Wednesday, August 12, 2015

6 Week Post-Op and Postpartum Depression

This past week I had my 6 week post-op doctor's appointment to give me the A-Okay to return to work and other things (*wink). I still have two weeks before I have to return to work but it seemed like just yesterday I was being discharged from the hospital. This precious little time always seems to fly.

I'm so blessed that I work for an amazing company that lets me work from home and is so flexible with my schedule. I don't think I could be in such good spirits about returning to work without these two things! I did want to open up to you mamas about my past experiences with postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression can make a Mama feel awful. It can make us feel incompetent and downright crazy. It can make us think and feel things we wouldn't feel in our right minds and it's not your fault. It happens and the best thing you can do for yourself is just admit that you are struggling with it and talk about it. Why does it feel that this is something so taboo to talk about still? It's heavily screened for at the doctor's office and the nurses aren't afraid to ask but why is it so hard to talk about with friends and family? Is it TMI? It's got a stigma behind it and it's not fair. It's not fair to a mother who is already going through so much to make them feel ashamed about it.

I was so sure this time around I was going to have it. Why wouldn't I? After all, I had it with my first two pregnancies. Well, it's still a little early to rule it out and things might change when I do return to work but for the most part I'm feeling really high in spirits, which is much better off than the previous experiences. I will still be on the lookout for it because that nasty old PPD can pop its devilish head out even after a year of giving birth. My second child it did take a couple months and even then I was in denial until about the 6th month mark.

I remember battling it with my first. I isolated myself and was anxious to even pick up the phone to shot the shit with a girlfriend. My daughter had just had heart surgery and I remember the guilt and blame I placed on myself. I didn't admit it back then that I needed help and I kept PPD a secret.

With my second, I was more open and willing to address the situation perhaps because I was downright miserable and decided I no longer wanted to live my life feeling this way. I couldn't be the mama and wife I wanted to be feeling this way. It also helped that I have a very honest and supportive relationship with my husband. He was actually the one who finally pushed me to call my doctor.

It took 6 months to fake a reason to see the doctor. I remember the nurse asking me over the phone what was the nature of the visit.... uhhhhh pelvic pain?  When I finally did speak up in the exam room I felt like the weight was lifted off of my shoulders. The doctor was wonderful and made me feel like I wasn't the only one in the world feeling this way. I did get a prescription and was referred to a clinical counselor to hash out my feelings. The doctor called the medicine "a little something to help put my hormones back in balance". It wasn't meant to be permanent.

I filled the prescription and made my appointment and was on track with feeling better.... Yet, there were people in my life, close people, who were judgmental of the fact that I was seeking help for my mental health issues.

Mental health is so important for us Mamas!

This time around there have been somethings that I have tried to do differently to possible ward off the nasty PPD. Do I think these things prevented it? I can't say, sometimes these things just happen but we can only try to take care of ourselves more to feel better. We can't ignore when we are not feeling right and anyone who thinks they are struggling with PPD needs to discuss it with their doctor. Like seriously... make the phone call and get an appointment!

What has helped me fight off postpartum depression

Essential Oils
I can tell you that there was a couple of mornings that I didn't want to get out of bed. I had about 10 things to do before I could even think about doing anything for myself.... change the baby's diaper, feed the baby a bottle, pump breast milk, get the kids some breakfast..... It was a real struggle to get myself up those mornings and I felt pulled in a million directions. With the help of diffused lemon oil, I started at the list of things to do and I felt better. I was happily awakened and feeling energized and motivated. As I sat there feeding the baby while the other two kids ate their breakfast, I thought to myself "I might just clean the whole house today!"

....Did I clean the house that day?.....

....Heck no! This Mama had way more things to accomplish in that day but the point was I was motivated!

Letting go of things
I used to take on everything. I used to believe that if I stayed busy I could make time for it all. I had a lot of plans for this upcoming year and a lot of things I put on my plate. I've had to let go of some of those things and take a second to stop and smell the roses. This will probably be my last baby and I wanted to take some time and enjoy it. I honestly don't remember my other two when they were infants. It's hard to imagine those times and I feel it's because I didn't take the time to take it all in. We miss out when we are too busy and we don't get to enjoy our children.

I've also let go of the idea of a perfect home. It will probably never happen even after the kiddies have fled the nest. Sticky floors and toys everywhere is just my life these days. I can try and keep the house perfect but that will just stress me out some more. So like Elsa says... "let it go!"

Although I'm not a regular in the Sunday pews, I have found prayer to be so helpful and encouraging. It's amazing what we can put on Him and what He gives in return. I've spent many mornings praying before I even opened my eyes. Praying for God to give me the patience and love to make it through the day. Being a mama to three young children is very demanding and at the end of the day I want to feel that I loved my kids enough, It's amazing what we can do in prayer.

I'm really looking forward to carving out some time for this now that I've got the clearance from the doctor. Yoga is something that I've have really grown to love. It empowers a mama to feel stronger and it's great for keeping a balanced mind.

What are some helpful ideas you can give me to stay healthy and happy? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!!
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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Girl Scout Troop Leading: Parent Meeting Planning

It's that time of year again!!! Time to start preparing your troop year, if you haven't started already. Last year I wrote a post on what I included in the parent packet. This year I want to revisit this topic and also provide some additional posts throughout this month on how to plan, organize, and make it through another year of troop leading!

Last fall was my very first year as a troop leader. Boy.... did I not know what I was getting myself into! When I first set out to conquer the world of girl scouting and provide this grandiose idea of the best troop experience ever for these girls, there were a few things I underrated and failed to realize.

I didn't realize how important parent communication was.

I will say this again, I didn't realize how important parent communication is.

Communication is key to a successful year in leading a girl scout troop. Communication with your co-leader, cookie mom, and the non involved parent. I happened to have a very uninvolved and sometimes non-existent co-leader. I had parents, no matter how many emails sent, a clear cut communicative website, and phone calls, still misunderstood guidelines and date and times. There are some parents that you simply can't be clear enough with. For the others, it's important to make the communication easy. This is sooooooooo helpful for them and yourself!

Have that Parent Meeting! Set those expectations and guidelines from the very start before their girl even signs up. Keep in mind that you are the leader, the mother who is volunteering their time and energy for free, you set these expectations of how you will contribute your time. These expectations and guidelines can all be provided to each parent in a documented letter. Hand this letter out at the parent meeting, share it on your troop website, send it in a follow up email after the meeting. Make sure that each parent has a copy of this letter. No cuts, no buts, no coconuts! Comment below if you can name the movie.

What did I include in our troop parent letter?
    • Troop Leader contact information (phone numbers, email, address)
    • Troop Meeting information
      • Day and time of the week
      • Location
      • What they do at the meetings (overall layout of troop meetings)
    • Uniforms and Handbook
      • What badges to purchase before hand
        • Council ID
        • American flag 
        • Troop Numerals
        • Insignia tab
    • Troop Dues
      • What does troop dues cover
      • How much?
      • Due date
    • Importance of volunteers
      • Positions open
    • Share site
      • Shutterfly offers an amazing share site to keep the parents up to date on meetings. I would strongly recommend checking it out!
You can download a copy of the parent letter I used here --->>>> Download Parent Letter

In addition to a parent letter, you will want to make sure that your parents have all the information they need to get their girl started. A Parent Packet can assist in this department!

What do you want to include in the parent packet?

Each girl/parent gets a blue folder with their name on it. Last year I used this as a parent communicator folder that was brought to every meeting and I would send home a letter of updates and information of the next meeting. This year I will not have the parent communicator folder. As a Girl Scout we teach to use resources wisely and with the age of technology communication can be done via the web, reducing our use and expense of paper.

Below is what I included in the folder for the parent packet...
  • Parent letter (including troop expectations, rules, meeting schedule)
  • Parent Helper sign up form
    • Uniform handout (explains the items needed for uniform for the parents to purchase, unless you will purchase the entire troops)
    • Forms
      • Girl Membership Registration Form
      • Adult Membership Registration Form
      • Medical History form (both girl and adult volunteers)
      • Permission slips

    At the parent meeting take time to go through your parent letter and your expectations for the troop. Go through the different forms included in the packet and make sure parents know the next steps and what they need to do for the first troop meeting. Make sure they understand where and how to register and that this is done before their girl attends an official meeting or outing. If you can collect the registration and health forms at the parent meeting it will make things a lot easier for you!

    Keep following along... I will be posting some more helpful planning tips over the next month and other ways to get you started on your troop leader journey! Please follow along on Facebook!

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    Monday, August 3, 2015

    Baby Introduction and Changes!

    This is a little delayed but it's been a crazy month!!

    Holy cow, she is already a month!! Who ever said that having a third child is no harder than your second was down right lying.... Sadley, several people were trying to convince me of this. Maybe they were just trying to be nice? It's way harder than I ever imagined.

    Here she is folks....

    Penelope aka Penny

    She is just as precious as she looks! Such a sweet little baby and a great sleeper! She is actually quite the miracle baby! We were preparing and expecting for our little one to need heart surgery in her early days. It turns out she is completely fine! I can't even begin to describe the out pour of emotions I felt when the doctor told us the good news. I had been holding in months of emotions that were all let out in a matter of minutes. Let's just say... I was a mess. 

    A good mess. 

    I will say that this being my third c-section, it was actually the one I recovered from the best. I have felt stronger and the pain was much more manageable this time around. There was still the expected freak out on the operating table that I fully anticipated. There is something about surgery while completely conscious that just doesn't seem okay to me. Thankfully my amazing husband came into the room and jumped right into a conversation about our landscaping issues. HAHA! It's exactly what I needed to take my racing mind off of the current situation. By the way, we need severe landscaping help that, with the arrival of our LO, will not get done anytime this year. So if you are looking for gardening updates... that's not going to happen:)

    So things are definitely crazy around the Dela household these days. Getting myself and the girls ready seems nearly impossible but I am managing. At the chance of avoiding any post-partum depression, which I have battled with my past two, I have really taken the time to put things into perspective and take a hard look at where I see myself and my family in the next year. 

    After praying long and hard and reading a wonderful post I stumbled upon at the perfect moment, I've had to let go of some expectations and commitments. If you are a new mama or have recently had another child I strongly recommend reading this post by The Better Mom titled "What God Really Wants for Moms with Young Children". It was a message from God that hit me right in the heart as I was going back in forth in my mind about things, things I felt so passionately about and I knew I had to give up at this stage of my life. As soon as I accepted that I was okay with these decisions the pressure lifted off of me and I began to feel happy and stress less. 

    Gentleness is what we need and I plan on giving my little babies a lot more of that!

    With all the shifting of things, I have not given up on my blogging. Despite the fact that I haven't done much of that in the past 6 months, I will be stepping things up! I feel a new direction coming upon this area of my life and I am excited to share and see where it takes me. So thank you for reading along even in this drought and I appreciate you for sticking with me! 

    You have truly amazed me and I'm excited to meet all of the newest readers that have recently subscribed!

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    Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    What a Parent of a Congenital Heart Warrior Wants You to Know

    For the most part I try to be optimistic, but I can only be that way for so long until something breaks inside of me and I am just pissed. I get angry when people say the wrong things even though it's out of best intentions and love.

    We recently discovered our soon to be third little girl has a heart condition just like her older sister. I got through the crying and depressive stage pretty fast but the anger side of grief is not ready to pass. I am tired of the cliche responses from people looking on the outside in. I just really don't want to talk about the situation but people want to push and say things like "it will all work out" or "you've been through this before, so you've got this" and "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". These all seem like uplifting things to help a grieving parent but they don't always help.

    The killer one that really turns in my stomach is "God only gives us what he knows we can handle." As someone who has found Christ through my struggles, I find this statement to be unbelievable false. I do think certain things happen to us with purpose, despite how awful they might be. I also believe in random events and evil that is out there. Regardless, things happen that go beyond the laws of what we can handle and sometimes it does break us. It can break us in tragic ways where one takes their own life and it can break us in smaller ways, where one suffers deep down inside where no one else can see. This is not strength, this is change and not always for the better.

    I know how I'm feeling in the NOW can be off putting and make some people want to turn away and I don't blame them.

    I'm struggling.

    But please, take a backseat to the advice and just be there when I'm ready to talk. Even if I am never ready to talk, that's okay because sometimes I can talk things out just on my own.

    If there is one thing that I have gained from all of this, which I'm sure there isn't only one, it's that I am more reserved with my emotions than I used to be. My husband actually thinks I don't cry enough... even as a hormonal pregnant woman.

    I think I have this anger bottled up because I don't think people really understand what it's like to have a child with a congenital heart defect. How could they, really?

    We recently raised funds for our annual Congenital Heart Walk in Chicago. This was the first year that Bella really understood what were were walking for and why. Yes, I walked at 38 weeks pregnant!

    Holding her sister's hand and she proudly walked for herself!

    What a Parent of a Congenital Heart Warrior Wants You to Know

    1) Just because they've had corrective surgery does not mean they are cured.

    2) The first time your child starts complaining of chest pain your world starts to get a little shaky and insecure.

    3) We can be strong and make this look easy but deep inside we are screaming with anxiety.

    4) As much as we try not to, we hoover. It's just something we do and we are always on the lookout for something so please don't judge.

    5) We blame ourselves. Maybe just in the beginning. Maybe for years. We always question if there was something we could have done differently. Sometimes even after the guilt has gone away it comes back later.

    6) This is a lifelong battle not just for our kids, but for us as a family and as parents.

    7) We pray our children will outlive us.

    8) This never gets easier to deal with. We live with the constant knowledge of could be.

    9) Strep throat and other illnesses are scary... Rheumatic fever can affect the heart even in patients that don't have any heart conditions. It can significantly complicate existing heart defects and conditions and all of this from the common strep throat.

    10) We are fighters, too. We fight the feelings to cry, to freak out and rush to the ER when something goes wrong. We fight ourselves to stay calm and brave so our kids can be too.

    11) We get angry. We get angry that we are at a fight with CHD and it can be ruthless and it impacts the quality of life in all members of the family.

    12) It changes the family dynamic. It changes the way we are towards one child over another and everyone picks up on this. Everyone in the family feels this battle.

    Thank you for listening and thank you for just being there:)

    Baby number 3 is due in less than a week and I hope to have some cute baby pictures soon!!! Follow along on Instagram!

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    Wednesday, May 13, 2015

    Google Forms and Girl Scout Troop Leading

    Let's take a minute and talk about a little thing I recently discovered called Google Forms. I know my husband, an avid supporter of Google, will appreciate this post. I still can't believe it's taken me this long to figure this thing out!!!

    Google Forms is a great tool to use with your troop planning. As a troop leader, I like to get feedback from the parents about the direction of the troop. I have a Shutterfly Sharesite for them to access and I am always trying to find better ways to communicate. For some, it's a struggle to get a parent to just respond if their Girl Scout will be attending a field trip let alone have them complete a year end survey on a website that needs a password.

    Google Forms can make your life a little easier. You can create forms/surveys and email them out to your troop. You can either share the link to the online survey or you can have the survey sent right to their inbox for them to complete. There is no real excuse why they can't do this. Some will fail at this too but it doesn't get any easier than this!

    Here are some examples of ways you can use this feature...

    Create a year end survey for the parents.
    I ask questions such as...

    1. How do you feel about the frequency of the meetings
    2. How does the day and time of meetings work for you
    3. What does your child enjoy most about the program
      • Making friendships
      • Arts and crafts
      • Stem 
      • Learning new things
      • Badge earning
    4. What do you or you child wish to do more of with this program
    5. Are you comfortable with overnight troop camping?
    6. Are you looking to volunteer?
    7. What of expertise can you contribute to the troop
      • First Aid and CPR
      • Yoga
      • Gardening
      • Arts and Crafts
      • ect

    Event and field trip RSVP
    1. Name (text option)
    2. Will your child attend xxx field trip (choose from list is drop down option)
    3. will you be able to volunteer and drive?
    4. If so, how many people can you fit in your car?

    Do you have any fun tips or tools you like to use for your troop? Please share in the comments. Sharing is caring!

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