I make this look difficult

I was told by an old man in a yellow Polo not to have a 3rd child.

Are you someone who has children and doesn’t walk around looking like she just came in last place in a mud run towing a grocery cart full of unnecessities?

I make this look difficult.

I am forever in awe (and confusion) of those who can manage children, maintain knowledge of the whereabouts of their wallet, carry one bag and possession of their coupons.

This morning I left the house with my children, one with his juice and snack and the other forced to hold her own bottle on a trip to Target because, let’s face it, it’s the one stop shop all mothers rely on.

I made it a mile and a half and had to turn around to get the Similac coupons I left on the table. They’re $5 off!

When we finally arrived, my baby had fallen asleep so I needed to keep her in her baby carrier and stroller and also get a grocery cart (I refuse to say “buggie”) because I needed too many things.

When this happens, I push the stroller with the sleeping baby and trail the cart behind me.

My toddler refuses to sit in the cart, so he walks beside me. You can imagine what a hot mess we look like and the scene we create as we try to navigate the narrow labyrinth of the toddler, baby, and shoe sections.

When we’re finally done and headed to check out, I have a bag of items to return so we make our way to customer service.

I can see the cashiers whispering “Not it” to each other in the distance.

My son decides now is a good time to break away from me and take off towards the door, only laughing when I catch him and bring him back.

There’s a line forming behind me.

I put the new “backpack leash” on him that just came in the mail from Amazon.

He screams and tries to pull the “leash” off while I try to bribe and calm him down with phrases like “but it looks so cool!” “Lightening McQueen is in the backpack!” And “you look like a big boy going to school!”

People are judging.

I make this look difficult.

I have a return, a cart full of groceries, my own recyclable bags and 2 separate transactions.

I realize too late that I have again left my coupons behind (in the car) but instead of saying “just forget it” I decide to leave everything in a heap on the counter, take my baby (whose now awake and using her new found voice to make screaming noises just because she can) and my toddler, with his leash, (whose starting to cry because he thinks we’re leaving his Annie’s Bunny cookies behind) and go to the car to get the coupons.

When we get back, the line has decreased, as they needed to call for backup, and we finish the longest checkout in history. I stuff all the recycled bags full of our goodies, gigantic tower of paper towels and hand my son his cookies.

There’s a woman behind me carrying a newborn on her chest wrapped up so you can just see his little head. We have the same diaper bag backpack (from Target) and she looks at me and says very friendly:

“I like your diaper bag!”

Me: “Thanks, same here! Is he your first baby?”

Friendly: “Yes!”

Me: “This is what happens when you have two!”

Old man in the yellow Polo: “Don’t have a 3rd”

Me: (putting my head down) “I won’t”

Friendly lady with the newborn had on normal clothes, her hair in place and just enough makeup to probably cover the dark circles that come with having a new baby.

That was never me.

Even in college I carried a backpack AND a purse on my shoulder because I could never minimize or prioritize! Who knew how many different shades of pink lipgloss I might need throughout the day?

I couldn’t tell you where a tube of lipgloss is now but I still don’t go anywhere with just one bag of necessities.

I am a hot mess of snacks, diapers, missing coupons and changes of clothes.

The more children in have, the crazier this train gets.

I always picture an apocalypse happening and having to grab JUST one bag, both of my children, and running.

What if I forgot to replenish one of their sizes of diapers or there’s melted chocolate from a Chewy granola bar all over the first aid kit? What if there’s no container of portioned formula or room-temperature water bottle? That’s actually likely!

I usually walk out of Target (or any market, really) with one lingering sentence that I silently mouth to myself:

“I’m an asshole”

I don’t poop on your floor so don’t wear your shoes in my house.

Being an anxious person, I get to be all kinds of crazy, annoying and insistent.

I’m not laid back, I’m not a go-with-the-flow type of person.

I overpack. I leave the house with a backpack full of diapers, baby wipes, antibacterial wipes, snacks for children, babies and adults. Water bottles. First Aid kits and changes of clothes for everyone. (You never know when spit up and blow outs will make a visit).

I have a list of things I need to sleep including sound machines, a glass of water in arms reach, a fan (that has to be near my face), my “L” shaped pillow in between my legs, a big comforter and my bunny to snuggle.

I’m also very aware of germs and dirt. If you’re going to hold my children, I appreciate you washing your hands because I have no clue what (or who) you’ve been touching between your house and mine.

You won’t be surprised now when I tell you we (I say “we” because I’ve broken my husband down) have a No-Shoe rule in the house.

I understand how I am. I have been a pain in the ass all of my life. I seek no pitty, no need to argue with me, I know who I am. I can certainly be difficult and I know I like things the way I like them.

That being said, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IS ON THE BOTTOM OF YOUR SHOES?!???

If not, let me shed a little light:

66 Million Organisms!!! Live bacteria, live viruses, FECES, E. Coli, and do I need to go on?

Think about where you’ve been in your shoes. Been to Target lately? Been to a public bathroom? A restaurant? Possibly someone’s lawn?

Chemicals dangerous to children, especially under the age of 2 from people’s lawn treatments, human (and other) feces from bathrooms and even just the isles of grocery stores where thousands of other people have tracked their feet, live viruses like the flu, and so on.

When people walk in our home, I ask them to remove their shoes before walking past the front hall because not only do I not want to clean my floors all the live-long day but the mere THOUGHT of everything people are tracking on their shoes makes me cringe.

Now take a look around your home. Do you have children? Likely they play on the floor, sit on the floor, learn to crawl on the floor. Do you want them crawling around on a floor with millions of bacteria and viruses, and well, POOP?!?

Is your body cringing yet?

Good, I did my job:)

Here’s a couple quick links to learn more:

https://clark.com/health-health-care/this-is-why-you-shouldnt-wear-shoes-in-your-house/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.today.com/today/amp/tdna129820

Post Partum Anxiety (AKA Depression’s bitchy twin)

Thankfully, people are finally talking about post partum depression and sharing their personal stories. More and more celebrities are starting to come out in the open and proclaim their journey’s of PPD and express their feelings, which is such a huge step because PPD isn’t anything new!

That being said, I hadn’t heard of Post Partum Anxiety. Of course, we know anxiety and depression go hand in hand but I feel like I was left in the dark about something I probably should have been warned about. A heads up. So here is mine to you, a cautionary tale, if you will:

After our traumatic experience with Chase in the children’s hospital, I was feeling really anxious. As I have said previously, I have always suffered from anxiety, but those 48 hours really sent me over the edge (my hormones, just after giving birth, didn’t make matters any easier. Let me tell you, even the coolest cucumber will be on an emotional rollercoaster after having a baby. If you haven’t had a baby already, get ready, this is no joke. And if you’re a mom, I need say no more. But read on, nonetheless).

When we got home, I had this overwhelming fear that my son was somehow going to die. Every second of the day, my mind raced, thinking and worrying about all of the possible ways he could get hurt or die and I felt it so strongly that I would get anxiety and panic attacks. I would hide in another room (usually the bathroom), and shake and cry but didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy. I literally felt crazy. I had these thoughts and unrealistic fears so frequently that I started to wonder if I, myself, was going to somehow hurt him when all other irrational fears passed (and I think THIS is why we don’t talk about these things).

For instance, I was afraid to give my baby a bath alone because what if he drowned? My mind went like this: “I would never let him drown, so I can put that fear aside, so what else could possibly go wrong? What if I let him fall in the tub?” Knowing I would NEVER do that, I would then get mad at myself, ashamed and embarrassed for having such a thought and I would wait until my husband got home to give him a bath so I wouldn’t be so anxious. I don’t know how much newborns retain, but I didn’t want Chase’s first memories to be of his mother sobbing and shaking and checking the temperature of the tub 800 times or come up with some OCD way of wrapping him in a towel afterwards or something.

I was afraid to iron a shirt in the same room as the baby because I was afraid he would somehow get burned, but again, I realized that was irrational. If he was alllll the way over there, HOW could he possibly get burned? So then I thought “would I purposefully burn him??” Of course not, so why would I have that thought in the first place. “I must be going crazy”. Needless to say, we had a pile of my husband’s wrinkled work shirts, which all ended up at the dry cleaners.

I was so ashamed and confused. I didn’t want to share these feelings that I had all the time because even though you hear of people talk about overwhelming thoughts, feelings, and emotions, you think there’s no way anyone else is having thoughts like these and surely they’ll take my child away if I share them. A crazy lady who’s afraid she’s going to harm her newborn but also won’t let anyone else hold him? Lock her up!

Right after we got out of the children’s hospital, we had an appointment with Chase’s pediatrician. As stated in my previous blog post, Chase was slightly jaundice (in case you don’t know, some babies are born “jaundice” meaning your baby has more bilirubin than it can get rid of. Bilirubin is a yellow substance that’s made when the body breaks down old red blood cells. It leaves the baby’s body through urine and stool but some cases are worse than others. It gives your baby that “yellowish” look. Sometimes they need special lights, almost like a tanning bed, and others cases clear up on their own). Knowing some babies need the light therapy, I asked our pediatrician if putting Chase in the sunlight would help move things along for him. He said yes, that can certainly help, so I took his words quite literally, went home and sat outside in the sun with Chase for about 15 minutes. Keep in mind, it was early November in North Carolina and he was in pants and a onesie, perfect for that day. After that time, we went inside and slowly but surely, Chase started getting red.

Panicked, I called a client of mine who is a PA (I called her 523 times over the first few months) and asked her what this could be. She informed me that yes, putting baby in the sunlight would help, but not directly in the sun like I did. “The pediatrician told me to!” I cried, “But he meant to put Chase by a window for a little while, not outside in the direct sunlight, he’s too little and his skin is too sensitive”. I started shaking and crying and knowing I had just caused my baby harm I asked her if I had hurt him: “Did he get burned, did I make it worse, will he get a fever and die???” Will he be ok??” She told me to calm down, “You thought you were doing the right thing.” But that didn’t make me feel any better. I proceeded to call another pediatrician’s cell phone who discharged Chase from the hospital (she has probably since changed her number…or blocked mine), interrupted her family dinner and left a panicked voicemail about how I left Chase in the sun and I think he’s going to die. She called me back right away, mid chomp of her chicken salad, and asked how long I had left him in the car alone. “Noooo, I cried”, and explained the story and she said “I thought by your voicemail that you had left him in the car! He’s going to be fine.”

I wasn’t buying it. I went up to my husband in the kitchen (it was his birthday, by the way) and as I shook, told him I thought I was losing it and I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. I knew that what I was feeling all day long was probably not normal. I said “I’m not ok” and he just hugged me. He told me everything was going to be fine, the baby was happy and “look, he’s not even red anymore!” I guess he was just hot from the sun he had never seen before. Poor kid.

I even called the pediatrician’s office one day in tears, asked for a specific nurse who I really liked (and asked for, personally, during appointments) and told her I thought I was losing it and needed an appointment. She very kindly explained that Chase’s pediatrician could not prescribe me Xanax and that I should call my own primary caredoctor. Thanks a lot, Lindsay.

For the longest time I felt this anxious or worse. I WAS prescribed Paxil but was too anxious to take it! I was afraid I would sleep too well and not hear the baby cry or that my milk supply would dwindle, even though they say otherwise.

I would get panic attacks when people would come over or try to hold Chase. I made everyone wash their hands (everyone should with a newborn), use purell, take their shoes off (still do), ask if anyone had been around anyone else sick, did they have all their shots, and I rarely left the house. Granted, it was wintertime and flu season and even the pediatrician told me not to take Chase into the grocery stores until he was a little older.

I know being cooped up in the house all the time didn’t help. Sometimes getting out makes a WORLD of difference. Even just driving to get a cup of coffee in the drive-through with the baby while he slept gave me a little perspective. (Chase LOVES being out and about now. I think he was relieved to discover the world consisted of more than 2 faces and 6 rooms).

The truth is, once I cried and told a girlfriend about the way I had been feeling and my worries and scary thoughts, she immediately shared similarly embarrassing (to her) thoughts and anxieties. Not everyone feels this way, but it’s important to know that you are not alone! I think the thought of isolation is almost as bad as the feeling of anxiety. We have to know there are other people out there who feel, or have felt, the same way. Our bodies go through hell and back from pregnancy to birth and the aftermath. Our hormones are sky high and then hit a brick wall. There’s no way you can keep a level head after that. Granted, some of us cope better than others, while some of us go whackadoodle! Up, down, left right and there’s no telling how you’ll feel or what crazy scenario you’ll come up with.

To give you some hope, (if you are currently going through anything similar) it took about 2 weeks for these irrational thoughts to start to subside. It did take months for me to start to back off a little with the baby and feel ok about others holding him. Some would argue that I’m still crazy and overprotective but I don’t care! He’s my son. I AM protective and don’t really care if I offend anyone when it comes to him. I’m not a bitch, I’m a mommy.

 

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The Worst 48 Hours of My Life

So my mom came and surprised us in the hospital after Chase was born. She flew to North Carolina from Boston to surprise us and it was so sweet and very emotional to have her walk into our hospital room. We were able to let Nick (my husband) go home for a night and get some sleep while my mom took over as secondary care giver.

The next day the 3 of us took the long (2 blocks) haul to our home with our new baby in tow. We spent our first day and evening with our son in his very first home and my mom flew back home to Boston the next day. I was nursing Chase and trying to get the hang of it, (which is no easy feat), while spending our 2nd day home when I noticed he was falling asleep right after starting to feed. Now, he had only been alive for a total of 3 days, so it’s not as though anything was common or uncommon for him at that point but I felt like something was off. I’m a worrier by nature, so Nick thought nothing of it. He was probably just tired, we decided. However, when he WOULDN’T wake up to nurse, I began to panic.

I tried everything I could to get him to wake up but he just wouldn’t. I finally handed him over to Nick and he tried all that he could think of: undressing him to get him cold and mad, tickling him, turning all the lights on to wake him, but nothing. I called the pediatrician and after hearing his state (plus, he was slightly jaundice) she suggested we take him to the children’s hospital. We couldn’t be too careful with a newborn.

Now, I remember taking our time because the pediatrician didn’t seem alarmed, and Chase was really just sleepy, as it seemed, but I’ll never forget when Nick put him in his car seat carrier and Chase didn’t move an inch that he looked at me and said “Get in the car. Now.” I knew we were in trouble.

The children’s hospital was really close by as well, thank God, but it was a long ride to say the least. I tried waking Chase up the whole car ride there and he wouldn’t even lift an eyelid. I was obviously already crying when we pulled up to the emergency entrance and when we got inside, they took us in right away.

As the first nurse checked us in and began asking questions, I could barely get the answers out. I was in complete panic. Something was wrong with my baby and he was only 3 days old. My mind started racing and all I could think of was “Please, God. Don’t take him from me.”

When we got into the ER to be examined, they took Chase’s blood and that, at least, got him crying but he was still extremely lethargic. They found that his blood sugar had dropped dramatically from what it is supposed to be. They tried giving him formula (I was breastfeeding but was willing to do whatever they told us) to get his blood sugar up, but he spit it all up. After a couple more routine tests, they sat us down and the ER doctors explained that they needed to admit Chase and he was going to need to have a full infection testing done. They explained that they needed to check his urine (this meant a catheter was required), his spinal fluid (a spinal tab would be required), and X Rays (his arms would be pinned above his head), and we would need to leave him for the spinal tap because they would need a sterile environment.

The doctor (who was extremely kind) explained that the spinal tap would be much like the epidural I got while giving birth to Chase. This broke me down. Not only was I not allowed to be there and hold him, but they were going to invasively stick a tiny tube into my son’s spine to extract fluid to see if he had some kind of infection.

I’ll never forget sitting in that waiting room while they did the spinal tap. Your mind takes you to some pretty dark places when you have nothing to do but think and wait. You learn a lot about yourself and your spouse in a moment like that.

After watching them put a catheter in my newborn’s newly circumcised penis and watching him scream in pain, I decided I couldn’t watch them pin his arms above his head to take his X Rays. I sent Nick in with him because I couldn’t take any more. I felt so helpless and completely alone. There’s no comfort you can give or receive when you’re watching your child in pain.

After every test, I grabbed Chase and held him and cried with him. I wanted to make the medical staff just do the tests on me instead. He was too little, too small, too new for all of this. Too innocent.

We were finally admitted upstairs where we would spend the next 48 hours waiting on test results, wondering if our new baby had meningitis, or worse. They would be pumping him with antibiotics (just in case he did have some kind of infection) through an IV in his tiny hand, which would be wrapped up in a cast made of a heavy stint and a diaper. This was awful because his tiny arm couldn’t hold the weight of the cast and he kept hitting himself in the head and face with it while trying to sleep.

They had an old, squeaky, reclining chair, a “couch”, and a little crib that looked more like a cage for a small animal. They us a few thin blankets and pillows. I couldn’t sleep and neither could Nick so we just took turns watching Chase while the other shut their eyes (eventually I just climbed into the crib with Chase to try to sleep, at least I could be near him). I was breastfeeding him every 2-3 hours and the nurses kept coming in throughout the night and day to check his vitals and push more fluids and antibiotics.

At one point, I sent Nick home to sleep because all we were doing was waiting. We also didn’t have anything with us as far as clothes or toiletries so I sent him home for a little while to try and sleep (which he didn’t) and gather some things.

The worst part was not knowing and just praying that Chase was ok. I had a lump in the back of my throat that was just waiting to break free with the sound of anyone familiar and close. It is extremely isolating, being in a situation like that without any family or childhood friends around. I felt really alone. There’s something about the way people who have known and loved you your whole life can make you feel safe. Even just safe enough to break down because I was trying so hard to keep it together and as parents, Nick and I were just trying to be strong. But as a daughter, I needed my own parents at that moment and I couldn’t have them, which was really hard.

After 48 hours of being stuck in that room, holding my little baby, watching him get poked, prodded, and examined, we were finally met with the team of doctors, PA’s, medical students, and residents who explained that all of Chase’s tests had come back negative. THANK GOD. They came to the not so clear conclusion that the combination of Chase being jaundice and not getting as much milk as we thought contributed to his drop in blood sugar. We had a lactation consultant come to the room and help me.

I HIGHLY recommend seeing a lactation consultant if you are a new nursing mom. They have all been such a huge help to me and were completely covered by our insurance. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have continued to nurse because I was paranoid that Chase wasn’t getting enough milk and that this would happen again. These women were truly a huge blessing! The lactation consultant in the children’s hospital was like an angel. She was so kind and helpful. I ended up using a nipple shield for Chase because he was having trouble latching and my nipples were raw and chapped. She saved me. She was like having my mom there. she was so gentle, empathetic and kind. Sometimes all you need is another kind woman around to make you feel ok.

We were finally discharged after 2 days and we got to pack up and take our healthy baby home, which was such a blessing and huge relief. On our way out of the hospital, I looked around for the first time and realized I hadn’t left that room once. As we walked down the hall towards the elevator I began to feel really guilty. Room after room of sick children, some of whom won’t get to go home. Their parents are in there just trying to make their child happy and comfortable enough to put their little minds at ease and not think about their illnesses and pains.

I had been thinking about how long 48 hours felt. How uncomfortable I was and how I just wanted to take our new baby back to our house, to all of the comforts of home. Meanwhile, some of these people are just praying to stay there longer because that means their child is still here. How seldom we realize just how lucky and blessed we are.

As I said before, I am an anxious person by nature, I always have been. But after this stay in the hospital, I was about to find out what it really means to be anxious. If I thought I knew about anxiety before, I was about to have an awakening like a sledge hammer to the head.  If I thought I knew what it was like to worry before, I was about to find out what it’s like to have your heart racing out of your chest while you shake and sob alone in the bathroom so no one can hear or see you lose your mind because you’re certain your child is going to die.

Enter in: Post Partum Anxiety…..

(This picture was taken early in the day before we called the pediatrician. Chase looks so tiny, only 3 days old!)

 

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(This was in the hospital. One of the items I asked Nick to bring from home was Chase’s Rock N Play so he could be more comfortable and I could watch him sleep better from the couch. His cast was so big and this was the only way he could sleep.)