Hello Everyone and welcome to the March 2022 edition of The Nap Times! If you are receiving this and do not want a monthly newsletter from me, simply unsubscribe at the bottom. I totally get wanting to simplify and declutter your inbox and will not take it personally.
This newsletter is a good one: A POSTPARTUM TELL ALL. Really, I am probably making it sound way jucier than it is…but I do hope to shed some light on what was hard and also bring some needed levity to what can be really hard things postpartum. We will chat about my deep anxiety leaving the hospital, nursing woes (and my completely different sized boobs), switching to formula, and throw in some prolapse for good measure. WHAT FUN!! Then, we will end the way we always do with current things I have read/listened to/watched.
Let's begin, shall we?
Leaving the hospital….
I should open by saying how much I love a hospital birth. LOVE it. The electric bed, the nurses that check on you, the good ice. I see the maternity ward of the hospital as a tiny staycation away from my toddlers. A sweet time with just me and my new baby…away from those giant, dirty children at home.
This was the first time I had ever left the hospital after only staying one night. My parents had my big three and so Nate and I had the opportunity to go and sleep in our own bed and have only the baby to care for.
For some reason, leaving the hospital before the 48 hour mark (that was the minimum I stayed with the other kids) put me into a panic. I knew I wanted to leave. I knew I wanted to be in my own bed and allow Nate to escape the hospital recliner. Yet as the nurse wheeled me to the elevator to take me to the lobby it took everything in me not to break down in tears and tell her to turn around. I was so scared to take Alberta home, and once we were in the car and driving back over the bridge to our house, the tears started flowing.
I know this sounds crazy. But if you have ever birthed a baby and then proceeded to barely sleep for the following 24 hours you will know this is not crazy. This is sleep deprivation. This is hormones. This is the crazy train that is postpartum.
This was my fourth baby, and here I was, sobbing because I was afraid I would do something wrong and Alberta would die. Afraid something would happen in the night and no one would be there to save her. Afraid I would fall asleep and she would stop breathing. Afraid she would cry all night and only Nate would be there to help me. Afraid she would spike a fever and I would forever regret leaving the hospital a day early. Mind you, I had zero of these fears after having Millie (my third). But this time around, something about leaving the safety bubble of the hospital rocked me.
I do have one vivid memory from that night: there was the most gorgeous and intense sunset. A deep orange October sky. I asked Nate to play some worship music and I sat there, looking at that sunset, and could feel God saying, “This is going to be ok. I am as real as that sunset and I am here.”
It wasn't anything profound, and it didn't solve everything, but it helped. There's not much else I remember from that night. Just the sunset, and the sobbing. A mom bringing home her fourth baby and feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed and terrified.
The next few months left me with way more crying and anxiety than I had with any other baby. While I do not think it was full on postpartum depression, I knew I didn't feel like myself. I think it was a myriad of factors (hormones, lack of sleep, Nate having to work, the demands of the other three kids), but I really cannot recall another time I have felt so emotional. Nate would tell you, “it was the best of times; it was the worst of times” and it really was. I found myself struggling to be happy and at the same time being more abundantly blessed than I ever had been in my whole life. Thankfully, I had a really wonderful group of friends I could talk to about how I was feeling (many of them could relate), and as the days went on I slowly felt better and better.
I don't say this to scare any of you, but rather to let you know that feeling terrified and overwhelmed is normal. Be it your first or your fifth, each child is different. Each pregnancy is different. Each postpartum experience is different. Ironically, I was the most experienced I had ever been, and yet also the most anxious. And if you find yourself in a place where you cannot see any joy, please tell a friend. Even just telling one person can start you on a path to getting the help you need. You are not a bad mom if you need help. Quite the contrary. You are actually very brave for talking about something that not nearly enough women open up about.
(This is one of my favorite photos of the first few months with Alberta. We look so happy! However, it was one of the hardest seasons of overwhelm I have experienced. I likely cried within an hour of this photo being taken. Those newborn days…so many highs, so many lows.)
A Tale of Two (quite uneven) Breasts
Back in November of 2020, I went in for my annual lady parts exam. The doctor wanted a closer look at something, and before I knew it I was scheduled for a ductectomy. A ductectomy is similar to a lumpectomy in that they want to go in and remove part of the breast. The difference is that with a ductectomy, they take part of your (you guessed it) milk ducts. The surgeon told me that there was a large chance this could affect my nursing, but he also had hope. The female body can do some pretty incredible things.
Everything with the surgery went really well, and three months later we got pregnant with Alberta! I knew there was a chance I wouldn't be able to nurse, but besides that we really had no idea what to expect. Well, long story short, it started well and ended terribly. In the hospital, I was able to nurse on both sides. Woo hoo!! But after coming home and having my milk come in, we quickly learned my right breast (the one that had the surgery) was not working properly. Imagine a 6 lane highway, but 4 of the lanes are closed. That is basically what was happening with the ducts in my right breast.
Mastitis ensued. And then, about two weeks in, the right breast just gave up. I am laughing as I write this because honestly, if you don't laugh, you'll cry. That thing was completely tuckered out. It had nursed other babies, been through surgery, and then…poof, it died. And so…my tried and true left boob took over.
Y'all, for the next two months, I nursed Alberta on one side. I will say, the female body really is amazing because my left side took over and got to work. However, you can imagine how this was for my overall morale. My breasts were COMPLETELY different sizes. A dead right boob and an engorged left boob. I went so far as to buy these silicone “breast enchancers” in order to make them. (These are definitely being advertised for sexy twenty-year-olds to obtain optimal cleavage, but your girl stuck that filet in her bra everyday to give her right boob a fighting chance at appearing normal. Fun times.)
Needless to say, after 2.5 months, my left boob was now exhausted. My right boob was six inches deep in the grave. And I was so. very. tired. I took the next two weeks to wean my left boob (not fun) and we switched Alberta to formula.
I wanted to give the full picture if what I stuck in my bra everyday. All I could do was laugh.
Switching to formula…
I know everyone knows that “fed is best,” but if I am honest, the switch to formula was really hard for me. I have lots of family members who have used formula. Everyone was so supportive of the switch. There was no guilt coming at me from anyone. But formula felt very unknown to me. It was overwhelming and something new I would need to learn. But the worst part was that every time I went online to research how to begin to supplement with formula, there would be some line in every article reminding me that breastmilk is really the superior option for my baby.
The reason this was so frustrating for me was all I kept thinking was any mom who is googling “supplementing with formula” does NOT need to be told breastmilk is best. Honestly, that is likely the last thing she needs to hear. She is likely trying really hard to feed her baby and little phrases like that are not the least bit helpful. She is likely exhausted and overwhelmed and feeling a bit defeated. She needs to be told she is doing an amazing job, no matter what she chooses. She needs a hug.
At the end of the day, I ditched the articles. I asked two family members for all the tips on how to do formula, borrowed my sister's Baby Brezza (worth its weight in gold), and asked my friend Kacie to recommend a formula for me.
It's funny how quickly things change. We are now 3 months in to formula and it has been absolutely life changing for me. I don't think I realized how badly I needed the switch. It took some getting used to and a few fails where I forgot to pack a bottle, but now I cannot imagine not using it. To close this little chapter, having now breastfed babies and also formula fed, I hope you feel so much freedom to do what works best for you and your whole family's health. My connection with Alberta feels just as strong as it did with any of my other kids. I do not feel that anything has been lost. I feel so free and happy, and I hope whatever route you choose gives you those same feelings.
Prolapse: what no one tells you about
I am adding in this lovely note on prolapse because we Americans are NOT doing enough to let our sweet postpartum mamas know that this (and a myriad of other vaginal trauma) are super common after pushing a watermelon out of a hole much better suited for a small olive.
Did you know that around 35% of women experience some form of prolapse after giving birth? And while a large majority get better with time, many women go for months and even years having no idea why they have this discomfort. No idea and no support to help them!
I was in need of some major healing after having John Robert (my first) and so I went to see a pelvic physical therapist. It was so incredibly helpful. Fast forward six years and soon after having Alberta, I knew I yet again needed to be seen.
And you know how I knew it was prolapse this go around? Because I had a dear friend who was willing to be open and honest about it when she discovered the issue she was dealing with was, in fact, prolapse. Her vulnerability on the topic gave me the information I needed to know what was happening in my own body, and her openness gave me the freedom to ask her questions. I am so thankful for her.
I tell these stories and truly can laugh about them now, but on a more serious note: I really wanted to share so others could know they aren't alone, and they have nothing to be embarrassed about. In a world where the internet can make everything look perfect, please know it isn't.
*I am going to use this section to only share things I read/watched I would suggest to another person. I definitely read/listened to/watched some duds!
I finished the first book in the American Royals series (by Katharine McGee) and really enjoyed it! It had a bit of a Bridgerton vibe to me (with way less sex) and now I am on to book two. I always appreciate a series so I don't have to learn all new characters.
My hold on The Midnight Library (by Matt Haig) also just came up. This book has been wildly popular and I am hoping it lives up to the hype!
I have taken a short break from reading through the New Testament to do my favorite Lent study. This is I believe my fourth year doing it and the writing and questions challenge me every single year. I cannot recommend this study enough, and it's free!
I have been listening to Season 2 of the Raising Boys and Girls Podcast again, this time thinking more about Scout and the season of life she is in as a five-year-old. Raising Worry Free Girls (written by Sissy Goff, one of the podcast hosts) is on my list to read soon.
And yes, I am still HEAVY on the Wordle train and it is one of the highlights of my day! I love how it causes me to use my brain early in the morning.
Nate and I went to see Death on the Nile (in an actual movie theatre!!!! eeek!!!!) and it was a delight. Much like Murder on the Orient Express, the scenery is breathtaking, the cast top notch, and the plot keeps me intrigued without being too scary. Hercule Poirot (the detective in these Agatha Christie books made films) is easy to love. Highly suggest.
I also jumped on the Inventing Anna bandwagon on Netflix and found it entertaining. Not the best acting in the world, but the plot was very intriguing and by the second half of the season I found myself sneaking little bits whenever I could to see what happened next. Also, for a popular drama on Netflix, it is fairly clean from a sex standpoint.
I am also watching The Great British Baking Show FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. I told the people of instagram I was embarrassed by this and one wise soul said, “Don't be embarrassed. Be grateful! You get to watch that magical show for the very first time. To be so lucky!” I started in Season 5 (which I know likely isn't wise but that is what Netflix offers). After this season I am going to go in search of seasons 1-4. From what I have learned, I can only watch seasons 1-2 on PBS/PBS.com so looks like I will be watching on my laptop for the next month.
Alright friends, that's all I have for you this month. Thank you for giving me a safe space to be honest about the less glamorous parts of postpartum. Have a lovely April,