Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Postpartum Breastfeeding Anxiety and other first year woes

 If you have ever had kids, taken a psychology class, or been around a mom, you have heard about postpartum depression and possibly postpartum anxiety. Well, I have looked and looked for a term I'd like to call "Postpartum Breastfeeding Anxiety (PPBA)." It's not too flashy (no pun intended), but you get the point. I'm convinced so many mothers deal with this. I'll do what the doctors do and give you a check list I totally made up seeing as how I'm in fact- not a doctor. I only play one on T.V. (sorry, I had to!)

  • Do you fear leaking all over yourself so you stay home?
  • Do you stay home because your baby's head flails around under a cover so they don't even eat well?
  • Do you stay home because said "cover" is a prank Ashton Kutcher is playing on mamas just to sneak a peek?
  • Do you stay home and loathe the next time you have to feed your baby because of the anxiety of how it might go wells up within you?
  • Do you dread looking at the clock because it might be close to the next feeding?
  • Do you feel enslaved knowing you have to feed them...again...soon?
  • Do you feel like you suck at it only to have it confirmed (in your mind) by a lower weight check?
  • Do you dream of bottle feeding because you think it would give, dare I say, freedom?
                Well, friend, you are not alone. But it sure does feel like it doesn't it? 

I love being a mom. Love it. I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom since I was in elementary school. It is hands down, the hardest, more rewarding gig I've ever had! But can I just be honest and say the first year kills me? I have combed through everything about PPD, taking every check-list there is. Nope. That's not it. I have looked through all the information on PPA and yes, parts of that, but not the whole. So I sit on my couch, yet again, texting my mom friends and crying because I am struggling with anxiety over nursing. See, with my first, Lewis, we had a rough start too. I had to use a nipple shield for six months so he could nurse. So with our second I thought, "OK I don't want to be enslaved to that, so let me teach her how to nurse better." Guess what, you guys?!?! IT WORKED!! Until the same thing that happened to Lewis hit Phoebe. The little devil referred to as acid reflux and his a-hole buddy, colic. They love nothing more than to tag team an already tired, overwhelmed mama and kick her while she's down. It's a fun thing, really. False. It is hell. Crying what seems to be non-stop. Except this time, it came out of nowhere. I was unprepared. Here's how that all went down...

Phoebe's birth was beautiful. She latched like a champ. I was determined to make it better this time. My first PP appointment was phenomenal. I had no complications and not even any pain after my c-section this time. Praise the Lord because mama was SCARED of those things happening again. So when I arrived at my six week check-up, I felt on top of the world. I was even afraid of how normal I felt. The best part was that it lasted!! Until it didn't. Three months after she was born, she stopped eating. My sweet girl was thriving. Growing pretty impressively. Then she wasn't. I kept asking people if they thought she looked too little. Everyone thought she was just petite, but I knew in my gut something was wrong. I took her in for a weight check and yep, she lost weight. The doctor was so kind, but concerned, so we began medicine for acid reflux and supplementing because she needed to gain weight and my supply dropped drastically. I began taking Reglan as well to boost my supply. It worked, but she is still in a low percentile for weight and I am still attempting to nurse. Except, I don't LOVE it like I so desperately want to. I want her to be well. I am so over the constant crying and feeling helpless. Completely helpless (more on this in a minute). I'm honestly thinking about throwing in the towel because the Reglan makes me SO tired and intensifies all of my other emotions. It's like airplane safety..."In case of emergency, adults put on your oxygen mask first, then assist the children." If I didn't feel anxiety about, well, everything to do with nursing, then I know my outlook would be so much healthier. So I'm gonna' spend some time thinking over this one.

Feeling completely helpless is not a feeling I feel very often. I tend to see the glass half full and when all else fails, refill it! Except the first year with a fussy baby. I don't love the first year, ok. It is a whirlwind of a hot mess for me. I am an extrovert who is shut in the house due to PPBA. I feel like I give and give (which I am pretty happy to do) except I have little to no way to recharge or refill. By the time I DO get around other adults, I act like a total weirdo who has been living under a front porch her whole life because I am just socially malnourished. The thing is, I KNOW I'm not alone. I KNOW other women feel these things. Guilt because you don't nurse and grief for it not working out, but it SUCKS because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT. Well, friends, I am here to say the things no one really confesses, but desperately wants to. The first year of motherhood is hard. You deal with things you haven't dealt with before. The trickiest part is that you have NO idea what you'll even experience so there truly is no way to prepare. It's hard because as a mom, you feel things differently than a father tends to feel. You cringe when your baby cries in the back seat while you are driving and you just can't seem to get to where you're going fast enough. By the time you arrive, you're a mess because you soak up the pain of whatever your baby is crying about. Again, feeling helpless. You stay up when they are sick and you can't do anything to make it just vanish. Again, helpless. If your family lives out of town, you are limited on help. When you have to go to the store because your child is sick, but you can't take them, so you have to wait until some help arrives, helplessness sets in. Or they cry from the pain of reflux and you can't make it better. You can't take it away. Helpless.

I try SO hard every single day to remind myself that this is a season. A season I don't love because the decisions are heavy and carry much weight. But then again, they don't. While I'm IN it, I can't even see to the next season. I don't want to wish this season all away, but at the same time, I have not looked back once on when Lewis was a baby and wanted that season again. Heck no, actually!

I have to constantly remind myself of the big picture. The biggest picture of the truth of it all. The TRUTH is that no matter how weak my faith becomes in the midst of the struggle, God is in fact NOT punishing me! Man, can it feel that way!! That's not how he works. Period. It means I need to lean into Jesus more. I need to figure out ways to "keep calm and carry on" when she is screaming...again. I need to reach out to my friends, leak breast milk on my couch while our older kids play, and make wild plans for when our kids grow up! I need remember that this feeling of prison in my home goes away quickly. I need to remember that this is hard now, but my heart will ache to its core when my kids move out (although I'm sure the sadness won't last long as I drive to the airport to fly to an exotic location with my husband...alone!). But right now, it IS hard. One kid or 19 Kids and Counting, it's hard. Let's not diminish that fact. Let's not overlook the moms who are afraid to be honest for fear of shame they don't love the first year either. If you LOVE the first year, that's awesome! If you don't love it, that's awesome too! Because at the end of the day, we are all tired and drained from working all day and loving our little people. You are the BEST mom for your sweet babe who trusts you and loves you no matter what! God feels the same way about you too! But, the truth is, we can only do this if we KNOW Jesus and trust Him more than we trust our own efforts! We have to trust him and lean into him even more the first year. The worst part of all of this would be if we don't trust him enough to stretch and grow us because then it's all for not! I certainly don't want to waste a huge opportunity to grow. An entire years worth actually!

Monday, March 9, 2015

In the Waiting Room.....

This post has been 8 months in the making. Eight long, confusing months. But in those long, slow moving months, I have learned so much about God and the story he is writing for me. I have learned more about myself than ever before. The depths of myself I rarely go to much less spend time meandering there. I have spent the past eight months in those depths. Part of me fears that I will stay right where I am until God has grafted a new me. As painful as that is, the outcome is such a beautiful thing that I am learning to be okay with where I am. I am in the waiting room! 

Waiting rooms are a crazy pendulum of despair and hope. One minute your world is being rocked and then the next it is filled with hope. I recently sat in a waiting room with a friend. It was such a bizarre place! There was such camaraderie there. It was a place where people gathered to eat meals together, hug one another, laugh, cry, and feel all the big, crazy feels. It was a place where people just got each other. There were even people there who didn't know one another, but still became that place of solace. I'm telling you -- bizarre! 

Then it hit me. This isn't bizarre at all actually. This is exactly how God designed us. We need each other. As I sat there listening to their stories and talking, I realized, I too am in a waiting of sorts. I am at a place where I am waiting on God to move. I am at a place where God is constantly telling me to "Be still and KNOW that I am God." 

The reality is that God IS moving and I need to STOP moving, STOP trying to make it all work, to BE STILL and KNOW that HE is God. Not me. Not my plan. Not my dreams. HE is God. He is God on the hard days. He is God on the good days. He never slumbers. He never stops moving. He never stops loving me, my marriage, or my boy. He wants the very best for me, regardless of what I think I need. He is a good God. He is for me! He can be trusted. He is okay with it being hard because His will is SO much better! 

What it all boils down to for me (and quite possibly you) is this: Am I willing to trust the Lord in the hardest times and worship Him still, even if I don't get my way? As childish as that sounds, I have to be at peace with whatever he chooses because at the end of the day, and all of my days, his glory and plan matter the most. Am I willing to be still (quiet, hush, at peace, motionless, free from turbulence or commotion) and rest knowing that HE is God? There is such hope there knowing that God CAN be trusted. All I have to do is be still and know!    

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Back in 2003 I had just moved back to Chattanooga and started my first semester at UTC. The semester started normally. Normal work load. Normal stress. Except the stress I was experiencing as my "normal" was not even close to what most people go through. That fall I began getting very sick. I couldn't hold down food and would vomit every single day with only a day or two in the mix where whatever was making me sick would let up. I immediately had my appendix out, but it was totally normal. From there I had SO many tests ran. I can't tell you the number of times I was asked if I was pregnant or had an eating disorder. I felt like the doctors who didn't know me, didn't believe me. It was such a dark time already and being sick didn't help at all. 

After months of tests and failed medicines, I finally had a gastrointestinal endoscopy (they send a light down your throat into your upper GI and take images). They confirmed what was hinted at in the beginning. I was diagnosed with gastroparesis (GP). This is a functional disorder where my stomach is slow to empty. The slow to non-emptying of my stomach was what had been causing my vomiting for all of those months. It can happen to anyone. It tends to happen to diabetics, anorexics, and just randomly. Because of my diabetes, I was fortunate to have a Dr. who was very aggressive in finding the problem, so I immediately started medicine that I still take to help me digest food. 

I had accepted, though very defeated, that this was going to be a new struggle for me to deal with for the.rest.of.my.life. Everything I read said I will one day be on a feeding tube just to live. I was 21 and didn't want to think about such a sad, sick life. Wasn't diabetes ENOUGH? Why in the world was THIS happening to ME? Did I mention that depression and anxiety are a side effect of this whole big mess?!

Then HOPE slowly began to walk in.....

It's funny how our brains work. It's like we go through life pushing forward until one day the pieces start making sense much like a puzzle coming together. Things that didn't make sense before are now the critical pieces of the bigger picture. I remember when I told my endocrinologist the outcome and that the other Dr. assumed it was because of my diabetes. I will never ever forget what my endocrinologist said: "That doesn't make sense to me (he HAD been my doctor since my diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes when I was 7!!) because your diabetes is so excellently controlled. The good news is that this is a problem that waxes and wanes. You will have good days and flare ups (for lack of a better term)." The only problem was that there was such little known about this disorder that I didn't even know HOW to make it wane! Over time, I realized that the stress (ahem, relationship from hell) I had in college desperately needed to change. One day I walked away and suddenly, I began to get better. Getting rid of stress helps. Noted! 

Fast forward to 2008. I had been working at my job for a year when I met a local doctor who specializes in neuroscience. He had just finished a training for us when I walked up to him, told him my story and without missing a beat, he told me that he thought my GP was from the stress of that relationship. Funny thing is, another counselor had told me the same thing back in 2004 when said relationship ended and I had needed help sorting the aftermath. I had stayed in the "fight or flight" stage over and over again for a couple of years. That type of stress shuts down digestion. When digestion shuts down for that long, your body basically forgets how to function. The diabetes didn't help. So I suddenly fit the pieces together to make a very messy puzzle with pieces of brokenness, sadness, and eventually joy. Because shortly after that relationship ended, I met Gene. Never had been around someone who was so easy to talk to, who listened to me, and held my hand as I walked through the rubble. He was a Godsend. He is the man I have prayed for since I was in tenth grade! The coolest part of our story is that when I ended that relationship, I focused on who God wanted me to be with. The same month I walked away, Gene got saved! We didn't even know each other!! Our lives crossed two years later! Funny how the puzzle pieces fit together. I'm so glad they did! 

I haven't thrown up hardly at all since being with him. But, nearly every.single.day I battle with nausea (I swear I think I'm pregnant every month because of that dang nausea), acid re-flux, chronic constipation (I've even been to the ER for it. I'm full of, well, you know!!) and food fear and anxiety. "Will this make me sick if I eat it?" The medicine I'm on causes even more anxiety and horrible side effects. SO, for years I've been wondering what else I can do. THEN, it happened!! I found a new book written by a GPer who has devoted her life to studying and helping us who live with this daily. As I read it, tears fell because for the first time in TEN years, someone else gets it. Gets ME! Gets the crap that I carry in complete silence. I am happy to try all of the things she says because it makes perfect sense! In fact, I changed two things and today I was completely symptom free!! If the nausea continues over time, then I may have a device implanted in my abdomen that makes that go away. My stomach still empties slow, but I'll take slow over not at all any day! 

I guess I needed to write this so that people can know what goes on in me every day. I have been in denial for so many years because I didn't have any hope. I finally have HOPE! The best news is that it typically doesn't get worse! Praise God for that!! So if you see me out or invite me over and you don't see me eating much, it's because I am having to eat way more small meals a day so that I can avoid medicine or at least only take it once a day. PLEASE whatever you do, don't make a big deal out my lack of eating. I promise I'm eating healthier!! If you're struggling with some sort of sickness, my hope for you is that you too find HOPE. Hope changes everything. Your struggle may be different, but I promise you're not alone. Just don't give up! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"To be, or not to be, that is the question—"

My question is more like "WHAT to be, or not to be."

I can pretty quickly tell you what I do not want to be, but WHAT to be is a much tougher question. I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I remember being about seven years old and knowing that being a stay at home mom was exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. That feeling never left. Before Lewis, all I did was work with kids. I mean my major in college was Child and Family studies for crying out loud!! It's a passion of mine. I loved teaching and working with teens, but I never realized how much of my identity was wrapped up in that. So once the glorious day came that I was able to stay home, as thrilled as I was, I was very unprepared for hole that no longer teaching those teens left.

It's been a little over a year since I quit my full time teaching job and I am "chomping at the bit," as my dad would say, to DO something. Yes, raising Lewis to be a decent tiny human is something, but I want our lives to be richer. I want to show him how to serve others. I want to show him how to be friends and love those who don't have as much as we do. I want to show him how Jesus is relevant to every.single.human on this Earth. I want to show him that we ALL need a rescue. ALL of us. I want to show him how to have compassion for those the rest of the world is forgetting or have already forgotten. More than anything, I don't want to pass away having done nothing more than sit on my couch watching the rest of the world go about their business.

It's funny how the best insight comes from the most unexpected conversations. I was told recently that I have seemed unsettled this year. Of course I bucked that "nonsense" with such pride and arrogance. How could I be unsettled? I'm happy. I'm content. Then the Lord, in his wisdom, continued to show me areas of my life where I am, in fact, unsettled. Content is not always a good place to be, people! Now, that one comment has snowballed into a much deeper look at who God wants me to be and be with. He wants me to be with HIS people (we are all His people, even if you're mad at him or don't believe in him. Those things don't change his love for you, even if you can't see or feel it). In my searching for a purpose, I shouted out to my corner of the world, A.K.A. Facebook! I got so many amazing suggestions that I'm most definitely looking into. A friend suggested a nursing home. Listen, the elderly intimidate me. I was rarely around the elderly growing up and my few experiences were with my grandfather in a nursing home where a naked man walked around and sat on the end of everyone's bed. My aunt had to pick up my grandpa's cane and shew him off. It was like a movie! As I thought about how I couldn't go into a nursing home because of my fear, I presented my hesitation (insert lame excuse here) to my friend Megan. Without missing a beat, she said this to me:

It's the things that make us ache, cringe, cry, and fear that God really wants us to do....humble ourselves til there's nothing left to humble, sister!

 And just like that, my mind is made up.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hey There....Again!

Happy New Year to you!! I have always been a sucker for a new year, changing seasons, and newness in general. It's like a rebirth or an awakening. I love getting to have a somewhat tangible way to refocus. Whether it's ringing in the New Year with renewed hope or feeling the freshness that a weather change brings (confession: I'm missing Spring and Summer TERRIBLY), I just love the feeling of restoration that comes with it. There is nothing more satisfying to me than waking up when the leaves start changing back into green and Spring is finally revisiting (Can you tell I'm dreaming?!).

HOPE. It all brings HOPE.

So, with this New Year and it's HOPE, I'm working on one thing: myself. This is the year for me to really focus on who I am to be. Most importantly, who God wants me to be. I have desires to get healthy in all areas of life: Spiritually, Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically. I'm going to work on saying "No" more often and not selling out just because of peer pressure (how old am I again?! ha!). I know I'm still going to drop the ball, but I truly want to work on ME! So get ready!

I really want to know what goals, dreams, and HOPES YOU have, so let me know!! Here's to a new year! CHEERS!!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Eat More Chicken
I went to a nutritionist a few weeks ago and I had HIGH hopes. It was a severe let down. Wah wah. BUT, I did get some good tips. I've known for a while that I needed to cut back on carbs, so it was good to be reminded of that. I've also wondered how much protein to eat and although she didn't give an exact amount, she did tell me to eat more! I'm good with that! I've never been a big meat eater, hence the carb addiction, but I am looking forward to eating more chicken (Chick-fil-A would be proud. Their marketing is working!). I am now on a quest to learn more about clean eating. I've seen a lot of things saying to "eat clean" so I'm going to look into what that's all about. In fact, I signed up for the clean eating menu on www.emeals.com If you don't use emeals, I would encourage you to look into it!

Here's the link

This Wednesday evening I am co-leading a small group on a book called Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst. I am really looking forward to it because I am losing momentum. I need to commit to tangible others. I need the accountability in a mighty way! With that being said, as stupid as this sounds, I am a little afraid of actually losing weight because what happens if I gain it ALL back? I mean 5 pounds over a period of 5 years will put me on the track back to where I was (WAS nonetheless). I think I have settled where I am because, honestly, I haven't been smaller than I am right now since, oh MIDDLE SCHOOL. You read that right. Gasp. When I told the nutritionist that, she literally gasped. On a side note, someone should teach her to have a little more tact :)

So, here I am. Tossing about in this sea of conflict. I'm nervous of succeeding, but terrified of staying where I am. It's a crazy phenomenon. One that probably only makes sense to me. Eh! So be it!

Tomorrow is Monday and I'm ready to count those calories and exercise. Here's to another pound down this week! Be blessed and be a blessing!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Falling off the wagon....

Falling off the wagon....

    I knew this day would come. I just didn't realize it would be a week....then three. I haven't been logging my food, nor have I been exercising the way I should. I've fallen off the wagon. Up to now, I've lost a total of 12 pounds and man, that feels amazing!! It's nice to say that I have less than 50 pounds to lose, BUT I have to pick myself up and get back on the road to eating healthy. In all honesty, it's not hard at all to eat healthy. I'm just really good at making excuses instead of making a way. I cook a lot, but I get lazy. When we go out to eat, I justify not eating well because it tends to be more expensive. The truth of the matter is that I have to weigh the cost. We all know that paying a few extra bucks for some salad saves much more money and heart ache in the long run. Ugh. As much as I justify it, eating better is the best way to live life. I have way more energy and self esteem. I feel healthier, happier and more confident.

  So here's to tomorrow (bc I don't need to eat anything tonight!) and getting back on track. So long eating crappy and helllllllo to eating better. One.day.at.a.time.

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