Thursday, July 30, 2015

PPD and PPA: I am one in eight.

This post has been sort of a long time coming. I just wasn't quite ready to talk about it before. Now, I'm still not really ready in some ways...but I should talk about it. WE should talk about it.

I am one in eight women who experience postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.
I am also one of the countless women who's healthcare system and healthcare professionals failed them.

After Jackson was born, I had the baby blues. Different from when Conner was born in that they weren't accompanied by birth grief as I had made peace with Jackson's arrival. But I had the baby blues none-the-less. 

I remembered feeling better, less teary, a few weeks after Conner was born. Not this time. The urge to cry never went away, and now it was accompanied by this sense of just purely being overwhelmed constantly. And it was only escalated by my husband leaving for several Military trips that would have him gone for a while. I felt like I was just...surviving...really just surviving each day. The sound of Derek's voice on the phone each day was reducing me to tears. And it stressed me out that I couldn't talk to my husband without losing it. I was beginning to feel so guilty. I felt like I was nowhere near the mom or wife I wanted to be. And that added to my sadness and my stress. It became a vicious cycle.

At Jackson's four month appointment, his pediatrician asked me how I was feeling...and I lost it. Sitting in tears in her exam room, she asked if I would be willing to fill out a mental health survey. I obliged. I knew something wasn't right...I knew it was time to ask for help. As the doctor read over my survey results and talking to me, the diagnosis came. It wasn't just the baby blues. I was officially one in eight mothers who experience some degree of PPD/PPA.

She said she'd like to refer me to a counselor in her office and I agreed. A week later I was scheduled to meet with her for a screening and counseling session. That session was where our Military healthcare system, and that particular provider, failed me.

It took a lot for me to admit that I wasn't ok and to ask for help. It takes a lot for any mama to do that. But when I went for my screening and counseling appointment, I was told that they see "a lot of women from your husbands unit" and that "You definitely have it, but you're not that bad". The kicker? "You just need more sleep and to exercise more". The counselor saw no need to recommend treatment or further counseling. She brushed me off, saw me as just another unit wife, someone who would be perfectly fine if I would just get a little more sleep. She told me if I got worse, give her a call.

That same week, a local woman who had been treated for PPD stabbed her children in what I can only think of as a nightmare.

And it made me seriously much "worse" did I have to get to warrant someone being willing to help me? Was this mother brushed off, as I was? Was she lacking care she perhaps desperately needed? How many other women are told the same things, and then get to a scary, even horrific point? 

I knew that I needed to find ways to help myself. I needed to feel better. I delved into research and tapping into resources of caring, loving friends and those who could share helpful knowledge with me. I started focusing on self care, even if that means sipping tea and letting the dishes sit in the sink for a day. I found comfort and stress relief in writing in a planner and scheduling things right down to getting the mail. I began using oils to help uplift my moods and calm me. And thank goodness for all of that. Truly. 

But the question still many mamas don't find solace in the things that have helped me? How many, like me, get overlooked? How many never get the help they need and so rightfully deserve?

Jackson is nine months old now and I still have my days. I know right when I wake up what kind of day it's going to be. PPD/PPA are two really ugly bitches. They're nasty and rude and mean. And sometimes powering through them blows. But it is possible. And I know one day this is all going to be ok. 

Mamas, if you ever feel overlooked, know that you aren't alone. And please continue to reach out because even though it may not seem like it, it will get better and there is help.

If you happen to be a healthcare provider, please, don't overlook a mother who is reaching out. Don't tell her she "isn't that bad" when she's sitting in tears in your office. Please. Help her, however that may be.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Small Business Spotlight: NBT Threads

There's always something to be said about a mama run business that creates loveable, wearable, super rad apparel for the entire family. There's even more to be said about the business when some of their tees include one that says "I'm a me".
{via NBT Threads}

I stumbled upon NBT Threads through Instagram when I was pregnant with Jackson. I had seen them featured on another page and they had a shirt design that said "Mom Boss, Mama Bear, Ah-mazin Wifey & Gorgeous Hair #howdoesshedoit".

I'm still kicking myself for not ordering it before it was gone.

NBT Threads has since become one of my favorite small apparel businesses. Designing Magical Wishes shirts for the whole family (PERFECT for a Disney trip!), they've got other collections of rad items for everyone, too. 
{via NBT Threads}

My current favorite is their superhero themed tees and tanks. I have the women's tank and I call it the ultimate boy-mom shirt! They also recently did a Star Wars themed collection that may need to find it's way into my home....

{via NBT Threads}

Recently featured in this BuzzFeed article, 20 All Too Real Shirts Moms Need In Their Lives, it's evident I'm not the only mama who majorly loves NBT Threads. This is a business that creates quintessential apparel for the family. And if you don't own at least one of their items yet, I'd be willing to bet that something from their site ends up in your closet (or your kids closet) soon.

NBT Threads has also been generous enough to offer an exclusive discount for This Whole Mommy Thing readers! Just enter this code at checkout for 15% off :)

You can check out NBT Threads on their website, Instagram and Facebook. Oh, and?!? They send a little bag of baby gummy bears with every order. Rad :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Crispy Baked Chicken Fingers

I have a ridiculously picky child, so dinner time here is often a challenge in trying to find a balance between a meal that isn't cheese and crackers, and one that Conner will actually eat.

Last night I hit the jackpot with my homemade crispy chicken fingers. These are hubby's favorite, kid approved, and you won't believe how easy they are! Here's the recipe. I've included a printable at the end for your recipe box, too :)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 eggs, scrambled, with a splash of milk
1 cup flour
1 package of Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
Thinly slice your chicken breast into strips. Coat the strips with flour, dunk into the egg wash, and finally  coat the strips with panko. Lay strips onto your baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 25 minutes (or approximately 30 for thicker strips). Serve with your favorite dipping sauce!

 Enjoy! Comment below and let me know how your littles like em :)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

PCS Season Is Lame.

Summer time for Military families generally means one thing: PCS season. If you aren't getting orders to relocate, someone you know is. And it's lame.

Going on five years at our current station, I've spent the past several summers saying "see you later" to friends. Some getting out of the Army and transitioning to civilian life, some moving across the country, some moving out of the country. But every summer it's the same.

What a lot of people outside of the Military might not realize is just how much your friends truly become family. When you're 3,000 miles from home, your friends are who you spend holidays with. Your friends are who show up at your house with several days worth of food when you've had a new baby, or who come for coffee and floor sitting when you're having a bad day. Your friends help get you through deployments and trainings and separations because they're the only people in this world who truly understand this life. Your friends become part of your rock...and you try to (and hopefully do) become that same family to them.

And so PCS season becomes a sad time. Sometimes there's an emotional build up to saying goodbye. Thinking for days about how you'll miss your friends and preparing for that last hug before they leave just sucks. And then there are the times where it doesn't sink in right's hard to believe that you're really about to say see ya later to people you've become so close to. And when they really leave, it's....sad. The tears will flow no matter what at some point. That is a guarantee.

This week I said "see you later" to one of my closest friends. Ironically, exactly one year prior to the day, I had done the same with another of my bests. It's never easy. And not having them around truly changes the dynamic of living here. A piece of me is now on it's way to a new base with my friend. And I will miss her dearly.

PCS season brings changes to all...those who leave and those who stay. It means making new friends, missing the ones who've moved, and rolling on...

Here's to it. Tis the season.