My Birthing Journey – Part 2

5 years ago, I wrote about my birthing journey.  That was shortly after Baby #6 was born…via C-section…again.

Micah

My first child was a C-section.  After that, I had 4 successful vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC).  When Micah entered this world via C-section in 2009, I was pretty sure my VBAC days were over.

That is, until I got pregnant again.

I wasn’t content to have a c-section again unless it was absolutely necessary.  I couldn’t deny the feelings of wanting to VBAC again.

My old OB had quit obstetrics, so I had to find another doctor.  Finding another VBAC-friendly doctor is no small task, let alone finding one that is VBA2C-friendly.  The doctor I ended up with quickly proved to be less-than VBAC-friendly, and halfway through my pregnancy, I left her practice to take a chance on a doctor a friend suggested.

I was 20-some weeks when I walked into that OB’s office, scared I had made a terrible decision to even attempt another VBAC, let alone switch doctors in the middle of a pregnancy.  What I found was a doctor who was actually EXCITED to have me there!  She was convinced women could VBAC after 2 C-sections, and she was more than willing to let me try.

However, she refused to induce me.  This was something I was going to have to do on my own.  (The reason she would not induce me is because inductions tend to lead to c-sections, and she did not want to put that unnecessary obstacle in my way.)

40 weeks came and went.  Then 41 weeks came and went.  As we neared 42 weeks, I was miserable.  I wasn’t sleeping, I was huge, baby was huge, and my body just would not kick into gear.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that fear was holding me back.

I was afraid that a VBA2C was not a good idea.  My first VBAC had been nearly 3 years after my c-section.  This VBA2C was in half that time.  And then there was the question of my body being worn out by all these babies.  I had started to labor several times, but each time the contractions fizzled out, and I found myself believing I couldn’t actually go into labor on my own.

So, I scheduled a c-section.

I didn’t want a c-section, but I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore either.  The pregnancy had not been pleasant, and I could see no other way to handle this situation.  I found myself being blasted from both sides by well-intentioned friends.  Some said I had waited too long, and should have had a c-section ages ago.  Others said I should just keep waiting, and felt I was being “forced” into the c-section.  No one knew how agonizing it was to be where I was mentally, physically, and emotionally.  No one knew I was already suffering from depression that would end up extending for months past the pregnancy.  No one knew how I was being plagued by sleepless nights, hemorrhoids, and Restless Leg Syndrome.

The day before the c-section, I got a call from a friend who told me she was praying for me and wanted to offer one little piece of information, just in case I needed it.  Now, I am going to reveal something here that is rather controversial in many circles.  What she told me was a precise formula for taking castor oil to get my labor started and keep it going.  No matter what you think of this method, I will tell you that I am forever grateful for that information.  What followed was an amazing birth of an 11 pound baby boy via VBA2C on the very morning I was scheduled to have my c-section.

Daddy Mommy Garin

After the birth, my OB decided to check the scar from the inside.  What she said to me that day relieved every fear I had about VBA2C.  She said had I not told her and had she not known, there would be no way for her to tell I had ever had a c-section!  The scar was nonexistent!  The fears that had kept me from laboring were completely unfounded.

Now, please note, I am NOT a medical expert.  I cannot attest to other people’s c-section scars being completely healed or this even being the norm.  But, it is enough of a norm that the ACOG has deemed it safe to VBA2C.  This determination was announced the month before I gave birth.  My doctor was thrilled to be able to document my birth as a success.

The reason I chose to update my birthing journey was because when I last told my story, I was not sure what would happen next.  People have read that story not realizing I have gone on to have 2 more children.  I felt it was important to tell “the rest of the story,” if you will.  This post has gotten quite long enough, so I will continue with Part 3 another day.

Ask Amy – Postpartum Depression

It’s not something we like to talk about.  Having a new baby is supposed to be beautiful and wonderful, not a nightmare.  But Postpartum Depression is said to affect around 15% of mothers.  Women who have suffered from PPD previously have a 40% chance of it occurring in subsequent pregnancies.  Yet, when you are that mother, you feel completely alone.

Ask Amy - Postpartum Depression | RaisingArrows.net

A reader wrote me this email,

“It [postpartum depression] was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It took almost three months, but fortunately with the patience and help from God and my wonderful husband, I was able to pull through it… I was wondering if you have any tips for fighting off those feelings of crippling fear and depression.  Honestly, when I think about having more children, I’m terrified of re-living those days.”

****************************************

4 years ago, I would not have known how to answer this question.  I was not one of the 15%.  I’d never suffered through more than a light case of baby blues postpartum.

Then, our 7th child was born and life became a train wreck.

During his pregnancy, I had bizarre thoughts and feelings that were very abnormal for me.  I found myself not wanting to be a part of family activities.  I was standoffish and preferred to be alone.  His pregnancy drug on and on through a hot summer that left me antsy and sleep-deprived.

Finally, true labor set in and he was born very quickly.  However, six hours after his birth he began to cry.  His crying continued for the first four months of his life, leaving me anxious, tried, and very depressed.

I did not share with many people what was going on.  I did not share here what was going on.  I just kept pushing through, often using the internet to escape what was really happening at home.

And then a “troll” (as they are called in blog-land) came to my blog and pretended to be someone she was not in order to get her comments approved, only to later change her name and begin to attack me and my parenting – causing me to spiral even further downward.

Many nights I cried alongside my fussing newborn.  I wasn’t even sure who I was, but I was convinced I was a horrible mother.  I couldn’t take care of my children.  God must have made a mistake giving them to me.  I wanted to run away.  But mostly, I just wanted to feel normal again.

As I look back on those days, I don’t remember much other than a blurry existence.  I didn’t want anymore children because I obviously couldn’t handle it.  I did very little with the children as we coasted through our days.  I kept praying for a way to get out of the nightmare in my head because I knew what I was feeling was not truth.

So, when this reader asks what she can do to let go of the fears and actually deal with postpartum depression, should it happen again, I answer not from some lofty position that has it all figured out, but rather from a very humbled position that can only speak from what the Lord has shown me since that dark time in my life.

Simplify your every day life

New moms should do this anyway, but all too often, we complicate those newborn days with revamped schedules, stress over the upheaval, and resolutions to do everything right this time.

When dealing with postpartum depression, the every day is overwhelming and adding anything to it spells disaster.  You have to take your entire day to the lowest common denominator and get rid of the stuff that easily stresses you out.

Meals need to be simple and on paper plates.  School needs to be simple and workbook or internet-driven.  Your days need to be devoid of extras until you can crawl your way out of the postpartum pit you are in.

I failed to simplify as much as I should have.  I also allowed the blog troll to heckle me far too long.  I should have blocked her from the moment I realized she was there to bring me down.  Perhaps there are “trolls” in your life too.  Simplify your life by removing or avoiding those trolls sooner rather than later.

Search out ways to heal

Not every PPD remedy out there is going to be perfect for you.  While I believe postpartum depression is caused by an imbalance in your body, I am not convinced it is the same imbalance in every woman.  Don’t give up just because one thing you try doesn’t work.  Try something else.  Ask your doctor/midwife to help you find an answer – the right answer for you.

I never did find the cause of my PPD; however, I suffered 2 back-to-back miscarriages the following year.  After the second miscarriage, I felt different.  It was as if my hormones completely shifted and righted themselves.  I am still curious as to what initially caused my depression.

Get outside and bring it inside

It is a known fact that we do not get outside enough and move our bodies and soak up the nutrients in the fresh air and sunshine.  Even if all you can manage right now is to sit in a chair on your back porch, do it.  Work your way up to actually walking around your back yard or neighborhood.  Breathe deep.  Take as much of the outside with you inside.  Open windows, bring in flowers, eat fresh fruits and veggies.

One of the easiest things to do when you are suffering from postpartum depression is to eat junk.  I could barely find the energy to eat, so I grabbed junk to keep me going – or so I thought it would keep me going.  Oh, how I could have benefited from a bowl of fresh fruit or a baggie of cut up veggies.  I also should have started getting outside more, even if I had to put my screaming baby in a stroller or strap him to me in a carrier.  We both would have felt better.

Look forward

We move in the direction we are facing.  You must look forward so you can move forward. Write down 1 thing you are looking forward to each day.  It can be as simple as a bath or as complex as a weekend getaway.  However, I know from previous experience with depression, it becomes the simplest of things that pull you out of the depths.

Making a list was how I dealt with my depression in college, and it was making a similar list that helped to pull me out of PPD.  My list was in my head and something I told myself every morning as I awoke.  I would lie in bed staring at the ceiling trying to figure out why this day was worth getting up for.  Sometimes it was because a friend was coming over or I had planned a certain meal or treat, but more often than not, I would lie there and make up something to do that day that was worth looking forward to.  I would resolve to do things like wash my face with a new cleanser, buy a new pair of earrings, or pick a bouquet from the garden.  Most of the time the items on my list were simple and rather menial, but they were things that brought a smile to my face and gave me a reason for pulling back the covers and facing the day.

Pray for the Lord to direct your steps

God has given each of us a path to walk.  The Bible tells us He will not let us be utterly cast down even if we stumble.  The postpartum depression path is a difficult one, but it is not one devoid of lessons and understanding, and God has not left you to walk it alone.  And hopefully, someday, you will be able to give of yourself and your story in order to help another.

Give your fears to the Lord

Christ is our rest.  We can hand all the fear and hesitations to Him.  He is holy, He is mighty, He is our savior yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He can handle these feelings and the fears that come with them.

My dear mama, you are loved!  God knows where you are and He knows exactly what you need.  He is bigger than your postpartum depression!

Feel free to share your own stories and experiences in the comments below.  For those of you currently dealing with PPD, I am praying for you to feel God’s presence every day as you walk this road.  I am also praying you find exactly the help you need to get through this trial.  ((HUGS))

Babies {Welcome Home Wednesday}

Babies {Welcome Home Wednesday Homemaking Link Up on Raising Arrows}Since my readers love babies so much, I thought I’d share some posts from last week that are baby-related.

First up, from Gigi Photography, a post on how she’s giving up Me Time – even as a pregnant mama.  (Gorgeous photos abound!)

Jenni Mullinix has a post on how to prepare your toddler to be a new big sister or brother.

big-sibling-prep

And Set Apart has a lovely post on her thoughts as she waited for a pregnancy test to turn positive or negative.

The number one clicked post was from Always Learning on Long Hair and Wearing Dresses.

Thoughts on Being Back to My Lowest Pre-Pregnancy Weight

Prepregnancy to 25 downMy mom told me this past weekend that I looked like I used to. She was right. I have lost 70 pounds since the day I walked in the door to give birth to our now 7 month old son, and I am currently 30 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight with him, putting me at the lowest weight I have ever gotten pregnant at.

No, this isn’t an announcement ;) , but it is a place that has made me stop and ponder.

3 weeks postpartum

Three weeks postpartum

I started this journey knowing I wanted to lose weight and get healthier, but I wasn’t sure where that would take me.  When I thought about how much I had to lose, I shut down, so I made small goals and baby-stepped my way through them.  Sometimes it felt painfully slow, but I kept telling myself any amount of weight loss was a triumph.

And here I am…the lowest weight I have ever gotten pregnant at and wondering what is next.  I have about 20 more pounds I’d like to lose.  I’m working toward it every day.  But, I am also not willing to say that I don’t want to get pregnant again until I reach that goal.

As a mom of many, I have allowed myself to use having babies as an excuse to eat entirely too much. Yes, it is hard to lose baby weight.  Yes, being pregnant and nursing makes you hungry.  Yes, pregnancy changes your shape.  But, overeating isn’t caused by babies…or pregnancy…or nursing.  It is caused by eating more than you need.

And more often than not, it is a heart condition.  {I’m still working on that aspect of it!}

As I change my mindset, I actually look forward to being pregnant again!  I know it is going to be hard to change old habits, (you know, the ones where I eat whenever and whatever I want because hey, I’m pregnant!) but I am looking forward to the journey if the Lord should choose to bless us again.   I’m looking forward to a healthy, strong pregnancy!

Until then, I’m going to keep going!  I’m looking forward to cooler temperatures and clothes I haven’t pulled out of storage in years because they didn’t fit.  I look forward to enjoying the treats of the season in moderation and not in gluttony.

I’m looking forward to living this life in God’s grace and mercy and abundance!  I’m blooming where I’m planted.  I am enjoying the journey.  I’m reaching out to others with the love and comfort the Lord has given to me.  This isn’t about what tomorrow will or will not bring.  It’s about today and what I am doing with it in light of all eternity.  The weight loss is only part of that equation.  It’s a lesson I needed to learn.  A lesson I am continuing to learn.  A lesson I need to share with others.  Praise the Lord for his patience and faithfulness.

Good Advice {Welcome Home Wednesday}

Welcome Home link up | RaisingArrows.net

This week I’m featuring links from last week that held some good advice. Enjoy!

First up is Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Single Girl from Kristen at Where Joy Is.

single girl

I got married at 19, so this wasn’t something I dealt with, but I have friends who have been here, and there are things you just shouldn’t say.

Next, Rach from DiAmOnds In ThE rOuGh writes about Gaining a Long-Term Perspective.  I struggle with this.  I want what I want NOW.  Wrong attitude for sure.

Holding-Your-Tongue

Annette from In All You Do, gave sound advice on Producing Righteousness by Holding Your Tongue.

This reminded me of an ebook available on Kindle from Connie Hughes at Smockity Frocks (another large homeschooling family blogger).
{affiliate link}

How to Manage Your Mouth:  A 30 Day Wholesome Talk Challenge is $3.99 on Kindle, but if you are a Prime member, you can check it out on a 30 day loan for FREE!

Next up, Lori from Hungry for God…Starving for Time writes about the fact that God doesn’t need our money, but we need to give it.

And to round off this week’s links:  Stacey from Abiding Woman talks about Preparing Your Heart for Childbirth from her series on How to Prepare for Birth, Breastfeeding, and Beyond.

I can’t wait to see what all of you link up this week!

Welcome Home Wednesdays
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Homeschooling with a Newborn – Preparing for Baby

Homeschooling with a Newborn Series {Preparing for Baby} | RaisingArrows.net

Welcome to the Homeschooling with a Newborn series here on Raising Arrows!  I have homeschooled with 6 different newborns in tow, the latest one joining us this past January, so I feel fairly qualified to speak to this issue.  I say “fairly” because homeschooling with a newborn is always a brand new adventure since each of your babies is a brand new person!

Posts in the series:
Preparing for Baby
The First Weeks
A New Routine
Helpers – Big & Small
Unexpected Circumstances

Preparing For a New Baby as a Homeschooling Mom

For me, those final weeks of pregnancy are not incredibly productive ones.  I’m one of those pregnancy mamas who slows down everything at the end.  I just can’t keep up.  School goes down to a bare minimum, and I take that extra time to prepare for what we’ll be doing after baby is born.

We all know what we need to do to get our house ready for baby, but do we know what we need to do to get our school ready?

Let’s talk about the things you need to consider and prepare for when it comes to homeschooling with a newborn.

What Will School Look Like Before, During, & After Baby?

With Baby #8 (this cute little guy), I decided at 34 weeks to quit schooling until after baby arrived.  Some of that decision had to do with it being Christmastime and some of that was just the fact that I knew I couldn’t keep going at full speed.

Some mamas keep going right up to the end, and then choose to take their break AFTER baby is born; however, that’s not me.  Two weeks after baby arrives, I’m back at school again, not because I feel I have to, but because I love it that much!

Speaking of “have to”…please, oh please, do not choose what your schooling will look like during these weeks out of GUILT.  You are bringing another human being into the world.  Take the time you NEED.

If you have older children, you might need to consider if they will continue to work on school work while you are having the baby or if they are able to take a break.  It is my firm belief that young children do not need nearly the number of school hours we foist upon them, so I never have them do school when there is a life situation that keeps me from being by their side.  Because I birth in a hospital setting, our children stay with grandparents.  Rarely do I expect grandparents to orchestrate school for the older children, and it is a pain to pack school books to take with them, so my children, big and little alike, typically get a break from school while Mama is having their newest sibling.

Getting Your Homeschool In Order

As I said above, in a couple of weeks, I’m ready to get back to school, so I like to have a plan in place for what school will look like in those early days and beyond.  I bookmark sites on the internet and put into folders, print off papers and put into files, reorder and organize supplies and books, and generally try to make the homeschooling part of my life as easy as possible.

Once baby is here, I typically focus my energies on getting the older kids started back into their work several days or even weeks before I get the little kids back into theirs.  This gives us a chance to work through a new routine (more on that in a later post) and gives me a bit more freedom.

It’s okay to rely heavily on workbooks, videos, and audios in those early weeks.  Make a list of some easy homeschooling materials you can use while you adjust to a new baby, and start preparing now for what school will look like then.

An Arm’s Reach Away

This is my rule for everything when it comes to a new baby.  It is also my homeschooling rule, newborn or not.  I refuse to spend my time running all over the house for things I need.  When I have a newborn, I keep a Nursing Mama Basket next to my chair.  I’ve taken this same concept and created a Homeschooling Mama Basket as well.

When you are homeschooling with a newborn, you truly need everything to be as efficient as possible.  Having the things you need most all within arm’s reach makes life so much easier!

One Room Schoolhouse

Do school in one room.  In fact, do school in one chair.  OK, not everyone in the one chair, but YOU in ONE chair the entire time.  You’ve got your Homeschooling Mama Basket for a reason!  You do not need a table to homeschool.  Really, you don’t.

Choose a room.  Choose your spot.  Then, gather everyone there and save yourself a ton of energy!

Additionally, do as much as you can corporately.  Now is the perfect time to switch to as much group work as you can.  This means living books, discussions, unit studies and the like.  In fact, you may find you love this type of homeschooling so much, you’ll never go back!

(affiliate plug –> You can learn more about having corporate school time in Kendra Fletcher’s ebook Circle Time.)

Newborn-friendly Meals

If you manage to make up freezer meals or have family and friends bring in meals, fantastic!  However, there’s a good chance you’ll run out of meals long before you are ready to jump back into cooking full time.  Now is the time to plan some super simple meals that fit seamlessly into your homeschooling day.  We’ll talk more about these in tomorrow’s post.

Take Care of Yourself

Nourish your body and brain as you prepare for baby’s arrival.  It took me 8 babies to realize I needed to take better care of myself, especially at the end of pregnancy.  I’ve been known to subsist on candy bars and soda at the end of pregnancy because I’m tired…tired of being pregnant, tired of being fat (where’s the logic there?), tired of being tired.  I wish I could go back and do it all over again with the mindset I have now!  What you eat now WILL make a difference in how you feel after!

This series is part of the Summer Hopscotch.  Click the link to read more great posts on a myriad of topics from other homeschooling mamas!

Posts in the series:
Preparing for Baby
The First Weeks
A New Routine
Helpers – Big & Small
Unexpected Circumstances