When I got pregnant with my third baby people constantly asked me if I was ready for the craziness that #3 would bring. They told me I’d for sure be giving up on my scheduled lifestyle. They said that I’d be outnumbered, exhausted, and frazzled. Yes, people aren’t always as positive as they should be especially when you’re already pregnant! I mean c’mon guys, it’s not like there was any going back at that point!
Wondering if you should have a third baby? Be sure to check out this post from Christine Keyes for her thoughts on adding baby #3!
I was asked often if I was nervous or concerned about how I’d adjust to three kids. And I can honestly say I was NOT concerned. Not one bit. I was confident going into life with a third child. I felt prepared and ready to face it all head on.
My adjustment to one child was difficult because I was clueless. My adjustment to two children was much easier from a parenting perspective. I figured it all out with Kye and simply implemented what I learned with him with Britt. The adjustment for me with two kids was dealing with the guilt. The guilt that I couldn’t give Kye my full self anymore because I was also having to provide for Britt.
But I got over that guilt. And I was successful in parenting Britt in much the same way that I parented Kye. So I felt confident with baby #3 coming. I mean if I was over the guilt and if I knew how I would be parenting the new baby…how hard could it be? Britt and Tess are pretty much the same age difference as Kye and Britt are. So I felt like it’d be the same experience I had when Britt was born only now I’d have a 5 year old in the mix and Kye is straight up helpful! So having three kids would probably be easier than 2 kids since I’d have an extra helper!
My confidence never wavered about life with three. Zach got nervous and concerned, but I stood firm on feeling ready and able to take it on. Even when Tess was born I felt great! People would check in with me to see how I was adjusting and I’d be able to honestly say that it was going wonderful. I knew I’d need help so I asked for help. I knew I’d need to take care of myself during the postpartum phase so I took care of myself. I knew I’d have to sacrifice time from the older kids to be able to give Tess what she needed so I sacrificed.
I felt calm. I felt in control. I felt content.
Then thrush happened. Tess was 5 weeks old. Up until that point I had felt awesome. But struggling with the thrush started a shift in my perspective. I went from feeling confident to feeling lousy. During that week Zach was out of town and for the first time since having three kids I didn’t feel capable of handling the cards I was dealt. It got tough and I didn’t know how to cope. Mrs. Charlotte kept the older kids for me so I could focus on getting rid of the thrush and I regretted that decision to send them to her house rather than handling it all myself.
By having the kids go stay with her I felt like I wasn’t doing my job. They are all MY kids and I should be caring for them. I knew I’d have to sacrifice time with the older two to be able to give Tess what she’d need. I knew breastfeeding her was top priority so the other kids didn’t get as much quality time with me because I was spending so much time nursing. But then when nursing wasn’t going well? That crushed me. Here I was revolving my WORLD around feeding this baby and I couldn’t even do that “right”?
During the time of having thrush I stopped taking as good of care of myself. I stopped getting dressed and ready each day. I skipped a shower a couple times that week. I didn’t keep the house as clean as I had been. I let things slide and I let my emotional well being slide right along with it.
Once I started down the road of feeling crappy…it just got crappier. When you feel confident and you feel good about yourself, you tend to continue to be confident and feel good about yourself. But when you feel down about yourself and your abilities…you tend to only continue to feel that way.
So for awhile things got worse. Tess started only sleeping for 45 minute naps. Which I know isn’t a big deal. But I took it personally. Heck I give out Babywise advice all day long. Shouldn’t my kid be sleeping solid for naps? I tried everything under the SUN to get her to sleep for longer periods. But she wouldn’t. Every single nap she’d wake exactly at 45 minutes. I would hold her and try my best to get her back to sleep. I finally realized that she’s just not a good napper. Kye was an awful napper and she is just like her brother. It’s okay. It’s not a reflection of me as a parent. And it’s a PHASE. I just have to stay the course and it WILL get better!
Once I realized that I was able to get outside the sleep frustration situation and see that I needed a break from the crying. I decided to put her in the swing if (WHEN) she woke at 45 minutes and let her finish her nap there. Usually she falls back to sleep, sometimes she doesn’t. And that’s okay. I don’t do a paci. I don’t hold her the whole nap. I just stick her in the swing. Part of me was disappointed in myself for making that decision. But sometimes you have to just stay sane and I trust it’s a phase that she will work through and I know I’m doing the best I can to get her through it with as little sleep help as possible (a major goal of mine is for all my children to self soothe for sleep!).
On top of the poor naps…Tess just straight up hates bottle feeding. And this issue, my friends, is the one that did me in. It’s the one that took my frustration and “feeling down” to a whole new level. I am an XYZ person. I will work hard. I will sacrifice. I will follow instructions to a tee. As long as I know the end result is worth it, I will do whatever it takes when I have a goal in mind.
With sleep for my children I KNOW all the hard work that Babywise involves is SUPER worth it. It pays off! So while I may have days where I’m frustrated, I know it’s all going to be okay and that I will look back and be thankful for the hard work I put in. I know that, without a doubt, I will see results. There will be fruits of my labor.
Bottle rejection is not an XYZ type fix. I can do everything in the world to get her to drink a bottle but there is no guarantee that she will take it.
And I know already what you are thinking. First thought: “um who cares if she won’t take a bottle?” I do. I care.
Everyone has things that they need. I think it’s important to know what we need to be happy. What is important to us. How, as a mom, we don’t lose ourselves. For me it’s travel. It’s ALWAYS been travel. Zach and I need travel for our marriage. I need travel for my sanity! I’ve known that about myself for years and have always done a great job of making sure I get time away from my daily life. It recharges me and allows me to stay true to myself.
Not only is travel essential to my wellbeing…but so is having breaks from nursing. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE nursing. I love the bond it creates. I enjoy the experience. I love it! But I spend 99% of my time at home. When I get the opportunity to go out, I don’t want to spend that time nursing. I love going out as a family and during those times I want to be able to be involved WITH my family. Bottle feeding allows that to happen. And I also need time away from my family. Girl’s nights. Date nights. Just running errands. Bottle feeding allows me to get the much needed breaks that ALL moms deserve to have!
So, yes, I know I COULD nurse her all the time. I could. I could take her with me everywhere I go and just deal with nursing in public or just limit our outings to the length of time between feedings. I could cancel trips we have planned. I could tell my friends that we pretty much either have to hang out at my house or go run and do a quick meal so I can be back in time for the next feeding.
I understand that people will judge me for saying this…but that person who can revolve their entire life around nursing? That’s not me. Even before I EVER nursed a baby I knew that wasn’t me. I told Zach from the very beginning that I would always want to pump a bottle to do for feedings out and about. It’s just one of those things.
Some women know they couldn’t stay home with their kids. They know they are a better mom to their kids because they work. Some women know they have to exercise to stay sane. Some know that they need to take long baths in the evenings. We all have things we know we need…and I need my baby to be able to bottle feed.
This bottle issue has really, really caused me to lose my confidence. I’ve lost my ability to feel in control. I have lost my contentment.
I have said many times that my passion is parenting. I found my calling when I became a mother and it’s the ONE area of my life that I’ve always been very proud of and very confident in. I often feel like a “less than I should be” wife. Or friend. Or daughter. But never, ever, ever have I ever questioned my ability as a mom. Not once.
I know it’s silly to think that a small thing like “bottle feeding” has caused me to feel this way. But you don’t really get to decide what thing will be the thing to break you. This is my thing. I know there are a LOT worse things in life. I have tried to tell myself that. I have tried to talk myself out of feeling this way. But I can’t.
And because I can’t talk myself out of feeling bad about myself. Because I can’t look at the big picture like I’m usually so able to do. Because I can’t find the silver lining in all of this. Because I can’t seem to make it through a day without being on the verge of tears. Because I can’t tell you the last time I truly felt happiness. Because I can’t tell you that there haven’t been moments lately where I’ve thought “I wasn’t meant to be a mother of three kids. I can’t handle it.” Because I can’t stop feeling lonely or unappreciated. Because I can’t stop feeling stuck. Because I can’t ever get a break that I need without worrying the whole time if my baby is eating. Because seeing Tess’s sweet smile and feeling Britt’s precious cuddles and hearing Kye’s kind words aren’t enough to bring me back to reality and to make me feel better.
Because of all of this I finally came to realize that these feelings are bigger than the bottle.
This past Sunday we went through the process to get ready and get everyone to church. During church Tess would only drink 2 ounces. Two. She’s 13 weeks old and would only drink 2 ounces at her feeding. She cried the entire time during services because she simply did NOT want anymore of the bottle.
I took Tess home because I had to pump for her missed feeding and Zach needed to stay for a meeting so he and the older kids stayed. I felt my tears ready to come as I walked to the van. I bawled and sobbed the entire way home. I mean UGLY cry. I literally felt like I was having a panic attack. I felt like I was going to puke or pass out or something. I mean I for sure shouldn’t have been driving.
I knew before that day that I was dealing with more than just “life with three” issues. I knew it but I just kept thinking it’d get better. I kept telling myself “once this happens THEN I will feel better and be back to myself” But that time just hasn’t come.
That night I contacted my midwife and told her that I am struggling with postpartum depression.
Not an easy thing to admit to anyone. But I have no doubt that it’s what I’ve been dealing with and that it is time to get some help in coping. Any of my friends who I told my feelings to agreed immediately when I mentioned I thought I might have PPD. Even my HUSBAND who is like totally not the type to be in tune to emotional type stuff…even he said he agreed.
I called Monday and got an appointment for Tuesday to go in and meet with Stacy. Even just contacting her about my concerns made me feel better. I know this is the beginning of what could be a tough road. I know it’s not a “quick fix” issue. I know it’s something I will be judged for. And will be whispered about. I know it’s something that has MANY different options for treatment. And that alone is pretty overwhelming.
But I also know it’s not something I caused or something I could really control. I know it’s a common issue that people are usually too afraid to talk about. I know it’s nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed about. I know it doesn’t define me and isn’t something that makes me any less of a mom, or wife, or friend.
My life has certainly not been as hard as many other’s have had it. But I have faced hard times. And I have always wanted to “rise above” them. I never, ever, EVER want anyone to give me pity or excuses. I had a hard time in high school. I lived pretty much by myself at 16. I could have easily skipped school. Partied. Done drugs. People would have understood. I mean I had a LOT of freedom. They would have given me excuses. I’m sure most people would have expected it to happen and I would have just been meeting those expectations.
But that’s not what I ever want.
Now with three kids people expect you to struggle. And I know that many people are rooting for me to “fail.” Sadly when you put your life on display for the world to see…you attract people who both love you for it and who hate you for it. I’m sure (unfortunately) MANY of my readers are reading this and are glad to see my struggle. Glad to see me down. Glad to watch me fall off some imaginary pedestal they probably think I put myself on.
I know the world sees three kids as tough. And it is. And I know people who know about my family situation see that as hard. And it is. And I know that anyone who has read my boring posts about my foot realize what a struggle that is. And it is.
I know I have excuses to be depressed. I know people expect it. I’m sure many people were assuming it’d happen to me at some point. Probably surprised that it hasn’t happened sooner.
But just like how in high school how I had all the excuses in the world to choose wrong choices but I continued to strive to rise above (made straight A’s, never skipped school, never did a single drug) I will continue to rise above now.
When I first realized I was dealing with PPD I felt a lot of concern over my ability to rise above it. I refuse to ever give in to the excuses I may have available to me. I resisted admitting what I was dealing with because I was afraid that admitting it would mean I was giving into it. I feared that I would be doing what everyone expected for me to do rather than rising above it like I normally do.
Then I realized that by recognizing the signs of postpartum depression and that by taking action and asking for help that I AM rising above it. I’m not letting this little dark cloud take over my sunny sky. I’m not letting it ruin my days with my precious babies. I’m not letting it steal my joy or rob me of my happiness in my role as a mother.
Typically when I blog I try to do it with a hindsight perspective. I like to be able to work through issues (be it parenting ones, personal ones, or whatever!) and then write about them. It allows me to share a solution to whatever issue I faced and to see the goodness in it. It allows me to appreciate the hardship and see the plan God put in place during it.
I decided not to do that this time. I don’t have a solution yet. I am not past this struggle. I’m still looking for the silver lining. I’m still leaning on God and having to ask “what’s the plan here?” But I know there is one. And I know that this will be used in His Glory. I know that it is an opportunity for growth for me. I know it’s a chance to see life in a whole new way. I know once this cloud passes that I will shine brighter than I ever have before.
So how is life with three? It’s wonderful. It’s challenging. It’s overwhelming. It’s fun. It’s crazy. It’s stressful. It’s emotional. It’s a juggling act. It’s silly. It’s filled with more kisses than you could ever imagine. It’s hopeful. It’s scary. It’s hard. It’s rewarding. It’s bonding. It’s an adjustment. It’s my new normal.
I wish I could write this post and go on and on about how my days are wonderful from start to finish but that’s not real life. Do I think three children is harder than two? Yes, of course. But two was harder than one. And one was def hard because I’d never had any! I don’t think that three kids caused my PPD. I don’t think I can’t handle it or that I won’t adjust to it. And not a single part of me questions having more children in the future.
My perspective may be a little foggy right now and I may not feel like my truest self, but I still love my life. I still love my children. I still count my blessings. I am still so thankful and so filled with joy.
I may not know what the future holds but I know that the struggles I’m facing today will be worth it. I know my children will never, ever question my love for them. They will never have to worry about my emotional state. I will always be the best version of myself for them. Because of them. I know I will always strive to be the type of mother I hope my girls become and that my son marries. I will make my choices with their futures in my mind and I will not lower the standards I’ve set for myself and my parenting.
Writing has always been very therapeutic for me and I hope that my openness in dealing with all aspects of life (the good and bad) will help others in some way as well. A big blessing about blogging is not only that I’m able to help others, but that others have also been so helpful to me in so many ways.
If you think you may be struggling with postpartum depression you are NOT alone! Please reach out and get some help to work through it. It is NOTHING to be embarrassed about or ashamed of! Trying to cope on your own just isn’t possible. And if you have overcome postpartum depression in the past then please reach out to someone who may be struggling. I know I personally would appreciate input and advice. I am overwhelmed with all the options of treatment and would love to know what has worked for others.
I have no plans in stopping with my blog. I love writing and I love the amazing community of readers and friends who I’ve met through this avenue. I appreciate all of your support and love and prayers!
Update: See how I overcame my struggles with postpartum depression here 🙂