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The Life of a Crunchy Mama

NICU PPD & PPA

Nothing can really prepare you for having a baby in the NICU. I never would have thought that I would be a preemie mom. I didn’t have any signs of preterm labor.

Then my water broke, out of the blue at 31 weeks pregnant. I was confused, mad, and sad. Why did this happen to me?  What’s wrong with my  body that I couldn’t keep her in? Inside of me is where she’s safe and healthy.

At 34 weeks, I was induced after being on hospital bed rest. I  knew my baby would be in the NICU. I was able to discuss labor, birth, and my daughter’s hospital stay with my doctors, nurses, and her neonatologists.

But…I didn’t feel prepared.

Nothing really prepares you because nobody knows how she will be once she gets on the outside. I didn’t know if she would take a bottle or my breast from the start. I didn’t know if she would need breathing support. I didn’t know what she would weigh. I didn’t know if she would cry right after birth.

Then she was born. She was in the NICU for 12 days. When I tell people that they say “well, that’s not too long”, and they are correct. A lot of moms suffer from the pain of having a NICU baby for much longer, but no matter how long the stay is it feels like forever. In fact, comments like that are NOT helpful, so please don’t say them to any mom.

Instead of recovering from birth, I was driving back and forth 45 minutes to see my baby. I was leaving my 2 year old son behind with someone else. The house was messy. I lived on fast food and cafeteria food. I watched my daughter have one good day followed by two bad ones. I pumped every 3 hours around the clock. I spent so much time away from my husband, and I was constantly lonely for him.

I didn’t feel very supported. I didn’t really have anyone. My husband was already back to work by the time our daughter came home, so I just jumped into life with two after days and days of back and forth.

I ended up developing post partum depression and anxiety. I used to think this would never happen to me, but here I am 4 months later struggling every day.

I guess I’ve learned that after a regular, full term birth, a journey with a baby in the NICU is SO much more difficult.

ALL moms need support, love, and kindness, but I just wanted to focus a little of the pain I felt with my preemie baby. I know I’m not alone in this.

 

Please feel free to share your own stories with me. I want to support moms in their beautiful and painful moments. We know we all we need more love, especially as moms.

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Excited but Scared

I’m struggling, and my preemie isn’t even here yet.

My water broke at 31 weeks, 5 days, so I was put on bed rest after that. I’ve had some visitors, nurses, and others ask me if I’m excited. I suppose they mean excited to meet my daughter and be a mom of two. Of course I’m excited for those simple things, but I’m mainly just scared. ‘Cause that won’t be everything that meeting her now will consist of.

Don’t get me wrong. My daughter is a blessing, and she is already so loved.

But if it meant that I wouldn’t be stressed about feeding tubes, weight gain, and breathing problems, I would gladly hold her in there for another 8 weeks. If she could stay where she needs to be without risk of infection, I’d keep her there. Now she will be hooked up to all sorts of monitors and IVs. Having her now means she will be taken away from me right away, and I won’t get to bond with her like I would if she came later on. It means she will spend everyday fighting to live.

Nobody really wants a preemie (not if they knew what it really all consisted of).

So of course I’m excited, but I’m mainly just scared, sad, and jealous.

It kills me to hear crying babies in the rooms next to me because I know my baby will be hauled off to an enclosed bed far away from me, and I just want her healthy with me.

So I’m excited to meet her, love her, and get to know her. But I would never wish having a preemie on anyone because it’s not really “exciting”.

It’s just about doing what you can, holding on, and praying she’ll soon be healthy enough to discharge and take home.

PPROM/No More Home Birth

When I found out I was pregnant in November 2017, I was thrilled, scared, and emotional. It was two months before my wedding, and we wanted to wait to conceive until after our wedding day. Plans changed!

The more my fiance and I talked, we explored the option of home birth. He initially told me that he was nervous about it, but he would support my choice. I met with some local midwives that do home birth in my area. It was an immediate connection. There was no pressure to do any of the things that my crunchy mama heart desperately wanted to avoid.

 

There was so much freedom, and I decided that was exactly what I wanted to do. My husband agreed that it was worth it if it made me happy. We also came to the conclusion that this would likely be our last biological baby. NF has so many risks associated with it, so we would likely discuss adoption if we wanted more kids in the future.

With every appointment, I felt more confident in my decision. I was anxiously adding to my natural birth kit. I felt so blessed to be able to bring my baby girl into the world in the water surrounded by my mom, husband, birth photographer, and supportive midwives. I was thrilled that they smiled when I told them I wanted to keep my placenta.

Then I got to 31 weeks, 5 days and while I was sitting outside on a chair while my son played on the playground, I felt a gush in between my legs. My initial thought was ‘crap, I peed myself’ because that stuff happens during pregnancy. But liquid kept coming even after I changed my underwear and pants.

I called one of my midwives, and she told me she would come over to test the fluid. It eventually got to the point where I was leaking so much that I was soaking Depends underwear, and I called my midwife to tell her that I really thought it was amniotic fluid. She told me to head to the hospital.

I loaded up my (almost) three year old and drove us to the hospital. I was not having contractions, and there was nobody home to take me to the hospital. If I felt impaired in any way, I would’ve made arrangements for someone to drive me. My husband said he would meet me there.

I cringed when they said “This is amniotic fluid”. They then transported me to a hospital with a NICU. They gave me steroids, magnesium, and antibiotics. They told me to stay in bed, and hooked me up to monitors.

I’ve now been here on bed rest for one week. I’m still leaking fluid, but I’m off of all medication. They plan to induce me around 34 weeks because the risk of infection is greater than the risk of prematurity.

I’m not having any contractions, baby is still healthy, and all of my vitals are good!

My heart is broken that my dream birth was stripped from me. I won’t have a water birth. I won’t get to breastfeed immediately or snuggle in with my beautiful baby. I may not even have a vaginal birth at all.

Instead I’ve be hooked up to pitocin with monitors on my belly. I won’t get to nurse my baby for up to weeks after she’s born. My odds of C-section skyrocketed are sad.

I’m sad and defeated. Nothing went as planned.

But it will be worth it if my baby is safe. It’s all for her.  She needs to be safe, and I will someday make peace with the trauma that was this experience.

Sometimes things just don’t go as we planned.

Trust Issues

I struggle so deeply with trust. I wonder when it all started. Was I always like this? Surely not. I grew up with loving parents, stability, God, but I’m still a mess of trust issues that I can’t seem to escape.

I guess I can’t pin point a certain time when I all of sudden I began to fear everything and everyone knowing that they could hurt me. Maybe this was all a slow occurrence that eventually engulfed me into the anti-social, fear-filled person I am today.

This problem has caused me to separate myself from all friendships. I do not reach out to people anymore. I do not rely on people. I do not have a best friend. I don’t have a secret keeper. I’m alone, and sometimes it’s just easier that way.

It’s hurt relationships. It makes me want to control everything. “Is he talking to someone else?”. The words haunt and taunt me. The thought of someone cheating on me has become more of a fact than a general wondering, and it’s just expected. It’s happened before.

The worst part is how often I’m right. Friends bail, tell secrets, and don’t really care. Boyfriends cheat, walk away, and abuse me.

Maybe the trust issues are my safety net. I’ve put it up around to prevent anyone from getting in because how could I possibly let someone see me vulnerable? Then they’d have something to use against. Then they would be more likely to hurt me, and I just can’t do hurt again.

So maybe I know what caused this all. It wasn’t one broken moment that took me and left my happy self to ashes, but it was everything. It was my first love leaving me; I thought I NEEDED him, and he did not even WANT me.  It was the time that I someone I thought to be pure and faithful cheated on his wife. It was the time my “best friend” went around telling everyone I cheated on my boyfriend.

Then this is just how I got stuck  picking up the pieces.

My trust issues protect me from feeling the bitter pain of failure, brokenness, and sin.

But they prevent me from feeling the deep love, vulnerability, and joy in trusting friendships and relationships.

So I’m left wondering how to overcome this all?

Nobody really has the answers. People can tell me my fears are far fetched and wrong, but those fears don’t go away. I can be reassured over and over, but I never feel confident.

How do you open up when you’re like me? How do you have healthy relationships when you’re like me? How do you have lasting friendships when you’re like me?

How can you be happy if you’re like me?

 

UPDATE

I’ve been AWFUL with keeping up with blogs. It’s so sad too because this is such a wonderful outlet for me. It’s also so wonderful looking back at the wonderful and not so wonderful events that took place since finding out I was pregnant with my sweet little boy. It’s crazy that that little boy is almost 2.5 years old now.

Here is a general update of my life and some things going on in my life.

I completed my first semester of college and my first 2 classes. I left both with A’s!

Isaac and I got married!

Isaac and I found out we are expecting another sweet baby in August!

And Jayce went through surgery to have his adenoids removed and have ear tubes put in. During surgery a large neurofibroma was found in the back of his throat. This may be the cause of his sleep apnea and eating problems.

 

It’s all been bittersweet, and there are so many things going on in my life. I’m hoping that soon I can find the time to document this pregnancy, post pictures, and update you all on Jayce’s health.

We are requesting prayers and kind thoughts for all of the areas taking place in our lives.

 

Thankful Thursday

Everyone makes their thankful posts in the month of November. I’m sure celebrating Thanksgiving is a great way to bring out the spirit of thanks. I love seeing everyone’s posts about their families, jobs, and little things in their life that make them smile. So I am going to start a thankful Thursday!

Let me begin on the spontaneous idea this was and that I can’t commit to posting every Thursday, but today is a great day to start.

I am thankful for my scholarships.

Tonight I went to my written communication class, and I found myself complaining about the workload that accompanies that class. Tonight I was given four assignments. I am feeling stressed and blah tonight. Then I thought about all of the people that can’t go to college. Maybe they don’t have the money or time. Something is holding them back.

I get to go to college. I was given enough money in scholarships to pay for most of my associate’s degree.

I am truly blessed.

How I Became Anti-Vaccine. 

As I have debated writing my own post about my view on vaccines and why we chose to stop, I felt that I could have written this post myself. My experience was so similar!

an evidence-based, heartfelt blog.

For several years, I was unsure. I felt caught between different sources of conflicting information that I thought to be credible. But I knew too much to believe what we were always told – that vaccines were “safe & effective”.

I chose a delayed and selective vaccine schedule for my son. I was torn between the risk of a “preventable” disease and the risk of vaccine injury. I didn’t know as much as I do now.

after_vaxThe first time he received vaccines, at 4 months of age, he was somnolent for 4 hrs following the shot – awake but out of it. I was worried, because it wasn’t like him to be awake and not fully alert… but I felt some relief when he seemed to be back to himself later that day.

A month later I went in to get him two more shots (Prevnar & Hib). It was then that I…

View original post 2,196 more words

Explaining Sensory Problems to Someone Who Doesn’t Have It

Today I was doing food play with my son. He has sensory problems, so his occupational therapist suggested that we introduce a noodle bucket. That way he can experience new textures without the pressure of eating. He did so well with it that I decided to cook the noodles in boiling water for 2 minutes. While we played in those partially cooked noodles, I felt like I truly understood sensory issues for the first time. When I smashed the noodles, they got sticky and clumpy. The residue stuck to my hands. I kept wiping them off on the towel next to us and kept thinking ‘when can I wash my hands?’.

This is how my son feels every time food is set before him.

So I wanted to describe what sensory problems are. So many people just don’t understand why my son “won’t just eat”, or why I don’t just “shove food in his mouth”.

Sensory problems are loaded. They can be complex. Do you remember learning about the five senses?

Touch

Taste

Smell

Sound

Sight

So now think about everything you touch on a daily basis. Think about everything you taste on a daily basis. Think about the smells you smell. The noises too. And of course everything you see.

That’s a lot of sensory input…ALL. DAY. LONG.

To a certain extent, I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone has some areas of sensitives. I mean, have you ever touched something that made your stomach curdle? Are there any foods that you can’t eat? You don’t like how they taste.  Is there a smell that makes you want to vomit? What about a sound? Everyone’s go to is nails on a chalkboard. The other sound that gets me every time is the way people would continuously click their pens while I took a test. That sound consumed me to the point that I couldn’t focus. Sight is another one that gets people with sensory issues.

So for someone with sensory problems (formally known as Sensory Processing Disorder) all of that input can be scary, difficult, or even painful. As adults, we can avoid the foods that bother us, and we won’t by that “Sunflower Dreamsicle” candle anymore. These people are dealing with those gross things constantly, usually several times a day.

The way my son’s OT describes it to me when we first came to the program to learn more is that the in sensory kiddos, the body receives some form of sensory input as a negative thing. So as a result, when they hear loud noises, they begin to cry. Or when they touch slimy food, they may cringe.

Sensory issues are hard, and they take work to overcome. I feel like our life is one big therapy session. I’m always trying to calculate how I can help Jayce look at food as a positive thing. This is always why force feeding kids isn’t a good idea. It can set any progress they’ve made back.

 

 

 

My Son’s Feeding Problems

This is a post that I’ve been wanting to write for some time now. I kept putting it off, thinking that I would post about it when we finally get answers. But here we are over a year later with no real answers, not the black and white, easy to fix kind at least that I had hoped we would have by now. But I want to take the time to educate and maybe vent a little bit.

My son’s name is Jayce. We wanted to introduce solid foods to him at 6 months old. We were excited about doing BLW (Baby Led Weaning) and we were set on skipping rice cereal. So six months came, and we started with his very first food-avacado! They are high in fat and nutrients. Plus, they are delicious.

From that day forward, he never ate food. He wouldn’t bring it to his mouth. He wouldn’t let us spoon feed him. He cringed when he touched anything food related.

At first, we just thought he had a food aversion, and wondered if he knew that if he ate “real” food, he would stop drinking breast milk. But the problem continued. His doctor didn’t seem concerned because he was gaining weight and hitting his developmental milestones. So I tried not to worry.

Then when he was 15 months old, he still wasn’t eating food. He was gaining weight, but very slowly. Our doctor referred us to Birth to Three. After an evaluation, they decided that he needed to work with an Occupational Therapist because he showed extreme signs of sensory processing issues and oral defensiveness.

Sensory Processing Issues (Sometimes diagnosed as Sensory Processing Disorder): issues that occur because the brain has problems organizing information from the senses. Children with sensory processing issues can be oversensitive to sights, sounds, textures, flavors, smells, and other sensory input.

Oral Defensiveness:  signs include being a picky eater, gagging from certain textures, avoiding messy tactile play, and dislike having teeth brushed.

We began Therapressure Therapy. We found lots of methods of sensory play including the  following: uncooked noodles in a bucket, play-dough, moon sand, play foam, food play, paint play. We began using a Z-vibe, whistle, and chewy tube.

We tried holding off nursing. We offered smoothies and nutritional shakes in cups. We tried walking away while he had food. We mixed small amounts of smoothie in with large amounts of breast milk. We offered various textured food with various temperatures in various locations. We tried shoving food into his mouth (something I would NEVER advise now). We tried letting him bring it up to his mouth. We tried reverse psychology.

My son has now been in Birth to Three for six months. He works with the occupational therapist still and is now working with the speech therapist as well. He has made very little progress but will OCCASIONALLY lick the salt off of a cracker or put a hard candy in his mouth. We will be meeting with a specialist to check if he has a tongue or lip tie. We will also be making a 2 hour commute to a Children’s Hospital to work with a feeding therapist.

We are doing EVERYTHING we can.

But we still hear “He won’t starve himself, so stop breast feeding”, or “He NEEDS to be eating solids”, or “When my kids were little we would just shove food in their mouths.”

So here comes the previously mentioned venting and I hope it’s educational as well.

1.) He MAY starve himself.  For children suffering from feeding difficulties, whether sensory or other, feeding is either too difficult based on oral structure or feeding becomes a “fight or flight” experience. As a result, they would rather choose to not eat than deal with the difficulties that accompany mealtimes. Yes, even to the point of starving and malnutrition. Check out this article to learn more.

2.) Yes, I know he NEEDS to be eating solids. I am trying. Saying that does not help me.

3.) I do not care if you’ve birthed and raised 246 children. If none of them have sensory issues or other problems that make feeding a challenge, you have not been in my shoes. The issues my son is overcoming are not behavioral. Even if I did “just shove food into his mouth” he would spit it out. Believe me, I’ve tried. I cannot force him to eat. I learned this the hard way.

So to any good-intentioned mothers offering their words of “advice”, I don’t want it unless you are educated on the topic or know someone who is at least. NEVER advise someone to withhold food from their child. This can potentially be very dangerous.

 

 

 

 

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