Tag: Mormon Mama

37 Weeks!! …………………………………….Postpartum

37 Weeks!

That’s right, if I were pregnant, I’d like to think my baby would be knocking down my uterus door but she wouldn’t be and I’m not. My baby would probably want to hang out for another month in my apparently very comfortable uterus. And while I may not be 37 weeks pregnant, I am 37 weeks postpartum. Check out my baby bump.

37 weeks postpartum

 

My Baby Bump

It’s true. There is no actual baby inside of it. But it’s still a baby bump because it was home to two babies at different points. It stretched and ballooned up, and like a balloon, it just didn’t return to it’s pre-blown up state.

Balloon Blown up and released and new

I didn’t pop. The air, or baby and all of the gory, juicy things that came with it, went out of me. And what was left was my used balloon. I blew it up again. My mom blew hers up 5 times. I have a friend who’s mom blew it up 18 times. Each time, the balloon sustained some wear and tear, but weren’t the prizes worth the slightly damaged shell?

My Badge of Honor

I am still trying to lose weight and get in shape. I want to be healthy so, I’m eating healthier and working out. But even with all of my efforts to change, I don’t think I will ever go back to the pre-blown up balloon. My skin might be a little looser, I may not be able to jump on a trampoline and I can probably write off modeling as a future career option.

my little creations

But look what I helped to create! My body sacrificed and I paid the price to have these beautiful little humans in our family. I never want to go back to the pre-blown up balloon, because that me-balloon hadn’t experienced the strongest love that can only be brought about by the greatest sacrifice.

I am 37 weeks postpartum and my heart has never been more full.

37 weeks postpartum with my two babies
Grayson looks angry, but he is really just extremely focused on splashing.

 

Read my son’s birth story for a riveting tale of endurance, or my daughter’s birth story for an adventure of even more endurance.

Keeping Your Toddler in Bed – The SECRET!!!

Keeping your toddler in bed is no easy feat. I am no expert. In fact, as I sit here and type this out, I am literally sitting in my daughter’s room waiting for sleep to overcome her while she repeatedly asks me, “wha-doin’?” I have been doing bedtime battles since we moved the baby monitor out of her room. Unfortunately, baby brother needed more monitoring for safety reasons and now Siena thinks she rules the roost.

 

But, WE FIGURED IT OUT! I mean, I hesitate to even say such a thing, for fear of jinxing ourselves, but I really think we know how keeping your toddler in bed can be the easiest thing ever.

*You should know… this worked for about a month.

Our First Mistake

Our bedtime battles began when we thought, “we must be genius parents. We’re going to transition our daughter into a twin bed at the age of 18 months. That way we don’t have to pay for a toddler bed and our son can have the crib.”

Well, we ended up buying another crib anyways, because Siena’s was a piece of junk. Needless to say, she was a big girl now in a big bed.

And for the first 6 months, this was working out great. Not a problem at all. In fact, we still would pat ourselves on the back every now and again. “Geniuses I say!!”

Our Second Mistake

At some point, Grayson finally transitioned to his own room. Along with Grayson into his room went the video baby monitor. We loved the monitor for Siena and now that she was a big girl, we could use it for Grayson.

She had other plans. We underestimated her intelligence. She was very quickly aware that the monitor was gone and now we did not have eyes on her at all times. Within a matter of days, she was getting out of bed constantly, repeatedly, every night without fail.

 

Our First Attempt

Keeping your toddler in bed with threats perhaps? We decided to take away some of the toys that she insisted sleeping with every time she got out of bed. It worked for a couple of months. Again, we patted ourselves on the back. GENIUSES!

Of course there was always tears when we would take the toys away, but then that was the consequence, right?

Unfortunately, she must have started emotionally detaching herself from her stuffed animals. Inside of her little toddler brain, she must have been smart enough to realize, ‘if I don’t care about my baby, or the animals or my blankie, my parents have no power over me anymore’.

I would not have believed that such advanced rationale was possible for a toddler, until she really stopped caring about her toys. We’d take one away and she’d get right back up again. We could strip her whole room of happiness (we did on many occasions) and she would still get out of bed until we wanted to throw our own heads against the wall in frustration.

Something had stopped working.

Our Second Attempt

Maybe a combination of bribery and a threat to keeping your toddler in bed? Perhaps she needs some incentive?

Our next tactic was to tell her we would be doing something fun the next day and if she got out of bed we wouldn’t be able to do it. But if she stayed in bed, we would.

We thought we were geniuses with this one, until we tried it. She didn’t care at all. She acted like she cared when we told her but two minutes later she was up and at it again.

Broken

I didn’t know what to do at this point. Our toddler had broken us. We were pathetic shells of parents who had been defeated by a two and a half year old. We would just let her play in her room until she collapsed and then deal with the collateral the next day.

Obviously my husband liked this idea because he got to leave in the morning and I handled the aftermath.

It was at this rock bottom of keeping your toddler in bed battle that I had my breakthrough. And maybe not all toddlers are alike, and maybe this won’t work for all, but I thought, just maybe… this will work for Siena.

 

The Secret to Keeping Your Toddler in Bed

I tried putting myself in Siena’s shoes. If I kept getting out of bed again and again and again, there had to be a reason, right?

keeping your toddler in bed when they have a twin

 

The Problem

Then I realized how frustrating and depressing it would be to constantly be in trouble at bed time. At the beginning, toddler is not in trouble, but she is probably sad because she has to stop playing with mom and dad.

If your family is like ours, dad just got home from work not too long ago and now he gets to stay up with mommy.

So, what does she do? She gets out of bed. Playing sounds way more fun then sleeping at this point. Unfortunately, as she is getting out of bed, or playing in her room Mom and dad are upset and scolding her. She still wants to play, but now maybe she wants some validation too. The need to feel love is compounded with the want to play.

Suddenly it becomes this vicious cycle of mom and dad are getting more and more frustrated, toddler is feeling less and less love and no one is getting any sleep!

How to Fix it

I added a new phase to our bedtime routine. Prior to this discovery, the routine ended after prayers, lights out, kiss goodnight and toddler was safe in bed. But, the magical key to success for us was the first ten minutes after the toddler was in bed.

Step 1

Wait outside the door for about 30 seconds to a minute. It can be a little longer, but ideally you want things to be just the same as when you put them to bed.

Step 2

Open the door and peak in. Hopefully your toddler is still in bed. If they are, praise them for staying in bed. Ours usually sounds like this:

“Wow! Siena, you stayed in bed! Thank you so much for staying in your bed. You are so obedient and well behaved. I love you. Night-night, Sweetheart.”

If she did not stay in bed

“Uh-oh. You need to get back in bed. It’s time to go night-night.”

It is very important to catch your toddler IN bed. Even if keeping your toddler in bed was not successful for 30 seconds, wait another 30 seconds (or less, depending on your child), open the door again and try again. Do this until your child has done what you asked successfully for any length of time.

Step 3

After the first successful praising. Wait a little longer. We usually give it a couple of minutes and open the door again. Since we started doing this we have not had her get out of bed after the first praising. Every time, she has been laying in bed, sometimes playing, reading or just laying there. And we lay on the praise again.

“Wow! You are still in your bed. Thank you so much for staying in bed. You are so great! Night-night, Siena.”

Step 4

You are welcome to repeat step 3 if you are worried about the stickability of it. We’ve tried it up to 5 times and every time, she has been laying in bed.

keeping your toddler in bed until they fall asleep

Keeping Your Toddler in Bed

Maybe our child is an anomaly. Maybe this won’t work for you. But if keeping your toddler in bed is one of your battles, start where I started and try and put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, why does he keep getting out of bed?

If this does work for your child, you can literally do it at any time. Sometimes we forget to show love or it’s the middle of the night and you are just now finding this article while you are in the throes of a bedtime battle. But, just give it a try. Show your child some encouragement.

After all, they are just learning these things. Maybe she really just knew what was a wrong thing to do, but didn’t know what was a right thing to do. This method also gives some clarity to what bedtime is all about.

 

Good luck Mamas!

When your child is just having a hard night…

When your toddler wakes up from bad dreams…

When your baby won’t sleep through the night…

Rough Night – Healing Your Child’s Soul

I sat on the uncomfortable rocking chair around 3 in the morning after the rough night. My son arched his back as if he couldn’t get comfortable. His head lifted away from my chest. Occasionally it would bounce back, and the cool tears on his face would wet my skin. After just a minute or two, the gas slipped up out of his stomach and his neck slowly relaxed as he rested his weary head on my chest. It got heavier and heavier and so did his eyelids.

rough night with an infant, mom cradling

After 4 hours of trying to help him, he finally succumbed to sleep, trapping me with 24 lbs of squishy baby weight. And in spite of my exhaustion, I sat unmoving and just held him. My cheek pressed against his fuzzy warm head. His breathing, remnants of sobs abandoned. My precious boy nuzzled against me. It was my reward for my toil, so I enjoyed every special second. Thirty minutes of quiet snuggles on a squeaky, unyielding rocker. I watched the shadows and breathed deeply. There aren’t many moments like this. It was just me and my boy.

At 3:30 in the morning I finally slipped between my sheets and my eyelids slammed shut.

My Rough Night

The Likely Cause

That day, we had gone to his six month appointment. We found out he was off the charts for weight and pretty big in all other growth aspects. And to top it off, he has got a giant head that comes from my side of the family. If you ever wonder why some hats are so big, it’s for people like me and my son.

grayson at the doctor, cause of the rough night

He got two shots. I didn’t think anything of it. With his first couple of rounds he had been fussy, but nothing I couldn’t handle. My daughter had never had many ill effects from the shots.

I put him to bed around 7 just like any other night. He fussed a little more before he fell asleep, but soon he was breathing out Zs.

 

I just had to…

As a matter of safety, I usually take the sound machine out of his room at night after the loud noises in the house have disappeared. He has a bad habit of putting a blanket on top of his face and if I’m asleep and he’s having a hard time breathing, I want to be able to hear immediately.

beginning of the rough night, he wakes up

My daughter was in bed, my company had left and I was about to sleep as well. So, like every night, I snuck into his room and took it out. Usually he moves and then goes right back to sleep.

On this particular rough night, he moved and then woke up.

Quick Fix

All right, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d just give him a bottle, top him off for the night and that way I made sure we all got a good night sleep.

He drank about half of it and I thought that he probably wasn’t hungry because he’s been sleeping through the night for a couple of days now.

 

The 4 Hours

The rest of the four hours that made up my rough night are a little hazy. It all blurs together now. I know that some things happened during that time. Here is a list of all courses of action in no particular order:

  • Gave him Tylenol.
  • Rocked him.
  • Held him.
  • Sang “I am a child of God”
  • Left his room about 15 times.
  • Entered his room about 15 times.
  • Sang “I like to look for Rainbows”
  • Sat on the floor by his crib and held his hand while he tried to settle down.

  • Let him play with my face.
  • Sat on the couch and the living room while he looked at the lights.
  • Let him lay in mommy’s bed. (Austin was out of town.)
  • Burped him. And again and again and again. So many burps.
  • So much spit up.
  • Bottle attempts 1, 2 and 3.
  • Wrapped him in a semi-swaddle

  • Pacifier.
  • Reached under the bed for all of the pacifiers he had chucked by the wall.
  • Wiped his tears.
  • Gave him Ibuprofen.
  • Caressed his head.
  • Tried to let him ‘cry it out’. (I can only last about 15 minutes at the most.)
  • Bounced him.
  • Sang “Down in the River” over and over and over again.
  • Prayed for any possible relief about every 10 minutes.

There might be more. I don’t know. It was a rough night.

 

The Unexpected Reward

I know I am not alone in the ‘rough night’ department. Most parents get to experience this joy at some point or another. Most of the time, you are only rewarded with an hour or two of much needed sleep.

But sometimes, the world stands still and all is quiet as your little one finally falls asleep in your arms. The whimpers subside and you get a small glimpse at how much your baby must love you. His face is pressed against you, cheek smashed against your skin. The deeper he falls into sleep, the more his breathing levels out.

Only you could heal his whole soul. Not only have you labored to help his little body feel better, but you also kept his spirit full. He knows that you are there for him and that you love him and have taken the time to understand him.

You heal his whole soul regardless of whether or not he falls asleep on you. But if you are lucky enough to feel your trusting little one nuzzle in, you can take the time to pat yourself on the back. Because you did it. Even if it took you until 3 or 6 in the morning, you did it. You healed your baby’s soul.

 

More Rough Nights to Come

So I hope I can remember when I have another rough night and many more, that every time I choose their needs over mine I heal their soul. I heal their physical hurts and I show them for the rest of their life, that they are worth me climbing out of my bed.

And in the quiet moments when I have evidence in my arms of how much my children appreciate it, I hope I can remember that I am doing okay. I healed my baby’s soul and I think I healed mine too.

 

I’ve had many a rough night with my toddler too.

Baby Girl Birth Story – My Sweet, Bright Eyed Siena

Having a baby girl is hard enough. As a new mom, you have to worry about the last trimester, the delivery, after the baby is born and everything else that goes into having a baby.

However, throw in ‘move across the world’ and you have a whole new mess of problems to add to the list of ‘Things to Solve’.

 

Uterus Urgency

Austin got his masters at Duke University. We loved being in North Carolina, and the second half of his program was in Kunshan, China. Well, I was due to have a baby just 5 weeks before we were supposed to be leaving. Yep. You could have called us insane and you would have been correct. We didn’t even know how insane we were.

waiting in waiting room
When we first arrived in the waiting room.

We naively thought, “what perfect timing!” We’ll have the baby in December and then hop on a plane in January. However, aside from other aspects of our naivety, like being first time parents, we failed to realize that we wouldn’t be able to get her passport, visa or plane tickets until she was actually born.

Austin had to be in school in China on a certain day and as her due date approached we realized the timing might not be so ideal after all. We started panicking. It takes 6 weeks to get a passport… We have to get the Visa after that… So, there isn’t enough time. Fortunately there is an expediting option, which almost wasn’t fast enough.

The Study

Then, a tender mercy. Duke University happened to be doing a research study where they would induce your labor at 39 weeks. The purpose of the study was to determine if delivering at 39 weeks was actually more beneficial for both the baby and the mom. After 39 weeks the baby is fully developed, and history seemed to suggest that the mom’s health would decline after 39 weeks.

Unfortunately there was no way to guarantee we would be in the induction group. Because the study needed a control group, only 50% of the women in the study would be induced. But we decided to try our luck with the lottery. And another miracle, we were selected to be a part of the induction group. Hooray! Our induction was scheduled for December 9th.

 

No Surprises

Because we had a set day, it was very easy now for both of our moms to fly out to see the birth.

me and my sweet moms
I love our moms.

The ninth was a Tuesday so both of them flew in on Sunday. Austin took all of his finals on Monday and we were all set for our little girl to join us.

Tuesday morning I got up early and put on some make up, curled my hair: the works. I was in a rare situation where I could plan to look cute for semi-spontaneous event. Why would I not take advantage of such a thing? Obviously we were going to take pictures!

 

Excited Grandmas!

We arrived at the hospital at 7:15 in the morning and park in the parking garage (no valet parking if your birth is not an emergency…understandable). We took the elevator up to the tunnel, where Lori, Austin’s mom excitedly announced to the whole elevator. “I’m going to be a grandma today!”

The ladies on the elevator squealed with excitement. I smiled too. My baby girl would be here soon! Clearly I had no idea what was in store for me.

 

Waiting Room

We got to the maternity floor and were told to wait. So we waited… and we waited… and we waited…

waiting in waiting room
Growing a little impatient…

The thing about being induced, is it is not as exciting for everyone else. They can just put you on the back burner while all of the actual labors take precedence, which again, makes sense. My induction was scheduled for 8:00 am. We didn’t even get out of the waiting room until noon.

bored waiting in waiting room
BORED OUT OF MY MIND…

 

Waiting in the Delivery Room

Finally, it was my turn. Then the excitement rose again. All right baby girl, that was a long wait, but now… now we’re on our way.

get this induction going
It’s go time!

I donned my nice hospital get-up and the nurses came in and do their thing. Soon, Doctor Nieves came in. Yay! We finally get to know where I’m at and what the next steps are. So, he checks out how things are going. I’m dilated to a 2 and was like 80% effaced. And I’m thinking, ‘wow, 80%. I’m doing pretty good.’

last pic before baby girl is born
We’re both excited!

Then I found out he’s going to stick in a miso pill. Basically it is supposed to help get things going. So, he put in the pill and then we waited some more. The nurses tell us to get up and walk around to help get the labor going. We did. We walked and walked and walked.

walking to get baby girl out
I went through a lot of those waters.
through the fish tank walking around
We thought this giant fish tank was pretty cool.
talking with husband
Love of my Life

And then we started the “badger dance” (video to come). And pretty soon, we’re laughing and being silly until around 6:00 in the evening.

laughing with austin
He always makes me laugh.

At this point, Austin decided it would be funny if he laid on the bed. So, he laid there, my mom laid on the couch and his mom took the nice chair and I sat on the little fold out chair. We thought it would be funny to get our nurses reaction if I was on the hard chair and Austin had taken over the hospital bed. Well, it was also around this time that I could feel my labor actually start to kick in.

our funny joke
Our funny, funny, funny joke…

 

Labor Contractions

Now I was feeling contractions. At first they were just uncomfortable. And the nurse had said she would be back just a minute prior to our hilarious prank we were going to pull. So, we waited in those positions. And we waited… and we waited… She didn’t come back for about an hour.

And I was sitting on this hard chair and felt like I was dying a little more each minute that passed. Where on earth had the nurse disappeared to? Someone better be having a baby!

And by 7:00, she finally came through the door. We did get the reaction we wanted and caught it on video. But, by then, I was really feeling the contractions. She started checking on things. I tell her I want an epidural. I know… I’m a baby. The doctor came in and checked me out. I was dilated to a 3 and fully effaced. A 3?! That’s it! This is what a 3 feels like? But, my labor was in full swing. I was having regular contractions.

They let the anesthesiologist know that I am ready for an epidural and about an hour later, I get one. It was a little scary getting one, but the relief it provided was unparalleled. They had to readjust it a little bit because it was only working on one side at first. I’m glad I asked when I did, because the time from when you ask for an epidural to when you actually get one is quite awhile.

sleeping before baby girl is born

Water Breaking

After that, I felt great. In fact it was so great that it surprised me when I felt our baby girl kick rather violently and suddenly there was a gushing. Stuff was coming out!

I couldn’t stop it. It was a force that stopped for nothing. Once I thought the gushing was over, it gushed some more. My water broke. I was glad they didn’t have to break it for me. It was cool having it just happen.

That was exciting. Now we were all pumped up again! This happened around 10:00 pm.

 

Nausea

The epidural was still working, until I started feeling nauseous. Really nauseous. I woke up and couldn’t move from the bed, but I knew something will be coming up and out of me quickly.

I told Austin I have to throw up and was panicking because I had nothing to catch it with. BLEH… all over the left side of the bed and the floor. I looked over at Austin and he had a trashcan or something that I could have used if he had grabbed it ten seconds earlier.

I let the nurse know. She got me all cleaned up and then informed me they had drugs for that too. Really? Awesome! I did not want to spend the whole labor throwing up. I had done enough of that during my pregnancy. She warned me that it would make me sleepy. Double bonus! That meant I’d be able to sleep better.

 

No More Juice!

Not necessarily double bonus. Sometime in the early morning I woke up in agony. I could feel my contractions completely. We pushed the button for the nurse. I was pushing my pain button like nobody’s business trying to get more of the epidural juice into my body, but to no avail.

resting before baby girl

Thirty minutes later the anesthesiologist came in and said that the epidural had run out. He refills it and I am soon feeling much better again. Now despite the fact that I am sleepy, I am insistent on remembering to push the button, because I know I don’t want to feel that EVER again.

 

Mini Date

That night, Austin and I watched Pitch Perfect and Here Comes the Boom when I couldn’t sleep. It was fun just being with him. Our moms had gone to sleep upstairs somewhere. And we got to just hang out me and him before we got one more added to our family.

At some point, he had to help lift me up higher in the bed because my legs were completely useless and I had slipped and was very uncomfortable. And you would think that I could lift my body with my little arms, but my body was the biggest body it’s ever been. It was like trying to move a dead dinosaur.

 

Pushing Time!

Then around noon on the 10th, (yeah we thought we were going to have her on the 9th… laughable now) I was told that I was dilated to a 9 and we should get to start pushing soon. So exciting!

I was thinking, well, my mom’s whole labor with me lasted 5 hours and she only pushed for like half an hour. We’re going to meet our baby girl soon! So, the doctor, who is now a different doctor and for the life of me I can’t remember her name, starts getting things ready for the pushing part of the journey.

I started pushing around 12:45. The doctor told me that I could be pushing for anywhere between a half an hour to three hours. Three hours? I thought my baby girl would just come out. I started pushing and pushing and pushing.

It was so exhausting. I pushed and pushed and every time it felt like something incredible should be happening but I was seeing no fruits for my labors. I was so tired.

pushing out baby girl
You know that feeling when you want to cry, but even that is too much…

At some point the doctor said that I could take a break. I didn’t even know you could take a break in the middle of pushing. Wouldn’t baby girl suffocate in the birth canal? But then I remember that’s what the umbilical cord is for. And in retrospect, she probably hadn’t moved much at all. I wasn’t making a whole lot of progress.

 

Come on Baby Girl!

All right, it was time to start again. I pushed some more. Then I started feeling severe pain. *Contractions so intense that it felt like lightening zapping through my uterus and culminating right between my hips. Bearing down intensified the pain and then they wanted me to hold it there while the pain ripped through me.

I kept pushing my pain button but nothing was coming and nothing was helping. At some point, I accepted that the epidural was not going to help me through it. And then I also had to accept that the only way to get the baby out was to greet the pain instead of escape it. So, I focused on bearing down in a way that intensified the pain the most and those were the pushes that everyone shouted, “that’s such a good push!” “You’re doing so great!” “Keep doing them like that one.”

I did it again and again and again. And two and a half hours from the time we started pushing, at 3:19 pm, our little Siena was finally born. As soon as she was out, I remember collapsing on the bed with the most relief I think it is possible for the human body to experience.

baby girl brand new!

*I have since learned that they most likely turned off my epidural so that I could ‘feel the contractions’. NEVER AGAIN.

 

Scary Reality

We found out after she was born that her umbilical cord had been in a knot. If it would have tightened at all during the pregnancy, we could have lost our sweet baby girl. I am forever grateful that she was protected and watched over so that she could be in our family. She lights up our life.

 

Baby Girl, My Sweet Siena

My little baby girl was laid on my chest and I got to see her bright, big, beautiful eyes for the first time. At first she didn’t cry. She just looked around. She was so beautiful. I couldn’t believe she had been inside my body for the last nine months.

baby girl
Look how big her eyes are!
holding baby girl
I couldn’t believe my baby girl was already here… 30 hours later.

She had such long fingers, which as I held her I remembered them moving around by my hips when I was pregnant. She was chubbier than I thought she would be, especially at 39 weeks. But she came out at a healthy 8 lbs 8 oz and 19 inches long.

family pic with baby girl

looking at our creation

She weighed more than any of my mom’s kids had been. No wonder I had pushed for 2 1/2 hours! If I would’ve waited for her to come out on her own I might not have been able to push her out. I was really grateful that we had been a part of the study. A C-section could have really affected our trip out to China. So, grand total: 32 hours in the hospital, 20 hours of labor and 2 1/2 hours of pushing.

holding my baby girl

Me snuggling my baby girl

Afterthoughts

I remember being so tired, so shocked, so amazed, so out of it, and so grateful that it was all over. It was almost the feeling of, now what? I had been preparing to have a baby girl, but I wasn’t sure what to do with her now that I had her.

She was beautiful, but I didn’t know how to be a mom! I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know how any of this was going to work. But it did.

I believe that Heavenly Father has been helping us throughout every step of the process. He loves His children and He would show me how to raise His child the right way, even though I am imperfect.

Cute Pictures Below:

first time daddy holding his baby girl
First time daddy holding his baby girl.
family pic with baby girl
Family Picture!
baby girl in daddy's arms
So cute in daddy’s arms
Grammy with baby girl
Grammy was in love with little Siena.
grandma with baby girl
Grandma loves Siena too!
cute baby girl
Look at her eyes!

baby girl

hearing test for baby girl
Hearing test
baby girl in daddy's Christmas stocking
Austin was born in December too and he was sent home from the hospital in this hospital, so obviously we had to put her in it and get a picture of her in his stocking. Our little December babies!
beautiful baby girl
This is seriously one of my favorite pictures of her.
first family picture with baby girl
Another Family Pic!

 

You can also check out my Son’s Birth Story.

It’s amazing how different they are!

Love Everyone – Knocking Down Pedestals is Essential

Pedestal PicThere has been a lot of talk about stopping the hate. I hear all the time about how I need to love everyone and I absolutely agree. We do need to learn how to interact with more love. My only hope with this article, is to break down one of the stumbling blocks to the admonition to love everyone. What is holding us back?

My theory is that people are having a hard time with the idea to love everyone, because they don’t recognize how many pedestals they have set up in their minds. Everyone has heard the phrase “being put on a pedestal”. This is usually applied to people who are admired or looked up to. We set them up to be our idols, for better or worse.

 

Putting Yourself on a Pedestal

It should be obvious why this one can make it hard for you to love everyone. But, let’s go over it. If you are placing yourself on a pedestal, it really makes it impossible to love anyone. You are so much better than everyone.

Maybe you think you are better because you have more money. Maybe you are more in shape than everyone else. Are you lifting yourself up because you are a superior writer. Perhaps you’re smarter. Maybe you are a more beautiful specimen. Perhaps you think you are a better parent. Maybe you are willing to forgive someone who isn’t willing to forgive you back.Perhaps someone has offended you, hurt you or disappointed you and you would never do that.

Whatever the reason, you are putting distance between yourself and someone else.

 

Putting Someone Else on a Pedestal

Wedding pic of us on a pedestal
Austin & I literally on a pedestal.

This is something that most people will not immediately view as a hinderance towards the mandate to love everyone. After all, if you are looking at someone’s great attributes you must love, respect and admire them.

And while you may respect and admire them, the love you have for them is more of your idea of them. You assume that they are above or are more talented at something. There is the conjecture that if they are talented at one thing, or have more money than you or thinner than you, their life must be better than yours. There is no way they can possibly understand how you are feeling.

An even more dangerous strain of thought is when you start hypothesizing about how they got there. They must be naturally good at that. He probably inherited all of his money. She must have great genetics. We frequently assume that if someone has something we do not, they don’t have to work for it.

By putting someone else on a pedestal, we choose to distance ourselves from them and believe that they are different from us. We usually assume they don’t have to work as hard, don’t have as many troubles as we do and the next logical conclusion to draw is that they also view themselves on the pedestal. They must think they are better than everyone else.

 

How to Love Everyone without Pedestals

One of the hardest things to do is to love everyone and the one thing that will single handedly help the most is to knock down all of the pedestals you have built up in your mind. Knock down the one you are standing on. Knock down the ones that you have placed your friends or acquaintances on.

And when you’re standing in a field of broken pedestals with everyone else, you will start to see the most amazing thing.

We are all human, we all struggle, we all want to be better. At times we all doubt ourselves and are scared of being alone. We want to make connections with those around us. You will suddenly see everyone as they really are and not as you imagine them.

Try knocking down a pedestal and watch what happens to your relationship with that person. It might not be immediate, but I promise it will be different. (Also, you may have to knock down the pedestal many times. Sometimes we struggle to remember.)

 

I’ve even put myself on a pedestal over my daughter before.

General Conference – An Invitation to Become Better

What is General Conference

Every spring and fall, I look forward with great anticipation to my church’s General Conference. If you don’t know what this is, allow me to explain.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. People commonly refer to us as Mormons. Every six months, the leaders of my church who are literal Prophets and Apostles speak to us and give us new direction on how to grow closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. You can see it streaming online, broadcast on television and live in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Tabernacle before General Conference
Austin and I went to General Conference together for the first time when we were dating. We’ve watched it together ever since.

All of the members of the church take the weekend and listen to up to 10 hours of talks or discourses. It is amazing. And even though it is frequently only members of the church who know that it is going on, ALL are invited to watch and listen. Because, if you haven’t noticed from our 70,000+ missionaries around the world, we want everyone to come unto Christ.

 

Memories of General Conference

Since I grew up in the church, for as long as I can remember, I have been watching General Conference. We lived in Alaska, so the morning session started at 8 am. My parents would drag us out of bed and for the first session we would all lay in my parents’ room and try to stay awake while they talked…or at least try to make it look like we were awake.

By the time we had woken up for the afternoon session (which for us started at noon), we would have eaten and gotten a fresh wave of energy, so we usually busted out Monopoly and I would beat my brothers and sisters every time. It’s not their fault. They didn’t know that the key to winning was to get the orange monopoly every time. I figured this out early on in my Monopoly playing days.

Other times we would draw, do art projects, cook, or try to keep the noise down long enough to stay under my parents’ radar.

 

What I LOVE about General Conference

It seems like every time General Conference comes around, I try to think of questions I have that I would like answers. And I can’t ever seem to think of something specific. Because I have heard so often that we should go with questions and that we would definitely receive answers to our questions.

Temple Square with Austin
Hanging out at Temple Square in between Sessions

And pretty soon, my favorite time of year is upon me and I haven’t asked a question. I listen to the talks and suddenly all of the thoughts and concerns I have been having are addressed. Questions I didn’t know I had are being answered and I feel like even though I didn’t think I was prepared to listen, Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed to hear.

This was my experience today, after the first two sessions of General Conference. Later, I perused my Facebook feed and everyone else who listened to conference said that General Conference was tailored to them. How is that even possible?! Because I know that it was tailored to me.

It’s possible because God knows us each individually and His Spirit can touch each of us to guide us specifically for our lives.

Every six months we receive revelation, specific to ourselves, individually and it is up to us to decide what we will do with it. We can just listen and log it away. Or we can let it change us to become a better disciple of Christ.

 

New Traditions of General Conference

Now, we live in the Eastern time zone. That means that our first session of General Conference doesn’t even start until noon. So, we have the entire morning and Priesthood session doesn’t end until 9:30 or 10:00 at night.

Waiting for Music and the Spoken Word before General Conference in the Tabernacle
Waiting for Music and the Spoken Word before General Conference. Sorry the pic is blurry.

This year we started a new tradition. Austin’s brother and his wife are coming into town tomorrow, so we spent the whole morning doing some Spring Cleaning. So, I guess our kids will grow up doing some deep cleaning the morning of General Conference. What a way to make them look forward to it every year! We’re awesome parents.

 

Tomorrow

I am so grateful for General Conference and I can’t wait to hear what our prophets and apostles have to tell us tomorrow. And I guess with that, I mean, I can’t wait to hear what God would have us know.

Austin & I in Front of SLC Temple
We had no idea that less than a year later we would be getting married in that building behind us.

This is literally the best time of the year. If you have never had a chance to listen, please tune in tomorrow for the most uplifting experience of your life. You will not regret it. I have included the link at the beginning and again here.

General Conference is literally, my secret key to becoming One Helluva Homemaker.

Feeling Alone? You’re not the Only One

There are many times when I am feeling alone. I think those times started increasing in frequency when I started staying home with the kids. It was easy to feel surrounded by people and validated when I was working or going to school.

But even then, there were many times when I would feel alone.

I am sure I am not alone in feeling alone. We have all felt that way. Whether you are alone surrounded by coworkers who you can’t seem to connect with or you are alone by yourself. Perhaps you are alone surrounded by kids who don’t get your witty sense of humor or recognize how much you love them. Maybe you are alone with a spouse or alone surrounded by friends.

Feeling Alone while surrounded by people drawing

Loneliness doesn’t have to strike only when you are physically alone.

A Mortal Experience

As hard as it is to feel alone, we can take comfort in knowing that this is a mortal experience. Everyone feels alone at some point or another. They have to. Because even Jesus Christ, the literal Son of God felt alone.

Evidences of Christ Feeling Alone

I don’t know everything that happened in the life of Christ and I am certainly no expert. But, it occurred to me while I was reading my scriptures today, that He prayed just as much or much much more than we do.

“And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.” 

Jesus Christ prayed to the Father all the time. He wanted to be close to Him. Just the simple act of Christ praying to His Heavenly Father shows me that feeling alone is a mortal experience.

I am sure He prayed for other reasons as well. In this case, He was praying to bless the people He was with. And I am only left to guess what else he prayed for.

The Greatest Scriptural Evidence of Christ Feeling Alone

When Christ was hanging on the cross, we have a lot of evidence that He was praying. And not only was He praying, but the scripture suggests that He was left alone, by the Father, which is something that we never have to experience.

Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

After Christ died on the Cross, the Pieta
This is one of my all-time favorite statues and we got to visit it when we went to Italy. The Pieta depicts Mary holding her son, Jesus after He died on the cross.

In our General Conference, that we have as a church semi-annually, one of our Apostles gave a great talk on this verse. I am afraid that I will not be able to give it as much justice.

But something that Elder Holland says in his talk is that Christ had to experience feeling alone. He said that even when we are alone, we are always only a prayer away from God. But if we sin, we remove ourselves from the presence of God and because of the atonement, Christ had to feel everything that we feel.

Why it Matters

After Christ was feeling alone on the cross and diedSo, even when we are really, truly feeling alone, we can always know that we are not alone in what we are feeling. Christ has felt it too. He will be there to help you. He knows how we feel, He wants to help, because even for Him it was crippling to truly be alone.

If we want to not be feeling alone, all we have to do is pray and we will receive help. We may not feel it immediately, but He will eventually help us to feel that we are never alone, not truly. Because Christ has already felt what that was like, we can be assured that He will always be there so we don’t have to feel the way that He did.

Just Remember

If you can look outside of yourself, there are so many people around you who are probably feeling just like you. Try to help your friends and family remember that they are not alone, because you are there with them. We can always help lift those around us and you never know how much you will help someone.

When you are feeling alone, don’t you wish someone would reach out to you?

 

More

One of the times I was feeling alone was when I struggled with Postpartum Anxiety. It is still possible to come out on the other side.

Six Months Old – Letter to My Amazing Baby Boy

Dear Grayson,

Six months comes and goes and all I can think about is how lucky I am. You’re six months old! But I get to have you forever. You are my son always. And even though I didn’t get to hold you until 6 months ago, you’ve always been my son.

six months old okay, maybe he was only five
Okay, I’m a little biased, but I don’t think babies can get much cuter than this.

I’ve known you longer of course. I’ve known you for about a year and 3 months.

When you were inside of me, you were big and snug. You always let us know you were there and showed us how excited you were to come and join us. There was a time, shortly after you joined us, when I was afraid that you were going to leave us too soon.

Your First Ultrasound

The first time I tried to see you, the technician couldn’t find you. There was no heartbeat, just a uterus that looked pregnant. My doctor said that it was probably just too early to see.

I didn’t think much of it until your dad seemed a little concerned. I started doing research online, to see what could have caused that. The words “blighted ovum” occupied every web page I looked at. I was devastated, because I felt like you had been there.

Fear clutched me and I spent the night sobbing as I thought about the possibility of losing you. I knew you then.

With crippling anxiety, I called my doctor the next morning. She ran some tests to give me peace of mind and a week later, a little tiny collection of cells was visible on the monitor. There you were! Elation can’t begin to cover my emotions. For now, my baby boy was safe.

first ultrasound

Finding Out what I already Knew

We could find out as early as 12 weeks whether you were going to be a boy or a girl. We planned on doing the extra tests anyways, so we figured we might as well find out. Even before they told us though, I knew.

I got a phone call when your dad happened to be home. The nurse asked me if I wanted to know. I put her on speaker and told her, “Yes.”

“You’re having a baby boy.”

Baby BOY announcement!

Of course I started crying again. “I knew it,” was all I could say. You will come to learn that it doesn’t take much to get your Mama crying.

Waiting

I waited for you all summer. You weren’t supposed to be born until October, but with your size, we hoped you would come sooner. Your Mama got so huge!

Siena on my pregnant belly
It got harder and harder for Siena to sit on my lap.

And it seemed like you were going to stay in there as long as possible so we had to coax you out.

Finally Here

brand new baby snuggling with mommy
Snuggling with my newborn.

When I held you in my arms, it felt like you had always been a part of our family. It was like we didn’t know that we had been waiting for you, but we were, and now you were here.

 

Your sister was so excited to be with you. She loves taking care of you. You are her best friend, and I suspect that is how it will be forever. Thank you for coming to be with your sister.

Watching You Grow

As I have watched you grow, I have been even more impressed by how unique you are. At just six months old, I have witnessed so many differences between you and your sister. You both have your own distinct personalities and it is amazing to see.

first night home from the hospital
His first night home from the hospital. I was so excited about this outfit; this was probably the last time he fit in it.

You were “you” long before you joined us. You’ve been smiling since you were just one month old. Everyone told me it was just gas, but it wasn’t. You haven’t stopped smiling since then. Your happiness is infectious and your laugh makes everyone happier.

six months old with his 2 year old sister, they're basically the same size
They are pretty much the same size. He’s going to pass her up before long!

You love your Mama. It might embarrass you to know that you are a Mama’s boy through and through. You love me and I am so grateful that I have felt your love from the moment you were born. It is a rare gift to make someone feel loved just be looking at them. But, you have that gift Grayson.

What I Will Get to See

You are only six months old now. You are just starting to think about rolling over and you haven’t decided how you feel about solid food, but I can already see how much happiness you are going to bring to our family.

daddy holding our giant baby who is only six months old
Do you see how big he is?!

Cloudy days will never seem as gloomy. The darker nights will have a guiding light. You are going to bring so much joy to those around you.

I hope you remember forever, how special you are to me. You are amazing. And just by being born, you are going to make the world a better place.

Thank you!

Thank you for coming to be with us and thank you for being six months old so I can be a witness to who you really are. I hope you know how much we all love you and how happy we are that you are here.

Six Months Old and Counting

We can’t wait to see everything that you are going to become. One day, you will probably know the fear of losing a child, even if that child hasn’t been born yet. It seems like everything in the world can be perfectly fine and I still find myself terrified that you or your sister will be taken away from me. When you are holding your own little baby, you will understand the gratitude I feel that you are here now and that you are still getting older.

Grayson in a bow tie at six months old
Happy 6 months little man!

We love you Grayson! I love you and can’t wait to see what the next 80 years bring. (I probably won’t live past 107.)

Love,

Mom

 

More about Grayson:

Grayson’s Birth Story

How His Night Sleeping Has Been

 

Baby Boy Birth Story – Darkest Night Begets Brightest Light

Every birth story is a unique and special experience. Our Baby Boy spared no expense in making this a memorable occasion. He has brightened our life ever since he cured the darkest night.

 

Doctor’s Appointment

I had been hoping to naturally go into labor. I made it to my 39 week appointment and with despair heard that not much had changed. It was all I could do to not burst into tears. My baby boy was already measuring big, my mom was coming into town on Saturday and I didn’t want to wait and then have to deliver via C-section because of his size. I was so uncomfortable and Siena had been big too.

My amazing doctor asked me if I wanted to be induced and after talking with Austin about it, we decided that that was the best thing for us to do. I had been induced with Siena and was told that it probably was for the better, just because of her size and Baby Boy was already measuring bigger. So, if we were going to be induced, we might as well get that baby out of me sooner rather than later. The induction was scheduled for that night.

 

Last Moments as a Family of Three

Dropping Siena off before Baby Boy CameI was supposed to go in and have something put next to my cervix that would help soften it all night and then they would start Pitocin the next morning. Austin decided he wanted to spend the night with me in the hospital, so our friends were nice enough to watch Siena. Before dropping her off, we all went out to dinner one last time as a family of three. It was a restaurant we’d never been to and I got chicken strips and had one of them. I wasn’t that hungry… even though I knew I should probably eat because I wouldn’t get to later.

We took Siena to our friend’s house. We got her pajamas on and set up a Pack ‘n Play in their master closet. She looked confused and a little scared. We said a little prayer with her and told her that daddy would be there to get her in the morning. I felt like my heart was breaking a little as we closed the door. She had no idea what was going on or how things were going to change. I just remember looking at her big, beautiful eyes staring up at me, trusting that we would be back for her. It was probably harder on me than it was on her. Apparently she woke up the next morning and was just fine after she had her moment of confusion with new people around.

Getting Checked In

Trying to Sleep Before Baby BoyWe drove to the hospital and checked in. It didn’t take long to get situated. They had a room all ready for me. I donned the hospital gown and they did their usual prep stuff, reading documents, going over legal things, etc. I was dilated to a 2 ¾ and 70% effaced. Just a little more dilation than earlier that morning. It wasn’t super encouraging and I was glad that I had opted for the induction.

They stuck something next to my cervix that was supposed to help get labor going. Things were going pretty well. My nurse was super nice and I was pretty comfy in the bed. Austin conked out almost immediately and since I wasn’t tired enough to go to bed I started watching a movie on my tablet. Then I found out from my awesome nurse around eleven that I would be getting a new nurse…which is when hell began.

A Nurse Makes All the Difference

I knew it would be rough when I asked her, “so do you have any crazy stories from working here?”

She looked at me with a cutting, patronizing look. “That would be a HEPA violation.”

I’m sure my eyebrows raised in obvious surprise and disdain. I was just trying to make conversation but now felt like I couldn’t ask her anything without some sort of judgment being passed.

The Expert

My new nurse apparently had an idea of how every pregnancy was ideally supposed to go and my attitude  about my medically assisted labor did not seem to measure up to her standards. She obviously knew better than his mama or his doctor what was best for my Baby Boy. I started feeling contractions around 11:30 or so. They were bad enough that I wanted an epidural.

austin waiting for baby boy
Austin found a spot to rest while waiting for Baby Boy.

The nurse did not approve of my getting an epidural so early. She would say things like, “Well… because you’re getting an epidural so early… You really should wait… Are you sure you really need it?

But I was insistent and soon the anesthesiologist was there to relieve my pain. It was hard for me to even bend over, I was hurting so bad. I couldn’t relax.

I think it is also important to note at this time that I did have a terrible cough so my nurse was passively making comments like, “What was your doctor thinking? Inducing you when you have a cough?” To which I thought, my doctor is a genius. There’s no way I want to be miserable with pregnancy any longer along with this miserable cough. (And I had the cough for another couple of weeks… it wouldn’t have mattered.)

The Never-Ending Nausea

After my epidural, I suddenly felt very nauseous and remembered that the same thing had happened with Siena. I also knew that with my first pregnancy, they had given me something almost immediately that cleared up my nausea. Well, this nurse told me they gave me something and it could only be administered ever 6 hours, which I later found out was only Zofran!

Extreme Nausea waiting for Baby Boy
Trying to smile while suffering through the nausea.

It was doing absolutely nothing for me. Every time I rolled over (to evenly distribute the epidural) I felt horrible waves of nausea. I couldn’t remember what had been given to me before but I knew this wasn’t it. She refused to even ask the doctor on call if there was something else.

The Urine

TMI WARNING!

The fluids they kept giving me for baby boyShortly after the epidural, the most embarrassing horror, that I will never be able to forget was that they refused to put a permanent catheter in me. They are pumping me with fluids, I’ve lost all feeling down there and I have a cough, that unless I squeeze my legs together will force urine out of me. I complained to the nurse and tried to explain the situation.

“This is the way we have to do it,” she responded. She eventually did ask the doctor, who without coming to talk to me, also refused. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t do it when I had had one with Siena, even though I didn’t have a cold.

I pleaded and threatened, “you will literally have to keep changing my sheets because I cannot stop myself from peeing the bed.”

“Well, we could give you some pads.” I must have gone through 30 pads that night. My hands were covered in urine and the nurse and whoever the resident on call was that night, refused to put in a permanent catheter. And on top of all of this, I am trying my hardest not to spew vomit everywhere.

 

The New Nurse

Some time in the middle of the night, I got a new nurse who liked to interrupt me every time I asked for something for the nausea, by saying, “You have already asked for that.”

Obviously I have! Would I still be asking if I wasn’t desperate? Do you think it’s pleasant for me to constantly request for someone to come into my room and help me?

Pitocin

At 5:30 in the morning they finally started me on Pitocin. I was so excited because I was so ready for the night to be over. Delivery couldn’t be as bad as my night had been. Things were at least starting to move in the right direction. After they took out the string next to my cervix, they informed me that it hadn’t been inserted far enough and it had essentially done nothing all night. That was all for nothing then.

Around 7:30, I was dilated to a 4. Maybe things would move now!

The End in Sight

My doctor was going to be there in half an hour. I still felt horribly nauseated, but at least the nurses were gone and daylight was starting to come in through the window. They checked me at 7:50 because I guess it looked like my contractions were increasing. Suddenly I was at a 7. Then, just a couple of minutes later I really felt like I needed to push.

I told my morning nurse, who was perfectly pleasant, that I felt like I needed to push and she was like, “well, you were only at a seven a couple of minutes ago.” She checked again. “Wow! You’re at a nine.”

Then my doctor came in. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over! It was finally over! Light had broken over the horizon. Immediately I felt like everything was going to be all right. She was scheduled to come in at 8:00 am. Good thing! Because Baby Boy was coming fast.

Doctor came to deliver Baby Boy
After some Phenergan and my Amazing Doctor came!

We were talking about my nausea that I had been fighting all night and then she said, “we’ll just give you some Phenergan,” without even blinking an eye. As soon as she said it I said, “that’s what it was!” That was the medicine the doctor had prescribed when the epidural gave me nausea with Siena.

My wonderful doctor gestured to the nurses and they started putting me on it and I instantly felt better. Why couldn’t they have given that to me 9 hours ago?!

Go Time

At some point I had to interrupt her as she was talking to me and I was like. “I really feel like I have to push!” She checked me and said, “Well, let’s get this baby out of you.” Time for Baby Boy!

“Right now!?” I thought I’d have more time after my Doctor Goddess got there.

She laughed. “Yeah, I’ll just break your water. Let’s have this baby.”

getting ready to push out baby boy

Pushing out my Baby Boy!
Pushing to see my Baby Boy!

She broke my water; it gushed everywhere. I pushed for twenty minutes or so and my Baby Boy was out! I couldn’t believe it. When I had delivered Siena, I had been in so much pain in spite of my epidural. The ‘ring of fire’ or whatever they called it. When I asked my doctor about that, she said that some hospitals turn off the epidural before you start pushing so that you can feel when you are supposed to push! WHAT?!?!?!

With Grayson’s delivery I could feel no pain, just pressure. It was awesome! I felt so alert after he was born, even though I hadn’t had a wink of sleep the night before. And there was my beautiful Baby Boy!

My beautiful Baby Boy

Baby Boy all cleaned off!

He was so amazing. Also, he was all covered in the white gunk when they handed him to me for the first time. They cleaned him up while some new resident stitched me up. My Doctor was not happy when she found out that the other doctor had let a resident practice on me.

waiting to hold baby boy

I was a little annoyed because the stitching took so long and I just wanted to hold my baby again. Finally, they were done and I got to hold him.

Holding my precious baby boy
Finally Holding My Baby

My Baby Boy

The first thing I remember about him is he had this cute little pointy nose! I’m pretty sure he has my eyes, at least the shape. And he was super bald. Siena had a lot more hair than he did. Oh and he was definitely a boy! It was so cute.

My precious Baby Boy. We named him Grayson. He was finally in our arms, healthy, happy, alive! I couldn’t believe the pregnancy was finally over and that the most horrifying night of my life was in the past.

Look at his leg rolls already! He was a hefty 8 lbs 15 oz and he was early! I have big babies.

After we shared some time with just Austin and I and our little bundle, Austin left to go get Siena.

I couldn’t believe we had Baby Boy Grayson already. I still called him Baby Boy because that is what we called him for so long. We had kept his name a secret and now that I could finally say it, he seemed more like Baby Boy. Grayson was here. We were a family of four! Our lives were forever changed.

My Sweet Grayson

Big Sister Siena

Siena about to meet Grayson
Her life is about to change forever!

When she came in, she looked like she always does in a new situation. Her eyes were really big. She just stared at everything and walked slowly into the room. I had Grayson in the bassinet because I didn’t want it to seem like we had replaced her. After she finally made it to the bed, we showed her, her baby brother.

Siena meeting baby boy brother

siena meeting baby boyBaby was already one of her favorite words so she just kept saying baby over and over again. She liked trying to hold him and was super sweet with him. I don’t think I detected jealousy or her being mad once. From day one, she just loved her brother.

The rest of the day we stayed in the hospital together as a family and hung out. At night time, Austin went home with Siena and they slept there. I slept in the hospital with Grayson.

That night I got a little bit of sleep because in spite of how exhausted I was, I couldn’t sleep much. I had to resort to watching a movie, You’ve Got Mail, to fall asleep. It took my mind off of the rush, adrenaline and excitement I felt at having Grayson finally join our family.

 

siena checking out baby boy
In an act of unparalleled love, Siena placed her treasured Owl Blanket with her new baby brother.

Family of Four

We are now a family of four! It feels like Grayson has always been here. In some way, he probably was, just waiting to come and join us. He and Siena have so much fun together. I love watching them interact. Thank-you for joining our family, Grayson!

If you happen to be expecting yourself, you might want to check out information on what you’re in for. Best of luck new Mama!

After having spent 6 months with him, I have a little idea of just how special he is.

doctor who delivered baby boy posing for picture with our family
Us with our incredible Doctor!

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD without Medical Help

There are few experiences written on the web about Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD. They frequently get swept into the category of Postpartum Depression. But if you have ever experienced this, you will know that they are not the same and hearing about PPD all the time can make you feel that you are all alone in your struggle.

You are not alone.

taking care of my daughter after months of battling postpartum anxiety

 

My First Baby

I was obviously anxious about having a baby, but I was more focused on the delivery part of it. I figured that since I was the oldest of five, having a child would be easy. Having helped my mom change so many diapers, feed my siblings, gone babysitting, I just assumed that I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

 

The First 6 Weeks

For the first 6 weeks, postpartum, I was fine. We were with family and felt like we had a great support network. Our moms would gobble up any opportunity to hold Siena. They helped her fall asleep, changed her bum and were there for us to lean on physically and emotionally.

Literally, the day after my daughter was 6 weeks old, we flew all the way around the world and began living in China. There is nothing that could have prepared me for that kind of culture shock, but that is a story for another time.

 

Living in China

Facetiming to help cope with postpartum anxiety
My mom helped me through so much just by being available to talk to me whenever I needed to.

We were excited to go on this great adventure, but we weren’t entirely sure what it would be like with a baby. We had planned everything out and felt like we were prepared, we just didn’t anticipate the very real possibility of the mental health issues that might arise.

I was alone frequently during the day. Before we had left I didn’t think this would be a problem. I could make friends, and if not I could catch up on some of the things I’ve been wanting to do. I could blog, I could read, I could watch movies and of course I would be caring for our little angel.

Then I realized there was no one around me who spoke any English. And my Spanish only served to frustrate my attempts at learning Chinese. That was fine. I still had friends online… except that Facebook, Gmail, Youtube and any other American social networking site was blocked by the government. My saving grace was FaceTime, but the time change also made that very challenging. If it was four in the afternoon in China, it was two in the morning back home.

The afternoon was usually when it would start to get hard. I knew Austin wouldn’t be back from school for another couple of hours and by then I was at the end of my rope with Siena. I didn’t know how to make her happy. Being a Mama was much more difficult than I had anticipated.

 

Signs of a Problem

From the beginning, I was always a little paranoid about my baby girl. I was terrified she would just stop breathing while she was sleeping. A kid was coughing into her hands and then touching Siena’s hands… I about lost it. Fear gnawed at me constantly that something would happen to her.

We hadn’t been living in China for very long, maybe just a week or two when I started having the thoughts. Siena would be crying for hours and I would have no idea how to calm her and these unsolicited, unwanted images would flash through my mind. The images were a constant stream of me doing horrible things to my daughter. I couldn’t stop them. It seemed like the more I tried to rid myself of the thoughts, the more they permeated. (I will not get specific about what those thoughts were because I know that such descriptions can trigger images in people who suffer the same things as I did.)

I used to sit on my bed, sobbing and clutching my daughter with fear, terrified that somehow, I would do something that I had seen in my head. The fear that I would somehow do those things without wanting to may sound irrational to anyone not in my head, but it didn’t feel impossible to me. It felt terrifying and very real. 

 

Logical Explanation

mama who looks perfectly happy but battling postpartum anxiety
No one would know how I struggled unless I told them. You never know who could be going through this.

At first I thought that the only explanation for me having these thoughts was that I was a horrible mom. After all, how could I be a good mom if I was seeing all of these things in my head? It reaffirmed my belief over and over again because I couldn’t make them stop. If I was really a good mom, I wouldn’t keep seeing atrocities in my head. A good mom would never think these things.

The bad thoughts persisted so I finally looked it up online. At first the only articles I found were about postpartum depression and as I would read those, I thought, see… it’s just me. I’m the only one who thinks this way.

I finally clicked on a link labeled Postpartum Anxiety/OCD. OCD was never something that described me, but I certainly had a history of anxiety. As I read the article, everything made sense. I felt a relief just knowing that I was not the only one who had experienced this. Maybe, just maybe I wasn’t having these thoughts because I was a bad mom!

 

Postpartum Anxiety & OCD Explained

When someone experiences Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD they feel extreme anxiety about the well-being of their infant. The OCD describes ritualistic things done to help avoid the dangers that the mom foresees. As a mild example, a mom could constantly be washing her hands to make sure her baby doesn’t get sick. Another example is getting rid of items they perceive as being potentially harmful to the child.

For each of these mental illnesses, bad thoughts are a central theme. They could be bad thoughts about things in general, happening to your infant or things that you are specifically doing to your child.

Another core feature of Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum OCD is repulsion at the images you are seeing. If you are experiencing a desire to do the things you are seeing or feel like someone is telling you to do those things, it is imperative that you stop reading my blog right now and seek medical attention. This is something called Postpartum Psychosis and is very treatable if you get help.

For all of these Postpartum Anxiety, OCD, Psychosis & Depression… it is not your fault. They don’t make you a bad mom. Merely the fact that you are worried about it and researching it on the internet proves you are a great mom. You are worried about the safety of your baby and yourself.

 

Postpartum Anxiety without Medical Help

I don’t recommend this. If you are experiencing any Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, OCD or Psychosis, please seek help ASAP. There are professionals who know how to help you.

I did not have this luxury. I was in a country across the world where very few people spoke English and it would have been extremely good fortune to find anyone who knew anything about Postpartum Anxiety. It was also hard to talk to my family about it because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand. But I did find a couple of things that were helpful in my battle for it alone.

I share these with you if you are in a situation like I was and cannot receive medical help. This may be a rare circumstance, but it was extremely frustrating to receive no guidance online beyond, go seek a medical professional when that was something I couldn’t do. If nothing else, these things might help until you can receive help.

 

Things that Helped

Talking to my husband was one of the first things that helped. I told him of my thoughts even though I was ashamed and embarrassed. Getting them out in the open helped to normalize the situation. He also shared his fears and even though they were not the same as mine, it helped to know that I was not the only one struggling during what should be “the most joyful time of our life”.

My beautiful angel who I fought for during my postpartum anxiety

When I did get back to America, I went to a group once. It was helpful to an extent. The other women there struggled with postpartum depression and it was hard to really share with them because I was embarrassed about the bad thoughts I was having. However, before anyone else arrived, I got to talk to the psychologist there one on one and having a medical professional validate my experience was helpful.

What helped me the most though was realizing that my fear behind all of the thoughts was that I was a terrible mom. I was scared that deep down maybe I really was this horrible person. Once I realized my fear, I also learned that this was a lie. I was not a terrible mom. I’m not a bad person. From that point forward, whenever I would see the horrifying images, I would repeat to myself “I am a great mom.” I would repeat it until I believed it and then they would leave me alone for a time.

To me, it seemed like infusing myself with truth was the only way to combat the lies that accosted me constantly.

 

Spirituality is Helpful, but Not a Curemy husband rescuing me when I needed help with postpartum anxiety - an answer to prayers

I am a very religious person. While I was going through this, I used to read my scriptures, go to church, pray and plead with my Heavenly Father to take this away from me. I tried everything I could think of to implore heavenly help. It came, but it came in the form of ways to cope until I could find professional help.

For example, I found an article that reaffirmed I was sick, that there was a name for something I was going through. That felt so liberating.

Another example is my husband would have strength when I had none. I have a picture of him standing, silhouetted in the dark while he held our crying baby and had saved me from emotionally crumpling in on myself.

Even though I was doing everything I could to stay close to my Heavenly Father, I still had the bad thoughts. And part of me likes to think that I went through that so I would know that this is a legitimate illness that is not imagined or something that you can just control. Because I know this, I can now be there to support other women who are struggling in the same way.

In fact, this is a video put out by my church talking about the need for professional help. This woman describes her experience and there were so many things that resonated with me. I always appreciate it when someone has the courage to share their experience. It helps me feel like I am not alone in this struggle; that it has happened to other women.

 

Length of Time

After I returned to America and was around family again, my bad thoughts almost went away. But they didn’t completely. Sometimes they would return full force and I would find myself crippled in emotional hell.

They came back more frequently when we moved to Detroit. I had read somewhere that it would last throughout the first year of your child’s life. This seemed impossible to me. How could they just go away? I would never be able to forget the images that had tortured me.

While that is true, it is also true that the illness went away. After a year, I was no longer consumed by it. I still remember every horrible thought I had with impeccable clarity. They are not easily forgotten. But, they don’t replay in my head over and over again, threatening to strip me of my sanity.

Instead I think, “my poor new mom self. I wish I could tell her how amazing she was for being strong when she felt impossibly weak.”

 

my angel baby and her big eyes helped me battle postpartum anxiety
My beautiful girl was a light to me during the trying times.

 

Will it Return?

Postpartum Anxiety and OCD is most common with your first pregnancy, but that does not mean it is impossible for it to return. As I prepared for the birth of my second child, I talked to my OB/GYN about my experience with Siena and she helped me take some precautions. She recommended some mental health professionals and prescribed some anxiety meds.

Taking the medication gave me extreme insomnia so I quit taking those. And I never did get to go see someone before my son was born, or after for that matter. I am happy to report that I haven’t needed to so far. He is 5 months old and I have been so happy. I didn’t know this kind of happiness postpartum was possible.

And in case you were concerned or wondering, the postpartum anxiety I had with my daughter does not in any way affect how much I love my children. I love them both the same and am so grateful that this time around, I got to enjoy all of the experiences that being a new mom can bring.

 

enjoying the sweet moments with my son
My Sweet Son, Grayson

You Always Have Help

I am not a medical professional, I don’t have a degree or a license. I just have a lot of experience that can at the very least, assure you that you are normal. You will just need some help getting through this.

If you are struggling with this and have no one else to turn to, I am here as a resource. It will get better. It doesn’t last forever and you are an incredible mom.

If you would like to reach out to me, please send me an email or leave your comments below. I am sure there are many people who struggle with this and would be able to offer even more insight than I can.