Maintaining My Zen Amongst the Crazy Inside My Head

So first I share all my crazy with you and now I share with you how I’m learning to deal with it. If you missed me sharing my lifelong battle with anxiety and depression, read here. It will help you understand this one.  My form of crazy is permanent. The mental illness I experience isn’t just for a season. I’ve spent years fighting this but have decided its OK to be with my crazy. So here is what I do to to attempt to maintain my zen.

As I stated in my previous post, I started taking prescription anti-depressants in 2010. It took about 3 months of trying different brands and doses of anti-depressants to find the right fit. I remember the moment I walked into the therapists office for the first time. In tears, I explained what I was feeling. She  gave me several ideas to help me deal RIGHT NOW but also suggested I contact my doctor to get on anti-depressants. I had explained that I had been on anti-anxiety pills and they didn’t seem to work. She then explained the difference between anti-anxiety and anti-depressant. Anti-anxiety medications are often times tranquilizers. They get you through the moment.

Oh sweet tranquilizers…. the memories.  I had a lovely relationship with Lorazapam (Ativan)for some time, but apparently taking that on a daily basis isn’t recommended. Something about increased tolerance and addiction come to mind.

I was showing signs of dependancy and my doctor could see it. It wasn’t the first time I came to her about anxiety and possibly depression.  She said if these feelings were consistently happening every day I needed an SSRI. My brain needed help.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) -These modern medications make more serotonin available to the brain by blocking neurons from taking up the extra serotonin after a nerve spike.

Side effects of SSRIs may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, headache, weight gain, anxiety, dizziness, dry mouth, and trouble sleeping.

Oh goody. This does not sound nearly as fun as those tranquilizers were. But would I rather be a slug for the rest of my life or a functioning adult? It’s a toss up.

No more ambien or lorazapam with these pills. There are too many risks combining all these medications. So sleepless nights and sad feelings will be my near future.

Here is the deal with anti-depressents. They are a bitch to prescribe. As in each of the options have pretty severe side effects and work differently with each person. They started me on Zoloft first.  I understood it took almost a month to start feeling the effects of the medications. Afterall it has to adjust your brain function and that takes time (unless you’re a tranquilizer… obviously). I drove straight to the pharmacy and picked up my prescription. I immediately took one of the pills and went home… waiting for it to kick in. An hour later the pharmacy called.

“Ummm, ma’am, have you taken the drug yet?”

Me:”Yes, Why?”

“well, the pharmacist gave you the incorrect dosage.”

Me: thinking this is probably not a big deal.

“You were prescribed 10mg and we gave you 50mg”

Me: Shit

Within 3 hours my head was pounding and my chest was aching. I called the pharmacy throughout the evening to make sure I didn’t need to go to the emergency room. They assured me I would be ok. I did not feel ok. The headache turned into a migraine which lasted 24 hours. I was dizzy, exhausted, in pain, and thought I was dying.  (I understand some people get regular migraines that could last for days. This was my experience and it sucks. I have sympathy for people who deal with this more often than once in a lifetime.)

The next day I switched to my prescribed 10mg dose but the chest pains didn’t go away. It was like severe anxiety – which is a side effect. That’s super helpful. Lets take some anti-depressants that cause anxiety. Genius. The chest pains lasted 10 days before my doc changed my prescription over to Prozac.

It took another week for the chest pains to subside. Within 3 weeks I started to feel the effects, but I wanted more. We upped the dose to 15mg and then 20mg. When I was on the 20mg, I was exhausted all the time. So back to 15mg. Then I found that some seasons were harder than other seasons.   I had to find the sweet spot.

Being on depression medication with the current negative social stigma is hard.  I battled feeling weak for having to be on them. In fact, I figured if I could just figure out what normal felt like then I could figure all my head stuff out and TADA … be able to deal on my own. Like a big girl.

So off I went. One year on, six months off, one year on, one year off, one year on, six months off…. how long am I going to do this to myself before I realize maybe I’m not one of those people that gets to go off of this medication. Insert sad face emoticon here. Last summer, I forgot to call to get my prescription resent (I mean I remembered every day I just forgot or was too lazy to actually make the call to get them shipped). I went 10 days without medication. That means, I didn’t wean off of them carefully like is required, I went cold turkey. I was a train wreck. Finally I called in the prescription and requested an emergency dose from my local pharmacy. Needless to say, that will not be happening again. I’m cool with being a lifer (as of this moment). I’ve experienced depression and anxiety long enough. I’m good with being a functioning human for my husband, my kids, and myself. That being said, I’m still fighting the stigma internally and externally.

I heard a woman in my moms group make a side comment about all the moms out there who just take meds to deal with life. I guess that’s me. The problem is, I wasn’t dealing before. I was curled up in my bed, trapped in my mind, and had a potential of physically endangering myself. So maybe she doesn’t need the meds, but I sure as hell do. I’m no longer going to defend my need for being on them, but embrace it. Hell yeah I’m on anti-depressants! THEY ARE FANTASTIC! I feel like a normal person. I’m not overly happy. I still can get sad or anxious in certain situations, but I’m not so hard on myself that I feel sitting in the dark closet by myself is the best plan of action. I can function in society with the best of them and that, my friends, is awesome. So if you are in a place of depression, give it a shot. Be patient, but give it a shot. Live your life as your BEST SELF! And realize, not everyone needs to be on anti-depressants permanently like I do.

I’m also realizing that I can’t just count on my medication to cure my depression. I also have to adjust my lifestyle. I have to take care of myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Body, brain, and spirit.

With that, I start with therapy. Working with someone to heal your brain and spirit. My therapist clears my brain from the clutter I have built up in my lifetime. She helps me bring in positive and helpful emotions that bring me peace and understanding. I have 2 therapists. One for my marriage and one for myself. Both end up helping with healing my entire self. My self worth has improved. My spirituality has grown exponentially. My patience has increased as a mom and a wife. I’ve become much more compassionate… considering before I proclaimed often my emotionally dead heart… kind of a big accomplishment here. I’m finally happy with where I am in life. As an anxious person, that is saying a lot. Before I was never enough, I was always playing catch-up with those around me. I am enough. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a cool phrase these days. I am enough. Fully. I 100% blame my therapists and the work they have forced me to do on myself for this revelation. I’ve started reading the bible more and building my relationship with Jesus. I feel like this is the first time I’m doing this, but I’ve known Him for so long… I just never let Him in. I should probably write more about that, but I’m not there yet.

Therapy has created the person I was always meant to be. But the work is not easy. It’s constant. I have to forcibly shut down the negative talk within my head. But I can finally do it. I can finally ignore the angry self deprecating thoughts that constantly pop up. Therapy is like a personal trainer for your brain and spirit.  I wish I would take as good of care of my body as I have been my mind, but I’m sure it will come. It is part of my goal every day to maintain physical strength in some capacity. Lately it’s just been carrying my baby around everywhere which hardly counts. It’s better than fudge and soda I guess.

Every day is a new challenge between mind, body, and spirit. I wrote in my journal (the one that is hidden under a pile of laundry I have yet to fold) all the things I wanted to accomplish in a day. It goes like this:

 

  • Wake up at 5am
  • Shower
  • Drink 24oz water with vitamins (Get 100/oz water each day)
  • Meditate 10 min with essential oils (frankincense usually… because WWJD?)
  • Visualize my day in a positive way accomplishing easily all of my tasks.
  • Exercise for 10-30 min
  • Listen to a motivational book for 10-30 min (during exercise)
  • Write or journal for 10-15 min.
  • Connect with 2 friends. Build relationships.

 

 

 

So far, I have completed all of these things in one day… never.

That journal entry was dated a year ago. So I’m not some sort of amazing human that takes care of every aspect of her body, but the point is I try. I probably get MAYBE one of those things on my list done every day.

So that is how I keep the sanity in my day… I try things … every single day.  I’m not perfect at it, but at least I try.

Giving myself every possible opportunity to be authentically me in the most peaceful and inspiring way I can, is the greatest gift I can give my body, my husband, and my children.

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Breastfeeding my adopted baby: That was unexpected!

I am currently at 15 weeks starting this breastfeeding journey and a lot has happened. Baby girl is 25 weeks this week.

Major Happenings:

 

  1. Baby girl gets a majority of her diet (75%) from me directly.

  2. My boobs have grown more lopsided than ever. (C’MON right side!! Pick up some slack!)

  3. I haven’t gained “too much” weight from the medication. (common side effect)

  4. I’m getting much better about nursing in public.

  5. I thought I was pregnant for a fleeting moment!

 

Did you know that the hormones involved with breastfeeding could stop your period? Well I seemed to have forgotten that simple fact and blew through a pack of pregnancy tests in a weekend. I couldn’t decide if I was excited or terrified that I FINALLY got pregnant. But alas, the universe is an asshole that likes to play dirty tricks on people.

BONUS: NO PERIOD UNTIL I DECIDE TO HAVE ONE!!! AKA, better than that birth control that stops your period forever but turns you into the HULK.

Seriously though, my left boob is twice the size of my right boob! Is this normal!?!?! Dear Righty McHooters, pull it together, this is a freakin’ team effort. I’m gonna need one of those chicken cutlet boobinators to level the playing field. My baby even looks at limpy right side like … are you seriously going to make me attempt to get milk out of this side even though WE ALL KNOW it produces jack? (I’m paraphrasing)

In all reality, I’m making progress. Quite a bit in fact. The only thing stopping me from hitting 100% is my sheer hatred for taking pills and my lack of following a schedule.

I’ve basically hit a full supply, but I absolutely have to be taking my Domperidone 4x a day. I upped my dose to 120mg per day. So I take three 10mg pills 4x a day. Sometimes I forget a dose and only hit 90mg for the day. One day two weeks ago I only remembered to take the Dom once for the day and my supply ran out by her bedtime so I had to hook up to my long lost supplementer that I didn’t miss. It’s worth it to remember to take the pills.

Last week I did really well, I took my 4 doses a day each day and didn’t even need to pump. When I do pump, I can get 4-5 ounces in a sitting (total with double pumping). She still got a bottle from grandma once a day because grandmas love to feed their grandbabies … so I let it slide.

Speaking of pumping, we had my cousin and his wife and son move in with us for a month so my lazy pumping came to a halt. No more pumping during morning cartoons or the Ellen show. But that is ok, I love having them here and helps me plan a little better. TAKE YOUR MEDICATION ALL READY! Really, I only pump at night now or if I become super uncomfortable and baby won’t eat … which rarely happens. The girl loves to eat! And for that, I am grateful.

On average I am feeding baby at 3 a.m., 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. Generally, the 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. feeding is a bottle, but the rest are from the breast without supplementation. Plus now she is getting solid foods twice a day. I know I could feed her from me every feeding, but I would absolutely have to be regimented on my medications. I would have never made a very good military soldier. I don’t think they do “ish” very well in the military. “ISH” is what I live on. I’ll be there around 10-ish. Or I take my vitamins everyday (ish). Does oh-five-hundred mean 5 a.m. or p.m. (ish)? It would not have gone well at all.

My goal currently is to continue this process (ish) for the next 3 months. I’ve fed her with my milk for 3 months now and would like to do it another 3. I wish I could be one of those moms that just loves it so much that I want to feed her till she is in kindergarten, but I don’t really want to be taking this medicine for that long. Plus we have some big plans this summer that would force me to stop the medication anyway.

THE PLOT THICKENS!

 

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Thanks for following along, if this is the first article of my series you have seen, here are the links for the others: 

Part 1: When God Shouts… I listen

When God Shouts

Part 4: Week 2


Part 2: The Hospital


Part 5: The Protocol

Part 5

Part 3: One More Time


Part 6: Holy Boobs Batman!


Losing My Sh#! on a Daily Basis

For as long as I can remember I’ve had anxiety almost constantly. Regardless of the situation. Then when stressful situations did come up it would create a full on panic attack. I remember anxiety induced chest pain most of my life… as in I got so used to it I assumed it was normal. When I was in first grade I had a spelling test to study for, rather than studying the week of, I was in a hyperventilating crying fit (every night) because I knew I would fail. Anxiety… since 7.

When I was in middle school, my teachers got me into the gifted program. WTF? Seriously? I would go to the gifted classroom with the actual smart people and not be able to play any of their smart people games.

Answer: I don’t fucking know! I literally just had 3 full blown panic attacks trying to find this damn riddle example. Can we just color?

Side note: Adult coloring books? Yes Please!

I would be sitting their sweating, knowing the truth. I’m just here because my teachers feel sorry for me. Everyone knows it! Is this some sort of big joke on me? So much discomfort. But that is what middle school and high school is about. Awkward. Uncomfortable. A Phase. A shit storm of emotions on a daily basis. Something I can’t seem to grow out of.

In high school, I dove into music. I had a talent. I could sing. My boyfriend taught me to play the guitar and I was hooked. This was my thing. This is what I could be good at. I could sit for hours playing my guitar, writing songs, and singing. But I would sabotage myself. I would practice songs I wasn’t performing so when I would get to my performances, I would freeze up. I didn’t want to practice for days on something I was probably going to mess up anyway. It was the same story as my studying. Don’t do it or you will prove to yourself and everyone that you are an idiot. If I study and fail that means I really am a failure. If I practice hard and still mess up, I was never good to begin with. Save yourself the shame and just go for mediocre. This is what I told myself all the time. It was a hate hate relationship between my heart and my mind. I’m a good person right? I have no clue. I couldn’t get past the bitter self-hate.

I cannot believe I even went to college. I didn’t JUST go to college. I went to 4 colleges because I would transfer thinking the next college would be better, less stressful. I was just taking the wrong classes. I was just in the wrong program. I was just… excuses excuses excuses blah blah blah. I kept jumping back and forth between arts degrees…. Which one is going to make me SUCCESSFUL. That’s another post all together. Those will be titled ‘What is success’ and ‘College is a waste of time’.

I always get myself in uncomfortable situations and then run for the hills only to find more uncomfortable situations. I finally just realized my life was a series of uncomfortable situations. So I might as well get used to it.

Not only did I go to (4) College, but after completing my degree and working in my field of study for 3 years I changed career fields… again and got my real estate license. Because taking another test and learning something COMPLETELY different seemed like a good idea. Idiot. (I really need to work on my negative self-talk). I spent 6 years in CONSTANT anxiety in this career field. Every client was a potential for me to disappoint. I had my client to disappoint, the other agent, my managing broker… My disappointment list just got bigger. It’s like I was trying to shake my anxiety with as much anxiety as possible. FIGHT ANXIETY WITH ANXIETY! Take that. Ok, look, it didn’t work. I came out of that experience with a few less brain cells… and a permanent eye twitch.

The best plan of action at this point was to get pregnant and become a stay at home mom. That would solve all of my problems. So you won’t be surprised when I tell you I am currently coming on 9 years of infertility.

I wasn’t just dealing with anxiety though. It was bigger than anxiety.

I recall in 2007, before infertility, before real estate, I was driving to work and thought how much easier life would be if I just drove off the bridge. Not metaphorically speaking, but I actually wanted to drive off a bridge. I didn’t want to hurt anyone else, just myself. And I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to be in the hospital for a month or so. (At least a month) It’s so vivid because I contemplated this every day going into work for months, probably years. I figured if I could just get a month with nothing to worry about except my own health then I would feel better. I started taking sleeping pills to deal with my depression. At least I slept good at night, right?

I didn’t feel bad enough that I wanted to check myself into a psych department… or at least I didn’t think I felt bad enough. I didn’t deserve a weekend retreat at a yoga camp or meditation camp. Plus that cost way too much. I figured insurance would pay for a car accident. Besides not being crazy enough for the psych department, who knows if insurance would cover it and I wasn’t interested in finding out. Yes.. a car accident seemed like the most logical best thing I could do. Plus it would be an ‘accident’ and not my fault at all.

So what did I have going on in my life that made me feel so hopeless? Nothing. I had a good job and a great husband.  I was going to school part time as well. I suppose that was a large stressor. Ultimately, I felt like people could see right through my shallow soul. They would soon find out I was a fraud. I felt like I was awful at my job (even though my bosses and co-workers praised me often). I felt like I wasn’t smart. Why bother going to school? I’m never going to be able to hold down a career. I’m not nearly as smart as the other students in my classes. My mind was constantly filled with negative self thought.

Anytime someone would point out a small error or remind me of something I forgot I would come down on myself hard. How could I ever hold any job down if I can’t accept even the slightest criticisms or reminders. Granted I was (STILL AM) a procrastinator so I never made it easy on myself. My husband would try to help me through all of it, but how do you logic with the illogical? Much of this negative thought came home with me as well. My husband was afraid to talk to me. I often overreacted. And then he overreacted at my reactions. Cycle of pain.

So was I depressed or anxious? What is the difference?

de·pres·sion

dəˈpreSH(ə)n/

noun

feelings of severe despondency and dejection.

anx·i·e·ty

aNGˈzīədē/

noun

 a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Its hard to say. I experienced both anxiety and depression. So lets call that Depriety or how about Anxession. Yes. That is exactly what I have.

In 2010, after 2 years of infertility, I decided to beat my depriety with exercise. I would tell my body and brain who is finally boss. I own you! You don’t get to decide my fate! I trained for a half Ironman. 70.3 miles, 7 hours and 45 min of screaming at my body.

I HATE YOU! YOU ARE AN IDIOT! YOU HAVE NO PURPOSE IN THIS LIFE!

The wind and my muscles screaming right back at me, but I did it. I finished the race and my body lovingly rewarded me with MONO. Yes. I got mono.  I also was diagnosed with anemia and low vitamin D. My body was done. My body told my mind that it was done. I will shut you down until you get your shit together. I got home from that race, booked an appointment with a therapist and my PCP and got on anti-depressants immediately.  Within a month my body finally relaxed. My mind finally relaxed. I could breathe.

This is the story of my personal crazy. What goes on in my head. I could keep writing and I will. But today, this is where I will stop. I write to educate you. I write to help you. I don’t write for sympathy. I’m figuring this out. I want you to know that you can live WITH (not against) this bullshit called mental illness.

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Of the worlds population, 5% of us suffer from depression. That is 350 Million people. In the united states that number is 6.7% – or 15 million people over the age of 18 suffer from depression. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)

YOU are not alone in this. Depression and anxiety doesn’t have to make you weak. Choose to treat your disease. Do not try to fight this on your own. Call a doctor, call a friend, call me. Get a therapist. YOU ARE NOT ALONE unless you choose to be.

you-are-not-alone

Suicide prevention

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

New Family Traditions

I remember when my husband and I had to decide who was going to skip their family Christmas for the first time to attend the others. That was an especially difficult Christmas. It hasn’t really gotten easier. Letting go of childhood traditions to create your own has been an interesting journey to say the least. We try to fit into each others childhood traditions and it never really feels right.

What is family? Mother, Father, Children

What happens when those children grow up and get married? When Mother and Father become grandmother and grandfather? What happens when you try to combine in-laws with all of that? Now your brother and sister are married with kids and there are more in-laws than you can count. Mass Confusion.

It sucks growing up. Adulting is hard. Having to navigate the needs of everyone around you, including your own. It’s difficult.

The bottom line is, we aren’t children anymore and it will never be the same. We have to hold on to our memories because we can never replicate those childhood moments as adults as hard as some of us may try. What we can do is give our children memories to take with them the rest of their lives. Those memories hopefully will shape the new memories they make with their families.

After spending years building our little family unit (Me, Justin and our kids) and growing apart and coming together as a couple(repeat x1000), we have opted to start our own family tradition.

We attempted this last year, but as expected, had some push back.

“Holidays are for family.”

It brought us immense guilt to want to celebrate without them. But it also reinforced that YES! HOLIDAYS ARE FOR FAMILY!

You see, we are going on a little FAMILY vacation to the Rocky Mountains. A place that Justin and I dearly love and enjoy for it’s beauty and solitude… and it’s black diamonds.  Just me, my husband, and my kids. We are going out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner (GASP!). We are going to spend much needed time just having fun with each other. Not worrying about laundry or dishes. We are creating a new family tradition.

When our son was born, I felt strongly that we could NOW start his childhood traditions by staying home for Christmas. Not just staying in Colorado, but staying HOME. Waking up Christmas morning to presents under the tree (in my own home)… hot coffee (cocoa) and jammies. Not worrying about putting a bra on. Not worrying about drinking the last cup of coffee because we don’t know how to work the coffee maker or how to make the perfect pot of coffee each family prefers (watered down or turkish black). Not scheduling a shower around other visitors or asking permission to take a shower because we aren’t really sure when breakfast or presents or other traditions are happening. Not worrying about who has to make breakfast or when the kids will be fed.

Waking up in our own home with our own coffee… and no bras. This is my dream.

The excitement of figuring out what MY family tradition will be has been a ton of fun. This is the part of adulting I can embrace. I can bring in a little of Justin’s memories and a little of my memories and make them brand new for us and for our children.

As I think of us changing it up like this, I think of what Justin’s parents and my parents might be feeling. That’s the hard part. Are we hurting feelings by doing our own thing? Probably. I very much dislike causing hurt feelings. I think of when my kids are older and our little family tradition is no more. I can see how that will be hard for me as a mom to watch my children grow into adults and build their own family traditions with their kids. I do see it. Hopefully I can embrace their choices. Though in this moment in time, I can never imagine them not NEEDING me for every single possible thing. You mean I won’t have to wipe runny noses and poopy butts the rest of my life? This makes me sad. Seriously.

Because I want to cherish each of these moments, we MUST start our family tradition now. I want to experience it as long as possible.

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In this statement alone, my guilt is gone. I love our extended families, but this day we choose to celebrate our Thanksgiving together for the first time as a family of four. It may not be your perfect idea of a Thanksgiving tradition, but it is ours.

 

Now get out there and ADULT THE SHIT out of this holiday season.

Be Kind.

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Holy Boobs Batman! (Part 6)

breastfeedingmy-adoptedbaby-girl

I am 7 weeks from starting the thought process and 5 weeks from starting the medication. So I thought I would update you on my progress.

About ten days ago we went on a family vacation to California. I was fully prepared and brought my fancy pump and my supplementer. I was prepared to nurse on the takeoff and landing and had back up bottles as well. This would be my first public nursing experience, which I’ve had some anxiety over. This is also baby girls first flight. Our son has flown several times and does very well.

I brought my super fancy and trendy cover up to put myself at ease. Ultimately I knew baby girl could care less but this was all on my nerves. I know, why does it matter, women are fighting to normalize breastfeeding. It feels like I’m still getting past the legitimacy of deserving to breastfeed. As if everyone on the airplane will know that 1. I’m nursing and 2. that my child is adopted. And who cares if they did.

I realize have some things to work through here. Thank God for my incredible therapist who is filled with a fiery desire for me to reach my full potential and is also filled with enough grace to catch me when I fall. In combination with my amazing friends and husband I should be wonder woman by now. But then again, I am breastfeeding my adopted child with actual milk from my actual boobs … so maybe I’m getting close in at least one field.

Now, the flight. She did really well! I nursed her taking off with the supplementer and she slept the whole flight (2 hours) and was ready to nurse on landing but she didn’t wake up to bother with it. It was the same situation on the flight home. Totally fine.

As for keeping up with my nursing and pumping schedule while on vacation… well thats another story. I pumped twice a day and nursed twice a day. So that’s half as much that is recommended to keep your supply up. I was still pumping about 2 ounces total per session.

When we got home from vacation I remained at 2 oz per session. This week however, I am increasing to 3 oz in the mornings and 2 oz at each pumping session per day.

At this point I would say she is getting about
1/3 of her calories from breastmilk which is pretty incredible. My goals are adjusting as we continue on this journey. I’m comfortable if we stop here, but man… if I could create enough milk to not have to worry about packing formula everywhere… that would be AMAZING. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away and trying my best to stick to my nursing/pumping/nursing schedule.3-oz

Nursing has been so enjoyable for me. I love the connection that I get with my daughter.  She is showing a lot of preference for the breast vs the bottle so that keeps me pushing to increase my milk supply. Its a team effort between the two of us and so far we are kicking ass.

SIDE EFFECTS:

I’ve had a few changes at home since starting this process. My son (3) has lost a little bit of his mommy through this process which I feel very guilty about. He has latched onto dad pretty hard (not a bad thing) because I seem to always be feeding baby girl when he wants to play or he only wants to play when I’m feeding or pumping.  He is requiring daddy give him hugs and kisses prior to leaving for work (5:30am) which is kind of difficult because if daddy does this he is up for the day. Little man usually wakes up around 7am. So we are navigating that. The other morning he woke up in a panic because he thought dad had left without kissing him. Luckily it was a Saturday and he got to him immediately.  I really try to do one on one things with him, but it is challenging. Generally speaking he is still a super fun loving little guy that acts out by coloring on my bed sheets with sharpie. Typical three year old with a touch of awesome.

I’ve also had some physical side effects like feeling jittery throughout the day. I believe that is coming from a lack of hydration in combination with the domperidone I’m taking. I’m still around 80mg a day – which is the minimum dose my LC suggested. As I build my supply I’d like to wean off of it if I can. Many blogs I’ve read state they have to stay on the drug to maintain supply, so we shall see.

Next side effect:

HOLY BOOBS, BATMAN! I’ve probably increase by 2 sizes, so have had to do some wardrobe configuring. My husband is pretty much terrified of them. Either they are going to spontaneously squirt milk at him (this has never happened) or he feels like he is cheating on me with fake boobs. I’m sure he will come around. It doesn’t help that I chase him around with them and make him touch them when they are super hard in the morning. Poor guy. Total entertainment!!

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up-arrow This 100% deserved its own quote box. You should probably pin this as “awesome”. You’re welcome.

That is where we are as of today! I’ll check back in a month to update those interested in hearing about my hoots. Thanks for keeping up! I really do get the gravity of how amazing this is… all joking aside.

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She Was Not Ours After-All

October 31st, 2012 2pm

I answer a call from our agency,

“Your daughter was born at 2am this morning, would you like to meet her?”

ken-baugh

Rewind 4 years. November 30th 2008

I call my OB, “I think I just had a miscarriage”

That was the start of our journey to parenthood. We hadn’t even started “trying” yet but everything within me said it was time. I wasn’t ready and I was ready… The feelings I had at this moment confirmed that. It was time. We needed to start a family.

Those years of struggling with infertility were some of the most challenging years of my life as a woman and our lives within our marriage. Every part of my being was challenged. All I could do was ask WHY? WHY? WHY?

I wanted answers. Still in my twenties, I thought I was too young to have fertility issues. No one could explain it. No one had answers for us.

I did so many invasive tests just to know why. I went to therapist after therapist. Even seeing a chiropractor who claimed he could potentially cure my fertility issues. I looked everywhere I could for an answer. When no answer came, I dove into fitness training. Completing a half Ironman in 2010. In the process of that training I became extremely ill and exhausted. My body was revolting. My spirit telling me the answer wasn’t there.

What are you running from?

I put everything into a new career. I put everything into new beliefs. I walked away from God. As far as I could go. I cursed Him. Often.

What did I do to deserve this?

We finally decided to adopt. It was a contentious decision. We knew nothing about adoption. We didn’t know anyone who had adopted. This was new territory. So I put everything into adoption. I studied and read up on it. We picked an agency, got on a list and waited.

Just 2 months into our wait we got the call.

October 31st, 2012 2pm. I answer a call from our agency,

“Your daughter was born at 2am this morning, would you like to meet her?”

We rushed to the hospital calling family and friends saying, “THE DAY IS FINALLY HERE!!”

Tears streaming down our faces, the weight FINALLY being lifted.

Then there she was, our baby girl. She was six weeks early and in bad shape. I refused to leave her side but the hospital had no place for us to stay so we left as late as possible and came back in as early as possible.

At 9am the agency called us, “Her biological mother is having second thoughts.”

We spent as much time with her as we could that day. Our hearts were sinking. At 2pm on Nov 1st 2012 the decision was made. The biological mother signed over custody to a relative. We needed to go home.

She was not ours after-all.

I will never forget that moment. The impact that 24 hours had on me was HUGE. But something happened in that moment that brought my husband and I together in a way that we naturally could not have made happen. We were equally crushed. Equally devastated. Equally Numb.

We grew close at that time. Our arguments stopped. We were in this TOGETHER. From this point forward we were a team, holding each other up as it should be. As it should have been since we committed ourselves to each other. But marriage is like that. Ups and downs. Twists and turns.

We spent days explaining what happened to friends and family. Reliving that moment over and over again. How could there possibly be a silver lining to this?

Ye of little faith…

That moment brought upon the birth of an online support group that now has over 350 local members. It brought me some of the closest friends in adoption I could EVER ask for. The people I met because of this moment will be lifelong friends of mine and their children lifelong friends of my children.

That moment has helped numerous adoptive families build lifelong connections. Within the group people have connected in ways that brought their children home. Connections that might have not otherwise happened.

So did I fulfill my purpose in that moment of suffering? I think I am fulfilling it. Here I am with my two incredible miracle children looking back on a moment that is still defining me as a wife, a friend, a woman, and a mother.

And for that, I am forever grateful.

-SC

darkness

 

Breastfeeding my Adopted Baby (part 5): The Protocol

breastfeedingmy-adoptedbaby-girlMy motivation to begin the lactation process was at an all-time high. My body was on board and now, finally, my mind was on board. I can do this.

I meditate and journal a few times a week and before vising the LC I asked God to give me a heads up on how this whole breastfeeding situation is going to go. Should I go to the lactation consultant? Should I breastfeed? Is this going to be difficult?

Here is what He lead me to:

For seven days celebrate the feast of the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Deuteronomy 16:15

Speechless.

I need to enjoy myself and cherish the moments I get with this precious baby and this incredible gift of nursing I have been given. Stop questioning, start trusting.

Expect Miracles.

I met with one of the best Lactation Consultants in the Denver Metro area on Wednesday. It was very expensive. I debated canceling the appointment several times. What on earth is this woman going to tell me that Google can’t? Why am I doing this again? Oh right, Jesus. Here we go.

This was another first for me, I was pretty nervous. As soon as I met her, she instantly put me at ease. We chatted about my goals for a bit:

1. Good latch
2. To build a greater attachment with my daughter
3. If we can induce lactation at the same time… win/win. (I wasn’t going to allow myself to get excited about this.)

“Now, lets see the girls”

Of course… she wants to see my boobs… here we go.

Well she inspected the girls and gave me some compliments then, tips and tricks to get baby girl to latch well. Of course while we were there baby girl wasn’t into it at all. We spent about 90 minutes together as she helped me and encouraged me. Money well spent.

The LC educated me on the Newman-Goldfarb Protocols which I had researched a little prior to this meeting. There was so much wording in the sites I had looked up that I quickly got overwhelmed and assumed it was too difficult to even try. The LC was super helpful, she made me a simple HOW TO:

  1. Get a hospital grade breast pump – Pump or Nurse 8-10x a day.
  2. Increase prolactin level by taking Domperidone 20mg 4x a day
  3. Look into and prepare for Insufficient Grandular Tissue (IGT) – Higher likelihood with infertile women.
  4. Potential Tongue Tie – Review with Pediatrician.

She said she expected me to have this all figured out within 6 weeks and then we can start the process. So, I got started right away remembering God was guiding this entire process.

Within 48 hours I had everything I needed.

  1. I was able to rent a hospital grade breast-pump from a local company immediatly.
  2. A friend had a sealed package of domperidone she let me use. (This has to be ordered from a non-USA location as it is not yet approved for sale here, so it takes several weeks to arrive. I ordered more to replace hers and set me up for the next round.)
  3. Wait and see on IGT.
  4. Pediatrician was able to get me in immediately and confirmed she did NOT have tongue tie. He even wrote me a prescription and letter of need for the breast pump so I could TRY to get it covered under insurance. Might as well right… I hear Jesus has connections in the insurance industry.

Here are the INCREDIBLE results my friends:

 

protocol

Sweet baby JESUS!!!!

I am at day 14 post protocol and am producing an ounce per session, sometimes more. I’m pumping between 10-15 min at a time. I save all that milk and feed it to her at the last feeding. I assume she is more efficient at getting my milk than the pump is – so she is likely getting around 8oz of my milk a day. She is taking in about 25oz of fluids a day so I have a ways to go, but at this pace I should get there soon.

I know some of you are likely wondering why I even decided to go on the drug Domperidone. The truth is, I wasn’t too keen on the idea but my friend had a spare set so I figured this was a sign I needed to do it. After all, God knows if it was going to be difficult I wouldn’t have done it.

I am up to date with my story as of now, but will continue to post my experiences and results.

This has been an unbelievably amazing journey. I don’t feel like I’m being strong as some of you have stated, I feel like I’m being led. I’m just along for the ride.

Thank you so much for reading my story. I hope it has helped you understand that

God is real.

He performs miracles.

There is ALWAYS hope.

Anything is possible.

Expect miracles every single day. Start looking for them. Ask God to show you those miracles if you are dense like me.

I love you all.

Pictured Below: Sheilas Actual boob, Sheilas Actual baby

nursing

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Breastfeeding my Adopted Baby (part 4): Week 2

breastfeedingmy-adoptedbaby-girlWell, I dove head first into breastfeeding of all things. How did I get here? I guess that’s why I’ve felt so compelled to write this. I’ve had this website for two years and never had the drive to write and share like I am now. I guess ‘GODs timing’ is really a thing.

I’m coming into my spirituality slowly and need to be hit over the head with a 2×4 to really get a clear picture. Five years of infertility really jacked me and my relationship with God. I should probably write a post about that.

Now where was I? Ah yes.. Jesus and week 2.

I continued feeding her 2-3 times a day. As often as I could do it comfortably. Unfortunately we had a ‘boob down’ situation, literally my left nipple was bleeding. A small blister had formed. Oddly enough I didn’t care. I was enjoying this SO MUCH that I didn’t care that my nipple was bleeding. My husband on the other hand was like… uhh… get that shit taken care of.  So I gave the left side some oils and a week off.

I started doing breast massage to try to wake up the milk ducts. I was trying to avoid getting a breast pump and my LC told me this was the next best thing and in some cases the better thing to do. So I massaged.

Often.

In the car… at home.. in Target…. the usual spots.

Lots of massaging.

Tuesday night I’m massaging and just for kicks I try to squeeze into the nipple to see what would happen. Expecting fireworks of milk, obviously.

You Guys.

The slightest drop of white came out.

It came out of MY BARREN BREASTS!!!

Even Limpy Left side!!

I immediately screamed for my husband to come upstairs and look. He was mildly impressed and slightly freaked out that something came out of my breasts. Mostly I think he was expecting some action… to then find me milking myself… sorry dude.

I was FULLY committed. Jesus was there telling me DON’T QUIT – I’m proving to you that I am here. I will do it for you if you just DON’T QUIT!

**I realize that my segway from ‘milking myself’ to Jesus may have been a little intense for some of you. That’s how I roll. Hang on or move out.**

The next day I added in the lactation herbs. More Milk Plus and FenuGreek

On one of my fb groups someone suggested I take a look at Adoptive Breastfeeding Choices (Under Construction). Turns out this website was created by a local woman who had breastfed her adopted child. I reached out to her of course!

She called me back and told me her incredible story of breastfeeding her son. Her story was similar to mine – was on birth control for several months prior to adopting for reasons not related to inducing lactation. She was not planning on breastfeeding but alas, her son had other plans. In the process of her journey she was not only able to exclusively breastfeed her son within 12 weeks of starting the protocol, but she was also able to donate 3000 ounces of breast milk to another adoptive family. See her full story HERE.

MASSIVELY INSPIRING!

She recommended a local lactation consultant that had successfully helped 23 adoptive mothers breastfeed their adopted children. I made an appointment immediately.

Even though everything was pointing me to the direction of inducing lactation – I was still hesitant to believe this was a possibility. I was still focusing on the attachment part of this experience. I was guarding and not trusting.

NO MATTER WHAT, if all we get is that extra attachment during supplemental nursing, that is enough.

That Friday I went to my first breastfeeding group. It was difficult and I had asked my girlfriends to pray for me during this experience. I don’t ask people to pray for me. I’m still learning how to do this.

Being an adoptive mom often makes me feel like a fraud.

I feel like I don’t deserve these types of mom connections. I definitely feel like I don’t ‘deserve’ to be in with a group of women who have biological children. What could we possibly have in common?

I literally expected to walk in to the room to find a bunch of topless hippies openly breastfeeding their 5yr olds. Truth. I was terrified.

In reality they were normal looking moms with babies and toddlers that acted just like mine. Who would have thought!?!?! It’s very possible that my sense of self is a little off.  Ok, its way off. This is why I have a therapist.

We discussed sleep issues, behavior issues, and then breastfeeding issues. It was so interesting and helpful. They wanted to hear my story and encouraged me to continue my journey. I needed that. More encouragement. My self doubt is so strong.

My shame from not being able to create a child – that my deepest sense of womanliness is broken. My shame was being challenged in a big way. Eight years of infertility. Eight years of fighting to become a mother in any way possible.

Eight years of fighting with my body and my mind. Eight years of fighting God.

I’m beginning to see why this is my path.

 

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darkness

 

Courtney’s Story

I got a hold of Courtney through her adoptive breastfeeding website and when she called and told me her story I knew the direction I had to go. It was time to be brave. SC

HERE IS COURTNEYS STORY: 

I have always known that I wanted to be a mother. Being a mother is what I was born to do! I was quite young (only 19) when it was discovered that I would most likely not be able to bear children. The loss of that part of me was something that I grieved a long time ago. I knew that adoption would be the way I would grow my family one day. Having children, and being a mother was what I wanted, how I got there didn’t make any difference. Love is love and family is family… no matter how you come together. Breastfeeding, however… that was something I mourned. I watched other moms, especially my sister, breastfeed their children and it made me sad to think that I would not get to share that bond with my children. It broke my heart.

I was 36 when my daughter’s birthmom chose us (about 8 weeks before her birth). I started thinking about getting more information about adoptive breastfeeding. I went to the first place many people go when seeking medical advice, my doctor. What a mistake! He told be that there were hormone shots, it would be painful, I would never make any milk and that being a new mother was hard enough. His advice? “Don’t even try”. Stupidly, I listened. My sweet baby girl arrived and I nourished her with donated breastmilk for the first 6 months of her life, never even attempting to breastfeed. I remember sitting with her, wondering if I was crazy for wanting to nurse so badly… wanting to comfort her in that amazing way, but feeling like it was wrong to even think it. But, she flourished and has grown into an amazing young lady, a whopping 7 years old! I am proud to have been chosen to be her mother.

Fast forward four years and we were in the process of adopting our second child, a boy. I knew that I still longed to breastfeed, but wasn’t sure what to do. This time, I had the luck of a new friend who just happened to be a lactation consultant in Canada. She told me that not only was it possible, but that many women have great success. I was excited to find out more, but getting ready to adopt a baby is stressful and I didn’t pursue it further. The day our son was born, his birthmom came to the hospital with bedbugs (!). By the time that was discovered, our son was already with us in our room. To make sure that the bedbugs didn’t come home with us, he and I had to take a “decontamination” shower together. Well, while we were in the shower – HE LATCHED!!! In that moment I knew that we would just have to figure out how to breastfeed. I called in the hospitals lactation consultant and she showed me how to use an at-breast supplementer. My son and I both got the hang of using it quickly and he continued to latch like a pro. Looking back, he was making it so clear that being at the breast was the place he felt the most safe and loved. We continued most every feed using the supplementer. When we got home, I scoured the internet looking for information and called my friend in Canada non-stop. After two weeks of frustrated searching for information, I got an appointment with an adoption-friendly lactation consultant in my town and ordered Domperidone. Lucky for me, I was already taking BCP (skipping placebo) for a different issue, and was able to start the Dom right away. By the time my son was about 3 months old, I had achieved a full supply of milk, (an over-supply actually, I ended up donating about 3,000 ounces to another adopted baby!!) and we were exclusively breastfeeding!

At the writing of this page, he is 3 1/2 years old and still nursing 4-8 times a day. It is how we connect, how I console him when he’s sad/hurt and how we settle down before sleeping. It is the best part of my life and I would not be the woman I am today if it weren’t for beastfeeding. The fact that I am able to nourish my child now, when I couldn’t do that for him in the womb – is so incredibly healing. By not allowing me to create him, I felt that my body had betrayed me. But, being able to breastfeed my son has allowed me to forgive my body and grow to love it in a way that I couldn’t before. I do not exaggerate when I say that breastfeeding changed my life.

Courtney Eckelberry

Breastfeeding my Adopted baby (part 3): One more time

 

breastfeedingmy-adoptedbaby-girl

 

The weeks after baby was born was a dream. It was such a quick adoption transition that I was truly in lala land… and I still am 4 months later.

I felt a tug at my heart for several weeks. We had a busy first few months of her life. Three road trips in 10 weeks. Ultimately I didn’t have time to look into the breastfeeding thing again. We had other fish to fry and she was developing just fine.passion-for-orphans

 

The last weekend in September I spent a weekend in the mountains with several other women at the Passion for Orphans retreat. This was my 3rd year attending this event and every time Jesus shows up and gives me a swift kick in the ass. I should really write a post on all of my experiences here. Wow! I am on a roll with all of these post ideas.

 

The women I meet at this event are extraordinary. It pushes me to be extraordinary.

Often at this event I hear a lot about children from trauma. Growing up with mild to severe physical or emotional trauma. I see these families working their tails off to help their children work through these issues. Therapies sometimes daily and multiple medications. These women give everything they have for their children – foster, adopted, or biological. You often hear people say – ‘Oh I wish I could foster a child, but I just couldn’t handle the emotional aspect of it’ — well these are the women that CAN handle it or at least force themselves to handle it. Fostering must be hard, but watching the powerful women at that retreat makes me KNOW that their work is WORTH any emotional suffering they may feel.

My biggest takeaway:

A foster mothers love for orphans is more powerful than their fear of their own emotional suffering.

I did some research and found that attachment disorders can exist in 10-30% of children adopted at infancy. see this article Granted this is anecdotal evidence. My adoption agency warned us this was a possibility and a personal friend of mine is currently going through this with all 3 of her adopted teen children (adopted at infancy). It exists. I researched more and found this scientific study on attachment and how breastfeeding – even when lactation is not induced – increases security of attachment in the child and increases the desire of a parent to be with their child. The skin to skin is forced often with breastfeeding mothers. Whereas women who don’t breastfeed don’t necessarily place their baby on their bare skin for 20 min 5-7x a day otherwise. I wasn’t doing this nearly enough!

I did not breastfeed my son. He is very healthy with no attachment issues that I can see at this point and time. He is smart as a whip and a lot sassy. Not sure where that comes from…. ok its from me. I’ll admit it!!

Every child is different. BUT what if this ONE ACT does make a difference in HER life? Why wouldn’t I give my child everything I had in this moment? Why not just try it again. Just one more time.

It is time to be extraordinary.


Night 1:

Baby girl is 10 weeks old. What are the chances this will work? I hear often of the struggles of biological parents breastfeeding – why on earth would I think this could work 10 weeks along? But again, Jesus has pushed me here so it’s time to put some TRUST in him and stop thinking I am in control. Like I need anymore proof of that.

So I just tried to get her to latch as I was putting her to bed that night. I wasn’t forceful. I told her that I’d like to start this amazing bonding experience with her if she was up for it. She didn’t have too if she didn’t want to. (Yes, I talk to my baby like she is an adult)

She looked at me, smiled, and jumped right on. I was shocked. For several reasons really – it was a weird feeling…. oddly stimulating… awkward. She actually did it. I am capable. Why do I doubt? All of my fears turned instantly into confidence. I CAN DO THIS!

She put herself to sleep nursing on me that night. It was surreal.

Night 2:

I got my Supplemental Nursing System out (If you click that link you will see boobs – not
mine. Sorry. Not sorry.) I put a few ounces of formula in there and tried again. It took a little longer… some youtube watching to see how the heck I was supposed to get that tiny hoot-spraystring hose into her mouth as well as get her to latch properly on me…. but again she is amazing… and apparently has a direct connection with Jesus so we got it figured out.

That night I made a Lactation Inducing Concoction. If I was going to do this nursing thing I might as well consider inducing lactation. Who knows… Jesus seems to want me to do this for a reason… maybe He can get some milk to come out of my barren breasts as well.

Day 3:

I nursed her with the sns in the morning and in the evening.

Day 4:

Again, nursed her morning and night. I worked on the latch more. My left side was getting very raw so I decided to reach out to a lactation consultant. She immediately gave me some advice and directed me toward some very helpful websites and videos. She also invited me to a local breastfeeding group. That sounded exceptionally terrifying. Terrifying is something Jesus would want me to do right? WHAT AM I DOING!!!! So I put it on my calendar. I also joined a local breastfeeding facebook group and a national adoptive breastfeeding facebook group. Here we go. All in.

Day 5: 

I also started asking some friends if they had any advice.

#1: Buy Soothies.

#2: DIY Nipple Cream (AKA Anit-Chappie Cream)

anti-chappie

 

Well, that made my life 10x easier.

The soothies were cooling to my chapped nipples and the balm was well… balmy.

What? You thought I was some sort of professional blogger here? Not so much. Just here to tell my miracle story and say nipples, breasts, and boobs as often as possible.

To be continued….

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