Amber Oliver is a married, SAHM (Stay-at-Home mom) of 2 from the DMV area. Her oldest is on the Autism spectrum and also has an ADHD diagnosis. Her youngest is her rainbow baby who came after 2 consecutive losses in the same year. Amber is also an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). She decided to go for her certification after having difficulties with breastfeeding her oldest. She currently provides virtual support via my Facebook community group. Amber is also a blogger who focuses on breastfeeding support, Minority and Mental Health Awareness and Parenting Styles. You can find her blog on Instagram and Facebook !
What was the dynamic surrounding your pregnancy?
My first pregnancy was pretty much textbook – no extreme symptoms and no complications. It was also unplanned and I was homeless at the time. Due to my living situation, I considered placing him for adoption with a family member. I am glad I changed my mind. His delivery wasn’t so easy. He swallowed some of my fluid when exiting the birth canal and wasn’t breathing for 14 minutes. He spent a few days in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
Several years later, I met my husband and we became pregnant. I ended up having a miscarriage at 6 weeks due to a cyst on my ovary rupturing. We became pregnant again 6 months later. This turned out to be an ectopic/tubal pregnancy which we had to terminate at 9 weeks via methotrexate shots. Shortly after, I learned my body wasn’t producing enough progesterone to sustain pregnancy until the placenta takes over. I decided I didn’t want to have any more children after this.
A few months later, I became pregnant with my now 13-month-old. I had to take progesterone supplements the first 13 weeks which made me extremely nauseated. I also developed antepartum depression due to severe anxiety about losing another child and wasn’t very present for my family the 1st trimester. I developed sciatic pain in second trimester and was going to the chiropractor for relief.
At 33 weeks we found out she was breech. I was planning for a water birth and all turning alternatives we attempted (acupuncture, spinning babies, chiro etc.) didn’t work. We even tried an ECV (External cephalic version) where an OB tried to manually turn her head down from the outside. After 3 excruciatingly painful attempts, it was unsuccessful. We then scheduled a gentle C-section. I’d only heard bad things about c-sections, so I became depressed the remainder of my 3rd trimester. The procedure did go well, as well as the healing process.
How would you describe your post-pregnancy/motherhood experience? Did you ever experience post-partum symptoms or battle with your mental health in any way? If so, how did you cope with it?
My post-partum experience with my oldest was great and textbook as well. After my 13-month old I did develop Post-Partum Depression as the transition from 1 to 2 children and from a working mom to a SAHM was very hard. I decided to become open about my PPD via my blog which was a great coping mechanism for me. While I had a ton of support, I also felt I’d lose a sense of self in my motherhood and didn’t know who I was anymore. This is a major reason for my blogging because writing was always a favorite hobby of mine.
Describe your routine and activities that you do to maintain your mental health on a daily basis.
Yoga is a big part of my life; I also teach it to my oldest to cope with his own anxiety as he was also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I start each day with yoga. Aside from blog writing; I also got back into reading for fun as well. I also started getting out of the house and found a mom group at our local library. I make sure to get at least 5min of “me time” daily as well.
What advice would you give mothers/soon-to-be/potential mothers, based on your personal experience?
Research all areas of pregnancy and birth to help prepare you for things to not go as planned. If you feel like you are in need of help seek it out; don’t wait around thinking it’s a phase or anything else. Lean on your support system, they won’t be able to help you unless you make it known you need help. Know what symptoms of antepartum and post-partum anxiety and depression are so you are aware and know how to proceed if you have the symptoms. In pregnancy TRY to not worry in spite of loss history, “no bad news is good news.”