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    Our Journey With Special Needs

    I feel as though my experience as a mother has been somewhat unique (at least I don’t meet many people in my circumstance). I had a fairly typical pregnancy. I had one pregnancy loss, but my doctor said that what I went through was fairly common, and I should have no reason not to try again. Even with the encouragement I was super nervous.
    I was finally feeling like I was in the homestretch of my pregnancy, and that everything was going smoothly, but around 36 weeks I started to feel a strange pulsating sensation in my lower back. It was not super painful, but it was uncomfortable, and I had a very bad feeling about it, so we decided to get it checked out at the hospital. As we were pulling in the driveway I felt a flush of fluid run down my leg. I thought that my water had broken, and started to get a little excited actually. I assumed I was just going into labor, and was nervous, but so excited to finally meet my little girl. I looked down, and the car was covered in blood. I had passed a blood clot to the placenta that caused a full placental abruption.
    We both came very close to losing our lives that night. I was stabilized after two blood, platelet, and plasma transfusions. My daughter was born without a heartbeat or breathing for nearly 20 minutes. After getting her somewhat stabilized she was put on life support, and a cooling blanket that put her in a hypothermic state for 72 hours to allow her brain a chance to rest. Upon coming off her cooling blanket she went into seizures, and there was a big question to if we would ever be bringing her home. She struggled to be weaned off of life support, and we did not even hear her first cry till she was nearly a month old. It was consistently the scariest time of my life. Coming home to an empty nursery every night was devastating.
         
    She eventually was transferred to Children’s NICU for her first surgery for a placement of a gastric feeding tube. She has coordination issues, so feeding in the typical sense is very difficult. She was then given the diagnosis of quad cerebral palsy in addition to original diagnosis of HIE (basically means brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation). I have always been a perfectionist, so having a special needs child is not something I felt like I was capable of handling. But, through this experience I have found people just adapt. Everyone has there own reality, and this is ours. Instead of bouncers and rattles, we have medical equipment and feeding pumps.
       
    As we are heading into the one year mark, her birthday is two days after Christmas, it is bittersweet. I’m so impressed by how far she has come, but it’s hard not being affected by other children reaching so many milestones she has yet to meet. Overall, I’m well aware of how lucky we are, and how much worse things could be, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve completely come to terms with things. I see her struggle so hard to do the most basic of things people take for granted. But, she continues to show progress with all of her therapies. It may be at a pace I’m not accustomed to, but this whole experience has also been a hard lesson in patience. They are not playing when they say inchstones and not milestones.
         
    She now smiles and interacts, has her favorite shows and toys, and her own unique personality. None of this seems like a big deal, but she was almost five months old before she even really made eye contact. I have become so codependent with her throughout all this. I’m so scared to leave her with anyone. I feel like we have been through so much together, that I am really the only one that truly understands her. I know this all sounds terribly depressing, but sometimes I feel like I have to express how far we have come, so people can understand how truly amazing she is. I’m not sure if parents of typical babies love this hard, I’m sure they do, but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone loving anything more than I love this little person.
    -Sarah Hayse, @sarahhaysek

    First Month of Motherhood: My Experience

    Today is a special day. As I sit holding my newborn in my arms I reflect on this motherhood journey and the ups and downs of my first month postpartum. I am a first time momma and I can’t believe it’s been one month today that I brought a beautiful baby girl into this world.

    Each morning I stare at her soft perfect skin and think to myself that she’s a blank canvas full of potential and endless possibilities- so pure and so new. The world is her oyster. I daydream about all the beauty we will show her and all the adventures we will go on as she grows yet on the other hand I want to stop time and keep her in my arms protecting her from any pain and discomfort. The feelings of happiness, fear and joy were so intense that I cried daily. I was overwhelmed by my emotions the first two weeks after giving birth.

    The postpartum journey is bittersweet as I am so in awe of this little human my husband and I have created yet my body and hormones were wreaking havoc on me as well . This can make it hard to the sweet fleeting moments with your newborn and the emotional roller coaster that mothers talk about is real. My body ached, I was sleep deprived, I was bleeding and had a new found appreciation for mesh undies. I was adjusting to my new body that’s now showcasing a squishy belly. I was introduced to horrid hemorrhoids and learning to breast feed and get a good latch was not an easy task in the beginning. It also didn’t help that I was sensitive to anything anyone told me. The first two weeks postpartum I also felt an odd emptiness, a sadness that I could no longer protect my baby in my belly and feel her daily kicks and the anticipation of her birth which seems silly but it’s how I felt at that moment in time. 

    The Postpartum period and the baby blues brings the unexpected. I read so many books and blogs before giving birth but nothing prepares you for those first few weeks except love, support and encouraging words  from family and friends. I realized my baby and I had to learn about each other. I needed to learn her crying cues and I had adjust to my new role as a momma while my body healed and hormones leveled out. I was fortunate enough to have my mom stay with me the first two weeks and having that support was essential. I recommend that all new mothers put together a support system for the first couple weeks as you heal and find your new way of life as a momma.

    The saying it takes a village brings own a whole new meaning to me now. My dear mother gave me good advice during her stay when I was feeling overwhelmed and said, "honey your job right now is to love and nurture your baby and yourself, nothing else." Once I processed those words of wisdom a weight lifted off my shoulders and I realized that was all that mattered and the cleaning, cooking, unfinished projects and emails could wait. 

    Today one month postpartum I feel strong and accomplished as a new momma, not every day is perfect I still struggle but love and nurturing my baby is a true gift and each day I learn new things about my baby girl and myself. Cheers to all the new mothers out there. Stay strong and confident in your instincts and may you find strength in yourself and all those around you during this postpartum transition and the sweet journey of motherhood.

     

    -Christine Rapley, @c.rara22

    Fourth Trimester

    Honestly, motherhood is hard as hell. It’s ram your head through a wall hard. It’s cry your eyes out at two in the morning hard. It’s wanting to scream at the top of your lungs 23 hours of the day (the other one hour you’ll be asleep…maybe) hard. It is not what I expected AT ALL

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    Most moms only tell you the good and magical things about being a mom. They don’t tell you about how postpartum bleeding lasts weeks after birth and your bathroom will look like a scene from Carrie, how it’s going to feel like your butt hole is going to rip into a million pieces the first time you poop (no really, that was scary shit. no pun intended). Or how you’ll have to squirt a bottle of water on yourself after you pee instead of wiping. Oh and hemorrhoids. Yup.
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    They don’t tell you that your body doesn’t just go back to what it was after you give birth (if you left the hospital in the jeans you wore pre pregnancy, I loathe you. jkjk…or am I?). They don’t tell you that peeing your pants every time you laugh, sneeze or move is normal now. They don’t tell you that you sometimes won’t even want to get out of bed because you’re scared of what the day might have in store for you. They don’t tell you that you won’t know what to do with your baby when you get home, how to calm them down, how to read what they want. They don’t tell you that you’ll probably have zero sex drive or any desire to even kiss your partner for weeks, you might even feel like you HATE them. They don’t tell you how much you’ll be googling “when does a newborn sleep through the night” and “why won’t my newborn stop crying”, no joke I must have googled this about 27 times and read the same articles over and over. Talking about poop color is now the norm and you might as well go save a poop color chart into your phone now.

    No mother wants to admit that when they first meet their baby, they don’t feel all mushy and warm inside like you’re supposed to. I had pictured us meeting to be magical but after pushing a watermelon sized human being out of your vagina it’s hard to be all sunshine and rainbows at first. It’s overwhelming for sure. And yeah, sometimes I even resented her a little for using me as a human pacifier! I remember one night just sitting up in bed crying hysterical while I was nursing her asking myself “WHY am I doing this???”, “WHY did I want this???” but of course those feelings start to fade and you realize it’s all worth it. You’ll question yourself, you’ll doubt yourself, you’ll even ask yourself if your baby is broken because they cry so much. But it’s beautiful in all its craziness.
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    Postpartum anxiety aka baby blues is SO real. Taking care of a tiny helpless human is actually pretty damn scary. You’ll worry about everything and anything. You’re afraid to fall asleep, you’re afraid to put them down to go to the bathroom or take a shower, you’ll constantly check if their chest is moving up and down while they’re sleeping. You’ll most likely feel like you have a lump in your throat 24/7. THIS IS NORMAL. Not only did your body go through a massive life change, so did your mind! Hormones are flying around like crazy, you’ll be crying one second and happy the next. It’s basically like having your period, but a thousand times worse. If you’re having trouble coping and your anxiety leads to depression, get help from your doctor, partner and loved ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – this does NOT make you a bad mom.

    You will constantly ask yourself, “why does she cry when I put her down?”, “why does she only sleep on my chest?”. For the first three months of your baby’s life, it can help to think of her like a fetus outside of the womb. I wish I had known this while I was pregnant so I could really understand WHY Rori was always crying and upset, it’s so hard to forget that every single thing for them is new. YOU are their entire world. They’ve been in your belly for the past nine months, the safe sounds of your heartbeat and the tightness and warmth of the womb is all they ever knew.UntitledNow just imagine yourself going back to womb from world…I wouldn’t be happy either! This is why I’m constantly promoting baby wearing and swaddling. It mimics the womb so baby is the most comfortable they can be and you can regain some sanity! White noise is a lifesaver even now and Rori is four months old. I’m not going to say it gets easier after the fourth trimester, but it definitely gets better. You’ll find yourself again, you’ll love your partner again, your body will go back to normal. This chapter seems endless and all babies are difficult, but one day your crazy ass will want another one! That’s motherhood. giphy (1).gif

    It takes a village.

    **I don’t want to scare anyone into having a baby, because it is a beautiful journey. I wrote this blog to educate new moms or soon to be moms on things that no one tells you about postpartum/fourth trimester!

     

    -Shannen Fusco, @raising.rori

    Check out Shannen's blog, www.lifeofafusco.com 

    One Week Postpartum Thoughts

    First week postpartum and I must admit it’s been a whirlwind of a journey. This being my 3rd c-section I remembered some discomforts and “things” that may happen in the days and weeks to follow. I knew my physical limitations would be many and my dependence on others would be necessary, but what I didn’t realize or remember fully were the emotions or pains that would follow. 


    I had a partial sense of recognition or remembrance to the “things” that were forthcoming but our minds have a way of blocking the bad so that the good can stay. First and foremost- empty shell.


    The feeling is real despite all the aches and pains associated with the third trimester. I carried this precious baby for 9 months and though I’m cradling him in my arms as I type this I miss the internal feelings. The morning jabs, hiccups, quick moves, and indescribable positions during the day somehow brought me so much comfort.
    As I begin this new breastfeeding journey I must admit I forgot the nerve pinching, foot tapping, jaw clinching pain during the first few latches but instantly remembered the comfort of having my baby’s skin on mine, being able to provide nutrition and comfort to him, and the quiet moments together just gazing at one another.


    C-section pain.... can we skip that one.. on a real note- my brain and body chose to remember this in bits and pieces. If you’ve ever had a c-section you know that laughing, sneezing, and coughing are all curse words! You never realize the use of your abdominal muscles in those actions until you have none left! I know it takes time but I’m married to a big jokester and laughing ultimately results in crying so all jokes are on hold in our house.


    Unexplainable Crying- my brain partially blocked that one too. Can I be honest here? I’ve cried at least 6 times today for no apparent reason.. dancing and crying, rocking my baby and crying, sitting in bed and crying... I’m sure you get the gist.


    Body image- my belly went from housing a watermelon to now a squishy half deflated bouncy ball. My incision looks like a battle wound, the brown line is still there, and my belly button can now go back to collecting lent. I’m definitely adjusting to this new body but guess what?! It took 9 months to grow my precious baby and it endured a major surgery- it’s going to take time for it to go back to pre baby and I’m ok with that. 
    This all may seem like a ramble and for the most part it is but guess what- all of this is normal! There is an endless list of “things” we as moms experience postpartum that are often left off social media, undermined, brushed off, or honestly just not talked about and it’s sad that society is that way. Postpartum is a journey that’s not always pretty. Our bodies, minds, and entire lives are changing and though that journey is different for each of us it’s so important that we embrace each “thing” one step at a time, encourage one another, and know that a lot of what you are feeling is completely normal and to not be afraid to ask for help!

     

    -Kelsey Spelce, @kelsey.spelce

    The SAHM & The Husband Who Just Doesn’t Get It

    “I wish I could stay home and hang out with the baby all day!” Is a statement I often hear from my husband. I am a stay at home mom to our almost 6 month old daughter, Amy. 
    Despite what many may think... staying home with your child all day is not as glamorous as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby; I love (most of) the time we spend together. But guys, it’s a lot of work. And you know what’s extremely frustrating? Having a husband who just doesn’t get it. Who really doesn’t understand all that I do for this tiny human on an every day basis. Who doesn’t realize that some days, yes, taking the baby with me to go food shopping IS the hardest thing in the world. 
    I can’t even tell you how many times we have gotten into the same argument. The one where he says “1. well, what did you do all day?” ; “2. you can go to work and I’ll stay home” ; “3. You’re so lucky. I wish I could stay home and  h a n g  o u t  with the baby all day!” ; “4. I am paying your car payment & every other bill!”
    Okay. 
    1. Here’s what I did all day:
    I nursed our daughter.
    I made coffee.
    I changed a diaper.
    I held her for an hour when she napped because God forbid I put her down, there will be a major freak out and no nap.
    I read her a book.
    I forgot I made coffee.
    I changed another diaper.
    I nursed her again.
    I put a load of laundry on... and hours later realize I didn’t transfer it to the dryer... so I washed it again.
    We played with some toys!
    I showered with the door open so our daughter could see me clearly from the swing in the hallway and not have a major freak out.
    I changed another diaper!
    I nursed her again.
    I rocked her for 40 minutes because she was doing that “I’m so tired” cry but just. would. not. sleep. 
    I walked to the mailbox (yay! 30 seconds of freedom!) only to realize I forgot to put the outgoing mail in the mailbox earlier that morning.
    I packed our tiny human up and into the car and went to the post office.
    I changed another diaper.
    I forgot to eat.
    I nursed her again.
    I put her down so I could just use the bathroom.. but the separation anxiety is peaking and she screamed the whole time.
    I held her while I made myself something to eat.
    Would you look at that, it’s 5:00pm already and you’re home.
    2. We are barely getting by on your salary (NY at its finest). If I go to work my salary will be significantly lower than yours. Not to mention I have an issue with pumping and there would be no breast milk bottles to give. Which would mean switching to formula. Which would mean another monthly expense.. on my lower salary. 
    3. I know you think Amy and I are hanging out and having a good time. And yes honey, that is true a lot of the time. But it’s so much more. It’s mentally and physically exhausting.
    4. We made the decision together. We decided I was going to stay home for a number of reasons. The main ones being: having two incomes would raise our health insurance premiums and we wouldn’t be able to afford it (gotta love NY) and my salary would end up paying for daycare alone. So yes, I know you’re paying all the bills. But that was the sacrifice we decided on and you have to stop bringing it up in every argument. 
    I am lucky. I am so lucky to be able to stay home and raise our daughter. She is funny, loving, smart, cute as a button and super feisty. Seeing her face all day every day is rewarding on so many levels. But it is anything but easy. 
    -Janine Stephens, @janineabean