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Postpartum: A Mother’s Story – Edition One

The postpartum period for every mother is a huge transition. Every woman deals with different emotions and struggles, but it is amazing how many other women are dealing with the very same things. I have created this series in hopes for us all to know that we are not alone. I have asked mothers to submit their stories, so other expecting, new, and struggling mom’s can feel some comfort in knowing they are not alone. Below is the very first edition to our series Postpartum: A Mother’s Story.

Are you interested in sharing your story? If you have questions or would like to share please feel free to e-mail me. These stories can be left anonymous if you wish.

Written by Amanda


My water broke the day before my due date and I labored 15 hours and gave birth the next day on my due date to my first baby. A beautiful 7 lbs 9 oz perfect little boy. I took birth classes and had my wonderful husband and mother there with me- I felt very supported and had a great experience. I was not prepared for how tired I would be after though. I was committed to breastfeeding and the around the clock feeding was very overwhelming to get used to. After returning home I experience two weeks of postpartum depression. I loved my baby so much-it was like everyone had told me- a love so fierce you can’t explain until you have your own kids. But I had this rising anxiety inside of me knowing that this little person depended on me for everything. I felt trapped and then I felt guilty that I felt that way. My mom and husband were great at keeping me even-keel and reassuring me that this was normal and my hormones, emotions and new life would all balance out. And that’s exactly what happened: after two weeks my hormones started to even out and I felt like I could enjoy my new little baby. I think a huge part of the overwhelming feelings I had were due to how unprepared I was to be sleep deprived. I’m not sure if you can prepare yourself for that. Up every 2-3 hours nursing at night, and then it takes time for baby to fall back asleep too. My husband had paternity leave, but I don’t know how moms do it without someone there around the clock like I had. It’s funny though how you so well adapt and just get used to the new routine of motherhood. Your mommy instincts kick in and you figure out how to make it work. And not only just make it work, but love making it work. Being a mother is the most sacrificial thing there is to do, and yet the most rewarding.

My baby is now 9 months old and I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly. I hope to have a few more kids someday. Becoming a mother feels like stepping into the thing I was meant to do.

Written by Kristina Grier 


My name is Kristina.  I had my first child (and only child so far) October 2, 2015.  Her name is Olive, and is 17 months!

I went in on October 1 around 8 p.m. to be induced.  I was already having contractions every 2 minutes on my own, but was still placed on pitocin & eventually got an epidural around midnight.  I was able to sleep all night and started pushing at 6 a.m., had her at 0728!  I didn’t have any tearing and did not need any stitches so thought it was going to be such a painless recovery.  I was extremely swollen and sore from having such a strong epidural that I pushed for such a long time and didn’t really know what I was doing and was not pushing correctly from not being able to feel anything.  I can remember those days in the hospital after she was born and bleeding quite heavily every time I stood out of bed or the chair from nursing her.  I had to sit on a doughnut pillow for about a week from how sore I was.  I made sure to ask for extra mesh underwear, the huge pads, and extra cans of that dermaplast and tucks pads to take home which I still used for 1-2 weeks postpartum to help with the pain.

My milk came in a day or two after we got home from the hospital.  It was the worse than labor.  I honestly can remember just sitting on the living room floor bawling because I was reading all these random Facebook posts about how I should not pump at all for the first few weeks so my milk gets regulated and to just keep putting the baby on my breast.  Olive had a lip and tongue tie that made nursing the most painful thing as well.  My nipples looked like fried hamburger and bled for the first several weeks.  I hated showering because when I would step out they had such awful nerve shooting pain.  I went to lactation consultants who encouraged me to take her to a pediatric dentist to correct the lip tie.  The pediatric dentist told me her lip tie wasn’t that bad but she could do her tongue tie.  She told me it was elective and might or might not help the breastfeeding pain I was experiencing from her.  I declined the procedure because even though I wanted to breastfeed so bad, it wasn’t worth putting her through that if she did not need it.

For the first 2-3 months, I exclusively breastfed Olive and had tears over 50% of the time when she would latch on.  I can remember bawling so many times that I wanted to quit and formula wasn’t all that bad (which it definitely is not), but I kept going.  She is 17 months and still nurses.  She is allergic to all dairy so it is a good thing I have be able to nurse this long and have a deep freeze completely full for those daycare days.

I really thought my maternity leave was going to be all fun, get dressed cute, and go out with her to show her off.  We spent 90% of maternity leave in sweats, non-showered, and cuddles.  What I would do to go back to those days.  Actually…what I would do to go back to October 1 at 8 p.m. …. honestly, best 24 hours of a high in my entire life.  The moment of her being held above me and her firmly placed onto my bare chest is something I cannot get out of my mind and heart. Ever.  I can almost feel that exact moment still today & have a feeling I always will.

Beyond the Burp Cloth

Beyond the Burp Cloth

There was a point in my life when I felt like I had nothing to share and contribute beyond my role as a fumbling mother. Because I was in constant “learn and adjust” mode, I could sum up most conversations with, “I don’t have the answers. I’m just trying to do my best, raise a good human, and keep my sanity.”

There was one thing I did know for sure though — that my energy (theoretically, not physically) was meant for the things beyond burp cloths.

When I had my first child more than seven years ago, I was only about a year out of college. Prior to sitting in the upstairs hallway floor of my parent’s home with a positive pregnancy test trembling in my hand, I had big dreams of living on the West Coast as a PR guru with a salary that would allow for a new wardrobe, an apartment complex with actual adults, and late nights at salsa clubs (or something swanky like that).

That was going to be life after college for me. I had known it for years.

It goes without saying (although I’m going to say it anyway) that my post-college fantasy was quickly trumped by post-partum depression, late-night nursing frustrations, crappy jobs to get me though my new life in limbo, and endless hours staring at my new little babe — contemplating our life together and how it was going to unravel.

As a twenty-something and new single mother, the uncertainty that naturally accompanies both those life phases hit me in a very big and scary way.

I had no idea who I was, a skewed idea of how I was going to get where I wanted to go and — all the while — living with a fierce anxiety that this was it for me.

I loved my baby, but I had no real outside passions to pull me out of myself. I just wanted to get through each day.

The other dimensions of me weren’t being tapped in a way that, as the complex human beings we all are, were going to make me feel alive and purposeful.

This went on for a good four years — being mostly concerned with just making it rather than making myself happy.

As I welcome my third decade of life, entering it as a newlywed and mother-to-be for the second time, my circumstances are drastically better, and I’ve picked up some lessons on juggling motherhood and maintaining an identity outside of it along the way.

Simply said, you must find out what makes you happy and pursue it. You must find a passion that won’t projectile vomit on you or talk back.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a late-twenties life filled with people who have inspired me creatively and encouraged me to share a more authentic side of myself with others.

With the support and validation I needed to take my interests more seriously and put myself out there, I started discovering and practicing those passions I speak of during the small bits and pieces of time I get to myself.

About three years ago, I started a blog. Although I abandon it often, it’s there, and it’s mine. It’s the place I go when I can convey how I’m feeling coherently enough for others to understand. It’s a place for me to remind myself about what’s important and that it’s very OK to not have a perfect life or be a perfect mother.

It gives me a chance to craft and shape my words and tone in a way that gives me satisfaction and, hopefully, makes others smile, too. Since my dancing days are now limited (outside of the living room), it’s my place for rhythm and flow.

It makes me happy, and I’m able to take on the next day with a renewed since of who I am — and that, it turns out, has been great for my family as well.

Not too long ago, with more encouragement from my husband, I put together another blog, but this one was for some of my favorite photos.

I’ve always thought Instagram had a way of making the masses believe they’re professional photographers and, although I enjoyed capturing moments, I felt silly proclaiming an interest in doing anything more.

But, in the comfort of love and support, I went ahead and posted my blog on Facebook and, surprisingly, received a lot of positive feedback.

It was enough to make me feel like I needed to start investing more time into this thing that makes me happy — and invest in a camera.

I’m in no way an expert and in every way a beginner who’s just getting her feet wet, but I’m making the time to grow and get better through pockets of practice, classes and mentorship.

These things — writing and snapping photos — make me feel good about myself, and that’s made me a better mother.

I think we all need something to grasp that’s just ours outside of the little fingers constantly reaching for us. Pursuing something for yourself lights a spark and challenges you in a way that radiates into so many other facets of life.

And that is something worth holding on to.

About the Author

ElyssaShapiroheashot-225x300Growing up in a household with a reading teacher and a newspaper editor for parents, Elyssa Shapiro has a great appreciation for storytelling as well as a natural curiosity. Those attributes eventually guided her through the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and into her career as a communications professional.

Elyssa has worked with a diverse group of organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits. She began her career at a small public affairs and public relations firm in Des Moines, Iowa, and then took over programming, media relations and eventually fundraising for a statewide nonprofit. She currently works in corporate communications and serves as a consultant for a local autism center as well as a freelance writer, editor and photographer.

Prior to calling Des Moines home, she lived in Vicenza, Italy working for various military programs that provided services for children and families.

She and her husband have a seven-year-old son and are expecting their second child this December. Together, they enjoy traveling and creating new memories.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/elyssashapiro.

Photography Page: http://elyssashapirophotography.tumblr.com

Taking Care of Mama: Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Taking Care of Mama_

Self-care. Weʼve heard the phrase, but are we actually doing it? Are we letting go of the feelings of “mama-guilt” or thoughts such as “I donʼt have time”? Or, do we feel stressed, tired and maybe, at times, a little resentful of the things we donʼt get to do since we had our sweet little ones? I have felt all of these things and had all of these thoughts. So whatʼs a mama supposed to do?

After my son was born, I felt, to put it lightly, awful. I was so incredibly tired, hormonal and emotional. The newborn stage was the most trying time of my life. All of the focus was on taking care of this little human. I didnʼt even think about taking care of me.

Once we were past the newborn stage, I still felt guilt about leaving baby to do some self-care. I donʼt ever remember my mom getting “me-time”, so why should I? It wasnʼt until a friend described self-care using an analogy that I finally got it. When on an airplane, when the flight attendant is giving safety instruction, they always say “Put your air mask on before helping others with theirs”.

So, how does a busy mom fit in self-care? While Iʼm still learning Iʼd like to share some thoughts and ideas that have been helpful to me for the past 9 months. I have one child, so I know for moms with more than one at home this is a bit more of a challenge. Do your best.

1) Ask for Help

No, really, ask for help. This is something I still struggle with, but Iʼm getting better. I felt so much guilt leaving my baby with my husband to go to an hour Yoga class, or even a walk around the block for that matter. But after the conversation with my friend, I almost had to force myself. I always felt so good after I did, and I felt more present and patient with my son and husband. You donʼt have to leave the house to do self-care, but sometimes itʼs a good idea to get out by yourself for a bit. So, ask your partner, trusted friend, family member, etc. ahead of time if they wouldnʼt mind watching your little one(s) for a short-period of time while you step out. Again, when you are ready, or as ready as youʼll ever be.

2) Focus on Health

Being healthy while caring for your family can be a challenge, especially if the household budget allows only enough funds for health visits for your kiddos. These visits, however, are important, and by taking the time to get an acupuncture treatment, massage, or chiropractic adjustment or any other healing modality you love, you are not only reducing stress producing hormones in your body, but also boosting your immune system and eliminating aches and pains. This not only teaches your kids the importance of taking care of yourself, but also puts your body back in to balance, so time with your children is spent feeling your best.

Food and meal prep can be a challenge as well. However, anything you put in to your body feeds vitality, or feeds stress, anxiety and illness. I use about one to two hours on the weekend (usually a Sunday) to prep some food for the week to make healthy meals quicker to prepare. I have also become good friends with my slow cooker. You can include your kids and have them help, or if you have a baby, you can wear him or her while you prep. It also helps to make sure only healthy options are available for quick meals and snacks so one isnʼt tempted to eat something that wonʼt make you a healthy mama.

3) A Little Goes a Long Way

When it comes to self-care, for me, itʼs not something I have to do daily to feel itʼs effects. If you can make time for 1 acupuncture session a month, great! If you can spend 15 minutes taking a bath uninterrupted, fantastic! Itʼs all about balance.

4) Do Something You Enjoy

Do self-care that makes you feel rejuvenated. If it has been so long since youʼve included some self-care in to your life, here is a list of things you can try:

• Meditation
• Yoga
• A walk outside
• A bath
• Acupuncture
• Massage therapy
• Chiropractic adjustment • Energy work/Reiki
• Counseling
• Reflexology
• Aromatherapy
• Read
• Journaling

Letʼs banish the thought of self-care being selfish and understand that itʼs not a “treat” but a necessity. The love and care a mother gives her child is unlike anything else. How amazing would it be if our children were able to see their mom love and care for herself as well?

About the Author

View More: http://alycarroll.pass.us/stephanie Stephanie Braunwarth is a board-certified Licensed Acupuncturist with a special focus in womenʼs health, fertility and nutrition. Stephanieeducates her patients about the importance of treating the underlying cause of a health condition and encourages them to take an active role in their health.

Stephanie serves patients at Des Moines Acupuncture Clinic in Des Moines.