My Experience with PostPartum Anxiety

I waited five long years.  Through miscarriage and stillbirth, I finally gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy.  I crossed the finish line.

Or so I had thought.

When I reached that finish line, I looked up and saw I had several more laps to go.  And, guys, I was exhausted.  Emotionally.  Physically.  Mentally.  Not even considering the following weeks of sleep deprivation and hormonal letdown.  Anxiety was still present.

But I chalked it up to the baby blues.  I waited until the hormones leveled out more or less.  Michael took the night shift so I could get more sleep.  Even after that, I still had those nights when those thoughts wouldn’t leave me.  The thought that wouldn’t let me sleep.

“Your baby is going to die tonight.”

It was terrifying.  I would be up every hour checking on the baby, even if I woke him up.  And we knew that this wasn’t sustainable.  Even during the daytime naps, I was constantly checking to see if he was breathing.  In those moments, it was as if he knew because he always seemed to kick or sigh in his sleep when I looked over at him.

There were other issues as well.  I didn’t trust my intuition.  I was convinced that I was going to hurt him in some way.  Was I feeding him enough?  If his head fell forward or fell backward unexpectedly, was I forever damaging him?  I felt like he was safer in other people’s arms than in my own.  And I wasn’t bonding with him at all.

So, I talked to my therapist.  She told me that all of these things were quite common in a lot of pregnancies.  Bonding with the baby wasn’t going to be instantaneous, just like falling in love with someone happens slowly over time.  However, my PTSD from losing my girls was definitely playing a part, and after I talked to my OB, I got some medication to help.

And it has helped.  It doesn’t make everything perfect, but it quiets the thoughts and gives me a chance to learn to trust my gut.  And I’m bonding with the little guy more and more each day.

There is this pressure to enjoy motherhood.  To soak up every second of every day because it goes by so fast.  And because I have waited so long for these moments, the pressure feels even greater to appreciate every second.  I love my son.  And I look forward to the snuggles every day.  I even think some of his cries are adorable (and when he sticks out that lip, I just want to snuggle him).

But I have to take care of myself.  I need to make sure I’m as healthy as I can be so that I can take care of him.  Post-partum anxiety is real and nothing to be ashamed of.  And it’s not forever, so for now, I will just take each day as it comes, giving myself grace, and be grateful for the support and love that surrounds me.

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A Brief Comment on This Month

A Brief Comment

Amidst the excitement that my family has currently been experiencing, November is also a time of sad anniversaries as well.  At the end of this month, I will be remembering my first daughter on the 3 year anniversary of her stillbirth.  But at the same time, celebrating the holiday season pregnant.

Which makes this month really weird.

Grief, in fact, can be weird and unpredictable.  I remember the year after my first daughter’s stillbirth that the weeks leading up to that date were a lot harder than the day itself.  And last year, I was mourning not only her death but the death of my second daughter as well.  My second daughter’s due date was just days before the stillbirth date of my first.  Which put me into a depression that covered the entire holiday season.

This year, not only will I be remembering my two precious little girls, I will also be experiencing the joy of the beginning of the second trimester – the renewed energy, the complete lack of nausea, the increased appetite, feeling somewhat normal again.  It’s this happy but sad but happy but sad feeling that leaves everything unpredictable.

But that’s okay.  If I’ve learned anything on this pregnancy journey, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not completely know what’s going to happen next.  To trust that God has a clear vision of the road ahead.  That He’s not going to leave me, but instead, he will guide me safely down this path.

Friday Rambles: Summer Reflection

I thought I would end the month of August with a true ramble.

SummerReflections.jpg

The end of the summer is almost here (though I know it’s over for some already with school starting). I’m definitely going to be spending today and this weekend wrapping up the little projects that I set out to do this summer (because I’m a total procrastinator of late).

I’m in this weird stretch between trying to find the motivation to finish the summer projects and looking ahead to new goals for the fall. By the way, totally doing the seasonal goals again. I really loved the flexibility doing goals over three months had versus the “one month at a time” angle. It was just big enough to fit larger or longer goals into, but small enough that I wasn’t overwhelmed or burnt out by the end.

However, I am going to be pulling back a bit on the blog. No, I’m not going anywhere. I just have upcoming projects that are pulling my focus. September is going to be a big month for raising Alzheimer Awareness (our 8th walk is that month). October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, so I’m already brainstorming some things for that. And of course, November is a big month of loss for me, so I’m pressing into that already. It’s so weird that the last four months of the year are so insane for me.

I will still be writing throughout the week, just not every day. And if I know myself, there will be a consistency and a rhythm. I can’t function without rhythm and ritual, and the fall is no different. I’m already itching to pull out fall decor and candles. And drink my pumpkin spice latte and do all those little things that everyone else does, too.

This summer was one of those roller-coaster seasons. And every time I got a negative pregnancy test, my heart sank to the pit of my stomach. But it wasn’t all sadness and sorrow. My birthday was in June. I got a new niece in July (and Michael’s birthday, of course). And August was filled with more birthdays to celebrate. There really are silver linings to every dark cloud.

It’s been a good summer. But I’m ready for it to be over. I’m ready for the fall and whatever adventures are going to come my way. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday Ramble: Connection

Connection.jpg

Several weeks ago, in another post, I can’t remember which one, I removed two paragraphs because I realized it didn’t fit with the rest of what I was writing.  I held onto those two paragraphs until I had another day to dig deeper into it.  And when I opened up the Word document to jog my memory on this topic, this is what I read:

It’s really, really easy to barrier yourself in this life.  All of our houses have garages that close, doors that lock, fences that border.  Our phones come with a do not disturb function on it and caller id, but before that, we were using voicemail to screen our calls (or was that just me?).  We have been moving towards isolation with furious speed for decades.  We blame the tools of this world – smart phones, social media, the internet – for all of it, but we, mankind, created those tools.

This is not a declaration against social media or cell phones or even the internet.  God is in every connection.  We can’t encrypt against his omnipresence.  We can’t go incognito from his omniscience.  And I believe he works as much in the virtual world as he does in the physical one.  You can’t block God.

This month has been particularly hard for me.  The end of this month will bring the one year anniversary of losing our second daughter.  And just like with our first, the weeks leading up to it have been hard.  Like I said earlier this week, I feel drained by any social interaction, so I’ve chosen to take some time to myself.

Then, I read these two paragraphs and realize how appropriate they are as a reminder. Even when I’m feeling the need to distance myself to work through grief, it is such good news that God remains connected.  And he has made himself known to me – through nature, my dogs, even conversations online with friends and strangers.  It’s so amazing to have people check in at random, but perfectly timed, moments.

So, thank you, friends.  Thank you to those of you who have commented on my blog recently.  You have made my heart smile.  Thank you to those who have sent private messages or small reminders to let us know that you are praying for us this month.  It has meant so much more than you will ever know.  In the midst of pain and grief, I can look to my Heavenly Father who provides for me, and I know that I am blessed.

Friday Ramble: Adult Guide to YouTube

I’m on the older side of the millennial generation, so I have friends who are avid subscribers to YouTube channels.  I also have friends who may watch a popular video from time to time or use YouTube to find a specific scene from television or movies, or they will look for a piece of music or a how-to video as needed.  But they never actually feel the need to subscribe to a channel.

And I’m here to state my case as to why they should start subscribing.

YouTube Subscribe Button

To be fair, there is this feeling that a lot of YouTube channels seem to target the younger generations – preteens to young adults.  And there are always young people starting their own channels and connecting with people their own age with similar life situations.  However, a lot of the older content creators, folks that have been on the platform for 10+ years, are in adulthood.  Some of them are married and have kids.  So, even though sometimes they do try to present information that would be relevant to the younger crowd, more and more of their content can also broach subjects of more adult-type situations.

While there are a lot of channels that are brand-based, that are there simply for consumable content, there are channels that still strive to build community.  And these are the communities that the younger generations want to be a part of.  I think it’s important to understand what these channels are saying because of the large impact and influence they have over young generations.

But where to start?  Admittingly, when you look on the Trending Videos on YouTube, it doesn’t really give much direction.  There are a lot of brand-focused videos that tend to monopolize these spots because of people who don’t subscribe, merely just watch random videos on YouTube.  If you want more community-driven channels, I can give you a few suggestions.

One of the more important communities to me is the academic/news information type communities, and I have two suggestions in this category.

Philip Defranco

Defranco presents a news show Monday through Thursday that I find pretty balanced.  And he strives to report the news in the most balanced way possible.  He dedicates researchers to the stories so that it will be accurate.  But he also wants community engagement.  He encourages people to share their opinion, and he shares his own as well, but he makes it clear when he is sharing facts versus opinions.  Then, on Fridays, he engages with the community through the comments they make on his videos from Monday through Thursday.  And this is just the beginning.  He is hiring and planning and building an entire news company dedicated to fair and balanced reporting.

Also, I would say this is not safe for young kids.  He does use profanity and his subject material is sometimes of an adult nature.  I do not agree with all of his opinions, but I feel like I don’t have to, to be a part of this community and to get a balanced news source.  Some of his videos have been used in classrooms, especially during the election or during some of the current event segments.  And all of the topics are not completely heavy.  He breaks up the news with a “Today in Awesome” segment in the middle that covers fun videos on YouTube as well as video game and movie trailers that have come out recently.

Vlogbrothers

I know that for a lot of my friends, Defranco may not be their cup of tea, so I give you the Vlogbrothers.  This channel is a must to understand what is going on in the YouTube community.  Hank and John Green are two brothers who make short videos to one another on Tuesdays and Fridays.  John Green might sound familiar because he wrote The Fault in Our Stars and Papertowns, both have become movies.  But John and Hank have done so much more.  John went to Africa with the Gates Foundation to report on the needs and progress of those areas.  He interviewed a teen at a Syrian Refugee Camp.

Hank is big on education.  He runs two other channels on YouTube that are education based and sometimes even incorporated into classrooms across the nation.  They are called Scishow and CrashCourse.  CrashCourse, I’m more familiar with, covers a lot of academic topics and is quite fascinating.  Sometimes the Vlogbrother videos are a little adult in nature (Hank recently did a video about condoms as an example for medical statistics and how we get them wrong), but they are informative and can keep you up to date on their projects.

They have two major projects that I can think of off the top of my head.  Vidcon (in June) is a conference for YouTubers similar to ComicCon (but smaller).  There are panels covering a myriad of topics and meet and greets.  Also, at the end of the year, they do a huge fundraiser for a nonprofit that is voted on by the community.  It’s a great way to engage with people all around.

Other Communities

I realized as I was thinking about this that there are so many other people I would recommend, but this blog is getting way too long and rambly.  But I would like to say that there are so many communities I think adults could really benefit from.  Like BookTube, an entire community where people talk about the books they read or want to read.  Or the ASMR community, which has a lot more to do with dealing with anxiety than it does in feeling all tingly.  I would suggest just putting an interest in the search bar and following the rabbit hole that it leads you to.  You really won’t regret it.

Just make sure that whatever channel you do fine actually still posts on a semi-consistent basis.  And don’t worry if you miss a few or several of their videos.  Usually, if they reference an earlier video, they will link it in the description below.  Happy hunting!

Do you have a favorite channel or community?  Do you want any particular recommendations for where to start in a particular community?

Friday Ramble: My husband

This is going to be even more stream of consciousness than normal. Have fun.

My Husband

My husband turned to me this week and asked if I had told anyone about his birthday. Does the blog count? No, the blog doesn’t count, right?

He doesn’t really like the spotlight to be on him. He is genuinely selfless in that way. He’s eager to help other people and sacrifice his own stuff, but in no way wants to be the center of any kind of attention. I know some people who would love to do that, just to see what he would do, but I’m telling you now, this is not permission to do that in any way.

For some reason, I had this overwhelming desire to seek out all of my old Xanga and LiveJournal posts. There are some blog posts on a website I used to use that are gone forever, but those two sites still had everything from my college/young adult years. Oh man, I was so angsty, you guys. So. Angsty. Maybe I’ll find a good post to share.

But another fun outcome from finding all those old posts was to re-live those first years of dating Michael. All the ups and downs. It made me realize just how special of a person he is to me. We have been through so much as a couple, and I’m so glad I have such a patient, supportive, caring guy to go on these adventures together. And I’m really thankful that he put up with angsty Katy.

I could go on about what a great guy he is. How talented he is with saltwater aquariums. How proud I am of his integrity and work ethic. How grateful I am that he chose me to live this life with.

But he doesn’t like the spotlight, so instead, I will just say, Happy Birthday Michael!

Friday Ramble: Dear Jen Hatmaker

DearJenHatmaker

Dear Jen Hatmaker:

We don’t know each other.  In fact, truth be told, I’ve never read a single one of your books.  I perused that “7” book, but I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to continue reading it at the time.  Your other books are on my “to read” list, but I haven’t gotten to them yet.

I actually “met” you on a Michael Hyatt webinar a couple years ago.  I really enjoyed what you had to say about influencing others and making an impact.  That it takes work to develop your craft and community.  It also takes humility.  And that we are all connected.  I was hooked.

I started following your Instagram and Twitter (loved your recent travel pictures) and mostly just stayed in introverted lurker mode.  That is until you announced your podcast.  I love podcasts, and since I had already heard you in a similar setting, I knew I would love this.

For The Love Podcast

So, last week, I downloaded your first podcast and went for a walk.  I knew Shauna Niequist by name, but I had never read her books (I have them on my book-et list now).  When you were talking about the table, inviting people in and feeding them, I reflected on the times I felt nourished or was able to nourish others.

Every year, I host an Easter dinner for people whose families are far away.  We live far away from our parents, and since Easter isn’t really a time people get off from work, we used this opportunity to share in fellowship.  This year, I wasn’t able to host, so one of my longtime friends ended up hosting it at her house, and it was perfect.  It has truly grown into something sacred.

But, your podcast definitely challenged me to seek this out more.

And then that shelter question came up, and Shauna brought up those miscarriages.  Here I am, walking through a neighborhood on a bright, sunny morning, and the wind gets knocked out of me.  I didn’t know her story.  I still technically don’t, but to hear how her friends were lifelines?  I get that.

You see, I’ve had multiple pregnancy losses – a miscarriage and two fetal deaths.  And in those moments, you remember who your lifelines were.  And those moments after a loss, that space is also sacred.  Because God makes his presence known through those people who enter into that space with a sense of humility and love.  It’s been almost three years since I lost my first daughter, and I still have every voicemail saved from the people who called that day, the people who mourned with me and prayed for me, not knowing when I would hear it.

And like Shauna, I have become the person others go to.  It feels like I fell into it by accident because I never intentionally sought after anyone.  They came to me because they knew I would listen to them and I would hear them as well.  And I got blessed by those encounters too.

I like that you started your podcast series off by talking about girlfriends.  Community is how we are going to survive the crazy.  And thank you so, so much for those precious reminders.

Katy