waking himself up to eat every three-ish hours. The only thing they were concerned about now was that he was losing a little bit of weight. So we upped the amount of supplement he was getting in his bottles and I hoped that on Thursday I would hear good news about him having gained weight. As I showed up Thursday, I ran through my usual list of questions with the nurse, and found out my little boy had gained back not only what he had lost but double! All he had needed was that doubled dose of supplement added to his milk! Way to go, Little Bear, and he has been steadily gaining since.

I had planned to spend a good part of Thursday afternoon/evening at the NICU but within an hour of being there, I felt suddenly overwhelmed and just needed to leave. Little Bear was in good hands, I didn’t need to worry about him. However, the two babies across the hall from him were in bad shape. I overheard the doctors and nurses reassuring the parents of the one baby over and over that they had done the right thing bringing the baby in and it wasn’t their fault. It’s easy to forget that the NICU is not a “safe” place to be. The NICU is where sick babies go, the babies who need that extra bit of help, the babies who may not make it, or who may, but time is the only deciding factor. I knew Little Bear was in the best hands possible, so I left after only two hours of being there. I told his nurse I just needed to be able to breathe and get some rest. So I drove to Walmart, used my gift card to get some things for myself and some baby items in preparation of Little Bear coming home.

I was told Wednesday that Little Bear would most likely be discharged this coming weekend. Then his head measurement changed a little too much for the neurosurgeon’s comfort and they moved that to Monday. We’ll find out some time on Monday whether or not that is really the day Little Bear will be coming home. They’re prepping everything like that’s when he will be discharged. We have been given his first oxygen tank to take him home on, I have gotten call after call from home medical supply companies about catheters, oxygen, and other such things Jamie will need when we get home. Phil and I have been steadily cleaning, rearranging, and getting everything we need for being able to bring Jamie home. It has honestly been really helpful having two weeks of time to rest and recover without the inevitable difficulties of adjusting to a newborn at the same time. I feel like when he finally comes home, we will all be ready for him and not feeling like we’re struggling to just find a spot of solid ground to stand on.

I apologize if this post seems a little lacking of details. I’m now at the point where the little details are starting to fade, but I still can remember most of the broader details! A lot of other little things happened day to day with Little Bear. Mostly things like having taken all of his bottles with relish and consistently waking himself when he needs to eat. Or other things like he’s now on the lowest level of oxygen and potentially won’t be on the oxygen very long once he comes home. I want to write a post at some point here about what it’s been like being a Preemie/NICU mom. It’s been a lot more emotional than I expected and I get a lot more things now when I’ve ready posts and sayings about being a NICU mom.

Prepping For Little Bear – Freezer Meals –

Wednesday was my freezer meal day. I knew I was going to be absolutely exhausted after making all of the recipes, and I was, but it was one of those things I really wanted/needed to get done. I spent a few hours last month coming up with a list of the recipes I wanted to make and then the accompanying grocery list. It almost felt “too easy” once I had put everything together! I think planning out freezer meals is one of those things that once you sit down to actually do it, it’s relatively easy to put together. However, it is quite daunting even thinking about doing it!

So, what I want to do is explain my process, the tools I used, and then why I picked the recipes I did.

** I will say, as a side note, that I did do some freezer meals before Little Monkey was born. I realize now that I didn’t prepare very well for those freezer meals, nor did I plan out the recipes well either. In all honesty, we ended up throwing out 70% of the meals I made because they either a. didn’t freeze well and tasted weird when we reheated/cooked them and b. I didn’t know I/we had any food intolerance and most of those recipes included ingredients that didn’t sit well with us. **

Okay, pulling from my previous experiences with freezer meals, I set out looking for recipes that I knew would freeze well. Here’s what I mean about that; any recipe that includes products like a dough or flour aren’t typically going to freeze well. Unless you have enough moisture/liquid in the recipe, you will be stuck with a really dried out meal by the time you reheat it or cook it. Some of the things that will freeze well are soups, chilis, burritos (oddly enough), and SOME casseroles. Again, it really depends on how much liquid you can put in or the recipe calls for. Another food item that I’ve noticed freezes really poorly is rice. Which is why I removed a chicken, broccoli, and rice dish from my list because every single freezer meal I have ever eaten that consisted of a base of rice was horribly dried out and tasteless. (I do have one recipe that has cooked rice, but I felt like there was enough moisture/liquid in the recipe to compensate for the dryness of the rice. I also have two recipes with GF noodles, so I’m kind of going against my own advice…we’ll see how it reheats though!)

As usual, I turned to trusty ol’ Pinterest for my recipes. I researched specifically “Gluten Free Freezer Meals” as well as quick and easy freezer meals. I ended up on one of my favorite mom blogs called Diary of a Fit Mommy. I have a lot of posts from her saved on various boards on my Pinterest and I like her style of writing. When I stumbled upon her freezer meals post, I found that almost all of the recipes were simple, easy to put together, AND the most important thing, would freeze well. [Here’s the link to that post] I have one recipe I’m not sure where I found, I didn’t save the link, but the rest of my recipes came from that blog post. The ones that weren’t specifically GF, I modified to work for our dietary restrictions.

As a pregnant mama and with a rambunctious toddler at home, I looked around at our local stores and found that I could get a pretty decent deal having Walmart deliver the groceries instead of shopping for them myself. Also, I found that Walmart’s prices were not only cheaper than the local grocery store, but the choices of Gluten Free products far outweighed the local store too. I am not sure if Walmart Grocery is something available every where, but if it is, I highly recommend it for busy moms who don’t feel like traipsing around the grocery store with squirming kids.

Now, without further adieu, here’s my list of recipes and grocery list.

Recipes

Cheesy Taco Bake –

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 20 oz lean ground beef
  • Green pepper,chopped
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 T Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • ½ tsp Thyme
  • 2 tsp cuminhow we budgeted for the groceries and then 
  • 1/3 cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9X13 baking dish with EVOO, set aside.
  2. Boil brown rice in water on stovetop. Set aside
  3. In a 12” pan, spray with EVOO or cooking spray, add onion & garlic & sauté over medium-high heat for 1 minute.
  4. Add ground beef, breaking it up as it browns. Cook for about 5 minutes & add peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.
  5. Add lime juice and seasonings. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Remove from heat – add rice, tomato sauce, & 1/4 cup of cheese to the skillet and stir to mix well.
  7. Pour mixture into baking dish. Top with remaining Cheddar, cover, and freeze.
  8. To cook while frozen, cover with foil & bake for 40 minutes.
  9. Remove foil & bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted & edges are bubbling. Remove from oven & let cool for 10 minutes.

NOTE: I added more cheese and seasonings to this recipe before I put it in the freezer. I made sure to taste as I went because there is nothing worse than a bland casserole! Feel free to adapt or change the seasonings as you like. I used a rather large pan (ordered the wrong size) but this is an easy recipe to split between two 9×9 disposable casserole containers and will feed at least three people per container.

Tuscan Chicken Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 (16oz) box of bowtie pasta
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • ½ tablespoon dried basil
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces
  • 8-ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste, if needed
  • 1 cup of chicken, cooked and cubed (I used three and a half chicken breasts, cooked in the oven)

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the whole time. Stir in the dried basil. Add the cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. It will look curdled at first, but with constant whisking for 2-3 minutes, it will become a smooth creamy paste. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes.
  2. Over medium heat, add the milk and whisk quickly and constantly until it becomes into the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the desired consistency, 5-10 minutes. Serve over hot, cooked noodles. I put my chicken on top, or you can mix it in. You actually don’t even need chicken you don’t want it!
  3. When making them into freezer meals – put the noodles and sauce into two 9×9 foil tins. Wait until it cools down a little, place foil on top, and stick in the freezer.
  4. To cook when frozen: Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until heated through
  5. To cook when frozen but then thawed: Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through.

NOTE: I found the sauce created a lot more than I thought it would, so I split it between two pans. Combined with the chicken, noodles, and sauce, I don’t think I ever would have been able to fit the entire dish into one pan! I also put mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top of the dishes as well to melt when it’s time to cook them up.

Freezer Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 boxes elbow pasta
  • 3/4 a stick of butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • Stir together, then add:
  • 16 oz mozzerella cheese
  • 16 oz cheddar cheese
  • Add some salt and pepper to taste and stir well.

Instructions:

  • Cook elbow macaroni noodles as directed, drain and rinse and return to pot.
  • Add remaining ingredients to the pot and stir well until cheese is melted.
  • Spray a foil pan {these are so much cheaper if you buy them in bulk} with cooking spray and dump the pasta mixture in. You can freeze it at this point if you want to deliver it frozen.
  • Bake at 350 for 1/2 an hour to 45 minutes {if this is frozen it will probably need to cook longer}

NOTE: I used 2 boxes of elbow pasta and probably about 2/3s the amount of cheese the recipe called for. I have already defrosted/cooked one of the pans of this recipe and it actually cooked up well, the noodles weren’t too dry, and Little Monkey actually ate it, which is a big plus.

Pepperjack Chicken Taquitos

Ingredients:

  • 8oz. cream cheese
  • 3 c. chicken, cooked & shredded
  • 1.5 c. shredded pepperjack cheese
  • 1 6oz. can green chilies or 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 20 small tortillas
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Instructions:

  1. Melt cream cheese in a bowl. Mix in the spices, lime juice, chilies (or salsa), chicken, and cheese.
  2. Add 2 tbsp. of mixture to each tortillas and roll.
  3. To freeze, place on wax paper on a cookie cheet and stick in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from cookie sheet and place in a ziplocked gallon bag.
  5. When ready to cook, bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

NOTE: okay, so I tried something that didn’t work with this recipe. I put almost all the ingredients in the crockpot to let the chicken cook down so I could shred it. It worked well for the chicken, but there was so much juice from the chicken that I lost the rest of the cream cheese and such. I then followed the recipe otherwise after that and mixed a new set of ingredients together to make the taquitos. I used small corn tortillas and when I tried rolling the taquitos with the tortillas warmed, I found that they didn’t crack, and when I cooked a few up in the oven, I was pleasantly surprised to find them quite tasty and not at all soggy or bland from the corn tortillas!

(SLOW COOKER) Maple Dijon Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed.
  2. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours). Sprinkle with fresh or dried rosemary for serving.
  3. Serve over rice

NOTE: I used whole ground mustard instead of Dijon mustard…well, I used up the rest of the Dijon mustard I had in the fridge (about 1/4 cup) and then the rest was the whole ground mustard.


Chunky Beef Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 2lbs ground beef
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 1.5 cups onion
  • 1 packet chili seasoning mix

Instructions:

  1. Brown beef on stovetop and mix in remaining ingredients.
  2. Place in freezer bag to freeze.
  3. To cook, thaw and place in crockpot on low for 4-6 hours.
  4. Serve with sour cream, chips, and cheese to melt on top

NOTE: I modified this recipe as well. I added a second cup of water as well as some of my homemade taco seasoning as I found the finished product was still too bland. I will probably need to add a bunch more salt and seasoning when I cook the meal up at a later time. I also split the chili up into two gallon freezer bags so that’s two plus meals right there. I also added a can of black beans as well.

Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1 c. teriyaki sauce
  • 1 c. water
  • 2/3 c. light brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ginger slices
  • 1 can pineapple chunks
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly

Instructions:

  1. Add contents to freezer bag and place in freezer. Make sure to get rid of any extra air in the bag.
  2. To cook, thaw and dump contents in crockpot and cook for 4-6 hours on low.

NOTE: This is the recipe I made the most modifications too. The original recipe did not call for the last three ingredients. I added the can of pineapple tidbits, sliced red onions, and chopped green peppers. Also, when the chicken has been cooked fully in the crockpot, I recommend removing the chicken and adding 1 tablespoon of cornstarch/water to the sauce left and letting that thicker to serve over the chicken and rice.

Grocery List

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Meats

1 bag frozen chicken thighs
1 large package of fresh chicken breasts (the package was roughly 4.75 lbs)
4 chubs ground beef
1 large bag cheddar
2 bags mozzarella
1 bag pepper jack
2 bag parmesan cheese
4 8oz packages cream cheese (came in two packs)

Pasta/Grains

1 bag jasmine rice (I didn’t end up needing this bag of rice as I already had rice in my pantry, but it is nice to have as I now won’t have to buy rice for awhile!)
1 box rotini pasta (Walmart was out of this pasta, so I picked up a box of GF penne pasta)
2 boxes elbow pasta
20 corn tortillas

Seasonings

1 packet chili seasoning (Walmart carries GF non-GMO chili seasoning packets)
1 bottle maple syrup
1 bottle whole ground mustard
1 8oz jar sun dried tomatoes

Fresh/Canned

1 bunch of cilantro
2 green peppers
1 can green chilis
1 bag of red onions

Containers

5 disposable foil pans

Already have – 1 can pinto beans, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can tomato sauce, 2 cans tomato paste, 2 onions, spices

Alright, I changed up my grocery list several times, so my original list is a little outdated. I forgot to add the pineapple chunks to the walmart order, so I had to run to the grocery store to get those before I started my cooking. Beyond that, everything else that isn’t on the list are ingredients I already had in my pantry. I’d say that with taking my time to keep on top of dishes and make sure I did each recipe correctly, it took me about 5 hours to put together all of the recipes. Now if you had multiple people helping, possibly a slightly bigger kitchen, and probably more energy, that time could be cut in half. However, that length of time included taking a break for lunch, playing with Little Monkey every so often, and washing dishes between recipes so I didn’t use ALL of my pots and pans and that meant that by the end of the cooking, my kitchen wasn’t a total mess!

So that’s basically how I made 7 recipes, have 12+ meals in the freezer, and did all of that for roughly $100. Feel free to ask questions or let me know your tricks for doing freezer meals!

 

1 1/2 Months Left

The reality of us becoming a four person family is starting to feel so much more real as I now have a tentative date for our little bear’s arrival. We’re only waiting on the neurosurgeon who wants to be the one to do his back closure surgery. But for now, the date of his arrival is February 27th. And that date is 45 days away. Roughly 6 1/2 weeks. And I know that time is going to FLY by.

I have another growth scan this past Tuesday, as well as a delivery planning meeting, and a tour of the recovery suites as well as the NICU. Even though I feel the shadow of what’s coming quietly waiting and peering over my shoulder, I am grateful that it is obvious how much Children’s knows what they’re doing. It felt simple and straight forward. Of course when the day arrives and he is actually here, things could get rather crazy depending on how he is doing. But, beyond the things that we can’t control, the things we can are solid, comforting, and I feel safe putting myself into the specialists’ hands.

Little bear is continuing to hold steady. I’m just shy of 32 weeks, and while this is when a baby’s brain starts major development, his brain is holding is steady. The measurements of the fluid in his brain are the exact same as they were a month ago, and the doctors continue to be quite pleased with how he’s doing. It’s always a little nerve-wracking going in for the ultrasounds now. Just that worry of are they going to find anything else wrong? Will things have changed really drastically? Little bear is keeping up his previous habits of constant movement, and that makes me breathe a little easier. Even though his movements are changing, thanks to seriously running out of room in there, he still moves the same amount. He is still constantly shifting, responding to our/my touch, voices, and noises around me. We got to see his feet in 3D on Tuesday. Oh my goodness, his little feet and little toes are so adorable and the pictures makes it seem like you can just reach out and stroke the sole of his foot.

While touring the NICU I felt like I had a better image in my mind of how staying there is going to look. The recovery suites where I’ll be admitted are on the same floor as the NICU, and I will easily have access between the two clinics. It is a little dizzying to realize that I’ll be admitted and will be staying at that hospital in just a few short weeks. Last night, with the full moon, and most of yesterday during the day, I was kept awake all night with painful contractions and serious pelvic pressure. Nothing was ever close enough or possibly I wasn’t awake enough to time or feel overly concerned. But. Still. There is one more full moon between now and the end of February, and I am going to make for darn sure that my hospital bag is packed and on standby by that next full moon!

It was also strangely reassuring to see how parents had really made those NICU rooms their own. Bringing in their own blankets, bags, comforts from home. I got permission to bring the humidifier/diffuser I recently acquired, and I’m looking forward to making our spaces at the hospital a little bit more cozy. We still don’t know how long little bear will be in the NICU. That’s something we simply won’t know until he’s here and we can see how he’s doing with eating and recovering from his surgery. We do know however that I will most likely be admitted for 5 days. So that’s one thing we can count on.

A lot of little details and things still need to be worked out, but seriously folks, things are coming together and it’s a little crazy that this all happening so soon! No after the holidays slump over here!

This next week is when I will be putting together the freezer meals, so I’ll make sure to document that and then share what I decided to do as far as recipes! I feel like I have a good mix of comfort food and “healthy” food. And all of them are gluten free too. I tried out one of the recipes (slightly modifying it from a crockpot recipe to oven) last night for dinner and it was a big hit!

The days are counting down and while it can feel like time is dragging every so often, it really is flying by. Little bear will be here before we know it and then the controlled chaos starts!

And So It Begins…Here Comes 2017

This New Year is bringing a lot of feels with it this year. We’re down to less than 60 days before little bear gets here, and the reality of that is starting to sink in! At my last ultrasound appointment last month, they told me that while they didn’t think things would change too drastically with little bear’s hydrocephalus, but to be prepared as the next 6 weeks is when things could change really quickly. Little bear is still stable, but that could start changing as of next week at my next growth ultrasound.

I’m starting to work on my hospital bag and at the very least have my list of what needs to go in it sitting next to the bag ready to go whenever it’s time. We just spent a week in Texas with family for Christmas, and I made an interesting observation. The higher altitude here in Colorado really does play a significant roll in how many and how strong my braxton hicks contractions are. I didn’t have very many while we were down in Texas, but as soon as we got back home on Friday, the intensity and frequency of my contractions picked up a lot. I’m still a little worried about not being able to make it to the end of February, but we’ll see!

Emotionally I feel like the roller coaster is starting to pick up speed and we’re now on the last few turns. I tend to live day to day all while keeping an eye on the horizon for the next “big” event we have coming. Now that everything is past except for little bear’s arrival, that’s the next big thing, and boy is it big! It’s like seeing those storm clouds coming, knowing they’re going to end up right on top of you, and you feel a mixture of awe and almost fear knowing you can’t escape them. I am feeling about as prepared as I can feel for what’s to come. We have such a strong support group around us and I know we’re only going to make it out of the storm that’s coming because of their support.

I’m not sure how much more I’ll be posting between now and the end of February, but I will definitely post about anything of great interest or a significant update should one come!

Hang in there, the big stuff is still yet to come.

What About When Things Don’t Go Well…

The more I read this book, Push Back by Amy Tuteur, MD, the more I wonder where the moms who haven’t had a good experience with birth, breastfeeding, postpartum depression, and such are. There is so much of a huge focus on the births that go well, the breastfeeding that goes well, and yet the moms who are buried beneath PTSD symptoms from a traumatic birth or “failed” breastfeeding get pushed under the rug.

I had a midwife appointment this past week, and had specifically requested the appointment be with one of the midwives who is also a lactation consultant. I wanted to ask her if she had any advice as to how to prepare for pumping as little bear will most likely not be able to nurse right away. She didn’t have very many tips for me, but she didn’t make me feel bad when I said I was still preparing to possibly not be able to breastfeed. I had a fairly difficult experience with Little Monkey. Sure, I did manage to breastfeed him for 15 months before he weaned himself. But those were hellish 15 months. I developed a nursing aversion in the beginning (like within a week of him being born) that included intense nausea and almost panic attack levels of anxiety every time my milk let down. He was also the kind of baby, and still is that kind of toddler, who absolutely refuses to eat unless he is hungry. This meant a lot of frustrated nursing sessions because I was engorged but he wasn’t ready to eat. Then add in severe back spasms (thanks to an un-diagnosed gallbladder issue) and I couldn’t nurse without severe back pain unless I had good back support. But I kept going, I refused to consider stopping because I was fed that constant narrative that “breast is best.”

Here’s what I want to make clear – yes, breast may be a bit better than formula, but for those of us who live in a first world country with access to good health care, good formula, and who actually get the CHOICE to breastfeed or not, breastfeeding doesn’t trump formula. Feeding your child formula isn’t going to destroy them for life. But there are many narratives that dominate the parenthood/motherhood arena of life that have been set up to make mothers who can’t or choose not to breastfeed feel severely guilty or ashamed. I would be willing to say that I continued breastfeeding Little Monkey to MY detriment. I struggled with a lot of postpartum depression and anxiety for months alongside the difficult breastfeeding. No one told me that it would be okay if I wasn’t able to continue breastfeeding. I cried the day he weaned himself. I didn’t cry because I “lost a bond” I cried from relief. But I had continued because I told myself that Little Monkey and I would lose our bond if I stopped.

This isn’t true though. Just because I fed my child from my breast doesn’t mean our bond wouldn’t have been any different than if I had fed him with a bottle. Think of the adoptive moms, and how they bond with their children while NOT being able to nurse them. That mother/child bond is not dependent on how you feed your child, or how you deliver your child into this world. It is, however, solely based on how much you take care of them. Are you there to make sure they feel safe and can rely on you to be there for them? Are you there to make sure their tummies are full and they have a comfortable place to sleep?

As I am mentally preparing for the possibility of not being able to breastfeed little bear, I am having to fight a HUGE inner battle against self-inflicted shame that that’s not doing what’s best for my baby. Logically I know that I’m going to do what is best for little bear, but holy crap, the shame and guilt I’m having to fight. It’s not good. Granted, I am in a slightly different situation with little bear’s condition. With his probable neurogenic bowel/bladder, breast milk is something that would/could greatly help him. There are options of using donor milk, but my goal is to make sure that if my body simply does not want to participate, then I want to take the shame off me and let him eat formula without any extra guilt on me. This whole pregnancy is teaching me the great importance of making the best decisions for my child AND me regardless of what the culture around me is trying to pressure me to do.

So what happens when it doesn’t go well? Nothing should happen. Nothing being no shaming, no guilt tripping, no making struggling mamas feel bad for not doing such n such. We should instead be supporting mamas for making the best decisions for themselves AND their babies. Did you notice that? I said “…making the best decisions for THEMSELVES.” Too much of the parenthood/motherhood culture builds a cage around mothers making it difficult for them to get the care they need. With postpartum depression on the rise, more mothers losing their lives to that and anxiety, we need to be more aware of helping mothers take care of themselves. Thanks to my amazing therapist, I had the tools to be able to take steps back from being Little Monkey’s mama multiple times because I felt like I was losing myself and losing my mind.

I want to see the narrative change. I want to see mothers hear that having a c-section is okay, that having pain meds during labor is okay, that not being able to or choosing not to breastfeed is okay. We already hear that natural birth is okay, in fact it’s so prevalent that that’s the loudest voice we hear. Hearing that breast is best is also such a loud voice that we don’t hear that not being able to or choosing not to is also okay. While there is nothing wrong with natural birth, I just want to see those advocates support and lift up the mamas who can’t have a natural birth or hey, guess what, choose not to!! No mama is any less or any more for how they bring their children into the world. Nor are they any less or any more for how they provide for their children. The thing that matters is how present you are for that child. How are you going to raise your child? That’s the more important question. Birth, breastfeeding, those are only a drop in the bucket of a child’s life.

 

Pregnant for the Last Time – Third Trimester Thoughts

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I am starting the third trimester today. It feels weird. I don’t remember having this sense of finality with Little Monkey’s pregnancy. This is the last time I will ever be in the third trimester. Sure, I have felt a difference with this pregnancy even from the start, but now it’s really real. I’m starting to daydream about wearing my normal jeans again! But it’s not the desperate daydreaming of a greatly uncomfortable mama. Which is also weird! It’s that daydreaming of knowing I am going to be wearing my regular jeans again and it will be very soon. In other words, it is way easier to accept that pregnancy does not last forever this time around. I still feel mostly comfortable with my body and the changes brought on by pregnancy, just minus the significant shortness of breath I’m starting to deal with. Thanks, little bear, I know I’m short-waisted, but my lungs feel like they’re in my throat!

I remember feeling absolutely exhausted from 30 weeks on when I was pregnant with Little Monkey. His pregnancy was relatively easy on my body (until I hit 32 weeks and started dealing with stronger and stronger braxton hicks that turned into prodromal labor) but it was also filled with that anxious anticipation of being a first time mom. Having grown up with many siblings, and having been a nanny, the practical side of having a baby didn’t scare me at all. It was the emotional side of things! Was I going to be able to connect with him? Haha, yeah, no worries on that front! My Little Monkey never ceases to amaze me at how happy he is and confident to try new things because he knows Mommy and Daddy are right there to help if he needs help. But you never know, right? You never know if things aren’t going to work out the right way.

Being now two thirds done with my second (and last) pregnancy, I don’t have the same worries. Obviously my worries now consist of little bear’s survival and thriving after birth, but that’s a whole other can of worms. This time I am eagerly and nervously looking forward to when I can actually hold him in my arms and I can’t wait for those first few weeks and months of bonding and loving on that little infant. I am not a terribly sentimental person, so the fact that this is my last pregnancy doesn’t weigh as heavy on me as it has and does on others. I am not in any way diminishing the mourning that naturally comes with that last baby, please hear that! This was a choice Phil and I made even before I got pregnant in June, and now with little bear’s diagnosis, that choice has been double, triple confirmed for us.

However, I know this is not how it always goes for those who end up having that last pregnancy. Sometimes, it isn’t their choice, it’s something that has to happen because of health issues that would mean major damage and/or danger to mama and baby if they were to get pregnant again. The choice (whether it was made by you or your body) to not get pregnant again is not easy. We live in a world today that still puts great emphasis on women and their bodies having a sole purpose of bearing children. Please know if this is a choice you have had to make because your body can not handle another pregnancy, no judgment, okay? It is incredibly important to take care of yourself. Even if the choice to not have any more children is a personal choice, still no judgment. Take care of yourself so you can be there for your children as they grow. Mamas are important characters in children’s lives.

This post is kind of following the same lines of my previous post from yesterday. While I have had to mourn many things with this pregnancy, this being my last hasn’t been one of those things. Acknowledging this as my last has been bittersweet, but being pregnant has always made me uneasy and this time things have been super hard on my body physically. Even though this time around has been difficult for my physically, I have savored the lasts. The last positive pregnancy test, the last first ultrasound, the last time getting maternity clothes. This final trimester is a time for savoring the lasts, I think.

So if you are facing your last pregnancy, or already have, take the time to let yourself mourn? Grieve, because that is normal and okay. Write down what you are feeling, or create a memorial of your choosing for your heart. Take care of yourself and love the little ones you may already have. I won’t say be content, because I think there will always be a part of you/me that will miss those beginning days of a pregnancy and then a newborn. But love yourself, give yourself permission to acknowledge that hard decision! Do not shame yourself if your body has failed. That is not something any of us can control. Be proud of your body for what it has already accomplished.

I guess if I were to leave anything at the end of this post it would be this; us as mamas have a obligation to ourselves to take care of our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls. That obligation comes from being an individual person/being BEFORE you are mama. I am feeling nostalgic as I’m starting this third trimester, and I know that’s going to present as depression and a lot of looking back. Because of that I am preparing even now for those darker days and the days when I need to remind myself this is not my fault. Take care of yourselves, mamas, you need you and so do your families.

**I will write more about depression and Postpartum Depression/anxiety another time as that is a topic I am paying a lot of attention to as I prepare for the final countdown to little bear’s birth

Shame, Guilt, “Natural?” – one mama’s opinions

It amazes me some times about just how absolutely terrible other moms can be. That’s the biggest reason I avoid comments on posts that deal with a potentially controversial mama topic. But since watching my entire birth plan dreams and hopes shift entirely, I’ve become aware of another part of the shaming mom community (yes, I do think this is a real thing, unfortunately!) that deals with the whole world of c-sections.

Now, cesarean sections are beginning to be a huge focus on mine because well, guess what, I’m having one. And while, I’ll be honest, hearing fellow mamas having had one in the past made me feel a little judgmental. Mainly, I was viewing their birth experience through eyes that the “natural birth culture” I was surrounded with gave me. The idea that having a c-section isn’t real birth, or that it was taking an easier way out. That was before I had a birth of my own and before I had really done any significant research into the world of carrying and delivering babies. I recently picked up a book called Push Back by Amy Tuteur, M.D. and even though I’m only a third of the way through it, the content of this book has already brought up a lot of thoughts.

While I do feel like this book is pretty far to one side of the spectrum when dealing with natural birth advocates and then the OBGYN’s side, I do think this book raises a lot of good questions. For instance, what really is natural when it comes to birth? According to Amy, natural is doing what mothers have been doing since the beginning of time, and that is more than half dying in childbirth because of complications, unknown conditions, babies not fitting through pelvis’, and so on. She goes on to mention how each generation of mothers have adapted to the culture they lived in and more and more babies and mothers have survived because of medical advancements in technology and the ability catch issues before they become too much of a danger to mother and baby.

I’m a teeny tiny bit put off by Amy’s obvious frustration with the natural birth community which stems from a lot of ignorance that she has seen in her 30+ years as an obstetrician. But, I do agree with her on a lot of points with that. (Read the book to find out exactly what I’m referencing, I’m not going to quote the whole thing here!) I have personally known mamas and read stories about mamas who have refused ultrasounds. While this didn’t bother me before being pregnant with little bear, it does now. I worry about those mamas because if I hadn’t had that 20 week ultrasound, we never would have known something wasn’t right with little bear. His heart is healthy, his movements are strong and I’ve been feeling him move since about 13 weeks. On all accounts, he’s perfect and there is no cause for alarm. However, as we’ve now seen, babies can seem perfectly healthy from the outside, but little (or big) things can be lurking underneath. While I can understand mamas’ reasons why not to go with “medical interventions” I do question their stands now that I have a high risk pregnancy and have seen how quickly things can go from being a-okay to whoa this is not good.

So where is the line? Where is the line for being aware and informed and then purposefully putting your baby at risk because you don’t want to do an ultrasound or some other such procedure? Where is the line where we as mamas need to support each other or when do we need to speak up and wonder if that was not the wisest decision for your baby’s health and your health?

I have felt like I personally need to justify WHY I’m having a scheduled c-section now. While I have so many amazing and supportive mamas around me, I still wonder who is judging me for taking these steps and getting the medical “interventions” they’re so against? It really makes me ponder how we as mamas can change the culture of judging and shaming and guilt tripping for those who haven’t made the same choices as you have. For me personally, I’m trying to figure out how to shake off the mama shame of not having the natural birth I wanted. Guys, that shame and guilt is a real thing and I hate that we put other moms through that and we put it on ourselves! And honestly, I really don’t know how to even deal with that right now. I know it’s partly shame and guilt I’m putting on myself, but really? My biggest thought since the moment we found out what was wrong with little bear has been how can I protect him? How can I make the best choices to make sure that he is going to survive the best that he can?

I’m still processing what I’ve read so far in the book I shared above. And I’m sure this won’t be the last post where I verbally process either! But seriously, can we at least try to come alongside each mama we know and encourage them in their choices for themselves and their babies? And maybe, just maybe leave the shaming and guilt tripping out of the conversation? Becoming a parent is hard, becoming a mom is hard, and that’s even without potential complications and shame and judgment from those around us. So I’m going to go back to reading my book, and maybe you all can think about this and let me know your thoughts?