Tag Archives | post partum

Tag Archives | post partum

messy beautiful life

When I get quiet on this space, it is usually always because I am dealing with some real life stuff.  I don’t mean to not write in these times, but for me, I have to process internally before I’m ready to process externally.  Both of which are necessary parts of my growth  .

I am someone who has a natural gift to be happy and optimistic about most things.  I understood it was a unique gift I had when I realized my sweet bubbly, bouncing Stella had it, too.  I am easily excited and a total romantic.  I can usually find something charming and swoon-worthy just about anywhere.  I get giddy over nothing, and the things that normal people get excited for, I nearly hyperventilate.  This is my voice.  It’s part of what makes me, me. 

I am also someone who has fought a life long battle with depression, off and on.  That is a really quirky side of my personality compared to my usual bouncing self, but I have come to really just adore quirky people, and loving this part of myself is hard, but I am really trying to do it anyway.

I think it’s also strange to talk about depression, because you would rather that just go away.  Depression doesn’t own my joy, so where I choose to be happy, my depression can’t reach.  These pages I have written here have been the happy moments I have wanted to keep in my mind forever.  But I also know how important it is for us to share our hearts, especially those tender parts, to heal ourselves and help heal the world around us.

Depression for me picks and chooses it’s years or months to invade, and I have learned how to fight this internal battle in different seasons in different ways.  I have also learned that love is the greatest healer, and nothing heals me quite like loving myself does.

Having a healthy relationship with myself, loving who I am as a person, accepting the way my body looks and my life looks, doesn’t just mean I just do all the time.  It means I have to consciously each day to choose that, over the alternative.  Which is giving into the idea that I’m not doing enough, that I need to be different, or look different, whatever the case may be.  Some days I feel on top of things and it’s easy to love me, other days I fight with myself and have to choose to love me.  This is a journey I’ll likely always be on as a woman, and I’m grateful the years ahead (I hear) come with more self-acceptance and less care of pettiness, especially as we continue to practice self-love.

I live with four young children who sometimes, actually all times, demand and ask of me way more than they give back.  My husband is also living a life keeping his head above water just like me, and our lives definitely pull us away from each other more than we would like sometimes.  I can’t always rely on my “love tank” being filled from them, and when I can extend grace and love to myself, I am less needy of attention from them.  I can also give more when my tank is full.

Loving myself is a daily practice of prayer.  Each day I walk through the areas of my head and heart with God and ask for guidance, comfort, love, patience, direction in whichever areas are weighing on me.  This is the first thing I started doing as I began to build a relationship with God, and it’s the single most thing that has changed my life the most. I am grateful to know that there is this source of Love I can tap into when I’m feeling low, and the good  Lord knows I can feel low on love from time to time.  I can imagine every mother can feel drained of love and patience now and again.

I choose happy every day, I really try even when it seems so impossible.  As someone who fights depression and anxiety, I fight the feelings of restlessness, hopelessness, never-enough-ness, discontent, grief, sadness, past trauma, work through the healing of old wounds.  This is not work for the weak, this is work for the warrior.

I may not be showing up everyday in social media or even here on the blog, but you can bet I’ll be working hard to show up every day in my actual real life.  The life only I can live, the children only I can mother, the husband I get to wife, the struggles I’ve been conditioned to walk through.  This is me.

Every evening, low on patience, messy kitchen, dinner on the stove, and a baby or two wanting up in my arms.  It is the beautiful chaos that to me, creates the most beautiful life.  The pain, the joy, and every last emotion in between.  It’s all just color, and color is beautiful.

Writing this close to my heart feels vulnerable and scary at times, but I think what we don’t share hurts us more than what we do.  We are better together, and I’m so glad you’re showing up for me here and living life along side me.

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drowning in blessings

cassmiller – Just a happy little reminder left just for me on my sidewalk by one of my children. #tendermercy
If you are going through a stormy season, let me remind you that your rainbow is coming. God is with us in our trials and He never wastes a hurting heart. 💛

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I have been dealing with a wave of depression over the last little while.  I know it’s depression, not only because depression has gotten so familiar to me, but when my life seems pretty smooth, everyone is doing well, things are busy and bustling and there’s nothing to be sad about, yet still I feel sad inside.  That is exactly what’s been going on here.

This morning, as I finished up my hour of gratitude, where I start my day noting all the things I am grateful for, I told Mr. Miller, “I feel like I’m drowning in blessings.” and that is exactly how I feel.  I am so grateful for this full and happy life, and sometimes it just feels like so much full and happy life.  I guess I’ll take that particular set of issues.

Depression isn’t something I chat about too much, even though it’s something I’ve dealt with my entire life.  Lately though, as I have been studying depression, post partum depression, depression in women, I have found some truths and statistics that troubled me.  Like, post partum depression being the highest complication after delivery, but only 7% of these women suffering get help.  I found this through my own research to find answers for my post partum depression, a very misunderstood and misdiagnosed form of depression.

I, of course, believe in living a healthy lifestyle.  I do all things possible to maintain a happy, healthy, and wholesome life.  These things include but are not limited to: eating habits, exercise, self care, therapy, good books, nights with friends, a good date night, resting, self love, down time, vacation, feeding creativity…  I believe everyone should be striving for these things on the regular.  IF MAMA AINT HAPPY AINT NOBODY HAPPY.  It is not bad mothering to enjoy life and prioritize taking care of your mind, body, and spirit.  That is actually great mothering.  You cannot fill anyone’s cup if yours is on empty.  Take time for yourself.

I (after exhausting all my options I could on my own) sought help from my OBGYN, because ya know, post-partum/women/childbirth…  but after they lead me kind of astray and I felt worse and more confused after their carelessness, I eventually found myself in the care of my primary care doctor, which is exactly where I should have been in the first place, I learned.  So, know that is where to go.  Depression you can chat to your primary care doctor about.  *And if you find one you like, keep them forever! (words from the wise here) His help might be lifestyle suggestions, different areas of therapy, hormone support, medication… there is a variety of different treatments, but just talking about it to someone safe might make the world of difference toward feeling better.

Do you know the signs of depression?  If you aren’t feeling yourself, if you can’t feel the joy that you can see all around you, if you have increasingly less energy that you typically have, or are finding yourself always feeling like you’re running on empty… these could all be signs of depression.  I have struggled with depression and post partum depression, and after each of my babies, my post partum depression has manifested itself differently.  Sometimes with anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes with all consuming, reason-less sadness, sometimes in extreme feelings of failure or never doing enough.  I muscled my way through it, and now that I have an entire family that depends on my emotional well being, I have had to prioritize myself and get the help and answers I needed to get better.

There is NO SHAME in self love, self care, self prioritization.  The more kids I have, the more I have to prioritize myself.  The weird thing is, the more kids I have, the less natural it feels for me to keep myself at top billing.  I have really kept to aligning my life with my relationships with God and myself as my priorities.  This is the only way I wont get swallowed up by the bits of life that can become consuming.

For me, this dance is not hardly ever graceful.  Or not ever.  I burn way out before I start asking for help, but I am learning that about myself, and looking for opportunities to be better.  Working on my own personal boundaries and figuring out what I can really fit on my plate.  And that’s it, just on my plate.  Not what is on her plate, or what the general area has on their plates in comparison to mine.  We all have a different place here, and it’s okay if I can only squeeze in one kid in a dance camp for the year and tell the rest Santa will only come if they sacrifice extra-curricular activities. (Just kidding, but really..) While other friends of mine seem to breeze through the web of organization it requires to maintain a bustling family schedule. (Looking to you here Liz, Jess, Amy…)  “Different” is not “less than”.  Run your race, let the others run theirs.

I am feeling better after a couple of tough weeks, and I pray that as I continue to learn about myself, I can heal faster, grow deeper in faith and love, care for myself better, and maintain a happier, healthier, more beautiful life.  At least, that’s the goal here.

If there is one thing that I have learned through this blog of mine, it is that we are not alone in our lives.  Not only is God with us, but He provides us angels all over in the world to connect with.  You all have been a blessing to me, and I care about us all too much to not sometimes talk about the important stuff.  If you are out there reading this, needing these reminders today, remember this: You are loved, you are thought about, you are prayed over.  You, my dear friend, are not alone.

 

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the not-so-fitness post | healing my body image

I have shared a little bit about starting up Kayla Itsiness’ workout program.  I have gotten a lot of questions and I thought this would be the best place to share a bit about my experience.

I have been reluctant to put anything out there, because I am NOT a fitness queen.. but then I think that the “non fitness” type people are exactly the people I’d like to hear from with what they do to stay fit and healthy, so I’m going to share my story so far, instead of when I’m “on top” of it.  So take note that I myself am in the very beginning stages.

Before I post about my workouts, getting in shape, and the ever sought-after “how did I lose the baby weight?!” questions, I feel strong importance to tell you the whole story, and my story with body image begins before my fitness journey does.

I grew up having a lot of body-shaming talk around me, which probably had a lot to do with my poor body image all throughout my childhood and teen years.  I HATED my body, I was in a constant need to escape it.  I treated myself poorly, allowed others to treat me poorly, and I didn’t take care of my health what-so-ever.  As a teenager, I lived with my bachelor of a dad, so my idea of a “home cooked” meal was a can of Nally’s chili, or a frozen dinner warmed in the microwave… the only idea of “eating healthy” I knew of was crash-dieting, which I tried often, which looked more like harsh starvation of my body, and frustration when I didn’t look like Nicole Richie after my painful efforts.

Then, after years of sinking so deep into a darkness of not understanding my worth, and some devastating personal challenges, something miraculous happened when I got pregnant with my first baby.  I carried that baby to full-term, and without ever having done so before, successfully pushed her out of my body.  I did it! I gave birth to the most perfect baby girl.  Something happened to me as I sat in my living room rocking chair, that first time my milk came in – the milk that would sustain this angel baby girl of mine that my body just fully prepared for earthly life – I had a crashing wave of gratitude come over me for the healthy body I had, that I had treated so poorly, but had given me my life’s greatest joy anyway.  This is when I started viewing my body more as my friend rather than an inconvenient part of myself.

As Harlo grew, I wanted only what was best for her growing body.  I researched her nutrition diligently – how to make the healthiest possible baby food to feed her perfect little body.  One day as I was cooking for her, contentment filled my heart over nourishing her so well.  A whisper of a thought came to my mind, “Your body is just as perfect as hers, shouldn’t you be treating yours the same way?”  And that thought changed me.

I taught myself to cook.  I cut out preservatives and ate only real, from-scratch, fresh food.  I practiced gratitude for my body, and not only stopped talking negatively about my body (I strongly don’t want my children growing up in that environment), but I also stopped thinking negatively about my body.  When a negative thought came in, I would quickly catch it, and respond with a positive truth.  Rather than “I wish my thighs were skinnier.” I would replace it with, “I am so glad I have strong, capable legs that can chase after my little girls!”  At first I corrected myself a lot, and then after some time I didn’t have to correct my thinking as much, and even more time, not hardly ever.  A positive body image truly is something that can be learned, or perhaps it’s a bad body image that can be healed.  I am living proof.

After I had delivered Harlo and began my pregnancy with Stella, I knew my body could do this work.  I opted to deliver her naturally at home, because I knew my body was capable – and it was.  When my labor with Grae stalled, I knew my body could do this.  I trusted it fully, and again, it delivered.  The end of my pregnancy with Major, when my body had been stretched more than ever before, when I was at the end of labor pushing out the toughest baby I’d ever had to push out – I knew my body could do this.  Even during my miscarriage, when the doctors recommended a D&C and I opted out because I KNEW my body could do this.

As the years have gone on through my adult life, I have seen my body’s capabilities.  I have given birth on my bedroom floor THREE times, I have labored and stretched and been stronger than I would have ever imagined I could be.  I have withstood five sickening first trimesters, carried four babies to full term, my small frame feeling like it was busting at the seems, but still it pushed on cooking those babies well past “full term”.  As I suffered a miscarriage, I waited patiently while my body worked hard to hold onto the pregnancy it had created, even though the life inside of it hadn’t made it.  After that painful loss, I gifted my body with diligent yoga to help heal my mind, spirit, and my ever-capable body.  It was during that therapeutic yoga practice that I learned that my body was much more “athletic” than I had ever given it credit for, and how good I felt when I took care of it.

So you could say my body and I have been through a lot together, and it stands as the only thing that has stuck with me through every single life experience I’ve ever had.  This body of mine isn’t like my best friend, it is my best friend, and it’s a friend I care deeply for.  So after my body and I delivered this last baby, skin sagging, extra weight, muscles literally stretched to separation, 2 ribs permanently misplaced, and one tailbone that will never be the same from it’s time on the battlefield, it was an easy decision to take good care of the body that has taken such good care of me and my family.

And this is where my fitness story begins.

Suit : Target
Blanket : Wander Series
Photo : Sugar Rush Photo

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don’t cry over low milk supply

Recently  I hit a milestone with a full year of breastfeeding!  It feels like such a sweet success.  I have come a long way in nursing since my first baby.  I have learned patience with myself and have had a lot of trial and error to see what has worked for us.  I have a very particular milk supply.  I can start drying up after a morning of not drinking enough water.  With my first baby, this resulted in starting to supplement with formula which quickly led to a complete drying up.  My next two rounds of nursing, I have learned to put up a good fight.  I lasted just shy of 11 months nursing Stella before she self-weaned and I am still nursing Grae at 12 months.  I am so thrilled about this!  It has been a journey for me, but I have done it.  I often get asked questions about what I use, so today I am sharing the herbs I’ve used to up my milk supply to help me exclusively nurse for a year – even with a finicky milk supply.

Five Week Formula – These are herbs my midwife has me start taking at 35 weeks pregnant.  They are packed full of herbs to help through the delivery process, one of which is milk production.  I swear by the 5 week formula having taken it 2/3 pregnancies.  So many benefits which include very minimal post partum bleeding, quick and abundant milk coming in, strong uterus/contractions during labor, and just a much faster recovery overall – including my belly shrinking back at a rapid rate.  But, milk production is probably my favorite and most important perk to these herbs.

Fenugreek – Fenugreek is a magical pill for me.  I take 2 pills 3 times a day with lots of water.  By my second dose of the day, I can tell I’m filling up.  Nursing Stella, I took Fenugreek almost daily to keep my milk supply up.  I loved that it’s okay to take intermittently though.  On days I would wake up feeling nice and full, I didn’t need to take it those days.  Fenugreek also makes you smell like maple syrup, which may or may not be a perk for you.  Mr. Miller called me “short stack” the whole time I was nursing Stella.  :) Maple syrup smell doesn’t bother me, but if it bothers you, you have other options.  Also, sometimes Fenugreek doesn’t work as well for some people, which brings me to…

Blessed Thistle – My midwife says that Blessed Thistle works better for the majority of people.  If Fenugreek hasn’t worked as well for you (or if you’re not into smelling like iHop), Blessed thistle is a great option.  I have been using Blessed Thistle this time around and have had no complaints.  I have more experience with  Fenugreek, but I think Blessed Thistle works just as well.  I also take this 2 pills 3 times daily on the days I’m feeling less full and need a little pick me up.  Now I know my body enough and know if I didn’t eat as many calories that day, or drink as much, or have been feeling more depressed or very stressed, or have been super active.. all of these things affect my milk.  On the days I know I’ll need it, I start taking blessed thistle before I have signs of my milk dipping down.  I think this has really helped me stay on top of it.

Placenta Encapsulation – I had my placenta encapsulated after I delivered Grae.  I had heard so many good things about placenta encapsulation and how it has worked well for post partum depression, milk supply and hormone balance just to name a few.  Having suffered from PPD in the past, I knew it was worth a try.  I have been so thrilled with my experience taking my placenta pills.  I absolutely felt a difference in the “baby blues” days after delivering, which for me are usually pretty weepy.  My milk also came in abundance!  I took my pills religiously for the first 6 weeks and then have taken them intermittently throughout the year as needed for depression or milk supply.  I really think having my placenta encapsulated has made all the difference in a great supply this time.  I have found I need to take my herbs much less if I’ve taken my placenta pills.  There are SO MANY perks to encapsulating your placenta, you are crazy not to.  I would be happy to share more info on this, but for milk supply – it has my double stamp of approval.

Wait on the weight – Nothing will dry your milk up quicker than jumping the gun on losing the baby weight.  I KNOW it’s hard to be 20, 30, 40+ lbs more than you’d like to be, but let’s not forget that minor detail that our body just 1. created an entire human 2. birthed  that perfectly made human and 3. is now nourishing that rapidly growing little human.  I hate when those details get overlooked.  I don’t love to be in a size 8 or 10 when I’m used to being a size 2 as much as the next girl, but what I don’t like even more is losing my ability to breastfeed.  PLUS, I have found nursing working for me on the back end… I tend to keep my baby weight for that first six months or so for nursing (which makes sense because I’m nourishing two bodies at the same time that I need to keep some extra storage) and then in that last 6 months, I really feel like nursing helps it come off naturally when it’s supposed to.  I know lots of people who tend to keep the weight on the entire time they’re nursing, and I think it’s just what their body needs.  But when my weight starts to come off, my milk has a hard time.  Because I know my milk supply is sensitive, I have to prioritize that above other things.  Getting back into shape minutes after delivery is one of those things.  Sometimes having a positive body image doesn’t mean loving what your body looks like at any given time, but being patient with your body and extending love to it – and especially giving it a little credit for it’s current stage.  I will make it known that I didn’t lose a pound of my baby weight until Grae was over 5 months old.  It has slowly, slowly trickled off – the longest it’s taken with all three of my babes.  And wouldn’t you know it?  My best milk supply yet.

See a lactation consultant – This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but seriously – see a LC.  They are so well educated and can help with issues like this.  They can give so many suggestions.  I saw a lactation consultant twice this time around for two different reasons.  Sometimes a bad latch will cause a lagging supply, sometimes too many snack feedings, sometimes a baby who sleeps through the night too early will cause supply issues.  All of these things are something your midwife or lactation consultant can help with.  My lactation cost me $20 a visit and my goodness, what a bargain that was to get on the right track.  Especially if you don’t have a plethora of sisters or friends to talk to, a lactation consultant can be a true life saver!

I’ll close by saying breastfeeding isn’t always the easiest option – especially in that first 6-8 weeks, you feel like it’s a full time job – and some!  But once you get over that hump, things start flowing with ease.  Nursing my babies is absolutely at the top of my list for my most favorite thing in the world.  It is so worth trying to figure out if you can.

 

(beautiful photos of me nursing Grae c/o Ashley Flowers Photography)

 I’ll also say that I have no regret over opting to bottle-feed Harlo after some time and struggle.  It was best at the time for that situation.  I just wish I would have known I had a few more options to try out before making the switch, because once you switch over – there’s no going back. :)

Happy happy nursing my dear friends!  Wishing you all the very best.

xoxo

(I’ll be answering questions in the comments – also if you have any tips to add, please do!)

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