Olive Blues: My Postpartum Experience

I’ve been meaning to share this post for quite some time.  Maybe I kept avoiding writing it because I didn’t want to think about the fourth trimester, or, first three months after having Olive— they were rough.   Having a baby is a beautiful experience, the magic in our biology never ceases to amaze me.  But that aside, I didn’t feel like anyone adequately depicted what postpartum would be like.  People assume you are the happiest person in the world because you have this bundle of joy, when in reality you’re kind of miserable all of the time running on no more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep.   I needed someone to tell me that it was ok to feel the way I was feeling.  I also wanted to tell someone “I hate this” without being judged.

Via @postpartumstress

You can read my birth story here if you’d like.   The first night home from the hospital was difficult because Olive cried most of it, more than her first night in the hospital.  At first, our nights were typical, I breastfed Olive  about every 2 hours.  At about the 2 week mark, things turned.  I remember the first night it happened… she would not stop crying.  We were running out of ideas and positions.  I read every pin, blog and book in the early days and we were ready to drive her around, because that always works right?   Sadly, Olive wasn’t very fond of car rides either for the first few weeks, so it wouldn’t have even worked but we were desperate!  It was around 1 in the morning and Olive had been crying for hours when I finally gave in to getting my moms help.   She was just down the hallway, and it was time to call in the big guns.   Sensing that we had reached our limit, my mom kept Olive in the living room so that we could sleep.   We handed Olive     over, and as we settled in for a few hours of sleep, Olive’s crying faded as my mom provided her calm energy.   Energy is the keyword there.  My mom would always come in and rescue me from Olive’s incessant crying and tell me it was my energy.  She would walk a few steps away from me and Olive’s crying would fade.  I was tired, I was mad, frustrated, annoyed that I couldn’t console my baby all the time and that energy would definitely affect her.  Sometimes it was John with his calmness that would take her from me and almost instantly she would reciprocate his demeanor.    I wasn’t all bad, John and I would definitely trade.  At times he would lose his cool and I would swoop her out of his arms the calm one and soothe her.   Every time this happened it made it very clear how much our energy affected Olive.

What was a huge shock to me was that I would lose my patience much sooner than John.  I have a background of working with kids, I consider myself a patient person and would receive high praise for it from colleagues. Now with my own newborn I would get frustrated, irritable and just done with her (as if it was her fault she felt discomforted to cry so long), eventually John would too; that’s when Abuela came in to the rescue.   I didn’t feel like the mother I always imagined I’d be and that depressed me.   Living with my parents, having a supportive partner and essential oils saved my emotional well being.  

This is me (photo above)! I never slept well according to my parents and it traumatized them they didn’t consider another child until I asked and asked. I was 6 when my brother was born.

Via @postpartumstress

It was at her 1 month check up when the doctor came to the simple conclusion that Olive          had colic.  Because there is no “cure” and not clear reason why babies get colic, her only advice was to stay positive and try gripe water.   After the many, many, many articles I read I started a protocol of probiotics for Olive and I, gripe water, gas drops, I altered my diet, and we paid extra attention to burping her.   Much of the information on colic points to gastrointestinal issues and we didn’t even have it that bad as Olive didn’t have reflux or anything like that.   We would massage her tummy and do bicycle kicks to help her if she was fussy.   What worked best?  I couldn’t really tell you, sorry.  Gripe water seemed to help most times, but it wasn’t consistent.  Also, I wasn’t very good at keeping track because I was just trying to stay afloat, mentally and spiritually.   What I came to accept is that colic wasn’t something I could really control, despite my efforts and babies sometimes do experience a “witching hour”.   So everyday at around 8pm I would brace myself for her “witching hour” that would be around 9pm-12 or 1am.  It was rough to hear her cry for so long.  Some days it wouldn’t happen and we would do a happy dance. At around the 2 and a half month mark, it lessened.  And by the time she reached 3 months it was gone.   The light at the end of the tunnel was so clear and bright.

Above: once I discovered the comfort of side feeding it was my favorite position!

Below: We co-slept with her a lot. It worked for us. I could feed her on my side and fall right back to sleep.

Above: One way to cope? Have fun, do silly things like put baby in a stocking or use alllll the Snapchat filters.

At my 6 week check up we discussed postpartum depression.   There are emotional ups and downs in everyday life, but the changes a woman’s body endures during pregnancy, labor and what they call the “fourth trimester” after birth are in constant change that  the ups and downs are much more noticeable or drastic (at least to me).    It wasn’t determined that I had PPD, but we talked about coping mechanisms and solutions to the way I was feeling.  It’s also so important to discuss the way you feel with your partner too.   John was so empathetic and would give me my space when needed, or would send me off on a trip to Target my myself.   The baby blues would make things difficult for me in our day to day.

Olive  was 4 months old when I enrolled with doterra.  I wish I had found someone to enroll me sooner because I had actually reached out to someone early on in my pregnancy and our meeting always fell through because we lived no where near each other.   In the end though, I’m glad I found the oil community I did, so it all worked out!   Oils entered my life and swiftly became an every day commodity.   I took to using oils for my emotional wellbeing the most.  I read so much about oils and quickly ordered what I needed to make a “Sanity blend“.   It sounded like exactly what I needed, a blend of oils that would help my anxiety, stress, and uplift me. (see below)  This is my go to blend for any woman, mom or not when I share my favorite DIY blend.

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On these little sample cards I made for the @doulasoforangecounty open house event I shared my momma’s sanity blend. Momma or not it’s for those moments we all have when we need to step away and collect ourselves. For pregnant mommas, use lavender instead of clary sage, as clary sage can induce labor. What does my blend have in it? See my story for a quick little video. I hope to go live more in educational videos. 🌱 Bergamot oil is a relaxant — it reduces nervous tension and feelings of stress and anxiety 🌱 Clary sage is one of the most healthful essential oils, with anticonvulsive, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-infectious, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a nerve tonic and sedative with soothing and warming components. 🌱 Balance can ease anxious feelings and create a soothing and calming environment—encouraging strong relaxation. The aroma of doTERRA Balance is sweet and woody and is the perfect fragrance for promoting feelings of balance and tranquility.

A post shared by Karissa (@aceitemama) on

It wasn’t until Olive was 6 months old that I did what every mom needs to do— join a mom group.   Having a space to talk about what you’re experiencing and the whole group understand exactly how you feel, is such a relief to know you are not alone.  Our babies were all a few months apart in age (Olive  was the oldest of the group).   When I shared what I was experiencing, they got to hear what to expect a few months from then.     My best advice to any mom, especially new moms, is to find a group like the one I joined.

Via @postpartumatress

To sum up my advice to expecting moms:

  • Find a group, meet up or any collection of moms that provide a support system. Many times groups are organized by experienced moms with a few children of their own and they have a wealth of knowledge from their experience and shared experiences from helping other women.
  • Find your groove. Every blog and article will tell you— find a routine. Your baby will naturally set their own routine, you can follow their lead (we did) or aim to adjust it to what works for you.
  • If you’re a nursing momma find a position that you love. Set up a nursing station! Have a tray or basket with your snacks, water, reading material and whatever makes you happy. Keep your pump there too!
  • Be selective with what you read! So many articles and discussion can be so stressful and cause more anxiety.
  • Ask for help. This is so hard, I know. But it’s the simplest way to communicate what can help you in a difficult time. Whether it’s small like asking someone to watch the baby so you can shower or do a load of laundry for you— just ask. Also, speak to your partner about setting expectations for how they can help. The first month I was still in recovery, John changed most of the diapers. And in our home he usually takes lead on dish washing and laundry.
  • Incorporate essential oils into your natural medicine cabinet. Essential oils can help with your family’s emotional and physical health. See my essential oils tab to learn more
  • #speakthesecret! We all have scary thoughts, the more we openly talk about these things the more women will understand they are not alone. When I was at my worst I felt like friends with children before me didn’t prepare me enough for what to expect. They said things were hard and they were tired but they didn’t say how they really felt. It is my personal postpartum experience that makes me want to be the support that other women need.
  • Be kind to yourself. I remember in the early weeks after giving birth I would be standing holding Olive or cooking or doing anything on my feet and my mom would tell me to sit down, to rest. I would go on walks with Olive and soon enough I felt like I had over done it. My body was still in heavy recovery mode. Let your body heal.
  • Enjoy the newborn stage. Enjoy every stage. I didn’t think I would miss the newborn phase, but I do miss it dearly.

Something I didn’t do, but plan to for my next pregnancy is have a doula. Doulas are non-medical support for pregnancy and postpartum. They are your spiritual and emotional support in a time you need it most. They are your fairy godmother. If you are expecting look into it!

If you are local to Orange County this Saturday, January 20 the Doulas of Orange County are hosting an open house. I will be there to learn more about their services myself and I sponsored with swag bag items and a giveaway prize!

I’m so glad I finally shared about my experience. I may update if I left anything out…. mommy brain…

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