Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Awesome...The Medicore....& The BAD: Interpreters


I was 12 years old. I had an interpreter that lasted only a day. You see, she came in the room with a very loud presentation. Her hair was big and curly on a small body frame. She plopped her behind on the chair in front of me, popping a purple gum in a jaws full of shocking white teeth, and she fluffed her hair with her rake-long claws that were painted in vibrant purple. She grinned, popped her gum, and crossed her legs in a shocking purple spandex pants. I squinted my eyes. As it was a huge fad back in the nineties, she wore a hideous black-and-white stripped duster shirt that blended, reflected, and caused something similar to strobe-like effect as she fanatically moved her fingers. To my shock, she was not even signing. With her purple claws clicking against each other in front of her strobe-like shirt, she F-I-N-G-E-R-S-P-E-L-L-E-D  E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G W-H-A-T M-Y T-E-A-C-H-E-R S-A-I-D. I crossed my arms against my chest, rubbing my head with a brewing headache, and signed, "do you understand what I am saying?" The interpreter smiled at me with that lost look in her eyes. I decided to gamble. "You really smell, I hate your shirt, and you are a horrible interpreter." The interpreter continued to look at me with a smile. My friend, whom was sitting next to me, finally voiced, "You don't understand what she is signing?" The interpreter tried to play it cool ,but she was busted. It was when I finally decided, well, it's time for you to go home because going big ain't happening. 


Heck I even had a hard time fingerspelling since my fingers were cramping up. Oy. 

I was 14 years old. I had an substitute interpreter since my regular one was out sick. She refused to interpret environmental sounds, what other students said, and only "worked" when my teacher was speaking. I tried to explain to the interpreter that she was my voice, and my ears. If other students were able to hear what was being said, yes that included nasty talk with cussing, sex talk, or what not then I had EVERY right to hear that as well. If a hearing student can hear that then I should be able to as well. Nope, not to this interpreter. It violated her religious values. I understood that it was important to be who she was, and respected that. At the same time....she was working, and she had to be professional by doing her job, which was to interpret what may violate her beliefs. The last time I checked, even students with varying values still had working ears, and heard those stuff anyway.... Needless to say, I put in a request not to have her again.


This is an issue I have with some interpreters, that does not understand the appropriateness of using eye contact, and it is what I call "eyefucking". I apologize for the language, by the way, and it is a "IN" slang among teens nowadays that happens to fit this perfectly. Bear with me, okay. Some interpreters are very much so like LOOK AT ME, DO NOT BREAK EYE CONTACT, I NEED YOU TO LOOK AT ME SO I KNOW YOU ARE PAYING ATTENTION, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!

Eye contact is so vital to our language. It is part of our communication. However, looking around is also part of our communication, and language development. We look around to make up what we aren't hearing in the room. The minute I look away does not mean I'm losing interest or not paying attention. Sometimes, excessive staring is awkward for even us.



I was a freshman in high school. I had a student interpreter, who was a male, and he was really eager to jump into the job. He was very well-dressed, very limber, and focused. He had a great flow with signing, and translating what I had to say. However, he fell somewhat flat in one area. His face was very flat--matter of face, the only thing that was actively moving was his hands and blinking eyes. Imagine talking with someone who talked only in a monotone voice even about something that excited that person? I dubbed him Nicolas Cage. 

I have no beef with interpreters, who are operating under agency rules, and adhere to professionalism. I understand, and recognize the boundaries that interpreters have. However, what I'm not a fan of is having an interpreter come in for my appointment, and act very professional to the point of being perceived as cold. Hello, this is Deaf culture. Talk a bit. Laugh. Chill. Tell me a bit about yourself (within appropriate context). Don't stand there like a statue, and not speak until the doctor comes in. I want to have a working relationship established. I need that comfort with an interpreter. For an interpreter to stand there, and not speak or react while operating under the strictest literal term of being my ears, and my voice is a bit irritating. 

I was twenty-four. I accompanied several good friends to at an event, and there was a student team interpreter (two interpreters that took turns to interpret due to its lengthy event from avoiding burnt-out). They did an excellent job. I was impressed at their overall team-work. However, what made me shake my head internally was when an interpreter asked me if any of one of us were gay so they can appropriately voice a "gay" voice. I was offended, not by the are-you-gay question, but by the fact that they even created a "gay" voice. I replied, Why, are you straight because you are acting pretty square. They got the hint it was an inappropriate question to ask, and tried to explain it off by saying it was high gay traffic community therefore they wanted to be culturally sensitive. Oh, still my heart. Stop digging yourselves into graves, please, and be yourselves, really, unless if your client requested differently.


As I have my share of bad and mediocre interpreters, I also have plenty of interpreters I LOVE, and request for all of the time! What makes them so lovable is their skill, personable personality, and quick to act as an ally in a way that is not so rude in your face type, but tactful enough to get their point across without making the guilt party without feeling bad (or bad if they deserve it). 

An interpreter friend I have and I were out and about. We were signing, and carrying on our conversation--having a good time. A hearing person came up to us, absolutely fascinated, yet slightly intimidated, and asked rather tenatively...erm, how do, um, you...uh..say hello in sign language? We look at each other, and do this: 

I had an interpreter that I clicked with so well during my pregnancy, and we worked together closely throughout the whole experience. When it approached to my labor and delivery, I was a hormonal mess, and made it clear that I only wanted her, nobody else, to interpret for us. Without pregnancy hormones, I understood that sometimes stuff happened, and that there were other obligations to be met. I had no idea how long my labor, and delivery were going to be. Of course, my interpreter needed to go out to do other jobs while that was happening. With pregnancy hormones, NO freaking way. I did not want any other interpreter. Just this one I was working with for my whole pregnancy, period. Thankfully, she was cool about it, and yes, she did leave while I was in labor, and while I was in recovery after birth. It all worked out in the end. But this only goes to show you that some Deaf clients can be very particular with who they work with.....

One of things I love about my long-working relationship with my favorite interpreters is that we have a good relationship already established to the point where we are able to communicate without needing to sign.

When I was a transfer student, I developed a crush on my back-then boyfriend, now my husband, Stu, and every time he entered the room, my interpreter looked at me with a smile on her face, and I always looked back at her like.......


Sometimes, I get along with my favorite interpreters so well that we do become friends. It is inevitable not to especially if someone is working in a human service field. When we are working, I am cognizant enough to respect the working boundaries, and keep friendship outside the work. At the same time, when the job is "over", we do fall back into friends role.

Being an interpreter requires one to wear so many hats at once. There are multiple roles to play at once, and at separate times. A good interpreter has mastered this. A mediocre interpreter has some grasp on this, and bad interpreters have no clue how to shuffle those tasking roles. It does show.

I am not an easy client to deal with especially in school system because I am nonsense, no bullshit, and hands-off drama type of deal. If I receive an interpreter that is less than satisfactory, then I do say something, and have that interpreter leave. My education is too important to be played around with. That is back in the school days. At the same time, I am pretty flexible. When I receive a student interpreter wanting to learn how to become interpreter, and want to learn about how to work with Deaf people. I am cool with it (barring crazy pregnancy hormones, ha ha), and find it great that they want to learn. They need to learn somewhere, right?

These days, when I request an interpreter, it is typically for doctor appointments, or events that I will be attending. My standard still stands. I don't tolerate bad interpreters at all especially when it comes to my son's health. Mediocre interpreters, that I can handle, because I still understand them just fine, and they do their job. When I get great interpreters, especially my favorite ones, it's an extra bonus because they know my quirks, preferences, and style/personality.

Overall, being an interpreter is a hard job even if you are really really really really good at it. We, Deaf people, owe them a huge round of applause. They are truly our bridge to the hearing world seeing that they are our ears, and voices. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why, Hello Fall

I can smell it coming. The gradual change in the air. Leaves falling softly to the ground from the sky. That cold briskness I feel every morning when I step out to let the dog outside to do her business. The trace of humidity has begun to evaporate slowly from the wind. Soon it will bring the season of canning, pumpkin pies, festivities, soups, warm baked bread, mums in the orange pots, and haunted spookiness trails through the wood. Dare I whisper it? Fall!!!! Fall is coming, and I absolutely cannot wait. 

It is my favorite time of the year. This fall is going to rock seeing that Forrest is old enough to take simple pleasures from experiencing things for the first time. I already have the events lined up in the fall. The first to come is Septemberfest! It is basically a cute event that my town hosts every year to introduce fall season. There's a bunch of music, food, car and motorcycle shows, vendors that sells crafts and fresh produces, dog walk, eating contest, and all that fun jazz! My dear friend is coming up for the day with her girls, and I'm so looking forward to the time to be spent.

Throw in a flea-market. I don't know how I do not know of this before, but I recently learned that there is a famous flea market in the area near to where I live! Ohmygosh, I have to go. I tend not to buy anything while I am at a flea market, BUT I love looking at things, and being in the harmony of beautiful chaos that goes on there. I love the vendors selling fresh produces, flowers, and antiques. Oh, I'm in a heaven just thinking of this. 

And not to forget, football season? Hello! One of the perks of being married to a College Football coach is that we get into games for free!! Then of course, we have to root for our Green and Gold Packers. I'm a bit sad that we have cut the cable cord over the summer so we won't be watching Packers games on TV, but also, that's a perfect excuse to just pop over to a friend's house for a Game Saturday. 


I'm going to be determined to attend Larson's Famous Clydesdale show. Clydesdale horses is my favorite breed, and I'll be damned if I miss out on meeting their newest attraction; a baby Clydesdale horse! I think they're absolutely gorgeous, and I'd be over the moon if I could ever own one someday (more reasons why I want to move to the country, and own a piece of land). 

Then October is going to roll around. It's my FAVORITE month out of the year, closely followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am so eager to expose Forrest to Halloween events. I am going to make a lover of Halloween out of my kid. I'm debating about dressing up Forrest in an owl suit or a lion suit for Halloween. Cute, eh? I'm already anxiously checking out my town's local events for Halloween, and boy, sure do they have some great events coming up. 

The exciting thing is that one of my dear friend of many, many, many years may be stopping by the old state of Wisconsin. It has been a long time since I have last seen him, and I consider him my brother. I'm hoping it works out so I can have him over, and spend time with us for much-needed catching up! Then...yes, there's more...I also will be meeting possibly not one, but two wonderful friends I have met online through mommy groups in October. It will be great time. They are in for a treat especially with my home-made pumpkin pie a-waiting to be eaten (trust me, homemade one beats store-bought ones).

Then there's oh so good Starbuck's Fall menu. Oh snap! I can see kicking back my feet while sitting in front of a firepit ,and sipping a large Pumpkin Latte (chock full of bad calories, but who gives a hoot, it's damn delicious)!

Yes, fall is my favorite time of the year. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Dear Forrest, 

You are 12 months old. You have had a big year with so much growing up to be done. In the first year of your life, you have taught Mama and Daddy so much about life. Because of you, Mama and Daddy are constantly bettering themselves, and have found a purpose in their lives. It is not that they are not good people or have no purpose in their lives before you came along; it is that you simply bring enrichment to their lives. You have helped Mama and Daddy to become more concrete with their values, and beliefs. You inspired them to do things they would not have done before you entered their lives. 

Mama can't imagine what her life would be like without you. A year ago, the night before you were born; Mama wrote a blog post about how she felt, and added a poem. Then she did not publish the post, and decided to keep it only for her eyes until today. 

"It is the last day of me being pregnant. I am not sure if it has hit me yet even though I am feeling somewhat emotional about this. I am tearful but in a very happy way, but it still does not feel real to me that I will be in the hospital tomorrow at 7 am. Stu and I have decided to only tell handful people and to surprise the rest when we announce that our son is born.  Stu is very thrilled. He is just on pins and needles. He has reminded me several times that we will be meeting our boy so very soon. Stu is very ready to meet his son, to hold him, and bond with him. He has been telling me how difficult it is for him to just be an outsider and watch my belly grow. He knows that I have bonded with my son already through this experience, and is anxious to create his own relationship with our son.I have painted my toenails blue with glitter. I am planning on taking a long nice bath with a good book in my hand. I have tried to sleep in this morning because god knows that it will be my last time to sleep in for a long while! But I couldn't. All I could think is that tomorrow, I will be in the hospital to get ready to have my baby."

A Day Before You Were Born (Anonymous

A day before you were born, I could feel you move.
You kicked and punched and danced to your very own groove.

Three months before you were born, I saw your tiny face. 
Sucking your thumb, curled up, in a tiny dark space.

Five months before you were born, I learned you were a boy. 
We painted your nursery blue and bought your very first toy. 

Seven months before you were born, we brainstormed your sweet name,
I couldn't feel you or see you yet, but you were there all the same. 

Eight months before you were born, I stared at a pink plus sign,
knowing that at that moment, I was pregnant with a child of mine. 

You started off so small--tinier than a pea,
but all along you were the same sweet boy who now plays in front of me. 

It is sometimes hard to decipher where our lives truly begin,
but we all started in the same sweet place--hidden and tiny within.

You are so wanted since Day ONE, and it has been such a joy to watch you grow from a baby to a toddler. You have accomplished so much in a year.

 In this past month.......

You are officially a step-taker! You are able to take a few steps at time before plopping on your bottom. You still prefer very much to crawl. Mama and Daddy thinks you find that crawling takes you to the place where you want to go to much faster than you would with walking. You are still not completely confident to let go in order to walk more than a few steps. However, with your walking toy; you can walk around like a boss! 

You laugh nasally at anything that amuses you. You enjoy giving a wide opened kisses to Mama and Daddy. Nothing stops you from being adventurous, and exploring things. You love interacting with other babies! You wave your hand as often as you can to people you see. You are a dancer! You love to shake your bum when Daddy turns on Pandora. Matter of fact, Mama and Daddy have a few videos of you jiving, and grooving at Johnny Cash (You seem to prefer Bluegrass, Jazz, Western Country music).

You are beginning to make words; Mama, Daddy, LaLa (Layla), & KaKa (cats) to name a few. You still don't sign very much, however, Mama has been noticing that you are attempting to mimic signs especially Daddy, Done, and Sleep. Your favorite sign is still MORE MORE MORE. You absolutely love Shushbye, and Sesame Street--especially when they start singing, and you dance to the songs. You are very adventurous with food, and will try anything at least once. However, if you don't like the taste of food, or grow bored with eating, much to Mama's dismay, you chuck the food off your high chair tray to the dog.

You are such a boy. You've fallen, bumped, and crashed into everything that has caused Mama's heart to stop beating for a few seconds yet you brush it off, and scoot off to your destination! Mama loves being a "boy mom", and would not mind having another boy brother for you to play with! But she also wants a sister for you somewhere in the mix!

You now have 7 teeth! Four on the top, and three on the bottom. You still have a few teeth budding ,and about to pop out! Sleeping in the night is still a struggle. You don't sleep consistently, and often wake up in the middle of night in tears because of teething or night terrors or wanting your NUK but you can't find it. Mama swoops in, and picks you up then rock you back to sleep in the wee hours while gladly sacrificing her sleep just to make sure you know you are loved, and safe.

You scared Mama and Daddy recently with your instant reaction to peanut butter. They ended up taking you to an allergist, and only to confirm that you have a peanut allergy. Despite all of this, you are unfazed, and a happy boy. Matter of fact, Mama and Daddy took it harder than you did! This meant a few small adjustments to be done in the Russ household.

You had a great day recently. Mama and Daddy threw you a birthday party. Family and friends came to celebrate you! You loved the attention, and enjoyed the company especially Grandpa Dave, Jess, Grandpa M, and Grandma B (you love your grandparents, don't you). You got a lot of neat stuff. Mama's favorite was CLOTHES, but you didn't care for them! Your favorite present was the red Radio Flyer Tricycle from Grandpa M and Grandma B. Your legs were not quite long enough to reach to the pedals, but it did not stop you from asking people to push you on the tricycle!

You had your first haircut! Mama was so proud of how well you did. You took it like a champ, and was not frazzled at all! Gone was your baby soft peach fuzziness, and in its place, you had a big boy haircut. You suddenly looked older after the haircut. Of course, you were no longer a baby, but a toddler. 

You had your year old pictures taken by Michelle: PatootiesPhotography. You were such a HAM! Mama can't wait to show off those adorable pictures of you once she gets the CD in the mail!

You have your 12 months check up soon (a few days after your birthday, Mama thinks). Mama will find out how much you've grown. She thinks you've grown a bit taller, but remains at the same weight. So, Mama shall see if her guess is correct! You will also be getting immunization shots! Mama is a bit nervous about how you will react, seeing that you are older now, and can associate pain with the shots.

You are now down to two last nursing sessions. Mama plans on talking with Dr. Johnson about when, and how to wean you off the last two feedings. It is hard to believe that you are getting to be such a big boy already!

Mama is still in a disbelief that a year has literally flown by. On this day last year, Mama and Daddy met you for a very first time, and the emotions felt as real today as it did last year. You have been nothing, but a huge joy. Mama and Daddy have learned so much from you, and are looking forward to watching you grow into your toddler years.


We love you so much.


Mama & Daddy

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Good-Bye Peanuts

So. My world has been turned upside down. Forrest has been diagnosed with a peanut allergy. He is not allergic to tree nuts, which is a small blessing in itself, I suppose. It is just peanuts, and cashews that Forrest can't handle at this time. It is funny. No one in both sides of our family has a peanut allergy yet Forrest is struck with this. It reminds me of how it is kind of the same for me with my Deafness, and how no one else in my family is Deaf yet it happened to me. Like one of my dear friends, Jessica, had said to me today that it is just something that God made them, and he just thought they didn't need peanuts, and peanut products. I am not quite there at sharing similar viewpoint since I am still processing everything, yet her sentiment is something I do agree with. Sometimes, kids are just the way they are, and it takes a very special set of parents to have those children in their lives (not that parents are any less special with children without any issues). 

When I saw the angry red welt appear immediately after the prick test on Forrest's arm; my heart sank, and I knew. I wondered if I had done anything wrong during my pregnancy. I took good care of myself, and Forrest while he was in my womb yet I questioned if I had somehow inadvertently caused him to develop a peanut allergy. I had all the should's, and what if's running through my mind. I worried whether my drinking soy milk during pregnancy had led to this occurrence. What if I had eaten something wrong while I was pregnant? Did we give Forrest peanut butter at a wrong time? Should we have waited until he was over a year old? 

The allergist we had seen was incredibly kind, and educating. She explained that it was not the matter of timing, and that we did everything right . It just happened to be one of those things. I learned that children, who have Eczema, tended to be at a higher risk of developing allergies, and asthma. It made sense to me since Eczema fell under the category of an autoimmunity disease. 

Dr. G was pleasantly impressed with how well I had been managing Forrest's Eczema. I did everything that she had recommended. I suppose it was one of those life lessons that was answered right there because I had grown up with Psoriasis (also an autoimmune disease), and learned how to manage the flare-ups, and to maintain the skin health. Due to that, Eczema was a breeze to take care of, and it was not OMG big deal when I learned that Forrest had it. Nonetheless, I was glad to learn that what I did for Forrest's skin health was proper. 

We left the allergist's office with a confirmation that Forrest does have a peanut allergy, but very little information with how to manage it. We left only with a sheet on how to take care of Ecezma, which was something I already knew how to manage, and a prescription sheet for using an epi pen. 

Now, for someone who has not dealt with any form of life-threatening allergy; the idea of an epi pen was a bit scary! We received two epi pens with medication inside, and one training epi pen without a needle, and medication to "practice with". 

Epi pen, as pictured above, is a training pen. We have two epi pens with medication inside them, which is not pictured, because it has Forrest's personal information on it, and I don't want to share that with the cyberworld! It does look exactly the same as the training pen. The training pen has no needle, and medication inside. In an event of a severe allergic reaction; I have to grab the pen body, remove the blue cap, and stab in Forrest's thigh. The orange cap will automatically pop out a needle that will pierce through even a toughest blue jeans, through skin, and muscle to release medication to counterattack anaphylaxis shock. The idea of using it scares me. What scares me even more is potentially having to watch Forrest to go through a severe allergic reaction. It is really hard as a mom to have to come term that Forrest will potentially experience this. 

I've learned so much in the past two days from wonderful supportive people, who have a nut allergy themselves, or have a child with a peanut allergy. I learned that peanuts are not in a nut family, but rather in a legume family that is a fruit with a seed enclosed inside a pod (soy beans, peas, and peanuts). It is very different than seeds that are not enclosed in a pod, such as chickpeas, lentils, and seeds (called "pulse", why, I have no idea) even though they all fall under one category of legume family. Basically, it is like a tiger and a cat being in the same species, but they are two different beings. 

It is a bit taunting to go through my pantry because I say around 80% of our ingredients contains peanuts, or are exposed to the peanuts (manufactured in the same processing factory with peanuts in the proximity or on the line). Now, we really have no clue how severe Forrest's peanut allergy is. We know for sure that direct consumption of peanuts do cause a reaction because we have seen it, and has led us to needing to consult with an allergist. However, we don't know if Forrest can eat food that are processed in the same areas with peanuts nearby or on the line with peanuts (for example: Plain chocolate M&Ms are on the same assembling line with Peanut M&Ms). We don't know if Forrest is okay with having peanuts in the proximity to him.We have no idea if Forrest can handle cross-contamination (someone eating peanuts then touching Forrest with contaminated hands, or lips for a kiss). We aren't sure if Forrest will ever outgrow this. There are some cases of kids outgrowing this even though for many, it is a life-long thing. 

The common myth is that the more you are exposed to something, the less sensitive you will be to the exposed item, and it is not true with allergies. It can become progressively worse with each exposure. Even so, a mild reaction is not an indicator that there won't be a severe reaction next time. You can have a mild reaction for a longest time, then boom; out of the blue, you have a terrible life-threatening reaction. It is why it tends to be a life-long thing. 

We are told simply to be vigilant, and cautious until we figure out the answers to our questions. In the meanwhile, it is basically a trial,and error thing. I don't like it, and there is not much we can do other than follow preventive measures. There are so much I have to learn, and adjust with eating, and cooking. Before this, I've been blissfully ignorant with everything I eat, and cook with. I don't pay attention the labels. I don't think about what I put in my mouth. I don't worry about eating something then touching something else unless if I am handling raw poultry, raw meat, and hot peppers! 

After this, I have to remind myself to LOOK at the label before giving anything to Forrest. When we go out to eat, I have to ask the waitress or waiter what kind of oil they are using to cook their food with. I'm starting to tell people around us about Forrest's condition so they'll be aware of it. I am sure that once Forrest starts school, I will have to fill 504 plan, and remind teachers what to do for Forrest. I'll have to teach Forrest how to use epi pen with the training pen, and how to be proactive with his peers. There will be challenges yet to come as Forrest gets older. It is a learning curve for us. 

Because of Forrest's positive reaction to peanut allergy, I have decided that for any of our future children; I will not expose them to peanuts, or rather have peanuts in our household. I believe it would be a lot easier that way to manage what goes in and out of our house. I'm also worried that what if our next child will also have a peanut allergy (the allergist said that it is even a gamble, and could happen again or not). I also want to hold off on giving solids to any of our future children until they are 6 months or older to minimize the allergy risk. 

It's not the end of the world. Matter of fact, I am glad that we caught it this early, and that Forrest had a VERY mild reaction to peanuts the first time. Not many parents have lucked out the first time around when that happened to their child. Forrest won't know any better. He won't have to adjust because we are already living with no-peanut lifestyle from his young age. I'd prefer that as opposed to him finding out later in his life, and having to make sacrifices by then. It would be harder. It is just Stu, and I that need to adjust. We can handle that. I'm thankful that Forrest is not crippled with something horrible such as Leukemia, or something that we can't manage, you know? Actually, you know what? I think it is HARDER on me than it is for him! 

I am hoping that I will find and meet more parents, who have children with peanut allergies, and be able to get support. I am already very fortunate to have Jessica, who is also a parent to a child with a peanut allergy, and I am able to get a hold of her if  I need to. I also recently met someone else, who has a tree nut allergy, and has already been a tremendous help to me with understanding where to start with peanut allergy. I feel that I already have a head-start with them in my corner. Even so, I would still really like to get more people in my corner for this journey of dealing with Forrest's peanut allergy. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and Baby Blues

If you had missed the first 3 segments then feel free to check out the links:

Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Anxiety. Baby Blues. When you first read those words, you immediately think of Andrea Yates, Brittany Spears, Brooke Shields, Angelia Jolie, & Kendra Wilkinson. Some of those cases are so drastic enough to cause women to snap, and behave erratically or even harm their children. Some of those cases are women suffering in silence with a happy smile plastered on their face, pretending that they had their careers, emotions, and marriages together while their weight plummeted, or ballooned. There's always uncomfortable feeling when you learn that your friend is battling PPD. You pretend that there exists no such thing. Why? The society has pounded in our heads that mothers are magically attuned to their babies from the day of birth, express nothing but happiness, and joy. Mothers have everything together regardless sleep deprivation, bumps with adjustment to motherhood, marriage/partnership, and  work. Sadly, this false expectation in our society has led to stigma, and shame that a mother "can't" keep it together.

I wish someone had warned me of all the non-pleasant emotions that came with childbirth, but I did not want to share all the negative parts about pregnancy, and childbirth because they should be allowed to be excited. I had no idea that one of the happiest time of my life would also be the most miserable. All of my friends had babies, and were happy go luck about everything, or pretending to be anyway. I literally felt my mood shift immediately after childbirth.  I was happy about my child being healthy and everything went well, but was miserable otherwise. The first two weeks of my little one's life were literally the worst 2 weeks of my life! When I visited my doctor after 2 weeks of being so depressed I could barely operate, 19 out of 20 questions I answered led them to diagnose with a severe PPD. The 20th question being "have you had thoughts of hurting yourself, or your baby". I never thought about hurting either of us. I definitely had thoughts of leaving, and never coming back. I had thoughts of kicking my husband to the curb every time he asked me a stupid question such as "why is she crying" or "what's wrong with her" or "why didn't you wake me up?" My husband did not (still doesn't) understand the seriousness of my depression. He thinks I was just a little emotional. He thinks I'm strong enough to get through it without help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help! It's very hard to go through this alone. -Brandi L. 

Out of all my segments about pregnancy, labor & delivery, and recovery; I believe that this is the most important of all because it affects us on a personal level. Our society is not comfortable discussing about what happens emotionally postpartum. The label, DEPRESSION, brings out uneasiness in people. Why is this the case? 

There is so much emphasis on pregnancy, and birth, but what about when you leave the hospital? I'm not talking about taking care of the baby. There's plenty out there on that. I'm talking about taking care of mom. It is funny, everything I've read, and I've read a lot, seems like it is selfish for moms to even talk about ourselves afterward. It is like you're not a good mom unless you completely sacrifice yourself. That's a lot of pressure. -Kristina G. 

My whole pregnancy was a fairy storybook tale. It was perfect. I did not suffer from much of morning sickness. I exercised. I ate well. I had a lot of support from my family, friends, and my husband. I had so much fun preparing for Forrest's arrival. I enjoyed documenting every minute of my pregnancy. I dreamed meeting my son. When it was time to go into labor, and deliver Forrest; I was ready to meet him, and become a mom. I really had anticipated everything to be wonderful. Don't get me wrong, I prepared myself for hard days ahead especially with sleep deprivation, and raising a newborn, but I had no idea how hard emotionally it was going to be.
I have had baby blues with both of my kids, but Lillie was the worst one I had. I went on "happy" pill. I don't know why it got so worse with my second...maybe too overwhelming by taking care of the first, and second kid at the same time, trying to get a routine, and figure out how to balance with both of them. It was hard at first, and now I am glad it is so much easier. -Alisha P.

The day when we left the hospital, I was terrified, and fought tears as the nurse wheeled me out to the entrance. I kept thinking to myself, I am not ready for this. I want to stay, and have help available anytime I needed it. Stu pulled up my Jeep to the front. I stood up on my shaky legs, and bit my lower lip to prevent myself from crying out that I didn't want to go home. I felt horrible for feeling this way because I wanted Forrest so badly. I wanted to be a mama. But by god, I was scared to death. The minute I sat in the back with Forrest; that anxiety melted away, and I fell all over again in love with him. We got home, and things went smoothly until nighttime. I asked Stu to watch over Forrest so I could rest. I went to bed, and started crying because I was so fatigued, but I was unable to sleep. I went to check on Stu, and found him fast asleep with Forrest in his arms. I woke him up to yell at him, and started bawling again. What made me so angry was that I was unable to stop crying, and I hated to cry. I did not understand why I was crying, and that made me cry even more. It pissed me off how nobody warned me how HARD, and how scary it was be at home with a baby away from the hospital.

Since Forrest was born in late summer, Stu was unable to take a full paternity leave due to work probation for new employees, and coaching football season had just begun. To toss in the mix, he had a long commute, and there were days when Stu was gone between 12-15 hours shift. Thankfully, in the very beginning, I had tremendous help from my mom for the first two weeks, and it was what helped me to get through the initial bump. Once she had to leave, my anxiety grew, grew, and grew. I did not share this with anyone because I wanted people to be confident that I was able to handle it all. I wanted Forrest badly, and got blessed with him. By admitting that I had a terrible anxiety, I felt it suddenly put a mark on me as if I was no longer a good mother, that I did not want Forrest, and regretted my pregnancy.

The 28 days of NICU, I stayed there 24 hours a day everyday. They provided hospitality to mothers while kids are admitted in NICU, and I refused to leave. Because they couldn't feed they couldn't nurse, but I was determined to provide breastmilk. So I pumped...and still pumping to this day! Every single day, I cried, and nobody told me how much of an adjustment it would be. How the hormones take you right out of reality, and then throw in the stress of NICU! When they finally came home, it was even worse because I was home all day to do it by myself, feeding, changing, feeding, changing, pumping--a mad cycle, thank god I had wonderful babies to make it less stressful. Because of my bedrest, I returned to work 3 weeks after bringing them home! The anxiety got better, but I still can't leave them long, and the only one has had them without my husband, and I is my mother, and father. Despite my in-laws being 2 minutes away, they rarely see the twins, and therefore, I have zero confidence leaving them with them. I do wish there was more on postpartum with twins, and handling  & nursing twin newborns. -Ashley A. 

I started obsessing about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) because I had read several sad situations on mommy support groups online. I started worrying about Forrest at the night. I struggled with falling asleep. Once I was asleep, my mind was still on, and refused to turn itself off. I had not been able to enter a regular REM sleep intervals because I constantly woke myself up to check on Forrest. I spent chunk of my time laying my hand on Forrest's chest to make sure he was breathing. Me being Deaf really affected me because I worried I was not going to be able to hear his breathing pattern change. I literally had very little sleep during Forrest's few first months of his life.

I was never diagnosed (never told anyone including my husband or my doctor about this), but I really struggled with the first month or two, and even still sometimes now. I really wanted little or nothing to do with Ethan at first. He didn't feel like he was mine, and it felt like such a burden to take care of this demanding screaming thing that (dare I even say it) I didn't even feel like I loved. His crying drove me insane--worse than nails on a chalkboard. The times I was forced to take care of him was when I had to nurse him, and it was so incredibly painful to hold him (recovering from a long hard labor, and c-section), for the actual breastfeeding part itself, and then he nursed for an hour or sometimes even more every time, every 2 hours. I really honestly hated those days, and when I look bacon them, I still have almost all bad feelings. Sometimes even now when he's crying, and I can't get him to stop, I just completely detach, and want nothing to do with it. And now after getting this off my chest, I wonder if maybe I have some PPD, or I'm just a really horrible person. -Anonymous

I had a really hard time dealing with Forrest's crying. I dreaded it when he cried. Guilt ate at me when I started dreading his crying. I didn't feel like I did a very good job of calming Forrest down. Therefore, it must have made me a bad mom. There was this particularly bad time when Forrest had a really terrible crying jag for nearly 3 and half hours. Nothing worked. I was at my wits end. I started bawling, and begged Stu to come home. Stu refused, stating that he was unable to leave coaching to make 45 minutes commute to just take a baby off my hands, and I was stuck. It was the most helpless feeling in the whole world to be alone, not knowing what to do, and not being able to calm down a crying baby. It was very difficult to be alone, not to have a family or friends nearby, and dealing with my anxiety did not help. In this instance, I ended up putting Forrest down in his bouncer, and walked away for a few minutes. I hated having to do that. Failure plagued me. I kept thinking, if I was a good mom, then I would have calmed Forrest down, and not have to walk away. If I was a good mom, then I would have been a good wife by not having to call Stu, and beg him to come home. If I was a good mom, then I would have kept my shit together better than this. 

Still to this day, I admit to feeling this initial sense of dread every time my monitor goes off at the night. It is not that I won't get up, and attend to Forrest. It is that my anxiety starting to bloom  inside, and hoping I am able to handle what unfolds. I am not sure why I feel this way because 99.9% of the time, I am able to handle the situation just fine, and manage to comfort Forrest.

The more out of control I felt, even more anxious I felt, and it began to affect my behavior. I decided it was time to move Forrest into his own bedroom because I had hoped that having him sleep in another room, I was able to sleep better, and I desperately needed my sleep. Having him sleep in another room helped a bit. Even with that, I developed a new "ritual", I had to check on Forrest literally every 5 minutes, lay my hand on his chest, and made sure he was okay. Stu began to notice that I was getting up frequently at our bedtime to do this, and he did not say anything.

I did not want to have people take Forrest from me because I was so worried that he was not going to be taken care of properly. I worried about WHAT IFs. I worried whether the caregiver was going to really know how to put him down to bed, to keep his sleeping space safe, and what was going to be given to Forrest. I struggled with just leaving the house to go on a simple errand even for just half hour. I grew so anxious to the point of tears. I struggled with social settings with people. I was so afraid that they could somehow see through my false bravery facade, and see what a mess I was on the inside. I saw nothing, but judgment, and doubt in their eyes when it came to me mothering Forrest.

 I did not have postpartum depression with my first (even with my bipolar background). I was nervous that it would show, but I think the high of having a new baby, and the connection was so strong that I was fine. The postpartum period with my second was completely different. I loved the birth, and was very pleased with how it went, however, I had such disconnection with James. I felt so emotional and awful for having to share time between the new baby and Aidan. When I saw my oldest show any form of connection between James, it ripped my heart out. Totally not normal. I cried inside every time Aidan hugged or kissed James because I felt bad he had to "share" so to speak. I had a struggle with breastfeeding n the beginning (especially living in someone else's home). I always had to hang out in the bedroom, and wasn't getting any time with my oldest. Most of my time was spend working on breastfeeding relationship with James. Then I started getting very impatient, frustrated, and irritable with James (a newborn!). He had no fault in the matter, he was an infant for crying out loud, but I just couldn't control my emotions. I hate to say it, I was starting to loathe him.That's when I knew I had issue. My husband was the one that kept telling me something was not right with me. Even though I knew that, it helped to have someone verify that.  I went to see my midwife, and she prescribed Zolfot for me. It helped even though it took me awhile to get there. -Sarah S. 

Up until very recently, I have finally embraced my role as a mom, and felt comfortable to discuss about what happened emotionally after giving birth. It did take me a long time to see myself as a mom. I was somewhat detached from the whole experience due to my anxiety. It was because I was a first-time mom dealing with a lot of emotional upheaval, and adjusting to my new identity as a mom. I loved Forrest to death, and wanted him from the very start. The strange thing was, I had a hard time identifying myself as Forrest's mom despite the fact that I was his primary caregiver. I ran on very little sleep, I stressed so much about SIDs, and felt anxious about people judging me. I got overwhelmed by all advice, suggestions, and what-to-do with my baby. I was drowning in very tumultuous sea, and I had no idea that it was okay to ask for help. I had to juggle my roles while trying to figure out who the heck I was now I had a baby. Once I got my routine down, and started talking to people about my anxiety; I found it easier to manage with my anxiety, and dealing with motherhood.

I was so angry that no one told me how horrible the first week or two after birth would be. I was in pain, felt like I have to up my life, worried that my husband would leave me or that something would happen to him, and I would be left to raise this baby by myself! I thought for sure I would be miserable forever! "What did I just do?!" I asked myself. But then after a week or so, it all came back into perspective, and I stopped feeling that way. I've made it my mission to tell other pregnant women that the first week or two might be totally horrible, but it gets better! My doctor prescribed me Zoloft for PPD in the first week, but I never took any. It was like the idea of having it available if I needed it was a cure enough. -Stephanie F. The Working Wifey

Why did I struggled with anxiety for the longest time without sharing or telling people or my doctor, and even Stu? I did not know that anxiety was also considered to be part of postpartum depression. I figured that if I was not crying on a daily basis, had a difficult time relating with Forrest, or functioning on a daily basis then I was fine. I had no clue that anxiety was also something that should be talked about with my doctor until a friend of mine explained to me about her experiences with anxiety after giving birth. I related to her, knowing how that felt, and that helped to know that I was not the only one. I finally brought it up to my doctor, and she confirmed what I was experiencing, and gave me a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. I never went in to fill the prescription, and just knowing I had a piece of paper helped me somehow to get through. Over the time, most of my anxiety did fade away, and it helped to be able to talk about it with people who also went through similar experiences. This whole experience helped me become more aware of myself, and of those who are also mothers.

It was not only mothers that I was aware of, but also fathers. Many people dismissed fathers, thinking that while they did not go through drastic bodily experience such as pregnancy, delivery, and recovery, and saw them only as a bystander. Very little did I realize that fathers also struggled with adjustment, and fatherhood.  I was surprised to learn that 1 out of 10 fathers suffered with PPD! I wished I had more information on this because I felt it was so important to recognize fathers especially now they have become more active with parenthood now more than ever.

The days following Forrest's birth at our hospital, not one single doctor or nurse approached us with a pamphlet or information about fathers, and PPD. We were bombarded with pamphlets, statements, and symptoms to look out in case if I had ever developed PPD. Stu was told to "keep eye" on me, and the baby in the following few weeks yet to come. At my six weeks check up, I was again questioned by my doctor to ensure that I was doing well, and adjusting to motherhood. There was so much focus on me. Stu was a bystander. He was not questioned. He was not asked by people whether he was doing alright, and that he was adjusting to fatherhood. Stu was working full-time, with little paternity leave that he had, and dealt with sleep deprivation. On top of this, he felt he had a responsibility to take care of us during this time period. It was difficult for him. Looking back, I was grateful for what he did for us, and at the same time, I saw a lot of things that could have been changed especially with how we looked at fathers.

Dealing with PPD, especially as a man, was difficult. Our society looks so heavily down toward men that are emotional. Man up! Real man don't cry. Be there for your wife. There's no "manning-up". I was barely hanging on. -Josiah M. 

When people ask me about what to expect when they become a parent for the first time, I am very honest, and open about everything. One of things I am most surprised about is how little PPD, anxiety, and baby blues are being discussed. It is as if it is an unspoken rule not to talk about them. It is sad because PPD, PPA, and Baby Blues is very normal, I dare to say, following birth, or adoption. We should talk more about this, spread awareness, and reduce the stigma, or shame that is associated with what is considered natural part of the process. Talking, and being proactive about PPD, PPA, and Baby Blues does help with dealing with them.

Ohh, do I have plenty of experience in the baby blues department. After I had Logan, it was several hours after I had him before I even got to hold him. By then, he had already had a bottle (not by my request), and refused to breastfeed. I wanted a connection, that bond, with him I knew would be so special. Heartbroken, I figured he had to eat no matter what, and I eventually allow him to continue to bottle feed. Even after bringing Logan home, I had a hard time bonding with him. After a month after having him, I recall a specific night where he would scream if I held him, but as soon Shawn took him, he was fine. I was convinced that Logan hated me because we did not get to be together. That night was a long night. After that, I started to bond with him a bit better, but I would dry at the drop of hat at anything. The worst was usually at the night when I stand over his crib, and watch him sleep while thinking, he is getting big way too quickly. My wake up-call to the reality of baby blues was when I returned to work. I continued to cry about everything, even if someone looked at me funny, and it was so NOT my personality! My boss finally pulled me into her office and told me that I needed help from a doctor or she couldn't have me work there anymore. That was beyond scary because I obviously need my job.Once I was on a medication for 2 months, my hormones semeed to slowly fall back in the place. I was beyond worried I'd have the same problem with Liam, my second child, but thank god he, and I had our bond at birth, and no baby blues! Liam has actually changed my attitude about a lot of things. - Jessica M.B. 

Being a mom is honestly one of the best things I have ever done despite my emotional struggle in recovering from pregnancy, and delivery, and an adjustment to motherhood. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely. Forrest is worth it. At the same time, I know what to expect, and be able to prepare myself. We need to talk about this more often, and to show that we are not alone. Being a parent is an adjustment, and does not come with a life manual. Postpartum emotions are very real. It is not something to be dismissed about, and pretend that they don't exist. They do. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It's Good To Be Reminded

It has been awhile since I have last updated about the happenings in our life. A lot went on yet at the same time, they were ordinary occurrences. Kind of? The truth to be told, I was somewhat in the dumps, and did have much to say blog-wise.

First, my Jeep had a braking problem, and needed to be corrected. You know how sometimes when a mechanic goes in to fix one problem, and only to run into more problems? That was the case! Then there was a crack on the jeep window shield. It was a small crack that grew, grew, and grew, and I had hoped the crack was able to be filled in. Unfortunately, the entire window shield had to be replaced because the crack went right down to the base of the glass in the engine hood. It became a major repair situation. We needed a safe vehicle for me to drive in with Forrest. While it did really suck to drop a hefty amount of moola to fix the damages, we were also thankful that we did have means to afford the expenses. 

In midst of this situation, we had an allergy scare with Forrest, and it was no fun. Forrest had a reaction to eating peanut butter. We figured that it was okay to give peanut butter to Forrest since he was of age to eat it safely, and there was no known nut allergy history in our family on both sides. Forrest had a mild allergy reaction, and nonetheless; we still had to go in based on advise of RN through a pediatrician hotline. We ended up having to set up an appointment with an allergist (will be meeting with an allergist on the 13th). It was stressful to have your kid to go through something like this, then having a cloud to hang over our heads until then. 

You know how bad luck comes in threes? 

A day following Forrest's allergy scare; I had to do laundry to wash Forrest's dirty clothes, and bedsheets. We had been battling a losing battle with Forrest peeing through his diapers in the middle of the night (he is apparently a heavy wetter) lately. I put my phone in the laundry basket, and gathered all the cleaning supplies to put in the basket then carried everything in my arms with Forrest on my hip. I ended up taking all the cleaning supplies out of the laundry basket to start cleaning the basement while running the washing machine. After the cloth diapers were washed and hung up; I dumped the entire content from the basket into the washing machine, and of course, me being Deaf...I didn't hear my phone go into the washing machine! By the time I realized I had forgotten my phone in the basket, it was too late, and my phone was waterlogged. It was beyond saving. Ugh. Right?

I was phoneless for the whole week. I did have my videophone. I did have my Nook, and computer to keep up with social networking. It was not a complete loss. At the same time, it sucked not to be able to text people, and have everything readily available at my fingertips. The whole experience humbled me. I realized I was really dependent on technology too! Gotta love being a part of Generation Y (Dang it, why don't I have cool generation label like Baby Boom Generation, Silent Generation, or G.I. Joe Generation). 

It was just a lot of hits in such short period of time. It probably also did not help that I was dealing with a mild case of Weaning Depression. Apparently, a woman can go through a depression while weaning her baby due to hormones shift in her body. Interesting, huh. Anyway, Forrest had officially dropped his daytime nursing, and went down to just 2 nursing sessions. Because of this, my hormones was shifting back to pre-pregnancy shape. I was functioning fine, and doing well, but emotionally; it was a whack for a bit there. Once I found out about this, I seriously had an AHA moment because it made so much sense to me, and it was also only temporary. Oddly enough, having an answer helped me to feel better because I was able to say well, look, I can get through this because if I can get through the baby blues, then I should be able to get through this as well

I kept trucking on, trucking on, and trucking on through all this for past few weeks by telling myself that things will get better. Things did get better. 

Like I said earlier, we were thankful to have the means to cover the Jeep expenses, and that Forrest only had a mild reaction to eating peanut butter. We were on our way to get an answer from an allergist (soon). I found a solution, hopefully it works, to night time wetting issue that Forrest had been having by ordering overnight heavy wetter cloth diapers. If they did work out better then good riddance to disposables forever. Weaning process got easier emotionally. I finally got a new phone for free (only had to pay for contract update, and insurance, of course). The best part? Forrest recently had his year old pictures taken by PatootiesPhotography, Michelle, and he did awesome! The preview pictures showed up on the same day later on, and it was fun to see the previews! It only made me even more excited to see more yet to come!

Sometimes, bad things happen to help put someone in a perspective that we can't always have good things going on. Because if we do, then we eventually lose the sight of how much we should appreciate, and enjoy the good. In the face of multiple hits in such short time, it only shows that I do have strength to handle pesky problems head-on, and that things are really going to be okay. Bad things aren't necessarily bad. Obviously, it's bad, and it sucks, but it is also a gift in a disguise. It is good to be reminded of that. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer Bucket List '13 Conclusion

I can't believe that the summer is nearly over! It doesn't feel like it has been "summer" for us being so busy, and battling this odd fall-like weather instead of our typical humid warm Wisconsin summer. Nonetheless, looking at our bucket list; I think we did a really great job of hitting almost everything on the list, and some more!

1. Farmer's Market. I only went there once this summer as opposed to going there weekly or monthly. The reason was because where we live; our farmer's market was smaller than I thought, and it was kind of disappointing (there was only 3 booths, and they all sold the same products). It was nice to check it out, and support local businesses yet at the same time, I would have liked to see more diversity. 

2. Try a new recipe every week. I successfully did this! Rock on! My favorite recipes were spring rolls, beer bread, country style BBQ ribs, and meatballs that I found on Pinterest. My favorite drink recipe was sweet iced tea. It was in high demand for the bulk of the summer! It was so easy to make them all, and it was so much fun. I really enjoyed it. 

3. Larson's Famous Clydesdales. We haven't done this yet, but it is still on the list! I'm hoping that we will do it before fall rolls around. 

4. Twilight Garden Walk Tour. We missed this event. I forgot what we were doing. I think we were up north, and missed it. It was no big deal! 

5. Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. Well, we did go to Bay Beach, but not wildlife sanctuary part. It is still up in the air if I still want to do it or not because we already visited Bay Beach Amusement Park (awesome place for kids and families). 

6. Participate in 5k Run. DONE DONE DONE! I was so proud of myself!!!

7. Strawberry Picking. I did not do this. It was too hard to find a local strawberry patch field within time constraint, and I never managed to find a right baby carrier. Next year! 

8. Visit Wisconsin Dells. This did not pan out. I kind of knew it though. 

9. Nature Hikes. We did this! Forrest was still a bit too young to appreciate the nature. At the same time, I was appreciative that we started young with him! It put in perspective for me to become more environmentally conscious. This summer was when I started opening my eyes to a lot of things about environment, and ignited my interest in finding ways to preserve the environment by becoming more aware. 

10. Mommy-Son Swim Class. This was so much fun! Forrest took to the water like a fish. He had so much fun with all the songs, and games. I was really happy that I signed us up for the class. 

11. Summer Concerts. Our community has local concerts every Friday night. We only managed to go one, and met up with our wonderful friends. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the evening, and Forrest had a blast!

12. Canning vegetables. I have not had a chance to do this yet, but I plan on canning spicy Beets. It will be a good way to harvest, and end the summer.

13. Use Camera everyday. I did not whip out camera every single day this summer. However, I definitely did use it a lot more especially for my blog, and to preserve the memories. 

14. Juice Maker. I lost the instruction manual. So I never got around to it. 

15. Grow herbs. I successfully grew Basil, Parsley, and Cilantro! It was so easy, and fun. I enjoyed watching the plants grow, and finally using them in salsa! I'm definitely doing this again next year! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

What I Wished I Had Known: Recovery

Here's Part PART 1 & TWO  if you had missed them! 

Recovery after Labor & Delivery.

Moments after giving birth, I felt great from all the natural high I had from my hormones, and I was in awe of my son. I was empowered. I had given birth to a wonderful baby boy. After all the craziness had subsided, this tremendous fatigue hit me out of nowhere! I had no idea how much of a toll giving birth put on my body until that instance. I napped for what felt like hours afterward. When I woke up, I was exhausted, and weak. I had to use the bathroom. I got up, and walked to the bathroom. I knew it was a bad idea to get up so soon. I ended up passing out in the bathroom. My blood pressure had crashed. I had not eaten all day. The last thing I ate was a small bowl of oatmeal from McDonald's at 5 am. What I needed was food, and drink. Once I had that in my system, I felt better, and was able to function once again. The weeks that followed the delivery, I was up and around with no problem. 

Logan, my first, was fairly large, and I needed an episiotmy (and they had to use a vacuum), which caused awful pain for the first two weeks. Every moment hurt. It was so hard to watch other moms walk around like it was no big deal after giving birth, and I could barely stand having to walk to the bathroom and back! One of the nurses had me take milk of magnesia, and suggested I continue to use it until I felt more healed. It was the best tip ever! So if someone ever ends up with an episitomy, then I'd highly suggest taking the milk of magnesia, which is safe for nursing as well! -Jenni R.

Although the c-section went wonderfully, my recovery to this day (7 months in) has been brutual! Due to my blood platelets  I was unable to clot properly, making healing almost impossible, and I was literally black, and blue from my belly button to a few inches above my knees for weeks. I still had bruising around my incision. I did not fully stand and walk for almost a week, and waited 2 days to be wheeled to the NICU. -Ashley A. 

Whenever I heard a baby crying, it hurt me physically after birth. Every time, the other baby in our room cried, I was literally doubled over in pain. -Nichole

I wish that someone had told me that getting an epidural at 8 cm would screw up my back. I literally could not walk for weeks/months without feeling pain shooting up my spine. Everything ached from a very quick birth with my second. -Lauren S.

Recovery was great despite what had happened. I was up and walking the halls within hours, and wanted all sorts of food. I did need 3 stitches, but no meds. -Ellie T. 

My vagina looked like it was murdered. And whatever you do, don't look at it in the mirror until at least week 6. It isn't pretty to look at, but it does go back to normal. -Samantha S. 

If you get a c-section, don't be overzealous, and do more than you can chew for the first week or so. I pulled a muscle, and was in pain ten times more. -Megan S. 

Make sure you walk a lot, and don't wait until you are in pain to get meds otherwise it will take longer before it kicks in. -Casey T.

How tough recovery can be even when you don't have any complications. I had a vaginal delivery with no tearing, but I still couldn't stand or walk on my own for days. I needed dh to help me shower and use the washroom for at least 4 days. I had always been told that once the baby was out, all the pain was over. -Nichole

I wish I had known how little I would be able to do once I got home! It took so much energy to walk up one flight of stairs to our apartment, and I couldn't even get on my bed so I slept on the sofa for 10 days. -Athenais P. 

I had no tearing with my second. I was up and walking around right afterwards  It didn't feel like I just gave birth! I was able to work with my body and contractions to get the baby out. More women need to feel empowered about their bodies. We can do it! It should not be about the baby was too big, I'm too small, or the baby wont' fit through my pelvis. Do you know that the worst birthing position is on your back?! It makes your pelvis much smaller. I was surprised when I found that out. -Sarah S. 

Though I was lucky, and had help for 2 solid weeks, my first was 30 lbs by then, and it was another month before I was allowed to pick him up, and not to mention he would bite and climb all over me whenever I tried to breastfeed my newborn. I don't think I could have come out of the experience sane without other moms to talk to, who had gone through similar experiences, and telling me it's normal. -Kristina G. 

If you are having a second (or more) baby, after birth contractions hurt like crazy for 3-4 days. It helps to take ibuprofen and tylenol half hour before you nurse, but no matter what you do; it will still hurt. -Petunia 

No one told me the pain I would be in AFTER labor and delivery. 6 months later, I am still dealing with some issues. -Kristina 

My husband was surprised at the amount of time it took for sex not to hurt. I remember 2 weeks postpartum  he thought I would be fine already, and was shocked when I told him I was such a wreck, and that it would be quite some time before we could do it. -Anonymous 

Postpartum uterus massage.

I had no idea what a postpartum massage was until the day after I gave birth, a nurse came in, and matter of factly started pressing hard against my belly. She explained, while rubbing my belly, that it was to help shrink my uterus back to pre-pregnancy size. I was sorely tempted to grab her forearms, and throw her arms away because it hurt badly every time she pressed down. It was something that NOBODY had told me about, and I was definitely NOT prepared for it. I was unhappy about this tidbit being left out from my whole pregnancy experience. 

The belly rubs to help shrink the uterus hurt really bad too. I had never heard of this being done so it was a real shock to me when nurse came in the next day to do it. -Athenais P. 


I had a very little clue about what a hemorrhoid was.  I never had them during my pregnancy. Sure, I was not completely clueless about it because I've heard about it from other pregnant ladies, and mothers who had delivered their babies, but I didn't know what having it was like....until after I had Forrest. I had discovered that if I didn't exercise by walking enough, then it would flare up, and cause pain. Not really fun. 

I had worst hemorrhoids that got so bad that I could not lay down, sit, or walk. I had to go to the doctor, and get a prescription for suppositories, and cream. I wish someone had prepared me for this. -Anonymous 

It's 1000000000 times worst than labor. -Sally D. 

I have them too except some days they hurt bad, and other days they don't. They suck, but at least they're just temporary. -Grace A. 

Postpartum bleeding.

After giving birth, I bled nonstop for 7 weeks. Yes, you read it right. Some ladies are lucky to only bleed for 4 weeks. Not me. I bled. And bled. And bled. It is like having Aunt Flo from hell. It is not a painful bleeding. Just more of annoyance bleeding. I literally lived on those grandma giant pads. Then behold and lo, one day, it stopped.

No one told me how much bleeding there would be. I had no idea I would be dropping huge ass clots. It made me so uncomfortable and I never wanted to leave the house. -Anonymous 

It can stop and start flow for up to 12 weeks. 6 weeks is a normal cut-off, but not always. -Casey T


Thought that constipation only happens during pregnancy? Think again.

Nobody ever told me about postpartum constipation. It was worse among ladies, who went through c-section than those who had vaginal births, but it was immensely terrible. Words don't just explain it. -Anonymous 
It hurt so badly to poo for the longest time. Even to this day, I still get hemorrhoids, and have to use butt balm for it. -Anonymous

No one told me that colace would become my best friend so I could actually go number two. -Anonymous 

Take stool softener everyday for the last few months of your pregnancy because after baby, it is not going to be easy to go. -Kristin P. 

I was so constipated for a week, and when I did, I cried the whole time. -Anonymous 

Newborn Care & Bonding.

When Forrest was born, I was ecstatic  and so happy to be Forrest's mother. I was amazed by how much love I had for this tiny person. On the other hand, the role of stepping into motherhood was a huge adjustment. It took me a long time before I was able to identify myself as a mother, and to see myself as a mom to Forrest. I was prepared for lack of sleep during the newborn days, and got through the hardest few weeks of adjusting to parenthood. However, what I wished I had known was that lack of sleep did continue beyond the newborn days! People put so much emphasis on lack of sleep during newborn days, but they failed to mention that older babies also struggled with sleep due to many different factors such as teething, colic, and adjusting to sleeping in the crib (if they had not slept in it from the very start). Forrest didn't stop nursing frequently through the night until he was nearly 10.5 months old. That was really hard to deal with long-term sleep deprivation. Even now when we have successfully dropped night nursing session(s); he continued to wake up once or twice a night due to teething pain, and losing his pacifier. Forrest was also an early-riser, which was difficult for someone who was not a morning person (me), and I had to get used to this. 

Not all babies sleep all of the time when they are born. Some babies like to be awake more than others, and take longer to get their nights and days figured out. -Megan S.

The bond that is always talked about does not always happen right away, and can take awhile. -Anonymous

Baby girls can have a mini-period due to withdrawal from their mother hormones. -Nichole

Sleeping through the night is not what you think. It is any stretch of 8 hours of sleep. If you put them down at 8 pm, then waking up at 4 am means they slept through the night. -Casey T.

The onesies, with the flapped shoulders, are designed to come off either over the head, or down the body. So helpful with poop blowouts. Why did no one tell me this before? -Petunia

I was told I'd be really happy when she came out, and wouldn't think anything else but her. In reality, I was really happy that she was okay, but all I could think was thank god it's over. No choir of angels singing for me. It wasn't until a few hours later that I felt that sense of total euphoria. -Anonymous

Breastfeeding, Pumping, & Formula

Forrest, and I had our share of struggle when it came to breastfeeding in the beginning. In the hospital, when Forrest was first born; he had no problem latching on, and we had a great breastfeeding experience. Then all this changed once we got released, and went home. I had to really learn how to nurse Forrest. It was not a simple thing like I had thought. I thought babies would just latch on, and that was it. How wrong I was. Forrest only liked to nurse one side at time, and that left other side very engorged. I tried pumping the unfed side, and it didn't work out. I didn't realize that over-pumping can cause more issues than good. I ended up with clogged ducts at least eight times due to this. I had a very forcible leak-down, and that caused Forrest to stop nursing. We spent hours, and hours sitting in our rocking chair, trying to establish a nursing relationship, and I spent a lot of tears over this. It was difficult because I felt like a failure for not having that perfect breastfeeding relationship that so many people talked about. The first two months were pure hell with breastfeeding. We had our ups, and downs until Forrest was six months old. Around that time, to add an insult to injury; I ended up with mastitis, and I was frustrated. I wanted that perfect nursing relationship with Forrest, and I was not getting that at all. Fortunately, we got a hang of nursing around 7th month, and had no problems ever since! 

My advice? If you plan on breastfeeding....then it can take time, and be patient. It will work out. HOWEVER, if it is eating at you physically, mentally, and spiritually, then switch to formula. Formula IS NOT poison.  you plan on supplementing or pumping instead of full-time breastfeeding, then that is perfectly fine as well. You ARE NOT a failure. You are feeding your child. You are taking care of your child. That is the important part to make sure you are taking care of your baby and YOURSELF. 

Breastfeeding was a huge struggle. We made it about a month before it got to be so overwhelming that I switched to formula. -Athenais P. 

No one had told me that even though a child is in NICU, it does not mean you cannot kangroo care or breastfeed. I wish I had known this. -Michelle W.

For the 28 days of NICU, I stayed there 24 hours a day. They couldn't feed so they couldn't nurse, but I was determined to provide breastmilk. So I pumped..and still pumping to this day!  -Ashley A. 

The nurses knew nothing about breastfeeding. I had one pushy, frustrated nurse who manhandled my newborn trying to get him to latch by grabbing his little head and squishing his face into my boob. I should have manhandled her face, but I was too exhausted. If you are having problems, talk to a lactation specialist at the hospital. Looking back, there were so many opportunities for me to get my son's tongue, and lip tie to be diagnosed and fixed easily, but those stupid nurses told me it was because I was holding him wrong. -Kelly

No one really told me how shamed I would be by people for wanting to breastfeed or breastfeed in the public. I didn't expect people to be made uncomfortable by my feeding my child. It's frustrating. -Ashley

Breastfeeding is hard. Like really hard. I literally hated every second of it for three weeks, but it can get better. I heard it would get better so often, but I never imagine how tough it could really be, and I felt people were lying! But it is true. -Anonymous 

Keep a bottle of water by your bed at the night because you'll be very thirsty from nursing. -Casey T.

If you decide not to breastfeed or not do it anymore, your breast will harden, and hurt like crazy!! And it will leak! Put cabbage in freezer, and wear cabbage in your bra for a few days. It saved me with my first son! -Mary M.

Always try to use bathroom before you start nursing. It will take longer than you think, and between the contracting of the uterus, and sitting there for so long, you will have to pee before the baby is done nursing especially if you have a slow nurser like my boy, who in the beginning, would take up to 45 minutes to nurse. -Andrea J

I never really knew about how bad engorgement is! Especially when the baby starts sleeping longer at night, my boobs would get so hard and uncomfortable. I realize everyone is different, but my sex drive plummeted during my pregnancy, and especially so while nursing. -Anonymous 

Self Care.

I had no idea how important self-care was until I became a mom. Stu worked long hours, and did not have a full paternity leave from work. I had literally no time to brush my teeth, or take a shower. I was working so hard trying to establish a nursing relationship with Forrest. Looking back, I was SO grateful to my mom. She stayed with us for two weeks. She made sure that I took naps, shower, recover, and EAT. Because I lost so many calories from nursing, I needed to eat, eat, and eat, and drink plenty of water. My mom made sure I had water, and food at hand. She made us meals. I was usually not the one to ask for help, and did things myself, but looking back; the smartest thing I ever did for myself was allowing people to help.

Though it's hard to truly explain to non-parents, I wish someone had been able to better prepare me for colic. That shit is insane. And as a new, exhausted mom, that can really break you. -Anonymous

No one told me that a screaming newborn 24/7 was not a normal thing until my daughter's one month appointment. -Kristina.

Ask for help. There's no shame in that. -Kellie J. 

Nobody told me how difficult it really is to juggle sleep, housework, entertaining an infant, job, and a marriage is. -Kristina

It is okay to change your mind on how you want to parent. But make sure it is YOU changing your mind. Not other people changing it for you. -Kristin P.

The only thing I would say is that I love my son unconditionally, and I am happy being a mother, but it doesn't consume me. It is not the only thing I am. My life does not revolve around Nate, it revolves around me. Sounds selfish, but if I am not taking care of myself or my marriage, I cannot take care of my child even as a team. I don't feel motherhood to be an overwhelming sense of joy, it is a work, and it is hard. It makes me feel accomplished looking at Nate, and how much he has grown, and developed in the past year. -Lisa E. 

Your relationship with your spouse is going to be different based on each individual, but for us; it was a huge struggle. We had a hard time connecting. We did not live around family with the first child, so we just never got out, just two of us. Then we moved in with family, and it was hard to feel like you had your own space, and we were still not getting out. We never found time to sit down and connect with each other on  a husband/wife level. It was always about kids, bills, or whatever else besides us. We moved out, and we are able to finally sit down and take some time for us. If that's when the boys are sleeping, that's all we needed to do. ALL couples need to remember that. -Sarah S.

Everyone told me when my son started walking, I would be so sad, and my mommy life would be over. I don't get why they said that to me.  I watch his blonde head run around, and I am so filled with joy. I helped him. I taught him. I gave him courage to try. I picked him when he tried, and failed. That's being a mom. -Kellie

You really do forget the pain after having your baby. -Casey T.

Stay Tuned for Part 4: Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, & Baby Blues