Dear Seekers of Truth Regarding Motherhood

BE YOUR OWN HEALTH ADVOCATE


The stories you are about to read are from mothers who knew something was medically wrong with them. Due to THEIR persistence they received the medical attention they deserved. Now that you are a mom, you will have to be your child's health advocate too. Always trust your gut - you know more about your health and your child's health than a nurse or doctor. Make them hear your concerns!


Holly, mom of three

    What really floored me is that nurses screw up. Two out of the three
deliveries I had nurses made major screw-ups. One nurse gave
me an entire extra dose of a medicine, even though I was telling her I
already had two doses while I was in labor. Luckily, it wasn’t
anything that would harm the baby, but I was furious. She never
acknowledged to me that she screwed up or apologized. I did overhear
her telling the nurse at the shift change that she gave me the extra
dose by accident.
My third delivery happened quickly, like ½ hour quickly. As the Dr.
was stitching me up after delivery I told my husband that my left arm
was really hurting me. I lifted up my gown and realized that the
rubber band that they wrap around to take blood was still tightly
around my left bicep. It had been there the entire delivery. Even
though you’d like to be able to trust nurses and doctors you really
have to be on your toes during delivery. Both of these mistakes were
at different hospitals with different nurses.
I also had a postpartum scare after I had my second baby involving
retained placenta. The labor and delivery, although I was a week
overdue and induced went relatively smooth. He was on the bigger side
and slightly turned during delivery, but I managed to have him
vaginally. The two days in the hospital went fine with no
complications. Four days after delivery when I was home, I began to
develop flu-like symptoms, but I didn’t feel as if I had the flu. I
had no appetite, no strength, felt nauseous although no vomiting, yet
when I called the hospital and told the nurses, I was told, “If it
looks and feels like the flu, it probably is.” I tried to explain that
I literally had no strength to even stand, but they didn’t feel the
need to see me. I continued to feel poor, and finally, five days after
being home, they agreed to see me. The appointment was scheduled for
the afternoon about ½ hour away. When we were preparing to leave, I
suddenly had the biggest contraction I’ve ever had. I was on the floor
in more pain that I’d experienced during labor. I felt like my uterus
was going to literally fall out, so I was crossing my legs praying it
would stop. My husband decided we’d go to the ER only about seven
minutes away, but I couldn’t even get up to walk to the car I was in
so much pain. After having this contraction for ½ hour, my husband
managed to get me to the car and we began the drive. As we were
reaching the exit to the ER, my contraction finally began to subside,
so I decided I’d just drive to my schedule appointment. By the time
we got to the maternity floor at the hospital the contraction was
completely gone, but I was so sore down there from it and still
feeling like hell. I didn’t see a doctor
or midwife, only the nurse who would leave the room to go consult with
the Doctor, then return. I felt I needed an ultrasound and was finally
able to persuade them to do one. My husband, newborn and I would
have to walk down several floors to the ER to get one. When the ER
nurse saw me, she asked if I needed a wheelchair because of my
coloring. After the ultrasound we returned up to the maternity floor
and waited to see the nurse again. After they got my results they
realized I had retained placenta. I was furious to say the least. If
I wouldn’t have pushed it, they would have just sent me home. Instead,
they decided to prescribe me medicine that would send my body into
contractions again at home. I never did end up seeing a
Doctor. After two rounds of the prescription, I was able to have a
clear ultrasound so my body extracted all the leftover “gunk” and
given a clean bill of health.  If you’re wondering, I switched Doctors
and hospitals for my third baby – and had a fine experience with
delivery and postpartum.
On a brighter note, my health insurance offered these health
consultations where nurses who work for the insurance company will
call you and ask a ton of questions and advise you on care for
yourself and the baby. She encouraged me to fight for what I wanted,
in this case the ultrasound, and don’t give in until I was satisfied.
This is the advice I give to all expecting women. Lucky for me, I had
her to talk to through that scary experience.
 

 

Janeen, mom of two
NO ONE told me the epidural MAY NOT work.
I received the "painless" epidural that actually felt like a worm
traveling down my back and I kept getting freezing sensations in
my lower back as it was administered. I could still feel my legs and
could also feel contractions. I proceeded to ask the nurse if this is
all normal and she explained, "pressure is normal.” I figured I was
feeling pressure and it couldn't get any worse, right? I can feel
every single contraction that is seconds apart. I am screaming at the
top of my lungs and clinging to the side of the bed for dear life.
Also sweating like a wild animal.
Lost track of time because now contractions are so unbearable I am
having trouble breathing, I am throwing F Bombs and feeling the urge to
push. My doctor and the team of nurses strolled in casually with their
equipment and set everything up. During the pushing part I began to
vomit and shake because the epidural was not working at all. Forty
minutes later my son was born and he was handed to me and all I could
say was "holy shit what just happened?”
 

 

Sarah, mom of two
Immediately after giving birth to my first child my body stopped
contracting and my blood pressure skyrocketed. The doctors had to give
me Pitocin to get all the placenta to come out. During this time a
nurse was continually massaging my stomach so hard that I started
crying and screaming. I’ve never felt pain like this before, it was
unbearable and it caused me to throw up. I was also given magnesium
through an IV because my blood pressure was so high. They give you
this so you don’t have seizures, which made me really scared, not
helping my blood pressure. During my two day and night stay at the
hospital, nurses had to take my blood every four hours, even through
the night! It was awful, I was so happy to go home.

 


Eveline, mom of two
I had the craziest reaction to the medication given for pain after my
c-section. I had taken ibuprofen all my life, but the dosage and the
change my body went through during the surgery made me go into
complete kidney failure. Here I am, a new mom for all of six days and
I am rushed to the hospital for an eight day stay with my new baby at
home with my scared husband. Long story short, I was told I may have
to be on dialysis for the rest of my life because the doctors could
not figure out what was wrong. Luckily my father in law, also a
doctor, jumped in and said, “Lets try to give her the steroid
prednisone, and see what happens.” This was right before I was about
to undergo a surgery for a biopsy. Turns out, he was right. Within two
hours my kidneys started working again. Bottom line, if you think
something is wrong, go to the doctor.  I thought I was suffering from
the flu, thank god I went into the hospital.

 

 

FOOD ALLERGIES = MOM SACRIFICES


You will probably never give the topic of food allergies a second
thought unless you are smacked in the face with its restrictions. I
was too concerned with latching and over supply to even consider my
baby would not like, or be allergic to my milk. Here are the stories
of two different moms and the sacrifices they had to make in order to
soothe their newborns. Both babies were very uncomfortable in very
different ways and it took their mom’s persistence for additional
testing to get things right. Spoiler, they are both doing much better!

 

Eveline, mom of two
My poor son would scream twenty hours of the day and sleep the other
four hours on top of me because I was holding him upright. My son was
screaming because my milk was causing extreme diarrhea and he was
pooping at least five to seven times a day. I was month and a half
postpartum, I was SO tired, so emotional, so drained after caring for
a newborn who was in pain and a two year old toddler that was feeling
ignored. We had finally gotten our son tested for food allergies and
when I got the call with the results I walked up stairs, closed the
door and SCREAMED. I mean I cried, pounded the floor and thought, why
us? What did I do wrong? Was it that week I forgot to take the damn
prenatal vitamin?
Turns out, my son was allergic to dairy, soy, gluten and possibly
more. So I started eating rice, chicken, veggies and fruit. I lost so
much weight it became unhealthy. In the end, all my food sacrifice did
not help. My son had to be put on prescribed formula at seven months.
Within one week of formula feeding he was showing improvement. The
mommy pressure kept me going and in the end it failed. But my son was
better and that’s all that mattered. If anyone has similar troubles
like mine, the following sites helped us tremendously:
www.babycenter.co.uk/baby-poo-photos
www.mamanatural.com/baby-poop

 


Meghan, mom of two
No one warned me that the best thing I could do was to stop asking WHY
does my son have food allergies, and start just asking WHAT WILL HELP?
It wasn't until his two month appointment when he received his very
first vaccination that things started showing up. Please note this is
not a pro or anti vaccine story, it is a PRO your child story.
A day later I noticed a patch of crusty skin on his shoulder where
perfectly iridescent skin had previously been. Thinking very little of
it, I let it be. Then it started to spread. One morning he woke up
with gaping skin, raw, rubbed completely off from his face, and this
was just the beginning of months of unbearable discomfort, and crazy
attempts to gain control over my son's health.

The months to follow included rounds of doctor’s appointments to
dermatologists, pediatric allergists, holistic nutritional doctors,
chiropractor and everything in between. His entire body became raw,
crusty and unbearably itchy, which in turn was overtaken by
inflammation and open wounds. He could not sleep for more than an hour
or two before waking up to itch and scream. He started to regress. He
wouldn't look at anybody. He retreated and stopped interacting with
the world. He had gone on antibiotics, steroid creams, everything that
perpetuated even more flare-ups. Then began the mommy control phase.
Since I was exclusively pumping breast milk for him I started to
eliminate things out of my diet. Eventually I was not eating anything
with eggs, dairy, beef, gluten, soy, tomatoes and peanuts. This
basically left me with a hearty diet of unflavored meat, vegetables,
Arbonne's vegan protein shake and some fruits.

It takes three to four weeks for a food to leave your system, and then
another two weeks for it to leave the baby's body.  This means every
food I gave up I knew would take six weeks to see an improvement.  It
was exhausting. It disconnected me from bonding with my son. This
innocent baby who cried for hours and days and who had no relief. I
remember someone said to me one day, "Well of course you don't feel
connected, it is almost impossible to connect to a screaming miserable
baby." I demanded allergy blood work be taken to identify food allergies even
though everyone said he was too young for anything to show up. Well,
they did, everything we tested for came up horrendously high. I have
since learned this is a chicken and an egg scenario where as the body
in such an inflamed state can cause high readings or the high readings
can be an indication of what is bothering him. But let me tell you,
after eliminating all of those foods from MY diet, he started
experiencing relief. When we consulted with Johns Hopkins Pediatric
Allergy Center and made the decision to switch him to an amino acid
based formula while we introduced solid foods to his diet, he
continued to see improvement and is currently almost at an 80%
recovery.

I may be that mom who has to figure out how to create allergen free
pizza and cake for birthday parties to send with him, or to make sure
no one leaves crumbs on their floor. Eventually we will have that talk
about why we can't eat out at restaurants or why he can't have what
everyone else is eating. But for now we are cool with figuring out
what works and let the why's go.
 

 

Another Heads Up!
Call your insurance company and ask if your plan covers a free breast
pump. Many plans cover pumps and storage bags. This will save you
hundreds!

Dear Seekers of Truth Regarding Motherhood

IMG_5978.jpg

 

WHEN YOU FEEL THE URGE TO CRY - DO IT!


Honestly, if I learned anything after having two kids, a NICU stay and two miscarriages, it’s to just let yourself cry. There were so many times I tried to be strong for my husband, family members, and friends by not crying. But the truth was, each time I allowed myself to let go I could physically feel the weight being lifted off my shoulders.  
This urge to cry sometimes comes out of nowhere and hits you like a truck. It’s all a result of your hormones, estrogen and progesterone levels being out of whack, which causes all of the emotions; it’s not your fault. You are not crazy and it is temporary. If you do not feel any relief ask for help. Postpartum is a topic that is not talked about enough and DOES need to be addressed. Medication is not failure. Help yourself so you can help your baby.

 


Heather, mom of three
I was prepared for the possibility of getting the "baby blues," but I did not know that it gets worse with each successive baby! Luckily, I had an awesome midwife who clued me in on that little tidbit, and to the existence of "The Crying Day." Typically around day five after giving birth, your pregnancy hormones begin to crash at the same time as your breastfeeding hormones are increasing dramatically. It can lead to a ratchet day of hormonal crying and feeling of hopelessness. I literally cried from twelve pm until six pm. Couldn't stop for anything. Had a glass of wine, had a bath, called friends, tried nursing more to unload some more oxytocin into my system, nothing helped. My husband got home that night and was having a conversation with my midwife on the phone about whether I needed to be medicated or admitted somewhere. Yikes! Things finally calmed down that night, but “The Crying Day” almost sent me over the edge. I was so glad she had warned me in advance so I didn't think I was a total nut job.

 

Miss, mom of two
For me the baby blues usually started around supper-time each night. I would have an overwhelming feeling of dread, even though I was totally head over heels in love with my new baby. I used to need to “cry it out” in order to feel better or normal. It was a combination of sleep deprivation, not knowing what the heck I was doing and crazy hormonal swings. It only lasted two weeks and then I began to adjust to the new normal. Biggest recommendation for dealing with the blues is to talk it out with your partner, friend, or whoever will listen.

 

B, mom of one
Postpartum anxiety is a thing and the doctors I dealt with ignored it. They all assumed it was depression. My problem was primarily anxiety and exhaustion, and it was bad. I had an insane desperate feeling that my child was going to die. Luckily, my anxiety went way down after my milk dried up.

 


Kitty, mom of two
I'm afraid of things I was never afraid of before, especially flying in a plane. I did it a hundred times before kids. Now I'm a mess thinking about all the what ifs!

 

Amy, mom of one
I remember having two very intense, yet opposing views of the world the first few weeks after having my son. On one hand, I saw so much good in the world- a type of euphoric feeling toward mankind. I felt that the world was such a good, wonderful place, and people seemed kinder, more helpful. I had never experienced the world in that way. On the other hand, and at the other end of the spectrum, I remember feeling that the world was a very dangerous place. Along with that feeling came an intense urge and responsibility to protect my son from anyone and anything that could potentially hurt him. He was so perfect, so beautiful, I worried that someday, someone would break his heart. Just thinking of this breaks my heart.

 

Holly, mom of three
SIDS scares me to death, with each of my babies, all the time. I’m the mother of a newborn always checking on them while they nap, are in a car seat riding in the car, putting my hand down to feel their breath.  
Regarding postpartum depression, all the doctor asks when you go back for your well-mother check-up is: are you having feelings of sadness or hurting the baby? My response: not at all.  However, my anxiety shot through the roof and that is also a form of postpartum depression – even though it’s worry, not sadness.

 

K, mom of one
I feel like I had a completely different personality from the time my son was born until he finally started sleeping through the night at fifteen or sixteen months old. I was so tightly wound, everything my family members and in-laws did annoyed the shit out of me, and I would make these horrible passive-aggressive comments to people. I would hear myself do it, and instead of acknowledging it and apologizing, I would just pretend it didn’t happen; meanwhile I felt like a horrible, mean, ugly person. I guess I was lashing out at people because I felt so much pressure, mostly pressure I created for myself. I had all of those hormones bouncing around in my system, and I wasn’t sleeping enough. I also think that maybe every mom gets at least a touch of postpartum depression. I hate to say that because I don’t want to diminish how serious that condition is, but I don’t think there’s another way to describe it. It’s definitely longer-lasting than “the baby blues” that people so often refer to.

 

Michelle, mom of two
Postpartum was a sweaty mess for me. It was the middle of winter and I was waking up in the middle of the night with a sweat filled shirt and a sports bra full of milk. It took months for my hormones to re-balance and get back to normal.

 

THE HOMECOMING

Everyone pictures their arrival at home with their baby differently, but one thing remains the same for all of us - Expectations Are High. We expect to walk through the doors and find our old lives waiting for us, right where we left them. Nope- it’s completely changed. We want to be these amazing parents who swim effortlessly through uncharted waters, but in reality the water is choppy and you will struggle to stay afloat. But guess what? Everyone struggles and eventually everyone gets a grasp on their new lives and schedule.

 

Anonymous, mom of three
I knew my father-in-law and grandmother would be there when I got home. They came down the day I delivered and had spent lots of quality time with us in the hospital already. My parents were supposed to be coming down a few days later. But on our way home from the hospital, I learned that they couldn’t wait to meet our new bundle of joy, and were driving down to see us all, with my brother in tow. This meant that I had to host five house guests while I was four days postpartum. At first I thought “This might not be so bad, they can help.” I was clearly not thinking straight. The thing nobody tells you is that the only thing visitors want to do is hold the baby. This is their version of helping. The problem was, all I wanted to do was hold the baby. It was MY baby.  I was trying to figure out the nursing thing, which was trickier as a result of trying to use the nursing cover. And I was exhausted. And for some reason, I wanted to still be a good hostess. I did way too much cooking, laundry, and cleaning, which was not a good idea because it only makes you bleed more.
You will find yourself surrounded by people who had kids ages ago and they all have opinions about how to do things.  Some of the fun advice I was given included “give him sugar when he has the hiccups. Let him sleep, it doesn’t matter that it has been four hours. Give him back to me, you can bond with him when we leave.” On the plus side, this craziness only lasted a few days and then people cleared out. And lesson learned, I was much more assertive when my due dates approached with my second and third child. The circus of people was much too stressful for me.  I just wanted to be left alone so I could figure it out. 

 

Ashley, mom of three
Be open with yourself and your partner about your needs. I always prioritized everything before myself. I am finally learning after three kids that if I don't take care of myself, I will lose the ability to be the kind of mother, wife, and friend I want to be. Take long showers with the door LOCKED when you can. Do some things that are just for your happiness, and take a breather when you need to. This shit is hard and there is so much pressure on moms to do it all. It's OK to get help when you need it.

 

KC, mom of one
I am a neurotic hostess. After having my baby suddenly people were at my house all the time. I hated feeling that pressure to have my house be neat, to have clean sheets for them to sleep in, to have showered. And I especially hated when people would act awkward about me breastfeeding my baby in my own goddamn living room. Also, people say they want to help. I found that by “helping,” most people meant they were going to hold and cuddle my baby while I could run around and do laundry, clean, cook, etc. Next time around I’ll have a list of chores for all those “helpful” relatives to work on when they come over so I can relax on the couch with my baby.

 

Dear Seekers of Truth Regarding the First Year of Motherhood

WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS...

 

WHEN DO I SLEEP?

I cannot pinpoint when my thought process changed, but I think in a completely different manner after having a baby. My mind cannot stop racing, which is probably because I am multitasking all day long and it’s hard to shut off. Over-thinking all of my motherly actions and trying to keep up with everyday life is difficult. Not to mention, I was napping through the early months of both my kids lives, so I was never fully rested. I wanted to hit a pause button so I wouldn’t miss anything, but also wanted to sleep for eight straight hours. Who am I kidding, I wanted twelve hours. I wanted a morning to myself so I could use the bathroom alone, finish a cup of coffee and plan my day without background noise.  

 

Ashley, mom of three
You will NEVER sleep the same again, but you will adjust to life on little sleep. You may be blessed with children that sleep through the night at three months, or you may be blessed with tiny nocturnal beasts that wake you every hour for a year. They will eventually all sleep, but even when they do, your mama bear sense will never stop. You will awake with every noise you hear, or sometimes just to run in and check to see if they are breathing. You may wake from sleeping to grab your phone and Google child behavior advice, recipes for baby food, or what preschool they will go to in three years. Your mind will never ever stop thinking about how you can do this mothering thing the best you possibly can.

 

Em, mom of two
There is not much I remember from the first six weeks of either of my children’s lives because I was a sleep-walking zombie. When people say, “the first couple months are easy because all the baby does is sleep,” they are lying or do not remember! They do not sleep all the time. They sleep all day and are up all night.  

 

Eveline, mom of two
I was so tired after my second child was born I found the butter in the pantry, the coffee creamer in the dishwasher and shoes in the washing machine. New baby, postpartum, a toddler needing extra attention took its toll. Ask for help!

 

Sarah, mom of two
I thought I would be able to handle the sleep deprivation everyone talks about because I pulled all-nighters in college and I was fine. Let me tell you, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life! I guess I forgot I was able to nap whenever I wanted to in college.  My daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was ten months old. I found myself crying a lot and being stressed by my lack of sleep.  When I was given a break and was given the time to sleep, I couldn’t, because I had to get up and pump after three to four hours to relieve my engorged breasts. It was rough, but I would do it again.

 

Barb, mom of one
Some kids just don't sleep well and scream a lot and none of the books are going to help you with that.  Do what you need to do to survive. Sleeping with your child is not necessarily equal to a death sentence.

 

 

WHO'S BODY IS THIS?

So your body will change, obviously!  If you are lucky, work hard, and in my case breastfeed away those calories, you may get back to pre-baby weight.  Maybe even get under that number.  But, your body and clothes will not fit the same. 

 

Emily, mom of two
You may get back to your original size, but your boobs may sag or go away completely. Things just are not as tight anymore...anywhere!

 

Heather, mom of three
I didn't know that breastfeeding could dry you up like a desert in your nether regions. It was a solid 6 months for me. This was caused by low estrogen levels. I also discovered that any kind of exercise that involves jumping is out of the question for me. It feels like my uterus is about to fall out. Seriously. Do your kegel's, people!  
My midwife advised me not to investigate how things looked down there until at least six months after giving birth. She said clean it in the shower and leave it at that, Do. Not. Peek! I of course ignored this advice. All the Relaxin© in your system keeps things loosened up in preparation for birth - joints, ligaments, organs (thanks, heartburn) and smooth muscle tissue.  OH YEAH, and all your lady bits.  I looked down one day to see what was up and UGHHHHHH I should have listened!  Eventually things tightened up.  

 

Tonya, mom of two
I could still feel the baby kicking after birth due to nerves.

 

C, mom of two
After I gave birth to my son, who was just shy of nine pounds my childhood asthma condition came back in full force. I am not sure if it was his size, or just the position he liked to be in while I was pregnant, but to this day (2 years later) I still need a daily inhaler and a rescue inhaler when I get sick.  

 

Ricki, mom of three
Umbilical hernias* and hemorrhoids* are a real thing.  They hurt like a bitch and are extremely embarrassing to talk to a doctor about, but the pain pushes you through it.

*Umbilical hernia is a pouch formed from the inner lining of your belly that pushes through a hole in the abdominal wall at the belly button.

*Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in lower rectum

 

Cait, mom of two
My first visit to the dentist after having my first child I ended up having five cavities!!! I was shocked and embarrassed. I brushed and flossed the same if not more when I was pregnant, but still managed to get FIVE CAVITIES?!? My dentist told me that a woman’s body is being depleted of nutrients while she is pregnant and it is very common to get cavities. Heads Up!

 

Talia, mom of one
My feet actually grew ½ size larger.

 

NEW HAIR WITHOUT THE SALON?

While pregnant you probably loved your hair, right? It grows so fast, its thicker than normal and has a beautiful shine. Well, sorry to say, that all goes away. After my first child, I lost so much hair I thought there may be something wrong. Nope- it’s unfortunately very normal. The damage was most evident when I would pull my hair up. I had so many fly-aways that did not tie up, not to mention the new side bangs that appeared on both sides of my forehead.  It grows back…slowly.
 

With my second child, Weston, I expected the same thing to happen.  Yes, I did lose some, but the consistency changed dramatically.  I have always had very fine, straight hair.  I never needed a straightener, and always needed lots of spray to keep a curl.  About six months after having my Weston I had this crazy section of crimpy hair located on the back of my head.  I like this change, but would have preferred it was all over and not just in a random section.  I am still trying to figure out how to tame it. 

 

Before and After Weston.....

 

Kitty, mom of two
I had huge chunks of hair come out when I stopped nursing.

 

Heather, mom of three
Straight hair my entire life, and then after being pregnant, wavy hair all over.

 

Katie, mom of one
My child is almost 26 months old - WHEN IS IT GOING TO GROW BACK?

 

 

SKIN ISSUES?  whamp whamp - que downer music

During pregnancy most women have that, “pregnancy glow” which is caused by increased hormones and an increase in blood volume. Enjoy this time. After having your baby the hormones go all over the place resulting in the opposite effect, acne. Boo!  

 

Emily, mom of two
The complexion on my face and back changed.  It was a mix between acne and pigmentation that started a few months into my pregnancy and lasted for a year after giving birth.

 

Barb, mom of one
I got weird brown spots on the skin of my breasts that faded a bit after birth. I think it was Melasma, (a common skin problem that causes brown to gray-brown patches on the skin).

 

Ricki, mom of three
I had so many stretch marks on my stomach and everyone told me to use about eighteen different creams to make them go away, but they didn't. I still look like a zebra.

 

Michelle, mom of two
I now have differently pigmented spots on my face that my dermatologist says are there for the long haul due to all the hormone changes. I also developed several skin tags that I’ve never seen before.

 

K, mom of two
I had terrible rashes on my abdomen after both c-sections! I mean AWFUL and so painful. I had bad reactions to whatever medication they used in surgery. It came about 6 weeks after my first-born and immediately after my second-born, which was really bad because I was still recovering from surgery. I've never met anyone else who had this problem.

 

Dear Seekers of Truth Regarding the First Year of Motherhood

SHIT!  WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MY BOOBS?  

Obviously your milk is coming in. You know that. The unknowns are: How much? How fast?
Will this little baby latch on? Even the mothers who decide to formula feed will go through some of these issues until their body can regulate on its own. My experience was that I had more milk than I knew what to do with. Violet, my first born, did not eat any of my pumped milk until she was seven weeks old. Even then she was only drinking about 1-3 mL at a time. We are talking only a sip - and I was pumping eight ounces from each boob every three hours. So needless to say, I bought a deep freezer and started stocking up. I am one of those mothers who was lucky and had a great supply of milk. With this privilege came lots of pain and work.  The first three months I pumped every three hours. I bagged it and froze it. This was my routine. But, I often found myself having to deal with clogged milk ducks (a blockage that will interfere with releasing the milk from your breast). This feeling is bizarre. One section of my boob will feel rock hard and hurt to touch. I would feel shortness of breath and nauseous. The most productive way to alleviate it was to take a hot shower and squeeze my sore boob until the milk worked its way out. I was always confused about why this happened to me. I had a schedule with my $300 pump and always stuck to it, so I didn't understand how I could get a clog. But I did...many times. My daughter was never breast-fed but luckily loved the bottle. My son, however, was a boob man. It did surprise me how much more effective my son’s latch was compared to the pump. Again, I had so much milk. The first three months after having my son I would cry from pain because my boobs were so engorged. The only way I could feed him without feeling like I was water-boarding him was to lay on my back with him on top of me. This was not productive, comfortable ,or clean for either of us. So I would to relieve myself before or after latching him on and freeze the excess pumped milk for later. This took A LOT OF WORK and TIME.

During this time I got what I thought was a clogged duct, but could not push it out. I took a hot shower and bath, but none of my tricks helped. I started to get scared and told my husband I may need to go to the hospital. Before packing up the kids and making the drive I Googled "breast feeding problems". Turns out, after staring into the mirror for a couple minutes, I realized I had a small pimple sized white spot on my nipple. This little dot was a "milk blister." Who knew they even existed?!? Not me, but now you all do!  I ended up taking a sterilized needle, a deep breath, and popped the blister. Surprisingly, it did not hurt at all. Instead it was a steady flow of milk spewing out and it felt amazing. Immediately, I could breath normally and we didn't have to make that trip to the hospital.  Another more common problem that occurs while breast feeding is called Mastitis. I never had this, but many friends did. This is an infection in the tissue of the mammary gland inside the breast. My friends felt pain and had a fever. This did not resolve on its own, a doctor and prescription was needed.

Bottom line, I was not prepared for how much time it would take to pump and/or breast feed.  It is like being pregnant all over again, watching what you eat and drink, being tired and often very uncomfortable. On the plus side, it did help me lose the extra weight, I didn’t have to pay for formula, and I was able to bond with my son while he was at his calmest.

 

Kitty, mom of two
I did zero research about breastfeeding and was totally clueless and surprised when I suddenly had enormous Pamela Anderson boobs. Pretty amazing for a 32A gal! Luckily, I didn't have trouble nursing and had great supply, but was totally unprepared for the commitment of it. It took me a long time to adjust to the understanding that I didn't get my body back just because I wasn't pregnant anymore. I remember standing in my bathroom one of those first days and literally thinking, "I'm leaking from every part of my body!" Tears, milk, blood. Oi!
I found a lump in my breast while nursing my first-born. I thought it was clogged duct, but it wouldn't go away. I went to doctor, then to a specialist, who preformed an ultrasound (instead of mammogram) since I was nursing. They couldn't determine what it was, so they did a biopsy. They warned me it would be very rare, but I might get a fistula (milk squirting out the biopsy site.) Well it sure did and I got an infection at the biopsy site!  OMG! I had to keep a nursing pad on the side of my boob - what a ride that was!
I occasionally have the feeling of milk let down,* which is two years after I stopped nursing my second born!

*Let down reflex is an involuntary reflex during the period of time when a women is breastfeeding which causes the milk to flow freely.

 

Emily, mom of two
Breastfeeding makes you extremely dehydrated. Drink, drink drink!

 

Michelle, mom of two
Nursing. Is. Hard. And it doesn't always come easy. Between nipple shields, biting, cracked/sore nipples, getting the latch down correctly, it was definitely a long learning process. Also having to plan every outfit around having to nurse or pump and possibly hide milk stains was a challenge.
Pumping takes a long time in the beginning. I never expected to have to be away from the baby or anyone else who was visiting because I was exclusively pumping and had to leave for 45 minutes every couple of hours.
Your boobs become everyone's property, except your husbands! When I was in the hospital and trying to nurse I asked for help and a nurse came in and started maneuvering my boobs and the baby, three minutes into this she introduced herself.
Don't expect to run or jump without some seriously supportive sports bras.

 

Heather, mom of three
Not only do your boobs leak during any kind of endorphin release (sex, exercise), but any major emotion can cause it! WEAR BREAST PADS AT ALL TIMES!

 

Holly, mom of four
I was literally feeding my son ALL day and I can remember sitting in my rocking chair and bursting into tears out of pain, exhaustion and frustration. It took me till month three to get the hang of everything. But, I ended up nursing my baby until he turned a year. Victory!

 

Missy, mom of two
Best tips for your nipples: lanolin, let them be “free” at night when sleeping, and make sure baby is latched properly, this may take time.
It was incredibly painful to get my boobs to dry up (at 13 months). Some of the crazy things that worked for me were: Cold cabbage leaves placed in your bra to help with the pain. This is so weird, but it works even though you may smell like sauerkraut for awhile. Lots of peppermint (tea, altoids, gum). Hot showers and massage to try and clear out the ducts. Having my husband or friend give bottles, that way my body wouldn’t see my baby and think “make milk!”

 

Talia, mom of one
While breastfeeding my son I got vasoconstriction.* My nipples looked white, were cold, and hurt like hell. Wool pads helped to keep warm and maintain circulation.

*Vasoconstriction is the the constriction of blood vessels, which increases blood pressure.

 

Ashley, mom of three
I remember the first time something leaked out of my boobs, when I was 40 weeks pregnant with my first born, it actually disgusted me. After almost three years of nursing babies, it just feels like the most normal thing.
When you stop nursing your "Dolly Parton’s" will turn into saggy bags of skin that point south, so enjoy them while you can.

 

C, mom of two
The sound of the pump today makes me cringe, but it used to be my best friend. Also, if you didn't know this already, milk sprays out every which way from your nipple. It's not one straight shot. Let your partner know so they don't freaked out.

 

Kristen, mom of two
I remember when I stopped nursing my son at eight weeks old I felt like the worst human on the planet. I could hear the judgmental neighborhood moms talking about breastfeeding as "so natural" and "God's way." Truth was, our pediatrician didn't know if my son's feeding issues were because of silent reflux or allergies. We tried medication, which did not help and was told I needed to do an elimination diet. To me, this seemed like starvation and torture. The doctor told me to avoid all dairy, or anything with a dairy product baked in. I WAS STARVING!
I gave up. My son wasn't any better and I was miserable. I would rather be a happy mom who formula feeds than an unhappy one who is nursing. Baby number two came along and I was DETERMINED to make breastfeeding work this time. It actually started out really well until she ended up nursing so much I had an oversupply, which made her reflux worse. Yes, I was blessed with two severe reflux babies. I wouldn't wish that hell on my worst enemy. I resorted to exclusively pumping to keep a steady supply to get my daughter to twelve months of that "liquid gold." And you know what that taught me? If we ever have another, he/she will be formula fed from the start. Breast milk isn't "liquid gold" if all it does is cause worry and anxiety. I am not a failure. I'm not a bad mother for formula feeding. I am a good mother for wanting both myself and my baby to be happy and healthy!

 

Tonya, mom of two
Big chested woman does not equal more milk.

 

Eveline, mom of two
I learned while breastfeeding my son with food allergies that you have two different kinds of milk while feeding. The first kind is, FORE MILK, which is the fatty, sweet milk that gets your baby to latch. The second kind is the HIND MILK that sits farther back and was all of the substance. If your baby is only eating the fore milk it can hurt the babies belly. A hint this may be happening to your baby is they are wanting to eat too often, like every hour and a half.  

 

Lindsay, mom of two
“Are you breastfeeding?” I never could have imagined how loaded this question is.
Much to my surprise I had major problems breastfeeding due to an inverted nipple and a flat nipple. I was distraught, I was stressed out beyond belief, but determined to make it work. I wanted my daughter to have breast milk more than anything. In those first few weeks, babies really don’t need much. I felt like I was failing at the one basic thing she needed to just be alive. It was a pretty rotten feeling and looking back; I know it overshadowed a lot of the joy that I should have had just holding my little girl in my arms.  We went through two in-office lactation consultant visits, one at-home lactation consultant visit, and two weeks straight of sleepless nights with me in tears. I made it work the best way I could. I pumped breast milk for her and wore a nipple shield when nursing. As much as I tried we never really got a good handle on nursing directly from the breast. So by three months, I was pumping exclusively for my first -born. Ask any woman who pumps exclusively for her baby and she will tell you it is the first truly selfless act you can perform for your child. It’s lonely. It’s uncomfortable. It’s stress inducing because of the exact measure of milk supply and demand. You don’t get to do it while cradling your baby in your arms. It sucks. This is my reason I would never just ask a new mother if she is breastfeeding. I know now that it’s entirely possible that she was up last night at 3 am pumping alone so her baby can have breast milk. Or she tried her hardest to make it work and couldn’t make it happen and is terribly sad about it. Or she decided from the beginning not to breastfeed and just doesn’t want to hear another judgy response from some unsolicited stranger. Every new mother has to do what works for her and what is best for her baby.
I was much more relaxed as a second time mother, I didn’t have time to stress out and I was already armed with all the knowledge from my experience with my first. Today my six month old son is happily nursing and going strong. With a combination of zen, nipple shields, pumping, and bottle feeding from my husband, we made it happen.

 



BREAST MILK INFORMATION

I have a random knowledge of pumped and stored breast milk. My cousin once told me, "You should write a book about all the breast milk knowledge, you’re like the pump master!" Mind you, this is breast milk knowledge, not breast feeding knowledge. My cousin’s daughter was what some would call, a lazy eater. She didn’t want to work for her food and my poor cousin resorted to pumping and literally spoon feeding her infant for longer than she would like to admit. Eventually, her baby did put in some effort and got a handle of the bottle. She would call me with questions like, "How many hours can freshly pumped milk stay out before I need to dump it?" The reason I knew the answer to questions like this was because of my darling daughter’s time in the NICU. I learned from the best nurses and doctors and most of all, experience.

Here is a short list of Q & A.

1. How long does pumped milk last in the refrigerator?
    1 week, usually. Make sure to smell before. Trust me, you will know if it has gone bad!

2. How long does it last in a freezer?
    Six months in your regular freezer, one year in a deep freezer.

3. How long can pumped milk stay out before putting it into the refrigerator (for the first time)?
    This depends on the weather. I found in the summer (80 degrees and higher) is can only stay out for about three hours before it needs to be put into the fridge. On cooler days (65 degrees and lower), it can make it up to six hours. Obviously use your judgment. If the milk has been in a room with a comfortable temperature, you’re fine. If you left it outside on the porch in the direct sunlight, toss it.

4. How many times can I heat or reheat milk?
    I would take a frozen bag, thaw it, heat it up, and feed my baby. If there was left over milk I would stick it in the fridge and make sure to use it for the next feed. I would not let milk stay in circulation for more than a day before dumping it.
I found that if I took milk that had never been frozen, I could heat and reheat no more than two times before dumping it.

5. How do you heat the milk?  
    Heat a mug of water to almost boiling in the microwave. Insert the frozen bag of milk into the mug and let it sit for five minutes or so.  Sometimes reheating the water a second time is necessary. Never heat the milk directly in the microwave for two reasons:
1. The microwave does not heat liquid equally, so your baby could drink warm milk followed by hot milk in the same sip.  
2.  If you heat the milk directly it will not last as long.  

 

I MAKE MILK! WHAT’S YOUR SUPERPOWER?
— Jennifer Ritchie, IBCLC

 

 

 

Dear Seekers of Truth Regarding the First Year of Motherhood

Lynne Ticknor Photography

Lynne Ticknor Photography

DELIVERY - THAT REALLY HURT, OR IT’S ABOUT TO HURT

You just had a baby. Way to go! Crowd roaring and many high fives to you. Now here is what happens next...
I had an emergency caesarean section* so it didn't actually hurt at the time because of the crazy spinal shot that was injected into my lower back. I think because of all the nerves and adrenaline the spinal didn't really hurt, it was more of a pinch. But, once the medication wore off-- damn. The worst part of a c-section is that your insides have been cut up, so everything that is connected to your core hurts. It hurts to stand, walk, cough, sneeze, and laugh. Keeping a pillow with me for the first two weeks and gently pushing it into my incision helped when I needed to move. The pillow helped brace my core so everything that had been cut did not feel like it is ripping open again.                                                                             The most important piece of advice I can give to another mom is to take the medicine, don't be a hero. If you had a so-so anesthesiologist you may even get sick, which happened to me the first time around and that pain was unbelievable. But, like all pain, it subsides and the scar does heal. Don’t be surprised if the scar tissue around your incision is hard to the touch or hurts at times. If I am laying flat and feel the urge to sneeze, I have to brace myself otherwise I get a sharp pain that lasts a few seconds. As I write this my son is two and a half years old and I still feel pain occasionally.

*Cesarean section or C-section is a surgical operation for delivering a child by cutting through the wall of the mother’s abdomen.

 

Kitty, mom of two
I didn't expect these reactions to my c-section: uncontrollable chills and itching. I was SO shaky after my son’s surgery I thought there was something seriously wrong, but it was completely normal. I was also itchy so they gave me Benedryl, which of course made me drowsy and loopy, like I wasn't enough already!

 

Talia, mom of one
I remember standing up, with help, and finding myself bent in half after my c-section. Make sure to take it easy during your first few showers and use the seat! Relax and let the water come to you. 

After delivery my intestines seemed to slow down, which was uncomfortable, but completely normal. My advice is to keep your body moving, it helps keep everything moving!

 

Ashley, mom of three
Recovering from a vaginal birth can be so painful. I had an episiotomy* with my first-born and peeing afterwards burned. I was terrified to poop because I thought I'd rip my stitches. I will always be grateful to the nurse who introduced me to the ice pack/pad "hoagie.” It is a big ass ice pack with witch hazel pads laid on like a bologna sandwich, stuffed into the hospital gauze granny panties. I went through a shit load of dermoplast* and hoagies those first few months.  
Even worse than the episiotomy though, was giving birth to my breech twin who left me with tiny rips up near my urethra. No matter what I tried the pain was excruciating and it got to the point I was mentally not letting myself go to the bathroom. My doctor had to call me in some pain killers, I iced my vagina for 15 minutes, and hopped in a warm shower, which finally helped me to go and it still hurt like hell. Thankfully it was only three weeks of that!

The way my vagina felt after birth was EXACTLY the way it looked, like something out of a sci-fi movie. HORRENDOUS! Don't look!!! But if you do, know that your lady parts won't always look like this.

*Episitomy is a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues.

*Dermoplast is a pain relieving spray.

 

Emily, mom of two
Take advantage and take home all of the stuff from the hospital. Netted underwear, pads, diapers, wipes, etc. DO NOT eat McDonald’s as your last meal before going into the hospital. It will result in a bedside potty chair with explosive diarrhea shortly after giving birth. I was so relieved it didn’t happen while pushing!

 

Barb, mom of one
I didn't realize that you could tear upwards toward your urethra as well as backwards with a natural delivery. I also didn't realize that you could get internal hemorrhoids.

 

Michelle, mom of two
Everyone tells you about kegel's and how important they are to do. I admittedly didn't do them as much as my doctor told me to. Two years later I still can't do any high impact workout with jumping or running without peeing a little.

 

Now, no matter how you gave birth, the next two weeks are the same. Every part of your body will feel swollen and your uterus will need time to shrink back to normal. You are bleeding like crazy and have to wear the diaper size pads to stop the discharge from leaking all over your bad underwear and yoga pants. Peeing will sting and the first bowel movement will feel like you are giving birth again. Eat your fiber and take those stool softeners! You WILL feel better soon. Make sure to check out this list of MUST HAVES and MUST DO before the baby comes.  If your baby surprises you and comes early, hand this off to the first person that says, “how can I help?”

 

Shopping List:
1. Big granny panties (they need to be big and high on the waist to hold the super size pads you will be wearing for the next month)
2. Breast pads (I recommend the Lasinoh disposable brand - purple box)
3. FIBER and STOOL SOFTENER!!!
4. New pair of yoga pants (you will be living in these, you need more)
5. Comfortable sports bras (not super tight) your boobs will expand and contract daily
6. Guilty pleasure foods (because you will deserve them)
7. Magazines or books (you will find time for these while pumping or breastfeeding)
8. Meals prepped and in the freezer
9. Quick eats ready to go (muffins, bagels, etc - anything you don’t need to prep or wait on.  When you are hungry - eat!)
10. Water bottle/container (this will help you remember to drink.  You will need it)
11.  Smart phone (I’m not sure how people raised kids without one. It's a camera, baby resource, entertainment, contact with the outside world!)

 

Dear Seekers of Truth Regarding the First Year of Motherhood

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My name is Caitlin and I am a mom of a five year old girl, Violet, and a two year old boy, Weston. Life at the moment is great. I feel in control and am loving the stages my kids are in. I did not always feel this way. When my son was a year old I felt stressed, unfulfilled, irritable and consumed with guilt for feeling this way. I was tired and did not recognize myself. I had a baby who did not sleep well and a toddler who needed constant attention. During this time I felt compelled to write a book for new moms. It was supposed to be a guide to what could happen to HER after birth and throughout the first year, or however long it takes for her to feel “normal” again. Pregnancy is a crazy ride on it’s own, but nobody talks about how you don’t actually exit the ride after giving birth. I realized if we had a HEADS UP beforehand, our struggles may have been easier to navigate.
My two children, two miscarriages, a three month NICU stay gave me enough material to get started, but I wanted my friend’s input as well. I asked my mom friends to contribute their experiences by asking them, “What could you have used a HEADS UP on through the first year after having your baby?  Concerning only YOU, not your baby.  It could be mentally, physically, or your overall change of life.” I was so thankful for their responses. Each contribution was so raw and honest I felt honored to be trusted with each experience. I have compiled a small collection of stories and information that my mom friends say, "I was not prepared for.” None of this information made it to print or bookstores, but it is a TRUE conversation that needs to be shared. So please read this with a glass or mug in hand and pretend I am talking to you as a close girlfriend. My life is an open book and that’s how this all pours out...

 


MISCARRIAGES

I was pregnant before Violet and I lost that baby at twelve weeks. I was in my normal twelve week check up when my doctor discovered there was no heart beat. It was quite a shock because my body felt normal and I had no troubling symptoms. Losing a baby is awful, no matter how far along you are. For me, the absence of a warning and being my first pregnancy made it more traumatic. I needed a dilation and curettage (D&C)*; I had to recover from that surgery and live with the fear that I might never be able to have a baby. Miscarriages, for whatever reason are not openly talked about. I found it therapeutic to discuss my feelings, it helped me mourn and move on. When I discovered miscarriages happened to other women who ended up having kids, it gave me hope. I had another miscarriage after Violet as well. I was at twelve weeks again, with no indication anything was awry. This time I wasn't grief-stricken, I was enraged. Why in the hell can I have a baby and just lose another again? I ended up getting some blood work, but found no conclusive evidence about what was wrong. Maybe it was just bad luck. My doctor recommended I take a baby aspirin per day as well as my over the counter prenatal vitamin. I did as I was told and my second baby was a textbook fat, healthy, happy child.

*D&C is a procedure to remove tissue from inside your uterus. Doctors perform dilation and curettage to diagnose and treat certain uterine conditions - such as heavy bleeding - or to clear the uterine lining after a miscarriage or abortion.

 

Ev, mom of two
My first miscarriage was very eye opening. No one told me that having a miscarriage naturally (without a D&C) feels like you go into labor. You contract and you want to push. You are forced to sit on the toilet for hours as the jello and liver looking discharge comes out of you. The scariest moment is when the fetus leaves the body in a big messy ball. You will cry and be mad at the world. You will have lots of questions running through your head like: why is this happening to me? I’m healthy, I’m doing the right things, what should I have done differently? Most of the time it is just nature, something was wrong with your baby, it wasn’t your fault, and your body knew it.

 

 

NICU LIFE

Violet, Violet, Violet. My first-born and only daughter was quite the challenge, medically and emotionally. Due to the miscarriage I had before getting pregnant with Violet, I was paranoid until I got past that 12 week appointment. Some stress did alleviate after that appointment until I went to the 20 week ultrasound. My husband and I were so excited to learn we were having a girl! But, after learning this we discovered she had a birth defect called, gastroschesis. When I heard this word I immediately felt my heart fall and was filled with dread. The doctor explained to my husband and I that Violet’s belly had not fully closed during the first trimester and that her intestines were outside of her abdomen. I asked the doctor (who was the doctor expected to relay the ultrasound technicians findings) if this was something he had seen before? Basically I was trying to ask in this moment, “will my baby be okay?” His response was, “no, this is very abnormal.” So, as you could guess, I started crying. This doctor handed me tissues and my husband a text book explaining this disorder and left the room. He said he didn’t like crying pregnant women in his office. Worst bedside matter ever!?!
My husband and I left the office confused and nervous and went home to call my OBGYN and Google, “gastroschesis.“ The short version is it’s a birth defect that means the belly did not fully close around the belly button and the intestines and sometimes other organs are floating around outside the babies body. In Violets case, it was just her intestines. The odds of this happening are 1/ 3,000 and has never occurred to a mother over 30 years old. I was 29 at the time. Talk about frustrating and thinking the baby world was totally against you.
I ended up being monitored every week in the third trimester to consistently measure the intestines to see if they had inflamed at all. On week 35, they were inflamed, so I was off to the c-section table! Violet was born five pounds, eleven ounces, which was a giant baby in the NICU. She was delivered, I kissed her, and she was rushed to an operating room of her own.  The surgeons pushed all her intestines back inside her little belly and stitched her up. The next three months was a long process, so instead of you reading a bunch of paragraphs I will list the important events in our 11 week NICU stay.

-Vi’s surgery was a success.  All the intestines fit back in and things are looking good!

-She was hooked up to a central line for all her nutrients and food. She also had an ugly green tube coming out of her nose (and sometimes mouth) that removed all the “waste,” since her bowels were not working.

-My husband and I left the hospital on day five with out our new baby. My heart actually ached when I left, but those NICU nurses and doctors are angels. I left sad, but confident she was in the best care possible.

-I got to hold her for the first time on day six.

-After waiting six weeks, Vi had still not pooped, which meant something was wrong with her intestines, a second exploratory surgery was needed.  

-Turns out, Vi had a “kink” in her lower intestines, so our surgeon cut 4 cm of the bowel off and re-attach. We were told it was a success and to stay patient while we waited for Violet to poop on her own.

-Two days after this surgery Violets lung collapsed. Now here is where I get wordy. My usual routine had been, wake up, pump, dress, walk dogs, eat in the car on the way to the hospital. Then I'd sit with Vi and pump every 3 hours at the hospital until my husband came or until I went home in the evening to eat and walk our dogs again. On day two post surgery I was expecting to sit with Violet like "normal" and wait for her little bowels to work like I had been doing for weeks. But, this day was different; I came in to find her struggling to breathe and seeing her ribs poke out of her skin gasping for air. To this day I still don’t know what went wrong. I just remember one of our primary nurses moving faster than I have ever seen her move. She unloaded two other babies she was caring for to other nurses in our room so she could focus on Violet. This is when I got scared and stopped biting the inside of my lip to stop from crying and just left myself go. I called my poor husband who started working nights so we could each see Violet as much as possible and told him he needed to wake up and come in. Throughout the day we had five different doctors checking in on Violet. By the end of the day there were two oxygen tanks (these things looked like those big helium tanks to blow up balloons) at the end of her incubator. There were tubes going every which way and as a non-medical person, I was overwhelmed and intimidated. After twelve hours of stress Violet’s condition was manageable and I felt secure with taking a break and heading home.

-Week seven Violet finally pooped! Now we have to teach her how to eat. Time to start using all that frozen breast milk.

-Week 11 day 72 Vi is finally strong enough and can eat on her own so we can take her home!

My overall opinion of the NICU, which I imagine most people who have been there agree, is that these people are truly amazing. Not only do they know all the medical needs of your child, but they care for them as their own. I know in the evening when I couldn’t be present, nurses held Violet, just because she needed the love. I know they teared up when I did, because they felt my pain and frustration. They never gave up and they do this every day for every child. Hats off and round of applause to all the NICU nurses and doctors! My only gripe was that Violet was in the NICU during flu season, which meant no visitors except for my husband and myself. So for 11 weeks my parents, in laws, brothers and sister-in-laws and friends were not permitted to see her.  This made for a very lonely experience. I hope whoever is reading this will never have to have an extended stay in the NICU, but if you do, I hope you can bring visitors with you. I think it would have helped me a great deal.

Another issue to address is to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. I should have followed this advice.  I was underweight by the time my Violet came home. I had been pumping like crazy, not eating real meals and was under so much stress my nutrients was severely depleted. My weight and strength was way down and as a result I lost more hair and had to avoid questions from friends and family. I would often stand up and feel faint. I did get back to normal, but I should have been taking better care of myself. Looking back, I would have eaten balanced meals, drank more water and cried more.

 

Talia, mom of one
I work in the NICU where I delivered my son. I KNOW the staff, I know the environment, and the miracles that go on. But I was NOT mentally prepared for a NICU stay, no matter how short. My recovery room was on the same floor as the NICU, which would seem convenient to anyone who was not postpartum. In my mind that was miles away and I was a mess. It did get easier, if this happens to you just give yourself a moment to breathe and accept.

 

Ashley, mom of three
NICU time is scary and comforting at the same time. Knowing my twins were in good care was a relief. I spent every day at the NICU and would come home to sleep at night, while still getting up every three hours to pump milk for them. I felt more rested after my twins than I did my first born because I was able to go home and get a few hours of sleep. The nurses really pushed me to take care of myself, and I'm so glad I listened to them and didn't try to sleep in that uncomfortable hospital recliner all night. I would also sometimes go and pass out in my car for a nap in between feedings. I think being able to rest really helped me have energy when we got to bring them home.

 

Sandi, mom of two
My first child was born early at 33 weeks and was three pounds seven ounces. I can never express the gratitude I felt towards NICU nurses. I was given hugs, a shoulder to cry on, and most of all they loved my baby for me when I wasn’t there. We still go back every year on my son’s birthday and bring treats. I didn’t know that having a small NICU baby, once he was discharged, I was not allowed to leave the house with him. This period of my life made me feel like I was under house arrest. When I was finally given the OK from the doctors to take my son outside, I would time my walks with the bus schedule so I could at least say hi to other humans. Soon we were able to go out in public, and yes, I was that mom in the Target parking lot waiting for it to be 8 am. While looking back at this journey I wished I had been more true to myself.  I felt alone, scared and it felt like it was my fault. Please be honest with your feelings, talk to friends, family, even your doctor. I feel like if I would have said "I feel like shit" or "why me" I could have gotten the help I needed and not missed out on so much! Be true to yourself, you are one amazing mama!