Friday, August 15, 2014

Grateful.


 This is an oldie, but goodie. I have several friends who could currently use some prayers and encouragement. I want to share this with them, and you. It's one of my favorites--from May 2011.

***

Have you ever tried worrying and being grateful at the same time?

Go ahead. Try. I’ll wait.

Did you do it?

Didn’t think so.

The antidote for worry is gratitude and well-being. It’s impossible to worry about something when you’re busy being grateful. Unfortunately, the same is true the other way around. You can’t be grateful for something if you’re too damn busy worrying about a million other things.

Have you ever been stuck smack in the middle lane of the interstate during 7AM traffic? Do you cope by blowing your horn, or huffing and puffing because you’re going to be late to work, only to get yourself so worked up, you actually break a sweat? And what does all that blood, sweat, and tears (I exaggerate. Kinda.) get you? A headache? Maybe two inches of black top, only to be cut off by a punk on a motorcycle? …aaaannnd, now we’re cursing.

Next time, instead of focusing on the negatives, why don’t you try being grateful? Katie, how can I be grateful for morning traffic?! Well, my friends (& I hope we can be friends!) it’s simple. You have to change your way of thinking and count your blessings: I may be sitting in bumper-to-bumper agony, but at least I have a car. There are people who have never even set foot in a car, let alone have paved roads. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful I have the money (at least for now) to fill up my tank. I’m grateful this seat belt is keeping me safe. I’m grateful I don’t have to walk to work. I’m grateful for my air conditioning & music to keep me company. And if, and only if, I’m stopped at a traffic light, I’m grateful for Facebook on my iPhone.

Have we forgotten about that punk on the motorcycle yet?

Good! And trust me, it works in all sorts of situations: Baby screaming? I’m grateful she has working lungs. Shins and calves burning after that two-mile run? I’m grateful I have legs to run on. With practice and determination, you’ll soon be riding the “Grateful Train” first-class to “Calmville.” Scout’s Honor.

Now how did I get to be all expert-y, noble & wise about gratitude?

{Hi, my name is Sarcasm. Nice to meet you.}

I am who I am today because of a nasty thing called Postpartum Depression; or “Hell,” for short. The past six months of my daughter’s life have been a whirlwind for me, to say the least. I, probably like most women, skimmed over the PPD sections in the baby books since ‘yanno… never thought it would happen to me. Ain’t that how the story goes?

Anywho… long story short: I found myself hospitalized for a week at a behavioral center. Most terrifying and astounding life-changing experience of my life! I’d like to share with you my personal testimony after spending an additional month in an outpatient recovery program:

Written on February 15, 2011

I have certainly come a long way in this ever so challenging journey. This has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. My dream has always been to be a mom, so when the foreign and nightmarish thoughts hit me like a brick, it scared the living day lights out of me, to say the least. The anxiety attacks were like nothing I’ve ever experienced or even seen before. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

The best decision I ever made was going to the hospital. Although it was absolutely terrifying at first, it was the right place for me to be. And PHP [the Partial-Hospitalized Program] has continued to help me tremendously. I have learned so much—especially about myself. I never knew I had so much strength and determination.

I learned that in order to gain massive momentum in my recovery, I had to get moving! That became my new mantra. I lacked a lot of motivation when I first stepped foot in here, but I soon realized it didn’t mean I couldn’t still do the things I used to love. I am capable. I am capable of so much. It took a lot of practice, but my mood is finally catching up.

I made a promise to myself to never give up no matter what! I wanted things to change, so with the picture of my husband and daughter in my mind, I knew the only way I was going to make that happen was to JUST DO IT! Even if I didn’t feel like it, I made myself do it because it was the right thing for my recovery. If I didn’t change my thoughts and behavior, then things were going to stay exactly as they were, and I definitely didn’t want that! I took my first step, stayed committed to my recovery, and things started becoming easier day by day.

Seven weeks ago, I was crying and screaming on the bathroom floor, begging to die; and now I’m playing flag football and caring for my daughter like I always knew I could. It’s hard to imagine I once thought about taking my own life, and now I would give it away in a heartbeat if it were to benefit my daughter.

I despised the fact that I got Postpartum Depression. I thought, Why me? Why is God punishing me? But now? Now, I see the beauty of this experience and how it has strengthened me. Every day I’m a little bit more of who I want to be. Every day I become a better person; and for that, I am truly grateful.

***

You can’t have a testimony without a test, right?

A fellow patient—a mom, who lost her twenty-six year-old [former soldier & current police officer] son, to a heinous murder as he was called to a robbery, told me I inspired her. Well if that doesn’t humble your heart, I don’t know what will! If she had the courage to dust herself off, then I surely didn’t have any excuses. I could hold my baby in my arms—she no longer could.

Life isn’t always easy. But it sure is worth the fight.

So that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! I’m Katie. A devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, who strives to be the best I can be, every day, for all the right reasons.

loyally,
katie


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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy 2 Months, Adelaide Quinn!

It's only been two months, but it seems like Adelaide has always been in our family. People have asked me how I could love someone as much as Emmalyn. My answer to that is this: when you have another child, your heart just instinctively knows how to expand to make room for more love. It's like lighting candles... the flame doesn't burn out when you light one candle to the next, but rather ignites more flames. My heart ignites more love.

It may sound cheesy, but I am seriously obsessed with Adelaide! I just want to hug, hold, and kiss her All!Day!Long! The first three weeks were difficult because I felt like a never-ending milking-cow, but after she grew out of her cluster-feedings, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I also felt an even bigger weight lifted off when I stopped nursing from the left side (because it was so painful!!) and just continued on the right only. Holy goodness, that was the best decision I made. I cannot tell you how great it made breast-feeding for me. I am so so s-o-o-o glad I didn't give up! And really, THANK YOU to everyone who supported and encouraged me--whether by person, phone, or text! I couldn't have pushed through it without all of y'all! Thank you a hundred times over!


Adelaide is such a wonderful baby. She basically only cries when she's tired, hungry, or needs to be changed. She's also a major cuddle-bug! Her favorite spot to be is laying on mama's chest. (It's my favorite place for her to be, too!) Just this past week she's really started to smile when you talk to her. And she even had a conversation with her big sister ;) At bed time the other night, we were reading books in Emmalyn's bed when she started cooing. Emmalyn would imitate her back, then Adelaide would coo again. It went back and forth several times, and both Emmalyn and I got a huge kick out of it. Adorable!


Speaking of Big Sister, Emmalyn is adjusting quite well to her new role, although I must admit, she can drive me a little insane sometimes. Like me, she's also obsessed with her little sister and won't stop touching her. The problem is she wants to touch her while she's sleeping. And it's not just a little peck on the feet or a soft touch, it's a full-on Hugging & Kissing Frenzy! I've tried so hard to give her softer alternatives to showing Adelaide affection, but alas, she won't listen. (Big surprise there... she's three!)


The experience of having a second child is so much different than the first. I'm not nervous about anything (except what Emmalyn is up to if I have to run to the bathroom real quick!). With the first, I remember being nervous about going to Target, changing blow-out diapers, feeding at the right time, giving baths, and even just putting her head through a onesie. But the second time around, I feel like a pro. Also, Adelaide has no choice but to just go! go! go! With Emmalyn I was so nervous about public germs. However, once you've witnessed your child licking the metal poles in line at Sea World (can I get a barf bag?!), you learn to let loose a little. Hand sanitizer is still my best friend, and I try to keep Adelaide covered in her car seat when we're out, but I'd go stir crazy (and Emmalyn would, too!) if we didn't venture out practically every day. Adelaide has been to museums, the library, shopping, parks, church, and friend's houses multiple times.

She is still sleeping in her "Rock-n-play" sleeper next to our bed, and I don't plan on moving her any time soon. I love having her sleep next to me. I love hearing her breaths, snores, and baby pterodactyl-like noises. I love that in the middle of the night I can just reach over to nurse her. Adelaide is still wearing newborn clothes and diapers. She doesn't mind "tummy-time" and holds her head up remarkably well. At night, she even scoots herself almost all the way over onto her side. She loves listening to Emmalyn sing, dance, and play the guitar. We've nicknamed her "Bright Eyes" for the way she watches everyone around her. Next to her older sister's, you can definitely see that her eyes are blue. I just wonder if they're going to stay that way?
My two girls have taught me the importance of living in the moment and slowing down. With Emmalyn, I tried so hard to do things "by the books". I moved her into her own room at three months, and I didn't want her to get used to being rocked to sleep, among other things. But they're only this little once in their lives. I can't believe Emmalyn will be four in a few months, and I cringe when I think about Adelaide growing as fast as she already is. I wanted to rush the infant stage with Emmalyn, and now I never want Adelaide to grow out of her newborn clothes! It's amazing how your perspective changes.

I'm absolutely loving being a mommy to my two beautiful girls. It truly is the great thing I've ever done! It's cliche, I know, but I can't remember life before Adelaide. By the Grace of God, she was meant to be in our family.

And as Emmalyn would say, "Can we keep her?"

Yes. We can keep her. She's ours forever...


loyally,
katie

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life Lately, in Bullet Points



- I joined a Book Club. So far I've read The Fault in Our Stars and The Glass Castle. It's nice to be involved in something that requires intellectual thought instead of nursery rhymes, for once!

- I think I've got this whole breastfeeding thing down. I now feel completely comfortable nursing in public. I really didn't think I would last as long as I have. And while I don't have a set goal, I have no intentions of stopping soon. I'm just going to continue until it doesn't work for our family anymore.

- Adelaide had a blow-out at a restaurant the other night. I prayed to the diaper bag gods that I had a change of clothes for her. Hallelujah! I did!

- Emmalyn fell off the side of the steps in the pool and went straight into her float, called for help, and grabbed the wall. We were both so proud.

- Three year-old tantrums S-U-C-K! Big time.

- I'm doing July's #independenceARMy & #SunsOutTeekiBumsOut Yoga Challenge on Instagram. It's been so great getting back into yoga... even if my time is limited and I sometimes have a three year-old crawling all over me. {see: Instagram video} I guess it helps me practice patience, eh? You can follow my journey on my Instagram: @katievanbrunt & at #loyallykatieyoga It's fun and challenging!!

- Adelaide is an incredible baby! She only cries when she's wet, tired, or hungry. She sleeps anywhere from 6-8 hours a night. {don't hate.} She's a true joy and I love having her in our family.

- Emmalyn is obsessed with Adelaide. It's almost a little too suffocating. She has a tendency to wake her up with extra hard hugs and kisses. Like, multiple times a day. UGH. Honestly, I've tried everything I can think of to get her to stop and nothing is working. Help?!

- I can't believe school is starting back again. So soon! I just bought Emmalyn's school supplies. This year, she will be going to school three days a week. I'm excited for her.

- Adjusting to two kids was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Sure, it's difficult when both are crying, one is in the bath tub, and the other needs to be fed, but we make it work. The chaos is totally worth having two daughters.

- I said I didn't ever want to be pregnant again or have more kids than I have hands, but now I'm not so sure...

- I am thoroughly blessed I did not get postpartum depression the second time around. Praise God!

- Having a baby in the summertime is difficult. It limits our daily activities significantly, but we're making it work.

- I never want Adelaide to grow up! I'm absolutely loving having a baby in the house!

So how has your summer been so far?!

loyally,
katie
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our Newborn Photo Shoot

Adelaide at 6 days old 
+
Adelaide crying for over an hour
+
New nursing mommy who doesn't know what the hell she's doing
+
Emmalyn with a fever
+
Adelaide peeing on Hubby's formal uniform
+
One really patient photographer
=
Our Newborn Photo Shoot

It was a stressful one, folks!

I was very adamant about capturing newborn photographs because I never did them with Emmalyn and have truly regretted it, still to this day. Therefore, it was super important to me the second time around. Our sweet family photographer was patient with us for three hours, while I nursed Adelaide three different times, Blake changed in and out of his uniform twice, and Emmalyn tantrumed (yes, that should be a word) and basically refused to participate until we bribed her with chocolate (which I never do)! But desperate times called for desperate measures.

I'm sad we didn't get pictures of the sisters snuggled together in bed with big matching hair bows, like I envisioned, but Hey! That's life! Right? I was way too exhausted--'yanno, with having given birth six days prior--to try and make everything "perfect."

I am, however, super grateful for the pictures we were able to capture, and even more importantly, that the people in them are healthy and mine and perfect.

Forever.





{hey--at least Indy cooperated! hehe}

loyally,
katie
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Getting Ready With a Toddler & an Infant... Oh Boy!

Alarm goes off.

Hit szooze.

Alarm goes off again.

Wake up.

Chug down a Boost shake and water.

Wake up Adelaide with a diaper change.

Sit down in bed to nurse. 

Curl my toes in pain and count backwards from 10 until it passes.

Breathe.

Peruse Facebook, Instagram, and e-mails while nursing.

Is Emmalyn going to wake up while I'm still nursing? She's going to want to eat. But wait, we're meeting family at the hotel for a free continental breakfast. 

Emmalyn wakes up, smothers Adelaide with kisses while still attached to me. Ow...

"Okay, Emmy, change out of your Pull-up so we can go eat at the hotel."

"No, Mommy, I want to give Adelaide a hug and kiss and lay here with my 'nigh-nights' [blankets] so I can be comfy."

"I need to you to get out of your stinky Pull-up. Now, please."

She doesn't budge. Great...

Put baby down.

Grab clothes out of Emmalyn's room, all the while with a boob hanging out. They've gotta air out, right??

Start changing into my own clothes.

Baby cries. Pick her up, sans pants.

Get her to calm down. Lay her back down again.

Threaten Emmalyn not to see her cousin if she doesn't get dressed.

Thank goodness, it works.

Baby cries again.

Maybe I should put her in the Ergo. But then how can I get dressed if I'm wearing a baby? Nope, that won't work.

Baby settles down.

Start to put on make-up.

Boob still out.

Emmalyn decides to dump an entire game board on the floor, complete with an insane amount of token-type pieces. 

I've never even seen this game before. Where did it come from?

"Emmalyn, you need to clean that up. We need to go."

"No." Of course not.

Finish putting on make-up.

Side-braid hair.

Still no pants.

Baby cries.

Maybe she's hungry again. But I literally just fed her. But she's three weeks old--didn't the nurse say three-weeks is another growth spurt phase and she will probably want to cluster feed again? Yes, okay.

Feed baby again.

Boob's already out anyway.

Curl my toes in pain and count backwards from 10 until it's all good. Again.

Breathe.

"Emmalyn, please put away the game and put on your shoes and socks."

"No."

Did I feed the dog? No...

I haven't even brushed my teeth.

I haven't even put on pants.

Finish nursing, change the baby into actual clothes, put her into the car seat.
 
Oh, she's not going to be happy.

She's not happy.

Lather up on nipple cream and pack on the nursing pads.

Oh, such is the life of a mom...
 
Throw on clothes. Finally.

Game pieces are still scattered all over the floor.

Whatever, I'll get it later.
 
"Emmalyn, shoes and socks. Your sister is crying. We've gotta go."

By the Grace of God, Emmalyn gets her shoes and socks.

Grab car seat and diaper bag.

Shoot, haven't brushed my teeth. Probably should do that so I don't kill anyone I meet.

Brush teeth.

Walk out the back door. 

"Mommy, hold my hand."

"I can't. I don't have any hands. Let me put your sister in the car and I'll come back for you."

Put Adelaide in the car, run back to help Emmalyn down the stairs.

Emmalyn decides to take her sweet time climbing into the car.

In a moment of impatience, I pick her up and put her in her car seat, despite the fact I'm only three-weeks postpartum and am not suppose to lift more than twenty pounds. Emmalyn is 31.
    
HOLY HELL. Feel a major pain in the back of my ribs.

I should not have just done that! Why did I do that?!

Oh well, at least I'm wearing pants. 

loyally,
katie
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hang in There!


So it's been just over two weeks now since we brought home our newest little girl. I knew things were going to be tough, and I have dreaded the sleep deprivation, but I think I underestimated just how hard things would be. Fortunately, we have a little love who is (knock-on-wood) a very easy baby. She basically only cries when she's hungry; otherwise she is quite content sleeping or looking around. The hardest part on me is feeling like a zombie, and the breast feeding. If the B word makes you queasy or if you're my Dad, feel free to skip this post.

With Emmalyn, I only breast fed for two weeks before basically calling it quits. I was crying to her pediatrician about how painful and exhausting it was. She told me I needed to do what was best for me so that I could be happy and my baby could be happy. Ultimately, I felt like that was to switch over to formula. We'll never know if it was the “right” decision, but it is what it is. We moved forward.

Throughout most of my pregnancy I had basically decided I was just going to formula-feed again; after all, I had done it once before, why not do it again? However, towards the last couple of months of my pregnancy, I felt a strong sense of urgency to breast feed. I didn't really even have to talk myself into it—I just felt like it was something my body wanted to do for my baby.

When I delivered Adelaide, the nurse was impressed by how much colostrum I was already producing (see, I told you to skip this post, Dad) and was happy with her latch. Things are already such a blur, but in the hospital, I don't remember it being painful. Fast forward to coming home from the hospital.... OUCH!

I visited the lactation nurse back at the hospital and she attributed my pain to a poor latch, mostly due to the placement of Adelaide's lower lip. She showed me how to do a better latch and said that if it hurt, to take her off and repeat twenty times if I needed to. I went home a practiced best I could, taking her off and back on again. I was pleasantly surprised by how calm I was about it all. Before feeding, I'd kiss my baby's soft little cherub cheek and say, “Let's do this!”

I thought things were going well until one morning when I was feeding Adelaide and Emmalyn was standing right next to me. I felt that the latch was completely wrong and painful so I took Adelaide off and that's when I saw blood all over her mouth. Poor Emmalyn, witnessing the whole thing, ran to her room crying. She told my mom she was worried about her little sister. I felt awful. I knew the blood wasn't harmful to the baby—it was just a major pain to me, but I felt so sad for my Big Girl.

I immediately texted the lactation nurse to see if she could squeeze me in. I went later that day and she recommended using a shield to let my body heal. There were many tears over that first weekend. I was extremely emotional.

Every other feeding I wanted to quit. Every other feeding I felt like I could actually make this work. Back and forth. Back and forth. There were so many cluster-feedings. I would nurse for fifteen to thirty minutes, burp, swaddle, get comfy in bed, and then wham! She was back to sucking, so I had to start the whole process over again. I can't wait until I don't have to wake her to feed at night anymore. One night, I didn't have my phone by my bed so I didn't hear my alarm go off. She slept for five glorious hours!

This whole thing is so much harder than I could imagine. I began reaching out to other women, some old friends, some new, some nearby, others far from home. They all released stories to me about their pain and frustrations, complete with blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. They all said give it 2-4 weeks. HANG IN THERE! they've cheered. I'm so grateful for friends who want to reach out and support me.

Breast feeding has left me feeling depleted most of the time. Just entirely drained, trying to stay on top of things. Most of the time I have to force myself to eat because I don't have an appetite even though I'm hungry. While Emmalyn has been so receptive of her little sister, there are times when she's been super clingy to me and has thrown several big tantrums. It's tough to watch when I have a baby literally stuck to my skin.

I'm immensely blessed to have a husband who plays a huge role in helping me feel better. He's my biggest motivator. For that first week I think we were both scared of walking down the same scary path that plagued us three-and-a-half years ago. I hate to say I was waiting for the pin to drop, because I didn't want to think that way, but a little part of me would wonder if today is the day things fall apart? I don't feel that way any longer. I'm being completely proactive: back on anti-anxiety medication as a precaution, and even “checked-in” with my therapist yesterday.

It's a total 180 from how I felt after the birth of Emmalyn. I'm not carrying around any irrational fears or anxiety. I have the normal “nervousness” of nursing in public for the first time, and preparing to take my first outing with both girls, but that's what it is: Normal.

The best I can do is keep moving forward. Interacting and trying to keep a normalcy with Emmalyn helps a lot: giving her a bath, reading to her, talking her through her tantrums, etc. From the very beginning I've gotten out of the house for fresh air. For the first week I was scared I wouldn't have the inner motivation to “just do it” by myself, but I am feeling much more confident. I have already been out of the house numerous times with Adelaide. My next feat is taking both girls to Adelaide's 2-week well-baby checkup tomorrow. But hey—if anything goes wrong, at least we're already at the hospital... and my husband works there!

Wish us luck! ;)

loyally,
katie
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

INTRODUCING.....

SHE'S HERE!!!


INTRODUCING...

Adelaide Quinn

 
I can't believe we're finally a family of four!

loyally,
katie
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