Thursday, May 14, 2020

Instagram vs. Reality...Postpartum Edition

Instagram vs. reality, here we go. 

It's not unusual to look at social media posts of other mom/families and think to yourself:
-"They make it look so easy" or
-"What a perfect family, why isn't mine like that?" or
-"Why aren't I as good at parenting as they are?"
I think it's actually pretty much become a norm these days to think some of those things when scrolling through social feeds. All of those feelings are legitimate! Some people make parenting look easy...or their lives in general look pretty perfect. And good for them if life is that grand, but I don't want to be one of those people portraying that my life  "is perfectly good and fine" if indeed it is not. I'm here to assure you I'm nowhere near perfect or doing this whole parenting thing “easily”! It takes a village, let me tell you. And this time around, the postpartum period (or 4th trimester as it’s also called) has been extra tough for me. So I hope the photos I posted are some representation of real life ... real motherhood. Dark circles, milk stains and all. Because like I said, this journey has been a bumpy one. Even with having a great support system around me of my husband, family and fellow mama friends.

Let me also disclaim that I am not posting this for sympathy and there is no need to be concerned. I am taking proper measures to get the help and care I need and I will be okay, I have faith in that. 
I am posting this because I want other women who feel like I do to know that it’s okay.  It’s okay to not be “okay”all the time. It’s okay to feel completely and utterly defeated at times.
The first week of Max’s life was probably the hardest of my life in terms of the mental, physical, emotional toll it took on my body.  I just about hit rock bottom on at least one occasion, having a slightly scary mental breakdown. And the guilt I feel for even saying that is real, too. Because I do feel sometimes that I should only be thankful for having brought a healthy baby boy into this world. I am thankful, but if I’m being transparent it’s not all I feel. I also feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and mood swings that have me feeling all over the place emotionally and straight up a mess at times. 
Then there’s the good moments though, where my heart is so full and I feel so much love for Max and Carmella that I’m instantly reminded why I love being a mom and why I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I guess my point is that I feel all of these things. And that’s okay. My body went through some major changes over the last 9 months and it's going to take some time for it to adjust back. I shouldn’t be expected to be back to “normal” right after having a baby. And either should you... if you’re reading this and can relate to anything I said. Let this be a reminder to go easy on yourself!! Being a parent is the hardest most thankless job in the world (in my opinion at least) and we can only do the best we can! We can’t be perfect. So we shouldn’t aim to be. As long as you’re giving your child/children the unconditional love you feel inside, or trying your best to, you’re doing A-okay. Heck. Even better than that. You’re doing the dang thing really well! 👏👏👏and we all deserve a round of applause for that! Especially during a global pandemic! So BRAVO parents, BRAVO! Keep doing what you're doing...because you're pretty darn amazing if you ask me.

Labor & Delivery at the Hospital During Times of COVID-19

Hello friends. I finally got around to putting down all my thoughts and what I remember from my labor & delivery experience, related to the current COVID-19 situation. Only thing to disclaim really is that I know there are different procedures and 'rules' in place at each hospital, so a lot of this may be specific to hospitals in the Ascension network (Providence, St. John, etc.)
Here was my experience at Providence Park Hospital...

- I was scheduled to come in at 7am for an induction. We entered the hospital through the main entrance where we were screened: asked questions, given new masks, they wiped our bags down and directed us to registration on main floor; then after answering typical registration questions we were sent up to labor and delivery (3rd) floor.
- Once on that floor we were met by someone to check our temperatures before entering the actual Labor & Delivery ward. And then we stopped at the nurses desk for them to show us down to our room. I got undressed and into the hospital gown,  our nurse took my temperature again, then setup my IV and hooked me up to the continuous fetal monitoring machine.
- We were told we must keep our masks on at all times while in the delivery room—to be safe—and we weren’t allowed to leave that room. This was the first time it bothered me that things were different this time around. Not only did it suck to wear a mask the whole time (especially later when I’d get into having intense contractions) but being stuck in the room, there was little I could do to keep moving throughout my active labor. I had wanted to be proactive and try different things (exercises, walking, etc) while in active labor to help things progress on their own. They did bring me an exercise ball to sit and bounce on, but being hooked up to the fetal monitoring machines, my range of motion was limited to about 3 feet —a small area between my hospital bed and the IV/machines.
-As mentioned above, you and your support person aren’t allowed to leave the room, not even for water or coffee runs so you have to rely on asking nurses for any and everything. Our nurse was amazing and had the sweetest demeanor and attitude, and fully understood the nature of the situation so she made us feel as comfortable as possible with the situation and didn't make us feel guilty every time we needed something, so we lucked out with that.
-Another just weird thing to get used to... with everyone wearing masks it’s hard to tell what people look like and just felt a little strange and impersonal. I totally get it’s for safety, just noting that it feels weird and one point I didn’t even recognize one of my own OB doctors at first who came in for a checkup.
-Once baby was out, they still honored my wishes from immediate skin-to-skin, and holding off measurements/tests/etc. until that first "golden hour" was over.
-Afterward, once we were moved into our room where we'd stay the night, we were able to take our masks off and they didn’t tell us they had to be on or anything . They had actually taken mine after delivery because I somehow got blood on it. 😆 All staff continued to wear masks at all times that entered our room of course.
-Overall, I would say there were less doctors/residents/etc coming and going from our room, compared to what I remember with the delivery of my daughter a couple years ago. I had mentioned I preferred not to have med students coming into my room to assist or for any "learning experiences" and I'm pretty sure my OB doc said they had temporarily discontinued that anyway. However, in our overall 27 hour stay after our baby was born, it felt like about just as many different 'visits'/checkup's/etc in terms of nurses or doctors checking on me, checking on baby, taking baby for tests/circumcision, birth certificate personnel and that sort of thing. So it was a pretty busy 24+hours. Which leads me to my next thought... 
-This is completely just my opinion but in an effort to try and find a positive or some light to a somewhat uncomfortable/uncertain situation, I found it slightly helpful and less stressful to have it only be me and my support person (my husband) with me in the hospital--and no other visitors. Because my stay was so short, I feel I would have had pretty much zero chance to rest while I was there, and I already felt like I didn't get many chances to with constant feedings and staff coming in.
-Lastly, as mentioned I stayed at the hospital about 27 hours after giving birth. This was in part due to their efforts and me (and especially my husband-ha) being ready to go home. They did not force us to leave around 24 hours, in fact, we were waiting on them to finish a few things in order to get the formal discharge paperwork ready to go. They typically do at least a couple tests after the baby has passed the 24-mark, and they were running behind on doing some of those. So we ended up actually being ready to leave before they were ready to discharge us. And I remember the staff saying if we wanted to stay on an extra night they would have allowed it.
-Oh and one more thing...about food! My husband and I were not a big fan of the hospital food (some was okay, some just not so good) and since you’re not allowed to leave or have outside food brought to you, you’re somewhat stuck with what they’re offering. I’d “sneak”/bring plenty of your own snacks or essentials in your bag so you have backup options if your food isn’t to your liking and/or to tide you over since sometimes it took over an hour after ordering to actually get the food. And another side note 🙂 ... I brought some individually packaged snacks/treats (i.e. rice crispy treats, goldfish, Milano cookies) to offer the nurses as a small thank you gesture. Some took it, some did not. But I felt it was the least I could do for all their help taking care of me during my stay. 
Hope this was in some way helpful to you! Feel free to ask questions or let me know if I left anything out. 
 I don't mind answering pretty much anything you may want to ask. Sending love and strength to everyone during this challenging time 💕