Wednesday, November 30, 2011
There are many of us that are planners, we make a plan and expect to be able to follow it.
I have seen many moms who are thrown for a loop by unexpected loops that come to them through pregnancy, and one of the best things you can do for yourself, is prepare for the unexpected!
Ask yourself some questions, what if something that is unexpected happens? How would I like it handled?
Some topics might have to do with the baby's position. What if the baby is breech, posterior, or just an abnormal positioning that causes a long labor? What kind of interventions would you want made in this case?
If your baby was born early, what kind of things would you like in place?
Of course, you do not want to stress over "What if's", but just sort of contemplate them, let someone know, write it down and let it go. I have seen mothers who have had some sudden complications that led them to an early delivery that they had not even thought about, and it is hard (and still, even if you prepared for it, would be hard) to wrap your mind about everything and if you never considered it, is even harder.
Educating yourself on many topics so you know why you want to do something.
Do you want pain medication in labor? If your baby is not positioned the way he should be, your labor may be longer than you might think, would you want to be offered pain medication then? What types do you absolutely not want to take?
If you were going to end up having to have a c-section after a long labor, who would you want to stay with the baby and would you want someone to stay with you while they finish up the surgery?
What types of medication are okay for a breastfeeding baby? It is always advisable to check even on doctors as sometimes they forget too, they are only human!
I know many mothers feel that when things do not go "normal" or according to plan, they can feel that they have somehow failed. This could not be further from the truth! I think this is one reason it is important to have a good support system around you, before, during and after birth to make sure you know that there is always the unexpected in pregnancy and delivery.
It is the normal part of the abnormal!!!
So, prepare for the unexpected, let someone know, even if it is just on a piece of paper, and then relax and enjoy your pregnancy.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
This article explains how it can be dangerous to just schedule a c-section or induction based on convenience. It explains how many hospitals are banning it, but while I have noticed that many doctors are making women wait a little longer thankfully, I still see a trend to c-sections. I am thankful that the info is getting out there!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
But if you are a mom who feels ungainly and ugly in pregnancy, you are not alone.
Many women struggle, even though in others eyes, they are beautiful and are told so.
They see the love handles that they wished were gone before they had to gain this mandatory weight. They glimpse the cellulite that is on their thighs, with the extra weight gain has become more apparent. The stretch marks on the stomach that you wonder if those models in the pregnant mom shoot covered with makeup....
What are some things we can do to combat this?
I have found that having a plan for a healthy weight gain can help us not only during pregnancy, but afterwards as well.
- Talk to your care provider about a healthy weight gain for you. It varies from person to person, depending on your weight.
- Figure out a calorie goal or the types of foods you should be eating every day as a pregnant mom. I found that aiming for the foods I had to eat was easier than focusing on the things I shouldn't eat. It can be very filling if you make yourself eat 7-9 servings of vegetables, 4-6 servings of fruits, 2 grains, 2-3 servings of protein, 2-4 servings of milk. I suffered from an intolerance of sugar in my pregnancies, it was not gestational diabetes, but just made me very ill. Cutting out sugar though really helped me to gain weight that came off easier.
-I also had one day a week, I could have a treat if I wanted it. That helped because you were not limiting yourself completely.
- Make an exercise plan. This can be anything as simple as a walk everyday....from 5-15 minutes daily at least. Vary your routine, making it one day, you do exercises while cleaning the kitchen. The next day you play ball with your kids, and the next day take a walk.
Spend some money on at least one pretty thing that you feel good in for your pregnancy. It might be a new bra, some wonderful smelling lotion, a pretty shirt or dress. Often we do not spend money on ourselves when we are pregnant as it is such short time, but I think it can really effect our pregnancy, when our mood is down and we do not feel good about ourselves.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
A little bit about me and some pictures
This series of posts on Amy's Finer Things is really good. It is called "Why didn't anyone tell me?"
Pregnancy after 35
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Body Image issues are common in our society today. We all know the magazine covers in the grocery store showing so and so's new flab they tried to cover up, or the good shot of someone's ribs showing through a bathing suit or just a perfect model's body that we know we will never have.
Eating disorders are becoming more and more common in daily life, and many women who struggle with them, you may never know they struggle as they might not be 84 lbs. and look like death warmed-over. They may be your neighbor who looks like she struggles with her weight or the person whom you are jealous of her figure.
They may not struggle with a full on eating disorder, but they may have eating issues.
I have seen many eating issues that actually originate with good intentions. The fad that has been going around with cutting out different food groups, types of foods and avoiding groups of foods. Cleanses, excessive vitamins, excessive exercise among other things can be dangerous to your baby while pregnant.
While some of them may sounds good to start with, if you tend towards worrying about your body image while not pregnant, it is a good idea to get some extra support while pregnant.
Some ideas that can help you:
1)Have someone help you make a healthy diet plan- this could be a doctor, midwife, but it could also be a doula or a good friend who has a balanced diet.
2) Make sure to avoid drastic cutting out. Don't cut out main food groups while pregnant. It is normal for your stomach to be more sensitive while pregnant, but cutting out wheat, dairy and all acid based vegetables can really limit the amount of calories you can ingest. When you are not taking in enough calories while pregnant, sometimes you will still gain weight like normal, but it can leach minerals and strength from your own body.
3) Take your vitamins, but don't go over the top on them. Too many vitamins does not replace a poor diet.
4) Exercise daily. Make sure you are not under exercising or over exercising. If you are limiting your food intake, and overexercising, your baby can suffer. This is especially important after you have the baby, and are breastfeeding. Excessive exercise, with limited food means your breast milk can be the first to go.
5) Remember that when you do not eat a food for awhile, it can hurt your stomach when you try it. Plain old food can hurt your stomach if you do not eat for awhile. Remember the holocaust victims? Many of them died from eating plain food because their stomachs could not handle too much too fast. You need to eat small meals, frequently, that are full of protein, vegetables, whole grains and some fruit and dairy. Limit sugars or completely avoid! Add some good fats into your diet, but make sure you are not rejecting food simply based on not wanting to get sick.
So, how do I plan a healthy diet, when I have a fear of gaining weight? I plan meals and then I don't eat them, as I sit down and I feel ill after putting a bite in my mouth as I see the weight just piling on? I am gaining weight in spite of not eating. Why is it so important?
I know that it is easy to think when you are gaining weight that you must be doing fine. There are other things to think about though. Weight gain is not the only thing to worry about. When you are limiting your intake, you are limiting the amount of food that is going to the placental development, which feeds your baby. When you are not eating, the body has to burn some of your fat stores, which produces ketones. Ketones can be dangerous to your baby as it can be toxic when this source of nutrition passes to the baby.
I don't want anyone to know or think I have a problem? Isn't an eating disorder considered a mental illness?
Being honest with yourself and your care provider can be the safest thing for you and your baby. It is hard to admit we have a problem, but it can be the best thing all around. They can understand your struggles with not wanting to be weighed better that way, give you tips on how to provide nutrition to your baby, even when you do not want to eat.
I want to breastfeed my next baby. I struggled breastfeeding my previous baby, but I wanted to lose weight right away. I couldn't stand the jelly belly. How can I lose weight and breastfeed?
Breastfeeding requires a minimum of 1500 calories a day. That is not counting for the excess you will need to maintain your health. You need to figure out what you need to maintain a adequate milk production. Exercise in moderation can help with tightening muscles that got stretched out in pregnancy, but a healthy diet. The weight will come off with a healthy diet and moderate exercise. Breastfeeding is important to your baby's health and the sacrifice of waiting to lose that last bit of weight can be an important sacrifice for the future health of your baby. Lack of calories will cut back on your milk production and can put you at risk for PPD.
Some good resources to read:
Dealing with eating issues in pregnancy
Pregnancy complications with mothers with eating disorders
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
So, we all read the tips for helping with the sickness. One article says if pregnant women eat large amounts of beans, it will reduce their sickness, while another proclaims a herbal cure.
One thing to remember is to make sure to check with your care provider before starting any special diet or herbs. Some of them are not safe for pregnancy.
Across the board though, there are some things that seem to help with morning sickness.
If you are overtired or lack sleep, you will probably be sicker. If you have more than one child, you know that lack of sleep is a part of life, but if you can manage to squeeze in a nap or get to bed earlier, or even sleep in a bit, sometimes you will find morning sickness is not as hard to handle. How to practically do that?
When I had little ones, I would set one on the end of the couch with a book and the other behind my legs and then I would fall asleep. If they moved, I felt them. It is not ideal, but a way to get a cat nap in the moment.
Liquids can often be hard to get down, but sometimes bubbles can help. Sugar was a trigger for me, so I drank lemon club soda. The acid seemed to help and the bubbles to keep me hydrated. I also did some plain herbal teas that I could sip on. Again, make sure to check with your doctor to make sure your tea is safe.
Distractions- this could be a funny movie, a good book, staying busy with a project unrelated to food. It can help, but don't overtire yourself. Overtiring yourself can make you sicker than ever.
Avoid evening activities.
Keep well hydrated and even if you know it is going to come back up, it is better to eat a little as some nutrition will make it to the baby.
Find a list of good remedies that you would like to try. Collect about 30 of them. Write them on a calendar and work your way through them, one day at a time. Write notes on what worked and what did not work. Try to make enough of them that you can get through them and by the time you are done, hopefully morning sickness will be over.
If you find yourself getting very dehydrated, vomiting everything you eat, please call your caregiver right away. You may need some medical help to get you through this.
I found personally that sugar was a big trigger for me, I avoided it and it really helped ease the morning sickness.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
According to my midwife though, wearing tight clothing can restrict blood flow, and can not be healthy for you and the baby, so here are some places to look for some cute, spiffy maternity clothes and some tips on finding them, and not breaking the budget!
All the normal online maternity shops have Clearance.....start there, if you are looking for something new. You never know what will be really cheap that day! Check online for coupon codes as well.
If you are looking for long skirts....this link is for you.
The Modest mom- combining femininity with fashion
Also, if you have local stores in your area like Herbergers, Ross Dress for Less etc. They often have clearance and racks with some maternity selection. Target does as well, but it is generally generously sized, in case you are petite looking for something.
After you have looked and found something you think you like..... and the prices are still too high for you. Check on ebay. Look under the brand names of the things that you like and do a search for it. You will be amazed!!! You can find new, gently used maternity items for much cheaper. However, be careful. Watch that you do not spend over what they are new.
Also, check local children's boutique's and consignment shops. They often carry maternity wear, and sometimes you can find a cute shirt or two that will brighten your pregnancy wardrobe. Sometimes you can bring in some of your children's clothes, that they hardly wore and get some credit it for them as well.
Finally, second hand stores. I know, some people hate shopping them, but occasionally amongst the '80's garb, you will find some cute things!!!
I hope this helps you to try to find something to help your pregnancy wardrobe search a bit!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
by Cynthia Gabriel
Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko
Doula, medical anthopologist, and mother of three, Cynthia Gabriel offers the tools and inspiration you need to release your fears, win the support of the hospital staff, and avoid unnecessary interventions.
I have never read a pregnancy book that I so throughly loved before! Okay, I loved Ina May's guide to childbirth, but this one is absolutely amazing!!!
I think everyone, no matter what type of birth you desire should read this book.
This book explains birth in way that I have not read before, it speaks of the emotional impact birth can have on a woman, medicated or non-medicated. It goes through the steps of labor and birth, explaining them in a way a mother who has never given birth can read and be prepared.
It speaks of reasons for interventions, and reasons you could refuse or accept. This book is filled with birth stories of mothers, and the struggles or triumphs they faced throughout their births. This is not a book that is going to be too scientific for readers who struggle with that. This is a basic guide for the mom, who would like a natural birth. How natural it is, this book can explain how that varies for each woman.
I especially liked in the appendix a list of common interventions and how to avoid them. It was simple, educating and gives you the info and encourages your own research as well.
This book does not make you feel fearful, but rather empowered and encouraged to go forward with labor and delivery.
Overall, this book is such a wonderful guide for childbirth, I wish I could buy a copy to give each client! I give this book 5 large gold stars!!!
This book is available for purchase from many sources.
It retails for $16.95 and is 256 pages long
Borders often has coupons as well on their books, making this a reasonable place to buy from.
First off, make sure you let your care provider know, if it is unusually bad. Your iron may be low, and need to be checked. If your blood pressure is low as well, it can make you very tired as well.
One thing, I have seen when blood pressure is low, that exercise can raise it and make you feel much better. You will feel like your limbs are heavy and you cannot move, but force them to move and walk to raise it up and you will be amazed at how much better you feel.
Daily exercise, not too extreme, as that can tire you, but a brisk walk daily can actually combat the extreme tiredness and help you to feel better in your pregnancy. There is some studies that show that exercise during pregnancy helps your baby to be in a better position and labors to be faster and go smoother.
Here are a couple of links to some articles on the topic:
Seven Great Benefits of pregnancy exercise
Study: Exercise in pregnancy benefits babies
Exercise during pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy benefits your baby's heart
How to exercise during pregnancy
Most of these are just articles with info on the studies, and remember to discuss any type of exercise with your care provider.
So, what else can you do to combat weariness?
Lack of sleep can really wear you down in pregnancy, the constant getting up to use the restroom, and the uncomfortable stress of sleeping with a large ball in front of you.
A couple of tips, make sure you find out how much calcium/magnesium supplement you can safely take as a pregnant woman. This mineral helps your muscles to relax so you can sleep and have less leg cramps.
Drink plenty of fluids, but not over the top so you are using the bathroom in excess.
Eating a light protein snack before bed can sometimes help you to sleep better and keep your blood sugar more stable, even if you do not have blood sugar issues.
Eat a healthy diet- there are many trains of thought on this. Anyone who has read "What to eat when you are expecting" knows about the Best odds diet, which focuses on limiting weight gain in pregnancy. There are many other diets out there, do some research.
This study was interesting on how poor diet in pregnancy can effect your baby's long term health.
Why poor diet in pregnancy can effect your offsprings's long term health?
Excess sugar and empty calories can be a cause for lack of energy though as well, so choose the foods that will give the most nutritional impact on your baby first. Your stomach will not be able to hold as much food as time goes on, so making sure you get the most important foods first is an excellent way to look at it.
Focus on the food groups, and make sure you are getting as many servings as you are supposed to of vegetables, fruits and meats. Women in pregnancy can sometimes struggle with dairy, but this is another thing to discuss with your care provider.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Is there a more natural option or even a natural preventative? More and more mothers in the United States, Canada and abroad are rediscovering a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine which is said to not only help them to heal quicker and feel more energetic following birth, but also increase milk supply and help to prevent or relieve the symptoms of the “Baby Blues” and postpartum depression. Mothers can sometimes learn about this option from friends, family, their acupuncturist, their naturopath, their doctor, their doula, their childbirth educator, another mom on the playground or even the internet. Even with those various means of gleaning this information, most mothers are completely unaware that this option exists. Even for mothers who “are not into herbs and things,” or for those who are skeptical and think it must be the placebo effect, many mothers choose this option once they are aware of it. Even if it is a placebo effect, what a wonderful effect it is! There are no negative side effects. It is breastfeeding-safe, 100% all-natural, and I have met many vegans and vegetarians happily take it without going against their morals and beliefs. Of the two dozen+ clients I have provided services in the past year, including those moms at an increased risk for postpartum depression, not a single one of them reported any type of perinatal mood disorder. 0 out of 24+ is substantially better looking than 6-8 out of 10, don’t you think?
What is in this capsule that can meet all of those descriptions and be said to have so many positive effects? It’s not magic, it’s a gift from God or Mother Nature (your choice). We were created, or evolved, so artfully that we can grow our children inside of us, nourish them, birth them and feed them all with our own bodies. What nourishes the child during pregnancy is made to nourish the mother following the birth. The placenta is made up of the perfect mixture of beneficial hormones, enzymes and nutrients just for you. Every mother’s placenta has a different concentration of the various components but each placenta is perfect for the mother that birthed it. This professional has a specific listing of some of the components and their purpose for your review. In his 1993 book Jade Remedies, Peter Homes states, "Giving...placenta to a new mother following birth has become standard protocol among a growing number of midwives in the United States. By nourishing the blood and fluids, endocrine glands and organs, Placenta will ...reduce or stop postpartum bleeding, speed up recovery, boost energy and relieve postpartum blues." A piece of placenta taken orally has also been shown to decrease or stop a postpartum hemorrhage. Placentas are a strong substance that should not be wasted or disposed of, especially for those mothers who are at higher risk of the mood disorders. One mom who had suffered postpartum depression following her first birth says she feels completely different after taking her capsules following her second birth, "I don't know what happened this time, but I feel really good! I haven't had any issues whatsoever!" Read more personal experiences here.
Informed mothers can choose to ingest the placenta directly following the birth or over a period of time. This can be done in capsule form, straight up, in frozen slivers, cooked into meals, blended into smoothies or a variety of other recipes and instructional videos available on-line and in print. Robin Lim even has a recipe for Placenta Pate in her book Placenta: The Forgotten Chakra. For many moms, those just are not options for them and they choose encapsulation instead. Experienced and professional placenta services providers in the US, Canada & abroad are available to prepare healthy placentas for healthy moms following their births. In capsule form, it is much easier to ingest without the “ick factor” that may mothers cite in not wanting to otherwise ingest. To find a local provider for you or a loved one, click here for a listing of the various provider directories. Some providers also offer art prints, tinctures and healing salves in addition to a cord keepsake with your encapsulation package. Talk to your provider about the services they offer, the process of getting your placenta following the birth or about processing your already frozen placenta. Encapsulation is a viable option for moms who have had a vaginal birth or cesarean.
Sources: Photos by Courtney Durfee, ©2010 & 2011, www.cddoula.com
(All ideas in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of the blog owner.)
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
I think most of the time people assume it will come naturally. It is a natural process after all!
But I think one thing that mothers need to prepare themselves for is that breastfeeding is a lot of work. For me, personally, it was way easier than bottle feeding. But that is not to say it was without it's difficulties.
I think one thing to remember first off, in order to have a successful breastfeeding experience, is attitude. I know, that is a weird thing to say, but attitude makes a big difference in breastfeeding. If you go into it and say "I am going to try to breastfeed." You have good intentions, but it is probably not going to work out, similar to if you said "I am going to try to read 10 books this summer." but then you have to do it. Pretty much, with breastfeeding you have to just do it. You are going to have to devote your time to doing it.....
It is going to take time. You need to breastfeed your baby every 2-4 hours. When the baby is small, they often need longer to nurse too. It can be 15-20 minutes each session. I like to think this is time to sit down and rest yourself, recovering from birth can be trying, and often we as mothers do not rest enough. Taking the time to rest can make breastfeeding easier as well.
Sometimes I have met new mothers who have a couple other children, they take a couple days after birth to rest up, and then they jump right back into their work. They don't eat properly, they don't see they have any other choice. but to do their duties they always preform. About 6-8 weeks later, they find themselves exhausted, their milk supply falters, the baby starts crying a lot, they wake up at night more. You want to lose the baby weight you have put on, and start exercising, but instead of the rush they expected, they feel more tired. They add vitamins. They wonder if they should stop breastfeeding. You see the formula packets the hospital sent home with you and you think "Some people say their baby will sleep longer if you give them formula."
Other people have told you mix some rice cereal in their bottle....You give in and give the baby a bottle. It is not so bad, the baby sleeps for a couple hours, you are really full of milk, but it gave you an hour or two off. Once in awhile, can't be bad, right?
Yes, once in awhile, if you were pumping to compensate, it could be fine, but this early in your breastfeeding relationship, it could be the end, if you are not experienced. Rice cereal in a baby bottle is just a bad idea at that age....
Exercise is great for a breastfeeding mom! But overdoing it, can effect your milk supply. You need a minimum of calories in order to maintain a steady breast milk supply. You need a minimum of 1800 calories and more depending on specific people. But if you notice you are exhausted, you are stressed, getting depressed, baby is fussy.....take the baby for a walk and eat a good meal.
Nurse the baby more often- every 2 hours to increase your milk supply. One big thing to remember, if your baby is tiny and sleeping through the night, it can effect your milk supply. Prolactin levels peak while you are sleeping and when you breastfeed at night, it helps trigger more milk production.
One of the best things you can do though is get involved with a mother's support group. Look online
You can see if they have one in your area. Also, there is breastfeeding support groups that will have groups too, you can go to.
These are great ways that will get you out of the house and meeting other people who are in the same situation as you, without extra stress.
If you find that life is so overwhelming and you are feeling like you cannot handle taking care of your baby, you may be suffering from some postpartum depression. Please let someone know! It is so hard to do that, I know, but it is more common than you know. But that is another post!!
Monday, May 16, 2011
Do you ever read pregnancy books and wish that they were more down to earth or on your level? When I picked up this book, I found myself laughing through it. This is not a medical birth book, but more a guide from people who have been there.....there is sections for your husband, by the husbands as well as covering all sorts of other topics.
I loved the fact that she covered midwives and birth centers along with hospitals and gave you several different options for birth. I was vaguely disappointed she did not mention anything about doulas...I know the education is lacking on doulas and would love to see more pregnancy books talking about them.
Over all, this book was a fun, happy way of looking at pregnancy and the discomforts of it. In it's fun happy way of writing, it has a down to earth feeling though as well. It is not terribly deep, but it is one I highly recommend for a pregnant mom to read and enjoy. You will find yourself as I did, curled up and giggling through it. -Martha
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby
GuidepostsBooks (March 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Sharon Farnell, Publicity Manager, Planned Television Arts for sending me a review copy.***
Erin MacPherson lives with her husband and their two adorable children in Austin, Texas. She was an editor and staff writer for the Nickelodean ParentsConnect website for years, where she spent hours each week researching pregnancy, talking to obstetricians and midwives, and giving out tips and advice to new and pregnant mamas.
Visit the author's website.
Filled with helpful tips, amusing anecdotes, and encouraging advice, here's one mama's take on everything pregnancy -- from stretch marks to weight gain to figuring out how to rely on our creator through all of the uncertainty and joy of the next nine months. Pregnant women may discover that while they are thrilled about the baby, pregnancy can be another thing entirely. Instead of glowing they're glistening. There's morning sickness. And suddenly a favorite pair of jeans no longer fits. Erin MacPherson has created a comprehensive guide that's packed with information that every newly pregnant mama needs including exercising while pregnant, a detailed guide to each trimester (including sleep, doctor check-ups, pregnancy sex), what to buy and not buy for your baby, how to use your Bible as your pregnancy resource, and how to use this time of waiting to really draw closer to God through prayer. Filled with helpful tips (how do you quell that not-just-in-the-morning sickness?), humorous accounts (doesn't everyone crave peanut-butter-and-olive sandwiches?), and supportive spiritual advice (what does a godly pregnancy attitude actually look like anyway?). The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby has the advice a mama-to-be wants to hear. Erin MacPherson assures, 'at the end of nine months, you really will be glowing.'
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: GuidepostsBooks (March 1, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
You're Havin' a Baby!
The fact that you're reading this probably means you're pregnant. Yep. YOU are pregnant. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? If you thought your graduation day or your last birthday or even your wedding day was exciting and exhilarating and amazing, just wait until you hold your little bundle in your arms for the first time. The feeling is breathtaking. I get misty-eyed just thinking about it. That said, you have eight months (give or take) to wait before that misty-eyed moment so don't start packing your hospital bag yet.
I've always wondered how God created the heavens and the earth in seven short days and yet it takes nine long months to create a baby. Nine months. Seems like an eternity, doesn't it? I remember getting so irritated when people told me that my pregnancies would pass in the twinkle of an eye. They swore that I'd be holding my baby before I knew it. That's kind of hard to believe when you're carrying around twenty (er, thirty) extra pounds and gagging every time you catch a whiff of someone else's dinner.
But, really, your pregnancy will be over before you know it. In the meantime, you're probably going to need some girlfriend-to-girlfriend advice to get you from point A—the miserable, exhausted, growing-by-the-minute, gagging, vomiting and sweating point that you're most likely at right now, to point B—the glowing, ecstatic, sleep-deprived-but-you-don’t-care-at-all point that you'll be in less than forty weeks. And that's why I wrote this book.
I remember during my first pregnancy, the first thing I did after peeing on a stick was head to the bookstore to find a book that would keep me informed about what to expect (nausea, bloating and night waking) and what not to expect (a glorious time where I could eat unlimited amounts of ice cream while my husband massaged my feet). Not surprisingly, there were oodles of choices; there were pregnancy guides for new moms-to-be, old moms-to-be, young moms-to-be, and tall moms-to-be. There were pregnancy guides for dads-to-be and grandparents-to-be and second-cousins-to-be. But there was nothing for Christian moms-to-be. So, I did what any somewhat sane mother-of-two would do. I wrote my own Christian pregnancy guide.
The good news is that I’m not going to bore you with medical jargon. It's not that I don't like medical jargon (when I was pregnant, I loved reading books that told me all about the medical feats that my body was performing while growing a baby), but simply that I'm not a doctor. In fact, I don't have any medical training at all (unless you count the fact that I took—and passed—health education in high school). So, if you're looking for medical rhetoric and big-word-laden advice for a magical medical breakthrough that will quell your ever-present nausea and keep your weight gain to a minimum, this probably isn't the place.
But, while my medical expertise stops at "take some Tylenol and go lie down," I do have some pregnancy expertise. I've been pregnant twice. My sisters have all been pregnant. My friends have all been pregnant. Heck, a few months ago, my dog got pregnant. I've been surrounded by pregnancy nonstop for the past six years, and as I dealt with morning sickness and weight gain and decorating a nursery, I gleaned some pregnancy knowledge.
I also had horrible pregnancies. I know. I shouldn't be saying that to new moms-to-be, but for the sake of honesty, I'm going to throw it out there. I went through the ringer during my first pregnancy and swore up and down that I would never, ever survive and that if by some miracle I did survive I would never, ever, ever get pregnant again. Well, I survived. I fell in love with my baby and promptly got pregnant again. And you know what? I survived the second awful pregnancy too. And, if we're being honest, I'd take another pregnancy (or two)), God willing. In an instant.
You probably don't want to hear this right now, but it is worth it. Every time you gag. Every time you throw up into your mouth. Every pound you gain. Every sleepless night. All of it. It's worth it. Just wait. I promise that nine months from now, you're going to be e-mailing me and telling me I was right.
I won't say I told you so.
Getting Into the Pregnancy Groove
Being Pregnant and Loving It
You figured out how to actually get pregnant (go you!), now you have to figure out how to be pregnant. And contrary to popular belief, being pregnant isn't as simple as remembering to take your prenatal vitamins, which is a feat unto itself. Pregnancy is exhausting, exciting, exhilarating and stressful all at once, which means that you're going to be exhausted, excited, exhilarated and stressed for the next few months. Not an easy thing to be—especially when you're gaining weight at a rate of three pounds per week.
I hate to even say this to a pregnant woman, but the next few months might not be the best months of your life. (Sorry!) I think my biggest misconception about pregnancy was that I expected it to be easy. I thought I'd be bubbling with baby-growing joy for the entire nine months. Maybe that’s true for some people, but it wasn't the case for me. Pregnancy was hard. And stressful. And super-annoying at times. And I wrestled with emotions that I'm embarrassed to even admit. (But we'll get to that later.)
Interestingly, while I was trying to get a handle on the stress and emotions of pregnancy, I felt an overwhelming urge to draw closer to God. There's something about impending motherhood that makes a girl really reflect on who she is and who she wants to be. I knew that my future children needed a godly mother, and I knew that I fell (far) short of the mark. This caused me to spend a lot of time reflecting on the characteristics of godly mothers and how I could become one.
As Christian women, we have to live up to a pretty high standard. The legendary Proverbs 31 woman is gracious and kind and long-suffering and probably never snapped at her husband for leaving dirty clothes on the floor. I'm not even close. I find myself living in a daily battle to live up to God's standard for my life. I wake up praying that I'll live with patience and integrity throughout the day…and find myself losing my cool before breakfast.
Yet, at one of the most stressful, emotional and trying times of my life (my first pregnancy), God drew me closer to Him. I actually felt His presence as I spent time praying and reflecting on my baby and my future as a mother. It's comforting to hear His voice in a time of need and feel His presence when you're feeling your worst. And, hearing God's voice (and knowing he's there) is great motivation to have a godly attitude throughout pregnancy.
Of course, I was still the same old girl who couldn't seem to make it to breakfast without losing patience about something. (Have I mentioned the dirty laundry that is always left on the bathroom floor?) Still, God did show me that purposefully choosing to have a godly attitude resulted in me feeling closer to Him. That, in turn, allowed me to have a more gracious attitude about my pregnancies.
Sounds a bit trite, doesn't it? I mean, if it was all about choosing to smile through any situation then every day would be gumdrops and preggo-pops, right? Not exactly. But God does call us to be content in any circumstance (even morning sickness!), which means choosing to focus on the reasons we have to be grateful, even when it’s tempting to be grumpy.
And trust me, when I was pregnant, I had lots of reasons to be grumpy. But, I did strive to have an attitude of gratitude about my pregnancy. Here's how I did (and didn't) do it:
How to Get into the Pregnancy Groove
1. Get Yourself Pumped Up:
When I first got pregnant, I was giddy with excitement. And who wouldn't be? I was going to have a baby. I couldn't stop thinking (or talking) about it. But then I got tired. And sick. And bloated. And suddenly I wasn't so giddy anymore. In fact, once those pregnancy symptoms kicked in, I turned into a whiney, moaning, self-pitying mess. I resented my baby for making me feel so bad and resented everyone else because they didn't feel as bad as I did. I resented my job because I had to go to it. I resented my husband because he could sleep and I couldn't. I even resented my dog because she could spend the entire day basking in the sunshine while I had to actually get up and function.
So, how exactly do you start thinking about rainbows and baby booties when you've spent weeks hugging the toilet bowl? One thing I did was immerse myself in babyland. I bought books about pregnancies and babies. I hung out with friends who had babies. I ogled over baby gear on the Internet and rented funny movies about babies and watched them over and over. The only thing I didn't do was volunteer to babysit because that would've taken way more energy than I had at that point. But if you're feeling up to dirty diapers and peekaboo, go for it.
The point is, the more time you spend around babies (and other mothers), the more excited you will be about your own baby. And believe me, the only thing in the world that is worth nine months of pregnancy is a baby. And you're getting one. So hop on board the baby train (I don't have to tell you twice, do I?) and start living baby.
2. Turn that Mommy Guilt into Glee (Or at Least Contentment):
That resentment that I felt because I was sick, tired and fat quickly turned to guilt. I felt guilty for resenting my baby who was supposed to be my pride and joy. I felt guilty for resenting my husband who was honestly trying to help me as much as he could. Mostly, I felt guilty that I wasn't thrilled to be pregnant.
I started to wonder if God didn't approve of my pregnancy and my baby. Crazy talk, right? I know that now, but at the time, I felt so awful and so confused that I started to doubt God's providence. Of course, once I realized—duh!—that God blessed me with the pregnancy, I wanted to be grateful to Him regardless of how I was feeling. God wants us to be content in our pregnancies, even when we're not feeling good. Tough job, huh?
It was a long, uphill battle for me. And I had to constantly remind myself of God's grace and mercy. But in the midst of the battle, God taught me many lessons that I wouldn't have otherwise learned: how to depend on others, how to trust and what it means to truly depend on God for strength
3. Pray for Your Baby
Another way to get into the pregnancy groove is to start praying for your baby in-utero. Sounds obvious, right? Well, it wasn't for me. (I was tired and sick, okay?) It took me several weeks of pregnancy to start praying for my son. I was so stunned and overwhelmed by the idea of being pregnant that the idea of praying for my baby didn't cross my mind. One day, one of the girls in my small-group Bible study mentioned that she had prayed for her baby throughout her pregnancy, and suddenly the light went on. I wanted to pray for my unborn child, too!
I could go into the mushy details about how my husband and I lay in bed and put our hands on my slightly protruding tummy and prayed for our son, but I'm sure you get it. In fact, you've probably been praying for your baby since the moment you found out you were pregnant. But just in case there's another woman out there like me who didn't think of it, I thought I'd mention it.
4. Think About the Pros of Pregnancy
There are some (okay, lots of) wonderful things about pregnancy. What other time in your life do you have free license to eat extra calories, sleep late and buy baby clothes without reservation?
Plus, when you're pregnant, everyone (and I mean everyone) gushes over you. I remember walking into church just as I was starting to show. Two of the guys in our Sunday school class ran to grab me a chair. My husband got me water and my girlfriend brought me muffins from the class next door. They had blueberry crumble! Everyone oohed and aahed. Part of me hated all of the fuss—uh, who am I kidding? I loved the attention! Who wouldn't?
But aside from the minor benefits, when you're pregnant it's easy to dwell on all of the things you're missing out on. You can't eat sushi. You can't wear your favorite pencil skirt. Your bras are all too small. And you're too tired to stay up late watching chick flicks with your hubby (as if that happened before). I remember bursting into tears in the middle of our church group's Christmas party because the eggnog was made from raw eggs, and I was a little uneasy about exposing my unborn child to salmonella. I actually sobbed. Totally irrational, I know—especially considering the fact that there were a million other drink options at the party—but I felt so deprived.
The thing is that pregnancy isn't about deprivation. Sure, there are things you shouldn't and can't do, but there is also one huge thing that you can do: Nurture your own child inside of you. What an incredible privilege. I'm sure some of our husbands are secretly envious of us that we get to do it and they don't! How else can we account for their sympathy weight gain?
The best way to get out of a pregnancy funk is to think about the reason for the pregnancy. I know that sounds obvious, but focus on your baby. Focus on the privilege. It'll help you to forget the pain. And if that doesn't work, think of all of the things that you can get away with during this brief period of your life.
Things You Can Do While Pregnant (That You Would Never Get Away With Otherwise)
1. Wear flip-flops or clogs every day. Even to church.
2. Leave the toilet unscrubbed for the nine entire months (might as well make it an even ten).
3. Order dessert (and eat it all by yourself).
4. Wear sweats to the grocery store, to work and to dinner at your mother-in-law’s.
5. Skip your morning shower. Three days in a row.
6. Add half and half to your decaf (or half-caf).
7. Send your hubby to Sonic for a foot-long hot dog at eleven o’clock at night.
8. Eat a foot-long hot dog at eleven and wash it down with Chunky Monkey.
9. Go to bed at seven on a Friday night.
10. Spend your entire Saturday camped out on the couch watching A Baby Story.
11. Borrow your husband's T-shirts.
12. Chat about baby names on a baby names message board.
13. Go to BabiesRUs and camp out in one of their rockers for an entire afternoon. (You probably need to test it out, so go ahead and take a nap if you'd like.)
Pregnancy Rocks (Even Though it Sometimes Stinks)
The fact is, in spite of all of the nausea, bloating and constant peeing, there's also an ecstatic, blissful, giddy joy that comes from the fact that you have a baby growing inside of you. It's amazing. And no matter how bad you feel, you can still cling to that. I remember being hunched over the toilet puking up my guts and thinking to myself how amazing it was that there was a tiny life growing inside of me.
The truth is, it's okay to be a little ambivalent, depressed, scared, worried, nervous, angry, irritated or annoyed by your pregnancy. Feeling that way is natural. And feeling that way about your pregnancy has nothing to do with how you're feeling about your baby. Of course you love your baby. But you don't have to love pregnancy to love your baby! Just because you're thrilled to be pregnant, you don't have to ignore all the aches and pains and annoyances.
So, enough pep talking… you're ready, right? Time to get down to the nitty gritty. What are the next nine months really going to be like? What can you do to combat morning sickness? And bloating? And the rest of those icky pregnancy symptoms? And, perhaps most importantly, how much longer (in minutes) are you going to be able to fit into your favorite prepregnancy jeans? Let's talk first trimesters.
By Theresa Powers
Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko
I just got this book in the mail and it is such a neat book, I was so excited about it, I sat down and read it right off! T. is 2 now so I am not able to practice some of this baby food stuff on him anymore, but some of the whole grain recipes in this book, I am going to try!
To start out with, this book is beautifully bound in a hardcover with lovely fruits on the cover and the pages are all a tan color with pretty decorations at the top of each page! It makes you want to read it just to enjoy it's beauty! This seven chapter book is chock full of good info! The chapters are as follows:
Baby Food Basics -Methods and Equipment-Quantity, storage and cost
-Is Baby ready?
First Grains, Fruits and Vegetables -Great first grains (The Whole grain, Cooking Grains, Types of Wheat, Beans for added Nutrition,Milling Beans, Cooking Beans, Timing, Grain Combinations to Make-Fruits -Juicing -Vegetables
A Break for Some Old Advice Baby's clothing
First Foods for 2 Months -Week at a Glance-Daily Menu
First Family Recipes -Introduction -Breakfast: Note Pages -Easy Family Dinners -Sauces/Additions-Your First holiday Dinner: Note Pages- Crackers/Cookies:Note Pages
Making Bread from Whole Grain -The Process-Bosch Mixers-Grain Mills -Flakers-The Grains and Just Good info-Definitions/Ingredients-Wholegrain Breads-Tea Breads: note pages
Baby Wisdom-Raising Children to the Lord-Journaling Your babies life stories-Marmee's Popover bib (project) -Diaper folding: Herbal remedies -Naturally clean baby -Simple Stitches: Make your own bias binding -Postpartum Herb Bath: Make a baby blanket (project)
Don't let this book fool you, it is not just another baby food guide! It is full of so many wonderful things about whole grains and how to use them in your everyday cooking for your whole family, not just your baby! I was impressed by the way it was laid out in a appealing way, yet makes you want to feed your baby this way! This book teaches you how it is cheaper to make your own baby food as well as healthier for your little one.
This book is available from Joyous Home or Ripe4Harvest
It is 6x9 hardcover format and 127 pages long. Retail cost is $17.95. A quick start video to accompany the book is going to be released in April 2007 and will be available as a set for $29.95
I encourage you to look up this book and buy it for your needs as it really is a book that will teach you!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Tyndale House Publishers (May 6, 2009)
Paul Meier, M.D., is a nationally recognized psychiatrist and founder of the Meier Clinics. He is also the best-selling author or coauthor of more than 70 books, including Love Is a Choice, Happiness Is a Choice, Mood Swings, and Love Hunger. He holds an M.D. degree from the University of Arkansas College of Medicine and completed his psychiatric residency at Duke University. He also holds advanced degrees in human physiology and biblical studies. Dr. Meier was one of the original founding members of the Focus on the Family Physicians Resource Council (PRC).
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (May 6, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
You’ve seen the Hallmark cards, the television commercials, and the magazine ads. Beautiful, glowing, rested women gaze adoringly at their tiny new babies. Babies who are never crying,
never need clothing changes because of a diaper blowout, and never spit up. Mothers who look perfectly fulfilled after spending a whole day alone in the house with a little being who is constantly needy and who communicates virtually no gratitude or affection. Mothers whose houses are still surprisingly immaculate. Parents whose every dream is complete now that they have their new bundle of joy.
Those are the ideals, and certainly there’s some truth to them. Having a baby does fulfill a desire for many people, and it’s enriching and includes moments of genuine, heart-filling joy. But as in every area in life, perfect doesn’t exist. Parenting will bring challenges, messiness, and exhaustion. And while most experienced parents will tell you that eventually the joy overcomes
the challenges, in the first few months of adjustment—months in which your baby perhaps needs you more than he or she will at any other time—challenges are significant. Some amount of ambivalence about these huge life changes is perfectly normal—but many women are ashamed of having any negative feelings.
That’s why it’s no surprise to us that up to 80 percent of postpartum women develop some level of depression.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Thankfully, the majority of postpartum depressions are mild “baby blues” that only last a few weeks. And there is good news about all of the postpartum mood disorders: they are almost 100 percent treatable. Researchers and physicians are learning more about why they happen, who’s at risk, and how to better treat them (all subjects we’ll cover in this book). People in this country and across the world are also becoming more aware of and educated about postpartum disorders. We see more people coming for treatment. We have learned from our years of experience practicing psychiatry that many women will suffer silently for years without asking for help, but will seek treatment at a friend or family member’s prompting.
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to psychiatric problems. Many people continue to view them as character weaknesses rather than medical problems. This keeps many mothers from admitting that they need help, because they’re afraid that getting help means they are weak. In addition, many mothers blame themselves for their feelings. This only worsens their guilt and intensifies the downward spiral.
The more anger and the more guilt a person experiences, whether or not those emotions are justified, the more serotonin dumps out of the brain, causing depression. If the depression reaches a severe enough level, dopamine also kicks in, and the depressed person eventually breaks into delusions and hallucinations.
Every week we see patients who feel isolated. They think they are the only people in the world who feel the way they do, and therefore no one else could understand them or help them.
You can see the weight of a thousand pounds lifted off of their shoulders when they realize we do understand and can help. Their despair turns into hope, which in itself brings new life. Counseling or medical treatment from a professional is confidential, caring, and corrects the problem in almost 100 percent of cases.
The six months following delivery of a newborn baby is the highest period of risk in a woman’s life for developing mood symptoms. The added danger is that not only is a mother at risk, but so is a helpless infant. Unfortunately mood symptoms in pregnancy and the postpartum period are frequently overlooked or downplayed by family members and caregivers.
There is nothing so tragic as a young mother or infant whose life is cut short due to a condition that could have been treated. While suicide and infanticide from postpartum problems are rare, they happen. We have also seen postpartum problems contribute to divorce, financial ruin, and the long-term health issues of mothers and children. It does not have to be this way. All three of us have treated hundreds of women who could have had tragedies had they not come for immediate help when they sensed that they were “losing their minds.” Often a person can sense it before it happens.
That’s why we are writing this book. The more we can get the word out, the more mothers will realize that it’s not their fault and there’s no shame in asking for help.
A few years ago, a public feud broke out between two movie stars, Brooke Shields and Tom Cruise. Brooke Shields was vulnerable and publicly admitted taking an antidepressant for a severe bout of postpartum depression. It took a lot for her to do that, because so many women feel falsely guilty for having this problem. She gave women permission not only to be human but to do whatever it takes to restore joy to their lives, even if medications are required in some circumstances. Tom Cruise, on the other hand, essentially told the world of women that they should work out their postpartum depression on their own, without medication. Based on his status and influence, this probably discouraged many women from getting the help they needed, or made those who did turn to medication feel guilty for doing so.
Most bouts of depression, whether postpartum or not, can be worked out without meds. But some people run out of “happy juice”—the hormone serotonin—in their brains because of genetic factors, low thyroid, lack of sleep, too much alcohol or marijuana, viral illnesses, or even the stress of having a baby.
Your brain runs on serotonin just like your car runs on gasoline. What would Tom Cruise do if his car ran out of gas? Would he coast to the side of the road and think positive thoughts until the car ran without gasoline? Or would he get up and walk to the nearest gas station to bring back a can of gas to make his car operate normally again? Probably the latter. If a new mom’s serotonin depletion is mild, positive thinking and counseling may be enough to get her out of it. But if it is severe, meds are needed to fill up her gas tank of happiness and straight thinking.
A Historical Overview
Postpartum depression has been documented for centuries. We would venture to guess that it has been around for millennia—ever since women began giving birth. Postpartum depression is a normal, natural occurrence, but unfortunately, over the generations it has been misunderstood, ignored, or denied, and therefore remained untreated.
Historians have credited Hippocrates as the first physician to describe postpartum depression—more than four hundred years before the birth of Jesus. Hippocrates and the ancient
Greek philosophers knew about the existence of depression but misunderstood its roots. The condition was referred to as “melancholy” and was thought to stem from the overproduction of “black bile” by the spleen, which led to dark and somber moods. Physicians believed that the planet Saturn somehow influenced the spleen’s functioning and that black bile overproduction usually occurred in the autumn. They also thought that some emotional reactions of women were due to a “wandering uterus.” Have you ever heard anyone say, “She was really hysterical”? The root of the word hysterical is actually “wandering uterus”! We may laugh at the ancient Greeks’ guesses, but actually, they were not as far off as we think. Lots of postpartum depression comes from “wandering hormone shifts” that stem from changes in the ovaries and brain.
What Hippocrates actually described was a state of “insanity” common in ancient times after the delivery of an infant. The mother often did not recover and died shortly after the emergence of her bizarre behavior. What he was most likely describing was a state of delirium associated with a post-delivery infection.
Until the late 1800s, women commonly died during or soon after a delivery. It was not until Louis Pasteur proved the existence of germs and their role in infections only a couple of centuries
ago that the death rate of new mothers plummeted. This was in large part due to the simple action of health care workers washing their hands between patients and sterilizing the medical equipment! In the mid-1800s Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis insisted on this practice in the delivery room and was locked up in an insane asylum for having obvious “delusions” about germs.
It was not until the 1960s, when the term maternal blues was coined, that physicians finally began investigating this phenomenon. We see women today in our practice who tell us their mothers and grandmothers experienced the symptoms of postpartum depression years ago, but when they told their doctors about it they were labeled hypochondriacs and told to quit worrying and stop whining. Sadly, many of these godly women who were humiliated and misunderstood by the overwhelmingly male-dominated medical society of that generation never came forward again.
The knowledge and understanding of postpartum psychiatric problems lags way behind our understanding of other disorders in the medical and spiritual community. Sadly, some physicians and pastors today even refuse to acknowledge that depression is real.
In this modern computer age, with billions of dollars spent annually on scientific research, medical knowledge is doubling every five years. Most of the awesome medications we prescribe for patients today did not even exist five years ago. But unfortunately, because of attitudes toward women throughout history, gains in the area of women’s health and hormones tend to lag far behind other areas of medicine that are exploding with new discoveries. We intend to do something about that, and we hope you will too, by voting, by volunteering, by giving out books like this one, or even by becoming a researcher yourself to make the needed breakthroughs.
Roberta: Diary of postpartum depression and recovery
As we mentioned in the introduction, throughout the book we will be including case studies of women who have experienced postpartum depression. This first case study is different from most of the others in that it’s in the patient’s own words. Roberta kept a diary during her spiral down into postpartum depression and then during her recovery. It’s a beautiful, moving account of one woman’s experience.
I am realizing how seldom people talk about postpartum depression. It’s a stigma. I have it myself right now but have not told a soul except God. How can a woman give birth to a child and not love it? I do love my beautiful baby boy, but I also feel like killing myself. How can it be that the maternal instincts don’t just kick in? Why do I want to throw up every time I hear him cry? I can’t even care for my own baby that I desperately wanted all my life.
I feel guilty that I may not be taking good enough care of my baby. My husband is having to miss work. My friends and relatives are calling me to congratulate me and to check on me, but I don’t even answer the phone.They leave messages, but I don’t even call them back, and I feel horribly guilty about this but still don’t have the energy to do it. I am too sad to hide my sadness. If I talk to them, they may be able to tell my secret: that I am so depressed I feel like killing myself. My parents are really stressed. I just know in my heart that I will never get over this depression. Death is around the corner. I don’t think God will deliver me.
I am scared my husband will become too tired to help me and I will have to care for my baby all alone. I’m afraid that if I stay alive I may have even more children that I cannot take care of. I am afraid that I may turn into a mean and abusive mother like my mom was to me. Becoming like my mom is one of my greatest fears. I would kill myself for sure if I became as verbally and physically abusive with my kids as my mother was with me all my growing-up years. Why do I feel like I have made the biggest mistake of my life by having a baby?
Day 1. I decided to keep a diary of my experience having a baby, to share with my children someday. My baby boy, Joseph, was born at 2:00 in the afternoon today. Visitors came and went all day. I breast-fed and it went well. I feel happy. I am all worn out, though, and will go to sleep now, because the nurse will bring little Joseph back to me in the middle of the night to feed again.
Day 2. I looked forward to breast-feeding little Joseph during the night, but it did not go well. I had problems getting him any milk, and then I worried about my failure and I got no more sleep.
Day 3. This morning the pediatrician came into our room with the news that the baby has lost too much weight and may have to stay in the hospital. I immediately began crying. I had just spent hours again last night trying to breast-feed—trying to do what so many people told me was best for my baby, and I failed. I was still sobbing when the doctor returned again with even more bad news—my baby needs to be evaluated by a cardiologist. There may be something wrong with baby Joseph. She offered no reassurance that everything would be fine. I cried the entire day.
Day 4. (No entry)
Day 5. My husband, Jose, and I were able to take our son, Joseph, home today.
Day 6. Dear Joseph,
If I die before you grow up, then I hope you will read this someday so you will know how much I loved you and that I did not want to leave you without a mother. I am trying to stay alive for you. Your daddy and I love you very much. You are the most beautiful little boy I have ever seen. Everyone who has met you agrees. I don’t deserve you, and I don’t know why I’ve already let you down. My pregnancy with you was the most amazing experience of my life until your birth—then that became the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. I felt great the whole time. Not one day of morning sickness, no swollen legs or muscle cramps. Just a huge belly. I read every single magazine, book, and Web article I could find to prepare to be a good mother for you. Your dad and I laughed and cried with joy and excitement as we painted and decorated your room. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and I always knew that a baby would make me so happy.
But being a mother is much harder than I expected. No amount of reading could prepare me for taking care of you. As soon as I saw you, I knew I couldn’t let you down. And yet, as hard as I tried to be the perfect mom, I just seemed to be having one failure after another, even with your dad helping me. I was constantly worried that you would die. I stayed awake three nights in a row to make sure you didn’t smother or stop breathing. I became exhausted and soon was praying that God would let me die. Your poor dad would run from one end of the house to the other because you and I were usually getting pretty hysterical at the same time. He didn’t know who to run to first.
Your grandma (Daddy’s mom) insisted on coming and spending the night. I still couldn’t sleep because I could still hear you crying across the house. I couldn’t stop crying. I was terrified your dad and grandma would leave me alone with you and I would not be able to take good enough care of you. I am sorry, Joseph. I love you.
Day 7. Dear Joseph,
I went to see a counselor today who told me and my family I needed to go into the hospital. Even though you were well cared for by your dad and grandma, I felt I was depriving you. I just can’t seem to bond with you; you don’t feel like you’re mine. I know it is not your fault. You are a wonderful baby boy. I am just not a good enough mother. I know in my head that this depression melts me down and isn’t your fault. I can’t help resenting you, though, but only because having you showed me how inadequate I am. I mean, you just aren’t the bundle of joy I thought you would be. You are a bundle of joy, but I have a mothering defect, so there is no joy for me. You exposed the worst in me. The failure that I can’t breast-feed or even function with a baby. My mothering light switch just won’t turn on.
Day 8. Dear Joseph,
You’ve exposed that I am lazy and unreliable. You’ve exposed that I can’t just forgive and forget ten years of my life as a child that were filled with rejection and loneliness. You’ve exposed that no matter how much I
swore never to become like my mother, I still did. Underneath all the work I’ve done and the ways God has changed me and healed my heart, still my basic instincts are defective, because I was robbed of them. Without saying one single word, you have ripped off my happy mask. I liked my life before you came. I was happy, and my life was predictable. I had fun with friends and your dad. You changed all that. You did not ask to be born. Your dad and I wanted to have you. And I am sure that God wanted you to be born. You are a wonderful baby. You have not ruined my life. My mother defect has ruined my life, and bonding with you seems like such a remote possibility.
Day 9. Dear Joseph,
Dr. Paul Meier admitted me today to his day hospital in Richardson Texas. He told me that most women get depressed when they have a baby, especially their first baby. He said my depression was pretty severe, wanting to die and all, but I promised him I would stay alive. He said everybody gets over depression with help if they cooperate. I hope he is not lying to me. I have a little bit of hope, though. People say he is an honest man and a good psychiatrist. He started me on an antidepressant to take every morning and a tranquilizer to help me sleep every night, since I was getting further and further behind in my sleep. He also gave me some vitamins to take every day, and he says when the chemicals in my brain build back up, I will be able to be a good mother and bond with you and even learn to like myself. I have never been able to do that.
Day 10. It took me three hours just to fill out the psychological tests. Then I had to go to a lab and get blood drawn so Dr. Meier can see if I have any medical problems causing my depression, like thyroid hormones or my female hormones. Then I had to sit in front of five other strangers who are also patients at the hospital and share all our problems with each other. It was a hard day all around, but I will do whatever it takes to make this horrible pain go away. Dr. Meier said I will probably feel much better within three weeks—almost for sure. If I don’t, I may kill myself after I leave. I would drive my car in front of the train that comes near my house every day, so it would look like an accident.
Day 11. I went on the Internet today to read about train wrecks. I want to be sure that if I do it, I will die without killing anybody else. I know that the driver will feel bad, and I feel bad to do that to him. But hopefully I may not need to kill myself if I get better. The people in the group turned out to be really nice, educated, loving people, so I feel relieved about that. And the staff here is extremely loving and smart, and they dig stuff out of me that I never knew was there.
Day 12. Dr. Meier asked me if I had any dreams last night, and I told him the truth. In my dream my mother was driving a car and I was the age I am now, but somehow still living with her like a young child. I was in the backseat, and she was yelling at me and slapping me in the face. When she turned around to tell me how horrible I am and to slap me, she had a wreck and ran into a tree. Then I woke up in a panic attack, not knowing if either of us lived or died in the dream.
Dr. Meier said that my unconscious writes my dreams like writing a movie script, and that whatever I dream about I should talk about in therapy. He quoted a Bible verse that says God speaks to us in the night seasons, in our dreams.1 He said he thinks the dream means that I am still basing my self-worth on lies my mom taught me. That is why I do not feel in control of my life. My mother is still in control of my life—driving the car that represents my life right now. I am only in the backseat in my life, with my mom’s negative messages running through my head. I believe her negativity, and that is why I am depressed. He said I am a good mom but just think I am a bad one.
Day 13. Today my counselor made me put an empty chair in front of me during our private one-hour session. She made me pretend my mom was sitting in the chair. I had to look her straight in the face and tell her how
I feel about all the mean things she did and said to me all my life. I refused at first, but the counselor insisted. So I started to tell the counselor more about my mother, but she made me stop and look my mom in the eye in the empty chair and tell her, not the counselor, how I really felt. She told me to get out my emotions. I was shaking at first, but after a minute or two I burst out weeping and even screaming sometimes. I told her how furious I am that she has hurt me so bad and now it was hurting my own baby who I love. Then my counselor asked me to turn vengeance over to God and to release my mom from my life. Not to condone her, but to forgive her so she won’t keep eating away at my joy all my life. I felt greatly relieved after I got my sadness and grief out in the open and wept and told my mom off, even though it was an empty chair.
Day 14. I can tell Dr. Meier was not lying to me. I feel better already, and I don’t know if it is from the meds, the sleep, the vitamins, the prayer, or the digging out of my root problems. My group therapist said it is from all of those things. He said that in James 5:16, the apostle James writes that if we admit our faults and problems to each other, we will be healed. And that is exactly what we do here seven hours a day, five days a week, for three weeks or so. We all share secrets we have never told anybody. It feels really good to know that other people have been through the same things and have felt the same way, and to see them recover too.
Day 15. I was able to hold Joseph in my arms tonight and feel deep love for him for the first time since he was born. Oh, I loved him even when depressed, but not anything like the awesome feeling I had tonight. Then Jose held me close and we had a family hug. Even our dog jumped into my lap and wanted to be in on it, licking Jose and me both in the face when we were kissing each other.
Day 16. I had a setback today. Mom called me and I took her call, and when she asked how I was doing, I told her I was feeling much better. When she asked how I was getting so much better at the Meier Clinics, I made the mistake of telling her that talking about all my anger toward her for yelling at me, and all my anger at myself for not being “good enough” to please her—that talking about all this and forgiving her was one of the main reasons I was doing better. She got so mad at me that she yelled that she was a perfect mom and that she had to hit me sometimes because I was such a bad little girl. Then she hung up on me. I got really depressed and felt like killing myself again for the first time in several days.
Day 17. The people in the group all told me that I was still believing my mom. That I must still want her to change and become a good mom and love me, and that I think I need that to feel okay about myself. They reminded me that I do not really need my mom at all, any more than I needed their moms. Dr. Meier showed me a verse in Psalm 68 that says that God loves abandoned people and takes the lonely and places us in families.2 He said that God wants me to love and be loved by new mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers from my church and my friends and siblings, not my mean mom. So today I gave up on my mom ever changing, and I felt relieved. If she ever does get better, that will be a bonus, but I do not need that anymore.
Day 18. Today Dr. Meier asked me to write something in my Bible or some other place where I won’t lose it. I told him about my diary, and he said I could write it here—so here goes:
I am writing this letter to myself to promise myself that from this day forward I will be my own best friend. I will quit saying the horrible and nasty things I was saying about myself every day. I will never again say anything negative to myself that I would not tell my best friend or Jose if they did the same thing. What would I say to my best friend if she could not breast-feed, for example? Would I yell at her in rage and tell her she deserved to die in a train wreck for being such a horrible mother? Of course not. And yet that is what I have been doing to you, Roberta, and I promise to quit. I will be your best friend from now on and love you like God loves you. And I promise to build a nice support group of friends that I can share with the rest of my life like I have learned to share my innermost feelings here in group therapy at the Meier Clinics. Sincerely, me.
Day 19. The day program staff had what they call “staffing” today. That means they sat around in a long meeting talking about me today, and about each of the clients here, to design a unique plan of attack for each of us depending on our needs and all. Then my counselor met with me this afternoon and told me what a good job I was doing of admitting my faults and talking about painful things and getting everything out in the open. They even decided I could go home a week early, after only two weeks, and just see the counselor once a week until I feel great two or three months in a row. I will see Dr. Meier for a medicine check in a month or so, and he says by then I should be feeling as good as I ever felt. If so, he will see me for fifteen minutes once every three months as long as I stay on meds. He said that if I am not feeling absolutely great, then he will adjust my meds or change something until we get it right, but that it will almost certainly do the trick this time.
Day 20. My counselor wants Jose to come in for a marital session before I leave the program. They said he seems like a wonderful husband, but that sometimes he can be a little too controlling or critical like my mother—but only a little bit compared to her. They want to be sure to talk to him about that. They want to help me to be stronger and to have boundaries to protect myself from not only my mother, but from anyone who tries to verbally abuse me or manipulate me through false guilt like Mom did.
Day 21. Jose and I met with the counselor together today. He is such an awesome husband. Totally nicer than my mom or my dad, too. When we pointed it out nicely to him, he saw that he was too controlling and critical sometimes, and he cried right in front of the counselor and apologized to me. That was very hard for him to do because he is a macho man and was embarrassed, but he said he loves me and little Joseph so much that he would do anything to give us a happy life together.
Day 22. Dear God,
I was so mad at you. I thought you did not like me. I thought you could not possibly accept me. I thought you were off at a distance and did not really care about me except when you got mad at me. But now I realize that when I learned to pray as a little girl to my heavenly Father, I was thinking, Dear heavenly version of my earthly father and mother . . . I am so sorry for being so prejudiced against you. Now I am learning to see you as you really say you are in the Bible. You said in Psalm 139 that you designed me in my mother’s womb, and did the same for Joseph. You said you think about me so many times every day that I cannot even count them. You said that you are always hugging me with one arm while bringing circumstances into my life and leading me with your other arm. Thank you for leading me to therapy to find out the truth about you and about myself. The truth has set me free from the pain of believing lies all my life about you and me. I love you more than I ever have, and I finally feel on the inside like you truly do love me unconditionally. I believe what you said in Romans 8:1 about there being no condemnation for me, so all the guilt that I carry around with me is either false guilt, or true guilt that has already been forgiven and forgotten by you. Thank you for giving me a son who is a miracle from you. Thank you that even though I will make many mistakes the rest of my life as a mother and otherwise, that is just part of being human. You will help me to learn from my mistakes and get better and better at being a mother and a wife and a friend. Amen.
Day 23. I was discharged from the day program today after only two weeks instead of the usual three. Everyone in my group therapy went around the room and told me wonderful things that they saw in me. I cried and cried with joy, and also with sadness that I have to leave. I did not really want to come when I came, and I do not really want to leave now that I have tasted how awesome it is to share with other loving human beings and to learn to love and be loved in spite of all my faults. I knew Dr. Meier was writing a book on postpartum depression with Dr. Clements and Nurse Lynne, so I gave him a copy of this diary and asked him if he would put it in his book. He promised he would, but that he would just change our names. I can hardly wait for his book to come out. I hope and pray that the horrible pain I went through helps other postpartum women to get over their depressions and see that it is not only possible, but also nearly certain that they will if they get the right kind of help and cooperate.
My review: This little book is just packed with info about PPD, which effects so many women in small ways to serious ways that will effect them the rest of their lives. I think this book is a great tool for those in the medical profession to have on hand as a reference guide for women to read and realize the feelings they have experienced are normal and if it gets bad, you can fix it. There was a few minor things that I think could have been better researched as there was a comment in one chapter about about how homebirth is statistically unsafe, which is not true at all, if attended by a properly trained midwife with low risk patients.
Over all though, this book was one of the best, inclusive short guides to PPD for a mom to read and be informed. I think even moms who simply have experienced the hormonal ups and downs after childbirth would benefit from it.
I liked how it addressed how PPD can stem from a birth experience that did not go the way you planned for emergency reasons, such as stillbirth, handicaps, C-sections, and others.
If you know a mom who is struggling, this would be a great one to have on hand to lend her as something that can help many women. - Martha