Milestones, milestones.  So many milestones.


My little man is now 5 months (and a week…) old.  I can hardly believe it – but I say that every month, don’t I?  It’s just amazing how fast time passes and how quickly children grow.  But in so many ways, it just keeps getting better and better. 


A comparison….

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Crazy, right?


He’s a certified BIG BOY now.  Accomplishments this month included:  sitting up all by himself – although he only stays in the position if you put him in it – and CRAWLING.  He’s mostly doing an army crawl, but he can get into the all-fours position, too.  It’s only a matter of time before he figured out how to work his arms.  He’s an early crawler, so I think he inherited his dad’s hand-eye coordination (it’s definitely not coming from me).  I wonder if Henry wakes up with sore muscles every single day – it’s like he’s doing a million crunches and sit ups every hour.


He teeters between size three and six month clothing, but the three’s are getting rather tight.  Henry’s likes include:  any teething toy (no teeth yet, though), his jumper, his new soft playmat, and pulling his socks off to eat them.  We are planning to start solid foods in a few weeks (I’m going to start off with homemade pureed sweet potato – yum).  I can’t wait to cook for him! Well, technically, I’m always cooking for him, if you know what I mean.  Winking smile


So that’s what Henry has been up to; here’s my update…


Mind After Baby


Honestly, this month was a rough time for me mentally.  I have a lot going on in my personal and professional life, and I think I just hit my limit despite my best efforts to be a good time manager.  Everything manifested as incredible, terribly anxiety, which would hit mostly at night.  I’ve never really struggled with anxiety before, and let me tell you, it totally sucks.  Even though my stressors were not about Henry, I ended up focusing all my nervous energy on him and mommyhood.


I’m curious to see what other new moms say about this, but I think one thing that I’ve really been struggling with is the transition from being a full-time working woman to a part-time working mother.   I really used to identify myself purely by my career.  Now that my life is mostly about Henry, I feel like I’m not doing enough of something.  The days that only include bathing, playing, feeding, and sleep training are fun, and sometimes, when I get in bed, I feel like I didn’t do much.  And when I have a lot of work to do, I feel like I’m failing as a mother because my mind is elsewhere or I’m multitasking.  I start to ask myself (insane) questions like, “Am I good mom?” or “Does Henry hate me?”  Balancing work and baby can be a vicious, crappy cycle, and it really started to do my head in this month. 


I really, really considered weaning Henry this month (I exclusively pump) and switching to formula.  Breastfeeding/pumping is so hard sometimes.  I’m glad that I didn’t quit – the Husband told me to think about it for a few weeks – because I realized that I was just focusing my anxiety on breastfeeding and stopping probably wouldn’t make me feel any better (does that make sense?).   I’m really hoping to hold out until at least eight months – although my goal end date changes all the time. 


Last year, I went to a seminar about being a working mom, and I remember that the speaker said we should all think of the years we have little kids as ‘maintenance years’ in terms of work.  That concept has been really helpful.  I also got myself back into therapy (yay, therapy – best thing ever) and am beginning to feel a lot better.  I started a calming nighttime routine (cuddling Henry to sleep, tea, turning off the computer).  I don’t know how much of my anxiety is really rooted in becoming a mom, transitioning away from being a full-time worker, or a hormonal storm going on inside my post-partum body, but I did want to just mention it on the blog to see if others had any feedback.


(Fixing Henry’s three hairs Winking smile)


Body After Baby


This month, I really wanted to talk about my episiotomy.  As you may have remember from my birth story, after three long hours of pushing (so horrible), I ended up getting an episiotomy (an episiotomy is when the doctor or midwife makes a surgical incision between the perineum and vaginal wall).  I planned for (and had) a drug-free birth and wanted minimal medical interventions, and DO NOT GIVE ME AN EPISIOTOMY was written in all caps and bolded on my birth plan.  One of the reasons why episiotomies are so controversial is that they used to be performed way too often, and they generally takes longer to heal than natural tearing.  Bradley Method classes basically told me almost all episiotomies were unnecessary and to avoid one at all costs.  I am okay with the fact that I needed to have an episiotomy because I wasn’t tearing naturally and Henry was born two pushes after I received it, so I really believe that I was in the small percentage of women for whom an episiotomy was medically necessary.


Predictably, I tore along the incision line and ended up with a third degree tear.  The initial healing wasn’t too bad – my doctor cleared me to run at four weeks, after all – but it’s been a long and annoying journey since then.  Exercise was fine, but other bedroom activities were out of the question for a long, long, long, sad, sad, sad time.  I kept going back to my doctor and asking why the scar still felt so terrible, and it took three appointments over three months to finally get the answer I was looking for – I had a massive amount of scar tissue along the incision line.  Because you’re so swollen when they stitch you up, sometimes the skin doesn’t line up the way it needs to in order to heal correctly.  My options were to get re-cut and re-stitched (ahhh) or try to massage away the scar tissue.  Obviously, I opted for option number two, and so far, it seems to be working. 


I really wanted to tell this story because it took me so long to figure out what was wrong, and I hope I can help another woman avoid all the pain I went through!   I just chalked up the pain to ‘normal’ healing time, and doctors kept brushing me off.  I really do wish I hadn’t needed an episiotomy – and I hope I can avoid it next time – but if I do need another one, I will ask about massage at my first post-partum appointment and start it sooner.


Oh, the things mommies must go through.  Winking smile


Beyond that,  there’s not much to discuss in terms of post-baby weight loss because I didn’t step on the scale this month at all.  I figure I’m close to last month (a few pounds away from my pre-baby weight).  All my jeans fit now, which is awesome, and I’ve even begun to buy some new winter clothes in my regular size.  I’m running more often than ever and increasing my speed.  I feel just as fit as I did pre-baby, and although it is hard to squeeze in time to exercise, it is SO worth it.  It makes me feel like me, reduces stress mad anxiety, and allows to me re-focus my positive energy on being the best parent that I can be.

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Can’t believe he’ll be HALF A YEAR OLD in just three weeks!  It’s not always the easiest thing, but being a mother is truly the best thing to have ever happened to me, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Henry and me in the future.  <3  Here’s to another month!



  • Verna November 19, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I barely tore the second time. It was sooo much better!! It took about 6 months after my 1st was born for bedroom activites to not be excruciatingly painful, and I did tear on my own. Hang in there! It’ll get easier!

    • kim @ vegan mama December 10, 2012, 6:58 pm

      I also took about 6 months before I could actually enjoy sex – even though I still do experience pain at 10 months post partum. The first 6 months were unbearable! I’ve been focusing on doing lots of pelvic floor exercises and that has really been helping, I think.

  • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution November 19, 2012, 3:50 pm

    Caitlin, I just love ALL of your blog posts, but it surprises me how much I love your mommy posts — I’m not even close to being a mom yet — but I’ve been eating them up! So much great information, and stuff I had NO IDEA about. This will really help when I’m ready to have a baby.

    I’ve never thought about babies having sore muscles! That’s actually a really good question! haha.

    Thanks again for your complete honesty! It’s so brave for you to write about things like episiotomies and perineum massage, but it’s so helpful for people like me who read your blog and may have to go through stuff like this in the future. Seriously, I know I gush about you on Twitter all the time, haha, but you really have the most useful blog I’ve read.

    • Caitlin November 19, 2012, 3:51 pm

      I really appreciate this!

  • Presley @ Run Pretty November 19, 2012, 3:54 pm

    I have SEVERE anxiety right now. I’ve talked to a few people about it, but not to any extent. I probably should. It hits me before bed, when I’m stuck at work later than expected, or when I think about being away from M all day (and what I’m missing). I’ve also found myself jealous of the bond he has with others, and I end up downplaying what I mean to him. It’s rough… but it’s probably pretty normal for working moms to feel like that, I guess.

    Don’t even get me started on how breastfeeding is affecting me. I’m hoping to last another month. Six months will feel like an accomplishment at this point. Again, the main issue for me is anxiety. I think pumping is HARD on me emotionally/mentally for various reasons. We also have some tummy issues (his) going on.

    On a lighter note, I freaking love being a mom. haha It’s crazy how many highs and lows you experience in just 5 minutes with “mommyhood”.

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) November 19, 2012, 3:55 pm

    You are not alone in your feelings of “am I really contributing anything??” on those days that your role is full time mommy. I totally get that. Thanks for sharing the tip on viewing this time in life as career maintenance years. So true and so helpful.

    I also exclusively pump and my end date changes all the time. I always said 6 months. Well my baby is 6 months and I am still pumping. Selfishly I want to stop b/c I just find it annoying (being honest) but I have a hard time justifying spending money on formula when I am blessed with a great milk supply. Ya know?

    Love these updates. 🙂

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:37 pm

      I know 🙂

  • Presley @ Run Pretty November 19, 2012, 3:56 pm

    Oh, and you seriously rock for talking so openly. It always gets me thinking/talking!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) November 19, 2012, 3:59 pm

    I can’t believe how big he’s getting! I think it’s great you share this kind of thing with others. I really hope it helps others out. As for being a working mom, no matter what, you’re doing what’s right for your family. Always keep that in mind.

  • Janelle November 19, 2012, 4:00 pm

    Thanks as always for sharing with us! Love the pics of you and Henry.

  • Sonja November 19, 2012, 4:02 pm

    While I’m nowhere near being a mom myself, I really love how you write about your experience and being so open and honest with us. As for babies having sore muscles, Livestrong has a page on how to relieve sore muscles in babies, so I guess it does exist!

    However, it also says something about discussing with your doctor about the best way to go, so I don’t think it’s a common thing like we adults have after doing 1000 crunches. I guess babies have much stronger muscles than we think… 🙂

  • Erica November 19, 2012, 4:03 pm

    Caitlin I’m so glad you posted this because I had the exact same thing with my {second degree} tear after childbirth. Even though I had “healed” and was cleared to run at my first postpartum appointment, I was in a lot of pain. It didn’t’ hurt to run, but standing around at work was incredibly painful. It turns out that because of the scar tissue, the skin was pulling the underlying layers of tissue causing a lot of burning pain and pressure. Bedroom activities were also impossible. I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen before work every day to make life bearable.

    I tried massage with vitamin E oil and estrogen cream for about 2 months to no avail. I saw a specialist who gave me the same options that you had (re-cut, keep doing what I’m doing with the massage, which was not working). The third option, which I went with, was to actually have an injection of cortisol in the scar tissue followed by intense massage. I also had a local anesthetic of lidocaine. It was amazing, I felt better that very day.

    If you find that your massage alone isn’t working, keep that in mind.

    Also, I pump at work and nurse at home and I think about quitting pumping every freaking day. I pump 5 times in order to get enough for his 3 daycare bottles, plus 2 nursing sessions. It is distracting, time consuming, and stressful, especially when I don’t get enough for the next day. I don’t have a great supply so I don’t exactly have a freezer stock to back me up. My son is almost 8 months and I’m thinking about quitting at the start of the new year, and only nursing at home. He’ll be 9 months then, and I figure a little bit of formula for the last 3 months of his first year is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Pumping is hard work!

    Congrats to Henry for crawling already!

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles November 19, 2012, 4:13 pm

    Love these posts Caitlin – I’m nowhere near ready to be a mom but I’m filing all this information away for later.

    I’ve never ever thought about a baby having sore muscles – good question!

  • Vanessa November 19, 2012, 4:14 pm

    Yes! Soo hard to balance work & baby. I work part-time so I’m able to be home with my daughter a few days a week. She’s almost three now—I don’t think I found my groove until she was about a year. I remember feeling like I wasn’t doing any one thing well—I wasn’t being 100% mommy, and couldn’t focus 100% of my attention on work, either. But now I LOVE the half & half schedule. I feel like I really have the best of both worlds.

    And so many moms I’ve talked with agree—somehow, things magically get SO MUCH EASIER at one year.

  • Emma November 19, 2012, 4:17 pm

    Your honesty is so so inspiring. Thanks for sharing yourself with the world. You make me want to do the same.

  • Shanna, like Banana November 19, 2012, 4:17 pm

    I feel for you!

    I had what they call granulated scar tissue outside and in, which made even walking painful. They ended up numbing the area and using silver nitrate to clear it away. It helped soooo much.

  • Tara November 19, 2012, 4:17 pm

    You (and Henry) look fantastic!

    I didn’t have an episiotomy, but did wind up with a natural 3rd degree tear. I was the same way. At my 8 week post partum checkup my OB agreed that I wasn’t healing well enough to resume, ahem, certain activities. However, she didn’t tell me anything else just that 3rd degree tears can sometimes take a long while to heal. I started doing sitz baths religiously, but it still took me months to even get to the point I could sit without being uncomfortable. I wish I had pressed my OB more, but I thought I must just be a slow healer.

    I’m now 7 months pregnant with our second son and even though I went through a 20 hours natural labor that wasn’t easy, the only thing I fear is another bad tear. I’m hoping what the OR nurse told me was true after I had my first son…the first one clears the way so the next one can come out easier! ; )

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:38 pm

      Good luck with delivery!

  • Lindsey November 19, 2012, 4:18 pm

    I love your honest and informative posts. And those turquoise jeans!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sarah November 19, 2012, 4:19 pm

    I can’t believe he is growing so fast either! And I’m just a random blog-reading internet stranger, hahaha.

    I wanted to say that I deal with evening anxiety sometimes too. If I’m ever going to have an anxiety attack, it’s in the evenings. For me, it’s primarily hormonal. (I think that’s a natural peak hormone time too for most women.) It helps me to think about it as this hard-to-control force putting a weird filter or lens on my brain so I’m not seeing things in the right perspective. Then I remind myself that it will look better in the morning and try to distract myself by taking a hot bath or reading a really good book.

  • Abby November 19, 2012, 4:24 pm

    Anxiety was (and at nearly 18 months post partum sometimes still is) a major struggle. It has caused me to not sleep when I desperately need to, snap at my husband, and generally make me feel crazy at times. It will get better as time goes on! I know personally that my anxiety stemmed directly from being a control freak who felt more out of control with a new constantly changing baby than ever before. Exercise and oddly taking up knitting in the evenings before bed has helped with this a lot.
    I’m also a stay at home mom who works part time which was something that I struggled finding a balance with at first until I realized that it was a matter of having to prioritize one over the other. Once I decided that my mom duties were always going to come before my career, especially during the early years, I stopped worrying so much about work.

    Breastfeeding is hard! It is so easy to get discouraged but you can do it for as long as you WANT to do it. I spent 13 months worth of breaks at work pumping in the bathroom during my lunch (literally eating while sitting on a toilet pumping) and while it sucked at the time in retrospect it was 100% worth it! Now that we are in the final stages of weaning at 18 months ( never thought I’d last this long) I’m so glad I suck with it despite how many times I wanted to give up.
    The best part about being a mom is that our kids adore us no matter what! And you are doing an awesome job taking care of that little man!

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:38 pm

      “Once I decided that my mom duties were always going to come before my career, especially during the early years, I stopped worrying so much about work.” <-- awesome

  • Natalie November 19, 2012, 4:25 pm

    Where did you get those booties??? I was given some as a gift for my daughter and want to buy more. They actually stay on! Thanks for being so open about postpartum life. I’m 9 weeks out from my first and planning to run a turkey trot 5k. Frustrating that it takes so long to get back to “normal”. Stick with it !

  • Casey November 19, 2012, 4:28 pm

    Henry’s smile is the most adorable thing ever. 🙂 And you look fantastic Caitlin!

    I know you’ve said before you’re not particularly religious. I was wondering if you give the issue much thought? My two cents is when I try to put my identity in my job, my husband, or anything else (including a baby), I just come up short and feel anxious/stressed/like I’m trying to “find myself” or be “good enough” (I’m not even sure who/what I’m trying to be good enough for). My running (which is incredibly important to me too) and a job that I really enjoy and feel good at don’t even come close to what I’m starting to recognize as my real identity. I honestly believe that I (and ALL of us!) were put on this Earth to worship God and spread the gospel of Jesus, while just lifting each other up. I feel like it’s the only way we ever truly feel “whole.” Have you ever heard of/read The Purpose-Driven Life? This book honestly changed my life. You might want to check it out?

    I know not everyone is “religious” or believes in God. Totally respect your views (or lack thereof). Just wanted to share that when I started thinking this way and exploring Christianity further, it made me SO MUCH more at peace/confident in who I am! It’s refreshing to not put my whole identity in just myself, but in the One who created me to be me!

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:39 pm

      I have heard great things about this book – perhaps I will check it out! Thanks!

  • Hotpotatokate November 19, 2012, 4:29 pm

    Have you tried baby massage? Great for sore baby muscles- mine takes after us, and has hecka tight ITBs!

    I’ve been thinking about quitting pumping roughly once a fortnight since about 5 months too. At 6 months we added some formula by necessity (I wasn’t keeping up), and at 9 months I have cut down my pumping, but am breastfeeding the rest of the time. It seems pretty common to get “this” close to the edge and then decide to perservere!

    With you on the anxiety too- whatever causes it, I think we all get it. I work out of the home part time, so my situation is not the same, but my goal every day is to work on treating childcare as my “job” when I am home, and screw everything else. And my boy still resists naps and prefers to nap on me, so it’s a pretty full on job. It means 20 minute runs during bathtime and accepting that we will be doing a whirlwind of housework when we get the munchkin off to bed. It’s making me a better mother, because it allows me to be more present, happier, and less worried about naptime for my own sake (I still worry about naptime for his sake). But it’s a long road, and hard to quiet the “not enough” voices.

  • Jessica November 19, 2012, 4:33 pm

    Congrats on 5 months! Henry is just adorable. That’s awesome that he’s army crawling! Real crawling should be along in a few weeks to a month, if I remember right. 🙂
    I’m sorry to hear about your anxiety. I hope your therapy helps. I was worried about my transition to parenthood from an emotional standpoint, but it’s been surprisingly easy so far. Physically, though, I’m still pretty out of shape – but I guess I can’t have it all, ha!

    A few thoughts on recovery from tears – I had a third degree tear w/out an episiotomy (and after only 45 minutes of pushing) and intercourse is still slightly painful for me still (especially in certain positions), at 11 months out. And bear in mind that breastfeeding (and I’m assuming exclusively pumping would count as well) does effect your hormones; there is a lot of evidence that sex improves once you wean. So I wouldn’t necessarily blame it all on the episiotomy.

    You may be interested in this:

    One bit of advice, since you’ll be weaning Henry in a few months. I did a lot of research on formula when I thought I’d need to supplement (I have low supply/poor pumping skills and I work full time, but luckily it looks like I’ll make it to a year without having to supplement, I’m very excited about this because I’ve had to do a LOT to make that happen!). If you were thinking of avoiding dairy-based formula (I think you said that you thought Henry might have a sensitivity to dairy?) you want to be very, very careful to avoid any formulas (or any foods, really!) that use brown rice or brown rice syrup – the arsenic levels are dangerous for adults, much more so for infants:
    I’ve cut brown rice out of my diet completely, since I’m still breastfeeding.

    Are you still taking placenta pills? Do you think they helped with your postpartum recovery at all?

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:40 pm

      Nope, my placenta pills ran out after 4 weeks. I do think they helped, I wish I had more

      Thanks for the info about brown rice! We would probably do soy formula so this is good to know!

      • Claire November 20, 2012, 2:44 pm

        You’re welcome! That’s what’s tough with formula – the dairy ones all have corn syrup and the soy ones all have brown rice syrup. 🙁 I was so glad that I was able to push through with extra pumping (two extra half hour sessions a day for months now) and I’ll be able to make it to a year with breastfeeding, because I couldn’t find a formula I was comfortable with.

        • kim @ vegan mama December 10, 2012, 7:08 pm

          Not all soy formulas have brown rice syrup. We used Earth’s Best Soy Formula when we had to supplement, and at least while we were using it, it did not contain brown rice syrup.

  • lynne @ lgsmash November 19, 2012, 4:36 pm

    This may completely un-related but you mentioned anxiety and I know you just had an IUD put in. I can’t remember if it was Mirena or Paraguard – I have Mirena so it might be different for you.

    Anyway, I had my Mirena put in at the end of Sept and just recently have been experiencing high anxiety about things I should not be anxious about. I have never ever been anxious in my life. I have also recently had other crazy symptoms that I think are mirena related (feeling like I’m walking on a moving boat is a big one) so when I checked out Mirena side effects, I noticed that anxiety is listed too: (Granted, you do have a lot on your plate right now and seem to know where the anxiety is stemming from so IUD may not be a factor at all.)

    ANYWAY, just a long comment to share in case the connection makes sense for you too. I love your monthly updates and really appreciate your honesty!

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:40 pm

      Hm I wonder if the Paraguard has a similar impact… I will look into this. THANKS!

  • Kristen L November 19, 2012, 4:38 pm

    Your Mind & Body after baby posts are seriously some of my favorites. I love how open and honest you are about the issues you are going through…what’s working and what’s not. I don’t have a baby yet, but I think it is important for women to talk about these issues. I think it can really help us not feel alone or like we are the only one with a particular problem.

  • Tiffany November 19, 2012, 4:40 pm

    I really appreciate your honesty in these posts! So few people talk about real things beyond “I love my baby sooo much!” I also love my baby sooo much, but there is so much more to being a mom. I had a really hard time for probably the first 9 months since it’s very much a transition. I’m still having a hard time figuring out how to balance things since I feel like a part time worker now since I work less hours due to needing to drop off/pick up from daycare and I choose to travel less. While it may be true, I hate thinking of years of “maintenance mode” even though it was comforting to me at first.

    While I healed “nicely” according to my Dr, I was right there with you on the pain for bedroom activities for several months which really sucked. I was tired anyway, but I hate being those parents who immediately let that area of your life dwindle after having a baby. We’re still working on getting things back to some semblance of normal. Anyway, I appreciate you touching on this topic because I did feel alone (particularly when I hear of people accidentally having kids a year apart…umm…what?!?).

    P.S. You go girl on the exclusive pumping! I managed to do that for a grand total of one month before feeling so crazy that I stopped for sanity sake.

  • Jack Sh*t November 19, 2012, 4:45 pm

    Do what I do: end the evening with a big ol’ cup of chamomile whiskey.

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action November 19, 2012, 4:45 pm

    This post is absolutely beautiful!

    As some other women have commented, I also am nowhere near being ready to have children but I find myself fascinated with your mommy-updates! Definitely filling them away for one day when I need them!

    I love so much that you’re talking (writing?) about your anxiety issues and healing issues. I think our society pushes us so hard to project this “perfect” image at all times- and I love that you step out of it and acknowledge what’s actually happening! I hope the massages continue to help.

    And my mom once told me (she was a nurse so has seen MANY women give birth) that the second (and beyond) children are born waay easier for the mommy- a faster birth and easier time getting the baby out.

  • Jenny @ For Your Consideration November 19, 2012, 4:46 pm

    I love reading your blog all the time, but I especially appreciate these updates. Probably because I am weeks away from giving birth, and it gives me a sense of what I have to look forward to. Thank you so much for doing them!

    I definitely understand your anxiety about transitioning from a full-time career woman to a part-time working mommy. I made the decision to be a SAHM with my son for at least the first year of his life (and possibly longer). It is a dramatic life-changing step to say the least. I am hopeful that so many good things will come of this transitional time, but I feel a bit worried wondering just what they might be… 🙂

    Anyway, I have no answers, but just wanted to say how much I feel I can relate.

    • Morgan November 19, 2012, 10:25 pm

      As a regular reader with a son the same age, it is awesome to go through the same milestones as you/Henry. Like Jenny above, I decided to become a Stay at home Mom with my son and it is the biggest life changer I’ve had. Not working has been more of a struggle (to me) than motherhood. I’m hoping more people will comment so we can learn from them…I also hope to get back into my career soon, but not until the wee one starts preschool.
      I always feel that you are lucky that you have your writing career-at least you can stay at home and work around Henry’s schedule! That’s a WIN!

  • Allison November 19, 2012, 4:52 pm

    I tore straight up my episiotomy scar with the second one, but it just didn’t seem that bad as the first time. I did Bradley and didn’t want one, but my son was 9.5 lbs and he needed to GET OUT so there you go. I didn’t mind since it only hurt me and helped him.

    Being a mother is stressful no matter what choice you make. It is hard. I went to therapy after my second because I felt so bad that I was hardly working, I wasn’t giving my 2 year old my full attention because I was nursing, changing diapers, etc the second. And I wasn’t giving her the loving attention I felt like I gave him because I was playing with him while nursing her….or nursing her while sitting on the side of the bathtub washing him. I just felt like everyone was losing. But I realized that she was loved and being held and nursed and changed and he was getting play time and it really is all enough….and eventually they get older and don’t remember any of it anyway except that they feel loved. Seriously, now that my son is in middle school, I think “what is all the fuss about when they are babies?” They just need someone to love them. Now is when I really need to be around keeping an eye on what he is doing and being there so that if he suddenly wants to talk, I am available. There is always something to feel guilty about if you let yourself.

    Neither one of my kids had even one bottle of formula because I was so worried about being judged. In retrospect, that was a little psycho considering how painful I found breastfeeding.

    • Verna November 19, 2012, 6:51 pm

      Thank you for this!!

      • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:41 pm

        I agree, thank you

  • Katy Widrick November 19, 2012, 4:54 pm

    How is he so old? Audrey is 5 weeks old and I feel like she’s a totally different person from the little baby I met on Day 1. Sigh. Time flies.

    Hang in there…you are doing an amazing job. I am a Type A and do much better with specific tasks, to-do lists and more, so I find myself feeling a little crazy during the days where “all” I have done is keep the baby alive. Then I remember what an incredibly rewarding challenge that is, and that it’s the most important job I’ll ever have. And how quickly the time will go.

    I started writing down a daily goals list, and I seriously always include:

    **baby bath
    **feed the baby
    **diaper changes
    **tummy time
    **take pictures

    because when I cross them off, I feel better 🙂

  • Jessica November 19, 2012, 5:00 pm

    I am SO glad you wrote this. I got tears in my eyes and wanted to cry. NO ONE says this stuff or tells you this stuff. I too, have struggled with ALL of this. I worked full time for ten years, often with a part time job as well. I was an elem teacher and taught grad school too. NOw I am staying at home with my seven month old boy and LOVE it but I sometimes feel SUPER unworthy or like what i do is nothing. YOu get it right? I kept my graduate school teaching job (once a week) to keep a bit of myself, but STILL feel guilty when I even go out for a run bc i feel like bc i stay home EVERYTHING should be about my son. Like if i am going to stay home, I BETTER do EVERYTHING for him. Myson is also exclusively breast fed, like really doesn’t even take a bottle. Big commitment. So I feel on one hand that I don’t do anything for myself and have “lost” myself in a way (except this weekend i ran my FIRST race post-baby- HUGE boost to my “me” self feelings) and on the other hand feel guilty if i leave for a half hour to run. I also feel guilty about money i spend, but that i guess goes along with the territory. ANYWAY I have always struggled with anxiety and actually felt GREAT with it for about 6 months post baby but at the 6 month point it all kinda kicked back into gear (yay therapy i agree); I think the “happy feel good hormones” form the birth maybe finally dissipated. Anyway thanks so much for writing this.

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:42 pm

      thank you for commenting <3

  • Amanda November 19, 2012, 5:00 pm

    I think the emotional roller coaster is normal. I have never felt more bi-polar and not myself as I have since having my second baby in February. Obviously it takes a while for hormones to go back to normal, but I was really thinking I was screwed since my babies are 11 months apart and I’m still having such issues. I stopped taking my birth control pills (the mini one they give you while breastfeeding) about two weeks ago because I finally ran out. I just got in to see a doc for a new pill but in these two weeks being off of it, my emotions have regulated back to normal and I feel like myself for the first time since before I was pregnant with my first. Not to mention my sex drive came back! So now, I’m debating on the pill in general, I’m not sure how your bc could be affecting you. I didn’t think whatever it was called that you got had hormones in it, but the mini pill isn’t supposed to either and it still caused me to be totally out of whack so its always something to look in to.

    I also had to push for three or so hours but in the end I tore naturally. I had so many issues in the bedroom after that, obviously not enough to get pregnant right away again, but then my Husband left for deployment. I had no sex for months so I thought it would heal better but it didn’t correct itself until after I had my second baby and she stretched it back where it needed to be and I’ve been fine since and no tears with that birth. I’m so glad you posted about the scar tissue and massage, I thought I was being crazy having issues!

  • Kim @ HealthyNest November 19, 2012, 5:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing about your episiotomy experience! I had one too and was uncomfortable for months. I felt like such a loser for being so traumatized from it when I’d heard so many stories from friends about their episiotomies being cake. My pelvic floor muscles are still pretty beat up, too, 8 months post birth…still can’t do any exercises that involve jumping without losing a little, uh, control. 🙂

    Hang in there on the anxiety front…being a stay-at-home/part-time working momma can definitely mess with the head! I’m right there with you. The trick is getting your head to accept that the moments you’re spending 100% focused on the baby ARE fully productive moments–and, really, the most important ones of your day.

  • Sarah November 19, 2012, 5:02 pm

    You know, I really think parenting gets tough around the 5-6 month mark. Personally, with my two boys I found it all very straight forward till about then. Then I really struggled until they were both about 18 months. Not sure if it was me and hormones or not? But I do know the novelty has worn off and waking at night etc gets very draining. I do think they get trickier at that age – they can express themselves and have developed a mind of their own, and they are nearly on the move. But it is hard to know what exactly it is that is going on in their mind. Good on your for seeking therapy. I was just saying to a friend the other day who has a wee one Henry’s age that you shouldn’t assume you’ll feel better/happier etc as they get older. Certainly for me I thought that if I got through the first 6 months fine then I wasn’t at risk of PND …. and I was very very wrong.
    Good on your for sharing xxxx

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:44 pm

      i think it gets harder, honestly, the older they get.

      • Elizabeth August 14, 2014, 7:45 pm

        Omg I’m happy to read this. My THIRD baby is 5.5 months old and it’s just now getting SO hard. I think I actually just don’t love this stage. As Sarah said, the shine has worn off and I’ve just not slept for nearly six months, plus I no longer have a snugly little newborn who will sleep wherever, but if I keep my other two at home to attempt decent naps, they are likely to only be 25-35 minutes anyway so it feels like a lose/lose. Plus apparently this is when my period returns even though I’ve bf’d exclusively with all three. UGH. Thanks for the community. It helps to know I’m not alone, even though this was all written some time ago.

        Totally a situation where the best way out is through.

  • Stacy November 19, 2012, 5:05 pm


    You said “next time.” Are you guys definitely planning to grow the Boyle family?

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:44 pm

      i dunno – i change my mind every day. LOL

  • Vicki November 19, 2012, 5:06 pm

    Yay for the monthly update! I look forward to these every week. 🙂 Henry is so darn cute! I love those smiles. And crawling already! Yikes!

    Thanks for being so honest about your healing “down there”. I don’t think it’s discussed very much, and NO ONE talks about actions in the bedroom! I was surprised to learn that my hormones (or lack there of) could potentially make me uninterested, and boy have they. My poor hubby. 🙁

    I had a natural tear (small perineal tear, but then I tore UP pretty far – didn’t know that could happen either), and at about 4 weeks out I started to do massage with cocoa butter. It really helped break down the scar and make it feel softer. It felt a lot better too. Apparently there are therapists who specialize in this type of massage (um, awkward!) so that could be an option too. I hope you don’t have to resort to any sort of surgical procedure.

  • Jen @ Little-Crumbs November 19, 2012, 5:07 pm

    My little man is 3 months and I definitely have mommy anxiety as I try to find the balance between being me, being mommy, and being employed full-time. I love being a mom- it’s really the best thing I’ve ever done- but that doesn’t mean I don’t wondering if I’m constantly doing the right thing. His smiles sure help me feel better, and I try relieve anxiety by enjoying time with him. Thanks for letting us in on your journey…it helps me know that I’m not alone.

  • Maria November 19, 2012, 5:08 pm

    My baby fever has been in full swing these past few weeks (everyone I know is having one and showing me photos and I swear random babies on the street are smiling at me)…and despite the episiotomy talk, its still there! Henry , you are not helping matters!

    Anyways, I want to reassure you that anxiety is something we all deal with when it comes to our identity. I went through it after graduating college because I didn’t know what it felt like to NOT be a student (so I went to grad school). Now that I’m done with grad school, a wife and hold a career, I am still up at night sometimes wondering if my career identifies me and identifies me as what? So you are not alone. I found, that for me, returning to my religion has helped, but its still a struggle. Hang in there!

  • Kelli November 19, 2012, 5:18 pm

    I am 28 weeks pregnant now and I LOVE LOVE LOVE these posts! I have struggled with anxiety in the past and it is something I am very concerned about after I have my daughter. I really appreciate your honesty about all things after baby!!

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life November 19, 2012, 5:24 pm

    First of all, you are doing a great job and you are a great mom! Second, I really appreciate how much information you share with us. Especially when it comes to your mental health. There is always a bit of a stigma when it comes to sharing about our mental health struggles or being in therapy and I appreciate how openly you discuss it.

    As for the pumping/weaning… If you are not enjoying it and it is feeling more and more like a burden (not saying your baby is a burden, just talking pumping here) then you really should consider taking that weight off of your shoulders. I exclusively pumped myself and I understand how hard it is. You are tied to the machine, not your baby, and the whole process of pumping from start to finish, multiple times a day is tough. I went back and forth in my head night after night, stressing myself out on when would be a good time to quit. I let the outside noise of how horrible formula feeding is or that my son wouldn’t be as smart as the breastfed babies or as healthy as the breastfed babies cloud my judgment. I felt terrible for even wanting to stop pumping but I knew something had to give! Once I ALLOWED myself to make a decision based on what was best for me and my baby it was literally like a breath of fresh air.

    I didn’t have the most wonderful breastfeeding experience and exclusively pumping took its toll. But you know what, I did the best I could and I did what I felt was best for my baby and in the end my decision to wean was even best for me. As moms I think we sometimes forget that decisions can be made for our benefit as well. You will know when the time is right to stop pumping and I promise you will feel good about it. Just make sure your decision to continue or not is for you and Henry and NO ONE ELSE. Not even your sweet husband, as cruel and harsh as that sounds.

    Your son is adorbs to the max and you are doing awesome with everything. Keep it up, mama!

  • W. November 19, 2012, 5:46 pm

    I had a third degree tear and had never heard of massage. It makes total sense. I’m so glad I saw this seeing as how I’m due in four months and very nervous about tearing again.

  • Amy November 19, 2012, 5:52 pm

    One thought on the not feeling accomplished/”just a mom” thing — it can be hard to move away from defining ourselves by what we DO every day, the tasks we complete, the THINGS we accomplish. It’s a huge change, therefore, to have the bulk of the day taken up with tummy time and diapers. But one thing that has helped me adjust is remembering that we as people are not defined by what we DO, and that the accomplishments you check off your to-do list do not dictate your worth as a person. Why are work-related accomplishments seen as a bigger deal, and a better use of one’s time, than afternoons spent snuggling with a baby? They shouldn’t be.

    Slow down and reframe your thinking, and remember your priorities. Then own them. Hang in there.

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:45 pm

      love this, thank you!

  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras November 19, 2012, 6:06 pm

    I’m sorry this past month has been hard for you, but I’m so glad you seem to be working through it. And I love how open and honest you are about your stressors, anxiety, and therapy. Everyone goes through things like this, and I think there was a stigma surrounding these issues that is absurd and keeps people feeling isolated! I’m sure other mamas appreciate it a lot, and as a non-mama (but occasionally very stressed out lady!) I appreciate it, too!

  • Morgan November 19, 2012, 6:26 pm

    I just wanted to share my breastfeeding experience. I considered quitting breastfeeding every single day for the first 6 months. After the 6 month mark my baby started on some solids and breastfeeding suddenly became a lot easier. I really don’t know if it was the solids, or if it was a mental switch and getting more into my mommy groove, but suddenly breastfeeding did not feel like a burden and we actually made it to 14 months. For the first 6 months I really felt like my formula feeding friends had it easier, but after that I found breastfeeding to be more convenient and less expensive. I do not know if pumping would have changed my perspective on this though, my daughter would not take a bottle so it was not really an option. Obviously you should do what feels best for you, just wanted to offer some hope for a light at the end of the breastfeeding tunnel!

    • Marissa C November 20, 2012, 2:50 pm

      Yes this is true! Although I wonder if exclusively pumping has something to do with your burnout. It’s 2x the work–you have to pump and then feed the baby!

  • Brittany (healthy slice of life) November 19, 2012, 6:31 pm

    One way to feel more productive? Add …and raised a child after everything you did in the day. Example- what did you do today? Answer- laundry, answered emails, made dinner and raised a child to be a caring, contributing member of society.
    Makes me feel like superwoman 😉
    In all seriousness, hang in there and give yourself more credit! You’re doing an awesome job.

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:46 pm

      hahaha SHAPED A MINDDDDD

  • natalie @ will jog for food November 19, 2012, 7:02 pm

    I’m 20 weeks along and love reading your posts!

    I’m sorry to hear about the aftermath of the episiotomy. At least it is finally healing properly 🙂

  • Jenny November 19, 2012, 7:27 pm

    Wow you are looking great!
    My baby is 3 now, and it feels like he was just born yesterday!!!

    I had the episiotomy as well, luckily it healed up just fine and “fun activities” resumed in 4 weeks! My issue was the other end =( I couldn’t go to the “washroom” for almost a year without some sort of agonizing pain. Sitting for any length of time was pure torture.

    As for breastfeeding, I supplemented with formula bottles because I could never produce enough milk. Pumping was a serious drain, between pumping and constantly disenfecting the pump and bottles I couldnt keep up. 6 months in I called it quits. Do what feels right for YOU!

    Hopefully you can find a perfect life/work balance soon! It can be tough but if you proritize and remember to take some time for yourself, it will eventually smooth itself out! 😉

  • Claire November 19, 2012, 7:34 pm

    I am so glad that you found out the source of your continuing trouble with your episiotomy scar. I think your experience has important general applicability: it is so so so important to be your own advocate when it comes to healthcare. You know your body best and how it is being impacted day-to-day by a medical issue. Never let a doctor sweep aside a concern because he/she is rushing to see other patients, or concerned only with “serious” medical issues. Maybe it shouldn’t be this way, but it is. Always speak up for yourself in a medical setting–no one else is gong to do it for you.

  • jen November 19, 2012, 7:47 pm

    in my opinion, pumping exclusively is way harder than breastfeeding. so good for you for trying to stick it out longer. pumping was something i just always did not like.

    i had some major anxiety issues after our 2nd child. i kept thinking it was sleep deprivation and it would go way but it didn’t. when he was 6 months old i went to a doctor and was prescribed something but ended up not getting started on it b/c we started thinking about trying for our third (which i am now pregnant with!). i did get on a regular workout routine about that same time and it seemed to help a lot but it still comes back at times. mine is mostly at night and i often wake-up in a complete state of anxiety. it’s bizarre and i hate it but it’s getting more and more. i hope it subsides for you soon too. it’s so not fun to live with.

  • Kathleen November 19, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Thanks for your honesty! If you don’t continue to heal in a manner you are satisfied with, I would definitely suggest getting a prescription from your GYN for pelvic floor therapy. (Did you know in France this is a given post birth!) Life saver. You can also look into getting the book, “Ending Female Pain” by Isa Herrera, MSPT. She specializes in all sorts of pelvic pain conditions but there is a good deal of information on self treatment of scar tissue with specific instruction for massage in the book. If you don’t want to shell out for a copy, I’d be happy to loan you mine as long as you return it down the line :).

    Even though I’m a first time commenter, I love your blog. I work for the Step Up Women’s Network and have used your Operation Beautiful message with my 9th graders! Sticky notes all over NYC.

  • Regina November 19, 2012, 8:07 pm

    I love these posts! Hemty is 10 weeks older than my son so its extra nice to read about another mommy and wee one to see what to expect in the weeks to come. I have an extremely low milk supply which caused my son to gain weight too slowly (it took him a month to return to his birth weight). And like Henry he’s allergic to milk protein. My idea of exclusively BFing for a year quickly changed out of necessity for Jackson’s health. There are so many times I’ve thougjt about quitting. In the beginning I was spending 16 hours between breadt feeding and pumping to.increase my supply then hand expression. Between nutramigen and renting a hospital grade
    breast pump its not only been incredibly time consuming and at times incredibly overwhelming but expensive. My goal of a year changed to 6 months and now I just take it month by month. It feels so much more manageable that way and less intimidating.

    • Regina November 19, 2012, 8:09 pm

      Its refreshing and relieving to know I’m npt alone in constantly changing my goal end date. On a separate note where did you get your jeans and sweater?! They’re adorable. And you look fantastic!

      • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:47 pm

        Jeans from Marshalls, Sweater from… hmm I can’t remember, I got it like three years ago!

  • Emily November 19, 2012, 8:24 pm

    I appreciate your honesty SO much 🙂 I suffer with anxiety and distorted thinking – regarding what others think – as part of my mental illness and I just hate it. Technically I cannot relate to how hard it would be to exclusively pump because I’ve never had a baby, but I have insight to how hard it would be, how draining it would be 🙁

    You’re an awesome Mummy who’s doing her best and that’s all that matters 😉

  • Mandy Barrington @ Eat Pray Grow November 19, 2012, 8:26 pm

    I was probably a little too excited to see the next post in this series. For a lady who’s never been pregnant before, it’s nice to hear the good, bad, and ugly of real people have experienced, not just “best case scenario.” Keep it up!

  • Amber K November 19, 2012, 8:49 pm

    That sucks that you had to have an episiotomy, but it’s good that you recognize you needed one. I can’t believe how big Henry is getting! His adorable little face always makes me smile. 🙂

  • Kristin November 19, 2012, 8:54 pm

    One question, where did you get those cute booties? I think my little man needs some not that it is getting colder!

  • Laura November 19, 2012, 9:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing all of your experiences as a mommy-it is so helpful to hear the real war stories of what a baby does to your mind/body. It’s good to know this before children so I’m not surprised!!

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More November 19, 2012, 9:42 pm

    That first comparison photo is crazy! I can’t believe how much he’s grown!

  • jen November 19, 2012, 9:48 pm

    I too suffered from anxiety after my 2nd child was born…I suffered it so extreme that I couldn’t sleep at night. I went to my doctor and told him what was going on…he laughed at me and asked if I thought I was depressed…I was embarrassed because of how he handled this and told him “no” and at the time I really thought I wasn’t depressed, he then told me he couldn’t help me. I suffered of only getting like 1 hour to 2 hours a sleep a night (if I was lucky). Took me a whole year to start sleeping normally again. When I got pregnant with my 3rd I resolved that I was NOT going to go through that again…I reported the previous doctors ass….because as it turned out I did have postpartum depression (not saying that you have it or not…just saying ) and it was SEVERE. I went on meds (again I don’t recommend this for everyone it just worked for me)and got a handle on it. It now has been almost 10 years and I am still on the anti anxiety meds and I have had councilling and it did help greatly…the therapist taught me self meditation…awesome stuff..although lately I should be doing it every day because the more you do it the more it helps :). I wonder to this day if I still suffer from anxiety because maybe left untreated it did damage? If that makes sense? Anywho when you mentioned that you had anxiety it really hit a note with me. I think as women we don’t like to talk about the things that we struggle with because it might seem like we are weak…or whatever goes on in our heads at the time lol…but the more we talk about it the more people can relate! Thanks for the post!

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:49 pm

      I’m so sorry you went through this – 🙁

  • JenRD November 19, 2012, 9:59 pm

    Thank you for such an honest post! I am about 9 months ahead of you in mommy-hood (Maya is 14 months!) but I can so relate and clearly remember many of the things you describe! In fact, reading your blog posts often clarifies a lot of the emotions I faced in the past, which were hard for me to understand at the time. I definitely had my share of anxiety, but for me it manifest more as new-mom insecurity. My fail-safe in the past when I was insecure was always to research as much as possible. So, I found myself reading every baby book out there, while my husband was more I tuition in his parenting. This led to lots of futile arguments to the extent of “no, she can’t be hungry, the book says she can go 3 hours to eat at this age, she must be crying for some other reason!” Luckily, as time passed, I became more secure and intuitive in my parenting, and my anxiety calmed down a bit–which may or may not have coincided with her sleeping 12-hour stretches at night, around 6 months old.
    6 months was also a turning point for me for pumping (I also exclusively pumped). My initial goal was to do it for 6 months, but when I hit that mark, I though, I could go another 6 and make it to the full year. By 9 months, I experienced hormonal changes and my supply declined, so I did a very gradual wean over the next 3 months, using up my freezer supply. It worked for us.
    Bottom line is you are doing an amazing job!

  • sarah (the SHU box) November 19, 2012, 10:03 pm

    such a beautiful and honest post – i absolutely feel anxiety creeping in from time to time as well. i always worry that i’m missing something — either at work, or with regard to parenting. but i’ve been trying to remind myself to a) slow down and b) that i can really only do one thing at a time — and both those things have helped. and, i’ve let go of what some of my previous ideas of ‘perfect’ were.

    also, i have no idea how anyone who exclusively pumps does it. although my view is skewed because it takes me 30 minutes/session and i don’t even fully empty. [argh!]

  • Luv What You Do November 19, 2012, 10:14 pm

    I appreciate all of your honesty about all baby and body related things!
    Your legs look fantastic in your skinny jeans! Good for you for getting back to your exercise, feeling fine in your jeans, and prioritizing yourself!

  • Caroline November 19, 2012, 11:04 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I love your blog and just wanted to thank you for being so honest! I had not read your “therapize me” post yet and am so glad I did- what a refreshing approach to mental health. I am no where near baby stage- I’m in an intense law school program at the moment- but I have struggled with some mental health issues, although truthfully, mostly in silence. I went to see a counselor and most of my family was quite confused as to why I would need one as my life seemed so “on track.” It is nice to see someone who has it “together” (what a relative term!) going to see a therapist and being positive and happy. Thanks again!!!!

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:50 pm

      Everyone needs some help 🙂 Good luck.

  • ashley November 20, 2012, 12:10 am

    I started a new high stress job a few months ago and the anxiety was really very bad. I went to YOGA randomly with a friend just a week ago, and the anxiety MELTED away the next day. The new calm was amazing. Maybe try some good yoga 🙂

  • @HilaryFleming November 20, 2012, 12:53 am

    This has been a great post for me to read because I am one month behind you with my 2nd baby. I am actually working on my 4 months postpartum post and saying many of the same things. I just started a business and have been feeling a lot of the same anxiety brought up by similar situations like feeling like I am a bad mom when my brain isn’t completely available for my kids. So it’s nice to hear that I am not weak or crazy and that someone else whom I admire feels the same things. God bless the blog world.
    Anyway, I wanted to address the breastfeeding thing. I exclusively breastfed my first child and I remember that at 5 months I felt like I was in breastfeeding prison. It can be fairly isolating and can get a little obsessive with all the pumping and constant schedule/feedings. My advice is to hang in there, and if you have to, supplement with one or two formula bottles per day. Once he starts food you will feel like a new woman. They start to eat more and then its really only breastfeeding in the morning and at night and it becomes that magical bonding time again.
    And for what it’s worth, breastfeeding with the second one has been sooo easy and enjoyable. I havent worried as much about the schedule and pumping like I did with the first and for whatever reason it hasn’t bothered me or him. I also give him formula bottles occasionally if I leave him with a sitter and it works out fine for both of us. I hope that helps. It gets easier.

  • Carrie @ The Cook's Palette November 20, 2012, 1:45 am

    Love this post, Caitlin. Thanks for everything you share. Beautiful photos of you and Henry too!

  • Tom Moore November 20, 2012, 4:42 am

    I have to be honest, I’m a bloke and don’t know how it really feels to go through child birth or tearing, just reading the posts and i’m feeling twitchy. But I do know one thing, raising new born children, and holding down a job and trying to run a house hold is no easy task. My hat goes off to anyone who can achieve this… I luckily have a supportive partner and our little boy is now one year old but it has been hard as we have 2 other children 11 and 6. ps Henry looks cool in in robot jumper….

  • C November 20, 2012, 6:35 am

    Just a thought- I had issues with anxiety / the blues – not right after the baby was born, but as my hormones shifted with breast feeding. As I began to wean – and as I dropped a feeding- the shift in hormones caused me to have mood shifts. The anxiety was the worst but I also experienced some down and out feelings. Just something to be prepared for if you are having issues already. I have two kids and didn’t realize it was the hormones with weaning that really contributed to it . It was the female docotr at my doctor’s office that explained it all to me.
    Now that I just had third (two weeks old) I will be better prepared in case it happens again and have options to deal with it. Good luck!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed November 20, 2012, 7:54 am

    As some of the other comments above have mentioned, thank you so much for being so honest! Sounds silly, but when you got pregnant I wasn’t sure if I was going to “lose” my favorite blogger since I’m really not looking to have any children for the next few years, but quite the opposite happened! I loved learning about pregnancy and still look forward to each and every HTP post! Keep being yourself, because you are fabulous 🙂

  • Allison November 20, 2012, 8:08 am

    As for the timing of your anxious feelings…I think until babies are 3 months even though it is new and hard and you are sleep deprived, things are easier (especially if you have a relatively easy going baby). I feel like for 3 months you just focus on the baby and getting through and after that other parts of you life have to be attended to (friends, relationship with spouse, job for some, housework, exercise, etc). Then you start to feel the pressure of getting it all done, realize there is no “break” from parenting, and have a desire to have some of your previous life back too. I did ok after #1 but with baby #2 I have been anxious. It is not really focused on motherhood but on my job, which never stressed me out like this before. It has manifested itself as migraines and sleep problems. I am working on my sleep issues and trying to avoid my migraine triggers and things have improved since baby #2 has been a year.

    Also if you are feeling bad, your hormones could be changing like you mentioned. I don’t know if you have blogged about this, but if it has not happened your period could be on the way. The first round of PMS after both my kids was bad, bad, bad.

    I just want to encourage you to not feel guilty if you decide to go with formula (some or all). So many of the breastmilk benefits happen in the first 6 months. I never pumped enough after I went back to work and at 10 months both my kids were mostly formula. With the first I had so many guilty feelings, even though I had no choice. With the 2nd it felt like an easy thing and I was just happy for a little freedom.

    Finally, of course you are a good mom. That fact that you ask yourself that question means you are. I have a job where I see lots of truely bad parenting, and while none of us are perfect parents, if you love your child and think about his needs and what you can do to be a better parent, than you are on the right track.

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:50 pm

      Thank you sweetie.

  • Molly @ RDexposed November 20, 2012, 8:36 am

    Have you heard about many negative Bradly Method experiences? I heard a horrible one this past week. It’s great to hear you speaking out about the appropriateness for your episiotomy.

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 10:48 am

      No I haven’t at all – more than 90% of Bradley people have natural births. What happened?

  • Vikki November 20, 2012, 8:38 am

    I don’t have kids. May never have them, but I really love these posts.

    Couple of things. All my friends with babies feel the same way about not doing enough or being a good enough mommy. One of my friends has a baby girl Henry’s age and a toddler. She is a full-time mom and she says things like “Sometimes I like to feel like Nikki and not Mommy.” She’s started getting up earlier and working on her book again just have something that was hers. I have another friend who works full-time and has a toddler who worries that she isn’t a good mommy because she can’t spend enough time with the baby. I’m going to tell you the same thing that I tell them and it won’t make you feel any better either, but here I go. “You love your baby and your baby knows it. You are a great mom.”

  • Stellina @ My Yogurt November 20, 2012, 8:50 am

    Love how open and honest you are Caitlin. You are a great mom! Henry is happy, healthy and loves you, and that’s all the proof you need!

  • Erin November 20, 2012, 9:09 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I think it’s probably a combination of environmental and hormonal changes coupled with a brand new baby and their very intense needs. I remember calling my mom with our first daughter and telling her that this baby caring was so mundane. It was just a daily routine of baby, food, sleep, while you felt like the world went on around you.

    I do believe the hormones play a huge part in this because around 13-14 months or after I am done nursing I always feel normal and able to handle more stress. Just a word that after you stop nursing your body may go through a dip and you may experience a loss or feeling of sadness. Just normal. Good luck and make sure you get time to do things you like and reach out to other moms. As I tell my sister, no mom left behind!

  • Chrissy November 20, 2012, 10:15 am

    Hi Caitlin! I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you running with Cindi at the Rock n’ Read 5K (I guess zombie mom/pregnancy brain is not the best combination). But I know exactly what you mean about needing to do more! That’s why I volunteer so much outside of the home with the Ronald McDonald House and Junior League…even though I know taking care of my baby is enough, some days it doesn’t feel that way. I’m so glad the therapy/running is helping with your anxiety!

    Starting solid foods is so much fun!!! Enjoy!!

  • Catherine November 20, 2012, 10:54 am

    Yay Henry! Such a big boy!

    I feel your pain. I also had an episiotomy that resulted in a third degree tear. My childbirth was two days before yours, and things are just now FINALLY getting better in the bedroom. It’s been a struggle here, as well! I have friends who didn’t even wait the full 6 weeks and they were fine. It was definitely frustrating.

    Emotionally, I think I’ve been a million times better this past month, but our earlier experiences are completely different. My baby had severe reflux and colic that peaked around 2-4 months. The whole experience was incredibly stressful and exhausting. I think I was living in survival mode for awhile. Now that she is beginning to outgrow the reflux and her colic is gone, I can finally just enjoy being a mom! And since she started solids, I get my solid 6-7 hours of sleep every night now… it’s beautiful 🙂

  • Mary November 20, 2012, 11:24 am

    Thank you for posting this. I have always wondered if others had “bedroom” issues after baby. I finally (15 months post-partum) asked my doctor about it. She told me that I didn’t have too much scar tissue but my nerves were extra sensitive, which is a condition called vulvodynia. She prescribed a lidocane cream as a temporary way to help things not hurt for now. She also said I should purchase something like a dilator (you can buy them on Amazon!) to help me get over my anxiety of how much it hurts. It’s only been a week, but I can already tell a difference. I just wish I wouldn’t have waited for so long. This doesn’t sound like the problems you are experiencing, but I figured it may help someone else.

    Also, I understand your feelings of wanting to quit pumping. I had low supply from the beginning and had to start supplementing with formula almost immediately (multiple trips to the lactation consultant didn’t help too much either). My theory (and what made me feel better about using formula) was that she was still getting some breastmilk, and that was better than nothing. I eventually quit around 9 months when I realized that the one ounce per day that I was able to pump really probably wasn’t doing anything. That’s when I realized how exhausting breastfeeding –>formula –> then pumping every time is. I guess I don’t really have advice for you, except that you know what is best (although a tiny part of me is jealous that you get to make this choice instead of having your body make it for you). Be confident in whatever you do. It’s your family! 🙂

  • Michelle S November 20, 2012, 11:34 am

    I have been there too. I struggled with nighttime anxiety when my son was 2, right around the time that I started a new job. My anxiety seemed to be focused on my health. There were a couple of late night runs to the ER because I was convinced I was having a stroke or a heart attack. This seemed to be the peak of my anxiety. After this, I was able to find a wonderful medical doctor who took a very holistic approach to my health. She was able to help me on the road to narrowing down what was triggering my anxiety, easing my mind about my health by ruling out or treating any issues that she found, and by helping me to de-stress a bit. Mostly, she took the time to be a listening ear. She helped me realize that I wasn’t going crazy, I was just going through a major life change “new job, new home, not being full time mommy anymore”. After visiting with her, I was then able and willing to put into words what I was struggling with by journaling and sharing with friends. I recognized my triggers and found strategies that would counteract them. The great thing is, once I started sharing what I was going through, I had friends who had gone through similar issues and learned how they had dealt with them. I’m very thankful for a loving husband and friends who were willing to listen and share with me.
    Hang in there! You are not alone, and you will get through it.

  • Fancy November 20, 2012, 12:32 pm

    Can you explain what you mean by the “maintenance years” concept? I am a full time working mom and am having such a hard time with being away from my little one. I’m hoping you may be able to help me 🙂 Thank you SO MUCH!

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 12:51 pm

      basically, don’t try to get a promotion or do anything big with your career when your kids are little. just continue to stay in the field and network and stay educated, and wait until they go to school to start trying to advance again.

  • Therie November 20, 2012, 1:20 pm

    I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for your honesty. I feel like so many moms, including myself at times, really try to sugar coat mommy hood. Thank you for reminding me that it is ok to talk/write about “everything” that comes/occurs during mommy hood.

  • nancy November 20, 2012, 1:32 pm

    First of all, I truly admire the way you are so open and honest about things that many women would hesitate to talk about. In doing that you are reaching so many women who think they are the only ones who struggle with something. I really appreciate that.

    I totally get where you are with your breastfeeding. I remember wanting to wean so badly but feeling guilty about it. My goal with my first child was to make 6 months of exclusive breast feeding. I was working at the time and spent 30 minutes in the bathroom twice a day using a single bicycle horn style hand pump. Geez. Once I started weaning her everything started to get better. Once she was happily weaned I really started feeling like myself again and it was wonderful. With my second and third baby, I breastfed longer but I was no longer trying to pump in the bathroom at work and was home where it was much easier. And my babies scheduled themselves into very predictable feeding times that I could easily work around so it was just less stressful all around. I don’t regret breastfeeding them as long as I did, nor do I regret weaning when I did. Yes I weaned before some moms but I did what worked for us. My kids were healthy and transitioned directly to a cup (their choice) and it was all good. I had to block out all the mommy guilt about breastfeeding and be happy with what I was able to do.

    I had an episiotomy with each of my kids and the first one was by far the hardest. Everything about my subsequent babies was easier, labor, delivery, healing—everything. I think that first one is just tough on a mommy’s body. And sex definitely improves GREATLY once you wean. Hormones just aren’t where they are supposed to be while you are still breastfeeding. I thought sex would just be painful forever after having a baby but as soon as each child was weaned things went right back to the way it’s supposed to be. Hang in there. It does get better.

    Also, I always held onto a couple of pounds of post baby weight until I weaned. Then I went right back to my prebaby weight. Just part of what our bodies to do take care of our little ones.

    Henry is the cutest baby ever. But you knew that……… 🙂

  • Kari November 20, 2012, 1:35 pm

    Thanks so much for this post Caitlin. Us new moms out here appreciate some “real” perspective being shared. I, too, am struggling with anxiety. I have a 12 month old, and since she was about four months old, my anxiety has been horrible. Unfortunately, mine can be attributed to discovering my husband’s affair with a co-worker that began when our little one was just 8 weeks old. It has been the most devastating experience of my life. We are working through things, but the anxiety is a horrible feeling. I’m in therapy, and my therapist always reminds me that “no matter what, I will be okay.” I repeat that to myself several times a day, and it does help settle my mind a bit. Hugs to you! You are not alone, and you’re doing a great job!

    • Caitlin November 20, 2012, 1:56 pm

      I am sooooo sorry that you are going through this. Hugs!!!

  • Liz November 21, 2012, 5:50 am

    Thank you so much for your honesty. For me, anxiety has been heavily linked to sleep deprivation and got so much better once my little guy was sleeping better.

    How many times a day are you pumping? I am also an exclusive pumper and now that I am down to 4 pumps per day it seems A LOT less oppressive. You will have to slowly cut back pumping anyway once you wean and you may find you produce enough milk without so many pumps (if your supply is good maybe even as few as three per day!) but if formula is right for your family then by all means do it! Henry is so adorable and he loves you no matter what.

    • Caitlin November 21, 2012, 8:55 am

      I’m not totally sure how often I pump… I would say at least 5 or 6.

      • Becky B. December 7, 2012, 10:48 am

        This really depends on breast capacity. For me, I have a low capacity, so I have to pump 6 times a day plus 2 nursing sessions. When I tried dropping to 4 pumps a day my supply was really impacted. A LC told me that some women can successfully do that and some cannot depending on breast capacity. Think of it as a bathtub filling up- once you near capacity the water flow will slow down and once you hit capacity the water will stop so you dont overflow. If you have a lower capacity, you must pump more often to keep the flow continuing or it will slow down and tell your body it doesnt need as much anymore.

  • Sarah@KidsHeartRealFood November 21, 2012, 10:04 pm

    Caitlin – what an amazing post in the sense that you are validating all the feelings I am having right now! I am totally a multi-tasker and always feel like I have a millions things to do every day, but with Tyson being at such an active age, there are many days when I can barely even find the time to get dressed let alone write a blog post, study for a quiz or prep healthy meals. I have had many break-downs and anxiety filled cry-sessions where I just feel like I have not accomplished any of the things I set out to do, plus I spent all my time worrying about my to-do list instead of just being a mom and enjoying the precious window of time that Tyson is a baby.
    Putting it in writing is a good first step. I find that talking about it does help, but I also find that when I find myself getting negative about the whole situation, I simply pick-up my son, give him hugs and kisses and force myself to just live in the moment with him for a little bit (until he tries to crawl away, at which point I run and try to answer an email 🙂
    Keep up the honesty – it is really helpful to know there are other moms out there that feel the same way.

  • Amy November 24, 2012, 12:17 am

    I think pumping exclusively is insanely anxiety inducing. I pumped exclusively with my first and looking back, I would have switched to formula. Seriously, it takes a toll and your baby will be absolutely fine on formula. The anxiety surrounding the whole breastfeeding/pumping issue almost made me not even try nursing my second child, but I did it, with the caveat that pumping was not an option. With that stress removed (and being more relaxed in general) I was able to nurse my second exclusively. Pumping really really really sucks. Just my 2 cents!

  • Natalie November 25, 2012, 11:38 pm

    I tore on my own, but had the same healing problem as you.
    My dr. told me at my 6 week check up that my scar had over-healed and I had extra scar tissue but just kind of left it at that. I asked again at a check up a few months later because it was still uncomfortable and she brushed me off as well. Eventually it got better, but never 100% back to normal. Now I am pregnant again and worried about the same thing, so it is great to know about the massage! Thanks!

  • Beth November 27, 2012, 11:04 am

    I have a 3 month old and have really been enjoying your pregnancy and post pregnancy posts. I had a question about clothes, specifically have you found it difficult to dress your breasts? I too am a breastfeeding through pumping mom, my son was born 6 weeks early and had latching problems. My breasts have always been ample, but now they are just huge! I feel like everything is huge on the rest of me to fit my chest. Any advice??

    • Caitlin November 27, 2012, 7:23 pm

      I wear a LOT of flowy tops. Very few fitted things.

  • Becky B. December 7, 2012, 10:37 am

    Just getting around to reading some of these posts- the last month has been so busy i havent kept up with any of the blogs I love.
    A couple things-
    #1- the tear and episiotomy after the first baby made bedroom activity painful for almost a year. I also tore after second baby (on the opposite SIDE) but bedroom activity was back to normal much quicker. I think the first baby coming down through the birth canal is really irritating aside from the healing required after stitches.
    #2-I have breastfed/ nursed/pumped for two babies and a nearing the end of the 1st year with number 2- he will be 1 year on Dec 16. I always say that I look forward to weaning only to have to live my life in 3-4 hour increments. It really is a planning nightmare and very emotionally demanding. I wanted to give up for that reason the first time around many times, (alhtough I didnt)- The second time around I am more “accepting ” of it for some reason.
    But I still get anxious if I am out somewhere or stuck in a meeting at work and havent pumped for a long time for fear of it impacting my supply. Even though I had over supply in the beginning and pumped more than needed up until a few weeks a go, the pump is not as stimulating as a baby, and in the last few months (despite keeping the same pumping/nursing schedule) my supply has reduced. I find that even if I sleep through a whole night without a middle of the night pumping session, my output ovver the next few days is impacted. It is frustrating and anxiety producing.
    Hang in there! You are doing a great job. And your feelings are so normal! 🙂

  • Kattrina December 10, 2012, 12:05 pm

    I am just transitioning back to working and it is hard! I went from spending every day with my little guy to working full-time. I now get up at 4:30am, catch a bus to work, start work at 7:30am, work until 5pm (and pump four times), get home at 6:15pm, and put baby Evan to bed at 7pm. I was so sad those first few days because I felt like I never saw him and how would I ever build a relationship with him when I saw him so little. I am doing better this week, but it is HARD leaving him. It is not feasible for me to not work or to even work less because I make the majority of money in the family and we need my entire income – but I do wonder how great of a mother I am when someone else takes care of my child for 12 hours a day. Boo.

    And just a comment on your episiotomy. I had a second degree tear (natural) and it took forever to heal. I actually busted the stitches twice and they had to aggravate the tissue and re-sew the tear up both times. It was not fun, but not nearly as bad as I thought. I hope you start to feel better soon.

    And if you ever want to complain, cry, chat, analyze being a working mom – feel free! It is such an adjustment and hard to deal with.

  • Becca August 9, 2013, 3:24 pm

    I have a five month old presently and I really enjoy returning to your website to read your recaps as my son grows. Just wanted to thank you for your candor in this one. I found the most recent month to be an anxious one, and the transition to work a complicated struggle. Nice to hear that the experience is common, and wonderful to hear about some of the things you did at this time to make yourself feel better. Great ideas! Wishing you and your family the best.

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