Welcome Home, Juliette

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September 21, 2016 3:10am – 6lbs., 6.5 oz., 19 inches long…

I don’t even know where to begin. As I sit here trying to find the words to say, all I can think about is how much I love her. How much I love Josie. How much I love my husband. How much I love our family…

…How grateful I am.

Her birth story is much simpler than Josie’s. Why? Well, because I got an epidural this time. And I’m not ashamed of that either. For some crazy reason, as a first time mom, (pregnant with Josie), I thought going all natural was the best way to go. Maybe it is for some women. But it wasn’t for me. And my long, drawn out labor with Josie, proved that either I get that epidural this time with Juliette, or I end up in a c-section. (You can read Josie’s birth story here.)

I refused to have a c-section. Considering it was the worst surgery I’ve ever seen in the history of my nursing school career. Kudos to those mommas who have. Wow, what a hard thing to go through and recover from.

I tried everything after I hit 38 weeks, 5 days to get Juliette to make her presence. But she didn’t budge. She was comfortable in there. I tried pineapple, raspberry leaf tea, bouncing on balance ball (which Josie loved, might I add), walking, going up and down our stairs, castor oil TWICE and sex. The one thing that my doctor kept telling me to do worked instantaneously. Sex. Lots and lots of sex. Three times a day sex. It’s sorta hard when your husband travels every two weeks to have sex when he’s not home, right? And hard when you’ve got this huge watermelon to finagle around. Within hours (that night) we were at the hospital and I was 4cm dilated. That’s some potent sperm, eh?

Flash back to the night before…

I would have sworn that on September 19th I was having legit contractions. We went to the ER, I was triaged and we waited an hour to see if there would be any “progression” (I was only 2cm). And nothing had changed since the OB appointment I had a week before that (before my doctor went on vacation). An hour later, there was no progression. I wasn’t surprised either. So we went home and went to bed. The next morning (September 20th), we had sex and afterwards, I ran some errands. While I was out I was having painful, intense contractions. So much so that they’d stop me in my tracks as I was walking. I remember in the parking lot I had to stop and take a breather. People looked at me like “oh Lord this woman is about to give birth right here.” Once that contraction stopped I start walking like nothing was going on. I didn’t want to draw a group of people desperate to catch this baby if she decided to come out.

I got home from my running around and started to pack up the bags. I already knew at this point that we were heading to the hospital. Mostly everything was already packed up but I knew I had to pack for Josie still. We’ve decided after months of trying to figure out what to do with her, that she was just going to go with us. It was easier that way. She’s so high maintenance with her food allergies and her schedule requirements. It’s almost more exhausting to teach someone how to care for her then to just do it ourselves, even in the event of going through labor.

Once I got to the hospital, they triaged me again and checked my cervix. I was 4cm! That is when they decided to admit me (I would have had to be 3cm to be admitted). I was surprised to know I progressed that fast and thought “wow, she’s coming tonight!”. Not so fast. Once I made it to the Labor and Delivery floor, the contractions stopped. I tried to relax. I pulled out my Essential Oil diffuser, I put oils on my wrists, feet and neck. I put on my diffuser necklace full of lavender (my favorite, by the way). I organized my bathroom stuff so when it was time to shower, I knew where everything was. I basically set up home.

Since my OBGYN was on vacation, there was another doctor on call. Someone I’ve never met. Although I was extremely frustrated that my doctor couldn’t be there, it really didn’t matter at that point. Especially considering the fact that the doctor comes in the room at the very last second, just to catch the baby and stitch you up. What really matters is the nurse taking care of you. She was young and she was fantastic. She was pregnant herself, with her first child. It was nice to chat with her. The care was fantastic.

About an hour after being upstairs the doctor wanted to start pitocin. I was all for it. I was ready for Juliette to come out and come home! I wanted to have her and be discharged ASAP! She started it low and I felt nothing, although my contractions started to pick back up. Again, that’s my high pain tolerance. I guess I was having a lot but couldn’t really feel them. She asked me if I wanted the epidural but I said “not yet”. She looked at me like I was crazy. She mentioned that she feared if I progressed too far and went into transition, it could be past the point of no return and I wouldn’t be able to get the epidural. So with that fear inside and the PTSD from Josie’s birth I quickly said “get that epidural going!”

He came in, kicked out Josie and my husband and all I can say is three words. It was awful! Probably almost as awful as childbirth. I won’t lie. Af first, he couldn’t find the right spot, there were several pokes, I felt a huge jolt down my left leg and into my shoulders and then another painful feeling into my right leg. It was a cold feeling and certainly didn’t feel right. Immediately after he “got it in”, I felt a rush of dizziness and sweating. My heart was racing! I felt like I was drugged (duh!). I kept saying “this isn’t right, this isn’t right. Why do I feel like this? I’m super dizzy and I feel like I’m going to throw up.” I didn’t do too much research on an epidural (aside from what I knew from nursing school), simply because I didn’t want to scare myself out of it. Because I knew the pains of natural labor were much worse then the “what if’s”. The likelihood of something terrible happening was slim. I needed to remind myself of that. But in that moment, little did I know, that the anesteologiest was giving me a loading dose of opioid medication. It’s what we call in the medical field, a larger than needed dose. It felt awful!

About 10-15 minutes after he left and I was “resting”, I started to shiver and shake uncontrollably. At this point, it was so frustrating because I was cold and I couldn’t even talk. I tried to call my mom but I looked pathetic. It was insane! My teeth were chattering and it was as if I was having a constant seizure. It was awful! I begged the nurse to turn off the epidural. I said forget it, “I’ll just have this baby all natural again.” Yes. It was THAT bad. So she decided to turn it off and within about 20 minutes, the shaking had stopped and I was still numb from the waist down. My legs felt like balloons. I couldn’t touch them with my hands without freaking out. If I wanted to move my legs, I needed someone to do it for me. I lost complete sensation.

I started to feel those hard, painful contractions but I fought through it. Maybe about 35-40 minutes after the epidural was off, I had one big contraction. I felt my water literally expand under pressure like a water balloon being squeezed in the palm of your hand. Then all of a sudden “pop!” My water broke! And at that point, within seconds the contractions were awful, awful painful. “Oh I remember this!” I said as I was quickly reminded of Josie’s birth. I told the nurse in a sarcastic but very honest way, “okay, turn back on that epidural!” So she did. I think I pressed the button twice, which gives you a burst of medication every 20 minutes. After that I felt like I had a good amount of medication in me. There was no crazy shaking or convulsing. The loading dose he gave me was out of me, thank God. I just know that he gave me way too much medication from the beginning. My body couldn’t handle it. It was just too much. And definitely not needed. I didn’t want to be drugged. I just wanted to have the “edge” off. But even so, I didn’t care if I felt contractions here or there. I just didn’t want the trauma to replay of Josie’s birth.

To my surprise the epidural was God sent. I literally felt absolutely nothing. Not a thing. Not even pressure. The nurse checked my cervix again within about 10-20 minutes after my water broke and I was 10cm and her head was right there. I was ready to start pushing. I felt her down there but it didn’t feel like the “pressure” they were telling me I would feel. I don’t know, maybe my idea of pressure and their idea of pressure was different. The nurse had me put one leg up in the stirrup and she held the other. At this point it was about 2:00-2:30am. Josie was still wide awake and my husband was exhausted! He was running after a toddler and had no sleep. He was ready to go home. I, on the other hand, was ready to push this baby out! Let’s do this!

After I had my leg in the stirrup, I gave several big pushes. I probably did about three pushes before her head was right there and visible to the outside world. How exciting! She told me to not push anymore but try to hold her there. And the nurse ran out to call the on-call doctor to let her know that one or two more pushes, and she’ll be out. So within 15 minutes the doctor showed up (discheveled and tired looking), ready to deliver this baby. She was very, very nice. A professional, and good at what she does, you could tell. I immediately felt the need to push and push and within about another three pushes, Juliette was out. I felt nothing. Not a thing. No pain, nothing. I was literally in shock. I kept looking over to my husband and saying “I feel nothing! This is completely different than Josie’s birth! This is amazing! No wonder so many people have so many kids! I could do this again.” He just gave me that blank stare.

I required a few stitches but the rip and tear was nothing like Josie’s. I had a second degree tear and I felt nothing as she stitched me up.

I spent the night with Juliette and Bobby and Josie headed home for the morning and went to bed. When they woke up, they came back to the hospital to hold Juliette and visit with us. We were all exhausted after Juliette came. It was a completely different experience when you bring another baby into the mix. Josie’s birth was so new. And Juliette was so expected. We knew what to do and I was so relaxed and content. I’ve been down this road before. I knew what I was doing and it was reassuring. I wanted my husband and two-year-old daughter to go home and get some rest. I assured them that that was okay.

Today, a month later, as I sit here and try to think of all the important and not so important details of her birth, I remind myself that time goes by so quickly. It’s incredibly scary. I will post about her one month update soon. I’m working on that too. It’s just so hard to keep up with a blog when I’ve got a nursing baby, plus a two-year-old to care for. And she’s a handful. So in the meantime, take a moment to read Josie’s birth and get a glimpse of how very different the two were and enjoy these beautiful photos of our precious Rainbow Baby we tried 17 long, hard and faithful months to conceive. She’s pretty amazing…

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Pregnancy Bumpdate UPDATE

So as some of you may have noticed, I haven’t posted my “update” of my belly in a while. Well, it’s because I’ve decided to stop. Maybe I’ll regret that or maybe I’ll pick back up again to get one more photo before Juliette comes, who knows? But the real truth behind it is so much more…

Some of you look at this blog and think my (our) life is so great and flawless. It is far from. I never wanted this blog to portray such a thing because in all honesty I wanted it to be something I could reflect on in the future to see “how far I’ve come” or “what I’ve been through”. And look at milestones my kids have been through. The most detailed I really ever was in my posts were the posts about my dad and how much he’s destroyed me in different ways or how he’s damaged my inner child. Some of you know the story, a lot of you don’t.

And some of you really know me (and what I’m going through now), and a lot of you don’t. It’s not always rainbows over here. So I thought I’d be completely honest and tell you exactly how it is or has been these past 34 weeks (or more).

We tried so hard to get pregnant after Josie. Miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. God had HIS plan. Which I think worked out well because I’m not sure having a newborn when Josie is even THIS young is a good idea, but God made it happen so he must believe in me some way or another (that I can do this).

I was sad because I couldn’t get pregnant. I was sad because I wanted another baby. Preferably another girl for Josie to have a sister and lifelong friend. I feel like I’ve spent so much of my recent life just not being happy and never living in the “moment”. Living for the next day…

I have always hated facebook in the sense that it reminds you in so many ways what you want, don’t have or what you wish for. But in reality, not everyone has perfect candy coated lives. Because if you look on my Facebook page, you’ll see only certain things posted. You don’t see the good the bad and the ugly. You really truly only see the good. And that goes the same with everyone else. I don’t know if the person who looks like they’re in complete bliss in their marriage, is really struggling to keep it together or if they are in counseling trying to “make it work” with their spouse. Who knows? These are just examples.

I guess, basically what I’m trying to say is that I have been struggling for quite some time. I would honestly say since I stopped running, working out, exercising and feeling incredibly independent. I feel like I lost myself. It all happened after Josie was born. Not that I don’t think my life is complete or fulfilled by the most amazing little girl. I do, please don’t mistake what I’m saying here. What I’m saying is that motherhood changes you. Well, it changed me. It changed the chemistry in my brain. It changed how I look at life. It changed how much I worry, sleep, rest and eat. It changed how I take care of myself. It changed every single aspect of who I am. It has made my anxiety feel like it’s high on cocaine. And quite frankly it has been incredibly exhausting. I sat inside the house for 19 months while I pumped breastmilk to feed Josie. I barely left and made excuses constantly. And when we moved to Florida, I swore I’d get out more. But with my preexisting anxiety disorder I had prior to ever having children, I found it very hard to calm my mind. It raced at every angle. Every thought. I slept with one eye open. I worried about foods to feed Josie, nap times, pump times, working, my marriage…blah, blah, blah. The list is endless. But the difference between me and other moms (who may say this is completely “normal”), is that my thoughts sometimes weren’t normal. Actually most of the time, they weren’t normal. Sometimes they were so completely and utterly ridiculous that even I noticed they were ridiculous but I just couldn’t shut my mind off from it. I couldn’t stop the thoughts. And I still can’t. They are slowly killing me. These thoughts ultimately smothered me and still are today. I feel trapped. And it’s getting worse daily. I feel like something is crushing my chest in…an elephant on my chest. I feel isolated. I feel tired but hyperactive. I feel happy but sad. I feel like I’m out of my own body. I can’t help but ask, “what happened to me?” I’m a rollercoaster of emotions.

Not every day is like this…

I have my good days…

But my bad days really do out number the good.

I was so truly happy during my first pregnancy. Comfortable? No. But happy? Yes.

With my second, I waited for those happy feelings. The first trimester went by and my anxiety grew. The second trimester came and the worries and depressed thoughts took over my brain like flies on hot Texas garbage.

I tried to force happiness. When you’re pregnant and your belly reaches the point where it’s obvious to everyone else that there’s a baby in there, that’s when everyone starts talking to you about it. Asking you questions…

“is it a girl or a boy?”

“is it your first?”

“are you excited?”

No one wanted to hear why I wasn’t excited. No one wanted to hear me go on and on about how we tried and how I spend every day in fear. No one wanted to hear how I would obsessively look every time I wiped after using the bathroom to see if there was blood (again). No one wanted to hear how stressed out I was because my husband was gone for two weeks straight every month, my two year old toddler spent her second birthday in the ICU because of newly found severe food allergies. No one wanted to hear how stressed I was that I was sleepless and restless, my mind was racing, I was thinking ridiculous scenarios in my head and that my toddler decided to turn into a monster overnight with her random extensive tantrums over absolutely nothing.

No one wanted to hear the stress of moving, having no family, no friends near and no support system. Or that I didn’t have an adult conversation on most days. No one wanted to hear that I have PTSD and horrible worries about Josie going outside, going to different places or even “what if something was accidently added to that cereal that I trusted?” Every time she has an itch, I jump. Every time she gets a bump on her I’m reaching for the Benadryl and contemplating the ER. Is she having a reaction? Did she eat something she shouldn’t have had? Did she get bit outside? I’m like a shadow that follows her every move and it’s exhausting. The worry I have for her daily is enough to drive a person insane and that and so much more has put me at my breaking point. And I can’t turn it off. It won’t stop.

I am mentally and physically exhausted. And not the normal type of pregnancy exhaustion. People always say “oh it’s the hormones, girl, you’ll be just fine afterwards.” But most of you have no idea that I struggled with anxiety pretty bad before pregnancy. Before Josie. Before college, during college and afterwards. I don’t think I was ever depressed but the two really do go hand in hand. And for the first time in my life, during this pregnancy, I can honestly say that I AM depressed. The worst part is that people look at my life and say: “well look at all you have to be happy about”. “You have a beautiful daughter, your husband is so amazing, you have a big huge house, you can buy anything you want…” Or THE WORST: “you just need to relax.” It’s NOT about that. People act like I don’t try! I don’t WANT to feel this way! I don’t WANT to think this way! I don’t WANT my heart to race constantly!

It’s about inner peace. It’s about waking up and not wishing it was bedtime already. It’s about enjoying the day not staring at the clock waiting for the day to end. It’s about not being aware of the day of the week rather than counting down the days, weeks or months until this or that, etc. Every single morning I want to pull the covers over my head and sleep. Sleep through the first, second and third trimester. Sleep through these thoughts and worries and crazy thoughts. Sleep through this anxiety. Sleep through the time my husband is gone. Sleep through the move. Sleep through the unpacking. Sleep through the birth. Sleep through the first month…

I did realize I had a problem. I realized a long time ago. I tried to talk to “friends” and “family” but it was all the same…”just relax, Stacy.” No one took me serious. No one took me serious when I really thought “life would be better if I was no longer in it.” No one took me seriously when I’d have a meltdown and tell them my thoughts. That I was struggling pretty bad. No one really took me seriously. No one REALLY understands. They see the “happy Stacy” and think, well she’s just “moody” or “having a difficult day”.

Those things are normal (to a certain extent), I get it. But what isn’t normal is crying every day. Or being short fused at pretty much anything. Or saying the most crazy stuff and looking back and thinking “what the hell was I thinking?” Or thinking, really, really thinking that everything and everyone would be better without me in their lives. Or contemplating in your head whether pills or using a gun would be easier? THIS…THIS…is what brought me to seek help. Because I’ve honestly never reached this point until recently. It was 2:00am and I was desperate for an escape from myself. I considered the ER but I called my husband instead. Who calmed me down after several hours and begged me to call my OBGYN right then and there, or go to the ER, or call the police. I was having the ultimate meltdown and I had no one. Just a two and a half year old crying at my feet. No adult to turn to. No friend to call up locally. I never, ever in my life felt so out of body. It was terrifying.

…obviously I was and am okay. That very next day I saw my doctor.

I almost didn’t stay at the doctors. I was so upset in the waiting room I could barely control myself. But the receptionist begged me to stay and then eventually told me that I wasn’t leaving. After sitting down and talking about all of this plus more for an hour or so. I felt a sense of relief. I had someone ACTUALLY listen to me. Someone actually take me seriously. Someone understand. She gave me a plan and put me on a low dose anti-anxiety/depression medication. And I’ll be the first stubborn person to say, I am no longer ashamed to admit that I need medication (at least right now).

I’m praying that within the coming weeks I can feel a sense of relief. That the sun will shine better and the days will become shorter (because I’ve had too much fun to realize that they’ve come and gone). I’m praying so hard that God teaches me how to be a mom to TWO beautiful little girls. That I CAN make this work. That I WAS meant to be a mom. Because the worst thought I have had throughout all this was: “I don’t think I was meant to be a mother.” But that’s not true. It’s the best, most rewarding job on the planet. And as I sit here and sob at the near thought of life without my Josie girl, I feel so angry at myself for allowing it to go on this long. She is my world. My heart and my everything.

Just to have a little bit of peace and a little bit of relaxation is worth the fight.

I just want to feel like I can breathe again. I want to feel above water and not attached to an anchor at the bottom of an ocean as I barely can take a breath of air.

I just want these racing thoughts to disappear. I want to sleep again. I want to let my kid play outside without inspecting every inch of her skin looking for a bite. I want to just let it go without saying the words “I know, but I’m just worried.”

I don’t want to “worry” anymore.

Our daughter deserves better. My husband deserves better. I deserve to feel happy. I am no longer ashamed to say that I sought help. As I sat at my OB’s office, I cried to them like a sobbing baby about this and that and went on and on and on. I truly believe the medication will make me a better person. It’s not something I hope to be on for a long period of time, but I certainly believe that it will give me a sense of peace. At least make me functional. It will make my marriage better, my mothering skills better, my patience better and my overall wellbeing better. My girls deserve a present mother. Not one wishing away the days.

I don’t want to look back and regret that I didn’t enjoy when they craved my embrace over a fall or sitting down and reading books and playing with toys together. I want to be in the moment when the moment happens. They deserve that. And I owe that to them.

I don’t want to be the mom who harbors her children from the world out there.

I want my children to feel at ease. I don’t want them to feel my tension or anxiety over the smallest, silliest things.

The most important thing I did was acknowledge that I had a problem. The second most important thing was that I have an incredibly supportive husband.

I thank God for my strength. Because a lot of people don’t have it in them to seek help. Although in these moments, I feel like the weakest person on the planet, I am actually very strong to keep my head above water and talk to someone about this. Because enough is enough. I want it to stop.

I didn’t have a great childhood. My memories are mostly painful. And I want nothing more than the best for my girls. And knowing I was giving them the worst of me, was killing me inside. Josie sees me daily and Juliette doesn’t get the love or connection she deserves. I want to love this little girl like I loved Josie in my belly. But throughout this pregnancy, I haven’t. It’s not that I don’t love HER it’s just that my love for her is overshadowed with anxiety and depression. It consumed me.

There’s no miracle that will happen. I will always have this horrible disease called anxiety. But there are ways to make it tolerable and make life enjoyable. There are ways to treat it. There are people to talk to about it. And I’m no longer ashamed to hide it. I’m no longer afraid to admit it.

I have depression and anxiety.

I will get better.

I will be better.

I want to be better.

If you or anyone you know is suffering, please know that there is help out there. There are people you can talk to. And there are others out there that feel the same. It’s all about seeking help. That’s the first step. Don’t be afraid.

I can’t thank God enough for giving me a husband (although we’re not perfect) who understands and supports me. Who loves me so much. I can’t thank him enough for encouraging me to talk to someone.

It’s Too Hot to be Inside…

But it’s too hard to handle this toddler outside on my own while I’m 33 weeks pregnant and told to “rest” and “don’t do anything”. It’s so much easier said than done. Especially when you’re chasing a toddler around who must have her way or the world is completely and utterly over. I’m uncomfortably pregnant and over it. I’m over the horrible sleep. I’m over the lack of energy. I’m over being tired. I’m seriously over being pregnant. And I’d be perfectly okay if this was the last pregnancy I’ve had to go through. Terrible twos are so much harder than I imagined. And Bobby being away for several weeks at a time while I handle this all on my own is much more difficult. Now just add an infant in four weeks…oh Lord, please help me.

Well anyways, we’ve been getting her outside as much as we can. It’s hot out here, guys! It’s like 100 degree everyday and some days it feels even hotter.

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