Our Crosses To Bare

We All Have A Story…

This post has been rolling around in my head ever since I shared a video on my Facebook Blog Page about a mother who decided to share pictures of her stillborn baby.

A series of events happened over the course of the week or two after I saw this video that even further drove my thoughts on the topic of not only stillbirth but of this notion of nature not always “getting it right”. The events included a few friends suffering early miscarriages (which I am no stranger to) and then having the privilege of having two very intimate conversations with mother’s in my circle who have lost babies after 20 weeks gestation. Listening to their stories felt like I was given sacred privileged information and I was now a gate keeper of a tiny sliver of their hearts.

At 32, my Facebook newsfeed and Instagram is heavily populated by pregnancy and birth announcements. Which I truly do enjoy; but being the pessimistic, nervous Nelly that I am- I can’t help but think sometimes how is it that EVERY pregnancy announcement always is followed by a healthy mom and baby? Its not that I want things to go wrong for anyone, but the statistics do not add up in my scientific brain. The tragic inevitable truth is that nature is not without it’s flaws and does not always get it right. A pregnancy does not always equal a smiling mom and baby…or a baby at all… yet we seldom hear or see these stories.

If you don’t know me in person- I am a talker (I can’t help it!!!). I’ve mentioned this in previous posts but I have a hard time understanding privacy. Not that I can’t understand it- I get it- it’s just very opposite of who I am. In the early days of my child bearing journey when things weren’t going smoothly, I definitely felt shame, embarrassment, and hesitancy to speak on a “taboo” topic- but I felt inclined to share my journey anyway. This is my human experience and my experiences make me human. Not only that but I WANTED to talk about-  it was therapeutic – I didn’t want to carry around the sadness alone. I think this is why I ask the “inappropriate” questions that you’re not supposed to ask women when it comes to childbearing. Because I guess I feel deep down women want to be asked and want to talk about their journeys and loss and perceived failures but feel afraid to. (And for those women that have crossed my path and really do just want to keep their privacy- I apologize if I’ve ever offended you :-X).

We All Have A Story…

Mine goes a little like this… Moving around a lot as a kid, I craved stability in my adult life and settled down early. I bought a house, got married to a good man, and started trying for a baby all before the age of 27. In hindsight, this was probably a bit rushed, but I really do have no regrets. I suffered my first miscarriage in early 2013 followed by two more over the next 9 months. My darling Mazzie girl is a clomid (fertility drug) baby. Breastfeeding had a rough start with us hitting basically every roadblock we could but I pushed through and came out the other side enlightened with a newfound passion. I had a stereotypical vaginal birth in a hospital with an epidural for my first daughter. My second pregnancy came easy without the help of fertility treatments but was an uncomfortable one that plagued me with terrible morning sickness. I had an unmedicated and somewhat traumatic vaginal home birth followed by severe Post Partum Depression/OCD. I breastfed my first daughter through pregnancy and tandem nursed until she was two years and 9 months old and am currently still nursing my second (that’s over THREE years of breastfeeding!!). This is MY story. Although I had trauma, I also had triumphs and I’m realizing every woman’s story is not so different from mine although the events may not be the same.

I know women who in their mid 30’s have the fertility of a 16 year old and can pop out babies like it’s nothing but for whatever reason couldn’t breastfeed. I know women who have trouble staying pregnant but give birth like a BOSS and handle the post partum phase like a breeze. I know women who are young, vibrant, and healthy yet are devastated and heartbroken by unexplained infertility. I know women who have amazing pregnancies and take to breastfeeding like they are Amazonian Goddesses yet have complicated births.

We are all unique and while our experiences share so much similarity, no two are the same. I try to remember behind every pregnancy and birth announcement; there is a woman, there is a family, there is a story. Sometimes women lose babies that they have already carved out a place for in their hearts, sometimes women will dream of seeing that little cross on a pregnancy test for years and may not ever see it. Sometimes women posing in pictures with their newborn babies smiling are truly suffering inside and do not tell a soul.

I never want to stop celebrating our triumphs, but I also don’t want to be naive to the pain and suffering it sometimes takes to get there. Some day we may find out the answers to the very many questions we have. Like how can a mother survive the loss of a child and what purpose does it serve? Maybe it’s not for us to know, or maybe there really isn’t a good answer. But I do know how a sunny warm day feels after a week of rain, or how the warm embrace of my husband feels after a day of disagreements. How can we appreciate the rainbow if we’ve never even seen the storm?

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Sweet Josephine: A Homebirth Story

I’ve been hesitating on writing Josephine’s birth story because well, it was nothing like I had expected or planned and there is still a lot of disappointment and even trauma there. My Sweet Josephine is now 13 months old. We celebrated her first birthday a little over a month ago. I assumed everyone around me knew the story behind Josephine’s birth, but I keep getting the same reaction when they hear it: You need to write about this. When I sat down to start this post, I had a draft already started but I think it was too hard for me to finish it then- well I am ready now.

I don’t even know where to begin and I apologize in advance because I have no idea how many words this is going to take me.

Here we go…

After I came to my decision for a homebirth, I would drive the twenty minutes every 4 weeks to a rural town dotted with horse farms and cow pastures, toddler in tow. A dirt road led me to a small sign with the image of a mother holding a child and I would meet my two midwives in a cozy two room converted shed with a coal stove as the only source of heat. My two midwives were very different from each other, one authoritative, confident, and a little aloof… the other gentle, warm and compassionate.

My measurements were always normal at every prenatal appointment so I thought I was smooth sailing into a homebirth, however I always would say I just felt off. I was bluey, exhausted, lonely (yet isolating myself), and just blah. I wasn’t excited in the slightest for this new child and felt terribly guilty about it. I blamed the exhaustion of being pregnant with a toddler and all of the aches and pains of pregnancy for why I felt this way. I just kept thinking, as soon as the baby is born: I would feel better. I spent the pregnancy reading books on natural birth (I seriously read them all: My favorite was this one if you are interested: Birthing from Within)doing yoga, meditating, watching documentaries on homebirth, I took it ridiculously serious.

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I Love My Strong Willed Child

Holy Hiatus! It’s been a minute…

I should let you guys in on a secret…. I never enjoyed writing much. Hands down my least favorite subject in school was English & Lit, my most dreaded college course was composition. I think I ended up with a C. So how did I end up authoring a blog?! I just have a ton of feelings in this little body and putting them into words clears my head, helps me organize my thoughts, and is truly therapeutic. Only one downfall though, I could never be a professional writer (and why I’ll probably never make any money off of this blog ha). I have to be inspired in order to sit down and put pen to paper. Or in this case; fingers to keys. So I apologize for the hiatus…I guess life just hasn’t been that interesting lately (which I’m partly happy about)

A lot of my posts in the last year or so have been primarily about myself and pregnancy and the ever so dreadful post partum depression/anxiety. I haven’t written about my first baby, my darling girl; Masilyn Marie in quite some time.

She recently turned three. THREE! And started pre-school, so we are officially apart of the back-to-school grind. I realized for the first time really why people say “it goes so fast” and “don’t blink!”. Because I almost felt like once I enrolled her in pre-school, the rat race started. And from here on out it’s going to be Christmas break, then summer break, then starting a new school year, then graduation, then marriage, then…. okay, I’ll stop. But you get the point. It makes me yearn for the simpler days of life but also holds a lot of fun and joy.

I have made it no secret that my first born has been high maintenance and opinionated since the day she was born. She is stubborn, and at times filled with rage, defiant, independent, sassy, and I’d be lying if sometimes I didn’t think she was the devil incarnate. She is terrible at sharing her toys, refuses bath time nearly every night, tantrums at dinner time, or if she wants a “green” fork instead of the blue one I gave her. She is demanding and bossy. She can make play dates a disaster, car trips a nightmare, and holy hell let’s not talk about restaurants.

But you know what else she is?

She is smart, and compassionate, and wise beyond her years. She is outgoing and hysterical. She is fiercely protective of her baby sister and stops what she’s doing just to run over to me and tell me she loves me. She is imaginative and full of life. But most importantly; she is mine.

She may tantrum over things that are small, but it is my job to remember that to her there are no small things. Every feeling she has is large and all-consuming at three years old. When she is upset because I made fish sticks for lunch and not chicken tenders, my adult brain thinks this is absolutely F-ing ridiculous but then I see the tears in her eyes and the confusion and frustration in her face and body language… and I realize she’s not trying to purposefully make my life difficult… she just feels out of control. And that is something I can relate to.

I have noticed something I have been doing that I purposefully and consciously want to stop doing. I have always been self-deprecating and this little quirk has followed me into my parenting. I think I have been apologizing for my daughter’s personality, or making comments like “She is a nightmare!” in settings with other moms for most of her life. I know this is all apart of my self-defense mechanism because it is embarrassing when you have the “bad kid” at the park. Or the kid that won’t share or sit nicely at a restaurant. Because this is one judgmental world we’re living in these days and it’s annoyingly stressful when your kid just won’t behave the way you want them to, dammit! But I realized I don’t want to speak about my child in a negative way or for her to ever hear me speak of her that way. I’d much rather have people judge me for being too soft towards my children than too harsh.

The moms that I would judge pre-kids I know now to treat with compassion. It doesn’t feel good to have the “difficult kid” and to feel like everyone is judging your parenting. As a mom of two, the aunt to a niece and nephew, and someone who has been in enough play date scenarios to last me a lifetime… I have learned that parenting only goes so far. At the end of the day… children are individuals with their own temperaments and personalities.

I lose my patience of course, and I definitely teeter on the edge of being too lenient, but I am trying to navigate this parenting world of a willful three year old the best I can. All I can do is do what I’ve always done since the day I became her mother and that is follow my heart, parent with compassion and hope to God it all turns out well in the end. This is three… holy hell it’s hard, but it’s also a lot of fun <3

 

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Overcoming Post Partum Depression

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My recovery since writing my last Post Partum Depression post has been a roller coaster. I would have a month of feeling good and then Bam! I’d wake up one morning and would feel it all creeping back in. The post partum depression/anxiety I experienced was so … textbook. It was like there was a post partum me and a normal me and I could instantly tell when I woke up how I was going to feel that day. When the obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and despair returned- the hopelessness would set in; that feeling that I would never get out of this.

I coped by letting it all out to my husband or mother or best friend when the anxiety became overwhelming. I attended a support group and met other moms that understood the awfulness. I kept busy!!! I made sure I got out of the house and around people (having a planned activity at least once a week really helped – mine was a dance class I enrolled my two year old in.) Anything I could do to occupy my mind- I did. (Now have a completely redecorated house and a high credit card balance to go with it- thanks PPD!) But I also recognized when I could use some help and would see my therapist during the really rough times. She was fabulous and if I could afford the $150/session I would have been there every week! If  you are going through PPD- it makes a world of difference to find a therapist you connect with – she was the third one I met with before really finding that relationship. The tools she gave me were invaluable and really what I feel led me out of the woods. I just recently wrote her a letter just thanking her, because although it was her job and she does this day in and day out, she affected me greatly and maybe even changed the course of my life. I owed her my gratitude.

And last but not least… good ol’ fashioned time. Sometimes the only way out really is through.
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