Tag: motherhood


To a NICU Mama… Family

It’s been 6 months to the day since we were able to bring Maddie home from the NICU. She was there for 13 days. 13 days wondering if there was another tube in her or if she was hooked up to a different machine. 13 days hoping she would remember to breathe. 13 days wondering if she was going to ever come home.  Maddie’s NICU stay was easily the worst time in my entire life. There were times where I would sob and literally say,” She will never come home.” I lost out on a lot of things new mothers are supposed to experience. I grieved over those losses. There is nothing that hurts more than seeing your child struggle to live and not being able to help. In retrospect, 13 days isn’t very long. There are so many families that spend much more time there and my heart hurts for them. 

If you are a NICU mom, this is for you. If you are newly a NICU mom, I promise that it does get better. Right now, it’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry and it’s ok to scream. You are not alone in those actions and emotions. Eventually, this will be a memory and it will be ok.

I’ve been trying to write something about how it is to be a NICU mom for months  but I could never get out the words in the right way. I decided to abandon what was “right” and just write. Here’s what came out. 

Madalena at 1 day old.

Madalena at 1 day old.

nicu mama

You are strong.

You may have spent little to no time with your baby. If you were lucky enough to get a minute or two with her, you could tell she was struggling. If you were lucky, the first memory you have of him is his discomfort.

You spent your first night as a mother without your baby. If you were able to take him home from the hospital when you were discharged, you still wondered if he was healthy enough to be home with you. Just know that you are strong and you are enough.

You may have been one of the few who left the hospital a mother without their child. You are a warrior. You battled tears every drive you made to and from the hospital to see your child. You fought back screams every time the doctor said, “She’ll need a feeding tube” or “He’s not quite ready to come home yet.” You held your breath every time a monitor would beep. You prayed that it wasn’t your baby and that, if it was, it was a mistake.

You may have been one of the few who could have crawled into a dark corner and sobbed for hours. You may have done that. But you battled back and you made sure your daughters nursery was ready for her when she came home.

You may have been one that stayed in the hospital with her. Your days and nights were only different because of the light outside. You spent all day look at your baby, looking at her monitor, and looking back at her. You’d tell the nurses you’d sleep only to lie down and stare at the ceiling- fearing the next “ding” would mean your son needed help that you couldn’t provide.

You may have been one of the few whose “it’ll only be a couple of days” turned into “she’ll have to stay for at least one more week.”

Maybe for you that “one more week” turned into “maybe next month” or even “maybe her due date.”

Maybe “maybe her due date” turned into never at all.

Maybe you aren’t even a NICU mama yet – I pray that you never are.

No matter what kind of NICU mama you are, just remember:

You are strong. You are a fighter. And you have so many NICU mamas in your corner.

Madalena at 6 months old.

Madalena at 6 months old.


Meant to Live Life

When you look back at the past few weeks, what kinds of things do you remember? If you could categorize your thoughts, where would they go? Would you put them in the “Memories with the Kids” category? “Date Night with my Spouse”? “Vacation with my Family?”

Or would the majority of your thoughts fall into categories more like these:

  • Budget is a Little Tight
  • I Hate My Job
  • I Ate Terribly/Didn’t Exercise
  • I Gained Weight
  • My Significant Other is Annoying Me
  • My House is a Mess
  • I’m Stressed

If you’re thoughts fall primarily into the latter category, welcome to the club. I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten all the good things going on in my life because I am wrapped up in how much laundry there is and how I need to change my eating habits to see some weight loss. Shoot, we set ourselves up to thing this way when we make resolutions every year to lose the weight or eat clean. I can look back at 2014 and 2015 and remember thinking “I will be the fittest ever this year!” Neither year produced that for me. I remember that, but I have to think a little harder about the good things (aside from my daughter being born, of course).

It’s so sad how so many of us are focused on all the wrong things. All the time you spend stressing out about things could be spent doing things to alleviate that stress!

Think about it. Stressing about a tight budget isn’t going to help anything. Stressing never gave anyone some extra money in a bank account. Stressing never folded laundry or put away dishes. Stress is toxic.

Research has shown that stress can actually do physical damage to your body. Your body needs stress in certain amounts. It’s what helps pump your blood through your body so you can react appropriately in fight or flight situations. Stress is a good thing. The problem is that we are in a constant state of stress. Constant stress can cause respiratory problems, heart disease, kidney and liver issues, stomach ulcers, and it could even eliminate your ability to react to an emergency all together. Stress can literally kill you. (source).

Aside from the physical harm stress does, stress can kill your relationships. If you look at polls and surveys, stress about money nearly ALWAYS listed as a top reason for divorce. Stressing about how you look can push away friends and significant others for a multitude of reasons as well (I could literally write an entire post on how food and aesthetics can ruin a relationship).

With all of this stress, when are you finding time to actually LIVE? I have an answer for you – You’re NOT. You’re not living. You’re going through the motions and waiting for things to change. Guess what? Things don’t change if you don’t change them.

meanttolive

I was listening to Switchfoot this morning – The Beautiful Letdown album (yeah, yeah, throwback, I know)- and I think I actually listened to the words for the first time. We were meant to live for so much more than bills/food/weight/annoyances/insertotherstresseshere. We are not here to spend our days stressing about things that we can’t change. If you can change it, then change it. If you can’t, stressing is a waste of your time. It is literally a waste of your LIFE. We were meant to LIVE.

 


I Think We Should Take a Break Fitness

This post is honestly mostly for me to sort out my thoughts, but I know I’m not the only one who’s going through what I’m going through so I thought I’d make it a blog post.

If you’ve been following me on my other social media accounts, you know that my weight loss isn’t exactly going well. Not from my lack of trying, either. I ate at a calorie goal and did well, then it stalled. Then I switched it up and started eating a more plant based diet. GAINED weight. Gave the plant based thing some more time since it can be a big adjustment for your body. Nope. Still a gain. The other day, I mentioned eating based on the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) method and I started logging yesterday and today. Epic failure.

I know what you’re thinking. I couldn’t have possibly seen results from 2 days of IIFYM. You’re right! The reason it was an epic failure was because of how time consuming figuring all that out was. On top of being time consuming, I was started to get irritated at the lack of flexibility there was. Sure, you can eat to fit your macros, but if you don’t have a ton of calories to work with, there is very little flexibility.

That’s when I realized: why the fluff am I trying to go through all of this trouble? What is the point? What is my end-game and what is the long term plan?

To answer those fairly quickly:

  • I want to look good.
  • The point is to look good after having a baby.
  • The end game is to look good.
  • The long term plan is to look good.

 

See the problem?

I am so focused on wanting to look good that I am completely ignoring all of the OTHER things (and frankly, more important things) my body can do.

Before I get a bunch of  “I told you so’s” hear me out.

It is ingrained in us to like what we see. We want people to like what they see when they look at us. And that’s not a bad thing some times. What IS a bad thing is when the focus and the priority of your day is looking good. I will be the first to admit that, over the past few weeks, that has been my focus. I still go through my daily routine and I completed the tasks I need to complete. I’m a good wife and a good mom. Outside of those priorities, though, my brain was 100% focused on what I could do to look better. I hated my body.

In church today, I was thinking about the past couple weeks and how I’ve just been bummed out and depressed because of my lack of progress. That’s when I got hit like a ton of bricks.

wonderfullymade

Me hating my body is telling God that I hate the body he gave me. It’s me saying the work he did to create me before I was even a thought is worthless and garbage. I am made in His image and hating my own body is like hating Him. Let that kick you in the gut for a minute.

It would be like someone painting a piece of art specifically for you just for you to focus all day on the fact that you hate it. In reality, it’s a piece of art that was wonderfully made. It’s made up of all the same things as other paintings- paint, canvas, brush strokes- but it has a different look that is totally it’s own and it is beautiful.

Truth be told, the body I have is NOT garbage. My body can do amazing things. I can run, jump, squat, press, and climb. It carried, grew, and kept a baby alive before it brought that baby into the world. It can run on no sleep efficiently and it can recharge when it needs to. Does it look the way I would like it to? No. And I don’t think it ever will. But I am learning that that’s ok. I am NOT an elite athlete or a physique or bikini competitor. I don’t model. I don’t have a job that requires me to look a certain way so I don’t need to look the way the way people who have those jobs do.

All of this being said, being happy with my body is not an excuse to not take care of it. I was given this body for a reason, so I need to take care of it the best I can. In my case, that does mean I need to lose a few pounds. Those pounds don’t have to be gone overnight, however. I don’t need to do anything crazy to lose that weight. I don’t need to spend hours at the gym or count my calories or be strict on my macros. Those things will make me look good, but how long can I actually keep that up? 1 month? 6 months? 1 year? Certainly not forever. All I need to do is find balance. Make healthy choices. Stay active. Go back to basics. Those things can be made into lifelong habits.

 

I have been counting calories/macros for 5 years. 5 YEARS. I know what’s good for me and what isn’t. I know healthy habits. I just need to put them into practice. That’s why, macros and calorie counting, I think we need a break.


Things They Don’t Tell You || Labor and Delivery + Post-Partum Care Life

Part one of this series talked about Things They Don’t Tell You about Pregnancy. In part two of this series, I want to talk a little bit about labor, delivery, and post-partum care. These parts of pregnancy and birth aren’t discussed nearly enough. Even if you buy books on pregnancy, they either don’t cover this part or you’ve stopped reading by the time you get to it because you get caught up in pregnancy. Babies aren’t born without delivery, though, and every delivery has post-partum recovery, so here are some things I wish I knew.

  1. You cannot be shy during delivery (or afterwards)
    I only have experience with vaginal delivery, so I can’t speak for C-section mamas, but if you are delivering vaginally, everyone will see all of you. Between cervical checks, catheter insertion, and other things (you know, laying spread eagle pushing a baby into your doctor’s face), you will have people in your business your entire labor (and after). If your baby isn’t “sunny side up,” it gets even better as you may have to lay on all fours to get the baby to flip. There is no time to be shy.All that being said, the people who are seeing you are professionals. It’s nothing they haven’t seen before and everything they are doing is for the good of your baby to make sure you have a smooth delivery. If you’re uncomfortable, just try to relax and remember the reason behind everything.
  2. You will need to make immediate decisions
    Who will cut the umbilical cord? Will you do skin to skin? What will you do if your baby is taken to the NICU? Will your significant other stay with you or go with the baby? Do you want your baby to be given his or her Vitamin K shot (can prevent bleeding in the brain)? Goop in their eyes? Research these things so you can make informed decisions on the fly.
  3. Be ready for change
    While everyone may have some sort of plan going into labor and delivery, things tend to work a little differently once you’re there. Be prepared for things to change. Maybe you stop dilating and they need to dilate you using medication or other means. Be ok with that and research those options so you can make a decision or let your doctor know that you have a preference. Maybe you labor for too long and your baby goes into distress- be prepared for a C-Section. Maybe you wanted an epidural but you progressed too quickly so you can’t have one. There are so many variables when giving birth, you have to be open to change! A change in plans doesn’t mean failure. If you decide to get that epidural after swearing you’d go med free, it’s ok! Do what’s best for you and your baby.
  4. Pushing out the baby isn’t the end!
    After the baby comes, you will deliver your placenta. If your placenta doesn’t come out, the doctor may have to find a way to get it out. After that, you’ll get a fun massage on your belly to make sure everything that needs to be out of your uterus immediately is out. This is called a fundal check. It hurts. I won’t lie to you. But you may be so busy doing skin to skin with your baby that you won’t notice. Fundal checks will be done regularly while you’re in the hospital to make sure your uterus is shrinking back to the size it should be. If you tear, you will also get stitched up before they let you assume your regular laying position.
  5. You will bleed- a lot
    You may tear during delivery.  You may need an episiotomy to help the baby come out (I’ll let you Google that one). You won’t notice the bleeding during the actual delivery, but you will bleed after delivery for days- if you’re lucky. Your body is essentially going through a huge period. 10 months of uterine lining is being shed which can be terrifying when you’re the one who’s bleeding. Don’t worry! Bleeding and passing clots are normal. You may fill multiple thick pads per day at the beginning and that’s ok. Over time, bleeding will decrease and stop all together. It may take weeks, but it will subside. Always talk to your doctor if you feel you are bleeding far more than normal.
  6. You will be sore
    For a lot of women, myself included, post partum hurts more than delivery. If you tear, you will be sore for a few days. That’s normal! You may also swell- also normal. You may get a peri bottle in the hospital- USE IT! This bottle is filled with water and used to “wipe” after using the bathroom so you don’t have to put pressure on stitches. Your hospital may also provide you with an antiseptic spray, tuck pads (witch hazel pads), and some ice packs. I didn’t prefer the icepacks, but other women swear by them. Take as much as you can when you leave so you can continue your pain management routine at home. As always, talk to your doctor if you feel you’re in more pain than you should be.

Now, reading all that may make it seem terrifying but, honestly, you will look back and you won’t remember all the crappy parts of it because it brought you a beautiful baby. Funny how your mind can make you forget things like that! Also, keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different. I didn’t have a terrible labor and delivery, but my post-partum experience was horrible. Some people may have a long labor and delivery but an easy post-partum. Every experience is different, but it may ease your mind to know what could happen.

If you’ve been through labor, delivery, and post-partum, what would you add?

Carrie Signature


Weekends and Walks Life

This weekend was a good one for me. Since having M home, I’ve had one trip out of the house without her. Other than that one trip, I’ve spent every day either at home with her or out running errands with her and Mike. It’s not a bad thing and it has become a [very welcome] new normal, but have a baby doesn’t mean I don’t need some time to myself. This weekend, Mike watched M while I went to a baby shower for a friend. It was the first time I’d picked out a cute outfit, put on makeup, and did my hair since my baby shower the week before M was born!

fall outfit

I bought this shirt at Burlington in the maternity section (no shame! It was cute!), the pants are yoga pants from Target, and the shoes are from Burlington as well. The scarf I’ve had for years and probably got at Target. The purse is Michael Kors and the sunglasses are Moscot. Mike bought the glasses for me when he was out of town and I am in LOVE with them. They’re extra special because they’re a limited edition line made by Myles Kennedy- the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Alter Bridge.

On Monday, I finally made it out of the house to the park! I had been itching to take M on walks but never was able to get out of the house due to rain. I was so happy that Monday was such a gorgeous day! I went to a local park and walked around the lake. It’s a 1.4 mile loop. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little sore. It’s kind of pathetic, but I walked pretty quickly and haven’t moved that much in a long time!

park walk

When I got home, I threw together a chicken Caesar salad for lunch and called it a day.

caesar salad

I’m hoping to be able to get another walk in this week! I have my 6 week post-partum check up on Monday and I’m hoping I’ll be cleared to exercise after that. Thanksgiving is next week and I’d love to get started back running!


Life Update // Baby is Here! Family / Life

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post. Last time I posted, I was 24 weeks pregnant. I was nervous about my glucose test, I had gained 20 lbs in 24 weeks, and my blood pressure was great.

So much changed very shortly after that post.

If you don’t want to read the full story, here’s the cliff notes of my life update: I have a baby! Madalena Anne (Maddie) was born on October 11, 2015 at 35 weeks, 2 days gestation after an induction due to severe PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension)/ pre-eclampsia.

If you want to read the full story, keep reading!

My blood pressure stayed steady until 28 weeks almost to the day. I went in for an appointment one morning and my blood pressure was 150s/90s after multiple readings. My OB sent me to Labor and Delivery (L&D) triage to be monitored. My BP lowered a bit after a couple of hours so I was sent home with a medication to keep it low. I was also told to take it easy- no exercise.

A week later, I was back in L&D for contractions. I was released soon after since they were non-labor inducing contractions.

Around 30 weeks, I woke up incredibly nauseous. I could barely walk, I was vomiting, and even sitting made my BP spike. I called my OB and she decided to admit me to the hospital for overnight observation. Overnight observation turned into 3 nights of observation because no medication they tried would help lower it without making me incredibly ill. Instead, she increased the dosage of my original medication and discharged me with instructions to be on bed rest.

Staying in good spirits while admitted for observation.

Staying in good spirits while admitted for observation.

Around 33 weeks, I was back in L&D with yet another BP spike. My OB increased my medication one more time with the hopes that it would help at least prolong an induction. At this point, I was visiting the perinatologist 2x a week to make sure my blood pressure wasn’t inhibiting blood flow to the baby and I was also visiting my doctor 2x a week to make sure I was ok. My doctor was keeping a very close eye on me because I had all the symptoms of pre-eclampsia without proteinuria (when you spill protein into your urine indicating kidney issues). It was important to catch proteinuria if/when it happened because it could have turned a bad situation into something much worse.

At 34 weeks, 6 days I went to my perinatologist appointment and he was very unhappy with my blood pressure. When I went to my OB appointment immediately after, my blood pressure was 160s/90s and I was admitted into the hospital until I delivered. At that point, I didn’t know how long my admission would be. At the very most, it would have been 2 weeks since my OB would have delivered me at 37 weeks.

I taught myself how to crochet!

I taught myself how to crochet!

I was admitted on a Thursday. My BP stayed relatively under control for a day but I had a very high reading (174/90-something) on Friday night. My OB said that if I got another high reading, she would induce me. Sure enough, early Sunday morning (around 4am), my BP read as 180/90-something. 10 minutes later, it was 188/100. My nurse called my doctor and I was moved to a delivery room. My husband arrived shortly after and pitocin was started. After 30 minutes on pitocin, my IV fell out. I was bleeding everywhere (who knew so much blood could come out of your hand?) and the nurse had to- obviously- re-start my IV. She let me take a shower before starting the induction over, which was nice.

The last bump picture I took! Right before I was re-started on the pitocin.

The last bump picture I took! Right before I was re-started on the pitocin.

After re-starting the pitocin at 7:00am, I waited around for contractions to start. I had a lot of back labor, which sucked. I got an epidural around 10:30 when I was about 3cm dilated. The epi only took on one side so I had to be re-dosed around 12:30. Those two hours were incredibly uncomfortable. At 12:30, I was checked again and had progressed to 4cm dilated. I was preparing myself for a long labor so I tried to close my eyes for a little bit. At 1:45 I was checked again. The nurse said, “Oh, woah,” which prompted me to get nervous. She said, “You’re 8-9cm.” I couldn’t believe how fast I had progressed! My OB came in at 2:00 and said it was time to push. At 2:41pm, Maddie was born!

I wish the story stopped there, but it doesn’t. Maddie was quickly taken from me for breathing issues. I was assured that it was normal for a preemie and was told she would probably only be in the NICU for a couple of days. A couple of days turned into a week which turned into two weeks. To top it off, I wasn’t able to see her for over a day because I was put on a magnesium drip to make sure I didn’t have any seizures as a result of my blood pressure post-delivery. Not only was I physically ill, I was literally bedridden to the point of having these things put on my legs to keep blood flowing. I was released after a few days, but I had to leave Maddie in the hospital. Let me just say, leaving your baby in the NICU day after day is such a taxing and emotional experience.   For a week, I sat and cried (sobbed) uncontrollably. I wanted my baby home so badly. I felt so lonely. I was so used to her being with me and kicking me at night. I felt like I lost everything. I was so empty without her. After a week and a half, I was asked to room in with her in the NICU to help with her feedings and 3 days later she came home!

On top of ALL that, we had a pipe burst in our home right after I was admitted for the first time. We had to vacate our home for nearly a month while it underwent renovations. The only reason Maddie came home to our house is because she was in the NICU. They finished renovations 1 week before she was discharged. To say this past month has been a roller coaster is the understatement of the year!

We’ve been home for a few days now and we’re finding our rhythm. I am so happy to have her home with us! She is almost back up to her birth weight- very exciting since she lost almost half a pound after being born.

As for me, I am still restricted from physical activity. I am being weaned off BP medications since my pressure looked good at my last appointment. My next appointment is my 6 week post-partum appointment and I should be cleared to exercise then. I can’t wait to start running again!

Some other pretty cool news: I ended up only gaining about 30 lbs during pregnancy and I’ve already lost 15 of it! I’ll be back in shape in no time!

Now, if you made it through all of that, here’s a picture!

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Obviously, I’m biased, but I think she’s the prettiest baby in the whole world!

Carrie Signature