Sunday, February 28, 2016

Taking Back Postpartum: Harnessing the Power and Supporting All Moms

I remember when I first saw the #takebackpostpartum tag begin on Instagram.  It was just several days after I had delivered Brielle and I felt such an intense satisfaction and felt like yelling, "go mama!" for each positive, real and heart-warming picture that I would see. This movement put a change and positive spin on detrimental ways I had seen postpartum used before.

As always, I shared much of my pregnancy journey on Instagram for the world to see. The good, bad, happy, sad, tough and sometimes TMI moments. I like to think I keep it real and would rather portray motherhood and pregnancy for what it really is: amazing and fulfilling, but not without it's tough moments. So many times throughout, I would be spammed whenever I would use certain tags, most specifically: #pregnancy, #momlife, #newmom. I'd be spammed by many different health, beauty and lose-weight-quick promoters during this time when many already have varied and sometimes negative feelings toward all the changes going on with their body.

It would infuriate me seeing this because I felt like it was preying on those that already may have doubts during a time in which they should feel like superwomen. I mean, you're building a baby. How much more bad ass and strong can you be? Your body created, sustains and births a baby and then continues to nurture and support it via breastfeeding and on little to no sleep as well. The last thing you should immediately worried about is losing weight, stretch marks, baggy eyes, and the host of other things that society deems as wrong. Instead woman (and the men in their lives), should be empowering each other, letting bodies heal, somehow finding a new normal when your life gets twisted and turned around by that squirming, beautiful baby/babies that you just birthed.

So when I saw that January Harshe, the mom blogger and creator of Birth Without Fear movement posted and started the trend I couldn't be happier. By putting a new spin on #Takebackpostpartum (also #takingbackpostpartum ), it took away that power from those that try to push the notion that a postpartum body is a bad thing.  It's not. Not at all. Is it different than before? Possibly, and most likely. Own those changes for they are part of the journey. Also, if you don't like them, that's okay too, but society needs to back off and take the pressure off women to immediately worry about getting back to their "pre-baby body" and stop with the insinuating that if you don't return to "pre-baby" that you're not good enough or that it's not ideal.

Just stop already.

How about we just start supporting each other instead of tearing each other down? Let's create that tribe; that space in which we can be who we are and comfortable with it. Motherhood can be isolating enough without the body shame so let's put a stop to it.

Seeing all those posts on Instagram tagged #takebackpostpartum made my heart swell. Witnessing all these mama's embracing and loving themselves is a powerful thing. It helps others develop those feelings, build their confidence and allows them revel in the amazing changes that their bodies have went through. I know it helped me. It normalizes it and blocks out all the "not good enough" feelings and the pressure from society to conform to a norm or expectation that's just not reasonable or attainable for most.

My Instagram post: "On the left is three hours before Brielle was born while in the midst of contractions every 4 minutes. The right is 12 hours post all natural, med-free delivery. The body is truly an amazing thing: 10 months of growing and sustaining a baby, 40 pounds gained and uterus growing and shrinking, breasts growing and producing milk to continue to sustain this new life, producing a new organ for pregnancy (placenta), contractions that allow the beautiful, tough and amazing process of labor, and so much more. 

Treat yourself well, mamas. Be kind to yourself, nourish your body & mind and all that it is able to do."

So thank you strong mamas! Keep on being your amazing, powerful, smart, beautiful selves!

If you've participated in the #takebackpostpartum movement, I'd love to know. 
Share your link below in the comments or find me on Instagram

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Playdate conundrums: What's "too sick" for playdates and school?

Awhile back I wrote a guest post for The Scientific Parent, a public health blog that is curated by some awesome mamas. The post discusses playdates and sick kids and the chaos/sickness that follows.

There is nothing that drives me crazy more when parents bring their sick kids to play dates and events. I understand wanting to get out and not wanting to cancel, but I'd much rather re-schedule than start a weeks long process of sickness moving through our house, especially with a newborn in the home.  This post was the love-child borne after our family became ill after a well-meaning visitor came to our home. Their intentions were good, but the remnants of their illness set our family on a month long process of sickness moving from one person to another and several long nights with a miserable toddler.

If you'd like to check it out, click HERE.  While you're there, show the site some love and check out the other fabulous, fact-based posts by other medical and public health professionals.


What's your thoughts on sick kids and play dates? 

What do you consider too sick to be able to participate? 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Birth Story of Sweet Brielle Adalyn

Nearly three weeks ago I was in labor with this beautiful soul. She came rushing into this world just minutes before midnight. I can't believe that so much time has already passed and that the first month is already nearly over. I'm desperately wanting time to slow down, especially knowing that this is most likely our last. I'm trying to absorb every tiny newborn detail and fully appreciate everything as I won't likely have this opportunity again. There's a certain sadness that comes with your last baby. It's your last first everything when it comes to parenting and mothering...

When I went into labor with Aiden, I was fairly certain from the first contraction that I was in labor. With Brielle, it was a bit different. My stomach had been slightly upset for most of that Monday morning and I had some minor cramping. I had had cramping the last week or so as my body was most likely preparing for labor (I had just seen my midwife the Friday prior). After a few hours I realized that those cramps were indeed contractions and were consistently occuring. Around 10am I decided that I should probably give my husband, Ryan, a heads up that I thought labor was imminent as he was at work. I had been very nervous most of this pregnancy about how quickly that labor could progress considering that Aiden made his appearance quite quickly (he was delivered less than 2 hours after arriving at the hospital). I told him to just keep his phone nearby in case things began to progress as my contractions were still 8-9 minutes apart at this time. I decided to give my parents a call as well to let them know that we would likely be having a baby that day! My dad was our on-call babysitter for Aiden so I wanted to be sure he had plenty of time to leave work and get to our house.

The rest of the afternoon I spent puttering around the house, trying to relax and snacking on food when it sounded appetizing. Ryan made his way home and my dad also came over so we could leave quickly if need be. For most of the afternoon my contractions weren't too uncomfortable and slowly began to get closer together and more intense. I spent a lot of time just sitting on the couch with my first baby, Aiden, soaking up the last moments of him being my only 'baby' and bouncing on a yoga ball to help ease contractions and help Brielle move into position.

We made our way to the hospital around 6pm when my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. When we got there, they checked me and found I was only 2cm dilated and 60% effaced. I won't lie, I was disappointed as that was barely any progress from my appointment the week before and began to become a bit worried if I could handle the pain and go medicine free again. They decided to have me stay a bit to see if I'd progress and Ryan and I walked circles in the hall hoping to get things moving. I was really, really hoping that this was true labor, as I wasn't ready to go home and continue to feel this way. Thankfully, my contractions slowly moved closer together and they admitted me. After walking around for what felt like a 100 times, we ventured back to the room to relax a bit. I bounced on the ball and we halfheartedly watched The Bachelor (haha) to try to distract myself.

This was such a different experience than with Aiden. With Aiden, I arrived at 4cm and within 45 minutes was at 10cm and pushing. Everyone always tells you that your second labor is quicker, so I was expecting to have progression move much more quickly. The slowness made me begin to doubt myself at times.

At about 7cm my contractions became more intense and painful. I was regaining confidence in my decision to avoid using any pain meds or an epidural, but there were moments that doubt would sneak in. I continued to trust that my body could do this on its own and I focused on each contraction and visualized that it was working to help prepare my body and her for delivery. I really believe that keeping calm and focused helps my body to relax enough to continue labor on its own. During both my labors, I get into a deep focus and really start to tune everyone and everything else around me out. It's easier for me this way and allows me to really immerse myself in the experience and tune into my body.

I should mention that I had originally planned on having a midwife be there for my delivery. I saw a midwife for all my appointments and had extensively talked to her about my wishes and desires. That morning when I called the office (she worked under several OB's), I was informed that she had to have emergency surgery and the other on call midwife wasn't able to assist either. I was bummed and nervous because now I had NO idea of who would be taking care of me and baby. I knew that the hospital I was choosing to deliver at were open to midwifery and their practices, so that gave me some comfort. That evening at the hospital, they had very few doctors on hand and I didn't know until an hour or so before labor who would be delivering. Thankfully, we had a great doctor who didn't try to rush anything and let labor take it's own course. I never once felt rushed or that my wishes weren't respected (I did have a general birth plan that my midwife has signed). I really can't say anything but great things about the doctors and nurses that took care of us.

At 11:10 they checked me again and I was nearing 8 1/2 cm dilated and they decided to break my water (I've never had my water break on its own). I felt the warm gush and my contractions became even more powerful and intense. I'd have one extremely tough contraction and the next would be weaker. It allowed me to gather some strength and focus between those intense contractions, but my goodness, some of those contractions were incredibly tough to get through. I remember trying to vocalize and ride them out. Some of the nurses were laughing a bit because I'd almost sing through them because for some reason it made me more comfortable. I really try to avoid screaming, cursing and so on because for me it doesn't seem to help and instead makes me feel frustrated and frightened. It's always amazing to me to see the different ways that people deal with the pain and labor experience. I always feel a bit bad because I really tune people out. My wonderful husband is so helpful and encouraging throughout it all, and I feel like I barely respond.

I vividly remember feeling her move and turn into the birthing canal. It was an unreal feeling and I knew at the moment that it would be very soon that we would meet our little Brielle (unnamed at that time) would be there soon. Several incredibly intense contractions passed and the intense pressure and feeling of crowning and she was nearly here. After 14 minutes of pushing and one last powerful push that took the last of my energy, and she arrived! 11:56 PM on January 25, 2016. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces and 21 inches of adorableness.

They quickly placed her on my chest so we could meet and I was in awe. She came into this world quietly and was wrinkly and purple. The distress from labor caused her to have some issues with respiration so unfortunately our immediate bonding time was very short lived. After Ryan cut the umbilical cord, they quickly moved her to the newborn station (which was in the room with us) to suction more, do the APGAR and monitor her to make sure that she was improving. She slowly improved and after about 20 minutes I was able to hold her again and marvel at all her tiny, delicate features. It was definitely a bit nerve-wracking waiting those 20 minutes, but I was assured that she was okay and that they just wanted to make sure that she improved and to monitor her closely. It wasn't ideal, but at that moment I only cared that she was going to be okay. Due to her increased respiration we weren't able to breastfeed until about an hour after birth. This initially concerned me, but she latched like a pro and we haven't had any issues since. Daddy finally was able to hold her as well and meet his little girl.

The relief that comes after labor is immense. I felt my body relax immediately and that surge of adrenaline. I swear that getting through labor makes you feel like you can take over the world. There's such an intense and raw high that you get from it.

The last few weeks have been a sweet bliss. I can't stop staring at that sweet face and smelling her newness and newborn smell. Seeing the love that her brother has for her, makes my heart explode a hundred times over.

Welcome to the world precious Brielle Adalyn. We can't wait to see the journey you take in this big, bright world!